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The Yellowcough Plague was an epidemic that affected ShadowClan during Thunder and Shadow. It infected many ShadowClan cats, and eventually allowed Darktail to usurp ShadowClan from Rowanstar.

Summary

Premise

With Littlecloud's death, ShadowClan is without a medicine cat as Littlecloud did not choose a successor after Flametail, as any kit in ShadowClan wanted to be a warrior then choose the path of medicine. Leafpool temporarily takes over as ShadowClan's medicine cat, and Puddlekit is chosen to be trained under her so he can become the permanent medicine cat.

Description

Outbreak

"Even if she is loyal to ShadowClan...you let the others live at the edge of your territory, despite the fact that they are murderers. Half your apprentices left to join them. It just proves what I’ve always thought: ShadowClan cats are no better than rogues. You will not gather herbs on my land."
—Onestar to Tigerheart and Scorchfur Thunder and Shadow, page chapter 14
In ShadowClan, Wasptail and Oakfur fall sick to what Puddleshine initially believes to be Greencough, but when they don't respond to catmint, Puddleshine begins to panic and admits he doesn't know what to do since this was an illness that no cat had seen before. After being reprimanded by Rowanstar, Puddleshine wants to go ask Leafpool for help, and is instantly shot down by Rowanstar. Violetpaw offers to go fetch Leafpool for Puddleshine, but the splotched tom denies since Rowanstar would be angry, and reluctantly tries different herb mixes. Rowanstar soon falls ill to the sickness. In Puddleshine's dreams, Runningnose tells him of the cure. In the morning, Puddleshine excitedly tells the deputy Crowfrost that StarClan has finally shared dreams with him and the sickness is called Yellowcough, and the cure is found on WindClan territory. Puddleshine wishes to go retrieve it, but Crowfrost says he is needed in ShadowClan. Puddleshine argues that only knows what it looks like, to which Crowfrost sends Scorchfur, Tigerheart and Violetpaw to accompany their Medicine cat.
After arriving at WindClan's border, Crowfeather and Leaftail reluctantly let them speak to Onestar, and when they arrive in WindClan's camp, Onestar refuses to hear them out as Violetpaw was part of the rogue group that killed Furzepelt, and Tigerheart tells Onestar that Violetpaw is a ShadowClan cat now. Onestar snarls that whatever they want, they should say it quickly before he gets his revenge for his lost warrior. Tigerheart explains that three of their Clanmates are sick with an illness, the cure is found on their territory and asks for permission to collect it. Onestar hisses that no ShadowClan cat crosses into WindClan land, especially ones that shelter rogues. Scorchfur hisses at him that they kicked out the rogues, and Violetpaw was a Clan cat. Onestar is unmoved, and tells them to get off his land, telling the ShadowClan cats that they are no better than rogues. Tigerheart pleads with the leader to reconsider, but Onestar gives them one last chance to leave before he orders his warriors to attack them. Kestrelflight tries to reason that Puddleshine should at least be allowed to, but Onestar cuts him off. Tigerheart and Scorchfur lead the patrol back, both older warriors angry at Onestar.
At a gathering, Crowfrost is revealed to now be leading ShadowClan temporarily as Rowanstar was too sick. Crowfrost announces that WindClan refused to let them gather the herb, and after Mothwing offers to collect it instead, Onestar hisses that she will not step foot in their territory if the herb is for ShadowClan, telling them that they're just as bad as rogues for sheltering rogues. Crowfrost flattens his ears and tells him they live outside ShadowClan's territory, which Onestar rebukes since half their apprentices and some of their warriors left to join them. After some arguments, Onestar concedes that if the rogues are driven out, ShadowClan can have the herb, and he ends the gathering. Alderpaw asks Kestrelflight if he can possibly give ShadowClan the lungwort, and Kestrelflight tells Alderpaw that he cannot betray his Clan, though he obviously disagrees with Onestar's hostility.

