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Grab-Bag Writings & Art - June 2007

krwordgazer

So for June we have:

something hidden
a misunderstanding (possibly caused by language differences)
laughter
a wedding
a scent (lingered upon and described)
music

EQ-related stories and poetry must contain all six elements. EQ-related art can contain all the elements, or the artist can choose to illustrate one of the poems or stories.

Let's see what we can come up with! :D

Sharptalon

I'm going to need some help with this...

Weddings...

Um... maybe I just don't know my elf-lore well enough, but I don't recall any situation where elves would be ceremoniously lifemated. They generally just choose to lifemate and it is so, don't they?

I'm sure the humans would bother with such things, but I don't recall them having a wedding either, spookily enough. (Is "spookily" even a word? It should be...)

As for the trolls... I seem to recall Picknose requiring a dowry of somekind to marry Oddbit if I'm not mistaken. But again, I don't remember any kind of wedding among those people either.

And as for the Preservers... let's not even think about it :nuh-uh:

Just point me in the right direction, and I'll go with it!

JadeOwl

I believe that humans have marriages, but I also believe it'snever shown - so make it up! :P

My entry is in progress, but it may be a while in coming. :D

krwordgazer

The only human wedding I've seen in EQ is Shuna and Spider's, in Searcher and the Sword. But it's clearly a wedding.

[Deleted User]

Oh by all the gods... I could wreak such havoc with this one... weddings... ye gods...

JadeOwl

Quote:
krwordgazer

The only human wedding I've seen in EQ is Shuna and Spider's, in Searcher and the Sword. But it's clearly a wedding.



:oops: I totally forgot about that! But different tribes would have different wedding customs, right?

innie

I thought that Liitle Patch married as well, or am I mistaking here?
And millenia later, in Mender's tale, another human wedding is being prepared.

Flowerstar

Well, it's not a wedding per se, but couldn't the celebration for Cutter and Leetah becoming lifemates count as a wedding, too? Granted, it's the only incident like that we see in the books but I think it's the closest to an elfin wedding we see.

Sharptalon

Quote:
innie

I thought that Liitle Patch married as well, or am I mistaking here?
And millenia later, in Mender's tale, another human wedding is being prepared.



I'm sure humans got married... There was Nona and Adar, for example. But I suppose I was at a loss of remembering an actual wedding ceremony.

But... um...

Nona and Adar... huh.

I guess I can go with that :thumbsup:

krwordgazer

I wanted to remind everyone that there is absolutely no rule against stories being AU.

I remember in the Elfquest High School series a lot of us worked on a few years ago, young Strongbow and Moonshade's wedding was being planned for right after graduation. The stories kind of petered out before the wedding actually occurred, but if someone wanted to do that wedding as kind of an epilogue, it would be really cool!

I'd also really like to see what Kojiyumi could come up with, with her modern-setting AU. :D

That said, stay tuned on my end for a canon-based story-- Shuna and Bee's wedding. :mrgreen:

Arthis

Please, what does "AU" mean? :?
(I got the sence, not the signification)

SnowWren

AU = Alternate Universe

JadeOwl

I have a germ of an AU idea...it's very, very silly. :P

But it'll have to wait until the week is out...then it will be summer vacation, and I can actually sit down and write it.

krwordgazer

“TILL DEATH DO US PART”



“Elf-Father, will you perform a wedding?”

Cutter looked down from his comfortable perch in the fork of a tree, to where Shuna stood, wearing a slightly shy smile.

“A w-wedding?”

Her smile became, if possible, even more shy. “Yes, Elf-Father. Bee and I want to be wed. And there is no one but you to perform the wedding.”

“Wedding.” Cutter frowned slightly. “The trolls use that word, but I’ve never really understood what it meant.”

I was afraid of that, said Shuna’s expression, but all she said aloud was, “Being wed means. . . to lifemate.”

Cutter’s lips twitched. “That much I gathered. But you don’t need my help for that.” His smile became reminiscent. “Unless you want me to show you some of the private places where Leetah and I--”

His human daughter’s cheeks went scarlet. “No!” As Cutter stared at her, surprised, Shuna cleared her throat and tried again.

“For humans there’s more to lifemating than. . . that. We have to say vows, make promises in the sight of our families and friends. And someone has to declare us husband and wife. Lifemates.”

