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  • I'll be upfront about it.

  • This episode will deal with a fair bit more personal interpretation and headcanon than

  • some others.

  • Moreso than Thornclaw or even Hazeltail, Toadstep doesn't have much time in the canon series

  • to establish himself, and he isn't put in close proximity to the main characters or

  • conflict in that time.

  • But he has become one of my favorite and most dear characters over the past couple of years.

  • I will of course still base my explanation in all the canon material that exists, and

  • then explain the reasoning for expansion upon it.

  • Toadstep doesn't actually live for very long in the books.

  • While he and his sister Rosepetal were born in Outcast, the third book of Power of Three,

  • they weren't old enough to show any character until Eclipse, and they remained kits until

  • the end of the arc.

  • Then by the beginning of Omen of the Stars, they timeskipped all the way to becoming new

  • warriors, and after that single arc of being a minor character, he caught an illness in

  • Dovewing's Silence and passed away between that book and Bramblestar's Storm.

  • In such a short time, how could he have enough content to captivate me?

  • Well, much like Hazeltail or Thornclaw, my fascination with him began with his relationships.

  • First is his mother: Daisy.

  • She is a former horseplace cat and, after joining Thunderclan, stays as a permaqueen

  • and keeps her original name, making her rather distinct from most other possible mothers

  • in the clan.

  • I always believed that the relationships between Daisy and her kits would be quite diverse

  • and interesting, an idea that I followed through on when designing Berrynose, Hazeltail, and

  • Mousewhisker's individual journeys through the clan and how being Daisy's kits would

  • impact them.

  • I wanted to apply similar logic to Toadstep and Rosepetal.

  • However, there are a couple of large differences between the two litters.

  • First is the timing of their births.

  • Berrynose, Mousewhisker, and Hazeltail were originally born as Berry, Mouse, and Hazel

  • in the Horseplace, and in fact returned to the barn for a short time when Berrykit's

  • tail got torn off by a fox trap.

  • They were enamored enough with clan life to convince Daisy to go back, with Brambleclaw

  • and Cloudtail's help, but it doesn't change the fact that their much closer to their outsider

  • heritage than Toadstep and Rosepetal were, and they faced a great deal more of the complaints

  • from clanmates as well as the other clans.

  • Secondis their fathers.

  • Now let me be clear that neither Smoky nor Spiderleg were good mates or parents.

  • Daisy has had awful luck with toms, especially if you add in Cloudtail and his behavior in

  • the latter half of the New Prophecy.

  • But Smoky and Spiderleg were bad fathers in different ways.

  • Smoky never cared about Daisy, in fact he actively chose Floss over her time and time

  • again and barely noticed when Daisy and her kits left.

  • Berrynose, Mousewhisker, and Hazeltail grew up almost entirely without a father.

  • Toadstep and Rosepetal, by contrast, did know their father, and in Toadstep's case lived

  • his whole life with his father in the same camp.

  • Spiderleg actively rebuked and ignored them, and even after Jayfeather and Leafpool tell

  • him to spend more time with his kits, we never see them getting any closer once Omen of the

  • Stars starts, after the timeskip that made Toadstep and Rosepetal warriors.

  • They, even more so than Daisy's first litter, would have Spiderleg's attitude and active

  • refusal to be in their lives held over their heads.

  • Toadstep shows himself as a kit to be adventurous and self-assured, but with an overprotective

  • mother on one side and a distant, disdainful father on the other, many of his attempts

  • at adventure were shot down.

  • I imagine this having a couple of different effects, with the first being distance from

  • his siblings.

  • Berrynose, Hazeltail, and Mousewhisker had already carved out their own paths in the

  • clan as new warriors by the time Toadstep was born, so he already had distance from

  • them.

  • But his relationship with Rosepetal is more interesting.

  • As early as Eclipse, when they are both still very young kits, they show their differing

  • personalities.

  • Where Toadkit is energetic and impulsive, Rosekit is thoughtful and sharp-tongued, scolding

  • her brother multiple times for his actions and comments.

  • Rosekit's behavior reminds me, and may well remind Toadkit, of Spiderleg himself, and

  • whether intentionally or not, I think it's telling that Rosekit seems to imitate her

  • distant father, even when that imitation doesn't result in any more affection.

  • Still, despite their differences, Toadkit and Rosekit are practically inseparable for

  • the whole of their kithood, enough that when Rosekit becomes sick and is taken to the Twoleg

  • den, Toadkit desperately calls out for her and wants her to come back.

  • However, once they become warriors in Omen of the Stars, things change.

  • We don't know what their apprenticeship was like under Squirrelflight and Cloudtail,

  • but perhaps the lack of friendship between their mentors and the variety of other apprentices

  • to play with made them grow more distant from each other.

  • Whatever the case, Toadstep only does one patrol with Rosepetal in each of the first

  • three books of the arc, and after that their lives never cross again.

  • There are even signs in Fading Echoes with Toadstep paying more attention to Ivypaw than

  • Rosepetal and in Night Whispers with Toadstep having to specifically reach out to Rosepetal

  • to even go on a single patrol with her that the gap between them is growing.

  • Toadstep is a consistently energetic and affectionate tom, but his sister's attitude, along with

  • the different paths in their lives, seem to have drawn them apart over time.

