Embrace what you find in the shadows, for only they can clear the sky.
For many moons, the warrior cats have lived in peace in their territories around the lake. But a dark shadow looms on the horizon, and the time has come for one young cat to shape his destiny—and the fate of all the warrior Clans.
Alderpaw, the son of the ThunderClan leader, Bramblestar, is eager to find his place in Clan life. When he begins having strange dreams—visions that can only have been sent by the warrior ancestors in StarClan—Bramblestar names him apprentice to the Clan’s medicine cat. But the omens in Alderpaw’s dreams will soon send him away from everything he has ever known on a quest to ensure the Clans’ survival.
The warrior cat Clans have enjoyed many moons of peace and prosperity—but a dark season approaches, and those days will soon be over. Guided by a mysterious vision, the young apprentice Alderpaw of ThunderClan must go on a dangerous journey . . . a journey that may be the Clans' only hope.
Detailed Plot Summary
Jayfeather and Leafpool are on their way to the Moonpool. When they arrive, Jayfeather notices that Littlecloud looks weak and exhausted after he finishes climbing up the slope. The medicine cats then go to have their dreams with StarClan. Once they get there and begin their dreams, Jayfeather notices that something is off; all the medicine cats were in one dream, as if he could walk into others' dreams like he did before the battle with the Dark Forest. The other medicine cats notice this as well, feel very confused. Suddenly, a group of StarClan cats consisting of Firestar, Barkface, Leopardstar, and Blackstar come to greet them. Littlecloud reunites with Flametail, while Leafpool greets Firestar, her father. Jayfeather sets off more slowly to greet the StarClan cats, for though he was pleased to see them, he felt uneasy. He asks Firestar what is going on, and Firestar begins to address the other medicine cats. Kestrelflight suggests that each of the medicine cats speak privately with their own Clanmates, but Barkface tells him that StarClan has a prophecy for all of them, one that concerns all the Clans.
Jayfeather groans inwardly, wondering if it means that their many seasons of peace are coming to an end. Firestar says that a time of great change is coming for all the Clans, and delivers the prophecy: "Embrace what you find in the shadows, for only they can clear the sky." After a few moments silence, Jayfeather lashes his tail in frustration and angrily asks Firestar what it means. But the vision is already fading, and the sky darkens. But before his vision fades, Jayfeather spots, from the corner of his eye, a very young tom a pace or two away from the other medicine cats. When Jayfeather turns to face him, the cat bounds away, so that all Jayfeather sees is the flick of a white-tipped tail. Jayfeather takes a breath, and realizes that it was a living cat, and smells strongly of ThunderClan.
Alderkit and his sister, Sparkkit, the children of Squirrelflight and Bramblestar, are about to become apprentices. Alderkit reflects back on his other siblings, Dandelionkit and Juniperkit, who both died early after being born. Disrupting Alderkit's mourning, Bramblestar calls a Clan meeting. He then makes Alderkit and Sparkkit apprentices, with Cherryfall being Sparkkit's mentor and Molewhisker being Alderkit's. Sparkkit, now Sparkpaw, asks Cherryfall if they will be exploring the territory, but Molewhisker replies that they are going to hunt for ticks in the elder's den, much to the chagrin of Alderpaw. He thinks that if this was what it was like to be an apprentice, he was not sure if he would like it very much. During their stay in the elders' den, Sandstorm tells the two stories, saying that their mother, Squirrelflight, had gotten into a lot of trouble when she was their age. As Alderpaw is getting ticks off of Graystripe, he notices Leafpool and Jayfeather whispering, then staring at him. Alderpaw worriedly thinks that he has done something wrong.
The next day, Alderpaw and Sparkpaw explore ThunderClan territory with their mentors. They view the lake, and Alderpaw and Sparkpaw are in awe by its size and beauty. Molewhisker points with his tail to show the apprentices RiverClan territory, which is difficult to see far across the lake. As Cherryfall explains to the apprentices about RiverClan, Sparkpaw runs off to attempt to catch a fish, but stumbles in the water. Molewhisker heaves a sigh and gently reprimands her. The group of cats continue to embark on their tour of the territory, while Cherryfall explains the custom of borders and patrolling. For the first time, Alderpaw imagines himself as a warrior, leading a patrol and setting scent marks. He thinks to himself that he is learning so much, and he feels that he's becoming a real asset to his Clan. When Alderpaw believes the tour is finished after they view each Clan territory and discuss their traditions, Sparkpaw asks if they can practice hunting. Alderpaw, tired and hungry, silently wills for his mentor to say no, but much to his disappointment Cherryfall and Molewhisker agree.
