(This story begins directly after "Patience".)
Pathmark had been gone a while, and Beetle was restless. She guessed that he was talking with Evervale, and she guessed that things were going well. She figured she wouldn’t see Pathmark again that evening. ‘I know he said he would go with me, but I can go on my own.’ Standing, she stretched and then wandered her way toward the wolf dens.
The cub sniffed at the root and turned. **Mother?** An image of Whirl's eyes, the first the pup had seen when it was born, flashed as the cub queried about the strange mass she had found in the dirt.
**Root. Kin food,** Whirl imaged back a picture of an elf digging the root and another image of elves eating of it.
**Good?** The cub wanted to know.
The she-wolf snorted, nipped at her cub and sent an image of fresh meat and the pack sharing the meal.
The cub whined. She wanted to know. **Root good?** she asked again.
Whirl nudged the cub away from the root, pushing her back toward the den. This cub was unlike her red-coated sister who, like most cubs, was content to suckle, play and sleep. This cub wanted to know things. And the cub’s sending was more like the kin than the pack. She reminded Whirl of Weasel. The mother returned an image of fresh meat, blood dripping from the corners of the mouth.
The curious cub scampered ahead, circled around her mother, and went back to the root. She wanted to know, had to know. She understood that wolves usually ate meat. But she was curious--was the root good for cub-food? She began digging.
A strange sound diverted her attention. She stopped digging, curious. Looking up, the cub saw one of the wolf-kin. The figure knelt down, a smile on her face. Seeing a strange-looking paw coming toward her, the cub decided it wanted to know what the paw felt like. She looked back at her mother who yipped an approval—Whirl knew that Crawfish had been this kin’s bond. She understood why the elf was there and watched as her cub moved toward an outstretched hand.
**Root good?** the cub sent to the elf, who had suddenly picked her up.
The elf laughed, and the cub heard the strange noise again. She realized the noise had come from the one holding her, that the one holding her was happy. The cub found herself happy when the elf answered her question with more information than the cub’s mother had given. **It is good. It helps with sour stomachs. But it’s not every-day food.**
Curiousity satisfied, the cub decided it liked the elf holding her. She sent an image of herself and the elf, finding out things together. Beetle laughed again, and then nodded at the cub in her hands. Aloud, she spoke the cub's name. Rooter yipped with joy and licked her kin's face.