EDIT ALERT: the clans page has been updated once again. Specifically, the Hierarchies section. please take a look.


Eyes and Footsteps

Two

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loamclaws

The sleek black figure slipped around the roots of a huge, gnarled oak tree, his pelt blending with the shadows. Bright silver eyes flickered, catching a beam of light. Flinching away from the light, Spider Wing hunkered down in the shade and dug his claws deep into the soft ground.

As a loam claw, blending with your environment is second nature. Melding with it, while demanding a higher level of focus and control than anything, is easier than blending.

Blending is simply concealing oneself, much like a chameleon. Melding occurs when one extends part of their soul to another living organism.

Spider Wing shifted his weight and silently let out the breath he'd been holding in his lungs. His muscles relaxed at once and he gave a little jerk as he breathed out his soul.

When you extend your soul, one must remain relaxed, but not completely limp. Breathe out. Breathe until there is no longer air left within your chest.

Stretch your soul until it reaches your target, and slowly fill your lungs.

Free from the confines of his body, Spider Wing's soul stretched and twisted and expanded until it enveloped the tree whose roots he hid amongst. His slow intake of breath forced his soul to contract around the oak and seep into its core.

The black and silver bane closed his eyes and sank his claws into the ground. He felt the roots of the tree–his roots–in the back of his mind.

Using his roots to feel the ground, Spider Wing concentrated intently, stretching the roots with his mind, searching for even the faintest traces of unicorn hoofbeats.

There.

But these weren't hoofbeats.

Spider Wing, the best listener in the clan of loam, knew hoofbeats; they felt hollow and they resonated through the earth; they sounded like when you knocked on a tree limb with your ear against it. No, these were footsteps.

Pawsteps, even. Footsteps would be louder, more definite, and sharper. Pawsteps…yes, these were definitely pawsteps that Spider Wing was feeling.

Steps so soft, they were barely a tickle in the earth.

Spider Wing stiffened. This couldn't be Lame Paw; there was no irregularity in the steps; no crippled leg. Whoever it was was definitely not of the loam claws. Spider Wing knew every single one of his clanmates' footsteps, and this…this was not one of them.

-

"No, no, no. Dodge first, and then counterattack," a mottled brown forefoot came down on Fu's ear sharply, and Fu recoiled with a little mewl of surprise, narrowing her eyes in annoyance.

"Yes, Muck-san," she muttered, ducking her head quickly. Muck spat on the ground, rolling his eyes in exasperation.

"Right. Let's try this again. Attack me!"

Fu gathered her legs beneath her, bunching her powerful muscles, and sprang at the small warrior, foreclaws outstretched. Muck sidestepped quickly and wheeled around on his back legs, bringing his forepaws down on Fu's hind legs, making her stumble. The tiger-striped fledgling dug her claws into the ground and spun around, launching herself at the warrior.

Muck sprang at her, throwing himself into the fledgling's stomach, sending her to the ground from the sheer force of the collision. Landing lightly on his feet, he charged at the young bane and swiped at her nose. In ab urst of rushed energy, Fu jumped forward as Muck's forepaw swung around and thunked against her flank, sending her tumbling to the ground and into a clump of weeds.

Irritated, Muck landed lightly on his feet and flexed his forepaw, ears back. He shook his head and prowled across the small clearing to where Fu was sprawled, winded.

"How many times will I have to say this?" Muck muttered, tail twitching as he sat on his haunches. "Get up, Fu-ling."

Fu spat, rising to her feet and shaking her pelt free of dirt and leaves. "I'm doing fine," she growled.

"As if," Muck snapped. "Your movements are clumsy, and let's face it, you're all over the place. There is no thought or focus in your fighting. You're still attacking instead of dodging! Keep doing that, and you'll end up a dead fledgling."

Fu bristled, ears flat to her skull. "You just yell at me!" she hissed. "You don't help me!"

Muck snarled. "What, are you still a birthling? Should I tell you exactly what to do?" The mottled brown bane made an exasperated noise in his throat. "Look, if you don't like my training style, go to some other warrior and spare me your whining."

"I…" Fu trailed off, dropping her head. Her tail drooped and her hackles lay flat.

With a hard gleam in his eyes, Muck rose to his feet. "I'll tell Squallwing that you wish to train with someone else."

The orange and tiger-striped fledgling flinched and shook her head vigorously, staring fixedly at the ground. "No. Please, don't." the way her teeth were gritted made it sound as if she was in pain. Muck smirked to himself; he knew why Fu did not want another warrior to train her.

The brown warrior hesitated, cold violet eyes boring into Fu's forehead. He nodded slowly then, and folded his hind legs under him, coiling his tail neatly around his forefeet. "If I am to keep training you, then do not complain to me."

Fu's ears twitched as they lay flat against her skull. "Thank you, Muck-san," she mumbled, raising her eyes from the ground to the warrior's face. The mottled brown bane sighed and stood up abruptly.

"On your feet, fledgling," he growled. "We begin again."

The tiger-striped fledgling started to her feet, staring fixedly at the gound between her forefeet, her jaw set. To her surprise and chagrin, she felt Muck's tail tip knock against her chin, making her raise her head.

"I said; we begin again," the brown warrior sounded exasperated. "Do not test my patience."

