[AW] When you're sinking like a stone.
Quote:Marksman II prompt: Create a target range for practice. You could use bottles, rocks, or hang things from trees to sharpen your aim!

Word Count: 461/2000

Although Battalion had let the fast paced nature of the Stockshow let her forget about her failure at the Clay Pigeons event, she had felt the shame creep back into her when she traveled home. It hadn't helped that her mood was slightly soured by trying to travel with an ornery goat who just wanted to eat everything she owned and headbutt her most of the time. Luckily they had both made it back to New Caledonia in one piece (Skunk had just barely made it without getting eaten, to be honest). Once she had gotten him settled, she had to settle something else: her lack of faith in her archery skills.

As a Marksman, she needed to be the best at defending her pack with arrows. That Hokori Tanaka had beaten her in a challenge designed for her skillset made her feel both shamed and irritated. What had she done to Del Cenere's gods that they were so mad at her? Actually, she thought, they were just laughing at her. Let her win that Fight Night and lose at Clay Pigeons. Hilarious, really. Although Hoko had also been triumphant at her Fight Night. Maybe Hokori had just sacrificed well to whatever gods she worshiped. Maybe Bat should start worshiping any and hope for their favor.

The blue-eyed Commoner was in the trees at sunrise with objects she had collected for the express purpose of working on her ranged weapon skills. It would've been nice to have someone to toss some of them for her, but Losse was still in Del Cenere. Not that he was her only friend but... she thought he was the one she was most likely to ask to get up with her at sunrise for a long day of marksmanship practice. Maybe when he was home, she'd ask him to spend a full day with her. They could do writing, reading, self-defense, archery, maybe even work on her being more comfortable around horses? Her heart sang at the thought of a whole day with the handsome male.

No. No thinking about Losse right now. Right now she was setting targets that she was going to shoot with arrows, she was not daydreaming about handsome dragoon's and days spent with them. Tali flicked her tail and shook her head as if it would clear her thoughts. She moved carefully through the trees to place the things she planned to hit. There was a variety: pieces of hide, larger rocks, small bits of fabric that she tucked into holes in trees. A few things she wanted to hang, but she hadn't found trees that would work for that yet. They needed branches of a specific height to really work, since she needed to climb up and hang them.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Many of her days were spent toiling at the side of her father, which in turn meant toiling for the honor of the Goddess. As annoying as Elemmírë's immortal optimism was, at times, Níndari missed it. There was so much that had yet happened since she and their mother left for the Citadel, and they hadn't even experienced their first shift together like they'd promised.

Pay it no mind, he said. Without Vodeva to stand at his side, Níndari became the sole receiver of his "affections." It was suffocating, his presence fixed on her like a malignant tumor, squeezing the life out of her little by little, day by day.

Any chance she could take to break free of it, if even for a moment, she took without any second thought.

Still in the packlands, she wandered far from their house in the Square when he was preoccupied with other matters. Restless feet took her to the forest, but the woods appeared somewhat different than before, with a few new unnatural additions. Soon, she came upon the source, or what was likely the only explanation for it.

"Hey," the Page called out, not knowing her name. She smelled like a Caledonian, at least, and perhaps Nín had seen her before; those icy blue eyes were catching, much like her own.

"What are you doing with all of that... stuff?"

hope you don't mind me! <3
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[Image: silver.png] Prompt [1018/2000] Create a target range for practice. You could use bottles, rocks, or hang things from trees to sharpen your aim!

I am absolutely delighted that you have joined! <3


Battalion was assessing everything that she was placing carefully to make sure she hadn't doubled up on same distance/size... there were a lot of factors she was trying to change up between placements. Of course she only had so many items that she could place. When she was done shooting at them once, she could change up where they were. She might not even get to all of them. It kind of depended upon how much time she had and how long her interest for it lasted. The blue-eyed wolf could always hunt later, though; perhaps even a twilight hunt would be in order, if she was busy that long with shooting. At the very least she'd need to stop by and see how Skunk was continuing to settle into the pasture...

There was a sound and she paused in what she was doing. The voice was young and she turned looking down because she assumed the girl would be shorter than her. Battalion's tail waved slightly to show she was no threat. Though obviously the confident young New Caledonian wasn't worried about that. That was part of the perks of being in the pack, there was safety here. Those who patrolled the borders would make sure someone who meant harm would stay away. Although apparently last time they had been attacked it had been from an internal source. How could they protect their young from that kind of threat?

