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C is for Ice Caves - A Catkin Ficlet

The beaver walked out onto Lake Michigan as the sun rose. She was in her human form, in worn insulated pants and jacket. She scuffed her feet a little, ice-fishing equipment in her back pack and pole in hand. A low bank of clouds hid the sun, but its light spilled over, slowly turning the shadowy violet twilight into a monochrome landscape of muted blue-greys. The world grew quiet as she moved steadily onto the lake from the outskirts of Chicaugwa. The noise of millions of people crowded together never stopped, not even in the natural hush before dawn.

It would be more than an hour to get to the ice caves, but the Beaver enjoyed the walk. She felt like she was being cleansed of the pollution and chaos of modern life. Out here there were no cars or cellphones, no coffeeshops or skyscrapers. Just frosty blue sky overhead, snow-covered ice below, and the sharp clean winter wind. She fell into a meditative state naturally, filling her soul with the simple actions of breathing and walking. The unusually cold winter was a blessing for her, in more than one way.

A seagull circled overhead, then dove downward in the distance, directly in front of her. She frowned. Chicaugwa-area gulls mostly ate human leftovers. They’d gone from glorious hunter-scavengers to living as parasites off the least wholesome mammal species the planet had yet produced. It was sad. Something had to be done about it.

She didn’t want to eliminate all humans, of course. She had friends in the city, and family. But she longed to return the area to wild swamp, or at least to once again have rivers and streams that beavers could enjoy. She’d never been able to build a dam in her ancestral waters, and it made her blood boil. As long as Chicaugwa was a major metropolis, she never would.

It was past time for change to come to Chicaugwa. She walked steadily onward, returning to the meditative state that let her pull in the natural beauty to fuel that change.

She was almost to the caves when the roar of several snowmobiles approached. She turned and shook her fishing pole at them, and they smiled and waved. “Idiots.”

The snowmobilers zoomed past the first, tiny cave entrance, heading for the larger, more spectacular one a little further out. But they had been to her small cave already, the pile of trash being picked over by a smug-looking seagull was testimony to that.

She shook her fishing pole in the direction the humans had taken, then dropped to her knees and crawled inside. It was beautiful inside the cave, but she had seen it before, and was no longer in the mood to appreciate the sight. She crawled, wiggled, and scooted until she reached the hidden area where she’d dug her fishing hole.

This area was partially open to the sky; once she reopened the fishing hole, she stood in the narrow beam of sunlight and stripped off her clothing, folding it neatly to cover where the sunlight hit the ice. Then she transformed and dove into the water.

From below, she looked up at the underside of the ice, and smiled. Her inner sight showed a vast magical circle, glowing and perfect. She ran her eyes over the pattern, checking for flaws, then returned for a breath of air.

The foundation was well laid. Today, she would build upon it.

Over the course of the day, she filled in the circle. In the center, she carved blessings for pure water and for wilderness. She blessed the natural world with fertility and abundance. She called on earth, fire, water and air to clean away the ugly, unhealthy excesses, and to eliminate things that stood in the way of an ecological recovery. Closer to the edge, she added sigils for chaos and entropy, to help that which should pass into dust again do so quickly. Finally, on the outer edge, she carved symbols of humanity, adding blessings of wanderlust and envy.

There would be more, as much more as she could add in the days before the ice started to melt again. She fought against her impatience, knowing that each day’s work had to be balanced and perfect. She couldn’t count on cooperation from the weather—the spell was set to be released as the ice melted, so it had to be left ready-to-go every time she headed home.

It was dark by the time she headed back across the lake, tired, but with a sense of accomplishment. Her limbs ached and her stomach growled. By the time she stepped back onto the streets of Chicaugwa, she was too tired to cook. She decided to stop at Blackbeard’s for fried fish on the way home.


Thanks to dreamwidth user Clare_Dragonfly for the prompt!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC)
Glad I don't live in Chicaugwa. The beaver's spell sounds well-designed. I like the building on it day-by-day, yet having it sufficient each day that it can operate properly at that point, if needed.
Apr. 5th, 2014 04:27 pm (UTC)
"Glad I don't live in Chicaugwa." It seems the spell is starting to work already!

Thank you!
Apr. 5th, 2014 07:30 pm (UTC)
Gulp. I didn't even notice. You. Are. Good.
Apr. 5th, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC)
*evil grin*
Untethered Realms
Apr. 8th, 2014 12:43 am (UTC)
Wonderfully written, and such fantastic detail. I'll never look at beavers the same way again!

Good luck with the Challenge. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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