(This story is a sequel to "Ripples and Rippleshells, and is related to "the birth of Suddendusk & Quick Fang's child" - see listing for more related stories.)
It was a moment that had never happened before, and Suddendusk was fairly sure it would never happen again. A few scant days after their son was born, he and Quick Fang were lounging in her den, quietly discussing names for the cub. Crackle had come in to visit with her new baby brother, with Evervale in tow. Windsong had come looking for her daughters, and had stayed. He was surrounded by his family. Quick Fang on one side, Windsong on the other, his newborn son in his arms, his daughters stretched out at the bottom of the sleeping furs. They were all relaxed, and even Quick Fang didn't seem to mind the intrusion, perhaps knowing how much the other elves meant to him.
“Rippleshell,” Suddendusk suggested. The cub's ears had since straightened out after having been squished to the sides of his head in his mother's womb, but the image still stuck with him.
Quick Fang pulled a face and shook her head. Crackle agreed with her.
“I think it's sweet,” Evervale said.
But Quick Fang had vetoed. “I still think his name should be Howler,” she said, almost petulantly. “He has strong lungs.”
The girls laughed at that, and it was Suddendusk's turn to veto. “Oh, no,” he said. “I was hoping for something a bit... calmer.”
“Calmer?” Windsong sounded curious.
Suddendusk leaned back with a bit of an abashed smile. “Well,” he explained, “Evervale was Sweetvine at first, and she became a plantshaper. Then Otter came, and was named so, and he took to the water like he was born there. Then you came, my little Crackling cub, and we named you what we did and we've been paying for it ever since.” His voice, even in teasing, was filled with good humour and love. “So I was thinking we ought to be very careful how we name this new cub of ours.”
“Something calm...” Evervale mused. “Mist, maybe? Mist is very calm.”
“And confusing!” Crackle protested. “I don't want him to be so mysterious I can't figure him out. What about Breeze? Nice and clear but still calm.”
It was Windsong's turn to shake her head. “Too flighty. Here one moment, gone the next.”
“So something steady,” Suddendusk clarified. “Steady and calm.”
“Nothing too calm,” Quick Fang warned, getting into the game. She was apparently in an indulgent mood. “I don't want him lazy, or always showing throat to his own shadow.”
“Steady and calm, yet bold. Active,” Suddendusk said, looking at his girls with an expression they recognized. Another puzzle. It was Windsong who took them out in the woods and taught them to run and climb and hide and stalk and harry and hold still until their limbs shook, and it was Suddendusk who gave them puzzles and riddles and made them think until their heads felt hot to the touch.
“Breeze still works,” Crackle noted. “Calm, active... oh.” She realized. Not very steady.
The group drifted into silence for a heartbeat or two as they all cast their thoughts to the Holt and the world beyond it, looking for a solution to the riddle.
It was Windsong who found it. “Rill,” she said.
Suddendusk pondered it, turned the name over and looked at it from every angle, and slowly began to nod. “Like the one near the flat rock I like to sit at. Calm. Steady. Active. Bright and cheerful. Not easily dissuaded, but not impossible, either.”
“Oh, I like that place!” Crackle was enthusiastic about any place with good mud.
He looked at Quick Fang to gauge her reaction.
“Rill...” she tried it out. She liked the roll of it. “It's simple. I like it.”
“I like it, too,” Suddendusk declared. The girls agreed. Windsong seemed pleased.
He looked down at his son. “Hello, Rill,” he said.