|"We did everything we could, but we can't save SkyClan now."|
|— Cherryfall about SkyClan in The Apprentice's Quest, page 233|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter nineteen of The Apprentice's Quest. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 19 (of 24)
- Page Numbers: 231-239
- Alderpaw sleeps uneasily, but is awoken by a paw prodding his shoulder. He blinks his eyes open, and, in the dim light, sees Sparkpaw. His sister tells him to be quiet, as the traveling cats need to leave. Alderpaw asks Sparkpaw what she means, and she tells him the rogues are asleep. The ginger apprentice adds that it may be there only chance to leave.
- Alderpaw staggers to his paws, yawning, and stretches his body. He cramps all over, but just behind his sister, he can see Molewhisker and Cherryfall. He also spots Needlepaw, who's noted to look hesitant at leaving, waiting near the entrance. Needlepaw mumbles her concerns, but Molewhisker comforts her, brushing his tail over her shoulder. The gray apprentice, still reluctant, dips her in agreement as the group starts to leave. As the cats move across the clearing, Alderpaw sees Raven sleeping peacefully, and guesses how much trouble she'll be in. Silently and stealthy, Alderpaw and the others move toward the water's edge, and the ginger tom's pelt prickles as he imagines the rogues spotting them. He listens for any shrieks, but none of them ring out, so he keeps moving.
- Eventually, the group reaches the river, then turns downstream. Molewhisker picks up his pace, at least until they're looping over the rocks. Alderpaw shivers in the chilly, damp air, and looks up at the sky. Its covered with clouds, and the sun shows no sign of rising yet. Before they move far, the patrol comes to a spot with another river, and a spur of rocks. Molewhisker scrambles up the stones, and mutters when he spots the river, asking when they'll get out. Alderpaw struggles up after his former mentor, digging his claws into the tiny cracks to steady himself. To his own relief, the rock slopes down gently, and he's able to slide down next to Molewhisker. Cherryfall comments its good they aren't going to be seen, as the other traveling cats join them.
- Molewhisker announces for them to keep moving, because the rogues can follow their scent. Alderpaw suggests taking the river, since their scent will be washed away, making it difficult for Darktail to follow. Cherryfall praises him, and as Molewhisker moves back into motion, Alderpaw notices Sparkpaw, hanging back. The brown and cream warrior questions her, irritation in his voice. Sparkpaw hesitantly replies that maybe they should stay, for StarClan sent them there. The orange apprentice adds they should stay close by, just in case.
- Alderpaw grimly tells his sister they cannot help the lost Clan, but admits that he admires her courage in speaking out. He explains to everyone that if they stay in the forest, Darktail's rogues will find them; maybe Bramblestar will know what to do when they return. He pauses, hoping his voice doesn't shake, and admits the quest is a fail, and all they can do is make it home safely. Cherryfall sympathetically lies her tail on Sparkpaw's shoulder, declaring Alderpaw is right. The young she-cat sighs, agreeing with them recluctantly.
- Molewhisker takes the lead again, padding along the river's edge. Alderpaw looks out for a place safe to cross, but he isn't able to see properly due to the darkness. The river tumbles past, fast enough to sweep away a cat. He shudders, thinking of RiverClan's swimming ability, but refuses to try it. As if she's able to sense her brother's thoughts, Sparkpaw points out the trees downstream, suggesting a way to cross there. Her mentor nods briskly, telling them to hurry, since the rogues might be waking. They set off, bounding for the trees. The first trees the patrol reaches are small and spindly, and far from the water. Alderpaw hopes for a fallen tree, similar to the ones the Clans use to reach the Gathering hollow.
- However, the only log the apprentice can spot is at an angle in the bank, the far edge jutting into the current. Farther on, bigger, sturdier trees start to appear. Sparkpaw rushes to Alderpaw's side, panting, and suggests hunting. The dark ginger tom replies there is no time, but his sister objects, complaining that she's hungry. Before Sparkpaw can finish, Cherryfall cuts her off, exclaiming out loud. The pale ginger warrior runs up to a tree that is leaning towards the river. Alderpaw bounds closer, but thinks it's dangerous, yet he doesn't object. Crossing this log is the safest course of action against the supposedly following rogues.
