A woman sits at her humble loom, the kaleidoscope of blues, whites and reds forming the images and patterns of her tapestry. The dominant figures are of a great white bear and a human female at his side. A girl-child sits at her feet teasing a kitten with a piece of yarn. Ever higher the child holds it above the kitten's head and the feline determinedly reaches for the toy. The child giggles as the kitten cries with frustration.
An elderly woman with nut brown skin rocks in her rocking chair beside the hearth, her hair as black as a raven's wing and shot with gray pooling at her feet in a straight waterfall. She gazes out of the single window into the white world beyond. Winter is at its deepest now.
A roaring fire crackles and snaps from its place in the hearth, the flames licking the logs and highlighting the bluish tints in the elderly woman's river of hair. The heat given off by the fire warms the females, and lulls them into a quiet peacefulness.
All is quiet in the small home, and the snow drifts almost lazily from the sky in fat flakes. Clouds hide the stars and moon like a thick gray blanket, fat with snow that continues to fall.
The girl-child rewards the kittens valiant efforts by giving it the yarn piece. As the feline begins a solo game of hunter and prey, the girl child creeps over to the elderly woman, mouse-like. Crawling into her lap, the flames shine in her clear blue eyes. The elderly woman locks her own black orbs with the childs own blue ones. Her creased face breaks into a warm smile.
"Good evening Nannuk." she greets the girl. The child smiles at the nickname. "Aanak, tell me a story!" she says with the enthusiam only a child has. The stories of her Aanak never cease to amaze, excite and inspire her in her games. "What shall I tell, dear Nannuk? You know them all." Her Aanuk says with a glint of laughter in her eyes. "Not all." says the child, suddenly solemn.
The atmosphere changes from cozy to intense with that statement. The weaving woman pauses her work; she knows the story her daughter seeks. "Aanak, you said I must wait for the final story until I am older. That wasagesago. Aren't I old enough now?" the child asks. Her Aanak looks thoughtful as she pets the childs hair. The wind has picked up outside, and the sound is forlorn to the three female's ears.
"Perhaps tonight is appropriate for such a tale," she says finally.
The other woman resumes weaving, listening. The child's Aanak adjusts her in her lap and resumes her rocking. Her eyes grow misty for but a moment-a blink and it is gone. She looks over at the other woman, her daughter.
"Nannuraluk, tell your daughter why this story is of importance to our family."
The woman, Nannuraluk, never casting her eyes in their direction says, "It is our history, Kilaurak. The story of Akiak and the White Bear is the story of your Aanak."
Kilaurak, the girl-child, widens her eyes. Shaking her white hair out of her face, she looks expectantly at her Aanak, eager for the story.
Akiak, the elderly woman, closes her eyes and says, "Long ago I lived in the frozen north at the roof of the world. On the otherside of it to be precise. I lived a quiet life, training to be the next shaman of my tribe when the shaman before me, Putyuk, passed on. My life was not exciting outside of my training. I was the only child of my parents, and my life was on a preset course. A course I chafed against. It drastically changed one day. That was the day I met the White Bear..."
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