private until I collapse || howling wind

A day had passed since Ash reprimanded her actions and told her to forgive. A day since she'd sat down with Emberstar. She'd promised she'd try. The blue molly didn't have a clue what being a medicine cat entailed. Heal them? Guide them? Counsel them? It was all far, far too cryptic. Annoyingly so.

Emberstar encouraged her to eat but, yet again, the she-cat rejected the offer and fed the mouse to Roe. As stated, she refused to eat until the kits, queens, and elderly had been fed - until she'd contributed.

However, as she stalked the forest, her head spun and vision blurred. She hadn't been eating much in the marsh despite working extra hard to supply stomachs with much needed fuel. Everyone had to be fed before her. The last morsel of food she'd consumed had been under her self-exile. And even then she'd thrown up most of her stomachs contents upon thinking about the marsh.

Weak knees buckled, leaving her submerged beneath the undergrowth. A frustrated growl rumbled from her chest. One that sounded far too weak. At last, her body had begun to shut down.

Anyone who cares would have noticed that the molly hadn't been near the kill pile. She might have lost sight of her unspoken code when she killed Emberstar but she hadn't lost all of it.

Ribs poked out of her mangled, frail form as she struggled to stand.

"Move." she commanded her paws but they didn't respond. They didn't even feel attached to her anymore, too numb to feel connected. Stubbornly, she refused to turn back. Though her body swayed while her vision blurred, she needed to hunt if she were to eat but...

She hissed, shaking her head as if that would chase away the creeping darkness. "You're not allowed to eat until you've hunted for the others so move." She'd withered away too much and lacked the strength to conduct such a strenuous activity.


Just her luck. Of course she's the one to stumble across the clan's resident murderer, alone out here in the woods. She is gripped with unease as soon as she happens upon the molly, talking to herself and immediately she freezes, tail bristling. How sad it truly was. This was a cat she had once trusted with all her life. She had cared for her - she still cares for her. She mourns for her, who she once was. The cat laying pitifully before her is not Salamander. This is Cinderfrost, her new name proving that she is an entirely different cat than the one she'd always known and respected.

She stays back, distrust rolling off of her in waves. She had killed Emberstar...who knew who else she would try to strike down when she found herself alone with them. With her tail lifting high in the air, she speaks with narrowed, tense eyes, "It's Greenleaf. Prey in the forest is plentiful and every cat has been going to bed with full stomachs. If you're not eating, you're choosing to starve yourself at this point." Perhaps it was actually the guilt that's been keeping the medicine cat from eating, disguised as self-sacrifice. Does she even feel guilt, though? She has yet to speak to the clan about what happened that day, anyhow.
Judging eyes drilled holes in her side. Howling Wind. The once maternal figure had tossed her away like the rest of them. Howling Wind had watched her grow and, in return, she'd watch her various litters grow. In some cases, she even trained the little tykes; cobweb being a brilliant example.

How foolish she had been to think Howling Wind ever cherished her or trusted her.

The trust they shared shouldn't have been this fragile if it were real. Which meant another marsh cat had played her for a fool; using her blind loyalty against her like the two-edged sword it was. Her entire life had been nothing but a lie. For the molly she viewed as a second mother to choose Emberstar over her?

But she wouldn't cry. She wouldn't falter in her steps though her body ached and groaned. Howling Wind wouldn't be given the satisfaction.

"It had felt wrong to hunt for myself even after the marshes betrayed me and dug teeth into my throat." She shouldn't have felt guilty over such a trivial thing but the molly had never once hunted for herself. Even when she frequented the moors, it had always been for the well-being of her family and colony.

Besides, maybe she wanted to wither away. The thought had certainly crossed her mind more than a clawful of times. Hare Whiskers gave her a reason to live but even then...

A medicine cat? Not a leader like Soot and Cicada? She could have done it. She could have proven to them, to all of the swamp, that it'd been a mistake to take her as a puddle to stomp through. No, instead they sent her here under the rule of hare-brained cat who barred her from Ash that night. ​
The words draw Howling Wind's eyes into slits. No, Cinderfrost was not going to make this anyone else's fault. Howling Wind had always been a stern mother, one who never let any of her kits get away with throwing themselves pity parties and averting blame. Her new clanmates wouldn't be exceptions to that. Giving her fluffy tail a firm lash, her ears pressed forward assertively, nose wrinkling with anger. "You left the marshes. You want to talk about betrayal? Who's the traitor here?" She covered up the hurt in her voice with ice, refusing to show weakness. "You left our colony without a single goodbye."

