ooc: So sorry for the delay, guys, work's been kickin' moi turds. And again, I'm totally cool with anyone who wants to jump in and play along. Hope my post doesn't suck too much, lol.
Crow listened intently as he worked; meeting travelers - LIVE travelers, at least - was an unfortunate rarity in the Territories. Non-clan vermin and clanless rogues, or "Falgir", were always fascinating for their stories and their immeasurably different lifestyles. And now, these beasts had arrived, and from the NORTH, no less, where the tribes only stopped before the sea! "I hope you won't mind a question, but who are you? Not you personally but your clan, who are these 'Juska'? I can honestly say I have never heard of them before."
As he spoke, the Seer dabbed around the wound with a sharp concoction of vinegar and myrrh to cleanse infection, and then selected a small pouch of what appeared to be soft, white ash, and he thought of a way to try and explain. " 'Juska' are warrior clans. We are…we are made up of separate skills, bestowed upon us by the Fates and the gods. Thieves, warriors, huntsbeasts, seers, and craftsbeasts, listening to and attempting to live by their demands. Today, four great Juska nations run free from this forest to the Southern Woodland**, housing countless proud clans and tribes. Right now, you are in the Pike Nation Territory."
"And WE are the Juskasen, the clan in charge of all others under the Pike banner," Griff snarled quietly, green eyes narrowed to slits in the rain. "Or least, 'til some wretched Juskamar or Juskator decide they want that title. Hope Hazel and them got word back, we'll bloody the noses of any enemy on sight, by gods."
"Such inpudence cannot be overlooked," Sandface hissed, and shook her pelt of raindrops. "Endmar's group 'specially got a lot of nerve, thinkin' they own everything!"
Crow quietly cleared his throat, and the bristling ladies fell silent immediately, embarrassed for speaking out-of-turn with their Seer, who wasn't angry in the least, but thought that a quick subject change, preferably one that did NOT induce paranoia and stress, might be in order. Carefully, he lined up his vision with the arrow-shaft's angle of entry, and continued in the same easing tone. "If all goes well, we will escort you to the Mid-Land, the area between the borders that are off-limits to clansbeasts. From there, you could navigate without trespassing easily to wherever you need to go. No reason for simple travelers to get caught-up in clan affairs. Take a breath."
Without warning, Crow took advantage of Adimaro's inattention: the Seer both seized the arrow and removed it with a precise strike to the chest, in the blink of an eye. The next moment, he cupped the curiously soft, thick, ash-like substance into his other paw and pressed it upon the open wound. "Another breath, Adimaro, keep breathing. It'll numb the pain in a few moments."
The shaman tossed the intact point and bloody shaft away. If there was a stone piece left, it would already be close to the surface, and likely drawn out when the ash-and-clay mixture solidified. Applying another pawful to the area, Crow's voice dropped to a low pitch as he began the Healing Chant.
"Excuse meh, chief. What about the fat one. We don't know if he is fetchin' other follow'as. This don't feel right to meh." He paused, waiting for a response, but saw or heard none. He didn't even blink. He continued slowly, but dropping every word like berry barbs. "Why would two beasts set up camp in the woods without knowing where they was goin'? What they was doin'? Surely they knew this was clan territory. See the way that 'un blinks in the direction of his blade? I don't trust 'em."
Hazel pointedly did not answer the question until he, Hesari, Seneca, and Garreth were well out of earshot. He scanned the treeline carefully, and then, in a low voice, turned to the smaller weasel. "You're the swiftest. Take a message to the western border, and alert the Walkers that we may have hostiles playing with our boundary markers - it could be the precursor to a raid. See if they know anything about it, or have noticed anything out of the ordinary.
"And you're right, Hesari - they are not trustworthy." That fox in particular…Hazel's paw tightened on his sword hilt. He had better not betray his brother's trust. "But my Shaman is. I have problems with his decisions, too, but Crow has never steered this Clan wrong before. I'm sure he feels that the Fates have given him a good reason to allow their lives. Nonetheless - you and Garreth are the stealthiest. Go after the big rat and keep an eye on his friends." He turned to Hesari, and looked him dead in the eye. "Watch them only. Do not make your presence known. But, if they put one paw out of line - give you any reason whatsoever to suspect that they are in league with the enemy…"
And this goes for you also, fox, should I find you are a liar.
"…Offer their still-beating hearts for Hetzayna to feast upon."
**Southern Lands - after the incident many years ago with the Juskabor in "Taggerung", the Juska expanded to Southsward, but never beyond the sea.
*Hetzayna is the Sun God I should probably write more about it in the profiles.