“You can’t just declare it yourselves?” Cutter raised his eyebrows.

Shuna let out her breath. “No, Elf-Father. We can’t. We-- I -- want you to do it.”

Cutter’s face remained puzzled. “I still don’t see why--” At the look on Shuna’s face he amended hastily, “Of course I will, daughter.”

Her face lit up. “Thank you! I’ll just go talk to Moonshade about proper clothing. . .” She hurried away, counting on her fingers as she muttered to herself.

Cutter sighed. What in the name of all the High Ones had she gotten him into?

***

Moonshade pursed her lips. “Another dress? What is wrong with the one you have?”

Shuna sighed a little. “A wedding is a ceremony, Moonshade. Haven’t you ever made special clothing for a ceremony?”

Leetah stepped forward, laying a hand on Moonshade’s arm. “I remember one very special circle-- a circle of four elf tribes, held at the foot of a Father Tree very like this one.” She gestured at the rustling greenness that canopied overhead. “I remember, tanner, that you draped Cutter and I in bountiful folds of soft leather.” As Moonshade’s expression became distant and searching, Leetah smiled gently. “It was, of course, longer ago for you than for me.”

“I do remember now, healer.” Moonshade’s voice was softer than Leetah’s. “It was just after you gave our son back to us.” Her eyes were warm as she turned them on Shuna. “For your daughter, then, I will do this now. And for her lifemate. After all, it is she who made sure my lifemate returned to me.”

“Oh, thank you, Moonshade. Thank you so much!”

As Shuna spoke, the branch above her bent, and something heavy landed on her shoulders. Small hands wrapped themselves around her forehead.

“What’s a cer-ee-mon-ee?” Chitter asked.

“Chitter! Have you been hiding up there all this time?” Shuna mumbled around the fingers that had somehow slipped down to cover her mouth.

“Yup!” Chitter said proudly, squirming till Shuna grunted. “Mama, what’s a cer-ee-mon-ee?”

“A ceremony is when the tribe gathers to do something special,” Moonshade answered.

“Like what?”

“Such as seeing Shuna and her human mate declared lifemates,” Leetah said.

Chitter bounced on Shuna’s shoulders. “Ooh! What will I be doing in the cer-ee-mon-ee?”

Her mother looked sternly up at her. “Sitting still and watching.”

The movement on Shuna’s shoulders ceased. Shuna could picture the huge eyes, the pouting lips. “B-but I want to do something!” Chitter half-sobbed.

Shuna laughed. “You will, Chitter. I’ll think of something you can do.”

“Ooh!” Chitter bounced again.

“Say ”˜thank you’ to Shuna,” Moonshade said, resignation on her face.

“Thank you, Shuna!”

“Now, cubling,” Moonshade went on, “you’ve shown you truly can hide and be quiet. Go back to your secret place in the tree now. Or find another place to play.”

Chitter gave a dramatic sigh. “I’ll go away, Mama.”

“Not further than I can scent you!”

“Yes, Mama.”

***

Bee laid an armful of wood next to his fire pit and stood up again, straightening his back. His horse raised its head and whickered gently, and Shuna stepped out of the woods, laying a hand on its head in greeting.

It amazed him how she could move almost as silently and gracefully as if she were one of the Spirits herself-- but as she moved to him and put warm hands on his shoulders, smiling into his eyes, he rejoiced that she was human, catching his breath in silent astonishment that she had agreed to be his.

“It’s settled, Ikopek,” Shuna said. “We will be wed in a few days, as soon as proper clothing is ready.”

Bee smiled back at her. “I do not need you to dress up for me, Shuna. We can be together any time you say.”

“I know, Bee,” Shuna said warmly. She dropped her arms and gazed at him seriously. “But for Nunkah, I wore a ceremonial robe and took vows before his entire clan. Would I do any less for you?”

Bee looked at her searchingly. “What of your vows to him, then?”

Shuna squared her shoulders. “He broke them,” she said simply.

Bee nodded in sympathy. It was partly because of this, because he disliked having to see the Spider every day after what he”˜d done to Shuna, that he had left the clan. Now, except for occasional visits to his mother and brothers, he would not be returning. There was no clan, no clan leader, to wed them.