She remembered when Cicada broke up the fight, separating the violent Bone from the outspoken Salamander. She remembered seeing the blue she-cat's tail disappear into the shadows of the marshes to cool off. The next time she saw her, much time had passed, and she was standing over an innocent cat's body. So much had changed in her dear friend in such a short amount of time. What happened to you? She wanted to scream at her, beg her to snap out of it and go back to who she once was. Trustworthy, calm, sure, steadfast. Remorseful for what she'd done. She wanted her friend back, and she so, so desperately wished this had all just been some horrible dream. The stars were unable to grant her such a wish.

// Sorry for lingering on this post for forever I had to go back and backread that thread to make sure I knew what happened LOL
Unblinking, teal eyes stared directly at Howling Wind albeit there was a vacant quality to them.

"Ah, yes, I'm the traitor for finally having an opinion. For speaking up against what I thought was wrong." Her lip quivered but she bit down to quash the weakness, drawing blood from her sharp upper fangs as she did so. "Even before that day, I was branded a traitor for showing sympathy toward the pines while wishing to avoid a full out war." Even her own brother had said something along those lines.

"I was injured and hurt." Hurt meaning much more than physical pain here, instead suffocating grief. "I found my voice but no one wanted to hear it. Instead of supporting me, or trying to understand where my thoughts came from, teeth dug dangerously close to my jugular." She raised her head, exposing the jagged scar left by the teeth of her childhood "friend."

"When Cicada broke us up, he reprimanded me. He didn't scold Bone in the slightest despite her drawing first blood - despite her going for a killing blow." Teeth flashed in a bitter smile as she tried to mask the hurt. "So, I told them I would leave after Ash and Leaping Toad's vigils." Other cats had been around to hear her words but, apparently, they didn't mean anything.

"No one tried to stop me." Excluding her family and Plover. No one had defended her that day nor sided with her. She'd found her voice and, immediately, they tried to silence her. Ever since she was a kit, she'd kept her opinions to herself. Apparently, that had been the correct thing to do. The first time she finally, truly, defended her viewpoint.. was met with hatred and the revelation of seeing how fake her friends had been.
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Howling Wind's pelt is bristling now, her tail lashing. It would seem their medicine cat was intent on dwelling on an incident in the past that no ThunderClanner had any part in. "I'm not talking about Bone or Cicada. Do you see either of them here? Do you see me or anyone else standing by them?" She never would have stood at Bone's side. That she-cat was temperamental, violent, and unpredictable, all qualities that the older molly wishes to stay away from. "Two cats out of an entire colony cause you to just walk away? That's fine. But don't you dare say the colony betrayed you. We all cared for each other and fought for each other, opinions be damned." Of course no one could go after her when she'd left. They had fought in the deadliest war that any cat could remember. Lives were lost, cats were in mourning. She herself had been checking in on her family, making sure each of them was safe. The days following the war had been loud and chaotic, her head had spun endlessly with the cries of her friends and family as their grieved. Everyone lost someone. Cats were too busy healing, both mentally and physically, to go searching for a cat who had left them anyway.

With a sniff, she turns to leave with a flick of her tail, fed up. "If you want to leave in the past, I'll let you. But this is ThunderClan. This isn't the marshes and none of us betrayed you like Bone did. We were in a time of peace and you murdered an innocent cat, one who brought pine cats and marsh cats together. I thought that's what you'd always wanted."

// AGH sorry if it's forced, I tried to bring up her killing Ember if you still wanted her to tell Cinder her reason was wrong? Unless you want the thread to go a different way now! I don't mind!
Howling Wind asked a question and she responded. Unfortunately, her answer was brushed aside as it did not meet the older molly's expectations. "I simply answered what you asked. Her jaw stiffened as she spoke. "It wasn't just two cats, although those two cats truly did mean a lot to me." They'd been like family; the whole colony had been an extended family to her but now...? Through clenched teeth, she nearly inaudible whispered the name of her brother, "Toad's Prowl..." Her heart sank in her chest but she remained as stoic as she possibly could.

"I simply brought that up as an example. Someone I trusted went for a killing blow and no one aired any grievance towards her action. She wasn't punished." And she'd been tired of hearing the exact word that Howling Wind said. Traitor. That one stung the most. "I stand by my actions that day." Calling out Briar for warmongering and latching her own teeth into Bone's neck. After all, she refused to go down without a fight. Especially when her blood was burning from grief. "But, since I stand by them, that's all the more reason I had to leave."

