"Run! Now! Make this count, Violetpaw!"
— Needletail's last words to Violetpaw in Shattered Sky, page 218

Needletail is a short-furred,[10] sleek, silver-gray she-cat with white chest fur.[11] She has a long body, a thick tail,[12] and bold green eyes.[11]


In the Super Editions

Tigerheart's Shadow

After Darktail attempts to drown Berryheart, she escapes. She wonders if the rogue leader will go after her mate or daughter now, or if Darktail would hurt them because of her.
Berryheart runs into Slatefur, and asks him to pass a message on to Needletail and Sparrowtail. Berryheart tells the gray tom that she'll be at a Twoleg path, and to relay that to them. He hesitantly agrees, but reminds her that Darktail likes Needletail, so it's probably best to leave it. Berryheart knows that Needletail fought fiercely against RiverClan, and she ponders if her daughter really is loyal to Darktail.
As Berryheart settles down to rest in a log, she wonders how long she's been away. Realizing she has no choice, the black and white loner has to wait for Sparrowtail and Needletail to return.
Sparrowtail finds Berryheart while out hunting, and informs her Darktail is holding Needletail prisoner now.

In the A Vision of Shadows arc

The Apprentice's Quest

Needlepaw is at the Gathering when she sees new apprentices. She calls them over to sit by her and her Clanmates, Sleekpaw, and Beepaw. She tells the ThunderClan apprentices that this is her second Gathering and that she had been an apprentice for three moons. They then introduce themselves to her as Alderpaw and Sparkpaw from ThunderClan, and she wonders if they want to boss all the other forest cats. This greatly offends Sparkpaw, and Needlepaw assures her that she was only teasing, and goes on to explain the reputations Clans have with the others. The Gathering begins, and when Onestar announces that hunting has been good for WindClan, Needlepaw scornfully doubts that Onestar has done much hunting himself. After he reports that rogues passed through WindClan territory, Beepaw declares that she would have clawed their ears off had it been ShadowClan territory they passed through, and Needlepaw adds that she had heard Tawnypelt telling Crowfrost that WindClan has always been weak.
When it is Rowanstar's time to speak, he reports that prey is plentiful in ShadowClan. Needlepaw whispers that he would say the same thing even if ShadowClan were starving, and that he must think them all to be mouse-brained. Alderpaw is once again shocked at how rudely Needlepaw is speaking, and thinks that Rowanstar isn't lying, as the sleek she-cats obviously have had plenty of prey. When Rowanstar goes on that the Twolegs are still using the greenleaf Twolegplace on their territory and will probably lessen in numbers as the weather gets colder, Needlepaw mutters that it can't be soon enough for her. Rowanstar next announces two new warriors and four new apprentices, two of which are being mentored by the new warriors. Needlepaw explains to Alderpaw that ShadowClan has lots of apprentices, and that Rowanstar doesn't know what to do with them. Sparkpaw pertly replies that it is nice for her, and Alderpaw finds the way that ShadowClan apprentices act to be weird, as well as how an apprentice is sharing her Clan's weakness with others.
When the medicine cats share their vision, and Kestrelflight reports that Firestar spoke to them first, Needlepaw mutters that it would be Firestar, as he has his tail in every cat's business, even though he is now dead. When Kestrelflight explains about the prophecy they received, to embrace what they find in the shadows, a scarred ShadowClan elder, Ratscar, says that it must mean that what should be embraced is senior warriors' respect, and Beepaw and Needlepaw share a quiet purr of laughter. After the medicine cats answer several questions, Sparkpaw whispers that maybe they will find the shadowy thing and save ThunderClan, but Alderpaw responds that he doubts it. Needlepaw is surprised, and exclaims that no ThunderClan cat is better at finding things than any ShadowClan cat, but Sparkpaw flashes back that she would say that, and that she should wait and see. Sleekpaw expresses her thoughts that prophecies and StarClan are silly, and Alderpaw thinks that Needlepaw and Beepaw are shocked at her lack of belief, like he and Sparkpaw had been, but after keeping silent for a few heartbeats the apprentices finally force out short purrs of laughter.
Later, after Alderpaw becomes a medicine cat apprentice, when he and Leafpool cross through ShadowClan territory to get catmint, they encounter a patrol. Tigerheart, Spikefur, and Leafpool talk, and Alderpaw jumps when one of the cats from the rest of the patrol comes and nudges him, and he turns and recognizes Needlepaw. Alderpaw mews that it is her, and he isn't sure if he is pleased to see her. Needlepaw greets him and gives him a friendly nod, saying that she thought she might see him again soon. She tells him that he met Sleekpaw, and introduces Alderpaw to Yarrowpaw, who she calls another furball. The third apprentice growls that she is a furball herself. Tigerheart insists on escorting the medicine cats to the edge of their territory, and the apprentices bring up the rear, with Needlepaw padding along beside Alderpaw. She mutters that toms are always making trouble, and says that Spikefur is a pain in the tail. The ShadowClan apprentice hops along on three paws while using the fourth to ruffle up the fur on her head, similar to Spikefur's, and she mocks him, speaking in a lower tone, saying that a lowly apprentice should fetch her more moss and catch a blackbird. Alderpaw says that she shouldn't talk about her mentor like that, but Needlepaw replies that he thankfully isn't, and that her mentor, Tawnypelt, is helping to reinforce the camp walls. The gray she-cat rolls her eyes, sarcastically saying that she is so lucky. She goes on, asking what he is doing with Leafpool.
Alderpaw replies that she is his mentor, and begins to explain something, but is cut off when Needlepaw asks if he really is a medicine cat apprentice. Her eyes stretch wide with amazement, and she notes that he hadn't said that when they met before. Alderpaw explains that he hadn't been back then, and Needlepaw, in an impressed tone, exclaims that that is really cool. She guesses that he must get to learn lots of stuff, and Alderpaw agrees, saying that he knows different herbs and their uses. He finds himself boasting about his position, and finishes that that night, Leafpool will take him to the Moonpool to meet with StarClan. Needlepaw breathes that that is awesome, and questions if he has visions and if he knows anything special about the prophecy. Alderpaw begins that he had a weird dream, but is interrupted by Leafpool, who gestures for Alderpaw to come and walk beside her, and Alderpaw realizes that he had almost told Needlepaw things that he wasn't supposed to mention. The ginger tabby walks with his mentor for the rest of their journey across ShadowClan, and at the border, Needlepaw gives Alderpaw a friendly swipe around the ear with her tail. She says a farewell, and notes that she will be seeing him, but Alderpaw doesn't know if he is looking forward to that or not.
Needlepaw later sneaks away from her Clanmates and follows the group of questing ThunderClan cats. Upon finding them being attacked by a pair of foxes, she lets out a high-pitched cry and leaps onto the back of one of the foxes. It attempts to throw her off, but she digs her claws in and clings to it; Alderpaw realizes, who still hasn't recognized her, that it is a she-cat. He thinks that although she is very brave, she is no match for a fox. He doesn't have time to wonder who she is before attacking the fox again, and the cat on the fox's back calls out to swipe at its eye and go for its hind leg. Alderpaw notes that the voice sounds oddly familiar, but he can't see her clearly in the fitful moonlight. Sparkpaw tells her not to let go, and the she-cat replies that she wasn't planning to as she claws the fox's back. After being attacked more by Alderpaw and Sparkpaw, the fox shakes Needlepaw off of its back, sending her sprawling into a patch of ferns, and flees.
Alderpaw checks his sister for wounds, but she replies that she is fine, and when Sandstorm asks if everyone is alright, the she-cat adds that she is as well as she emerges from the ferns. The group thanks her for her help, but when she is illuminated by the moonlight, Alderpaw realizes who she is and asks what she is doing. She replies that she was saving them from foxes. Cherryfall hesitantly asks if she is a ShadowClan apprentice, and questions on where Needlepaw's mentor is, and on what she is doing so far away form home. The gray-and-white cat gives a defiant flick of her tail, clearly annoyed at being inquired, and she explains that she was exploring on WindClan territory when she saw them all heading out. She adds that she was sure it had to do something with the prophecy and followed them, but Sandstorm scolds her that she shouldn't wander around without a mentor, nor should she explore WindClan's territory. Needlepaw retorts that she wasn't hunting, and begins to add something else, but she falls silent at Sandstorm's glare, who goes on that to say she can't leave her Clan territory by herself without the Clan leader's permission. She asks Needlepaw if she doesn't know how dangerous it is to be out there alone, and points out that she will be in a lot of trouble with Rowanstar when she gets back. The young she-cat returns Sandstorm's glare defiantly, but keeps her jaws clamped shut. Molewhisker curiously asks if she really followed them across the Thunderpath, noting that it is very dangerous, and Needlepaw scornfully replies that she obviously did. The apprentice scoffs that Thunderpaths are no big deal, and that she isn't afraid of monsters, but Alderpaw wonders if she is lying just to make herself look tough. Molewhisker tells her that she is a mouse-brain, but Needlepaw retorts that she can take care of herself unlike the ThunderClan cats, as she just saved them. Sparkpaw points out that she only helped save them, but Needlepaw ignores her and declares that she will now come with the questing cats.
Cherryfall and Molewhisker exchange and incredulous glance, and Cherryfall objects, while Sandstorm agrees that Needlepaw should go back to her own territory. Needlepaw stubbornly meows that she will stay and won't be stopped, and explains that she knows that they are looking for the thing in the shadows from the prophecy, adding that she won't let ThunderClan just take it. She asks why ShadowClan shouldn't "have some of the destiny too" and her gaze travels around the group of cats, voice growing urgent. Alderpaw guesses that she is desperate about more than what lies in the shadows, and Needlepaw concludes that she will do anything to help the sky clear for her Clan if she has to.
Alderpaw feels a pang of sympathy for Needlepaw, realizing that he would want the same if he was in her place, but he is surprised when the she-cat swings around and speaks to him directly. She says that he is a medicine cat and should know this stuff and asks him what he thinks, and her voice softens into a persuasive purr as she pleads him to let her come. Alderpaw feels good to know he has her respect, although he knows that he shouldn't like Needlepaw as much as he did. He reflects how she is from another Clan, breaks all the rules, and is rude about the senior warriors, but also thinks about how she is fun, different, skilled at hunting and fighting, and always says exactly what she thinks. He stammers that he doesn't know, but Sandstorm interrupts that they must all make the decision, and she gives a stern glare at Needlepaw. The gray she-cat agrees and licks a paw nonchalantly, although Alderpaw knows that though she wouldn't admit it, Needlepaw is worried about what they will decide.
The ThunderClan cats pad off into a shelter by some trees, and after Alderpaw inspects the cats' injuries, Sandstorm asks what they will do about Needlepaw. She says that she doesn't like the thought of her tagging along with them, but considers that she is too young to be on her own, and it isn't safe for them to send her back to her territory without another cat. Cherryfall agrees, but Molewhisker growls that the nosy little cat got herself into the mess and should get out of it, and he exclaims that cheeky ShadowClan apprentices aren't their problem. Alderpaw points out that her nosiness was helpful when the foxes attacked them, and Molewhisker grunts in agreement. Sparkpaw disagrees that they would have eventually fought the foxes off and don't need Needlepaw, but Sandstorm says that they are going nowhere, and asks Alderpaw on his opinion, because as Needlepaw had said, it is his quest. Alderpaw admits that he disagrees with Molewhisker and Sparkpaw and thinks that Needlepaw should come with them, since if they send her back, she will ignore them and follow them anyways. Molewhisker snorts that that is no reason to welcome her, but Sandstorm concludes that she will make the final decision that Needlepaw will come with them. Sparkpaw and Molewhisker exchange a disappointed look, and Sparkpaw says that they can't tell her what the quest is really about, and Sandstorm agrees.
The ThunderClan cats rise to their paws and head back to the hollow, and on the way, Molewhisker mutters to Cherryfall that the cat will be in a lot of trouble when she returns to her own territory, but his sister replies that it is her problem, not theirs. When they come back, Alderpaw realizes that Needlepaw must have groomed herself as her sleek silver pelt shines in the growing light of dawn, and Alderpaw feels scruffy in contrast. Sandstorm announces to the ShadowClan cat that she can join them, and Needlepaw raises one paw and examines her claws, cooly mewing that they obviously did as they couldn't stop her. Alderpaw is irritated at her rudeness, but he senses that Needlepaw is happier than she shows, and thinks that there is something somewhat lonely about her. As the sun begins to rise and brighten the sky, Alderpaw sees Needlepaw's face more clearly, and thinks that he sees pleasure at being included in her eyes.
