Mellowix takes a deep dive into Ashfur’s character arc.
Due to the Imposter in the Broken Arc, Ashfur has come back to the fore thought of the Fandom’s mind. Before we judge his actions as a sprit, perhaps we should reflect on what he was like as a living cat.
The Ashfur debate is an old one. I’m sure you’ve heard about Ashfur’s four attampted murders time and time again. Though over the years, I think misconceptions and overlooked have come up. So this article aims to go back to the source material and gain a clearer picture of the canon character- Hopefully providing new evidence and point for this age-old debate.
I’ll address the common arguments in favour of Ashfur:
=== “Ashfur would of treated Squirrelflight better then Brambleclaw” ===
Regardless of any issues fans have with Squirrelflight’s relationship with Brambleclaw in New Prophecy, Ashfur was not a good alternative, even before his killing spree. He had abusive traits in the 2nd series. He may have seemed pleasant at first, but unfortunately, it quite often those people don’t reveal their true colours. Ashfur’s motive is actually realistic. There are too many cases, when break up was the sole motive for a creepy ex killing their lover or similar horrid crime.
Ashfur saving Squirrelflight once from badgers (When she didn’t want it nor need it) really doesn’t mean that much in the world of Warriors. Clanmates are constantly saving each other, like how Squirrelflight herself saved Brambleclaw in the sea. Ashfur has no right to memorise a ‘list of the good deeds’, he’d done for Squirrelflight and use it to guilt-trip her, she’s not obligated to love him back.
Constantly tries to get her attention, when she’s obviously doing something else: “Because I can see exactly where I stand in your life. I’m not as important to you as other cats are—as Hawkfrost is.” Brambleclaw opened his jaws to argue, but another voice interrupted him. “Hey, Squirrelflight! I’ve saved you a place over here.” It was Ashfur, signaling from a few fox-lengths away.
Overprotectiveness, when that’s she plainly states she doesn’t want it:
1)“The markings are really faint.” Ashfur had been over to sniff at the roots of the dead tree. “Leave her alone, Brambleclaw. Any cat could have made the same mistake.” Sandstorm gave Ashfur a look from narrowed green eyes. “Squirrelflight can answer for herself,” she mewed. “She’s not usually lost for words.” Squirrelflight blinked gratefully at Ashfur. She didn’t need him or any cat to spring to her defense, but it was good of him to support her. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t notice.” […] “She will be.” Ashfur sprang to Squirrelflight’s defense again, unaware of the furious look she gave him this time.2) She heard Ashfur’s voice calling weakly, “Squirrelflight, run!” But the fox wouldn’t let go. Angry and terrified, Squirrelflight fought harder.3)” Ashfur had thrown himself between her and the badger. “I can take care of myself!” she hissed, but Ashfur had already leapt forward, plunging his claws into the attacker’s pelt while he fastened his teeth into its ear.”
Refusal to listen:
“Look, Ashfur.” Squirrelflight’s voice told Brambleclaw that she was trying hard to hold her temper. “I really care about you as a friend, but I don’t want any more than that.” “But I love you!” Ashfur protested.
Since she’s struggling to hold her impatience, it’s obvious she’s been doing this for awhile. Her answer couldn’t be more clear, but Ashfur still goes on.
Signs of aggression:
“I don’t know how you can say that!” There was the hint of a snarl in Ashfur’s voice.”
Guilt tripping and Gaslighting:
“You said yourself that it’s impossible to trust a cat with Brambleclaw’s heritage. He’s a great cat, I know, but he is still Tigerstar’s son.” […] Squirrelflight shook her head, “I’ll judge Brambleclaw by his own actions,” she retorted hotly, “not by something that other cats did long before I was born.” “I’m only thinking of you, Squirrelflight,” Ashfur meowed. “I can remember Tigerstar. His paws were red with the blood of innocent cats. You know that he murdered my mother to lure a pack of dogs to our camp?”
(Ashfur even disrespectfully uses his mother’s death, to which Squirrelflight had no connection with. He’s implying that someone choosing Tigerstar’s kin is irrational and he knows best when he “I’m only thinking of you”.)
(He’s lying and being hypocritical here. Ashfur has never had an issue with Tigerstar’s kin and is making up this excuse on the spot for the purposes of guilt tripping a disconnect cat. He himself was close friends with Brambleclaw, even showing him the Warriors Den after his vigil, all well before Squirrelflight’s birth. Even in the near future, Ashfur becomes partners in crime with Tigerstar’s other son, Hawkfrost.)
