there's battle lines being drawn || disturbed & frustrated

Lips furled backward, exposing tightly clenched teeth, as claws dug deep into an innocent tree's bark skin. A grim look contorted her features and left nothing concealed. Instead, emotions ran rampant for all to see. Tension increased day by day and, quite honestly, Salamander was pissed.

As the sun settled down in the sky, the blue molly slipped away from group of marsh cats. Cats seethed and more than a few sought to spill innocent blood. But why?

That's the thing that made her expression sour the most: there was absolutely no reason for this childish behavior. Another group moved into the pine forests which meant...? Nothing. It meant nothing. Plenty of uninhabited lands rich with resources were nearby. Did the mouse-brained savages forget about the moors and other such locations? She'd tried to argue the fact but her voice was silenced by much louder cats who couldn't fathom sharing land with former kittypets.

Oh, the dread of being close to kittypets with their silly little collars. Teal eyes rolled at the absurdity. Why hack fur balls up at the thought of kittypets going wild? From what she gathered, they weren't causing any harm.

Thoughts drifted to her family and friends: friends that blurred the lines of the borders being drawn. Family who she would do anything to protect. And then she pictured the leader of their group and she snapped at the heavy air threatening to suffocate her. Briar was doing nothing to curb the rising hostility. While she couldn't read thoughts, she could form opinions. And right now? Their new, so-called leader seemed to relish the idea of being the sole group of cats.

Teeth clenched as claws dug deeper into the helpless tree, ears pinned against the sides of her head. Stress threatened to erase any sense and replace her functioning mind with feral instincts.

"Fuck.." The future looked bleak. How long until suspicious hisses escalated into bloodied claws?​
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"I don't think we eat trees." A deep voice rumbles from pine draped shadows as Toad steps forward like a venomous snake from the brush. His hazel eyes glimmer dimly within the shade, as mud stained paws press roughly into damp earth. His nose twitches as he draws in the scents of the air, still peering at Salamander with a bemused expression. He saw no sense in shredding a tree when one could shred prey instead. Ears twitch as he comes to a stop, tail flicking through humid air.

"Why not go hunting?" The tom boldly asks, because the way he saw it, no bellies were being fed by splintered bark.​
"I don't think we eat trees." Sharp teal daggers turned dull when her gaze landed on the familiar brown tabby tom. The mink molly made no attempt to suppress the exaggerated roll of her eyes. Tongue laced with dry sarcasm, Salamander playfully bit back, "Speak for yourself, brother. I find bark to be quite exquisite, especially since each tree species carries its own unique taste." Or so their distinctive scents would have her believe.

"Have you not seen my contribution to the fresh-kill pile?" she inquired, answering his question with one of her own. "I've already contributed twice today. Admittedly, I had originally come out here to hunt but.." The look in her eyes grew distant. "I can't seem to center myself." Instead, her inner thoughts projected loud and clear. Hunting had worked as a welcomed distraction but by the middle of her second trip, the thrill died down.

"What are your thoughts toward this whole... situation?" She knew her brother well enough that she didn't need to hear his answer but she still asked - eyes searching his face in silent desperation. Love reflected in pools of teal but a ripple of overwhelming emotions disturbed the usual serenity. Time and time again, Salamander had proved her loyalty and love for her family. She had been a silent champion of the amphibious family that never once questioned her relatives' actions.

The death of Hare Whiskers and the rise of Briar's reign had caused the soldier to waver. Acquaintances - friends - had been made between herself and the cats of the pine. For once, she disagreed with the direction of the group and the path her family walked. This hostility felt unnecessary and immature. Salamander bitterly blamed the new leadership for this childish strife. Surely, Hare Whiskers would have fostered a relationship with his wise insight: at least, that's what she full-heartedly believed. ​
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╰☆☆ Flicker tastes the air, redolent and rich with cedar and marsh--and the less than pleasant scents of some of her groupmates, of course. She wrinkles her nose and stifles a grin before approaching on light paws. Parting the undergrowth, fiery eyes light on a blue molly and a tabby tom.

The crack of bark splintering beneath Sally's claws catches her attention. She flicks an ear, unimpressed as Toad's Prowl acts like he is. "What'd that tree do to you, huh, Sally?" She joins the older cats, her smile wry. Neither of them have a sense of humor--just buttons, waiting to be pushed.

Flicker glances at Toad's Prowl before exhaling, the breath short and exaggerated. "There's more to life than hunting, Toad. Like... scratching trees, for example." She throws a grin towards the older she-cat and twitches the tip of her tail. "Everyone in this group is always so upset! What's got yer fur in a twist this time, Sal?"

She thinks she can guess. Things aren't as carefree as she had thought they'd been when she was young, still new to the dark and the pine... and there's talk. She listens to the talk. Oh, sure. She participates, too.

Just the thought of chasing those damned kittypets from their lands sends her blood racing with fire.
He raised a feline brown, olive eyes gleaming as he peers upon his sister with a snort. She's teasing, he knows, because no cat would really eat bark from some dusty old tree. He could imagine the pain of snapping his jaws upon the splintered edges of shattered bark with a mental wince. But, he couldn't deny that she was hunting. Even so, Toad thought it would be a better past-time than shredding tree bark. After all, there could never be too much prey, could there? Not since the Pine Group moved in, swooping into the forest to claim what was rightfully Toad's. It's a bitter thought, one that brings a sour taste to his tongue. And then she asks for his opinion, toward the very peculiar situation, no doubt. Toad is a vocal tom, Salamander knows his opinion, but she asks anyways, as if clinging to frayed hope that his mind had changed. The large tom blinks at her, quiet for a moment, contemplative.

