[P] I feel like taking chances, I feel a lot like seventeen
p. Battalion | D'Laniger Peninsula
OOC: Early afternoon in the Northern Wildwood. It’s sunny and warm, and a cool breeze is blowing off the coast. Thanks for the thread! <3

The squirrel bounced through the clearing, leaving the safety of its tree too look for tasty squirrel snacks in the grass. It disappeared from sight as it dug around, its scrabbling claws and nibbling teeth barely audible over the sound of other forest creatures, before popping back up with an acorn in its tiny hands. The bushes across the clearing were tall enough to hide Marten’s crouched form as long as she didn’t make too much noise. The grass was not tall enough to hide the squirrel from her rapidly approaching jaws.

Marten’s tail wagged as she lounged in the sun after her meal, one leg curled underneath her and the other sticking out to maximize her comfort. She would be hungry again soon — it was only one squirrel! — but she didn’t want to hunt anything else just yet. Summer was a friend-shaped season; it was worth enjoying on the most friend-shaped days.

Soon the weather would get colder and rainer, and the leaves would get darker and brittler until they fell off the trees, and then it would snow and snow and snow until all the plants were trapped under the ice.

”I like winter,” Lynx reminded, as if Marten could ever forget; it was the season she’d met the guide in. Marten liked winter too! She just liked summer, or at least this summer, better.

”I do not. It makes me tired,” disagreed Bear, which was fair for a bear.

Chipmunk remained mind silent but contentedly present, happy as long as Marten was foraging and hunting and keeping her stomach fed.

Caribou snorted, keeping watch even while the rest of them weren’t. He was always helpful like that.

Marten rested her head on her paws, eyes closed, and smiled as the trees rustled their leaves. There needed to be more days like today and less like yesterday. Not like yesterday had been particularly bad; today was just super good by comparison.
It felt good to be on four legs again. Though she had been on four legs in New Caledonia sometimes, it always felt weird. As if someone was going to judge her for not walking on two legs and having hands and being in four walls. Sometimes, though... she just needed fresh air and a four-legged body doing what four-legged bodies did. It was just different to be in Lupus. When she was in that form, she wondered a bit if she'd made the right choice choosing Caledonia. Maybe there would've been a better place for her. Not here, locally, but somewhere else. Somewhere where she could hunt and sleep in a den without being a weirdo.

She had lucked into a scent trail that was a rabbit. Normally she'd consider shifting back so that she could kill it more delicately with a bow so the pelt would be more usable. Bat had left her bow closer to the Caledonia border, though, and she wasn't going back for it. The rabbit would probably be gone if she tried and it had been a while since she'd had a proper rabbit hunt on her own.

Following the trail, she spotted the lapin eating some foliage. When she was within springing distance, she sprung. Unfortunately the rabbit was faster. It ran and she gave chase. The wolf went taring through the woods after it without much heed for what else was happening around her except obstacles between her and a rabbity meal. Luck remained firmly on the rabbit's side as it skittered away under some bushes. Simultaneously, Battalion tripped over what she was pretty sure was thin air, only to fall inelegantly to the ground with a oof.

Her hopes that her folly had been missed by anyone except the trees were quickly dashed, when she spotted another wolf nearby. "Well, uh... hi." she said with an awkward wave of her tail and flick of her ears. What a wonderful way to meet someone new. She felt warm from head to tail with embarrassment.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
The sound of crashing leaves and snapping sticks silenced her animal guides, and Marten’s head shot up to see what all the commotion was before thinking better of it; if it was a deer or other large prey animal, the closer she was to the ground, the better. But it wasn’t a deer, or a pig, or anything else particularly dangerous. It was a wolf chasing a rabbit, and while the rabbit darted away under some bushes, the wolf didn’t; she tripped and fell on her face instead.

”I expected a deer,” Caribou thought, and Marten couldn’t help but agree; she’d sounded much larger running through the undergrowth.

Marten stared at the dark-furred wolf, her limbs all stuck out and askew from where she’d fallen in the grass. Her ears were a little tall and a little twitchy, and her two-toned, brown fur was dotted with tiny leaves and other debris from running through the woods. They made eye contact, summer forest meeting morning sky, and shared a little tail wag across the clearing.

”Uh… Hi!” Marten said, her tail waving almost beyond her control. Then, after a second’s silence, she leapt to her feet and trotted over to the other girl’s side. ”Let me help you up,” Marten said, levering her head and neck into warm, soft fur to push the stranger onto her feet. She smelled like New Caledonia, and travel, and the damp grass she’d just fallen in, and she didn’t want to stop sniffing even when her hopeful new friend was back on four feet.

