Sun Mote Copse The Art of the Dinner Date
Private  October 01, 2019, 01:11 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
@Sugar Glider

Now that the children had all become gangly almost-adults, Wraen thought that one of her duties as a leader was to get to know each one of them personally and see, what potential they had in them. Elfie in a way had been an experiment that had turned out better than expected. Now was turn to find out, what the rest of the eight were up to and good at. 
 
Teaching about "famine foods" had been a lesson that she had been meaning to give, but it kept being postponed. First Colt had died, now this and in the end it was the beginning of October, most good stuff was nearly gone and she found herself walking through the copse, wondering, whether it was still possible to do the class or leave it for later. If winter was going to be very hard, then they would learn about them anyway. 

She did not have any one kid in mind and was open to chances fate would put in her way.
October 01, 2019, 01:24 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

The occasional tremor became no more than background noise in Sugar's life. She went about her business day to day, which primarily involved growing and learning. She was an apprentice now, formally training in the art of naturalism, specifically the field of botany. She was still a long ways away from becoming a journeyman, much less a master, but she made a point to seek knowledge and hopefully learn something new each and every day.

Today, she was focused on the way the trees seemed to be changing throughout the copse. The formerly green, healthy leaves were beginning to change color. Many had detached and fallen to the ground, where they formed a crunchy carpet. Those scattered on the ground were brown, dry and shriveled, whereas the ones still attached to the boughs ranged from their usual green to a rich yellow, striking orange and even blood red.

While she meandered around with her neck craned, observing the signs of the changing seasons without being aware of what any of it meant, Sugar wandered across the Sovereign's path. When she lowered her beady black eyes, Sugar realized her neck ached. She rotated it, moaning in satisfaction at several audible pops, then focused her attention on Wraen. A smile touched her lips as she approached the leader, tail low and wagging.

"Hi, Wraen," the youth greeted, eyes lifting slightly beyond the Sovereign's shoulder. "Do you know why all the leaves are changing colors and falling off the trees?"
October 02, 2019, 11:26 AM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
Sugar Glider was the odd one out of the Blackthorn bunch. Wraen liked them all, but some she did more than others and the little, inquisitive girl, who seemed to live in the world of her own, was not among them. It was a surprising revelation to a person, who had up until then thought that she had no particular preference for one or the other. After thinking about it long and thoroughly, she had come to a conclusion that she did not know exactly, what made the puppy tick.

A good chance to find out, now that the person in question had popped up before her and had asked her a question to, which Wraen had no immediate answer. Mostly because tree leaves changing colour was the least of her problems. She did lift her head and look, when this was pointed out to her. "From, what I have seen in the previous seasons, it is something inherent to trees. They die and get reborn every year," she explained. "Perhaps, this is their way to celebrate a good season, before they go in hibernation."
October 02, 2019, 11:39 AM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

Sugar's lips parted at the Sovereign's answer, which bred even more questions that began to multiply and swarm her young, eager mind. She wasn't one to spout off, though, and turned a few things over in her head before deciding which to ask and in what order.

"What's 'hibernation' mean?" was the first. Once that was defined, perhaps she could parse out the rest a little better. "It doesn't have to do with the shakes?" came the second, which only required a simple "yes" or "no." Sugar saved the most important one for last: "Reborn? If they die, how can they come back?"

Immediately, her mind went to the likes of Wildfire (whom she hadn't known) and Colt (whom she had). Sugar had so little frame of reference at her age, having not yet borne witness to all the changing of seasons, but this concept opened a whole can of worms in her mind. She had understood death as an irrevocable, permanent state but, according to Wraen, the trees could come back from the dead. Could the same go for wolves?
October 02, 2019, 11:50 AM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"When I say "reborn" it is a metaphor. The trees here - they are not actually dead during winter. They enter a deep sleep - that's, what hibernation is -  and next spring - you will see it yourself - the leaves will grow again," Wraen explained and chuckled at the idea of a tree doing the same shake wolves did. Now that would be a sight she would like to see.

"Umm... I think wind does the shaking for them," she offered and just like that a gust of wind blew threw the nearest trees and a light shower of leaves fell all around them. "See?" she eyed one leaf that had landed on her snout curiously and shook her head. "However, when a tree is dead it stays dead. Just as any other living thing in the world that has run out of it's time. Do you know, where the tree is the most vulnerable? Even the huge ones?"
October 04, 2019, 01:37 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

Any preoccupation with reanimated corpses retreated when Wraen succinctly answered the youth's questions. There was a state called hibernation, which was a deep sleep, but differentiated itself from death by being reversible. Sugar swallowed and nodded her understanding of that much. There was a little bit of disappointment in her deep black eyes, though there wasn't much time to dwell on it as their conversation carried.

