I would like to send a special thanks to the co-author of the roleplay which led to this story, Historian1912.
Just as a reminder, this story is set in the Seven Hunters continuity. So, if you have not already read them, knowledge of the Seven Hunters and its sequel, Songs of the Hunters, will be necessary to understand everything that is going on. Links to both of those stories can be found on my profile.
Several years before the events of Songs of the Hunters:
"Taunt, will you put that thing away and get to sleep?"
The orange fastbiter glanced at his companion with an amused expression. In response to her question he merely lifted the swimmer's severed head and tilted his own. "What, dear? Are you jealous of last night's dinner?"
The yellow fastbiter groaned in response and struggled to keep her voice level so as not to wake the others.
"I don't see what all of you boys see in that silly game…" She then turned and covered her head with her claws as if to shut out the rest of the world. "Besides, you all know that I will win the game tomorrow."
Taunt laughed as he tossed the swimmer's head aside. "We will see about that, dear. Your unbeaten streak at 'Capture the Head' will have to end sooner or later!"
As the male fastbiter dodged a playful nip from his mate, he carefully lay down beside her. It was just another peaceful night for the pack.
Violet bit back a cry of pain and frustration when she tripped for the third time that night. Ow. Not again. She didn't dare look around for sympathy, though. If her pack leader even noticed she would be very surprised.
"You okay?" Tracker, a somewhat smaller and younger packmate of Violet's, quietly asked her friend.
"I'm fine," Violet whispered back, trying not to be heard.
Much to the girls' relief their pack leader had them stop. "We'll wait here until Dodger gets back," he said. The girls only nodded in response.
"He'll be back soon," Tracker assured her friend.
"I know," Violet said. She shifted uneasily as she nervously scanned her pack leader. Prowler isn't going to be happy if he takes too long.
Violet couldn't help but flinch when Prowler glanced her way. It was no secret that he didn't like her, and the feeling was mutual. Come on, Dodger. Hurry up and get back.
Petrie yawned deeply.
"Nothing out here tonight… not that me would see anything anyway."
The boundaries of the pack's territory seemed intact as the scent markings had been replaced mere hours before. Likewise, each pack member was sleeping in their sleeping spots and had pointed sticks at their disposal in the event of an alert. It was ironic in many ways that the pack's unending paranoia actually let them to sleep easier at night than most packs.
"Anything out there, Spotter?"
Petrie looked down at the mention of his sharptooth name. A green fastbiter with a teal crest greeted him down below. That right, Petrie remembered, It be Finder's turn to be on night watch.
"Nothing, Finder. Happy watching!"
Spike rolled his eyes at this. Being on watch duty was not an exciting job at all.
"Thanks, Spotter, though I think I will be bored out of my mind."
Petrie merely chuckled and gave a nod in sympathy. He did not envy Spike staying up all night on a perfect evening like they had today.
Groaning once more for good measure, Spike called upon the other watcher to take her position.
"Ponder, you ready?"
The rose-colored fastbiter arose from the shadows with two spears in her hand. Carefully, she handed one to Spike and then pointed her own spear towards the ground.
"I am as ready as I will ever be. So let's hurry up and get ready!"
It didn't take long for Dodger to get back. "I found a spot we can rest for the night," he announced.
Prowler just nodded in acknowledgement and gestured for Dodger to lead the way.
Violet was almost shocked at how short the walk was. What took him so long?, she wondered. The short walk didn't stop her from complaining when they stopped, though. "Why didn't we stop earlier when there were better spots?"
"What was that?" Prowler snapped.
"Nothing," Violet replied, carefully backing away. I'm dead.
Dodger deliberately stepped between his sister and Prowler, pointedly facing his pack leader.
Prowler looked like he was about to say something but thought better of it. "Get some rest," he commanded instead before lying down to do just that.
Violet had no problem following that order. She was asleep almost before she was on the ground.
Dodger laid down next to her but didn't try to sleep. Someone has to keep watch.
"Room for one more?" Tracker asked. Dodger gestured to the spot next to him.
Tracker happily accepted the invitation. She was tired, but chances to talk to her friend when he wasn't acting as pack deputy were rare. She could sleep later.
Ruby slowly strolled beside the stream. After several months in this new place their pattern had become a routine. One watcher would watch the open fields for any sign of disturbances, whereas the other would walk in front of the stream. It was a simple pattern which led to efficiency.
However it also led to boredom.
"I wish that I had something to do besides this thing that I am doing!" Ruby hissed in annoyance as she kicked a stick into the stream. She would rather be doing anything else right now. Sleeping beside Littlefoot… playing Capture the Head… hunting something…
But someone has to keep watch, she admitted to herself, I just wish it was someone else tonight.
Ruby shook her head. Complaining wouldn't change anything so she resumed her steady trek across the woods. The stream was the only sound as its gentle waters flowed over rock and sticks. The only scent that could be smelled was the subtle smell of fastbiters.
That is exactly what I should smell from our markings, Ruby observed, we have to tell the others to stay away somehow, and…
Ruby stopped as her heart began to quicken. The pack never left scent markings by the stream as they did not want to contaminate the water. So the fact that fastbiters could be smelled here…
She ran to the stream edge and quickly tried to examine the source of the scent. That was when she saw them.
Footprints. The pack was not alone.
Alright, it took a while, but now it is time to begin Mender's Tale! (: This story is directly derived from a roleplay created by Historian1912 and myself, and though the pacing and subject-matter is based more on interpersonal interactions than my previous stories, I think it is certainly a worthy addition to the series that adds a lot to the backstories of our beloved characters. The internal story can be considered an in-between-quel, taking place between the Seven Hunters and Songs of the Hunters. My current plan is to have weekly installments from this point forward.
I hope that you have found this teaser to your liking, and I hope that you all have a wonderful week!
Until next time,