One Last Song: Part Two
There was one thing about Terror Mountain that sometimes
never seemed to get better no matter how long one had lived there or how used
to it they had become. And that was that it snowed. A lot. Constantly. As a matter
of fact, people like Kaiya and Radom who had never left the mountain all their
lives probably didn't even know what color grass was. And that snow, which made
itself present always in falling, gusts, flurries, blizzards, and all other means,
could be quite unkind to one with no means of heat other than a thick pelt to
And it was on a day such as this one that made
things particularly difficult. The snow had fallen so hard the night before
that a huge clump had fallen off the side of the mountain and blocked the main
route to Happy Valley, trapping people on either side until it could be cleared.
Several months had passed since the Snowager
incident, and Radom had gotten a little bigger, steadily gaining on his mother.
He was still a pup, but she was letting him help her more often now that he
was more capable, and each time he helped get them some food he felt wonderfully
Now the two of them were looking for an alternate
path down to the valley, and with little luck. "Too steep... the snow's too
deep... too loose..." Kaiya could be heard muttering to herself with each possible
way they found down, but none seemed to be safe enough for anyone to pass.
"Mama," Radom had piped up absently, "do you
like your name?"
"My name? Yes, I suppose I like the name Kaiya.
Why do you ask?"
"'Cause I don't like mine." He was in that stage
of youth that every living being seemed to go through, when they didn't like
their name or appearance or something else that was entirely not their fault.
"Radomik... Radom... it's a weird name."
Kaiya tried to stifle a smile, but didn't make
it. "Well, don't you think I like your name?" She paused to size up a
downward drop in the hill, but apparently saw some invisible problem with it,
as she shook her head and continued on.
"Well, yeah, I guess. You named me, after all."
"That's right. I happen to think Radom is a wonderful
name, and that's why I chose it for you. Babies can't name themselves, after
all, but don't you think the mother is the next best thing?" She glanced playfully
over her shoulder at him.
"I guess you're right. Maybe it's not so bad."
"Of course it isn't," Kaiya agreed with a chuckle.
She paused, then, apparently having given up on her search for an alternate
path. "Well, I suppose I'll just have to go through the Ice Caves to get there."
Radom sighed dramatically. "That'll take longer!"
"I know, and that's why I should go alone this
time. It'll go faster if it's just me. So you meet me back at the cave, alright?"
"Okay," he mumbled.
And with that, Kaiya had taken off toward the
Ice Caves, leaving Radom alone in the snow. He grumbled something or another
under his breath and trudged the other direction, figuring he ought to make
himself useful by poking around up here for possible winter plants or anything
else that might be of use to them.
He had climbed fairly high into the mountains
and a while had passed with no such luck. That was about when he saw her.
Something pale green with white speckles- or
was that just snow?- staggering through the flurry. Up this high the wind always
picked up, so he had to squint through the snow to make her out, a moaning gale
tousling his brown fur. Could that be...?
Unfortunately, his assumption had been correct,
for as he trotted closer her saw that it was, indeed, the Acara from Dace's
gang. But she didn't look so tough now. As a matter of fact, Radom realized
with a start, he saw tears glimmering in her eyes.
"Are you alright?" he called out over the wind.
She jolted at the sound and wheeled to face him,
her eyes widening for a moment. She looked so scared, he noticed with a pang
of awkwardness. "Y-Yes! Go away!"
He frowned faintly. "Then why are you crying?"
"I a-am not! Just l-leave me alone!" she shouted,
turning her back to him and quickly wiping her eyes with the back of her paw.
She started to storm off, but Radom trailed after
her, tipping his head curiously. He had followed her several yards when she
finally stopped and turned towards him again in a huff. "What do you want, you
dirty mutt?!" she snapped, causing Radom to stop in front of her.
"For you to tell me what's wrong."
She just stared at him coldly.
"Where are you friends?" he ventured slowly.
"Are you looking for something...?"
"What are you doing way up here, then? You're
awfully far from the valley."
No response. She seemed determined not to tell
her persecutor the time of day.
Radom sighed. "Are you lost?"
Finally, she was moved to a faint nod.
"Oh. Then that's easy." The Lupe grinned at his
minor victory of getting something out of her. "I know the way, but the path
is blocked off by snow, which is probably why you can't get back down. You have
to go through the Ice Caves for now."