The next day, when Sparkpaw points out that Alderpaw's ear is bleeding, he thinks of how he had been too distracted by the discussion about Needlepaw and treating injuries to notice. After Alderpaw checks his Clanmates, he turns to Needlepaw, informing her that he can see a scratch on her back. The medicine cat apprentice feels shy at offer help to a cat from another Clan but asks if she wants him to look at it, and Needlepaw gratefully agrees with an uncomfortable wriggle. She adds that the mange-pelted fox threw her into the bush, and it hurts. Alderpaw examines her more closely and notices that a couple of thorns stick into Needlepaw's back, and she has a nasty scrape clotted with dried blood. He has her crouch down so he can remove the thorn. The gray she-cat flattens herself and Alderpaw manages to yank out the thorns, and applies comfrey root to the wound. He says that the comfrey root will take the pain away, and Needlepaw stretches and relaxes as the herb's juices soak into her back. She thanks Alderpaw, saying that he must be a really good medicine cat, because she already feels better and is hungry. Alderpaw feels embarrassed at Needlepaw's prey, and is glad to let Cherryfall organize a patrol, and head off into the trees to hunt with Molewhisker, Sparkpaw, and Needlepaw.
There is still a while before sunhigh when the patrol returns with great amounts of prey, and Alderpaw is particularly amazed to see Needlepaw's catch as she drags a pigeon and a squirrel, both so big that she can hardly manage them. The ShadowClan apprentice picks up her pace to stride ahead to the bottom of the hollow and drops her catch at Alderpaw and Sandstorm's paws. Although Alderpaw tries to hide how impressed he is, he is sure that Needlepaw can tell, because she meows that it is not bad, and asks if they regret having her around now. She adds that she got even more than that and as Sparkpaw and the others catch up and put down their own prey, Alderpaw can see that his sister is annoyed to be outdone by Needlepaw.
The ginger she-cat confirms to Sandstorm that Needlepaw had also caught a big, fat rat, and when Sandstorm asks of its whereabouts, Sparkpaw, outraged, exclaims that Needlepaw already ate it, which is against the warrior code. Although Alderpaw doesn't say so out loud, he thinks that it isn't their place to teach Needlepaw about the warrior code, as she isn't part of their Clan, and although she ate the rat, she still brought back more prey than the other three put together. Sandstorm says that they should just eat and relax, and Sparkpaw says nothing more, but she glares at Needlepaw, who seems quite untroubled by her complaints. The gray she-cat suggests eating, and offers Alderpaw to share her squirrel.
Alderpaw gladly eats the squirrel, but when he is done and looks up, he notices that Sparkpaw is gone. The cats search for her to find her sleeping, and Molewhisker suggests sleeping themselves, though Alderpaw asks who will keep watch. Needlepaw, who hadn't taken part in the search, strolls up from her pool and flicks drops of water off of her whiskers as she adds that she doesn't need much sleep since her belly is full. Alderpaw thanks her before curling up in the nest. However, Alderpaw has a vision of cats wailing in fear and pain and explains it to Sandstorm, but after they are done and begin to walk back towards their Clanmates, Alderpaw spots sleek silver fur in the midst of long grass. He realizes that Needlepaw is crouched a short distance from where he and Sandstorm had been talking, and the apprentices lock gazes, and wonders how much she overheard.
The cats trek through the woods as the day goes on, with Sandstorm in the lead, Alderpaw just behind, Needlepaw stalking along a little way away from the others, and the other ThunderClan cats bringing up the rear. The cats show signs of being tired but continue moving, and soon the trees thin out to open country ahead. As they set out on the open ground, Needlepaw sidles over to Alderpaw until she pads close by his side, and Alderpaw feels uncomfortable at having a cat from a different Clan so close to him, even though she seems to be losing her harsh ShadowClan scent. The she-cat leans close into Alderpaw's ear as she murmurs that she overheard everything about what she was talking to with Sandstorm about. Alderpaw is anxious and dismayed, realizing that now she knows the real reason for the quest after Bramblestar told him that no other cat should know. He remembers that Needlepaw isn't even a ThunderClan cat, but as he meets Needlepaw's gaze, he realizes that she doesn't look completely confident. Alderpaw wonders if she is bluffing, and decides that two can play at that came.
The ginger tabby responds that it can't have done her much good to hear that unless she wanted to know more about comfrey root, and Needlepaw exclaims the word comfrey root, letting out a mrrow of laughter. She asks about the rest, but Alderpaw fakes confusement, saying that they weren't discussing anything important. Needlepaw quickly glances around to make sure that they are out of earshot of the other cats before asking if it would have been anything about his vision. Alderpaw asks what she is meowing about, and he is confused at how much Needlepaw has figured out herself and how much she an only have to learn if she has heard his whole conversation with Sandstorm. Alderpaw tells her that they were talking about cats who might need their help, and Needlepaw purrs that that is noble of him, asking which cats they are. Alderpaw stammers that it can be any cat, as he is a medicine cat and it is his job to help. Needlepaw is thoughtful and twitches her whiskers in thought, murmuring about the cats who need help, his vision, and the quest for what will clear the sky. She guesses that it is all starting to add up, and Alderpaw guiltily realizes that if Needlepaw is only pretending to have overheard, he told her more than he should have. The medicine cat apprentice decides that however much she knows is enough to cause a problem, which gives her power. He thinks that she will now have to stay with them, whether they want it or not.
Alderpaw's thoughts are interrupted by Cherryfall pointing out a big yellow Twoleg den, and the cats wonder how they will go past the fence that stretches into the distance on either side. Sparkpaw suggests going underneath it, but Needlepaw asks if they are rabbits. Sparkpaw comes up and reports that it won't work as it seems to go a long way down into the ground, and Molewhisker suggests looking for a hole they can fit into, but they find no gap in the fence large enough for any of them to fit through. At last, Needlepaw announces that their only choice left is to go over it, and Sparkpaw sarcastically wonders if she has grown wings. Needlepaw ignores the ThunderClan she-cat and offers to go first. She says that it doesn't look that hard and tells the others to watch, and the Clan cats nervously observe as she begins to climb. The fence bobs and sways alarmingly, but Needlepaw continues until she reaches the very top, with her paws balancing between the spikes. Sandstorm calls out to be careful, and Alderpaw is briefly certain that Needlepaw will impale herself on the sharp spikes, but she flings herself off the top of the bobbing fence and neatly landing on the other side. She calls that it is easy and gives her shoulder a smug lick, causing Sparkpaw to mew that if the ShadowClan she-cat can do it, then so can she. The dark ginger tabby swarms up the fence the same way Needlepaw had, then leaps gracefully down on the other side. Cherryfall and Molewhisker go next, and when it is Alderpaw's turn, he tries not to think about looking like a fool in front of his Clanmates or Needlepaw. Alderpaw makes it across, but when it is Sandstorm's turn, she falls down on the side her Clanmates are on, causing her wound to get larger. Alderpaw asks the elderly she-cat if her shoulder caught on the spikes, and she tells him not to fuss but rather worry about the enormous beast up ahead. Alderpaw realizes that the other cats are uneasily eyeing a huge creature that stands a short distance away, and even Needlepaw looks scared.
The Clan cats head in a wide circle around the strange animal, and when it is behind them, they skirt the big yellow Twoleg den and the cluster of smaller dens also. They find smaller wooden den with birds pecking at the earth around it, but when Sparkpaw tries to catch one the birds scatter and the apprentice leaps backward hissing, causing Needlepaw, to meow that it looks like she is the prey. The cats continue, and Sparkpaw glares at Needlepaw as the ShadowClan apprentice lets out a stream of squawks in imitation of the weird birds. Sparkpaw tells her to stop messing around, but Needlepaw seems unable to understand their need to move quickly, and Alderpaw gets more irritated with her as she pokes her nose into every hole and clump of long grass. The gray she-cat halts at the sight of another strange creature, and when it lets out a high-pitched cry, Needlepaw at once tries to imitate it, snorting with laughter at her own weird meows. Alderpaw snarls at her to hurry and gives her a hard shove, and Needlepaw retorts back for him to keep his fur on.
By the time the cats reach a hedge, Needlepaw is still bouncing around enthusiastically. As they begin to push through it, Sparkpaw pushes Needlepaw ahead of her and brings up the rear, hissing at her that she swears she will claw her ears off if she behaves like that for much longer. Needlepaw swipes at her playfully, saying that she can always try. The cats continue into a stretch of yellow-brown plant talks, and Needlepaw finally seems to have calmed down as she slides through the gaps between the plants. However, they notice a huge monster with spinning jaws cutting the plants and Sandstorm orders them to run. However, their path is blocked by another fence made of shiny tendrils, and Sparkpaw climbs first, with Needlepaw following. After all of the cats cross, Alderpaw notices that Sandstorm's wound is worse then ever, and has his companions find him cobwebs to close the wound.
The next morning, Alderpaw is woken to rain, and Cherryfall informs him that the others have gone hunting. Soon the hunters come back with a rabbit and a couple of blackbirds, and Needlepaw complains that it is horrible out there. She shakes her pelt so that the drops spatter Alderpaw, claiming that most of the prey is hiding, but Alderpaw still praises her on doing well. When the other cats settle down at the top of the hollow to eat, Alderpaw tells them that they can't start traveling until Sandstorm is better, but despite Sandstorm's protests, the others clearly understand the situation's seriousness, and even Needlepaw has stopped joking around. Alderpaw asks his companions for herbs, and after Sparkpaw comes back, while Alderpaw chews up marigold that she had brought, Needlepaw pushes her way through the bushes with a dripping ball of moss in her jaws. She explains that she couldn't find any herbs but thought that Sandstorm might be thirsty, and she sets the moss down beside the old she-cat. Alderpaw compliments her on the idea, and feels more warm toward the gray she-cat than he ever has. Needlepaw ducks her head to lick her chest fur, embarrassed at his praise.
That night, after Alderpaw has a vision of Sandstorm telling him that she will join StarClan, he wakes to find that Sandstorm has died overnight. The apprentice begins wailing in distress, and the other cats begin to wake, confused and questioning, but they all fall silent as Alderpaw points to the ginger she-cat's body with his tail. They slowly pad over to the deceased she-cat and look down. The ThunderClan cats drag Sandstorm out of the nest and onto grass, and as they begin to settle down around her, Needlepaw pads up to Alderpaw. She murmurs that although Sandstorm wasn't her Clanmate, she traveled with her long enough to know how great she was. The gray-and-white apprentice asks to keep vigil with him, and Alderpaw agrees, warming once again to the ShadowClan she-cat, and he invites her to come and sit by him. The questing cats stay by Sandstorm's body throughout the night, and after Alderpaw eventually dozes, he wakes to the voices of the others. Cherryfall decides that they must bury the elder, and Molewhisker says that they should consider returning to the lake after burying her. Needlepaw, neck fur bristling, is surprised, and counters that Sandstorm died trying to help them complete the quest. She points out that if they stop now, she would have died in vain, but Molewhisker spits that it isn't her decision, as she isn't even a ThunderClan cat. Alderpaw is unhappy in listening to the quarrel, and doesn't wait for Needlepaw to respond before padding away.
Alderpaw thinks about his quest and the SkyClan cats who need help, and out loud wonders what he will do, and a voice replies that he should tell them the truth. Alderpaw swings around, back arched, even though he recognized Needlepaw's voice. The young she-cat shows none of her usual mischief as she approaches him. She begins that the others have come so far and won't turn away from him now. She says that he must go on, but first tell the others the truth about why they are going on the journey. Alderpaw counters if even she knows, and the ShadowClan apprentice answers that she doesn't. Eyes serious, she admits that she only heard a little of what he and Sandstorm had said, but knows that there is more behind it than what he told them. She explains that she thinks it is time that every cat knew the truth, and says that she will tell them if he doesn't. Alderpaw is about to protest, but she adds that she might instead tell them what she knows, forcing him to tell the rest. Alderpaw stares at her, outraged, and exclaims that he didn't think she would betray him like that. The other cat flinches, but defends that it isn't betrayal, as she has seen how he thinks things over so many times. She says that she knows he would never tell the others the truth on her own, but she thinks that it is important for them to know. Alderpaw challenges her on why, and Needlepaw explains that it will help bind them together after the loss of Sandstorm. Alderpaw realizes that she must have thought long and hard about it, and she goes on that it will help every cat recognize the quest's importance. Needlepaw mentions that she saw how he and Sandstorm looked at each other when they talked about it, and knows how serious it is. Alderpaw thinks about it then nods, privately surprised that of all the cats, Needlepaw would give him such wise advice, and he agrees to do as she suggests. Needlepaw's eyes gleam and she suggests first hunting, as full bellies will help truth go down easier. Alderpaw is about to argue when he realizes that he is hungry, and he responds that she is right, and that he will hunt with her.
