Moonspear some assembly required
who stole my toe?!
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Eb, let me know if you aren't available for a thread and I'll repurpose this!

There was a chill in the air today. Sialuk felt it in her bones, felt it in her ears, and her nose twitched when the breeze swept past her. The sun had just come up, and she had made her good morning howl to the wolves of Moonspear like the rooster she was. Already feeling warmer, she sought @Kukutux today. Now that she was getting older, she wanted to learn skills that older wolves learned. She wanted to learn to hunt, she wanted to learn more of her mother's traditions.

Physical skills did not interest her very much, but she would need to hunt for her ugi in order to be a good ayaga. This she knew, and that was why she sought her mother today. Anaa? she called out when she picked up her mother's scent. She quickened her pace as she grew closer, coming up alongside her mother. May I begin my hunting lessons today?
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kukutux had long decided that this son by aiolos would be the best ugi for her daughter. she knew not of the redsun's circumstances, only that she knew she must call for him soon. saviguk now. in her mind had been turning the tendrils of a leafy thought: to send her growing boy off where he might be with the younger members of moonspear, in the glen. young yet, but tall, and promising his father's strength.

having not yet suggested it to jarilo, the snow-wife kept it beneath her breast. sialuk now, and she smiled to see how well-mannered and pretty her daughter was becoming, the breath of the ice-island in her veins while there was something else to the cast of her features. a blessing from the ostrega spirit. "aang," kukutux murmured, gathering herself up with the air of a woman dusting her palms. "qanaang agalus mataxt?" she teased her raindrop. "qanaang das magixt?"
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who stole my toe?!
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I'm too lazy to translate, so italics will be Atkan Aleut!

How many teeth did she have? Sialuk rubbed them with her tongue, trying to count them, but she kept losing count every time she got halfway through the top. Many teeth and... she paused, having never looked closely at her own reflection. I think two, but I have not checked. she asked. Surely somebody would have pointed it out to her if she had more or fewer than the average, wouldn't they?

This foot, she said, splaying her three toes out on the ground before her, It only has three toes. Why is that? Perhaps this was part of her lesson today, though what it had to do with hunting, the raindrop did not know.
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<3!

sialuk was a swift child, but kukutux still felt claws of fear rake through her nape at the girl's inquiry. yt she must know; one day she would be mother, and mothers must know these wisdoms. "it was a sacrifice to the qualupilik," the duck murmured softly, looking down upon the small paw.

"it comes when children are ready to be born, and hopes to steal one away." kukutux swallowed. "but sometimes it only takes a small thing." a smile then, one intended to reassure. "it says, 'my mother faced the sea monster but was strong. i too, am strong.'"
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who stole my toe?!
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Qualupilik. It was not a word she had heard before, and Sialuk let it hang in her mind for a moment longer, staring at her three-toed paw. It had never slowed her down, but it was an oddity she noticed every now and then. When her mother explained that this thing had hoped to steal her away, Sialuk furrowed her brow, angry that anything would every try and do that to her (or her brother, for that matter). I am glad you are strong and did not let it take me, Sialuk said, pressing her head into her mother's fur.

But she had not come here to talk about her feet or creatures that wanted to steal her away so long ago. What are we hunting? she asked, the creature forgotten for now. Like many things, it would likely be something that would come back into her life, something to reference in future years of her life. Perhaps even in her future life as a mother, but that time was far away.
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kukutux too was glad for her strength. and for the sacrifice made to the monster. perhaps in the following year it would avoid her ulaq. thinking of such put her in mind of jarilo, and she would have paused to warily indulge the notion, had she not been with sialuk.

"well," and here the duck paused to deliver a kiss between the ears of her growing raindrop. "a hunter must have swiftness. i think today we should hunt the tigiak. his coat is changing," she told sialuk, rising to move into the thicker forest. "he will be easier to see."
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who stole my toe?!
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Tigiak. They were small creatures, long and lithe, quick and slippery. But they were food, and Sialuk knew she wanted to learn how to hunt them. She fell into step shoulder-to-shoulder with her mother, noting that her mother's eyes were only a little bit above her own now. Sialuk smiled at this, happy that she was growing and even happier that she could spend this time with anaa.

