|"Not giving himself a chance to hesitate, [Jaypaw] launched himself forward, his paws skimming the rock before his hind legs thrust him into the air. His heart pounded in a moment's wild panic; then his paws hit rock with a thud."|
|— Narrator about Jaypaw jumping the gap in Outcast, page 198|
|Chapter Number:||18 (of 29)|
|Point of View:||Jaypaw|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter eighteen of Outcast. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 18 (of 29)
- Page Numbers: 192-200
- Jaypaw tries to sink his claws into the bare rock of a narrow ridge of stone, but the wind buffets the terrified apprentice, threatening to hurl him off. Above the young tom's head are stars, and around him are only shadows. Somewhere in front of Jaypaw, the shadows part and a cat paces forward. The training medicine cat recognizes Rock's distinct appearance, and the ancient cat draws closer, balancing easily. Jaypaw tries to steadily remind the hairless cat that he came to the mountains as were his instructions, but Rock shakes his head and states that there must be three of them. Jaypaw protests that there are three of them, and glances back to try to spot Lionpaw and Hollypaw. The apprentice guesses that he left them behind on the climb, but his next words are cut off by his terrified yowl as his paws slip from the rock edge. The mottled tabby tom, frantically claws, but is unsuccessful in getting a grip on the stone. Jaypaw feels himself plunging deep into the shadows.
- Jaypaw is woken by a voice demanding him to do so and a paw jabbing him in the ribs. Lionpaw tells his littermate that he was thrashing, but Jaypaw is relieved that he is in his makeshift nest at the edge of the forest with Lionpaw. The small apprentice picks up Hollypaw's scent nearby and is even more at ease, shaking off his thoughts of the dream. Jaypaw struggles to his paws and stretches. It is dawn, and the other cats stir.
- Lionpaw mews that Brambleclaw has given them permission to hunt quickly, and Jaypaw crouches on the grass, eating a vole when Tawnypelt approaches him and announces that it is time to leave. The gray tom gulps down the last couple of mouthfuls and joins the other cats.
- Brambleclaw tells Purdy that it was great traveling with him again, noting appreciation to the elderly cat for rescuing the apprentices, but the large tabby tells Purdy that they can't ask him to go any farther from his home. The cats call out last good-byes to Purdy then set off through the trees. Jaypaw's siblings pad beside him in tense silence as the sun rises.
- Suddenly, Hollypaw places her tail on Jaypaw's shoulder and he halts, feeling the warm sun and a slight breeze. He guesses that they reached the other side of the forest, and Hollypaw whispers her awe. Jaypaw is annoyed that he can't see what has impressed Hollypaw, but Lionpaw, voice also awestruck, replies that it is the mountains, which are vast. Hollypaw explains that it is a huge wall of gray, steep, and bare stone, except for a few cracks with grass growing in them. She wishes that her bling brother could see and adds that it goes up forever. Lionpaw agrees that he can't even see the clouds.
- From in front of Jaypaw, Brook whispers 'home', and the apprentice senses her mingled longing and fear, that come from the other Tribe cats too. He assumes that they are scared of facing intruders in their home. Night murmurs for the Tribe of Endless Hunting to watch over them, and Jaypaw eerily wonders if StarClan can see them from their location, causing him to feel exposed and vulnerable. Talon notes that they have made good time, and meows that they can climb up to the cave before dark. Squirrelflight doubtfully points out that the apprentices are inexperienced climbers, and mews that they wouldn't want to be stuck out on the mountain overnight. Talon retorts if they will be held up by the young cats again, causing Jaypaw to bristle, especially because the Tribe tom has a point. He is frustrated that Lionpaw and Hollypaw had went into the barn, risking everything. Stormfur calmly states that the apprentices will be fine with assistance, then asks Brambleclaw his thoughts. The deputy hesitates, then agrees to leave.
- Jaypaw bounds beside his littermates as they cross an open space. The ground gradually slopes upward, the grass grows thinner, and patches of loose soil mixed with grit catches between Jaypaw's claws. Soon the slope is so steep that the small apprentice starts to slip. He mutters a curse, clawing for grip, but Squirrelflight's tail guides him to one side, and his paws soon meet solid rock. The ginger she-cat mews that there is a path they can follow, and warns her son about a drop on one side.
- Jaypaw pads behind Tawnypelt, Squirrelflight just behind him, and his littermates a short way behind. He begins to feel more confident, noting that it is similar to climbing to Highledge or traveling to the Moonpool, which he does easily. However, his confidence begins to ebb as the path twists higher into the mountain, and he constantly pictures the long drop, aware that a single mid-step would send him plummeting. Cold wind buffets Jaypaw, threatening to carry him off his paws, and the sharp stones cut his pads.
