so followed by my old routine | howling wind

Jun 28, 2022

Sloepaw's limbs crunched like dry leaves, an aching protest at his choice to rise from the ground. Camp was back to being camp again, though not the same. He was unused to the constant, irritating sensation of being injured. His shoulder still throbbed after being burnt and used to prop up a falling den roof. The patch of fur affected was slightly threadbare, an embarrassing blight to his pelt. Thankfully, after Sloepaw had asked around with barely concealed worry, he had been told the majority should grow back.

Weaving his wonky way on a hunt for his mentor, the tom reflected on the incident that had caused the wound. Running back into the fire had been a deathwish, summoned in a moment of desperation. Because he couldn't stand waiting in safety, unsure and unawares of the condition of his mentor. She was callous at times but remained the strongest connection he had to the clan. Imagining a patrol without her constant scrutinising, dished out with a steady gaze, had struck a fear in him he couldn't have anticipated.

All of it had proven a great many things to him. First and foremost, that he was weak. Unpracticed, pathless and physically frail. The want to remain prepared, untired, had led to the goose-pelt feline to become stagnant. Laying around camp had only helped him do just that- lie around.

As Howling Wind's recognizable, and admittedly comforting, hazel-scratch fur came into view Sloepaw dithered. They hadn't yet discussed being stuck in that den, slowly having the life smoked from them. Letting the thoughts run along his tongue, he began to ramble, "Hey we never talked about me running back and- I know it was a stupid move alright? Properly irrational but, I couldn't leave you guys in there..."

A nod sent a wrinkle-silk motion through his mahogany form, content to have said his piece- despite the added words stuck in his throat. "Anyways, I'd really like to brush up on my hunting skills if you're not busy and up for it." Training was familiar ground. A practical failure was safer than a social one.

/ @HOWLING WIND *grips*
// *grips harder*

Howling Wind is mildly surprised to see her apprentice approaching her. So eager for lessons, was he? She sits up, having just finished grooming her coat when he arrives, appearing nervous and twitchy. She blinks, his greeting rather unexpected. It's true - they haven't yet discussed the events of the fire. The words are hard to find, so the tabby is left staring at him thoughtfully, brows lifted slightly before she stands, silent. With a flick of her tail, she gestures for him to follow her and together they leave camp.

After a few moments of walking, the deputy finally speaks. "What you did was incredibly mouse-brained and reckless. You could have been far more injured than you ended up. You could have been killed." Birdsong fills the air as they continue to push their way through ferns and rush. She stops, turning to face him with eyes alight. "You also showed a selflessness and courage that only few warriors will have in their lifetime." It's perhaps the first time she's ever referred to him as a future warrior. Before the fire, she had every doubt that he could do it. Now, she sees a different path laid out for him. A path of honor and greatness and duty. He will be a warrior, if she has anything to say about it.

Lifting her chin, she allows a small smile to play on her lips before she turns to lead the way once more.
  • Crying
Reactions: DetectLife

The silence that met him in response to his words crept up his spine, ridge of walnut fur rising. Sloepaw followed, mind in his paws, until the subtle whisper of an intake of breath snapped his ears to listen to his mentor. 'incredibly mouse-brained and reckless.' Harsh, cutting- true. He's nodding along, in complete agreement, when she wheels around to face him.

What came next flattened his whiskers in shock, narrow head snaking into the ink of his neck. Was she, praising him? It was tricky, so tricky, to hold onto those words. His thoughts turned to water, the compliments like oil slick as they ran off his belligerent psyche. He had been stupid- and she was naming him selfless, courageous. The fright, tremble in his legs, burn of his breath- he couldn't forget it. A scrunched expression overtook his snow-splashed countenance, uncertainty folding his maw into an uneven line.

Wisped embers spluttered in the dark beneath his browline, searching his mentor's face. All that met him was intense certainty. For him and his actions. Howling Wind meant it. Against his best intentions, that confidence deepened his lungs, forging a new fervour. It burnt with an odd melancholy, a sensation that pawed at his heart. Sloepaw had wanted it. Quietly, even to himself, there had been a clawing whisper for approval and acceptance.

