25 February: The Reindeer Festival - The Sled Races



The day of the sled races had finally come, bringing perfect weather and an excited crowd gathered around the entrance to Sûri-kylä. Food on sticks was being passed around, and vendors were lined up just inside the village entrance to sell their wares. Several sleds were lined up on the ice, each accompanied by a large snow dog. Along with Ilyna and Sofie, two other Lossoths, Filpa and Vide, were preparing for the race, bonding with their snow dog or tightening fastenings on their sleds.

 

Ruhte walks over to Ristiinna and asks quietly, "You mind?" Points to a spot in the snow next to her.

 

Ristiinna looks up, then stands. "I'm sorry," she says quietly, and moves a little bit away.

 

Ruhte shakes her head, "Oh no...I didn't mean.." Sighs and grumbles about being awkward and sits in the snow with a huff.

 

Sofie leans down to finish fastening Karhu's harness, and attach it to the small sled.

 

Vuohkku stamps about, trying to keep her feet warm as she waits for the start.

 

Ilyna concentrated mainly on the harness, yet she'd not be entirely sure if it was secure enough, and so shyly glanced over to Sofie and the other competitors to ensure she was doing it correctly. Her usual, smug expression plastered over her features as she'd take a look around, and then to the dog, mumbling something inaudible to others at it.

 

Sofie stands up straight once she finishes, and glances around at the other three contestants, before glancing over at the onlookers. "It's a small race this year," she comments to Ilyna.

 

Jaska spots Ristiinna and has a seat near her to watch. "What do you think of my new hat? Suits me, don't you think?"

 

Ristiinna looks up and smiles. She looks about to speak in a torrent of words but then stops herself, and pauses a moment before saying in a crisp and stilted way, "It is nice. Did you make it?"

 

Once she had got herself entirely prepared, or at least to her standard, she'd crane her neck to look over to Sofie. She'd shrug lightly, huffing a little; ''They're missing out. Besides, I'm only here to beat you.'' She'd grin playfully, chuckling to herself before she'd look past Sofie to Vuohkku briefly.

 

Vuohkku paused her stamping and fidgeting enough to give her sister a wave and what she hoped was an encouraging smile.

 

Sofie turns her head to look at Vuohkku as well, waving, and then looks back to Ilyna. "I bet Ruhte is going to crush everyone in the ice-sculpting contest, though”

 

A large man is walking up and down the crowd, writing down names and bet amounts and a woman follows behind him, selling different types of hand-held foods like fish sticks and cheese.

 

Ristiinna ponders silently a few moments. "I hope it is warm," she says, again in a carefully slow cadence.

 

Ilyna blinks, now moving her gaze to Ruhte, who she admittedly hadn't even noticed. She'd smile a little, even wiggling her fingers her yet wouldn't seem to wait to see if she noticed or not, since she looked back to Sofie; ''Well, I'd be surprised if she didn', since she doesn't do much else.''

 

Ruhte is looking down making snow sculptures of the racers and their dogs.

 

Sofie moves over to step onto her sled, which is old and looks like it'll fall apart easily, and she picks up the reigns. A Lossoth runs down to the end of the race and lifts a white flag, and the racers prepare to kick off.

 

Vuohkku looks over and sees the fisher sitting somewhat isolated again - and making art in the snow. She slowly makes her way over to look.

 

Ruhte has 4 of the racers, sleds, and dog teams finished. She is working on the last racers when Vuohkku walks over.

 

Ilyna notices the Lossoth and speedily sets herself into position. She picks up her reigns, gives a final look to the dog she's entrusting, before she'd briefly look to Filpa. Filpa appeared more than prepared, and simply looked out of in front, disregarding the other competitors.

 

Jaska nods. "So do I. Seems enough for now, at least. Weather's nice." She pauses, then squints. "Is something the matter with you? I don't claim to know you all that well, but you seem a bit... different than before."

