of fears and fools | ashpaw's return


Jul 11, 2022

"We'll be right behind you! Let them know we're coming with their apprentice!", the words of Howlingwind echo in his head as he skirts the edge of the growling river- blood clung to the white of his fur in small patches around his legs where he had grabbed the Riverclan kid.

" Riverclan!- Riverclan!- …" he shouts for a patrol- his throat aching from his yowls, old scarred vocal cords rumbling with his guttural.

" one of yer younguns’, done washed up on our side- big ol’ cut down her flank. " he explains now, voice lowering from his shouts. " we’s got two good Thunderclanners tending to her- but you need to get yer medic on over here- " he whips his chin toward the path he had taken from the Deputy and medic who tended to the wounded ginger tabby.

Lifting a paw toward the first sleek pelted feline to have appeared- he singles out a few toes as he points at them- catching his breath and tongue lashing out a thick southern scolding. " and first of all- an’ YOU- listen good. It prolly ain’t yer fault personally… but THERE- ain’t NO sense- in makin’ no kitten an apprentice- ain’t got no business bein’ in that water. " he points to the raging water now, brows furrowed as he barks out- a raspy sound, husky and wet with spit.

( tagging those involved in reference to this thread! | @HOWLING WIND @tinyleafs @cinderfrost )


A S H P A W.

She's so tired.

Her paws ache. Every step feels bruising. She knows she's going home but part of her just wishes she could stop and curl up and d-- and sleep here.

We'll be right behind you! Howling Wind had yelled after Rockyridge before dropping his voice low, offering to help her walk. He's half-carrying her, honestly, but that hurts too, muscles bruised and strained.

Soaked and muddy, blood leaking from the gash in her flank, the tiny ginger tabby is barely recognizable.

She grits her teeth through the pain and keeps walking, staggering down the path the ThunderClanner blazes. Hot, salty tears trickle down her face. She wants Willowroot, wants Cicadastar, wants Clayfur, wants Pumpkinpaw-- wants to collapse and have someone she knows catch her and hold her safe. Tender pink pads drag and scrape on the stone of the twoleg bridge, and when RiverClan scent finally hits her-- close now behind Rockyridge and the patrol hailed down-- she almost does collapse.

A pained mewl slips out of her throat unbidden-- a wordless call home, instinct-driven.

—— " i found gold in the wreckage "

  • THE BABY! IS!! BACK!!!

    for clarity, as of rockyridge's post ashpaw is still following along further behind, but as of this post she's caught up and the riverclanners can see/interact with her <3

    peaceful powerplay a-ok!!!!
  • - 4 month old orange tabby with green eyes
    - apprenticed to lead warrior willowroot
    - happy-go-lucky, mischievous, hardworking
    - very friendly, but defensive of riverclan!
    - "speech"
  • - i was too lazy to add the links this time sorry </3 got fuckin wrecked by a twoleg

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Her injuries were recovering fine, especially after Ash had come to visit her. Beesong did a great job at keeping the infection at bay, but regardless of her orders to rest and stay in the medicine den, word of Ashpaws disappearance spread. She had felt another wave of failure wash over her upon learning. She had failed once more to protect someone she vowed to keep safe, and that night she put her head in her paws and cried silently. What would she do? Her injuries were intense, bad, but nothing could lessen the pain of a broken vow.

As much as she didn't want to admit it, Ashpaw had became her everything.

As soon as her injuries felt just a smidge better, she begged to be taken out of camp. An NPC obliged. They're taking it slow, with wobbly legs as she tried to adjust to being half blind, adjust with the disgusting scabs that had begun to overtake her face. Then theres a call and Pumpkin leans against the warrior, before an agonized, relieved scream cuts through her jaws. "ASH!" she screams, the pressure in her chest relieving, tears flowing freely from orange eyes. "Oh my, Ash, Ash, give her back, please, please," she begs, shes no bigger than Ash but she feels as if she had to fight her way out of this, and if she did she would. All of it would be okay, if Ash were back in her paws.
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The shouting of the strange cat startles Clayfur, and his immediate reaction is to bristle in a mix of fear and fury. He’s on edge—he’s not sure what to expect from other clans or twolegs, and it’s been a stressful day overall. But once it all clicks together in his head, the chestnut tabby is looking around, near frantic in his movements. There’s only one apprentice this guy could be referring to; they’d known she was hurt, but they couldn’t find her, and he hasn’t had a second of peace since hearing Willowroot’s shouting for their missing apprentice.

