pafp WILLOW TREE MARCH [intro]


Her chest had begun to rattle with each intake of breath.
Is that normal?
No, don’t think like that.
I’ll be back… I promise.
I’m going to find help.
I’m going to find Silas, we’ll be okay Tora!

Her sisters words had been so cheerful before she disappeared into the undergrowth.
Cheerful, or hopeful?
Toraline had listened, for one whole day she hadn’t moved from where her sister had left her, gone on the journey to find her brother who had left the night prior. That was three nights now… first Mama, then Silas, then Creek.
Now, she was by her lonesome, left to listen to her rattling lungs as her tiny legs burned, while her will screamed at her to push forward.
I listened, I listened!
Her mind sobbed inwardly.
Various small cuts grazed along her legs from where they had snagged against protruding roots and sharp branches, and her eyes were bloodshot from loss of sleep- she looked as if she was run ragged.
It was on the last root where she gave up, her forepaw hooking onto it in the nights darkness, face planting into what felt like dried twigs.
From there, she could not bring herself to get back up, only having the last scrap of energy to curl into herself as the despair she had fought so hard to keep at bay came trickling in, laced with loving words that seemed so far away now.
You’ll be safe here darling, my friends are coming soon- I will see you again. Take care of your siblings, they need you.
Yet, her friends never came, and her siblings were lost.
Trembling, she brought a pile of twigs closer, burying her face in them to hide her tears- from who? No one really, but the thought of crying in the open made her queasy. I give up. I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready…
With those morbidly lulling words, she quickly succumbed to exhaustion, trailing off to her dreamscape.

[ please wait for @NOBODY. ]

Since that day, the blue mink had been holed up in a crevice within camp. Her fur had become matted and thin, falling out in clumps from stress. Despite an empty stomach, hunger became a foreign concept. The last meal she had was when she caved and caught a mouse somewhere within the half-moon after she left the marsh.

Despondent and silent, she spent her days staring at the walls - lost in her thoughts. Which was not a good thing for her mental health. At all. Sometimes it felt like there was writing on the wall, laughing at her and continuously calling her bitter words: traitor, kittypet lover, murderer. The last was a recent addition.

She hadn't fully comprehended what she'd done until the next day. There was no guilt or satisfication over her actions. She felt was.. nothing. Even with the walls taunting her. The unkempt she-cat didn't argue or deny their whispers. They weren't wrong.

Somehow, after exiting to do her - uh - business, she'd found herself absentmindedly roaming the forest territory. It was a surprise to herself, though she barely recognized her surroundings had changed. It was probably more of a shock to whomever had been assigned to watch her for that day. It was usually an easy job without much to do besides sit outside her lair.

The failure of a medicine cat found herself lost both in thought and location. Why had Hare Whiskers sent her to ThunderClan? He could have sent her back home because then she'd have a reason - a justification - to return. But did she even wish to return to the humid marshlands?

Thankfully, her internal monologue fell apart when a new scent drifted into her nose. Instinctively, the she-cat tracked this new, vaguely familiar aroma.

It took a handful of heartbeats before she realization struck her. An itty-bitty, trembling kit had burrowed itself into a pile of twigs, brown fur acting as natural camouflage. Her nose, very tentatively and very gingerly, pressed against the kit's side. Thank the Stars, the little one still breathed.

Teal eyes scanned the horizon. No one. A dull light flickered in the depths of her eyes. Not overtly bright but a sign of life. The tip of her tail twitched in irritation when she realized the kit had been abandoned. At least, that's what it looked like.

If the little one wasn't woken up by her cold nose, she'd carefully nudge the kit again. Twigs scratched at her nose but she didn't flinch nor seemed to be aware of the small cut on her nose. She was too focused on the kit to feel such a small prick. "Little one," her voice was raspy from lack of use, "Where are your parents?"

Her gaze focused on the little kitten, especially the tiny cuts that broke her precious skin. Those needed to be cleaned.​
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It feels as though she is falling for a moment, her paws scramble only to find nothing.
She changed her mind. I don’t want to die!
Something beside her stirs, though it is distant- and soon she is awoken with a tiny gasp.
Teal eyes burn into her evergreen, and in her groggy daze she almost cries out, mama! You came back!
Yet, with another blink, her dream is crumbled. This cats features are far too narrow, and her voice is far too gentle to be her mothers.
She doesn’t know what to say, instinctively hugging the sharp twigs towards her, despite the prickled against her chest.
"I- I don’t know…"she replies meekly, her own voice hoarse. "I couldn’t find them"she adds, her tone clutched with high-pitched grief, though the “them” in question was her siblings, mama had told them not to look for her.
"So tired…" she murmurs, the initial shock of being awoken now faded, and the sleep deprivation once again kicking in.

