June 15, 2019 at 1:10 am #1420
The following sunrises after the gathering had brought welcomed distraction to Willowgorse. Attending it herself, the young warrior saw first-hand the invasion by the so-called Tribe cats, and the ominous warning they brought. Willowgorse hadn’t paid much attention to Windclan’s next move since they’d returned to camp on that fateful night, but the vague whispers running around camp didn’t seem to signal that they held a cat with “special powers”.
The black fae, given a sharp decrease in clan activity after the gathering let-down, had been left to retreat in her mind. She’d been retrieved from her solitude in the far-reaches of the territory to go to the gathering, and now felt stuck in camp, grieving in public. Why has everyone moved on? Why isn’t anyone else searching for him? She felt as if she was drowning, consumed by guilt and sadness that arose after her apprentice, Coalpaw disappeared. Frankly, Willowgorse felt she was barely a warrior herself, much less a mentor: since her warrior ceremony, there hadn’t been much activity around the clans, and her tasks hadn’t changed much despite upgrading dens. Upon being charged with Coalpaw, Willow felt as if her whole mission had changed; now, she was educating the future warriors of Windclan. A truly daunting task. It didn’t last, and she began to hate herself for it.
Over the past few days, the warrior had gotten enough side-eyes and vaguely curious but pitying looks from the rest of her clanmates. Knowing she would only be quickly retrieved from the territory if she abandoned main camp, and lacking any energy to truly leave, Willowgorse felt she should seek out some absolving of her guilt and grief. Nettlenose was busy–and besides, what healing could the medicine cat do for a broken spirit? It was Wolfstar who appointed her as Coalpaw’s mentor anyways, and began this downfall into depression. So, she reasoned, perhaps it was him she should go speak to.
At last, she dragged herself up from her unkempt nest on the edge of the warriors’ den and towards Windclan’s leader. She sniffed, briefly, checking to see if he was busy meeting with another cat–he wasn’t. Willowgorse, shrugging, tapped on the side of his den with her yellow-furred paw, not wanting to intrude. “Wolfstar–ah, sorry to bother you…” she spoke, quietly, “Are you available for a few minutes?”
Screams and shrill voices filled Wolfstar’s head in his dreams. They cried for help, demanding to be let out and heard, but he couldn’t move or even see. Wolfstar tried to force his legs to run and called out for someone to lend him a paw, but no one heard and he had to stand there and listen.
Tap, tap, tap.
Finally, Wolfstar could peel his eyes open and the screams were suddenly gone. Unable to make out where he was, he blinked and looked around, relieved he was back in his den. The sound of Willowgorse calling to him woke him up even more, and he cleared his throat before sitting up his nest. His joints hurt a tiny bit, but with a little moving around they felt like new. “Um, yes, come in,” he meowed, rasping his tongue over his chest to smooth down the tufts of fur that stuck out.
The WindClan leader smiled softly when the warrior padded in, and he dipped his head in greetings. He felt bad he hadn’t had time to speak with her about Coalpaw missing, and he hoped she wouldn’t be too upset with him. “What can I help you with, Willowgorse?”
Willowgorse instantly felt shame wash over her when Wolfstar invited her in. Her throat choked–she couldn’t tell if it was hot tears starting to bubble up, or just the shame settling cruelly in her voice. The young warrior had an instant, instinctive reaction to leave, and forget it all happen, and her jaw opened, words churning out… “Oh… I’m sorry–for waking you up, I…” should leave. She only finished it in her head, and not to the slightly groggy leader before her. Willowgorse knew she needed something to get on with her life. She needed absolvement.
Slowly reaching into his den, for some sort of sheltered safety, probably, Willowgorse settled next to Wolfstar, and cleared her throat weakly. The knot in it didn’t leave her. “I, I guess I don’t know why I’m here,” she mewed quietly, hesitation the only strong point of her tone. But she looked at the tom, and something in her just b r o k e. “I’m so sorry,” Willow cried out, tears starting to leak, and she touched her cheek to Wolf’s shoulder.
The floodgates opened, and she began blubbering through the tears.“I don’t know what I did wrong–he was so young!” She coughed a bit, and swiped her paw over her nose. “I wish I could bring him back, Wolfstar, when can Coalpaw come back? I’m a failure of a warrior; I don’t belong her.” More senseless grief–voiced spewed out of her. The fae didn’t stop for Wolfstar, just cried into the silent night as her heart bled. “He’s never coming back, is he?” Now she was struggling to force words out. “It’s all my fault! All my fault. All my fault, my fault… my… fault…” Willowgorse sobbed out the words, choking out her perceived guilt in depressed distress to the tom, barely audible. “What do I do?”