Her thoughts drifted to her family, a vacant expression on her face as she reminisced on their tight-knit bond before this all started. "I did not want my family to suffer from my actions. If they were called kittypet lovers, too, due to my aversion to fighting... They'd have to carry that title and possibly more." The marsh cats held terrible grudges and dealt with them in awful ways: the thought of her family being caught in the crossfire tore her heart in two. "I know I sullied the name given to me by my - by Frog's Croak which is why I left it with him before I departed. I failed them too much. Not just by defending - no, retaliating, - against Bone."

"Leaping Toad. I promised I'd keep him safe but I broke that promise. I couldn't reach him in time. He's dead because of me - because I wasn't fast enough. Because I'd turned away from him. I never should have let him out of my sight." Her body threatened to crumble beneath the grief that still felt like it only happened a day ago. She'd been so stupid. "He hadn't even fully grown into his paws."

Her pain melted into bitter, cold anger as Howling Wind mentioned their current location and her attack on the "innocent" leader. "Innocent?! You're willing to stand beside a stranger before me." Eyes narrowed as her steely gaze returned to Howling Wind. "I do not attack others without just cause." Howling Wind should know that. She never drew blood unless absolutely necessary or following orders. "She was an accomplice to murder. She let a full-grown cat attack Ash. Kill Ash. Despite hearing her taunts! I can still hear those dreadful words... No cat should have spoken to a child like that yet she defended the cowardly actions of one who picked two young children as her targets. Because that cat, that cat who went on to slay Ash right in front of his friend, had been her friend!"

"I tried to disengage with her but she barred me from running to the aid of a child. If I'd known.. If I'd known Ash would be.. I would have killed her on the battlefield. I was stupid not to have abided by my moral code." Hatred caused her voice to shake and break her usual neutrality. "I know I fucked up by not being able to protect them. I should have never taught Ash those defensive maneuvers. Twilight would still have her only child if I had been more proactive." Guilt had clearly warped her thoughts, "I wanted to avenge them. Once their justice had been served, I could die and finally atone for my role in their deaths."

Suddenly, the molly fell silent, "Yet a toad - Leaping Toad - stopped me that day." Stopped her from draining the vulnerable she-cat of all nine lives. "And, yesterday, Ash walked in my dreams. He said he forgives her. I know I should listen to him but... Dammit. I still remember Twilight's screams. I still remember the blood on Cloudy. I can fucking see it all. I'd been useless back then. I wanted to fix my fatal mistakes. Then, I could be dealt my punishment." Morals clashed with a warped sense of justice which clashed with the words of others.

"I know it was wrong. I - I hate what I've become. I hate how fucking twisted my thoughts are right now." At that moment, she looked like a frightened kit. "I know it was selfish but... I also thought... that it would help their loved ones know their killers no longer walked the earth." Her head hung low as she forced herself to breathe. In and out. In and out.

Howling Wind wouldn't understand. She'd call her sick and twisted, which was something she couldn't deny. But what if that had been one of Howling Wind's children? Or grandchildren? Would she not have done the same thing she did? Would she not have sought to eradicate the filth before bringing justice to herself and joining them in the stars? Especially when her grief had been denied by those in the marsh camp. If Howling Wind had been denied, wouldn't she too feel such an intense hatred? The answer would never be revealed. Unlike her, the brown tabby had been incredibly lucky with all family members surviving the conflict.

"They'll never get to grow old. Never become who they were meant to be. I thought Hare Whiskers.. I thought Hare Whiskers sent me along with her for that purpose when I woke up next to her." He had said to heal them and guide them when she hadn't yet fully healed. Then he thrust her into a land inhabited by one she blamed with all of her heart. And then the forest leader being so.. so happy about everything - it'd reinforced the idea that this was part of her destiny. "I truly thought it was part of my duty that had been bestowed upon me."