The Commoner didn't dwell on it right then, though, she focused on the girl who had spoken. Definitely not one of Woodsmoke and Jonk's; this child was far too old to be one of their get, if her knowledge of Sphinx's size was any indication. Probably someone's kid that she didn't know, then. She wasn't even aware of who had earlier litters than that in the pack. "This stuff is for, uh, target practice." she explained, gesturing with an open hand at her bow and arrows that lay nearby. "The different heights and distances will help me to practice different types of shots. I also made sure the things I'm setting up are different sizes, different weights... all things that will effect how an arrow will strike them."

Was that too much information for a youngster? Did she want more? Bat wasn't sure and her ears twitched once with uncertainty. "Um, I'm Battalion, by the way, but you can call me Tali if you want." she really had no idea how to treat kids and was pretty sure she looked awkward as all hell. Oh well. The only way to learn was to interact with them, right? And there was a kid right there who'd probably show pretty plainly if she was being a complete weirdo.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
The other spoke slowly, with a hestitance that suggested a certain awkwardness that Níndari was all but immune to in her youth. But that suited her just fine: she could be loud and forward enough for the both of them, as was often the case when the young Page snuck up on some unsuspecting packmate.

”Target practice,” she parroted, squinting at the collection of bits and bobs a little more closely. Then her eyes lit up, like she finally understood — ”Oh, you mean for like — a bow and arrow?”

Níndari hadn’t yet showed much interest in combat. Rand seemed particularly discouraging when it came to the subject of her picking up a new hobby or life skill that fell outside of his very specific path for her. And though archery was a far cry from hacking and slashing with a sword — one sharp enough to decapitate the enemies of the Realm, if the tall tales of the forgemasters were to be believed — she supposed there was still some advantage to it. Namely, distance.

”I can help you set up more targets if,” her smile beamed mischievously at the Commoner, ”you let me try and shoot one. Or two.”

Never mind that she had absolutely no idea how a bow and arrow even worked, but maybe she could sweet talk the woman into showing her. It couldn’t be that hard.

”I bet you could poke someone’s eye out with an arrow, if you tried. Or stick them in the backside,” she giggled to herself, drawing closer to Battalion with a little skip and a hop. ”My name is Níndari.”

Dari and Tali. It had a bit of a ring to it.

”I've never seen you before. Are you new?”

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[Image: silver.png] Prompt [1649/2000] Create a target range for practice. You could use bottles, rocks, or hang things from trees to sharpen your aim!

Battalion tried not to fidget. It took a lot of focus to keep her ears still, especially; they liked to twitch when she was anxious. Although she didn't really need to impress this cub, she didn't want to be seen as the weird one with the twitchy ears either. Her mouth was already showing enough of her anxiety without her ears joining the fray.

It took the girl a moment to understand what Tali had meant about target practice. Luckily, she did seem to figure it out before the long-earred Commoner had to explain it. Bat nodded. "Yes, for bows and arrows. Although, I suppose, you could set up a similar thing for throwing knives. In my case, yes, bow and arrow." she was not proficient at all with throwing knives. Although she was aware of their existence from her travels, they actually didn't seem to be all that common of a weapon choice. Probably because the most expensive part of your weapon was being thrown at your enemy, which meant you'd lose them constantly. Having to replace knives all the time sounded way worse than having to replace arrows. Arrows she could make fairly easily, knives she couldn't.

There was an offer of help, with a caveat attached. Not that Taleon could blame the girl. It was a fair way to compensate someone for lessons. At least, someone willing. Which Bat was. Although she hadn't taught before, so... they'd see how that went. "Sure! Have you ever, um, used a bow before?" she asked, not wanting to assume the cub was unfamiliar with the weapon but suspecting there wasn't much experience there if there was any at all.

She didn't like the mental image of poking out anyone's eye with an arrow. For her, the necessity of a kill was in feeding herself. Violence for the sake of it - or even for the sake of the Realm - made her feel a bit queasy. At least her arrow would never decapitate someone, because that kind of injury was truly horrific to witness. So she had heard, anyway. An arrow was quick. Potentially deadly, but the wound would be small. It struck, it took or didn't take a life, then you loosed another one. Limbs couldn't be removed with an arrow. Eyes, she supposed, yes. Maybe parts of ears. Possibly a digit. Not a head or limbs, though.

