[P] Any Way the Wind Blows
(Actually does kind of matter...)
#1
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+422


It was early, so early that it was barely past even astronomical dawn, and the twilight sun had not yet risen over the horizon. But then again, even if it had, its scarlet disc would have been hidden from view still: the sky was heavily masked with a layer of cloud, so that it appeared dark grey and black in colouration. Cloaked by the darkness Maciel waited, sitting down on a patch of dewy grass and gripped by a nervous agitation. Teaching was synonymous with helping for him, and he felt that his purpose in life was to help others. And, since he held others in such high regard, that responsibility now seemed like a huge weight on his shoulders.


He had promised to teach Mara how to hunt. At first he had imagined it as a simple task, but then, as always, he was soon beset by worries. What if the lessons he taught were not deemed helpful by the student? What if they proved false? The solution might appear obvious: to teach what you know for sure, and warn when you stray from fact into unproved hypothesis. However, his anxiety remained firmly rooted, and he could not help but watch the nightmarish images it provided in his head. It was only once the imaginings became plainly fantastical that he was forced to push them away, but even then the memories of the more realistic ones itched at the back of his mind.


Despite his anxiety, however, he had actually planned the day rather well. He had been in Cour des Miracles territory for long enough now to be more familiar with it, not only in its landscape but also in its flora, fauna and weather conditions. As a result, he had been able to predict certain aspects of this morning, such as wind direction, which played a vital role in hunting.


He could feel that same wind now. It was much too light to ruffle his fur, being the very gentlest of land breezes, but he could feel the chill that it brung, and, more importantly, smell the scents that it carried. That was why he had chosen to start at the eastern area of Arbres de la Falaise and then work west to Calico Grove. Of course, he knew by now that the grove contained hardly any prey, but he wanted to show it to Mara anyway, and warn her against hunting there.


Running over the plan in his mind, he gazed out at the shadows beneath the trees.

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#2
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443 Thanks for getting us started! Mara's in secui form.


She had pitted her might against thieves and walked away successful, albeit wounded, and done so once more after she'd healed well enough — her foe, however, had been vastly different. There was nothing more frightening (at least to her mind) than the awesome power of the sea, whether it be during the middle of a storm or the calm of a summer's afternoon.

More often than not she could be found along the seashore before the sun had risen, either wandering or swimming, and this morning was no different. Sitting on the shore near the Cave of Lascaux, she eyed the Isle of Wind looming off in the not-so-far distance as though it were a challenge to be seized. With a hefty sigh, Mara begrudgingly turned her attention inland. After spending a few weeks on the mend, her first hunting lesson was due, and the tantalizing dare that was the Isle would always be there at a later date.

Taking a long moment to shift from her bipedal form to her shorter, but much bulkier quadruped form, she shook herself experimentally. This form was not one she visited often, having only shifted to it once or twice before, and even then it'd been to see what it looked like or to spar with her brother. He was much larger than her in the other two forms, but found even ground in this one. It wasn't necessarily a surprise, either, given that she was more double her lupus form weight in this form. Sufficiently outfitted for the task at hand, she set off toward the northeastern end of Arbres de la Falaise at a brisk pace while harboring most of her strength.

It was a typical morning in Cour des Miracles. The fog bank would recede late in the afternoon, if at all, and masked the shore from sight as she approached from the southwest, unwittingly keeping herself along the border. The Lady wasn't consciously masking her movements, having no need to do so, but was painfully curious as to whether Maciel was as nervous by himself as he was when she wasn't present. Nearing him, she wasn't entirely sure. A bundle of nerves herself, as she was dreadfully afraid of mockery, she tried to disguise this by putting on airs.

Seigneur, She greeted giving a wag of her tail. How have your first few weeks in Court treated you?

It shamed her to realize that even if they could not hunt together, as he'd promised her, she should have come to see him anyway. She'd traded adventure and friendship for ambition, and that struck her as wrong. Privately, she chastised herself for this.

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#3
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+462


Upon sensing Mara's presence nearby, Maciel immediately turned and, if he had been human, his face might have even broken into a smile. Being a non-Luperci, however, made such a gesture difficult, and he had to make do with the body language of the fourlegged dogs and wolves: his tail, although normally lowered, lifted a little and wagged happily. Ripped out of the entrapment of imagination and memory, he became instantly more alert, and his ears tilted forward towards the wolfdog. He noted that she had arrived in Secui form, but he did not feel at all threatened or wary. There was obvious logic behind the decision, after all. The form possessed far more strength than Lupus, and thus it was a wise choice during long travels and when taking down larger creatures, such as elk.


"My lady," the coywolf started formally, "My first few weeks in the Court have treated me kindly." his tail wagged again, and he continued, refering to her promotion, "And I understand you have come across your fair share of good luck, too." Ambition had never been in his nature, and so he was incapable of jealousy when it came to rank. Indeed, he instead felt satisfied when he saw someone else moving up. This was, of course, the case with Mara as well.


