Moonspear Like the sea, I'm constantly changing from calm to ill
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When dawn broke, Bronco stretched, rolled away from the warmth of his sister's side (coating himself with another good dusting of shimmering mica powder) and onto his belly. He paused momenratily, blinking blearily and smacking his lips together, grimacing lightly as he tasted his own, sour breath. Heaving himself to his feet, he shook off a silken shroud of dust that hovered for a moment before sprinkling down upon his slumbering sister, making him chuckle softly. 

He'd made plans and now saw fit to carry them through, hoping that morning might be a good time to stop by and see @Kukutux, bringing with him a good patch of elk skin from the hunt he'd had with Antares, Atlas and Meerkat, and carrying the precious black-phase fox with him. The elk pelt had been pried from the carcass without much skill, so he wondered if it would be of any use at all as he draped it across his shoulders. He would carry the fox as gently as he would have carried one of his own siblings, making sure not to damage its pelt, so he would make quite the odd sight, as he approached the little glen where Kukutux made her home. 

Not wanting to barge into her claimed area and stick his head in her ulaq, he remained within the tall pines, peering toward the dome-shaped mound in which she lived, gently placed the fox on the ground- before stepping over it, to keep it hidden from sight temporarily, and let out a quiet, low call- hoping to catch her ear and snag a couple moments of her time.
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#2
snow would come. it had just begun to cool; kukutux knew it was far off, but it would come all the same. it had not been an entire year since she had come to moonspear, the duck realized: the winter would then always mark the date of that for her. contented, kukutux would have lain there a moment longer had bronco not politely announced himself.

the moondrop emerged a handful of seconds later, wiping sleep from her eyes and offering the young warrior a groggy smile as she approached. "ulaakut, bronco." her gaze drifted across the hide upon his shoulders, then followed the scent of fox with a quick flick of lashes that veiled her intrigue. "you have been working before moonspear woke."
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As she approached, he lowered his head, turned his ears back and shifted his weight from one foot to the other eagerly, his tail dusting the ground at his ankles as it waved from side to side. He would have stepped forward to meet her had he not been trying to hide the fox behind him, but he reached forward to touch his nose to her cheek and lick the corner of her jaw in an endearing, respectful way. He was here to give a gift, but also to ask a favour, and it seemed as though he'd potentially awakened her a bit earlier than she might have intended. 

"Sorry if I woke ya," He apologized with warm empathy. "But I brought-" He said, as he reached around to grab the edge of the elk's pelt, and pulled it off his shoulders so that it fell to the ground between them. The edges were ragged from having been chewed, and there were places where he'd torn through the pelt as he'd been trying to pull it from the animal's frame, but it was largely intact, and was roughly the size of a doormat. "This, for you, though I...Well, it ain't the prettiest, but...Would it be of any use to you?" He asked, ears flicking forward. Momentarily, he'd forgotten about the fox which- now that he'd taken the curtain of elk pelt off his shoulders, would likely be very visible.
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the snowduck shook her head. "i should have been up when you walked the mountain." vaguely self-deprecating, for the wives and aunts and grandmothers of the isle had taught her better than that. women did not lie abed after dawn: it made more work for you and for others. 

at any rate, it did not matter. the moonbow's gaze brightened with surprise when bronco reached for her again, pale plume stirring in a single instinctive sway. for a moment, feral nature vied with her upbringing, though kukutux resumed her deferential posture soon thereafter. the young warrior was speaking again, slipping elk-hide from his shoulders — she noted that with more than a little pleasure — and —

"it is for me?" kukutux sought, a bit breathlessly. her eyes examined it closely; she tested the edge of it with her teeth, and glanced back to the boy with a budding delight. "oh, yes, this will be very useful." already the duck could think of many uses, the least of which was not her plans to chew it into softness for the coming year. "i thank you."

the fox, noticed in full, but her mannerly demeanour prevented any commentary. perhaps he was taking it elsewhere. though it was very beautiful, blackfox as jarilo, and a rare coloration for a kill. bronco had done well indeed.
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It brought him a great deal of joy to see both surprise and joy on Kukutux's face when she realized that he had brought her a gift, and that she approved of it. He'd studied her face for any sign that she was not being entirely honest with him and could find no trace of insincerity in either her voice or her face. While his handiwork was rough, he could tell that she appreciated the fact that he'd done what he could to make something just for her. 

"Oh, good! I'm glad," He breathed, relieved. "You're very welcome," He said, with a sheepish bob of his head. "I was wondering, though- I, uh, 'cause I'm not very good at it, but..." He said, stepping back, then, to bring the fox's body into the conversation. Gently, he picked it up and placed it before Kukutux, for closer inspection. "I caught this, yesterday. Is there any way, maybe...Can I maybe ask for your help, in making this into...something, for a friend of mine?" He asked, hoping she might have an idea for how it could be useful. "She's...Training to be a medic, and she's coming to visit, on the new moon," He explained, though he hadn't been terribly specific about what it was that he wanted. He hoped, though, that Kukutux might have an idea for how to make the best use of the pelt, considering its beauty, and also that she didn't consider his request to be too much of an inconvenience.
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#6
foxfur. precious, and rife with hues that the woman knew were rarely seen. for a moment of pure desire she let her gaze rest upon the pelt, one ear flicking to sweep bronco's voice into her head. a girl coming to visit moonspear, and the young warrior wishing a useful gift. a smile tugged at her lips; the duck sought to veil it by drawing closer and feathering through the soft guard hairs with gentle presses of her muzzle.

