Howlingwind rose from his nest with a stretch. The Leaf-bare sun gave him little warmth or comfort compared to the bitter cold, but his thick pelt protected him most of the time anyway. As a responsible deputy, and mentor, he knew that he needed to complete his Deputy duties in the morning right away so that he could have time to train his new apprentice, Cricketpaw. He turned back into the warrior's den after a short morning snack, and woke up the dawn patrol. Later, a couple warriors and apprentices were sent on a hunting patrol.
Now that his deputy duties were complete for the day, he had plenty of time to train Cricketpaw. Padding over to the apprentice's den, he soon found the golden apprentice. Gently brushing his paw against the young aprentice's pelt, careful not to jab Cricketpaw with an underestimation of his strength or the weight in his right paw, he prodded Cricketpaw to wake up, meowing softly in his deep voice. "Wake up, Cricketpaw. It's time to begin your training." He was going to take Cricketpaw to the Snakerocks for hunting practice. During Leaf-bare, the adders didn't come out much, and it was a good spot to hunt in Leaf-bare.
genius only comes along in storms of fabled foreign tongues[/center]
The apprentice rolled over, flattening his ears in irritation. Early morning training- probably hunting, they had been fighting quite a bit lately. Mudane, he thought, but didn't give voice to his foul-tempered judgments. Howlingwind would claw his ears if he started out the day with a string of complaints, he was sure, and while Cricketpaw was intelligent, fighting against his mentor's brawn and skill would surely end badly for him. He forced himself up, shaking scraps of moss from his pelt and picking his way around his sleeping brother, Finchpaw, who snored gently and occasionally churned his paws in the air. He glanced at him fondly before heading into the cold. "We're hunting with the robins today?" he asked, stretching his back legs as he slinked out of his den. He gestured with his ears to the early morning birds, who were making their dawn calls to the slowly waking world. "Bit late in the season for them, I think. StarClan, it's cold." Cricketpaw didn't have the same thick fur as Howlingwind; his pelt, still patched with some kit fluff, puffed up against the chilly leaf-bare wind. "If I had wings, I'd find somewhere warmer. Stupid birds."
Howlingwind led Cricketpaw over to the fresh-kill pile, to let the apprentice get some breakfast if he wished. "We won't be hunting robins today, and we're all mice on the day cats hunt with robins." Howlingwind remarked teasingly, emphasizing his grammar point. "Get something to eat before we head out. You'll need it, especially in these freezing temperatures. " Howlingwind meowed, before taking a thin squirrel for himself.
As he sat beside his apprentice to gulp down his squirrel, Howlingwind chuckled softly. After many good seasons as a warrior of Thunderclan, Howlingwind had come to show a softer, gentler side to his former, serious, mistrusting side, always wary of those who seeked to judge him for the metal bands on his paw, and for his past as a shunned kittypet. "Indeed, foolish birds, to have returned back before Leaf-bare truly is gone." Howlingwind agreed fully. Cricketpaw's extraordinary maturity several times had him with nothing to deny. The apprentice was truly a gift to the Clan.
genius only comes along in storms of fabled foreign tongues[/center]
Cricketpaw had no protest to eating. Leaf-bare hadn't been particularly brutal, but it was his first, and he wasn't used to the hunger that inevitably came with it. He stuck his nose into the pile and came out with a vole, tail switching in satisfaction; it was skinny, as all prey was this time of year, but vole was his favorite. He padded over beside his mentor and sat down, going to work immediately on his prey. "Well. The robins back early will be good for us, I suppose," he said. "Any prey is good prey at this point. What exactly are we doing today?" Now that he was awake, there was a bit of enthusiasm in him for his training; it was better than spending the day in camp, anyway. As much as he preferred the intellectual side of life, he still enjoyed getting out and doing the things that cats were built for- hunting, climbing, fighting. He crunched the vole's fragile bones between his teeth, savoring the taste and the brief sensation of actually having food in his stomach. Energy flowed through him with the meal. The vole gone, he sat up and started gingerly licking at his paws; his fur was still sticking up and ruffled around from sleep, and he wanted to at least wash his breakfast out of his whiskers.