Greetings now put aside, he then began an explanation on the lesson he was about to give.
"Sorry about the earliness, but it is an old habit of us more... feral hunters," he said apologetically. It was an inconvenience that had worried at him (along with that aforementioned, hopeless wondering about the accuracy of his hunting knowledge). Seeing that the pair had first met at dawn, however, maybe it was not such a troublesome problem after all. Nevertheless, it was better to express one's regret than risk the other's hurt, anger or confusion. "When most predators hunt in the day, and others during the night, it is often easiest to find prey in the hours between the two."


"Before we start, though, I just need to know what you do happen to know about hunting and the wind." He had decided that it would be best to begin this way. After all, there was no use repeating information. It was just a waste of time. Plus, he thought (and correctly, too) that it would be an irritating thing to endure.


Throughout the entirety of the conversation, it should be noted, that although Maciel was indeed calm and peaceful, he had never ceased to be submissive. It was a habit that had been deeply engraved into his nature by past experience, and although this Luperci proved to be kind, that alone could not erase the damage already done by the monster of his past.


'Welcome. :) By the way, do you want to backdate this a little? It just seems like quite a bit of a gap from when they last met.

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#4
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582 Um, we could, if you want, but Mara had a shoulder injury for a few weeks there and would probably be even worse at hunting than she already will be. Also this got a bit long-winded, sorry. >_>


He named her for what she was, a Lady of the court, and she took on a coy sort of smile, transforming her expression into something fey. There was no sense of false modesty in her, though, only a vague sort of embarrassment that her own unsubtle ambitiousness had come to light. He mentioned that he'd been well, and then continued to touch on her rise into the ranks of nobility, though not in so many words.

Would you tell me if they weren't? Maciel claimed the weeks had passed easily, kindly, and while she didn't doubt him, she wondered if he would think to tell her if it was otherwise. Kind to you, that is. She clarified, with a swish of her tail. His submissiveness concerned her, even if she didn't voice it. At this point it felt safe to say that he was probably like this with others as well, and it discomfited her to think on it. Young though he may have been, he had his strengths and his weaknesses like everyone else, and was therefore as deserving as everyone else.

Yes, well, a bit of luck and a lot of long days. Unsure how to phrase her comment, the wolfdog shrugged.

Idleness doesn't suit me. It was true of a great many other things as well, and her mind briefly brushed upon the unpleasant memory of her fight with the thieves, her unlikely savior, and his thin blade. In the weeks following her injury she'd been forced to put off her aspirations in favor of healing, though she'd still tended to the politics of it all. Even a temporary wound could not bring her to heel. Had she possessed hands at the moment she might've touched upon her shoulder all unwittingly, but didn't, so couldn't. Instead, she averted her gaze to the still dark horizon.

An apology spilled forward into the dawn in relation to early hour, and she flicked her ears toward him, curious. Instead of chastising him due to what she knew of his nature, she merely rolled her shoulders. She would have been awake at this hour regardless, and it was of little consequence to her what she did during that time.

His logic was sound, and yet it wasn't something she would have considered before. Adopting a searching look, she explored his face for signs of this apparent knowledge, but there was only a touch of timidness and kindness. He was apparently unaware of his skill, and it gave her something to think about. As far as she could tell no one had ever bothered to tell him he was good at anything, and his previous... Subservience in her presence was still present. It made her uneasy to think that he was afraid of her. A little angry, too, though not at him.

Nothing. She stated directly when asked what she knew about hunting. When forced to hunt for herself, such as the northern seal she'd eaten, she'd taken on a berserker sort of hunting style, rushing from the underbrush and taking her prey by surprise. The animals were rather unintelligent, and it'd been a young, inexperienced pup.

I'm a clean slate, I suppose. Smiling a bit, she eyed him curiously for any sort of reaction.

Scent was not a key component when spear fishing, as there was nothing to smell underwater. Shadows and light were more important, and that sentiment rippled throughout the currents of her life. The living could be shadows, too.

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#5
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+503


"My first few weeks in the Court have treated me kindly."

"Would you tell me if they weren't?"... "Kind to you, that is."

The inquiry pierced the depths of Maciel's heart, but it did not cause him any level of discomfort. He was a very honest person, after all, and deception did not appeal to him. However, he was not so naive as to think that all other creatures were the same, and so paused, contemplating how to word his statement conscientiously. "I would not lie," he eventually said, gently, decisively. He was no longer submissive, but instead relaxed as he exposed to the wolfdog the nature of his truthfulness. "Especially not to you. You are sincere, and not at all unkind." Perhaps, that was all that needed to be said.


He heard her mention 'long days', and did not pursue the subject. Besides, he was not in the state for such an investigation. The confidence he had experienced mere moments before was already fading, morphing him back into the respectful, submissive creature he normally was. His tail lowered, as did his gaze, but at least not to the same extent as they did before. He wagged his tail, too, for although submissive, he was not lacking contentment.


The Luperci referred to herself as a 'blank slate', and he would have smiled at the metaphor, but not because it was a cause of hilarity, however. It was simply modest, and said with humour and goodwill, a tone that he appreciated. "Well then," he replied genially, "I shall teach you the basics."