Trouble in ShadowClan

Molewhisker: "We should attack their camp and rescue Twigpaw."
Rosepetal: "It will be easy to get her back. Half their Clan is sick and the other half has joined the rogues!"
Graystripe: "And if we get Twigpaw back, what then? ShadowClan will still need the herb."
Bramblestar: "Is that our problem?"
Squirrelflight: "Of course it is! A sick kit is every Clan’s problem."
Bramblestar: "And what if WindClan still refuses to help when we ask?"
Alderpaw: "We have to do something!"
Bramblestar: "We will. But first we have to decide what."
—ThunderClan after the ShadowClan patrol leaves Thunder and Shadow, page chapter 18
After Twigpaw is caught sneaking into ShadowClan's camp by Dawnpelt, they plan on returning her to ThunderClan until Scorchfur suggests that they use Twigpaw as a bargaining chip. Crowfrost asks him to elaborate, and Tawnypelt speaks up instead, noting that ThunderClan and WindClan have always had a special relationship, and that if ShadowClan can't convince WindClan, then perhaps ThunderClan can. Scorchfur agrees, and says that using Twigpaw as incentive is their best chance. Crowfrost agrees with him, and says that Rowanstar would probably agree if he were well enough. He continues, saying she will be kept hostage, but treated as equal, ordering Tigerheart to guard her until dawn, then he will switch with Tawnypelt.
Crowfrost arrives to ThunderClan the next day with Scorchfur and Tawnypelt, and tells the worried ThunderClan that Twigpaw will be staying with them for a while, and Scorchfur says she is safe and will stay with them until ThunderClan agrees to help them. Bramblestar realizes they are keeping her hostage, and quickly becomes angry with the ShadowClan cats. Crowfrost says she is well cared for and will remain that way until ThunderClan helps. Bramblestar hardens his gaze, and asks what kind of help they want. Crowfrost says that if they cannot convince WindClan, then ThunderClan surely can, noting that Kinkfur, Yarrowleaf and Snakekit have fallen ill. Tawnypelt pleads that Bramblestar can lie that it's for ThunderClan, and Bramblestar hisses that he wouldn't lie for them. Squirrelflight says that if a kit is sick, then it might be worth it. Molewhisker steps forward and says they shouldn't help them since they're keeping their apprentice hostage, to which Crowfrost retorts that it's exactly why they should help. Alderpaw gets angry that they're keeping Twigpaw hostage, and Molewhisker asks Bramblestar he's just going to allow ShadowClan to bully them. Bramblestar silences his warriors and tells Crowfrost they'll consider the offer. After the patrol leaves, Molewhisker and Rosepetal want to attack ShadowClan, but Graystripe brings up that ShadowClan still needs the herb. Bramblestar darkly asks if it was their problem, to which Squirrelflight tells him that it was since a kit was sick. Alderpaw blurts that they need to do something, and Bramblestar promises they will.

A cure is found

"ShadowClan allowed them to stay near their territory. They paid for this foolishness by losing some of their best apprentices. When the so-called ‘special’ kit returned, they took her back in, and now she lives among them—giving who knows what information to her rogue friends! They are weak and foolish! They deserve no help. They don’t even deserve the name of Clan cats. They are no more than rogues themselves. Let them keep Twigpaw. Let them die of sickness. I will not be tricked or bullied into helping them. They deserve every thing StarClan has brought upon them."
—Onestar to Leafpool, Alderpaw, and Kestrelflight Thunder and Shadow, page chapter 18
Bramblestar and Squirrelflight decide to send Leafpool and Alderpaw to WindClan to speak to Kestrelflight, and possibly Onestar. Alderpaw dislikes the plan, and Jayfeather grunts that Alderpaw is less likely to offend anyone, and Leafpool tells her nephew that Alderpaw and her are going to be polite and kind to WindClan. Jayfeather hisses that he doesn't see why they just can't go and take lungwort for themselves. Bramblestar tells the blind medicine cat that they want to resolve it peacefully. Alderpaw wonders if Onestar would even listen to them, and Squirrelflight mutters that Onestar had been "getting more unreasonable every moon". Bramblestar assures them that it's why he's sending Medicine cats, and he can't object to them. Leafpool hopes he does, for Twigpaw's and Puddleshine's sakes. Alderpaw realizes that Leafpool is worried about her former apprentice in ShadowClan, and how he has to deal with the epidemic.
Leafpool and Alderpaw head out, and when on WindClan's territory, they encounter Gorsetail and Emberfoot. Leafpool greets them. Leafpool explains that they're there on Medicine cat business, and asks if they two warriors will take them to Kestrelflight. Gorsetail begrudgingly agrees, and leads them to their camp. When they arrive, Breezepelt demands to know why they're with them, and Emberfoot mutters that they want to speak to Kestrelflight. Nightcloud casts them an angry glare, and Gorsetail and Emberfoot lead them to Kestrelflight's den. When inside, Kestrelflight is surprised to see them, and asks why they're in his den, asking if Onestar knows they're here. Leafpool states that he probably does now, and Kestrelflight tells them to make it quick, peering out of his den to make sure they can't be heard. Leafpool tells him of the lungwort they need, and how Twigpaw is being kept hostage. Kestrelflight is surprised, but says he cannot go against Onestar's word, as the WindClan leader blames ShadowClan for Furzepelt's death and Onestar losing a life. Alderpaw says ShadowClan cannot retaliate with so few able-bodied cats, and Kestrelflight mutters that Onestar doesn't see it that way. Alderpaw asks if Onestar would attack his own cats, and Kestrelflight mutters he would if they turned traitor. After some persuasion, Kestrelflight agrees to let them speak to Onestar. When in his den, Onestar mocks Alderpaw, saying that Bramblestar must be too cowardly to come himself. Alderpaw blurts that Twigpaw is being held hostage, but ShadowClan refuses to give her back until they get lungwort. Onestar insults ShadowClan, and says Twigpaw will probably enjoy being there. He goes on, saying ShadowClan is no better then rogues and he will not be bullied or tricked into giving them a cure, and should suffer. Leafpool realizes how unreasonable Onestar is being, and stalks out of the den with Alderpaw, going back to ThunderClan.

