IT'S DEEP RED [intro, post battle]

Jul 12, 2022
( ) he's not certain when he grew up. perhaps it had been when his parents left, or when he took his first steps outside of the little camp the marsh group calls home. when he stopped sleeping with the kittens and began seeking out older friends, he still imagined himself a child. now, as he sits in the shadows of that same camp, watching bloodied clanmates bustle about, he can feel the exhaustion in his bones. children do not fight wars. they do not feel the sharp score of claws along their skin, nor do they growl out threats they mean to carry through. the marsh's way of life has never been easy, and he knows this. their way of living summons hardships that outsiders could never imagine. but among the prey shortages and harsh winters, he never imagined this.

spring tends to his wounds quietly, ears flicking as he listens to the soft conversations around him. the air, usually perfumed with the musky scent of the wild, now reeks of blood, and he sees it drying rust brown on his clanmates' fur. he had managed to defend himself fairly well, although there's a nasty scratch across the bridge of his nose that still stings hours later. perhaps it will scar. maybe he'll look cooler for a change. a soft sigh leaves his chest, golden eyes blurring as he stares at his paws. the claws are still dyed crimson, fur of strangers caught between them. is this the new normal? will his entire life be one giant fight with no room for peace? lifting a paw, he rips the enemy fur from his claws and spits it harshly beside him.
nothing about these days has made sense. the ghostly outlines of his ancestors, the sight of cats his own age battling fiercely against him. it's all terrifyingly new and spring isn't sure what to do. so he sits in the shadows, out of everyone's way, thoughts swirling. he's ten moons, but he's never felt so young. he's ten moons, but he's never felt so old.

*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ The days following the battle have seen a muted version of Briar's camp. Wounds being licked, limbs coddled, tender hearts. There are still cats mourning their loved ones, cats reeling from heavenly bodies telling them to spread like a vine.

Flicker has made a point to be scarce.

She has no intention of listening to other cats cry. She will not cry herself, not anymore, so why bother watching others do it? She is in the marsh, her bloodstained claws caught in the soft spine of a lizard or the sticky fur of a rat. She bounces from bramble to bramble, her fur torn and ragged, her pelt muddy, eyes wild, muscles burning. She runs, she crawls, she leaps. She practices.

She won't lose again.

She won't lose to Ember, for damn sure. Stupid pine forest cat, living with a bunch of kittypets. She does not think about a white cat with furious green eyes. She does not think about Moth. Why should she? Why should she?

She's sore when she limps into camp. Curious and perpetually angry eyes narrow as they focus on a young tom sitting alone in the shadows. "First timer, huh?" She lashes her tail and smiles, but the smile is mean. "They're over there lickin' their wounds, I bet. Gettin' ready to come back over here. You might as well be prepared."

Does she even believe this? She doesn't know. Rain called for peace, but Flicker isn't sure how there can be peace after all that had happened. Are they not doomed now to fight forever?

Sharp words would draw the attention of one of the camp's wisest. Howling Wind glanced over, muzzle raised from a half-eaten shrew she'd been sharing with a denmate nearby. With ears pricked, she pondered the tortoiseshell's statement. Would they attack again? Truly? SHe hadn't considered it. "They have no leader now. Surely they wouldn't leap into battle so quickly after those....ghosts, told them not to?" Rain was their leader. He wanted peace. Like Flicker, she wasn't sure if it was possible. But should they really be preparing? Her heart sunk at the thought of her sons and daughters entering battle once more, and so near in the future.
"We're all licking our wounds, Flicker," whines the achromatic feline, their words drawn out in an overexaggerated manner. They gesture dramatically towards their injured leg. Scabs have crusted over the wound by now, but it still hurt like hell. You might as well be prepared, says the tortoiseshell. Crow groans, throwing their head back in exasperation. "Come on, we should- we should rest. It's the least that we deserve after having our asses handed to us." They don't want to prepare. They'd rather sulk in their own misery. Everest had told them to live, but is life worth living without him? Everest is gone, and their world has never been darker.

Howling Wind tries to be the voice of reason, but her words only evoke a bitter snort from Crow. "Yeah, and who's idea was it for us to go to war anyways?" They glance around the camp for a certain spiky-furred black she-cat, but they don't find her. Probably grieving her dead mate, too.

It was Briar's fault that Everest is dead. He's convinced of it.

"If they decide to avenge their dead leader or whatever, we have no one to blame but ourselves." Crow wouldn't even fault the pine group for it.
( )
/ on mobile
the vocals of flicker pierce his solitary thoughts and the boy will turn his head sharply to greet her. "yeah i guess so." he mumbles, offering a half smile. on her maw rests a twisted expression, and spring can't quite tell if she's being genuine. still, her prediction sends a chill down his spine and he shuffles his paws. "maybe they are," he agrees, though his brow furrows. "but the starry cats ended things, didn't they? i mean, both sides lost a lot." swallowing, he snaps his jaws shut again as a new voice rings out. howling wind offers a new perspective, although it is one spoken with less conviction. pondering this new addition, the boy tips his head. "i don't think they'll attack again. a lot of cats on both sides are tired of the fighting, right?"

crow's statement picks apart the carefully constructed argument, the brash voice speaking facts that spring hasn't wanted to realize. his thoughts drift to their spike furred leader, wondering not for the first time where she is among all of the chaos within her camp. spring's been lucky in the fact that he hasn't lost anyone close to him in this recent battle. being an orphan has its perks sometimes, he supposes.

rubbing a paw across his newly scabbed nose, the boy hisses softly as a small spark of pain jolts though him. stars above, he'll never get used to the injury. "do you really think they'll avenge their leader? the ghosts said we need to spread, so won't they listen to the ghosts?" ears flattening, he imagines a war party headed their way, charging through the marshy ground with revenge on their minds. golden eyes flick from each cat as they speak and he chews on his lip.

*:・゚✧*:・゚✧ Flicker laughs, a brittle bark that is accentuated by her flaming glare. Spring and Howling Wind seem to think the ghosts will ensure peace, somehow, but she remains a skeptic. "Y'all really think the ghosts are keepin' 'em down?" She had seen Moth, yes... had seen Rain. But she plows on regardless. "Most of those cats were as dumb as tadpoles when they were alive. Why are we listenin' to 'em dead?"

She gives Crow a scornful look. Blaming Briar, again, even though he'd done nothing but cry about neutrality to stop things. Flicker finds herself bone-weary of her groupmates and their posturing.

She mutters, "Blamin' Briar ain't bringin' anyone back. Might as well take some accountability." She gives Crow a look, but says nothing more.

Crow's words cause Howling Wind to turn her head towards him. First, she nodded along to the younger tom's words. He was right - they should rest. They had all been through so much and many still had wounds that needed to heal before anyone could be thinking about fighting again. But the cat's next words drew a soft warning hiss from her as she rose to her paws, eyes narrowing upon the young adult. "Watch what you say about your leader. She works hard to keep all of us safe and fed." Flicker's words agitate her further and she would turn her head sharply towards the youth. "And you watch what you say about the dead. That is no way to speak about cats who gave their lives for their families. You're no kit anymore, Flicker, it's time to act like it." When would young cats learn decent respect?