During their hunting session, Sparkpaw demonstrates the potential of a truly great hunter, as she is able to catch a shrew on her first attempt. Molewhisker asks Alderpaw to try, and Alderpaw, whom had secretly hoped that his sister would miss, feels uneasy at hunting. However, Cherryfall decides that they should leave, as Sparkpaw's catches had probably scared off all the prey in the area. They travel to another part of the territory, where the two mentors assess the apprentices on their hunting skills once again. Alderpaw sees a vole, and begins to track towards it. Molewhisker, feeling impatient as Alderpaw slowly moves towards his prey, snaps at him. Alderpaw, startled, leaps towards the vole, but misses it. Sparkpaw calls Alderpaw a mouse-brain, and Alderpaw hangs his head, feeling that he deserves to be called one. Molewhisker gently comforts Alderpaw by telling him that a good hunter doesn't hesitate, and that he must trust his instincts. Sparkpaw manages to catch another piece of prey - a plump mouse. Molewhisker mutters that it was a good catch, twitching his tail in annoyance. Alderpaw realizes with despair that he had let Molewhisker down again, wanting so much to make the cream-colored tom proud of him.
They encounter a ThunderClan patrol consisting of Ivypool, Sorrelstripe, and Birchfall, who all congratulate Sparkpaw on her catches. Alderpaw notes that they did not take any interest in them, which suits him just fine. Alderpaw and Sparkpaw go back to camp, where they are met by their father. Bramblestar asks how their first day outside of camp was, and that Alderpaw had listened to his mentor and learned about ThunderClan territory. Alderpaw looks at his father, expecting to see disappointment in his eyes, but Bramblestar's look does not give anything away. Bramblestar sends Sparkpaw away, saying that he wants a word with Alderpaw alone. Sparkpaw casts a sympathetic look at Alderpaw as she walks away. When left alone with the ThunderClan leader, Alderpaw asks him if he is mad at him, as he had tried really hard. Bramblestar touches his nose to Alderpaw's, saying that he was sure he did, and says that he is very proud of Alderpaw listening and paying attention to his mentor. Alderpaw is quiet, believing that Bramblestar was only being nice. He is afraid to look up into his eyes, as he didn't want to see pity in them. Bramblestar breaks the silence, asking if he had told Alderpaw about his apprentice days. Alderpaw remembers that he had told him that Firestar was his mentor, adding that Firestar must've thought he was pretty great as he mentored him while he was Clan leader. Bramblestar sighs, saying that he thought Firestar wanted to keep a close eye on him. His voice grows tight as he tells Alderpaw that it took Firestar a long time to trust him, as he was the son and the splitting image of Tigerstar, a murderous traitor.
He continues to tell Alderpaw about the first time he went hunting with the flame colored tom, saying that he really wanted to impress him. He reflects back on the time when he had chased a squirrel through a pile of wet leaves, and he had slipped and crashed into a tree. He adds that what had hurt even more than crashing into the tree is that he was pretty sure Firestar was struggling to stop himself from laughing. Alderpaw's feelings of shame and embarrassment wash away, and Bramblestar tells him that it was an awful first try at hunting, but he had gotten much better and he believes that Alderpaw will, too. Alderpaw glances up at the dark tabby's eyes, feeling as if a heavy weight had lifted off his back as he realizes he is looking forward to going out with his mentor again. He promises himself that he will improve, and that one day he will be a warrior the Clan would be proud of.
A half moon later, Alderpaw is getting ready for his first Gathering. He thinks back to the previous days, admitting that Sparkpaw was doing much better than he was. He tells himself that although Sparkpaw was brilliant at everything, that didn't mean Alderpaw was terrible. He wonders what it would be like if he weren't an apprentice at the same time as Sparkpaw - then he wouldn't have to compare himself to her. He shakes off the thoughts, feeling guilty, telling himself that of course he wanted to be with Sparkpaw, as she was his sister. When they reach the island, they are awestruck by the amount of cats from each Clan at the Gathering. Molewhisker introduces Alderpaw to Rowanstar, Onestar, and Mistystar, the leaders of ShadowClan, WindClan, and RiverClan, pointing them out on the Great Oak. Cherryfall shows the apprentice the respective deputies, Crowfrost of ShadowClan, Reedwhisker of RiverClan, and Harespring of WindClan. Squirrelflight comments that she better get over to the deputies as well, telling Alderpaw and Sparkpaw to go meet some cats from the other Clans. Alderpaw meets Needlepaw, Beepaw, and Sleekpaw, all apprentices of ShadowClan.
