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#cloudtail's daughter
mallowstep · 13 days ago
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surrogate mothers.
i sure have been talking about queens a lot. let's jump right in.
a review of queen behavior in my au
alright, if you're new here, i should introduce you to queens and queen madness. if you want to read the posts about it, the introductory essay is here, and a related post that ironically goes into more detail is here.
but if you just want the quick summary, basically, queens have extremely strong protective instincts for the moon surrounding birth (i.e., one to two weeks before until about when the kits open their eyes — the timeline is very varaible), and those can manifest harmfully.
they're also not exclusive to who actually gave birth to the kits, and that's the topic of this post.
some disclaimers re. the nature of adoption in warriors
adoption is handled...inconsistently, in warriors.
to be polite.
it ranges from cloudpaw and brindleface in tpb, where fireheart is surprised by how much cloudpaw grieves for her, and then is like "well makes sense she was his mother" (altho cloudpaw's relationship to ferncloud and ashfur is chronically underdeveloped...
cloudtail and ashfur are brothers. squirrelflight is his cousin. oh, the drama)
all the way to po3 kiddos just kind of...well, rejecting both their adoptive and birth mothers. and if it stopped there, i'd say that's actually a take on keeping adoptions secret, but...
then we get to twigbranch and violetshine. twigbranch is iffy because while she seems fine and loved, she doesn't really have a relationship with lilyheart. that said, family relations usually only matter if it's for dynasty purposes, so that's really fine
and violetshine is...well, she's basically a victim of the system, if warrior cats had a foster to adopt system.
and you know, both this and the po3 would be fine, but we don't really focus on any of the good examples of adoption, and there's the whole brokenkit nonsense, and really, can we stop putting the bad adoptive parents in shadowclan?
anyway, i'm going to say it's not as easy at it seems to go "warriors adoption bad" because there are definitely good examples, and...well, basically, i have given myself permission to chuck out whatever i don't like.
canonical adoptions
cloudkit and brindleface are, hands down, the best adoption in warriors. they will be my model of adoption moving forward. it's not a well-developed relationship in the eyes of the audience, but what's there is fantastic.
next up would probably be riverclan's adoptions in crookedstar's promise. so that's leopardkit and silverkit. both of them are raised kind of by the clan at large, without particularly strong ties to their adoptive mother, but not in a malicious way.
i think violetkit (and brokenkit, but ugh) are also good examples, just of adoption gone wrong. the fact that they both occur in shadowclan makes me want to find an explanation in the culture.
holly, jay, and lion...i'm mixed on. i hate leafpool's wish with a vengence, and i wish i could scrub it from my memory, but...we're not going to look at them in general because the issue is complicated by questionable story decisions.
twigkit's relationship with lilyheart, similarly, will be disregarded because she doesn't say anything cloudkit and brindleface didn't already say. however, we will look at twigkit and alderpaw.
there are definitely more canon adoptions, those are just the only ones i can remember off the top of my head that had any development. e.g., i think lilykit and brightheart have an adoptive relationship, but it was only mentioned in relationship to twigkit.
critiques and commentary
everytime i outline a post i have the audacity to think i won't be finishing it at 1am.
fuck.
cloudpaw's grief over brindleface is good.
a lot of stuff is meh.
the handling of the three is bad.
brokenkit bad, everything bad, fuck that book.
violetkit has a good story but i want to explore the reasons why she ended up in that situation and that's for another post.
leafpool and squirrelflight
alright. i waited a whole like, 9 hours to write this part so i could be a little more sane but then forgot i have a midterm in two hours so this is procrastinate lord save my soul.
leafpool and squirrelflight, vis-à-vis leafpool's wish, suck so much i can't even ignore it.
if you haven't read leafpool's wish, i strongly urge you to consider just skipping it. it's not worth it. what's good about it is so small. i'll give you the best part for free: squirrelflight calls the kits "poppet." and that's just so adorable i can't.
but anyway.
look.
i don't have anything against this "you lied to us" arc, and it makes sense, more or less, with jayfeather and hollyleaf's characters. (lionblaze, who doesn't really have a character, doesn't matter.)
i very strongly feel that this isn't as "warriors says adoption bad" as it seems. a lot of the surrounding material focus on lionblaze and jayfeather rebuilding their connections, with both leafpool and squirrelflight. brambleclaw/star is quick to affirm they are his sons.
if we ignore leafpool's wish, then this is actually a good arc. i don't think we can fault the three for rejecting squirrelflight. it's actually a pretty understandable reaction. they were, after all, lied to for their entire lives, and they're the product of a very dishonorable relationship.
talking about the first/strongest human comparison that came to mind would 100% break my "pg-13ish" rule, but you know, use some empathy. imagine your mother told you that no, actually, you're not her child, you're her sister's child, who gave you up to not wreck her career.
it's not your mom's fault, of course, but you'd be understandable angry at her.
why i hate leafpool's wish so much is because it really hurts that arc, despite happening before it.
the way everything is set up, the way the kits just forget leafpool in like two seconds, the way leafpool is like "whelp...i love em but time to move on..." all of that really undercuts the oomph factor of the po3 arc.
i always had this imagine of leafpool kitting alone, squirrelflight finding her and the kits, and them hashing out a plan. Leafpool struggles to say goodbye, wrestling her desire as a mother, and Squirrelflight struggles with lying to the kits, and everything works out, but they all know it's going to crumble eventually.
and i just think, storywise, that works a lot better.
so ig what i'm saying is, leafpool's wish sucks. and i'm probably going to be saying that a lot for a while.
final notes
i didn't end up talking about very much here, whoops.
uh, i was supposed to talk about protective instincts, but i decided a while ago that it basically works for plot convienence.
realistically, a queen needs to have a young litter or be very close to the queen in order to have the proxy instincts kick in.
in my squilf & leaf stuff, i always kind of imagine squirrelflight is as pushy as leafpool when it comes to leaving camp, carrying for the kits, etc. like, she probably sneaks leafpool as much prey as she can and is very anxious about kitting inside camp.
squirrelflight and leafpool already have a very close bond, it only feels natural.
and in, say, ashes, that's basically exactly what happens. it's squirrelflight who doesn't want to take the kits back right away, because she's worried, not leafpool.
i really meant to focus on this, but i kind of...don't have a lot to say and would rather critique the canon presentation of it.
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mallowstep · 13 days ago
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nursery things
when do queens move into the nursery?
also it is very important to me that kits call their parents by their names
this lost all formatting when i pasted it but i need to sleep in literally three mintues enjoy
gestation
cats have a gestation period of about 2 months. for the sake of cat ease, we'll say they think of it as a full season, but obviously they don't know if they're pregnant until as little as a moon before they give birth. this is not factually what is occuring, it's what they think, because that means kits become apprentices at nine moons, a holy number.
anyway, cats will show at three weeks to an experienced eye. at four weeks, they'll have a bit of morning sickness. by five weeks, they'll be able to feel the kits development. so that's uh, about 5 weeks before they give birth?
i'm really bad at math i'm sorry.
after that, they're going to grow rapidly and become unfit for patrols fairly quickly. i'm trying to construct a timeline for the fourth apprentice and the poppyfrost drama, but if berrynose knew poppyfrost's kits were coming, he probably had a point.
i mean, she didn't have to move into the nursery, that was overzealous, and she had some time before she couldn't serve as a warrior, but pregnant queens are not exactly mobile.
like mate. she's not going anywhere.
queen madness
i've talked about this a lot and i'm kind of rushing to get this out bc i have a midterm tomorrow so i'm going to bed in 15 minutes regardless of whether or not i post/queue something but i don't want to cheat by uploading allegiances for something i wasn't planning on writing allegiances for (plus those always take me forever) and fuck i'm getting to the point
look. i've talked a lot about this and i don't have anything new to say.
queens. they get overprotective.
frankly, squilf refusing to take young kits back to camp and them hiding under her tail is a fucking trope in my fic.
i don't even know how that's possible, and yet.
fading
so there's this cat equivalent of sids (sudden infant death syndrome) where young (feral) kits just kind of...don't live.
it's also pretty similar to what's called "failure to thrive"
anyway all of these things are interesting go look them up (sad tho be forewarned, also re. failure to thrive lots of very unethical decisions.)
but anyway, i've introduced this concept as fading for several reasons.
one, it explains the vanishing kits problem.
two, it explains why so many kits die despite having socialized medicine with around 95-99% cure rates.
three, it's a good folklore thing. like, queens are scared of this. they're anxious about it. especially in leaf-bare. it adds a good bit of filler drama and all that.
four, more cat biology accuracy.
anyway, this is marked by a kit failing to grow properly. there's nothing wrong with them, they just...never "get on board."
i'm not digging it out now but i have a quote somewhere that's basically "well, she's quiet and calm, but she's growing, so i don't think she's going to die in her sleep."
anyway, this is basically my merciful catchall for kit death. sue me, that's one of my lines.
(but wait, i hear you say, didn't you literally write a fic involving neonaticide and neonaticannabalism? i made that word up i can't spell for shit tho. well, yes, however, those are not character kits, they are plot devices, and you know it. so it doesn't cross the line. i didn't give them personalities for a reason.)
so yeah. okay 10 minutes left and two more sections i can do this.
birthdays (birth days)
heh no one fucking cares.
about, like, the human concept of a birth day.
no, so queens will know they're going to kit soon up to a week beforehand. hazy sources, i'm sorry, provide on request.
again i'm rushin.
right anyway so queens are pretty Aware as you will, and so there's plenty of time to prep the nursery. or other location. that's fairly common in green-leaf, but the clan works real hard to avoid it in the other seasons because it's significantly riskier.
but anyway, a separate kitting nest is provided, and because these are near human levels of intelligence, the cats don't have problems figuring shit out. the other kits are cleared out to the elders den for as many as three nights (kitting can take up to 40 hours), and it's usually the queen's wish to spend a night w her mate. (a) because parents and (b) because safety instincts.
(also as an only vaguely unrelated side, i've recommended "the minor fall, the major life" before and i can't say too much now because i don't have 15 minutes to reread the whole thing i read 1k words a minute and type 100 words a minute how do you think i publish so much but there's some funny? i think it's funny stuff where redtail is all "you know it's kind of concerning how willowpelt keeps having children with no clear father")
and uh, yeah. queens usually track their kits birth to the nearest whole or half moon depending on the clan. there's usually a transitional day ceremony and a mid season ceremony, kits are done when the queens decide they're mature, usually erring over six moons, but on occasion, erring under.
as far as i'm concerned, cinder/bracken/thorn/bright situations never happen. i never remember the four of them are littermates because of that.
moving on i have like 1 minute fuck i forgot i need to brush my teeth
kinship terms
i've already started work on a separate piece for this but.
kits call everyone by their name. they might stumble over it, and those become nicknames, the way young kids do, but please remove every instance of a kit calling "mama" and replace it with either a generic meow or their mother's name.
this is important to me. it just doesn't make sense for the clan to do this, imo, because we see no other terms to refer to people, not even a father term. kits canonically call their fathers by their name (skyclan and the stranger.) anyway i'll talk more about this later i'm out of time.
conclusion
love u bye <3
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mallowstep · 22 days ago
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matriarchal societies
today on "matthew makes up more than you ever wanted or needed about warriors," we're going to be talking about the nature of matriachal societies, and how that impacts cats.
to be clear, cats live in matriarchal societies, so as far as i'm concerned, warrior cats live in matriarchal societies. it's my au, i can do what i want.
also, like, they do operate like a matriarchal society. while we have a lot of male leaders, queens are given immense amounts of respect. not like, "ah fragile mother must protecc," but every time a leader gets a life for mother's love, they're like "damn don't want to mess with that"
in pretty much every succession crisis (tigerclaw and onewhisker aside because they weren't "natural" — i.e., both leaders are dead — crisis), a female leader is chosen. medicine cats skew female and they have a lot of power.
is this partially because of the impact our society has on warriors society? of course. do i care? meh, matriarchy fun.
