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The End

-by Sullindill

Mother? Her eyes open slowly. Mother, you need to takes some of this soup. Please. Sullindill looks into the eyes of her oldest daughter. Mother, you havent eaten in days.

Lindi slowly raises a hand to touch her daughters face. All right, Kura, I will. The sounds of the camp drift into the tent. Children playing, others going about their daily business. Her tribe. A bustling camp, her family. She finishes the soup and lays back on the bed, smiling. She has seen so much in her long life, and seen her children and grandchildren grow.

Her dreams take her back to her memories. Swimming along the shorelines, running across the plains, climbing the mountains- so many wonderful things. There were so many trials, successes and failures. It has been a good life.

A slight tug wakes her from her reverie. She turns to see one of her granddaughters combing out her silver braids. Oh, grandmother, I didnt mean to wake you. The calf tries to hide tears with her own braids. My Lynndy, it is all right. I am glad you fixed that braid, it was getting a bit messy, wasnt it? Sullindill laughs weakly and smiles at the girl.

Slowly, carefully, she sits up on the bed. It is time for one last song, and one last journey. Quietly, at first, she begins to sing, gaining strength as the melody progresses. Her children gather in the tent, adding their voices each in turn. All nine of them taking up a different harmony. The chorus gains strength as the grandchildren outside join in, as well as the rest of the tribe.

Sullindill reaches for her staff. In years past it had been a weapon, but now it gives support to the matriarch, as she stands. She pulls a ragged cloak from a peg on the wall, and lifts it to her face, breathing in the memories. One of her sons lies it carefully over her shoulders. Tears glisten in every eye.

The cloak drags on the ground after her. It was Mulkanus cloak, it is charred a bit at the edges from the last time he wore it. Just as it was returned to her five years ago. He had gone with several of their children into battle. They need the training, he had said. He had trained them well. They had fought well. But during the fight, one of the grandsons, one named for himself, had been injured. Mulkanus used all the healing he had left to save the boy, then called on all the strength of the bear to protect him. The enemy was felled, but at a great cost. It was a victorious, but sorrowful return. They returned with the cloak, and his staff. The grandson, Young Mulk, as he was often called, bore that staff skillfully and with great honor. His grandfather would have been proud. Indeed, she knows he is.

It is time to see Mulkanus again. To rest in his arms. It is time to return to the grove. With her staff in one hand, the hand of her precious Lynndy in the other, she says goodbye to her family, and sets out on one last journey. Together the matriarch and her granddaughter climb the hills that separate the grove from the rest of the world. At the edge of the grove, Sullindill embraces her granddaughter. It is time now, my little one. I must enter by myself. You are my greatest blessing. You are my legacy. You carry my name, and my gift. I know you will use them well. The Earthmother will watch over you. She wipes the tears from the girls eyes, and kisses the top of her muzzle gently. I love you, grandmother. I love you too, Sullindill.

One last hug, and the girl turns to go back to the camp. The elder Sullindill enters the grove one last time. She stands remembering the first time she saw it. It has not changed. It can never change.

She walks over to the moonwell- her old bed of leaves still waiting. As is Meo. It is time, Little One. Rest. Laying down on the leaves, all the aches fade away into peace. Meo pulls the leafy blanket over her and kisses her on the cheek. She sighs as peacefully as an infant in sleep, and quietly fades away.

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