"i will help you." a beam upward toward his taller figure; she lifted the animal and tilted her head, gesturing toward the flat stones that lay around the clearing. upon one she lay the fox; upon another she hoped bronco might put the hide. "the inside parts must be taken out," she said of the beautiful kill, "and then the skin can be separated and dried." 

the duck indicated the belly of the slain beast. "perhaps a pouch can be made, one to carry." too lovely to tear into strips like the skinwraps she wore about her shoulders: this pelt would require more careful work.
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Bronco followed eagerly, excited that Kukutux could think up something for Fennec- and her suggestion seemed perfect. The fox was too small to tear a hole in, so that it could wrap about a wolf's shoulders, but a pouch that could be carried? That was very possible. And while he knew that Fennec herself wouldn't be able to see how beautiful the pouch would be, he still felt he owed it to her to make her something that she could proudly carry, knowing that all others might envy her for her silken, foxfur pouch. 

"I like that idea!" He said, sitting opposite her. He wasn't sure if she wanted him to step in and do the work, or if she was content to show him- either way, he hoped for as much guidance as possible, so that such a precious pelt wouldn't go to waste, or have ugly tearmarks in it. He trusted Kukutux to have more practice in creating beautiful tools. "My friend, she's...She's training to be a medic, so," He said, realizing only a moment later that he'd already told Kukutux that. "And she's really smart. Very witty, an' has kind of a sassy sense of humour sometimes, but she's pretty cool," He said. "D'you think maybe...I could introduce the two of you, while she's here?" He asked, setting his muzzle down on the stone, and looking up at Kukutux with big, puppy dog eyes.
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the snowbird did not immediately answer. her focus belonged to the fox. with a silent whisper to its spirit, thanking the animal for giving itself to bronco's teeth, she began to pull tufts of fur from the pelt along its belly. the pinked skin became more clear, a cool wind rising to whisk away the hairs for the birdbeaks that would seek them. she set her teeth carefully, nipping a rent into the abdomen of the fox-body, nosing away blood as it began to sluggishly well.

tugging it wider, kukutux stepped back as the entrails were exposed, eyes watering somewhat at the heavy scent of the musk. but in the next moment she had thrust her muzzle forward, withdrawing it bloody as she began to precisely pull the organs from their place, letting them tap to the ground. "she sounds well-raised. skilled," the woman commented, shifting a knowing, wry glance to the young warrior and his large eyes. "i will be honored by meeting her."
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With the fascination of a child experiencing something for the first time, Bronco sat quiet and still, and watched what Kukutux did, his mouth lightly agape though he did not interrupt her with questions. From what he could see, he could conclude any answers he might have had. He also came to the conclusion that perhaps he should have gutted the fox the day before, or shortly after he'd killed it- but if he had, the tear in the fox's midsection would not have been as clean as the one Kukutux had done. Potentially, he'd done the right thing- but only the final product would tell the truth. 

At any rate, he would happily take the opportunity to gush a bit about Fennec. "Oh, she is. An' I'm sure she'll be pretty pleased to meet you too. I really appreciate this, Kukutux," He burbled, before he fell into awe0struck silence again, wondering what part of the process came next.
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the entrails removed, kukutux began to cut tissues from the inside of the foxpelt, dropping them to the growing pile of refuse. she hummed tonelessly she worked, something vibrating in her sinuses and singsong enough to match the cadence of her work. a woman's chant, to bring the spirits close and keep her efforts from failing due to mischief.

eventually she ceased, gesturing to bronco that he might come closer. "if it were not this fur, i would put it into water, to clean away the blood. but putting water upon this might cause it to stiffen and tear." gingerly she carried the now-excavated fox pelt away, finding the point in the clearing where the sun might shine the hottest this late in the season. "now brother sun will do the rest," she told the young blackbear, grinning and lapping red from her jaws. "tell me more about this young healer."
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EVentually, he would set his chin down upon the stone, and watch with large, curious eyes as Kukutux removed the innards of the fox, opening it up so that it was clean and empty. She hummed, and Bronco tilted his head from side to side with the natural lilt of her voice that accompanied the gestures of her movements. He'd never seen anything done so artfully, and given the fact that he'd been sung monotone lullabies by a tone-deaf mother as a child, hearing someone hum an actual melody was absolutely enchanting. 

He didn't realize just how far he'd sunk to the ground until he was spoken to, and he sat up, looking down and into the fox pelt, to where its body cavity was now cleaned out, empty. He looked up at the sun, and felt lucky that he'd chosen to bring this to Kukutux in the morning. It would have all day to dry, now. He followed her as she found a spot where the shadows of morning and evening would not reach it so that it would get as many daytime hours as possible, drying out. He sniffed it, admiring how cleanly she had severed into the pelt without leaving jagged toothmarks, before he reached out to amicably nudge the corner of her jaw in thanks, licking away a small spot of blood as he did so. 

