Author: leian PM
Set near the end of the second graphic novel, The Forbidden Grove. What might have been going through Skywise, Leetah and Cutter's minds then. [One shot]Rated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy - Words: 1,450 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 5 - Published: 04-10-04 - Status: Complete - id: 1811456
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Elfquest, its logos, characters, situations, all related indicia, and their distinctive likenesses are trademarks of Warp Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved. I claim no credit for any of this. No money made from this fic, no harm intended.
A short ficlet set near the end of the second graphic novel, The Forbidden Grove. It's what Skywise might have thought about while Cutter and Leetah were off watching the fireflies; what Leetah might have thought about, standing there in the green, growing place; what might have been going through Cutter's mind as they set off for Blue Mountain.
Hope you enjoy it. I welcome any feedback.
"Where are mother and father going, Skywise?"
Eyes, narrow and downcast, darted sideways, noting the passage of the pair moving into the shadows. The stargazer answered glibly, "To be by themselves for a while!"
He turned back to the white-wrapped bundle he was about to slit open. To distract the cubs who were still watching their parents avidly, he added, "Turn around and pay attention! Whatever jumps out of here is food, but you'll have to catch it."
They obeyed, pulling their focus back to the new mystery before them. Ember, particularly, watched with fierce concentration as Skywise's blade revealed a long-furred ravvit that barely paused to stretch and yawn before bounding off with two excited cubs – and one energetic wolf pup – in hot pursuit.
Trailing them at a more leisurely pace, Skywise's eyes returned to the spot where Cutter and Leetah had vanished. The expression on his face might have been sly, save for the hint of wistfulness in his smirk.
Their quest had certainly been eventful; trolls, no-humps, humans and talking-spitting-bugs and now, giant birds.
He shook his head, ruefully acknowledging the little regret that lingered in him; that despite all the crazy things they had gone through, the past four moons had been good ones.
He had missed having his soul brother's company more than he knew, back in the Sun Village – although the maidens there provided pleasant enough distractions.
Not that he was unhappy at Leetah and the twins' precipitous appearance. Skywise was glad that Cutter had been reunited with his family, but he was glad to have had that time with his chief as well.
Besides, he couldn't have asked for better timing in their arrival. The stargazer flexed his arm, although he already knew that it would be completely healed. Good as new!
Being back in the forest, standing amid tall, ancient trees was a further balm to his wolfrider soul and he stopped to inhale deeply. Although the forbidden grove smelled strange, the quiet darkness wrapped around him like a welcoming fur. He wished the rest of the tribe could have been here with them.
Howls announced that the cubs had cornered the ravvit by then, with the help of Ember's rambunctious, roly-poly wolfing. How proud Cutter was of his bright-haired girl-cub and her little wriggling bundle of energy!
Skywise dismissed further thought of regrets and uncomfortable truths and went to join them.
Later, with Choplicker gnawing ferociously at the bare bones of the ravvit, Skywise showed the twins how to string a bow. It was then that a familiar howl sounded through the forbidden grove.
"Ooo," cried Ember, "I know who that is!"
"So do I, cub, so do I," Skywise agreed, looking up with a wide grin of delight. He threw back his head to let out a short answer before jumping to his feet and taking off towards the source of the howl.
Nightfall's stance spoke, more clearly than words, of the anguish she felt as she related her story.
Leetah watched as Cutter's posture echoed the tension, tightening, his face drawing into a grim mask. She stood in the green growing place that she had once so feared, scarcely able to believe all that has happened.
In the last four moons, Cutter had left in search of a place where elves can truly belong without fear of the humans, Ember had found her wolf-friend and Savah, for all she knew, was still unconscious, her spirit trapped outside her body by some unknown danger.
Leetah herself had left the comforting familiarity of the Sun Village with most of Cutter's tribe and crossed the burning waste. They had found Rayek...
Giant birds had attacked the wolfriders and the Sun maiden had been dragged, senseless, by a zwoot over Sun-knows how far, and seen wonders beyond imagining in this forbidden grove.
It was more than has happened in the previous 600 years of the Sun maiden's life.
Once upon a time, the chaos that seems to have taken over her days would have shaken her calm and incited temper tantrums and stubborn snobbery. Now, she was only glad to be reunited with her lifemate.
She watched him gather Suntop into his strong young arms and explain that, regardless of the danger, what mattered most was the safety of the tribe.
** Tam... Tam... ** His soulname was like a mantra, a quiet singing in her head and heart. She had not realized until he had found them, just how much she had missed him, how much she had needed to be with him.
Something occurred to her then, something she had put aside in an earlier moment of excitement.
As she stood motionless in her Sun Villager robe with prickly grass beneath her bare feet, Leetah's green eyes shifted, heavy-lidded, to the left, where Skywise stood, as always, faithful and steadfast beside his chief.
The elf maid had been horrified at the thought of having accidentally revealed her lifemate's secret soulname to another, in that acute moment of relief and joy when Cutter had found them.
But, oh, the shock had come after that moment, when she had been told that Skywise had always known Cutter's soulname. Looking at the silver-haired stargazer now, Leetah was unsure how she felt about that.
Silly, she told herself, what did it matter if Skywise know's Tam's soulname?
Cutter was her lifemate; their bond was sealed with Recognition. Yet he had chosen to share such a deeply personal side of himself – chosen to show all that he was, his soulname, Tam – with Skywise...
No, she could not possibly feel jealous, knowing, in the truth of sending, the depth of Cutter's devotion to her and the twins. Not jealous, certainly.
But, perhaps, just a little insecure.
Cutter held his son close, trying to comfort the distressed cub. For himself, the happiness of finding his family again dwindled in the face of Nightfall's news.
The bird spirits, he thought. They're supposed to be elves like us. Yet, they attacked the tribe. Why?
The young chief could not conceive of harming another elf deliberately. He brooded over this, even as he led the others in search of a place to den for the night. Eventually, they settled near the river, not far from where he and Leetah had slept briefly after their joining.
Nightfall and Leetah exclaimed over the fireflies while Choplicker... explored and Skywise explained to Redlance what the mysterious white bundles hanging from the various branches were.
There was no need to hunt that night, with all the creatures so caught in wrapstuff, although the wolves sniffed the offerings with distrust at first. The noisy, screeching bugs protested the treatment of their wrapstuff, of course.
Cutter had had to have a serious 'talk' with the noisiest one, the one who had attached itself to Leetah – Petalwing – about wrapping up elves while they slept. The chief, perhaps unfairly, took out a bit of his bad mood on the bug, but in the end, they had reached an understanding.
The sky was lightening by the time the elves were all fed and clean and a bit calmer. The cubs settled with Leetah on a bed of moss, much as they had done before. Skywise was returning from his stargazing, appearing silently from among the branches. Nightfall and Redlance were nearby and their quiet murmuring was just barely audible.
Catching Skywise's eye, Cutter went to join his lifemate and cubs, gathering them close. He drew a deep breath and let it out slowly as Skywise also settled down beside him. Peace came over him, like a warm fur, an easing of the heart. With the warm weight of beloved bodies around him, he shut his eyes.
No matter what, he knew he would see it through. He could, with his family there with him.