Chapter 24: Male Bonding

Important: read 1st 4 paragraphs of a/n.

Hello my dears. I've missed you so. Thanks for coming back to this story. I've written a new, M-rated story for Leah and Ivo. If you're not 18, please stick with LAF and HHMH. All three stories will update at the same time, and you won't miss any storyline if you skip 'HHMH Fade to Blacks'. Promise.

If you are reading all three stories, I recommend that you read 'Fade to Blacks' first, this chapter second, and 'HHMH' third.

It's getting close to the wedding, so if you haven't left me your fake identity, you need to get it to me now. Last chance to be part of this story. If you can't think of a persona, just give me a name. I think I can come up with something ;+) At the beginning of the next chapter, I'll be posting a list of minor characters alongside your FF account names.

I've written an AH story for The Flight for Bobby Dupea (Autism Speaks):

Cats and Dogs:

Rated M

They had met when she was four, and he was eight, and his rambunctious Border Collie, Bear, had attempted to ingest her Calico, Wednesday Addams, for lunch. It had begun the war. He had been in love with her ever since.

I've also written an o/t from the Unforeseen Events Series for The Fandom Against Juvenile Diabetes:

The Sad Story of Woof:

Rated M for harsh subject matter. No lemons.

Swallowing hard, I stepped through the doorway into the kitchen. Carlisle was standing with his back to the counter, one of his experiments with cleansers on display. Esme sat in one of the kitchen chairs, pale as a ghost. And Woof was already curled up on his rug, wagging his tail and enjoying the heat from the stove.

Our guest stood at the opposite side of the room from me, leering out of eyes that looked like rotten raw beef. I was very taken aback, but lowered my eyes as my sire had ordered.

"Roman? This is my first born," Carlisle said quietly.

Both compilations will be available at the beginning of March.

Music for this chapter can be found on the jmollytwilight2 Youtube at #14:

"El Primer Passo," by Melinda Toth

"Inuit Drum Dancing," by the Kugluktuk Drum Dancers

Sources for this chapter:

Story of The Giant Dog: www dot sacred-texts dot com/nam/inu/eft/eft34

www dot lowchensaustralia dot com/names/eskimonames dot htm

Tuesday, February 27th, 2014, circa 7pm:

Ben's pov:

About an hour after Edward dragged Leah and Ivo upstairs by their ears, there was a scuffle in the general area of his office. Three teenagers stormed down the main staircase and flew out the front door of the lodge. Edward had obviously put a flea in their ear. Minutes later, Esme looked angrily up the same stairs.

"Swears jar!" she yelled as Edward stomped down, swearing a blue streak. Although the room was a lot less crowded than it had been, there were still a couple of dozen people milling around. For a moment, all sound ceased. Edward's show of temper was obviously… novel.

"Back off, Esme! This is a Five President Situ: Roosevelt, Wilson, Taft, Carter and Clinton!" Edward paced in his favourite spot, so fast he was nothing but a blur. Suddenly, he stopped dead, his black eyes burning a hole in something near the back staircase on the right of the room. I turned to see why he was dealing the death glare, and found five teens quailing under it. They hovered together, and jumped when he shouted, kind of reminding me of the Scooby Doo Gang when confronted by a 'ghost'.

"Hey! You lot leave those two alone or there's gonna be Hell to pay!"

Angry Edward was pretty damn scary. The teenagers wisely slunk out the dining room's French doors with their tails between their legs.

"Bella?" Edward called loudly. "Bellaaaaaa…"

There was a rush of air, and then Bella was at his side, looking anxious. "What's wrong, Mocha-chino?"

Edward's jaw clenched, and his eyes darted upward. "Nothing. Just … He's possibly fertile."

A lot of jaws dropped, and then some of the males in the room started to snicker. Edward clutched his head, started to pace and thought better of it. He turned his glare on his son-in-law.

"Jake, I can't hang around for this. Will you protect them?"