"I'm taking you to Snakerocks to practice hunting. During Leaf-bare, it's too cold for the adders to come out, and even if in the rarest situation, one were to appear, they'd be too lethargic to be of any threat. Besides, prey will want to be out in the sun where its warmest while finding food." Howlingwind explained. After Cricketpaw had finished his meal and cleaned his paws, Howlingwind led his apprentice to the entrance and into the snowy forest beyond. He was walking with a brisk pace, knowing that keeping his and Cricketpaw's legs warmed up was very important in keeping their muscles from deteriorating in the cold weather.
Finally, they arrived at Snakerocks. Howlingwind glanced around only briefly before jumping up onto one of the large, flat stones, and waiting for Cricketpaw to follow.
The apprentice padded after his mentor, fur fluffed up against the frigid weather. His long legs made it a bit easier to walk through the snow, so he didn't have a terrible amount of trouble keeping up; it was, however, much colder for him, being short-furred and admittedly a bit scrawny. He was grateful for the sun through the trees when they approached Snakerocks; hunting was starting to sound better and better- some activity would make his blood flow, get him warmed up. He enjoyed hunting at Snakerocks. The added challenge of the venomous creatures that slithered through the stones gave it a certain excitement, and he was honestly a bit disappointed that they would be lethargic in the cold weather. Outsmarting a mouse or vole was one thing; to escape the jaws of another predator was another entirely, and it was something of a let down. He jumped up on the large stone next to his mentor, spindly limbs making the leap easily. The same weather that kept the dangerous adders away kept a good amount of prey away, but when he searched hard he could hear the frantic heartbeat of a mouse in a nearby crack in the stone. He raised his tail for silence and dropped into his hunter's crouch, every muscle tense. He almost seemed to stop breathing, perfectly and utterly still. Going for prey inside a crack was interesting; he couldn't pounce, the sound of him landing would scare it further away. It was pretty deep down, and he'd have to aim right the first time to hook it with a claw and pull it out. He crept closer to the crack, bright emerald eyes set determinedly on the stone, and approached it carefully, so that his shadow fell behind him and the wind blew his scent away. It was like fishing, which he had watched RiverClan cats do from the border. He stood perfectly still, whiskers twitching, as he pinpointed the rodent's location, then struck like one of the adders that lived in these rocks. Two claws sank into warm flesh; the others struck painfully against the stone walls of the crevice, and Cricketpaw hissed in pain but managed to pull out the mouse and deliver a quick bite to its neck before it could screech and warn the rest of the prey in the area. He shot an irritated look at the dead rodent and looked down to examine his throbbing paw. It wasn't anything to be concerned about; just an annoying pain. He shook the paw a couple times and looked over his shoulder at Howlingwind, unsure whether to speak. He didn't know whether his mentor could hear any other prey that he didn't want to scare off.
o o c || Killin' mice, bein' a cat, whatever. w o r d s || 455 t a g s || Howlingwind
As Cricketpaw jumped up on to the large stone next to him, Howlingwind again was pleased that the sharp apprentice seemed to know exactly how to put his small, long-legged, skinny body type to the best use. Although the same cold weather that kept the adders holed up in their dens kept much of the prey snuggling up in its dens, he knew that the prey needed to come out occasionally, to forage for food. And out under the open sky, and begging as much warmth the sun could offer to this cold forest, the prey would come, searching for food, where its enemies awaited ever so patiently.
Howlingwind, with his large, keen ears, could hear the soft sounds of tiny feet pattering nearby, and soon enough, he saw that Cricketpaw had heard it too. The source was a crack in one of the large flat stones, where a mouse could hide in to search for any form of plant life hiding away from the cold. Seeing that Cricketpaw was already intent on having this mouse as his first target, Howlingwind proceeded to wait and watch his apprentice's performance, without moving a paw, for one heavy step would send the mouse skittering away before any of them had so much as a chance at it. Howlingwind was once again not disappointed at all in Cricketpaw's perfect execution of the hunter's crouch, perfectly still, yet his muscles bursting with potential energy, like a coiled viper held back only by a withering vine, soon to be free to lash out with all the ferocity it had saved for that one moment. The dead silence, the anticipation, the tension in the air. Howlingwind knew that something was brewing in Cricketpaw's mind. He knew that the genius young cat was probably planning out his every move, as well as weighing and considering every outcome, and figuring out a way to eliminate all possibilities of failure.
And then, after many silent moments, Cricketpaw's skinny arm lashed out as ferocious as an adder, and the struggle was over in less than a second, and the mouse dangled limply from Cricketpaw's jaws. Seeing Cricketpaw look over his shoulder at Howlingwind, he gave the apprentice an approving nod, understanding the need to be silent, for the aim of catching as much prey as they could during this hunting session.
