“Tell me a story, Snowfall?”
“Shouldn’t you be in your den already? A new day is dawning, Crackle. It’s late.”
Crackle wrapped her arms around her knees, stubbornly refusing to give in, eyes open wide and waiting for Snowfall to respond to the original question. Snowfall glared at the cub. It was the third time she had asked within just a little while, and the elder realized her work would have to wait. Crackle would never give up. And on the other hand, she was just trying to fix her pants and realized it would never be that good as it was before. Maybe Nightstorm could fix it for her, she would ask her later. But first things first.
“All right, cubling, what do you want to hear?”
“Tell me about magic!” Crackle’s eyes sparkled and huddled close to her.
Snowfall ruffled her hair. “Do you want to hear about Vine, a plantshaper?”
“Yes! Was she strong like Evervale?” Crackle could barely sit still of excitement, but Snowfall shook her head.
"Well, Vine was a strong plantshaper, and maybe someday, your sister will be as strong as she was. Let me tell you a story about two friends, of which one was a little bit like you, Crackle, and the other one was more like… say, Farscout.”
“But Farscout’s a boy!”
”Yes, cub, but I’m speaking of behaviour. Catnip was a silent one, while her best friend Vine was always on the move.”
“Did she look like me, as well?”
“Not really. Vine had long, straight hair in a dark brown colour. But there are similarities. Vine always had twigs in her hair.” Snowfall ruffled her hair and Crackle giggled when she discovered a twig in her messy locks.
“Did she also have a wolf named Muddypaws?”
”But you said she was just like me!” She frowned and pouted. Snowfall continued the story.
”No, just a little bit, and just in behaviour. But I wanted to talk about her friend Catnip first, who once found herself to be in an uncomfortable situation. Catnip loved to go out on her own, and she could wander for days alongside the river.”
“That’s no fun.” The frown got slightly deeper.
“It was what she liked to do.”
”And Vine? She climbed trees, right? She wanted to know everything. She became an explorer! Like I will be one day!” The excitement was back.
”Not so much. Vine was a plantshaper, like Cloudfern and Evervale. But Catnip was a fisher. She knew all the rivers in the holt’s territory by heart, and could tell what the good fishing spots were. She knew exactly which kind of fish swam where, at certain times in the season. And when she returned, she would have two baskets full of fish to feed the tribe. She could swim extremely well, too.”
“I don’t like fishing. I like to chase. I’m sure Vine did, as well.”
Snowfall suppressed a sigh. “Crackle, do you want to tell the story?”
“No. I don’t know the story.” With a glance that told Snowfall ‘that’s why I asked you to tell one’, Crackle looked up. Snowfall looked at her face and smiled softly.
”Then can I?”
Impatiently, Crackle jumped up and down. “You are already!”
”Thank you. Catnip had wandered off on her own again one day, but after a few days, she still hadn’t returned. Usually, she would come back once every two days, but she hadn’t showed up. Chieftess Foxsly then organized a searching party. Catnip was a beloved and cherished member of the tribe, and everyone was worried. Her friend Vine perhaps the most of all.”
Snowfall stopped to catch some breath, but before she started, Crackle jumped up. With wild arm gestures she exclaimed in triumph: ”I know how the story goes! Vine was worried sick, just like father when I do something that makes me feel sick. So she went after her, and because she was Catnip’s best friend she could smell her scent better than everyone else could!”
”Yes, yes, and then Vine found her, and she was unconscious, and there was a... a… a bear nearby! The bear thought she was a fine meal for her cubs. But Vine found her first.”
“And Vine was a plantshaper so she made the strangleweed grow, and trapped the bear. Now, she could go down from the trees and get her friend out of there.”
Snowfall leaned back. It was no use to go back to the original story, and she gave up. Somehow most stories ended this way. “What happened then?” she asked the cub.
”She returned to the holt, carrying Catnip.”
”Well, she had a wolf, his name was Muddypaws, remember? They ran like the wind!”
“What happened to the bear? She had cubs to feed.”
Crackle paused for just a second, and wrinkled her nose while she was thinking. “This is how it went,” she slowly spoke. “Vine put Evervale, uhm, I mean Catnip, who was waking up a little again, on Muddypaws’ back. Then she shaped the strangleweed away so the bear was free. But the bear was angry because she had been trapped, and went after her. But Muddypaws is… eh, was faster. He outran the bear. When I got back to the holt with Ev- Catnip, all were relieved to have her back.”
”What do you mean, I?” Snowfall was now highly amused by the overlapping of the two imaginary versions.
“I mean Vine,” Crackle impatiently corrected herself.
“What did the chieftess say?”
”Well, she was mad at Vine of course. Like Windburn when I do something I’m not allowed to. But they were all so happy to have Catnip back that she forgave me- Vine, I mean.”
“So Vine saved her best friend and she saved the day!”
”Yes, that’s how it happened!” Crackle clapped her hands in excitement, and fell silent for just a moment. “You know, Snowfall, it’s too bad Vine doesn’t live in the Now. I think we would have been best friends, instead of Catnip.”
“Vine has had her ‘Now’, cubling. Like you have your ‘Now’, too. Everybody has their own time to live.”
Crackle seemed to think about that but not for very long as she quickly jumped up. “I have to go now,” she cheered, hugging Snowfall spontaneously, “but thank you for the story. Can you tell me another one about Vine, soon?”
“Sure, cub, anytime.” Snowfall smiled, and off went Crackle. The elder followed the rapidly disappearing cub with her eyes till she was sure she would head to her parents’ den.
She heaved a sigh. Telling a story to an overactive cub wasn’t the easiest job, and she secretly hoped ‘anytime’ would be at least two moons away.