Alderpaw notes that the apprentices seem to be very uncivilized, disrespectful, and rude as they insult the other Clans and the leaders. Alderpaw wonders if the ShadowClan warriors were this way, but they seem to laugh at Needlepaw's jokes, confirming his suspicions that ShadowClan warriors were just as rude as the apprentices. Rowanstar announces new apprentices, saying that Beepaw had been apprenticed to Dawnpelt, Sleekpaw to Tigerheart, Juniperpaw to Stonewing, and Strikepaw to Wasptail. There are no yowls of congratulation, but surprise as Stonewing and Wasptail had just been announced as brand new warriors. Onestar wears a look of heavy disapproval, asking Rowanstar with contempt if ShadowClan was really giving apprentices to their youngest warriors. Rowanstar snaps that when ShadowClan cats are warriors, they are ready for anything, and other Clans need to keep out of their business. The ShadowClan apprentices next to Alderpaw are looking smug. Needlepaw informs Alderpaw that ShadowClan has lots of apprentices, and Rowanstar doesn't know what to do with them all. Alderpaw feels odd as the apprentices seem to be openly talking about their Clan's weakness. He looks up to the oak, noting that all Clan leaders were bunched together and were talking in low tones. Rowanstar announces that the medicine cats from each Clan have something important to say.
Leafpool, Jayfeather, Mothwing, Willowshine, Littlecloud, and Kestrelflight walk towards the clearing of the island. Kestrelflight leaps up one of the roots of the oak, and announces that the medicine cats have received a prophecy that is vital to all of the Clans. There is clamor from all the Clans, which Jayfeather easily breaks by telling the cats to shut up. Kestrelflight replies that Firestar had spoken to them. Needlepaw insults Firestar, much to Alderpaw's shock that she would deliberately put down a StarClan cat, nevermind ThunderClan's former leader. Kestrelflight repeats the received prophecy: Embrace what you find in the shadows, for only they can clear the sky. Harespring asks what the StarClan cats mean by that, and Kestrelflight tells him bluntly that they don't know. As Alderpaw listens to the medicine cats, he cannot shake the feeling that this seems familiar. He feels that he can picture a large flame colored cat speaking the words that Kestrelflight had echoed. He asks himself if that could be Firestar, but recalls that it all felt very vague. He pushes away the vision and continues to listen. Some of the cats suggest that "in the shadows" could mean ShadowClan. Crowfrost demands if they must find something that was in the shadows. Alderpaw looks around, feeling his pelt prickle as he realizes that Leafpool is staring straight at him.
During training, Alderpaw's mind is focused on Leafpool staring at him, which means he is unable to put all his attention towards the battle moves, much to Molewhisker's annoyance. He continues to be confused as he recalls how Jayfeather and Leafpool seemed to be aware of him at all times, constantly looking at him. Molewhisker sharply tells Alderpaw that a cat who can't fight is no use to his Clan. Alderpaw forces down feelings of misery, thinking that there was no such thing as a warrior who can't hunt or fight. When the two cats arrive at camp, Bramblestar calls Molewhisker to his den. Alderpaw is frightened that Molewhisker will report him for doing terrible, and he notes that Leafpool and Jayfeather had also joined the two. They walk over to Alderpaw, whom swallows and realizes that they are talking about him. Bramblestar speaks first, telling Alderpaw that he knows the young ginger tom is working hard, but sometimes a cat can find themselves down a wrong path.
Alderpaw is confused, and Bramblestar goes on, telling him that he must become a medicine cat apprentice. Alderpaw gapes, knowing that he had been expected to be punished for his failure, but he had never thought he would be taken away from Molewhisker. Bramblestar explains that Leafpool and Jayfeather had a vision in which explained Alderpaw's destiny as a medicine cat. Alderpaw is humiliated, thinking that the two cats don't need another medicine cat. He is horrified, wanting to flee camp, and begs Bramblestar to reconsider. Molewhisker tells Alderpaw that he isn't angry with him, and knows he has been trying his best. Leafpool tells Alderpaw that it isn't a punishment, and the two medicine cats have asked Bramblestar to arrange this. Alderpaw begins to calm down, knowing his father wouldn't lie to him, but still is doubtful. He asks if there is anything to do to make them change their minds, and Bramblestar shakes his head, saying it was the will of StarClan. Although still hesitant, Alderpaw is determined to make Squirrelflight and Bramblestar proud.
