Prideful Return || willow's back


rose of thorns
Jun 8, 2022
She thinks Briar, Gecko, and Flicker had already reached the marsh camp, for Willow had been gone for quite some time. Her fur is plastered wet, and her eyes are glowing with a fiery pride. She doesn't care about facing her leader's wrath upon weaving her way back through the thorny tunnel, doesn't care to hear the punishment until she's finished with her... delivery. Because clamped between her teeth are two small fish. She had always been an accomplished fisher, though the marsh really had no decent places for such hunting. Briar's demand that she find her own way home had given the creamy she-cat an opportunity. She had slipped like a moth to a flame to the rushing river, far from the marshy territory she called home. The scent of the fish washes through camp, as Willow pauses to let her gaze dance around the clearing. It's only for a moment, and then she's moving again, having spotted her intended target, a thickly furred tabby kitten nearly old enough to hunt for himself, but... that was a conversation for another day.

Wren had likely sensed the tension, had probably seen the patrol return without his mother. He had probably been concerned. The child felt such a loyalty to her since her disagreements with his father. It was foolish. He'd have to break away on his own eventually, she thinks. She'll teach him how to hunt. His eyes light up when he sees her, bounces over with his tail straight up in the air. It's... cute. Almost cute enough to soothe Willow's burning rage. She drops the fish at his paws, offers a lick between the youth's ears, and then begins to groom her own muddied fur. Briar was probably still deciding her punishment, she didn't know. Right now, she didn't care. She was too hungry and tired to do little more than lick her fur clean, so that she could go turn in for a long sleep. Wren would just have to find someone else to entertain him.

(takes place after the oak forest patrol and before rain's patrol arrives)​

╰☆☆ Foxy doesn't know Wren too well, but he's around her age, and he can be fun. She isn't as keen as he is on pestering the adults and getting into trouble, though. She isn't sure how he isn't afraid of the older marsh cats, especially with a mother as stern and prideful as Willow. The little calico especially cringes when in her presence, terrified of being rebuked.

She'd been patiently pawing a moss ball to and fro when Briar had stalked back into camp, fury evident in her eyes and the rise of fur on her back. Flicker and Gecko had followed her in, all three of them without prey, despite having gone to the oak forest with the intention of hunting.

She's heard the talk. Willow had done something bad. She doesn't know what it is, exactly, but it has to do with kittypets. She isn't really sure what a kittypet is... she just knows they are weak and disgusting.

Willow is quite late returning to camp in comparison to her patrol. She does not look like she's been in trouble to Foxy. She looks like she does not care. Her mouth is full of fish, and she offers one to a wriggling, excited Wren. Foxy gazes at the other with longing. Perhaps if it had been anyone but Willow... but she is too afraid to ask if she can have some.
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Hatch expects her to arrive with the mouse she stole, but instead she arrives with a mouth full of fish.

So, she was capable of finding her own food, then. The blue smoke would probably never see the extent of the damage she caused to the poor kid she attacked, but knows the scars he’ll wind up with. He knows all too well. All for a mouse she didn’t truly need, if she could catch all those fish, he thinks. Desperate times call for desperate measures, sure, but was it necessary, when one was clearly as capable as Willow was?

He’s hungry too, but that isn’t a new sensation for him. He’ll find some of his own later, but still, he heads over to the cream-furred she-cat.

“Heard you stole from a kid,” he mutters as he sits down beside her, his voice low, as to not scare the kits around them. Forest-hued eyes fix onto the slimy fish before them. “Though, I heard it was a mouse. Not fish.”
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What else would Berry be doing but lounging, indulging in the free time he had? It was gloomy as ever here, far from warmth and sunlight, but he wasn't about to walk to the moorland to sunbathe... here would have to do. And it was a good thing he had succumbed to this option, for the scent of fresh food did not slip by him unnoticed. Ever endeavouring to try new tastes, his interest was piqued by the scent of what he eventually identified as fish. It was a unique door indeed- strong enough that many might find it unpleasant.

