Bears eat a lot, even small bears and they can get a little rough when they were unsatisfied. Zurak’s body was covered with rakes and scratches, but Taeyo was finally learning how to not be so forceful. The cub was always in high spirits and very easily distracted, so teaching him to hunt on his own was taking time.
They had found a nice cave near a clear, rushing spring to settle into for the winter and Zurak had split her time between foraging for food and teaching Taeyo to find his own. The weather was still very pleasant and game was easy to find, but the cub was starting to outgrow the meager fish and animals that Zurak could kill. He needed to be able to find his own larger prey if he was to grow strong.
They had tried fishing first, but Taeyo only ever wanted to slap at the water and fish, being very content to wait for Zurak to provide them. After two frustrating days, it was time to try something else; a plump brown rabbit found one of her traps but she did not kill it. Instead, she stunned the poor beast with a hard rap to the head and tossed it to Taeyo. At first the bear cub just played with it like everything else, but as the rabbit’s wits began to come back and it tried feebly to hop away, Taeyo’s instincts told him to grab the rabbit.
That rabbit did get away eventually, as did the next one and two quails, but Taeyo got better each time. The fifth beast that Zurak threw to the cub was dead in minutes and the next beast Zurak found was not stunned at all. Taeyo understood the chase now; he was figuring how to track prey and find their scent; he even went to the stream of his own will to hunt fish one day.
Having a bear for a little brother was a mixed blessing. Zurak felt very safe in their cave because Taeyo’s presence discouraged most other beasts, but bears do not understand courtesy or restraint. Finding a place to hide her food stores for winter was problematic; Taeyo dug up the caches and pulled away the stones of all her hiding places to the point where Zurak thought she would end up eating snow and twigs.
Eventually Zurak tunneled out the tiny passage in the back of the cave that only her body could fit through and stashed her food there. Several boulders were wedged into the space and Taeyo gave up trying to get at the stash after a few days. Once Zurak was satisfied that both of them would be able to eat through the winter, she set herself to the task of carving the cave walls.
When the rains set in, Taeyo began to sleep more in his favorite spot near the firewood and his loud snores filled the cave as Zurak worked. Just knowing that she was not alone anymore made Zurak feel more human, having someone to take care of and talk to was a blessing that she thanked Elune for every day. Even if it was a bear.
Zurak’s rock carving skills had improved very much since the cave on the beach and she dutifully carved her family rune on the new cave first. The writing system had been devised in ancient times when the Wanderers were first cast out of the Islands of Savage Ice, so that they would all stay connected no matter where they wandered. The placement of the curved line in relation to the straight lines named your family and the fourth line was set at an angle to note where the family was exploring. The top portion of the angled line was the direction you were going and the back portion pointed to where you have been, so each simple rune contained a wealth of information.
The second carving was always the two circles of Elune that went above the altar and Zurak had to concentrate to keep the circles perfectly round. After she finished the two most important carvings, Zurak decided it was important to leave a message about her new brother as well. The bear on the wall was nowhere near as impressive as the sleeping bear on the ground though, so Zurak embellished her carving with slashes of lightning around his body just like the brilliant flashes outside the cave.
Zurak leaned against the wall of the cave and looked between the carving of the bear and the actual bear several times. The rain was pouring down outside with occasional flashes of brilliant white light illuminating the cave every few minutes and Zurak felt peaceful. She realized that she had never been truly alone, not ever because she had always been connected to the Earth. Zurak’s family had always been the rocks, trees, water and beasts that made the Earth; the
was her home now and all the
creatures in it, her family. Golden Land