Now, his turn. While Cricketpaw had been so focused on his task at hand, Howlingwind had just barely caught the faint scent of mouse. Taking extremely gentle steps across the stone, Howlingwind went over to where the stone hung over another, but the crevice between them was way to narrow for him or Cricketpaw to fit into. He placed one heavy, but silent paw down. Then another, and another, for although he made not a sound, his weight sent slight vibrations through the stone, and to the sensitive whiskers of a mouse. Quickening his stride, yet keeping his movements swift, precise and even a bit graceful, as if he were dancing, Howlingwind rushed over to the crevice opening, just in time to bring a heavy paw down on the spine of a mouse rushing from its hideout, thinking that the roof was about to come down on it.
He waved his tail for Cricketpaw to follow as he leaped down from the stone to find a spot to bury the prey they had caught already. Behind an ice covered holly bush, Howlingwind scooped out a hole to bury his and Cricketpaw's prey in, and then brushed the snow back over. "Very well done." he meowed sincerely to Cricketpaw, since they were just far enough away from the Snake Rocks not to worry about scaring off the rest of the prey. "Your efforts are truly a help to the Clan." He meowed, smiling in approval. Alright, let us continue." He grunted then, standing up and beginning to walk off back toward Snake Rocks.
Cricketpaw observed his mentor with quiet interest. He rarely needed explanation when it came to new techniques and strategies for hunting; his observational skills were very keen, and the idea that Howlingwind used to trick the mouse caught his attention. It was risky; the mouse could have gone the opposite direction down the crevice, but the experienced warrior was able to predict its movements and respond accordingly. Knowing the prey was so important. That was where so many apprentices went wrong- they didn't know how their prey behaved; their habits, their instincts and the way they thought. Knowing what the prey would do was what made a successful hunter. Senior warriors knew these things; after hunting for so long, they had their prey pretty much figured out- but even some of the respectable younger warriors didn't pay attention to the real inner workings of the mice or birds that they killed. It really was interesting, Cricketpaw thought, to watch how these smaller creatures lived- but not every cat would share his interest. They might be interested in the practical side of it. "I think we should have apprentices watch prey as part of training," he told Howlingwind as they made their way back to Snakerocks. "Not kill it, but observe it. Not in leaf-bare, of course, but when there's plenty to eat- it could do the Clan well to get to know them better. How you caught that mouse back there- you couldn't have done that without knowing how the mouse thought, and I know that apprentices aren't really interested in that. A lot of the cats in the Clan don't seem to realize at all that every creatures in the forest has a way of life, just like we do. They don't see them as individual thinkers, and they are. We could be more efficient hunters if we used that to our advantage." He was grateful for his long legs as he made his way through the snowy forest. If he were closer to the ground, it would be a struggle to move. And maybe having a short pelt wasn't so bad- he was cold, but ice didn't clump in his coat. He shivered, uncomfortably cold but not enough that he wanted to stop hunting. It was early, and the noise of other cats hadn't yet started to fill the forest. The morning hours were made for solitude, and he enjoyed them when he could make himself get up for them.
o o c || It's 3am and I don't even know what I'm doing. So I hope this post isn't gibberish. w o r d s || 410 t a g s || Howlingwind
Again, Howlingwind was always surprised at how thoughtful Cricketpaw was, and he smiled. "You are absolutely right. We learn different tactics to hunting different types of prey, but many cats don't know the reason why they need to use those tactics. If we could understand our prey better, I only see how it would benefit everyone as a hunter. It's a very good idea, Cricketpaw. I shall certainly have to mention it to Tigerstar." He assured the apprentice. This young genius was truly a prodigy only found once in a thousand generations.
Returning back to the clearing, Howlingwind made his movements more gentle and slight. "At this time, the prey's probably begun to sense the danger that has already struck. It will be more difficult to catch our prey off-guard." He remarked, keeping his voice to a low whisper, exemplifying Cricketpaw's point about thinking about how their prey thought. He paused, then looked at Cricketpaw. "Let's see you put your point to the test. See if you can figure out where the prey would be hiding in this situation! We'll call this a pre-assessment!"