Alderpaw tries to smell prey, while Needlepaw pads forward slowly but decisively ahead of him. He realizes that she must have found a scent, but Alderpaw himself can't smell anything except for the farm creatures. Suddenly, Needlepaw halts, raising her tail to signal spotted prey, and she half turns to Alderpaw, jerking her head to one side to tell him to go that way. Alderpaw obeys, and finally catches a scent of rabbit that Needlepaw must have picked up long before. Alderpaw tries to stalk it, but it takes off and races away, and Alderpaw chases after it. Needlepaw suddenly appears out of nowhere, right in the rabbit's path, and she lashes out with one paw, abruptly cutting off the rabbits shriek as it falls limply to the ground. The silver apprentice thanks StarClan for the prey, then she looks up, eyes alight with the thrill of the hunt. She exclaims to Alderpaw that he is fast, and drove it right toward her which is impressive, and Alderpaw pads over to Needlepaw, nuzzling her head with his nose. He thanks her for her help, and says that although they are from different Clans, he is glad that she stayed with them.
When Alderpaw and Needlepaw return to the elder bushes with the rabbit, the others greet him and settle down to eat the rabbit. After they finish eating, Alderpaw declares that he has something to tell them, and he explains to them everything that he knows of SkyClan. Cherryfall says that telling them the truth was brave of him, and that although it will take them a few days to get used to it, she is glad that he told them the truth, and Needlepaw agrees. Molewhisker says that he thinks he speaks for them all when he says that they will do whatever it takes to find SkyClan, and his friends murmur their agreement.
Many sunrises later, Alderpaw and his friends walk along a cliff edge, and had hardly stopped to rest since Alderpaw had told them the truth. The traveling cats had followed Sandstorm's directions and passed through more farms, crossed more Thunderpaths, and skirted Twolegplaces until reaching the river and turning upstream. Alderpaw thinks of how tired he is and looks back at his companions, seeing that they are just as weary as him. The cats reach where the river begins, where they can see cats slipping between borders in the SkyClan camp, and Needlepaw creeps up beside Alderpaw and peers over his shoulder, asking if they are the cats from his dreams. He responds that they are too far away for him to be sure, but that the red rock seems familiar, and Needlepaw edges up beside him to give the scene a closer look. She notes that they may seem far away but don't look like cats in need of help, and Alderpaw realizes that she is right, and wonders if he misinterpreted his vision. Sparkpaw angrily asks her brother if he led them all that way for nothing, but Needlepaw retorts that they don't know Alderpaw is wrong from where they are at.
Needlepaw suggests getting closer, and Alderpaw is grateful for her defense and how she always has the spirit to adapt to setbacks. The ShadowClan she-cat asks what they are waiting for and springs to her paws, suggesting that they find a way down. Molewhisker instantly moves to block her, demanding if she is mouse-brained, and he points out that they can't just enter their camp, as they don't know SkyClan and SkyClan don't know them. He goes on that they don't know if they can trust them, and says that Sandstorm, the only one who ever met SkyClan, is dead. Needlepaw shrugs, unmoved by his argument, and she counters that they can only find answers by getting closer. She points out that Alderpaw wouldn't have dreamed of the cats if they weren't important, and Alderpaw agrees, telling Needlepaw to lead on.
Needlepaw searches for a moment before finding the beginning of a path that leads down into the gorge, and Alderpaw follows hard on her paw steps. As his companions head down after them, Alderpaw hears Sparkpaw mutter that her brother must be crazy to follow the stupid ShadowClan furball. However, before descending more than a few fox-lengths into the gorge, a loud yowl comes from below, and a patrol of four SkyClan cats race toward them, with Needlepaw murmuring that it is bad. Alderpaw responds that they had to meet them sometime and he slides past Needlepaw, taking the lead, and saying that they will wait for them. He reminds her that they are there to help, and not to fight. After Alderpaw talks with the patrol and they agree to take him to their leader, Needlepaw sidles past the ThunderClan tom and catches up with the gray tom who was leading the patrol. She asks him his name, and is ears flick in surprise at most likely her confident tone. He answers that he is called Rain, and Alderpaw is curious that it isn't a Clan name, and wonders why Needlepaw isn't asking that question. Alderpaw reflects on how SkyClan might do things differently, and by the time he is done thinking, Needlepaw is walking beside Rain and chatting without any apprehension. Alderpaw thinks she has the right idea and begins to introduce himself to the nearest escort, but she ignores him.
Rain leads Alderpaw and his friends up the pile of rocks where the river gushes out, and a black-and-white tom sitting on top of it surveys the newcomers. The white tom asks if they are lost kitties, but Alderpaw tells his Clanmates to be steady, and Rain explains to Darktail that they are strangers from far away, looking for SkyClan. Alderpaw explains to Darktail how they plan to take SkyClan back to the lake, but when the leader disagrees, Needlepaw suggests sticking around for a bit, and her head and tail are raised fearlessly as she addresses Darktail. She adds that they could join in with some hunts and patrols, and that it won't take long for them to see that they can be trusted, although Alderpaw is unsure on if he likes the suggestion or not. Darktail finally agrees, and orders Rain to show the guests where they can sleep.
The next morning, Alderpaw recalls how Rain had taken him and his friends to a den, which was a bare cave in the side of the gorge with only sand on the floor. The ThunderClan apprentice dwells on thoughts of his quest, but a yowl a little way downstream distracts him, and he turns to see Needlepaw perched on a boulder a few tail-lengths away. She announces that the hunters are back with prey. The Clan cats watch as first Darktail, then Rain take prey, and the hunters then fight over the best pieces of fresh-kill, and Cherryfall asks what they think are doing. Beside Alderpaw, Needlepaw shrugs, suggesting that they might not have been taught the warrior code. Sparkpaw mutters that she is surprised the ShadowClan she-cat even heard of it, and Needlepaw gives her a sly, sideways glance, retorting that just because she don't always follow stupid rules doesn't mean that she doesn't know they exist.
Without hesitation, Needlepaw dives into the squabbling cats, easily batting two or three younger cats aside, and heartbeats later, she emerges from the skirmish with a mouse. The silver she-cat crouches down in the shade of a rock to gulp it down. After Sparkpaw talks to Darktail about how their prey distribution is unfair and like that of rogues, Alderpaw spots Needlepaw relaxing in the sun with the hunters. The siblings settle themselves into the den, and Alderpaw, thinking of how the SkyClan he had been told about by Bramblestar is so different than the one he is seeing, saying that it is all so confusing, but Needlepaw interrupts and asks what they are talking about as she enters the den. Sparkpaw repeats that they should go home as the cats don't need them, but Needlepaw sounds scornful, and she points out that they are there to find what lies in the shadows, and have found it. She goes on that the cats are really dark and that they can't turn away now, but Cherryfall agrees with Sparkpaw, asking Alderpaw if this was what he saw in his dream. The apprentice glances around at his cats, sensing that they are doubting him, and he explains that he isn't sure but that he knows this is where they are meant to be, and after the other cats exchange doubtful glances, Cherryfall finally nods.
After the last of the prey has been picked over and the SkyClan cats have drifted away, Alderpaw notices an orange she-cat coughing, and after bringing back herbs for her, he offers to Darktail that he can show some of his cats useful herbs throughout the territory. Darktail calls to Rain, and the gray tom springs up from where he was sitting at the edge of the river and talking to Needlepaw, and he bounds over to his leader, asking what he wants. Darktail orders him to go with Alderpaw, who will teach him about herbs, and after Rain agrees, Needlepaw sidles up to them and adds that she will come too, to get a better look at the gorge. Alderpaw can't imagine why Needlepaw would want to see any more of the barren, dirty place, but he doesn't object, thinking that nothing she does makes sense. Rain takes the lead as the three cats head downstream.
That night, Alderpaw has troubles sleeping, disturbed by the thoughts of the tour of the territory he had taken with Needlepaw and Rain. The apprentice thinks more about his quest, but he is distracted by the sound of voices, and he looks out the den to see Raven, Rain, and Darktail talking about the journey. Movement in the shadows catches the young tom's eye, and he is astonished to spot Needlepaw emerge from the shelter of a boulder and pad up to Rain. He realizes then that she wasn't asleep in the den with him and his Clanmates, and the silver she-cat purrs to Rain that it sounds like they are close to making up their minds. The big tom looms over her, hissing that it is rude to eavesdrop, but Needlepaw says that the hardly had a choice, and her voice is playful instead of intimidating. She adds that they aren't subtle in their plotting, and Rain mutters something in reply, then turns to walk away.
Needlepaw patters alongside the SkyClan cat, and Alderpaw follows them as they head upstream toward the rockpile. Although he keeps his distance, he can still hear Needlepaw purr to Rain that life in the other Clans is different, as there are rules. She goes on that he, Darktail, and the others will have to learn them if they want to fit in, but Rain responds that everything will work out just the way it is meant to. Alderpaw decides to go back, and he turns toward the den, but his paw dislodges a pebble, and Needlepaw and Rain swivel around to stare at him. Rain asks who it is, and Alderpaw says that it was just him, before he runs back to the den.
The next morning, Alderpaw is exhausted, and he recalls how he had been kept awake last night from the ache in his chest after hearing Needlepaw talk to Rain. When all of the questing cats have emerged from the den and groom themselves at the water side, Molewhisker suggests hunting, and Cherryfall agrees that she can't wait to leave the gorge, but Needlepaw yawns that she doesn't know, noting that it isn't so bad when they get used to it. Sparkpaw snaps that she can stay then, and adds that no cat ever asked her to come with them, but Molewhisker interrupts, and tells Needlepaw that although she can do what she wants, the rest of them are going to hunt.
While hunting, Alderpaw meets a former SkyClan warrior named Mistfeather, and he learns that Darktail and the cats in the gorge have driven the real SkyClan out. However, Darktail finds Alderpaw and Mistfeather, killing the former warrior, and he brings Alderpaw back to the camp, where he announces that the apprentice was talking to a SkyClan cat, and that it is obvious that the cats have lied to them. He goes on that they aren't friendly visitors, but are working with SkyClan to steal the territory back from them, and Alderpaw's friends hardly resist as the rogues begin to close around them.
Rain asks Needlepaw if it is true, and he thrusts his face up against hers until their noses almost touch. He asks if she is planning with SkyClan, and Alderpaw wonders if he feels hurt, but the ShadowClan apprentice remains calm and meets his furious gaze, replying that it obviously isn't. She explains that they live far from the gorge, and when they set out, weren't even sure of SkyClan's existence so that they couldn't have been conspiring with them. Darktail yowls, accusing her of lying, but Needlepaw replies that she certainly isn't. She raises a paw to smooth her whiskers, and Alderpaw admires how she shows no fear. Needlepaw looks at Alderpaw with an annoyed expression, and she explains that her medicine cat friend might have been spending time with the wrong cat, but must not have meant anything by it. Darktail seems to be considering her words, but Raven points out that they don't know if they can trust these cat, and Darktail then fixes his gaze on Needlepaw, deciding that he can't let them go after everything that has happened. Molewhisker and Cherryfall object, but the rogues tighten the circle around the questing cats, and Darktail promises that he will let them go once he is convinced the danger has passed.
