“They might be fussy when we leave,” Snowfall said, turning a concerned eye towards the two cubs in the den's sleeping furs. Flicker and Spark lay in the middle of the furs, looking all about with bright, curious eyes. From the other side of the den True Edge made a gentle scoffing noise.
“They will be fine. It's not the first time I've watched cubs for the night. You two need to get out and stretch your legs a bit before you go stir crazy.”
True Edge had seen new mothers nervous to leave their cubs at first but definitely needing some time away. Admittedly it had been a long, long time since he had spent any real amount of time caring for ones so young. And never two at a time of course. He felt up to the challenge, though.
Kestrel touched her lovemate's arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. Her gaze went to True Edge first and then to Snowfall. She too seemed a bit reluctant, but the eldest elder actually seemed a bit more at ease with the notion.
“He's right, beloved. We do need to run and hunt while we can. It will only be a little while and we will be back before the sun rises.”
Both of his mates were feeling cooped up. True Edge understood that and wanted them to get a little free time while they could. Plus a bit of fresh meat if their hunt proved successful would also be a welcome bonus.
“I'll be sitting right here with them the whole time,” he said, settling down and leaning against a wall of the den. “If I don't mend these pants soon it's going to be getting awfully drafty in the new-green breeze. They are both fed, burped and changed. We won't have any problems.”
As if to highlight his words, Branch, his wolf friend, made a thumping sound as her tail wagged and pounded against the floor. She loved to lounge in the trees or the den when she could get away with it. Today she sat very near to the cubs as if she had it in her mind to stand guard over them herself.
Snowfall didn't seem entirely convinced but she finally relented. The call to hunt and run free was strong within her and True Edge supposed she knew the truth of his words, even if her maternal instincts said otherwise. With a deep sigh she picked up her things and joined Kestrel at the den flap.
“Alright then. We'll be back before sun-up. They shouldn't need to feed again before that.”
He listened to them as they made their way out into the night. A light rain had fallen during the day and it was fine weather to be hunting in. The grass was damp enough not to rustle as they stalked the prey. It was almost enough to make him wish he was going with them. Almost.
Glancing towards his sons, True Edge let an easy smile of pride cross his features. They both seemed so perfect to him just then. Perfect little miracles. Spark and Flicker glanced from the den flap to their father with uncertain expressions. It wasn't only the mothers who sometimes got anxious when they were separated, he thought.
“There now, no fussing,” he said gently as he laid the sewing aside. He picked both boys up and settled into the furs with them, cradling one in each arm. As he sat down, Branch made a bit of room for him to join them and then laid herself across his legs. When she did, True Edge turned the boys around so that they could lean back against the wolf and face him.
“Your mothers wouldn't want you crying after them, you know. They have gone to fetch us meat and maybe a tall tale of how the hunt went.”
Both boys continued to stare at him. Their concern over the she-elves leaving seemed forgotten for the moment but True Edge knew that happy smiles could turn into full-fledged tantrums very easily for cubs this age. Fortunately, he thought he knew just the way to prevent that. Perhaps a story would keep them calmed and entertained.
While he pondered which story to tell they both watched him curiously. Spark began to chew on his fist while Flicker kicked a bit in anticipation. Both seemed to know that their father was up to something. For his part, True Edge began to draw a blank though. They were kind of young to understand any of the stories he knew. And judging by their recent nights' experience he believed they would be awake for quite awhile yet.
“Ah, what am I thinking?” he finally asked them, a bemused sound to his voice. “You don't understand my words yet, only the intent. You just know that I love you and am keeping you company. It's just as well since I can't use the words to entertain you so well as your mother Snowfall. You will love her stories once you're older.”
He reached out and tickled them both on the belly and the boys laughed in appreciation. True Edge might not be able to tell a story they would understand in words but he could share an experience with them just the same. All he would have to do would be to keep it simple like when he was sending to his wolf.
“Your mothers have gone to hunt,” he said gently, opening his mind to share with them the sensation of running with the pack and catching scent of the prey. Little by little, he opened his memory of hunts past and just the feel of the experience. It was a lot like a wolf-sending, to be honest. More impressions and sensations than any actual words.
As he did so, both the boys stared back with wide eyes. He clearly had their attention even if they couldn't express it in so many words.
“When you're older you'll know what I mean,” he continued. “Running through the forest by moonlight, the thrill of the chase, the call of the blood....”
With every word he shared a memory and a feeling. As he did so, True Edge also began to weave familiar elements that the cubs should recognize. The scents of the tribe, the sounds of their voices, the howls of the wolves. This seemed to excite the boys even more. Their little legs kicked as if they were trying to run for themselves.
He laughed along with them at the effort. They were certainly getting excited for the memories he was sharing. In fact, he could almost swear that Spark was trying to howl as the story continued.
“That's the way, my fierce little hunters,” he said with fatherly pride. “One day when you are old enough to run with the pack I'll take you to hunt… just like I did with your sister and your brother. More's the shame you will never get to meet Whitestag save in my memories.”
True Edge paused in that line of thought. He didn't want to share that painful memory with them just yet. No, only happy thoughts for tonight. With a bit of effort he steered his memory towards recollections of other nights and other adventures.
This went on for some time. Just how long True Edge couldn't rightly guess, and to be honest, it really didn't matter. The excitement seemed to tire the cubs rather quickly and both fell asleep before too much longer. He did note, though, that both had very happy expressions and he took that as a good sign that he had entertained them properly.
As they dropped off to sleep, Branch curled up more closely around them. True Edge noted with some amusement that he was now pinned to the sleeping-bowl himself. He couldn't move without waking them, and truth be told, he really didn't want to go anywhere just yet.
Relaxing back into the furs, True Edge decided he might as well join them in a nap. They would be young for only so long. He could wait to mend his pants another time. There would only be so many naps he could get away with like this with his sons.