”My name is Marten! What’s yours?” Marten asked. She couldn’t just think of her as “stranger,” or “unfamiliar New Caledonian,” or “girl who fell over chasing a rabbit;” that would be rude, maybe, probably.
If there were any gods, they certainly weren't smiling on her today, Bat thought. Normally she liked to look at least somewhat put together when meeting someone new. Ending up falling while chasing a rabbit of all things was rather embarrassing and decidedly not put together. There was nothing to do about it except try to salvage the situation, though. Hopefully the other wolf wasn't too judgmental about other wolves tripping over their own feet.

The other female was wagging her tail enthusiastically, though, and she hadn't laughed. Which was honestly a huge compliment on Marten, since Battalion was fairly certain that she couldn't have helped but to laugh in this kind of circumstance. She was sure it had looked quite amusing from the outside. Maybe later, she'd even laugh about it, when she'd had a chance to get over the embarrassment of it all.

She wagged her tail in return when the stranger helped her up. "Thanks. I swear I'm usually at least slightly more graceful than that." she said with a shake of her head to clear off some of the detritus that had gotten up there when she fell. There was probably more she needed to shake off of the rest of her, but she didn't want to pick at it right then. Bat was much more interested in getting to know the stranger she had met in such an unconventional way.

"I'm Battalion, but no one really calls me that. Usually they call me by one of my nicknames. I've been favoring Leon lately, but there's also Bat and Tali. Any of them is fine, though, truly." her tail waved. "It's good to meet you, Marten. Sorry to disrupt your solitude with my really bad attempt at catching a rabbit."

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Marten nodded, fully believing that the sky-eyed girl was more graceful than her fall suggested. She was pretty sure all canines looked a little clumsy while tumbling end over end, even the most nimble and sophisticated ones. ”You’re welcome,” Marten said with a wag of her tail and a shake of her own head; she didn’t have anything stuck on her, but it felt like the right thing to do.

Battalion, huh? Marten had never heard that name before, but she hadn’t heard most names before. She wondered if Leon, who could have been very well traveled for all Marten knew, had ever met someone with her name before; the world had a lot of martens, so there had to be more than one wolf named Marten.

”Then I’ll call you Leon,” Marten said, her toothy smile glinting in the sunlight. ”And it’s good to meet you, too! It’s not a disruption at all, I promise.” The yearling also doubted the attempt had been that bad. Rabbits got away a lot; that was just how hunting worked. Some days you caught every other critter you chased, and other days you caught none of them.

Marten tilted her head at the debris in Battalion’s fur, resisting the urge to groom the other girl like they hadn’t just met. ”Do you um, live in New Caledonia? You smell a lot like it, and I have friends there, so I uh… I’m just curious!” None of Marten’s words sounded quite right, and while it wasn’t an unfamiliar problem, it felt different for some reason. Maybe Leon just spent a lot of time near New Caledonia, or hanging out with New Caledonians.

Marten certainly didn’t know; her new friend hadn’t told her yet!
Among her favorite ways to meet someone, she was not going to add "fall on your face", but she did rather like the wolf she was meeting that way. Marten seemed friendly and kind; she thought they'd get along well. Leon waved her tail some more, glad to have found a potential friend out here in the wilds. It was actually a much better catch than the rabbit. A rabbit was a meal once, but a friend was useful for a lifetime. A true friend, that was. Though there was no way to know who'd be a true friend right away, of course. Tali liked to believe there was potential in most interactions.

Marten seemed more than happy to call her by the nickname she'd become most fond of recently. It was weird how it ebbed and flowed, which one she liked best. When she had been in the wilds, it was a daily switch for her so that the Tali who met That Stranger wouldn't necessarily be associated with the Bat who met The Other Stranger. That was back when she wasn't sure she ever wanted to see any of them again. Now that she had settled down, though, she didn't mind her full name and array of nicknames being known. There was no reason to hide anymore.

Her newfound friend apparently knew of her pack and actually knew others in her pack. Well that was good fortune. "Yes, I am from New Caledonia! Good nose." she said, although really she supposed most wolves familiar with New Caledonia would recognize its scent on her. It wasn't as if she had tried to obscure it in any way. "Who do you know in my pack?" perhaps they were her friends, too. That would be a good start, having mutual friends.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
She knew it! New Caledonia didn’t have as distinct a smell as Casa di Cavalieri — they all smelled like horses, and leather armor, and swords, — but it was still unmistakable after visiting the territory. ”Jonk and Woodsmoke, and uh, their babies I guess! I know Jonk best, though,” Marten said, smiling at the thought. They saw each other every moon, and while their last meeting was under unfortunate circumstances, he was a good, close friend. ”Do you know Jonk?” It was hard not to bounce with excitement at the idea; if Leon knew Jonk, who else did she know? Who could she introduce her to? Jonk was so busy raising puppies, and taking care of horses, and guarding borders; did he even have time to introduce her to his friends?