Shuna continued, as if their minds had been following the same path. “And my people are your clan now.”

“Yes.” Bee swallowed. He well remembered a few nights ago, when Shuna had brought him in the darkness to the sacred heart of the Wood Spirits’ grove. There the Mother of all trees rose, swollen with the lives she nurtured within her, her heavy arms raised to the starry heavens. There waited Shuna’s companions-- the dark one with hair like wings, and the thinner, darker one who could become a wolf. They had smiled at him, but Bee had taken little comfort from their familiarity. He was surrounded by Wood Spirits, male and female, all gazing at him silently with their huge, alarming eyes. He recognized the still, fierce one with tumbled brown hair and a bow longer than himself, who during Shuna’s absence had made sure Bee knew he was being watched. This one did not seem welcoming even now, though Shuna had assured Bee all was well-- and those narrowed eyes, seen close up for the first time, had seemed to pierce Bee like knives in the cold light of the two crescent moons.

But it was the two figures at the top of the tree-stairs who had arrested Bee’s attention-- a dark female with luminous eyes, and a light-skinned male with fur over his strong shoulders, whose pale hair glistened in the moons’ light. “My elf-mother and elf-father,” Shuna had whispered.

Bee could not keep from trembling as the two Spirits-- one regal, one commanding-- had descended the steps to stop right in front of him. To his surprise, the pale, commanding one’s face had opened into a friendly, casual grin, and his three-fingered hand had reached up to clap Bee on the shoulder. Bee had felt himself relaxing a little as he looked down into the Spirit-leader’s eyes, then into the sweet, welcoming smile of his regal mate. But awe had still gripped him as the lilting music of the Spirit’s language had washed over his ears. In the end Bee had been able to do nothing but take Shuna’s hand and, speechless, fix his eyes on her reassuring face.

He was one of them, adopted by them, Shuna had said then. But Bee wasn’t at all sure he wanted to stand in the midst of such a gathering again. Especially when this time he was going to have to speak in front of them all, making his vows. But all he said now, as Shuna stood beside his campfire, tall and graceful, gazing confidently into his face, was “Whatever you wish, my fair one.”

***

Cutter grumped down beside Skywise on a log. “Why do humans have to make everything so complicated?”

Skywise grinned. “I dunno, Cutter. Why do they?”

Cutter put his chin on his fists. “I’ve seen human ceremonies before, but I’ve never had to lead one. What in the High Ones’ name am I going to say?”

“Whatever comes into your head, of course. You’re good at speeches.”

“Easy for you to say,” Cutter grumbled. “You don’t have to do it.”

Skywise lifted his head, raising a finger as if a sudden idea had struck him. “I know! You could ask Shuna what she wants! What a thought!”

Cutter drew back a little, glaring at his soul-brother in annoyance. “Did you think I hadn’t thought of that?”

The stargazer’s eyes twinkled. “Well, had you?”

“I-- oh, never mind!” Cutter rose, scowling. “I’ll go talk to her now.” He stomped off.

Skywise, smiling slyly, whistled a little tune to himself.

***

Shuna buried her face in the armful of white flowers Dart and Kimo had brought her, breathing in a scent like dewy moonlight, fresh and sweet as the dawning of the world. Folds of pale blue leather hung glistening off her bare shoulders, clasped in the front with a darker blue leather flower. Layer upon layer of other blue shades flowed down her back to trail behind her in the late afternoon light.

She had never gone bare-shouldered before and shivered a little at the daringness of it. But it wouldn’t do to find fault with Moonshade’s creation. Oh, no. Shuna shivered again slightly, then shook her head at herself. She wasn’t exactly afraid of Moonshade. But still. . .

There was a rustle behind her, and Bee stepped out of the bushes, looking slightly embarrassed. Moonshade had, with Shuna’s input, made him a long cloak like the one Nunkah had worn. Shuna drew in her breath. She had not imagined her shy suitor could look so. . . magnificent.

“Ikopek!” she said affectionately.

“Shuna!” He stared at her. “So beautiful.”

Shuna found herself blushing a little. Beautiful? Never the way she had seen herself-- but for an instant she saw it, in his eyes.

At that moment a squealing filled their ears. “Eeeeeeee!” A cloud of Preservers was darting towards them, all screeching at once. “Bigthings come! Bigthings come! Highthings waiting!”

