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Outlier

Outlier

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Join date : 2015-04-08

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PostSubject: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySat Apr 11, 2015 11:58 pm

This is where I make the...uh...stuff...with words and sh!t. And sometimes there will be drawrings, too.

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Outlier

Outlier

Posts : 322
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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySun Apr 12, 2015 9:56 pm

December 2009 EQ Grab-bag

Elements:
A gift given to show you care
singing
a pine/evergreen tree
winter ("white-cold")
discovering something new

The Gift

“Suntop?”

*Ember! Quiet.* Her brother’s words filled her mind. She followed their gentle tugging out of the forest into the clearing where her brother knelt by a small stream. *Remember-*

She flopped down on the bank a short distance away and finished his sentence in a quiet sing-song voice. “In the trees, as you please. On the ground, not a sound.” Irritated, she pulled off her boots and gave a slight hiss as her feet touched the icy water. She lay back in the moist earth.

The holt was a buzzing beehive of activity lately. The white-cold would be coming soon and attentions were occupied with the filling of store-holes and drying meat to supplement the lean hunting ahead. Anyone enjoying a moment’s rest who was unfortunate enough to be noticed by Moonshade was quickly put to work preparing hides while she herself took stock of their winter furs.

For Ember the situation was particularly maddening. Mostly still only entrusted with cub chores, Cutter nonetheless seemed to require at least Ember’s presence for every detail of the preparations. Finally able to sneak away, she took the opportunity to let herself get lost in the delicious contrast of the warm afternoon sun shining down on her face and the cool ground beneath her.

The skritch, skritch of her brother’s knife in the dirt soon drew her attention.

“What are you doing?”

As an answer, Suntop reached into a pouch and pulled out several pieces of thin, clear stone. “Look.” He held one up to the sun. The stone glowed a vibrant hue as the sun shone through. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Like Savah’s chair.” His face saddened as he returned the stones.

“Don’t worry, you’ll go back again sometime.”

Suntop returned to his digging. “Not anytime soon. Who knows when Rayek’s magic will return.” He jabbed the knife in to the earth harder. “And even when it does, what good will it do? Father won’t go near the palace with Rayek in it, and I don’t think he’ll ever let me out of his sight again.” He stopped digging and glanced over at his sister, suddenly aware of his own words. If it was bad for him, he knew it was twice as bad for his sister. He at least had a little freedom. He didn’t have the weight of the Wolfrider’s future being loaded onto him.

Ember continued to lie with her eyes closed. She sighed. “Ever since Rayek took us in the palace, everything’s just so confusing. I mean, I know for father we were gone a long time, and it’s so strange that he’s so much older in what seemed to be only one night, but it’s not just that. He’s just so—“

“Different.” Suntop shrugged. “Sad. That’s what I’m doing here. I’ve been collecting the clearstone for awhile. I want to make a tallow pot for him. The light will shine through the stones. It will be beautiful. Something to enjoy in the cold of winter. Something to-“ Suntop had been speaking quickly, excitedly. Now his voice trailed off as a sense of futility hit him. “-cheer him up.” He returned to digging. “Tyleet said they sometimes find clay by this stream. I was hoping to find some.”

“Well, then. Maybe I can help.” Ember waded around the stream, crossing from one bank to another. Occasionally pausing, sometimes lowering her head to the bank as she worked out a scent. Finally she threw a pebble down onto the grassy slope. “Try here.”

Suntop moved to the place she indicated and began digging again. “Aha!” He pulled up some of the firm, red earth and began piling it on the bank. “Thanks, I never would have been able to do that.”

Ember settled on the bank again and watched her brother. She spoke hesitantly. “Suntop? What do you think of Tyleet? And Venka?”

“Well, Venka’s sending is amazing. I’ve never felt anything like it.” Ember smiled at her brother’s appreciation of the other elf’s skill. “And Tyleet? She’s always so nice and gentle. It’d be hard not to like her.”

“Well, I don’t.” Suntop shot her a reproachful glare. She sighed. “OK. That’s not really true. It’s just that everyone was so excited that there was going to be a new cub. I was too. Finally, we wouldn’t be the only ones being left behind. There was going to be someone younger, someone to play with and teach. But now there’s not. She was supposed to be a playmate, but suddenly she’s grown-up. She wants a cub of her own. And we’re still cubs.”

They sat silently for a while, each caught up in their own thoughts.

“Done.” Suntop proudly held the pot up for Ember’s inspection. “All we need now is to find a place to set it while it dries.”

They both stood and scanned the surrounding area, Ember quietly mulling over the requisite qualities. “Warm. Dry. Out-of-sight. There!” She pointed to a lone evergreen at the top of a rocky outcropping. The wide arching branches created the perfect space to keep the pot safe yet hidden from view, while the lacy branches still let in the sun. They placed the pot in the soft needles, then hurried back to the holt, hoping they hadn’t been missed.

--------------------------------

The storm hit the next night, earlier than anyone expected. A howling wind drove the leaves out of the trees. Even in the warm comfort of their dens the Wolfriders could hear the occasional cracking of limbs weighted down with ice and snow.

The twins had almost finished dressing when Cutter appeared in the den opening.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Ember tightened the last of the lacings of her fur cloak. “Suntop and I have to do something.” She glanced up at her father’s scowling face. “We left something outside, we just need to run and get-“

“No!” Ember and Suntop both flinched and their father’s bark.

“Father, we’ll just be gone for a little while.” She glanced nervously at her brother. “Suntop made a new tallow pot. It’s just over by the stream cliffs. It shouldn’t take-“

“I said no! Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there’s a storm outside. The branches are covered with ice, it’s impossible to get down out of the trees.”

“If you could do it, we can!”

Cutter’s voice lowered, his tone became deliberate. “Even if you make it safely out of the trees, you can’t see anything out there. You’d get lost—“

“You can’t keep us here!” Ember glowered at her father. His eyes narrowed and his voice became an angry growl.

“Want to bet?”

Ember made for the door. As her father moved to block her Suntop thrust himself between them and was angrily pushed aside. He fell against the den wall with a crack. Leetah quickly cradled her son. The fury in Ember’s eyes burned into Cutter. “It was a gift for you. Hear that! All we wanted to do was get Suntop’s gift for you!”

Outlier write pretty one day 12010310

Cutter stood in the opening for a moment, before turning and disappearing into the flurry of snowflakes.

--------------------------------------

The first light of morning was just brightening the sky when Cutter appeared again in the doorway. He held out the broken pottery pieces toward his son. “It must have cracked when it froze.”

Suntop gingerly took the pieces. The bottom was still a rounded bowl, but the top had shattered, leaving jagged pieces of clearstone pointing up like an open blossom. “I think it will still work. I wanted to show you…I think I can…” Suntop held the intact bottom out. He took a deep breath and stared at it intently. Soon they were able to discern the pot give a faint glow above the dim morning light.

Outlier write pretty one day 12010311

For a moment there was only stunned silence before Cutter spoke. “It reminds me of-“

“I know.” Suntop stopped him before he could utter the words. The silence continued, heavy with unspoken thoughts.

Cutter again broke the silence. “Did I ever sing you the song about mother moon and child moon?” Both cubs shook their heads. Cutter peeled off his storm-drenched leathers and settled into the warm sleep furs. The scent of forest and fresh snow lingered around him, the chill on his skin made the cubs shiver.

“The greater moon, full and bright
Hunts the star-stag through the night.
On through the seasons as they turned.
Slowly, her heart began to yearn
For a companion, with which to share the sky.

One day it appeared in the night
A child moon, to share and make mother’s heart light.
With a child in her arms, mother stayed from the hunt
And mother and child both, grew thin and gaunt.
Child cries, her stomach empty. Mother knows she must hunt once more.

So mother leaves her precious cub
And stalks the star-stag once again.
Bellies full and shining brightly
They walk together through the night.

Still sometimes mother leaves her child.
Sometimes it is child who wanders away.
Wait but awhile and they’ll return to each other
Snuggling close as they sleep for the day.”

“Like mother moon, I sometimes hold my cubs too close. But I also know that I can not stop either of you from being what you were meant to be.”

“Ember, you will lead the Wolfriders when I am gone. I wasn’t much older than you when I became chief. When Bearclaw died, I was shocked. He had lived so long, I think I just assumed that he would live forever. And Bearclaw,” Cutter chuckled softly, “He just never thought beyond today. There’s so much that I had to work out for myself. It will be the same for you when your time comes, but while I’m here I want to prepare you, share what I can.”

Ember squeezed her eyes to stop the sting of tears. She thought back to the times she had played at being chieftess. It was starting to seem foolish to her now. All along she’d thought how great it would be to have the power and control, she’d never really thought about what she’d have to lose to get it.
“Suntop, I know that I can’t help you. You have awesome gifts, gifts you have spent most of your life trying to avoid using. A bird with a broken wing will sometimes lose the ability to fly, even after the wing is fully mended. Kept from the sky, he will whither and die. I don’t want that to happen to you. I want you to learn and grow and soar up to the sun. You need Savah’s help to learn, and someday you will have it again.”

“Someday, I will have to let you go. But I’m just not ready. Not so soon after…” There was a pause as he fought to control the emotions threatening to overwhelm him. “Not yet. Do you understand?” He felt the nodding of two soft heads. Soon he heard nothing but gentle snoring on either side.
Cutter held on to his cubs as he watched the faint glow of Suntop’s lamp fade into the slowly brightening day.

Outlier write pretty one day 12010312

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I also tried drawing a comic, just to see if I could, but didn't get too far.

Outlier write pretty one day Thegif10

Outlier write pretty one day Thegif11

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Outlier

Outlier

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySun Apr 12, 2015 10:11 pm

January 09 EQ Grab-bag

Elements:
Facing your greatest fear
A rebirth of some kind
A natural disaster
Prediction, foreboding, forewarning or any sense of something to come

"FLOOD"

It started with the sound of rushing water in her ears, faint at first, then rising in a crescendo to deafening roar. All was pale brown light. Bubbles swirled around her as she was carried along, tossed by the uncontrollable current. Her legs kicked and her arms flailed wildly as she sought to make out up from down. Her hands clawed for the surface, striving to catch hold of anything, anything that would steady her and stop her from being carried away. Her lungs burned with the effort not to breathe. She panicked, not knowing how much longer she could fight the instinct forcing her lungs to fill.

She gasped, and was shocked to find not water filling her lungs, but the fresh, cooling evening breeze. She opened her eyes. The shadows outside her den were long with the coming of night. Her mother crouched in the doorway, spear at her side, about to leave but stopped by the sound of her daughter.

Outlier write pretty one day Bright10

“Wisp?” Brightfeather could barely make out the shape of her child at the back of the den. Brown eyes, brown hair, wrapped in brown furs against brown stone. Named for her small size at birth, Wisp’s name had been aptly chosen. Always thin and quiet, she seemed to be able to disappear at will, fading into the landscape, insubstantial as smoke.

Almost full grown, Wisp had yet to claim her place in the tribe. Most wolfriders her age had long ago bonded with wolf-friends. Wisp had not. Although Brightfeather was satisfied with her daughter’s skills, Wisp had no desire to be part of the hunt.

More troubling, Wisp did not know her soul-name. Brightfeather did. It had rang out loud and clear to her and her lifemate at their joining. She did not know why her daughter couldn’t hear it. Brightfeather had stopped speaking it aloud long ago, thinking that it would only truly have meaning for Wisp if she found it for herself.

“I’m all right.” Her mother’s questioning gaze lingered. “I was dreaming of water.”

