that burns from within - self defense training

Guilt still smoldered in Ember's mind at the memory of her first run in with the marsh cats. The smell of rust in the air that stung her nose, and the cries of Finch beside her. He had been next to her. She hadn't helped him. It had been simple instinct, of course, she knew that. The moment they were ambushed her first impulse had been to defend herself, not her groupmates. By the time she regained her senses, it was already over. It wasn't her fault. Still, she couldn't help but wish she had done something.

Not that she let that show.

No, her regret was hidden well behind her smile. The flame-point appeared as carefree as ever as she strolled into the center of camp. She had a plan though, a way to defend her friends before what happened to Finch was repeated. After all, they needed her help now more than ever. "Heya, everyone!" she called out brightly, attempting to get their attention with a flick of her tail. "Anyone who wants some self defense training, come with me! Ya can learn from an expert!" Ember claimed with a laugh, before leading the way out of camp.

Many of her groupmates were former or even current kittypets, and while they were fine hunters in their own right, she doubted they had ever been in a real fight. But if they could learn to fight as well as they had, she just knew fighting would come easily! They needed someone to show them how to handle themselves. That was something she could do. Not that she'd ever been a teacher before, but she remembered her mother's lessons well enough. She'd just repeat those! Then if they got into any sort of trouble they'd be alright, even if she wasn't there to help.

Though, she was gonna try her best to be there anyway. Better safe then sorry.

It feels as though the scent of blood will never be washed away from his pelt. That it will forever linger, be just as permanent as the scarring wounds that spilled such an odor, as the nightmares plaguing his mind - all a result of being attacked by someone at least twice his age. Ambushed over a meal caught for his brother.

And, for what?

For tensions to rise? For the rest of the cats that live within his home to prepare for something bigger than them? To come home from other encounters with those swamp-furred creatures - still reeling and all spiky-furred from whatever it was that went down? To come home with injuries, just as he had?

Was all of this... his fault...?

If he hadn't caught that mouse, or, rather, if he'd returned home, instead of interacting with the opposing group, would any of this be happening right now?

He hears a call for self-defense training and turns towards the voice. Ember. She was there. He remembers that. However, anything between the breathless moment of hitting the ground, and returning home? A blur of choppy memories. She very well could have been the one to drag his attacker off of him, and Finch wouldn't have much of a clue.

But, her call for training is enough to get the fire-furred tom to rise to his paws, to slowly pad over to the flame-point - a slight sting of pain still remaining along the healing wounds. If things were going to get worse, he couldn't just remain helpless. If this was his fault, if something big was on its way, he needed to fight alongside everyone else. He needed to make sure Cosmos would be safe, that swampy paws would never lay a claw on him.

He could do this. He just needed to prove himself.

"Count me in," he tells the she-cat with a nod of his head. He isn't sure how much 'self-defense' Ember knows, but, she has to know something, right?
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Haku was a terribly poor fighter. He could do well enough against other housecats when they got ratty about their front gardens, but cats bred and raised in feral conditions, trained to use their claws more viciously especially against his kind? That was another kettle of fish. Against them he stood hardly a chance, especially with his abhorrent balance. So when Ember's voice broke the lull of camp life, his attention was pulled in like a rod, brain caught as a fish would be. Finch, certain, volunteered himself- and those doubts that Haku often faced reared their ugly heads again, whispering to him that he could not be wanted or needed in this sort of activity.

But if he didn't try to learn, how would he ever? With tensions only on the rise, he had to start preparing. A hunting party that he was a component on would surely soon be attacked, verbally of viciously. He needed to be ready.

Clearing his throat as he rose to four unsteady paws, Haku made only fleeting eye-contact as he gave his answer. "Can't pass up the chance to learn from an expert." And though his flat tone might have made him sound sardonic, he was completely sincere in his response, and the defiant light within ocean eyes would likely prove it.


Ember glanced back at her two new students with bright eyes. "Glad ta have ya both!" she told them eagerly, and she especially meant it for Finch. The sight of his injuries only sharpened her guilt. She was glad she could do something to help him. "Follow along!" she called over her shoulder as she padded out of camp. It wouldn't do to have them getting in everyone's way after all.

Leading them westward, eventually the place she was looking for came into sight. The sandy ravine. The perfect place to train. "Here we are!" she cheered, racing ahead of her companions and down into the riverbed, kicking up dust clouds behind her. Only once she skidded to a stop in the middle of it did she glance about her. Realizing her mistake How was she supposed to start her training without any students?

Once they caught up, she cleared her throat self importantly. "Now," she began, taking in the same teaching voice she recalled her mother using. It sounded more than a little silly. "You will always, and I mean always, start a fight the same way. Anyone who knows anything will move in the same direction." She lowered herself down dramatically into a fighting stance. Giving them both pointed glances. "Down. I'm gonna stay like this while I talk so you can copy it, but the most important part is to lower yourself. This does two things; first it gives you a strong base that allows you to take a hit better and second it lowers your center of gravity so you can move faster."