Fu nodded sharply, and sprang into the air without warning. Muck skittered backwards quickly in surprise, and was thrown to the ground as Fu thundered down on top of him, putting all of her weight into her feet.

With a grunt, Muck sprawled onto his side in a shower of dirt. Carried by her momentum, Fu catapulted forward and went head over tail into a clump of ferns. Twisting her body quickly, she sprang to her feet and burst out of the ferns, only to skid to a sudden stop.

Eyes. Eyes in the shadows.

Was that…?

But Fu didn't have time to look closer; Muck barreled into her and pinned her to the ground. Fu felt a sudden burst of annoyance; hadn't he seen the eyes? Wasn't he supposed to be the keenest warrior in the clan of loam?

"That was good," Muck growled. "Your surprise attacks are getting better."

"Thank you, Muck-san," Fu muttered, pride making her want to smile. It wasn't easy to draw out praise from the grumpy warrior. Muck released Fu, walking backwards several steps to allow her to sit up.

"Right. Attack me again."

Fu bunched her muscles, tail lashing eagerly; Muck's praise brightening her mood considerably; the strange eyes had fled her mind.

-

The old tree was gnarled, but it still grew tall and sturdy; it was the roots of this tree that Youngscar, herb master of the loam claws, had chosen as his own, to store the dried herbs and to make his den. The roots were above ground level, leaving a cave under the trunk of the tree just big enough for an average-sized bane.

Thrush Pelt flicked her tail ruefully as she gazed up at the tree. She exhaled quietly and dropped her eyes to the base of the trunk, reluctant to enter. Sight tellers and herb masters were naturally at odds, and Thrush Pelt and Youngscar's rivalry went beyond a simple dispute between titles.

No, this went way back. Thrush Pelt narrowed her eyes. She didn't like to talk to Youngscar if she could help it; it made her uneasy just to be around him. But…he could help. He could help…only, Thrush Pelt wasn't entirely sure what it was he could help with.

The grey mottled bane growled and clawed the soil beneath her with a forepaw. She needed answers, and the only one who could answer her was Youngscar.

The question was, would he help her, or not? After all, he had more reason to hate her than she did him.

Thrush Pelt silenced herself. What was she doing, loitering around like a nervous birthling? The only good way to get answers was to go ahead and ask.

And then, if that didn't work, to drop in later and do some spying.

"Youngscar,"

"Hm?" Youngscar raised his head to glance up into the mottled grey female's anxious face. "What is it now, Thrush Pelt?"

Thrush Pelt scuffed her forefeet in the dirt. "I…uh…I had a premonition."

"Well, congrats," Youngscar rolled his eyes. "Want me to dance for joy?" he scoffed at the sight teller and went back to crushing some strange, dried-out root into a fine powder. Thrush Pelt frowned.

"Look, I know you herb masters don't like sight tellers, but can't you hear me out on this one?"

Youngscar sighed. "Yeah, yeah. I'm all ears."

Thrush Pelt sent him a warning look, which he ignored, and took a breath. "I saw a pair of eyes."

Silence.

Youngscar squinted one eye skeptically. "You saw a pair of eyes," he muttered, and repeated himself several times. Then; "What, that's it? No prophecy? No divine presence? No witchcraft? No spontaneous combustion of any sort?" the turquoise and bronze male scoffed. "What kind of premonition is that?"

Thrush Pelt bristled. "They do not have to be complicated to be premonitions," she snapped, defensively. This was not going the way she'd planned. Youngscar snorted.

"How do you know it wasn't a dream?"

"I was awake, genius," Thrush Pelt deadpanned, ear flicking irritably.

"Well, how…"

"Enough!" Thrush Pelt growled, her blood red eyes flashing dangerously.

"Ow!" Youngscar flinched and shied away from her, ears flat against his skull. He knew all too well what the sight teller's eyes could do. "Thrush Pelt!"

Thrush Pelt blinked quickly and looked away; preventing her talent from going too far. She bristled in discomfort. "Sorry. I…didn't mean to do that."

Youngscar snarled. "Don't…ever…use that talent on me. You did it once, and that was quite enough." With a sharp swish of his tail, the herb master whirled around and wrapped his foreclaws around the heavy stone he'd been using to crush the root. "You can go figure out your stupid vision on your own."

Thrush Pelt's ears flicked back and she sighed, turning her back on the young turquoise and bronze herb master. She closed her eyes briefly, before shaking herself gently and vacating the roots of the huge tree.

Gazing up at the patches of sky that she could see between the trees, Thrush Pelt inhaled deeply. "Those eyes…I wonder what that could mean…" she sat on her haunches and stared at the clouds, scampering across the pale blue above. The mottled sight teller scowled. "Stupid herb master…trust Youngscar to hold such a grudge. If he wasn't so damn hotheaded, he could help me figure it out…"

And then Thrush Pelt hung her head. "Ah, who am I kidding?" she grumbled. "Hotheaded, my haunches. It's all because of my stupid talent. Still…" the sight teller looked up as the image from her vision flashed into her mind.

"I wish I knew what those damn eyes meant."

-

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sorry that it took a while for me to update; hit a minor writer's block.

WHEE! a new p.o.v.! the loam claws speak! 8D

as always, feel free to give suggestions and/or concrit.

~ins