“We all are, cub. We all are.”

It had been the driest spring that anyone could remember. Making it worse was that it was following a winter that had seen too few snows. Normally this time of year would find the ground moist and swollen as the snowpack worked its way down the hillsides. Streams that were usually torrents of winter melt were barren gulleys. Spring was usually a time when the lean winter months gave way to an abundance of returning wildlife, but this year with the usual watering places small or gone, the game had moved on.

What the hunters were finding were bears, waking hungry from their long winter sleep. Not able to find their normal springtime feast they were ranging wider and wider from their mountain dens. There had been several close calls as both elves and animals searched for the same limited food supplies, but so far no injuries.

Wisp sat up.

“You’re going hunting.” It was a statement, not a question, as there could be no question of the need to hunt, but still there was an undercurrent of uncertainty that Brightfeather picked up in her daughter’s voice. As always when looking at her daughter, her thoughts were carried back to her lifemate. He’d been gone over eight turns of the season now, but Wisp always kept him close. Her coloring and temperament were her father’s. Her fear, however, was her own. Brightfeather wondered again how the bear that had taken her lifemate had stolen her daughter’s spirit, as well.

Wisp expected no assurances, and Brightfeather had none to give. Brightfeather gave her daughter a gentle smile, then left to join her hunting party.
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It was several days later when Wisp finally heard the wolf-call. The hunt had met with success and already the tribe was perking up with thoughts of returned loved ones and full bellies in mind. They were still quite a ways off, and Wisp decided to climb the ridge above their dens to get the first glimpse of the hunter’s return.

It was slow climbing. The evening air was hot for the season and this night it seemed to close about her with an oppressive weight. Her feet often slipped on the dry ground. The brush was brown as autumn. More than once when she reached for a branch to steady herself it crumbled in her hands. Finally, sweating and parched, she stood atop the summit.

She took a minute to gaze over the dry river valley before turning her attention upslope to the direction the howls had come from. The light was fading but she was finally able to pick out the returning elves. Because of their burden they came down the valley floor, instead of keeping to the trees as they usually would have. It had been a good hunt indeed. The six elven hunters carried two spears between them, loaded with elk meat.

Wisp was just about to head back down when something else caught her attention. A flash in the sky just behind the hunters. She hadn’t noticed before the darkness growing on the horizon, an odd blue darker than the evening sky. A storm was coming, and heading their way fast.

Outlier write pretty one day Wisp410

At first Wisp felt relief that there would finally be an end to the long drought. She was about to send the good news to her tribe mates, but stopped. It came upon her in a sudden understanding. The ground was too dry. The water that fell on it would not be absorbed by the soil and the plants. It would roll off the hard ground and down the slopes to the low lands and valleys. Valleys like the one her mother was in now.

Large droplets began to splatter against her as she sent a new vision to the tribe, this one of the hunting party engulfed in a wave as the water came rushing down from the mountains. The loose ground that had hampered her climb up was quickly becoming slippery mud. She quickly became covered in cuts and scratches as she hit one bush or tree after another, the collisions the only thing controlling her descent as she fought to get to the bottom of the hill.

She could hear it now. A sound below the rustling of dry leaves and patter of raindrops on the hard earth. A low rumbling and groaning. The creaking and cracking of large limbs being torn from their trees. On level ground now, Wisp moved more quickly and burst from the trees just in time to witness the horrible image she had already sent to her tribefolk.

The hunters with their burden, following the dry creek bed, hesitated, seeking the source of the new noise. Finding it, they turned to look up the ravine. Wisp was close enough to see the shock on her mother’s face as the great churning brown mass overtook them. Suddenly, there were no wolves, no riders, only a foaming, twisting river, moving forward with an unstoppable force.

Wisp stood for a moment, stunned. A figure broke the surface. It struggled to keeps its head above water but was pulled back under and disappeared in the torrent. Without a thought Wisp plunged into the dirty water.

At first it was just like her dream. She was twisted and pummeled, unable to control her body as it was pushed by the raging torrent. But this time something changed. Somehow she became something outside of herself. She was aware of her body being thrown about, but she was also aware of every part of the water, from where it began with the rain in the uplands down to its churning, frothy head as it headed down the valley. She was a long brown serpent, her scales slipping and coiling over the ground as she was pulled onward by gravity.

Like dirt on her snake back, she was aware of things in the water. Branches, animals, wolves, elves. She found she could flex her water coils and affect the movement of the flotsam as it flowed along with her serpent body. Carefully, she turned and bent, directing what she could up to the surface and out toward the banks. Her own little body she batted around, until she was aware of contact with something. Not something hard like rocks and sticks, something soft. Giving one last heave with her serpent body, she left it. She wrapped her arms around the softness and felt herself carried up, gasping as she finally broke the surface.

At once hands were on her, dragging her up the slope away from the flood. She opened her eyes to find Brightfeather held tightly in her arms.

“Mother?” Tentatively, Wisp laid her hand on Brighfeather’s chest. Her skin was pale and cold. There was no rising, no falling. “No!”

Wisp collapsed against her mother’s body. The emptiness was infinite, stretching out farther then Wisp had ever imagined. Then, something began to fill it. It welled up inside her. A knowledge, crystallizing, guiding her. A word.

As it was rising to flood every part of her something else was happening. The muddy water began to flow out of her mother. It welled up out of her stomach and lungs, brown bubbling out of her nose and mouth. Brightfeather convulsed. The water was replaced with air in a ragged, rasping gasp. Wisp held her tight as she shook, violent coughing ridding her body of silt and debris. Gradually it began to subside. Brightfeather’s eyes opened slightly, moving rapidly as she tried to find something to focus on, something that would anchor her to where she was and what had happened. They found Wisp and stopped.

*Royl?*

Her hand lifted weakly. Wisp caught it in her own and folded it to herself.

*Yes.*

Outlier write pretty one day Wisp_a10
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The moonlight shone brightly on Tanner as he took his place in the center of his tribe.

“My friends, our last howl was one of mourning. A time to remember tribe and pack-mates lost in the flood. This night we celebrate something gained.” He motioned, and Wisp rose to join him in the circle. “The cub we knew as Wisp acted fearlessly in a time of need, awakening the power within her and saving tribemates as well. No longer a wisp to be blown about in the wind, she comes before us to claim a new name. Tonight we howl for Riversong!”

Heads tilted back, their voices rose and blended, an unending stream rising up to the sky.

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Outlier

Outlier

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySun Apr 12, 2015 10:20 pm

February 2009

The setting sun lit up the sky like flame. The world was golden, accenting the long shadows cast by the sandstone cliffs. A figure rose from the shadow depths and stood atop the cliffs, surveying the valley floor below, his spear glinting in the last fading rays of sunlight.

Night, the time when the desert springs to life. Spared from the heat of the day, the small animals would begin their foraging for what little food there was. The predators were on the move as well, looking for whatever they could catch with fang and claw, and sometimes, honed metal.

In the distance there was a faint sound of snuffling and grunting. The quarry was spotted. The figured picked his cloak up and wrapped it around himself, his only protection from the quickly cooling night air. Silently he made his way down the cliff-side, following the sound of the desert pigs as they scavenged for roots and insects.

The sound got louder and louder, until he knew the herd was just on the other side of the brush. He stood stone still, listening carefully for which way the group was moving. He lifted his spear. This prey was loud, but not stupid. If he gave himself away too soon, they would be gone before he could get close enough. He waited as they got closer. Finally, the first of the animals came out into the moonlight in the clearing before him. He released his spear, flying in a perfect arc towards the lead boar.

As he tossed his spear, his cloak was pulled taut against his back, where it touched, a sudden, searing sting. He rolled his shoulders, hoping to shed the pain, but it came again, biting, burning, overpowering all thought of the hunt.

He whipped off his cloak with a snap and saw the cause of his torment. A bit of blackness, like the sky fallen to the ground. A few legs moved in its death throes, stretching and flexing in mindless spasms. The moonlight glinted off its hard body like twinkling stars. On its abdomen he could just make out the crimson shape of a dipper.

A Mate-Eater, the smallest and deadliest of the desert’s dangers. Gingerly, he felt the spot between his shoulder blades. Two welts, burning like fire against his fingers.

It wouldn’t be long, he knew, before his body would no longer be under his mind’s control. He had to move quickly.

His spear was gone with the squealing boar as it ran to its certain death. He pulled out his knife. Bowing his shoulders, he swiped the blade as best he could reach, hissing at the new pain. The swath of skin fell to the ground, hopefully taking some of the venom with it.

He could feel the moist warmth dripping down his back, the cool air grating on raw nerves. Stiffly, he retrieved the cloak and swung it over him, wincing as it settled on his back.

Now, to get help. How many days out was he? He couldn’t even be sure anymore.

His way out had been circuitous, his path dictated by the nearness of water and shade. His survival depended on getting as far as he could as quickly as possible. His way back would be direct, over the cliffs and across the hard-pan desert floor.

Scrambling up the cliff was harder now than it ever had been. Every lifting of his arms pure agony as the movement opened the wound fresh again. There was no way up that did not require reaching and pulling, stretching flesh and muscle that cried out against the effort.

Even though the night was cool, the pain and exertion soon worked up a sweat, the salty perspiration running down his back, stinging. He tried to keep his thoughts on nothing but the next handhold, the next foothold, never looking at how much further he had to go until finally the ground in front of him was flat. He pulled himself to the top with a groan. He wanted to stop and rest, but it was a luxury he could not afford. Quickly getting up on his feet he started across the wide plateau, a solitary figure moving swiftly and steadily, dwarfed beneath the starry sky.
_______________________________________________________________________

It was nearly dawn when he reached the edge of the plateau. He paused for a moment to drink from his waterskin and contemplate the valley below him. This would be the true test. Normally, he would stay here in the shadow of the mountain, waiting for the cool of night before attempting to cross the wide basin. But already his hands were shaking. He could barely hold the waterskin still. Precious drops of water fell on his chest and to the sandy ground. He steeled himself mentally and prepared for the descent.

The agony was incredible. During the night’s walk, the cloak had dried to the skinned flesh of his back. Now, his movements pulled it free with a pain worse than the initial wound. The cloak was no longer supple and pliant, but stiff and heavy, abrading the tender flesh beneath. Worse, he was having trouble coordinating his feet and hands. Several times he found himself sliding down the slope, landing on a boulder or bush with a jarring suddenness. Finally, one last mis-step and he found himself sliding down the rocky scree, getting his hands out in front of him just in time to stop a head first impact with a large boulder.

He stood for a minute with his hands resting against the rock. The sun had come up with blazing ferocity and now burned down on him, the hot air and dust he had kicked up making him choke. His arms and legs shook even as he stood still. The bile rose to his throat and he bent down to the dusty ground. His body tried to purge itself of the poison, an unnaturally bright and green color against the brown dirt. His head swum and he fought against the blackness coming in from the edges of his vision. He put his head down against the still cool roughness of the boulder. He had to go on. He pushed himself back up to standing and headed out into the nothingness.
________________________________________________________________________

It shimmered before him, a vision of water greater than anything he would ever have imagined, always before him, but always beyond his reach, no matter how far he walked. His conscious mind would have recognized it as an illusion, if his conscious mind were working at all.

He had become a shell, with no thought or purpose, moving instinctually, consumed by the effort of putting one foot in front of the other.

Not even thirst drove him forward. The waterskin had long since been abandoned, his body no longer knowing the difference between water and poison.