Despicable. Parents who abandoned their kits had no right to receive such beautiful blessings. Stars, if she found out who did this.. "Couldn't find them" were no words a young soul should ever have to utter. They should be right beside her.

Wait. A litter consisting of one kit was an uncommon occurrence. Yes, it could happen (such as Ash's case) but the implications were unnerving. Ears strained to hear the shallow breathing of any other heartlessly discarded kits. But there was only her.

Dangers lurked around every turn. They could very well be- No, for now she wouldn't contemplate such a disturbing thought. "We need to clean out your wounds, okay?"

Delicate and precise paws swat away the twigs the kit used as shelter. Instinctively, her tail attempted to curl around the small she-kit's body and gently guide the exhausted kitten against her side. "I'm sorry.. this might sting." If the little one didn't resist or pull away then she would begin working - carefully, very carefully - on disinfecting the wounds with her tongue. Someone so small wouldn't be able to fight off an infection, especially one so neglected.

If suspicious eyes turned her way, glaring daggers at her in a silent threat, the blue molly didn't notice. Her attention had become completely fixated on the teeny-tiny kitten.. which probably caused those who thought (rightfully so) that she was unhinged a terrible fright. ​

It had only been for a second that she had let Cinder out of her sight.

Now Ember was racing though the forest in search of her. All that Cinder had done since entering camp was just sit inside her den. Then, as soon as she had stepped away to grab a piece of prey, the molly just vanished. It was an unforgivable misstep. She had told everyone, promised them that she would keep an eye on her. Every moment she wasn't doing that was a mark against her. Who knew what might happen while she wasn't looking?

Finally, a familiar fleck of fur caught her sight though the trees, and she made a beeline for it. Her heart dropped when her eyes found touch of cinnamon fur amidst the blue. Her eyes narrowed, adrenaline rushed through her. As she unsheathed her claws she prayed Starclan would forgive her for what she would have to do to their chosen medicine cat.

Bursting onto the scene, Ember abruptly skidded to a halt. She blinked.

Cinder, rather than attacking anyone, was tentatively lapping at a kit she clutched carefully. A closer look revealed the wounds the molly was attempting to disinfect. For a moment, Ember wavered. Then she sheathed her claws before the kit could notice them. "What... happened?" she asked uncertainly.
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Huh. Emberstar had taken longer to find her than expected. Finally, she'd arrived with unsheathed claws. The blue molly paid the weapons little thought. It was hard to determine whether she'd truly even seen them before they were securely sheathed given her unblinking expression.

"What happened?" Her mouth opened, the word "abandoned on the tip of her tongue, but she quickly clamped her mouth shut. Regaining her composure, she continued in a tactful manner, "Parents locations are unknown." Unlike with the kit, there was little inflection in her voice. The maternal warmth had been replaced by her usual coldness.

She gestured toward the twigs, little tufts of fur caught on some of them, to explain the kit's injuries. "Unknown whether.." She glanced around, alert ears twitching in each direction. It was clear the molly was listening closely for any further little hearts pitter-pattering in their hiding spots. Her mouth remained half ajar as she breathed in the air.

Her ears flattened against her skull when the taste of an unnamed predator faintly crossed her tongue. She didn't comment on the lingering scent. If Emberstar possessed common sense then she, too, would remain quiet regarding any potential hostiles in the proximity. The last thing they needed to do was further frighten the trembling and tired kit.​

Part of her hadn't expected Cinderfrost to say a word to her. Though it was only a few words, this was still the most they had spoken since their return from moonstone. It was cold and curt, but it was something. She hoped this could be the beginning of fixing whatever had went so wrong. That way they could finally be set back on the course Starclan had dictated.

For now though, there were more pressing matters at hand.

There was a scent in the air, one that set her back on edge. Her eyes carefully scanned the edge of the clearing. "I think there's a fox or something about." She murmured in warning, oblivious to her medicine cat's desire to keep that little fact quiet. Her mind was too busy working to figure out how to get the kit out of there. Staying felt like inviting the animal to descend upon them, even if they were lucky enough that it was only one. Part of her wanted to pick the little cinnamon fluffball up herself and run back to camp as fast as her legs could carry her. There wasn't a chance she'd be able to fight like that though, and she wasn't yet sure where the predator was.

The alternative, unfortunately, was letting her murderer take care of the kit.

That wasn't a thought she liked, and she desperately wished she could play both roles. Carry and protect at the same time. If Cinderfrost had wanted to do anything to the child though, Emberstar reasoned, there had been plenty of time. Besides, whatever she had done, surely no one would murder a defenseless kit. She made her decision.

"Do ya think ya could carry the kit back to camp if I ran defense?" she asked, glancing back over her shoulder at Cinderfrost in search of an answer.
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