He disregards the accented scolding almost completely, too caught up in the rush of… whatever he’s feeling. "Is it Ashpaw? Where is she?" For a moment he pauses in his panicked hopping from paw to paw, stiffening suddenly. Right. Beesong. "Somebody get Beesong! We need ‘em, now!" He cries into the trees, angling back in the direction of RiverClan’s camp. He’s got half a mind to rush back to camp himself, to drag the poor medicine cat by the scruff and bring them out here on his own, but his breath is coming out in pants and he’s shaking and- he doesn’t think he can take a single step away from the border until he sees the ginger apprentice alive and well.

And see her he does. A strangled little sound comes from a ways behind the ThunderClanner, and hazel eyes shift to see her. She’s—she’d be nearly unrecognizable if the scream that Pumpkinpaw lets out didn’t confirm that it’s her. He blinks back tears, swallows around the lump in his throat. "Oh, Ash…" he says, a choked-off mumble. There are tears in his eyes, a reaction to her sorry state, and guilt sits heavy in his chest. He should have… he should have done something more. Gone to ThunderClan just to see if she’d turned up there. Anything.

Now’s his chance to do something to help her, though. He can’t go to her—what good will he do? They need their medicine cat here. So Clayfur turns on his heel, dashing off as quickly as his spindly legs will carry him. It turns out he just might drag the cinnamon tabby out by the scruff, after all. "Bee! Beesong! We need you now! Hurry!!" He feels desperate, wild with panic. He’s not equipped to handle this. Where is their medicine cat?

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− ♱ ABOUT : the man had experienced loss. had been shattered, time and time again. his capacity for sorrow had been stilted — whether pumpkinpaw’s incident had been his breaking point, he wasn’t quite sure. when the small patrol had returned to camp, sobbing and screaming, trembling where they stood and calling to rescue ashpaw . . he’d felt little. a rough tug hidden deep within his otherwise numb chest, tired eyes absent and cold. she’s dead, he told himself, staring silent at his paws in the time he’d spent without her. ashpaw was not his child, but he cared for her as such ; just as he did pumpkinpaw, as he did quietpaw.he approaches shortly after the npc, catching scent of thunderclan and redirecting his aimless path through the gnarled willows. his paws were heavy, limbs buzzing, a low ring sounding continuous in his orbital ears until he catches it —

something soft. reed and breeze - brushed willow, hidden beneath the oaken scent of thunderclan, “ ashpaw. “ the man croaks, seconds after his too - tall form emerges from the splitting cattail. it’s choked — harsh. the tom that called for them is speaking still, too slow and grating and whatever he’s saying, he finds it doesn’t quite matter. the man is stumbling forward, using a single paw to attempt and scoop the kitten closer, his expression . . soft, as still as it is. still disbelieving. as if he’s seen a ghost, he merely looks up, gaze far away as he attempts to pull her closer to his body, staring at the way pumpkinpaw screams against the npc that guided her here.

ashpaw, liebling, im so glad you’re . . starclan, i missed you, we thought you dead.

by the time the ringing in his ears subsided, the man processes that rockyridge is still speaking — scolding. despite himself, a rage flares in his chest, “ your opinion to not let riverclan cats learn to swim is noted, “ the ‘ and discarded ‘ is silent, but vitriolic in the air around him. a paw comes up, trying to encircle the ginger apprentice as best he could. she was not allowed out by herself, she knew that — she was to be learning to swim, learning to navigate the waters. not . . whatever she was doing. she was home, now, and it didn’t matter — she was returned to them, injured and weak and mewling but alive. cicadastar dips his head, aiming rough, warming licks over the molly’s head — he would thank them all later. he would sing their praise to the heavens, in time. but for now, he simply sinks against the girl, awaiting the cinnamon tabby clayfur had already gone shouting for.

beesong will be here soon, my darling. only a moment longer. ive got you.