Shuna giggled as Bee clapped his hands over his ears. “We’d better go.”

The sun was setting as Bee and Shuna, hand in hand, came under the branches of the Father Tree. Everyone was there-- Wolfriders and Sun Villagers alike. On the edge of the gathering, Timmain and Savah’s graceful forms rose above their elf-childrens’. Bee stared for a second, then turned his eyes away. Shuna heard his convulsive swallow and tightened her hand in his. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “You won’t have to speak to the elf-mothers today. Not till you’re ready.” Bee gave her a grateful look.

At that moment a high-pitched shriek rang out over their heads, making them both jump. From her hidden place in the branches, Chitter swung down, hanging by her knees as she scattered flower petals from a leather basket over the human couple. She was so clearly enjoying herself that after the initial shock had cleared his face, Bee began to laugh. All the elves joined in, and the music of their silvery voices filled Shuna’s heart as she too laughed up at Chitter. “Well done, cub!” she said. “You can come down now.”

Chitter whooped and dropped from the branch into Shuna’s arms, making Shuna drop her bouquet. The child smiled happily up at Bee. “Shuna-friend make Shuna happy!” she chirped.

“Um, yes,” Shuna answered, setting the squirming cub down and retrieving her flowers. Chitter scampered back to her parents.

“What did she say?” Bee asked softly.

Shuna chuckled. “I don’t know whether she was commenting that you will make me happy, or ordering you to do so.”

Bee dipped his head, smiling. “I will do my best.” The child’s antics had made him feel better, Shuna could tell.

Now Cutter, from the top step of Father Tree, was beckoning them forward. Shuna and Bee moved to stand directly below him. Shuna felt a twinge of amusement at the uncertainty on Cutter’s face. She had asked him to keep it simple, had told him the fundamentals that seemed common to both the weddings she had seen long ago at home, and the ceremony of Bee’s clan, in which she had been Nunkah’s bride. But in this wedding before her adopted elfin people, things would be a little different. No one would tell her what vows to make; they would be her own.

She knew Cutter was feeling awkward, but she also knew he wouldn’t let that get in the way of doing what she needed him to do. So she wasn’t surprised when Cutter held up both hands to draw all eyes to himself, speaking as confidently as if he had been wedding human couples all his life. She translated softly for Bee as Cutter spoke.

“This is a special time for my adopted daughter Shuna and her chosen lifemate, Ikopek.” Carefully he pronounced Bee’s name in Bee’s own tongue, and Bee nodded, hearing it.

Cutter went on. “When humans lifemate, they make special promises to each other in the sight of their friends and families. That’s why we’re all here. He gave Bee and Shuna a single nod. “Speak your vows.”

Bee took a deep breath, turning to Shuna and putting his hands in both of hers. Shuna knew he’d been thinking carefully for days about what he would say now.

“I, Ikopek, vow to you, Shuna, to be your lifelong companion. I will honor and be true to you always, come what may. I will love you, give my life to you, and put your needs before my own.” As Shuna translated for the others, Bee looked slowly, bravely, around the gathering. “From this day forward, your people are my people, and your way is my way.”

Cutter smiled. Leetah, to one side of the steps, wiped a tear from her eye. Dart and Kimo, standing together near Leetah, exchanged delighted glances.

Warmth filled Shuna’s heart, seeped into her bones. So this was what it meant to be truly loved by a man. She had never known it before, not from her father, not from Nunkah, the Spider. Ikopek was not what she had been seeking, but she understood all at once that in him she had found what she had always wanted.

Her face was wet. She swallowed the lump in her throat and spoke her own vows.

“I, Shuna, vow to you, Ikopek, to walk with you all the days of my life. I give you my heart as I take yours-- not by compulsion, but freely, to stand together always, no matter what comes our way. I will love you, support you, esteem and respect you, keeping myself true to you from now until the end.”

There was a silence as Shuna spoke the words a second time in the elfish tongue for all to hear. Then Cutter said, solemnly as she had asked him to, “Do you give your whole hearts to the keeping of these vows?”

Shuna whispered to Bee, and they both said together in Bee’s language, “Yes, we do.” Then, “yes, we do,” Shuna echoed in the elfin tongue.