[3k words. 16 min read. section headers, some links and lists.]
queens, worship, leaders, and social structures: an overview of warrior cats society as i see it
here is how i imagine power flows in warrior cats (roughly, it depends on the clan.)
leaders have absolute power, but they delegate different tasks. basically, different members of the clan serve to advise them in different areas, and sometimes even stop the leader, depending on the situation and clan.
medicine cats are responsible for starclan business. i try to play down their role as doctors just a little bit because well...that's kind of the boring part of their job if you don't let them do cpr i'm still mad about that.
deputies oversee patrols. this is a pretty busy job, because it's basically managing the day to day life of the clan.
senior warriors are responsible for apprentices. they're the ones who suggest good mentors to the leader.
elders are responsible for kits' education. they watch kits when queens need a break, and are the ones who educate the kits about clanlife. what this looks like varies drastically based on the clan, but in general, this means teaching them the warrior code, telling them important stories, and generally being a guiding adult role for the kits.
queens are responsible for the kits' and elders' well-being. the queens get final say on when kits are ready to be apprentices, and are the ones who decide when junior warriors have matured enough to become mentors. they're also the ones who monitor senior warriors and push them to retire to the elders' den.
when i say queens, by the way, i don't just mean she-cats actively in the nursery. they get precidence, of course, but there's usually a set of "senior queens," like goldenflower, daisy, and ferncloud, who are always in the nursery and provide guidance, as well as the younger/less experienced queens. but once a she-cat has had a litter, she is always allowed to participate in the queens' discussion. the only exception is if that litter was taken away from her, but warrior cats don't really consider her to have been a queen for that litter.
yes, this does mean she-cats like twigbranch, who don't have any kits, have somewhat less power than mothers. that's just society. it ain't have to be fair.
overall, in a tie, the side with more she-cats wins.
usually, she-cats are preferred for the position of deputy/leader. toms are never allowed to participate in queen discussions, while even a she-cat without a litter might be allowed to participate (with the understanding that she's the smallest voice). so she-cats are considered to be more able to understand how clanlife works and run it.
while in the position of leader/deputy, however, she-cats in particular are discouraged from having a litter. they're certainly allowed to, but it's risky for the clan and create conflicts of interest, because having a leader-queen means the leader has a right to participate in the queens' discussions, which are supposed to be able to challenge the queen.
finally, the groups with the most authority to overturn the leader are as follows:
deputy who has been a queen
queens
deputy who hasn't been a queen (she-cat)
medicine cat
deputy (tom)
senior warriors
elders
majority council
majority council doesn't really happen, because even under a terrible leader, it's really hard to get 50% of the clan to agree on a given course of action. it still exists, but it's a pretty unlikely turn of events. this is, however, the only way to overturn the power of a united leader and deputy.
since the groups don't really overlap, there are minimal conflicts between them. the only exception is that senior warriors may want to make XYZ a mentor, but the queens don't feel he's ready. this is pretty rare, however, since the senior warriors very rarely consider a cat who hasn't already been approved by the queens.
the details of how this works are clan specific, e.g., in thunderclan, the deputy has more power over the apprentices, in shadowclan, elders usually have a say in mentors, etc. riverclan medicine cats have less power than in the other clans, although only marginally, not even enough to bump them down a rung on the ladder. skyclan probably has the smallest differences in power at each level, and is the most likely to settle things by majority council.
also, while at the gorge, the daylight-warriors had a sort of internal structure. billystorm served as "senior daylight-warrior," which was an unofficial title, but he was their representitive in clan discussions, as well as having a much more important role over apprenticeships for daylight-warriors.
additionally, skyclan has a ninth slot, "fulltime warriors council," which isn't less powerful than a majority council, but a last resort in a time of crisis when consesus can't be reached.
finally, what majority council means in each clan is highly variable. in windclan and thunderclan, it's a vote. in riverclan and skyclan, it's consensus, so everyone has to agree on the solution. i haven't decided how shadowclan works yet, exactly, but i think it's going to be kind of like a combination. you have defined sides, and each side nominates a captain, who then hashes out a solution with the other side.
fundamental differences
one thing that comes up a lot when discussing matriarchies is that there is a fundamental difference to how they run than a patriarchal society. because i know about this, but only vaguely, i'll actually be employing real word research.
also because i'm no longer hosting my drafts on tumblr drafts but on notion, which makes my life significantly easier if i want to leave the tab, because i must no longer live in fear that a stray key stroke will close and delete all that i love.
n.b. tumblr please fix your drafts page.
before i get started, though — one important thing to keep in mind is that humans and non-patriarchal societies are a complicated topic. if you want an introduction, here is the wikipedia page. i mean, look how much discussion is done before we even start talking about societies that might count.
in many (matriarchal) societies, women are revered. they're divine, life-bringers, associated with an important goddess, etc. this usually (but not always) relates back to fertility.
there's also the concept of a matrilineal society, which means heritage is tracked through mothers, not fathers.
(fun fact! judaism is matrilineal.)
however, many "matriarchal" societies are just egalitarian, or are actually only matriarchal in one aspect.
In fact, it is not easy to categorize Mosuo culture within traditional Western definitions. They have aspects of a matriarchal culture: women are often the head of the house, inheritance is through the female line, and women make business decisions. However, unlike in a true matriarchy, political power tends to be in the hands of males.
(wikipedia)
the mosuo culture had a moment a while back as everyone's favorite matriarchy, and, well...it's not that simple.
part of the problem is that the word matriarchal is said in response to a patriarchal society, but that's because of the power of men.
quick anthropology lesson: men get power because they don't have to give birth. so in most societies, men are usually physically stronger. because they don't spend nine months in a vulnerable state every few years. it's an averages thing. yes, they're also physically larger.
so women don't have a comparable way to seize power. so matriarchal societies tend to be more community oriented, because...well, the same reason cat colonies are matriarchal.
you'd have to be a really big fucking idiot to interfere with a large number of women telling you what the rules are.
real cat colonies, as discussed, have the structure of she-cats living together and kicking of-age toms out. in a more human-like society, the second part is not very common, since men are physically stronger and therefore useful.
what i'm saying is, clan toms should all be himbos.
big, strong, powerful, but not very bright. and they drink their respecc women juice daily.
anyway, matriarchal societies are fundamentally different, usually more oriented towards community and cooperation.
before i move on, i just need to take a moment and clarify that this has nothing to do with "feminine qualities" and everything to do with what happens when you don't have access to birth control.
right so moving on...
common mistakes (and what i'm doing)
this is kind of very much the same as the previous section, but i'm going to focus in on cats.
also, to be clear, this is not "common mistakes" with regards to fic authors. (a) fic writers are wonderful, all of you, unilaterally, never change, and (b) the way i see it, "mistakes" are either responding to the world provided, or just your own spin, and i couldn't fault you for either anyway.
so i'm mostly talking about the erins, and more broadly, just, a trend whenever people try to write a matriarchal society. in a way that implies realism? like, fuck, do whatever you want in your world building, but i am a semi-realistic author (when writing about fantasy cat novels), so you know, this is kind of my angle.
so. first up, and i have to say it, toms really should be kicked out a la the sisters. and @ the people who call the sisters sexist, you are correct. they are. that said, at least they're sexist in a way that's (a) not replicating real world power struggles as lazy world building, and instead providing an interesting culture to explore, and (b) realistic to how real cats are sexist.
plus we get more criticism of the sisters than we do of squilf and bramble in universe, despite squilf and bramble having way more screen time.
but anyway, i unfortuantely cannot cull over 50% of the cast of warriors, so i am forced to make do with some of the paltry explanations i provided above.
i also, as an aside that will probably never come up outside of this (something i really shouldn't say, since every time i say it, i end up writing about it), have this bitty detail where we flip the script a little, and at the base level, toms are useful because they provide genetic material.
this isn't to say that's the only reason clans keep them around, but in a patriarchal society, the base motivation for "caring" for women is because they're fertile. yes, the quality of the care varies, and the framing varies, and the actual necessity is nonexistent, but that's what it comes down to, at the core, you know?
okay, second up. queens are, well, almost holy. i didn't end up talking about this in the first section, but my point of including "worship" in the title was because there is an almost worship of queens in warriors culture. they're responsible for the next generation. they're the strong who kit, who care, who will fight the hardest to protect their clan. nursing queens eat before anyone else, along with kits, but even queens whose kits are weaned eat before warriors.
i think, okay, you know how there's that film statement that goes around that's like, "you can kill the women and the children, just not the dog"? i think the warriors equivalent is, "you can kill the medicine cat and the kits, just not the queen."
i've already talked about power structures, so i don't need to repeat myself, but queens have a huge say in the goings of the clan.
related, she-cats are the ones who have expectations of power and leadership. i know i'm deviating from the books most strongly here (really? only two of the founding clan leaders were she-cats? that's fake and you know it, may star(flower)star reign), but...i mean, all of the cats who we see who are ambitious, without that ambition being critiqued as inherently bad, are she-cats.
is part of this to do with the impact of society? i.e., the lesson that many seem to learn is that their power is in the nursery? and that we are inherently less "threatened" by an ambitious female protagonist because we, subconsciously, don't believe them capable of attaining power?
of course.
am i going to continue to subvert this because i think that's boring?
also of course.
i also do think there's something to this idea that power-is-in-the-nursery. that she-cats who don't want kits have to struggle with the idea that they're not going to be in the running for deputy if they haven't had a litter, because you might as well pick a tom, who won't ever be in the nursery for three seasons, but also, won't be chosen for the position if they attain too much power in the nursery.
you know, ferncloud is never going to be deputy, even if she ends up with the ability to single-handedly decide who is and is not ready to be an apprentice/mentor.
i know ferncloud is dead it's just a side point.
that's a really interesting story, to me! i could do a retelling of bluestar's prophecy about that, where she legitimately loves oakheart, but doesn't really want a litter, and then she has one, and she loves them, and her ambition is getting in the way twice over, and not only does she have to live with the guilt of giving them up, but also this feeling that she had them just long enough to achieve her ambitions.
but moving on, issue three: the clans are mostly egalitarian societies.
(noun) A society that lacks social stratification and with the exception of inequality based on ability and age, provides equal access to resources and prestige.
definition of an egalitarian society
other than queenhood (queenship? queendom?), the clans don't have any restricted areas. there's nothing that says "toms only" or "toms if and only if no she-cat is available," etc.
even among the clans, they meet as equals.
so, like, i've been calling them a matriarchal society, and that's because it's a nice way of covering a broader, much more complicated truth: they're an egalitarian society, but she-cats are more respected because of their abilities. they're not entirely egalitarian, but...
there's not major sexism going on.
hnng i swear i end up contradicting myself so much in this stuff and that's because it's complicated! people and lives and societies are complex things and it's really hard to talk about them coherently.
this is why i try to do more narrative/prose lore, i think it shows what i'm saying better, but it also doesn't leave as much space for freeform discussion or research.
like and subscribe to save matthew's slow descent into madness.
final thoughts
oh yeah, just like a real youtuber, i did a fake out call to action in the middle to make it harder for you to skip.
i'm meming here guys, just wanna be clear.
anyway, it's dinner time and i'm hungy and my brain has stopped working, so i'll be brief.
cats are matriarchal, but it's important to think about what this means.
if you want to read some interesting things, i've found some more thoughts on it, that are probably more helpful if you're looking to build a human matriarchy:
Creating Matriarchies
What would a matriarchy look like?
Imagining matriarchal worlds
So you want to write a matriarchy: guide.
the type of matriarchy i've created is about cats, so...it's not a great template for non-feline societies.
that said, if you're interested in more realistic cat societies, here are some questions to think about.
what's more honorable? destroying or creating life? defending your territory or being defended? etc.
how equal are toms/she-cats?
is there a concept of different spheres, separate-but-equal, etc.?
how do she-cats suffer? how do toms suffer?
who has the power in relationships?
what's the default gender/assigned gender for an unspecified cat?
and so forth.