The footprints in the sand were irregular. His pace had been slowing, as more and more time was spent on keeping balance and staying upright. Finally, even that was too much for him. He could no longer resist the pull of gravity. Weighted by the heat of the day, the dust barely stirred as he collapsed. Only one last spark of consciousness strayed out into the stillness.

*Savah-*
_______________________________________________

Hardness. Heaviness. The strange sensation of awareness of himself returning. His arms, his legs. Finally the sense enough to open his eyes. He expected the drying sun, but found himself instead in cool darkness.

“Where-?”

“Shhh.” He heard the sound of water pouring, the soft chiming of metal. “I have taken care of the worst of your injuries. You still need to rest.”

He felt her arms, strong and gentle, around him, pulling him up, then the cup against his lips. The water was soothing, washing away the grit of sand from his throat.

He was grateful for the water, the coolness, the presence of Leetah. But even as he felt it, the gratitude was sliding away, sinking into a feeling of shame.

She should never have done this. Never to have needed to. Never have seen him this way, broken and helpless. He tried to lift himself but his body, already taxed to the limit, would do no more. Defeated, he allowed himself the sink back to the cushion.

Leetah saw his struggling. Her grip, surprisingly firm, held him in place. “No you don’t. You’re not going anywhere.”

He could hear it in her voice, her amusement, laughing at him helpless as a child. This was not the way it should be. He was stronger, he could do what all the other Sun Villagers could not. He should be protecting her.

He lay with his eyes closed until he heard her footsteps on the stairs. He rose quickly, ignoring the sinking in his stomach as the hut swam about him. He gathered his things as quietly as he could and headed toward his cave home. He would recuperate there, away from the scorn and misplaced intentions of the Sun Villagers.

He was Rayek, hunter and magic user. Not weak and helpless like the rest of them. And no one would ever see him that way. Never again.

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Lunakat

Lunakat

Posts : 2792
Join date : 2014-03-15
Location : On a rooftop, contemplating the moon

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyMon Apr 13, 2015 1:05 pm

Ah Rayek- your foolish pride!

Love the David Sedaris reference.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnbYyTlz1Tw
Outlier

Outlier

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyMon Apr 13, 2015 3:35 pm

I wondered if anyone here would be familiar with that book.

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Embala

Embala

Capricorn Pig
Posts : 11692
Join date : 2012-06-24
Age : 60
Location : Germany

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyMon Apr 13, 2015 5:22 pm

It's wonderful to see your stories return, Outlier.

Cutter's struggle with his anxieties caused by centuries long loss, tomboyish rebellious Ember and mystic artful Suntop ... and how they find their way. Each of them - and all together. The twin are so adorably interacting.
A coming-of-age story ... a timid youngling finding her strength and magic skills in the most dangerous, most desperate moment.
And Rayek's struggle home, poisened and weak ... and leaving again no matter how exhausted he was. So in character. Strong. Stubbourn. Proud.

Your stories are even more special to me because they often go with illustrations - lovely drawings, beautiful colored pictures ... and even a comic. Thank you so much for bringing this back. I've missed you, jeb. Thank you for being part of the holt.


I hope it is okay to post the collage here that was inspired by the song Cutter sings for his cubs.

Outlier write pretty one day Moonso12

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Outlier write pretty one day Lifebr10
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Outlier

Outlier

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyThu Apr 16, 2015 11:51 pm

Collide – March 2009

Bright-metal (steel)
A secret
Doing the impossible
A new life of some kind

In the early years of the High Ones coming, the children of Timmorn were divided in two. There were those in whom the elf-blood was the strongest, those who would become the Wolfriders.

Then there were the others, the hunt, those who were more wolf than elf. These were tightly bound to the world of two moons, born with the strength and instincts of predators. They looked down on what they saw as the weakness of the first comers, and when Timmorn chose Rahnee to lead after him, the hunt left. No more is told of them.

But the world is a strange place, both larger and smaller at times than we believe, and it is possible that there are stories of meetings between the two tribes in times long forgotten. This is one such story of paths crossed and lives changed.
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Wolf and elf did not always rest easily together in the mind. Timmorn was the first to be subject to the effects, pulled sometimes to the here and now of animal thought, others to the far-reaching expanse of the starry heavens. His descendants were, to varying degrees, better off than he was. Or worse.

He was an outcast from his tribe. Though proud of their wolfishness, there was such a thing as being too much of an animal, and he was. For the pack to function there had to be some order, a hierarchy enforced. Those who could not accept the order of the pack were forced out. So he hunted alone.
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*Wait for me!* Twinstar hopped along the forest path, hurriedly pulling on her boot while trying to catch up with her friend and lovemate, Dusk.

The two were going hunting together, the way they had done everything for as long as anyone could remember. In a world where children were few and far between, they shared a special bond of being born near the same time. But what they had was something more than being age-mates.

At first glance, it was their differences that were most striking. She was fair, silver hair and sparkling eyes, a beam of moonlight dancing in the forest, caught in elfin form. Her thoughts were like the moon, too, high up in the sky, shining and shimmering, beyond some of the tribe’s reach. He was brown, the rich, deep brown of the soil that nourished the forest. His eyes black as midnight. He was patient, gentle, and caring, a true brother to all creatures.

But despite their differences, they seemed to be born of one mind. Talking, even sending, was sometimes unnecessary. Yet they could talk for hours, or sit silently, complete in each other’s presence. He tethered her to the world, she freed him of it.

Playmates had slipped easily to lovemates, and would soon be lifemates in the fullness of time. All their tribe-mates assumed Recognition would not be a question of if, but when.

Her foot firmly in her boot now, Twinstar moved quickly and silently through the forest, her silver hair shining in the moonlight like a streak of skyfire. Her eyes glittered in the dark like the celestial bodies that gave her her name.

She was running so hard to catch up that she almost ran right into Dusk. Her complement, his dark eyes and hair were a part of the forest shadows. He gave her a teasing scowl, then broke into an easy smile.

Better organized now, they headed deeper into the forest.
_____________________________________________

*I hope we find something soon.*

Dusk did not answer, but he shared Twinstar’s anxiety. Prey-pacer had only given them an eight-of-days to hunt before the tribe would be on the move once again. They had already used half that time, and the only game they’d found were a few ravvits, just enough to keep up their strength. If they didn’t find some game soon, they would have to return empty-handed and the tribe would be traveling light indeed, on empty bellies.

He was about to suggest looking elsewhere when Twinstar held up a cautioning hand. They stood motionless, then he heard it, the rustling of leaves in the underbrush, then the stomping that told of some larger game. Three scrawny springers were in the clearing, pulling the bark off of the few still tender saplings. It was not game to be proud of, but it was something.

Dusk readied his spear, while Twinstar notched her arrow. Twinstar’s arrow flew true, hitting the springer just behind the shoulder. Dusk was not as lucky, hitting his in the rump. His dazed target began to stumble away. He burst into the clearing after it.

But they were not the only ones watching this game. Something else shot out of the forest too. Twinstar had the impression of fur and fangs, strength and fury. Snarling, it smacked into Dusk with enough force to lift him off his feet and into the brush.

“Mine!”

Twinstar ran to Dusk, stunned by the bare branches that pierced through his body and the unnatural tilt of his head.

*Dusk?*

There was no answer. He was breathing, but his breath sounded wet and rough.

“Mine!”

Twinstar turned her attention now to the creature. There was no doubt that he was elfin, but he was unlike any elf she had seen before. What she had taken for fur was a mass of shaggy hair and a covering of untanned furs. Her eyes lingered on his odd, three-toed feet before coming to rest on his face. Under his heavy brows his eyes were muddy pits.

Cern.

Twinstar shuddered as her world suddenly lurched.

“Mine.” He stood menacingly over the dead springer. His voice, pure aggression before, now held a hint of confusion.

They remained like this for a while, Twinstar sending desperately to Dusk, trying to think through the shock of what to do, he standing over the kill, watching her.

Finally, she could do nothing more than put her head down on Dusk’s chest and weep. The strange elf crouched down and, producing a rough stone knife, began to eat.
___________________________________________

She was dimly aware of passing time, so was startled to hear a rustling close by and a rough hand yanking her shoulder.

“We go.”

The words seemed to make no sense.

He gripped her upper arm more firmly.

“What? No! I’m not going anywhere with you!” Even as she protested she was acutely aware of the effect of his hand upon her body, of the effects of Recognition already at work.

She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip, a low growl sounding from deep in his throat. She wasn’t sure how much he understood of what was happening between them, but it was clear he was not letting her get away.

“We go, now!”

She put her arms protectively around Dusk. “We can’t. He can’t be moved, he won’t survive it.”

He stood impassively, his gaze faraway as the futility of her words struck her. Even though she wanted to, there was no way for her to take Dusk with them. He would have to remain here. She knew there was no hope for him, but she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving his body here to slowly starve or freeze.

Reluctantly, she pulled the ancient metal knife from his side. She had always marveled at how smoothly the bright-metal pierced the flesh. Detached, now, she felt the blade slip through the ribs, the quiver as it punctured the heart, beating so weakly now it produced only a weak stream. With sudden, painful awareness of what she’d just done, her hands covered her face, salt tears mingling with warm blood. She did not even see his last breath as she was dragged away.

___________________________________

They spent the next several days traveling, moving slowly, aimlessly during the nights, resting fitfully during the days. He kept her always in front of him, always in sight. She had hoped that she would be able to sneak off while he slept, but instead she found that neither of them was sleeping much. Once or twice, when his eyes were closed she had tried to move away, but at every noise she made his eyes would snap open and with a growl he would move closer.

Because of his need for constant vigilance there had only been a few half-hearted attempts at hunting. Not that it mattered, neither had much of an appetite.

Twinstar knew the elf felt the effects of Recognition as strongly as she did, but so far he hadn’t come any closer to her or touched her anymore than needed to make it clear she couldn’t leave. She had never heard of anyone denying Recognition before. Although she wanted to leave, she was frightened to find out what it would mean if she did.

Finally, she could stand it no longer.

She could see his eyes burning beyond the fire. Unblinking, he watched her every movement, as if not able to make up his mind about something. She made up hers. He had taken Dusk’s knife and her bow had been left behind. She had nothing to fight with, but she could see no other way.

She stood. He rose with her. They faced each other over the embers of the dying fire, then she bolted toward the forest. He was too quick. He caught her and pulled her back to the fire.

“Let me go!” He did. Just as every other time he had touched her he quickly dropped his arms as if unable to deal with the emotions such touches created. Could it be he really didn’t know? Twinstar cackled, a nervous outpouring of the ridiculousness of the situation. “You only have two choices. Mate with me, or kill me. I don’t care. Just get it over with.”

He made no response. She turned away from the fire and suddenly he was upon her. She fell head first to the ground, wincing as her jaw clamped down on dirt and pine-needles. Her thin leathers ripped as he pulled them away. Pinned, she could not move and struggled to gasp for air, sickened by his touch and her own body’s response to it. She had only one comfort, at least she wouldn’t have to see his face.
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*Twinstar!*

The sending was very faint, but it roused her. The tribe had not moved on, they were out looking for her. She did not answer, but moving as quietly as possible, looked over at where he was. He was crouched a few feet away, not looking at her, but not alerted to anything. He must not have sensed the sending.

If she answered now, they would find both of them. Now that Recognition was satisfied, she had no desire to ever see him again. She knew him, knew what drove him away from the others. Knew the possessiveness he felt, something she and her tribe mates could never understand. He would never fit in with the rest of the tribe.

Where did she fit in now? How could she go back and face the others with what she had done?