Cutter came partway down the tree-stairs and held up one hand in blessing. “Then I now declare you are lifemates-- husband and wife.” These last words having no equivalent in elfish, he spoke them in Bee’s tongue, as Shuna had taught him. Then with a grin, Cutter added, once in each language, “Walk together in peace.”

In the stillness after these words, Bee reverently drew Shuna into his arms and kissed her.

Dart cheered.

Kimo echoed him.

And pandemonium broke out. Wolfriders threw back their head and howled. Wolf-friends did the same. Preservers pelted out of the trees, shrieking, and swooped in circles around the human couple’s heads. And the Sun Folk reached into folds of their garments, or felt behind them on the grass-- and bells, shakers and pipes were in their hands.

As music began to swirl around them, Shuna bent towards Dart, who was clutching his stomach with laughter. “What is it?” she asked.

“It’s-- my father,” he choked. “He just sent, “Silly humans! Why don’t they just find a cave somewhere?” Dart’s eyes were full of mischief as he glanced up at her. “But I think that’s what you’re going to do next anyway, isn’t it?”

Shuna blushed, slapping at him. “Never mind. And maybe we are ”˜silly humans.’ But this is what we do.”

Dart grinned widely. Kimo, slipping closer, said confidentially, “Strongbow liked the ceremony, I could tell. Everyone did.”

Shuna hugged him impulsively. “Thank you, Kimo.” He stepped backwards, pulling at her hand. “Dance with me?”

Shuna pulled her hand away slowly. “I would love to, Kimo-- but not yet. My first dance is for my husband.”

Bee recognizing the word, drew close, then closer. But they didn’t dance at first.

Like an island in the midst of the swirling elfin forms, the two humans stood in silence, clasped in one another’s arms.


THE END

Arthis

So beautifull!!

My eyes are wet with tears of joy. I can't see it happened another way. Thank you Wordgazer! :D

SnowWren

Krwordgazer,

Your piece was sooo beautiful! I can't see it happening any other way! :) I especially liked the vows, and the way that Shuna translated so that everyone could understand!

Strongbow's reaction to Shuna & Bee's kiss was great!!!

One thing, though:

[quote:321d4040f0]To his surprise, the pale, commanding one’s face had opened into a friendly, casual grin, and his three-fingered hand had reached up to clap Bee on the shoulder.[/quote:321d4040f0]

I think you might have meant four-fingered. :)


Otherwise, the story was perfection itself! I would LOVE to see a drawing of Shuna and Bee in their wedding raiment, if any of the artists feel inclined to take up the task. Your description, Kr, was so great, that I want to SEE it:)

krwordgazer

Hey, thanks, Snow Wren and Arthis! Glad you liked it! (I hope you also liked the little Skywise-Cutter exchange; I'm particularly fond of that bit, if I do say so myself. :oops: :mrgreen: )

Snow Wren, in answer to your question, when I think of hands, I usually think of them as having four fingers and a thumb. So I tend to think of the elves as having three fingers and a thumb. I'm guessing Bee might think the same way, so the reference to "three fingers" was deliberate. :)

manga

That was beautiful, Krwo!

Now I have the urge to sit Cutter down and explain just why humans need to officially recognize what is so simple to the elves. heh

Flowerstar

Aww, that was simply wonderful, Gazer! I loved the Skywise-Cutter bit :o , but the overall story is so great. It's warming my little Bee/Shuna-shipper heart :love:.

The_Wylde_Wynd

Beautiful Wordgazer! We need more Shuna and/or Bee writers! And I adored Chitter's comment/comand part, absolutely histaricle!

Quick question, would anyone mind if my contribution is connected to a story I'm currently writing?

JadeOwl

YAY! I love yours, wordgazer. So sweet and touching.

Wyndy, I don't mind, and I doubt anyone else will.

Mine is...giving me trouble. It wo't let me be silly, and it's just dragging on and on. I might have to make it a two-parter. :? Is that alright?