The Acara fidgeted and looked at the ground,
"Well, what's the matter now?"
"I..." She managed to swallow her pride long
enough to mumble, "I don't know the way there, okay?! I have no idea where I
am! I can't tell left from right up here!"
Everything looked the same, but having been a
part of it his full young life, Radom knew it like the back of his paw. "Well,
I could show you the way."
He thought he saw her eyes go wide for a moment.
"You could...? No! No, I don't need your help!" But she caught herself a moment
too late, and found herself glowering dejectedly at Radom's smirk.
"Yes, you do," he replied smoothly. "Come on,
nobody has to know. I'll just lead you to the Ice Caves and go; nobody even
has to see us together, alright?"
Clearly she was in no position to argue, and
with a deep scowl, she nodded in agreement. "Oh, alright. But I'll have you
know if anything happens to me you'll be in big trouble!"
Rolling his eyes, Radom turned around and started
off in the opposite direction that she had been headed. "Yeah, yeah. Come on."
The Acara followed him, her head held high despite
how she faltered and nearly tripped several times, on each occasion shooting
Radom a particularly venomous glare as if daring him to even think of laughing
at her. But after several minutes of silence, her icy façade seemed to be cracking
slightly as she felt the downhill slope of the mountainside and seemed content
that Radom really was leading her home.
"Why are you helping me?" she asked suddenly.
"Because you needed it." Radom didn't look back
at her. "If I didn't, who knows what could have happened to you?"
"I would have been fine," she muttered bitterly.
"Well, maybe you would have done the same for
me if I needed help."
"No..." She paused as she admitted softly
(and Radom could have sworn he heard some guilt in her voice). "I... don't think
I would have..."
Glancing over his shoulder now, he saw that she
looked almost stunned at the truth of that statement. "Maybe you would now?"
he offered obligingly.
"Now... yes, I suppose I would..." She wouldn't
look at him.
"Okay then. No regrets." Flashing a quick grin
her way, Radom looked ahead once more as he charted the safest path through
The Acara frowned thoughtfully at his tail in
front of her. "Dace said that you were mean and a no-good thief..."
"Well, Dace doesn't know everything. And he doesn't
even know me at all."
"No, I... I guess he doesn't," she agreed softly,
and sounded almost stunned at the prospect. "And you would help me even after
we made you go into the Snowager's Cave before?"
"Uh-huh. I thought you were bad, but my Mama
told me... well, even if we're really different, that doesn't make either of
us bad, you know?"
She looked almost taken aback. Shaking her head
slowly, she murmured, "I guess I was wrong about you..."
"You're not so bad, either," Radom agreed, grinning
"I- I'm s--" She stopped herself, closing her
mouth tightly as she saw the jagged mouth of the Ice Caves yawning before them.
Stopping the open distance of several yards away
from it, Radom included his head toward the caves, and then smiled at the Speckled
Acara. "Well, here you go. You can do the rest on your own, right?"
"Of course I can." She started forward, but only
made it a few paces before she stopped and turned toward him, furrowing her
eyebrows. "Um... my name's Nela, by the way."
"Nice to meet you." He flashed a quick grin.
"Radom?" she repeated, wrinkling her nose. "That's
a weird name."
Shaking his head slightly, he just chuckled under
his breath. "Suits me." It was the choice of his mother, after all. "It's better
than 'mutt', anyway."
She flustered at that and quickly turned to leave.
This time she made it to the entrance before turning around once more and staring
across the snow at Radom. She opened her mouth as if to speak, failed a few
times, and them finally managed to call, "Thank you!" before she had vanished
into the caves.
Thank you? Blinking in surprise, an almost bewildered
smile touched Radom's face. Those two simple words gave tangible evidence to
everything his mother had told him. See? Nela had a pretty song too. Soft...
but it was always there.
Maybe they had both taken the first step toward
listening now. Maybe that was the first note they had heard in each other.
That evening, when Kaiya returned to their den
with some food, Radom told her about what had happened. And she had absolutely
beamed at him and said, "That was the right thing to do, Radom. See, that was
courage, right there. Doing what was right even if it the other person made
it seem otherwise. I'm proud of you, honey. I'm proud."
To be continued...