*Dusk!*

It was Joygleam, Dusk’s mother. Twinstar’s heart jumped to her throat. They didn’t know that Dusk was dead! Before she knew what she was doing Twinstar had leapt forward and was confused as the ground suddenly came up at her. He had her around the legs. She clawed at the ground, pulling herself forward as he pulled her back.

Her hands found a branch and held on as tightly as she could, the bark breaking away under her fingernails. He pulled harder and she flew backward as the branch cracked.

*Twinstar!*

The sending was getting fainter. They were moving away!

She kicked at him, and managed to get herself turned around to face him. She stopped struggling. She stayed still, pinned under his weight. For a minute she worried, would the taste of one joining bring a hunger for more? She felt his breath coming hard and fast against her stomach, but gradually it began to slow. Sure that he had stopped her, he began to rise. In one movement she brought the branch up against his temple and rolled over to her feet, and was soon running through the forest, sending to her tribe mates.
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Joygleam stared at where Twinstar had burst through the foliage, as if another figure might appear by magic.

“I’m sorry. The fang-tooth was just too much for us. If it wasn’t for Dusk I never would have gotten away.” Twinstar’s voice broke as her tears started flowing freely. Joygleam came over and embraced the younger elf. Twinstar nuzzled into the older elf’s neck, grateful that no one could see her face, her voice barely a whisper. “We Recognized. I carry Dusk’s child.”

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyThu Apr 16, 2015 11:55 pm

May Grab-bag

Elements:
Permission
Eyes meet eyes
A tragedy
A coin
A bug
A flame

Prey-pacer had kept them traveling long and far, but they had finally been rewarded. The hunting was good here. Everyone had eaten tonight.

Stillstep looked around at her blood- and mud-covered companions. Someone had started a fire and now they huddled around its flame, well-fed and weary.

Well, not everyone. Stillstep noted the slim figure sitting a distance from the others. Twinstar, barely recognized and already she had lost her lifemate.

Stillstep was concerned for the young elf. As a life-bearer, Twinstar was offered first pick and the choicest bits from every kill, yet it seemed everyday her skin clung a little more tightly to her bones.

As tribe elder and hunt leader, Stillstep felt responsibility for the whole tribe, but she had watched over Twinstar especially since her father’s death several years ago. Sharpeye had been her second in the hunt, she thought his death would crush the dreamy cub, but Twinstar had proven tougher than Stillstep had imagined. Stillstep had trouble believing Dusk’s death had affected her so much.

Stillstep stopped in front of the youth and held out her offering of a bit of fresh liver. “The hunt was good tonight. Will you eat?”

Twinstar took the meat hesitantly, then took a small bite, chewing slowly.

“May I sit?”

Twinstar continued to stare at the meat she held loosely, as if she’d rather it wasn’t there, but nodded.

“Not agreeing with you?”

Twinstar shook her head.

“Sometimes it’s that way when you’re first with cub. With Latefrost I couldn’t even hunt, the smell of blood turned my stomach so.”

Again, Twinstar just nodded weakly. Stillstep could see her eyes moisten. Twinstar struggled to swallow the meat, her throat suddenly too small. Stillstep gently touched her shoulder. “And sometimes it’s something else.”

Twinstar’s eyes, overflowing with tears, met Stillstep’s and she collapsed into her arms. “It’s terrible!”

Stillstep held Twinstar as she shook with sobs. Then the images came. The strange elf. Dusk’s death. The Recognition. Emotions held in check through a moons’ turn came gushing forth. Finally, there was nothing more. Twinstar pulled away, her head in her hands.

“How can you stand to look at me? The rest of the tribe, they won’t want me around, once they learn what I’ve done.”

“The rest of the tribe wasn’t there. It is not for them to judge what you had to do.” Stillstep’s voice was forceful. “You did what you had to do to survive. What matters now is whether you make that mean something. I can’t believe you fought so hard then, just to let yourself waste away now. It’s not what Dusk would’ve wanted. And it’s not what you want, or you wouldn’t be here!”

Twinstar turned her head, the firelight dancing in her tears.

“What if…” Her voice lowered. “What if I don’t…can’t love this child?”

“Then the tribe will raise it. What happened was a tragedy, but this…” She held her hand to Twinstar’s belly. “This new life is a wonder.”

“Not all Recognitions are those sought after.” Stillstep’s eyes took on a faraway, knowing look. “High Ones know why this one did. But we must accept cubs as we are given them, and do what we can.”

Twinstar nodded gently, her heart already easing from the unburdening. “But what about Joygleam? How can I tell her the truth?”

Stillstep hugged Twinstar. “I’ll tell her. Don’t worry, she’ll understand.”
_________________________________

Joygleam settled in beside Twinstar.

“I understand why you did what you did.”

Twinstar would not meet the elder elf’s eyes, instead staring intently at a small beetle as it made its way over the rocky ground. She felt her hand being lifted gently and something flat and round pressed into her palm. She glanced at Joygleam, then inspected the item in her hand. It was shiny, like Dusk’s blade. Irregular markings ran along the edge and in the center what looked like a flower except it was flat. Yet, when she turned it the light moved around. She rubbed it, feeling the bumps and ridges. It still held Joygleam’s warmth.

“What is it?”

“It’s called a coin. My mother was pure elf, a daughter of first-comers. This is one of the few things they had to give her. For them, it was special.” Joygleam shrugged. “I always thought I would give it to Dusk someday. Or his child.”

Twinstar winced. “But-“

Joygleam silenced her. “I know this is not Dusk’s child, but I know what was in his heart. You were a part of him. Dusk will live on in your child, for he is a part of you.”

Twinstar thought of Dusk, and found that for the first time since his death, she felt something besides pain. It was a beginning. Her heart was opening again to love.

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyFri Apr 17, 2015 12:13 am

Damn, Outlier...

Talk about intense... I don't think I breathed reading the rest of this once their hunt started! Shocked

Now I'm off to cry! I fall in love with Dusk after just a few sentences and then... *blinkblink*

This one needs continued!

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyFri Apr 17, 2015 12:52 am

I do have a couple more stories with these characters. I was going to post later, but it'd be good to do all at once.
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July 2009 EQ Grab-bag

Elements:
-Jumping up and down
-Jealousy
-Maternal instinct
-A scar (symbolic, physical or psychic)
-The Scroll of Colors
-Moons/moonlight/moon symbols

The lights swirled and snaked in front of her, the patterns ever-changing, bringing to mind strange creatures. Half-remembered, they slipped from her sight when she tried to look closer. Still the images came to her, whispers of her parents’ sendings from long ago. From a time when the elves lived not in caves scraped from the ground, but in a huge dwelling created by their will. A place where smooth surfaces met in corners. Where walls gave protection from the world around.

Yes! She could almost see them now, the visions her parents had shared with her. The places they travelled, their helper companions, the scroll-

Something smacked her leg – hard - and her eyes flew open. The boy lay on his back in the dirt by her feet, his legs still draped across hers. His confused face pointed skyward for a moment before he propped himself up and pushed the unruly mass of shaggy brown hair away from his eyes.

Seeing what he had tripped over, he quickly scrambled upright, mumbling an apology. “Sorry, Rellah.”

The wolf pup the child had been playing with was watching impatiently, its nose pressed to the ground between its outstretched paws, rump lifted skyward ending in a question mark tail, frozen now in consternation. The pup yelped and bounded away. The boy paused for a second, his eyes downcast, as if pondering what to do. At a loss, he met Rellah’s gaze guiltily, fleetingly, then followed his playmate.

Irritated, Rellah rose and began to brush the dirt from her leathers.

“Animals! All of them!” she sniffed.

“Really, Rellah, it’s not like he did it on purpose! They were just absorbed in their play and didn’t see you there.”

Rellah regarded her tribemate coolly. As a whole, she didn’t think much of the younger generations. They were forgetting who they were, where they came from. And for what? Warm furs and a full belly? Raw meat and howling at the moon? But this one she could almost tolerate. This was an elf, with very little of the wolf taint about her.  And only for this reason would Rellah check her anger.

“Twinstar, only because he is your son will I hold my tongue, but you would do well to teach him to control his…lesser instincts.”

With that, Rellah regally pulled herself up to her full height and walked away. Twinstar could only shake her head and try to suppress a smile.

Despite Rellah’s admonishment, Twinstar watched her cub in amazement. It was hard to believe that she’d ever been worried that she might not be able to love him. First in her womb, then watching in wonder as he grew, he was part of her in a way nothing had been before.

There were times she found herself daydreaming about the child he would have been if Dusk had been his father. Quieter, gentler, not quite as reckless. But it was not often, and less as the years went by, and she quickly pulled herself out of it. She had no wish for him to be other than who he was.

It had taken time, but old scars were healing. She had even begun to think of recognition as something less than a curse. She was beginning to acknowledge that there might even be some wisdom behind it.

She turned back to the hide she had stretched across some branches and quickly lost herself in the rhythmic work of cleaning and working the leather. So absorbed was she in her thoughts that it took a minute to register the gentle tugging at her elbow. The cub her son had been playing with was jumping up and down, trying to work loose a small piece of the hide.

“Well, hello, little one.”  Twinstar cut off a small piece of the raw hide and as the pup took hold, shook it fiercely, laughing at the low growls that resulted. She looked around the clearing where most of her tribe mates were gathered, but saw no sign of her son. “Where has your playmate gone?”

The pup whined and glanced toward a dense thicket a small ways off.

“Oh.” Twinstar could guess what had happened. She ruffled the wolf cub’s fur, then walked to the thicket and a well-worn gap in the braches. On her hands and knees she made her way through the tunnel in the dense foliage.

“Lastlight? Are you in here?” She was rewarded with a small sniffle and followed the sound of gasping breaths to where her son lay, a strange animal of browns and blacks dappled by the moonlight. Following her instincts, she stopped a short distance away and waited.

Slowly the breathing evened and Lastlight spoke. “Why does Rellah hate me?”

Twinstar eased closer and smoothed the hair away from his face. “Rellah doesn’t hate you.”

“She does. She called me an animal.”

Twinstar smiled. “She thinks all of us are animals.”

Lightstar’s voice was quiet. “Yeah, but me especially.” He moved closer, resting his head on her thigh. “Why am I so different?”

Twinstar had been softly stroking her son’s back, but slowed now as she thought. He was different, there was no denying it. He was larger than his age-mates. His stocky body could not move with the limberness of the other elves. His sending was rough and indistinct. His aggressive play often went too far.

She sighed. “I don’t know. But I do know that recognition happens for a reason, and that reason is you. You have qualities that are very special. You’re very strong.” She gave his arm a quick squeeze. “You have great tracking abilities.” She gave his nose a tweak. “And you are the best hunter of your age!” She tackled him and tickled him until he laughed in spite of himself. They wrestled until they both lay panting and laughing, staring up at the moonlight.

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September 09 EQ Grab-bag

*SPLAT!!* (whether it's someone jumping into water, a sudden downpour or whatever the imagination can come up with!)
Balance
A New Revelation (this can be about something they have, something they thought they knew, something they find, etc)
Nagging
A First Word - whether it's the first word someone says in the story, or someone's first word in another language/tongue
Trying to Change Habits: The struggle to break a bad habit, or trying to start (and stick with) a good one.


Splat!

The punkin hit the ground with a satisfying explosion, hard shell bursting to yield a rain of soft flesh and seeds.

The evening’s hunt had been a disaster. Still young, Lastlight had only recently been allowed to join the hunt, anxious to prove his worth to his nimbler, more graceful tribemates. So far all he’d proved is how much of a mess he could make of things.