Twin snow-kissed paws grasped the ground, flat against it as he stretched, lifting himself to unsteady feet. Air with fish-scent waltzing within it wound toward his nostrils, beckoning him- but he was never impolite, and seeing the crowd already beginning to form around Sandy, he figured that claims had already been made. He would resolve to learn, then.

"Where do you get those?" He spoke suddenly, but not harshly, in a lull between conversation. Genuine interest shone verdant against the usual olive of his eyes, head rolling faintly lopsided.

"i didn't think you'd come back looking like a wet rat."

the ivory femme could be seen approaching her groupmate who had recently been remprimanded fiercly by their leader who all but demanded willow return to camp by herself while she brews up some proper punishment for attacking that young tom from the line group. gecko brushed her gaze very briefly over the kits close by who were busy focusing on the prey the cream molly had brought back with her.

gecko invited herself to sit down besides willow, ears flickering as silence filtered through the air for a second before she began to speak again. "if it matters at all, i think you did nothing wrong. those brats think just because we stay in the marshlands that it's the only place we're allowed to hunt? unbelievable." a snort of disbelief escapes her, a miffed expression settling upon her features.

a bristled tongue ran across a dainty paw before it's brought over to wash behind her ears. "i'm guessing briar is trying to come up with a good punishment to give you which is ridiculous. maybe our leader is getting soft on those kittypets." the words were accompanied with a scoff before her attention was placed upon berry who seemed only interested in the fish just as the kits were. how strange.

Word traveled like wildfire through camp. Everyone who possessed a pair of ears knew what happened. Salamander moved toward the group with a perfectly composed expression - expressing nothing that would expose her inner thoughts.

Her stomach churned in disgust at her sister-in-law's words. Willow attacked a child. Did Gecko forget that she had children of her own? Did she not think how it would feel for some overgrown bully to steal from one of them? Or worse - did she understand perfectly but still said such words?

"The issue is not whether Willow attacked a kittypet." she added cooly. "A fully-grown cat, capable of rational thinking, should not conduct themselves in such a manner. It is cowardly to attack the youth."

Even feral cats needed a moral code to abide by.​
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Her barbed tongue slips through muddied fur, as Wren sits in her jagged shadow, eager to tear into one of the small fish. It would be enough to fill him, he's a small thing for awhile yet. But out of the corner of her hellish, vibrant vision, she spots another, a child much like her own, youthful and hungry, gazing with yearning upon her prey. Why does Foxy not simply ask for it? Shyness, perhaps. Or was Willow really so intimidating? The thought is an amusing one, but she doesn't think she's nearly as cold as some of her clan-mates seem to think she is. Recent actions might not have helped that view, though. Well... she's not sorry for that.

Willow hooks the other fish with a long claw, and thrusts it toward Foxy, because no matter her temperamental reputation, she's a mother, and she wouldn't let a kit go hungry, even one that wasn't her own. An ear twitches at Hatch's remark, stole from a kid, she lifts her head to peer at the newcomer with piercing eyes.

"Old enough to hunt and catch his own food." Willow responds smoothly, because this wasn't some newborn she had mauled for the fun of it. "Briar wouldn't let me keep the mouse, so I had to go catch something else for Wren." She sniffs, but she doesn't let her agitation show beyond that. No snarls, or growls, or bristling tails. No, just a cool and callous tone, a tired but prideful posture. And... she wasn't being entirely honest, because she had planned to share that mouse. She was hungry too. Hungry enough that she felt even more annoyed than before.

Her focus shifts to Berry next, who seems more interested in the source of her fish than the why. In truth, Willow is grateful to him for that.

"There's a river, back over the thunder-path. It's in the opposite direction of that twolegplace." The molly responds. "It's a bit of a walk. I could take you there." Because the sleepy fellow was showing a genuine interest, and he seemed pleasant enough. Sure, Berry slept a lot, but at least he wasn't some whining fool, like some in the group. His company wouldn't be annoying, she thinks.

