|Friendship Stick. |
We're friends, right?
Like all of the Icehammers, my father Toktin was strong, but devoted more to crafts than hunting. He made good use of wood, stone, and hide, but was a master with bone. He made strong hammers, sharp harpoons, and beautiful ornaments.
It was one of the ornaments which caught the Walrus-god's eye. He had made a cloak-pin for a cousin which was especially fine work, four walruses in a circle with a miniature narwhal tusk for the pin. His cousin believed there was magic in the pin, but it was not enough from keeping him from being lost on one hunt.
Some time later, Toktin also got lost, stranded on an ice-floe when his canoe failed. On his third day, delirious and succumbing to the cold he was amazed to find a beautiful, dark-skinned, blue-haired gnome beside him, wearing a walrus-hide cloak fastened with his own pin. She told him she thought his bone-walruses were as beautiful as the creatures themselves, and she kept him warm for three days. She vanished just before my cousins found my father.
A year and a summer later, my father felt drawn to the shore. There was a walrus cow with two babies-one, my twin sister, a 100-pound walrus calf. She was jealous and wouldn't let me nurse. This isn't surprising since walrus twins are rare and there might not be enough milk for us both. I was a two-pound gnome, and my father found me wrapped warmly in a walrus cloak with the same pin. My mother kissed my father and me and then swam away with my sister, leaving me in his care.