Telling Tales 24
“The problem was not the water, but the kind of water.
“The ocean was so salty that none of the animals would drink from it, and it was causing them all to become sick. Imiq was chosen from the people of the ocean and I was chosen from the people of the sky to join our nations and find a solution to the problem. Neither of our peoples bore responsibility, but both had no desire to see this creation falter at its very dawn. So it was that I descended to the land and Imiq arose to it and were married by our nations, committed to saving the lives of the animals of the land.
“We spoke to each of the animals in turn, but they could tell us nothing that we didn’t know. We were young and inexperienced and our ideas were unlikely and few. Eventually, we decided to seek the company of our elders. We traveled to Imiq’s people. It was a difficult place for me, as there was no sky anywhere to be found. There is no sun and the farther into their lands we traveled the darker it became. By the time we reached their elders, I was a shadow of myself. They told Imiq that I could not stay with them, that we must return immediately and he must take me back to my home to recover my strength. ‘You can not think of your task at the moment,’ they told Imiq, ‘you are married now and your first duty must be to your wife. Nurse her to health, and then return to the work we have settled for you.’ ‘But wait,’ said another elder, ‘if our lands are as harmful to her as this, think what her lands will do to you.’ The elders consulted, and sent Imiq back with me with a leather bag of the ocean in it that he could use to replenish himself.
“Thus we returned to the land, and from there we traveled on and on toward my people. ‘Where are you going?’ asked Raven. At the time, we did not know that it was Raven who was at the heart of all of this, and we only knew him as a neighbor. ‘We are going to the lands of the sky, to my people,’ I told him. ‘Let me come with you,’ he said. ‘You may sit on my back and I will carry you there.’ ‘What has happened to your feathers?’ asked Imiq. ‘My wings are so mighty, I accidentally flew too close to the sun and I was scorched and charred black all over. Is it not handsome? I know exactly how hard to fly in order to bring you to the sky people. Say, what’s in that bag?’
“Raven is not the best neighbor, but he is not the worst. He will do you favors, like fly you home, but then he will get distracted. I knew better, so I indicated that Imiq should not tell Raven. ‘It is medicine from my people. I am sick.’ Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore! You are as healthy as one of those caribou down there!’ At that moment, the caribou fell over, exhausted from thirst. ‘Ah, I see,’ said Raven, and lifted us into the air.
“My people welcomed us, but as with my visit to Imiq’s people, he suffered in my ancestral home. There is no water in the sky, and he faded in our company. Worse, his bag with the ocean in it was missing. Raven was flying away with it in his mouth.