Sharptalon

Quote:
krwordgazer

(I hope you also liked the little Skywise-Cutter exchange; I'm particularly fond of that bit, if I do say so myself. :oops: :mrgreen: )



The Skywise/Cutter repartee was perfect :clap:

Very nice story, Kr. :) I'm completely unfamiliar with Bee (there are just some stories I've never read) but, it doesn't matter... The story captured everything so well all-around even if I didn't recognize all the faces :D

krwordgazer

Hey, thanks everybody! Sharptalon, I'm glad the story worked for you even though you hadn't read "The Discovery." :D

Wylde Wynd, the only rules that cover these stories are that they be EQ-related and that they contain all six elements. So you can certainly do a tie-in to one of your other stories. Bring it on! :D

Treefox

That was a very touching story that left me with a warm feeling! Everyone was quite in character, I think. :P

ingvild

Wordgazer, that was so great, but hey, it's you. What else could we expect but greatness?

Unfortunately, mine was thrown by the wedding, and my other idea is thrown by the element I contributed (language/misunderstanding), so... Maybe by the end of the month.

ingvild

[b:4b59f82448]The Tune is the Same[/b:4b59f82448]

If he got drunk enough, Picknose would admit that he actualy envied the lowly, flea-bitten point-ears one thing: their sense of smell. Those ugly, little snouts of theirs were remarkably keen. Once, when Picknose had raged at a recent loss at toss-stone, Bearclaw had just sniffed at the item in question and said: "Calm down. By the smell of it, you haven't even owned this for an eight of days since you won it from Scurff." And when Bearclaw's mangy little brat had spent a year blindfolded in the caverns, he'd constantly retraced his own safe steps by scent.

The brat had spoken of love and loyalty. Nonsese! Useless! And yet, when Picknose pulled out the scrap of cloth he'd hidden away, caressing it the way he imagined it had once caressed Oddbit's lovely, green skin, and wishing he had a Wolfrider's nose so he could catch the last, lingering traces of her sweet, dry scent, he couldn't help but wonder if his chances would have been better, had he not needed to buy her love with gold.

When the Frozen Mountains trolls attacked, Picknose's first thought had been for Oddbit. When he carried her outside, he thought that maybe his valour would win him her love.

When he finally told her about Two-Edge's hidden treasure, it was to put an end to her whining.

In the time that followed, Picknose spoke of golden waterfalls, but his meaning was love and devotion. Oddbit spoke in flattering tones with endearments spilling over her fleshy lips, but her meaning was "You're the best at hand." And so, when they were captured, neither of them knowing each other's true meaning, Picknose couldn't understand why Oddbit would insinuate herself into Guttlecraw's favour, and Oddbit couldn't understand why Picknose looked so hurt.

Later, when it was his regal backside warming the throne at the Frozen Mountains, and Oddbit was leaning towards him in a sensuous pose and explaining that "A girl just has to be practical", Picknose remembered. He remembered looking and lusting and longing and loving for as far back as his memories went. He remembered keeping a small scrap of cloth and caressing it. He remembered taking desperate risks for her sake.

He remembered Bearclaw's brat, sheathed in Two-Edge's metal, bidding a tender farewell to his mate, and Maggoty whapping a young troll who would have started to snicker on the head, because devotion to family was one thing she could respect.

All these things flashed before his eyes for an instant, and then he grabbed Oddbit and hauled her onto the throne with him. Her whines of delight mingled with Maggoty's cackling laughter.

Their wedding was a loud and boisterous affair, as it should be with the king and his chosen queen. The music rang in the caves for days. Picknose found himself humming the tunes long after that, certain that, at last, he and Oddbit understood each other.

Yet they only started to truly speak the same language when Trinket was stolen from them.

A/N: Yikes. That wasn't easy to get out.

JadeOwl

Oh, but i'm so glad you DID get it out, ingvild! It was beautiful! Not nearly anough stories about the trolls around here. Not NEARLY enough.

I love this line in particular:

[quote:8924929472="ingvild"] He remembered Bearclaw's brat, sheathed in Two-Edge's metal, bidding a tender farewell to his mate, and Maggoty whapping a young troll who would have started to snicker on the head, because devotion to family was one thing she could respect.[/quote:8924929472]

YES. :heart:

Well, here's mine. The silly kind of....died, and here's this instead. I'm not sure how satisfied I am with it.

*******

Misha bathed herself in the River, cleaning all the grit and dirt from her strong body. She smoothed the water over her large hips and breasts, smiling happily. Ilko would be happy with such a beautiful, hardy wife.

