She watched the acorn fall slowly down the tree from one of the topmost branches of the giant old oak. The withered old tree barely ever produced many leaves, but was always able to create a multitude of fun lit hatted nuts as her MoSi had always called after them. Buri-Jaan would be calling her for her session soon, and she was steeling herself for the fact that she’d have to present her story today in a language that was harsh and sour tasting on her lips and made her tongue ache from use.
Taiga would never be mistaken for a proper classy lady. She sat awkwardly, legs splayed and soft rounded belly sunning itself as it poked itself sunward out of the bottom of her shirt. More snorting than sighing, she rolled her overly sun-allowing eyes and reefed on the bottom of the shirt stuck in the bottom of her sports bra, hearing the material make a sound that didn’t signify its inanimate pleasure. She pulled it up, exposing her sports bra slightly – though she was oblivious, thankfully so was everyone else nearby – and surveyed the damage. Dammit, MoSi is going to have my pelt for this. It’s the fifth shirt I’ve ripped this week. Pulling the hem earthway, she realised she had one sneaker and one flipflop on. Her stupid shorts were stained, and the shirt… she was so not comfortable in this form.
Her first fully-completed shift had happened only the previous lunar cycle, and the Celebration was still… well, celebrating. She was the first of her kind in the region in over a decade to transition, and they had all feared the worst when her two cub-sibs had passed so quickly after the fire when they were all visiting the Kinfolk for the first time when they were only twelve years old. That was nearly a sun cycle in the past though now, when her brother and sister were trapped and died before her very eyes. She refused to let them go without trying for hours. She begged the Death Bear to see her, and let her parlay her truths, but the Umbral Glade was viciously unremorseful to her needs and plight, and she could not pass into the alter-existence to plead her case. Human medicine was brought to her, and what felt like a dozen bees stinging her from all around her neck and arms and shoulders, she fought to keep her focus on trying to revive her womb-mates. Their bodies had already been offered to Gaia by the time she awakened again, and she was unrepentant in her righteous anger for having gifted their bodies without her farewell. The Celebration realised it had caused Taiga unmeasurable pain, but the damage was unchangeable. Not only did she have to watch her birthmates die because of human’s dens containing formidable closures unknown to the ursine engineers, but reviving them was beyond achievable; adding the gifting ceremony while she was still sedated from human’s medicine was the unbearable straw on her ursine back. She refused to shift from ursine, and stayed in her true form until her true shift.
Their deaths more than changed her. She became desperately quiet, but somehow, when she spoke, as much as she’d try to hold her tongue, she could feel the words betray her mind. Everything she thought spilled from her lips, and she was sometimes brusquely reprimanded for her feral tongue. But the Kinfolk also knew that she was deliberate and kind and selfless. Never a need to ask for help setting a table, or passing out supplies for a craft. Taiga was horrible holding her thoughts behind what her MoSi from the Sister Kinfolk of Griz would call the “bitch filter”, but no one ever would consider her mean if they knew her.
She was deliberate in her studies and her crafting and her healing. Those were the gifts Gaia had bestowed upon her, and she excelled in a beautiful trifecta of learned creative renewal. She had surpassed everyone around her in shifting gracefully, and could morph from one form to another with such ease, a cousin Kinfolk from the Griz had stated he thought she was much older and refined from her transitions so flawlessly.
She swore she would never again allow someone to feel the pain she had felt at the loss of her womb-mates. She was a natural. Gaia had kissed her mind and furry pads with a gift that few above her were able to match, let alone surpass. She had promised Gaia that she would never touch a human’s tech, medicine, or ever learn to count a bill, so long as Gaia gave her the abilities to create and teach and love and nurture and heal. Gaia accepted these terms, and gave secrets to unlocking gifts that were rare even among the oldest of the Celebration.
Taiga Borealis was borne deep in a cave in Northern Ontario, Canada. Tucked away for over 8 months with Pin and Lichen borne respectively within the next two hours of her entrance to the multiverse. The triplets were nearly on their third sun festival when their MoSi had enough of their shenanigans and decided it was time to go out to learn to hunt and swim and play. They were the first triplets borne in over a century to the Celebration and Kinfolk, and each sun festival was regarded with incredible delight, fanfare, and familia traveling from as far away as Siberia for the gala event.
Taiga would be celebrating their…her sun festival alone for the first time in just three lunars. She stood, clumsily on these wobbly long fleshy sticks of hers, and bent over to pick up the fallen acorn. A tiny ring of green moss covered the cap, and with a tear, she realised, this was meant to be her talisman. It was Pin and Lichen forever with her. She clutched it carefully in her left homid shaped hand, and straightened her back. She was going to give the best oration ever. She would finish, and then make her totem indestructible. It was perfectly flawed, and full of dings and mars from its fall down the tree, but there was never in the history of the multiverse, nor the future of it, an acorn quite so incredible.