"The wind is like a river. If you try and catch scents whilst going upwind, it will be much easier. The wind will literally carry the scents to you. You can face other directions, of course, and generally still be alright, but it will be much more difficult. But no creature can face downwind and expect to catch a scent from that direction. The wind is like a river, you see? The scents from downwind cannot reach your nose, because they are being carried away in the opposite direction."


"The wind is coming from that way," he pointed to the appropriate direction with his muzzle. As he faced the breeze he nodded, as if in respect, and then he turned his attention back to his pupil, "Even though it is light, you can still sense it. You can watch for the movement of leaves. The side of your body facing it will be colder than the one facing away. If the wind is consistent and strong enough, the trees and plants might also have grown bent, leaning downwind."


He stopped briefly, worried that he was going too fast to be understood properly, and cast Mara a look. His eyes, finally level with hers, spoke a silent language, one more complex than even Ameslan. Yet it was a language universal, and it was easy to deciper what those dark eyes were asking: whether to continue onwards, or explain the matter further.


I feel so dumb. I completely forgot about Mara's injury. X/ Anyway, that's alright then.
BTW: It's fine. I don't mind long posts at all! As long as they aren't 1000+ words (or something crazy like that), anyway.

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#6
[html]

518 Don't feel dumb! I tend to forget things about my own characters, so I can't imagine keeping track of someone else's as well.


She didn't think he was deceptive, but was nonetheless troubled by the idea of someone bothering him and not telling her about it... Or being hesitant to tell her, for whatever reason. Her concern was one of friendship with a touch of something else, perhaps motherliness, though she wouldn't know enough about the feeling to aptly put a name to it.

The wolfdog was too young for that, if not biologically, then emotionally.

He laid her fears to rest with a few kind words, and she nodded shortly, not wanting to press the matter further. There wasn't much she could do if someone did offer him offense, given that she was only a lady, and there were more above her than below her, if one wanted to think of it in such black and white terms. Mara was not one to ask others to stand on ceremony in her presence, and likely never would be. It made her uncomfortable, and would rather be remembered as the one who raised him up as opposed to the one who'd pushed him down.

His confidence left him, and she wondered for a moment if it had been there at all to begin with, or whether she'd imagined it. She'd been full of pride for him for those few moments, and to watch it fade away brought a melancholy, sad glint to her otherwise steely blue gaze. In time, perhaps, it would return.

The basics were always the best place to start, were they not? False modesty didn't become her, and she'd been unerringly honest when describing herself as an inexperienced hunter. Rushing headlong into the fray may work against an unexperienced fighter, but this was a different subject all-together, one that went so far as to require four legs instead of two. He knew what he was talking about, however, which became readily apparent not even a sentence into his commentary.

The river analogy stood her in good stead, as did the forthright manner in which he explained everything, and there was a fierce gleam of pride in her blue eyes. What he knew, he knew very well. Turning her face when he did, adjusting her posture when he did, she realized belatedly that she learned better through example as opposed to personal experience, save where hand-to-hand combat was concerned. There were some things that only life could prepare you for, and she was vaguely reminded of the sickening, repugnant stench of blood on the sun warmed, cracked ground.

When he paused to see if she was following, there was a long moment where she simply sat, digesting the information. Eying him, she wondered if there was ever a time where the wind was still enough that such things didn't matter, but didn't imagine it was a common enough occurrence to warrant commenting on, so let it be. Eventually she nodded, more of a convulsion than anything else, a singultus in her otherwise steady demeanor.

Stay downwind, follow the direction of the flora... Trailing off, she demonstrated her limited knowledge in an attempt to prove that she was, indeed, paying attention.

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#7
[html]
+504


If Mara's eyes ever revealed her emotions, Maciel did not see it. Yet this failure of observation was not, in fact, due to a fault in his social intelligence. Instead, it was simply because there had rarely been a chance for such interpretation. Being a non-Luperci - and a very wild one, too - looking into another eyes remained, for him, a generally threatening gesture. He did not wish for his emotion and stance to be miscommunicated. That could hurt the other in the conversation. And sometimes, that would make him bleed.


Experience alone had taught him that lesson, and lessons were difficult to unlearn.


When the coywolf asked his question, he immediately noticed Mara's initial silence. At first he felt worried that he had somehow gotten something wrong... so wrong that she had been emptied of spoken words. This frightened feeling was swiftly banished, however, for the wolfdog then replied with a brief recital of the knowledge given, coupled by an affirmative nod. A rush of relief swept over Maciel and he relaxed instantly before continuing again with his instructions. He was facing Mara, still, but his eyes were avoiding hers. Nevertheless, his tone was amiable and not at all fearful.


"It is best to hunt upwind," he concluded, "But there are a few other things that you might address, too. You can disguise yourself in accordance to the senses."


"The wind deals with scent, but to not be heard, you should step lightly, and speak quietly (or, if you do wish, not at all). Also, you might want to watch out for branches and leaves: if you bump against one, not only is it a little noisy, but the movement might be spotted, too. Hiding and camouflaging yourself is important as well, but not nearly as important as concealing your scent and staying silent."