That evening, Alderpaw recalls how he and the others had been escorted to a different den after the confrontation, and he explains to his friends how Mistfeather had told him of the rogues who attacked SkyClan before he was killed by Darktail. Molewhisker mews that Darktail is evil, and he turns to Needlepaw, asking what she was thinking that morning. He adds that they shouldn't have tried explaining to him, but just walked out on their own accord, but Needlepaw asks if he doesn't think the rogues would have followed them. Her voice rises as she retorts that they would have led them straight to their own Clans, and the questing cats settle once more into an uneasy silence and settle down into the new den.
Early the next morning, the Clan cats are awake with plans to escape the gorge. Needlepaw, who looks unusually hesitant, waits near the den entrance, and she mumbles that she thinks it's a bad idea. The apprentice begins on what will happen if they are caught, but Molewhisker brushes his tail across her shoulder, and says that they will just have to make sure they don't. Her head droops in reluctant agreement, and Molewhisker leads the way out of the den. The questing cats silently head toward the water's edge and eventually reach the river, turning downstream. The cats lope swiftly over the rocks, but before going very far, come to a spot where a spur of rock juts out from the cliff, and the river curls around it. The travelers look for a place to cross, and head toward the trees farther downstream. Cherryfall spots a tree that leans on the river and stretches to the opposite side, and after the other three have crossed, Needlepaw tells Alderpaw that he is next. The apprentice mews to Needlepaw to go first, saying that he will keep lookout, and though Needlepaw at first looks reluctant, she shrugs after a moment's hesitation, and agrees to do so. The silver she-cat scrambles up the tree trunk with a whisk of her tail and heads out along the branch.
Alderpaw follows her and after Sparkpaw, Molewhisker, and Cherryfall leap onto the opposite bank, Needlepaw edges forward just ahead of him, a mouse-length at a time, before halting and gripping the branch with her claws. The branch dips precariously under her weight, and Alderpaw urges her to keep going. Needlepaw glances over her shoulder, hissing that she is scared of falling into the water, but Alderpaw reassures her that it will be fine, and meows that it is better than if the rogues catch up with them.
However, as soon as Needlepaw starts edging forward again, the branch starts to creak, and gives way. Needlepaw lets out a screech of terror, but it is abruptly cut off as the two apprentices plunge into the cold stream. Alderpaw gets dragged toward a waterfall, and as he thinks he will fall, he feels his forepaw snag on something in the water. The contact had pulled him toward the bank, and he realizes that he is clinging to Needlepaw. Alderpaw gasps at the young she-cat to keep going, and he exclaims that they can do it, but despite the two cats' fighting efforts, the river is still stronger. They approach the falls, and Alderpaw finds himself torn away from Needlepaw as he falls. After the medicine cat apprentice falls, he feels something shove him hard at the back of the neck, propelling him toward the bank. He soon reaches the bank and turns to see Needlepaw drag herself out after him, fur plastered to her body. Alderpaw collapses onto his belly, and Needlepaw sinks down beside him.
After catching his breath, Alderpaw asks Needlepaw if she can hear the others, but she just shakes out her wet fur, and yowls that she can't hear them, or anything over the water. She adds that she told him she didn't like it. Alderpaw looks around but can only see trees and sky; hear the water; and smell wet dirt, and his and Needlepaw's fear. The apprentice wonders what they will do now.
Alderpaw at first lies, exhausted, with Needlepaw by his side, but thinking of his Clanmates, he pants that they should get up and try to figure out a way to get back to the others. Needlepaw gives her shoulder fur a couple of feeble licks, and meows that she needs to rest, but Alderpaw objects that they don't know what happened to them, and have to find them. Needlepaw snorts that he needs to quit worrying about others so much and start worrying about himself. She says that the others should find them, because they need to rest.
Alderpaw realizes that she is right, and he looks around to see a Thunderpath and Twoleg dens close by. He groans that there are Twolegs everywhere, but Needlepaw replies that it is fine, and she waves her tail toward a tangle of elder bushes growing between the water's edge and the Thunderpath. She says that they can make a nest there, and the Twolegs won't find them. Alderpaw hopes that she is right, and follows Needlepaw as she thrusts her way deep into the bushes and flattens a clump of long grass for a makeshift den. Alderpaw curls up beside her, and the ShadowClan apprentice's snores soon echo around the den, but Alderpaw finds himself struggling to fall asleep. He is overwhelmed with the sound and smell of the monsters, and he snuggles up to Needlepaw, filling his nose with her scent, before finally falling asleep.
When Alderpaw wakes up, he is anxious as he sees that Needlepaw has vanished. He creeps out of the den and the grass soon parts to reveal Needlepaw, trotting up to him with a plump sparrow in her jaws. She announces that there is fresh-kill, and drops it at Alderpaw's paws. Alderpaw thanks StarClan that she is back, and exclaims that he was worried about her, but Needlepaw flicks her tail and says that there is no need, then invites him to eat.
As he eats, Alderpaw asks Needlepaw what they should do next, and, mouth full, the gray apprentice replies that they should look for the others. Alderpaw is glad that he doesn't have to argue with her, as he wants to find his Clanmates.
When they finish eating, Alderpaw and Needlepaw head back upstream as far as the waterfall. Alderpaw notes that they have to go back up the fall, but Needlepaw meows that it doesn't look too hard, and she springs up onto the first of the rocks. Alderpaw uncertainly follows, though Needlepaw climbs determinedly ahead of him, showering him with grit and drops of water.
When they reach the top, the apprentices trudge on beside the stream, occasionally calling out to their Clanmates as they search for scents. As Alderpaw begins to get discouraged, Needlepaw exclaims out loud, and pauses to taste the air among the roots of an elm tree that grows close to the waterside. She calls the ginger tabby to come over, and Alderpaw pads over to join her, sniffing the hollow by the roots, where he can smell the scents of all three of his Clanmates. The training medicine cat calls out for his Clanmates, but when there is no reply, Needlepaw, concentrating hard as she follows the scent away from the tree, tells him that they were traveling downstream. She bets him that their friends were looking for them, and Alderpaw asks if they passed them on the way. Needlepaw, looking briefly puzzled, states that she doesn't see how they could have, but Alderpaw says that they only need to follow their scent, and tells her to come on. Needlepaw groans that they also have to climb back down the StarClan-cursed waterfall, and she follows him.
The scent trail leads downstream, and Needlepaw notes that they are searching for the apprentices, though she admits that she can't think of how they missed the other ThunderClan cats. When the apprentice reach the bushes near their where they had made a nest, they find that the scent trail leads onward, and Needlepaw snarls that she doesn't believe it, giving a lash of her tail. She exclaims that they missed them, and that they must have walked straight past while they were asleep. Alderpaw meows that since they were so wet, the water must have washed out their scents, but notes that at least they know their friends are alive and haven't been captured by Darktail. He adds that they only need to follow them.
However, when Alderpaw and Needlepaw head downstream, they find that it isn't so easy to follow the scent, because there is are conflicting reeks of monsters and Twolegs in the area, and when they come to where a monster must have stopped, Alderpaw mews that they lost them. Needlepaw responds in a tiny voice that their friends probably think they drowned, and wonders where they went after that. Alderpaw points out that they must still be following the river, as there is no way of crossing, but Needlepaw seems unusually despondent as she somewhat agrees. She questions on what would happen if they are wrong and never find their friends, and Alderpaw replies that in that case they would have to find their own way back to camp. He states that if the other questing cats stop looking for them, it is where they will go.
After looking around, Alderpaw decides that they have to cross back to the other side of the river, then head toward the setting sun, but with a sniff, Needlepaw points out that that is a bit vague. She explains that they could completely miss the lake and the Clan territory, and adds that he shouldn't consider swimming across the river, because she won't. Alderpaw meows that no one asked her to, and states that they will head downstream to their original side, then may find a fallen tree to cross. He adds that after that, they might catch up with the others if they are lucky, and Needlepaw lets out a snort, exclaiming that they could use a bit of luck.
By the time the sun begins setting, the Thunderpath veers away from the river, so that a grassy stretch of ground opens up, and Alderpaw meows that it would be a great place to rest, and asks if there is any prey. Needlepaw perks up at the thought of hunting and exclaims that he should just watch her. The silver-and-white cat disappears into the nearest bushes and returns soon with a limp blackbird in her jaws.
For three more sunrises, the apprentices trek along the river, their hopes occasionally rising when they pick up traces of their friends' scents, and know that they are still following in their pawsteps. However, there is no place for the cats to cross the river. On the third day, more Twoleg dens loom in the horizon, and Alderpaw notes that it is a really big Twolegplace that they didn't pass on the way to the gorge. He says that they came too far downriver, but Needlepaw shrugs, pointing out that they didn't have much choice. Alderpaw adds that they still don't, and states that they will have to go through the filthy place, but as the young cats pad on side by side, Needlepaw muses that it might not be a bad thing. The first of the Twoleg dens grow closer, and Alderpaw snaps to Needlepaw that it isn't funny, but she states that she isn't joking. The silver she-cat faces him, and though amusement glimmers in her green eyes, she says in a serious tone that they need to find a kittypet.
Alderpaw is outraged at the thought of a kittypet, and asks Needlepaw if she is okay, though he says that he doesn't know of an herb for crazy cats, but Needlepaw brusquely tells him to listen. She gives her ears an impatient flick, and explains that a kittypet might be able to tell them where they can cross the river. Alderpaw asks her what makes her think that, and the ShadowClan apprentice replies that a kittypet would know the area well, and they do not. She adds that a house cat might even give them some kittypet food, and Alderpaw asks if she is joking. However, Needlepaw meows that she isn't, and meows that because they have a long journey ahead, it makes sense to fill up while they can. Alderpaw mutters that he will not fill up on that stuff, but knows that there is no point in protesting as he follows Needlepaw to the Twolegplace.
The young she-cat keeps marching on toward the Twolegplace determinedly until they reach a Thunderpath, where she halts, glancing up and down for monsters, before stretching out a paw and resting it gently on Thunderpath. At Alderpaw's questioning her purpose, Needlepaw informs him that she is feeling for vibrations, because monsters are so huge that once can feel them before seeing them. Alderpaw murmurs that that is useful, and had never seen Needlepaw do that before, but recalls that the ThunderClan warriors had taken the lead when crossing Thunderpaths earlier in the journey. The ginger apprentice wonders how much Needlepaw has done on her own before.
Needlepaw's prodding in Alderpaw's side wakes him from is thoughts, and she exclaims that he should come, as it is safe to cross. Alderpaw bounds across the black surface behind Needlepaw and follows her as she plunges deep into the network of Twoleg dens. He thinks that it is like she owns the place, and wonders how she can bear to get so close to Twolegs, when they might even pick them up and stroke them.
Needlepaw trots up to a male Twoleg who bathes a monster outside his den, and showing no fear, the apprentice rubs up against the Twoleg’s legs and lets out a friendly little trill. However, before the Twoleg can act, Alderpaw dashes up and gives Needlepaw a shove, pushing her until they are well away. He demands what she was doing, and asks if she wants him to feed her to his monster, but Needlepaw retorts that he shouldn't be stupid, and questions if she doesn't know that if one cozies up to Twlolegs they will often give that cat something tasty. She goes on that she does it all the time at the greenleaf Twolegplace on ShadowClan territory, but adds that it wouldn’t work for Alderpaw, and, looking him up and down, she says that it only work for cute cats. Alderpaw says that she has bees in her brain and tells her to keep moving, and Needlepaw, looking smug, strides on again, her tail waving high in the air.