During Alderpaw's medicine cat training, he sleeps in the apprentices' den, which makes him think he isn't a real medicine cat. Alderpaw begins to learn about new herbs. He is thoroughly confused by all of the different plans, which makes him wonder if he'll ever get the hang of this. When Alderpaw first goes to the Moonpool, he is introduced to the other medicine cats, who are surprised that ThunderClan now has three medicine cats. Alderpaw notes that Littlecloud is looking slightly envious, and silently hopes that StarClan sends him an apprentice soon. When they reach the hollow where the pool is, Leafpool begins the medicine cat apprentice ceremony, asking Alderpaw if it is his wish to share the deepest knowledge of StarClan as a medicine cat. Alderpaw replies that it is, and Leafpool presents Alderpaw to StarClan as the official medicine cat apprentice of ThunderClan. Alderpaw meets Firestar in his dream, and Firestar shows him a vision in a bottom of the pool. He sees a brown and cream cat, beckoning to a ginger cat and a black and white cat. The brown and cream cat talks to a silver cat, and Alderpaw realizes that this is a warrior ceremony, and when the vision is over, Alderpaw instantly badgers Firestar with questions, such as who these cats were and where they were from.
Back at camp, when Jayfeather sends him to check the elders for ticks, Alderpaw finds himself confiding in Sandstorm about his odd dream at the Moonpool, describing in vivid detail what the cats had looked like. Sandstorm tells them that the cats were Leafstar, Sharpclaw, and Echosong, and that they were from SkyClan. Sandstorm tells them they might need his help, and advises he tells Jayfeather and Leafpool. Alderpaw does so, and the two medicine cats are impressed that he has had a vision so soon. They go to discuss it with Bramblestar, while Alderpaw thinks somberly that the older cats will take care of his vision. Bramblestar goes to tell Alderpaw that his vision means that he was chosen for a very special quest, saying he must leave ThunderClan and travel to find SkyClan. Alderpaw is completely shocked, and asks why. Bramblestar explains how the four Clans in the old territory had drove out SkyClan because their territory was destroyed, and they couldn't find another place to live as the Clans refused to give up some of their territory. He tells Alderpaw that Firestar had been chosen to go on a quest to rebuild SkyClan, along with Sandstorm.
Eventually, Alderpaw agrees to go on the quest, but still is shocked. Sandstorm argues with Bramblestar, wanting to be chosen to go on the quest, but Bramblestar is firm when he denies her request. Squirrelflight comes up to Bramblestar and reports that the hunting patrols have been out, and wonders who to choose to help Alderpaw find SkyClan. Sandstorm says she is going, and Bramblestar reluctantly dips his head in agreement. Squirrelflight is horrified, exclaiming that it was bad enough her son was going, but she can't have her mother go as well. Squirrelflight continues to argue, but eventually gives up, saying that she hopes they will be safe. Bramblestar announces to the Clan that Alderpaw has been chosen to go on a quest, and acknowledges that Sandstorm will be going as well. Alderpaw notes that Graystripe and Millie look especially astonished. Bramblestar tells the Clan that Sparkpaw, Molewhisker, Sandstorm, and Cherryfall will accompany Alderpaw on his journey.
The group of cats journey through unfamillar territory, following Sandstorm's directions to find SkyClan. They cross several Thunderpaths, get chased by Twolegs, and even eat Twoleg food. Alderpaw feels like he is being watched as he leads the cats through the land. They try to cross another Thunderpath, but a monster with a Twoleg starts throwing things at the journeying cats. Sandstorm, fed up with Twolegs, decides to cross in the morning. The cats come across a fox, much to their horror. A she-cat comes to their rescue, helping the cats drive the fox off. After the fox runs away, Alderpaw recognizes the strange cat as Needlepaw. All the journeying cats are shocked and furious that the young, rule-breaking apprentice had followed the cats through strange and dangerous territory without anyone's permission. Sandstorm scolds the apprentice fiercely, telling her that she would be in a lot of trouble with Rowanstar. Needlepaw argues that she will be coming with them, and there is nothing they will do to stop her. The ThunderClan cats discuss if they should let her stay, and since they cannot agree, Sandstorm decides she will stay with them because it is too dangerous to send her back to her own territory. Sandstorm tells Needlepaw they will let her stay, and Alderpaw sees how pleased Needlepaw is to know that she had been included. Sandstorm's wound ends up healing badly, despite Alderpaw's constant efforts to repair it.
