Sandgorse enters the camp, followed by Plumclaw and Mistmouse. Streaked mud covers the tom's pelt, and his shoulders sag. Tallkit rushes to see his father, who greets him warmly. He asks his kit if he'd had a good day, and learns that Flamepelt has told him about the time he chased a rabbit underneath ShadowClan territory. He then mentions that they've been working on a gorge tunnel. Heatherstar arrives with Reedfeather bounding after her, and she prompts the group about the tunnel progress. Surveying the pelts of the returning cats, the leader's eyes flash with concern. However, when Sandgorse reports the amount of work done Reedfeather addresses narrows her eyes. Despite that, Plumclaw shakes out her fur, stating that it'll be worth it upon completion.
Heatherstar questions when the tunnel will be finished, causing Sandgorse and Mistmouse to exchange glances. The latter confesses that the answer is difficult to predict, due to the materials involved inside of the tunnels. Reedfeather admits that the effort sounds dangerous, but Sandgorse declares that while it is challenging, the group is learning a lot, and there will be a tunnel down to the river. The cats further discuss the plans, specifically regarding RiverClan, before Sandgorse turns his attention to Tallkit. Purring that he cannot wait to show him, the older tom mentions that he might be apprenticed in time to help finish digging the tunnel.
Although Tallkit initially felt a rush of pride, he proceeds to stiffen, and imagines himself in a tunneling situation. Swallowing, the kit's chest tightens, and he responds shakily. Fluffing up her fur, Heatherstar suggests that the tunnelers get dry, as the cold wind could give them greencough if they are not cautious. Heading away, Sandgorse calls for Tallkit, requesting aid to remove grit from behind his ears. The black and white tom scurries after, screwing his face as his father shakes out his pelt, causing mud to splatter. He is met with the mention of mucky fur, and he shudders.
Palebird calls out that Sandgorse is getting his son dirty, hurrying towards the two. Sandgorse objects that Tallkit is helping him clean up, and asks him if he wants to assist. The kit gazes at the mud-crusted tom, and inwardly declares that he does not. Palebird presses her muzzle to Tallkit's head, admitting that one day he will be doing the same for himself. Eyes shining, Sandgorse announces that he cannot wait until the three of them run tunnels, but Palebird sighs, mentioning that it might be a while. He sharply looks up, gaze darkening as he asks if she'll be ready by the time Tallkit is apprenticed. However, the she-cat shakes her head, stating that she doesn't think she'll be strong enough. Sandgorse attempts to reassure his mate, but she turns away and heads for the nursery. Tallkit is told by his father to go with her, and that he will wash his ears by himself.
Tallkit trots after his mother, and upon entering the nursery, Brackenwing sits up, pelt ruffled with sleep. She asks where Barkkit and Shrewkit are, leading him to wonder if she knows that her son is planning on becoming Hawkheart'sapprentice. However, the kit keeps the thought to himself and tells the queen that they are playing outside. He then tries to nurse from Palebird, only to have his mother pull away as she says no. Tallkit tries again, but is shoved back by the queen's paw, and she explains that her milk is drying up and that he is old enough to eat from the prey heap. Giving up the argument, the kit is encouraged by Brackenwing, who says that her sons have been eating prey for a moon, and now prefer it.
Brackenwing pulls Tallkit from the nest, nosing him towards the entrance as she whispers to Palebird to rest. Reluctantly, he slides from the den, shaking out the nursery wool from his claws. The kit stares across the camp, surveying the prey pile, before stomping towards the heap. However, the scents swamp him, and Tallkit draws back, wrinkling his nose. Plumclaw's mew startles him, and she suggests to the kit to try a mouse first, explaining that it is not too strong, but easy to chew. He obeys, and Plumclaw purrs her encouragement. As Tallkit adjusts to the taste of prey, she mentions that they should stop crowding the heap, and eat elsewhere. He follows her, padding across the clearing.
Plumclaw begins discussing with Tallkit that he'll be an apprentice soon, and he asks her if she liked the idea of being a tunneler when she was apprenticed. The she-cat eagerly meows that she knew she would be good at the tunneling system, because both of her parents were tunnelers, and she was small enough with wide paws. Trying not to sound worried, Tallkit asks if she likes it, and Plumclaw admits that tunneling feels like a secret world. When questioned about missing the wind in her pelt, she seems surprised and looks at Tallkit, confessing that she feels safe with the soil against her. The two exchange a joke, before Barkkit bounces towards the two.
Halting in front of Tallkit, Barkkit announces that Heatherstar has approved for him to become a medicine cat apprentice. Plumclaw congratulates him, as does the black and white kit, though he feels a pang of envy. Catching onto his friend's expression, Barkkit asks what the matter is, to which Tallkit pushes his feelings aside to admit he is happy for him. Noticing that he is eating prey, his friend mentions his observation, then adds that he prefers shrew. Tallkit offers to play a game of rabbit, Tallkit, who pushes the rest of his prey to Plumclaw. He responds that he is not hiding under any prickly bushes, to which Barkkit declares that he can always pull the thorns out.