"You could take out an eye, sure, but I wouldn't recommend poking, in general if you're that close as an archer you've done something wrong. Distance is your friend. Which is why I'm giving the targets different distances and brought different sizes. Sometimes what you're aiming for is teeny tiny. Like if you're hunting, you want to strike just right to kill the animal. Deer, especially, if you don't hit them right can run really far even with a pretty significant wound. Actually, even if you do hit the heart they can run for a bit. It's like they don't realize they're dead before they've run." she realized she had said a lot - certainly more than Níndari had asked to learn - and stopped herself from rambling further.

As to whether she was new... "Uh, yeah, pretty new, although I think not the newest anymore. Have you met O'Brien yet? He has a daughter that he brought to the pack with him, she might be about your age." she remarked, although she wasn't sure if Níndari wanted friends or to meet others her age. Most cubs did, though, right? "Were you born here, then?"

She handed a few items over for Níndari to set up. The wolf had nearly been done with setting up, so once the pup got those settled where she thought they should be, they could start practicing.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
The Page hummed, her body practically buzzing with curious energy. "I didn't know that you could throw knives like that," she thought aloud, canting her head and giving Battalion a chastising look. "You should do that instead - it sounds a lot cooler, don't you think?"

And likely, a lot harder. And costlier, too, having to acquire (and maintain) several knives as opposed to arrows that were relatively inexpensive to craft. But, of course, she did not consider these things and only marveled at the "wow" factor of it.

She grinned at the Commoner. "Never in my life." Níndari was far from an anomaly in her lack of combat experience; freshly shifted, there had been little time to learn what to do with her new hands and feet other than just taking a few steps without tripping over herself. But there was still time: lots of time, even. And if Battalion was willing to entertain her long enough, maybe she would make something of a mentor yet. Probably against her will.

"So if you hit a deer with an arrow and it runs, what's the point? Don't you have to go and track it all over again?"

Though if they were injured, Nín supposed this made it a little easier. But it all seemed like a lot of effort.

"No, I don't think so. I've seen most everybody that's lived here since I was born. I guess new people come in all the time."

Nín took the bit of cloth that Tali charged her with and gave the forest floor a little sweep - before her eyes went skyward, and she clicked her tongue.

"Watch this," she told Battalion before thinking it a sound idea to shimmy up one of the skinnier trees. It creaked and groaned under her weight as she, with much effort and blustering, managed to claw her way up a little ways from the ground, pawing around for a nice, sturdy branch to stash the cloth against.

Satisfied with her (admittedly shoddy) work, she carefully worked her way back down again, proudly presenting her work to her packmate.

"How's that?"

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[Image: silver.png] Prompt [2334/2000] Create a target range for practice. You could use bottles, rocks, or hang things from trees to sharpen your aim!

The girl had a lot of opinions, Battalion noticed, and she wasn't afraid to give them. Sometimes she wondered if she'd have been more like that, given a different childhood. Really, just given the rest of her childhood. Her anxieties stemmed largely from the trauma of being driven from her birth pack by her own mother. The stable foundation of her life had been shattered at that point into irreparable pieces. Building a new foundation from scratch took time and care; things she hadn't been able to do until joining New Caledonia. She could never be as bold as Nindari, though. The path that led to her being like that was firmly closed.

"Well, I don't use my bow and arrow to be cool, I do it because it's practical. Throwing knives are flashy, sure, but they aren't as effective for things like hunting. You can't get the same force behind them, since you're just using your arm's strength instead of the power of the bow string propelling the arrow. Also, it's easier for someone to remove a knife if it does strike them. There's just the tip and the handle, as opposed to a shaft embedded. It's not a bad weapon choice, it just doesn't suit my needs." she explained. Being cool looking wasn't the only reason to use a specific weapon. In fact it wasn't a good reason at all in Bat's opinion, but she was aware others disagreed. They were welcome to throw as many knives as they wanted. Bat would stick with her bow.

Nin freely admitted that she had never used a bow before and Tali smiled. "Good, then you don't have any bad habits I might need to correct." she said with a brief wag of her tail to indicate she was mostly joking. It didn't bother her that the girl hadn't tried using a bow and arrows before. There was a first time for everything.