  • CICADASTAR ; he / him. roughly thirty seven months old, riverclan leader
    − handsome, lanky black smoke tortie chimera with curly fur and icy blue eyes
    − gay. speaks with a thick german accent, former marsh cat, penned by antlers

  • none.

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they didn't know ashpaw that well but then again... they didn't know that many cats. it was their fault, sure, but they felt safer away from everyone. however, the news of her return reaches quietpaw, and she follows cicadastar, and immediately pauses. he is quick to hold onto her, offering support and kindness and quietpaw flattened her own ears against her head. jealousy. how unreasonably immature of them, but they can't help it. that's supposed to be their father. cicadastar, who she knew before most of the cats here, is supposed to he her papa. and only theirs. swallowing thickly, quietpaw only steps away, biting her lip until blood pools into her mouth. her eyes widen and she only wipes her muzzle. this wasn't about them. they knew it. but they couldn't help those feelings. they sure weren't going away any time soon.

//rushed but u get the jist

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A S H P A W.

First there's Pumpkinpaw's screaming.

Her own name in that familiar voice. Ashpaw wails back, breaking away from Howling Wind to stumble on sprained paws toward Pumpkin, toward her closest friend, her home.

She doesn't see Clayfur, doesn't hear his whisper of her name but does hear his shout for Beesong, and she cries after him as she did Pumpkin even as he's racing away-- and then there is Cicadastar.

He surrounds her. Wraps her warm and safe in mottled dark fur-- her name again, choked out harsh and agonized, and a paw gathering her close. The touch sets her bruises aflame again, the barest brush agony but she doesn't care, she can't care, Cicadastar's here and he's holding her. Her knees buckle and she falls against him; she turns her little face into his flank and breathes.


Liebling, he calls her.

We thought you were dead.

Heavy, shuddered breaths rattle her little body. "I thought... so too," Ashpaw whispers into his fur.

He starts grooming the fur atop her head, and Ashpaw flinches away without meaning to, her head aching from the way she'd been rattled back and forth in the cage. "'m sorry, i-it hurts," she whimpers, curling in closer. Fresh tears wet his fur as she hides her face against him; her blood soaks into him, too, though the flow is sluggish now.

Eventually she'll lift her head, turning glassy green eyes to look for Pumpkinpaw, aching for the little calico's touch too.

—— " i found gold in the wreckage "


Gillpaw had done nothing but worry the whole time Ashpaw had been gone. The search party had failed to find her, only fueling the young apprentice's worry further. Where could she be? Was she alive? Was she in pain? Was she going to look different, when she came back? Would she be covered in scars like many of the warriors seemed to have?

If she had scars, would that mean she would become a warrior early? Would Gillpaw be stuck an apprentice, while Ashpaw was off doing warrior things?

Nonsense. It had to be.

He paws at the rock he'd collected in anticipation for Ashpaw's return - a flat, gray stone meant to be a 'get well soon' gift for his friend. Or a, 'you're back, let's celebrate!' sort of gift. Gillpaw isn't sure which, yet. It depends on the status of her injuries, but the apprentice hopes he doesn't end up having to gift it to her while having to sit vigil, while having to say his final goodbyes to his friend.

A strange new voice shakes him from his worry. An announcement of Ashpaw's return is uttered, only for angry words about apprentices in rivers to follow suit. Gillpaw doesn't think that makes sense, because, this is RiverClan, and RiverClanners needed to know how to swim! But, the tom doesn't dwell on it for too long, his mind more-so occupied by his friend's return.

"A-Ashpaw!" he exclaims, hurrying over to the scene, his gift for her temporarily forgotten. His worries that she'd look different ring true - a muddy-furred kit wrapped up in Cicadastar's hold. But, it was just mud, and, Gillpaw was sure that would wash right off, bright orange fur making it's return. He isn't able to see much of her injuries - he knows she has some, even the strange voice says so - but he hopes the voice is just exaggerating her injuries for whatever his agenda was towards apprentices not learning to swim.

