Cats around him screeched and yowled. The very thing he had been snarling about for months was finally upon them. Briar had brought her pack of mongrels into their home, against his family, in a bloody attempt to tear them root and stem from the forest. They were a bunch of flea-ridden, starving rats that were best left exterminated rather than to allow them to contaminate the forest further, with that midnight cur having to be the first to go. She was a tumor, a blight upon the forest Tugger called home, and so she had to be removed.

It wasn't hard to find her, despite her small stature. A puff-ball of unkempt fur and raven fury, she handedly dispatched some poor pine cat who retreated up a tree without much of a fight. If they were not at war, Tugger would've scolded the cat for his cowardice. Now, his dark gaze was only for her. This demonic black creature who had allowed her soldiers to terrorize his group, his family, for far too long. This bloodthirsty devil-woman that would rather go to war than stay in her own stinking swamp. Deep copper eyes went black with fury and he charged, not thinking, not seeing, only aiming to maim. Aiming to hurt.

Aiming to kill.

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Fresh scratches and bite marks throbbed in their various places etched along her skin, a heavy reminder with each movement. Briar was tired already - they all were. Her cats had never seen a battle like this despite the fact that they all trained for combat. It was the first time any of them were putting their battle prowess to use, and while she had been successful in chasing off her opponents so far, there were many who wanted to try and best her, to be the pine cat's heroes for vanquishing their opponents' leader. Briar would never let that happen. She was too proud to lose. The only way she would call a retreat was if she was the last one standing, and she knew that would never happen. Her group was far more experienced, trained better, more accustomed to this rough life of survival. Rain would buckle soon enough and then she could slink back to her marshy home and lick the wounds that screamed with each movement she made.

A quick swipe of her claws that met flesh and spilled blood sent her most recent opponent scurrying up one of the four great oaks that towered over them, silently watching the battle that took place below their canopies. Briar whirled around, knowing it wouldn't be long before someone else singled her out and decided to take her on. Sure enough, she met the furious face of the ugliest-looking creature she had ever seen. His face looked like it had already been kicked in by one of her soldiers and the snarl he wore as he charged at her was almost laughable. She watched him run at her, unmoving, but at the last second, she stepped deftly out of his way, lurching a front paw forward in an attempt to trip him as he ran so blindly at her.

Briar let out a laugh, her lips curling away from her maw to reveal sharp teeth. "As clumsy as you are stupid, frog-face," she hissed. "I thought this would be a fight, but it appears it's going to be a lesson. Maybe once we're done you'll go sulking back to whatever twoleg cesspit you crawled out of." She wasn't typically the type to tease and taunt, but she was angry. Angry at being thought of as greedy and selfish and bloodthirsty. If that was the kind of cat they wanted to deal with, then she would give it to them. This was her forest, and it was Hare Whisker's before hers. She was only protecting her own. While these fat twoleg toys overate and overhunted trying to play wild cat, her group suffered and starved as a result. No more. Today, she was out for blood, and her tastebuds yearned to draw it out of this ugly bastard.

Without waiting to hear what sour comeback he retorted with, she lunged at him, aiming to sink her teeth into his shoulder.

Tugger fell forward immediately, only barely catching himself before he tumbled into the dust. What he had in size over the marsh group leader, she made up for in agility. Her size and experience made her quicker, a lighter opponent that would be harder to catch. Tugger didn't even think to respond to her taunts. Instead, as her spiky body lunged forward, teeth blinding against her dark fur, the ginger king reared up and aimed a hefty slap across the she-cat's face, her claws extended to tear fur and skin. After his paw would come him, his forelegs out-stretched in an attempt to pull her down onto the ground so he could tear at her belly and throat.
✦ ★ ✦

He isn't sure how things came to this. The rosette tom has never been a figure of violence and not he is fighting in a war that he does not feel that his heart is really for. He knows what it means for Briar and her colony, their family but he also thinks that another way should have been found first. To him all this bloodshed will mean nothing, all this pain that is tearing through both groups will lead to pain and misery for generations to come. Perhaps he should have talked to his mate, held a lengthy conversation with her to change her mind. It's just....He's unsure. Yet hear he is trying to avoid the youngest of Rain's groups and forcing them to back down out of the fight before anyone gets hurt. He will not kill any of them, their life like his own means something. He can not though stay his claws when his family is under threat. When he came to the marsh colony they were kind enough to take him in and teach him how to hunt and for this he can not turn his back on them. His jaws are curled and he shows sharp teeth threateningly before his head whips around and he sees some golden tom going after the love of his life. His stomach feels like led, his heart pounding sharply before he too his moving. He needs to stop this, he needs to stop him.

