To everyone below, it was almost impossible to follow except by the occasional rustle of leaves. For Rhodes, it was a tense bout of survival. His every move along the branches mattered. Slow and silent, or quick and evasive. It was all a matter of adapting to the situation.
On foot and claw, Rhodes crawled over the sturdiest branches he could. Every crack, every creak, even the sound of leaves against his fur as he moved, could give him away. His opponent had the same weakness, though. It was the nature of this competition to exploit these things, but more importantly, to avoid being exploited.
This practice was kept secret from outsiders, because it was how they put to the test their expertise in traversing and tracking within the forest. There was never a tougher target than a fellow gang member. They knew all the tricks, and maybe more.
Rustling. They were both doing it as they moved. The question was never whether they could attain complete silence in search of each other -- in the treetops, it was impossible. Their senses were too sharp to miss the sounds of moving leaves and branches. Trickery and cleverness were key.
A louder rustle. The other Sneasel was close. Rhodes planned accordingly, planting his feet and claws on the same extended branch in a perched position. If there was an opportunity to pounce, either toward or away, he would have to take it. The abundance of leaves masked clear vision of his target, but he could see it. The tinges of black fur moving along. However...
Rhodes made a mistake. He attempted to leap through the leaves at what he saw, attempting to end the engagement quickly... only to have his adversary hop and grab a higher branch, leaving him at a disadvantage. Before Rhodes could do more than gain footing on the new branch and hastily look upward, his error had already cost him. In one quick swipe, the other Sneasel had grabbed one of the hanging ends of his green scarf.
In a panic, Rhodes began to tug away. He realized this could be the end right away if he didn’t do something drastic. The other Sneasel had begun to pull, attempting to make him lose balance. It was also starting to work. His footing was being lost, leaving him little choice. A heavy lurch away from his assailant freed him, at the cost of ripping his scarf free. He wouldn’t get a chance to survey the damage until he was able to slink away, but at least he’d be able to.
Part 4 of "The Pulled String" by