Onestar sucks

In ShadowClan, Snowbird and Pinenose fall ill to Yellowcough, and Grassheart spends all her time with Snakekit, leaving Whorlkit and Flowerkit without their mother. Their father, Stonewing, is constantly out on patrols to compensate for the sick cats, leaving the nursery empty, though Twigpaw and Violetpaw are able to distract the kits for the time being. Tigerheart is appointed Lionpaw's temporary mentor until Snowbird is well again, and Puddleshine is working overtime to try and keep every cat healthy. The healthy warriors are often out on hunting patrols, which exhausts them as more and more cats fall sick. Tawnypelt has also stepped up and has begun helping Crowfrost with leader duties.
However, in Darktail's band of rogues, Beenose and Silt have fallen ill to Yellowcough as well, but Nettle is the only one with basic knowledge of herbs, but even he doesn't know how to cure them.
The Medicine den is is full of sick cats, and Crowfrost has decided to move the healthy warriors in with the elders, and to make the warriors den a spot for the sick cats. Tawnypelt is helping Crowfrost with duties, asking for more hunting patrols. Twigpaw comes out of her den to play with Whorlkit and Flowerkit. Mistcloud and Rippletail come into the clearing. Tawnypelt remarks that they're late, and she needs every cat hunting. Mistcloud remarks that they spent all day hunting. Rippletail agrees, since sick cats barely eat as much as healthy cats. Lionpaw and Birchpaw begin fighting over a scrawny blackbird in the fresh-kill pile, which Birchpaw wins. However, Lionpaw attacks Birchpaw, and no warrior steps in to stop them, with Scorchfur telling Twigpaw that since they started it, they can end it. Twigpaw however steps in to separate them, resulting in both apprentices attacking her instead. Tawnypelt yowls across the clearing for them to stop, as it was promised that Twigpaw wouldn't be hurt. Tawnypelt decides to send Lionpaw and Birchpaw hunting for more herbs, with Dawnpelt to supervise. Violetpaw and Twigpaw help out the sick cats, and upon seeing the state of Pinenose, Kinkfur, and Snakekit, Twigpaw wishes Onestar could see how much suffering he's causing by being stubborn. While she's near Pinenose, the she-cat calls out in a delirium for Puddleshine, Birchpaw and Lionpaw, though neglects Slatepaw's name. Twigpaw tells her that Birchpaw and Lionpaw are out, and Puddleshine is working hard to ensure everyone stays healthy. Pinenose demands that her kits be there with her, and Puddleshine appears in the den, exhausted and worried for the state of his mother. Violetpaw encourages Puddleshine to rest, and Puddleshine reluctantly does so, curling up next to Pinenose. After leaving, Twigpaw notes to Violetpaw that Pinenose asked for her biological kits, not Violetpaw. Violetpaw mutters that she decided that Pinenose was better than nothing.
During the night, Bramblestar leads a patrol to retrieve Twigpaw, consisting of Lionblaze, Cloudtail, Blossomfall and Squirrelflight. Scorchfur and Spikefur deny them entrance. Violetpaw tries to get Twigpaw to hide, but Twigpaw wants to return to ThunderClan. Birchpaw tries to tackle Twigpaw to the ground so she cannot leave, but the gray she-cat escapes him and reunites with her Clanmates. Sparrowtail, Mistcloud and Rippletail prepare to fight them, but Crowfrost steps in and says to let Twigpaw go. Stunned, Scorchfur asks what he's doing, and Crowfrost says they had held her long enough, and it felt wrong. Many ShadowClan cats object to Crowfrost's decision, as they had no other method to get the lungwort. Spikefur tells him that their cats are dying. Crowfrost says that both ThunderClan and WindClan know that, and if WindClan refuses to give them the cure, then they can be judged in front of StarClan. Bramblestar explains that they tried, but Onestar is determined to see ShadowClan suffer. As the ThunderClan patrol leaves with Twigpaw, Spikefur and Scorchfur are incredibly angry with the loss of Twigpaw, with Spikefur telling Crowfrost that he hopes Rowanstar doesn't die, since Crowfrost is no leader. Dawnpelt defends Crowfrost, and Tawnypelt tells the younger warriors that Crowfrost made the right choice.
The next day, Kinkfur dies despite Puddleshine's best efforts to keep her healthy. Violetpaw leaves to go get some fresh air, revealing to Dawnpelt that the elder had died, and word of Kinkfur's death spreads through the Clan. As the sun sets, Kinkfur's kits; Sparrowtail and Mistcloud, lay pinecones around their mother's body with Ratscar. Crowfrost begins the vigil, noting her to have served ShadowClan for many moons before he was born, she fought in the battle against the Dark Forest, and has Dewkit, her deceased daughter, to meet again in StarClan. However, Crowfrost begins coughing, and as Puddleshine runs to the deputy's side, ShadowClan realizes that Crowfrost is now infected, and there is nobody left to lead.