Wraen said something about the wind, which promptly demonstrated as if the two were in cahoots. Sugar gave the Sovereign a shrewd look, then laughed quietly to herself. She was old enough to know better; wolves, even adults, even leaders, couldn't control the elements. In any case, she'd been talking about the recent earthquakes and opened her mouth to clarify when Wraen beat her to the punch with a question.

She did not respond immediately, instead giving the query some proper consideration. Sugar's gaze traveled to the nearest tree, sweeping from its roots to the very tops of its boughs as she tried to suss out its weakest part. When she returned her attention to the Sovereign, she could only hazard a guess: "The branches?" They were the thinnest part, not to mention the most exposed.
October 05, 2019, 01:56 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"Not really - branches to trees are like fur to us. They can break and fall off, but new ones will grow back and there is no lasting damage," Wraen sought for the best association that would also be easy for Sugar Glider to comprehend. "A tree can survive even, if the sturdiest branches are taken down during storms," she added, but wolves weren't so lucky. Tear a leg off a wolf and - well - they are dead.

"Come and have a look here," she beckoned the girl to follow to the nearest tree, name and species of which were irrelevant to the lesson she was about to give. Wrean picked up a fallen twig, placed one paw to fix it to the ground and worked on it with her teeth, until greyish-brown bark was separate from the whiteish-yellow heartwood. "Lifeline of the tree is it's bark," she told and showed the strips and pieces of it. "Cut it really deep, cut it all around the tree trunk until you see the the heartwood," she pointed to the whiteish part, "and you have killed the tree. No matter the size and age."
October 09, 2019, 12:19 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

She guessed wrong, though Sugar didn't waste any time fretting about that. She listened curiously as Wraen explained how a tree's branches were like a wolf's fur. The pup immediately thought of @Crow, who always seemed to shed so much more than anybody else in the family. Her lips twitched and then Wraen was motioning for her to follow and have a look at something. Eagerly, the little naturalist obeyed.

The Sovereign stripped the bark from a twig, exposing the green beneath. Sugar bent in closer to look, pink nose wriggling at the fresh, raw scent that hit her nose even as Wraen explained how cutting into a tree could cost it its life. When she drew up again, her attention went to the tree just beside them and she marveled that something as simplistic as a deep cut could butcher such a magnificent, towering flora.

The more she pondered on it, though, the more sense it made. She had yet to fell much prey, though she knew that killing an animal for food required cutting it deeply to let out its blood. Sugar wondered: did trees bleed? Her black eyes fell to the twig Wraen had wrought, which showed no signs of such leakage. Other, smaller plants didn't bleed, she knew from experience. Sometimes some moisture oozed from them, though it was always clear: simply water, as far as Sugar could tell.

Lost in thought for a short while, Sugar eventually gathered her thoughts and posed another question unto her leader. "Will all the leaves fall off all the trees?" she wondered, trying to imagine what the copse might look like come this mysterious wintertime.
October 09, 2019, 01:49 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"Yes, most of them will," Wraen replied, trying to remember an old story her mom had told about trees and their leaves. Fairly simple and yet some details had escaped her mind. Colours, seasons, wishing for new, frost. Her inner google network did the keyword search and she was soon presented with an old, dog-eared manuscript, written in a childish scrawl and illustrated with the typical two-dimensional trees with microphone-head foliages, blue line of sky, white cloud-like clouds and the sun shining from a corner of the page. 

"Evergreens, however, will retain their green needle coat all winter through," she explained, leading Sugar glider to one corner of the forest, where a couple of spruce trees shared a lovely plot of land. There were three of them, lush and beautiful, and an odd one out - a juniper tree. Whenever Wraen passed them, she thought of them as princesses and the black sheep of the family. "There is a story, how in the beginning all trees were bare, but they grew envious of flowers and grass and they demanded the Spring to give them colours as well. Being of cheerful disposition the spirit obliged and gave them coats in myriad tones of green and yellow. 

Summer came and by then the trees had grown tired of their coats and asked the spirit for a new set. She could not give them colours, but gave them fruit. Thus junipers got fruits, pine trees, firs and spruce trees got cones, oaks got acorns, apple-trees got apples and so on. They were fine for a while, but when the autumn came most trees had grown dissatisfied again. All but evergreens demanded new colours. And this spirit being of an artistic disposition coloured them in rainbows,"  by then, however, they had arrived at the place that Wraen wished Sugar Glider to show and she paused the story.