During the journey, when Alderpaw goes to sleep, he has a vision of the SkyClan cats running and begging for help. The cries for help wake Alderpaw up, which makes him even more determined to find SkyClan and help them. Alderpaw goes to confide in Sandstorm about the dream, and Sandstorm tells him all they can do is make sure they reach SkyClan. Alderpaw checks Sandstorm's wound, and realizes that it is starting to get infected. When they start traveling again, Needlepaw comes closer to Alderpaw, making him uncomfortable. Needlepaw tells him that she had overheard everything that he and Sandstorm had talked about. Their path to the rest of the land in which they must travel to is blocked by a Twoleg fence, and the cats climb over it. However, Sandstorm has a particularly tough time, leaving her wound to be scraped on the fence. Alderpaw notices that her wound is bigger and it is starting to bleed again.
They climb another fence - but this time, it opens Sandstorm's wound even bigger. During the night, Alderpaw notices that Sandstorm's wound is getting worse, and infection is setting in. While Sandstorm is sleeping, Alderpaw notices a cat with starry fur walking towards him. He realizes it is Sandstorm, and is instantly shocked. He notices that Sandstorm looks taller and stronger, and her green eyes are glowing with love for him. Sandstorm tells Alderpaw it is her time to leave them, and StarClan is where she belongs. She gives Alderpaw directions, telling him to follow the sun, and he will come to a river, and when he does, he must follow it upstream and he will find the SkyClan camp. Alderpaw thinks this is only a dream, and when he wakes up, he looks for Sandstorm. He realizes that she is next to him, and her body is cold. He comes to the conclusion that she is dead, and is horrified. The questing cats sit vigil for Sandstorm, realizing how close they had grown to her during the journey. Together, they bury the old cat somewhere where she can see the stars. When Molewhisker ponders turning around, Needlepaw tells Alderpaw to tell the cats the truth about his dreams. She tells him that it will bind the cats together, and it will show them the importance of the journey. Alderpaw tells the journeying cats the truth about SkyClan, much to their astonishment. Molewhisker tells Alderpaw that they will do whatever they can to find SkyClan and complete their quest, and Alderpaw feels as if he will burst with pride.
They follow the river upstream until they find where the river begins. Alderpaw exclaims that this is where SkyClan must live. They meet strange cats, and they think this must be SkyClan. They come across a lonesome cat who takes them to their camp. He introduces himself as Rain, which puzzles Alderpaw, as he does not have a Clan name. Rain introduces them to their leader, Darktail, which fuels Alderpaw's confusion, as the leader is not called Darkstar. He thinks that this is because they do things differently in a Clan that lives so far away, and Darktail asks what they want with SkyClan. Alderpaw explains that they were sent to go there, and Darktail asks if he wants SkyClan to go home with him to ThunderClan. Darktail tells Alderpaw that he is impressed he made such a long journey, but cannot have SkyClan journey with him back to the lake. Alderpaw believes that he had come here to help, but is unable to see anything that the cats need help with. Alderpaw remembers his dream of cats crying for help, and realizes he cannot abandon this makeshift Clan. Needlepaw boldly suggests that they can help in with hunting and patrolling, and Darktail agrees. Darktail adds to Alderpaw that there will be a bit they can learn from each other.
The next day, the ThunderClan cats witness a commotion in camp in which several older cats battled elders and queens for food. They are shocked by this scene, and Sparkpaw confronts Darktail, asking if they even follow the warrior code. Darktail replies that their code was that the strongest could do what they want, and the sick and elderly learned to take care of themselves. Alderpaw treats a cat who is sick with tansy, and Darktail seems interested about the herbs. Alderpaw goes on a herb finding expedition with Rain and Needlepaw, and thinks that teaching SkyClan cats compassion would be the first step to reforming the Clan. Alderpaw sees Rain and Needlepaw talking to each other, and feels an ache in his heart. Alderpaw notes that some of the SkyClan cats are talking about leaving. Alderpaw meets Mistfeather while hunting. Alderpaw introduces himself as an apprentice from ThunderClan, and Mistfeather recognizes ThunderClan, exclaiming that he must know about Firestar.