"I think every cat would be better off if the other group moved on. They've been causing trouble long enough." And... he knows that his own group is at fault for some of the tensions, but in his mind, they were warranted. The Pine Group swept in so suddenly, there was no time to adjust, no time to negotiate. They were just... there. Taking what didn't belong to them. Times were hard enough in leaf-bare without another group to feed. "You knew what my opinion would be." Toad's Prowl pointed out with a bit of a snort. While Salamander saw the tensions as childish, saw Briar as an enabler of warfare, Toad viewed it all as necessary. Pine Group wasn't wanted, and they'd get the message eventually. That did not mean that Toad was one for senseless bloodshed, no. As quick as he was to draw blades to defend his home, there wouldn't need to be any fight if the other group just simply left. Surely it wasn't that difficult? Many of them were kittypets, anyways. They had cushy homes to go back to, with kibble and cotton beds. There was no reason they should be in the woods, frightening off all the prey.

But as he's thinking, another strolls upon the scene, breaking the silence with a voice of her own. It's a younger feline, one known as Flicker. The tabby shifts his skull to gaze upon her stoically. There's more to life than hunting, she says, and Toad doesn't take the bait, because he knows it's true enough, but scratching trees to pieces was certainly not anything worth his time.

"She doesn't like the tension with the other group." Toad points out with a roll of his shoulders, his gruff voice tempered, but still edged with a bit of disapproval. His vision flickers back toward Salamander, thoughtful pools of hazel hue. "But your family is here, and that other group has a lot of mouths to feed. So do we. So just try to remember that keeping your family fed and healthy is more important than being friends with a bunch of upstarts that like to wear collars." There's a bit of a bite to his tone, his distaste for the Pine Group evident enough. He doesn't want to get into an argument with his sister, but he's a hot-head, and she knows that, and opposing the aggression toward the invaders in the woods was certainly one way to get his fur bristling. He just can't understand why anyone would want to be friendly with those kibble loving fools, even if not all of them were kittypets. It was bad enough that they were just taking up space that was rightfully his group's.​
Silent prayers to an unknown deity fell upon deaf ears. "You're right." Toad's Prowl didn't deviate from the norm with his answer. Her chest tightened as she questioned herself. None of her family agreed with the position she sought to take. At that moment, a wave of loneliness threatened to knock her off her paws. "It was silly to think your stance would have changed."

Her eyes flickered over to Flicker, nodding a silent greeting, as the young, mischievous she-cat intruded upon the siblings. "It got in my way." Salamander muttered simply with a shrug, trying to sweep the issue away into the depths of the swamp. Unfortunately, Toad's Prowl shoved words that she'd been trying to avoid into her mouth.

"I know where my family is, brother." Salamander snapped back, fur beginning to prickle in annoyance. "Prey runs abundant in the lands around us. The open moorlands have plump hares while the river area has plenty of fish." She attempted to make a logical argument despite the fact that she knew it would be swatted aside like a pesky fly.

"Have you forgotten that our group used to be a haven for all walks of life?" Diverse lineage had been thwarted the last few years and some nonsense "purity" was claimed. "Some of the kittypets may still get food from the hairless two-legs but don't some of our own members frequent the carrion place?" Both were free handouts in different ways.

Salamander sighed to herself. She didn't dare to bring up the friends she had in the other group. "I will fight by your sides but I still hope unnecessary blood won't be spilled. Tension can easily lead to senseless violence and death."
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"I find you much too sympathetic towards them." The woman had been nearby and she was merely watching and taking in the words of those around her. She had her own opinions about the conflict that was slowly becoming stronger and stronger as the days passed. She felt that they needed to be driven out. This was not their land to claim and their own had been here many moons longer than theirs. They didn't even try to ask if they could stay, if there was enough room for them to have any sort of territorial gain. Not even a bother to explain themselves and why they thought that they were entitled to their home. Slowly the woman stepped forth, spiky fur the trademark of her family. She hoped that her sister, Briar, would make sure to put these....pets in their place. Still her molten gaze stayed locked on the other, Toad's sister if she remembered correctly and she scoffed. He had a better head on his shoulders than she seemed to have that much was certain. "Trying to compare the Carrion Place to getting handouts from those no furs is ridiculous. Those prissy kittypets wouldn't last trying to face the rats that live there and we all know this."

There was no danger in walking up to some twoleg who would willingly give food to them. Their pampered lives were not meant to be here, taking their food when they could so easily get their own. They should stay put and she felt a snort pull at her throat before she turned away to look at Toad. She nodded to him, she agreed with him and she didn't like the idea of sharing not one bit. They had enough to deal with without having to share their prey and their resources with another group who didn't belong here. Flicking her tail with a sharpness of irritability she glanced back to Salamander then. "I hope you keep to that promise and remember where your loyalty is." If a fight did break out though she didn't expect much and would only watch the backs of those she absolutely trusted.