He was more cautious in his observations this time. The pale humans had no talisman to mark any of them as a shaman. Pale humans, not albino as First Fur seemed to think. They had color in their head fur and eyes. She thought she understood far more than she really did and he was of the opinion that her name came less from her color and more from her foolish antics.
White Tuft considered carefully how to handle this many humans trespassing on his people’s land. They didn’t seem to carry bows, dart tubes or spears, but there was any number of other strange objects in their possession. Were any of these weapons? He doubted it.
The pale shaman spoke a strange language, but White Tuft had gathered that the pale humans were only interested in learning things. A race of kittens from the way he made them sound, ever curious. Hardly the sort of beings to bear meaningful claws.
The line of thought brought him to a decision. White Tuft crossed several large branches to one resting right ahead of their path and waited for them to pass under. Precision. He landed a few feet ahead silently and crouched there eying them. When two of them noticed him finally, surely blind creatures, he let out a throaty warning.
They froze, but didn’t turn back as the local humans would have understood to do. Insulting beings. Muscles tensing, White Tuft prepared to pounce. Thump, a mass of fur landed between him and the humans. First Fur.
“You would strike them?” she snarled at him.
“Stand aside. They trespass.”
“You’ve twisted enough laws already.”
“You don’t know anything girl. Stand aside or you stand against us all.”
Whatever retort she might have planned to offer, it was cut short by a clap of thunder. Such sounds were not uncommon here, but this sound came from the pack of humans and was accompanied by a sharp pain as something hitting his shoulder forced him sideways.
Confusion filled White Tuft and he bit at the spot where blood now welled, expecting to pull something free. Nothing was there. Unable to comprehend, he fled into the brush evading an unseen enemy as best he could with an injured limb.
He could feel First Fur beside him, evidently fleeing as well. “They had a stick that screamed.” She observed.
“It did worse than that.” White Tuft was slowing as whatever had bitten him seemed to be working into his wound. “They are dangerous. I misjudged. We must kill them.”
“You threatened to attack them, not just warning as you should have.”
“They didn’t listen to the warning.”
“They aren’t local. You threatened, they responded.”
“Go. Find the others. One hour.”
She hesitated, then rushed off. First Fur might have been willing to push her place against him only a few moments before, but not when an open attack had occurred. At least he hoped she wasn’t that foolish. Surely she understood her place better than that.
For the first time in many generations, war with humans was at hand. It was unclear what that would mean. White Tuft would have to consult the pale shaman to understand this new enemy far better. A shaman would understand all of the magic of his people. He would have ways to prevent such injuries. Most likely he would know how to heal White Tuft’s own wound.
Shifting the configuration of his bones made it easier to run. His people would wear the human forms and strike like a storm without warning.