Then the Mexican wolf suddenly paused, but only for the briefest of moments, as he made sure that he had not missed anything. He thought not, and so just said:
"And that's just the basics." Then he suddenly glanced upwards and allowed his and Mara's eyes to meet for a second, but then tore them away just as quickly. It was still extremely hard for him to maintain eye-contact, although he had begun to try a little more as of late.


When he spoke again, his voice still sounded jovial, however,
"I'm going to teach you the specifics now, but they vary on the prey," he began, "And I won't be able to teach you everything, but you can choose what you do learn."

"For example, some prefer to hunt creatures like mice. Others prefer rabbits and hares. Many also like taking down the larger game: deer and elk, mainly. Unfortunately, though, I won't be able to teach you how to catch birds and bats..." he trailed off briefly, but then picked himself back up again. His attitude gentle, he asked, "The point is, Mara, what would you like to hunt?"


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Current avatar by Gen!
#8
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558 Sorry for the wait on this. Also congratulations on Community Soul!


It was becoming apparent that there could be more than one kind of wildness — indeed, he embodied one, which he wore like a prisoner’s manacles around his wrists — and she used hers to chase freedom as though it were a tangible thing she might one day catch within her cinnamon colored jaws. That he did not meet her gaze didn’t trouble her in the slightest (she understood on some instinctual level what social order dictated, after all) and yet she was abashed by it, concerned as she was that her own ambition would drive a wedge between their fledgling friendship.

At the mention of the ways in which one might disguise themselves, her interest grew beyond that which the situation truly dictated, and was suggested by the eerie stillness of her limbs as her dark ears tilted forward, listening with absolutely undivided attention. The Chien Hotel might’ve fallen into the sea that very moment and she’d not notice until it was mentioned to her. As a prospective Ambassador to the southern-most packs of ‘Souls, she thought it might become imperative one day that she learn to disguise her scent or learn to approach an enemy unheard. It was dishonorable, however, to enter combat in such a manner, to draw a weapon and leave one’s enemy without a single chance to test their own arms.

She was a pirate’s daughter, though, and didn’t entirely care for the more abstract ways one may lose their honor. If she’d ever had any, it was likely long gone by now. As far as battle was concerned, she could only hope that she acquitted herself well and be content with it.

Maciel suggested that what he’d covered was merely the basics, and she wondered vaguely what he may have left out for her benefit. Trusting that the finer points would be learned through practice in a way that they could not be explained with words, she nodded once more. He’d painted a broad picture with ever-widening brush strokes, and she was satisfied enough with that. It wasn’t as though he were leaving any time soon, and could likely be counted on to answer any odd questions that might arise should she have them. It seemed rather likely that there would be things she found difficult, not being a naturally quiet woman.

Intrepid to her very core, the question of what she wanted to hunt was taken up as though it were a gauntlet thrown down. Her instinct was to conduct herself in much the same was she had been since arriving on the Court’s doorstep; cut a swathe, make a statement, be great. And yet, sitting there before the non-Luperci, she found herself humbled. If she injured herself once more there was a chance she might not bounce back as well as she had the first time around, and large game could be dangerous.

Eying him warily, as though he might suggest that she start with mice (something she would nonetheless do if it was indeed to be the task he set her to), she turned her gaze elsewhere as if searching out some unseen game animal. Hare, maybe? I'm not sure, She admitted the latter with a slight hesitation, uncomfortable with her own lack of surety. What did you start out with? Mara imagined a young Maciel, diligently pouncing after field mice.

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#9
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+569


When asked, Maciel remembered his own first attempts at hunting and almost laughed. For canines, months passed somewhat like years, and it was often amusing when memory offered to them images of their younger times.
"I believe it was a flying squirrel," he replied, then unintentionally gave a brief telling on the story, "They are funny creatures. It was near a tree, foraging, and when I pounced I missed my mark and it scurried up the trunk. Then it leapt - or perhaps flew... I do not know - and landed on the branch of another tree more than a dozen feet away." He shook his head, momentarily amazed at the wonders of the animal world, but then his former calm, gentle seriousness returned. There was a moment of quiet as he thought of Mara from a hunter's view: she was a Luperci, and that gave her advantages that would make up for her inexperience. A less seasoned hunter might have also thought the wolfdog's small size a weakness. That would have been a misguided theory. Maciel had found that during the chase and the kill strength and bulk were definitely useful, but not nearly so much as simple speed and (not so simple) tactics. Considering this, he formed a suggestion.


"But, although the ability to hunt such small rodents is valuable," he said, "You probably would want to catch something larger than that. We must support the pack, and you are fully-grown and a Luperci, too. I was born in this lupus form, and I cannot shift, but your present form, Secui, will give you more advantages than you might think. I am slim and small for my species (a good thing, for then I am light and fast), but now you have better mass and strength and are still that much faster. Deer, I think, would be little trouble for you, even alone. Together, we could bring down elk."