Wolfstar nodded his head to Willowgorse and waved his tail, motioning for her to come inside and speak with him. If his Clanmates were bothered by something then it didn’t matter to him that he had been sleeping. They all come first before him. The leader frowned when he saw the tears start to pool up in her eyes and then she immediately started blubbering, putting her head on his shoulder with grief and frustration. Feeling a little strange with the sudden touch, he awkwardly rasped his tongue over her forehead. Although, he had a feeling she wouldn’t notice how awkward he felt. “It’s not your fault,” he meowed, a reassurance tone flooding his voice. “Apprentices escape all the time. I, myself used to leave camp during the night without my mentor knowing.”Wolfstar hated that the feline felt guilty for something out of her control. Coalpaw had most likely left knowingly to hang out somewhere with the other apprentices in ThunderClan. At least, that was where he was last seen by Lakewind and Willowgorse. The WindClan leader wished he had answers for her, but he unfortunately had none. “You need to stay strong, Willowgorse,” he replied. “You need to hold your head high and keep your wits about you. You’re a warrior of WindClan, and even when things get tough you need to make sure you show strength and courage no matter what’s going on. We’ll find him, I promise.”Wolfstar wasn’t in the habit of making promises he didn’t know he could keep, but he had a feeling they would find Coalpaw. Whether that be alive…or dead. It’s been a couple sunrises now and the young kit doesn’t know how to hunt for himself. I think it might be time we look for a dead body instead of a live one. He didn’t dare speak his thoughts out loud to Willowgorse, but they were heavy on his mind.
June 22, 2019 at 1:42 pm #1716
- This topic was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by Ribi.
Reassuring warmth poured into her from Wolfstar’s comforting presence, but his words fell on deaf ears. Somehow, Willowgorse could not bring herself to feel like what the Windclan leader said to her was true. Her heart felt darkness about Coalpaw’s disappearance, and there was nothing her mind could do to change that. At the very least, the young warrior was eased by Wolfstar’s understanding and his seemingly unfailing confidence in her as a warrior. This brought something of a patch to whatever had shattered within her, likely her soul. She offered him a weak smile through her tears. “I’m trying–I really am, but I just can’t help but feel there’s something else I could have done–or something I didn’t do, when Coalpaw was here…” The depressed fae wasn’t in hysterics now, and managed to eek her words out without a complete dissolvement into a sobbing mess, but the sobs still squeezed themselves between words and her throat still felt hot and choked. A headache began to creep its way in.
But even as she wiped her paw over her eyes and steadied herself, it was obvious everything was not alright with the black-furred cat. Her pelt was dull, with bits of bracken and dirt hidden in her fur, and the vigor once held within her paws, aching to live life freely, was nearly gone. Guilt sank in her once-vibrant golden eyes. Some of it was preserved in her voice too, and it seemed to be rising: “Okay, Wolfstar, thanks…” she trailed off, mewing despondently, “I hope we do find him.” Willowgorse honestly did hope that they find him. In fact, she could feel that herself, wrecked by guilt, almost needed the reappearance of a well, living Coalpaw to restore her zeal for her life. The young warrior couldn’t even bare to think about what could happen if he never returned–or worse…as the absolvement she sought dwindled away with the chances of her apprentice returning to camp, whole.June 23, 2019 at 10:24 am #1736WolfstarParticipant
Wolfstar watched Willowgorse’s expressions turn from sobbing and misery to just sadness and acceptance. Grief was a funny thing. He placed a tail on the she-cat’s shoulder in comfort, his own eyes showing sadness as well. “There’s nothing you could have done. You were his mentor for one sunrise and he went off on his own. If I had chosen anyone else to be his mentor, he still would have ran off. Like I said, stay strong and resilient.” His tail fell off of her shoulder then and he sat back down on his haunches, ears perked forward towards Willowgorse. He silently prayed to StarClan they would find Coalpaw.
When Willowgorse thanked him, he dipped his head. “Of course, Willowgorse. I have a feeling you haven’t eaten much since he left so I’m ordering you to grab a rabbit and eat as much as you can from it. Then get a good night’s sleep because we’ll be searching for him tomorrow. I need all of our warriors to have strength.” The leader already knew which cats he would be taking with him on the patrol, however Willowgorse needed to eat and he didn’t find it helpful to tell her she would not be going. The last thing he wanted on the patrol was a frantic cat searching for the apprentice making noise and not keeping their wits about them. Wolfstar’s tail wrapped around his front paws and he dipped his head once more, indicating she was now excused to go do as she was told, empathy still placed on his face.June 30, 2019 at 1:30 pm #1924
Grief was a strange thing. Willowgorse felt acceptance–but not acceptance of the past. She could feel a conclusion to this story was coming, and something made her unsettled. Her senses were dulled by this shroud of guilt that numbed even her own perception of herself, and she felt almost robotic when she nodded in response to Wolfstar’s words. “You’re right,” she mewed, but couldn’t really tell if she was hungry or not. The black-furred warrior did know that she really hadn’t eaten over the last few days. “May Starclan light their path.” Willowgorse offered him a weak smile, as she truly did feel gratitude in her heart for the leader taking her feelings to heart and seeking to absolve her grief. Whether or not the patrol would result in relief for her, she did not know…
As the fae stood, she sent another thankful look back at venerable Wolfstar. Willow left his den and went towards the fresh-kill pile, where she nabbed a rabbit and then stood and stared at it in the darkness of the night. Nothing inside her felt desire to eat it, but it would probably be good if she did. The tortoiseshell waged a small internal war over eating, or not eating–guilty, or not guilty–to go, or not go. And in that moment, she could feel the acceptance in her soul–that dulled her heart and numbed her senses–morphing into the ice of giving up.
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