(This story is related to the events in ”The Children Come First”, also by Adrienne W. It is also related to the events seen in flashback in ”The Lesson of the Last Healer”.)
(Ed. Note:: Toss was Wren’s father. Dusk and Pollen were her brothers. “Jinn” is the soulname of Owl; “Laye” is the soulname of Dove; “Trinil” is the soul-name of Melody; “Mero” is the soul-name of Reed.)
I understand now, Father.
I understand now why you left even though Foxsly ordered you to stay. I understand why you slipped away from the Holt that freezing winter night. I understand why you walked off alone into the snow.
You did it for the children. You did it for Pollen and me.
I would have done the same for the cubs lost to this cursed sickness. To lose any tribemate is heartbreak, but to lose the young is agony.
Seafoam, Hope and Joy… I would have walked into the snow for any those cubs.
I would have done it in a heartbeat for mine.
My precious firstborn. My Laye…The apple of her father’s eye. Strong and intelligent: yet possessed of a sly sense of humor. She is as skilled an archer as she is a weaver and takes as much joy in being a midwife as she does riding in the hunt.
Jinn couldn’t save her lifemate, but he was able to save her. I thank the High Ones for that. When she lay on the furs so ill I willed her to live with everything in me. If I had thought that I could save her by walking alone into the snow I would have done it gladly.
I would have done it gladly for my second. My Trinil…So gentle a heart. A nature as sweet as honey. A soul possessed of song. Hands developing the gift to heal.
When her soul fled I felt that mine would flee as well. As I know that yours nearly did, Father, when you lost my brother. When the Starving Time came you couldn’t bear to see more cubs die. You couldn’t bear to see me and Pollen die. So you walked alone into the snow to try to save us.
As I have walked alone into the snow to save my son.
My little Mero…So clever and full of dreams. Longing for a wolf, yet more akin to the birds. Happiest when at the side of his soul’s friend, Magpie.
He’s so sick now, burning with fever and lost in delirium. Even feverish and in pain I heard his moans. Before he grew too weak he called out to Magpie, not even aware that his friend is dead.
My beloved Jinn has been trying to heal him. He’s worn himself out trying to save the sick; every loss cuts him more deeply than a blade. He was trying desperately to save Mero, but he kept stopping to rest. Kept stopping to tend to me. I knew that he didn’t have enough strength to heal us both. I knew that he could never choose one of us over the other.
So I chose for him. As you walked alone into the cold, Father; so I walked as well. I told Jinn to rest and then slipped away. I was too weak to go far, but hopefully far enough. I couldn’t save Trinil, but by leaving I might save Mero.
I’ve already lost a daughter. My son I will NOT lose.
Jinn is sending to me. He’s calling frantically, begging me to tell him where I am. I tell him to save Mero and close myself off from his pleas.
It tears my soul to do so, but I must if it will save our son. The children must always come first.
I understand now, Father. I understand.