He was fine until they’d get scent of the prey, then instinct would take over, reason drowned out by the frenzy of the chase.

This night he had been the first to find a trail and it was a good one, a big-tusked boar. But in the heat of pursuit he had lost his sense of himself, leaving the rest of the tribe behind. Then, wild with the effort to get ahead of the boar, he had lost his balance, flying off his wolf and rolling straight toward the great tusks. It was only chance that saved him as an arm, raised for protection, connected with the beast just hard enough to make it unsteady on its feet for a moment. Luckily, in that moment someone was able to fire off an arrow, stopping the boar, or Lastlight surely would have been dead.

He looked down from his tree-branch perch to where some squirrels had gathered, feasting on the punkin’s remains. In anger and frustration at the night’s events Lastlight flung another squash in their direction, causing the small animals to disperse and chitter angrily at him from the trees.

“Aw, be quiet!”  He launched another projectile, but this time the brown, furry thing it landed next to didn’t move. A boot?  He followed the boot up to the face of its owner. Sunflower, pale gold ringlets framing her face like the petals of her namesake. A few seasons older than Lastlight, she had been on the hunt tonight, had witnessed his failure, and now his childish sulking. His heart sunk to the pit of his stomach.

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“Puckernuts!”

If Sunflower noticed the wreckage strewn about her, she made no sign. “You meet a tribemate in the forest, and this is the first word you offer: Puckernuts?”  She stopped below Lastlight’s perch and looked up at him, her wide, dark eyes like the shadowy depths of the nighttime forest, unfathomable. She turned away. “Although I’m not surprised you wouldn’t be too happy to see me after tonight.”

Lastlight’s face burned with embarrassment.

Still looking away Sunflower continued, her voice casual, as if discussing the weather. “I know you think you’re so much better than the rest of us, but do you really need to show off?”

He sputtered, “Better than-?”

“I mean, you’re always the first to get the scent, and everyone knows you’re one of the strongest in the tribe, but really, wrestling a boar? It’s a bit much! I’m sure you’ll never forgive me for shooting it and taking away your fun.”

Lastlight just stood there, mouth hanging open, wanting to say something, but not knowing where to start. Could she really think that what he did tonight was on purpose? That he thought he was better than everyone? All he wanted was to be good enough!

She glanced at him again before walking away. “If I may say, I have noticed that your aim with a bow could use a little improvement. If you would condescend to some help, I wouldn’t mind giving you some lessons. You might find it more effective than beating the game to death.”

Anger and confusion warring within him, he picked up the last of his vegetable ammunition, intent on making a target of her retreating figure, but as he concentrated on her he noticed the fluid grace with which she moved through the forest shadows. Grace he’d envied, but never really appreciated before.

The arm holding the punkin lowered.

And thinking about it, hadn’t she just called him strong? If she was offering to help him, she couldn’t really be making fun of him. In fact, she’d saved his life. Maybe he could learn something from her, after all.

The punkin plopped to the forest floor with a wet thud.

“Hey, Sunflower! Wait!”

Hurrying to catch up, Lastlight couldn’t see her smile.

___________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySun Apr 19, 2015 1:02 am

Now, a little delving into Nightfall and Redlance's relationship.

April EQ Grab-bag 2009

Elements:
A joke, prank or trick
A decision
A change in someone’s life
Explosion
A treewee
Loafing around

CONSEQUENCES

“Who should we play the trick on?”

Cutter considered a moment. “Redmark.”

“Redmark.” It took a while, but finally Nightfall was able to conjure an image of the quiet red-headed elf. “Why him?”

“I dunno. I figure he won’t get too angry.”

Nightfall shrugged. Made sense.

It was one of those long days of summer, where there was nothing but time. Too much time. A day when everything that could be done, had been. And it still wasn’t sunset. A day when even young lovemates had run out of ways to occupy themselves. And that’s when they hatched the idea of a trick.

“So what do we do?”

Cutter was quiet, thinking. Finally his mouth spread into a mischievous smile. “We do what Bearclaw would do. We watch, and we wait. And when the time is right, we strike!”
_________________________________________________________________

They spent the next several days watching the tracker. If Nightfall had ever had a more boring time, she couldn’t remember when.

“Plants!” She fumed to Cutter. “He sits around looking at plants!”

Cutter’s eyes gleamed. “Yes, and that’s how we are going to get him!”

They had noticed that he always came back to the same clearing in the forest. There was an unusual vine there, and although the young elves didn’t know what the attraction was at first, they soon noticed that this particular vine would be blooming soon. They had the bait, so they set their trap.

Now Cutter was waiting in a tree above the clearing, and Nightfall was following Redmark, ready to alert Cutter when to spring into action. Redmark was walking toward the clearing, just as they were expecting. Nightfall was glad that her time studying this “prey” was almost over.

Suddenly, he froze. He cocked his head, slowly lifting his spear. He turned and disappeared into the forest.

*Uh, Cutter?*

*What?*

*He’s going somewhere else.*

*What!*

Nightfall empathized with her lovemate’s frustration. It hadn’t been easy to get all that stuff up the tree and balanced. It was not something either wanted to do again.

Nightfall slipped through the trees, trying to catch sight of Redmark again. How could someone with such bright hair disappear so quickly? She was starting to get sloppy in her effort to find him when she heard it.

*Nightfall?* Cutter’s send filled her mind.

*Quiet!* She heard it again. The sound of breaking branches. Something stomping through the undergrowth. Then a high-pitched whine.

*Cutter, it’s a wolf! Something’s got it!*

*Puckernuts! I’ll be right there!*

Nightfall moved forward, more carefully now, listening for any more noises that would let her know where the problem was. Silently, she unsheathed her knife. A branch snapped behind her and she whirled.

Cutter stood with his hands in front of him. *Easy.*

They both stood listening. The whine came again.

*This way!*

Nightfall followed her tribemate. The sound was louder now, right in front of them. They burst from the dark shadows into a sunny clearing full of soft fuzzy balls. Their eyes were still adjusting to the sunlight so they never saw the tree root coming out of the ground right across their path. Cutter stumbled first, tripping Nightfall who tumbled through the strange garden.

The fuzzy balls exploded as they touched them, filling the air with pollen. Cutter and Nightfall coughed and rubbed their eyes. Suddenly, a treewee dropped from above, landing in Nightfall’s hair. She shrieked and jumped, causing it to pull tightly as it hung on for dear life. She hopped around the clearing, each stumble releasing more golden pollen. Cutter trailed after, swiping at the treewee, each grab making the animal fasten its grip harder.

Finally Nightfall just stopped and let out a scream. The treewee took advantage of the lack of movement to scamper up the nearest tree and out of sight.
____________________________________________________________

They were a funny sight indeed, standing in front of the Father Tree, covered in yellow powder, eyes red and itching. Bearclaw could hardly contain himself.

“What happened to you?”

“Nothing.” Cutter mumbled.

“Well, then go clean up. You’re getting ‘nothing’ everywhere.”

Cutter stalked off toward the stream and Nightfall hurried after, Bearclaw’s laughter ringing through the forest behind them.

Cutter, kicking stones and mumbling to himself, didn’t notice the figure sitting casually against the tree, but Nightfall did. She slowed and approached him.

“You set that up, didn’t you?”

He smiled, amused by her anger. “You were going to play a trick on me.” It was a statement, not a question. Spoken without anger or accusation, just a simple statement of fact.

“No! I mean…well…” She lowered her eyes guiltily.

He touched her arm. “It’s all right.”

She lifted her eyes to his, and suddenly the world dropped away. She was aware only of him. The caring in his eyes, the warm pressure of his hand. The bend of his knee, inches from her hand. She could just reach out and…

She backed away, the heat rising to her face. “I’m sorry.” She stammered. “We never should have-“

“It’s all right.” He repeated. He smiled, his face serene. How could he not notice her heart pounding? Not feel something in return?

“Go wash up.”

Nightfall nodded weakly, not trusting her own voice.
_____________________________________________________________________

She found Cutter resting on the river bank, drying in the gentle breeze. He looked so young to her somehow. She found herself reluctant to undress in front of him.

“What took you so long?”

“I was…apologizing to Redmark.”

Cutter grunted. “Hunh. He should be apologizing to us.”

Nightfall just nodded and began to slowly untie her shirt knot.

Cutter picked up his breeches, then shot her a sidelong glance. “So…” He twisted the lacings between his hands. “Do you want me to wait for you?”

“No.” The word flew out of her. He looked at her quizzically. “I just…I just want to be alone right now.”

“All right.” He sighed.

She stared at the water as he dressed. Then, instead of walking away, she felt him standing beside her. A gentle finger under her chin tilted her face to his. “I’m sorry.”

She smiled and rested her hand on his. “I know. Me, too.”

She waited until he left before easing herself into the cool water. She floated, the tree branches above waved like fingers reaching for the sky.

Somehow, she knew, things were about to change.

___________________________________

June 2009 (Don't have the elements written down.)

First, a little explanation of terms: Blackneck = elk, Shag-head= bison. Writing this I was thinking of what I've heard about the huge herds of Buffalo and how they are hard to manage because they run really fast and can jump up to six feet. I was also thinking of the herd behavior I've seen in cows, how when one moves the rest follow.

To hunt, to howl, to run with the wolf pack, that was the heart of being a Wolfrider. All born to the tribe were destined for it by the blood in their veins. But to fully take their place in the society there was one rite of passage. In a world that was harsh and unforgiving, where survival relied on dependence on one another, a hunter needed to prove that he could stand alone.

In the past this rite had involved a handful of young elves, but the tribe’s numbers had been dwindling. This time there would only be three facing the challenge. And that is what worried Nightfall.

She had no doubts about the ability of the hunting party. Although inexperienced, her own hunting skills were good enough to catch Bearclaw’s attention, and that was something.

Cutter was strong and quick and took to the blade as if born with it. Skywise was cunning and light on his feet, even lighter with his hands. He could outsmart a fox or steal the eggs from a hornbeak’s nest with the hen sitting right on top.

No, the problem wasn’t the hunters. It was the quarry.  Part of the thrill of the first hunt was being able to select the prey. And Cutter and Skywise wanted nothing less than a blackneck, a target normally reserved for a full tribe hunt. But that’s what they wanted, Cutter to prove himself to his bear-hunting father. Skywise, well, just because.

She hoped the blacknecks would prove difficult to find and Cutter would give up and settle on some easier, more plentiful game. Unfortunately, lack of persistence had never been one of her friend’s weaknesses.

Her thoughts were interrupted as a howl issued forth from outside her den. She sighed, looking from her knife to her bow, then rolled them both up in a soft, worn pelt she strapped to her back. Her feet were still high above the forest floor when she felt the gentle tugging at her boots.

“Cloudtail! Wait for me to get down!” She dropped the last few feet, then stood laughing while Cloudtail’s rough, wet tongue tickled her face hello.

“Are you ready?” Cutter asked. He and Skywise were both on their wolf-mounts and eager to leave.

Cloudtail whined his excitement. Nightfall’s mind was filled with a wolf-send, the scent of fresh game and the taste of warm blood. He trotted to the other wolves, then back to Nightfall, nudging her elbow.  He, at least, had no doubts about going. Envying his simple enthusiasm, she pulled herself onto his back with a smile. “We’re ready.”
_____________________________________________________

They had been traveling for several days, more than once flushing out a flock of ring-necks or a small herd of springers, but they never took more than was needed to satisfy their own immediate hunger. As usual, Cutter was steadfast in his ambition, guiding them with single-minded purpose.

Finally, they left the thick trees of the forest and stopped before the grasslands where the blacknecks were usually found.