This fight isn't what he wants but this is his mate and he has to protect her, even during something like this. But his goal is to separate them and nothing more, make the other tom back off and way from Briar. "STOP! DON'T!" He calls out breathlessly as he races towards the two, his tail streams out behind him before he leaps, paws extended but no claws unsheathed as he attempts to grapple with the pine cat and pull him away from his mate before more danger is done. Just stop, he just wants them to stop but this is all he can do to keep the blood of his family from being spilled.

Claws ripped into her face, slicing over the bridge of her nose. Briar felt blood spill down her maw, leaving a red sprinkling over the dead leaves and nettles at her paws. She hissed, allowing the pain to fuel her anger. She would wear those wounds like a badge of honor. Her unkempt fur bristled and shivered, taking a step back as the pain momentarily overwhelmed her. She spat blood out of her mouth and snarled at Tugger in a flash of red teeth. The move had momentarily shocked her, allowing him the time to swipe a paw out and knock her to the ground. The wind left her lungs in a heavy whoosh and she sputtered and coughed as she felt claws digging into her belly and her throat. Briar knew the soft underbelly was a delicate and fragile part, so she quickly rolled over, allowing her shoulders to take the brunt of Tugger's fury. Briar regained control of her legs and aimed to stand up, hoping to throw the tom off balance. If successful, she would swipe her claws across his face to return the ugly scars he had likely given her. Anything she could do to make his face more monstrous and unbearable to look at, she would.

A yowl broke through the air, making the molly start and look around wildly. Had someone fallen? If so, was it her cat? A streak of fire split the shadowy forest floor and her mate launched himself at the other golden tom. "No, Amber!" Briar hissed, aiming to step between them before her mate reached his target. "I can take care of myself!"
The spiky she-devil is a master of her trade, he'll give her that. A beast in battle and a worthy opponent. It doesn't forgive her of her crimes, but it does mean that the fight - though driven by hatred - is a little fun. Tugger finds himself almost grinning at the back and forth, at the violent dance they're playing. Claws slash at skin and fur. He barely notices the pain across his face, scoring deep wounds from brow to chin. Blood trickles down his contorted muzzle, staining his golden-ginger crimson.

The yowl draws his attention as well, a split second too late. Amber crashes into him, bowling him over. Tugger hisses as his back connects painfully to the forest floor, and he throws at his back legs in an attempt to batter the cinnamon tom with his claws. Stunted jaws snap at Amber's throat all the while, aiming to crunch down on the jugular and tear. It doesn't matter to Tugger that Amber is only doing what he would do for any of his own group-mates, what he said he'd do for Fritter not a week before.

He is only concerned with blood at this point, and draining it from any marsh cat he could sink his teeth into.

The only thought that runs through his head is that if he can just get him to stop. If they can all pull back from the haze of battle then they can talk through all this madness. He barely hears Briar's yell at him to keep from her battle. Her stance attempting to block him a little too late as he collides with the form of the golden tom. All he tries to do is pull the tom back, keeping distance from him and his mate. He endures the slamming of claws against his chest, he endures the pain as he begins to let him go. This should be enough and they can try to talk. This will stop everything if they can get both parties to stop and go back home. But this is all wishful thinking on the cinnamon tabby's part because nothing is ever that easy. Nothing. When he is about to get off the other a vicious snarl reaches his ears. Teeth enclose around his throat and his sea colored orbs widen. Why? Pain is there and it hits him harshly.

He shakes suddenly, pulling back and the feeling of his own flesh tearing makes him feel sick. Why? It's so startling as he stumbles back from the tom who is potentially splattered in Amber's own blood. His throat exposed to the world and blood gushing out quickly. His breathing is heavy, labored and he turns in shock and stunned to look at his mate. "Briar....?" He wants to go to her, tell her things will be fine but his legs won't move. They shake and tremble as he looses blood and looses focus. Then he collapses as he watches his mate potentially come to him as his vision fades. "Don't....don't be mad. Don't be..." He gasps out raggedly. He can't see anymore. The world is gone but he reaches for his only love with a blood soaked limb. "He didn't...he didn't mean to... He didn't. ....It's okay...Br-riar.." His breathing is getting shallower and shallower but he needs to say this so she knows.

