Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained   2498.07.24*  
Written By: Amy Chandler
(Aug/Sept 2006 fic trade) Longshot does some bartering while Notch proves he knows how the game is played.
Posted: 10/25/06      [9 Comments]

A slow, lazy grin tugged at Notch's mouth as he watched Longshot clamber up the trunk of the Father Tree. He leaned back, relaxing in one of his favorite spots, and let the younger elf come to him. The crook of branches where he lounged was screened from the worst of weather or wind and, most importantly, the limbs had a hollow perfect for his size, made from years of sitting just so. He closed his smoky-green eyes, reveling in the slight sway of the branches while he waited for the black-haired archer to arrive. Wind hissed though the slowly dying leaves and cicadas sang their mating song. Notch sighed contentedly. ‘What a perfect day,' he thought to himself. Then he felt the branch he sat on dip as Longshot hauled himself onto it. ‘And it's about to get better.'

Opening his eyes to slits, Notch regarded his tribemate for a moment before drawling out, “Fancy meeting you here.”

Panting slightly, Longshot said, “Oh, ha ha. You're so funny.” He shifted around trying to find a comfortable position to sit. “Seriously though, why do you spend so much time up here?” He glanced down at the ground far below and gripped the branch a little more tightly with his knees.

“It's quiet and cozy. And most of the tribe won't come up here to pester me into doing things.” Notch tucked his arms behind his head and crossed his legs at the ankle, confident in his position from years of practice. “So, did you bring them?”

Longshot untied a pouch from his belt and tossed it at Notch. The small leather bag smacked the older elf's chest and rolled down into his lap before he caught it. Nimble fingers slid the knots apart and soon Notch dumped the contents onto his legs. He grinned wolfishly as he handled the supple leather armbands. They were dyed bright green and covered with intricate designs done in bone beads and shiny stones. The new leather was as soft as a cub's skin. “Your father does beautiful work,” Notch said as he slid the armbands on to admire their effect against his skin.

Longshot sighed tiredly, “Well, I hope you enjoy your prize. I should have known better than to wager against you, but I thought that bear would catch you for sure when you raided the hoard he was building right under his very nose. But why couldn't you just ask Moss for the armbands yourself if you wanted them? Why risk being mauled by a bear?”

Notch smirked and tucked his arms behind his head again, knowing the green armbands would look even better when contrasted with his dark brown hair. “Moss is your father. I thought you could probably get them for less effort than I could. Besides, why should I bother? If I wait long enough, the world shapes itself to my desires. No need for me to run around working at it.” Wriggling his backside into a more comfortable spot, Notch wondered, “What did you have to do to get them anyway?”

Idly, Longshot reached up and plucked a leaf beginning to turn red from the branch above him. He peeled it apart along the veins as he answered. “Father wanted more moonberries for purple dye. He hadn't been able to find any in the usual places. Which isn't surprising, since the season is nearly done and the bushes have all been picked over. Cloudfern had some but he wanted some feathers for Greenweave to plait into his hair. He wanted some of those iridescent water fowl feathers and I think that's a lovely idea. That'll look good on him. Blacksnake had the feathers, but he wanted a few rabbit skins so Father could patch his winter coat and he was too busy planning the hunt for migrating clickdeer to catch the rabbits himself. So I went out, caught three rabbits, skinned them, and showed them to Blacksnake. He gave me the feathers and told me to drop the pelts off with my father along with the coat since I was going that way anyway. I went by Cloudfern and Greenweave's den to exchange the feathers for moonberries. On the way back to Father's den, I met Evervale and arranged a quiet evening by the river to share the rabbit meat since I had it and couldn't eat all of that by myself. Then I gave Father, the berries, coat, and pelts and he gave me this pouch with the armbands inside. After that I wandered around the Holt looking for you for a while before Starskimmer suggested I try up here. So I climbed for what seemed like forever and here you are.” Longshot looked away from the pile of green and red leaf bits in his lap and glanced back at his friend.

Notch's eyes were wide with astonishment. “I forget sometimes, how much you talk. But that sounded like a lot of work. Are you still wondering why I didn't ask Moss for these myself?” He asked as he flexed his biceps, drawing attention back to the armbands. After Longshot shrugged, he continued, “It sounds like you got something out of all that work too. A quiet evening with the beautiful Evervale is pleasant prize.” Notch leaned forward, crossing his legs and propping his elbows on his knees. “Care to make another wager?”

Longshot's eyebrow shot up in dismay and he quickly scrambled down the tree trunk chased by the other's hearty laughter.

Alone again, Notch settled back into his indentation, still chuckling. “Works every time.”

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