The heat of the day was stifling, too much to be cooped up in the den with the whole family. Crackle sat in the shade of the Craft Trees and the fish-smoking den, as much of it as poked up above the ground anyway. Muddypaws, his tongue wagging, whined his displeasure at being outside the wolf den on a day like this. He heaved himself up and began pawing at the dirt he’d been trying to sleep on, much of which went in Crackle’s direction.
“Pffth! Hey, watch it!” she scolded, trying to spit out a mouthful of dust. **What do you do that for, anyway?**
Muddypaws happily rolled around in his ditch, settling into a comfortable position. **Cool ground, happy wolf.**
“Hmmm…” She rolled over and clawed a few handfuls of dirt out of one spot, then felt around the exposed area with her palm. Sure enough, the ground was a little cooler. All one really had to do to get at it was clear a bit of the sun-baked topsoil away. She looked over to her wolf-friend, to ask his help, but he was already half asleep again.
‘Well at least now I have something to do.’ Obviously, though, elf-hands weren’t the best way to go about it. Brow furrowed, she tried to resolve it like her father would. ‘Father is always making new tools, or finding new ways to use old ones. That’s what I need to do!’
She got up and started poking around the craft trees. Behind the fallen and shaped cedar log she found what she was looking for: a pile of discarded stone tools, too worn to be of much use as large items, and not big enough to be made sharp but still the same kind of tool. But still big enough for the grownups to practice their technique of making leather-punchers and arrowheads and whatnot.
Why any of the grown-ups wasted hours at a time making things like this when Starskimmer could do it in moments was one of many things about grown-ups that Crackle didn’t understand.
After a bit of rummaging, she had what she was looking for: a mismatched pair of small hand-axes, not unlike what she had often seen in Moss or Nightstorm’s hands to strip the fat off of hides. She walked back to the spot she had started on. Excited as she was, it was much too hot to run.
Crackle found the spot she had dug out, and was not surprised to find that even under shade it had warmed up almost as much as the surrounding dirt. She took her tools in either hand and started scraping off a thin layer. When she’d cleared out a Crackle-shaped oval, she flopped over on her back in its center. It was actually quite relaxing, like a windless breeze of coolness. Or at least not-as-hotness. She could practically feel the extra heat she’d worked up digging the hole draining away.
Crackle wiggled around a bit like a wolf for good measure, and promptly fell asleep.
That’s how Windsong found her daughter hours later as the sun sank below the trees, arms and face and hair the same dingy color as the ground surrounding her grimy form.
“Good evening, Mother,” Crackle whispered groggily when she felt the presence looming over her.
Windsong’s wandering eyes assessed the situation. She gave a discouraging look to Muddypaws. With arms crossed she gave an intent look to her daughter that declared in no uncertain terms that the next place she was going was right into the river for a bath.
“Oh, Mother,” Crackle groused, “if I wanted to cool off that way I would have!”