Crisis resolved

Harespring and Kestrelflight go behind Onestar's back to give the cure
More Coming Soon
While most of the infected cats recovered with the retrieval of the lungwort, Wasptail died the night after Kinkfur, and Crowfrost a few days after that. Violetpaw notes that Dawnpelt, despite losing her mate, Juniperclaw and Sleekwhisker, still helps around the camp. In place of Crowfrost, Rowanstar has chosen Tigerheart; his son, to succeed Crowfrost.

Usurping Rowanstar

Darktail comes around
More Coming Soon

Aftermath

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Cats who were infected

ShadowClan

Darktail's group

Main characters

Rowanstar

More Coming Soon

Crowfrost

More Coming Soon

Puddleshine

More Coming Soon

Onestar

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Quotes

"We have no choice now, We can’t let Wasptail and Oakfur get sicker. Oakfur is old. I don’t know if he can survive much longer. And what if the sickness spreads? I have to know what to do."
—Puddleshine to Rowanstar Thunder and Shadow, page chapter 14

See also

Notes and references

Notes

Events in the Warriors series
The Prophecies Begin Battle for SunningrocksBrokenstar's TyrannyPlan to divert the dogsBloodClan's invasion
The New Prophecy Finding MidnightA new homeWindClan civil warAmbush of the badgers
Power of Three A Tribe in needAssault on ThunderClanFireTracking a killer
Omen of the Stars Saving the lakeDrought in the lake territoriesFight for the borderWar with the Dark Forest
A Vision of Shadows Alderpaw's questYellowcough epidemicThe Kin's campaignShadowClan's downfallWatermint shortageFireBattle for the stolen kitsShadowClan versus SkyClan
Dawn of the Clans The first battleFollowing the sun trail
Super Editions Talltail and Jake's excellent adventureSkyClan's revivalA storm of epic proportionsBlood, water, and badgersBattle of the gorge
Novellas A predicted starvationRavenpaw's travels
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