The land opened up before them, a sea of waving greens and tans dotted with islands of dark brown. The blacknecks. The crests of their strong shoulders rose above the plains, the tall grass swaying around them like a stream rippling past boulders. All around them, taking comfort in their bulk, were smaller denizens of the plains, curl-horns and mud-pigs, ring-necks and quill-backs.

Cutter was the first to leave the safety of the trees as he carefully picked his way up a rise to the side of them. “What’s that?”

*Are you sure it’s safe?* Nightfall hesitated, wary of stepping from the shadows into the open sky.

Cutter was confident. *The humans are too afraid to go this far from their village. Too scared of the animals. Especially the big cats.*

Skywise grinned at Nightfall. “I guess they have some sense after all.”

*Besides,* Cutter continued, *you know humans can’t get near animals without causing a fuss. There’s no sign. Now, get up here!*

“Yes, my chief!” Skywise winked at Nightfall before disappearing into the tall grass the way Cutter had gone. She hurried after him, joining them where they lay on their stomachs at the top of the rise.

“Look!”

Her gaze followed Cutter’s extended arm to a large dark spot on the valley floor.

At first all Nightfall could make out was a muddy, rocky mess. Then she noticed the rocks were moving. Animals, larger than any she had ever seen before. Strange creatures, most of their bodies taken up by their huge, shaggy heads. They would almost seem funny if Nightfall didn’t know what was going through her tribemates’ minds.

“What are those?” Skywise asked in amazement.

“I don’t know.” Cutter’s face was alight with excitement. “Think we can get one?”

“Cutter, no…” Nightfall loved her friend. She would follow him to the ends of the earth. But this was crazy. “Let’s go back and tell the others. We can come back with a couple more hunters-”

“Bearclaw hunts bears alone.” Cutter’s arm slid across her back and he gave her shoulder a tight squeeze. “Together, we can do this.”

She couldn’t hide her skepticism. “Those are bigger than a bear.”

Cutter’s gaze drifted back out to the distant herd. He thought of the look that would be on  Bearclaw’s face after seeing the hide of one of these huge monsters and grinned. “Much bigger.”
____________________________________________________

The rest of the day was spent studying the strange, new creatures. Nightfall had to admit they seemed pretty docile. All they had seen them do was stand around in the mud and eat grass. They seemed much like blacknecks, the herd governed by a few males who stood look out while the females and young grazed. At one point a pair of big cats wandered by a little too close to the shag-heads’ territory, but a big male just stood up to them and the cats wandered away. They were obviously very strong, but with those massive shoulders and heads, the elves thought they probably couldn’t move very fast.

They decided to use the same strategy that worked for blacknecks. Pick a weak member of the herd, separate it, then bring it down. After some discussion, they decided on an older female. With no young, she was relegated to the outside of the herd and not taken much notice of by the males.

Their course of action set, the three elves allowed themselves a leisurely evening. Now they lay in the grass, awed by the wide expanse of stars above them.

Quickly losing interest in trying to find Skywise’s images in the stars, Nightfall turned to look at Cutter. His pale hair shone in the starlight, his eyes stars themselves as he talked animatedly with Skywise.

It had been a while since she had been close to him like this. She liked to think they had just been busy, that it was part of growing up and taking on new responsibility in the tribe, but when she was honest with herself, she knew she was avoiding him. She was sure that he’d noticed, but he hadn’t said anything.

They had played at love, but it had been like playing at hunting and fighting. Fun, but just practice for the real thing. Now she was ready for the real thing, but Cutter was not what she wanted. She didn’t think she was what he wanted either. They had rolled in the furs many times, exploring, but their hearts weren’t in it. Nightfall loved her friend, but he was too wild, too headstrong. Great for play, but not what she wanted in a lifemate.

As they had often done lately, her thoughts drifted to Redmark. She had barely taken notice of him as a cub, finding his gentle ways unexciting, his interest in plants utterly mystifying. She had always just dismissed him as an elder. Someone who was always just there.

Though she hated to admit it now, she had even made fun of him from time to time, finding his quiet patience amusing. Now she found his presence…comforting. Thrilling. Confusing! She closed her eyes, mentally shrugging off the uncertainty this line of thought always ended up causing.

Things were so much easier with Cutter. She missed the closeness they had shared, but it was not enough for her anymore. She was ready to grow up, but did growing up mean giving up the best parts of her childhood?

She decided that, for tonight, it wouldn’t.  She scooted closer to Cutter and rested her head on his shoulder. She felt him shift and knew that he was looking at her, but the conversation with Skywise didn’t even pause. He wrapped his arm around her, his fingertips trailing softly up and down her arm.

Not wanting to be left out, Cloudtail pushed his snout under Nightfall’s arm while Nightrunner laid his head on Cutter’s stomach. Warm in a pile of elf and wolf and lulled by the low voices of her friends, Nightfall soon drifted off to sleep.
___________________________________________________

Even though it was still early morning the sun shone down on Nightfall with an intensity she was not used to, made worse by the bare rock outcropping that she stood upon. The plan was that she would stay here with her bow and arrow, and Cutter, Skywise and the wolves would drive the shag-head to her. At least, that’s what they hoped would happen. Nightfall hoped it would happen quickly, so she could get off this rock and under the protection of the trees.

She shielded her eyes from the sun to try to get a better idea of what was going on. From this distance, she couldn’t see clearly, but she thought that she could see some movement in the grass near their intended target. This would be the tricky part. Cutter and Skywise would have to get between the animal and the herd without alarming it, or it would run into the herd. So far it was going well. As they expected, the female shag-head had wandered a short distance from the rest of the herd and Nightfall could see the grass between them swaying as the other elves moved toward the beast.

Finally, they made their attack. But something was going wrong. Instead of bolting, the shag-head just stood there. Nightfall was amazed. Could the animals really be that stupid? The creature took a few steps, seemingly ignoring the elves and wolves that were poking and biting it. Nightfall could see that Starjumper had a hold of the creature’s hind leg. It bellowed, and Skywise was able to pull the wolf away just before the shag-head gave a powerful kick.

Now, the bellow was being answered by others in the herd. From her vantage point, Nightfall noticed something strange going on. The shag-head they were attacking had not moved much, but the rest of the herd was now turning to face towards it. The bellowing was growing louder, and now the animals closest to her were starting to move.

*Cutter! Skywise! Get out of there!*

Luckily, they had noticed what was going on and were already heading away from the herd. She watched as amazement as the whole herd began moving in the same direction, almost as if they shared a single mind. As they became more organized they began to move faster, reaching a speed Nightfall never would have thought possible. And they were coming straight at her!

There was no way for her to get away from them. The herd was huge, stretching as far as she could see across the plain. She would never get far enough away in time. She crouched down on her rocky perch, thankful now for her height above the valley floor, certain that the beasts would break and go around it.

The first animals were reaching her, but they weren’t turning. They didn’t even slow as they neared the rock. Nightfall was mesmerized, expecting the shag-heads to pound into the rock, but suddenly they were up in the air, jumping straight up and over the stone impediment.

Nightfall didn’t even have time to react. Something grey and furry plowed into her, knocking her off the ledge away from the oncoming stampede. She barely had the presence of mind to push herself close against the side of the rock before the bulk of the herd came over her. The stream of hooves flying overhead was unending, the sound of so many heavy animals hitting the ground a deafening roar. Soon all Nightfall could see was a brown cloud as fine sand filled the air. She fought to breathe, removing her headscarf and covering her mouth. Just as she thought she could take no more, the sound began to abate. Sunlight filtered through as the dust began to settle. Her legs giving out, she sunk down to the ground, coughing.

Shadows swam in her watering eyes.

“Are you alright?” Skywise pulled her from the slight overhang that had saved her. Still coughing but finally getting some clean air, she nodded. They turned to look at the decimated landscape. In the distance they could still see the herd moving, creating a column of dust rising up to the sky.

Cutter’s eyes were wide with shock. “Two-spear’s madness!” he whispered.

Skywise scratched his head, his eyes shining with a half-grin. “Any other ideas?”

Cutter shrugged. “Go back to the blacknecks?”

They started walking back towards the woods when Nightfall stopped, her face anxious. “Where’s Cloudtail?”

Disconcerted, the elves looked around. Nightrunner and Starjumper lifted their heads and sniffed the breeze. Nightrunner whined, then ran forward.

“Oh, no!” Nightfall moved unsteadily over the torn-up ground, hardly aware of where her feet were moving. There, amid the clumps of earth and grass, she saw it, a patch of fur rippling gently in the breeze. She tried to wolf-send. Nothing.

She fell to her knees in the moist dirt, turned red with blood. He was almost unrecognizable. Her beautiful wolf-friend, reduced to a ragged pile of flesh and bones under the pounding of the shag-heads’ hooves.

She lifted her head in a howl that ripped out of the bottom of her soul, then collapsed, sobbing on Cloudtail’s broken remains.
__________________________________________

Cutter and Skywise sat a short distance away, wanting to give comfort, but not sure of what to do. Neither had lost a wolf-friend before. Sometimes the pelt was taken as a way of remembrance, but in this case there wasn’t even enough pelt left to take. They offered what they could in word and touch, but she was numb, wanting nothing more than to sit with Cloudtail for a while more.

They were sitting this way when a familiar scent reached them, followed soon by light footsteps. Pike and Redmark sat down next to Cutter and Skywise.  Pike looked over at Nightfall. “What happened?”

Skywise recounted the days events, then the four elves fell back into silence.

Finally, Pike stirred. Rising, he caught Redmark’s eye, raising an eyebrow and inclining his head toward Nightfall.

Redmark nodded.

Pike stretched. “Well, the wolves look tired and thirsty, and so do you two. Let’s go see if we can find some clean water and scare up some food, too.”

The younger elves knew they were being herded away but didn’t protest, glad to give up responsibility, in this instance, to someone else.

Redmark waited until the rest of the elves were gone, then approached Nightfall. “Mind if I sit down?”

Nightfall shook her head.

“It’s hard losing your first wolf-friend. Especially so soon.”

Nightfall had been stone-faced, thinking she’d finally run out of tears, but now they welled up again. “He saved me. And this…this is what happened to him!”

The tears began falling faster. Her throat, so dry before, felt tight and thick. “Why’d he have to die!”

Redmark let her cry for a while before speaking. “You wish you had protected him?”

She nodded.

“And how would you do that?” His voice was soft, his tone caring. “Keep him in the holt? Never let him hunt?”

She was still, then gave a small shake of her head.

“No, you wouldn’t do that. You couldn’t do that.” He moved closer, joining her in stroking the largest patch of fur that was left. “He loved the hunt, it’s what he lived for, all the wolves do. That’s why we share their blood. It’s survival, but it’s more than that. They know there’s danger, but this is life. There isn’t one without the other.”

Nightfall felt the knot in her throat loosening. “Will it always be this hard?”

“Yes, and no. It’s always hard saying goodbye to something you love. But after a while, when you’ve been around as long as I have,” he chanced a small smile, “you learn to accept it. We live a long time, and I’ve known very few wolves that have died of old age. They’re having too much fun to worry about it. I’m sure Cloudtail would agree.”

Nightfall thought of Cloudtail’s excitement about going on this hunt. She knew Redmark was right. Cloudtail had died, doing what he wanted. It was the way.

She and Redmark sat in silence as the clouds above them gently shifted to pink and amber hues in the afternoon sun. In the soft, thick fur, their fingertips brushed against each other.

Nightfall wiped her tears away. “Why are you here, anyway?”