 

Ristiinna stares pointedly off towards one of the beacons atop a distant hilltop. "My mother reminded me how I can be 'too much' and irritate people. I don't wish to irritate people."

 

The Lossoth at the far end blows a high-pitched whistle and the four racers kick off. Vide pulls far ahead with Sofie right behind him. While Ilyna stumbles and brings up the rear, Filpa shoots past his three competitors by a landslide.

 

Ristiinna turns her gaze back to the racers, following their movement.

 

Jaska blinks, then frowns at her. "Oh. Well... good luck with that. I guess." Jaska gives her attention to the race as well.

 

Ristiinna smiles, expressively -- it's strained but sincere. "Thank you," she says, continuing to watch the racers. "I'm sorry for past exuberances."

 

Vuohkku blinks at the uneven start and moans a bit, quietly, before trying to shout encouragement. Not that "Go Ilyna! You can do it!" is all that inspiring, but it's sincere.

 

Karhu gets distracted by the crowd and veers Sofie's sled off to the far right, and by the time she gets back on track she's fallen the furthest behind. Vide keeps an even pace behind Filpa, but then Ilyna surpasses all of them and moves into the lead!

 

Vuohkku cheers loudly for her sister, excited to see this turn of events. Ruhte finishes her snow doodles and watches the race quietly.

 

Jaska looks over again. "Past what? Never mind. If you're wondering if you've bothered me, you haven't... uh, as far as I remember. Which might not be very far. If I'm honest, I'm still trying to figure out if you told me your name at some point."

 

Despite Ilyna's lead, and the smug expression she'd possess, she'd accidentally loosen her grip. Alongside that, and the momentum she had developed, she was going to fast into a turn. It resulted in a crash, which gave the opportunity for Filpa and Vide to pass her. Unfortunately, as Sofie was behind them all, she ended up crashing into Ilyna, and so the other two carried on.

 

Jaska grimaces. 

 

Ristiinna says, "Ristiinná. Daughter of Nöra and Raimo."

 

Vuohkku yells and starts running along to see whether they're injured.

 

Ristiinna sucks in a breath. "Oh, no, I hope they aren't hurt," she says in a voice more like her normal, though still comparatively subdued.

 

Jaska looks back from the race. "Jaska. But maybe you already knew that."

 

Ristiinna is watching Vuohkku's approach, shifting her weight as if readying to stand up. "I remember from the night of the storm," she says, distractedly.

 

Sofie crashes hard into Ilyna, and is flown from her sled and sprawls out in the snow. Before Vuohkku can even reach them, she can be heard heartily laughing.

 

Jaska eyes her and nods a bit, then looks back to the crash.

 

Filpa and Vide remained close together through the entirety of the race, yet Vide's dog began to slow down slightly, which meant that Filpa was now in the lead. Ilyna, on the other hand, had been submerged in the snow taking a substantial blow, due to the contact she had made to the ground, but also Sofie's contribution to the crash as well. She remained silent.

 

The Lossoth at the end of the race blew his whistle and named Filpa the winner of the race, giving him a prized sack of sugar all the way from Bree. The bet-collectors began to go up and down the crowd, collecting coin and passing it out to those who bet on Filpa.

 

Vuohkku finally catches up to their position and moves in closer. "Ilyna! Sofie! Are you all right?" She starts trying to clear her sister from the snow.

 

Sofie 's laughter dies down and she sits up, brushing off snow from her clothes. She quickly reaches over to unfasten both of the dogs, who are freaking out and struggling in their harnesses.

 

Ilyna was conscious, yet was dazed in the aftermath of the crash. She still laid as she was, but did loudly groan out her discomfort. She'd tilt her head ever so slightly, simply to look up at the figure above her, now noticing it to be her sister.

 

Sofie kneels down by Ilyna, fumbling and searching her many small pouches and satchels. "Here, chew on this," she says, thrusting a piece of willowbark into Ilyna's hands.