- A harsh screech sounds from above, and Jaypaw, startled, stumbles. His mother's shoulder pushes up against his side, keeping him on his paws, and the young cat asks in shock what it was. The female warrior answers that it was an eagle, explaining that they can be dangerous, but that the said avian is too far away to bother them. From behind, Stormfur longs that it would, as it would be a good meal. Squirrelflight gently nudges Jaypaw forward again, but he hardly walks before Night's voice calls from somewhere above to stop.
- Jaypaw halts, his nose bumping Tawnypelt's tail, and asks what is going on. Brambleclaw's voice echoes as he calls that there is a gap they must jump. Jaypaw is scared, but he refuses to let the Tribe cats realize this, and he is glad of Squirrelflight's silent support as she presses against his flank. Brambleclaw encourages Lionpaw to come, reassuring him that it is no farther that the stream on the WindClan border. After a brief silence, the ThunderClan tom praises his son, then calls Breezepaw to come next. Jaypaw flees his claws in wait, and notes his hate of the mountains, unsure of why he had ever wanted to come. The medicine cat apprentice had expected to discover the landscape of his dreams, but instead is swamped by unfamiliar scents, with no sense of Rock or any warrior ancestors' presence.
- As Tawnypelt encourages Hollypaw to leap, Jaypaw grows more fearful. The ShadowClan she-cat suggests the black apprentice to keep her eyes on Brambleclaw, and the young cat tensely states that she will be okay. A moment later, Lionpaw yowls in congratulation, and Jaypaw knows that is sister has safely jumped. Tawnypelt's scent suddenly fades, telling him that she too had jumped the gap. Now, no cat is between him and the abyss that he imagines, and Jaypaw's shoulder fur bristles. Squirrelflight stands close beside him and informs him that the gap is a couple of fox-lengths ahead, and about three tail-lengths wide. She goes on that he has jumped that before, and adds that he should take three paw steps for a run-up, then jump. Brambleclaw calls to the apprentice that he will grab the latter as soon as he is across. Jaypaw agrees and his muscles tense, then he announces that he is coming.
- Without giving himself a chance to hesitate, Jaypaw launches himself forward, his paws skimming the rock before he thrusts into the air. His heart pounds in panic, then his paws hit rock with a thud. The mottled tabby staggers and feels Lionpaw's shoulder steadying him. His brother compliments the former's leap, joking that with a little more practice he will be a flying cat. Jaypaw mutters disagreement and stands still, calming down.
- By the time the whole group has crossed the gap, Jaypaw is ready to move on, and is even partially pleased with himself. He triumphantly thinks that it would show the Tribe cats that a blind apprentice could make the journey. Now their path leads between towering walls of stone, but though the air around them is still, wind is still heard above. The cats' voices echo and the rattle of loose stones dislodged by their paws sound unnaturally loud. Talon mews that they should be quiet, and explains that as they are getting closer, there might be intruders around. The path seems to wind and curl back on itself, and Jaypaw once heard the gurgle of falling water before his paws splashed through a shallow stream. The apprentice grows hungry at the scents of prey, but he notes that they are faint and sparse, and wonders why a cat would want to fight for such an unfriendly place.
- When Breezepaw asks to stop and hunt, Crowfeather snaps that there is no time, and exclaims that he doesn't want to spend the night outside. Brook mews that there will be fresh-kill in the cave, but Jaypaw is skeptical, considering that the Tribe's problem is the intruders' taking of their prey. He tries to sense the passage of time, and wonders if the sun is setting, but isn't sure, as none of the things in the forest that told him signs of of sunset are present in the mountains.
- The rocky path begins to slope upward and the breeze picks up again. Suddenly a yowl is heard from above, and Hollypaw calls to Lionpaw to come, exclaiming that she can see forever. Night hisses furiously, and Talon growls that they must be quiet. Squirrelflight orders Hollypaw to immediately come down, and the cats halt. A couple of heartbeats later come a patter of paws, and Hollypaw apologizes. Jaypaw doesn't think she is sorry, as excitement still rushes through his sister, and she justifies that one can see the whole world. Talon begins that she might have warned the intruders, but breaks off.
- Jaypaw is aware of something approaching, as a disturbance in the air warns him of swift movement. He whispers that someone is coming, and Talon tersely mews that it is them. Brambleclaw begins that they should leave, but Night interrupts that it is too late, and orders the cats to keep together and put the apprentices in the center. Crowfeather shoves Jaypaw against the others, but Lionpaw and Hollypaw insist that they can fight, and Breezepaw snarls in defiance.
- None of the older cats pay the apprentices any attention, and Jaypaw is crushed by Hollypaw and Breezepaw, with the experienced fighters in a circle around them. Hollypaw mutters curses under her breath. Jaypaw can now hear paws on rock and he picks up unfamiliar cat scent. He guesses that there are three or four of them, and the warriors hiss aggressively. A strange voice mockingly asks who is there.
References and Citations
|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 • Chapter 25 • Chapter 26 • Chapter 27 • Chapter 28 • Chapter 29|