Moonspear rich folks laugh while the furnace burns
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All Welcome 
He was off again, stolen away from watching eyes in a fit of energy.

At least that was the story that he was sticking with—truth be told it was pretty certain that he was being allotted just a smidgen of freedom for being a little less bratty and testy; chances were his mother was having the last laugh in his endeavor. But escape and freedom tasted sweet while the sun was still high in the sky, the ground warm and surprisingly, finally somewhat dry in spite of spitting rain that morning.

Altair wasn’t off to roam too far, not today. Just down the road, down the hill, whatever it was that it could have been to have a peek at another site he hadn’t really ventured to much. Sure, he had seen his Uncle @Jarilo about here and there, Aunt @Kukutux too, but what really interested him today was finding his cousins. He couldn’t have claimed to have much of an opinion of them yet other than they were pretty neat playmates, so the moment he found @Sialuk’s scent he started following it.

She couldn’t have been far off, right? Doing whatever it was that girls did, anyway. Maybe she'd be with @Mira and @Mintaka and he'd go party crashing their clubhouse. Or maybe @Caelum, though... well, Altair really didn't pay attention to what Caelum did most of the time and the same really could have been said of a lot of things at that point. But it was nose to the ground all the same.

tags are totally for reference, i just wanted to ping for threads with people i haven't had threads with for a while. no pressure, open for anyone that wants to snag it.
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@Saviguk had gone from the borders, it seemed. kukutux had not worried at first; moonspear was filled with older cousins who might have taken her son hunting. it was unlike him, however, not to return to her sight. thus it was with worried footfalls that the pale snowdaughter came upon blackgold altair. already he wore the honeyed ostrega eyes, and walked with the confidence and pride only a chieftain's child could know.

"ulaakut, soraluq," she greeted, sparing a smile in spite of her trepidation. a glance to the heavens, the fragrance of water to come. "agadgix ulagikux."

kukutux gestured toward the edge of the cloudline, blurring its backdrop of sunlight. "it means maybe another storm."
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little beast, are
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A glimmer of white flashed through the growth ahead of him and his pace picked up. He was certain he had found her, only to discover as he raised his head fully that it was not Sialuk before him but his aunt. For a split second, he had a pang of guilt cross him thinking he would be caught and surely in trouble, but there was nothing about Kukutux that suggested such. Something else may have been lain across her features for a moment, but the strange tongue of affection she spoke in piqued his interest quickly.

“Storm again?” he asked, head tilting. Again? Like before?” He hadn’t forgotten how it had rained and rained; it had been annoying but he had gotten used to it. Being muddy all the time hadn’t been so bad even if it sparked bouts of disappointment from one supervising adult to another when any combination of children came back a completely different shade than when they had left.

But his gaze followed hers skyward, squinting against the light.

“How do you know that?” His next question was off his lips before he had time to hear an answer. Was it some mystical wisdom that she possessed that others did not? Or was it something that they would all come to know in time?
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Caelum showed up just as they were talking about storm. This interested him -- very few things interested Caelum, actually but storm was something that wildly fascinated him for reasons beyond anyone's comprehension -- and so he quickly approached the pair of them, his brother and his aunt. He wordlessly approached without any verbal greetings and moved to stand close to his brother -- a bit too close for comfort, perhaps -- while he watched his aunt with interest. Will it be shiny? he asked with detailed curiosity, meaning, of course, whether there'd be lightning zaps.
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Sialuk had noted her brother's disappearance, but seeing as her parents did not seem too worried (yet), Sialuk was content to believe he would be back in no time. He had always come back before, so perhaps he had just decided to stay out a little bit longer. Sia had been making a short venture to see if her brother was anywhere nearby, but she once again came up empty-handed.

