“That’s almost right,” Greenweave said, watching as the younger elf practiced his net-casting technique. “A few more tries and you’ll be an old hand at it.”
Despite his teacher's praise Newt didn’t feel that confident in his casting. He had trouble making out the shimmering forms of the fish in water and felt clumsy when throwing the braided net at them. Still, he wanted to learn how to fish and Greenweave had promised to teach him, so here they were. The younger elf hauled back the net for another throw.
“It doesn’t feel right,” he said, trying to put his misgivings into words. “Maybe I’m keeping the loop around my wrist too tight?”
Greenweave moved closer, examining the youth's stance and how he held the net.
“Go ahead and cast again. I’ll watch more closely.”
Newt did as instructed, looping the corner of the net over his one hand and casting with the other. The net spiraled towards the water, its flight a bit less graceful than when the older fisherman had demonstrated. It did hit the water cleanly this time and as Newt began to haul it back he realized that this time he had caught a fish.
“See!” Greenweave said, smiling broadly as the youth hauled it back on to the shore. “You're getting better all the time.”
As he watched Greenweave retrieve the small fish and put it in the basket, Newt smiled slightly, but he wasn’t yet satisfied. He knew that the older elf would often haul in several fish at a time. In fact, on a good night he could feed the entire Holt with his catch. A budding sense of competitiveness was coming to the fore and Newt wanted to prove himself. He could hold his own and carry his weight. It was just a matter of finding the way to do it.
As if seeing the new-found determination that his young charge was feeling, Greenweave smiled as well. This wasn’t lost on Newt, who felt a slight tingle of pride for his accomplishment so far but an even stronger urge to do better. Greenweave and the others had given him a home and a new life. He wanted to be more than the frail cub everyone else had to care for.
“Let me practice on my own a bit, please,” he said in a low voice. “I can do this.”
Shows of independence were still relatively new from the pale young elf. Greenweave seemed to sense it and approve. With a nod he gathered up his own net and moved a little further up the river, though still in sight of Newt.
“All right then. I’ll be right over here if you need me.”
The expression his kinsman gave him raised Newt’s confidence a little. Greenweave seemed to have some faith in his skills and that was giving him more faith in himself. That little flush of competitiveness from earlier reasserted itself. Newt was under no delusion that he could beat out what the older elf could catch at this point, but he did want to prove to himself that he could do better than he had.
With that in mind he cast his net again and again, moving ever so slowly to try and perfect his casting technique. He was having some success, which only fueled his desire to do better. After all, Otter brought in all manner of fish. Greenweave was an expert at fishing. Maybe Newt himself wasn’t destined for the same things, but by the High Ones, he was certainly going to try his best!
It was then that his eyes caught a flash of silver in the moonlight. A fish, and a large one by the looks of it, was nearby in the shallow waters. Had the larger moon not been full he probably never would have seen it, as slowly as it had moved. Now that he had, though, Newt was determined that he was going to catch that fish. With exaggerated care he got his net into position and cast, totally focused on his task as the rest of the world seemed to slip from his thoughts. The cast seemed perfect and Newt pulled back on the net to snag his prey. Sure enough he felt the weight of his catch and jerked with all of his might. Unfortunately though the fish jerked back with surprising force.
Newt found himself pulled from his feet and into the water. Somewhere in the distance, had he not been so focused on his prey, he would have heard Greenweave’s yelp of alarm. By then, though, he had been pulled under the water and locked into a wrestling match with his prey. Time seemed to slow for the young elf as his more primal instincts came to the fore. Despite his gentle nature Newt was a wolfrider after all and this was the first time he had ever really felt the call of his blood to the hunt.
Below the water he became tangled in the net along with his prey, which the youth now realized was a catfish… and quite a large one at that. It seemed huge to Newt, and was longer than he was tall. He had heard that this kind of fish grew to be rather large at times but he had no idea until now how strong they could be. Part of his mind, the part that wasn’t overcome with the urge to kill and feed on the animal, realized that both his arm and the fish's fins were stuck in the net. Not good since he was the only one of them that couldn’t breathe under water.
Newt wasn’t really strong enough to seriously over-power the fish. Even worse, he was in a bad position to try and get any leverage on it. His more feral instincts didn’t want to let it get away though, and he strove with all of his might to drag it towards shore and out of the water. For the fish's part he was trying to thrash hard enough to break free of the net and the annoying little elf that was clinging to him. The physical battle was clearly being won by the fish but there was a mental battle as well. Newt's primal hunting instinct wanted him to fight and kill but self-preservation is a primal wolf trait as well. As the air in his lungs was being exhausted he felt the two instincts fighting even as he tried to clear his mind to think clearly.
Panic and confusion ran rampant through his mind. He couldn’t focus well enough to send to Greenweave yet and was fighting to remain conscious. That was when he felt something odd burning within himself. Newt had touched upon something even more primal than his wolf-blood as he battled the giant fish. Though he was losing the physical fight something seemed to click inside his mind as his sense of self-preservation over-rode everything else.
The young elf went limp as the sudden sense of self became clear to him. He was Wran… the deepest, strongest core of his being now had a name. It had always had a name of course, but it had taken deeper contact with his wolf instincts and a near brush with death for it to assert itself. Newt began to laugh, which was a hard thing to do underwater, even as he slipped free from the net. Apparently going limp and not resisting had been enough for the large fish to throw him off and swim away with the net.
He was only dimly aware as Greenweave caught hold of him and pulled the youth to the surface. Newt was still laughing after a fashion, though it sounded a bit more like choking with conviction till he got a few good gulps of air. As he began to return to his senses the first thing he became aware of was Greenweave’s concerned expression. Newt reached out a hand tentatively and placed it on the older elf's cheek.
“Are you all right?” Greenweave asked, obviously still scared for the youngster who was like a son to him. “That fish was huge. You shouldn’t have tried to drag something that big in by yourself.”
Shaking his head a bit to clear it Newt finally found his voice.
“I know… I’m sorry I scared you.”
Looking out towards the river longingly Newt smiled again, which seemed to disturb Greenweave a bit. He could understand a bit better what Otter saw in the water now. Though he would never take to it quite like his friend did it was where he had finally found himself.
“I found something better than a fish,” he said wistfully. “Let me rest and I’ll tell you about it.”