When the apprentices round the next corner, they spot a large ginger kittypet stretched out on top of his wall, and Needlepaw yowls a greeting as she charges up to him. The kittypet greets her back, asking how he can help them, and Needlepaw explains that they are lost Clan cats who need cross the river to get back to their territories. She asks him if he knows the way, and Alderpaw is surprised and slightly disturbed that Needlepaw is giving the kittypet so much information. He thinks that they don’t know they cat, then reminds himself that he probably has no idea what she is talking about either. The kittypet asks if they have to do with three cats he saw there are sunset, and when Alderpaw asks if they match Sparkpaw, Molewhisker, and Cherryfall's description, the kittypet says that it was them, and adds that they were upset and said that they had lost two young cats. He guesses that Aldepraw and Needlepaw are the cats they lost, and adds that they were also looking for a place to cross the river, and Needlepaw asks if he told them. The ginger tom shows them a narrow alley, and explains that that way brings them back to the river, where there is a bridge a little downstream. Alderpaw is doubtful if it is a Twoleg bridge, but Needlepaw gives him an irritated shove and exclaims that it is obviously a Twoleg bridge. She says that they have dealt with them before, and looks at the kittypet again, thanking him. As the young cats are about to leave, Needlepaw asks if he could help them out with some food before they leave, as they are very hungry, and the tom agrees, telling him to follow the wall along to the opening, where he will meet them. The kittypet leaps down from his perch and disappears, and Needlepaw bounds eagerly alongside the wall, with Alderpaw reluctantly following.
The kittypet waits for them by a piece of fence that Needlepaw and Alderpaw slip through, and the ginger kittypet shows them that the food is in a small den in the Twoleg territory where a monster crouches in. As Needlepaw heads for the den with the kittypet at her side, Alderpaw gasps to her that she can’t go in there, but Needlepaw nonchalantly replies that the monster is asleep, and she honestly adds that she is curious to taste kittypet food, though she tells Alderpaw not to let them know back in camp. Alderpaw begins to fret, but breaks off as Needlepaw ignores him and disappears into the monster's den with the kittypet.
Although Alderpaw doesn't go to eat the food, Needlepaw eventually comes back with the kittypet from the monster’s den, and the silver apprentice swipes her tongue around her jaws with satisfaction. She mews that it was great, and thanks the kittypet Bob, and he responds that he is glad too. Bob touches noses with Needlepaw and wishes them well on their journey.
Needlepaw patters along by Aldepraw’s side as he heads down the alley Bob had shown them earlier, and she meows that he can thank her later. She exclaims that her idea totally worked, since they know how to cross the river and can make their way back home. The silver-and-white she-cat pauses briefly, then asks why Alderpaw doesn't look happier. Alderpaw had hoped to be able to conceal the heavy weight inside of him, but realizes that it is clearly impossible to hide anything from Needlepaw. The ThunderClan tom halts and turns toward Needlepaw, and he says that it is because he failed, and questions what kind of a medicine cat he is. Needlepaw looks puzzled and asks what he means, but Alderpaw snaps that she knows what he is talking about, though he tries to choke back his anger at Needlepaw's obtuseness. He explains that SkyClan left the gorge after the rogues attacked them, and no cat seems to know where they went, and even though the questing cats were supposed to save them, then got there way too late. Needlepaw tilts her head to one side and asks how she can be sure, and Alderpaw explains that the other Clans drove SkyClan out of the forest, and his visions told him to go to SkyClan and bring them back to share their territory by the lake. He exclaims that he messed up, they got to the gorge too late, and couldn’t find what lay in the shadows because SkyClan had already left. The ginger tabby adds that the sky will never clear, and asks what will happen to the Clans, putting in that it is because he is a terrible medicine cat.
Alderpaw crouches down to the Twoleg path with his nose resting on his paws, but Needlepaw says nothing, and when Alderpaw looks up again, she is sitting watching him with her tail curled neatly around her forepaws and her face looking skeptical. She asks if he is done and Alderpaw, annoyed with Needlepaw as well as himself for breaking down in front of her, says that he supposes he is. Needlepaw harshly tells him that he is being stupid and self-pitying, and points out that it would have taken the rogues a while to set up in the gorge. She adds that from how he described Mistfeather to be ragged and skinny, the attack didn't happen the day before, and considering the timing of his visions, there was no way that the group could have made it to the gorge in time to save SkyClan. The ShadowClan apprentice rises to her paws and heads off down the alley, concluding that his vision must mean something else.
The apprentices come to the end of the alley, and when they find the bridge that Bob had told them about and see no Twolegs in sight, after only a few heartbeats they dart across. On the opposite side of the river, a small stream trickles into the main current, and Aldepraw ponders on the meaning of his quest, admitting to himself that what Needlepaw said had made sense.
For several more sunrises, Alderpaw and Needlepaw trek across the open country and head toward the setting sun, crossing Thunderpaths and avoiding Twolegplaces. On occasion, the young cats would pick up the scent of the other cats, reassure them that they are going in the right direction, but teach time the traces are fainter and staler.
It begins to rain, and Needlepaw, a little way ahead of Alderpaw, suddenly lets out an excited cry and begins to race forward. Alderpaw asks what the matter is, and Needlepaw calls over her shoulder that it is the farm that they passed through on the way. Alderpaw bounds after the silver she-cat and spots the shiny fence and field. Needlepaw reaches the fence and easily scrambles over it before pelting onward toward the cluster of Twoleg dens, and despite Alderpaw yowling at her to come back, she ignores him. At the same time, rain begins cascading down, and Aldepaw can hardly see his companion ahead of him through the rain. When Alderpaw climbs over the fence and lands on the other side, he spots Needlepaw, still heading toward the center of the farm, and calls again for her to stop and come back, but the silver apprentice doesn't acknowledge him.
Alderpaw knows that the sensible thing to do is to find some shelter, but he feels that he has no choice but to follow Needlepaw. The gray-and-white cat runs past the cluster of Twoleg dens and heads into the field with the big yellow barn. She squeezes through a gap at the bottom of the doors at the entrance, and Alderpaw follows her into the barn. At seeing horses inside, he calls to Needlepaw to watch out, and she runs into one of the empty wooden sections, then pops her head out and beckons Alderpaw with a flick of her ears, telling him to come. Alderpaw follows her inside and asks her why she came in. He questions if she hasn't learned that Twolegs are dangerous, but Needlepaw settles down among the spiky stalks and begins to groom herself. Between strokes of her tongue, she admits that although she would never want to live with Twolegs, they have nice war dens and lots of food, and she inquires if Alderpaw would really rather be outside in the rain. The young medicine cat admits to himself that his companion has a point, and he lets out a sign and sinks into the stalks beside her. Needlepaw points out that they can leave when the rain stops, and notes that they now have a safe place to rest and plenty of mice to eat.
Abandoning her grooming, the ShadowClan she-cat springs to her paws and dives into a heap of stalks, emerging a heartbeat later with bits of the stalks all over her fur and the plump body of a mouse gripped firmly in her jaws. She drops it in front of Alderpaw and meows that it is for him, to apologize for not listening to him in the rain. Alderpaw wonders when Needlepaw ever listened to any cat, but thanks her and bites into the warm prey. Needlepaw catches another mouse for herself and settles down to eat it beside.
That night, when Sandstorm visits Alderpaw in a dream, he tells her about everything that happened since her death, including begin washed downriver with Needlepaw. Sandstorm tells Alderpaw that his quest will require him a different path, but despite Alderpaw's confusion, the StarClan she-cat begins to fade, and the apprentice begins to wake as Needlepaw shakes his shoulder. She meows that it stopped raining, and figured that he would want to know since he is eager to get home, and Alderpaw sits up and agrees.
Later, Alderpaw and Needlepaw approach the first Thunderpath they had crossed after leaving their territories. As she trots by Alderpaw's side, Needlepaw mews that she can't wait to get back to ShadowClan territory. She begins that she missed her den so much, but is interrupted when Alderpaw asks if she won't be in trouble with his Clan. He questions on what her mentor will say, as apprentices aren't supposed to leave without permission, but Needlepaw reminds him that she left in service of her Clan, because she knew that the sneaky ThunderClan cats would go in search to find what was in the shadows. She airily adds that no cat every really gets in trouble in ShadowClan. Needlepaw explains that the older cats will yowl and stomp a bit, but can't really do that much, but the silver apprentice's voice trails off as they approach the Thunderpath and she halts at the sight of the monsters passing in both directions.
Alderpaw isn't listening to her anymore but stares thoughtfully into the distance, and after a moment, Needlepaw prods him and asks what he is doing. Alderpaw merely replies that he is thinking, and with an exasperated snort, Needlepaw demands what he is thinking about what. Alderpaw replies that he isn't looking forward to getting home because that will end the quest, and he still doesn't know what it was about, yet Needlepaw tells him that it was about embracing what they find in the shadows, and although they didn't find it, they learned a lot about it. She says that he doesn't need stop stand there moping over it, and asks why they can't just go, but Alderpaw responds that he feels that there is more he should be doing, and admits to himself that he will have to tell Needlepaw about how Sandstorm visited his dream in the Twoleg barn.
Alderpaw begins that he had a dream, and Needlepaw's eyes widen as he reveals what Sandstorm had told him. She asks why he didn't tell her earlier, and the medicine cat apprentice states that it was his vision, and he wanted to figure it out alone. With and exaggerated sigh, Needlepaw says that after all they have been through he should realize that he needs her. The young she-cat thinks, glancing around, and thinks about a different path, but Alderpaw meows that he thinks Sandstorm means a different way of thinking, not a literal different path. However, Needlepaw isn't paying attention, and she cries for him to look, dodging away from the Thunderpath.
Alderpaw watches as Needlepaw bounds down a dip in the grass beside the edge of the black surface that leads into a tunnel opening, with bars of Twoleg stuff wide enough for a cat to slip through. Aldepaw trails after his fellow apprentice and asks what she is doing, as it looks dangerous, and she turns back to him, rolling her eyes. The she-cat asks if he has bees in his brain, and says that they came over the Thunderpath, and now there is a different path leading under it. She adds that it is all in shadow, and that they can go that way, but Alderpaw retorts that she is the crazy one, as StarClan wouldn't just want them to go through a tunnel. He goes on that it is dark and smells weird, could have anything lurking inside, and there is water on the bottom of it, but Needlepaw is already wriggling through the bars, and takes no notice when Alderpaw groans that she never listens to him.
Alderpaw thinks that he could ignore Needlepaw, head over the Thunderpath, and let her fend for herself, as she isn't even part of his Clan and not meant to be on the quest, but he despite the arguments in his head, he knows that they are pointless, and follows the silver she-cat into the tunnel. Inside the shadowy tunnel, Alderpaw can see Needlepaw's figure, dark against the distant outlet, bounding ahead of him, and she wonders where Sandstorm would want them to go, her voice echoing strangely in the tunnel. She asks what is most different, and considers that they perhaps shouldn't even head back the way they came anymore, and wonders what would happen if they went in another direction. Needlepaw halts and half turns back to Alderpaw, planning that they could loop all the way around Clan territory and come in through ShadowClan, or maybe head the other way around the lake through RiverClan. She reflectively adds that she has only been on RiverClan territory once, and was caught and sent back home with a scolding, and Alderpaw exclaims that she is a mouse-brain.
Needlepaw turns to go one, and Aldepraw is about to follow when he hears a soft cry coming from farther into the darkness. Alderpaw pads toward the source of the sound, and discovers two tiny kits, one black-and-white, on gray, inside a nest of moss and dry leaves. The kits let out high-pitched mews, and Needlepaw asks what the matter is as she bounds back down the tunnel toward Alderpaw. She begins to ask something, but skids to a halt at spotting the nest. She exclaims that they are kits, and shakes her head in disbelief. The female apprentice wonders where their mother is and glances around, noting that, because their eyes aren't even open yet, they can only be a few days old. Alderpaw adds that they are very thin and can't have eaten in a while, and Needlepaw declares that she will go and look for their mother. The ShadowClan she-cat bounds to the other side of the tunnel and wriggles out through the bars, where Alderpaw can head her calling outside.