A group of voices drew her in, and she saw her mother speaking to two of her cousins: Altair and Caelum. Sialuk felt she knew them well enough, though nowhere near the way she knew her brother. The raindrop made her way to her mother's side, pressing into her shoulder gently before settling down on her haunches to listen to whatever they were talking about. Something shiny, apparently.
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"as before," she nodded toward her nephew. "it was my mother who taught me this thing." and many others, though kukutux could not speak again before caelum arrived, pressing closer. shiny; the duck pondered what the boy might mean. "the fire in the sky enjoys the rain," she told him, wondering if it was after the bolts he asked.

and now sialuk, slipping quiet and well-mannered to her side. the woman smiled, sweeping them all with her gaze. "would you like to hear the story of how the lightning mother and the rain father learned to dance?" she inquired of the children. her daughter had heard this tale many times, but kukutux never tired of its telling.
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Like a silent wraith, Caelum turned up alongside of him. If this wasn’t such a common thing that his brother did, he would have startled. But his brother’s presence beside him was comforting in its own way, even if Altair elbowed him gently in the shoulder. His question appealed to Altair too, who was no more turning to look to Kukutux for an answer when he spied Sialuk coming along. With a wave of his tail he greeted her, beaming at the sight of his pallid cousin.

And then, there was talk of a story. He looked to Caelum expectantly for a moment.

“I wanna hear it, yeah,” he said, reclining to his haunches.

He liked stories—shame Mintaka wasn’t here, but he'd try and retell it later.
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His cousin showed up, silent as ever; in some ways, a more respectful version of him in her appearances. Silent, but in her case with more respect for personal space. Caelum looked in anticipation at his aunt as she told about the fire in the sky, which was exactly what he had asked about. He hoped that it would show itself, because it fascinated him endlessly.

Then his aunt asked if they wanted to hear a story about it -- the storm, the lightning -- and Caelum nodded eagerly to show a rare bout of enthusiasm for this prospect.
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Please skip me until the story is finished! <3

It was a story Sialuk knew well, but hearing her mother's voice was always soothing, and so she did not break away from the group. Instead, she settled in further, her elbows finding the ground followed by her chin as she dozed in and out of sleep while her mother spoke.
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yes, their young voices and youthful faces assured. the woman smiled at each in turn, pausing a moment before she began. "one day, many many moons ago," kukutux murmured, drawing their attention to the dirt upon which they had paused, her gaze lingering briefly on sialuk's relaxed form.

she glanced back to the pair of cousins. "there was the lightning mother," and here she approximated jagged clawmarks in the earth to signify the fire-womb. "and there was the rain father." toes pressed into the earth, drawn down to make a wider, softer set of lines. "the lightning mother said 'i am the voice of the storm, and sometimes i must eat the dry old things to live.'"

"but the rain father did not like this. 'i am the one who waters the world, lightning mother!' he shouted. 'i decide what gets to be eaten.' and so the rain father brought a great storm. he pulled a thousand clouds into the sky," kukutux exclaimed, gesturing to the heavens above she and the listening cubs. "the rain father knew that if he kept all things green with his blood, then there would be nothing for the lightning mother to eat, and she would starve."

kukutux drew a line between the pair of symbols, gazed solemnly at the boys. "it worked, for a long time. the lightning mother had nothing to eat. she was very hungry. but she was not alone. the rain father, in his work to bring hunger to the lightning mother, gave too much water to the earth. the sea rose and drowned animals upon the land. the great grandfather trees began to lose their skin. 'stop, rain father!' they shouted, but he did not listen."

with a dramatic sigh in the fashion of the story tellers she had known, the duck went on. "the lightning mother knew she must eat. she reached down to the little grasses. soon she had eaten many of them, but because she was upon the flat plain, her hunger grew too large and became fire. it burned all the grasses. it killed the little birds who live in the flat rocks. they cried out 'stop, lightning mother!' but she did not hear them."

kukutux passed her small paw across the earth, blurring both the marks of the rain father and the lightning mother. "the birds that escaped journeyed to the forest, but the trees were drowning. they said 'little birds, do not land here.' they did not. they went to the rain father, and they said, 'you have been so selfish. now she starves while there is too much water. you must come to apologize."