And then there's Gecko, a supporter. Willow offers the barest whisper of a smile, "Briar can punish me however she likes. Maybe she'll do something when there's no more prey in the marsh, and we have no choice but to fight or starve." The woman responds, though there's another, darker thought stirring in her brain. "Or... she'll apologize, roll over for Rain, and we'll be the ones moving." Willow thinks sourly. But... maybe that was for the best. She could take Wren to the river. He'd be much better fed there, anyways.

"You're welcome to tag along with me as well, next time I go fishing. I might visit the river a bit more often, now that I know how to get there." Willow offers to Gecko, vision flickering between her and Wren as he peels scaly flesh from fish-bones, too enveloped in his meal to bother paying attention to the noise around him. She supposes she shouldn't say anything too bad in front of the kid.

Cold eyes dart toward Salamander as she approaches to give her opinion. Willow is simply silent for a few moments. Cowardly? No, those were called tactics. Pick off the weakest and demoralize the strongest, all the while making the stronger weaker. It was brutal, but it was smart. Salamander could mewl about it all she wanted, and Willow didn't care.

"My group, and my son, are more important than a bunch of cats that can just got back to their twolegs for food at any time." She states simply, because she's not going to get into the ruthless, gruesome procedures of war in front of Wren. He was already troublesome enough without additional fuel for his anger, though she supposed she only had herself to blame for that. Of course, she knew that not everyone in the Pine Group were kittypets. Some of them were strays... loners. Others were former house cats that were at least trying to be as they should, wild and free.

She would give them chance, if only they weren't clogging the entire forest like selfish rats.​

╰☆☆ Willow must have noticed Foxy eyeing the fish, because she tosses it to her unceremoniously. The calico blinks at the she-cat with appreciation and bends over to take a bite. She's never had fish before, and the flavor is complex, easier on the tongue than the toads and lizards she's used to sharing with her mother and littermates. She doesn't mind the scales--she's used to them. They're like wet swimming lizards, she thinks happily.

As she takes another mouthful, her ears are perked, though she tries not to make it obvious she's eavesdropping. Hatching Bird, one of the newcomers, edges close to Willow. His voice is too low for Foxy to make out much, but Willow's response, she hears. "Old enough to hunt and catch his own food."

Foxy swipes a tongue about her maw. If a cat can catch their own prey, can they fight as well? She isn't sure exactly what happened, but she's starting to get an idea. Willow had fought another cat, and Briar, Hatching Bird, and Salamander are upset about it. She looks at Gecko, whose children Leaping Toad and Frog's Ribbit she shares a den with, and purrs briefly as the pale she-cat brushes Wren and her with her tail.

Gecko agrees with Willow, she thinks. The whole thing seems confusing. Kittypets. They're cats, but they don't hunt? Then how could Willow have stolen their mouse?

She frowns, whiskers trembling, but she perks back up when Willow addresses Berry. The river. She'd like to go see it herself. She's never caught her own prey before, but maybe someone will teach her. Five moons isn't that young.

"Want a bite, Berry?" She asks the tortoiseshell. She's eaten her fill, and she knows the adults must be hungry, too. She saw the way he was looking at the fish. "Or anyone," she says, hastily realizing the fish isn't really hers to give. Willow had caught it, not her. Hopefully she wouldn't be reprimanded for that.

Discourse hardly interested him. He knew all there was to know about the conflict, and had settled upon his opinion, seeing no need in further complicating things. He figured if they caught it fair and square, they should have it- and it was the same for the marsh dwellers. Shrugging off any nuance and any complications in that mindset, he saw himself entirely separate from the conflict. Fictive brows raised slightly in intrigue at Sandy's words, crooked jaw half-parting. "Sure." Berry responded to her offer with a slight dip of his head, a nod of acceptance. To learn the route to the river, and to try as many fish as he could get his paws on- that would be a worthwhile use of his time, surely and absolutely.

A small voice reached out and tugged at his attention, and dulled eyes fell upon a patch-pelted kit whose name refused to swim to the front of his mind. Still, vague but tangible, a smile pulled at his lopsided lips, and he nodded. Careful not to eat as much as he would have liked, for he was sure many would like to try a piscine snack, so rarely seen in these parts.

He savoured the taste, and was lost to the haze.