2012 TREASURE HUNT CLUE #1: My bones are generally used for toothpicks or threading needles. Watch out, though, if I'm around. I will strike, and my teeth are sharp. (Answer: Sawtooth / Pike)
In the deep darkness of the night, the Holt was alight with the hustle and bustle of normal activity, but one den remained silent save for the occasional yelp of pain.
“Mother, stop it!” Turtle’s yelps accompanied in time with Thistle’s repeated dabs of ointment on her young son’s wounds.
“Owl hasn’t returned from his herb gathering, and you wanted something for the pain,” she replied, punctuating her words occasionally with a thrust from her salve-covered fingers. “A good mother does what her child asks of her.”
“But this is tooooortuuuuure,” the cub whined, cringing at each touch of his mother’s fingers. Thistle couldn’t help but smile a little; he was at that age where all cubs begin to try acting far older than they are, and because of it act entirely out of character. It was a common occurrence, and all elves grow out of the phase eventually, but for Thistle, those all-too-rare moments of Turtle acting like the cub he actually was were precious moments that would soon only be memories as he grew older.
“Perhaps the memory of this will keep you from riling up a sawtooth next time.”
“I wasn’t ‘riling it up’, I was trying to catch it,” Turtle sulked. “And it’s not going to happen again, that’s for sure. I don’t like fishing anymore; I spent hours tracking it to catch, but instead it makes my leg lunch and swims away! It’s too much work.”
“Now Turtle, what have your father and I always told you about giving up so easily?”
“...every member of the Holt has to do their part, even if it’s difficult,” he replied, reciting the adage from memory.
“That’s right,” Thistle said with a nod, applying another small amount of salve to the razor-thin bite marks on the cub’s thigh. She noted with approval that despite flinching visibly at the sting, Turtle held back from crying out. “You’ve picked up the skill quickly, and what’s more you enjoy it. You’re only going to improve more from now, and the tribe is going to be relying on your skill when you come of age. You shouldn’t let one failure keep you from achieving what I know you will.”
Turtle was silent for a few moments before finally nodding his head. “Yes, mother.” The distinct sound of leather against wood punctured the silence, and prompted Thistle to rise to her feet.
“Owl is back, so you don’t need to squirm beneath my fingers any longer, but remember what I said, all right?” Turtle nodded in agreement as her mother walked to the entrance to greet the healer as he approached.
The tribe was going to be relying on him...? A resolve he had never felt before bubbled up inside of him. He would prove that he could be relied on, someday. He would keep on fishing, and one day, he would catch the biggest sawtooth anyone had ever seen, and he would feed the entire tribe with it!
The sounds of laughter filled the air, and Turtle’s was among the loudest and the most boisterous. In the middle of the throng of elves laughing and eating together, was a large slab of darkened tree trunk, atop which rested a skinned, gutted and filleted sawtooth. The knife Turtle had used to complete the kill lay nearby, freshly cleaned and polished. Large chunks of fish meat were missing from all over its body.
It didn’t quite feed the whole tribe, as he had thought it would as a cub, but this night it didn’t matter.
He’d proved his worth, to himself and to the tribe.
|Illustration by Megan M.|
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