Struggling he lifts his head aiming to potentially touch his nose to her's. "I...I...I love you. So much... I love–" But he doesn't get the last word out, his body shudders. A struggle to keep his last breath before it leaves his body and his head thuds back against the ground. Then there is nothing.

-- amber has died ;-;
Everything that happens next is a blur. She blinks blood from her eyes, watching through a red haze as Tugger and Amber blend together in a mess of fur, teeth, and claws. Amber disengages and Briar barely registers the tear-choked cry that leaves her throat when she sees his white throat coated in red. For a moment, she thinks - hopes - it's not his until she sees the blood pour from the fresh wound and coat the ground. And oh, there is so much of it, so, so much blood. "A-Amber?" she whimpers. He tries to say something but collapses to the ground and she rushes to his side, the rest of the world fading from view as she hyperfocuses on her mate - the tang of blood, the battle cries, the flashes of teeth and claws, it's like it's not there. It's just her and Amber.

"No... no, you're going to be okay. Don't talk like that," she says, pressing her nose into his cheek. "I love y-" she pauses and pulls away. His body is unmoving, lifeless, but the blood continues to gush from his throat, pooling beneath his body. Just like that, her mate, the father of her children, is gone. For a moment she blames herself. Maybe she could have tried harder to talk to Rain about this problem, maybe they could have worked something out, the same way they'd talked together about Willow. But, no - no, she knew that this war was inevitable. It would have happened sooner or later. The real one to blame was not Rain, not the pine cats even, but this cat still standing in front of her. This absolute scum of the earth who had just killed the cat she loved most in this world. This horrible, ugly, evil demon... he had done this. He would pay. She laps her tongue sorrowfully over Amber's cheek and then turns her vengeful gaze towards Tugger.

"You..." a vicious snarl leaves her throat. She lowers herself into a prowl and stalks closer to him, her ears pinned flat against her skull. She spits blood from her mouth, her lips curling away from her teeth. "Y-you killed him... you sick, disgusting bastard. YOU KILLED HIM!" The last words leave her lips in a screech and she barrels her small form towards the tom, aiming to pin him to the ground and dig her claws into his shoulders to hold him there. She'd thought the pine cats had drawn out the best of her anger before but now, now she knew what true, raw rage felt like. She had never wanted to take a life before, but now she longed for this cat's throat to be as open as Amber's, for him to feel every ounce of pain he had caused her today.

Amber wouldn't want this.

The words that came to her did not sound like her own voice talking. Her fur bristled, her eyes flashed, but she didn't make the killing blow. Amber wouldn't want this. The words came to her again. He would be... disappointed if she took this cat's life out of revenge. She couldn't dishonor her mate's death like that. "You... you have three seconds to get out of my sight," she told the cat, taking a step away from him. "Or you will join him in death." It was the best she could do, offer Tugger a way out of this fight. If he refused, then she would no longer feel guilty about fighting him again.
The cat falls away from him. A scarlet bib coats his face, his throat, his chest. Sticky and wreaking of sickly-sweet copper, it hits him all too suddenly what had passed. He had killed a cat. He had killed a man in front of his mate. He had a mate. A family. Maybe children. Maybe grandchildren. Amber's blood is cloying on his tongue. It seems to stick between his gums and in his cheeks like the awful taste of bile - or maybe that is bile rising up from what he had done.

He just killed a man in cold blood, a man who hadn't even raised a claw to defend himself.

And then the she-devil is on him again, and his red-haze of fury is back, though dulled by the shock. She gives him an out, like a coward, and he almost bears his fangs again - they would finish this here and now, bloody corpse between them or -

Another yell for help calls his attention, a voice he knows too well. He spares one last glance at the marsh group leader, hating himself for his own morality, before he dashes into the bushes to assist his distant friend. But still, Amber's blood clings to his tongue, a haunting reminder of the crime he now carried on his back.