Redmark shrugged. “I guess I just still want to protect you cubs.”

The anger flashed in Nightfall’s eyes. “I don’t need your protection. I can hunt and fight as well as you. I’m not a cub anymore!”

Redmark was startled, taken aback by this sudden change in emotion. What had happened to the happy-go-lucky child that had followed Cutter everywhere like a duckling its mother? Whose laughter would trickle through the holt like rain?

The last rays of the setting sun shone over the crest of the hill, lighting up flecks of gold in Nightfall’s hair, echoing in her golden eyes. Eyes that looked at him now with a want no cub knew. He had his answer. The cub was gone. In her place stood a huntress, ready to claim her place as his tribemate and equal.

“No,” he answered softly. “You’re not a cub anymore.”

His hand brushed against her wet cheek, then curled gently against the smooth curve of her neck. He could feel the bone of her jaw against his hand and the faint tremor of her pulse below. He pulled her toward him. She met his gaze firmly as the last flame of defiance burned out and the tears returned. She dropped her head to his shoulder. He held her until the sky above faded to darkness, until all the tears were gone.

___________________________________________________
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Kindredsoul

Kindredsoul

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Join date : 2012-06-24

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptyFri Apr 24, 2015 1:48 am

I missed a lot! Shocked

Dying for more on Lastlight, of course! But never expected the events that happened in the Nightfall/Redmark story Sad  Although it was so emotional, (the hunt scene was breathless!)  I loved how it ended!! I love you I love you

The Lastlight scene was a bit of a teaser!! Will there be more of him and Sunflower too? What a Face

___________________________________________________
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chibi cutter compliments of katcombs!
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Outlier

Outlier

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySun May 03, 2015 7:29 pm

@Kindredsoul wrote:

The Lastlight scene was a bit of a teaser!! Will there be more of him and Sunflower too? What a Face

Nothing currently written, but maybe I'll come up with some more in the future. Meanwhile, returning to old grab-bags...

________________________________________________

October 09 Grab Bag

Elements:
-a great fire
-being restrained
-first encounter with alcohol or dreamberries
-a trick or treat
-a mistake or misapprehension
-being bored

Pike lay in the long grass at the edge of the meadow, his head propped on the roots of a large tree. He was watching the shadows lengthen in the long afternoon of midsummer. Game was plenty and the elves were able to take their leisure in a way that was impossible the rest of the year.

But something was eating at Pike, a restlessness that he had never felt before. He supposed it had something to do with the length of the days and the lack of ways to fill them. Or maybe he was just anxious to join the hunt. He was almost ready. He spent most of the short nights working on his skill with his weapon of choice. He liked it so much, he’d even renamed himself for it. But he hadn’t yet hunted with it, waiting only for Bearclaw to give his consent. And waiting.

Pike hoped that he would be allowed to join the hunt before the winter came. Now would be a good time to learn, when prey was jumping from the bushes. While the game was fat and happy and slow.

Pike sighed and was about to fall asleep in the warm sun, when he heard rustling close by. He stuck his head up to see over the grass.

“Oh! Pike! I didn’t see you there!”

It was Longreach, one of the oldest of the elves. Pike liked Longreach. He served as the memory of the elves and often filled the long nights of winter telling stories of the tribe’s past. Maybe he could help pass the time and ease Pike’s mind now.

“Hello, Longreach! I’m glad to see you! I was just wondering if you had time for a story.”

“Not today, cub.” Longreach smiled and stroked his beard, looking at Pike. He had always felt a soft spot for the youth. Many dismissed Pike as being too simple and withdrawn to be of much interest, but Longreach felt that there might be something there, beneath the surface, that the others were overlooking. He raised the bag he carried in his hand. “I’m on a little errand. Perhaps you would like to join me?”

Pike nodded and stepped in line behind Longreach. They walked through the forest to the edge of the area that defined the holt’s boundaries into a small glade. Pike was pretty sure he’d never been here before. The glade was filled with small bushes covered with round purple berries.

“What are these?” He pinched one between his thumb and forefinger, feeling the springy firmness under the tough tanned-soft skin.

Longreach set down the bag he was carrying and smiled.

“These are dreamberries.”

“Do they make you dream?”

Longreach chuckled, one of those looks on his face that grown-ups would get sometime that Pike could never figure out. “You could say that. Dreamberries have the wonderful ability to make it feel like everything’s right with the world. They allow your mind to relax and allow you to look at things in a new way. Taken at the right time, and in the right frame of mind, answers can become clearer. Other times, they just make things fuzzy.”

Longreach plucked a ripe berry off the bush and held it up so the sun hit it, making it glow brilliantly. “And to a storyteller, it makes the story come alive. It allows his audience to become one with the story, to see it as if it were happening right now. It teases things from the mind, long forgotten, to be shared and passed around. It allows the voices of our ancestors to talk to us.”

Longreach winked and tossed the berry into his mouth.

Pike wasn’t sure how he felt about talking with his ancestors or remembering long forgotten things. It seemed like what was, was. It belonged in the past and didn’t need to be held on to. But his curiosity had been stirred. Longreach noticed him staring at the berry bushes and held out a hand, a few ripe berries nestled in it.

“Want to try?”

Pike reached out hesitantly, half exhilarated, half scared of Longreach’s poetic description. Longreach let the handful of berries tumble out into Pike’s palm. They were warm from the summer sunshine that slanted through the trees. They smelled of the rich aroma of the leaves that covered the forest floor in the autumn, a musky earthy smell but with just a hint of sweetness, like the promise of flowers in the spring.

“Go on!” Longreach cheered, “It’s quite a treat!”

With a shrug Pike rolled the handful of berries onto his tongue. With one last uncertain glance at Longreach, he bit in.

The juice exploded in his mouth, the bitter skins giving way to a tangy sweetness that he tasted not only with his tongue but with his nose and his head. They were good, but he didn’t see what the big deal was.

“They’re good.”

Longreach tossed Pike the bag.

“Then help me pick some.”

To Pike’s confusion, Longreach did not help with the harvesting, instead just standing nearby with his arms crossed, watching Pike intently. Pike bent over the bush and began picking, when suddenly the world tilted, ever so slightly.

“Ohhh, Suddenly I don’t feel so good.”

Pike sank down to the grassy ground. Longreach clapped him on the back, roaring with laughter.

“Well, they’re not for everyone.”

While Pike sat cradling his head, trying to stop the spinning world, Longreach went on with the harvesting, enjoying the work and the slowly deepening of the evening colors. He had almost filled his bag when Pike began screaming.

“Ahhh! I’m on fire!”

Pike batted at his boots, fighting invisible flames. Longreach looked him over, but could find nothing wrong. “No, cub, you’re fine. Look!”

Pike stared at his feet with wide eyes. The flames were licking around the bottom of his feet. He could feel the incredible burning heat. He tried to quench the flames, but it just added to the fire that was steadily creeping up his legs. He would be completely consumed soon. Why didn’t Longreach do something?

The flames were burning around his middle now. He struggled to draw in breath against the heat of the air around him. It filled his lungs and burned up his throat to fill his brain. The world around him was slowly being blotted out by the flames until all he could see was dancing flickers of orange and blue.

Longreach watched in confusion as the cub stood and began tearing at his clothes, then his chest and his eyes. Not knowing what else to do he held the boy tightly as Pike struggled with something Longreach couldn’t see. Then, suddenly, Pike went limp.

________________________________________________

November 09 EQ Grab-bag

Elements:
-A reunion
-A journey
-The spirit of a dead person/animal/thing
-A smile
-A dream
-Smoke

Soon his body was burned away entirely and he was aware of no sensation, just of flying into the air as a spark floating in the cool space between the stars. Soon even the brightness faded and he was just floating like ash. He was soaring through the darkness, an awareness billowing and flowing on an un-felt wind. Slowly he became aware of a haziness before him. It shimmered and twisted, like a column of smoke rising closer and closer. Finally it began to take form, a female elf with twinkling eyes and a cloud of orange-red hair. Pike felt a warmth overtake him, despite the emptiness.

“Mother?”
________________________

Rain looked at his child on the furs before him, so still and quiet. He was the healer and it was his desire to help anyone in his tribe who needed it, but now it was his son that needed help and there was nothing Rain could do. He had sent to his son and touched…something, but what it was he didn’t know.

Pike was his special cub, created by extending his healing gifts to their limits. He thought back to the time Pike was born. It was a hard time for the tribe. They had survived a series of harsh winters and the animals in the area had dwindled until some in the tribe began to wonder if they would have to leave the Father Tree and go on the move again like in the time before Goodtree. But just as it looked like there would be no other choice, the game began to return again. The bad weather was gone, but the Wolfriders had suffered for it.

Rain thought of the tribemates he had lost due to hunger and cold, enemies he had no weapons against. There were very few cubs in those years, and most of them didn’t last though their first winter. The turn in the weather lead many to start to hope that there would be a new beginning for the tribe, but the cubs didn’t come.

Finally, Rain decided he needed to take things into his own hands.

Sunset was his lovemate, named for her hair that glowed like the evening sky when the sun lit it on fire. Often it was that fire that would keep him warm when the cold wet weather would allow no other. She alone was able to keep a smile even when things were their worst. The sparkle in her eyes and playful grin would lighten his heart when nothing else could.

When he had come to her with his idea, she had agreed to it gladly. And, he had to admit, it was not an unpleasant endeavor, if sometimes a frustrating one. They didn’t let anyone know what they were up to, afraid that hopes would rise too high, and for a while it seemed that it was not going to be possible. But then it happened. To this day Rain didn’t know why, and he’d never been able to do it again, but it did.

Normally cheerful, Sunset absolutely shone with joy, as did the others as the news began to spread. Rain had desired only to bring hope back to the tribe, but somehow he did much more. Life began to return. There were some recognitions and thought was no longer only about survival, but about thriving. There were going to be cubs, and Rain couldn’t help but feel that he was partly responsible. He had done what he wanted, and healed the tribe.

Now once again Rain could feel his sense of hope fading along with the rosiness that once filled his son’s cheeks. At a loss, and needing something to do, he gingerly patted Pike’s forehead with cool water. He heard the sound of footsteps in his den and felt the shift in the furs as Longreach came to sit next to him.

“Any change?”

Rain shook his head. Longreach had carried Pike to the healer and now was never far away, waiting for some news. No one blamed him for what happened, but Rain could see how Longreach felt by the look on his face.

“Why don’t you try to get some sleep.”

Longreach looked at the healer. “Will you be able to go to sleep?”

Rain shook his head.

“Then I guess we wait here together.”

Outlier write pretty one day Rainpi11

____________________

“Mother, where am I?”

“Nowhere.” She swirled, expanding as she stretched her arms out. “Everywhere. You are in a special place in your mind where we are all connected. A place outside of time and space where we can visit each other. Where our physical selves impose no limits. Here you may visit all the Wolfriders that have gone before.”

She swept back and Pike could see the forms of all the tribe chiefs from Mantricker to Timmorn, each burning bright before his eyes then burning out. Around them, a multitude of others burst and faded. All the Wolfriders since the beginning, more elves than Pike had ever imagined and in each he sensed anxiousness, each one having a story that needed to be told. Love, hate, hunger, desire, all these and every other emotion he had ever heard of, even some more that he didn’t understand buffeted him from all directions.

Pike shrank from the clamoring of voices. He wrapped his arms around himself to anchor himself, lest he blow away in the tumult. “Mother, I do not want this. I don’t want to know about the past.”