"Sure, sure," Jacob said affably, cuddling his wife.

"We'll protect them, Daddy," Ren promised.

Edward was obviously mollified. "Don't let Sam anywhere near them," he growled, then he grabbed Bella by the hand, threw her onto his back, and disappeared out the front door like smoke. It swung to-and-fro in the arctic air, and snow drifted in and collected on the mat. Jasper zipped over at vampire speed and closed out the chill.

"Interesting times," he drawled. Sitting down, he and Alice curled up together, uncharacteristically snuggly, and watched the DVD playing on the TV. It was some new vampire-werewolf thing, and both species were intermittently scoffing and snickering over it.

Well, I liked it.

It got late, and Ang and I, and Camilla Sala, along with the Kwali and their mates, went to bed. The next morning, we found the Cullen men sitting in the Great Room reading their papers as usual.

"Morning, Angel, morning, Ben," Edward said, flipping pages. He was definitely more relaxed now.

"Morning, Edward," I said. What was up with the mood swing?

Edward's eyes flicked up at my wife, then returned to his paper. "Don't even ask me, Little One. I've had TMI enough for a lifetime, and I've fielded sufficient questions of an awkward nature this morning." He snapped his paper and folded it, standing up. "Tell you what, I'll tell Ben all about it, and he can fill you in later, okay? You don't mind if I steal him for a while, do you?"

"Go 'head," Ang said, shooing me away.

I was about to get the information first for the first time ever! I stood up so fast I almost fell over. Edward was very amused. "Come on, Pal. It's a nice day. You ever used snowshoes?"

"No," I said, intrigued.

"You up for it?" Edward asked, repressing a smile.

"Yeah, totally," I agreed, hurrying to get my parka and boots. We stepped out into bright sun and blue sky, rare for this time of year. I glanced at Edward, whose skin was reflecting a million diamond lights onto our shadows in the snow. Guy's a walking disco ball. Freaky.

He snickered and handed me a pair of snowshoes. "I know, right? Bella likes it, though, and I have to admit sparkling suits her."

"Sorry," I breathed.

Edward fake-punched me on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it, man. Comes with the territory. You think I look weird, you should see Carlisle. Sparkling white-on-rice. You know how to put those on?"

"Like skis?" I checked.

"Yeah."

"I'm surprised you don't hand-make them here," I admitted.

"Nah. Hand-made aren't strong enough. They crumble when we run. It's the one thing the Kwali can do better than us. Those huge paws don't sink into the snow." Edward stood up, his stance wide, and offered me his arm, stepping off the deep step onto the next one. I let him help me down.

"Didn't think I'd be imitating a duck this morning, I said, hanging off his arm.

"You never know with Cullens," he grinned.

"Never boring, man. Never boring."

"Okay, now you have to kind of hop. Don't lock your knees, and don't let go of me, because I'm going to speed us up," Edward said.

"Cool," I nodded. We had taken about two hops away from the lodge when the door swung open behind us and Emmett stuck his head out. Edward looked at him questioningly.

"Alessandro's on Skype Vid-chat with his report."

I tried not to be disappointed.

"Can you handle it, please Em? I haven't spent any time with my Pal the whole time they've been here."

I looked at my friend, feeling happy. There had been distance between us ever since we left high school, and apparently now that there were no more secrets, we were BF's again.

"Yeah, I'll handle it, Great Leader."

"Nanoo nanoo," Edward said with funny hand-gestures, making Emmett snort. Edward grabbed my arm and tugged on it. "Ràng líkāi zhèlǐ zhīqián, rènhé rén zhuā zhù wǒ (Let's get out of here before anybody else grabs me)." My friend lapsed easily into Chinese, just like old times. "I love these people, but it's getting to be time to go off with Bella to the Colony for a while, you know?"

Edward held out his elbow and I took it. It wasn't weird, right? We were going to be moving super-fast.