  • Maybe having someone around who reminds you of your awful father isn't the best experience.

  • But Spiderleg's place in Toadstep's life had another, very different, and much better

  • effect as far as I'm concerned: Lionblaze.

  • As a kit, Toadstep witnessed the battle of Eclipse, with all four clans fighting on Thunderclan

  • territory and inside camp, right in front of him in some cases, but it didn't phase

  • him.

  • In fact, it excited him, seeing how strong and talented cats were.

  • Soon after, Toadkit asks Lionpaw to teach him some cool battle moves in case Windclan

  • invades again, and watches the golden tom's warrior ceremony.

  • For my personal needs, I combine the purposes of these two events by having Toadkit witness

  • *Lionpaw specifically* saving the nursery during the Eclipse battle, which is an early

  • jumpstart to his idolization of Lionblaze.

  • With Spiderleg missing from his life, a strong and protective tom who does care about Toadkit

  • is the best possible dream, especially given how cold Rosekit can sometimes be and how

  • little Daisy understands the danger or excitement of being a warrior.

  • It makes perfect sense that, by the time of Sign of the Moon, Toadstep is able to enthusiastically

  • admit that Lionblaze is his role-model for being such an incredible fighter, and that

  • he is so happy when he is able to team up with Lionblaze to save Bumblestripe from a

  • dog.

  • As far as canon is concerned, this is the only example of their relationship, but I

  • wanted to go much further, especially given that I was including the period where Toadpaw

  • and Rosepaw were apprenticed.

  • In Paws of Stars, around the time of the eclipse battle, Lionblaze is at perhaps his lowest

  • level of self-esteem, having been duped by Tigerstar, no longer having Heathertail or

  • anyone else to trust and be his friend, and having so little control over his power that

  • he fights a whole patrol nearly kills Crowfeather.

  • The fact that Toadkit, then Toadpaw takes this moment and event to begin idolizing him

  • and wishing to have the power and skill that he does would only make him feel worse, and

  • he would push the young tom away.

  • The power he holds isn't something to be proud of, and he doesn't want to be anyone's

  • role-model.

  • But Lionblaze would also be able to empathize with Toadpaw in a lot of ways.

  • He too has a sister who often surpasses him, in techniques during training as well as in

  • adherence to the warrior code.

  • He too, at one point, lacks parental figures that he feels close to, soon after the fire

  • scene where he has lost his trust in Squirrelflight.

  • And he too doesn't really know how he is meant to be a warrior, or make his way in

  • the clan.

  • He never had the given destiny of Jayfeather or the precise ambition of Hollyleaf.

  • For a lot of his life, he was pretty aimless.

  • So if Toadpaw were to come to him, tell him about his situation, and ask for advice, I

  • think Lionblaze would feel for him, and agree that they could work together to do better

  • than either of them could alone.

  • Now, the nature of this relationship once it has begun is entirely up to the preferences

  • of the writer.

  • One could easily make it a romantic relationship, or even give Toadstep a crush on Lionblaze

  • without it being reciprocated.

  • Or you could leave them as nothing but friends.

  • Personally, I prefer to go with a different relationship: that of brothers.

  • They came together when the lacking element in both of their lives was family, so it makes

  • sense that they would fill familial relationships in each others' lives.

  • Not to mention, the mix of admiration and responsibility while both of them still truly

  • need to learn together reminded me more of older and younger siblings than it did a romantic

  • relationship or a father and son.

  • There is someone else who I would like Toadstep to bond with on a more romantic level.

  • However, considering that falls under spoilers for my story, I will leave that for future-me

  • to disclose.

  • Putting aside the romance, I think Toadstep would have a lot of interesting friendship

  • possibilities with his whole generation.

  • With Rosepetal, he would certainly always care for her, but their different priorities

  • and her traits that remind him of their father could draw them apart.

  • Blossompaw was always more Rosepetal's friend than Toadstep's for that same reason, but

  • Bumblestripe could make a fine routy buddy if you take Toadkit's comments and his later

  • saving the tom from a dog as evidence, and Briarlight could mirror Toadstep's kindness

  • with her own.

  • And then, of course, there's Dovewing and Ivypool.

  • As far as canon is concerned, Dovewing is mentored by Lionblaze, but whoever Lionblaze

  • mentors would almost certainly have some great conversation options with Toadstep, who probably

  • would have chosen to be Lionblaze's apprentice if he could.

  • There are lots of interesting options to explore, based on how you set up the world in your

  • own mind or story.

  • Much like the generation at the beginning of the Power of Three, this one at the beginning

  • of Omen of the Stars could also be quite interesting.

  • Between Daisy, Millie, and Whitewing's litters, he and Rosepetal are the oldest, but he never

  • takes up an air of superiority or even responsibility for the others like Berrynose or Hazeltail

  • did.

  • He seems to remain ever-the younger brother, an eager, energetic, and spontaneous tom who

  • has enough compassion and optimism to carry him through even as battle after battle occurs,

  • clan tensions rise, and dozens of cats are taken in to train and fight beside the Dark

  • Forest in a full-on war against the clans.

  • From a writer's perspective, this makes him both a useful and a relieving character.

  • When the others are becoming depressed or angry or brooding, Toadstep is there to remind