“Ah, my cub. You are right to live in the now. Now is the only time you can do anything about. But you can learn from the past. By knowing what has happened before, you can know what to do, now.”
She regarded her son, pulled in on himself, a point of light in the nothingness. “You do not need to do this. This journey is yours to take, or refuse.” He felt the ghost of her caress. “But know that if you do refuse, this chance will not be offered again.”

Pike felt the others swirling about, waiting for his answer. He never wanted anything like this. He was nothing special. He wasn’t even born of recognition. He had assumed that his life would run its course with nothing asked of him. To hunt when he was hungry, to lay in the sun on a warm day, to enjoy the company of his friends, this was all he had wanted.

But could he refuse this? To have something of his own, something that set him apart, what would that be like? It scared him, the thought of this burden being on him alone. But he also felt the need of those who had no one to speak for them. They were in danger of being lost forever in the wolf-thought that was his tribe’s legacy.

He was a Wolfrider. Above all, he wanted to help his tribe.

“Mother?” He felt her presence surround him. “I…I’ll do it.”

The maelstrom of voices heightened around him, all eager to be heard. He shut them out for a moment and concentrated only on his mother. He whispered. “But I’m frightened.”

He felt her presence again, the barest hint of a touch. “Know that I am here, that I will always be with you. Let that be enough.”

The touch slipped away, lost in the crowd as he allowed the memories to fill him.
____________________________

The moons shone down brightly on the group of elves gathered around the fire. Longreach walked past them one by one, offering each a few of the berries in the bowl. But as he stood in front of Pike he hesitated. Pike smiled, and Longreach thought he saw the glimmer of something more than the firelight in his eyes.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Pike nodded, waiting for Longreach to overcome his reluctance and finally hold the bowl out. Pike put the berries in his mouth and smiled again. Longreach watched him carefully and when nothing strange happened Pike was glad to see Longreach relax a little.

He finished passing the bowl around and stood in the middle of the circle. All eyes came to rest on him expectantly. There were murmurs of confusion as he sat down, and more as Pike rose to take his place.

Pike looked at all the eyes glowing around the fire, eyes all turned to him now and felt the uncertainty rush through him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, and the face came out of the darkness. He concentrated on it and what it wanted to tell him.

“It had been a harsh winter, and Moondancer was looking forward to the first signs of spring…”

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Outlier

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySat May 16, 2015 12:30 pm

Grey, cold, windy day! So continuing on the topic of rain...
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December 2009 Grab-bag

The feast was one like no one had seen in a long time. There was rabbit and deer, fish fresh from the river and nuts and berries of more variety and greater quantity than anyone could remember. Everyone was joining in the festivities for the reason was one that had not been seen for far too long in the small Wolfrider tribe.

Bearclaw rose to stand in the center of the feasting elves and gradually the din of voices faded as all attention turned toward him.

“My friends, tonight we feast in celebration of the return of plentiful game and good harvest, but we celebrate for another reason as well. New life has come to the tribe!” He waited for the howls of approval to die down before turning to the couple huddled together over their newborn. “So, healer, have you decided on a name for your little nipper?”

“Well, yes.” Rain was a little uncomfortable to be the center of attention, but his soft voice carried so all could hear. “Both for the likeness and spirit of his mother we see in him,” he smiled at the fire-haired elf next to him, “and for the hope that he means for our tribe, we will call him ‘Spark’.”

A joyous cry rose from the gathered elves and echoed through the night.

Moonmoss tossed a few more dreamberries into her mouth, chuckling at her brother’s discomfort. She had never been jealous of Rain’s healing abilities, glad to be spared the responsibilities of the needs of the tribe. And she truly was happy for Rain and Sunset, that their cub was the first of what was becoming a new beginning for the tribe. But still, as she watched Sunset suckle her cub, she couldn’t help but feel the giddy warmth of the dreamberries diminish.

She needed to clear her head. Leaving the light of the fire she walked through the tall trees and dappled moonlight until the sound of her people’s voices faded away, drowned out by the constant hiss and gurgle of running water.

This was her special place to sit and think, where the mists of the falling water carpeted the river bank with patches of soft, springy moss. Entranced by the sound and the sight of the moonlight sparkling in the shifting currents, she didn’t notice she had company until a hand on her shoulder made her jump.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Sunset said. “I noticed you had left the feast. I was concerned.”

“My head was buzzing a little.” Moonmoss sighed. “Too little dreamberries for too long. I guess I’ll have to get used to it again.”

Sunset nodded. “It was a bit much for me as well. Do you mind if I sit here with you for a while?”

Moonmoss shook her head and Sunset settled down on the mossy bank next to her. She adjusted the sling strapped around her body and Moonmoss watched as the cub, round and downy soft, emerged from the crumpled leather. She looked up to see Sunset studying her.

“Would you like to hold him?”

Moonmoss hesitated, then nodded. Sunset placed the bundle in her arms. He was impossibly small, his face, ears and hands perfectly formed in miniature. She traced the tiny fist and it clasped around her finger, his mouth making little sucking moves. “He’s beautiful.”

Sunset smiled. “Actually, I’m glad that I was able to find you here. There’s something I wanted to give you.”

She reached into the sling again and produced a piece of deer bone. It was part of the leg, cut cross-wise to form a perfect circle. The marrow had been removed and the bone allowed to dry, then the outer surface carved. Moonmoss could make out familiar vines and flowers from the forest and, hidden among them, small game and birds.

Moonmoss looked at Sunset in surprise. “Did you do this?”

Sunset nodded. “This is from the first stag brought down when the game returned. I made it to be a reminder that even in the darkest times, things can always get better. There’s always reason to hope.” She gestured to Moonmoss’s hair. “May I?”

Moonmoss nodded. She felt a tickling tugging as Sunset separated a section of hair and wove the silver strands together.

“I’ve had my share of lovemates through the turns, but recognition always eluded me. So, I feared, it would be with motherhood. Yet, here I am.” She finished the braid, then slid the bone band over the end to hold it. She sat back on her heels and met Moonmoss’ eyes. “And so it will be, someday, with you. But until then, I hope you will wear this as a symbol of the love that Rain and I have for you. This little one,” she stroked the baby’s face and he nuzzled closer against Moonmoss, “if he is anything like his parents, is going to be more than a handful. We are going to need all the help we can get watching over him. Would you be willing to be part of our little family and help us?”

The lump in her throat made it impossible for Moonmoss to do anything but nod, but it was enough to cause Sunset to wrap her in a tight hug, the baby between them mewling as his rest was temporarily interrupted. Moonmoss felt the tears forming, loosening her voice again.

“I will.” She whispered. “I will.”

_____________________________________________

December 2010 Grab bag
Cold Remedy

Rain noticed the flickering lamp-light with some dismay. It had been a while since he had been outside. Two days, maybe three? In the winter his mind wandered from the hunt and he found he was much happier spending his time going through his stores, dumping out those herbs that had lost their pungency, or worse, gained some from too damp storage. Lost in his tasks, he had only been vaguely aware that a storm had set in, but the wavering flame made him think. It must be a big storm if its affects were reaching down to his bower nestled deep in the roots of the Father Tree.

With a shrug, he pulled his winter pelts a little tighter and went back to his grinding, adding one herb, then another until the scent was just right. Suddenly the dried leaves fluttered and the flame sputtered as the hides covering his den entry were parted.

“Healer?”

He turned to see Shale and his mate Eyes-High, her belly swollen with cub. Rain moved quickly to help Eyes-High get into the den and seated comfortably in the soft furs, carefully appraising her condition as he did. “Is everything all right?”

“Everything's fine. Just a little cold.” Eyes-High smiled teasingly at her mate as he hovered over her. “Shale is worried his cubling is going to come out an icicle.”

“More worried that my little bird's wings would freeze, up in her nest.” Shale's smile was gentle, but as he looked up, Rain could see the anxiety in his face. “That wind is shaking the tree-tops like a wet wolf his pelt.”

Rain touched the silver-haired elf's arm. “Well, you are welcome to stay here until the storm passes.”

“Does the same invitation go for us, too?”

Again a cold breeze ripped through the bower, and there were One-Eye and Clearbrook, hair sparkling and winter furs crusted with ice.

“Yes, yes.” Rain hastily began gathering up his medicine-making supplies and utensils, trying to create a little more room in the increasingly cramped space.

Clearbrook looked past him at Eyes-High with concern. “Are you sure? Because we can always find someplace else to-”

Her sentence was drowned out by the assurances of the other elves and her reluctance overcome as Eyes-High looked at her imploringly and raised her arms toward her with a “Please, do!”

Soon the newcomers were nestled in and the den filled with happy conversation. Rain watched as Clearbrook and Eyes-High shared the experiences of impending motherhood and One-Eye gave Shale some good-natured ribbing over his worrying ways, along with a dose of reassurance.

That accounts for all the tree-top dwellers but one, Rain thought, when again the wind rippled through the den, this time causing the candle to sputter out. Rain reached for his flints as a voice called out of the darkness.

“Hello?”

A spark caught the tallow and the den lit up to reveal Brownberry, wet and shivering, clutching her thickest pelt. Rain took the soaked fur from her. “I was wondering when you'd show up.”

Brownberry blinked and looked around at her tribemates.

“I didn't know there was a howl going on," she grumbled, feeling a bit left out on seeing the others gathered so cozily.

“No such luck. But maybe...” Rain rooted around his things and produced a small pouch. “Could there be?” His tribemates leaned forward expectantly. “Yes!”

Some small, shriveled dreamberries rolled out into his cupped palm. “A little dry. But I think they'll do.”

He handed them out to his visitors, who savored the dusty summer sweetness. Feeling more cheerful, Brownberry burrowed under the nearest pelt, elbowing One-Eye in the ribs affectionately. “Move your skinny rump!”

And with that the group burst out again in conversation, spending the long night reminiscing of lovemates and cublings, hunts successful and otherwise, stories sad and joyful.

Finally Rain noticed that the flame didn't flicker as much and the first gray light of dawn began to shine through the doorway. The storm had passed. Through heavy-lidded eyes he looked around his cluttered den, at his pots and herbs strewn messily about and sighed. He would have to start his work over again tomorrow. But as he looked around at his tribemates, some dozing, some still talking softly, he thought his den contained the best healing magic he knew.

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySat May 16, 2015 12:49 pm

You have an amazing ability to weave words beautifully to convey your story; capture intensity, emotion, relief... and to add to it, you also draw. (And I might I say, I envy your ability to draw females... because every time I try, I feel like I should draw a Harley motorcycle next to them, because they look so gruff and mean!) Rolling Eyes

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySat May 16, 2015 12:54 pm

Thank you! I miss writing. It's a practice I should get back into.

Should I post my Stonehowl pictures?

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PostSubject: Re: Outlier write pretty one day   Outlier write pretty one day EmptySat May 16, 2015 1:04 pm

@Outlier wrote:

Thank you! I miss writing. It's a practice I should get back into.

As someone who loves writing myself; but also thrives on others being creative - can I just say - we're doing the grab bags again on this forum? You COULD (and I will beg!) join us there in further writing adventures!

@Outlier wrote:

Should I post my Stonehowl pictures?

Are you really asking me that? Really? Very Happy The ONLY reason I'd ever say no is that my ego may grow to a size that blocks out the sun!

But for now - please do! Either in your thread here (or I have a Stonehowl Holt thread over here: https://fathertreeholt.forumotion.com/t215-stonehowl ) - I have collected (I think) all the photos from the original forum and put them on the Stonehowl website... so if there's new stuff, with your permission, I'd collect them and post them there (and credit you!)
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