(This story was an entry for Clue #1 in the 2013 Treasure Hunt -- see the collection for related stories and images! It is also an entry in the 2013 Family Time Contest -- see that collection for more contest stories and images!)
“Tell me about Grandfather?” Shimmer, who was six turns of the seasons old, asked her father, who was sitting next to her sharpening a knife.
Slowly, Dagger rested the knife on his thigh, and looked at her. “Your Grandfather? Well...” he paused as if trying to decide which story to tell. Deciding, he smiled and started, “He had the same hair color as you and I, little one, but his eyes were grey. He was a good hunter —”
“Grandfather? I thought he had dark hair and was a rockshaper.” Then she sent the image of the grandfather she had been asking about.
“Oh,” her father said flatly. “You wanted to know about Stoneback, not Huntwise.”
Shimmer nodded. She could tell her father was hurt for some reason — it wasn’t that she didn’t want to know about her father’s father, but today, she really wanted to know more about her mother’s father. His rockshaping, like her mother’s, was fascinating to her, and she always wanted to hear stories about him. Usually, she’d ask her mother, but her mother was away hunting.
Realizing she needed to assure her father that his father was important as well, she changed tactics. “What about about both of them, together?”
At that, he smiled, then brushed aside the work he had been doing, pulled his daughter into his lap, and began sharing about both the cub’s grandfathers.
“Huntwise was older than Stoneback, already grown when your mother’s father was born. For Stoneback’s birth, he carved a large wooden bear for the cub to play with — I think Stoneback kept it long enough to pass on to another young cub at some point. From all reports, Stoneback always admired Huntwise’s carving, and eventually had my father teach him how. They would carve the winter nights away sometimes. When Stoneback’s carving skills improved, they began to work together to create animals for the cubs that came along.”
“Eventually, Stoneback came into his powers and could use them to create even more detailed and lifelike stone animals, but he would still sit and carve with Huntwise from time to time, when they were both at the Holt.”
At that point, Shimmer asked, “Wasn’t Stoneback a fisher, and wasn’t Huntwise a hunter?”
Dagger laughed. “Daughter, what am I?”
“Father,” she answered with a cub’s simplicity.
“And?” he prompted.
“Well, you hunt. And you make knives. And you do a lot of things. Sometimes you even fish.” At that, her eyes widened, and she made a quiet, “Ohhh.”
“Exactly. Your grandfathers were more than just their jobs. Stoneback was not just a rockshaper. He was a carver, hunter, fisher, friend, storyteller... I could go on. And my father had many other traits. You can learn so much about those that have gone before, and even more about those who are here now, just through time and patience. Each elf is unique, and each has something wonderful to share with you.”
Shimmer’s eyes sparkled. She reached around and gave Dagger a hug. “Do you miss Huntwise?” she asked.
“What about Stoneback?”
His eyes clouded. “I never got to meet him, dear one. He died during a plague, before I was born.”
Shimmer frowned. She knew elves died, but she hadn’t imagined that her father had not even known her mother’s father. “I wish we both could have met him.”
“Me, too,” Dagger replied. “All the stories about him make me wish that I’d known him.”
“Tell me more about him?” Shimmer asked. “And about Huntwise?”
“Of course,” he promised. And he did.