Needlepaw is in the forest after dark for the first time with her mentor, Tawnypelt. The silver she-cat is frightened by the noises she hears, and presses closer to her partner. Tawnypelt meows that she needn't crowd her, before instructing her apprentice to look for prey. The pair begins to walk further, when the tortoiseshell she-cat irritably says to stop looking at the sky because they are not hunting stars. Needlepaw apologizes, but when the cats try to hunt together, the apprentice runs into her mentor. Tawnypelt tells the she-cat to go attempt to catch something in a clearing nearby, so she pads away. The silver she-cat scents something she doesn't recognize, but before she can ask what it is, claws dig into her back.
Needlepaw is lifted upward, and she calls for Tawnypelt to save her, but her mentor is unable to. The apprentice thinks quickly, and decides that if she doesn't escape she will die. Needlepaw judges that the only way to break free is to fall, so she claws at the owl until it lets her go. She falls down to the ground below, her descent broken by many branches. Once safely on the forest floor, Needlepaw panics because she can't recognize her location. The apprentice catches a vole, and decides to save it for her Clanmates, as all fresh-kill must go to the Clan. She then drags it to a sheltered hollow, and falls asleep. When the silver she-cat wakes, a tom has her prey dangling in his jaws, so she accuses him of being a thief.
Needlepaw hisses angrily to give it back, and so he obediently places it on the ground. The tom teases if it helps her sleep, but she retorts that she's saving it for her Clanmates. When he asks where they are, the apprentice meows that they're coming. The tom says that she might want to eat it, as she is a long way from the lake. Needlepaw asks how far, and the tom comments it's a day or two's walk. She asks the cat what his name is, and he replies that it's Tree. They end up sharing the apprentice's vole together, and then tells the loner how she escaped from the owl. The two cats agree to hunt together, then travel back to the lake. Tree shows Needlepaw where his mother made her nest, and the silver she-cat sympathizes with him when he tells his backstory.
Needlepaw and the yellow tom travel until nightfall, and then they stop for the night. The apprentice catches a frog and Tree catches a water vole, so they settle down to eat together. After they finish, both curl up in a bed of reeds to sleep. The next morning, Needlepaw catches some prey for her companion, and after they share the meal, the cats continue to travel. By sunhigh, the pair reaches the edge of ShadowClan territory, where a ShadowClan patrol greets them. The silver she-cat begs for him to join her Clan, but her Clanmates refuse, and the loner meows that he's happier by himself anyway. Needlepaw and Tree bid a sorrowful farewell to each other, and hope that they'll meet again.
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