The apprentice was silent for a moment, thinking it over. They wouldn't be on the rocks anymore. They would have noticed that something was wrong, and what did prey do once they felt something was off? Head to ground, go looking for their burrows to huddle away from the claws of predators. He lowered himself to the ground and prowled around the edge of the rock, eyes set on the brush a few tail-lengths away. That's where they would be now. But suddenly, a low hiss caught his attention, and he froze. His tail and shoulder fur bristled; he turned his head, and the small, pebbly eyes of an adder gazed back at him. Shouldn't the snakes be asleep? Snakes were never around in leaf-bare; it was too cold for a creature without fur- but the adder had slithered out at the promise of a sunlit place. Despite sat the bitter cold, it was sunny out. The stones were just slightly warmed, and that had been enough to draw out a hungry adder. It was lethargic, too sleepy to do much but stare, but Cricketpaw found himself mesmerized. The snake was a beautiful predator, he thought to himself- quick and efficient, armed with weapons more deadly than his own. If he killed it, it would be one less poisonous snake for the Clan to worry about. But he didn't want to kill it for pride, or glory; he wanted it to go on, in all its murderous beauty. The two predators made eye contact, and a silent knowing passed through the both of them. The snake turned its attention away from the young cat, and Cricketpaw continued stalking over the bare stretch of dirt between snakerocks and the underbrush, but his mind was not on prey. The sentience of other forest creatures never seemed to bother the other cats in the Clan. The mice they preyed on- what sorts of communities did they form? What language did they know? So many questions that he would never know the answers to. He stopped suddenly, coming out of his hunter's crouch and looking back at Howlingwind. He sat down in the middle of the clearing and stared at his mentor, tail twitching reluctantly. "I don't want to hunt right now," he announced, with no regard whatsoever for the volume of his voice. The grasses behind him shuddered as the prey that had been hiding there darted for their holes.
o o c || Cricketpaw does what Cricketpaw wants. w o r d s || 406 t a g s || Howlingwind
Howlingwind stayed where he was, prepared to see another incredible display of Cricketpaw's genius. He felt that letting Cricketpaw put his genius mind to work might just be a very good method of training the apprentice. Good. The prey would not be found above ground now. He could see that Cricketpaw had already deduced that. But his ears had caught the low hiss, and his hackles rose in quiet alarm. An adder!? They should be hibernating! They can't be out in this cold! Howlingwind slowly rose off his haunches. Even in the rare event that one odd adder were awake, it should be too lethargic to move. But he would not let his own apprentice be bitten. He would rather he himself take the hit. A young genius like Cricketpaw was destined for something great. Not to die having been bitten by a venomous adder. And Howlingwind couldn't bear the thought of losing his apprentice. As a mentor, and as deputy, he would not let that happen. Thinking quickly, he meowed in a low voice. "Cricketpaw! Don't move! Get away from there slowly." He felt uncomfortable telling Cricketpaw what to do when he knew full well that Cricketpaw probably also knew how do act around something like an adder, but for some reason, Cricketpaw was acting as if the adder wasn't there. Sure, the creature may be lethargic, but if it was the one unique enough to come out during leaf-bare, it was dangerous to assume anything else at this point. Many young cats liked to snicker and say that he was too much of a worrywart, but the other possible results weight with too much to lose. Walking quickly over to Cricketpaw's side, but slowing down and keeping an eye on the sleepy adder as he neared, he nodded, agreeing. "Alright. That's enough for today. You did well. Let's go back." Howlingwind turned and nudged Cricketpaw in the direction of the camp, towards where they had buried their last catches. "When we return, you may have something to eat, and rest as much as you need for today." He told Cricketpaw as they walked.
Cricketpaw didn't say anything as the pair made their way back to camp. Silence was not unusual for him, but there was something uncomfortable about this- a total disconnect between him and Howlingwind, where he, for once, felt obligated to say something. It was uncommon for apprentices to call off their own training sessions, but how could he continue hunting? There was too much to think about, and nobody to discuss it with. It was so frustrating, sometimes- and occasionally, the bitter feeling of loneliness would well up in the heart that he so often ignored. He was so alone sometimes- it felt like he would burst. He glanced sideways at Howlingwind. He was a senior warrior, wasn't he? And his mentor. Maybe the time had come to try to see something in others. He had never given much credit to the rest of his Clan for their intelligence, but they had survived this long, hadn't they? There had to be something to them, and maybe if he could see in them what he saw in that snake- his tail flicked with frustration. Why couldn't he relate to his Clanmates? It seemed so easy for everyone else, but Finchpaw was the only one he felt knew him as anything other than an oddity, something to be respected but never loved. But Finchpaw was young and naive, and he seldom could figure out what his gifted brother was talking about. No, the decision was made. All these things inside his head were useless if he couldn't express them. He stopped suddenly, put his prey down, and studied his mentor with bright green eyes. "That snake wouldn't have hurt me," he said determinedly.
