Appledusk Defence by Mellowix

Mellowix shares their opinion on Appledusk.

Art by senely

I feel like Appledusk is one of the most overly hated and misremembered characters in the whole series. Sometimes fans need misconceptions just to justify hating him. Or some will go as far as claiming he deserves the Dark Forest. Well, I’m here to put that all to rest. With a stockpile of Quotes from the Mapleshade’s vengeance, I will try to present a more accurate portrayal of Appledusk and show you, he’s not nearly as bad as he’s made out to be.

Appledusk expressing how he’s proud of all his kits:

“I’m going to be a father. Incredible.”, – Appledusk aftering hearing he was a father. Mapleshade’s vengeance, chapter 1.
-“They are wonderful, Strong and brave, and as confident as any RiverClan cat in the water. I am so proud of you.” , Appledusk talking to Mapleshade while their kits play in the River. Chapter 3.

-“I’m not letting you do anything,” he mewed. “Think of our kits!”. Reedshine glanced at her belly, barely swollen beneath her pelt. “I’m not sick!” she protested. “I know you’re not,” meowed Appledusk. “But our kits are too precious to risk Perchpaw injuring you by mistake!” – Appledusk about his unborn 2nd litter, Chapter 9.

Him risking his life to save Mapleshade and then immediately trying to save all the kits as well. Also his genuine reaction to hearing the danger his mate had put their kits in.:

“Mapleshade! Mapleshade! Grab hold of the branch!” There was a frantic shout from the shore. Mapleshade saw Appledusk wading into the river, his fur fluffed up *in alarm*. He gestured with his tail to the overhanging tree. “Hold on and I’ll drag you out!” Mapleshade was only dimly aware of hooking her claws into the branch beside her. She felt herself being dragged through the water, and then strong jaws were in her pelt, hauling her onto the stones. Appledusk loomed over her. “What in the name of StarClan are you doing? Where are the kits?” – Appledusk saving Mapleshade, Chapter 4.

“Appledusk’s face appeared above her, *his eyes huge with horror*. “Are you telling me the kits are in the river?” – Chapter 4.

“Appledusk crouched beside Mapleshade. “I will find them, I promise,” he whispered. Then he raced away from her.” – Chapter 4.

“What are you talking about?” Appledusk *sounded stunned*. “Do you mean that you deliberately tried to cross the river? In the middle of a flood?” – Chapter 4.

(This one requires more context)

-“Mapleshade waited for Appledusk to send the other warriors on ahead, to find some excuse to be alone with her so they could mourn their kits together before facing the rest of his Clan. But he didn’t turn back to look at her. He hasn’t even asked what I named them.’ – Directly after the kits’ deaths. Like I said earlier, the reason he doesn’t stop to talk to her privately is becuase he blames her for their kits’ deaths and doesn’t want to see her again. Oakheart technically did the exact same thing to Mosskit. When Bluefur told him one was dead, he didn’t even ask for her name either.

Quote to show it’s the kits were the reason for leaving Mapleshade and something that isn’t as selfish as people make it out to be:

– “But night is falling!” Mapleshade protested. “Where will I go? Appledusk, help me!” The pale brown warrior shook his head. “Why should I? It’s your fault that these kits are dead. I never want to see you again.” – When Mapleshade is sent away from Riverclan camp.

Appledusk is disowning her because in his eyes, she caused their deaths, showing he genuinely cared about the kits. Not only did the Kits die, but Mapleshade almost got herself killed and risked the lives of a Riverclan patrol to save them, including Appledusk himself. I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing honestly. If the kits’ death can justify Mapleshade’s murders for some fans, but can’t it for Appledusk’s much less extreme act of rejecting his forbidden mate?

He’s also not completely wrong for blaming the mate who go all their kits exiled through their recklessness. Yes, Mapleshade was in exile, however, she was still the one who made her swim in a clearly dangerous flood. Petalkit even protests there’s too water beforehand. If a kit can see the danger, Mapleshade has no excuse. She’d JUST left camp and weren’t being actively chased, they weren’t in such a rush they needed to cross a flood. Mapleshade had far better options like calling out for a Riverclan patrol, finding a safer way around, sheltering from the storm somewhere etc. Yet, she chooses to ignore all those better options.

Appledusk was doing the technique right thing by choosing loyalty to his Clan instead of one forbidden mate, like it says in the Code.
Choosing the reckless mate who just got his kits killed, over his Clan, is a lot more selfish as he’d be abandoning alot more: All his clanmates, any kin he has, his apprentice, new mate and unborn cats. Young cats needed him: Perchpaw to finsh his training and unborn kits to be their father.

And even if blamed Mapleshade for their deaths, he still does care about her. Even after finding her trespassing and attacking his apprentice, he still offers to let her leave peacefully:

– “Mapleshade twitched the tip of her tail. “And you thought I would? You’re more mouse-brained than I thought. You killed our kits, and now you must pay.” Appledusk bared his teeth. “What are you talking about? You killed our kits, making them cross The river. Let Perchpaw go and get out of here before I call for a patrol.” – Chapter 8.

