Renetta nods to Waterstrider. "Okay, I'll see you soon." She's a bit reluctant to leave his side, but she'll live. She focuses on Gray and smiles. "I'd love to." Her hold on Waterstrider is released and she'll follow where Gray guides her.
Gray leads her to the fire, where the other women stand, and Renetta may feel a Presence, warm and comforting, like the arms of a mother holding a small child. An elderly Wolfen, bearing many old burn scars, approaches the women, one by one, painting a symbol on their foreheads in elk blood.
As the blood touches her, the noises around her go quiet, except for the crackling of the fire. Renetta seems to be the only one here, and yet there is a sense of safety - a certainty that the villagers are still present, and that no harm has befallen them, or her.
A thought enters her mind. This child was conceived in violence, but carried in love. You have chosen a worthy father for her. He is young and rash, but will never fail in his love for either of you. Tell me, daughter-of-the-trees, what is your hope for your child?
Renetta watches curiously as the other woman are marked. She feels... relaxed and comfortable, even without Waterstrider by her side. It's not something that comes easy for her.
Then the world fades away around her, and a voice. I... I want her to be happy. I don't want her to suffer for her looks. I don't want her to have to go through anything like I did. I wa- I just want her to be happy.
"She will experience love and fear, joy and pain, love and loss, acceptance and rejection. I cannot take any of these from her.
I can offer your family this - to blend you in flesh as you are in spirit. To give each of the three of you traits of elf, wolfen, and orc, so that your lifespans on the earth will be the same, and your child will have parents of her own kind." Renetta will receive a mental picture of what this means, how it will affect each of them in appearance and abilities and physical traits. Her own lifespan will be decreased, Waterstrider's increased, and the child's lifespan will remain mostly the same. She'll see what her daughter will look like if she doesn't take the choice, and what she'll look like if she does.
With the offer and the vision is a clear feeling of choice, that the voice will not judge her no matter how she chooses.
"If this is what you choose, then call for me at the sun's return, and I will make it happen. I am the Dawn Wolf, and you have my blessing, daughter-of-the-trees."
The vision fades, and the noises of the festival return. Renetta might notice that the other mothers have dazed looks, as if they had also spoken to spirits. She should feel a strong sense of well-being, as Gray puts her hand on her. "Would you like to sit?"
Grey leads Renetta to a chair that is rather rustic in build, but has cushions placed on it for comfort. There's even a log placed nearby to put up her feet. "If there is anything you need, just let me know, or if you don't see me, any of the children will carry a message."
The other mothers are likewise given chairs, though the one with twins soon ends up returning to her hut when one of them grows fussy. This seems to be a transition point in the ceremony, where people can come and go again, before the next phase begins.
"Thank you. I don't need anything right now." Renetta could probably eat a bit, but she's not all that hungry. A chair is all she needs right now, and it's definitely a relief. Just standing for extended periods of time is hard on her sore feet.
Renetta smiles at the wolfen in return. "It was amazing. Someone spoke to me, in my mind. She called herself the Dawn Wolf." She pauses for a second, a bit unsure how to explain the offer she was given. Waterstrider won't have the benefit of the images she received, and of course she has no idea how he'll feel about it. She's not exactly sure she knows how she feels about it herself. "She offered me- us something."
Waterstrider looks up at her in surprise at the name, searching her eyes before smiling gently. "Dawn Wolf is one of our most important Spirits. Akin to a god. It is rare that she speaks to someone." The Wolfen explains. "What did she offer?"
Renetta's eyes widen at that. What made her so special that a god took the time to speak to her, and offer her what she had. The elf goes on to explain what Dawn Wolf said, describing what she saw with as much detail as she can manage. "What do you think?"
Waterstrider listens intently, but after a while, his ears fall back before he answers the question. "I would be both honored by you, and saddened." He says before going on. "I know my time here is short, especially compared to you or the child you bear. Less than fifty summers is a very short time to do things in, but I'd love you for every day that passed by." He tells her gently. "I would love to be able to spend longer with you and the child. All eternity if I could. But at the same time, it feels sorrowful to have your own life shortened with me as one of the reasons." He admits to her as he nuzzles her knee. "Either way, I do not think our child would suffer for want of love, but in the end..."
Waterstrider pauses to stand and give Renetta's neck a gentle nip of affection. "In the end, it is your choice. I will follow and love you both either way you choose."
Renetta gives him a kiss on the muzzle, and then a smile. "I'll take some time to think about it, and I'll tell you before I decide." She says slowly. There's a lot to think about and consider. This was a big decision, especially considering that she's making it for two people.
Waterstrider kneels back down and rests his head on Renetta's stomach, listening to their child within her. "Take as long as you need, I understand. There's one other thing to consider though." He says before looking up at her. "If we did it, it'd mean we'd be able to give her a sibling on down the road."
Renetta sits in stunned silence for a moment. "I... Yes, I guess we could." she gives him a small smile, though internally her mind is running a mile a minute. On one hand, she's still not sure she could... But this is Waterstrider, and if there's anyone she could trust, it's him. And besides, it wouldn't be something she has to worry about right away.
"Do you need to rest back in the hut?" Waterstrider asks quietly. "Or do you want to see the rest of the celebration? The Namings and Gift Givings will be happening soon." As he speaks, tables are being set up for food and drink.