Snowshoeing with a vampire was unbeatably fun. I have no idea how far we traveled that morning, just that we ended up at a really pretty little lake, with steely ripples and sun glinting off it. Edward reached into one of his ever-present capacious pockets and pulled out a Thermos and a spoon, and handed them to me. Thanking him, I looked at them, wondering where I was supposed to sit, and then there was an enormous crack. I tried to swivel around without falling over, and discovered Edward breaking a huge old tree trunk into pieces with his hands. Before my eyes, he assembled two chairs. Taking one, he sat and stuffed his hands in his pockets, gazing out at the cold water.

"Wild times," he murmured, eyes inscrutable.

"But never dull," I smiled.

"Not since Bella came along."

The things he must have seen in a hundred years…

"You can ask me; it's okay."

"What's it like being immortal?"

Edward shrugged. "It has its thrilling moments. Life's blissful with a mate, I'll tell you that. I appreciate never being sick, and rarely in pain. I'm hoping for a lot more years with Bella. Thousands of years, perhaps, if the Earth doesn't wear out or God doesn't Rapture us up. Assuming He doesn't, and I trot off the mortal coil earlier than that, when I die, I'll be ready to meet Him, and see my parents again. It's likely to be quick, not long and drawn out like the deaths of so many people. And I have purpose now. Sometimes the work is tiring, but I'm always busy. I thank God every day for that. Life used to be so tedious."

I was silent. I didn't expect such a thorough answer, but then, he overthinks everything. He always has.

"Yes, it might sound morbid to you, but it isn't, really. I treasure every day with Bella, but I also have the long view, Ben. I've experienced loss. I've longed for departed loved ones, and a perfect world, as much as the next man. You may reunite with your loved ones and get the solutions to the eternal mysteries long before I do. That's… not so bad."

"No," I agreed. "Mortality has its perks."

"Death is your friend," he said, picking at a loose thread on the knee of his jeans. "Just do me a favour and stick around for a while yet, Pal. You have no idea how good it is to have you around. It makes it easier… to let go."

"Let go?" I asked him.

"Every few years, we've had to leave everyone behind. We never used to let humans in on our secret world. It's only since we allied ourselves with the Volturi that we've been allowed to pick the occasional human companions." He hummed a laugh. "Aro still says you're our pets."

"Hah."

"How is Charlie, really?" Edward asked.

"He's still going strong. Nice for him to have a couple of the Kwali on the force. What is he now, fifty?"

"Fifty-two," Edward murmured. "How's Mr Weber?"

I picture Ang's father, and Edward chuckles.

"He looks just the same, but more silver. And the twins?"

"Tearing up U-Dub," I laughed.

"Twenty-one years old. I can hardly believe…"

"I know," I said, rolling my eyes in a manner worthy of my friend. "I'm twenty-eight now. Soon, people are going to think I'm your uncle."

"That's nothing new," he said, winking.

"So what's the deal with our new cousin, Ivo?"

Edward snorted. "He's unbelievable."

"Give."

"People called me a prude, yeah?"

I snorted. "Right. Not! Everyone thought you were banging Bella under the bleachers."

"I got so sick of Newton and his gossiping girlfriend. Holy crow, and now we're related to Yorkie."

"Ivo?"

The vampire chuckled, looking delighted. "He's never ejaculated. Like, not once."

"Huh?" I squeaked, my eyebrows disappearing into my hair.

Edward cracked up. "You heard me. Not once. Hopefully the goods are perfectly preserved.''

"You wouldn't lie to me, right?"

He snorted. "Nope. No spanking, no emissions, nada."

"No way," I guffaw like a high school kid in the locker room.

"Hah. Yeah. Funny, huh?"

"Bwah hah hah!"

"Poor dawg's two hundred and seventy-odd years old, and he's lived two hundred and forty of them as a vampire, and never once has he seen the white light."

"He's living with Leah?" I asked blankly. She's wanted a husband forever.

