The light shower of snow left the pebbly ground slick and cold as it ended shortly into the afternoon. Birdtalon and Smokestar seemed to be two tigers passing in the night, neither one of them crossing paths over the course of their duties. However, as he returned from the midday patrol, he was glad to see pawprints melting a path toward the leader's den. One of his conversational topics could wait, but his patrol report was more urgent than that and he was glad to see that either Smokestar or Valiantstride was in camp.
Clearing his throat, he announced himself and held his tail high at attention. "Birdtalon here with the patrol report!" He waited for the tortoiseshell to appear before he revealed the results. Respectfully, he dipped his head to the smaller she-cat. "My patrol and I were at the border in the Little Woods and smelled fox, ma'am. There were tracks and the scent of blood, but it seemed to continue into RainClan territory. We've covered its traces with our mark to discourage its return, but..." He trailed off, waiting for her orders on what they should do, and wondered how he could segue into discussing the young apprentice, Passionpaw.
Smokestar had returned not long ago from a hunting patrol- empty-jawed. Rowanclaw had managed a catch of a bird, and Meadowflight had nearly caught another but managed only to yank a feather from the bird's tail as it fluttered out of reach. One small bird wasn't much, and she hoped other patrols would have more luck. For now, she needed to get warm again, and her den was where she went immediately after returning to the camp, burrowing into the moss and breathing a sigh as it began to reflect her body heat back to her.
One ear flicked at the call and she lifted her head to see Birdtalon outside, looking brisk and alert, his tail lifted and his eyes expectant. Stifling a grumble, Smokestar shook off the layer of moss and padded to meet the tom at the den entrance. "Birdtalon," she replied, nodding back at him. She waited and listened as he gave his report, her tail lashing almost of its own accord at the word fox. Bloodscent? It must have killed something- prey StoneClan could ill afford to spare. Stupid creatures, couldn't they mind the scent markers? And she couldn't even risk her warriors to fight it off; they needed each one.
"Tell everyone to stay away from there for now. We shouldn't risk an encounter... and put a couple warriors in charge of keeping track of it, tell them to let me know if it comes back. Don't provoke it, if possible." That ought to cover it. Hopefully it was just this one incident and it wouldn't show its ugly face again, but if so she wanted to be prepared. After all the trouble foxes had given, no StoneClan cat ought to think her measures impractical. "Anything else?" she asked, her gaze clearing as she tipped her head back to meet the tom's gaze again.
"Affirmative. I'll tell the others," the gray tom meowed. "My patrol can keep an eye on things." He usually patrolled with the same group of cats since they were all friends. Birdtalon had never fought a fox before, but he could ask one of the more experienced warriors to lend their claws. The Clan's prey count was at stake. They couldn't let the fox return and steal more food from StoneClan mouths.
Anything else? The quick lash of her voice cut across the thought.
"Ah, yes, ma'am," he said slowly. Birdtalon had been going over his words in his head on every walk past the leader's den, and most of all he didn't want to come across as presumptuous. He hadn't exactly asked Passionpaw if she would want to be his apprentice, in case he got her hopes up unnecessarily. "Mm, well, I was hoping to talk to you about mentoring Passionpaw. Have you already chosen the replacement?" he asked. Birdtalon bit the inside of his cheek, praying to StarClan he'd asked that right. He felt like he had a completely different set of etiquette rules around a female leader. He'd been less nervous around Hawkstar, but, then again, he'd grown up with him; the tom was all he knew.
"Good." Smokestar would trust him to let the warriors know once he returned to the den, and she'd leave the matter of the fox and the tracking of it to him and his patrol- unless it became more of a problem and needed to be sorted out instantly.
Her question had been meant as more of a prelude to a farewell so she could go back to the warmth of her nest, but it seemed Birdtalon wasn't finished and so she remained, waiting for his next piece of news. One ear twisted as, instead of a report on the goings-on of the territory, he brought up Passionpaw and the lack of mentor. She hadn't set the young she-cat another mentor right away, had instead asked her warriors to take turns taking her out for a few days while she mulled it over. Birdtalon asking was bold, but she could respect him going for what he wanted.
He was certainly responsible enough to handle an apprentice, hopefully one as enthusiastic and scatterbrained as Passionpaw. And though she was still getting training, it was best to have her stick to just one warrior to guide her and teach her what she would need to know. "I hadn't," she answered. "But I think it will work. Are you certain you can keep up with her?" Her question was followed by a purr of amusement and Smokestar stood. "This evening, I will do the ceremony. For now, tell her, and then go eat and rest. Thank you for your report, Birdtalon."
The tom's bright eyes sparkled. "I can relate to what she's going through. I believe we can be a good team," he said. He thought about introducing her to his previous apprentice, Sparrowlight, who'd just received her name as a StoneClan warrior. Passionpaw could do with a role model close to her age. "She has a lot to say about everything, and I like an inquisitive young cat. It means they're smart." He smiled at his leader and purred in return.
Standing at attention once more as Smokestar gave her final orders, Birdtalon gave a sharp nod. "Yes, ma'am!" After a long patrol that took him all around the Woods, he was more than grateful to obey a command to eat and rest. His tail swung about first before his body did, and he scampered off to the apprentice's section to tell Passionpaw the news.
( this table coding is copyright of my friend hata )
Last Edit: Jan 8, 2020 21:05:31 GMT -5 by ʞɐɹɐzɥɐl