i am the fire - battle priv

It was a bloodied mess of fur and claws that pulled itself back toward the heart of the battle. One with movements that were awkward and shambling, attempting to keep weight off what might once have been a shoulder. Not anymore though. Shoulders were things that cats had, it reasoned. It was a thing, not a cat. It raised its head, blinking to clear its eyes. A sharp gaze swept the battlefield. Searching for the next step forward, the next fight in its path.

Somewhere within that shell, there was Ember. She felt disconnected form it all. The losses, the scars, the betrayals, she didn't have time to focus on any of that. The fight raged on. Her friends were still in danger. All that mattered was that she kept going, kept fighting on. Everything else could be pushed away for the time being.

She lowered her weight onto her injured shoulder again, tested the weight. It stung. Not bad enough to be a concern though, she could still walk on it. So she could still fight. Which meant she had to. Grey eyes looked outward again, and amongst the bodies and the battle, they affixed themselves to a single figure. A large, dark brown tabby cat who fought with skilled expertise. She tried to imagine the kittypets she had needed to teach what a proper fighting stance was facing such a warrior. Her ear flicked.

Desperately, she tried not to wonder what had happened to them in this battle.

Diving back into the fray, Ember wove once more though the tangled forms of friends and foes. Some already fallen. Her eyes stayed affixed to the glimpses of brown fur she caught through the chaos. Then, they collided. She darted past the older molly, attempting to swipe her claws along her side as she passed. She didn't stop to check if her attack connected, just kept racing along as to not offer a chance to retaliate. If she did hit, it would be an blow that could not be ignored. Putting all the attention squarely on herself, instead of her groupmates. Once she considered herself a safe distance away, she skidded to a stop and spun around, ready to face the fight she had started.


Blood stung her nostrils, but she had to keep fighting. For her sons, for her daughters, for the land her mate had died upon. She must follow Briar, she must keep fighting. Scratches laced her body, but they had been nothing compared to the marks she'd left on her opponents. She had seasons of experience over most of these cats, a fact that broke her heart. At one point, a cat who couldn't have been more than a few seasons old swung at her, and she'd only had the willpower to push her away and find a new opponent. She wasn't here to hurt children, for what kind of mother would she be?

She was in the middle of fighting a pair of younger brutes when a sharp pain sliced through the thick fur along her side. A yowl signaled her surprise as she spun around to face her newest adversary. A younger molly, a fraction of Howling Wind's age, stood bristled in front of her with a defiance like fire burning in her gray-blue gaze. She took a moment before turning to face her, dropping into a practiced stance that was second-nature at this point. Green eyes fixated upon the small she-cat. Similar in height, but she had the strength. This molly had the speed. It would be a battle to see if Howling Wind could win before she tired out.

Bunching her muscles, she pushed off to spring towards the flame point with claws outstretched, a battle-cry leaving her jaws. She would attempt to tackle the she-cat, battering her with her forepaws while pushing into her stomach with her hind legs to try and keep her away from Howling Wind's own underbelly.

A yowl thrown into the din told her the attack had landed, before she even turned. Grey eyes meet green as the two mollies faced each other, both settling into practiced crouches. A moment of stillness passed between them. Ember tensed, waiting for her opponent to make her move. She had faith that she could react fast enough to dodge anything the tabby tried. Until she was forced to, she wasn't move an inch. The battle was wearing at her, and if she wanted any chance of winning this she needed to conserve energy. Exhaustion was writ across the features of the cat opposite her as well, giving her hope that her newest adversary might even tire before she did.

A bunching of muscles was all the warning she got before a mass of brown fur came hurtling toward her. It was enough. Barely. She slipped to the side, just out of reach of the oncoming tackle but not far enough to dodge the outstretched claws. A hiss left her involuntarily as sparks of pain lit up on the side of her face.

Still, she had the opportunity she needed. A single scar was a fair price for that. She attempted to slam into the older she-cat from the side, before she had time to land properly. Hoping to bowl her over and send her slamming into the ground. She did not move in for the pin yet though. Strength was not her greatest asset, and given that grappling would be a mistake. At least until she had worn her opponent down a little.