Edward's eyes twinkled. "Yep. Like I said, incomprehensible."

"Wow."

Edward sighed and shook his head. "We ought to be getting back, Ben."

"Thanks for …" being my best friend again.

"Yeah. Back atcha. Let's go home."

"Okay," I said.

By the time we got back to the Lodge, it was 3pm and my legs were killing me. I wondered if I could get somebody to watch the kids so I could take my wife upstairs for a nap.

"Yeah, we'll make sure they're looked after, Pal." Edward and I exchanged one of those man-hugs, and went inside, banging off our boots on the mat and hanging up our stuff in the coat room.

"Great Leader," Jasper drawled as we came in.

"He asleep yet?" Edward asked.

Huh?

"You know it."

"Hee hee hee hee hee hee," Edward laughed, looking every bit the seventeen-year-old brat. "So where's Fluff?"

"Upstairs sleeping with him," Carlisle said, walking in with one of my kids wrapped around each ankle.

"Daddy!" they said in tandem, toddling over to kiss me.

"Hiya guys," I said, giving them hugs and lifting them onto my lap. "Where's Mommy?"

"Dunno," they both said, picking at each other's moccasin beads.

"I think she went with all the females into town," Jasper supplied.

"You mean, it's just us men?" Carlisle asked in mock-horror.

"Yessir, place'll be burnt to the ground by supper time," Jasper said smoothly.

"Who's cooking dinner for the humans tonight?" Edward frowned.

"Em."

Edward's jaw fell. "You've got to be joshing me."

"Dona Bella said you'd be right in the next room, so it was a safe time to let him," Jasper drawled.

"Jeez Louise. What time is Ivo waking up, did Titch say?" Edward asked, walking back to peer in the kitchen.

" 'Round about half-seven," Carlisle supplied. "He only started his Nap at about half-one."

"Not bad," Edward said, pursing his lips.

Camilla Sala came out of the kitchen.

"Hello, Ms Sala," Edward said. "Aren't you spending the day with the girls?"

"No, shopping holds no interest for me unless it is for my events," she said, waving her hand dismissively. "I had thought to spend time getting to know the bride, but it seems she is occupied with her mate."

"Yes, they've had an… eventful week," Edward said, biting back a grin.

"I thought perhaps I could be of service, by helping Dom Emmett make dinner," she said, smoothing her pencil skirt.

"That would be lovely," Edward beamed. "Thank you. I feel a lot better about allowing him in the kitchen now."

Emmett came out of the kitchen, covered in flour. "You have no faith in me."

"Em, you've set three kitchen fires in nine years," Edward grinned.

"Only because I forgot to set the timer, Bro," Emmett protested.

Edward took Camilla's hand and bent it over his own. "My dear lady, will you kindly do our family an enormous favour, and make sure Vice-Dom Emmett pays attention to all his cooking timers?"

"But of course."

Edward kissed her hand and patted it. "Mille Grazie."

The formidable lady actually giggled a little. Apparently no female was immune to his charm.

"It won't be long until Ivo comes down," Edward said, looking around at us all. "Would one of you please lend Ivo some clothes for when he wakes up? Something easy to dress him in?"

"What, are you scared he's gonna wander out here BF naked, Edward?" Quil scoffed.

"I tried to walk into the kitchen naked, in front of Kaure and Gustavo, on my honeymoon," he answered.

"No way!" Emmett boomed, and laughed like a bear.

"Yuk it up, Em." Edward looked at Embry. "Can you lend Ivo some clothes, Embry? You're about the same size."

"Yeah, sure. I'll go up and get some."

"Thank you," Edward said.

The males who were not on cleaning detail, cooking detail or nursery duty spent the afternoon in front of the big screen TV, watching hockey: Leafs versus the Senators. Of course, being supernatural creatures, they couldn't just watch the game and scoff or clap at it like normal people. Everybody present had a jersey with their team's colours. Edward had even loaned me one of his: blue and white for the Maple Leafs. Not that I don't like hockey, I'll watch any sport, but I'd sooner do it with humans.