Perhaps his view of Luperci was made of bloodstained gold and silver, and his beliefs were somewhat more exaggerated forms of reality as result. However, the bare truth of the matter remained: Luperci were capable of more things than those uninfected by the virus, and not only when in Optime form. Maciel's thoughts lingered on this, and he was swamped by feelings of both hatred and fear and, above all, admiration, but then he came across something and thought it wise to mention it.


"You might find it hard staying quiet, however. Your size, although still smaller than other Secui, means that you are also heavier. That might be difficult, but tread carefully for now. Practice will prove perfect, in the end."


"Additionally, some tactics would have to be ruled out. For example, during a chase you must sometimes keep the running pace for miles on end. Unless I am mistaken, Secui are not that good at endurance..." his voice slowly grew faint and petered off awkwardly. He had never liked criticising others. To him, it was like clawing at their faces.
But the information he gave was sound. As a loner, he had come across a couple of Luperci who preferred their Secui form when hunting. One of them he had simply watched, the other he had helped, but they had both appeared to experience the difficulties he had mentioned. Mara deserved to know them. Perhaps, being a Luperci herself, could also relate to it.


No worries. :P And thanks... I kind of freaked out when I logged in and saw the newspost. O_O Congrats on your Spotlight, too!

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#10
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5+ You and me both, almost choked on my coffee when I saw it initially.


I believe it was a flying squirrel.

Eying him disbelievingly, Mara narrowed her gaze at him as if unsure whether or not he was trying to pull one over her. To her credit, it was very hard to imagine a little flying rodent, and having never seen one, she was slow to accept that maybe such things existed.

He went on to describe the incident in some detail, however, and even if she wasn't entirely sure, she didn't think he would lie to her about something so inconsequential, either. Nodding slowly, absorbed in thought as she was while considering her own mental image of said flying squirrel, she nearly missed his continuation. Almost as though he'd read her mind — not that it was hard — he suggested that maybe she would want to hunt something larger. Grinning quickly, a beat of her tail implied easily that this was indeed the truth of the matter.

Wants were not the same as capabilities, however. Elk are so big, She stated somewhat thickly. Her knowledge of them, like so many things, was limited to what she'd seen at a distance. Too intent on traveling south, she'd passed up the opportunity to hunt such game as he was now suggesting in favor of finding shelter and eating what she might find along the way. Seals and smaller, dumber, slower things. We could try for a deer though, to practice? If he wanted to go after bigger game, she would surely oblige him, but there was no promise of how successful they might be.

If my size is going to be a problem, I could shift. Blinking at him questioningly, Mara was quite obviously unsure whether or not he was complimenting her size and capability with it, or pointing out its detriments when it came to making noise and going unseen. It wasn't to her optime form she thought to go, but her smaller lupus form. Then, she would be smaller than even Maciel, and much quieter with it. Or, as quiet as she could manage. As adventurous and boisterous as she was, stealth had never been a major concern of hers until now.

Unexpectedly, his criticism made her laugh. If nothing else, he was learning to be a bit more forward, and it gladdened her to see it. His assessment of the secui form wasn't entirely unfounded, but it varied from luperci to luperci, and depended on their overall build. She was sleek and athletic, built for coursing through waves and her muscle was not the robust sort found on broad shouldered warriors, but the sort better suited for dancers.

You're right, for the most part. I'll give you a run for your money though, don't you worry. A bit of a play on words, it made her grin.

Turning away, so that she faced into the wind, she gave a flick of her multi-colored tail, waiting to see if he would prefer to lead, or wanted to see what (if anything) she'd learned so far. The Lady was eager to put her new knowledge to the test, and preferred a hands-on method to pretty speeches.

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#11
[html]
+388


When Mara expressed her views on elk as prey (specifically, how big they were), Maciel felt a twinge of good-natured humour within him. He did not pretend to be a master at hunting elk, of all things, although white-tail deer were easy enough to take down... but nevertheless, the way the wolfdog said it, you would think that they were hunting monsters. So maybe elk were indeed monsters in a way, considering the sheer strength of the creatures, but it still seemed like a bit of a childish notion.


Mara herself then suggested the possibility of hunting deer instead and Maciel, abandoning all former feelings of amusement, agreed immediately. He knew that to be nervous when hunting was a very dangerous thing. It could lead to more than just failure; it could lead to double-guessing yourself, and to do such a thing mid-leap could get you injured... and quite possibly badly, too.


"Deer is perfectly fine," Maciel assured her, although he hoped that it did not sound that way. Luperci should be shown respect after all. The conversation continued onward though, with a somewhat lengthy statement from Maciel himself, and eventually the coywolf found himself doing the whole 'assurance' thing once again, to his own dismay, "No, no," he said quickly, "Stay in your Secui form, if you wish. It's advantages outweigh the negatives, c-completely."


The Courtier was rather grateful when the discussion soon seemed to take on a more humourous turn once more. Admittedly, however, he did worry for a moment that the laugh Mara gave was one of mockery, but his anxieties were soon quietened. It did not seem like Mara to contemptuous, after all. "Alright then," he replied, his tone genial. There was not much for him to say, he thought, and he did not have a secret stash of witty remarks that came with social experience.


