**Jump!** Chicory sent hurriedly to Beetle, at the same moment sending an image of the boar she saw and of the two elves climbing to the safety of tree branches above. Beetle scrambled to do so, leaping up and grabbing onto the branch above her head with one hand, her bow still clutched in the other, then swinging the rest of her body up and out of the way as well.
Chicory also leaped, kicking off with her strong swimmer's legs. In her haste, though, she accidentally grabbed onto a branch that had been weakened by a recent bolt of skyfire at the point where the branch met the trunk. The entire limb split away and dropped, along with the frightened elf, down to the forest floor.
If the boar hadn't noticed them before, he certainly had noticed them now. Beetle was crouched on a branch and had a good view of the animal, who was snorting and stamping. He would be charging Chicory at any moment. A groan from the ground alerted Beetle that not all was well with her friend.
**What's wrong?** she sent.
**twisted ankle. hurts,** the chief's sister sent back.
Beetle glanced anxiously toward the boar, who was about to move. It seemed as though things were happening in slow motion, but she knew the beast would be upon Chicory at any moment. **Move!** she sent, knowing that her friend would be in even more pain if the boar reached her first.
Beetle didn't take her eyes from the boar. She had to stop it from reaching Chicory, and had to give her friend the time to move out of the way. Without thinking, she pulled an arrow from her quiver and strung the bow. There wasn't time -- but she had a clear shot. She knew she could make it, and hesitation could be deadly for the elf on the ground.
The arrow flew.
Beetle held her breath. At the same moment, the boar charged. For one horrifying moment, Beetle wondered if the animal’s movement would cause her arrow to miss, but even as the thought was forming in her mind, the arrow sank into the boar’s eye. Beetle shuddered as the boar collapsed with a final outraged squeal. Part of her was relieved. The other part of her was horrified at the flash of memory at how her dear wolf-friend, Crawfish, had died from the same shot from a human’s bow a mere eight of turns earlier.
Beetle’s heart was pounding as she watched the animal slide into the ground. It came to a stop a stride away from Chicory, who was staring in horror at the beast. Beetle took a few deep, calming breaths, and slid down the trunk of the tree, then made her way to Chicory.
“Thanks,” Chicory breathed, sitting up straighter and moving her twisted ankle slightly with a hiss at the sharp pain. Along with the immediate danger, the need for totally sending had passed. Now Chicory frowned almost challengingly at her foot as she tried to make it respond and gauge the damage at the same time. “Ow,” she accused it. “I don’t think it’s too bad — Rainpace’ll probably have a fit, of course,” she sighed. Turning to Beetle as her friend knelt down by her side, Chicory reached out a hand and put it on Beetle’s shoulder. “Thanks,” she said again seriously, looking straight into Beetle’s eyes. “You just saved my life.”
Beetle nodded, acknowledging Chicory’s thanks, then turned her attention to her friend’s foot. “I can splint that — and I might have some herbs for it. Let me look.” Beetle moved to examine Chicory’s ankle. Her friend winced when Beetle touched it, but she did not move. Beetle reached into her sack, and pulled out a cloth packet and opened it.
The scent of the wolf’s bane was strong. Chicory watched as Beetle made a paste and applied it to her ankle to help with the swelling. It wouldn’t help her walk, though. Only time, or Willow, would help with that. “We should send,” Chicory said quietly.
Beetle nodded. “Willow is already on her way. Rainpace and Glow are with her.”
"Good," Chicory replied, relief evident in her voice.
Beetle deftly made a splint and applied it to the wounded ankle to keep it from worsening the injury by moving.
Lifting her eyes from her ankle to her friend's face, Chicory added, "Thanks for that." Then, she smiled and jerked her head in the direction of the dead boar. "So, while we wait for them to get here, want to cut into that thing? I doubt my foot'll fall off or anything if I crawl over there with you. No reason to just sit around here!" Rather than stand up and hop, Chicory rolled off her seat and onto all fours to scramble eagerly on hands and knees towards their fallen prey, keeping pressure off of her bad ankle that way, Beetle at her side.
"It's an ugly old pig, isn't it?" Chicory observed jokingly, eyeing the carcass. "No wonder he was in such a bad mood."
Beetle nodded, laughing. Then, taking the knife that was strapped to the side of her ankle, she moved forward to begin the process of skinning and cleaning the boar.
Chicory joined in and together, they made quick work of it.
When they got to the stomach and entrails, Chicory cut the stomach open. There were some of the things an elf would expect to find — grasses, half-digested grubs, some mushrooms and dirt. But something else was there — something shaped more regularly. She took a leaf from the ground and used it to gingerly pick the item up, then wiped it off on the ground. It was like nothing she had ever seen before.
“It’s from the human’s camp!” Beetle announced.
Chicory looked at her friend in surprise. “How can you tell?” she asked Beetle. To her eyes it looked like an oddly regular-shaped bit of clear crystal or stone of some type, the shape of the moons at their fullest — maybe the same sort that had been described to her before, found — rarely — near the sea’s edge in sandy, rough chunks, or in any other areas of sandy soil after skyfire storms had swept the area.
“Well, it’s not exactly the same,” Beetle explained. She held it to her face and peered through it, then added, “but Farscout found something else similar, remember? And his was left by the humans.”
“Oh, that’s right!” Chicory remembered. “Then what is it? Is it meant as some kind of jewelry? I don’t really understand what humans like to wear.” She smiled ruefully.
Beetle turned it over in her hand, studying it. “I’m... not sure,” she answered. “But I’d love to find out.”
“Well, why don’t you keep it?” Chicory asked. “I’m sure you’ll figure out what it’s used for somehow.”
Beetle nodded. “I’d like to... but I should show it to Windburn first. And it wouldn’t belong to me alone — it would belong to the whole tribe.”
“Ayooooah!” Rainpace’s howl cut through the air — he, Willow, and Glow were close.
His Recognized responded with a howl of her own, and Beetle put the small crystal-like item in her pouch. She would examine it more closely later — after she showed it to Windburn. And she would ask others about it. Maybe someone else would know more. For now, it was more important that her friend be healed, and that they get her safely home.