She asked about Fennec, and he smiled softly, sitting down as he mused wryly how difficult it would be to explain exactly what Fennec was like. "Well, her name's Fennec, but I usually just call her Fen. She's my step-dad's daughter, so I've known her like...All my life." He said. For some reason, it felt wrong to even call her his step-sister; probably because he didn't see her as a sister at all. "She's super tough, and has a pretty dry sense of humour, but she's all good on the inside," He said, smiling the whole time.
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"what is 'step dad?'" kukutux inquired quietly when he had finished. she thought she might puzzle out what it meant, but unsure of the true limits to the term, was prepared to allow bronco his explanation. fennec. in some ways it brought her to mind of the endings to words in her own tongue, and she was at once endeared. 

the brush of his tongue upon her lip had compelled the duck into a long pause; she was still unused to the familiar gestures of affection and rank within moonspear. to her such contact remained forbidden, and she would consider her reaction to it at another time. "will she stay for a time?" the duck asked softly. bronco spoke highly of this niviaksrak; it would be good to see so promising a warrior with a wife before the season ended.
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"Step-dad?" Bronco repeated, a bit surprised that Kukutux had never heard the term. But he reminded himself that Kukutux was a wolf who also spoke another language, though she spoke his tongue well enough for him to forget that fact on occasion. "He's my Mom's mate." He said, "But he's not my Dad. My Dad died when I was pretty young, so did Fennec's birth-Mom. So...My Mom took her Dad as a mate, an' now we're sort of family, through marriage, but we're not like really related." He said with a shrug that might've been more casual had he not felt it was so important to make sure that the world knew that He and Fennec weren't blood relatives. 

To her question, he shrugged, but there was a cheeky, hopeful grin on his features. "Well, for a couple days at least, like a week-ish...We haven't really figured it out, so," He said, "If she comes out, and likes it here, maybe she'll stay for...Longer." He said with another forced-casual roll of his shoulder.
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kukutux brightened with a small tilt to her muzzle. "ataataksaq is our word for that," the duck translated quickly for her own benefit, linking them together in her mind with a blink. "'the mate of my mother.'" upon the isle, such pairings had been permitted. the children called one another cousin, for they oft were; a hunter might have two sisters as wife, and into his ulaq he would also take the cubs not born of his spirit.

and so there was no judgement in kukutux, who thought privately that it was a good match for the young bear. fennec was known to him, and he offered a fine bride price in his own familial ties. perhaps she would bear his children in the coming spring, and moonspear might grow again. "she is always welcome at my ulaq. if she is in your heart, she will be important also to us here."
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While he didn't have a great memory for language, he did appreciate learning the words that Kukutux taught him. He'd been able to recall what she meant by Ulaq, and smiled in appreciation when she offered to welcome Fennec. It was important to him that she fit in, and he could only hope that Fennec and Kukutux might get along when they met one another. They were very different wolves- and he still had much to learn about the moondust healer, but he was an optimist, and felt that even if their personalities might not have been terribly compatable, they'd at least compromise for his sake.

“I really appreciate that, Kukutux. I owe you one,” He said. He sent a glance toward the dark pelt lying in the meadow, and knew that it would take some time for it to fully dry out as much as it needed to- and it was still very early in the day. “I won't keep you, though. When should I come back to pick it up?” He asked. “I'll bring you something to eat, when I do,” he promised.
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she inclined her head, thankful for bronco's polite nature. "it will be another turn of the sun," she said softly. "to make it properly soft." when it had lost its first moisture, the woman intended to use her teeth for the curing of the leather inside, as she did with the skins inside her den. "when the sun is brightest after another morning."

she did not mean to be cryptic, only that kukutux knew only a word for 'tomorrow' and she doubted bronco had heard it before. but she would teach him, kukutux supposed, using her language around all on moonspear with whom she met. an appreciative curve to her lips. "it will be good to share a meal with you. i will make this a pretty thing for fennec."
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While he wasn't sure if she meant the next day or the day after, he decided that he would pop by to check in regardless- making sure to bring something edible with him- so that he didn't keep her waiting. He interpreted what she'd said to mean potentially to come by the next afternoon, so that the pelt would have had one full day in the sun, and then another half of a day. “I'll, uh, be here tomorrow around noon then?” He asked, with a hopeful smile. He glanced down at the fox pelt again, proud of having found exactly what he'd been looking for, and glad that he'd managed to strike up a bargain of trade with Kukutux that she seemed to think was fair.

“Thank you, Kukutux. I'll see you then, an' I'll have lunch with me!” He said, before he turned and trotted off. Now he would have to start tracking something down, so that he could find something tasty to catch and bring for her the next day as a meal. He wasn't sure what she liked most- though she did seem to have a taste for salmon- but he would make sure to bring her something that was fresh and delicious, to repay her for helping him with Fennec's gift.