Claws met flesh and Howling Wind knew her attack hit, even if not on target. But as she landed, gripping the ground with now-bloodied talons, a force shoved her aside. She was correct; this molly was much nimbler than she was. Howling Wind was thrust to the ground with a grunt, dust billowing up from the earth where she landed. Exhausted...she was exhausted. But she would continue to fight, because cats around her were dropping like flies and any one of her kits could be next. She would fight because their lives depended on it.

Her muscles screamed at her as she pushed herself back to her paws, turning tired yet burning fern-colored eyes onto the molly. Panting, she swayed before lurching forward once more, relying solely on getting in heavy hits if she had any hope of winning. Swinging a paw forward, she aimed to whack the molly across the face in hopes of stunning her.

Painful, unsteady movements screamed the exhaustion the molly opposite her was suffering. It was exactly what Ember was looking for. All she had to do was keep running circles around her foe and the battle would practically win itself. Though, it also presented an opportunity. Playing it safe might win her the fight with ease, sure, but winning wasn't all that mattered. How quickly she could end this fight did too. Who knew how long waiting for the brown tabby to tire herself out completely would? By then how many of her friends would be dead or dying, beyond her help?

No, the shaking steps she saw gave her a better idea. In an instant, she changed plans. Ducking under a paw swinging toward her face, she darted in instead of out. Aimed to bite at the other paw and pull as hard as she could. It was a riskier play, leaving her open a retaliatory bite or being pulled into a grapple. But it also gave her a chance to end this fight quicker, and move on to the next.

Which was all that mattered now.

Her paw hit nothing but air, and the momentum of the attack brought the exhausted molly staggering forward, unbalanced. Almost immediately, she felt teeth sink into her paw and tug her sideways, earning a furious yowl of shock as the tabby tumbled to the ground. Gnashing jaws bit towards anything they could reach, and claws swiped blindly in a panicked effort to get her away. Her underbelly was exposed, and this molly had the power to end this battle with a fatal blow. She couldn't let that happen.

A flurry of claws and jaws met her attempt to incapacitate her foe. Searing hot sparks of pain lit up on her chest and forepaws as claws found their mark, and a low hiss of pain left her. It was a panicked, aimless onslaught sent her way. No longer the practiced attacks of a skilled warrior, but the fearful swipes of an animal fighting for its life. Nonetheless, it was effective in its aim. She fought though it, though. Her victory was in sight, and to pull back now would be to throw away the advantage her new scars had earned her.

Slowly, she pulled herself atop her opponent, attempting to pin her down while she was still on the ground. Ember was not the strongest of fighters, but between the clear exhaustion of the brown tabby and her positional advantage, this was the best chance she was ever going to get to do it. As she struggled to find her hold, a flash of teeth found their target. She screamed. As careful as she had been to keep vitals out of reach, she had not paid the same mind to her wounded shoulder. Which now sat precariously between her opponent's jaws. The pain sent spots into her vision, but she had the wherewithal to press a paw to the extended neck of her attacker. All she had to do was extend her claws and the kill would be hers.

"Yield." She hissed through gritted teeth. Though it had been hard won, she had her victory. If the other molly fought further, she could doubtless do irreparable damage to the shoulder between her teeth, but her life would be forfeit. It was over.

It felt like forever that her jaws were clamped upon flesh, the screeching and scuffling causing her ears to pin flat against her head and her eyes to squeeze shut. While she held on, a throaty growl rumbled in her chest and she held on for several moments longer, feeling blood drench her mouth. Her attack would cease as soon as a paw was placed firmly against her throat. She could feel the tips of claws inch their way out - a warning.

Yield, She hissed. Howling Wind paused. Her hold was released upon the she-cat's shoulder and she recoiled back against the ground, flashing eyes fixing themselves upon her grays. A sharp, shallow inhale, desperate for breath that was threatened to be taken away from her. For what felt like forever, the she-cats remained like this, a harsh swallow fighting against the flame point's stubborn paw. She wasn't killing her...

While cats dropped dead all around her, this cat wouldn't kill her.

She fell limp into submission.

// Should we say this is where StarClan's arrival interrupts them?