Alderpaw looks at the kits, and sees that under their fur seems to be just skin and bone, and he yowls to Needlepaw to forget the kits' mother. He calls that the kits need something to eat, and tells her to quickly catch something, and Needlepaw agrees. A few heartbeats later, she slides through the bars and bounds along the tunnel to join Alderpaw, with a fat vole gripped in her jaws. Alderpaw admiringly mews that that was quick, and says that they must chew up the meat and feed it to the kits.
Once the apprentices have chewed up some of the fresh-kill into pulp, Alderpaw tries to have the gray kit eat it, but she spits it out, and Needlepaw sighs, cursing. She notes that they aren't used to eating food yet, and need milk, but Alderpaw meows that unless she has any, they must continue trying with the vole. Alderpaw eventually coaxes the gray kit into swallowing the vole, and Needlepaw begins to feed the black-and-white kit, so the soon the tiny creatures are eagerly sucking at the pulp. Needlepaw murmurs that the kits would have starved without them, and sounds unusually gentle as she blinks affectionately at her kit.
When the kits are done eating, Alderpaw mews that they must get them warm, and the tiny cats have curled up to him and Needlepaw, drawn by the heat of their bodies. Alderpaw licks the gray kit from tail to head to get her blood flowing, and Needlepaw does the same for the black-and-white kitten, so that both kits are soon falling asleep. Alderpaw tells his companion that it is good that they found the kits when they didn't, as they probably wouldn't have survived out there much longer, and Needlepaw murmurs agreement, though she wonders what happened to her mother. She asks if the queen might have got hit on the Thunderpath, and Alderpaw replies that he is not sure, but suggestions bringing the kits back to camp, where hey can be cared for. Needlepaw meows that that is a great idea, and adds that they should give them names.
The ShadowClan she-cat suggests Violetkit for the black-and-white kit, who she strokes with the tip of her tail. She explains that she is picking up the scent of violets, and guesses that the mother used some of the leaves for the nest. Alderpaw purrs that that is a good name, and decides to call the gray one Twigkit, for being tiny as a twig. Needlepaw lets out a mrrow of laughter, and agrees that Twigkit will be her name. As the apprentices rise, preparing to pick up the sleeping kits by their scruffs, Needlepaw turns to Alderpaw, smirking. She asks when he will thank her for leading him into the tunnel, but Alderpaw is confused. Needlepaw, looking even smugger, says that it is obvious that the kits are what he would find in the shadows.
After Needlepaw and Alderpaw leave the tunnel, they journey until nighttime, where they make a temporary den near the place where they spotted the Twolegs and ate their food. Needlepaw catches a couple of mice, and they fed the kits again. Now the woods and moorlands around the lake stretch, and before sunhigh the apprentices will be back in their own camps. Needlepaw toils up to the ridge and stands beside Alderpaw, letting Violetkit down into the grass next to Twigkit. She pants that they made it, and Alderpaw, feeling slightly awkward, begins that they should say good-bye. He explains that she will want to go through RiverClan to get back to her territory, as it is the quickest way, and Needlepaw agrees. Alderpaw, feeling more awkward, turns to Needlepaw, and, after hesitation, asks if she could keep quiet about what happened in the gorge, at least until he can talk about it to Bramblestar. He reminds her that the whole SkyClan thing is a secret, but Alderpaw cringes inwardly as he speaks, knowing how unlikely it is that Needlepaw would keep a secret to oblige a ThunderClan cat. Although Alderpaw expects her to hiss at him in anger, the silver she-cat just stares at him, her mouth clamped shut, and Alderpaw, realizing that the best he could hope for is a quick getaway, requests that Needlepaw helps him get Violetkit onto his back.
However, Needlepaw's jaws gape open at that, and she demands what he means. She says that she isn't leaving the shadow kits, as she helped find them, and she asks who said that they are going to ThunderClan. Alderpaw has troubles believing what he is hearing, and thinks that she has bees in her brain. He exclaims that if it weren't for her dream and what Sandstorm told him, they would never have found the kits, but Needlepaw's neck fur begins to rise, and she flattens out her ears. She points out that if it weren't for her and her idea to go through the tunnel, he would still be standing in front of the stupid Thunderpath, trying to figure out what different way of thinking Sandstorm was meowing about. She asks if he is kidding her, but Alderpaw gets angrier, and he hisses back if she is kidding him. Although he partially knows that it is wrong to let his fury out on Needlepaw, he feels too frustrated to help it, and he exclaims that it was his quest in the first place. He adds if she really thinks that he would let her take the kits back to ShadowClan, where there are no rules and apprentices run around thinking up new ways to break the warrior code. He says that he might as well just take them back to the rogues in the gorge, but Needlepaw spits that he is a coward, and her face is full of disgust. She points out that they would have never made it back to the Clans if they hadn't broken the warrior code a few times, and exclaims to Alderpaw that he is so blinded by rules that he can't see what is in front of his own nose.
Alderpaw can't reply, and the mewling of the kits breaks the silence. He and Needlepaw look down at the squirming young cats, and Alderpaw's concern for them overpowers his anger at Needlepaw. He can see the same feeling in the other apprentice's green eyes, and after a moment decides that the only fair way to resolve it is to divide the kits up, and each take one back to their own Clan. Alderpaw looks down at the kits, and responds that that would be wrong, as they only have each other now. He points out that it is like him and Sparkpaw, and how although the don't always agree, he couldn't live without her. Needlepaw is silent, and gazes down at the kits, and Alderpaw wonders if she has any cat she cares about as much as he and Sparkpaw care for each other.
As Alderpaw keeps watching Needlepaw a the kits, he is distracted at yowling from farther down the slope, and both apprentices instinctively move in front of the kits to guard them. However, the cats turn out to be Molewhisker, Birchfall, Poppyfrost, and Berrynose, and Alderpaw's former mentor tells him that they got back to camp yesterday, and updated their Clanmates, who were devastated to think that he had drowned. The brown tom adds that they looked for him and Needlepaw back beside the river, but couldn't find them, and when Poppyfrost asks Alderpaw how he survived, he replies that Needlepaw helped him out of the river. He adds that she is also there, just a bit farther up, and he leads the other cats up the ridge where he had left Needlepaw.
The ShadowClan she-cat greets the ThunderClan patrol, and shows that that, as they can see, she and Alderpaw brought company. With one paw, she sweeps the grasses aside to reveal the kits, who now doze together, and Aldrpaw tells his Clanmates that he will explain more about them later, but that the kits need care immediately. He says that they were going to take them to back to the ThunderClan camp to nurse them back to help, but Needlepaw glares at him. She objects, but is interrupted by Birchfall, who agrees with Alderpaw's idea, and tells him that as a medicine cat himself, he can help watch over them. Needlepaw protests that she also found the kits, and her shoulder fur begins to rise again. She explains that they found them together, and think that the kits are what StarClan wanted them to find. Birchfall decides that the kits will be taken back to ThunderClan now to be cared for, but is interrupted by Needlepaw, who says that they can be cared for just as well in ShadowClan. Birchfall gives her a quelling look, as if not accustomed to apprentices who always argue, and he suggests that, because the Gathering is in a few days, they can bring the kits there to decide what will be done with them. He asks Needlepaw if it is okay, and points out that the most important thing is to get the kits well again, and Needlepaw ducks her head, muttering agreement. Alderpaw notices that Needlepaw almost looks chastened by Birchfall's decisive tones, and thinks that he hasn't even seen that before.
Birchfall asks Needlepaw if she is okay getting back to the ShadowClan camp, and asks if she should even be out on her own, but Needlepaw, with a roll of her eyes, responds that she will be fine, and thanks him. Alderpaw can tell that she is fed up with the question, and notes that her respectful tone hasn't lasted long. She turns toward him and adds that she supposes she will see him around, and Alderpaw stares at her, wondering if she had even taken in what he had said about keeping SkyClan a secret. The ginger tabby meows that he will look out for her at the Gathering, and as the she-cat turns away, Alderpaw feels slight pain at his heart, and thinks that after all they have been through together, there should have been something more. He thinks that Needlepaw also looks sad as she gives him a last look before bounding down the slope in the direction of RiverClan.
Later, when Alderpaw and Bramblestar talk about the quest and the Clan leader mentions that he talked to Molewhisker, Cherryfall, and Sparkpaw about keeping SkyClan a secret, Alderpaw remembers again the Needlepaw shares the secret too. Bramblestar tells Alderpaw that he told the Clan that he reached the place he saw in his vision, which should be enough to keep SkyClan a secret, but he asks about Needlepaw. Alderpaw replies that he asked her to keep the secret, but is unsure on whether she will.
Later, when Jayfeather, Leafpool, Alderpaw, and Squirrelflight talk with Bramblestar, the Clan leader announces that they must talk about the kits, and Alderpaw explains how Sandstorm had come to him in a dream, and gave him the clue that allowed him and Needlepaw to find the kits in the tunnel. Squirrelflight sounds surprised as she asks if Needlepaw really helped, and Alderpaw responds that it was her idea to go through the tunnel, and she helped him bring the kits back to the lake. He adds that she helped fed them and care for them, and was really gentle with the tiny cats. Bramblestar asks the cats if they think the kits were what they would find in the shadows, but Jayfeather says that ShadowClan won't give the kits up, because according to Alderpaw, Needlepaw was at least half responsible for finding the kits, so ShadowClan has a claim on them. Bramlestar agrees, but the mention of ShadowClan had made Alderpaw think of Needlepaw.
During the Gathering, Alderpaw almost immediately sees Needlepaw as he arrives at the island, and her eyes widen at the sight of him and the kits. Aldepraw expects her to cross the clearing to meet him, but the ShadowClan apprentice doesn't move until a white tom from her Clan pads up to her. The silver-and-white she-cat exchanges a few words with him, then turns her back on Alderpaw and walks away with the tom at her side. Alderpaw loses sight of her in the crowd, and he feels an odd, empty feeling in his belly. Although he is glad to be among his Clan again, he still feels bad about how Needlepaw had gone home alone without much of a farewell. He also is nervous about what she might have told her Clanmates about SkyClan, and though part of him wants to bound across the clearing and find her, he knows that for now his place is with the Twigkit and Violetkit. The medicine cat apprentice knows that when the final decision is made about the kits, he and Needlepaw will be rivals.
During Alderpaw's thoughts, the leaders had all leaped into the branches, with the deputies gathered on the roots, and Mistystar begins the Gathering. However, Rowanstar interrupts her, demanding why she is acting like it is a typical Gathering when Bramblestar has news to share, and Alderpaw knows that his father, like him, is afraid that Needlepaw told Rowanstar to SkyClan. Rowanstar sarcastically continues that it might have to do with the prophecy or young cats, and Alderpaw is relieved, thinking that she didn't give away the secret. Bramblestar explains Alderpaw's quest, and how he found the kits on the way back home, but Rowanstar objects that Alderpaw and Needlepaw found the kits working together, and that Needlepaw saved Alderpaw's life on the quest and helped him to shore when he was drowning. Bramblestar agrees, but asks what Needlepaw was doing there in the first place, and if is normal for ShadowClan apprentices to wander off alone. Even after more of the quest is explained to Onestar and Mistystar, Rowanstar tells Bramblestar that the kits might belong in ShadowClan with Needlepaw who helped find and care for them.
After it was concluded that ShadowClan would take on of the kits, and Rowanstar decides to take Violetkit, Alderpaw sees the ShadowClan cats head toward the tree-bridge, and among them is Needlepaw, with the black-and-white kit riding on her back. For a moment, she catches his eye, and Alderpaw stares back, wondering if she told or even will tell her Clan about SkyClan, if she will take care of Violetkit, and if she misses him. However, Needlepaw's glance isn't friendly, and she almost immediately turns away and follows her Clanmates. Violetkit looks scared as Needlepaw flattens herself to thrust her way through the bushes. When the two cats are gone, Alderpaw wonders what will happen to Violetkit, and remembering the loneliness he had sensed in Needlepaw, he wonders if Violetkit will now share it after losing her sister.

