|"You've met those cats in the gorge, right? I bet they let you think they were SkyClan, but they're not. They're vicious rogues who attacked the real SkyClan and took our territory for themselves."|
|— Mistfeather to Alderpaw in The Apprentice's Quest, page 220|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter seventeen of The Apprentice's Quest. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 17 (of 24)
- Page Numbers: 216-224
- Alderpaw crawls from the den next morning, exhausted, and barely able to walk straight. Wondering how he is to save SkyClan, when they don't act like warriors kept him awake, and the ache in his chest when Needlepaw spoke to Rain. Molewhisker annouces that they should hunt when the questing cats emerged from their dens. Cherryfall agrees, adding she can't wait for the patrol to leave the gorge. Needlepaw yawns, replying that once they get used to it, staying with the SkyClan cats isn't so bad. Sparkpaw snaps at the ShadowClan apprentice, telling her to stay, and under her breath she adds that nobody wanted her to come anyways.
- Molewhisker steps into the argument, speaking with authority. He tells Needlepaw she can do what she pleases, but the others are going out to hunt. Cherryfall points out a stretch of thicker forest across the river, suggesting the patrol heads that way; as the group makes for the exit, none of the SkyClan cats try to stop them, even though few are in sight. Alderpae stumbles at the rear, unsure he'll do good, because he struggles to even keep his eyes open.
- However, under the trees, the young tom feels better, especially seeing the blue sky through the canopy, and feel leaf mold and earth beneath his paws. The dark ginger apprentice notices how the leaves are changing to brown and gold, realizing leaf-fall is almost upon them. As Cherryfall heads off with Sparkpaw, Molewhisker asks Alderpaw if he wants to accompany him, but the tabby tom doesn't want to see his former mentor him failing, so he declines awkwardly. The brown-and-cream tom says that he'll see him later, and vanishes into some bracken.
- Alderpaw walks deeper into the forest, pricking his ears and opening his jaws to taste the air, trying to pick up scents of prey. Soon, he hears a chirping sound from above, and the rustling of leaves and fluttering wings follows. Looking up, the ginger apprentice spots a thrush perched on a tree branch; Alderpaw's stomach rumbles and he figures out how hungry he is, having barely eaten since the arrival at the gorge. For a moment, he wonders if he'll get in trouble for not bringing the prey back to camp if he catches, but remembers that he's not in ThunderClan.
- He follows the bird silently as it flies into deeper forest, keeping a distance of two trees, when he decides to climb up a tree and balance on a branch. The ginger tom tries remembering what Molewhisker taught him before becoming a medicine cat apprentice. Alderpaw creeps forward, managing to get onto the same tree the thrush perched itself on, and prepares to leap, when another cat explodes from the forest floor, paws outstretched to grab the bird.
- Despite the massive leap, the cat misses it, falling backwards with a yowl, causing the bird to fly away. The strange cat is a ragged gray tom, and he scrambles up, glowering at Alderpaw, accusing him of being the one to make him miss the thrush. He challenges the ThunderClan tom if he saw him stalking it, but now, Alderpaw has already forgotten, his mind focused on the tom: he is the same gray cat from his vision. The ThunderClan medicine cat recalls seeing the gray tom amidst the crowd of SkyClan cats as Leafstar gave a warrior their name, and then he was healthy with a glossy pelt, but now he's skinny, fur ragged from mange.
- Alderpaw asks who the gray cat is, and he responds that his name is Mistfeather, asking what it means to him. The ginger tom climbs down from the tree catiously, keeping a distance as to not spook Mistfeather, and explains he comes from ThunderClan, and his name is Alderpaw. The ragged gray tom's eyes widen in wonder and disbelief, exclaiming his Clan's name, then going on to tell the medicine cat that SkyClan retold the tale of Firestar every full moon. He adds how his former Clan honored the old leader above all things.