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mallowstep · 23 days ago
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the nature of folklore
today, i want to talk about the nature of folklore.
we're not divorced from it in the modern day by any means: the nature of folklore is that it is always there.
after all, how many times have you heard that if your roommate dies, you get an a? or listened eagerly to someone's tale of an impossible encounter with an impossible stranger?
folklore is omnipresent. it is woven into us.
that said, we don't have a ton of folklore via stories, oral history, and songs anymore. if i could singlehandedly change that, i would. i grew up telling stories, keeping the history of my family in vignettes i taught to my brother, making up comforting fables for my younger cousins when they couldn't sleep.
my mother sang me lullabies, amazing grace, you are my sunshine, tula tula, melodies i can no longer name but would recognize in a heartbeat.
i went to a summer camp where you were never too old for a bedtime story, where the greatest reward, even for a pack of sixteen year olds, desperately vieing for independence, was to hear another story. i can still tell you the story of the invisible prince, of how such and such and so and so met and married, recount the little prince or hatchet or my side of the mountain in impeccable detail.
unfortunately, i am but one voice, and i don't think i really want to change us back. let culture progress, it is the way of the world.
but i have so many stories for cats. trust me, i have about 20 drafts sitting of stories for these murder cats. but i want to take a moment to talk about how folklore works, what it does, and why it's important.
[3.7k words. 20 minute read. section headers, minimal formatting changes.]
oral history: a written explanation
i'm feeling a bit punny.
anyway, i'm not qualified to talk about oral history. what i am qualfied to do is talk about the broadest sense of it.
oral history is not an accurate way of keeping records. stories change, people forget things, the tales become exaggerated and tweaked.
but...it's not the worst way. it's a real, sincere, history.
for example, in my full moon, it's unlikely that one individual really mastermined this plan. especially not the same individual who sorted out some other important part of skyclan business, which in it of itself is a tall-tale.
realistically, the clans realized they had an error, decided on when they would meet, and just went with it.
but briarleap is one of skyclan's heroes. she's not the only one: rushfoot and dovestar are also important heroes. she fills a particular type of archetype: she's the young hero, who sees the world more clearly than those around her and comes up with a solution.
so it makes sense to assign her to the problems which are clever and had no obvious solution. she's not really a trickster archetype, but she is clever, young, and has no real power within the clan.
in other words, she's a ya novel protagonist.
likewise, the yet-unwritten story of briarleap and swallowpaw definitely didn't happen as it's told. that's just a nice box to put it in, a nice cover for an important lesson: mark unstable branches.
all the clans probably have a similar version of briarleap's story. i can't tell you for sure who the equivalent is, because i don't know, but it's worth remembering that almost none of these cats existed.
i think riverclan's will be a cat named briarstream.
you see what i mean, they're both named briar- because briarleap belongs to no cat. they just have a suffix that corresponds with common clan names.
now, i can't speak for anyone else, but in come back to you one by one, by solacefruit, there's a cautionary tale about catching koi. we get this line:
The koi were left alone because the tall folk loved them. That was the truth of the story. The real truth, not Linnetleaf’s version.
that confirms it, the story is a warning that's been polished into something kinder and more forgiving. (i highly recommend come back to you one by one btw.)
that's how oral history works.
it's not good for having a factual understanding of historical events, but...that's not really the point.
shared stories
another thing is, a lot of clans share the same stories.
i already talked about briarleap/stream/??? for the other clans, but it's more than just that.
every clan is going to claim that they have the right, correct story, that the other clans don't tell it well, etc., but with the exception of clan specific stories, that's not generally true.
okay this is hard to explain bc i'm still drafting/editing a lot of what i'm talking about right now and full moon is kind of a boring story for this. so i'm going to use the story of the long night, because that's the closest to finished and most likely to have been published by the time i finish this.
cw: the long night is a story that involves infanticide and cannibalism. i'm not graphic about it, but it's featured very heavily. we move into discussion at "STORY COMPLETE," and i move on entirely at "SAFE"
okay, so to summarize very briefly, the long night is a story about the seasons and about queen madness. it's one piece of clan creation mythos.
basically, before there were seasons, the night and day just took turns. during the night, everyone slept, but during the day, everything woke. one night, the night doesn't end. i'm telling the thunderclan version, because that's the version i'm working on, but this is a tale from before there were clans, so while every clan says their version is universal, it's definitely not.
there's a queen, slateflower, who has six kits (pigeonkit, harekit, fallowkit, dewkit, ripplekit, and muddykit), who are very young. her mate, silvershadow, has been hunting for her, because there was no clan to provide.
he's able to catch a small amount of prey, but as the night goes on, slateflower just doesn't have enough milk. she knows her kits are going to starve, so she picks the weakest one, kills it, and eats it. when silvershadow returns and asks what happens, she says that muddykit died and she buried her. this repeats itself until only pigeonkit and harekit are left.
silvershadow fails to catch anything, so he comes back, and sees slateflower try to decide who's weaker. he realizes what's happening, takes harekit from slateflower so she doesn't have to decide, and brings the kit into a clearing. he begs the moon to end the night so he can feed his family again.
it takes him a couple times, and he also is searching for another nursing queen. he finds a queen named flamepuddle, who also had a litter of six kits (silentkit, webkit, wildkit, dustykit, beetlekit, and talonkit), as well as taking in the kits of her sister, echofur, (heatherkit, redkit, goldkit, leafkit, cricketkit, and graykit), and right now, only redkit, leafkit, talonkit, goldkit, and cricketkit had survived. (the rest, and her sister, died of starvation.)
flamepuddle agrees to take in harekit, and the night eventually ends.
silvershadow decides that he, flamepuddle, and slateflower will live together. this isn't a thunderclan origin story, mind, just the beginning of collective cat behavior. but one of the reasons it is a distinctly thunderclan edition is because the implication is that later on, the other clans are all splinter groups.
there's also an implication that such large litters used to be more common, à la how in the bible, people used to be more fertile.
so anyway, because all cats are said to be descendents of these nine cats (silvershadow, flamepuddle, slateflower, redkit, talonkit, goldkit, cricketkit, harekit, and pigeonkit — leafkit dies later on), it's said they all carry the trauma of the long night and queens, feeling unsafe, will choose the strongest of their litter.
STORY COMPLETE
so.
in thunderclan's telling, flamepuddle and silvershadow are made to be the heroes, and slateflower is the villain. notice that slate is a windclan name, and the kits who die don't have very thunderclan prefixes. the implication is that this is because the other clans are weaker.
in a riverclan telling, instead of flamepuddle and slateflower, we might have puddlefeather and tallsong, and the kits who survive might be fallowkit and dewkit.
in skyclan, we might have mothpetal and nightstep, with surviving kits echokit and maplekit.
and so on. silvershadow usually keeps his name, tho. or at least half of it.
the 10th cat who dies is also variable. in thunderclan, it's another kit. slateflower is understood to not have intended her actions. in shadowclan, it's the slateflower analogy who dies. in riverclan, silvershadow dies and puddlefeather and tallsong have to work together.
so we always have the same story, but the details of it change, and there's a lot about the clan in that.
it might even be that the reason puddlefeather is able to keep five out of twelve kits alive is because she can fish for herself. tallsong can't.
and this is a story that's supposed to be universal, before the time of clans.
imagine how differnt briarleap and briarstream are. no, seriously, i don't have it in me to do five versions of every folk tale i write, so y'all have to live with one.
anyway, i could go on here, but wow, this section is...much longer than i meant as it is whoops.
SAFE
morals, protagonists, and antagonists
i'm not going to lie, i'm somewhat exhausted from the last section.
basically, the "protagonists" are often the ones who make mistakes. this is because that's a common theme for parables. you want the protagonist, who listeners relate to, to understand the mistakes and learn from them.
there's almost always a moral in these stories. they're not told just to entertain. they're ritualistic, nigh religious, tied in deeply with their culture.
finally, when an opposing clan is needed, (a) the clan telling the story is nearly always in the right, and (b) it tends to shift to whoever the clan is most antagonistic with.
a lot of my stories are shadowclan v skyclan because they have the strongest story-telling development and i don't have any aus planned for shadowclan and (old) skyclan, but i really like what i've developed for them.
in the case a friendly clan is needed, that also tends to shift, but it's less likely to change. it's significantly more likely to change if they're fighting with the clan in the tale.
for this reason, clans tend to be allies with cross territory clans in stories. you're just less likely to fight with someone who's territory you're across from, and you get fun flanking if you gang up on someone in the middle.
characters and archetypes
so i mentioned how briarleap is a certain kind of archetype, and that's pretty common in folklore. you've got your tricksters, witches, wise elders, w/e. i could do a bunch of research into folklore and find a canonized list but i'm approximately 90% sure it's going to tell me it varies by culture so. instead of doing that, i'm going to talk through some of the character archetypes i've been using.
please keep in mind that this is highly suspect to change. also, i'm referring to a lot of cats in my lore posts, so i'm sorry, because if you don't keep up with that, you might be a little bit lost. if you want to check out my folklore, it's here. maybe one day i'll make a kit simulation list that gives them to you in the order a kit would be told them.
the young warrior — characters like briarleap. smart, creative, and willing to speak up when something is wrong. they're who young kits should aspire to be. they're the most common protagonist in stories for young kits, and they're one of the only protagonists for stories with a "good" lead.
cassandra — prophetic characters who struggle to act on their prophecies. goosefeather types. they're cautionary tales, warnings about who not to be, because these are true seers who failed. sometimes, it is framed as the clan being wrong (e.g., berrymoon's main story is about this), but usually it's because the character said too much/too little, at the wrong time, etc.
impulsive apprentice — another warning. characters like swallowpaw. their actions are usually not actually wrong, but they end up being wrong with hindsight. they're tragic characters, and their warnings are usually about the rules established because of them, rather than not being like them.
wise leader/deputy — it's exactly what it sounds like lmao. usually, this is going to be the deputy more than the leader, because the deputy is a far more relatable position than the leader. these are your rushfoots and lilytails, deputies who make quick decisions on the behalf of their clan.
foolish/selfish warrior — warriors who take actions selfishly, which wrap back around to hurt themselves. these are the "protagonists" of the tales about feeding elders and kits first, and so on. they're actually the most common protagonist in stories over all. it's kind of a wide category, including everything from slateflower from "the long night" to lightningcall from "full moon." you know, a queen who only escaped the dark forest because it didn't exist, and a tom whose "mistake" was not showing up to a deputy meeting he was physically unable to attend.
there are, naturally, many more archetypes. there are archetypes for every role in the clan, often many. there's probably some amount of symbolism in the names — perhaps "-leap" is a skyclan indicator of a young warrior, etc., but at least right now, i'm not interested in that. i have more fun naming characters than worrying about the symbolism behind it, because i'm trying to also provide an understanding of clanlife, and that requires bending the rules.
