[Story] Story a Week 21

[[ This week’s word: Ripe ]]

Risarra hurried down the narrow trail, a basket over her arm. It was rare for her to be awake so late in the morning, but she was far too excited to sleep. The starberries she’d noticed on her patrol the other night should be fully ripe now. She could smell their sweet scent in the air, warmed by the morning sunshine. Starberries had been Risarra’s favorite ever since she was little, she loved their translucent sky-blue color and sweet flavor, the way the juice burst into her mouth when she’d bite into one. And if you were to look at the end that attached to the stem, you would see the pattern of a star left there on the fruit. Her mother used to say that Elune had made them as a special treat for the kaldorei.

She knew of a special spot, one along her patrol where few others rarely went. It was hidden in a small grove, behind some boulders overgrown with moss. The entrance was easy to miss if you didn’t know to look for it. Of course she planned to share the starberries, it’s just that she wanted to eat a few for herself first. Especially since she had come all the way out here this late in the morning to get them. Risarra smiled as she stepped into the clearing. The entire shady side was overgrown with the starberry bushes, their vines twining up onto the sides of the rocks. They preferred shade, and needed plenty of rain. Thankfully they had plenty of that in the past few weeks. The vines were laden with plump, ripe berries in their clusters. Risarra wondered if she should have perhaps brought a larger basket. She set it down on the grass and got to work, careful not to squish or bruise any of the starberries. Her mind wandered thinking of all the things the cooks could make with them — jam, pies, muffins, wine. Did Bear like starberries? She didn’t know if it even mattered. He would eat what she brought regardless of whether he liked it or not. But she supposed it couldn’t hurt to bring him just a few.

The rustling of leaves brought her back to the grove, and Risarra was startled to see a bear had joined her. It seemed unaware of her presence, head and shoulders buried deep in the leaves, picking off clusters of berries with its lips. It wasn’t one of Bear’s, she would have recognized them and, she hoped, they would her as well. Risarra remained still, watching for a reaction. If she had to escape quickly, she wanted to plan her route ahead of time. There was the gap in the boulders, through which she’d come in. That would work so long as the bear didn’t reach it first. It might not be able to fit through the opening, either. Or she could go up into one of the trees, just enough to jump out on the other side. The tree wouldn’t slow the bear down for long, though, not even with a belly full of starberries. She heard a squeak, and two cubs clamored out from underneath the bear, standing on their hind legs and trying to reach the berries. She remembered what Bear had said, that a mother protecting her cubs was the most dangerous kind of bear to come across. Risarra watched them in silence, uncertainly. She didn’t want to startle them, but neither did she want to hurt them. The mother bear pulled down one of the vines, bringing the berries low enough for the cubs to eat. They did so eagerly, their little jaws smacking with delight. Risarra couldn’t help but smile at their reaction to their first taste of starberries.

The mother bear paused, lifting her nose to sniff at the air. It was then she noticed the elf, crouched on the other side of the grove. She watched Risarra for a moment, checked to be certain her two cubs were safe, then returned to eating berries. Risarra sighed, relieved. Though she would still be cautious, she was happy to share her starberries with the bear family. There were plenty to go around.

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