Icy: This previously long AN is brought to you by an unsurprising source.
Wingpaw: You taking a while to update?
Icy: It was only eight days...
Flarepaw: That's not bad at all.
Icy: When I updated that was a lot longer than usual. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Flarepaw: Quite a bit, it seems.
Wingpaw: Enough of this. On with the chapter!
"Hey Stonepaw, can you take some prey to the nursery?" Stormtail asked.
"Of course," Stonepaw replied. He dipped his head to his mentor before padding over to the fresh-kill pile. He grabbed a couple of mice and a sparrow before he made his way over to the nursery. When he padded inside he almost dropped the fresh-kill in shock. He wasn't surprised by the sleeping white ball of Frostfur, but he was very surprised by the three kits that were sleeping with Brindleface, who was watching over them with kind eyes.
He padded over to the gray tabby queen and softly set the fresh-kill down.
"Hello, Stonepaw," Brindleface meowed kindly.
"U—uh...Hi..." Stonepaw stammered.
Brindleface purred in amusement. "I assume you want to know where the kits came from?"
"Their mother cannot care for them," Brindleface replied. "These kits are not mine, but I will care for them as if they are mine."
"I thought you didn't want to have kits," Stonepaw meowed. "You seemed pretty upset when Thistleclaw proposed his idea."
"You were the first to agree with his idea," Brindleface retorted. She glared at him for a moment, but she quickly shook it off. "You're just a kit, though. What do you understand right now?"
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Stonepaw asked sternly.
"You don't understand what you're doing," Brindleface meowed coldly. "Agreeing with Thistleclaw? It will lead you down a cold path."
"Cold? I'm plenty warm. Besides, leaf-bare will be here soon. Of course my path is going to be cold. Any path I go down is going to be cold," Stonepaw meowed.
"You're so naïve!" Brindleface spat. "Why can't you see it? Isn't it obvious? I wish you were more like your sister."
"Which sister?" Stonepaw asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot you had two. You're only going to have one soon enough," Brindleface hissed.
"Don't talk about Mistypaw that way!" Stonepaw hissed back.
"Mistypaw is only the first in a long line of cats!" Brindleface growled. "You're going to shed so much blood..."
"I will only shed blood to protect my Clan, which is something you need to learn about," Stonepaw meowed coldly.
"What? I lost my paw for this Clan!"
"You weren't willing to have kits for it. You still aren't! These kits aren't even yours! Whose are they?" Stonepaw demanded.
"It's none of your business whose they are!" Brindleface spat. "Their mother..."
"Oh. Stonepaw. I didn't realize you were in here. Hello." Stonepaw turned around to see Leopardfoot. The black she-cat's green eyes were wide.
"Hello, Leopardfoot," Stonepaw meowed calmly. He forced himself to put his anger at rest. He quickly glanced at Brindleface to tell her to do the same. Luckily for him, she already had. He turned back to the black she-cat. "What are you doing here, Leopardfoot?"
"I just came to visit m—these kits," Leopardfoot tried to catch herself, but it was too late. Stonepaw caught it.
"Are you the mother of these kits?" Stonepaw asked.
"So what if I am?" Leopardfoot asked.
"How could you give up your kits?" Stonepaw exclaimed. Especially to someone like her? Stonepaw added to himself, taking another quick glance at the gray tabby queen.
"Stonepaw, you'd never understand..." Leopardfoot whispered.
"Try me," Stonepaw demanded.
Leopardfoot sighed. "Fine. If you must know, I didn't mean to have kits again. I've had kits before, and the experience didn't end very well for me. I had three kits. Two of them were dead within a day. The third...well, according to Goosefeather, he's a vermin..."
"Tigerclaw," Stonepaw realized. "Wait, you're Tigerclaw's mother?"
"You didn't know?" Brindleface asked. "It's not a secret."
"These three kits, however, are a secret," Leopardfoot meowed. "Don't you dare reveal my secret to anyone!"
"What's the big deal? Okay, so it was bad before, but surely it could be different this time!" Stonepaw exclaimed.
"Tigerclaw's father is Pinestar," Leopardfoot meowed.
"The leader who left to become a kittypet?" Stonepaw exclaimed. "Wasn't he really old, though? And weren't you young at the time?"
"I thought I could try again. With someone much closer to my age this time..."
"Who?" Stonepaw asked.
"I don't know," Brindleface retorted.
"I wasn't asking you," Stonepaw retorted back.
"What does it matter to you? Besides, their father doesn't even know he's their father! I've told you I'm their mother, but that's all I'm telling you," Leopardfoot snarled.
Stonepaw stepped back. "Wow...I'm really starting to understand all those elders' stories about queens who become scarier when their kits are mentioned in any foul way..."
"You still have a lot to learn, though," Brindleface retorted.
"So...why did you give up your kits?" Stonepaw asked hesitantly.
Leopardfoot sighed yet again. "I want to stay a warrior. I want to train an apprentice some day. Is it so bad to want to help my Clan?"
Stonepaw shook his head but said nothing. Wow, I think I'm really glad I'm not a she-cat. I'd hate to have to choose between having kits and having an apprentice...