– ‘His eyes clouded and he suddenly looked weary. “Mapleshade, I don’t want to fight you,”. – Before Appledusk’s death.

-“I’m not giving you a choice!” Mapleshade hissed. She bunched her hindquarters beneath her and lunged at him. Appledusk dodged away. “Just leave!” he gasped.” – Even when Mapleshade is attacking him, Appledusk still refuses to fight her.

And of course, the quote that’s criminally underused. The one critical act that’s redeemed the likes of Hollyleaf and Needletail to many people. Even Stonefur has done. So why can’t it for Appledusk. He sacrificed himself to save Reedshine and his unborn kits while Mapleshade is trying to kill them:
“Half-blind with fury, Mapleshade hurled herself at the orange she-cat. “You and your kits must die!” she screeched. “Appledusk is mine!” She unsheathed her claws, aiming for Reedshine’s face. There was a thud of paws, then silence, and a solid brown shape flashed in front of Mapleshade. Her claws struck home, piercing fur and flesh, and a spurt of blood leaped out at her. With a grunt, Appledusk dropped at her feet, blood pouring from his throat.” – Appledusk’s sacrificing himself in Chapter 9.


Those are feral cats, they ain’t humans. And in the Clans, it’s not uncommon for Clan cats to have multiple mates and litters: Dovewing, Crowfeather, Greystripe, Goldenflower, Willowpelt etc. There are no laws in the Warrior Code, saying how many mates a character can have in the Clanmates. And it should be a basic right to be mates with any clanmate they wish, including multiple. It’s a cat’s personal choice, not a crime and they shouldn’t be punished for it. It’s none of Starclan’s business.

Appledusk is no worse then Crowfeather, if not better. The earlier quotes prove Appledusk generally loves both his mates and all his kits, even if at the same time. Crowfeather didn’t generally love either his mate or son and mistreated both of them. Appledusk taking on a Riverclan mate, was actually helping to protect his Thunderclan family. If Appledusk is sent to the Dark Forest for this, so does Crowfeather.

Appledusk has been shown to be quite a lot smarter then Mapleshade when it comes to keeping the secret: “You must know how dangerous it is for you to be here. What would happen if your Clanmates saw you talking to me?” – When Mapleshade talks to Appeldusk at the Gathering Chapter 1
“I think this one’s worn out from all that swimming,” he commented. His eyes burned into Mapleshade’s. “You took a risk, bringing them this close to our boundary. I don’t want to see you or these kits anywhere near the river again,” he meowed.” – Chapter 4, Appledusk after helping a struggling Patchkit get out the water.

While Mapleshade took her kits to the Riverclan border and let them swim around the water, clearly showing off their Riverclan traits. Where any Thunderclan or Riverclan cat could have seen that. Also, constantly mentioning Appledusk in Thunderclan camp, not being subtle at all: “I wish I could be there to see that, too. Make sure you tell them that I’ve had three perfect, strong kits who are going to be great warriors!” she told Frecklewish. “Especially Appledusk. Tell him first.” – Chapter 3.

The best thing for either Appledusk and Mapleshade to do, in order to protect their kits, was to move on, so no one could suspect them. Even Mapleshade did something similar when she lied that Birchface was the father of her kits, yet was still obsessive over Appledusk. He took it a step further and actually properly tried to move on by starting a new family. Something Mapleshade should of really been doing. If she’d done that, the Kit would of probably never be caught as Half-Clan. Ravenwing would of still given the Omen however if Mapleshade had never let her kits swim in the River while she talked lovingly to Appledusk, the Medicine cat would have never made the connection.

Birchface and Flowerpaw:

First, Appledusk clearly isn’t invested in the Sunningrocks battles. So he’d take get no benefit or pleasure from the accidental death of those Thunderclan cats. He calls the battle as a whole “Mousebrained”, including his own Clan: “But Sunningrocks has always made our Clans a little mouse-brained.” He licked the top of Mapleshade’s head. “Thank StarClan you didn’t get hurt in the battle.” – Chapter 1.

“She felt Appledusk *stiffen beneath his pelt*. “It was an accident,” he growled. “I never meant for him to fall into the river.” Mapleshade closed her eyes. “That’s not the way my Clanmates see it. They blame you for both of our losses.” […] “Then they are fools.” Appledusk shuddered, then relaxed.” – Chapter 1.

It uses language like shuddered and stiffened, Appledusk is having a physical reaction to when he’s reminded of the accidental death he caused, clearing showing he’s uncomfortable about it and yes, regretful.