At the question about shooting deer with an arrow for them to still run, she nodded. "Good question. There's less danger hitting a deer from afar than close. Their hooves - and antlers, if it's a male in the right season - are dangerous. They want to live, so they'll do whatever they can to keep themselves alive if you're close and trying to take them down that way. If you're hunting a deer without a bow, you should probably have at least one other wolf with you. One to drive it where you want it, the other to ambush and attack. The other thing with the bow is it makes only a small amount of damage to the pelt. I use pelts for a lot of things, so the less damage I can do the better. There is just naturally more damage done from teeth than hopefully a single arrow." that was probably more than Nindari had wanted to know, but Battalion could talk for a long time about hunting and marksmanship.

Next time she saw O'Brien, she'd have to mention Nindari. Actually, first she'd see if Losse could tell her who the parents were of this cub. She was sure it wasn't one of Kalypso and Torabera's; as far as she knew, they had stopped reproducing after the massive litter that had generated Hageshi, Hokori, and Dorian (+3 others). What other mated (or unmated but still reproducing) pairs were there? Had Losse's parents had more children? There was a lot she didn't know about the interpersonal relationships within the pack. She really would need to start writing these things down so she could keep track of who was related to who how.

Taleon was surprised to see the girl climb a tree like a squirrel. Well... a very heavy squirrel that kind of made the poor tree creak as she climbed it. At least Nindari didn't break it, though, and managed to get the piece of cloth to stay. Good enough. "Very well done. You want to try and hit it now?" she asked with a wag of her tail, prepared to begin teaching the younger wolf how to properly use a bow.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
It appeared that she struck a nerve; not that Battalion’s demeanor really changed all that much to suggest this, but her long-winded explanation was reminiscent of the lectures her mother would give her when she dared to question their omnipresent Goddess.

How Vodeva, who was in all ways much more unassuming than her partner, was able to command her speech with greater finesse than even Rand, always stood out to her. In a way, Níndari missed this more than anything else. Her conviction felt that much more genuine, somehow.

Nín considered Tali’s words for all of about five seconds before grinning at her.

”I think the cool factor is a big part of it, though,” she pressed at first, but then the youth shook her head. ”But it makes sense why’d you would use a bow an arrow instead. It has more… control? Is that what you're saying? Or maybe it just suits you better since it sounds easier.”

Her age granted her a certain amount of grace in social situations, a bit of leeway and levity in her words. It was difficult to take what a child said sincerely. Nín was keenly aware of this and used it to her advantage, hoping to leave a biting impression while she still could. Soon, it would not be so easy to be backhandedly dismissive. She had seen in Rand’s interactions just how poorly this worked.

”It would be better if once they’re hit, they just stop trying to escape,” Níndari murmured thoughtfully. ”But… I mean, they’re living just like us, so… Well, my father says that they don’t have souls like we do. Or not in the same way, so it’s fine to kill them.”

Any prey would still make the hunter work for it, though. No reward without effort.

Once she’d dropped back in front of the Commoner, Níndari was surprised that Battalion wanted to jump into the impromptu lesson so quickly, without even a proper demonstration
— not that she needed one, of course. ”You’ll show me?” she practically squealed, jutting her eager hands out towards the bow. ”I’m ready! I’ll hit it first shot, no problem. How do I hold it? Do I just…?”

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Battalion hadn't been raised with any sort of religion, really, except the religion of any form except Lupus is bad and acts against our natural ways. There was some doctrine to that, but no omnipresent being who hovered over you to make sure you followed it. Their beliefs were enforced by fang and claw, forcefully as she had learned when her body did what it naturally needed to do at her first shift.

The marksman frowned as Nindari replied that the cool factor was important, seeming to have completely overlooked the importance of practicality that Bat had been trying to impart. The long-earred wolf wasn't sure if it was a personality difference or just an age difference that had her feeling off balance with the girl. "Whatever you train with, you'll have better control with." she replied carefully, feeling a bit stung at the suggestion that she had picked a bow because it was supposedly easier. "Certainly it is cheaper in terms of materials, but I wouldn't say easier. All weaponry requires practice."

She also didn't like the way that the girl talked about the deer who died to feed them. Although she had never felt any real pity or thought too deeply about their lives prior to her eating them, Tali still felt appreciation for their deaths. Nindari just seemed so dismissive. Though perhaps it was all just hitting the wrong chord for the older wolf now that she had already been put off of her feet a bit. Puppies really were such odd, frank creatures. She didn't know how to adjust to the girl's bluntness without feeling rude herself. "Everything wants to live. It's good to remember that no matter what type of animal it is or... what type of soul you believe it has. Everything will fight until its last breath." and forgetting that could be disastrous.