(i mean, for what it's worth, this is true of many things. "the long night" as thrushpelt tells it is not the full version. usually, you wouldn't separate it from "the four seasons," but also, he glazes over the infanticide and cannibalism because he's talking to, like, four-year-olds, explaining how their mother had inherited a trait from slateflower.)
overall, though, i think these five are enough to give you an idea of what the archetypes look like.
interestingly, i also want to call attention to the fact that there's no specific trickster archetype. i mean, there is, because it's (a) one of the most common, and (b) it needs to exist for what i'm about to say, but it doesn't properly count.
see, cats are good at being sneaky and smart and clever. you know this if you have a cat.
clan cats also have to be good at following rules.
so basically every protagonist and antagonist in a story is some permutation of the trickster. the young warrior is the trickster but with less pointless trickery. the impulsive apprentice is probably the closest to straight-up trickster, but there's usually no associated deception. etc.
but in general, all cats should be clever and smart and finding new solutions, so there isn't a specific trickster.
names and times
on a related note, one that's significantly harder to demonstrate, the names of cats get repeated a lot.
in the real world, this is because the names are approximately 75% generated and 25% tweaked, and i have a bias towards certain names.
in the context of lore and worldbuilding, and why i'm not doublechecking against my database of every cat i've ever mentioned, this is because, well, it should make sense for certain elders to tell multiple stories, or, logically, for a kit to grow into a warrior grow into an elder and tell a story.
i mean, dovestar's nine lives are a huge part of skyclan, because each life is supposed to demonstrate some fundamental principle, and they're told over the nine moons of a kit's life (again, cats count kits' lives from the season before they're born for the purpose of holy nine, and from their actual birth for every other purpose, which is how brokenstar got around the warrior code fun fact), so yeah, i'll probably have some repetition in there.
likewise, there's no timeline for these. we don't know what happens when at all, except that the cats telling a story are younger than the cats in the story, and any "book cats" are younger than any other mentioned cat.
(that last point is because exactly one story is told by thrushpelt.)
so anyway, really hazy times and names because...that's how things go m8.
impact of the great journey
so as you can imagine, the great journey is a pretty big deal.
first of all, we're running out of cats who can remember the forest. in thunderclan, according to moonkitti, who i trust in this, birchfall is the youngest cat who can remember it. so considering birchfall could have great grandchildren in the next book or two, i'd say that we're pretty much done with cats who lived there.
even among the other cats, squirrelflight was an apprentice, and she went on the first journey, so there's that. cloudtail and brightheart won't be around for much longer, and graystripe might be immortal, but if he isn't, he'll be gone soon too.
i mean, i know there are non-thunderclan cats, but do you know their names? do you?
yeah. that's what i thought.
anyway, my point is, right now, in canon time, all of the stories are set in the forest. but like, that's kind of not helpful.
who knows, there's probably a story about sunningrocks that just doesn't make sense anymore.
i don't know for sure how the great journey impacts the folklore. this is because there's not an easy way for me to write it. my elders' den stuff is specifically set before tbp, so i don't have to think about adding in the villains of tbp.
why only tbp? because we have 3 wonderful, fantastic, folklore worthy villains. in tnp, we have the journey, in po3, we have interpersonal drama, in oots, we have rehashings of old villains, in dotc nothing matters, in avos, we have weird fuzziness i don't really remember what happened after darktail tbh, and tbc is ongoing. but wait! i hear you saying, what about hawkfrost? and darktail himself? and... no. shut up. they don't matter. just. they're not. they don't. they're not lore villains is what i'm saying very poorly. they're not the kind of villains who inspire lore. maaaaybe darktail? but he was far too recent for folklore.
anyway.
i'm sure in all of the po3 stuff i have on the horizon, i'll explore this more. dovefeather lore is in the awkward middle ground — everything is from the perspective of cats who never knew the old forest, but pretty much everyone older than them does, so it's unlikely anything substantive has changed.
but i have a lot of po3 extended universe plans that might dip in to this?
but for spitballing purposes, what probably happens is that most stories are just reskinned.
things like stories about sunningrocks are going to be repurposed. maybe about that weird strip of territory that they fought over? i'm not sure.
some stories will get to stay in the old forest, like the battle with bloodclan. and some stories will fade out, just as they always do. but for the most part, once the elders didn't live in the forest, they're just going to start plopping stories in the lake.
also, the great journey itself is 100% already folklore. i don't have to do that part, canon actually does it for me. kits are constantly being told about the great journey, or apprentices are telling us they were told about it, or someone is having a weird dream sequence that involves it.
the great journey is a major part of folklore, and that's cool. maybe if i run out of old stories, i'll do some post-canon elders' den stuff. we'll see, i'm definitely not feeling it right now, but that could change.
speaking of great...
this is a minor thing, but like, what's up with all the greats?
the great journey, okay, yeah, sure, makes sense.
and then we have the great battle.
also legit. it had been a while.
and then...the great storm?
look, i understand the storm in bramblestar's storm was a big deal. i have a lot of thoughts about bramblestar's storm as a book and this isn't that. but...
can we compare how many cats died in the great journey and the great battle? and we lost, like, three cats in the great storm
don't get me wrong, i sobbed like a baby when briarlight died.
oh hold on i lied that wasn't this book. never mind never mind.
i just, like, it's very strange IMO to have this great being a thing. or at least, i don't now, i guess it's evolution of culutre?
bluh okay i'm hungry and i do not focus well so i'm going to finish up but just. great. interesting.
conclusion
folklore is a topic i'm really interested in, and i try really hard to think through the consequences of, well, everything i can.
i'm definitely missing a lot of details — specifically, i scratched out my plans for a specific creation myth — but i like the general shape of the lore i'm building up.
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mallowstep · 24 days ago
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blog update
alright so i’m going to try to get into a format for these. it might take me a while tho.
new developments
i’ve been writing a lot of bluefur & thrushpelt over on ao3. if you like good dad thrushpelt, everyone lives aus, and/or platonic life partners, check out here is the deepest secret nobody knows over on ao3.
i've been quiet on other au fronts because i'm trying to actually write them. if you have questions about thme, feel free to ask tho.
i've also made a page for tag lists. if you want to be updated when i publish an au, etc, feel free to ask to be added. once a series is on ao3, you can of course subscribe there, but plenty of things won't be posted for a while.
oh, also, i have started some name info stuff. you can find links in the projects tab.
working project
cloudtail's daughter is in progress. i'm, what, 10k words into growing shadows? so about a tenth of the way there. because i don't really work on this in a strictly linear manner, i can't do easy math off of whenever my last update is. i also don't have my stats open right now, so i can't sort out that.
but, i think saying about sixth months from first post feels right right now. we'll see.
major projects
dovefeather is coming along aggressively quickly. it's also looking to be longer than i thought.
well, not really. i don't know. my estimate for it was about 10k words, and it's at 16k right now, so...lord knows where it's ending, because i feel like, maybe 20-50% of the story has been told?
if i keep pace, the fic should be postable within the year. i don't know how long i'm going to take to post, how far i want to get, but yeah, i think i'll be done with that in a year. maybe less if i write a lot over the summer.
jaywing is definitely coming along slower. i'm still working on it, but i'm in dovewing mode about 75% of the time, and thrushpelt mode the other 25%, and neither of those are conduicive to jaywing. so it's taking me some time.
i'll still hopefully be able to start posting within a year or two. we'll see.
minor projects
ashes is somewhat suffering at the hands of HITDS, but like...HITDS is good stuff.
anyway, the timeline for that is now uncertain because i have a lot to finish for HITDS. possible within the next few months.
alright, that's it! not much to say other than "eh...sorry it's going to be a while," but hopefully there will be more exciting news for the next update.
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mallowstep · 27 days ago
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let’s talk about skyclan
i keep saying i’m gonna, so i might as well keep my promises.
[1.8k words, 7 minute read, well sectioned and organized because i actually made an outline before i wrote it, for once]
section one: what is skyclan
skyclan is a clan built out of rogues and loners that somehow, through some miracle, managed to stay together long enough to beome their own clan.
skyclan is presently lead by leafstar. leafstar is proud, but fair. she reminds me a lot of bluestar in the first books, actually. bluestar pre-crisis, that is.
leafstar is protective of her clan, and while she’s very good at working with others because of their rules from the gorge, she also views skyclan as a seperate entity more than most other clan cats. [1]
the cats of skyclan are a varied group. many first generation cats still live in skyclan, such as frecklewish and bellaleaf. tree is born from the sisters, and his son rootpaw retains their powers. violetshine is skyclan by blood, but raised in shadowclan. she’s loyal to her clan, but values her family — they were prepared to stay if things went south.
skyclan has suffered a lot of hardship. more than any other clan, they’ve delt with loss. sorry, windclan. getting evicted for a few weeks is nothing compared to being eridicated for like fifty years, clawing back together, having your population cut in half like five times, stumbling to what is claimed to be safety, only to have to continue to fight for your right to exist. and then, once you finally get settled, once things start to look normal, you’re poisoned. by your neighbors.
yeah, no one can say shit to skyclan.
but it shows. they’re united, they’re resilent, and they’re confident. they don’t feel like they should adapt when they’re different from the other clans: rather, they’re proud of it. their very existance is a big fuck you to the four leaders who kicked out cloudstar so many years ago, and beyond that, their continued existance is inspiring.
section two: ancient skyclan
alternate title: what skyclan is not
okay, i’ve not made it clear, but i…don’t care terribly much about ancient skyclan. they’re, like, thunderclan but better at jumping and even more arrogant? that’s what i’ve gotten out of them lmao.
but for the sake of being complete, ancient skyclan was a proud, strong, and somewhat isolationist group.
they were farthest from the moonstone, so they had the worst relationship with starclan, which is why it was so easy for cloudstar to say they had turned on them. they also have this highly specific skill set of leaping, much like riverclan, which makes it hard for them to adapt. [2]
honestly, there’s not a ton of other interesting things to say about them. i like setting folklore in the perspective of ancient skyclan because (a) i can just name the cats anything in the pattern [bird][feather, wing, flight, cry] and get a legit sounding cat, and (b) it’s a neutral perspective on all the other clans, since skyclan doesn’t have particularly strong allegiances with anyone else.
section three: leafstar
leafstar is a good leader. i mean, she has some flaws, but those go away when her deputy problem rights itself.
and consider she had almost no guidance and she had no role models, i think she figured stuff out pretty well. [3] we see her build a skyclan that’s fiercely loyal and dedicated to the warrior code — to the meaning of the warrior code, not the words.
the words, yes, but skyclan is a moral, fair clan. i’m pretty sure should bramblestar (may he die so squirrelstar can reign) return, skyclan is going to become the new home for wayward loners and kittypets. i mean, it already is.
but this is about leafstar. she has a tough job, but she consistently favors fairness, unity, and collaboration. she’s the one who starts the naming warriors after others, and i think it’s a desire to make sure skyclan has strong roots.
i mean, that’s her driving motivation in skyclan’s destiny.
and yes, leafstar does start as a pushover, but she’s not a pushover for the obvious reasons. she knows sharpclaw is defying her authority, and she’s not happy about it, but she’s also fighting to keep her clan from falling apart, and she understands picking a fight with her deputy will only make problems worth.
i’ll admit, i’m not caught up in skyclan content. right now, my research project is riverclan. also, i’m not sure how i feel about the mangas, and reading them is going to throw me for a bit of a loop. so i don’t want to say too much here and contradict canon in obvious ways.
but. i really do adore leafstar. she’s got a lot of grit.
section four: what makes skyclan special
not their jumping. thunderclan can jump too. don’t let the battle scene (you know the one) fool you.
skyclan is special because they exist. like, they continue to thrive no matter the circumstances.
i just. leafstar takes in twigpaw, and she’s pissed that twigpaw leaves, but she’s calm and mature about it. leopardstar could learn a lesson or two from her.