"and the rain father knew they were right, and was humbled. he went out to the flat places where her hunger had scorched; he saw the column of fire, and he came to her at once. 'lightning mother, i am sorry.' at first she did not want to forgive him, but then she saw how cold and wet the forest had become. 'i am sorry for not seeing your purpose,' the rain father said. she was silent. and then said said 'come and dance the fire away.'"

a beam. "and so he did. the rain father washed the fire away, and the lightning mother was able to eat again when the forest dried, but only the dead things that must be consumed for the good of the forest. that is why now, when rain father arrives, you know that his new wife, the lightning mother, is not far away." and she drew two lines now, one thinned, one wide, to show how they had come to harmony.
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little beast, are
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Captivated by her story from the moment the first line was out, Altair lapsed into silence with attentive ears. He watched as Kukutux drew on the soft earth before them, his head canting curiously as his own imagination took hold to paint the scenes that she spoke of. It was fascinating, a story different from the ones that his own mother told them. Though the things of the sky were very much like those, he had never thought of the lightning and rain as mother and father.

His young mind was working hard by the time she had finished her story.

“What about snow?” he asked, head tilting. “Is the snow related to the lightning mother and rain father?” He had never quite seen snow, save what dotted and covered the highest peaks that they had no hope of reaching. But he knew that snow fell from the sky like rain, only it was more gentle than the hard beat of any rainstorm… though it would only be a matter of time before he realized just how harsh snow was in a howling gale.

Still, he rather enjoyed the story that she told, his eyes alight with a desire for more.
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Caelum listened to the story as it unfolded. He was excited at first, though he was startled by the fact that lightning was depicted as a mother. Lightning was female? He really liked lightning, but he had always thought of it more as a manly sort of thing. This changed everything. He blinked owlishly as he tried to piece together this new knowledge and make it find a place in his mind. But as the story unfolded, it turned out that not only was the lightning mother badass, it was easy enough for him to transform his love for lightning into a crush on the lightning mother in the story. He was not sure what the feeling in his gut was, but he didn't share it with the group and stoically listened to the rest of the story.

Altair had questions, but Caelum mostly just thought of the lightning mother. He didn't want to hear about snow — he wanted to hear more about lightning. Yet he didn't intervene, left alone with his thoughts while he tried to give all of the new information he had received a place in his mind's cabinet.
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Oh, it's done!

As her mother told the story, Sialuk visualized it in her head. The Rain Father was not very nice, she had always thought, although she always learned a little bit more each time she listened. This time, she learned that they were both at fault. This time, she got a sense that they had realized that. The two characters in the story were powerful and scary, nothing like the little raindrop that was Sialuk.

Altair asked about snow, and Caelum seemed to be thinking over the story on his own. As for Sialuk, she readied herself for the answer about the snow, now curious about it herself.
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kukutux was warmed by their invested, upturned little faces. "no. but it is a different story," and she looked at each one of them in turn, grinning a bit toward her raindrop, as they had shared all the tales between them a thousand times by now. "where i am from, we have a word for each sort of snow. and a story for every one as well."

"i will tell you about milik, which is the softest snow. it is the first one, when all the leaves have made their sleeping place upon the ground. before milik, the poor ground was cold. 'please, send down a blanket to us,' it called to the trees. 'winter has come, but our shoulders are bare.'"

she shifted, wiping clean the slate of her earlier sketchwork and patting her paw against the earth so that it rushed softly around her toes. "and so the trees said, 'brother, we hear you. we will give you a blanket.' and so when sister wind came to shake them, the ground was thankful for the gift of the leaves that fell." but kukutux sighed sadly here, glancing heavenward. "but sister wind was very powerful. and she had ice in her throat, for it was winter. she blew the leaves off the ground, which grew cold again."

two broad sideways lines to show how sister wind had taken the ground's blanket. "'sister wind, what have you done? now the earth will become hard and frozen,' the trees said, but she did not hear them, for she had whirled away into the stars." a wry curve of her lips, for she had come to the favorite part of the telling.