The coven's human pets and the Kwali had buckets of popcorn and soda, and the vampires had noisemakers and props, including big foam hands, plastic clappers, inflatable tubes meant to be bonked together, bean bags to thow at each other, and ridiculous hats.

Everything was well and good until it got down to the last two minutes of the last period, and the teams were tied.

One of the more aggressive Leafs high sticked his opponent, who then knocked off his helmet and beat the snot out of him while the Refs stood around waiting for them to quit. The vampires and Kwali Warriors were extremely offended by the poor sportsmanship of both players, and it almost turned into a fistfight in the Great Room between Garrett and Jared.

Edward told them he expected them to behave better than the people on TV.

When the Senator was satisfied with the amount of Maple Leaf blood he had spilled on the ice, he stepped back and let the Refs chew his ear off. The people surrounding me hung on every silent word. Finally, the Senator was given a three minute time out, and the Leaf was given a two minute time out.

None of the men around me were happy, rather they blamed the player of the team opposing their own for the unfair treatment of the other.

When the Leafs scored a goal in the final ten seconds of the game, there was pandemonium in the Lodge. Some happy noise, some unhappy, all extreme. Carlisle fist-bumped me almost hard enough to break my hand, and Emmett nearly knocked me over with his slap to my back. I prayed I'd never to have to watch hockey with the Cullens again.

A little ghost in white pajamas with blue and pink bunnies drifted into the room, looking exhausted. "Leech."

Edward stopped mid-Maple Leaf- victory-chant and turned in slow motion to face Leah. "Um, sorry?" he winced.

"Urgh," she said, flopping down on the couch beside him. "Who won?"

"Leafs, of course," Edward grinned, white teeth glinting. It made him look dangerous.

"Leafs haven't won a game in a dog's age," Jasper pouted.

"Go team," Leah said flatly. She rested her head on Edward's shoulder.

"I thought you rooted for my team, General Beeyotch," Jasper said indignantly, giving Leah the stink-eye.

"Who wants to support a team named after politicians?" Edward scoffed. Half a dozen people started to protest that the Senators were a good team, and half a dozen more started to protest that they played dirty. Leah told everyone to shut up.

"You're giving me a headache!" she groused.

"Did you get some sleep?" Edward asked, looking concerned. Leah's answering smile was bratty.

"Not much. At least, not until Ivo fell asleep."

There was a lot of good-natured razzing after that.

When Leah started to look like she was developing a migraine, Edward told everybody to give her some space. Everybody but Jacob, Embry, Quil and the Cullens took off. Edward gave Leah a pressure-point scalp massage while she asked endless questions about vampires napping. It was odd to think that I had witnessed Naps, and she had never seen a vampire sleepwalk.

"You know Ivo's never napped before. I'm a little worried about his upcoming Walk, actually. He hasn't known Leah very long, and I have no idea what he's going to play out while he thinks he's human."

"He has a grudge against Hudson's Bay, and Catholic Missionaries," Leah admitted, looking wiped out.

"Mm. Good to know. We'll have some Kwali in here when he comes down."

"I wish we had his drum," Leah murmured.

"We could make one this afternoon," Quil offered.

"Thanks," Leah said, shutting her eyes.

The Kwali left, taking Garrett with him.

"Toss me a cushion, please, Em," Edward said.

"Sure. Here."

Edward put the cushion on his lap and eased Leah's head down onto it. She was sound asleep.

"Can I take a picture of that?" Seth asked, coming in with a grin.

"Let her be, Seth, she's exhausted," Edward said softly.

Sam jogged down the stairs and stopped dead at the sight of Jacob draping a throw blanket over Leah. "Why's she exhausted?"

Edward appraised Sam and apparently he considered his attitude acceptable, because he smiled briefly. "She's okay, Sam. They're happy. It's just the letdown after stress."