"These three will remain green during the winter," she explained. "And the fourth one - do you see the dark berries? Those are edible, but not too much or your stomach will get upset."
October 09, 2019, 01:57 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

The use of the word "most" did not escape the apprentice's notice. She trailed after the Sovereign as she led her toward a small glen of evergreens, then listened attentively as Wraen spun a colorful tale about them. Although Sugar was quite down to earth, she appreciated the story's creativity and waved her tail. It was the facts, not the fiction, that truly captured her interest though. She wondered exactly how and why they lived up to their name by staying ever green.

Before she could press the matter, Wraen pointed out some berries. At some point in the future, it would occur to Sugar to learn more about toxins despite her horrible experiences, because of them even. If she knew what was poisonous, she could avoid it and help others do so as well. Currently, all the youth could think of was that horrible purple flower and her nose wrinkled as she shook her head. Even if she ingested them in small doses without issue, she certainly wasn't taking the risk.

"How come the evergreens get to keep their leaves? Is it because they're shaped like needles?" Sugar didn't know how those two characteristics correlated, it was merely an observation.
October 09, 2019, 03:12 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"Well, the story told that evergreens stay green, because they were humble and did not demand for a constant change," Wraen added a quick ending to her story, sensing that this was not of particular interest to Sugar Glider. Which was true. It did not have much scientific facts behind it, just a good old fable-style story about, how you should never wish for too much. 

"In truth, however, they are vastly different from the trees that lose leaves. Maybe it's the smell - all of them have a particular odour that tells them miles apart from other trees," she pointed out. "And their leaves are different and there is that sticky stuff..." she walked around one of the princesses, seeking for a little trail of sap to show her pupil. "Here it is," she scrunched her nose at the pungent odour and beckoned to the almost solid piece of amber-coloured substance on the tree's bark.

"Old people say that these are tears of the tree. And the story goes that, it can capture sunlight and, when it falls in the water, it turns into a bright gem-stone," she infused some fiction, where her knowledge in botany lacked. "But on the whole I think that they are simply better equipped to endure ice, cold and lack of light. Salt of the earth, so to say."
October 21, 2019, 12:53 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

Wraen reminded her of the rather fantastical explanation, which earned a pursed lip from Sugar, but quickly went on to give one more rooted (pun intended) in fact. There wasn't really a reason given, though the pup could appreciate that the Sovereign was doing her best to make sense of something she didn't seem to fully know or understand herself.

They both studied the sticky yellow sap, Sugar's ears twitching as Wraen wove another tale. She didn't have a clue what she meant by "salt of the earth," although she supposed the leader had hit the nail on the head by saying it was a simple matter of being better equipped to naturally endure the elements. Sugar couldn't say how or why at this point, though it made sense to her with its broad strokes.

Speaking of which, Sugar Glider turned away from the fragrant sap and peered off into the rest of the forest, black eyes sweeping to and fro as she admired all the variation. It wasn't just the splendor of autumn hues but all the different characteristics among the flora that fascinated her. She hoped to one day catalog them all, though panoramic views like this one made her wonder if her little brain could possibly store all that information.

After drinking it all in for a moment, Sugar's eyes found Wraen's face again and she said, "Do you know if any of these plants can be used for med-ic-ine?" The last word came out slowly as Sugar did her best not to bungle its pronunciation.
October 24, 2019, 11:54 AM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"I don't know much about medicine - you should probably ask Eljay - he might be more precise in his knowledge," Wraen replied, after she had looked through the thin volume of medicinal plants inside her mental library and had not found anything that could be of any use to Sugar Glider. Besides - healing was a complex art and she did not want the responsibility of teaching the girl incorrectly. Too much was at stake.

"But I do know that in spring you can eat the new shoots of the evergreens," she added and walked over to a small spruce with thin branches that happened to be in their way. "The new ones will appear at the very tip of each branch," she pointed out and scrunched her nose, when needles prickled it. "They are bright, lush green and very soft. I do not know, if they do you any good - healing wise - but they are not poisonous," she finished her story. They tasted funny as well, but that depended on, what people preferred.
October 25, 2019, 12:49 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

"Aye, Eljay's already teaching me," Sugar let the Sovereign know, waving her tail slowly. She didn't know her brother overly well, despite living in close proximity with him her whole life. He had always been there in the background, though now they were finally striking up something of a relationship over their shared interest.

Next, Wraen led her to a spruce and told Sugar she could eat the new shoots come springtime. Since it wasn't the first time Wraen had suggested such a thing, the pup found herself asking, "Why would I eat plants? Don't wolves eat only meat?" She paused, then thought to add, "Do they even taste good?"
October 25, 2019, 01:29 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"In an emergency, even devil eats flies," Wraen replied, smiling at Sugar Glider's naivety. The youngest Blackthorn had been fairly lucky so far, she had never experienced, what hunger felt like after a week without anything to eat. Two even, if it was very bad. Then the ache in one's belly was so hard and mind so desperate that you ate virtually anything. 

