Dawn was just breaking, the sky turning pale with the coming sunrise, when Skyteller padded from the cave. He gave a nod to Light, who stood guarding the entrance, but said nothing aloud as he moved past and made his way down the trail. He’d spent a restless night, falling into multiple half-dozes but never really falling asleep, and a walk to breathe the fresh, clean air and to exercise his legs had never sounded better. He’d be back before the eagles woke.
The tiredness didn’t fade, but the prickly feeling of being hemmed in by the walls did; he knew that he couldn’t get away with this much, considering that his role now revolved around the Tribe and the cave, but surely he was allowed some period of adjustment. Going from the daily accompanying of hunts to having to remain within the cave was not a change come easy. At least no cat had said something about it yet, and who knew- maybe before long, he’d accept the sedentary life.
But not today. The cold air was breathed in and it made him feel more like himself- his former self. Snow crunched beneath his paws, the bare skin relishing the brief chilly bite each time he took a step, and his thick fur served as a capable buffer against the wind. Pausing next to a stunted tree, the branches bare of leaves, Skyteller lifted his head and scented the air, the familiar smells of tree and bush and prey easing the last bit of tension. Too bad there was nothing growing- he could have gathered herbs while he was out here. At least he had a good stock back in his little cave.
The fresh scent of cats drifted to him, and Skyteller turned to it. Not Tribe- more Clan cats? No; he recognized it now. The loners had appeared not long ago, and the male’s scent was familiar from the time he had stayed with the Tribe. The other was not as well known, but she was no threat. Just a cat surviving as best she could.
Crossing to where the scent was strongest, Skyteller caught a glimpse of a black-and-white shape further along, the pricked ears and stillness indicating a cat seeking prey. Remaining quiet to keep from ruining the hunt, Skyteller simply watched Blackpelt sink into a careful stalk and disappear among a clump of leafless brush. The loner would return here whether or not he caught whatever he was after. The Tribe cat would wait until then.
Leafbare was mild this time, she noted. The snow was light and the cold itself wasn't as severe as it had been in moons previous. Which meant that the prey wasn't nearly as scarce, even this far into the mountains. She'd never regret coming to her leafbare nest every time the snows came, but this time had been particularly difficult for her. She was worried about a clan cat back in the valley, a tom that she felt would be much happier in the life of a loner. At least then perhaps his spirit would heal.
Jade shook herself from her thoughts as she ambled back in the direction she'd left her companion of leafbare. Blackpelt she had no idea where he'd come from, but he didn't deserve to be alone, so she'd offered to let him stay with her through the cold moons of leafbare. She'd caught a small rabbit already and was making her way back where she'd left him to his own hunt.
She knew there were other cats up here, in a Clan like structure. They were nice enough, but she still tried to keep her distance. Unlike the cats below she'd never been chased in the mountains. But then, she usually left them gifts of prey in the leafbare moons she spent in their territory. They could have kits to feed, she just had herself.
The she-cat scented a stranger and mentally sighed, increasing her pace. Hopefully her companion hadn't gotten himself into any trouble.
Skyteller caught the sound of paw steps, his ears flicking and his head turning in the direction they were coming from. The sight of the tabby she-cat was familiar, and the brief tension faded as Skyteller rose to his paws and waved his tail in greeting.
Taking a few steps toward her, the tom spoke, an open and friendly tone calling to her. "Hello, Jade. I see you've had good hunting. How are you and Blackpelt doing?"
He hadn't seen her this season yet, but he'd heard from patrols that she had arrived at the start of the Time of Frozen Water, and that Blackpelt had been with her. She looked well, so her time among the Clans had not been too difficult, and the weather was yet nowhere near as harsh as the Tribe was used to. Whether or not it would stay that way remained to be seen.
Justice Note: I'm going off the assumption they would have met the previous winter; hope i'm not wrong
Jade finally recognized the tom from the winter before and relaxed. This one wasn't going to attack her or harass Blackpelt. Thankfully, the cats that lived this far up the mountains were far more generous than the clan cats below. She dropped her rabbit at her paws and sat, cleaning her face for a moment before answering.
"I am doing well. I can't really speak for my companion, but he seems well enough to me. We're making leafbare at least. How have you been? Any new kits gracing your group this season?" She didn't mind passing the time here, and she had always enjoyed hearing about new kits and romance and gossip. Little things, not malicious ones.
She quirked her head, ears shifting as she listened for her companion's return even as she carried on a conversation with the tom before her. "Things are rough below. The fire still scars part of the valley, but I think newleaf will take care of most of that. I've been leaving them offerings of prey from other parts of the valley. I still don't understand why they chase after me like I've done something wrong. All I want to do is help. They have kits to feed, I just have myself."
Note : Its fine, she's been coming there since she was apprentice age, so its very likely they've met before.
A nod was the silent reply to Jade's answer, a pleased purr briefly rising from him. She asked after him as well, and Skyteller's eyes flicked back to the cave before he spoke. "Not this season, but we did have a kit-mother arrive from one of the Clans with a kit in tow. Our numbers are growing from those who have left their Clans. I've been well, thank you for asking."
He held back from telling her anything else- she might not know what exactly him being Skyteller meant, only that it was the highest rank of the Tribe, and he didn't want her to look at him differently. He'd got that from the rest already. "It's good to see you. I don't know why you risk yourself in the valley with the Clans." And he didn't think a whole lot of their unnecessary aggression toward other cats- but that was their life, one learned and taught from their earliest days.
"I don't understand it either. There is no harm in accepting help. They seem far too proud to me, but that is all they know." A shuffle of his hind legs on the snowy ground, a roll of his broad shoulders. "What can you do if they're too stubborn to see past their boundaries?"