The problem was, I only knew a handful of people in the ætt. Most of them were either my own age or one of the Masters, and the Masters were usually busy and not likely to be able to help.
“What’s on your mind?” Path-Maker asked as I ruminated over my oatmeal.
“Moon-Singer said I could go with him to talk to Ghost if I found someone who was willing to ‘babysit’ me.”
“Aw, I’ll babysit wittle Silver-Singer,” Black-Wind replied with a smirk.
“Not people my own age,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Older people. But I don’t know anyone except the Masters, and they have better things to do with their time.”
“You could come to game night,” Path-Maker suggested. “We all set up a bunch of board games in the lounge and everyone plays.”
“…You all play board games for fun?” I said with a smirk.
“I like chess,” Crow-Feather said defensively. “Sharpens the mind.”
“There’s also music night three times a week,” Black-Wind added. “In the Cafeteria.”
“But you should come to game night,” Path-Maker insisted. “Everyone goes to Game Night.”
“Then I guess it’s a good place to start,” I replied.
Crow-Feather tossed her fork on her plate as she finished her breakfast and looked toward me. “Have you asked Iron-Will if she’s interested?” she suddenly said.
“Iron-Will?” I said, a little surprised. Iron-Will was the Master of Debate and an important figure in the ætt, not likely to have time for babysitting a novice. Also, I hate her. “…I assumed she would have better things to do with her time.” Like, you know, making poor Quick-Mind miserable.
“Silver-Dancer was Iron-Will’s uncle,” Crow-Feather replied. “She’s family–and I’m sure she has an interest in getting vengeance for his untimely death.”
“I guess,” I said. “Were Iron-Will and my dad very close?”
“Almost as close as he was to Moon-Singer,” Crow-Feather replied. “Your dad was very close with Shining-Tooth, my mother.”
“I heard they were always fighting,” Black-Wind replied.
“They were still close,” Crow-Feather defensively replied. “Shining-Tooth just saw things differently, that’s all. They both believed in doing whatever they had to to make the ætt the best place it could be. ”
“It’s a shame the Council of Masters didn’t agree with her definition of ‘the best place it could be.’” Black-Wind said with no small amount of sarcasm.
Crow-Feather glared daggers at Black-Wind. “The council is too soft,” she said. “Things were better when Silver-Dancer was alive. He may have been soft sometimes, too, but mother always reminded him that sometimes, to run an ætt, you have to make difficult decisions–and he wasn’t afraid to make them when the situation called for it. Now,” she continued, getting up from the bench, “The council will take sympathy on any ex-Vandal that comes to their doorstep. I suppose that’s no surprise when Clever-Hooves herself used to work in their midst.”
“No one’s making you and Iron-Will stay here,” Black-Wind retorted. “You must miss your mother. Maybe you should join her at Icy-Gale.”
“Someone’s got to keep an eye on things around here,” Crow-Feather retorted. “On people.” She started pointedly in Quick-Mind’s direction before picking up her plate.
“Leave her out of this, Crow-Feather,” I said, giving her the nastiest glare I could muster.
“Just because your dad was Chieftain in the old days doesn’t mean you own the place,” Crow-Feather replied. She looked as though she thought of saying something else but decided better of it and walked away, plate in hand.
“I hate her,” I said, sitting back down. Quick-Mind looked passively into her plate. “What’s the deal, Black-Wind?” I asked. “I mean… I know Crow-Feather can be pretty awful. But did you really have to rile her up like that? What was all that about, anyway?”
Everyone looked at Black-Wind. Black-Wind shifted in his seat. “It was a long time ago,” Black-Wind said. “I’m sure if Moon-Singer or Healing-Tears were here, they’d give me a nice lecture about mud-slinging and dirt digging. So maybe it’s better if I just drop it.”
“I think that’s a good decision,” Path-Maker said a little coldly.
“Just keep your eye out for those two, Quick-Mind,” Black-Wind replied. “I don’t doubt that they won’t take ‘justice’ into their own hands again.”
Quick-Mind didn’t seem to appreciate being the focus of so much attention. She just made a meaningless whimper as we finished our breakfast in silence.