private the hate inside will eat you alive || ash

Hare Whiskers had trusted her with an important task. "Guide them, heal them, counsel them". But she couldn't guide herself, couldn't heal herself, couldn't counsel herself. Perhaps this unknown role, this foretold destiny, had been planted in her mind to give her an ounce of hope: that she wasn't forgotten, that she could rise above her previous position.

The stars had been laughing when she woke with hope. This wasn't meant to be a punishment, he claimed, but an honor. Yet she was meant to pair with the cream-pointed molly that had severed her line of sight in battle, who had prevented her from disengaging and running to the little one's side. And the way she'd been chattering and practically radiating with life. It had pissed her off.

Her stomach churned. Cats she had known looked at her as if she was crazy that day. They weren't wrong but they sided with the.. accomplice who they had just met. Howling Wind, Berry, and the rest of the bog water cats had turned on her. Like Distant Cicada, they'd turn their back on her. They'd chosen the offender over her. She'd been attacked first, she'd been stopped from saving a young soul. The situations mirrored eerily.

All of those bonds she thought she'd forged by being a good girl, by following the rules, by keeping her head down had been lies. The emaciated, unkempt she-cat didn't dare leave her found shelter. Some peered by as they passed - she couldn't feel their eyes judging her. They continued to side with someone who was willing to help kill a child. Perhaps no one even knew. Like Briar, their leader could do no wrong. Others were blind to her past deeds and instead focused on her actions. Inadvertently, she had helped place the air-headed leader on a higher pedestal.

Ember had deserved it. If the others had been in her paws then.. then they'd understand. Right? Guilt caused her chest to constrict as blurry, tired eyes stared at her paws. But then Toad appeared. Or, well, a toad. Its movements, though, protected Emberstar's exposed stomach from further killing blows. No normal toad would do that so it had to be him. But it didn't make sense. Why had he stopped her?

None of it made sense.

Once the blue mink has fallen into slumber, the atmosphere changes. Two cats face one another, infinitely small in a windswept clearing surrounded by treeshadow and blinking silver stars. Opposite Cinderfrost is a small, kittenish black and white tom with round golden eyes.

He approaches her on featherlight feet, leaving a path of glowing pawprints. His expression is neutral, but as he nears the blue she-cat it muddles into a blend of kindness and sorrow.

"Cinderfrost." He dips his head to her. In life, she'd been a mentor to him, encouraging him to learn defensive battle tactics. He'd not had the chance to use them -- he'd given his life for the cat he loved, who had loved him, and he would have done it the same way over if given the chance. "We have much to talk about."

He looks up at her, black tail curling around his paws. "You've seen Hare Whiskers recently, were given your destiny as medicine cat of ThunderClan. Your paws are meant to heal, not hurt. And yet you've taken another's life." Disappointment clouds his gaze. "Cinderfrost, Emberstar did not kill me. And even if she did -- I'd have forgiven her. I'd have never called for her blood... don't you know that? Don't you know Leaping Toad would not have?"

He stares at her, imploring her to understand her error. Cinderfrost has forsaken the gifts StarClan has given her. He only hopes she can find her path, even if the toad and his visage in her dreams have to push her that way.

It had only been a matter of time before bone-aching exhaustion won. Heavy eyelids could no longer pry themselves open. She needed to sleep: both physical and mental states were in desperate need of the valuable yet overlooked necessity.

When she opened her eyes, she'd been transported into the forest. Her fur bristled, pricking up at attention, as she waited for the demons that haunted her in sleep to attack. Nightmares assaulted her every time she closed her eyes. Today wouldn't be different. Sure, the scenery was different but it would end like all of the other--


Surprise caused her jaw to slacken as teal eyes stared in disbelief. "Ash." Her gaze quickly absorbed every inch of his body. No wounds. She breathed a sigh of relief, one which hitched in the back of her throat when the small black and white tom spoke. Any movement toward Ash had been halted by his steady voice.

"She was there! She defended.. defended that monster who attacked you. I owed it to you! I owed it to your mother! If I had been there..." desperation caused her voice to crack, leaving it to trail off into a defeated look. Ash was right. She ought to practice what she preached, shouldn't she? Every cat - every apprentice - under her mentorship had been preached the same thing: never take a life and use violence as a lost resort. "I couldn't save you. I couldn't save my nephew. I can't save anyone so how.. how do I guide and heal others?"

Tears threatened to spill as she rapidly blinked her eyes. She couldn't let Ash see her cry. She needed to be strong; strong enough so no one she cared for died again, strong enough so her words were taken seriously. "I don't know how to heal." Not herself, not her loved ones, not this clan. She was a warrior. This couldn't be her destiny, this couldn't. This was some sort of joke, some sort of cruel prank in order to punish her for speaking out against her former leader. Why, oh why, had she been chosen to be a healer.

".. And, besides, they'll never trust me now." It was a justified response even though it stong bitterly that the cats she knew from childhood had such little faith in her that it wavered at the moment she showed a moment of weakness. She should have been banished and she knew it yet she still remained in the forest.

Ash was right, though. The mentee had become the mentor. Looking at him, he was no longer the timid little one that had startled when her nephews barreled into them. "You've grown up too fast." But hadn't they all? ​
Cinderfrost's aquamarine eyes glaze over with unspilled tears. Ash looks at her, silent, nonjudgmental, feeling her pain as if it were his own. "I couldn't save you. I couldn't save my nephew. I can't save anyone so how.. how do I guide and heal others?"

He smiles at her. It's an innocent, unassuming smile. "StarClan would not have chosen you if you were not capable, Cinderfrost," he mews. He wishes he could go to her, comfort her with a touch of his nose, the brush of his flank, but that is not his duty today.

Ash tilts his head, just a few degrees, and looks at her with a diminishing smile. "Emberstar knows your destiny is here in ThunderClan. You've made a grave mistake, Cinderfrost, but it's up to you to heal the rift you've created. You are capable of great things. Of mending what's broken." His words are cryptic, full of meaning, but he does nothing to help her decipher them.

Instead, he loses the serious expression. "You've grown up too fast." "I'll never look older than I am. But maybe that's for the best." He gazes at Cinderfrost, wondering if she's hearing him, understanding him -- truly.

"Make amends. You cannot give Emberstar her life back, but you can work to save your Clanmates. You can ensure your leader is given the best treatment. You can share your knowledge with the other medicine cats. You can try, Cinderfrost. You must. It's StarClan's will." He dips his head to her. There's a thin, wispy fog that swirls about his paws, cloaking him in fine white mist. Only two burning yellow eyes remain, before the wind carries him away.

Like ash in the wind, he dissipates.