The joy of climbing through trees in search of a perfect branch to turn into a bow had Thornbow very distracted. The birds chirped in the branches, and the soft breeze blew his golden hair around his face. “Dung!” he hissed, looking down to see another rip in his pants from a sharp broken branch. Another night of stitching for me! he thought with a light chuckle, refusing to let it get his spirits down.
Pathmark stood on the ground, looking up at the tree and Thornbow. **What did you do to yourself now?** he sent, trying not to startle Thornbow and cause him to fall.
Thornbow’s smile faded when he received the sending. **Pathmark?** he replied, looking down through the branches. **Let me guess. You ran out of beads, and are hoping I will find some interestingly-shaped branches while I’m up here?** Thornbow wasn't a grumpy or short-tempered elf, but an earlier encounter with Quick Fang at the river was eating away at the archer. Sometimes his relationship with the silver-haired huntress was smooth and rewarding, but at other times, her snappish moods made it challenging.
**You are already in the tree, if you find anything interesting I won't object.** Pathmark sent back jokingly. **I was tracking, but the game has headed to shelter.**
Thornbow climbed up a bit higher, testing branches as he went, looking for the one that bent just enough… but not too much. He had the image of a bow in his head and just needed the wood. **Perhaps you just missed something. Try harder,** he sent, a bit irritated. Of course Pathmark shows up at the tree I’m in. An elf just can’t get any peace anymore, Thornbow thought to himself. A sharp whine reached his ears, stopping the archer in mid-climb. **Thief?** he sent, recognizing the whine but not sure what might be wrong.
Looking down through the branches, he saw his wolf pawing at the tree, and noticed that the birds had stopped chirping. Thief’s shadow looked odd as well. It was faint, as if many more fingers of time had passed than Thornbow was aware of.
Pathmark scratched Bonetrail behind the ears, and spoke to him soothingly. **Perhaps you should come down.** The calmness in the sending just served to irritate Thornbow further.
Pathmark looked up, and saw something blocking part of the sun. His eyes got wide and his heart leapt in his chest. Could this be the Mother Moon? His curious side was kicking in and the tracker tried to think of the stories he had heard. ‘Don’t look directly at the sun when it dances with the moon’ was the only useful thing he could remember and it made Pathmark laugh. What wolfrider in his right mind wanted to look directly at the sun anyway He thought to himself, realizing he had gotten excited and needed to protect his eyes.
Thornbow sent calming thoughts to Thief, hoping it would calm him down, and began to climb down to the ground.
As he did, Pathmark paid attention to how the the sky darkened like time had been sped up and night was falling. He wanted to look up, but didn’t want to feel the pain of the sun burning his eyes, so he forced himself to close his eyes as Thornbow jumped down, and landed softly next to Thief.
All thoughts of the wood he was hunting for left Thornbow’s mind as he buried a hand in Thief’s fur and smiled. Thief continued to whine softly and pressed his muzzle against the elf’s leg. “Nothing to be afraid of!” he whispered to the wolf and followed the nervous animal to a group of bushes nearby. “The sun and moon are dancing!” Thornbow wanted to share his excitement even if the wolf couldn’t understand.
Pathmark sought out a safe place among the bushes, and Thornbow leaned against his wolf, not risking a glance upward. “See, they dance together like we do at a Howl,” he said softly, and was rewarded with a cautious lick on the hand.
“The birds and animals have already hidden,” Pathmark said, holding aside some branches of a nearby bush. He glanced at his own wolf, already covering his eyes with both front paws and whining softly I guess we wait with the wolves then. Pathmark thought. “Don’t you remember the stories?”
Thornbow sent Thief ahead into the bush, and slipped under the branch Pathmark held. “Of course I do. But I also promised someone that bow!” he said, trying not to growl. He and Pathmark didn’t always get along.
Pathmark pulled a larger leaf off the bush and poked a hole in it with a stick, trying to make a way to watch the dance safely. He nudged Thornbow, trying to share the event, but the hunter seemed lost in his own world.
It was almost dark now, and Thornbow wondered if the rest of the tribe was outside to enjoy the spectacle, or if they were still asleep in the dens.
“The tree and all its branches will still be there, Thornbow,” Pathmark said, trying to make some sort of connection. “But this….” Thornbow turned and glared at Pathmark, not really meaning to, but he wasn’t up to hearing the bits of wisdom Pathmark seemed to enjoy sharing.
I wish I remembered more of the stories, Thornbow thought with a sigh, but wasn’t about to admit that to Pathmark, and closed his eyes. Thief whined, and tried to hide his face under the elf’s arm. Thornbow scratched Thief’s muzzle and chuckled.
Once he opened his eyes again, it was fully dark, except for the ring of the sun around the moon, shining like his headband when the sunlight hit it at midday. Pathmark was sitting up, gently shaping what looked like it was going to become beads. “At it again are you?” Thornbow asked.
“I wasn’t going to just leave you here alone,” Pathmark said, putting his knife and the bit of wood back in his pouch. “No matter how gruff you are today.” He was wondering if Thornbow was a nut he would ever crack.
Thornbow was able to look through the leaf for a moment, and saw the moon slowly moving away from the sun, as if they were dancing around each other. He watched bit by bit as the moon moved away and the warmth of the sun on his skin returned, along with the sounds of the birds and the breeze in his hair. “I still need to get that wood!” Thornbow said, glancing over at the tree he was in earlier and wrinkling up his brow. Once he got started, sometimes the shaping of a bow seemed to take on a life of its own, and this one was calling to him.
Pathmark looked at the archer, a slightly blank expression on his face. “I should be getting back to the Holt,” he said.
“Then go,” Thornbow quipped, scratching the muzzle Thief pressed against his hand. “No one is keeping you here.”
Raising his hand to the sky, Pathmark realized that two fingers of time had passed since Thornbow began climbing down from the tree, and his stomach told him that the tracks, and Thornbow’s temper, could wait one more day. The tracker found himself looking forward to dreamberries and sharing the story of the Moon’s dance as he climbed on Bonetrail’s back and urged the wolf back to the Holt.
Thornbow stared up at the tree, but his own stomach was getting the best of him and he scuffed a boot on the ground. **The thorn in my paw wasn't your doing,** he sent to Pathmark, still agitated over the interruption in his day, but realizing that taking his mood out on someone wasn't a good thing.