"So, Brindleface, how are my kits doing?" Leopardfoot asked.
"They're doing just fine," Brindleface replied kindly.
"What are their names?" Stonepaw asked curiously.
Brindleface glared at him. "Seriously?"
"Relax, Brindleface," Leopardfoot meowed. "Stonepaw, what did you to? Ruffle her fur the wrong way? Anyways, the little copy of me is Nightkit, the gray tabby with gray eyes is Featherkit, and the white one with violet-colored eyes is Lavenderkit. They're all she-cats," Leopardfoot added.
"You know what color their eyes are already?" Stonepaw exclaimed.
"They've already opened up their eyes, mousebrain," Brindleface snapped. "They just happen to be sleeping right now."
Stonepaw was about to retort to the gray tabby queen about how she needed to stop snapping and spitting at him, but he was stopped by a loud cry that came from outside of the nursery.
Stonepaw ran out of the den as fast as he could, but it felt like time was slowing down. Each pawstep thumped in his ears. He skidded to a halt as he found it.
The blue-gray body.
"Mistypaw..." he whimpered.
"Mistypaw? Mistypaw!" Stonepaw lifted his head only for a moment to see his gray-and-white sister running over. She skidded to a halt and nearly fell over as she realized it was too late. There was nothing they could do.
She was already dead.
"Mistypaw, no..." Mosspaw whimpered.
Stonepaw forced himself to stand up and look away from his sister's body. "Who did this?" he snarled, looking around the clearing with a look that said 'I dare any of you to say something to me.'
"She did," Goosefeather replied, padding over to him. "I tried to get her to stop, but it was too late."
"Stop what?" Stonepaw hissed.
"She thought she was eating juniper berries, but she was actually eating deathberries. I told her to wait and I'd get her the herbs she needed, but she was too stubborn and had to get them for herself. If she would have just been patient then this wouldn't have happened," Goosefeather meowed calmly.
"Deathberries? She had greencough and she died of deathberries?" Mosspaw exclaimed, beating Stonepaw to it.
Goosefeather shrugged. "It happens."
"It happens. It happens? It happens? Goosefeather, my sister is dead and you're acting like it's no big deal! What is wrong with you? Are you even a proper medicine cat?" Stonepaw hissed.
"Are you blaming me? This isn't my fault," Goosefeather meowed.
"We don't know that," Mosspaw meowed coldly. "Perhaps you should have kept a better watch over her."
"My back was turned because I was putting an ointment together to help Stonepelt with his aching legs so he could sleep. Mistypaw was so quiet...I didn't know what was happening until I heard her choking," Goosefeather explained.
"Are you being serious right now?" Stonepaw asked coldly. "Do you honestly expect us to believe this foxdung?"
Goosefeather shrugged. "It's probably for the better that she's dead, anyway. Mistypaw was losing her mind. She was going mad. She was losing all of her memory. She got angry with Featherwhisker and me for no apparent reason more and more every day. Mistypaw is better off now than she was when she was alive. It is for the better that she is dead. Now she cannot hurt anyone. The greencough took her before she could take any lives."
"Take any lives...?" Stonepaw struggled to hold himself back.
"Mistypaw was nowhere close to taking any lives!" Mosspaw exclaimed. "She was..."
"I know what I saw in that cat for the last half moon," Goosefeather meowed. "Let me tell you, it wasn't getting better." He padded away before Stonepaw and Mosspaw had the chance to make any retorts to him.
Stonepaw turned to Mosspaw. "Whatever is happening between us, forget it. We need to settle this. We have to do what's right for Mistypaw," he whispered to Mosspaw so that she would be the only one who heard him.
Mosspaw nodded in agreement. "Of course," she whispered in reply. "It's what's right. It's what we'll do. It's what we have to do."
Mistypaw, what happened to you? Did you really just accidentally eat deathberries? Or is there something more to this?
Icy: Yeah. Not the happiest thing I've ever written, but it's actually not the saddest thing I've written, either.
Stonepaw: That's really surprising...
Mosspaw: That's really sad...
Wingpaw: No it's not.
Flarepaw: You're right, it's not...
Icy: Okay, complete subject change time. I have to admit, it's kind of difficult to keep Crookedstar's Promise away from this story. ABBD was started when SkyClan's Destiny hadn't even been around yet. I finally got Yellowfang's Secret (the first time, ever, that I haven't gotten a Warriors book the day it came out) and I'm going to read it sometime this week. It's going to be difficult to keep whatever happens in YS out of this story, too. This story is already complicated. I don't even have any Gatherings in the outline... The last thing I need is Mapleshade or Brokenstar trying to make their way into this story... I mean, I've already added something in that wasn't originally in the outline... Anyone want to guess who the father of Leopardfoot's kits is? I honestly didn't figure it out until half an hour ago because I originally never said, but I figured it added a plot twist...
Mistypaw: I'm going to pretend I understand any of that.
Stonepaw: You know you didn't.
Icy: As entertaining as this is, I'm going to stop it before this AN gets too long. Enjoy the next chapter!
~Icy and the crew