"Shouldn't she be upstairs?" Jasper asked pointedly.

"No, I'm afraid she might disturb him and wake him early. After he's had his confession and Walk, they can sleep it off together."

"You're still sure about this, Edward?" Sam asked warily.

"Yes," Edward said. "This guy's first class. They're going to be fine, Sam."

Sam nodded, swallowing hard. "Edward, I'm sorry."

"I know, Sam. I know. I haven't forgotten the friendship you've shown to me. But if you want peace, you're going to have to say it to them."

"I'll tell her I'm sorry for interfering," the Kwali said sadly.

"Sam, there's something else for which I think you ought to apologize," Edward said gently. The Kwali waited quietly to hear him out.

"You kept her in your Pack, Sam, after you imprinted. Why didn't you use your Voice to cast her out?"

"She would have been all alone!" he argued gently.

Edward bit his lips, and ghosted his fingers over Leah's hair. "That would have been better."

Sam's jaw fell, and his face filled with grief.

"It's time for our Leah to be happy," Edward said. "And you need to talk to Emily."

Sam nodded, and got up. He left the room slowly, as though he were a hundred years old instead of thirty-seven.

Edward sat with Leah all afternoon while the rest of us busied ourselves with domestic duties. Carlisle, Jasper and I looked after the kids, and Emmett made some pretty tasty brownies. Edward said he would be allowed in the kitchen in the future, based on the fact he had not turned them into a 'char-broiled abomination'. I suspected that was an inside joke, because Jasper giggled like a madman and Emmett turned silver all over.

Edward woke Leah just before all the females trooped in with bags and parcels. Emmett and Camilla delivered a tasty vegetable linguine for our dinner, and Bella told him he was no longer banned from the kitchen so long as he agreed to always cook when supervised. After dinner, Sam took Emily upstairs, leaving their kids with Esme and Rose. Then, Edward explained to everyone that Ivo would soon have his Walk, and that it would be a good idea if most of the vampires absented themselves, and some of the Quileute and other humans were present.

"You're going to stick around, Edward?" Emmett asked fretfully.

"I have to know how it goes," Edward shrugged.

"I think I had best be present, Brother," Jasper said.

"Agreed, but you can be present on the third floor walkway."

"Edward, if I run the camera, Ivo's going to get upset with me, but if Esme films him he's going to assume she's your sister and it will be fine."

"I'm staying," Carlisle said firmly.

"Yes, Sir." Edward nodded. He left the room and returned with some buckskin jackets, with fringes down the arms, handing one to Jasper, one to Carlisle, and one to me. All four of us put them on.

At 7:30pm, Ivo came slowly down the stairs, wearing a fawn-coloured jogging outfit and moccasins. Leah followed him, her forehead creased with worry. "He's not speaking English," she told Edward. "I think it's Inuktituk."

"I thought as much."

Bella, Rose, Alice, Jasper and Emmett crept to the third floor railing to join some of the watching vampires. From her place at the foot of the stairs, Esme surreptitiously turned on the video camera.

Ivo entered the room cautiously, and stopped in front of Edward. "Voyageur?"

"Non. Indigenne."

"Huron?"

"Non. Metis."

Ivo's brow creased. "Parlez-vous francais?"

"Oui."

He squared his shoulders. "J'ai cinquante peaux de castor. Voulez-vous échanger ?"

"Oui."

"Que ferez-vous me donner pour eux?"

"Un peau de mouton, laine cardée et des aiguilles à coudre."

" Pas assez. Je dois garder ma famille forte pour l'hiver."

"Voulez-vous des bottes?"

"Non, vos bottes sont mauvais."

Voulez-vous un couteau?"

" Oui, je vais prendre ça, avec les premières choses que vous avez proposé. Je voudrais une couverture, aussi."

"Eh, bien."

"Merci."

"De rien."