Marten just wanted more friends. Preferably soft-furred, nice-smelling friends like Battalion, who had bright, sky-colored eyes and happy, dark-lipped smiles. Which… Was maybe a bit specific to Leon, but that was okay, right? She was just a really good example of a new friend. The idea of canine Marten wanted to fall — though maybe not literally — into her life. Maybe stay there for a while. A long while.

Something darted through the undergrowth on the far of the clearing, and Marten’s ears twitched in that direction. There was something in the wiggling leaves, and it took her a second to pry her gaze away from Leon and see what it was. A bird? A squirrel? Leon’s rabbit, back for revenge? It was hard to see beyond the shaded foliage, but it was alive and thus, edible. Maybe she could catch it for her new friend!

Or maybe it would run away before Marten could alert Leon, get into striking distance, and catch it. That seemed more likely.
"I do know Jonk! And... well, one of his cubs, Sphinx. They're also my friend Liam's cub." she explained. Surely if Marten knew Jonk and Woodsmoke, she knew of the unconventional extra pup and father that was a part of their lives. The whole thing still seemed rather odd to Bat, but it wasn't her life to live. So she left it as it was and let them live the way that suited them best. All of them seemed happy with it. At least Liam and Jonk did. To be fair, she hadn't met Woodsmoke yet. She really needed to drop by with a meal soon for the surely very hungry mother.

Her ears twitched slightly. "Now you know me in New Caledonia, too. You'll have to say hi next time you visit. Maybe we can go on a hunt together or something." she wasn't sure if Marten was usually on four legs, but there was more than one way to hunt. Mostly it was just something she liked to do and something you could do with a companion. Besides, she needed the opportunity to prove she didn't always fall on her face when she was hunting. Sometimes she succeeded...

She heard the sound of something scuttling around in the underbrush a bit after Marten did, turning to look at what had attracted her new friend's attention. Her nostrils flared. Was the rabbit back? Was it a badger? A pheasant? She'd love to hunt something down, still. Maybe she'd bring it to Woodsmoke... naw. If her and Marten took something down, they'd split it. Then she'd hunt something else later for someone. The dark wolf stepped a bit closer to Marten to whisper "what do you figure it is?"

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Marten nodded, though in all honesty, the puppies had been the least memorable part of her stay in New Caledonia. Tufts had been fun, by virtue of being older and a cat, but the babies? Kind of uh, not Marten’s thing. She knew all their names, though! As well as Liam’s, but she wasn’t sure if she’d actually met the man; her impromptu, multi-day visit had a lot of memory gaps in it.

The idea of visiting New Caledonia to hunt with Leon was a lot different than visiting to hang out with Jonk, and Marten didn’t have a lot of time to think about why; there was something in the undergrowth to catch! Once Leon had noticed it too, Marten slunk toward the edge of the clearing to try and get a better look into the bushes. Her new friend followed, wondering out loud what it could be, but Marten didn’t have a good answer. ”I don’t know. We’ll have to wait for it to stop hiding,” she said, though she hoped it was big enough for them both.

After finding a slightly better angle to watch the wiggling leaves from, Marten hunkered down in the grass. One side of the bush would wiggle, then the other, but not both at the same time. Something compact. Two somethings? Before Marten could wonder any longer, a large bird poked its head out of the undergrowth.

This… Would be harder to catch than a hare.

Unless it was a particularly stupid grouse; then it would be easy. ”Are you a good jumper?” Marten asked, recalling how she’d hunted the same kinds of birds with her siblings. Once the bird had wandered further into the clearing, one of them could try to strike it before it took flight, and the other could try to spring for it in the air.
Marten smelled nice, she thought; a bit like flowers, somehow. Though she wasn't sure if that was actually the smell of the other wolf or if it was something her brain was associating with the other female. Either way, it was pleasant and put her at ease. The long-earred Commoner was glad that she had tumbled into Marten's space, even if it hadn't been all that graceful. At least it meant they got to meet.

Her nostrils flared, trying to pick up more of the scent of whatever it was in the underbrush. The wind was not with her, though, and mostly she just smelled her companion. The hunter crouched down, letting her belly get near to the ground. It might be a bit before they saw what was hiding. Once they were at a good angle to see it when it appeared, she settled entirely on her belly to wait.

When the thing appeared, she was surprised. A bird? Ground birds were certainly a thing but she had never hunted them. Eaten their eggs if she found them, sure, but the actual feathery big ones were a bit difficult to catch. Probably easier than flying birds since she didn't think they could fly? Honestly she was far from a bird expert. She used their feathers all the time for fletching when she found them, but she didn't spend a lot of time hunting them. There were much easier and more fruitful targets.

"I'm a... average jumper? Can't say it's a skill I've tested a lot." she admitted, wondering about Marten's plan. Hopefully the other wolf had more experience with hunting land birds that she could share.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again

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