"this time, the ground called to saviguk, the ice crystal in the throat of sister wind. and they cried to sialuk, the sweet rain in the belly of aunt cloud. 'speak to our sister. tell her she must return to fix what she has done.' and the ground wept, for it was so cold now, and it would surely die if it had no blanket." a series of dots, to make the voice of the ground upward. "saviguk heard. sialuk heard. 'stop, sister,' saviguk told the wind. 'stop, sister,' sialuk said with her round blue voice. and the wind moved no more."

"'the ground will die. you took the blanket the trees gave down,' they told her, and she was filled with sorrow. and then —" kukutux let out her breath. "she knew what she must do. she cut her hair, sister wind, which moves against our faces but we cannot see, her long, long hair. she cut it, and let it fall to earth. and as aunt cloud carried it down, her hair turned to milik, and lay down upon the cold hard ground before it truly died."

"that is why," the duck went on, "when the last leaves fall from the branches to find sleep upon the ground, milik arrives, for he will not be late again, and puts his arms around the earth so that while it sleeps, it will dream of new things and not death."
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“Oh,” he had quietly said when Kukutux explained that it was a different story altogether.

And then, he had listened again—there was no need to ask or implore her to tell said story, and this one once again set his mind to thinking. As she spoke, his eyes stole away to the highest points of Moonspear’s jagged, unforgiving face and settled where the sun gleaned off of its snowpack there curiously.

Kukutux wasn’t even halfway through the story and he already felt a question burning the tip of his tongue as he wondered about it; it may have taken a small miracle to stop such things from coming to him. They were liable to be in for a long session if his thirst for knowledge could not be fulfilled.

His gaze rounded back to her as she dotted the ground with precise marks, only to come to life as she dropped familiar names. His cousins, though Saviguk was not present. Sialuk hadn’t darted off somewhere though, and he looked at her curiously as though something made sense then. With her wintry coat, perhaps it were no wonder that she would be named that way; he knew his name came from the stars, just as his siblings.

As the story came to its inevitable conclusion, he was silent for a beat.

“So,” he drew out with a breath, “is that why Milik lives on the top of the mountain?”

There was always snow there, at least as far as he could remember.

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Caelum listened half-heartedly to the story that Kukutux told them about snow. His mind was still with mother thunder, and the way that she roared and grumbled in the skies when she came around. Half of the story about milik was listened to and saved in his head, but half of it was lost through thoughts of his crush on mother lightning. Even Haoming's beauty did not compare to hers; she was Caelum's original love and he wondered if he would ever meet her truly up close.

The stories were beautiful each in their own way (though of course, Caelum selfishly favoured the one of mother thunder). Altair seemed interested to connect the dots of the story about milik to the real world, but Caelum was still stuck with the former story. He asked, Are there more stories of mother thunder? Might he been more apt at social skills, Caelum might have thanked his aunt for the stories, but it did not even occur to him to do so.
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This story was, understandably, much more riveting to Sialuk. She could not remembering hearing it before, and it involved both her namesake, and the namesake of her brother, Saviguk. Sia watched with wonder as her mother drew small pictures in the dirt, describing the story as if she had been there to see it happen in real time. When her mother paused to let out a breath, Sialuk found her own hitched in her throat, anticipating the conclusion of the story.

Altair had a question, as did Caelum, and Sialuk knew that she would have ample time to drill her mother on questions about this story later, away from her cousins. She gave them the room, so to speak, and thrust her ears forward for the answers about milik and mother thunder.
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had she been so eager for stories? kukutux looked at each one of their measured expressions in turn, surrendering to a small spate of laughter. "yes. milik waits until it is time to come down." there had been few mountains in her memory; the flat taiga, the slopes, the sea-ice. but many she recalled, and always at their top, a dome of white.

"there are many stories of lightning mother and thunder uncle. perhaps i tell you of how lightning mother first fell to earth," kukutux marvelled. "or how one day, she touched an elder in my village. after that, he knew he had seen the face of the earth herself, and every day he told us what she had told him in his dreams." sweeping the dust clear. "and thunder uncle, he is the growl that comes before the rain-time, and he shouts in his love for the lightning mother that she is coming close."

eyes dancing as she glanced with mischief between the boys, alighting briefly upon sialuk with a satisified expression.
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