Ed. Note: This story makes reference to events in A Sister's Secret and Not Me.
As so many other things in life, Brook had thought a Soul Name Search would be more dramatic than it turned out to be. Maybe that was the root to why she hadn't undertaken the Search until now: four-hands-and-three turns of the seasons was a little on the later side to do this, after all. But maybe she'd known deep within herself that it wouldn't be the life-changing event everyone made it out to be.
And maybe such thoughts were the reason why she hadn't found the slightest hint of a hidden name yet.
Brook let out a frustrated groan and slumped down on a tree stump. She could hear splashing noises — her wolf-friend was off by Goose Pond, drinking or making an attempt at fishing — and felt her stomach growl. She should hunt, or at least see what she could gather.
She remained on the tree stump.
On Brook's right-hand side Skyfire Peak towered over her. In front of her, though still in the distance, lay Bear Hill, and on her right The Goosehead roosted. If she continued much further she'd reach The South Path and then she'd have to turn around.
Covering her face with her hands, Brook let out another groan. She'd hoped to be back at the Dentrees by now, the triumphant center of celebration. No, not hoped, she'd been sure of it! She knew herself. She wasn't a little cub who'd just finished her Very Long Walk!
Doubt had begun to gnaw at her the longer her Search lasted. But it was a whole hand of turns since she'd been blushing and awkward when thinking of finding someone to share furs with — Rainpace having been the main source of such blustering. She'd gotten over such things! That had to count for something, didn't it? And while her skills couldn't match Whispersilk's just yet, she knew she'd become a talented clothes maker! She knew herself.
So why wouldn't the name come to her? Why, when she'd spent two days and soon three nights alone, thinking of nothing else?
Skyfire split the night in two.
Brook jumped, biting back a squeak of surprised fright. She'd heard her elders speak of 'skyfire out of the blue', but she hadn't actually seen such a thing — half believed it was something they made up to scare younger elves. But there hadn't been a cloud in the sky when—
Looking up Brook saw dark clouds well in over the stars and moons. It began to rain, heavy drops that drenched her in a matter of heartbeats. The storm rolled in over the land like a flood trapped in the sky, all but drowning anything caught in its path.
This was the final rider who broke the wolf's back. Brook leapt from the tree stump and turned her wet face upward. "Go rain on someone else!" she found herself shouting up at the sky, baring her teeth at the clouds and the rain in a silent growl.
As she stood there, all but howling at the storm, a cord insider her was struck. It felt…it felt a bit like what her father Bearheart had shared meditation should feel like. Brook had never gotten the hang of disappearing into herself, but this—
A gust of wind struck her from the side, sending her staggering, almost tripping over the tree stump. The ground was slowly but surely turning into mud. Contemplation blown away with her balance, Brook again glared at the sky, blinking against the raindrops that struck her eyes.
She was about to shout something more. She opened her mouth, drew in a breath mixed with raindrops, and searched for words that would fit her frustration. But she found something else entirely.
Rayah. It was more a sound than a word, and in that sound there was so much.
Stunned, she stood staring up at the rain, uncaring that her clothes now clung to her body and that she'd begun to shake with cold. She was Rayah! The realization was both new and old, because she had known herself before this moment, at least in bits and pieces. But Rayah held all of her in one place, better than any list of skills or passions. It was, simply, her.
In a way, she had been right. Learning this new name didn't cause a great change within her; she was who she'd been when she set out on the Search, only more aware of herself. But at the same time it shook her to her core. It would feel strange to return to the Holt and call herself Brook, when Rayah echoed within her.
Stars winked forth through cracks in the clouds, only for a moment. She caught sight of them before the rain swallowed them up again. An idea formed at the back of her head, half-drowned by the howl of the gales that tore at her tunic and hair.
"Nightstorm," she whispered to herself. Inside her mind the sound-that-was-a-name Rayah still sang. It seemed to echo the spoken word, though they couldn't have sounded anything less alike.
"Nightstorm," she repeated, smiling. In the next heartbeat she was laughing.
Not caring about her wet clothes she darted off, sending for her wolf-friend as she ran. Elation brushed aside all previous anger and frustration. Now she had only one thought in her mind: She had two new names — and one of them she'd be able to share with the whole tribe.