Battalion suddenly wondered if she had made a mistake offering to teach the girl, the squealing excited reaction a bit much for what she had expected. Her heart rate lifted and she suddenly wished the cub's parents would appear so she could at least have a more adult-y adult that knew what to do with this age of child. "First things first, never aim at anything you don't intend to hit, because these arrows are sharp and they can hurt both you and others."

"I should probably show you how to hold it, then you can try to copy what I did." she said, twitching her tail. Show, then allow to try? Was that how she had been taught? Hell, it was so long ago and she couldn't remember. She took her bow and set her stance, pulling the string taut. "Like this. See where my hands are placed? And my legs? It's really important to not pull the string up high or near your body, otherwise when you release the arrow you might hurt yourself with either the string or the arrow."

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Níndari, no doubt, couldn’t appreciate just how much patience went into Tali’s response. It reminded her of her father, who despite her best efforts, the Page could never seem to crack; sure, he scolded her and criticized with his cutting words, but he scarcely ever raised his voice — or his hands, for that matter. Truthfully, her mother was the scarier of the two, and a violent storm always seemed to be raging behind her bright blue eyes, waiting for someone to make the mistake of getting caught in its winds.

”Everything will fight…”

It was annoying, but also quite true. Even things that had no real reason to be on this earth still had the resolve to fight until its dying breath. Rand often equated this to naysayers of the Goddess, but Nín supposed it fit for prey just as well. They were a natural part of the cycle that Nanin oversaw, returning bones and dust to the soil so that new life could grow and sustain the next generation. Far beyond the gloam of the Lady Nín’s Sanctum, Nanin was who perpetuated life utilizing Her waters.

Everything in its proper place, Rand would say. There was a divine order to all of it.

With Battalion’s enticing bow sitting prettily nearby, however, Níndari did not have much chance to think about such things further.

She watched with wide eyes as the archer slid into her stance, and the youth nodded impatiently, making grabby hands for the weapon until it was given over. ”Okay, like… this…?”

As best as she could, Nín replicated what she had seen: legs shoulder-width apart, one hand pulling the string taut as she held a pretend arrow steady. The essence was there, but it lacked finesse; not to mention her imaginary shot would have soared high in the sky, well a ways above the cloth she’d stashed in the tree.

”Wow, this thing is really tight, isn’t it? You have to pull really hard — “

When she let go, the string snapped back, catching her finger, and the Page yelped in pain as she threw the bow back on the ground.

lmk if i need to change anything!! poor tali having to deal with this actual baby
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Bat handed over her bow carefully, watching as Nindari set herself up. It was a fairly good imitation of Battalion's stance and she nodded approval. Her mouth opened to say what she would adjust, but a sharp twang signaled the release of the string. "Oh!" she exclaimed with concern, moving to the younger wolf quickly. A snap back like that from a string could hurt. The archer was less concerned for her bow than for Nindari. Especially since it had really been her fault for not making sure all of the instructions were clear. Actually, Bat wasn't sure she wanted to look all that closely at the bow right now. It had been dry fired and that meant likely damage to the string, the bow itself, or some combination of the two. She'd examine it in a bit.

She didn't want to grab the cub's hand without permission, so she held out her own hand offering to look at Nindari's wounded digits. "Are they bleeding?" she asked, scenting the air to pick up any smell of blood. "I would advise not to dry fire like that in the future, if you decide you do like archery. It can, um, break your bow or - as you've felt - damage your fingers. You need an arrow notched every time you let the string go, otherwise the force that should go into the arrow will rebound into the limbs or string and can break them." Taleon wasn't trying to be critical, just making sure she was imparting the right information about archery. It was important that if this was something the younger Caledonian decided to pursue, she knew what not to do. The sting of the girl's fingers would probably help remind her of that. Her pride was probably more wounded.

Battalion was beginning to think this had been a terrible idea to even try and teach a child how to do marksmanship. It was possible that she wasn't ready for this kind of teaching or that she should've gathered a second adult that knew children better to help her. Regardless, they were doing what they were doing now, and she'd make sure she taught Nindari as well as she could. As soon as she was sure that the girl was going to be alright, she went to get her bow. She sighed with relief to see that it seemed to have survived the dry fire without any visible damage. The wolf had plans to replace it soon, anyway, but she still wanted it to be useful in the meantime. Her fingers ran across the bow's limbs and the string; Nin must not have pulled it taut enough to cause the kind of damage it would've had if Bat had dry fired it. That could've been truly catastrophic for the bow and (potentially) one of them if the bow shattered.