(side note: i forgot leopardstar’s background lmao ofc she’s the way she is. i knew the broad strokes from bluestar’s prophecy but still.)
anyway. yeah. their tenacity. their ability to adjust. you know, how they do the sisters ritual with tree? the fact that leafstar finds a role for tree to play to begin with?
that’s why they’re special. and i have so many ideas i’m going to try to expand on below, but that’s what makes them skyclan.
section five: life in the gorge
i’m not going to focus on this too long. i just audibly sighed like a love interest in an 1830s novel. these two things are unrelated, i just wanted you to know.
anyway, we actually have a really good image of life in the gorge. i don’t think i have much to say here. uh, leafstar leaves offerings? to starclan?
i haven’t read tree’s novella and stuff but i just read leafstar’s home for misfit and/or misguided warriors which implies that continues in their current territory because of…genocide or something?
anyway go read that fic, and read skyclan’s destiny if you want to know what skyclan life in the gorge looks like. i’m not going to say terribly much about it because although in my “aus to write one day maybe” list i do have “crow + leaf -> skyclan ???” so ig it might come up, but like i sad somewhere before now, i’m on a riverclan research and world building kick right now.
section six: names (leagcy)
okay, so i planned out the sections for this before i finished writing my more in-depth post about names. so. uh. it’s kind of a pain to renumber things.
look, there’s not that much to say here. leafstar names warriors and kits after others because it’s what she knows. why is it what she knows? i don’t know. a lot of first gen skyclan cat names are names clearly assigned to fully grown warriors (looking @ you, shortwhisker) so like. idk.
but i think when she had her leader ceremony, and when firestar did all the warrior ceremonies, she was like “right we name XYZ with ABC because of IJK” and then she doesn’t have the same contexual pool of names to pull from as the other leaders, so she takes what she knows
and it turns out that it becomes part of the culture.
section seven: prayer (offerings)
alright so. you know what nope fuck nope. it’s 1:36am. i am not writing a treatsie on how skyclan prays. that is a tomorrow deal my friends. and by tomorrow i mean a sepearte post.
section eight: culture (kittypets)
you know, i don’t like that skyclan gives up the daylight warriors think. i know why they did but it was a really good solution to a really unique problem.
i guess they don’t have the problem any more, but still. i think skyclan continues to take in refugees at a far higher rate than any other clan.
mostly because they’re chill about names. i mean, kind of? i don’t think leafstar would want to get in the habit of letting cats keep their names, but she let tree do it, so…
personally, i would have named daisy either “daisyheart” or “mallowblossom.” this has to do w my headcanons re. the prefix mallow ik it’s my blog name it’s unrelated and i’m still kinda insecure about it.
section nine: life by the lake
once they’re in the lake, i mean, skyclan is…they adapt. it’s not easy for them.
they have to give up a lot, both in terms of people they leave behind, and their way of life. it’s important to remember they had a different relatinoship with the warrior code than the other clans.
okay, i know that i’m missing info in tree’s novella and hawkwing’s journey and skyclan and the stranger so i don’t want to say too much here, because i actually think skyclan is a pretty well developed entity and i don’t want to directly contradict anything without unintentionally, so i’m going to leave this here.
although i do think that no matter what, skyclan is always going to view itself apart from the clans, at least until there are no cats who remember the gorge, or who’s parents remember the gorge, if not much longer. because, well, in a way, it’s going to be until no cat can remember a time before skyclan was at the lake until they can properly integrate.
and by then, who knows. maybe the cats will have moved on again.
section ten: closing thoughts
god i somehow rambled more and less than i thought.
i really like skyclan, but it’s going to take me a while to do anything with them because they’re low on my content consumption list ATM. please stick around, though, because i do want to do something with them. i just need to find the right vibe.
it’s probably not going to be mallowstep, tho. it’d feel kind of weird to actually put that down on paper.
[1]: riverclan has been isolationist for so long (for literally all but one or two series) it feels like at this point i need to stop making jokes about it and start making it a thing. i mean, i did. when i write dovefeather or jaywing, riverclan is still isolationist. in dovefeather, when we get the inside perspective, it’s because they view themselves as divine. so. yeah. but even so, riverclan-who-is-isolationist is part of the broader unit. while skyclan is a newcomer. not integrated.
[2]: this is the other reason ancient skyclan is boring, either they’re literally thunderclan 2.0 or they catch birds, birds, and more birds. i’ve gone with birds, since that explains why they struggled in the gorge with the rats (something thunderclan 2.0 should have been much better at dealing with), and because it says something about the nature of modern skyclan. at a certain point, you have to say, “this is not a reconstructionist endevoour” and it’s not, that’s because that would fail.
[3]: firestar spent so much time saying “i’m not the leader” that like. leafstar doesn’t know if she can trust what he did.
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mallowstep · 27 days ago
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a quick guide to cloudtail’s daughter
rewriting the introductory posts is going to take me a while, and i’m not going to be reblogging the older ones because, well, they’re very out of date. so here’s a quick explanation of what’s in the AU, and where/what i’m doing with it.
au details
the basic premise is that dovekit and ivykit are born to brightheart and cloudtail instead of whitewing and birchfall.
nominally, this changes very little, but considering cloudtail is one of the least ableist clan cats (jayfeather, brightheart, etc., naturally excluded), i think dovekit would have been raised very differently.
also, cinderheart is her mentor now because i cannot concieve of why firestar every thought lionblaze would be a good mentor for dovepaw. (because they're main characters, i think the answer is, which is stupid because there's so much more ivypaw angst when her mentor is mooning over her sister's mentor.)
i also have a few realism tweaks, etc., but ultimately, this has all of the key events that belong in omen of the stars, and by tigerheart's shadow, it's in-line with canon.
background/pre books
there's nothing super notable here. uh, hollyleaf's fall from grace happens a little less rapidly? or, just, a little more clearly. it's because her redemption arc happens way sooner, so she needs to be a little more redeemable early on.
brightheart and jayfeather are on good terms. they don't end on bad terms in the books, but they don't have any problems.
whitewing will go on to have brightheart's second litter, so we do have all of the requisate canon cats.
oh, and mothpool is confirmed. i wrote if you love me any, let me know it now during an inspired period with a cat on my lap, and it goes over it, but basically, leafpool's romance with crowfeather is...a large accident? shh this isn't a po3 retelling it's okay it's just hazy
books & overview
growing shadows — this is book one. beavers don't happen, instead, dovepaw falls in the tunnels.
fading echoes — book two, where they deal with beavers. also, lionblaze is a simp for cinderheart. this is all.
distant whispers — they go to the tribe. that's basically it.
the forgotten warrior — time travel chicanery
sign of the moon — (alt title: matthew can't name books) sol and starclan
the last hope — do you really need me to tell you what this book is about?
other notes
because i posted the mothpool oneshot, you can find the series on ao3 here.
schedule
TBD. probably will post about a chapter a week.
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mallowstep · 28 days ago
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Because Leafpool was cursed, apparently in a way that even death couldn't free her from, she was denied her ability to talk to Mothwing, but it didn't last forever.
if you love me any, let me know it now
i’m sorry i know i’m oversaturating the market i just thought this line was funny
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mallowstep · 29 days ago
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Chapters: 1/1 Fandom: Warriors - Erin Hunter Rating: General Audiences Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply Characters: Original Characters, Larksong (OC), Briarleap (OC), Lilytail (OC), there are a lot of ocs but i'm not trying to make stupid numbers of oc tags, but i did want to tag the main 3 in case i write more with this Additional Tags: SkyClan (Warriors), Changing the Warrior Code (Warriors), kind of?, Worldbuilding, Folklore Series: Part 2 of the elders' den Summary:
Did you ever wonder how the Clans always know when to gather?
There was a time when they didn't. Yes, I know, it's strange to think about it now. But hush, I will tell you the story.
  An explanation for how the clans know to meet at the correct time.
this has already been posted here but i try to be organized about these things and that means posting a link to the archive.
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mallowstep · 29 days ago
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the role of canon
with the exception of cloudtail’s daughter, i usually get very “fuck you canon” but every time i write a lore essay, i end up being like “oh look, it’s justified in canon” and well...a good question might be why?
well, frankly, because every time i write a lore post, it’s from a similar mindset as CTD, where i’m thinking “look. look how it still works if i add this.”
also, even though i want to rename mistystar miststar because mistykit is a dumb kit’s name, i kind of just...shrug and go with it. because mistystar is at least equal to miststar and mistyfoot > mistfoot and no one was thinking about mistykit when they named mistyfoot and i understand that.
but also, like, i like acknowledging the real nods. because there’s not much, but when you read things over and over again, you notice these bits. i’ve read bluestar’s prophecy so many times and that’s why reading crookedstar’s promise is giving me so much world building notes, because the first few super editions really dig into this stuff.
(looking @ you, bramblestar’s storm. i have learned nothing about thunderclan and the plot is boring. at least yellowfang’s secret taught me interesting information about shadowclan.)
so yeah, i want to say, “oh look! riverclan has a concept called a claw moon and i’m going to use that.” because well. it’s cool and it’s interesting.
i feel like i had more to say but i don’t.
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mallowstep · 29 days ago
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It was entirely her fault that, sooner or later, she was going to be another reason that medicine cats don't have mates.
if you love me any, let me know it now
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mallowstep · 29 days ago
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Mothwing continued to be a desirable distraction. She had more energy than Leafpaw usually did, but it was tempered, by age or experience. When Reedpaw fell into the river, Leafpaw comforted Mothwing, and suddenly, Mothwing wasn't a desirable distraction. Now, she was another sort of guilt. It was one thing to harbor feelings, and another thing entirely to act on them.
if you love me any, let me know it know
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mallowstep · 29 days ago
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Or rather, as she tried to avoid Mothwing. She was magnetic, brilliant, beautiful, and Leafpaw could never really stay away.
if you love me any, let me know it now
why are all my quotes useless lesbians (affectionate)? bc the other stuff isn’t on this computer
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mallowstep · a month ago
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the medicine cat code is fundamentally unfair
moonkitti already said it for me but...i have a few points i want to talk about too.
one: the medicine cat code is sexist.
we know the following:
queens don't have to share the father of their kits
warrior cats have no understanding of basic genetics
so if jayfeather or alderheart had kits, like, no one is going to know.
i mean, mudfur literally had a daughter. mudfur's daughter lead riverclan.
meanwhile what are leafpool's kits doing? being dysfunctional.
admittedly, leopardkit was born before mudfur made his decision but...
i mean, come on. you really think the clans would have been okay with, say, ferncloud realizing her true calling after her first litter?
yeah.
this angers me so much that it's a plot point in mallowstep's backstory. i wrote in a critique of the medicine cat code to my wish fulfillment self insert warriors oc because of how frustrated i was by it.
(the plot point can be briefly summed up as - kestrelsong, a skyclan queen, has emberkit, kitekit, and dawnkit with her mate mosstail. dawnkit and kitekit are grey tabby and black and white, respectively, while kestrelsong and mosstail are both brown, while mallowstep is also a grey tabby. so mallowstep is basically like, "i could have sired those kits and like...no one can do anything about it.")
two: the medicine cat code is impossible to fulfil.
basically, they're demanded to disobey the warrior code at points.
but matthew, you might be saying, isn't that why they operate on a different code?
to which i say:
you should understand this is far more a product of the fandom than it is in the books.
many medicine cats have some to full warrior training, so like. it's not odd to think they'd struggle with it.
there's some pretty important stuff in the warrior code not covered by the medicine cat code i don't think anyone wants to leave out.
three: i'm really tired.
no seriously it's 1am. okay but just. hear me out: i don't like medicine cats. i mean i do but. i've been pretty vocal about taking inspiration from warriors redux.
it's 1am so i'm not linking it buuut
there's this thing about medicine cats having wardens (in specifically shadowcaln for reasons) that got folded into jaywing but softer and
again 1am idk just like. consider.
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mattieandmatter · a month ago
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cloudtail’s daughter: jayfeather
alright, strap in, it's time for jayfeather. i've been holding it in on him for what feels like forever now; he's ya boy's favorite character
also, aside from dove and ivy, he's the character with the highest volume of changes to canon. even above cloudtail and brightheart, because they continue their lives, it's not a big deal. and lion and cinder go to the tribe, but like, that's it. (i'm figuring out if jay goes with them over the course of this essay. i think i said he did in holly? but he literally hasn't been mentioned once in that arc because there's a lot going on.) anyway lion and cinder don't get up to anything. but jay's priorities shift and we see that in his books. i'm really excited to write him but i need to finish arc 1 lmao.
but first, same deal as always. this is part of my cloudtail's daughter au, where dovekit and ivykit are born to cloudtail and brightheart. i don't know how well this will read preemptively, but i suspect it will be rather dependent on the others. cloudtail's daughter: dovewing and/or the long post that explains it are both good places to start, see the cloudtail's daughter tag on my blog.