Mistfeather tells Alderpaw that the old SkyClan was driven out of the gorge by the new cats, and they had taken over their territory. Mistfeather tells him that the Clan were unable to fight off the rogues, due to times being hard and daylight warriors who were unable to fight for them as they were with their Twolegs. Mistfeather states that all the Clan had scattered after being driven out, and he was the only SkyClan cat left in the gorge. Alderpaw realizes that the cats in the gorge don't act like a Clan because they're not a Clan. Darktail appears, snarling at Alderpaw that it seems like he's plotting against his cats. He attacks Mistfeather, and easily kills him. He drags Alderpaw back to camp and announces that Alderpaw and his companions were plotting against them. Rain pads up to Needlepaw, asking if it was true with hurt in his voice. Alderpaw feels an odd feeling swelling in his chest at Rain's voice towards Needlepaw. Darktail states that he will only let them leave until he figures out the danger he had been feeling passes, and he adds that he promises. Alderpaw wonders if they can believe his promise. Molewhisker comments that Darktail is evil, while the other journeying cats agree.
The cats decide to leave the treacherous SkyClan, but Sparkpaw is uneasy, as they had just found them and now they were leaving. Alderpaw responds that they can't help SkyClan now. Alderpaw realizes that this quest is a failure, and Cherryfall sympathizes with him. The journeying cats cross the river, but the current is heavy and Needlepaw and Alderpaw get swept away from the rest of the group. Needlepaw and Alderpaw are thrown off a waterfall, and realize they cannot find the others. As they desperately try to search for them, they climb back up the waterfall and attempt to retrace their steps back to the river's bank. They continue to search for the other cats for three sunrises, picking up their scents here and there, but they are unable to find them. They search through Twolegplace for a cat who might tell them someplace to cross the river, and they come across Bob, who feeds them Twoleg food. After Bob tells them where to cross, Alderpaw grows depressed as he realizes that he had failed in his mission to find SkyClan, calling himself a terrible medicine cat. Needlepaw tells him in a harsh voice that they couldn't have done anything, and his visions must've meant something else.
Alderpaw is visited by Sandstorm in a dream, who assures him that he has not failed. Sandstorm tells him that he has not failed his quest, and it is not too late to fulfill the quest - he just needs to find a different path. When Needlepaw and Alderpaw go into a tunnel, thinking it may be the way home, they find two kits whom are abandoned by their mother. They note that the two kits are starving, and Needlepaw catches a vole to feed them. They decide to name the kits, as they both agree they will take them back to the Clans. Needlepaw names the black and white she-kit Violetkit, while Alderpaw names the other one Twigkit. Needlepaw tells Alderpaw that these kits are what they find in the shadows. The two apprentices, along with the kits, travel back to Clan territory.
As they reach the ridge, overlooking the Clans, Alderpaw asks Needlepaw to be quiet about what happened in the gorge. Alderpaw asks for help bringing them to ThunderClan, and Needlepaw spits at him, asking who thinks that they're going to ThunderClan. Alderpaw looks at her in surprise. Alderpaw is furious, stating that he won't let the kits be brought to ShadowClan where there aren't any rules and apprentices are allowed to break the warrior code. He states that this is his quest, and the kits should be brought to ThunderClan. Needlepaw calls him a coward, and that they never would've made it back if they hadn't broke the warrior code. Alderpaw becomes angrier, and Needlepaw decides that the only way to solve this is to split them up - to bring each kit to each Clan. Alderpaw disagrees, saying the kits only have each other. A cat jumps in front of Alderpaw, and he recognizes the cat as Molewhisker, with Poppyfrost, Birchfall, and Berrynose behind him. Alderpaw exclaims with relief, and shows them the kits. He says they should be brought to the ThunderClan camp, and Needlepaw tries to argue with him, but Birchfall agrees and takes them, telling Needlepaw they can decide at the next Gathering. Needlepaw bids farewell to Alderpaw, and travels home to ShadowClan.