She held the bow out to her young companion, "want to try again? This time, with an arrow?" she asked. If the bow was taken, she'd get an arrow and make sure she taught how to properly notch it. It was best to jump right back into the fray when it came to these kinds of things. Fearing the bow or remembering it only as bad would not help Nindari. Even if she didn't want to be an archer in the future, Battalion didn't want the younger wolf leaving here feeling dejected.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
She could feel the prick of tears at her eyes as she stared at her fingers with a scowl, like they'd betrayed her. "I don't... think so," she answered unsurely, flexing them out with a bit of a wince for Battalion to take a look and waiting for any blood to pool at the surface -- though it didn't come. Oh, but it still hurt, alright, and it would be a miracle if it didn't just fall off at this point.

Maybe shooting a bow and arrow wasn't as easy as she thought. How many times had Tali caught her own fingers when she was still trying to learn?

"Well I don't like it very much so far," the Page remarked with a bitter tone, ears splayed back against her gray hair, and she popped her finger in her mouth for a moment as if she could suck out the pain. It seemed to work, at first, but the dull ache returned, and with a dramatic groan she threw her hands back to her side and shook her head vehemently at Battalion's suggestion.

"No, I want you to show me first what it's supposed to look like so I don't end up looking stupid again."

It was a little unfair for her to be taking out her anger on the Commoner, though, as she was really just trying to make the most of the situation when Níndari so rudely waltzed in and took over as it was. Her frown loosening, she shifted her weight awkwardly to her other foot.

"Could you hit the target I set up?" She huffed and wiped away the dampness from her face. "Unless it's too hard."

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Battalion felt very anxious about how she had failed in this endeavor. Perhaps she should've said no and told the girl she wouldn't train her. Maybe she should've done more examples before that. Maybe ... she really didn't know how to teach children. Her heart fell at the thought and her ears twitched with nervousness. This encounter was going badly and she was going to have created a poor impression already on not only the girl, but probably her family. Great.

The fingers looked fine when she examined them, though she knew that didn't mean they were fine. That Nindari could flex them and there was no blood was good, though. There was a lot of drama coming from the cub, which Bat didn't really understand. Was this how she usually acted? Was it because she was hurt, embarrassed? Truly the long-earred wolf was at a loss as to how she was supposed to react to so many feelings all stampeding around at once.

"Uh, well, you didn't look stupid at all, first of all. It's... not as easy as it looks to shoot a bow and hit where you want. I think I got my fingers at least once a day for a while when I first started learning." the sting wasn't something she could remember clearly anymore, as she had been much younger. Probably about Nindari's age. The memory of it surely wasn't as bad as the actual pain had been at the time. The body had a way of letting you forget.

She set herself up in a proper stance again, going slowly to show how she set the arrow in its spot and raised the bow. The wolf also made sure that she was set up so that Nin could see the way she pulled back the string, releasing it so that the arrow flew true toward the target the girl had set up. "I didn't think, um, about how the draw weight on this might've been too hard for you. I'm sorry, I really am not... I've never taught anyone before." she explained, feeling anxiety rise up in her throat as she admitted it. She just sounded like an idiot. "I'm supposed to go visit Portland soon with the trading group and plan to get a newer bow so, uh, if you do want to learn more, maybe I could restring this one to be better for you specifically. If you don't, though, that's fine too."

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Try though she might, Battalion's reassurances did nigh little to make the Page feel better; although her many shortcomings could be chalked up to inexperience (and rightly so), Níndari still took the embarrassment to heart where others her age might have moved on quickly. Placing high value on others' thoughts of her, she strove to leave a lasting impression — and, Goddess willing, a positive one.

Failing to look cool in front of a Commoner, who for all intents and purposes was a stranger to Nín up until this point in time, was a major flop. Maybe where she fell flat with the bow and arrow, she made up for it from her proficiency from climbing up the tree earlier. Though to anyone with a working set of hands and enough determination, this was hardly a feat to write home about.

Her interest in archery waning — the lack of natural talent was an instant mood killer — and Tali admitting herself she wasn't the best teacher, Nín left it at that. There was no need to drag out an otherwise futile, insipid ordeal.