Ivo turned his back happily on Edward and scanned the room. He saw the fireplace and went to sit in front of it, on the floor.

"What was all that?" Leah asked curiously.

"First, he asked me if I was a Voyageur. Then, he said he had fifty beaver pelts and asked if I wanted to trade. I offered him a sheepskin, carded wool and sewing needles. He said it wasn't enough because he had a family to get through the winter, and he had to keep them strong. I asked him if he wanted boots, and he told me pretty firmly that my kind of boots were bad. I asked him if he wanted a knife, and he told me that he wanted the knife, the sheepskin, the wool and the needles, and a Hudson's Bay blanket."

"Our boy drives a hard bargain," Jasper said appreciatively. "Back in my day, he'd-a been offered some beads and firewater."

"He had a family," Edward murmured, watching Ivo in fascination. Some of the Quileute were padding over to sit with him. Ivo got a look at Claire and his face lit up. He said something to her in an unknown language with a lot of clicks and stops in it.

"He thinks Claire is his daughter. Iyaroa(k)," Edward told Leah gently. "Ask him what his name is, Leah."

"I don't speak Inuktituk," she said, wincing.

"Part of him will still process your speech even if he can't process mine. You're his mate."

Leah approached Ivo tentatively. "What is your name?"

"Aglakti."

"Where are you from?" she wondered.

He looked confused. "I don't know."

"What are the names of your children?"

"I don't know," he said, looking panicky.

"Buniq?" Leah suggested.

"Iyaroak, Buniq and Chulyin," he said, smiling.

"How old are they?" she asked.

He frowned. "My elder daughter, Iyaroak is twenty-four seasons old. The younger, Buniq, is almost twelve seasons. My son Chulyin is in his third season."

"What are the seasons?" Leah asked.

"Caribou, Seal and Whale," he said immediately.

"Three seasons a year. So Iyaroak was eight, Buniq was nearly four, and Chulyin was nearly one," Leah mused. "Who is your wife?"

"Akluitok," he said, his mouth curling in distaste.

Edward snorted. "Not a happy marriage."

"Really?" Leah said.

"He wooed her because she was quite beautiful, but she was very spoiled. He thinks that she's high maintenance. It seems that's what her name meant. When he said it, he thought 'very expensive'. Hah."

Ivo said something else in Inuktituk.

"He's thinking about singing in front of the children. I think he wants to tell them a story," Edward said. A lot of people looked excited. Several of them brought their children to sit closer to Ivo, who stood up. Quil stepped forward with a large flat drum and a stick shaped rather like a knobby-ended bone, and offered it to Ivo, who took it with delight and what could be presumed to be thanks.

Ivo took the drum, and started to turn and beat it. The timpani-like sound rang in the air and echoed from the rafters. Ivo began to sing, and all of a sudden there were pictures in our heads. There was a collective intake of breath.

A giant husky swims with a Narwhal. They finish playing together. It comes out of the sea and runs up to a man and woman, who climb up on its back and ride it. The man gives the dog an amulet that protects it from death, and it lives many seasons. One day a stranger comes to their land, and the dog kills him. The man and his wife sadly move away, for the people of the tribe are angry. Another stranger comes, and the man sends his dog up into the hills to eat a bone, but the dog comes down and destroys not only that stranger, but two more. The man realizes the victims are inland-dwellers, who often steal the daughters of the People. His dog is a great protector of the People, who rejoice to have him. Sometimes the dog goes away for days at a time, and returns bearing the bones of evil people. And the inland-dwellers become too frightened to bother the People any more.

Almost an hour after he began, Ivo stopped singing and sat down, panting as though he was out of breath, and the thrilling images disappeared.

The crowd collectively breathed a 'wow', except for some of the youngest children, who were crying. I guess adults told kids scarier stories back in Ivo's day. Maybe they didn't consider those stories scary.

"No wonder he loves you, Leah," Seth said, shaking his head.