As she spoke, she recalled all the stupid questions she had asked when her mother told her the same thing, and she laughed. It was embarrassing to remember, but she was glad she had been such a little idiot. It helped her know what sort of things she needed to clarify now. "I know this seems simple. In a way, it is. But if a nasty marsh cat jumps you, they're not gonna give you any time to decide where to put your paws. You need to be able to do this on instinct."

Flagging slightly behind, tail the colour of an apricot lilting high in the air, Daisy Flight followed the students and their teacher. With tensions simmering ever hotter in the greenleaf afternoons she appreciated the opportunity to brush up on her moves. Only intending to watch, she settled herself towards the top of the rise away from all the dust. Insufferable thing, sand.

Watching Ember give directions brought back nights in the lightless alleyways with an old, one-eyed tabby. She couldn't even remember their name, but they had taught her all she could take in to keep out of serious harm. The young sun smoked molly in front of her was far more thorough, and presented her points evenly. Even showing examples! If only Daisy Flight had been so lucky, she might not have had to learn in the moment so often.

"You're a good teacher." Her remark held her smile openly. Being around so many bright, trustworthy cats reminded her of how grateful she was to have found this community.

His mismatched gaze lowers at the molly's words. The young tom was well aware of what little time the swamp-furred fiends give to those who they attack. He knew first-hand, how quick his body hit the ground, how abrupt it was.

But still, he follows Ember's direction, his own body sinking towards the ground in an effort to copy the flame-point's form. It feels awkward in his neck and shoulder, but he does his best to ignore the tinge of pain within. He hopes that, with time, and with practice, the move will feel more natural, the painful reminder of the ambush all but forgotten - only visible by leftover scars.

He nods in agreement to Daisy Flight's words. Ember... knew what she was talking about. More than what Finch expected, at least.

"And then what?" he asks. He can't imagine fighting is too different than hunting. The position he's in feels familiar, albeit a little different - as if preparing for something bigger needed a more defensive crouch than preparing to leap at a mouse. But, if he could catch a mouse, surely he could swipe at a cat?
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Another had joined them, the pretty multicoloured pelt of Daisy Flight joining them. He could hardly justify casting too long of a glance at a molly like her- she was leagues above him, as he believed everyone to be. Even to Finch, a junior by quite some moons, he felt discomfort even being around. Others offered him so much care, especially after the wild marshland-dweller had attacked him. So upon their teacher, a good one as Daisy Flight had remarked, his lake-hued eyes stayed trained, paws stuck unmoving upon the ground.

The bicolour tom lingered upon her example for a moment, but soon lowered himself down to match. A bit lopsided by account of his stump of a tail, he kept as rooted as possible, blue eyes narrowed in focus rather than irritation. "Am I... doing it right...?" an awkward murmur along with a huff, he asked his question. To build a strong foundation was the most important step apparently, and if he had the building-blocks wrong then there really was nary a hope for him.


Daisy Flight's compliment tore her attentions away. She bounced up out of her crouch to spin around. Grey eyes met green in an instant. She flashed the other molly a brilliant grin. "Thanks!" She shot back eagerly. If one of her friends said it, then it must be true! Well, she was glad to hear she was doing a good job. "Only a good teacher 'cause I had one." The flame-point stated with a laugh.

Even if the compliment distracted her from that job.

"Huh?" Ember asked with a blink, turning back to her students. She had been asked a question. Another blink. Her gaze wandered to their stances. "Oh! Right, uh-" Before her words could catch up with her mind, Haku had another question for her. She turned spun toward him. "Just about! Right, both of you stay where you are. I'm gonna getcha into place." With that, she leapt into motion, rushing up to each of them in turn - first Finch, then Haku - to tap her tail to whatever they needed to fix. Perhaps on the outside of a leg that was slightly too wide, under a belly to let them know they were too low, or under their jaw to get them to raise their head.

That last them gave her the idea of what to do next. "Alright, that's pretty good! Not perfect, but nothing is going to be perfect in a fight. Perfection is a lot closer to pretty good than pretty good is to nothing at all." She recited, recalling her mother's words once more. "Now, the second most important thing is to always have your eyes on your opponent. With our focus on stances it can be tempting to look down at your paws, to make sure you have them in the right place. Here and now that's fine, but a nasty swamp cat ain't gonna let you do that!"

She settled back into a stance of her own in front of Haku. "So, here's what were gonna do. I'm about to jump at you and swipe at your face with my right paw. No claws, obviously. I want you to try and move left as fast as you can, then bop me. Trying to stay in your stance the whole time. Easy enough. The catch?" Her grin grew as she flexed her paws. "You don't move until I do. Ready?"

With that last word, Ember waited. Staring at her student with a grin plastered over her features. Her mother had done the same thing to her, and impatience had nearly killed her! It would be funny to watch someone else go through the same thing. Just let him sweat a bit until she was good and ready. There was barely a warning when she moved. Just a little tensing of the muscles before she burst into motion. Not full speed, they weren't ready for that, she wanted to give a newbie a chance to react after all. Then she aimed to bop Haku on the forehead with a paw, just as she had said.

"Finch's turn!" she sung, dancing over to get in front of him. Until her eyes found his injuries once more. Her grin flickered. "Uh, well, maybe you could take it easy?" She offered, suddenly uncertain. That guilt was back.