Mara then turned towards the forest - facing downwind, Maciel noticed with pride - and the coywolf gave her an encouraging nod. "Try and find a deer," he said gently, "You can ask me questions whenever you like." It was with gladness that he passed the reins (metaphorically speaking) to the eager student. He personally found it strange to be talking so much and besides, it only seemed right that a Luperci would lead.

XD

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#12
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3+ Little shorter, hope you don't mind.


It was not for nothing that she mentioned their size — even as a relatively inexperienced luperci, despite her current efforts to close some gaps in that particular spectrum, she understood that hunting something so much larger than herself came with perils. A smaller elk was almost guaranteed to weigh more than she did; a larger one would be four times her size, even in her secui form.

For all that Maciel was younger than her, he’d had a much rougher upbringing. He knew how to hunt even the largest of game, something Mara herself couldn’t have done even by the grace of God, and she was still very childish in many ways. Prone to rash outbursts when things didn’t go her way (which wasn’t terribly often, given the relative ease with which she could be pleased) and clinging to her childhood superstitions, she simply showed her youth in different ways than the non-shifter.

They had already hiked the perilous cliff that denoted Arbres de la Falaise’s location, leaving them with the lush forested area that was teeming with game. Having started out well, striking forward into the wind in preparing to hunt, she found herself nervous and jittery when it came to actually performing said task. Afraid to embarrass herself, afraid that Maciel would laugh at her if she did, or perhaps mock her for her lack of knowledge, she set her face into one of intense concentration, taking her time to avoid drier areas of underbrush as they came under the canopy of the lush trees.

Birdsong and other such noises rose to create cacophony of pure sound, light at first thought, then deafening when she found herself struggling to focus.

Continuing on in this way for a good chunk of time, she blinked at the arrival of the sun, sending down crepuscular rays in great abundance, for all the good it did her. Here and there a rabbit or bird would take off at the sight of them slinking through the woods, and every once in a while she would misstep and a twig or branch would crack underfoot, causing her to wince visibly. It wasn’t until a single young stag came into view, flicking his ears this way and that way that she paused, absolutely frozen.

Afraid to do so much as breathe, lest she frighten him off, her cobalt gaze slid sideways toward Maciel looking for some sort of silent instruction.

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#13
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+459

The pair padded in silence through the lush, emerald forest. Out of respect, Maciel was conscious to always keep beside or slightly behind the wolfdog, yet he did not fail to notice her unusual demeanor. She seemed strangely tense to him, but, unsociable and retiscent as he was, he decided not to begin any conversation on the matter. After all, if the hunt became too difficult, she could always ask him for help, whether it be in the form of general advice or perhaps answers to specific questions. He himself would not think to break the quiet first.


And so the hunt did continue. Dawn eventually arrived in full, but the young coywolf was patient and was not too badly irked by this. He had never before come across an adult non-hunter, let alone had to teach them. Nevertheless, he assumed that it was normal for such people to have a fairly slow start, and so his emotions remained by and large unchanged: blissfully neutral and undistracted. Yet soon something happened that would break that contented relaxation.


Suddenly in their line of vision there now stood a stag, alone, brown head raised to examine his surroundings. Maciel froze immediately and instinctively so as not to draw attention. After what seemed like an age the deer finally lowered his graceful, antlered head to the ground again to graze once more, munching contentedly on the grass and wildflowers.


Mara turned to the coywolf for help and Maciel's mind instantly sifted through every hunting tactic he had ever used or heard of. The stag was close, but not close enough so that a single pounce would strike home. Yet at the same time, he was such a distance away from them that trying to stalk closer would be unnecessary. Besides, he gathered that movement from this point on would have to be careful and controlled.


That ruled out an ambush, at least. He could try and go around to the other side of the stag, then scare him towards Mara, but he felt understandably nervous about sending a deer running directly at her at such a speed. She would probably first need to dodge those cloven hooves before she could actually attack, which could be extremely dangerous, and also have them lose valuable seconds. So he fell back on another basic (and very traditional) tactic: to chase until the prey is overtaken or too exhausted to continue.


Internally he took a moment to berate himself. He should have explained such common strategems in detail when he had had the chance. Obviously, he could not do so now, but he could still get the essential message across.
"Long chase," he whispered quietly, "Aim at rump. Don't get hit. Surround him."

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#14
[html]

5+ We could probably wrap this up in the next few (3-4) replies, and have another, if you like? Also, I'm not sure if you wanted Maciel to have a hunting co-rank, but because you have three threads where hunting is the theme, you could snag yourself a shiny co-rank. :>


While a young Maciel had been learning to hunt, she had been too absorbed in her own, somewhat selfish, plans. As a teenager she had been very concerned with — and had subsequently revolved her life around — anything to do with sailing, the sea, and other related topics therein. Unlike him, her childhood had been idyllic, growing under the gaze of adoring parents, and encouraged on a daily basis to do what she wanted to do within a basic set of dictums. That, and the obvious fact that there had been nothing to hunt had set the two Courtiers on very different paths.