She scrubbed out her best leathers with stones and soap-root, and set them to dry in the sun. Wading from the water, she collected some of the Heart-Beats-Faster herb from the banks and spread it on her dress, breathing in the intoxicating scent with half-closed eyes. Oh yes, Ilko would be happy indeed.

It was sunset when the Elders came to collect her. She dressed and followed them to the appointed place. As they approached, the drums began to beat. Not the war-drums, but the high, clear celebration drums whose pounding rhythms danced across her bare arms and throat, making her shiver with delight.

She lowered her head, bowing to the circle of Elders before her. The circle parted, revealing Ilko, his head held high, proud jaw framed against the blood-red light of the dying sun. Misha gasped and sank to her knees, thanking Gotara for the privelege of belonging to such a tall, beautiful man.

Bearclaw snarled silently into the night from his tree as he watched the young human place him hand on the woman's head. **I was wrong, my tribesmates.** He sent, narrowing his eyes at the scene below his hiding spot. **They do not beat their drums for war. But they are peaceful, unaware. Now would be a perfect time to -**

**No.** Joyleaf's clear mindvoice cut across his low growl like a knife of bright-metal. **Look at them, Bearclaw.** From her perch beside his, she pointed down at the woman. **Didn't you see the look on that one's face?** A laugh sounded, full of the kind of joy and fullfillment that needed to words. **Can't you hear them?** She smiled at him, tracing a finger along his jaw and locksending with him. ~**You know that feeling. You remember what it was to be young. Let them be, my badger, for now. Do not let hate spoil such a day.**~

Bearclaw glared at her, thoughts impossible to discern. Finally he nodded tersely, and turned away from the celebration. He jumped from his branch, silent, and Joyleaf watched him go. She was worried. There had been too much anger in his face...

~**Well?**~ He sent to her, mindvoice playful. ~**Aren't you coming? Today is a day of joinings, Dehl. Or do you want me to take back my decision?**~

Joyleaf's grin was bright in the gathering gloom, and for one night among many, human woman and elfin were united in desire.

ingvild

Oh, that was just plain amazing! And the language misunderstood being drums, that just appeals to both the musician and the linguist in me. Awesome.

SnowWren

Ingvild and Jade,

Your pieces are exquisite!
Wow... after the two of you and Boardmom, I'm not sure I can come up w/ something that would even come close!
Thank you for wowing me!

Treefox

:clap: Ingvild, Jade Owl, you both have my admiration!

It's so rare to see this side of the trolls depicted and it was wonderfully written. Picky is truly a romantic person, isn't he? I feel so sorry for him.
Also, I like that you incorporated Cutter's time with the trolls.

Jade, I loved how Joyleaf got Bearclaw to leave that human couple be, I thought it was very much in character. Very good!

SnowWren

My thanks to Krwordgazer, the wonderful Boardmom that she is, who helped me immensely by sharing details from the lives of Sela and Malak, and Nonna & Adar.


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It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The last thing she’d wanted was to run away, but her father had given her no choice. Malak had failed””according to tribal law, he was not welcome in the village because, although he was no longer a child, he was not a man, either. He was "nothing;" rejected; the spirits did not welcome him, so he was no longer welcome in the tribe.

They’d run away together. Her father tried to follow, but he had stopped at the forbidden forest. She’d wanted to stop, but her love for Malak, and fear of her father’s anger caused her to press on. She’d been amazed””there was no danger that they could see. True, there were many cocoons, strange, and large, but the forest felt quiet, peaceful.

She knew she could never return. Her father would not accept Malak, and therefore, would not accept her. She had forsaken the traditions, she had flouted his authority, she had chosen [i:34dd16fcf6]this[/i:34dd16fcf6] man. “No matter what tribal law says””I will make you a man””now!” she had told him. And she had.

Afterward, as he slept, she had wept. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She should have had the traditional tribal wedding. Her father should have pronounced blessings over her and Malak. There should have been a feast, a celebration with music and laughter; and then, their own celebration, in a room bathed with the scents of love and lust. The women would have gathered herbs and oils, and they would have made a bed of furs and soft blankets. The time they’d just shared would have been much the same, only, maybe more comfortable. And when they woke the next morning, another celebration””the Bone Woman would have shook her rattles and bones, and she would have pronounced a son or daughter growing inside of her. Another celebration. Her father would have smiled on them. They would have been given their own place in the village.