“It’s Ashfur. I passed him just now, and when I said hi he stared through me as if I wasn’t there. Rainwhisker was with him,” she went on as Leafpool laid her tail comfortingly on her shoulder. “The whole Clan must be talking about me!”“You can hardly blame Ashfur,” Leafpool told her. “He really cares for you.”“I never meant to hurt him!” Squirrelflight’s voice, though quiet, was anguished, and her green eyes were filled with guilt. “He’s a great cat, and I thought it would work out, being with him. But Brambleclaw . . . Oh, Leafpool, do you think I’m doing the right thing?”
False accusations and public humiliation:
“Well, I can!” To Leafpool’s surprise, the challenge came from Ashfur. He marched forward until he stood directly beneath the Highledge, the moonlight turning his gray pelt to silver. Instead of addressing his leader, he turned to face the Clan. “Doesn’t any cat think it’s odd that Squirrelflight is Brambleclaw’s mate, and our medicine cat is Squirrelflight’s sister? It’s very convenient that she had a sign about Brambleclaw just now, isn’t it?”.
The Erins themselves confirmed Squirrelflight was never trying to use Ashfur:
Vicky Holmes: I don’t think Squirrelflight is just using Ashfur – she has genuine issues with Brambleclaw over his loyalty to ThunderClan (and her father Firestar, of course), and Ashfur is a kind, handsome cat who clearly thinks a lot of her. But the connection she has with Brambleclaw is very special because they went through so much together on the journey to sun-drown-place, so I don’t think either of them will be able to ignore what’s gone on between them in the past.CherithBaldry: I don’t think Squirrelflight would use any cat – she’s too straightforward for that.
=== “Ashfur was a good mentor” ===
He scapegoats his own apprentice/nephew, Birchpaw and tried framing Blackstar, risking a war with Shadowclan:
“Birchpaw told me . . . Blackstar waiting on our territory . . . Had to come alone . . .” – Firestar in foxtrap, Sunset.
He injured Lionpaw/blaze twice in training, including once as an apprentice:
1) Then she noticed that her brother was bleeding, too. Ashfur’s blue eyes were blazing with fury, as if he’d forgotten this wasn’t a real battle. “They’re hurting each other!” She turned to Brackenfur. “Can’t you make them stop?”. – Outcast.2) “I don’t want to listen to excuses.” Firestar’s voice was cold. “What I saw just now was far more vicious than a practice bout.” […] Ashfur is an experienced warrior. He should have more sense.”
( It doesn’t matter how “annoying” Lionpaw was, Ashfur was the grown adult.
It was so obvious to himself, considering it was literally making him kill/hurt others. He had years to change his violent behavior, but he didn’t until he already attampted murder 4 times. Ashfur should be put on trial like any regular Warriors criminal and exiled.)
=== “During the foxtrap scheme, Ashfur got help from Squirrelflight and Leafpool. He was trying to stop Firestar’s murder.” ===
This arguments comes from this quote here in Sunset:
“Leafpool!” Ashfur gasped. “It’s Firestar . . . he’s caught in a fox trap.”
“Where? Why didn’t you get him out?” Squirrelflight demanded, her green eyes blazing.
“Because he’s . . . Brambleclaw is there too.” Ashfur was gasping for air as if he’d just dragged himself out of deep water. “And Hawkfrost is with him—a RiverClan cat on our territory. I couldn’t take on both of them at once. I had to come for help.” He pointed with his tail toward the lake.” […] Ashfur’s fear-scent was strong along his trail, showing them which way to go.”
(Firestar’s attampted murder was Ashfur’s first ever crime, so it would make sense if he was panicky. However, when the dust settled and Ashfur had time to think about what his crime, he concluded he actually wanted Firestar to die.)
He confessed this during the fire. Also, if he was truly regretful, he wouldn’t of tried to burn the siblings years later:
“Who do you think sent Firestar the message to go down to the lake, where the fox trap was? I wanted him to die, to take your father away so you’d know the real meaning of pain.” – Long Shadow
(It far more likely Ashfur was attampting to sabotage Hawkfrost’s murder attempt. He has little motive to allow Hawkfrost to achieve his full goal: As there would major advantages and disadvantages for Ashfur. Sure, Firestar would be dead, however he’d also be helping his Rival become Leader. Even worse, when this is Tigerstar’s kin, who Ashfur holds an obvious grudge against.
(However, there’s a simple fix to this – Expose Hawkfrost and Brambleclaw. Ashfur would have everything to gain, while hiding his own guilt by claiming he was getting “help”: Squirrelflight, along with her sister, would have personally witnessed her mate killing her father. Tigerstar’s kits, would be punished, possibly banished.)
That’s much more up to scale with Ashfur’s future crime of: Holding an injured Squirrelflight prisoner and forcing her to watch all three of her kits burn alive.)
