The daystar had risen some time ago but True Edge was not quite ready to return to his warm den. True, the thought of returning to Snowfall and cuddling under warm furs until the coming night was appealing, but he just couldnít quite will himself to make the walk back yet. Something still called to him, something that he couldnít quite get his mind wrapped around. So he stayed just out of sight of the dentrees and near to the Denís creek. He told himself that it was to catch a few more fish before his return so that he would have some for his daughter Quick Fang. Though not quite large yet with the cub she carried, hunting might still be a chore for her, he reasoned. Deep down though he knew that was not the reason for remaining out in the cold winter day while most of the tribe slept. It was just easier to think out here in the solitude.
He was among the most attuned to the Way of any of the tribe. There were times though when his elfin heritage came out more strongly in him. Those were the times when he would worry with a problem to find his own answers. Such had always been his way. Over the turns of the seasons since his birth there had been many an elder who had taught him what they could. Each and every time it seemed he was less then satisfied. He didnít just want to know things. Deep down he had a powerful need to UNDERSTAND things. That took personal experience usually but once he came to an understanding of something, once he had proven to himself whether what he knew was right or wrong, then he could let go of the problem.
With understanding would come peace of mind. Once a thing was fully understood it could be handled by instinct because it was then a part of you. Right now though, he wasnít sure exactly what he was trying to understand. Something seemed just outside the range of his senses. Something was near that he wanted to touch and yet it was still hidden from him. Feeling a longing he couldnít express he continued to pace along the creek bank and every so often spear a fat fish that had come out to feed in the early morning light. If nothing else he would at least get a nice dinner for his daughter. Whether she needed him to provider for her or not it somehow felt right to try and do so. It felt good to think she needed him.
So it went for a time. He speared more fish and grew ever more moody. It might have gone on all day like that were it not for a sudden ripple in the water that drew his attention. Looking more closely he saw a deeper part of the creek. The water there was very reflective in the morning light and his own face was looking back at him. He looked at himself for several moments and then pulled back the winter furs he wore to keep the sting of the wind from his face.
Kneeling on the creek bank he stroked his face, feeling the bit of chin fur that was starting to sprout there. He turned his face first one way and then the other as he studied the reflection. It was his own image he realized, but he also saw a lot of his father there as well. Until just now he hadnít realized just how much he was starting to resemble old Cedarwing. The thought brought on a bit of melancholy for a moment as he realized how much he still missed his father and the others in his life who were now beyond his reach. No longer could he be with his father or mother or even his son. It was the Way; people died he realized. Most of the time he could accept it, no matter how much it hurt. Today though it just made him feel sad and powerless.
Worrying was not the Way. How could he not worry though? His surviving cub would soon have a cub of her own. Another life born into a world that seemed more dangerous with every change of the seasons. He was growing older. How much longer would he be able to protect them? Would anything be able to protect them in a world where the humans grew more daring and more numerous every night?
He remained lost in thought like this for some time. As he sat there a new idea began to bubble up in his mind. His father and the ones who had come before were dead, but some bit of them lived on. Did he not now reflect his fatherís face? Did not his father and motherís teachings still exist within him? They were all there in his memories and very often he thought he felt their spirits near by. Some said that the spirits of loved ones stayed close; watching over those they cared about. Looking now at the image of his father reflected on his own face he was sure of it. Their bodies were gone but their love remained.
With that realization he had the answer he was seeking. Worry would not protect anyone but it seemed that love might. As long as he lived he would stay vigilant and watch over his friends and family. Once he was gone though he now realized his memory and everything he had given them would live on. In a way he would always be with them. With that thought he could now let the worrying pass from his mind and return to the Now that he was comfortable with. Without that burden on his mind he could better guard them from whatever might come.
Not long after that he found himself back at the den. He packed the fish in snow so that he and Snowfall could take them to Quick Fang when darkness fell. With that chore done he slipped under the furs with his lifemate. It was so warm and comfortable and as he drew close he felt her stir. Rolling over she faced him with a sleepy smile.
**You were out late, Zeik. Did you find what you were looking for?**
He merely smiled. She understood him so well. After so many turns of the seasons she knew when he just needed some time to himself to think something through.
**Yes Yuki, I did. I saw my father and he says that everything is alright.**
She was still partially asleep but that managed to get a surprised look from her. Before she could say anything though he continued to send.
**I know. Heís gone but he still watches over us. All of them do. As long as we remember them, we have never really lost them.**
With that he wrapped his arms around her and held her close as the warmth seeped into his chilled body. She could see easily enough from the images that he sent her of how he saw his parents and their son and all the others who had gone on before them. It was a comforting image, one of their familyís continuity no matter what might happen. The ones they loved were not gone but just continuing in a different form. He wasnít entirely sure how that worked but he had dealt with enough mysteries for one day. Now he only wanted to experience the warm Now he had with his lifemate.