Thunder and Shadow

Needlepaw, along with half of the ShadowClan apprentices, starts to disrespect ShadowClan even more, due to hearing the elders' stories about ShadowClan was once the most feared Clan but is no longer. Later on, Needlepaw sends Violetkit to send a message to Rain in the rogue cats' camp, implying that she has been meeting up with the rogue to inform that she can't come that night, since she's being punished. After Violetkit is brought back by Darktail the next day, she and half of the other ShadowClan apprentices switch sides and align themselves with the rogues, essentially becoming traitors to their own Clan.
Needlepaw tries to convince Rowanstar to let the rogues join ShadowClan, but Rowanstar doesn't agree with her, saying that the rogues are neither Clanborn nor do they follow the Warrior Code, even though Rain says that they are willing to learn. Needlepaw and the other apprentices cry out that the rogues will bring ShadowClan back to greatness, but Rowanstar ignores them and tells Tawnypelt, Tigerheart, and Spikefur to escort the rogues off ShadowClan territory. The situation worsens when Needlepaw calls StarClan a bunch of dead cats and says that ShadowClan shouldn't listen to dead cats, so ShadowClan could go down the path that they want, not of StarClan's or the other Clans. Needlepaw soon leaves ShadowClan with the other apprentices and with Violetkit. Most of the apprentices give themselves warrior names, and Needlepaw soon calls herself Needletail.
A fight breaks out out between Rain and Darktail. Darktail almost kills Rain, but Needletail stops him. Darktail blinds Rain in one eye. Needletail is shown to be more affectionate towards Rain after the fight.
Needletail soon comes back to ShadowClan with the rogues. Darktail challenges Rowanstar for leadership, but Tawnypelt and Tigerheart stop the brutal fight. Rowanstar, Tigerheart, and Tawnypelt are soon leaving ShadowClan, and Violetpaw wants to go but is stopped by Needletail. Needletail pleads at her not to go, that Violetpaw's home was with her. Violetpaw feels guilty and stays with Needletail in ShadowClan.
Twigpaw tries to make Violetpaw come to ThunderClan, but Needletail interferes and lashes out at Twigpaw, slicing one of her ears. Rain stops Needletail from hurting the apprentice any further, making Needletail growl at him. Violetpaw reluctantly tells Twigpaw and Ivypool to run before they could get hurt again.
In a Barnes & Noble exclusive chapter, Needletail, then Needlepaw, is training with Tawnypelt. An owl takes her and no patrols are sent out to search for her. She meets a rogue named Tree, and he takes her back to ShadowClan. Needlepaw is deeply hurt and disappointed to learn that her Clanmates assumed she was dead, sending her on the path of rebelliousness and disbelief in StarClan.

Shattered Sky

Needletail first appears with Rain when Violetpaw and Twigpaw stare at each other during the battle between the rogues and the Clan cats. She is noted to have grown larger and more formidable. Needletail hisses at Violetpaw, telling her Twigpaw is the enemy, and Twigpaw wonders if this was the same cat who brought her sister to play with her moons ago. Violetpaw glances desperately at her, and jumps at Twigpaw. Soon after the battle, she peers into the elders' den, looking for Violetpaw. She exclaims she's been looking everywhere for Violetpaw, and questions her on why she's helping the elders. She simply flicks her tail dismissively when Violetpaw tells her Dawnpelt told her to, stating she isn't the boss of her, and that Darktail was right, the elders should look after themselves. When Ratscar retorts at her comment, she sneers at him, before asking if Violetpaw was coming. She leads Violetpaw to the fresh-kill pile, and when Thistle, a new rogue, orders Violetpaw to give him a vole, Needletail snaps at him, telling him off with bared teeth and bristling fur.
Needletail then notices Violetpaw's worry, and asks the apprentice to tell her what is on her mind, and asks her to discuss it. Admitting her thoughts, Violetpaw asks her if she was right to attack Twigpaw. Needletail tells her that the Kin are the only ones who care about her, which cheers Violetpaw up a little bit. The next day, Needletail learns from Violetpaw on how Rain died before she asks if Darktail questions her loyalty, which Violetpaw answers no.
When Mothwing and Alderheart come to get herbs from now Kin infested RiverClan territory, Needletail tells them they can take them if Puddleshine knows what the herbs are and what they can do. After this, Needletail is punished by Darktail and sent to the prisoners den and starved. After Violetpaw puts the poppy seeds in Darktail's prey, he gets Needletail and brings her and Violetpaw to the woods. They begin to drown Needletail, to Violetpaw's dismay. Darktail then says that he will give Needletail another chance to reclaim her loyality, if she kills Violetpaw. Needletail leaps at Violetpaw, with claws sheathed, and tells Violetpaw to run. She jumps at Roach and Sleekwhisker, and as Violetpaw escapes through the trees, she is killed by Darktail, Roach and Sleekwhisker.

Darkest Night

Tree sits alone on a rocky outcrop. The yellow tom spots some movement in the shadows below him, seeing a silver pelt. He wonders if the fur is familiar, then green eyes flash up at him. Needletail climbs the rocks, and stops, while Tree purrs her name. Needletail paces distractedly, her pelt twitching, and Tree is able to tell that she's upset.
Needletail pauses and stares at him, sadness in her bold gaze. Tree's yellow fur pricks, then Needletail growls, silver fur swishing in the breeze. He slides around her, his fur smoothing hers. The she-cat stiffens, before she slumps down, seemingly tired. Tree crouches beside her, and realizes how thin she's grown. Following Needletail's gaze to the horizon, he asks what's wrong. She calls herself dumb, and that she trusted the wrong cat. Needletail looks at Tree, locking gazes with her old friend, and asks if he'll help her. Needletail's gaze is glassy, but shadows are deep within her green stare. Tree sits up, looking along her fur, and realizes a faint glow coming from within Needletail. His heart aches with grief, before he asks how she died.
Needletail is visible to Violetpaw, as Violetpaw runs towards her. Violetpaw asks why Needletail is out in the middle of the woods, and Needetail lacks an answer, and instead, stares at Violetpaw. After Violetpaw questions if she is dead, she replies that she is in fact dead. The silver she-cat walks away, and disappears.
Needletail introduces Violetpaw to Tree, saying she needs to take him to SkyClan claiming that the Clans need him. Needletail states she believes taking tree to the Clans will allow her to go to StarClan.
Needletail appears when Tree shows the dead cats to the medicine cats of the Clans. She talks to Violetshine, saying that thanks to her and Tree, she now walks with her dead Clanmates. She also assures Violetshine that she was never angry at Violetshine.
Needletail's eyes burns for another moment. As the spirit cats start to disappear, Needletail gives Alderheart a knowing look, then she fades.
More Coming Soon

River of Fire

Needletail is first seen in StarClan as she halts after pacing and turns on the group of cats by the stream. She hisses as Beenose says they didn't fight hard enough for ShadowClan when they were alive. Needletail snarls that they couldn't save the cats who didn't want to be saved. The silver cat states they have to put the blame on Rowanstar, who now calls himself Rowanclaw. After Yellowfang reminds her that Rownaclaw wasn't the only cat who misunderstood Darktail's true intentions, Needletail retorts sarcastically, saying Yellowfang knows everything.
After Beenose tells them again that they should have helped when they had the chance, Needletail retorts that it is a load of mouse-droppings. She says a strong leader could have held the Clan together, Rowanclaw's weakness only made ShadowClan more vulnerable to join Darktail and his rogues. Needletail mocks Rowanclaw, saying he got his nine lives and turns them away. She then asks the other cats who would such a thing like that.
When Shadowstar appears, even Needletail looks in awe at the sight of ShadowClan's first leader. Shadowstar looks sternly at Needletail and tells her and the others not to pass blame so casually.
After a long silence of speaking about the fall of ShadowClan, Needletail speaks up and smooths her whiskers with her paw. She responds that they'd better get working on the right message to send to the living Clan cats.
When the medicine cats go to Moonpool at the half-moon, she visits Alderheart. Alderheart is happy to see that she made it to StarClan. Needletail tells him that after the others and her gave the Clan cats their message, they were able to go to StarClan. She tells him she worries for Twigpaw and Violetshine and asks him to watch over them. Alderheart replies that Violetshine is in SkyClan now and has kin to look after her. He adds that he will look out for Twigpaw. She teasingly tells him that she'll come to ThunderClan and claw his ears off. After he asks where the missing ShadowClan are, she replies with the message, "The shadows are approaching and must not be dispelled," and fades without saying another word.