 

Vuohkku waves her hand, looking to see whether Ilyna tracks the motion. "Are you all right? Can you move?" She nods to Sofie's actions with a quick smile of thanks.

 

Ristiinna watches the crashed racers with concern fairly bubbling over, but holding herself still. She notices Ruhte walking past her and takes the opportunity to steal a glance at her craftsmanship.

 

There are little replicas of the racers, sleds, and dogs in the snow. Lined up at the starting line with the announcer standing by ready to start the race.

 

Ilyna took a while to emerge back to an adequate state of consciousness, but once she had, she'd grasp the willowbark into her hand before bringing it to her mouth. In between her chewing, she'd look to her sister once; ''I should be able to..'' With that, she'd slowly attempt to bring herself to sit up, yet it followed several grimaces and groans.

 

Sofie grins when Ilyna seems to, mostly, be alright. "Come on, let's go get by the fire. Your clothes are gonna be soaked now!"

 

Vuohkku offers Ilyna a hand to help her rise, or at least to steady herself.

 

Ilyna placed the willowbark inbetween her teeth as she took her sisters hand, yet used her other one to take hold of her other hand for an extra support as she stood. She'd make sure she had some sort of balance, yet remained to have a hold on her sister's arm as a precaution, removing the bark from her mouth to direct herself toward Sofie; ''Didn't help you crashing into me.''

 

Sofie snorts. "I wouldn't have crashed into you if you hadn't crashed right in front of me!" she replies. The crowd begins to disperse and head back to the village, and Sofie follows after them, dragging her broken sled behind her.

 

Ristiinna waves to the person who was selling food earlier. When she arrives, Ris asks her to bring something warm to each of the racers, the ones who crashed first, and slips her payment, all said very quietly.

 

Ruhte goes back to work now that the race is over.

 

Vuohkku nods, though it's not quite clear to what, and starts to escort her sister toward the fire. "She's right about your clothes, I think."

 

Ilyna opens her mouth to protest, yet instead she'd wince, but she would roll her eyes as she'd watch Sofie leave. She'd then look back to her sister, pointing a finger toward her back, shaking her head only slightly; ''Maybe.. Can we go to the hut or somewhere? I need to sit. My back's sore..'' She'd hesitate; ''Well. Everywhere's sore.''

 

Vuohkku nods. "If you need to. Of course. I'll need to come clean up the sled, though."

 

A Lossoth shouts from the bridge. "The sled races are officially over! There's dinner and dancing in the Big Lodge for any who want to partake!"

 

Ristiinna watches the sisters, then pulls herself to her feet. She walks over to get a closer look at the snow-sculptures, studying them closely and interestedly. Jaska gets up and follows the crowd.

 

Sofie is chewing on a roasted fish on a stick as she watches the crowd head back into the village.

 

Ilyna nods, turning briefly to look to the sled; ''That can wait. Come and get something to eat and warm up. You must be freezing.''

 

Ristiinna turns and walks over to Ruhte. Hesitantly, she says, "Your sculptures are very skillful. I'm sorry I was sitting on the good snow for sculpting. There's to be food at the lodge now."

 

Ilyna used her sister as a support, if she allowed it. She'd look to Jaska as she passed her, acknowledging the hat, grinning at her as they wandered past; ''Nice hat! I wonder where you got it.'' She'd pause again when she reached Sofie, nodding toward the bridge; ''Are you coming?''

 

Ruhte continues to fish, "Thanks. You weren't." Pauses, "Wanted sit next to. No food. Need work. Tribe needs fish."

 

Jaska frowns.

 

Sofie grins at Jaska and the twins, nodding. "Yeah. That vendor over there gave me a free fish stick!" she chirps, turning and heading over the bridge.

 

Ristiinna was just starting to turn and walk back towards the bridge, but pauses. "Oh," she says. "I'm sorry I misunderstood, then." She sighs very softly. "I'll pay for your supper if you come. There was much tallow from the hunt." She doesn't wait for an answer, though. Slowly she makes her way to the bridge.