"Plants don't taste good in general," with an exception of strawberries and blueberries. They were sweet and Sovereign's personal favourites. "And they are not meant to sustain you for long, but you can sate hunger for a while," she explained. "You will learn either this season or the next - let's hope, never - that meat can become non-existent," Wraen told, looked up, spotted something on a branch of a larger spruce and went over there. She jumped up and plucked some lichen off it's perch.

"Old man's beard - for example," she told Sugar glider, after she had brought her catch back and put it by the girl's feet. "Is edible and harmless. My mom used to say that it is practically useless, but you can fool your stomach with it and will die of hunger later," she chuckled, though the joke was dark and she did not expect the aspiring healer to understand it.
October 29, 2019, 11:29 AM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

Even before Wraen answered, Sugar thought back on all the various plants she'd carried in her mouth. Many were tasteless, aside from a touch of earthiness on her tongue. Others left more of an imprint, never a good one. One or two greens were downright bitter as bile. So she wasn't particularly surprised when the Sovereign said that no, most plants weren't palatable. Nor were they intended to be part of a carnivore's diet, though she explained some circumstances where imbibing foliage might be necessary.

Her beady black eyes followed the leader's movement as she neared another evergreen and pulled something loose, a growth of some kind. Sugar studied it even as she listened to Wraen explain, then looked up and blinked at the closing remark. Why would someone want to trick their belly like that, only to end up dead? She turned that whole idea over in her head in silence, chewing the inside of her cheek as she contemplated.

A thought struck her suddenly and she found herself smiling. "I try to learn at least one new thing every day," she told Wraen by way of explanation, "and I learned a week's worth of new things today. Maybe even a month's!" Sugar wasn't too good at telling time, though that wasn't the point. She ducked her head in deference to the Sovereign and all the knowledge she'd imparted on the young naturalist today.
October 29, 2019, 02:06 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
Wraen saw that her joke had not met it's mark and that Sugar Glider was not entirely convinced of, how useful her information had been. It was difficult to explain, what bitter hunger was to someone, who had always had plenty. "What I told you about this plant might not make sense to you now, but keep the knowledge in the back of your mind still. It will come back to you, when you need it," she added. 

Her next words made Sovereign smile. No one is indifferent to praise, Wraen was the same as everyone else here in this aspect. She did not think that she had given the girl much today or at all. From all the wealth of plants on this land, the she-wolf knew very few. Hardly any, if we are very honest. "So, I understand that you wish to finish the lesson and be on your way already?" she asked out of interest. "I have time. If you have anything else you wish to find out - if I can, I will tell."
October 29, 2019, 03:02 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

The Sovereign urged her to remember this information and Sugar nodded, adding it to a vast internal catalog. It helped that Wraen's "life pro tip" coincided with the girl's deeply vested interest in plant life and its uses, particularly when it came to benefiting their kind.

Wraen's comment surprised an honest, knee-jerk reaction from the pup. "No, I don't have anything else. I'd love to learn anything you want to show me." Learning was her prime directive in this phase of life, so every moment dedicated to this endeavor was one well spent.
October 29, 2019, 03:55 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
Every person had something that made them tick. It seemed that Wraen had accidentally discovered key to Sugar Glider. Thirst for knowledge. And that quite different from the adolescent boys, who expressed their wish to learn in such a way that they appeared deeply insulted and annoyed half the time you tried to teach them anything. Her way seemed to be more analytical.

"Do you know, what algae are?" Wraen was glad to oblige, even if her book about plants and plant-stuff was quite thin. "The green stuff that grows in ponds?" she elaborated a little.
October 29, 2019, 06:25 PM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

Sugar didn't know the word "algae," though as soon as Wraen provided a description, she thought back to that day when she and Avery had spotted some reeds. Unaware that they were two entirely different things, the pup nodded. "Aye, I've seen algae before. I didn't know that's what they were called though." She paused for a heartbeat before querying, "Why?"

Before the Sovereign could explain why she asked, a cloud of winged insects descended on them without warning. Sugar's black eyes blinked and widened, peering around as she slowly realized these weren't bugs. They were leaves of some kind. They whirled and twirled on the crisp air like miniature helicopters, several of them knocking into the wolves' bodies before swirling down to join the rest of the leaf litter on the ground.
October 30, 2019, 01:34 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
I did not know, what they were called in English. Reminds me that in my childhood we used to stick them on our noses and pretend that we were rhinos. :)

"I think that, what you have in mind, look more like plants. Algae are super-small plants - like sand grains - but, when there is a lot of them, they become green stuff, literally," Wraen was wizard with words, when it came to spinning tales, but it was not sufficient to draw a clear scientific image of botany subjects. 

