Snowdrift

One
The Future Generation

The subject of a child took a while to be brought up, but when it was, it came quickly.

We had just finished a wonderful meal of Seaking, (really a very delicate fish), and Glacier said quite casually, "Snowfall, I think we should have a chick."

I stared, open beaked at him. "What? Now?" I couldn't believe my ears. "You can't be serious!"

"Why shouldn't we? We've been together for almost a year, let's have a chick."

"Give me one good reason." I said, sounding as level headed as I could, not very easy when you've just been asked to have a kid.

"I just think it would be fun." He was sounding more level headed than I was. "You tell me why not."

I looked down at the cave floor and told him very softly, so he could barely hear, "I just keep remembering my little brother. I could never bear that pain again. You have no idea what it's like to loose your brother."

"Well, we won't make that mistake a second time. We'll keep one of us here the whole time until he, or she, can fly. Trust me, it'll be fun."

So now we've got an egg. A beautiful, icy, shiny, faceted, half a meter long egg, all of our own. We were very careful in making the nest for it. We piled rocks into a circle right at the back of the cave, beamed it with ice to hold the rocks together and placed the egg inside, then capped it in with more ice.

Most birds' eggs, in fact, all birds' eggs except for Articuno eggs, need to be kept at a warm temperature. Articuno chicks take a long time to develop because of this, about two months, but it is necessary to maintain freezing temperature because otherwise, the chick would develop too quickly and hatch slightly deformed.

One of my mother's friends had an egg too far down the mountain, and forgot to maintain the temperature with constant ice beams, and her chick hatched without a tail. I could not imagine an Articuno sans-tail. It's just too awful. Poor little guy. So there's another mistake Glacier and I learnt from. I could tell we would be the best parents in these mountains.

That's why I was so surprised when the egg was stolen.

It was an exceptionally cold day in the mountains and it was snowing quite heavily. There was no wind whatsoever, so we felt our little darling would be all right for the day. Winter had just finished and spring was approaching. The river was just melting and the fish were returning from further downstream to spawn. We were feeling hungry after the long winter and went fishing together.

That day we caught three Poliwag, a Goldeen and a Magikarp, but they're not a great eating fish. Not too bad for a day's fishing. When we swooped back up to our cave, the carefully crafted nest was completely demolished and our precious egg gone.

I was beside myself. I dropped the forgotten fish at the entrance and flapped over to the nest. It couldn't be possible! Where was my dear egg? I collapsed onto the floor, buried my face in my wings and wept.

I barely felt Glacier's comforting wing on my back as he came over. Unlike me, he was silent. I looked up into his ruby eyes and saw a very fearful sight. He was glaring with more force and intensity than I had seen on any bird in my life, even more than my father when he found out my brother was blown from the cave, under my watch.

Glacier was way beyond the point of being angry. His eyes looked blacker than black, colder than the ice we lived in. As I sobbed uselessly into my wings for a full five minutes, he stared at the wall, not blinking once, the only movement, his brow lowering closer and closer to his eyes.

Slowly, he stood up and walked purposefully towards the cave entrance. I watched carefully. He stopped at the edge of the cliff and raised his head to the sky, then let out the most ear-piercing, blood-curdling screech any ears had ever had the misfortune of hearing. I started wailing again.

That night, when we had settled down a little more [as in, not screeching all over the mountains], we decided to make a plan to find our egg, and we had to do it before the two months were up. There was only one creature horrid and unselfish enough to steal an Articuno egg.

Human.

We had thought nothing at all would be able to reach our mountains, but something had, and only humans could have the willpower to make the treacherous climb. We also figured that they would go by way where the water would be most plentiful, as they didn't have the patience to melt snow, so we thought they would follow the river, probably downstream towards the warmer climate.

Our plan was to follow the river to the nearest town and ask about our egg. The journey would be more than risky, but this was our egg, our baby. We couldn't let it be born at the mercy of the humans. After our rational discussion about the future generation of Articuno, we took off and glided just above the river, hoping the humans hadn't gone too far with our precious. I would not loose another of my family, not this easily.

two