At camp, Lilyheart takes Twigkit and Violetkit as her foster kits. Alderpaw frequently visits them at the nursery, until one time Jayfeather comes in and demands for him. Alderpaw and Jayfeather go over to Bramblestar and Leafpool, and Alderpaw tells Bramblestar everything that happened in the gorge. Alderpaw asks what they will do about the rogues, and Bramblestar replies that they will do nothing. Squirrelflight joins in on the conversation, and they discuss the kits. Bramblestar thinks they should keep them, and Jayfeather states that ShadowClan has half a claim to them. When it is time for the Gathering, Sparkpaw and Alderpaw carry each kit towards the island, where they settle down with them.
When the Gathering starts, Rowanstar ignores all normal Clan news and instantly launches into a debate about Twigkit and Violetkit with Bramblestar, who is shocked. Alderpaw is furious, thinking that Needlepaw told Rowanstar about SkyClan. Bramblestar talks about how he had sent cats on a quest to find what the prophecy means, and how they had come across two young kittens. Rowanstar reminds Bramblestar that Needlepaw went on the quest with Alderpaw, and Bramblestar counters him, asking what Needlepaw was doing there in the first place. He adds if it is normal for ShadowClan apprentices to wander on their own, and Rowanstar, visibly embarassed, snaps that it is none of Bramblestar's business. Rowanstar continues, stating that they must decide where the kits will live. Mistystar interferes, asking politely for more detail about the quest as it is the first time she and Onestar heard about it.
Bramblestar launches into a detailed account of the quest once more, while all the leaders listen. Onestar snarls that they will never be able to convince him that the kits are what you find in the shadows. Rowanstar argues, saying that StarClan guided the cats to the kits and that was all they needed to know. Bramblestar meows that the kits don't need to know anything, and that it is the responsibility for the Clans to take care of them until they are old enough to think for themselves. Rowanstar bares his teeth, saying that they should go to ShadowClan with Needlepaw to take care of them. Bramblestar points out that they are happy and safe now, and it would be cruel to separate them. Onestar growls that Bramblestar just wants the kits to ThunderClan. Mistystar agrees apologetically, telling Bramblestar that the prophecy belongs to every Clan and he has no right to keep the kits. Bramblestar states that he thinks ShadowClan has claim to one of the kits, and Alderpaw is shocked, thinking that it would be extremely cruel to split the kits up. Sparkpaw whispers that Bramblestar wouldn't allow the kits to be separated, and Alderpaw thinks despairingly with all the Clan leaders against Bramblestar, he wouldn't have much of a choice. Onestar complains that it isn't fair for one kit to go to ShadowClan, saying that the Clans should raise them together. Sparkpaw asks how that would work, calling Onestar a mouse-brain.
Mistystar declares the Gathering to an end, and Bramblestar leaps down to join Alderpaw. Alderpaw instantly confronts his father, saying that he can't do this. Bramblestar says that he has no choice, and tells Rowanstar to choose a kit. Although Alderpaw is furious with Rowanstar, he sees that the ShadowClan leader wasn't happy about the solution either. He notes that Rowanstar would protect the rights of any ShadowClan cat, but he wasn't cruel, and understands what he is doing. Rowanstar meows that he will take the black and white kit, and Alderpaw, his voice shaking, introduces her as Violetkit. He asks Rowanstar to take care of her, and Rowanstar promises that she will be. Alderpaw realizes that the kits understand what is happening, and as Violetkit is in Rowanstar's teeth, she wails. Twigkit begs the leaders not to take her, and Violetkit yowls at Alderpaw to help her, begging for Lilyheart. Alderpaw's heart twists, and whispers that this is the way it has to be.
Alderpaw feels a sense of foreboding looming over him, knowing how wrong it was to separate the siblings. Sparkpaw tries to vainly comfort Twigkit, and Alderpaw looks around, meeting Needlepaw's gaze. Alderpaw silently demands if she told Rowanstar about SkyClan, if she will take care of Violetkit, if she will miss him. Needlepaw's gaze is not friendly, and she turns away. Alderpaw wonders what Violetkit's future will hold. He looks at Twigkit, knowing he will try to make her happy. He realizes that although nothing useful had come out of his quest, he can make sure Twigkit has a good life.