She watched him sleeping””her gentle one. She loved him, and she knew she would never leave him, but she couldn’t help thinking about what they had missed. No, it shouldn’t be this way. But it was. Quietly, she wiped away the tears from her eyes, and reached out to touch her sleeping husband. Tribal ceremony or no, he was her husband now. In his sleep, Malak felt the gentle touch, and he reached out for her, pulling his wife into his arms.

Selah closed her eyes, thankful for the one whose arms were wrapped around her””and slept.

The preservers, hidden in the nearby trees and bushes, had watched, entranced by the act of love. They had felt sorry for the one that cried, and they’d smiled when she smiled and closed her eyes, moving back into the arms of the man she was with. Quietly, so as not to disturb the sleeping couple, they began their largest task””wrapping the sleeping humans.

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Pipes and drums echoed in the still night air. The sky was clear, and the stars twinkled above them. Nonna pulled nervously at her dress””the one she and the other women had carefully sewn together. Nonna had painted it herself, though, and she felt it was some of her best work. It depicted the shadow of the mountain she had grown under. It had images of the beautiful bird spirits, flying on their giant birds. And, in a reverse shadow, it had the image of a man and woman, united by hand and heart, beneath the two moons.

The necklace she wore was the one thing she had from her mother, who died so long ago. Her father was no longer alive either, and Nonna felt the pain of that loss again this night. It should have been her father that would stand with her, speaking words of blessing over her and the newcomer, Adar. But””she smiled. Kohann had offered his own blessing, and he would stand with them this night.

Laughter roused Nonna from her silent reverie. She knew from the music that it was almost time. Soon, she would be wed to Adar. Quickly, she finished weaving the flowers into her hair, the strong scent of lilies and roses spilling down from the tresses. She felt a little silly””[i:34dd16fcf6]I am not beautiful””not like the spirits. These flowers should not be wasted on me. But Adar asked me to wear them. He went into the nearby forest to find them, and he said they would look beautiful””and then he called me beautiful[/i:34dd16fcf6].

Her heart fluttered at the thought of his smile upon her, and she realized that although she would not see herself as beautiful, Adar did. She did not have to understand””she would accept his view of her. [i:34dd16fcf6]He can think me beautiful””he has not seen a spirit[/i:34dd16fcf6]. She knew that if ever he did, his view of her would change, and that, to her, was good. She would never begrudge the spirits of their beauty.

She wondered if she would ever see them again. Adar had not only asked her to be his wife””he had asked her to return with him to his own village. And though she had never before wanted anything but to live in the shadow of the sacred mountain, she found that now she wanted nothing more than to be with him.

She wondered if, perhaps, they were watching her, hidden nearby, or from above. She liked to think that they were watching over her, giving their own blessing. The music changed, and Nonna ceased her wondering. She bid a silent farewell to the spirits and then quietly, in the confidence that came with the status of a symbol-maker, Nonna stepped toward her new life.

Treefox

SnowWren, that was strikingly beautiful! Two wonderful insights into two wonderful women. Very emotional and evoking. Thanks for sharing!

krwordgazer

Wow. All three of these were just great.

Ingvild, I love the way you have portrayed Picknose. I really feel for him, loving Oddbit as he does, and the tension inherent in trolls between their love of family and love of wealth.

Jade Owl, you depicted the human wedding so beautifully-- and the elves, watching, dangerous and threatening, from the trees, are for the moment exactly what the humans fear them to be. Until Joyleaf turns Bearclaw from his purpose, reminding him of the things humans and elves have in common. A startling but believable glimpse, and a real feeling of relief as the danger turns to teasing and fun. Fantastic job!

SnowWren, glad I could help! Your stories are completely your own, though, and you make the moods of the two human women completely believable.

I hope we get a few more stories, and maybe some art, even though the month is technically over. This has been one of my favorite grab-bags. It has had such unusual, such refreshing and new, results! :D

RedheadEmber

Wow, That story was great Wordgazer!

I really liked the way Cutter was reacting when Shuna asked him to perform the ceremony!

And Chitter too, that was really cute!