She therefore knew nothing of persistence hunting, a technique that stretched back many hundreds of thousands of years of; it was as simple as Maciel thought it was, and if it was a lengthy process, it was also an extremely effective one. The general idea was to walk, trot, or run after a prey animal until it collapsed due to exhaustion. To imagine being at the mercy of such a thing, to finally lay down and rest only to see your pursuer at a distance and know that, no, sleep was not an option... It was brutal, and it yielded results.

Told in low tones so subtle that they barely registered on her radar, her dark ears pressed forward eagerly hoping for an expanded explanation but were met with silence. Eying him with a bit of disbelief, she eventually nodded and adjusted her weight so that it sat in the back-most portion of her hind feet in preparation to lunge forward. Riddled from nose to tail with anticipation and an early release of adrenaline, she shivered in the post-dawn light, and it wasn't due to the cold.

Long chase, she reminded herself, and tried to exhale her nervousness. The Lady wanted to perform well — she wanted to impress Maciel, and was afraid of what would happen if she didn't. With this in mind, she took a tentative step forward and, fueled by her fear, launched into a rush of motion. Propelled forward by her powerful hindquarters, the doggish woman felt a thrill of excitement that was quickly superseded by the fact that her prey had indeed turned and bolted at the slightest indication that something sinister was afoot, and the excitement was dulled with a pang of disappointment. This wasn't going to be easy.

Having become used to the bipedal form that she frequented due to the availability of opposable thumbs, she felt a touch of awkwardness at being so low to the ground; in addition to this, she felt a bit of her grace disappear. Where she could turn and flip, descending upon her foes like a star crashing to earth in that form, she was forced to abandon everything she'd learned and rely entirely on inbred instinct. It was blood-born, and not acquired knowledge but something she felt as keenly as a blade. Keeping pace, she wondered if Maciel was following, or hoping to head off their prey, but chose to focus on the ambling creature in front of her, taking every hairpin turn it did, propelling herself forward with every kick of her hind feet.

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#15
[html]
+542


Maciel was indeed following behind his packmate, trying to keep up the pace even as the buck bolted and begun his initially energized dash. These white-tailed deer could be very fast, swifter than even a wolf at a full sprint, and so he was forced to stray a good few metres or so behind their quarry. Yet (and this was a welcome sight to see), the Secui who ran in front of him seemed to be fairly fine with the gait - at least, she had not slowed behind him.


"Don't ovrestrain yourself!" he called loudly between harsh, panting breaths. There was no need for bare words and whisperings now, of course, considering that the deer was obviously all too well aware of their presence. "We can take start taking breaks once he tires..."


Although Maciel did not usually express his worries, he was experiencing a strong wave of anxiety now. Their prey, although young, appeared quite fit and healthy. The stag probably did have a few health issues - ticks, for example - but nothing major enough to signfiicantly disadvantage it, and Maciel was extremely used to hunting handicapped prey. Nevertheless, he quietened his apprehension by repeating what was to him a soothing phrase: 'canids have taken down healthy deer before'. It was like a mantra, circling in his head, almost clouding his thoughts and yet opposing the uneasiness that he faced.


Time passed on, but just as the long minutes were about to morph into a quarter of an hour the distance between predator and prey finally began to lessen. The young stag was evidently weakening, his energy sapped after dodging and dashing and prancing on for so long.


"We can rest now," Maciel said suddenly, clearly as drained as the buck from so much sprinting, "You can walk, or trot... he won't get away, I think."


He was too exhausted to wait for the wolfdog to reply, and so slowed immediately. The stag noticed and seemed glad for the intermission. He gave another couple of graceful (albeit weary) prances and then quickly dodged around a tree before lowering his gait from a run to a fairly slow trot. Nevertheless, he did not disappear altogether from his pursuer's sights, instead focusing on evading them rather than escaping completely. The latter action would take too much energy, after all. For now, the deer could only hope that his predators would eventually give up the chase and leave him be.


"How are you doing?" the coywolf asked Mara as they walked. He felt concerned, to say the least. Perhaps this was too difficult an exercise - however simple it may be, it was truly exhausting - maybe he had been right from the beginning and his knowledge was not as up to speed as it should be. If the wolfdog felt feelings of obligation towards him, he was completely unaware of them. Actually, he was instead under the illusion that she felt irritated at him because of his (believed) lack of hunting skill. His eyes were not facing her, a gesture that was probably expected, but this time it was not due simply to shy behaviour; they were both fixed on the deer, who was still weaving in and out through the trees.


Sure! Closing up this thread would be fine. :3 Would you like to start the next one?
And yeah, I am thinking about giving Maciel a hunting co-rank... or otherwise advance him to the Freiherr rank. I'm kind of deciding on it right now. :P

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#16
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5+ You can do both! Co-rank threads can double as rank advancement threads.


Don't overstrain yourself! He cautioned her, and while she wasn't heedless to the warning his words carried, she was bound and determined to make a good impression. It wasn't merely for her sake that she did this, but perhaps a vain hope that if he saw goodness — or greatness, even — in her, it might shift some of his feelings on other luperci individuals. Before her travels to this strange land she'd only heard rumors of those who couldn't shift, and thought of them as merely a folktale of sorts, but all that had been changed rather abruptly, forcing her to adjust her thinking.