 

Ilyna blinks, looking at the stick, and frowns. Only briefly, however, as the vendor wandered over to her to offer her the same. She'd look smug now, calling out to Sofie as they'd carry on walking, yet it would be slower as Ilyna was struggling; ''So did I! You're not special.''

 

Sofie snorts at Ilyna. "Looking mighty arrogant for someone who caused not one, but /two/ crashes!"

 

Vuohkku tries not to get involved in any bickering, and just lets her sister use her as a cane, and tries not to make that too obvious.

 

Ilyna takes a bite from the fish stick, giving herself a few moments to chew, before she'd bitterly respond; ''Just.. It wasn't my fault you can't control your dog!''

 

Sofie rolls her eyes at Ilyna and does not respond. Instead, she immediately beelines for the Lossoths waiting in line to get something to eat.

 

Ilyna mutters under her breath, yet looks to her sister, smiling softly at her. She'd speak quietly to her, still using her as a cane for the moment; ''It's not.. People aren't looking, are they?'' She'd take another bite from the fish stick, dipping her head a little as others would pass.

 

Jaska also lines up for food.

 

Sofie patiently waits with a bowl in hand, turning to look at Jaska when she joined her in line. "Hey, I like your hat."

 

Vuohkku shakes her head. "Not much, anyway. Do you need to sit, and have me get you some? Or can you queue up?"

 

Jaska smiles. "Really? Thanks."

 

Sofie nods. "You get it from one of the vendors? I got a really nice pair of beaded boots yesterday."

 

Ristiinna lags a bit behind the others returning from the races, after stopping to speak with the fisher, then briefly filling in her mother and father on the outcome of the races before heading to the lodge.

 

Jaska nods. "Mhm. Expensive, though. You know how festivals are."

 

Ilyna looks over toward the benches around the fire, contemplating it for a moment, and she'd then direct her gaze toward the main fire where the queue was, before she'd finally look back to her sister; ''Could you get me some? I'll go sit.''

 

Sofie takes a step forward as the line moves. "I heard some families were doing mammoth rides during the day. Is your family participating in that? I'm too scared to ride a mammoth."

 

Vuohkku nods. "I'll help you get there, then. In case sitting hurts, too. Then I'll get our food."

 

Ilyna inclines her head a little, before directing herself toward the benches. She'd move slowly still, her hand discreetly touching her back occassionally as they walked over; ''Who's stupid idea was it to have me enter into that stupid race?''

 

Jaska nods. "We don't send you up there all on your own, if it's any consolation. I could go with you."

 

Sofie smiles. "That could be fun," she replies. She steps forward and holds out her bowl, and is given a deer steak and some greens. She moves off to the side to wait for Jaska. "I need to get some more candles, too."

 

Vuohkku chuckles softly, shaking her head, still offering Ilyna support.

 

Jaska follows her out of line once she has her own meal, and blinks. "Candles? What for?"

 

Vuohkku offers a hand down, as it were, since her back is likely not going to want her to get seated without a little help.

 

Sofie laughs. "To be able to see at night, of course. The hut gets so dark.

 

Ilyna huffs at her sister's silence, yet concentrated mainly on getting herself to the fire. Upon their arrival, she'd begin to slowly lower herself down to the floor, taking her sister's hand, whilst also using her sister as a shield of sorts as she did so. She'd groan the entire time she moved, yet when she made it to the ground, she'd pat her sister's hand; ''Thank you.''

 

Jaska nods a bit. "Oh. Well, did you ask... oh, what's it again... Ristiinna?"

 

Vuohkku nods. "I'll back soon." She moves off to join the queue, carefully keeping from mentioning that the race had been Ilyna's idea.

 

Sofie glances around the big lodge and then shrugs. "Don't see where she got off too," she replies, moving over to join Ilyna by the fire.

 

Jaska follows her.