"Oh no, I wouldn't want to miss it for the world." The elf's smile grows slightly amused. "I did just wake up not that long ago you know." It certainly is a nice feeling having someone so concerned about you, though.
Her eyes are drawn to the food being set up. She hasn't ate a thing yet today, and seeing food is making her think about eating, and thinking about eating is making her hungry. Waterstrider might guess what's on her mind by how distracted she just got.
Waterstrider notices what she's looking at and chuckles. "I'll get some for us." He decides before letting go of her to head off to one of the roasted elk. The elk is being served by a human male who has the unfortunate honor to have Second Girl draping herself across his shoulders from behind. She seems to be whispering something to him with the rather interesting results of making the young man blush bright red.
The ears of nearby Wolfen and Goblins flick in their direction, showing that they can hear every word, but they don't look at the pair or say anything out of respect.
The man is barely able to dish out a large portion of the meat onto a wooden platter for Waterstrider, and before the Wolfen returns, he grabs a few things of fruit and a pair of waterskins for him and Renetta. Once everything's gathered, he'll head back to sit next to her again, setting the platter on her lap. "I hope that's enough."
What little lap she has left that is. "This is perfect. Thanks." Renetta takes a piece of fruit and bites into it hungrily. She'll proceed to eat at a fairly rapid pace, moving on to the meat after the fruit. "This is really good." She comments, after swallowing her current mouthful.
Others begin to get their own food, the cubs trying to sneak in and steal little choice pieces of meat, fruit, or sweets. As some wait for their turn, Renetta will see couples pairing off quietly and go to little private places where they exchange gifts. Waterstrider nuzzles Renetta's knee and smiles gently. "People have started giving gifts." He tells her quietly before reaching under her chair. "And I have something for you." He tells her as he pulls out what appears to be rolled up fur, tied by some twine.
"Oh." Renetta looks at the fur wrapped present with great interest. "Oh Waterstrider. I never got anything for you." She sounds just a bit distressed by that, even as at the same time she's happy that he would think to get her something.
When she unwraps the gift, she'll find that the fur is actually a cloak, made from something like a buffalo and lined on the inside with padding to make it extra warm in the winter time. In the middle of it, sets a small wooden rattle, painted with multiple colored stripes, obviously for the little girl.
Renetta is silent for a moment. She runs her hands over the cloak. Her hand stops when it encounters the rattle. She picks it up, looking at it intently. A single tears splashes against her hand.
She looks up at him again, and her smile couldn't be wider. "They're wonderful." She wants to hug him right now, but she has the limitation of a rather large belly holding her back. Instead she settles for caressing his face with her free hand.
Waterstrider gets to his knees and nuzzles Renetta's cheek gently to wipe away the tears. "Happy Festival, Beloved." He whispers to her. The rattle had once been his, and he had wanted to see if his mother had kept it in case of any other siblings that might have popped up in the time he'd been gone, but since none had, he had gotten this from her.
They thought it would be a perfect gift.
The cloak had been something his father had worked on for him for whenever he returned. There was a similar one for Pathfinder that Waterstrider would take back, but after talking to his father they agreed that this would also be great for her.
For the next couple hours the tribe rejoices, feasting and giving out various gifts to one another. Friends to friends, family to family and lovers to one another. After a while though, Dawnrunner and Preysense take seats in their chairs at the head of the elongated clearing. At an unheard signal, several Wolfen, humans, and even a couple goblins begin to gather around them, taking a seat, each one a young adult, just out of puberty. After about 20 of them have gathered around, Preysense stands. "As the year ends, we have much to be thankful and proud for. A bountiful hunt..." he says, gesturing towards the feast that's been laid out. "Many young cubs." He points out with a nod towards the young mothers and the newborns less than a year old. "And finally, our Honor and Pride as a Tribe remains unblemished." He says with a slight Wolfen smirk that results in a few cheers.
"Before us are 23 children. Tonight or within the next few months, each one shall transition between childhood and adulthood as they are given, or earn, their names. Those who do not get their Names tonight, need not worry. You will be allowed to go out and earn them yourselves, to seek your fate and glory. Before this though, I will call you one by one and we'll give out Names."
After a long pause, his eyes search the crowd before settling on one in particular. "Renetta Oronar. You do not need to get up if you are able to, but as a member of our tribe now, you have earned one yourself." He says with a slight smile.
Renetta blinks in surprise. Her? Get a name with the others? She's... she's not really sure what to say. This seems altogether too important to remain sitting, however. With Waterstrider's assistance, she will get to her feet. "Th- thank you. I would be honored." She smiles broadly at Preysense.
Preysense stands and slowly makes his way to Renetta before kneeling down in front of her to get more to her level. "You have brought much happiness to the world, Mother-Soon. You daughter will have a wonderful life in your arms, and you've done much honor to Waterstrider in choosing him to spend your life with. For this, I, Dawnrunner, and both Fenrir and Dawn Wolf grant you a Name. To this tribe and any Wolfen, you will be known as Joybringer." He tells her with a genuine smile. "This will not replace your birth name, but it is our name to you. It would do us a great honor for you to accept it."
Waterstrider watches her silently, ears perked and tail wagging in excitement.