"We can go and see, if there are any left now. The water was not frozen, when I checked last, we are bound to find something," she offered, but before they set off a gust of whirlybirds engulfed them. Wraen snapped i the air, trying to catch one, but the little cloud of maple seeds had already moved on. 

"During summer in waterways that stand still - ponds, lakes or riverbends - algae accumulate so much that the water becomes green and slushy," she said, trying to draw an image of, waht "algal bloom" looked like. "Sometimes the smell is altered, sometimes not, but if you see such a change in water, consuming it can make you either very sick or you can die," she told. "Or you get a terrible rash, if you swim there."
November 01, 2019, 11:01 AM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

It amused Sugar when the Sovereign playfully snapped at one of the whirlybirds. She made to do the same, though all of the seed pods had already fluttered to the ground. She huffed but returned her attention to Wraen, who was telling her more about algae. She'd missed quite a bit of what she'd said, though she certainly picked up on the last little bit.

Preparing to follow the leader, Sugar asked, "So it's... toxic?" The word was relatively new to her, though she liked to think she understood what it meant: bad news, basically.
November 01, 2019, 01:41 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"Depends on the quantity," Wraen replied. "Algae live in water all the time," and for a non-botanist, but a person, who did not quite believe that things could appear out of thin air, she had got this assumption exactly right. "They cause problem, when there is way too much of them," she explained. Were it a hot, humid summer, she would be able to show an example. Late autumn did not offer that many opportunities.

"The water becomes turbid, greenish-blue or greenish-brown in colour. Occasionally there is green, plant-like goo covering the whole surface of the water," she kept on talking, because the said pond was some distance away from their current location. "And the smell changes as well. It's hard to mistake, once you have a chance to memorize it once," Wraen said. 

"So - you told me that you learn a new thing every day - what have you learned so far. Besides, what I have told you today," she asked, interested to find out, what interests Sugar Glider had.
November 11, 2019, 11:38 AM
Sugar Glider
Approved Members

Sugar listened attentively as Wraen talked, soaking up everything she said like the proverbial sponge. She really enjoyed the term "turbid" and stashed the word in her back pocket to unleash on someone later, perhaps one of her parents. She enjoyed impressing them with her little tidbits of knowledge.

Speaking of which, the Sovereign wanted to know what she'd learned so far. It was such a broad stroke of a question, Sugar wasn't sure how to answer. She learned so much every day, even apart from being an autodidact, simply by merit of growing up. But certainly Wraen wanted some sort of concrete answer to her question.

Plumbing her own mind, Sugar found herself revisiting the day when Eljay had connected plants with medicine. But she'd already mentioned that to Wraen. Sugar remembered something else, something a little more specific. "I'm starting to memorize plants, mostly flowers," she said, thinking of how her brother had identified the lily for her. "I have this sort of list in my head." So far, that's all it was: a catalog of flowers' names and appearances. Someday soon, she hoped she could add a third column: "medicinal uses."

I'm trying to pare down my threads a bit. Would you care to nudge this toward a conclusion? :)
November 12, 2019, 12:10 PM
Wraen
Brecheliant
Raven
"I know, what you mean," Wraen nodded, thinking of her own mind castle that looked more like Weasley's Burrow and Room of Requirement, where Harry had hidden Snape's textbook, than the neat and tidy medieval equivalent of the term itself. If one was to peek inside, they would see rows and rows and rows of shelves all stacked with books, files, folders, random scrolls, papers, cardboard boxes with titles written on them with black marker pen in an undtidy hand-writing. There would be random memorabilia and tons of odds and ends lying around. Cobwebs and spiders were a must there, what would be a proper house of an experienced mind with ghouls of random memories crashing through, wailing merrily and then making Wraen wonder, why the hell had she remembered this particular bit of her life, while doing something very important.

You know, how it happens... take the previous paragraph of this post, for example. It helped Sugar Glider in no way, Wraen was not conscious of it either, but it definitely met the Narrator's word count requirements and hopefully entertained the invisible audience a little. The lesson in the botany would have continued, had it not been for a very urgent (and convenient) call somewhere from the borders. Wraen listened attentively to the tone to understand, how important was it, but then decided to go and see for herself and avoid making faulty assumptions. "I got to go," she told Sugar Glider. "But I promise we can continue our lesson another time. I will try to remember all my mom told about plants," she told her. And then with one last smile left the girl alone.