 

Ristiinna arrives in the lodge at last, and stops just inside, pulling off her gloves and hat, and shaking the snow off her boots, humming quietly to herself.

 

Ilyna looked over to Sofie and Jaska as they neared the fire, yet she kept quiet as they spoke, since she was focusing on making herself more comfortable.

 

Vuohkku collects two helpings in their bowls, and carefully makes her way back, still all bundled up. If the people didn't know her already, they'd be giving her funny looks over it, but she'd always been that way.

 

Jaska steps around and has a seat by Sofie in case Vuohkku wants the spot by her sister.

 

Sofie crosses her legs and picks up her fork. "Reindeer steak is one of my favorites!" she chirps happily.

 

Ristiinna watches by the door, peeking out a few times whenever someone else comes through, but after it's clear the fisher isn't following, she bites her lip and makes her way to the cooks

 

Ilyna outstretches her hands up a little, hoping to take a bowl from Vuohkku, smiling at her a little. As she did, and even despite her discomfort, she'd direct herself over to Jaska to simply tease her; ''That's an awfully nice hat, Jaska.. Where did you get it?'' She realised she was repeating herself from earlier, yet it didn't seem to bother her.

 

Vuohkku carefully gives her sister her bowl, then manages to work her gloves off, finally, before sitting beside her to start eating her own meal.

 

Ristiinna takes off her scarf and loosesn her coat while waiting, then takes a bowl of broth and steps out of the way of others getting meals.

 

Sofie glances over at Ilyna with a small frown. "You don't have to make fun of people to make yourself feel better about the crash," she bluntly says.

 

Jaska makes a face at Ilyna. "You know where I got it." She sounds amused, but there's some hesitation after that, and then she frowns again and takes the hat off.

 

Ilyna refrains a comment, yet simply grins and chuckles instead. She'd then look over to Sofie, rolling her eyes, immediately finding herself to get defensive; ''I'm not making fun of her.''

 

Sofie shakes her head slightly, wearing an expression of disappointment. She turns away from the twins, looking over at Jaska again and then the hat. "You should wear it if you like it," she says, taking another bite of her dinner.

 

Ilyna huffs, looking to her sister for at least some support, before she'd lift the bowl to her lips.

 

Jaska shakes her head. "It's warm enough in here. I was only keeping it on because you said you liked it."

 

Vuohkku nods. "It is a nice hat." She chuckles. "I think Ilyna was hoping I'd hear where it came from, because she's tired of what I wear."

 

Sofie smiles quizzically. "Because I liked it? I'm not the one wearing it!" she replies, amused. She glances past Jaska, peering past her to Ristiinna.

 

Ilyna scoffs as her lips met the rim of the bowl, yet deprived herself of a taste as she'd lower the bowl again, looking to her sister; ''When have I ever said I dislike what you wear?'' She'd huff, muttering to herself, yet she probably didn't do it quietly; ''Why am I the victim of everyone's slander this evening..''

 

Vuohkku giggles, shaking her head. "Well, maybe it was how you look at it when I go to clean it. I admit, I do have rather a favourite style, and don't vary it much." She shrugs as she returns to eating.

 

Ristiinna hums a little snatch of something to herself in between sips of broth, then again, as if piecing something together.

 

Ilyna simply gives her sister a look, and looks down to her attire briefly, wrinkling her nose. She did so, playfully, before she'd look back over to Sofie and Jaska, yet specifically to Jaska; ''To save the scold I'll get from Sofie, it's a nice hat.''

 

Sofie takes another bite of her dinner, gazing at the fire. "I didn't intend to scold you. I'm not your mother," she answers blandly.

 

Jaska nods over at her, then smiles. "Thank you."

 

Vuohkku smiles warmly at her sister, and then over to the others, finally seeing Ristiinna so far away. She then cranes her neck to look further, and frowns a little.

 

Sofie looks over at Jaska, feeding a piece of reindeer to the dog. "Are you busy tomorrow? To show me the mammoths?"