Her frail body swayed in the wind as she used what little energy she had left. Stupid, stupid, stupid. A single tear slowly rolled down her cheek. I deserve to die and be hated. Why do I get to breathe when they...

ooc:// ahh sorry this is so long and rambly. she's beginning to spiral back down /flails​
// Sorry if there's something important she didn't respond to! A lot of dialogue can get confusing for me so I try to pick one of the last points for her to respond to as if she was just listening to the rest

Howling Wind can hardly react beyond staring in disbelief, mouth ajar. That couldn't be the whole reason. That couldn't be the reason that the sweet she-cat she once knew had become a murderer. And yet here it is, presented to her and all she can do is stare, heartbroken. " killed her because she was fighting with you? In a war?" She whispers. She grits her teeth and lashes her tail, feeling a frustrated rage at this she-cat's logic rise up in her. "I don't know about you, but when I was fighting I had no idea what was going on anywhere. It was chaos, Cinderfrost. All I was trying to do was survive. And you know what? Emberstar had the chance to kill me. She had her claws to my throat, and I was expecting to meet my late mate in that moment, but she told me to yield and she let me up. Me, her enemy." She breathes shakily, beginning to pace. Are any of her words getting through to her? "It was war. Emberstar of all cats would never have wanted any lives to be lost. She spared lives in a time of war, and you took a life in a time of peace, from a cat who didn't even have her claws unsheathed. Don't ever say Hare Whiskers would want you to do such a thing. He was merciful, and honorable. You killed a cat for revenge, for something she wasn't even responsible for."
"Stop. Everyone fucking worships the ground Emberstar walks on because she's suuuch a saint." Biting sarcasm punctuated each word clearly. "She spared you. That's the bare minimum a cat can do. Any honorable cat spared lives that day. I spared lives that day. It shouldn't be such a big deal. Mercy should be the normal standard. What is, though, is that she didn't do anything when those fucked up words came from her friends mouth. She associates herself with cats that are willing to attack children! And she heard that witch. If she'd let me chase that weasel off then it would have been fine. But she didn't. She's complicit! She heard those vile words and defended them when even the murderer herself called Ash and Cloudy out as kits."

Killing children or being compliant in such a horrendous war crime was something that she couldn't easily forgive nor forget. Why did everyone act like it was fine? That is was completely okay to defend someone who associates herself with such heathens? And to praise her for not killing someone? She'd always preached mercy. At least, she did before grief tore her apart.

"If they had been your children or grandchildren and someone stopped you because their friend couldn't choose an opponent their size." The fact that Howling Wind was a mother but couldn't understand the crime of killing a child was terrifying. "To stand beside and justify the actions of an accomplice to such an atrocious act. Anyone - any cat that didn't have a frozen heart would have stopped an older cat from picking on someone less than twice their age. Regardless of their allegiance."

She'd been stupid to think that Howling Wind would listen, that she would understand. If misfortune struck Howling Wind's family - if someone helped murder one of her children or grandchildren.. Well, hopefully Howling Wind wasn't also a hypocrite.

"What was I supposed to think?" The molly disgusted her: acting like a know-it-all. "The Stars should have known my mission. What was I to think when presented with the opportunity to achieve the justice I sought had been practically handed to me." If Hare Whiskers truly didn't want this then he would have stuck her in any other clan.

"I'm going to continue my hunt now because some cats have murmured I've been eating from the freshkill pile without contributing. You being one of them." Rumors and gossip always had a way of spreading like wildfire. "Despite the fact that I haven't even glanced at the fruits of their labor." She hadn't a clue how she was going to hunt in her current state but she would find a way. She'd starve before proving them correct.

The bridges she had tried to build with Emberstar yesterday had, once again, been burned. Howling Wind made her see the error of blindly believing in the Stars and what they said, what they wanted her to do. Emberstar didn't deserve forgiveness when she had pulled the wool over the clan's eyes. She regretted ever uttering an apology to the molly. Instead, hated rekindled as she blamed the she-cat for tarnishing her past relationships by spreading false lies and pretending to be Little Miss Fucking Sunshine.

She had begun to thought her vengeance fulfilled: a life for a life (even if one still continued to burn brightly). But she'd been wrong. Her goal had not yet been fully accomplished. Until Emberstar suffered, until the leader was exposed for her falsehoods, she wouldn't move on.

Unfortunately, the stars tied her paws. All she could do was pray that karma would slowly infest and destroy the bright-eyed molly and her cult following. A rash and reckless thought but one that now consumed her as she turned away from someone she thought would understand.

No one ever chose her side nor listened to her words. Howling Wind had conveniently ignored many factors that went into her logic; she hadn't even tried to understand. Thus, she was done. Done trying to appease and believe in others. She'd do her job because she promised Ash but that was it. ​