Coming Soon


Interesting facts

  • Kate has sympathy for Needletail, but she can't understand why she was so crabby.[13]
  • Kate has said she wouldn't be surprised if Needletail named herself after Darktail.[14]


  • She was mistakenly called a ShadowClan warrior, despite never earning the rank.[15]

Character pixels

Please do not edit this gallery




Berryheart:[7] Living (As of Veil of Shadows)


Sparrowtail:[7] Living (As of Veil of Shadows)


Sunkit:[16] Status unknown


Hollowkit:[16] Status unknown
Spirekit:[16] Status unknown
See more
Buster:[7] Living (As of River of Fire)
Conekit:[2] Status unknown


Cloverfoot:[7] Living (As of Veil of Shadows)
Mistcloud:[7] Deceased, verified StarClan member
Beenose:[7] Deceased, verified StarClan member
Yarrowleaf:[7] Living (As of Veil of Shadows)
Bluebellkit:[17] Deceased, verified StarClan member
Dewkit:[7] Status unknown
Gullkit:[2] Status unknown
Frondkit:[2] Status unknown


Kinkfur:[7] Deceased, verified StarClan member
Snowbird:[7] Living (As of Veil of Shadows)


Scorchfur:[7] Living (As of Veil of Shadows)


Ratscar:[7] Living (As of Squirrelflight's Hope)


Flaxkit:[18] Status unknown
Hopkit:[18] Status unknown


Scorchfur ♂Snowbird ♀Ratscar ♂
Cloverfoot ♀Beenose ♀Berryheart ♀Buster ♂Gullswoop ♀Yarrowleaf ♀Frondwhisker ♀Conefoot ♂Bluebellkit ♀
Needletail ♀Spireclaw ♂Sunbeam ♀Hollowspring ♂Flaxfoot ♂Hopwhisker ♀

    = Male

    = Female

    = Gender Unknown


"Oh, yeah, it would be Firestar...he has his tail in every cat's business, even now he's dead."
—Needlepaw about the prophecy at the Gathering The Apprentice's Quest, page 52

Molewhisker: "I think we should consider turning around and going home. This quest might be doomed."
Needlepaw: "What? Sandstorm died trying to help us complete this quest. If we stop now, won’t she have died in vain?"
Molewhisker: "It's not your decision. In case it escaped your notice, you're not a ThunderClan cat."
—Molewhisker and Needlepaw The Apprentice's Quest, page chapter 14

"I'm staying, and you can't stop me. I know you're going to look for the thing in the shadows that the prophecy spoke about. And there's no way I'm going to let you find it just for ThunderClan. Who's to say ShadowClan can't have some of that destiny, too? If I can do anything to help the sky clear for my Clan, then I have to do it."
—Needlepaw, after being told to go back to ShadowClan The Apprentice's Quest, pages 148-149

"Thanks for your help. We may be from different Clans, but I'm glad you stayed with us."
—Alderpaw to Needlepaw The Apprentice's Quest, page 189

Needlepaw: "Maybe they've never been taught the warrior code."
Sparkpaw: "I'm surprised you've even heard of it."
Needlepaw: "Just because I don't always follow stupid rules doesn't mean I don't know they exist."
—Needlepaw and Sparkpaw The Apprentice's Quest, page 203

Needlepaw: "When are you going to thank me for leading you into the tunnel?"
Alderpaw: "What are you talking about?"
Needlepaw: "Isn't it obvious? These kits are what you find in the shadows!"
—Needlepaw and Alderpaw The Apprentice's Quest, pages 269-270

Alderpaw: "Okay, then. If you could just help me get Violetkit onto my back..."
Needlepaw: "What are you talking about? I'm not leaving the shadow kits here. I helped find them! And which cat says that they're going to ThunderClan?"
Alderpaw: "If it weren't for my dream, and what Sandstorm told me, we never would have found the kits!"
Needlepaw: "If it weren’t for me, and my idea to go through the tunnel, you would still be standing in front of that stupid Thunderpath trying to figure out what different way of thinking Sandstorm was meowing about. Are you kidding me?"
Alderpaw: "Are you kidding me? This was my quest in the first place! Besides, do you really think I'd let you take the kits back to ShadowClan, where there aren’t any rules, and apprentices run around thinking up new ways to break the warrior code? I might as well just take them back to the rogues in the gorge."
Needlepaw: "Coward! We never would have made it back here if we hadn’t broken the warrior code a few times at least. Alderpaw, you're so blinded by rules that you can't see what's in front of your own nose!"
—Needlepaw and Alderpaw arguing The Apprentice's Quest, pages 272-273

"Is WindClan our friend now? I thought ShadowClan stood alone. The only truce we recongize is the truce during the Gathering. Why deny ourselves prey on the behalf of WindClan?"
—Needlepaw asking ShadowClan about prey and truces Thunder and Shadow, page 172

"I'm sick of living in a Clan that only cares about peace. The rogues would have made us strong. But, if you don't want them to join us, I'm going to join them!"
—Needlepaw deciding to go live with the rogues Thunder and Shadow, page 176

Needletail: "All this that's happening to me . . . it's not your fault, Violetpaw. All the mistakes we made were mine."
Violetpaw: "That doesn't matter now. Don't worry about anything. I'm going to get you out of here."
Needletail: "Don't take risks for me, Violetpaw. You have to survive, any way you can."
—Needletail and Violetpaw Shattered Sky, page 169

"She's sacrificing her life for mine. Of course she is. I should have never doubted her. She's truly the best friend I've ever had, and I can never repay her."
—Violetpaw's thoughts Shattered Sky, page 217

"I have to lose Raven and get to safety... I have to make sure Needletail's sacrifice wasn't for nothing!"
—Violetpaw's thoughts Shattered Sky, page 218

Violetpaw: "Darktail took Needletail and me down to the lake. He was going to drown Needletail as a punishment for what I did, helping cats escape from him. Roach and Raven and Sleekwhisker were there too. Needletail turned on them and attacked them. She was so brave! She told me to run, and I did....But I should have stayed and fought beside her!"
Twigpaw: "No, you shouldn't have. Two of you against four of those vicious cats? You both would have died and Needletail would have given you a chance for nothing."
—Twigpaw and Violetpaw about Needletail Shattered Sky, page 240

"I could never talk about Needletail happily. Not after what happened."
—Violetpaw's thoughts on Needletail Darkest Night, page 53

"He had been hoping to see Needletail, but there had been no hint of her. If she wasn't with StarClan, where was she? [...] I hope she is at peace, wherever she is."
—Alderheart thinking about Needletail Darkest Night, page 84

"Where did you go, Needletail? And why did you come?"
—Violetpaw's thoughts on Needletail Darkest Night, page 98

Violetpaw: "Wait! Please wait! I can't lose you!"
Needletail: "I thought you wanted to lose me!"
—Needletail and Violetpaw Darkest Night, page 94

Violetpaw: "What happened to you? Are you dead?"
Needletail: "Of course I'm dead. Do you think Darktail had a change of heart after you got away?"
Violetpaw: "But there are not stars in your pelt..."
—Needletail and Violetpaw Darkest Night, pages 95-96

"Needletail would always be more like kin to her than any cat."
—Narrator about Violetpaw and Needletail Darkest Night, page 133

Violetpaw: "Wait! Why do you wake me up to run away? I'm sorry I left! You told me to, remember? I wanted to save you! I just felt like there was nothing I could do. If I'd stay. Darktail would have killed me, and then he'd kill all our Clanmates. Did you want that? Are you angry with me? Is that why you keep appearing? Who is he?"
Needletail: "He's a cat I met many moons ago. I met him when I was alive. Now he's around every time I return."
Violetpaw: "Return? Return from where? Are you with StarClan?"
Needletail: "Do I look like I'm with StarClan?"
Violetpaw: "The Dark Forest?"
Needletail: "No. I don't know where I go. I only know that when I open my eyes, I'm near him."
Violetpaw: "Can he see you?"
Needletail: "Yes. He's the only one who can. Well, him and you."
Violetpaw: "Is he dead too?"
Needletail: "No. That's why I wanted to show him to you. I think he's important to the Clans. I think that's why I'm stuck here and why he's always near."
Violetpaw: "What can I do to help?"
Needletail: "Take him with you. Take him to the Clans."
Violetpaw: "Why?"
Needletail: "I don't know. All I know is that I can see him and I can see you. I think that I'm meant to make you two meet and that you're meant to take him to the Clans. If I help the Clans, then maybe I'll find StarClan."
Violetpaw: "I'll take him. Are you leaving?"
Needletail: "This is your quest now."
Violetpaw: "Don't go!"
Needletail: "Please."
—Needletail and Violetpaw about Tree Darkest Night, pages 238-240

"Violetpaw trusts Needletail, and I trust Violetpaw."
—Hawkwing about Needletail Darkest Night, page ?

"I can't make all dead cats appear. Needletail told me about StarClan. I've never seen a StarClan cat. I think I can only sense cats who are still tied to the living. They've stuck close to us. They can't move on until they've done what they feel they need to do. Like Needletail. She will only find her way to StarClan when she has finished what she started here."
—Tree on the ghost cats and Needletail Darkest Night, page 298

"Alderheart blinked, as shocked as ShadowClan to hear that so many of their Clanmates might still be out there, alive somewhere. His attention was snatched away as he recognized a ghostly pelt. His heart seemed to skip. He stared at her as she padded from the water, her pelt dry as bone and glowing as though she were lit from the inside. Grief choked him. She stopped in front of him, her eyes flashing in the teasing way they used to when she was alive. Alderheart's mew caught in his throat. She hadn't changed. Even her scent was the same. He felt her breath on his cheek as she turned her muzzle."
—Narrator on Alderheart and Needletail Darkest Night, page 300

Alderheart: "Needletail!"
Needletail: "Did you miss me?"
Alderheart: "Of course!"
—Needletail and Alderheart Darkest Night, page 300

Violetshine: "You're not with StarClan."
Needletail: "Not yet. But I am with Clanmates now, thanks to you and Tree. And we will not go far until you are safe."
Violetshine: "You're not angry with me anymore?"
Needletail: "I never was. You were the best friend I ever had. We will always be sisters."
—Needletail and Violetshine Darkest Night, pages 300-301

Needletail: "Hi there."
Alderheart: "Needletail! You made it to StarClan!"
Needletail: "Yes. Once we had delivered our message, we were able to move on to StarClan."
Alderheart: "And are you okay?"
Needletail: "Oh, yes. It's great here. But I still worry about Twigpaw and Violetshine. You will keep an eye on them, won't you?"
Alderheart: "You know that Violetshine is in SkyClan now, and she has her father and her kin to look after her. But I'll certainly take care of Twigpaw. You can trust me."
Needletail: "Let me down, and I'll come over to ThunderClan and claw your ears off!"
Alderheart: "Needletail, I need to ask you something important. Do you know where the missing ShadowClan cats are?"
Needletail: "The shadows are approaching and must not be dispelled."
—Needletail and Alderheart River of Fire, pages 99-100

References and citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 Revealed in River of Fire, page prologue
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Revealed in Shattered Sky, allegiances
  3. 3.0 3.1 Revealed in Thunder and Shadow, pages 176-177
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Revealed in The Apprentice's Quest, allegiances
  5. 5.0 5.1 Revealed in Darkest Night, page 300
  6. Revealed in Shattered Sky, page 218
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 Revealed in Tigerheart's Shadow, manga
  8. Revealed in Thunder and Shadow, page 198
  9. Revealed in Thunder and Shadow, page 13
  10. Revealed on Kate'sBlog
  11. 11.0 11.1 Revealed in The Apprentice's Quest, page 46
  12. Revealed in Thunder and Shadow, chapter 12
  13. Revealed on Kate's Blog
  14. Revealed on Kate's Blog
  15. Revealed in Darkest Night, page 95
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Revealed in Tigerheart's Shadow, page 371
  17. Revealed on Kate's Blog
  18. 18.0 18.1 Revealed in River of Fire, chapter 17

Template:Warriors Characters

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