Redtail Rise run rabbit run
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@masquerade but also attn @avicus in case she would be near! Mildly backdated, just before she goes to find her whelping den

Sunday Morning sought to provide. This pack was now family. She had her mate, and the rest had become her brothers, her sisters. The children here had also become, to her, nieces and nephews in her heart. Sunday Morning went to visit now the ones that belonged to Red Woman. Normally she would pause on the outskirts where their scent happened to be strongest, and would drop off items for Red Woman and her young such as small prey.

Today, Sunday Morning lingered. She sat down before she then slid onto her belly to lay on the outskirts, and then she dropped a rabbit corpse between her forelegs. She was not sure if they could eat such things yet, but she had ate enough beforehand to be able to provide as she had for her youngest brothers and sisters. It was difficult for her to discern age without being in close proximity. She only knew that they were very young.
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Unlike her cousin, Masquerade did not simply move on from that terrible July day. She didn’t leave the den for days afterward, succumbing to a minor but unpleasant infection in her wounded tail. She recovered physically within a few days, though her spirit remained not just beaten but broken.

Avicus made her go outside at some point, leading the pups to the rendezvous site, by now quite familiar to them. But to Masque’s dismay, they stayed there. She thought about slinking back to the den, yet she feared the Wealda’s teeth and temper. Instead, she found a low-hanging pine and spent most of her time curled up in the shade of its boughs.

But she was still young and at least somewhat resilient. When a guest arrived with a slain rabbit in her jaws, Masquerade peered cautiously between jade needles. Her nose twitched and she slithered forward on her belly. The she-wolf smelled faintly of Augur and, besides, she had food.

Masque’s mouth began to water and, slowly, she crept from her hiding place. She didn’t go far, slouching on her haunches, head low and craning forward as she gave the air several inquisitive sniffs.
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Sunday Morning heard the rustling of twigs, of leaves. Her yellow eyes shifted in search of the source, ears cupping. An eager, inviting whine spilled forth from her lips. Her head lifted for a moment. The child was not yet visible. Pine leaves shivered in the young ones wake, and Sunday Morning shifted on her haunches, loosing out several more whimpers of welcome. But Sunday Morning would not be the one to approach. She could sense the others shyness, and she rested her head again upon her forelegs.

The other soon crawled out from her hiding place. Sunday Morning's tail beat against the earth, but she did not move to engage except to nose the corpse closer to the girl. Bloodspot, for what looked like a bloodstain upon her face. In an effort to disarm, Sunday Morning rolled onto her side, lips parted as her tongue lolled to reveal a pleasant smile. Sunday Morning loved children, as most wolves within her family did.
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The whelp tensed a little, not quite sure what to make of the beckoning whimpers and the thumping tail. They were cordial overtures, to be sure, nearly impossible to misinterpret, but still Masquerade hesitated. She jerked ever so slightly when the she-wolf went on to nose the rabbit’s carcass toward her, then slumped onto her side with a wolfish grin.

Encouraged but still hesitant, Masque began to slowly creep toward the strange woman. The food tempted her, yet the youngster kept her eyes on the Blod, studying her. Her coat was pale—once more, she was reminded of Augur—and a little unkempt where it draped over her lean frame. There was a swell to her belly, possibly from a good meal. Perhaps that’s why she was willing to share with the Bearn.

She caught a glimpse of vivid yellow eyes before Masque’s gaze dropped away quickly. She had no desire to challenge the adult’s authority. She remained the picture of a submissive, would-be Omega as she continued slinking closer and closer still. She halted perhaps a yard from the woman and her kill, for one last assessment.
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Some children were more wary than others. Sunday Morning did not think it a bad thing. Her instinct to survive came before her eagerness of a new face, a new experience. Not even Sunday Morning could boast the same. But it was not something she thought deeply about. She saw things simply for what they were, though even this was all based from her own experience in life.

Bloodspot came closer. Sunday Morning remained on her side, head against the earth. When the girls gaze averted, Sundays did too. She wanted the girl to feel comfortable. Even if that meant being climbed all over. Sunday Morning was endlessly patient, most of all with cubs. And with some of her own coming... well, she was glad to watch over the young one for however long Bloodspot was content to remain.
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The pale she-wolf remained at ease, watchful in a way that welcomed Masquerade closer. The pup lingered, motionless, for a minute or two more before finally bracing her forelegs and stretching out her neck. Her lips peeled back from her teeth as she snatched one of the rabbit’s limp hind legs, then slowly dragged it toward herself until she could pin it to the ground with a paw.