- Alderpaw wants to tell Mistfeather about how Firestar is dead, but decides not to, and questions if the rogue had been exiled from the gorge cats. The ragged gray tom's tone changes to bitterness as he states only he wasn't, but the entire Clan, shocking Alderpaw as he asks Mistfeather what he means. The skinny stray beckons him close, and as the dark ginger tom settles on some roots, Mistfeather crouches down, and begins to tell the story about Darktail and his supposed SkyClan cats. He says that the cats living in the gorge aren't the real SkyClan, and how they probably let Alderpaw believe it, but they're truly violent rogues who chased away the fifth Clan.
- The young apprentice at first feels relief at the revelation, recounting how Darktail and his rogues acted: nothing like a Clan did. However, with his relief, comes surprise at the forest Clan's horrible fate, wondering if his visions meant to tell him that SkyClan needed help. He asks if Mistfeather knows where they came from, but he denies it, calling the group evil, straying away from any rules. Alderpaw begins to feel doubt, and questions why SkyClan, an entire Clan, wasn't able to fight the vicious rogues off, causing Mistfeather's whiskers to droop in shame as he admits how rough times were, and their daylight-warriors were plenty in numbers, almost as much as the true warriors.
- Alderpaw asks about the day-light warriors, but when the former SkyClan warrior mentions those cats as kittypets, he gets angered by it, challenging if they really let kittypets into their Clan. Mistfeather defends SkyClan's old methods, since the day-light warriors were brave, but they were kept inside when the rogues attacked, giving them the advantage to win. Alderpaw asks where his old Clanmates went, expecting more cats to emerge from the bushes, yet Mistfeather admits that he doesn't know, and the only reason he stayed is because his mate was killed.
- The ThunderClan apprentice feels guilt digging into him, along with pity and anger, for the way the supposed Clan worked made no sense, and he murmurs that those rogues are just thieves. Just then, a voice rings out, and Alderpaw whirls around to see Darktail, a sneer on his face, blue gaze emotionless as he mocks Mistfeather, calling him a dreg of the gorge. He regards Alderpaw next, accusing him of plotting against his group, and the apprentice backs away, hoping his Clanmates are nearby, but he can't hear or smell them.
- To the ginger tom, Darktail seems to be bigger, and he begins to think of a way to escape; Mistfeather staggers to his paws, hissing at Darktail, retorting that he's a filthy rogue who stole SkyClan's territory. The white tom answers that territory belongs to those who can keep or take it, and SkyClan couldn't, so they can't complain. He then suggests a brawl for the territory, right there. Alderpaw tries to intervene, but Mistfeather stops him, before throwing him at Darktail, aiming to claw him.
- The rogue leader dodges the blow, and rakes his claws down the gray tom's head, taunting him as he does. Mistfeather persists, and launches himself at the white tom, but he avoids it again, and Alderpaw can hear the former warrior's breath coming in wheezing gasps. As the apprentice watches, he recognizes some moves, and realizes that if Mistfeather had the strength, he'd have been formidable in battle. Once more, he charges towards Darktail, and each time the rogue dodges, managing to easily land a blow of his own. This wears the gray tom down, as his fur is littered around, and bloods seeps down his pelt as he slumps down, exhausted.
- Darktail calls Mistfeather a mange-pelt, and as Alderpaw tries to defend the SkyClan cat, the rogue leader swipes out with one forepaw, his claws slicing open the gray tom's throat. Blood spurts from the gash, and Mistfeather's body spams, then falls limp, and Alderpaw gazes in horror at the dead tom.
Notes and references
|The Apprentice's Quest chapters|
|Prologue • Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10 • Chapter 11 • Chapter 12 • Chapter 13 • Chapter 14 • Chapter 15 • Chapter 16 • Chapter 17 • Chapter 18 • Chapter 19 • Chapter 20 • Chapter 21 • Chapter 22 • Chapter 23 • Chapter 24 • Bonus Scene|
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