[2.5k words, 14 minute read, one of the last warriors essays on this blog. i'm going to finish out with my character essays and then everything will be on new sideblog. so check out @mallowstep for more.]
section one: the leafpool business
at the beginning of this series, leafpool and jayfeather are on bad terms. they will stay on bad terms for basically the entirity of the book series. while one of my main complaints with po3/oots is the lack of acknowledgement of adoption, jayfeather has been lied to by his mother and his mentor, something neither hollyleaf or lionblaze have to contend with, and then his sister kills herself over it. obviously she doesn't, but from his perspective. so he blames leafpool because he was really close to hollyleaf and now she's gone, and it's his first real loss, and there's so much going on.
and so he's a grouch and he's unhappy and he's just trying to function when his whole support system has been dismantled over the course of what, like, a quarter moon? yeah so dovekit and ivykit are like "wow what a grouch he sucks" the same way they don't realize prey is dying of thirst & etc.
for the most part he's j chilling and then hollyleaf comes back and man is it some family drama. unfortunately it's postponed til book 4 because hollyleaf and jayfeather have journeys but anyway i'm getting ahead of myself, because this section should end and unlike the hollyleaf essay i want to actually have decent organization.
section two: hollyleaf is away (but jayfeather doesn't get to play)
holly, cinder, and dove go to deal with beavers. we only get jayfeather through lionblaze in the books, but jayfeather is...conflicted. he got his sister back and lost her again and oh i should say. i think jayfeather and hollyleaf are the closer pair of the siblings. not that they don't love lionblaze the same, but you know how cats pair bond? like, it's usually a trauma thing, but even in feral cats, you see very close friendships. anyway yeah so for other au's i've been sorting siblings n denmates into pairs for this purpose (mostly jaywing au because there's a lot re. dovepaw and jaypaw and remember they are reincarnated siblings they've got a close bond going.) and it's kind of...i don't know my point is jayfeather misses his sister because she's like, his best friend too. or she was. and then she died and now she's back and she left again, and lionblaze is more concerned about cinderheart, so jayfeather just comes off as grouchy all the time. but really he's lonely and sad.
so yeah, jayfeather is kind of moping around camp and then the tree falls and whoops now briarpaw/light is parapalegic.
and uhh this goes more or less as in canon but we don't get pov which is fine bc u can sub in canon. but jayfeather? he's still a sad boy but now he's a sad boy with purpose and that makes all the difference
yeah he's close with her. they're sweet. it's sweet. he's pressured by brambleclaw to take an apprentice. he's bristly and angry and "you're not my real father" you know?
beaver crew gets back. jayfeather, who had missed holly, is back to being angry for...angst and plot purpose, really.
but you know, when you love & miss someone and they leave and they come back and somehow that's worse because now they can leave you again? and you can't tell them you want them to stay because you're angry and hurt but you want them to stay? god i'm excited to write these chapters i love emotional turmoil.
he's protective of briarlight, he's trying to keep dovepaw from being a medicine cat, hollyleaf is apologizing but he's not ready to hear it and lionblaze and hollyleaf are beginning to reconnect and it feels like betrayal. so when cinderheart and lionblaze go to the tribe, he tags along. everyone, uh, strongly encourages he go. he is the big grouch.
section three: time travelling times
okay so the timeline for these books is...messy. if you track the chronology of my writing, it's messy. which is to say, i was thinking i could put forgotten warrior and distant whispers over the same time span, but that actually doesn't work, as i review my notes for FW because a big part of it is ivy and holly's relationship. so. fake news. whoops. that sucks.
or maybe it doesn't? idk i don't usually tell linear stories. i like messing with emotional impact of events. so writing 600k of very linear story telling is very not easy for me. but i'm trying.
right so basically the official order of events until i change my mind again is as follows (names abbreviated as DIHLJC because they're all unique): DCH returns from beavers, DILCJ go to tribe with some other random warrior undecided, J + rando return, JH start awkwardness (beginning of TFW, middle of DW), DILC return (end of DW), time travel stuff (middle to end of TFW). hopefully that was intelligble, but it is admittedly 85% for my own benefit.
alright so we've covered during beavers, now jayfeather and hmmmm let's say, uhhhh, let's say they go with, literally any interesting background character, uh, bumblestripe! he doesn't do anything in this au bumblestripe goes with them. also since his name starts w b i can still write DIHLJCB and have things be unambigious. and it means there are fewer bs in thunderclan and trust me you don't know how frustrating the existence of like 6 b characters is.
alright so we really have 3 sets of two pairs of cats here. maybe i won't go w bumblestripe, bc he doesn't have an existing relationship w jayfeather. i dunno. i'm a big fan of jay & briar, whether as a ship or just besties, but that's just out, and hollyleaf can't come a) because i said so and b) honestly maybe she can? actually wait hold on that solves my problems. hot damn so 6/6 of the pov cats go to the tribe and this will be one of the only times all six characters are plot relevant at the same time. but i'm going george r r martin on it and seperating the books not by time but into DICL + JH because they're two completely separate character arcs that happen to take place at the same time. (don't worry i'm going to resolve the fallen leaves thing. in this essay ig bc i've already covered hollyleaf.)
okay so yeah hollyleaf is sent bc jayfeather isn't planning on staying w tribe for long time. just short time. and he's all "firestar why"
"well jayfeather," firestar says, "you don't talk to your family."
"i talk to dovewing," jayfeather says
"you're not related to her," firestar says
"there's a whole prophecy about how i'm related to her," jayfeather says
"you know about that?" firestar says
and that's how the cat gets out of the bag.
so anyway. jayfeather and hollyleaf are sent because...hold on, spinning the wheel of reasons for a character to go on a field trip...because...because...because...because...jayfeather had one of those dreams. i don't know. rock or something. now he's going.
they get there, and this is where the books get a lil time wonky, bc jayfeather and hollyleaf stay for like a moon, during which jayfeather goes back in time. i think.
i haven't worked out the details and probably won't until i do an updated au synopsis because it's hard to keep track and i'm more concerned about character through lines. like, jayfeather does this and he feels sad, and hollyleaf is sad about her ghost boyfriend, and they're travelling back together, and hollyleaf is his sister and she doesn't make him feel like he needs protection and lionblaze is bad at that, and they start to talk again.
and yeah, they bond. again. it's kind of, on top of their old bond? like they don't repair anything, they bond like strangers. but it's not nothing, and that matters.
so jayfeather gets back, and we're moving into book five, and i don't remember when the last time i made a section break was or what number we're on, so...sorry.
section ???: old man yells at cloud
alright it's finally jayfeather's moment. you know, he's one of my favorite characters, and he only gets a book and a half. "but mateo," i hear you saying, "doesn't every character get a book and a half? and more importantly, 6x1.5 is 9, so how does every character get a book and a half?" well, yes, every character does, but dovewing and ivypool are relevant in books 1-3 and 6, cinderheart in 1-3 and 5, lionblaze in 1-3, and hollyleaf in 2-5 (and has a critical role in 1 and 6, just no character development), while jayfeather is just really essential to books 4-5, and has a background role in 3. that means he's about equal to lionblaze. he's equal to lionblaze. as far as the numbers go, i cannot tell you. it's a mystery.
right so the reason for this is because (a) jayfeather doesn't do that much in oots. i love him, but he's not, like, super important, and (b) he's going to work better in these books if he's concentrated. because his big theme is his relationship with hollyleaf and the past. they're both kind of stuck in it but in different ways. and that prevents them from ever properly healing. so jay never has a full arc in this. i mean he has a full arc, it's just not a satisfying one. and that means he's sort of got to be put in the containment units.
so anyway, he gets his real big moments in the fifth book, when he's reuniting starclan. i think this is one of the riskier decisions on my part: we'll see whether or not i can deliver on him the way i plan to. but i think i can pull it off so that his arc is more meaningful condensed as such.
right. so. jayfeather is decided. he is going to fix starclan. because dead cats need to get thier shit together and he dgaf.
he spends a decent amount of time arguing with yellowfang and bluestar, because basically no important cats have died. at least we're in omen of the stars so it still makes sense? i have no idea why yellow/blue are still so important. please kill more important cats. it makes us feel things.
but feathertail is also probably going to be involved, i don't know. i haven't read these books (specifically, books 4 and 5 of oots) in forever so i don't really remember what happens. but he's kind of, super done with everything. i think he'll probably try to get the support of mothwing and kestrelflight (which is canon i believe?) and try to work as a team. i feel like there's weirdness w shadowclan too i should sort out.
so yeah, there's some medicine cat bonding, everything is OK, sol is happening? but cinderheart is dealing with that. jayfeather is naturally very upset about disconnects with sol but like he's also dealing with stuff i...i really need to reread outcast and sign of the moon. well, they're on my list after "all of these fucking riverclan novels like why they don't show up in the main series but i still have to read a bunch to be able to write them that's not fair."
alright, well, with that very vague description of what happens, moving on, the prophecy gets revealed to the clans at a whole in like...the ending eighth of this book. trying to maximise the amount of exposure to other clans without messing with the pacing.
so jayfeather and undecided warrior B (definitively not hollyleaf) go to windclan. jayfeather is...very unhappy about this. he does not want to leave. thunderclan is his home, and he's blind, and it's really hard to adapt to a new space and he thinks everyone is going to treeat him badly.
and well, if you've read my culture posts, windclan is....very pro-medicine cats and pro-prophecy cats. funerals. mourning. prayer. is probably the best place to start, but to get to the meat of it, start with general clan culture. to summarize, windclan: religious. but kind of like catholics, they don't believe in an individual connection with starclan. only leaders, and medicine cats, and very rarely members of prophecies have a connection. so. jayfeather. he's twice over. that's very cool to windclan.
so cats are kind of falling over themselves to help him, and like. i mean jayfeather is a grouch and he hates that he needs someone to help him through the territory, but at least they don't treat it like a chore, or like he's pitiable. this is a desirable task. apprentices want to know about his powers. and kestrelflight is a respected part of the clan, arguably more important than onestar, and jayfeather has never really gotten over being shoved in the healer hole as a child like it was lesser or easier to be a medicine cat, and so it's a big change.
and yeah. so i mean. an unobservant reader might say jayfeather has sufficient ego. he does not need stroking. they, of course, would be wrong.
jayfeather has a complex, but it's not an ego issue. he's...he's been denied everything he's wanted, and he's jaded, and weary, and he's never really believed that his clan views him as able and equal. in canon, at present, he's lost almost every cat he's every cared about. alderheart is his strongest remaining tie, and his fear at losing him, but willingness to let him leave, is very telling.
so yeah, jayfeather enjoys being accepted. anyone would. he doesn't really have confidence issues, but....argh. i know why this is good i swear it'll come out in the writing.
anyway, that's...that's pretty much it. jayfeather? done.