What color will the tigiak be now? she asked, her eyes already alert for any movement in the forest that grew thicker with each step forward. Most of the leaves had fluttered down to the earth, but a few hung here and there. The pine trees, of course, were covered in their prickly boughs.
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sialuk came almost to her shoulder! kukutux marveled with a small pain at how the time had passed so swiftl. "he will be the same color like fallen leaves, but he will have white in small pieces on him too, now. one day, he will wear a parka of snow." she grinned, then set her senses to looking.

they were alongside the stream now, and the duck paused to silently point to the hand-tracks the ermine had left in the cold mud. they led in a frenetic pace toward the thinning ford of the waters, and there they crossed, and she followed, leading sialuk along.
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who stole my toe?!
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So similar to the color he had been, but now with white. Sialuk had not yet seen snow, but she had heard of it plenty. When anaa pointed to the small imprint in the mud in the stream's bank, Sialuk lowered her head to breathe in the scent. The smell flipped something on deep between her ears, and her heart began to beat faster as she trailed along just behind her mother. Across the water they went, Sialuk stopping to shake only briefly before she continued forward.

As this was her first hunting lesson, she wished so very hard that she would be able to make her mother proud. Unlikely as it was, she wanted to catch the weasel herself, snapping it up in her jaws and showing it proudly to her father when they got home. She tried to visualize that in her head, and the feeling that would come with it as her nose stayed magnetized to the ground just behind her mother's tail.
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moonspear seemed now that it had been woven into kukutux, but she still found herself possessing surprise at how easily the mountain and its trails came to her. along one such she led sialuk, into a small gully with ferns, and then at last to a ridge of moss-covered trunks, some fallen, where a flash of white appeared to her eye.

"awan ukuda," the snowbird whispered gently, drawing sialuk into the shadow of a sweetpine. there was not a great distance between they and the small figure, which paused in full light to begin its meal of a mouse, round black eyes bobbing to and fro as its tiny sharp teeth worked swiftly.
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who stole my toe?!
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The girl swept beside her mother, nose twitched as she tried to parse the scents in the air. Just as he mother had predicted, there was white in its coat now, bright and stark against the fallen leaves that still lingered. It dined on a mouse, ripping it apart with ease, just as Sialuk had done so many times with food brought to her. She was not yet a great hunter, but she was learning.

What now? she asked, her voice barely audible. She was prepared to pounce, and her hind leg muscles were already tensed to do so, but she knew this was a teaching moment, not necessarily one where she was meant to act on first instinct. Lessons were a time for learning.
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closer, but she did not speak, only gave sialuk a knowing glance and slid down into a pale crouch. they would need to narrow the space between their bodies and that of the tigiak. still it feasted upon the tiny bloodied body of what had been caught in the underbrush.

and when her raindrop had grown to a close, satisfactory in the eyes of the duck, kukutux pressed closer. "asxinux haqayal xaadagnaagikux." go and go and go and draw the first blood.
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who stole my toe?!
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Sialuk mirrored her mother's movements, her elbows sticking close to her ribs, her belly brushing the ground below. The raindrop's nose twitched erratically as they drew nearer and nearer to the target. At her mother's command, Sialuk leapt from her spot. She saw that the tigiak spotted her and dropped the mouse. Her heart raced as she darted after the slippery animal. When it disappeared into a hole at the base of a tree, Sialuk began scratching wildly at it, whining and barking as if that would somehow lure it out.

There was frustration now with herself for not being better. She had surely disappointed anaa for her first lesson. This boiled in her blood as she continued to scratch at the tree base, though the critter was now long gone, having slipped out an exit on the other side.
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"nakuuruk, paniga." sialuk was noticeably upset; kukutux stole closer to bestow a kiss upon the befuddled forehead. "you will not make a success the first times. but then you will do it," she grinned brightly, "and you will not miss so often after that."

they would track the animal again, for her raindrop had the sense and scent of it, and kukutux willing to devote many hours until sialuk drew her first blood or grew tired. and then it would be another day, for her sugar-snow would not be easily deterred.
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who stole my toe?!
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We can probably wrap here! Thank you as always. <3

She wasn't satisfied with anaa's words, but she understood them. Tempering her emotions was something she was still wrangling with at this age. Sialuk backed away from the tree, breathing heavily and determined to catch the ermine. She managed to regain her composure, and she felt her breathing slow down.

Today would not be a successful day for her, and there would be more unsuccessful days that would humble her. But eventually, she would make her first kill, and it would be that which she fed the quanglaagix in exchange for the first bone it brought her.
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