Long ears perked forward at the mention of it, and for a moment she perked up at the thought of the Citadel and the two weary souls she missed so much that waited for her in that magical place; but all at once her lips tugged into a hard line, eyes trained on Battalion's arrow in the branches, effortlessly hitting the mark.

"I wanted to go on that trip, but my father said no."

That one simple word, with no other explanation, had sparked a long, drawn-out argument. She did not understand why she was forbidden to see her mother and sister if the emphasis on family was so great in the eyes of the Lady. She did not understand why, when the opportunity of a lifetime was sitting prettily in front of her, he still refused to give in. There was a great many things she did not understand about Rand, like his unending insistence to be at the center of her universe — what she did know, however, was how quickly she was growing to resent it.

"Maybe you will see my family there. My mother is Vodeva and my sister is Elemmírë." Shoulders heaved with a sigh. "Maybe they'll come back with you all..."

Though it wasn't likely.

"I don't need a bow. I think I'll try fighting with something else." Despite herself, she tossed Battalion a little grin, trying desperately to not stew in negative thoughts as she was so prone to do.

"Maybe I'll get really big and buff and just use my claws."

Her tiny frame and twiggy legs said otherwise.

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Everything was going terribly wrong with this plan. Although she was practicing (sort of), she had really thrown herself off by adding in the youngster. Not that she had invited Nin, but perhaps she shouldn't have encouraged involvement? She was increasingly sure that she knew nothing about cubs and was not meant to ever have any of her own. The panic she was in right now about how much she was messing up told her that this was not at all her area of expertise.

"I'm sorry. Maybe another time we can, um, convince your father to let you go. You're growing up, I'm sure he recognizes that and, um, wants to encourage you to explore your future." she said gently, although truthfully she didn't know any of that was true. Her parents used to want to encourage her to explore her future (within the boundaries of what the pack allowed), but they would never have let her travel. Then again, she hadn't had a desire to do that when she lived in Silver Falls. At least not before she was forced to travel by the same parents that had lovingly encouraged her interest in hunting.

The names of her mother and sister caused Bat's ears to perk, taking in the information so she could maybe meet them while she was there. Although she knew it was going to be a whirlwind with the trading they needed to do, there would be some down time to get to know Citadel members. "Is there any, um, message you wanted to send? I mean, maybe you already have someone bringing your mother and sister letters... but if not, and you wanted, I could certainly do that." she offered. Obviously Nindari knew far more wolves than Battalion. Likely she could send letters with any number of New Caledonians.

It seemed the girl was already turning away from archery as a weapon option. Which was fine, although Taleon felt her face flush with embarrassment that she was the cause of the weapon being abandoned so quickly. Then again, if one was going to quit because of one failure, archery was not the weapon for them anyway. "I mean, you don't have to, um, be big and buff to use your claws. I won a Fight Night at the Stockshow, and I am absolutely not buff." she said, gesturing broadly at herself to indicate just how not buff she was. "You just need to be scrappy and capable. There are so many weapon options, though, and whichever one you choose I am sure you will be great at it."

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

Nín laughed dryly.

”You must not have met my father,” she guessed, her voice deceptively flat. There was no exploring to be done – her path was already set, and Rand had made this readily and overwhelmingly apparent from the very start. To stray from this set destiny was to lash out at the Goddess.

And who was she to question Her will?

Her ears pricked forward at the prospect of sending word, however. This was something that could be done without his knowledge, outside of his realm; not that Níndari even knew how to read, much less how to write, but if Battalion was offering, then…

”Would you help me write them something? For the next time a group goes to the Citadel?”

There was no telling how long that would be – weeks, months, concepts of time that stretched like eternity in her young age – but even the possibility of such was enough to give her hope, something that Rand had not bothered with.

”What’s the Stockshow? And you really won a fight?”

She rose a suspicious brow.

”You didn’t use your bow, did you?”

As cool as it would’ve been, Níndari didn’t believe archery was nearly as viable for one-on-ones with another luperci, especially now that she’d had her crash-course lesson.

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Battalion felt an empathetic wave as the girl said that Bat must not have met her father. It seemed to be in reference to exploring the future, and that was a shame. Young canines should be given room to explore and learn what they liked. If kept to one path, they often rebelled more when they were adults and felt resentment. Besides the fact that they were missing out on things they might've loved. At least that was her understanding of parenting. Admittedly, she wasn't a parent; perhaps she was wrong. And certainly she'd never step up to Nin's dad to tell him that he was wrong.