- Molewhisker sizes up to the tree, his gaze intent, and suggests that if their scent ends here, Darktail might assume they were washed away. Alderpaw's stomach churns with apprehension, although he agrees. Sparkpaw offers to try first, and climbs up the log, then she edges onto one of the branches. She calls to them, telling them it's safe. As Alderpaw's sister heads further down the fallen tree, Molewhisker and Cherryfall follow her. The dark ginger tom hardly dares to watch them climb, so he turns to Needlepaw. He tells her to go first, and he'll keep watch.
- For a moment's hesitation, his silver friend looks reluctant. Then Needlepaw shrugs, and climbs up the tree trunk, her tail whisking. She heads out along the branch, and Alderpaw jumps up after her. As he creeps along, it feels sturdy enough to hold him and his weight. However, the cats ahead make it dip low, down toward the river, and Alderpaw digs his claws into the wood. His stomach lurches as he sees Sparkpaw crouch, bunch her muscles, before the branch waves wildly as she springs.
- The medicine cat apprentice nearly loses his grip, and he yelps in fear. He draws in a breath of relief as Sparkpaw reaches the shore line safely. Molewhisker joins his littermate, with Cherryfall as well. Needlepaw edges forward, one mouse-length at a time, gripping the wood with her claws. The branch sways and dips beneath the silver she-cat dangerously. Alderpaw urges the ShadowClan apprentice to hurry, and she hisses that she's afraid of falling.
- He retorts that it's better then being pursued by rogues. However, when his friend starts moving again, the branch groans, then creaks. Freezing up, Alderpaw starts to back away. A ghastly tearing sound fills his ears, and he plummets into the water below. Needlepaw's yowl is cut short as water engulfs them both. Alderpaw flails his legs, the coldness reaching him. The current sweeps him away, and he is unable to tell which way is up. A heavy pressure fills his ears, and he attempts to open his eyes, only to be blinded by swirling darkness. Desperately kicking out, a pain begins to swell in his chest, growing intense, and he thinks he might pass out.
- The ginger apprentice's head breaks the surface, and he takes gulps of air gratefully. Thrashing his legs in order to stay afloat, Alderpaw scans the river for any signs of Needlepaw. There's no sign of his friend, for he knows its too dark to see much. Still, the ThunderClan cat hopes she's near amidst the chaos. Straining his ears, Alderpaw tries to catch any sounds of wails or cries, but can only hear rushing water. The current seems to grow faster, and as the dark apprentice looks ahead, the tumbling river gives way to the gloomy sky and trees ahead. He realizes that he's in the way of a waterfall.
- Flailing his paws against the water, Alderpaw tries desperately to reach the hill. The pull is too strong however, and the young apprentice believes he'll die. Suddenly, his paw snags onto something, and it pulls him closer. The surge lifts him, giving Alderpaw a clear view of the thing: Neddlepaw. Seeing the bank so close gives him fresh hope, and he calls to his friend they'll need to make it. The two apprentices battle the river, but their attempts prove feeble, for they're swept over the waterfall.
- Alderpaw, in the sudden fall, is separated from Needlepaw. Being knocked and thrown about, a shriek of panic erupts from his jaws. The air in Alderpaw's chest is driven away as he slams into the water, sinking to the bottom. His vision fades to darkness, and he sinks even deeper into the river. Then light sears his gaze, and he bobs back to the surface, surprised to be alive still. His paws touch mud, and he yanks himself from the river, flopping down onto the ground. Alderpaw turns, and watches as Needlepaw drags herself, soaking and dripping wet, up beside him, before slumping down.
- Alderpaw's flanks heave, but he's relieved to have not died. Being able to catch breath to speak, he asks his friend if she's able to hear anyone, and she yowls at him. Needlepaw shakes out her sodden pelt, yowling that she didn't like it, and she told him also. Turning in an anxious circle now, Alderpaw can only see the sky and trees beyond, can only smell the rolling fear from himself and Needlepaw, and the roaring water is all he can hear. The ginger tom wonders what they're going to do now.
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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