Silence is golden to elves. Especially Wolfriders. Sometimes it means the difference between life and death. Evervale was determined to teach this important lesson to her rambunctious little sister. That is why she had brought Crackle along on a tracking and observing lesson very early in the morning. The sun hadn’t yet found its way to the sky and the forest was quiet except for insects and some extremely early birds.
“Why do we have to wear clothes?” Crackle’s young voice split through the silent forest like a sharp knife through a crisp apple.
Evervale turned to her little sister, her long patience running thin. This hadn’t been Crackle’s first outburst since they’d settled into hiding. She quickly put her finger to her own mouth as a reminder. **Send, Crackle. Remember we have to be silent.**
Crackle puffed out a breath and rolled her eyes. She shifted in her hiding place, pulling at her pants. “But they’re itchy!” she answered in a slightly louder voice. Evervale’s warning look stopped Crackle in mid-breath. The child wisely clamped her lips closed and concentrated on her sister’s next sending.
**Don’t you want to see the ravvits come out to graze?** Evervale sent, regaining her usual patient self through concentrated effort. Crackle nodded, her eyes darting to the small clearing they were seated next to. The two elves were hidden in the bushes nearby, both crouching among thick foliage. They were purposely downwind and their muted clothing blended in with their surroundings. **Then you must be silent and still. When you learn that skill, you can be a successful tracker.**
Crackle sat for a moment and stared at the clearing with her sister. Nothing was happening. Nothing at all! There were no ravvits and Crackle was beginning to wonder if any even existed anymore. Maybe all the ravvits had gone to a special ravvit gathering at the other side of the forest. Maybe a wolf had eaten them all. Crackle imagined a wolf laying on his side, his belly full and a ridiculously contented smile on his muzzle.
Crackle suppressed a giggle by covering her mouth with her hands. A glance at her sister told her that even though Evervale was still concentrating her eyes on the clearing, she was pretty annoyed. Her lips were pursed and her cheeks were slightly red with frustration. Crackle didn’t receive another reprimand, but the cub knew she was treading thin ice. Crackle took a breath to speak, then remembered to send instead.
**Maybe I don’t wanna be a tracker.** Crackle sent, leaning her face hard against her fists, her elbows digging into her crossed legs. **It’s so boring!**
Evervale smiled in spite of herself, remembering the unending energy cubs seemed to have. Still, she’d never been as energetic as her little sister. **Everyone should learn how to track, just as everyone should learn how to hunt. What if you were all by yourself and you had to find food? You can’t just expect food to come running up to you.** She shared an image of a deer rushing up to the elves and sashaying its flank at them in invitation to shoot him with an arrow. Evervale allowed the giggles now emanating from Crackle, but not for long.
**Besides, ** Evervale continued once Crackle had quieted down again. **It may be boring now, but when our prey does appear, it’s a great reward. Even though we’re not hunting this time, it’ll be fun. We can learn about ravvit behavior.**
Crackle looked back at the empty clearing with some disappointment. **Why can’t we hunt just a little bit? I’m getting better with my bow.** She looked at Evervale hopefully.
Evervale was thankful her sister was remembering to send now. **We don’t need the food or the fur right now. Wolfriders don’t waste. We only take what we need.** Evervale felt like her father just then. She remembered him saying the same things to her during The Very Long Walk of her youth.
Crackle had also heard this before and she saw its wisdom. Still, she had to practice on moving targets sometime. Everyone was always saying that her time would come, that she had to wait until she was older. Hiding in the bushes waiting for yet another promised reward was not her idea of fun.
Finally, the sun began to peer over the edge of the world and shyly ventured through the forest canopy. Both elves’ ears pricked up at the sound of light movement, followed by dainty munching on cool grass. In the clearing were three careful ravvits nibbling on some choice green plants. Their wide eyes were alert and their long brown ears twitched. Their tiny mouths moved almost comically as they munched. Crackle’s eyes widened and a huge smile spread across her face. Evervale relaxed and smiled triumphantly. Finally Crackle had learned the benefits of being quiet!
But that feeling didn’t last long. “There they are!” Crackle yelped. Before Evervale could even react, Crackle had scrambled to her feet and was running towards the ravvits. The little animals scattered in all directions propelled in great bounds by their strong back limbs.
Crackle returned, laughing to the point of holding her sides. “You were right, Evervale! That was well worth the wait!”
Evervale sat staring at her sister, still half way into motion to stop her. Words and even sending was elusive to her amazed mind. The whole point of the morning had been to sit and watch the ravvits go about their activities, to learn more about what they did when they didn’t know they were being watched. Now they were gone and the lesson was completely lost.
“I’m gonna try that on the wolves next!” Crackle declared and began to skip back towards the holt. Evervale’s breath caught in her throat.
“Crackle, no!” They were the first words from Evervale’s lips all night. Even as the elder sister tore through the brush she was regretfully aware that little Crackle had won this round.