private see your tired eyes look up at me, asking || howling wind

Jun 28, 2022

'Training begins at dawn.' The statement had been drummed into him all night. By the time sun touched the treetops Sloepaw felt less prepared than he had when it left for the night. He was still unsure where he stood with the deputy. Having such an experienced mentor brought him a little bit of confidence. She should be able to help him out, right?

And so he sloped from the apprentice den, tail low as it brushed the flanks of the other sleeping cats. Bleariness muted his eyes, lids askew against the spark of sunlight that sputtered to life. Still unused to the natural order of things, so different to the stale snap of lights in the twoleg place, the dusky tom was unsure if he was on time.

"Mornin' " Giving a respectful dip of the head, Sloepaw sidled up to his mentor. "What's the plan?" Internally he hoped it would be some of the basics. His paws were clumsy compared to the rest.

/ @HOWLING WIND it hath begun!

Howling Wind had woken with the sun, spent several moments smoothing and tidying her pelt, and had even eaten a small breakfast. Emberstar is handling the day's patrols - she tried to tell her that she could do it, but the peppy molly just wouldn't listen. Perhaps she would have pushed more than the leader was biting off more than she could chew if she knew she didn't have Sloepaw's training set for the morning. So, she let the flame point handle it reluctantly, a tad worried for her, before seating herself beneath the High Rock.

Sloepaw luckily doesn't sleep too late. She spots his mahogany pelt as he slips from the apprentice's den and greets him with a nod. "Do you need to eat?" She asks, a slight tilt to her head as her eyes drift towards the fresh-kill pile. If he doesn't choose to eat now, he can always eat after, but she wants to be sure to offer him the choice. If he's hungry, training will be miserable.

The indifference that rolled from his mentor was slightly troubling. Perhaps he was jumping to conclusions though- she could just be very professional. At her query, Sloepaw's bladed eyes slid towards the freshkill pile. He dithered, unsure. The tom found that eating real prey filled him up much better than the stale crumble his twoleg's left for him before, so after the plump mouse the night before he wasn't so hungry. Besides, the risk of feeling ill was too great.

"Nah, nah I'm good. Ready to go!" The rasp of his morning voice piqued with a careful enthusiasm. Truthfully, he just wanted to get to the learning. Assumedly, Howling Wind would not take to impatience. He had been trying to pick things up, however listening to half conversations and whispered rumours seemed to be a mixed bag. It was still hard to tug truth from talk.

Letting his tongue roll from his jaw briefly in a long stretch, Slowpaw followed up his assurance by pads closer to her. His muscles tensed with the first few steps but eventually, they mellowed into compliance.
She blinks and nods her head, hesitant to let him go on an empty stomach, but she knows some cats don't like to eat right after they wake up. She gets to her paws and begins to pad towards the camp's exit, tail flicking for him to follow. "Today, we're going to get you started on that hunting crouch of yours. Have you ever caught a piece of prey before?" She mews, glancing towards him as they make their way through the lush forest, on their way to the Sandy Hollow.

// sorry my private replies can be kinda short but I'm excited to get them rolling >:)

'Have you ever caught a piece of prey before?' No, no he hadn't. The false, heatless birds one of his twoleg's would throw assumedly didn't count. Sloepaw thought it best not to bring those up.

"Haven't, no. Seen others do it though?" The latter part of his answer was added on hastily, an unhelpful attempt to mask his inexperience. Words spoken morosely, he simply watched the forest slip past them. Slowpaw was sure to keep an eye on his footing too, he didn't want to take a tumble now.

The sandy hollow was unfamiliar to him, but in his investigative snooping he had heard other cats mention it. Wanting to appear ready and quick on the draw, the coal-booted tom settled into his rendition of a hunting crouch. Unbeknownst to him, his haunches lay far too low as his flanks hit the dusty floor. His forepaws were touching, chin dipped high into the air to look at his mentor for comment.

/no problemo! I'm kinda in the same boat atm <3
"Hm," Is all she responds with, a single nod indicating her acknowledgement. Unimpressive, but expected. They certainly have a lot of work to do, don't they? They come to a stop in the hollow, and Howling Wind watches as Sloepaw drops into a sloppy crouch. She circles him, eyes trailing over his posture. First, she halts briefly at he front, and she sticks her forepaw between his own and nudges them apart. Continuing around to his side, she reaches and pushes his haunches up, just slightly. "Keep your tail steady, just barely held above the ground. If it rustles a leaf, your catch is gone." She continues to revolve about him until she stops off to the side, chin lifted. "Go ahead and stalk that twig," She instructs, pointing with her nose towards a stick that lay a few fox-lengths away.

Her eyes drew lines in his ruffled pelt and he would it impossible to look back. Aglow with concentration, he studied her face trying to interpret her thoughts. So set in that sightline, Howling Wind's quick corrective paw jolted him. A flinch, violent in its magnitude, shuddered through him. In a swallowed breath Sloepaw let the movements cast his form, gaze now following the deputy's footsteps. Contact made the tom uneasy, having spent so much time alone in his twoleg's nest. The one upwalker who would stroke him was slow, gentle. They had always slid their hand before his nose before touching him.

At her instruction he rose his tailbone awkwardly, shuffling on uneven hindquarters. The new strain made the muscles twitch for a few moments before the apprentice got his balance. "Gotcha, yeah my catch." Slowpaw rumbled, the abstract of the exercise disconnected from a true hunt in his mind.

When Howling Wind dipped her head towards a far-off branch he all but rolled his eyes. Complying with a stilted step, he waddled forward. Dust swept from his feet and with one ill-placed inch a dimple in the surface caught him out. Nose dunked unsurreptitiously into the earth, Sloepaw coughed in a sudden snort.

"Damn- bet I look a right pillock right now" Spat out, his words held a depth of levity and frustration. With a heavy breath, the mink cat righted and began again. Blunt tail bobbing, Sloepaw finally made it to the stick. With a sarcastic tap his dark paw hit the wood. "So, I royally messed up. What else do I need to change?"
Howling Wind watches as he slides forward awkwardly. It's normal; he's never been in this crouch before, and it takes some getting used to. She can't help the thought that crosses through her mind, though. Wild-born kits practice this stuff as soon as they can walk. Her face conveys nothing as she pads after him, studying his movements until he paw falls within a dip in the ground and he falls forward. Lips pursed, she gives her head and shake and approaches him fully as he taps the stick with disinterest. "Be aware of your surroundings. You're watching your prey, yes, but making sure you know where you're putting your paws is crucial. One trip, one snap of a twig, and you're seen." Sighing, he pads back over to the other side of the hollow and turns to face him, tail gesturing towards a leaf. "Again."

He wanted to grumble some more, ask for a demonstration, but his motivation was dwindling by the second. "M'kay," was the only response he could muster. Jamming his mouth shut, Sloepaw began the task again.

Imperfectly, he recreated the stance and crept towards the leaf specified. There was no face full of dust this time, however, and he at the very least kept his tail from touching the floor. "Did it, gotta practice though... Thanks Howling Wind." Voice low, the tom sat back onto his haunches. The difficulty of clan life was beginning to settle in, sure he could work it out eventually but there was no doubt he was far behind.

/sorry this is late and short ahchah