A mantra similar to Maciel's was whirling through her mind, above the clatter of her insistent reminder to her own legs, seemingly separated from her entity, urging them onward. Keeping her oceanic gaze on the path the deer had taken, even when she couldn't quite see him due to the amount of fallen or grown debris in her path, she reminded herself that it wasn't merely her efforts that would bring the young buck down; we will take down a healthy deer.

When they stopped at a word from her hunter friend, Mara's chest heaved with both exertion and thrill. Her heart hammered out a beat similar to the one her footfalls had been making only moments ago, and the deer loomed ahead of them, understandably wary of those who had been chasing him up until this moment. Slowing deliberately down to a walk, she felt a cloud of warmth under her fur. She'd been rather well suited to the tropics, where everything was warm and the days were spent almost entirely in lazy indulgence, but she'd grown strong once she'd shifted. The capoeira fighting style demanded as much of her, as did the labors one was expected to take part in aboard a sailing vessel.

Maciel inquired after her wellbeing, and she shot him a look pregnant with both gratefulness and annoyance. The former at the good intentions behind the thought, and the latter because she wondered whether or not he thought she was capable. Her noisy breathing did in fact suggest that she was pushing herself, but no one had ever died from a long-distance sprint. Not that she knew of, anyway.

I'm not used to running so far, so fast. Not anymore. To admit as much was an extension of friendship, in her mind. Aboard her father's ship, she'd been the smallest and the quickest of them, and was more often than not the one to climb the masts and adjust the riggings. It had been well over six months since she'd seen the ship turn away and dwindle into the dawn, and she'd been remiss in keeping herself up to par. Instead, she'd focused on combat techniques and sharpening her mind, having discovered that it where she'd be best suited.

How are you doing? She questioned shortly, intrigued. He weighed significantly less than she did in her current form, and wondered if that disparity in weight helped him keep up with her. She had been willing to sacrifice light-footedness for strength, knowing that the latter was her weak point when not in her two-legged form. Making a conscious effort to slow her breaths, and thus lower her heart rate, she felt the slow burn that had warmed her muscles evaporating into nothingness.

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#17
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+526


Mara's glance did not bear much emotional significance for Maciel. He found it difficult to read another's facial expressions, especially when they were not in lupus form. After all, it was with general full-body language that he had been brought up with. The lifting and falling of hackles and tails, the lowering of the body or the straightening of the legs, those were the kind of gestures with which he was familiar with, and as of yet he was still getting used to anything different.


As such, he decided not to even try and translate anything said through the only the eyes, and so spoke normally,"You're doing fine," he said. His tone was light and friendly. He might have elaborated further, possibly, but another question was then posed to him in response and he felt much obliged to answer it. "I'm doing okay, thank you. A little tired, though; this buck is quite a swift one, I think." He shrugged and smiled, his bright eyes temporarily meeting with Mara's, but then his gaze quickly returned back to the young stag who was still dodging through the trees. The coywolf then added, half to himself, "But, then again, I'm light - lighter than most wolves, anyway - and so I think I'll still be fine."


Time passed and energy returned. Their prey's steps seemed to be gradually getting more quick and graceful, but so were the predators'. Maciel expected the chase to restart again soon, and so briefly turned and casually warned Mara of this. At this point he felt little anxiety for his packmate: she seemed to be more than able of hunting. A few minutes later and Maciel finally decided that they could not wait much longer. "We're going to start running again now," the non-Luperci announced, quickly casting Mara a grin, "Three... two... one..."


"NOW!"


Maciel suddenly sped forward in a surprisingly explosive sprint. The buck heard and instantly darted away again, almost tangling himself in some vines. Terrified of this delay, it quickly shook itself free and then set off once more, this time at an even more urgent pace. The coywolf that trailed him narrowed his eyes, calculating. Absently he wondered about Mara and what she was going to do at this point, but he himself had now already planned his next movements: to try and catch up with the young stag and attack him from the left side, probably by tearing at the rump and belly with his fangs. He would need to dodge the back hooves as they moved, but once their prey slowed it would become an easier task, at least.


He hoped so, anyway. Because in the coywolf's heart and mind old memories swelled and gloated. They seemed to turn and twist, snarl and laugh, and they laughed like Luperci did. They told him over and over again the same thing, the same wicked chant, 'Stupid little Lupus, you non-Luperci. Degenerate, pathetic thing. How can you possibly be good at anything?'


'How can you possibly be good at anything?'


Absently, Maciel suddenly did feel like weeping.


"Mara!" he cried, his voice choked. He hoped that she thought it was just his breaths. "I'm going to try and attack the left side, alright?"

Ello! The snail has finally arrived. :>
Sorry for the delay. :( I kind of drowned in school stuff.
(btw: about ranks... YAY! :D)


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opacity:1;
filter:alpha(opacity=100%);
box-shadow:
0 -20px 40px 40px #FFFFFF; /* inner white */
}

</style>

[/html]

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