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mallowstep · a month ago
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matthew’s current aus
a quick guide to the aus i am current writing and/or posting about. intended posting titles (working/discussion titles) [acronym]. part/book names included below if known. written 2021-03:
omen of the stars (cloudtail’s daughter) [CTD]
growing shadows, fading echoes, distant whispers, the forgotten warrior, sign of the moon, the last hope
this is my current working project
basically, dovekit and ivykit are brightheart and cloudtail’s daughters. that, and lionblaze training ivypaw and cinderheart training dovepaw, are the only explicit changes to canon, everything else is the result of these two changes.
i’m writing all 6 books, so the intended word count of this series is 600k. i’ve got a lot on my main about this, but a lot of it is out of date because i wrote it in a feaver dream and i was still trying to stablize the details.
this au is in the “unrealistic” category: a lot of my world building posts don’t apply to it because they make changes to canon in the name of realism. i’m trying very hard to keep the same vibe as canon, so it’s less in line with my typical writing and more with main series books. this includes chapter counts, word counts, chapter lengths, and styles.
the au starts with the fourth apprentice and by tigerheart’s shadow, it’s back in step with canon, other than obvious, minor details. i will write all 6 main series books, and probably some extras (ivypool’s lesson and hollyleaf’s oath have been plotted), but probably not the end of OOTS books (bramblestar’s storm, dovewing’s silence, and tigerheart’s shadow), because it’d be too close to canon for me to be interested in writing it.
current ETA of first chapter being posted is about a year. fading echoes is proving incredibly difficult to write.
feathers take flight (dovefeather) [DF]
kindling, footprints, riverbed, flight
so dovepaw trains under jayfeather to become a medicine cat. he sends her to riverclan for a few moons because uhh what’s the reason because jayfeather is a really shitty mentor for dovepaw in particular, and he’s still pretty young for this, i mean, this is pre-briarlight, so yeah.
anyway she really flourishes in riverclan.
this is my “realistic” category: a lot of world building adjustments. see my warriors worldbuilding tag for more details.
i make a good deal of adjustments here in dovepaw’s powers, which i’ll touch on in detail at a later point. i’ve been very direct about CTD, i try to keep my cards a bit closer to my chest. i like exploring the ideas and world, but i try to keep story elements to myself.
anyway, this covers all of oots, but i’m aiming for somewhere between 10k and 100k words, so that’s 1-15% of the length. i can never say for sure but my estimates are more likely to be too high than too low.
then again, i’m pretty sure i have several scenes that are 2k+ words, and i’m shooting for about 10 scenes in a chapter, and there are 4 chapters, so that’s 80k words. we’ll see.
i have no idea when this will be posted. CTD is an exception in that i’m not making myself write a full 600k series before i start posting, but i usually won’t post unless i have the entire fic written. i’m looking to post it after i’ve starting posting growing shadows, so probably about a year. if it’s entirely finished before that, though, i’ll consider posting it early.
wings & feathers (jaywing) [JW]
kind of like a meta-crossover. it’s what happens if you combine CTD and DF, and you iron out the kinks to get some viable about of it.
it’s my take on jayfeather the warrior. he’s, naturally, named jaywing.
uh, key details include: squilf is his mentor (dovekit and jaykit are brightheart’s kits because i like that dove’s wing and jay’s wing are siblings and it gives us the most adorable dynamic of soft idiot and protective and smart older brother), ivypool and hollyleaf are part of the prophecy, and dovepaw falls into the tunnels and gets concussed while she’s sick and feverish, leading to her mixing up time.
this is realistic like dovefeather: in fact, they exist in the same world-building universe. they are not technically the same AU, but when i’m sorting world building content, they are the same AU. not that i have multiple variants on the clans, but still.
i’m shooting for about 100k words with this. i want to cover po3 and oots, but they’re only six books here, and i’m not interested in doing a cover to cover retelling. we’ll see how it goes. so far, jaypaw is the only narrator.
this will be posted probably on its own schedule. it would be nice to say i’ll post it after dovefeather, because the aus are similar enough i’d like to give them their breathing room, but i find that…highly unlikely. i’m a slo writer, so i don’t like holding on to finished products. that’s how i end up working on a fic for like seven years before i finally post it.
ashes (ashes) [ashes]
the title is only one word lmao.
uh. okay. so. imagine. you are eleven years old in your school bookstore, holding a copy of the fourth apprentice. you don’t know who these characters are.
but you buy it, because pretty grey cat, and then you beg your mother to take you to the library, and you check out every book in power of three, and then you check out bluestar’s prophecy again for good measure.
the librarian asks you if you really need to read BSP again.
“yes,” you say, because it’s a stupid question.
you go home, crack open the sight, and.
what.
did you…forget something?
did you miss another book?
no, you look it up on your ipod touch, this is the next book.
and squirrelflight and brambleclaw have kits?
something is very, very wrong.
but you want to read about the pretty grey cat who hears too much, and you realize jaykit is blind, and you like that, because you, as a cat, would be effectively blind, and you get distracted by the fact that he’s forced to be a medicine cat, and by the time you think about this again, you’re eighteen, explaining the entire plot of warrior cats through omen of the stars to a new college friend, hoping you don’t overwhelm them.
but you get to this part, and suddenly, you’re eleven again. you’re eleven, feeling powerless, lost in an array of social interactions you don’t understand and struggling to understand who your fahther is, you’re eleven, and squirrelflight just has kits with him, even though he’s terrible to her, even though he never apologizes, and you’re angry again.
but you don’t get distracted this time. you keep talking. about how you thought maybe it was a sally jackson situation. that squirrelflight just wanted to keep her kits safe, and brambleclaw made a better mate for that. but it wasn’t and now? now you’re just upset.
so. let us rectify this. we roll back time to 2005, when TNP is probably being written. “so,” someone says, “brambleclaw and squirrelflight are endgame, right?”
“yes,” a few people say, but
“what?” someone says, “no! why would we do that? he’s been treating squirrelflight terribly. why would we keep them together? ashfur was shoved into good partner but a little racist (template 2.B) and he can work that out in a super edition or something”
“oh,” the room says, “that’s a good point. yeah. besides, brambleclaw is a tigerstar clone anyway, so wouldn’t it be cool if he eventually became a villain too?”
and that is the universe that ashes is set in.
i went through all of this to make it clear: ashfur is not canon ashfur in this. he’s ashfur before po3 had the fire scene. he had no character then except for romantic interest, semi-racist model. considering brambleclaw is romantic interest, abusive model, ashfur is clearly the correct choice.
anyway. i don’t plan on posting this, because i can’t get a compelling story out of it, but i do like talking about it.
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mallowstep · a month ago
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i’ve said in a couple of places talking about maternal instincts that leafpool doesn’t have any for her litter, and squirrelflight does, and that’s why the ruse works.
and then i went and wrote an essay about it where i was like “so queens feel this towards adopted litters and here are some queens who DIDN’T have the response” and then i thought about this for half a second and went “wait hold on i’ve caused a problem”
indeed i have.
uh. the solution is. so okay. squilf’s reaction towards her litter is requisite to being her litter, but it’s not enough to prove she gave birth to the litter. and functionally, as long as brambleclaw and squilf accept them, it doesn’t matter where they came from. at least, not in theory.
leafpool, on the hand, has rejected her litter. on the purely maternal instincts side, mind. she still loves them, she just doesn’t feel like they’re her kits. if squirrelflight wasn’t there when she was kitting, they may have died. but that didn’t happen so we don’t have to think about it.
but i digress. if leafpool were a normal queen, and she rejected her litter as such, the clan would have a few responses. they might give the litter to a different nursing queen, and strongly discourage leafpool from having any more litters. or, if leafpool didn’t react violently, and there wasn’t a suitable foster queen, she might keep them.
the instincts fade after about half a moon anyway, so it’s not critical to raising the kits. however, it’s very suspicious, and many will feel a queen who doesn’t feel the correct instincts will never fully love her kit.
i mentioned that bluefur doesn’t have the queen drive for her kits (i haven’t decided on a name so i’m just going to keep saying different things until something feels right), and were the truth to have come out about what happened, her lack of the drive would have been what was blamed.
it’s a little more complex than that, admittedly, but i’m smoothing over a very complicated situation where bluefur’s lack of instincts actually saved her kits.
ultimately, without any queen protective instincts, leafpool still could have been a good mother to her kits. we, the audience, know this, and a good deal of cats know this too. however, leafpool was a little bit beyond just having no instincts, because she just straight up rejected them.
basically there’s kind of a scale:
overprotective, smothering. may kill kits if in an unsafe environment. there’s not a canon example AFAIK. it doesn’t happen very often in a clan.
overprotective, smothering, but not dangerous. harm may happen inadvertently due to an inability to judge risks. this is squirrelflight in the “ashes” au, when she refuses to return to the clan because she’s more afraid of brambleclaw than the cold.
overprotective, smothering, but not dangerously blinded. speckletail and snowkit.
overprotective, smothering, but to a normal degree. canon nightcloud and breezekit.
protective, the normal amount after kitting. brightheart in cloudtail’s daughter and jaywing.
neutral, lacking instincts, but still recognizes as kin. bluefur in canon.
neutral, lacking instincts, no immediate connection, but no hostility. paleflower, kind of? this is for a different reason, but it is the right response.
neutral, lacking instincts, can’t form connection. leafpool.
hostile, but not entirely harmful. rejects kits, has no interest, unlikely to be kind, but will not cause harm. rainflower.
hostile, actively harmful. i have an example of this but it would be spoiling a project i’m working on so you’ll have to imagine.
for clan cats, 3 to 7 is fine for raising. 2 and 8 might be okay, depending, but 1 and 9-10 are definitely harmful. 1 is a complicated situation to handle, in 10, the kits safety is prioritized. queens at 2 are usually going to be talked down by an older queen, and their whims are going to be honored to the best of the clan’s abilities and the kit’s safety.
in a 1, the clan is going to respond to protect the kits, but that can be really hard. they’ll save the kits over the mother if it comes to that, but this is a temporary condition, and no one wants that.
so with leafpool at an 8 with her kits, she could have raised them, but she never felt like their mother.
anyway, because leafpool doesn’t have any instincts and she’s their medicine cat and squirrelflight does and depending on the au the timing would be somewhat off for leafpool, everything works.
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mallowstep · a month ago
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names part two
so i’ve talked about names here and here and here on my main blog where i used to post warriors stuff but since i’m now dedicated a space for warrior cats essays it seems like now is a good time to talk about it again.
anyway i’ll save u having to read all of that; link one is the longest and hardest to summarize but it basically discusses what i’m describing more in detail here, link two is my initial take on naming using some of the names from firestar’s quest, and the final link is just me rambling about how much i love skyclan.
alright so…what do i think about names?
well, first, any system i come up with is going to, ideally, account for approximately 75-90% of names. as in, 75% or so of cats will be valid by the system i design, and ideally 60% of the remaining cats will not require renaming. like, you know, if a parent names their child cateigh you aren’t going to say “that’s a wrong name that is not a name” the same way you might if say a parent names their child, like, “bedroom.”
second, the system must account for clan differences. that is, the 10-25% of cats i do not cover cannot be exclusively from skyclan. i will not be getting rid of frecklewish. we have had two of them and i love them both.
so all of that said, let’s look specifically at the rules i’ve made for kits in “names. leaders. meaning.” (i.e., the first link) and if i have any exceptions to make.