"I may have, I may not have, I really am not sure. I, um, just think it's important for young canines to seek their own paths, not just a path set before them." she said. It wasn't her place to redirect Nindari into doing something else, but that didn't mean she couldn't present her own opinion.

The girl did seem open to writing a letter, though. "Of course. I'd be happy to do that." the archer offered freely. It didn't seem right that the youngster wasn't writing to her mother at the Citadel anyway. If she was a mother and her daughter was separated from her... she could only imagine her heart would be split in two. And of course having just one daughter there but not the other wouldn't change that feeling at all.

She felt her face flush with embarrassment - wow did this girl make her feel a lot of different things, mostly off balance - as Nindari seemed very skeptical of her win at the Stockshow. "It's a big event run by Del Cenere Gang, a lot of us went. Maybe next year, you could go too, if, um, you wanted." by then Nindari would be an adult and my dad doesn't want me to would no longer matter. Would it? "It was hand to hand combat. Some of that is luck and they did pair us up based upon our size but, um, I still did win against someone who was pretty skilled."

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
In that moment, Níndari couldn’t fully appreciate what Battalion was trying to get her to see – it was a message that would need to be repeated ad nauseam for it to fully sink in. Rand’s teachings were barbed vines, wrapping around her and squeezing tight enough to pierce the skin and bury deep. Black and white, no gray. She either followed the path, one annointed by the Goddess to honor Her –

Or she didn’t, and she would be cast aside.

”I guess so,” was all she could manage in response, though her tone suggested she didn’t believe this at all. The Page truly believed she had little choice in the matter.

A few concessions could be made, though. Rand hadn’t so much as offered to send word to his bride or rose-kissed daughter, and Nín sincerely doubted that this would fall outside of the Lady’s plan for her. ”We can write after you finish your target practice. Or tomorrow,” she added, belatedly mindful that Tali likely had a life outside of putting up with the Coara girl’s endless questions and requests.

”I think I’ve heard of it – Del Cenere Gang,” she hummed in thought, hearing how it sounded coming from her own mouth. ”I’ve never been there before, though. Is it cool?”

Apparently cool enough that they hosted fights at Stockshows that the likes of Tali could win. Was that mean? No, just unexpected; perhaps the masked wolfess was stronger than she looked after all.

”Maybe you’re not as boring as I thought. I like you.”

Níndari flashed Battalion a coy smile.

”I probably should go, but I’ll see you around? So we can write and you can show me how you won.” It was less of a suggestion and more of an expectation; so much for minding Tali’s boundaries. She followed this up with a shrug.

”If you want to.”

think we can stick a pin in this with your post! :D
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Battalion couldn't fight this fight for Nindari. It wasn't her place to battle for the girl to accept her own self-worth or find her own path. It was something that the girl would just have to figure out on her own. No matter if it broke the wolf's heart a bit to see that the younger female was merely following what was set before her. Gentle encouragement would go a lot further than aggressively trying to press the issue. Especially when aggressive and Battalion didn't go well together. Her name was quite the misnomer. Anyone expecting someone coming at them with claws out was going to be disappointed.

"It's a plan." she said. "Tomorrow, um, will probably be better. I live in Othas District." it would make the most sense, probably, to come together at her house. Unless... "We can meet there or, um, near where you live if you prefer." the last thing she wanted was for it to seem she was inappropriately inviting a younger wolf to her home. Was that weird? She wasn't sure what counted as proper and improper here sometimes.

Del Cenere Gang had been an interesting place to visit. Mostly because she had expected something entirely different. "Yes. I really liked it there. They are, um, not super welcoming normally to wolves and wolf-appearing canines, but they were fine while I was there." and she sort of wondered if there was a general shift away from that mentality anyway. All of the Gang members she had met had treated her the same as they would a coyote. Unless they were very very friendly to coyotes and just a bit friendly to her. That hardly seemed like the prejudicial behavior she had been led to expect, though.

Her face flushed with heat again as Nin said that Bat wasn't as boring as she had originally thought. "Uh, well, I'm glad to hear I'm at least sort of cool. I'll definitely see you around. We'll write a letter and, um, I can help you with self defense. Always good to practice that." for anyone, really. Hopefully Nindari's mysterious father didn't find problem with it...

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

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