Her mouth watered, though before Masque tucked into the meal, her auriferous eyes tracked over the adult one final time. Everything about her demeanor invited the pup to claim the kill. At last, the Bearn bent down to begin tearing at the flesh and fur with her teeth, her hesitant manner disappearing as she bolted down mouthfuls of tender meat.
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Her tail thumped heartily against the earth as the young one enjoyed herself. Sunday Morning was happy to stay and keep watch as she did. Her eyes darted around to inspect their surroundings, ear twitching now and then at the sounds Bloodspot made while she ate (or else to wave away an insect). The grasses stirred in the near distance, and Sunday Morning rolled slowly onto her belly, pressing her nose to the earth and snuffling loudly. 

At the very least, she knew it was nothing reptilian. Sunday Morning watched as a grasshopper jumped out of its spot, closer to them. Sunday Morning shifted her weight, wondering if Bloodspot would have any interest in a pseudo-hunt of this thing. It might make good practice. Sunday Morning kept low to the earth, and inched toward it once before peering to Bloodspot to see if her attentions would shift, or if she was satisfied simply to eat. Sunday Morning would not mind either way, glad herself to simply be present.
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Propriety told her not to eat it all, even if the woman had already had her fill. Noisily licking her chops, Masquerade backed away from the partially eaten rabbit and gazed over at the woman. She was no longer watching the pup, instead pursuing an insect through the grass.

When the she-wolf glanced over at her, Masque tensed, then relaxed. Slowly, she stepped over the rest of the rabbit’s remains and padded toward the stranger. The Bearn wondered about her. What was her name? Why was she here? Why had she shared her kill with Masquerade?

The woman had yet to say a word, though Masque didn’t find this strange. She had never spoken a word in her life, at least out loud. No one in her family said much, though none of them—Masquerade included—were dumb in either sense of the word. Even now, her brain flooded with cogent thoughts, she just chose not to articulate them.

She halted about two feet from the adult, head and tail lowered deferentially. It was easy to avert her eyes, which fixed on the woman’s prey: a stippled Schistocerca americana.
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It seemed Bloodspot had finished her meal, though there was some leftover. Sunday Morning would take care to put the remains into the cache for another to enjoy. Her attentions were mostly for the girl, though divided toward the insect, too. Not a dangerous one by any mean, but one that moved. Her gaze was soft upon Bloodspot as the cub approached, and Sunday Morning looked away to provide further comfort. Sundays yellow eyes were again upon the grasshopper, who seemed none-the-wiser to their attention.

Sunday Morning lifted herself from the earth, off of her belly and into a low crouch. She took one slow, quiet step forward. Her foreleg seemed to move in slow motion as one paw ever so gently found its place again on the earth. She would teach Bloodspot how to stalk her prey, even at a close distance. Grasshoppers made for good practice. The game was, who of them could be noticed last? Her soft gaze turned back to Bloodspot, gesturing with her head toward their quarry, and then to the one leg of hers that had stepped forward. Her tail waved slowly, and her expression seemed to say, your turn.
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Insects were fascinating and peculiar in equal measure. Masquerade stared at the grasshopper’s long hind legs, bent nearly perpendicular to the rest of its body. It looked almost painful, though the insect didn’t seem to mind. As the pup gazed on in silence, it appeared to be washing its face by rubbing its strange little forelegs over it, including tugging at each individual antennae.

Movement out of the corner of her eye reminded the Bearn that she wasn’t alone with the grasshopper. Masque watched shrewdly as the she-wolf crouched in the grass, creeping forward a step, before swinging her gaze to the pup. She cocked her head toward the insect, the look on her face reminiscent of her expression when inviting Masquerade to partake in her kill.

The pup did her best to emulate the adult’s posture, slinging her belly low and angling her ruddy snout toward the blade of grass where the insect perched. Energetic tension hummed through her youthful muscles as they coiled. It took all of her concentration and she didn’t realize she had stopped breathing until her lungs started to burn.

Abruptly and forcefully, her breath gusted out of her, causing the grasshopper to spring away.
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Bloodspot understood her. Sunday Morning nodded encouragingly, not seeing the telling stillness of the girls flanks. Sunday Morning only saw the way that she moved, and moved well. A born hunter, as she knew all of their kind to be. When the other exhaled heavily it even gave Sunday a start as she had not expected it, the heavy gush of the exhalation like a breaking damn.

