Fresh snow lay like a cold blanket all about the Holt, and little Bugfluff was enthralled with it. His eyes were alight with wonder as he surveyed the scene through the flap of his family den. In fact, he was so preoccupied with the snow that he failed for several moments to notice that his parents weren’t in the den with him. Finally, though, this fact became apparent to him and he grew curious. Rhythm and Cider were nearly always there with him when he awoke for the evening. Where could they have gone?
Being as impetuous as any other eight-turn-old cub, he climbed out of the den and located their scent further up the tree. The sky was remarkably clear after the day’s snow-clouds had blown out and something was oddly different about it tonight. The moons were far from full, he knew, but there was still an odd light shining down. Drawn by that strangely colored light, and the sound of his parents’ voices ahead, he climbed still further.
There he found his parents, cuddled together under a thick fur and looking skyward. Nearby, he saw the rest of the tribe coming out to sit and gaze skyward. As unusual as that seemed to him, it was where they were looking that drew his immediate attention. There in the sky was a light unlike any he had seen before. It was like waves upon the riverbank, flowing first one way then another. As they flowed the colors in them would dance and change, flowing from yellow where they seemed to originate beyond the hub-star and ranging through green and blue shades.
“What is it?” he asked in awe.
Turning, mildly startled by their cub’s arrival, Rhythm and Cider regarded their child.
“Ah, so you’re awake,“ his father said, an amused tone to his voice. “I thought we were going to have to come wake you before you missed the lights. Come, join us in the fur before you catch your death of cold.”
Bugfluff did so gladly, only now realizing how cold it was out. First the mystery of where his parents had gone and then the new wonder in the sky had distracted him from such mundane concerns as freezing to death. Now, safe and warm between his parents, with only his bright brown-green eyes showing from under the furs covering them, he was drawn back to his earlier question.
“What is it, Father? I’ve never seen lights in the sky like that before.”
Rhythm smiled at the curious boy, and then began to speak. His voice was strong and clear in the cold night air. Bugfluff would always remember his father’s voice as one just made for singing and storytelling.
“We don’t rightly know what it is cub, only that sometimes, in the deepest part of the white-cold, the lights can be seen. They don’t come often, but there are old stories about them visiting in Wolfsister’s day. On those nights, when the lights were in the sky, she would dance and howl and the Preservers would join her.”
“It’s funny when a Preserver dances in the air,” Bugfluff observed with a grin. “It looks strange how they dance with wings on their backs.”
Cider giggled and ruffled her son’s hair.
“It’s natural for them, cub, and they love to dance as much as we do. Back in Wolfsister‘s time they helped her and the others to welcome the lights. Can’t you just imagine it?”
The boy’s eyes widened even further as he tried to picture the image his mother’s words painted for him. As good a storyteller as his father was, he often liked Mother’s stories better. They often had more whimsical images that could inflame his imagination.
“Well, however well a Preserver might dance,” Rhythm said, with a smile, “they still joined her and the whole tribe would eventually join in. As I said, the lights don’t come much anymore. It’s been almost an oak’s age since anyone has seen them, I hear, and since they come so rarely no one really knows what they mean or why they come.”
All was silent for a few moments as the three elves watched the sky. Finally, Bugfluff couldn’t hold his questions in any longer. At his age silence didn’t set very well with him.
“So they probably won’t come again for a long, long time?”
“That’s right,” his mother admitted. “I guess that’s why, when we see them now, everyone just kind of quietly watches while they are here and then tells stories later. Maybe the magic that makes them isn’t as strong as it used to be.”
The youngster noted the awed sound in his mother’s voice, but he wasn’t quite believing her reasoning.
“Magic doesn’t run out,” he said with certainty. “It just has to rest awhile, like Stormdancer does if she has flown too far. Maybe if we sing to them, the lights would feel more welcome and come back sooner.”
For young Bugfluff, reaching a conclusion and acting on it were usually near instantaneous, especially when it came to singing. Drawing a deep breath he began a song that was more howl than words, but was still rather catchy. His parents, seemingly amused with his idea, joined in. As the song as yet had no real words, it took a while before they harmonized together and found a steady pattern. Then, from other branches of the tree, they heard other voices joining in.
Still safe and warm between his parents, Bugfluff grinned broadly as the song continued. One day he would make words for it perhaps, and just maybe play the drums along with it. Or, perhaps when he was old enough to have cubs of his own, he would play the flute and they could sing the song. Maybe that would tempt the lights to return sooner. Whatever the case, he knew that he would always remember this night with the magical lights in the sky and his family close at hand. What more could any elf want?