"Y-You're back! I --" he cuts himself off, looking around with wide, yellow eyes. The rock! He forgot the rock! "Oh, w-well, I-I, I had a gift for you, b-but... I-I'll just... I'll give it to you later!"

But, Ashpaw says she hurts, and maybe it's for the best if he gave the rock to her later. When she's rested, and her wounds are better treated. When she looks like an Ashpaw, and not like a Mudpaw.

For now, Gillpaw is just glad his friend is alive.
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His name no longer feels like a part of his personal identity, but rather a forewarning of sorrow. Then again, Beesong has never been him. He was, always has been, Honeybee. A loner, a kittypet, a SkyClan warrior. Someone who dodged responsibility with jokes and stupid puns.

StarClan took that from him. Stripped him of his name, his home, his family. And Beesong could be bitter and angry. Maybe he should. Maybe he was, at one point. But anger does not help anyone. Hating StarClan is a worthless expense of his energy. And really, who is he to question the stars? He, who is so miniscule in the grand scheme of things?

They did not want this role, but they would play the part. Be a good medicine cat.

The frantic shouting of Clayfur tells them nothing except that they are needed- for what? Hell, they don't know. Another sickly kitten, another wounded clanmate... Shit, maybe the twolegs had finally managed a blow. But whatever it is, it's dire. Or Clayfur is overreacting, which they hope is true. Yet as much as they allow themselves to hope, their throat still tightens with the mental preparation to cover the scent of death with rosemary and mint. Hope for the best, plan for the worst...

Maybe Ashpaw's body had washed up somewhere.

His teeth grind against each other, and his claws tear up the ground as he rushes into his den to gather supplies for the unknown. Ashpaw- All that had been left of her was blood and fur and the stench of twolegs. She'd disappeared, presumably swept away by the river. Beesong knows it is not his fault, but what ifs still replay in his mind.

The image of her lifeless body, never to move or smile or laugh again, hurts him more than his steely expression would show.

With a bundle of cobwebs, dock leaves, and thyme, Beesong hurries out of his den and ushers Clayfur to show him the way. He has no idea what he's going to face. He has no idea if these herbs will be of any use. But it's the best he's got, the only thing that he knows to bring.

And when they see the ThunderClan patrol, the protective armor of a neutral expression goes up. When they look at Ashpaw, bloodied and sobbing and shaking, they do not dare flinch. Whatever monster had done this to her deserves tenfold of her pain. But they could not be the one to deliver justice; their duty is to heal what is broken, now. Their job is to help her.

Beesong is at Ashpaw's side in the blink of an eye, fumbling through herbs dropped haphazardly among the grass. It appears that someone has already sealed the large gash across her flank, presumably Cinderfrost, but there is one thing that she needs still. "Ashpaw, I need you to eat this," the cinnamon tabby nudges a sprig thyme closer to the apprentice. They know the physical signs of shock all too well; shivering, rapid breathing, dilation of pupils... The thyme would help, but they're acutely aware that it is only a temporary fix for the trauma she's endured. There is no herb that they could give her to relieve her of the burden she's far too young to carry.

Their ear twitches as Ashpaw complains of it hurting, the medicine cat's brows furrowing. "Where does it hurt?" They question with a forcibly calm voice. The gash is the only visible injury so far, but there's always the possibility of well-hidden injuries naked to their eyes.
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The molly followed until they reached the border. Once a RiverClan cat appeared, she summarized the treatment of the small child so Rockyridge and the rest of the patrol could properly tell Beesong. Surely they'd notice the marigold poultice and cobwebs but they wouldn't know whether she had given the patient poppy seeds or not.

"Tell Beesong that I washed her wounds before applying a marigold poultice with cobwebs to staunch to bleeding and ward off infection. Besides that, no pain relief has been given. Also, I am unsure what other injuries she may have." That was the message she'd left with the patrol. It was odd seeing the doting medicine cat turn cold once the first RiverClan cat arrived. She'd been so attentive and forceful in the tender treatment of the waterlogged apprentice yet she didn't see her duty through.