o o c || Hm. Kinda low muse, despite it being an important moment for Cricketpaw. w o r d s || 280 t a g s || Howlingwind
Howlingwind padded beside his apprentice on their way back to the camp in silence. It wasn't a peaceful silent, thought. There was invisible static in the air, and Howlingwind could feel the awkwardness in the silence between the two, mentor and apprentice. Howlingwind could only agree that, with the rare appearance of an adder, anyone would feel better about just calling it a day. He only wondered what Cricketpaw was thinking about all this.
After a long moment of silence, Cricketpaw stopped suddenly, and dropped his prey, then looked up at Howlingwind with his bright green eyes. Howlingwind sighed, then smiled reassuringly. "I'm sure that it wouldn't have, not only because of the season, but also probably because you say so, but you still should be careful, in the rare case that the snake was tricking you, or for some other reason, and decided to bite you, just as odd as it was that the snake was out in the first place. You can't really be too careful, since once an adder bites, then, it's too late to take precautions." he explained.
Cricketpaw nodded slowly. His mentor seemed to have faith in him, at least- that was a good thing. Everyone had faith in his ability, didn't they? Just not in him. They thought that his arrogance would be his downfall- but if he was always right, was it arrogance? He sighed and looked back at Howlingwind. "There was something about it that I can't explain," he went on. "Other creatures- they can't be that different from us, can they? We have these Clans we live in, we have no idea whether other cats live this way- there's this world out there and nobody here seems to care about it, and what if there's something better?" The young cat was growing more agitated, paws kneading the ground as words came spilling from his mouth. Things that he had considered since kithood came from him unbidden, unexpected but relentless; once the spout was opened, there was no closing it. "What even is the point of all of this? We fight and we kill each other, we fight more to get revenge on other Clans for doing the same things that we do, and we're all the same. There's no reason for it. I don't want to fight other cats. We would all know so much more if we collaborated instead of fighting over these stupid borders all the time. Gatherings are nothing but giant arguments, flurries of accusation; it doesn't make sense. We can learn from each other, but we'd rather fight. We could explore more of this world, but we're so attached to our little patches of earth that we stay in one place. We're no better than mice, hiding in their holes," he spat, the words edged with pent-up bitterness. He shook his head and sighed. "The snake wouldn't have bitten me. I know it as well as I know that Finchpaw won't attack me. I just know.
o o c || Still not great for muse, but we runnin' this anyway. w o r d s || 314 t a g s || Howlingwind
Howlingwind listened as Cricketpaw delved into way deeper topics than any normal cat would consider. He knew that once Cricketpaw started off with the philosophical questions, there was no stopping the apprentice, so he waited for Cricketpaw to finish before replying. "We're all the same, yet all so different, and still the same. We are greedy, so we steal. We are desperate, so we break the rules. We are proud, so we seek revenge. The cycle of hatred continues on, and even though we have elders, it seems that we never learn from our mistakes. Sometimes even I wonder if it is just in everyone's nature to be selfish, greedy, and hateful. Lately, I've come to the conclusion that we're all at fault for some wrongdoing, full of flaws, and far from perfect. We could all work together and support each other like we do our Clan, yet we are selfish, ambitious, and full of evil in our hearts. We're just as afraid to explore our world as the mice we eat." He sighed, agreeing with his genius apprentice.
Looking calmly at Cricketpaw, he smiled. "To your questions, I honestly can't give a good answer. But you possess the knowledge to change the way things are. Maybe you could be the one to change all that." He meowed, knowing that his words held strong meaning. He knew that Cricketpaw was a powerful one, with power in knowledge, and wisdom. To give such a young apprentice such a possible ambition like changing the ways of the Clans, however, he would leave up to Starclan to decide.
Howlingwind picked up his catch again, and began to walk forward again. The camp was nearing now, and occasionally, the soft slight breeze would bring a familiar scent from within the camp.
ooc: In other words, dude you're too smart x.x my brain can't handle all the philosophy xD words: 297 tags: Cricketpaw
Last Edit: Jun 27, 2012 14:31:51 GMT -6 by Shizuka