Ed. Note: Cricket is Foxsly's cub name. Boldscout is an earlier name of Crest. Sequel to "Mauled".
"Those are marshbeast horns or I'm a troll cub."
Boldscout barked a laugh and nodded, acknowledging Cricket's correct guess. He let his hands fall to the furs they both sat buried under. The horn-shaped shadow on the den wall disappeared as his hands lowered, leaving only the sunlight to decorate it.
Next to him Cricket shivered. The grin remained on her face. "You think maybe we should close the…the thing…to keep the cold out." Her words weren't slurred, but they had that vague quality to them that spoke of many a dreamberry having made its way down her throat.
"Leave it open a little bit longer," Boldscout said, grinning from ear to ear. Though he was twice her age they were both young and perhaps not all that wise. Also, he hadn't exactly been spare with the dreamberries either. "It's your turn."
Cricket reached up and ruffled Boldscout's hair — it had grown back only in patches on the right side of his head after he'd been mauled by a bear a hand of moons ago — and held her hands up. The sunlight that streamed in through the small opening in the hide that covered the hole to her den made for poor lighting in their shadow-guessing-game. The den was dark, but the sunlight didn't form the precise beam needed to make sharp shadows, leaving any creation of their hands a blurry mess.
And yet this was their third round of best-out-of-a-hand-and-one-guesses. The game let cold winter air into the den, of course, but already at the start Boldscout had hardly found the chilly breeze notable. Much less so now — he had been indulging after all.
If he'd been less drunk he might have noted that Cricket shivered now and then, in a way he'd stopped doing before the sun had reached its highest point.
"A…" Boldscout starred at the shadowy blur on the den-wall and stifled a yawn. The sun had to have passed its highest point long ago. "A Preserver?"
Cricket dissolved into a fit of giggles. It looked like the game was coming to an end.
"Should we close the door-flap?" Boldscout asked, eyeing said hide with reluctance. Closing it would mean getting out from between the comfortable furs; while he didn't quite notice the cold he did know, at the back of his head, that getting up and moving across the den would be unpleasant.
A warm chuckle close to his ear pulled him out such displeasing thoughts. "I have a better idea."
Boldscout smiled. "Oh?"
"Come deeper under the furs and I'll show you," Cricket singsonged.
With a chuckle and more than a little eagerness, Boldscout did as asked.
"What do you think?"
Boldscout blinked up at a blurry ceiling. It came into focus ever so slowly, reluctantly, as if the dreamberry juice made up most of his blood. At least that was what it felt like. He must have…
"Cricket?" he asked the heartbeat his mind caught up with his ears. "What do I think about what?"
"Your hair!" came the answer, full to the brim with laughter. Sober laughter. Cricket should not be that sober when Boldscout felt so drunk still. He couldn't remember much after a handful of sweet, pleasant touches, and Cricket sounded ready to go out hunting!
Thoughts as slow as gruel, Boldscout reached up to touch his head — and found it decidedly barer than he'd found it last. Not completely free of hair, but what remained seemed to be focused on the center of his head, with the sides bare.
Cricket's grinning face came into view above him. Definitely sober. No elf looked like that after a day of indulging.
"What do I look like?" Boldscout knew when to admit that he'd fallen for a prank. He'd expected to be shown something silly — maybe the shape of a snake shaved out of his remaining hair. Therefore he was taken aback by the sending Cricket shared with him. His black hair had indeed been shaved off at the sides, but the remains had been left fairly intact. It looked like…like a crest.
"What do you think?" Cricket repeated, and there might have been a note of pride alongside the mischief that glowed in her eyes.
"You know," Boldscout said, smiling at Cricket. "I think I kind of like it."