Sunday smiled and let out a pleasant rumble of amusement, not bothered to see the insect hop away. Instead, she breathed, looked forward, and took another quiet step forward. Quietly, keeping low to the earth, Sunday Morning turned back to Bloodspot. Her soft exhale caused the  blades of grass  only before her flaring nose to stir, and she gave that same gesture she had but a moment ago, inviting the girl to try again if she wished.
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A look of dismay flashed across her face, followed soon after by an apologetic grimace cast in her elder’s direction. But the pale she-wolf did not appear angry or upset with her in any way. She gestured for Masquerade to try again, inching closer to the grasshopper’s new location at the end of a stick lying in the grass.

As eager to please as she was to continue the impromptu lesson, she wriggled closer to the older woman, their shoulders actually brushing now. The pup took a couple of breaths and then crouched again, eyes honing in on their target.

The angle was different, with the grasshopper facing directly toward the pair of wolves. Masquerade could see its mandibles shifting right below its bugging eyes. She stared for a beat, uncertain how to proceed with sneaking when the grasshopper could clearly see them.

She canted her head questioningly toward her mentor.
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Sunday Morning's tail waved at the contact made by Bloodspot. And then she watched the cricket, who in turn watched them. Sunday Morning felt the attention of the cub, and looked back to her. She saw the uncertainty there, and then moved to take a very small, measured, near silent step toward the cricket. Although it watched them, it did not move. The game afoot here was: who could get closest, before the cricket did flee?

Though it could see them, the exercise remained the same. An exercise in stalking, but only in the execution of it given they had clearly been seen. There was still something to be gained here, though. And not all hunts begun would end in their quarry being felled. That was important to know and accept, too.
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The huntress refused to be deterred just because they’d lost any element of surprise. Masque watched shrewdly as the woman crept carefully toward their quarry, her eyes darting between the two. Once more, she held her breath.

Intuiting that she was meant to continue taking part in this exercise, Masquerade mimicked her mentor again. Despite her painstaking efforts to move as stealthily as the adult, the grasshopper immediately flew into the air again.

This time, the movement triggered an undeniable impulse in the youth. She raced after the fluttering bug, snapping her jaws. It landed in the grass, only to spring swiftly into the air again, Masquerade bounding after it with a flash of her teeth. They scrambled across the rendezvous site.

Eventually, the grasshopper disappeared into the brush at the edge of the clearing. Masquerade halted there, head held high and ears pricked, tail dangling between her legs. She whined. She wanted to keep chasing, yet she’d lost sight of the prey in all the greenery. Besides, she knew Avicus had forbidden her cubs from leaving the area.

Exhaling noisily through her nose, Masque turned her head to peer at her guide. Her limp tail gave a couple halfhearted twitches.
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#15
This could be a fade point, if you want! I love her!
Sunday Morning watched, breathing quietly. The grasshopper moved again, and this time the young girl gave chase. She had decided to start the hunt, and Sunday Morning was content to follow after her. Playfully, slower than Bloodspot, Sunday too gave chase. She minded the earth, and the cubs progress, and did not interfere or put herself in the girls path.

The bug escaped them both. Sunday watched it go too, for a moment, before her gaze found Bloodspot again. Her tail waved behind her in answer to the girls, and Sunday slid down partially so that her forelegs were splayed wide. She thumped them against the earth in the age old gesture of play, plume continuing to wag.
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The she-wolf seemed pleased by Masquerade’s efforts, even if they hadn’t resulted in success. Her tail wagged a bit harder as she watched the woman slide forward into an unmistakable play bow.

She hesitated, though only for a moment. She turned and trotted over to the Blod, pausing about six feet away before mirroring the posture. Masque thumped her little forepaws, shifting a little before mustering up the courage to dive forward, nipping in the direction of those white toes.

Whether or not she connected, she promptly turned and fled, tail tucked between her legs. But when she glanced over her shoulder to see if the white she-wolf was giving chase, she was all smiles.

Thanks for a great thread!
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I archive threads if my partner goes inactive and/or there are no new replies for several weeks. I'm more than happy to continue an archived thread if you're interested. Just revive it (via maintenance) and tag me in your next reply. :)