Squirrelflight awakes late in Bramblestar's den on the Highledge. With guilt flashing in her, she realizes that the patrols had already been organized and were long gone by the time she had awoken. Although she feels awful about it, she knows that it's because she's a queen and is expecting kits. She reflects on how the two medicine cats, Leafpool and Jayfeather, had been attempting to persuade her to move to the nursery, but to no avail as Squirrelflight had insisted that she had wanted to hang onto her duties as deputy as long as she possibly could. Due to the fact that she is in a lot of pain, she sits down and remembers her reaction when she had figured out she had been expecting kits. She remembers her overwhelming feelings of excitement and joy, and how they had completely overriden feelings of nervousness. But as days pass and the kits grow, her nervousness gets the better of her, weighing her down, making it almost impossible to do anything.
She leaves Bramblestar's den to check how the patrols are getting along. She goes over to the fresh-kill pile, seeing Cherryfall sharing a vole with Snowbush and Berrynose. Cherryfall offers her some of the mouse, and Berrynose tries to persuade her to eat it. Squirrelflight is hungry, but remembers that all of ThunderClan is hungry because it is leaf-bare. She feels guilty, as she thinks she is eating more than her fair share. As she thinks whether to eat or not, she reflects on how much pain she is. The thought of pain leads her to recalling about the kits she had fostered - Hollyleaf, Jayfeather, and Lionblaze. She ponders if she was a good mother to them, remembering how after the truth had been revealed, it had taken a long time for her to be forgiven. Snowbush gets in the way of her thoughts and convinces her to eat, and Berrynose adds that it's mouse-brained she won't eat. Squirrelflight snaps back at him, her short temper getting the best of her. Cherryfall tells her that it's good for her and the kits if she eats. The argument continues, with Cherryfall, Snowbush, and Berrynose trying to convince her to eat, with Squirrelflight refusing. Eventually, Squirrelflight gives in.
Jayfeather checks in on her, and Squirrelflight looks into the eyes of her foster son, thinking that maybe everything would be okay. As Jayfeather collects alder bark, Squirrelflight accidentally rams into him, thinking that ice above him would fall and hurt him. Jayfeather snaps at her, saying that he doesn't need her to protect him. Squirrelflight stares at him, offended, remembering that the tension of their past lives - the way she had raised Jayfeather and his siblings - was hanging between them. Jayfeather tells her he can take care of himself, and walks away. Squirrelflight feels guilty, not knowing if she can be a good mother if she can't even stop arguing with her Clanmates.
Bramblestar and Squirrelflight go on a hunting patrol together, and Bramblestar tells her that she hasn't been herself lately. Squirrelflight tells her that she's scared she wouldn't be a good mother, and she asks if she was a good mother to Hollyleaf, Lionblaze, and Jayfeather. Bramblestar is quiet, and Squirrelflight hinks back to how furious Bramblestar was when he first found out. Bramblestar calls her a stupid furball, and tells her that she loved the three kits she raised with her heart, and they turned into three amazing cats. He tells her that no other she-cat can be a better mother than she will, and he'll always be with her.
Squirrelflight chases a mouse, but accidentally runs into a fox. Bramblestar comes to her aid and battles the fox along with her. Bramblestar gets pinned down, but Squirrelflight ends up saving his life by defeating the fox, sending it retreating. Bramblestar thanks her for saving him, and Bramblestar confesses that he thought the fox would get her, and that he would lose her and her kits. Squirrelflight tells him that she couldn't let the fox hurt him, not when she could fight besides him. The two twine their tails, and Squirreflight thinks that they are so much stronger together, and that they will make sure their kits are loved and safe. Bramblestar and Squirrelflight travel back to camp, but Squirrelflight feels better. She thinks that being a mother isn't about saying the right thing or doing the right thing, but being a mother means protecting the cats you care about. And Squirrelflight knows she is capable of doing just this - for the rest of her life.
The Barnes & Noble exclusive scene features Squirrelflight as deputy of ThunderClan, not long before she has her kits. The book does not feature a preview for Thunder and Shadow in lieu of this, however. However, any copy of The Apprentice's Quest not sold at Barnes & Noble does have a preview for Thunder and Shadow.
While a cat named 'Ferntail' appears in the allegiance list preview for The Apprentice's Quest on Kate's blog, no such character exists in the final printing of the book.
The Apprentice's Quest (EN), HarperCollins (Hardcover), 15 March 2016
The Apprentice's Quest (EN), HarperCollins (e-book), 15 March 2016
Die Mission des Schülers (DE), Verlagsgruppe Beltz (hardcover), March 6 2017