=== “He was hesitant to tell the secret and solely wanted to humiliate Squirrelflight, he’d avoid hurting anyone else unnecessary.” ===
He wanted to get Squirrelflight exiled:
“I’ll say what I want. That lying she-cat will be driven out of ThunderClan for good, and no other Clan will want her, either.” – Long Shadows.
He couldn’t care less about Thunderclan’s well-being after exposing the secret at the Gathering, despite being warned 4 times about it:
“Nothing scares me more than the thought that you’re not afraid of what will happen after you’ve spoken out.” Ashfur’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll purr over what will happen after I’ve revealed the truth.” […] “Spare me the appeal to my Clan loyalty. I’ve already had Squirrelflight mewling to me about that. I told her, and I’m telling you now—there’s nothing that any cat can do to stop me.”
He gave Jayfeather a second death threat:
“Are you threatening me? I could break your neck with one swipe.”
===”Ashfur was merely threatening/bluffing to kill the Three, it wasn’t a real murder attempt” ===
He definitely tried to kill the Three, not simply tell Squirrelflight how he felt.
“But your kits . . .If you watch them die, then you’ll know the pain I felt.” […] The three of them were pressed tightly together, so close that if one of them lost their balance, all three would be dragged off the cliff. […] “Horrified, Hollyleaf took a step back and felt her hind paws begin to slip on the edge of the cliff. Her head spun as lightning stabbed out and thunder drowned all other sounds, even the roaring fire. For a heartbeat she dangled over empty air, and she let out a strangled yowl. Then she felt firm teeth meet in her scruff; blinking against the smoke, she realised that Lionblaze was hauling her back to safety.”
===”Ashfur didn’t kill anyone in the end” ===
False, Firestar lost a life due to the injuries in the foxtrap:
“Firestar had to be kept warm and dry while he recovered from losing a life. Leafpool shuddered as she recalled the blood-drenched events of the previous day, when she hadfound her father with a Twoleg trap around his neck, and Brambleclaw standing over the body ofHawkfrost, dead in the lake” – Leafpool’s Wish
(Just because he’s a leader who can be revived, doesn’t make it any better, Ashfur still inflicted a fatal wound on someone. If Firestar had been a normal warrior, he’d been permanently killed. He targeted Firestar due to his family tie with Squirrelflight, not because he was leader, which was purely a coincidence.)
=== “Ashfur didn’t get the chance to redeem himself and was probably regretful” ===
(Considering there’s been literal years between his two crimes, enough time for him to complete Lionblaze’s training – He had an endless amount of chances to regret what he did.
Even after the fire scene, he had serval days and warnings to stop that he was doing. The night of his murder, Ashfur was a very active threat: He’d given Jayfeather a second death threat the night before. Not only was he going to expose the secret, but he was planning to make the reaction worse, aiming to get Squirrelflight exiled, even at the expense of possibly getting a whole family exiled and ruining Thunderclan’s reputation.
Ashfur is sane enough where he still bares responsibility for his crimes, still a functioning member of society, patrolling and training apprentices without issue. It’s not his Clanmates’ fault for pestering him to get help, he’s in charge for making that first move, they can’t force him.
There was no reason Ashfur had to keep his love quarrels secret – It’s a topic many Clan cats have been through and cam sympathies with. It was a topic that could literally be talked to with anyone, even rival cats at Gatherings, if Ashfur really wanted to.
He didn’t lose anything when Squirrelflight asked to maintain their friendship, like it always had been. Ashfur still had his family, friends, home and social status. All of his “suffering” was entirely self imposed and blowing a situation out of proportion, when it was hardly there to begin with.)
When Jayfeather saw Ashfur in Starclan, that was a prime time for him to apologies. However, he runs away like a coward and angrily stares at his former victim, clearly still resentful:
“He halted, staring; as if aware of his gaze the othercat stopped and glanced back over his shoulder,returning Jayfeather’s stare with burning blue eyes. Then he turned and ran on, vanishing behind a clumpof hazel saplings.”
When a similar chance arose with Squirrelflight during her Super Edition, Ashfur didn’t apologise either. He didn’t say a word to her and quickly left:
“She recognised it at once. Ashfur. The grey tom had caused so much trouble for her and Leafpool’s kits. Ashfur dipped his head, glancing at Hollyleaf. […] Squirrelflight could still see Ashfur out of the corner of her eye.” – Squirrelfligt’s Hope
Then there’s the simple fact he didn’t make a single appearance in the Great Battle, while other Starclan were risking their second deaths. It was a perfect chance of some rebemtion, helping to defend his former victims, but choose not to. He didn’t even bother to show up when his sister, Ferncloud, was slaughtered by Brokenstar.