"Thank you." It was strangled from the tom's throat, a rawness that countered his usual apathy. "I'm really... glad that you're my mentor Howling Wind. Thank Starclan and all that." He briefly eyed her shoulder, the urge to knock against it catching him off guard for a moment. Sloepaw held off however, unable to hurdle the buzz of discomfort the contact might bring.

Letting the green of the forest fill his awareness once again, the mink cat tried to do what they had set out to. Scents swirled his palette, hissing through his nose. Squirrel. The tang of wood sap and prey musk fletched a line through the trees. "This way? Think it's a squirrel. It's upwind."
Howling Wind can't help the gentle smile spread across her muzzle as she pauses, head turning to peer over her should at him as he states his gratitude for her being his mentor. The sentiment fills her with warmth, and for a moment she's stuck on what to even say. Green eyes slowly blink, her smile stretches bigger and she faces forward once more to keep walking. For the first time since receiving Sloepaw as her apprentice...she thinks she's happy to have him, too. Lucky, even. Did anyone else's apprentice leap into fire to save them? She doesn't believe so.

His next words draw the deputy to a halt as she flicks her ears back. Pursing her lips, she parts her jaws to scent the air, eyes lighting up with surprise as he, in fact, is correct. There is a fresh scent of squirrel. How had she caught it before she had? Rather impressed, she turns, paw pads delicate and silent upon the forest floor as the hunt begins. "Go on then. In the crouch I taught you," She encourages matter-of-factly, renewed interest burning in her gaze.

A stiff nod, a tie of the knot, completed his hunting crouch. Senses split, the apprentice tried to focus on the placement of his paws as Howling Wind had instructed in the past. A tremor touched the pointer paw each time, hesitation striking his stance vulnerable. One step followed the other, however, his diminutive form trailing the squirrel's scent. He just wanted to get within reach.

Sloepaw had been unable to land a claw on any prey thus far. Noisy, clumsy, a myriad of shortcomings had led to his failures. Today though, he had his mentor's eye. Even if the critter evaded him, the mink tom wanted to make a show of it. Ferns folding over his crooked ears and whiskers branched like a newleaf sapling, he crept forwards. The breath in his lungs froze while crossing a divet in the earth, the ascent requiring more weight in his stride. Topping the rise, blanketed in threadbare wood sage, the cinnamon-nose quarry came into view.

It all happened so quickly- a hop, skip and a jump. Maybe his forepaw had been too forward, joints too loose, lunge languid- Sloepaw almost didn't care. Because in the unravelling snap of his leap, a single pad knocked the squirrel's side, an ivory crescent mere whispers from catching it. If the wind had just changed direction, he might have had it in his grasp. Wheeze blunt in his chest, the apprentice tumbled slightly before a tree trunk righted his passage.

"Shit! Uh- I mean, bollocks- tsk shit" Any attempts at decorum fled like water through his teeth. Prey lost to the canopy above, Sloepaw lifted his eyes to meet Howling Wind's. Expression wickered with a tangle of feeling, he could barely hold her gaze. Another failure, but closer! Habitually, the tom didn't speak any excuses, instead muttering out, "What did I do wrong?" He was less put out than normal though, harbouring a sturdiness not there before.

/sorry for lateness! i am back though, this thread has me in a chokehold >:)

With far more interest than they've held during any other training session, her fern eyes follow him, analyzing his movements, where he steps, the twitches of his tail. Closer, closer he draws, a hunter parting the fronds to reveal the treasure they held. His form is perfect. Finally, it's perfect. Ears erect, she stretches her neck to see better, unbroken attention focused on the hunt she's witnessing. Boy leaps, and...prey flees. A breath is exhaled, for she hadn't realized she's been holding it.

"Language, Sloepaw," She critiques firmly, slithering through the undergrowth until she finds herself at his side once more. She fixes him with her gaze, ivory whiskers twitching. "Tighten your haunches next time before you leap and that squirrel will be yours." Her voice lightens and a glimmer of approval rests in emerald. She draws in a breath and looks around them, jaws parting once more to let the scents wash over her. "We'll try the Great Sycamore next - see if we can have any luck there."