[2.5k words, 14 min read, lots of section headers, a lot of the word count is a list you can skip]
thunderclan
so thunderclan queens name their kits. there’s not much to that. they name them within a day of their birth, which is why they’re usually named after what they look like.
because i don’t know every cat that is or every has been in thunderclan, i can’t say i won’t miss cases of cats not fitting this pattern. notably, i don’t know much about squirrelflight’s dead kits, other than i think their names are juniperkit and dandelionkit?
but there are plenty of cases where they aren’t and it’s because of parental reasons. like, uh, hollykit.
here’s a notably exception: leafkit. well, not really, but leafkit is named because she looks like leafstar. this is a decently large deviation from the norm.
cats are usually named with a decent amount of patterning/traditioning. stormkit is a pretty typical thunderclan name in times of battle. obviously right now, this is a time of peace, so it’s not really applicable.
featherkit was a common name, but it’s fallen out of favor. flowers are in right now, as well as trees. prey is falling in popularity.
as far as suffixes go, there’s usually a lot of effort to be descriptive. that’s why we have bluefur and snowfur. i still haven’t forgiven sunstar for this.
so bluestar was signficantly more creative in her names, and it’s continued through the leaders, ending with twigbranch. bramblestar is pushing thunderclan names into the metaphorical. this is the one (1) good thing he’s ever done.
shadowclan
shadowclan kits get their names picked over by every nursery queen. i use tigerkit as an example, because everyone is kind of like “hey tawnypelt…hey maybe we shouldn’t name ur son after ur legitimately and completely evil father” and she was like “but i want tigerkit to overcome the name of his father” and the shadowclan queens are like “…that goes against both thunderclan and shadowclan ideas of the power of names”
so they name the rest of the litter to try to curb the dangerous power of tigerkit. flamekit because firestar killed tigerstar, and dawnkit because dawn is a time of peace.
dovewing’s kits are especially out of place because of this for the record.
suffixes are also pretty communal. senior warriors, medicine cats, parents, mentors, all get a say, although the leader does get a final decision. and usually the mentor covertly leaks it to the apprentice, who will subtle indicate their approval. so no, like, tinycloud situations. (if you remember when tinycloud was named she was not happy about it.)
windclan
what, i have no established order for these, except that we start with thunderclan and end with skyclan. anyway so windclan kits are named very plainly. it’s similar to thunderclan but there’s a lot less symbolism. in that, like, a thunderclan queen might name her grey kit dovekit in a time of peace/renewal, or when she’s hoping for one, but in a time of conflict, that grey kit might have been named mistkit or stonekit. yes, i am riffing off of bluestar’s prophecy. yes, this is because we have bluefur and snowfur. no, i will not stop bringing this up.
anyway so windclan is more, “you gotta black kit? well…you can use nightkit, darkit, ravenkit, crowkit, and maybe if you’re feeling spicey, something like hollykit.” i don’t know enough windclan cats of the top of my head for this. also, all names are approved by starclan via the medicine cat. this is very important.
the leader and the medicine cat collab on the suffix. usually the clan leader is just running it by the medicine cat, unlessy you’re crowfeather, screwing with your entire clan’s naming traditions because pretty girl.
like holy shit in my au tallstar is so fucking pissed at him he loops back around to calm. because like. crow. crowpaw. at any point. at any point you could have brought this up you fucking idiot. you were going to be, like, crowflight or something. for the journey. but no. you just had to go and mess it up. crowfeather is bad name for him! or more, it doesn’t have a meaning and just. yeah. no. no one is happy about that. go to fucking shadowclan with your weird inheritance naming.
riverclan
alright so this is a fun one. riverclan queens name their kits however the fuck they want. you wanna name a kit silverkit? go for it. feel like graykit? yeah sure why not. willowkit? featherkit? stormkit? oakkit? troutkit? there are no rules, there is only name.
actually, there are rules. the rule is that the name has to mean something, and it has to be good. it’s usually a kind of wish for your child. but unlike thunderclan, this isn’t about what the queen wants for her kit. i mean it is, but that’s like “oh small kit i shall name you dovekit so that you can be peaceful and not have to fight” whereas here it’s like “imma name u silverkit because i like trinkets and they’re silver and i want you to know you are like a trinket you are a constant emblem of my love”
yeah.
and suffixes? those r like. the clan leader being like. aw shit ur a cool cat. ig. it’s written out p directly in names leaders meaning go read that.
skyclan
last but certainly not least, skyclan: inventing last names like the old english peerage since 2010 or whenever firestar’s quest came out.
but i mean, yeah. they take a long time to name their kits. see, i have this soft headcanon that they kind of…keep doing kit naming ceremonies. like when kits are old enough to leave the nursery (ca. 1 moon), and the queen has decided on a name, they bundle em up and leafstar is like “harrykit…u wanna be skyclan?”
i don’t know, i’m stil workshopping the details. it’s not like, a public gathering thing (tiny kits r smol), but leafstar will formally greet them as part of the clan and canonize their name.
but anyway, they take a long time to name their kits, like, as long as they can before the kits get all “suckle mother by what shall i refer to myself as” so as much as a moon. in the gorge, kits names were formally introduced at a full moon gathering, so they definitely think it’s kind of weird the other clans don’t introduce their kits by name.
kits born on or near the full moon usually have a good deal of lee-way in this, queens aren’t rushed into naming.
but yeah, if you want your name to live on, die within a moon of a queen kitting. there’s like, a 100% chance you will be in one or two of her kits names.
as far as warrior names, leafstar is pretty solitary. like, thunderclan is decided purely by the leader (although they might seek input from parents/mentors at their discretion), but there are traditions. patterns. riverclan is also decided purely by the leader, but the tone is a lot more casual and leaders generally check in with the apprentice. leafstar? nah this bitch name cats whatever she wants.
other than tinycloud, no one has any problems. but she usually is still paying tribute to cats, directly or indirectly, in warrior names. skyclan is young, but they actually probably have the closest bond to starclan out of all of the clans now. i mean, for one, they lived right next to their moonpool equivalent. second, every moon the whole clan gathered to share news with starclan. third, and most important, their whole history is marred with grief and loss. so they cling to everyone very, very, closely.
it’s a huge part of their culture, this idea of ancestors living on through them. especially when there’s early conflict between ancient!skyclan descendents and the other cats, and gorgeborn/loner, daylight warrior, etc., finding unity by making each cat have a connection to those who have come before is really important.
so yeah, skyclan names are really really critical to them. that’s kind of why leafstar does not preserve firestar’s renaming thing, because billy and bella and harry and bounce and all of these prefixes are part of skyclan now.
like i said, last but certainly not least. i wasn’t just. repeating a common saying. i meant it.
prefixes
so i’m using this allegiances generator to cover some examples. this is not an end all be all. i may make a post to update with more examples, for ideas purposes. not in a gatekeep-y way. they go TC | ShC | WC | RC | SkC
d
dawn: pale, any color, but esp. tan or cream. soft. primarily she-kits. peaceful name. | peaceful, bringer. internal strength. dawnstripe. positive. | tan, brindle. loyal, stern, strong. | good clan member, loyal, well loved. associated with times of plenty. | N/A
dust: tan. not really used for tabby cats. green-leaf, fighting. | N/A | tan. not used commonly, associated with drought and barrenness | not used. associated with drought | N/A
f
flame: fire-colored. strong. warm. good fighter | flametail. honorable. wise. good choice. | strength, good fighter. rare, fire is dangerous. | no specific meaning, rarely used. | associated with firestar. positive. leadership.
h
heavy: large kit, esp. with smaller siblings. uncommon. | N/A | same as thunderclan. uncommon. | good fisher, well-fed. | N/A
m
mallow: white, fluffy, soft. a very pale cream color. could have been daisy’s name. | N/A | short fur, white or tan. maybe with darker paws/limbs. decent name for a kit. | fluffy, squishy. desiring a medicine cat. | N/A mallowstep’s name was actually from the sisters. he doesn’t apply. he’s also not part of canon so he doesn’t have an impact i just thought i’d mention it.
p
pear: sweet. tan, pale. shorter fur. friendly. coming into favor. | N/A | same as thunderclan, unlikely to be used, seen as a fragile name | sweet, friendly. desires for a happy and simple life. low ambition. | N/A
r
rowan: light brown/tan, esp. spotted tabby, red, esp. spotted, tortoiseshell | rowanstar. won’t be used for a while. disgraceful. | uncommon. sturdy. brown, red. tortie with lots of molting | valuing tenacity, wisdom. good for half-clan kits. | also rowanstar. similarly unlikely to be used
s
starling: dark, white spots. small-ish. good hunter, times of plenty | starlingwing. positive. room for positive growth. honorable. | dark, white spots. good runner, light. | starlingfeather. old skyclan name. may or may not be used again.
t
tumble: clumsy. longer fur. not commonly used. | N/A | clumsy. old tunneling name. strong, broad shouldered. falling out of favor. | clumsy. peaceful. playful. positive, but rarely used. the river is a big enemy of kits. | N/A
w
wolf: grey, strong. powerful. fighter. not a peacful name | wolfstep. nothing special. | not used, dangerous | strong hunter. large. part of larger litter. positive. | N/A
suffixes
same deal as above.
c
cry: not used, insulting, shriekly/loud voice | N/A | good at spotting and catching birds. | good with birds. excitable, high energy. | not used presently, used to be part of the bird name sets ([bird name]-wing, feather, flight, cry)
e
ear: good hearing. good at finding mice, voles, etc. | N/A | good hunter, especially for moles. | empathetic, good listener. keeps watch. | N/A
h
hare: fast. uncommon. | N/A | good hunter. very good hunter, fast. maybe unreliable. | not really used. maybe for a half wind-clan kit | N/A
l
leaf: strong willed. opinionated. clear character. | most recent was amberleaf, who wasn’t anything special. has space for a reapperance. | good runner. comfortable in the wood. not terribly common. | patient. dappled. | leafstar. very good. good leadership. strong.
leap: good jump. high energy. | deerleap, lightleap. a respected name. for mature and/or well travelled apprentices. | good hunter. good fighter. well rounded. maybe overeager. maybe ambitious | good fighter. excitable. not terribly common. | rabbitleap. calm, confident. chill. very common in old skyclan, but not usually a bird name.
p
pad: quiet, low leadership. not common. | N/A | heavy footsteps. good tunneler. not common. | high endurance. good friend, leader. | N/A
s
scar: only given to cats with scars. this is true for every clan.
shade: tabby. dark. good hunter | fernshade. nothing special. | not common, dark cat, good in tunnels | good fisher. very good fisher. implies better at fishing than other things. | rockshade. pretty neutral, but has space for more usage.
sun: warm, soothing. reliable, dependable. strong leadership qualities | N/A | good runner. awake during the day. very auspicious name. | good hunter, lazy, calm, relaxed. friendly. | N/A
w
wish: not really used. implies cat isn’t “complete” where they are | N/A | good connection with starclan. medicine cats only. | hopeful, optimistic, good at finding things. typical for medicine cats, but not always | frecklewish. friendly, finding one’s place
open/closed classes
alright my last take is, well, there are concepts of open and closed classes of words. think about english prepositions. you can’t suddenly use google where you would use to, or from, or w/e, but you can make it a noun or a verb.
so for names. names are usually an open class, but not always, and just how open it is is dependent.
so. thunderclan and riverclan are open clases, and windclan and shadowclan are closed classes.
skyclan is kind of in between. it’s a little bit hazy. they’re still sorting that stuff out.
alright, that’s it. i’m sure i’ll have more to say, but i’m happy with this.
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mallowstep · a month ago
Where can I find you’re fics?
<3 i’m still in the drafting stages for most stuff! i just got back into warriors literally two weeks ago.
that said...my warriors pseud on ao3 is mallowstep and i can add you to the tag list for anything you're interested in so when i do publish it, i can notify you in the meantime, i have a lot of essays/vaguely narrative pieces of worldbuilding, which you can read here.
the first book of cloudtail's daughter is about 10% written, so depending on how much leniency i give myself with editing time and the like, i'll probably be able to start posting in 3 to 6 months. it's unlikely to be less but it's not impossible. i'm in university rn so when the semester ends i'll have much more time.
dovefeather and jaywing are both also long, so who knows on those?
most likely, i'll publish ashes first (that's the "what if ashfur...was not terrible and squirrelflight didn't choose brambleclaw" au), and i'm hoping i can publish that within a month or two. i'm aiming for < 10k words on that because anything more than that goes into the “major projects section” of my to-write list and that’s already got three active projects so i’m not adding any others.
uhhh wow i cannot overstate how happy you’ve made me with this ask tho...if there was something in particular u were looking for? feel free to let me know and i’ll try to bump it up the priority list or at least do a one-shot about it or something i’m highly motivated 
hopefully i’ll have a writing calendar on my blog in a few weeks, but my university has two midterm weeks, so i’m rapidly approaching the second week of midterms and who knows what i’ll accomplish during that.
last set of midterms, i wrote, like, an absurd number of words plotting out CTD. so maybe this time i’ll write an entire book.
okay whoops sorry i started rambling anyway! i have one more writing session planned today so i’m really not kidding when i say if you have a request i may be able to post a one shot for it within like 12 hours. depends how my chem hw goes but...
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mattieandmatter · a month ago
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God pacing is so boring who that po3 and oots were two arcs
In related news, lionblaze and hollyleaf start making up in book 3 now
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