She just.. running into Cicadastar was something she couldn't stomach nor something her already fragile stability needed.​

He appeared in his usual manner, a dark shape set against the shadows of bending trees and long reeds, his posture was rigid but his head was dipped low in a light slouch as he watched the ThunderClanner's approach and promptly complain, chastizing them and sputtering something about kittens and rivers and-quite frankly he has tuned it out now because the little ginger child has wandered into his line of sight. Smokethroat inhales sharply through his nose, watches Cicadastar move forward and Clayfur rush back to camp and his shoulders went slack in relief; a sigh so heavy he felt like he'd lift from the ground escapes the tom and he rises stiffly to stand before padding over with only a brief moments pause to dip his head down and offer Ashpaw a quiet nod so as to avoid adding another cat to clamber around her; certainly there was not enough space nor did he desire to smother the apprentice but he was pleased she was alive. Alright was another story, certainly grateful for Beesong and his knowledge now of all times.

Smokethroat raised his head up to address the ThunderClanner proper, "Thank you for bringing her back." His tone kept its normal monotonous drawl, his opinion on the others comments prior was kept to himself; Cicadastar's borderline sarcastic reply had spoken enough for all of them really.

( ) bee! beesong, we need you now! and just like that, willowroot knows. every instinct inside of her, every tiny muscle contracts and expands and she's on her paws in an instant, refusing to let hope bubble up, but looking with gleaming eyes nonetheless. bee hurries from their den and the dark smoke is quick on their heels, keeping pace with the medic and her clanmate as the trio race to the scene. as she runs, images flash before her eyes (flaming sand, dark water, crimson soaking feathery fur), and she finds that she's lost her breath. she feels as old as time, watching tragedy after tragedy unfold with no way to help, and yet every time it's a shock. she knows that what she's racing towards is most likely going to break her.

or it would, had she not already been broken.

nothing is going to be the same if ashpaw lies dead ahead of her. willowroot knows this, but she still flings herself through reeds and brambles to reach the scene. it's got to be ashpaw. it couldn't be anything else. as they arrive, beesong hurries through the crowd of cats and wil suddenly doesn't know what to do with herself. there is no way to prepare for seeing the body of one's psudo child, but she tries to ready herself nonetheless, breath coming in big gasps, eyes flitting from the river to the ground - anywhere, as long as she doesn't see the body.

and then the child speaks. she speaks, and it's not their imagination, and willowroot has been upended, torn from their stability. they stumble towards the scene, finally, halting beside smokethroat and unconsciously stumbling against him. he is the steadiness to her storm, the quiet night to her rising moon. he's there, as he had been there but a day ago, and they press into him, refusing to believe the sight, refusing to believe that ashpaw is alive.

ashpaw is alive.

"ash," it's the only word they can get out, gulping for air as cicadastar comforts the child, as beesong begins his process. "ashpaw." willowroot rolls the name around in her mouth, exhales it with a soft gasp. she's not dead, she's not gone, she's here and talking and i didn't fail i didn't i did i did fail her look at her she's a wreck she's alive she's ALIVE.

Howling Wind's neutral gaze follows Cinderfrost as she flees the scene, but her attention swiftly returns to the apprentice leaning against her. Rockyridge is ahead, hailing a RiverClan patrol. The tabby looks down at the grimacing girl, sympathy flooding her gaze as she mews, "You're almost home. Don't you worry now." She resists the urge to swipe her tongue across the child's head. Her maternal instincts are strong, but she must remind herself that she doesn't know this kit - the kit doesn't know her. She's not this kit's mother and so she avoids further contact aside from offering her shoulder.

The RiverClanners appear happy - no, thrilled - to see the apprentice alive and mostly well. The deputy stops next to her warrior, allowing the child to go on and be embraced by her clanmates and loved ones. A smile rests on her maw. It was a good thing they found her when they did. Rockyridge is scolding them, and Howling Wind flicks an ear towards him. "It's none of our business, Rockyridge. ThunderClan won't tell another clan how to train their young." She wasn't going to meddle in another clan's affairs, although she can appreciate her warrior's kind heart. She dips her head to the ebony tom who addresses them, thanking them, and she responds, "We won't let a child suffer on our shore. I'm just glad we were able to bring her home to you." Thank goodness StarClan brought her to land instead of sending her all the way down the river's currents.