Yes, I know. A month. I'm still trying to get back in the writing mindset, okay?


Anyway, onto Chapter 23.

Morning fell upon the Clans, but in StarClan the atmosphere was dark and foreboding. Wildpaw could sense it—Nightwhisker was mad. Spitting, boiling, raging mad. She knew it had something to do with Dapplepaw's disappearance.

Wildpaw paced around the apprentices' den in the ShadowClan area of StarClan. She stopped when she heard Cloverpaw's voice.

"Wildpaw, come quick! Nightwhisker's found Dapplepaw." The brown WindClan apprentice looked nervous, since they both knew that if Dapplepaw had gone down to earth, then she would be in trouble. Big trouble.

Wildpaw gritted her teeth and followed her friend out of the den and the trekked down the smoothed-out trail leading to the main clearing. There was already a gathering of cats; apparently watching others get in trouble was something to watch.

A bright light shone in front of them, and Dapplepaw ran out of it, her eyes wide with fear and her fur standing on end. Nightwhisker burst out of the light running after her, and when the black she-cat caught up with the younger tortoiseshell one, she slapped her face with violent force.

"You stupid kit!"

Dapplepaw stumbled and fell to the ground from the blow.

As Nightwhisker realized what she had just done, her mouth fell open in an 'O', and her face contorted into pure shock. "Dapplepaw…I'm sorry."

Wildpaw winced at the look of hurt and betrayal on Dapplepaw's face.

"What, are you turning into Thistleclaw?" Dapplepaw accused. "Thinking you can dominate by slapping?"

Nightwhisker frowned. "I didn't mean—" She straightened up. "Do you not realize why I am angry? What you did was extremely stupid…spending a night down in the world of life, and with a murderer no less! You could have been banished to the Place of No Stars if someone else had found you!"

She closed her eyes briefly and her voice softened. "Tigerclaw is gone. The apprentice you fell in love with has shed his skin and now is a murderer. You have to accept that. He doesn't love you anymore—he loves power instead. Give up on him, and stop trying to make sure he gets into StarClan, because, like it or not, he's going to end up in the Dark Forest. He's had chances, and thrown them all away. Do you understand me?" She tilted Dapplepaw's chin up with her tail so the apprentice could meet her eyes.

Dapplepaw nodded. "I'm sorry, Nightwhisker." She still felt rebellious, though. Whatever you say, I know that deep down, Tigerclaw still loves me.

Nightwhisker sighed. "It is harsh, I know. But you have to let go sometime." With that she padded away, most of the other cats in the clearing following her.

Wildpaw and Cloverpaw came up to their friend, who lay huddled on the ground.

"I really hate to say this, Dapplepaw, but—"

"Don't say 'I told you so,'" Dapplepaw snapped at Wildpaw.

Wildpaw wasn't fazed. "I warned you of the consequences before you left. Nightwhisker was so mad when I told her—"

"YOU told Nightwhisker where I was? I can't believe you did that. I thought you were my friend!" Dapplepaw looked hurt.

"We are your friends, Dapplepaw," Cloverpaw put in. "That's why we want to protect you."

Dapplepaw glared at them. "You're not my friends. A real friend would come with me to save Tigerclaw."

Wildpaw and Cloverpaw glanced at each other. She's deluded, they realized. Dapplepaw refused to believe ill of Tigerclaw. "Please listen to us, Dapplepaw," Wildpaw pleaded. "Tigerclaw's gone dark and he won't come back."

Dapplepaw was shaking. "You're lying. You just don't want me to be with Tigerclaw."

"You're lying to yourself!" Cloverpaw protested. "Please listen to us!"

"NO!" Dapplepaw hissed and turned. Without one last word, she ran.

"Dapplepaw! Come back!"

Wildpaw barred Cloverpaw's way with her tail. "Let her go. She needs to blow off steam."

Cloverpaw nodded, and the two padded away, not yet realizing that they would not see their friend for a very long time.

So, what will happen to Dapplepaw? Find out next chapter!

Yes, I know, it was short. But I'm still trying to get back into this. Plus, I have to wait for my library to ship in a copy of Into the Wild so I can re-read it and remember what I've forgotten.

Well, thanks again for the 500 reviews. It touches my heart. *sniffle*

Peace out!