Accidental deaths happen all the time in battle, like with Whitethroat or Russetfur, it’s not Dark Forest worthy. And it’s the not complete fault of the accidental killer – Appledusk and Birchface weren’t in that situation willingly, they were following orders and trying to defend/claim territory for their Clans. And who’s to say Birchface isn’t somewhat reasonable for his own deaths

“Appledusk, a light brown RiverClan warrior with piercing green eyes, striking Birchface so hard that the ThunderClan cat lost his footing and slipped from the very top of Sunningrocks.” – Birchface and Appledusk were fighting in a high and dangerous area. Neither of them should of been fighting there and both were acting in self-defence. Also, it was Birchface himself who lost footing and tripped. Appledusk didn’t shove him towards the edge. It could of very easily have been the other way round – Birchface hitting Appledusk too hard and making him slip into a dangerous river.

Also, Birchface’s death was the only one Appledusk’s directly caused. It was still Flowerpaw’s choose to recklessly throw herself into danger. The River was specifically described as “Swollen”, meaning it had burst it banks and was flooding. As a experienced warrior, Appledusk can see a hopeless situation when he sees one, but as a Reckless apprentice made the mistake of trying to save an unsavable cat and paid the ultimate price for it.

And for all those may be arguing: “Appledusk should have saved him”. Here are the reasons why that’s extremely hard and borderline impossible. Also unfair demand of Appledusk:

1) In only reference of Birchface’s death we have (Direct Quote in the previous comment) described the River as Swollen.

Meaning: contains more water than normal as a result of heavy rain or snow that has melted.

And later in Chapter 3, Mapleshade says this: “Mapleshade shrugged. “There’s been so much rain this leaf-fall, bits and pieces must be washing all over the place.”

So at the same time around Birchface’s death, there had been heavy rainfall. Conditions were much more dangerous than normal. This proven further when the kits drowned, the River flooding and it was storming, struggling this weather could of happened before.
Which is where Birchface’s death comes in.

2) In the same reference used, it also states Birchface and Appledusk were fighting on the top of Sunningrocks, which is where Birchface fell. In order to “save” him, Appledusk would be required to jump from a long distance.

Hitting the water from height can cause injury. Which is made worse, added with the factor the river was already swollen.

Whiteclaw faced very similar conditions – Falling from a height and going into dangerous waters. Yet he has instantly accused dead. So the same would apply to Appledusk. Riverclan cats have a clear limitation on their swimming skills and they are aware of this.

Don’t overestimate Riverclan swimming ability. They are not immune to drowning in floods, they are still just cats. Examples of Riverclan cats drowning in floods: Duskwater, Whitethroat, Pebblefoot and Grasspelt. Appledusk is no different, he’s just like any other Riverclan cat.

3) Appledusk had just been fighting in a battle. He was already exhausted and wounded to some degree. If he tried jumping from a high point, he would end injuring himself further, making swimming in a flooding river even harder.

4) Even after all those factors, Appledusk is still expected not only get himself to safety but somehow also haul out two other cats, all alone. One of them being fully grown tom, Birchface.

His father, Oakstar, is described as broad-shouldered and faced. So Birchface likely has a build similar to his father, meaning he probably weights quite a lot.

5) After seeing Birchface falling into the River, other Thunderclan warriors in the battle, who would instantly be targeting Appledusk, likely aiming to kill him in revenge considering the time period. This is a massive distraction.

So Appledusk couldn’t fully put his attention on deciding what to do with Birchface, while also having to be aware of the Thunderclan warriors rushing towards him. Appledusk very likely now trying to escape with his very life against multiple revengeful opponents.

6) Birchface’s death would of happened very quickly. For Appledusk to have a reasonable shot of saving him, he would of been required to get over his natural shock of accidentally making someone fall instantly, to grab him before he falls off the cliff. Which simply can’t be done. Instantly/willingly snapping out of temporary shock is impossible, it’s your natural reaction, it can’t be fraught. This can display anyone from taking instant action.

And all in a few seconds, Appledusk also required, to get over the immense fear of willingly and recklessly throwing himself over a cliff into a flood, that could likely result in his death from all the factors we cover earlier, for an enemy cat who was literally just attacking him a second ago.

Flowerpaw, an impulsive apprentice, may have been reckless enough to do and she paid the ultimate price for it. Appledusk, as an experienced warrior, can more logically know what situations are hopeless or not.

In the entity of the Clans, Warriors have never had the obligation or apart of the code to save enemies on the battlefield. In fact, the code points to the complete opposite:”Defend your Clan, even with your life. You may have friendships with cats from other Clans, but your loyalty must remain to your Clan, as one day you may meet them in battle.” It acknowledges Battles are apart of everyday Clan life and orders warriors to put their Clan above all else. Appledusk should be no different. If he risked his life to save attacking enemies above protecting his own clanmates, he’d be betraying Riverclan.

Appledusk, like everyone already have enough to worry about in those life and death situations: Their own lives, their clanmates and their territories. Even Greystripe’s rescue attempts had it’s limits, he tried catching Whitethroat on land, but halted at the ledge, because he knew it would result in his unnecessary death as well.

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