 

Jaska shakes her head. "The mammutti are my business. So... yes, but also no, because of the yes? ...Or just no. No, I'm not busy.”

 

Sofie smiles. "I will have to come down and join the line when they're offering rides tomorrow."

 

Jaska nods. "I look forward to seeing you."

 

Sofie stretches out her legs with a happy sigh. "I think I'm going to retire for the night. The crash has me really sore."

 

Vuohkku looks to her sister, ponders, and looks back over, still craning her neck as she eats.

 

Ristiinna finishes her broth, then sits down and takes out a small journal bound in hide, and starts to write in it.

 

Vuohkku sighs softly, and brings her gaze in closer to nod to Sofie. "I hope you feel better tomorrow!"

 

Jaska gives her a little wave. More of a finger-wiggle, really.

 

Sofie waves goodbye to them and stands, returning her bowl before she heads out into the night.

 

Vuohkku ponders, and sets her bowl down. It's nearly finished anyway. She heads over to talk to the lass who seems to be avoiding them. "I'll be back soon, Ilyna.” Vuohkku pauses by Ristiinna and makes a polite little noise before talking. "Excuse me... did that fisher girl not come in with you?"

 

Ristiinna looks up from her journal and shakes her head. "I tried to--" She stops herself and speaks in a slower cadence, a more flat tone. "No, I couldn't convince her to."

 

Vuohkku sighs. "That's sad. I like what she makes. She's good." She looks down at the journal briefly. "I'm... sorry to be interrupting you, then."

 

Ristiinna shakes her head. "I'm sorry about... that I kept her from coming."

 

Vuohkku blinks, turning back. "How did you stop her? Didn't you just say you tried to convince her to come?" She's definitely confused by this turn.

 

Ristiinna speaks like a sled being pulled out of control when the dog won't slow down. "She wanted to sit and I thought I must have irritated her even more than everyone else during the storm because she keeps to herself and she wanted the good snow for sculpting so she asked if I minded and I moved but she didn't want me to move and then she wouldn't come in when the feast was starting and said she had no food even when I said I'd pay for her food like I did for the racers and I waited and she didn't come and I tried to be not so much me and it doesn't work and it's just as bad only it feels rotten inside."

 

Vuohkku blinks in surprise, and shakes her head. "Well, I'm sorry she wouldn't come. And that you feel like it's your fault. I get the feeling she's awfully shy." She shrugs, and points to the journal. "What's that? Are you drawing?"

 

Ristiinna looks back down at it and stares a few moments. When she speaks again it is once more flat. "A song. My da is-- Anyway I thought instead of an old song I would try to make one my own, my words."

 

Vuohkku blinks, then smiles a bit. "A new song is good. But... is something wrong? You, umm, sound a little off tonight, I think?"

 

Ristiinna shakes her head. "I was trying to be less me," she says in that flat cadence. "I know what I'm like, I just get caught up. I'm sorry."

 

Vuohkku blinks in confusion. "But if you're not you, then who are you to be? I don't understand."

 

Ristiinna intones as if reciting a chant, "Just be yourself, but just not as much."

 

Vuohkku shakes her head. "I don't see how lessening oneself is a good thing." She shrugs. "But there's a lot I don't understand, I think. I wish you luck with making a song, though!"

 

Ristiinna smiles thinly. "I will probably stick to the old songs. I know a lot from Da."

 

Vuohkku nods, looking back over to her sister, then down in front of her again. "I hope I'll hear you singing them, then. I'd talk more, but, well, Ilyna was a bit shaken up in that crash, and she may need my help getting home."

 

Ristiinna nods. "I hope she is all right." She seems about to say more but doesn't. Instead she closes the book and tucks it away.

 

Vuohkku looks puzzled at the lack, but then shrugs and smiles. "Thank you." She goes back to sit with her twin and watch over her.

 

Ristiinna stands up and rubs at her face a bit, then takes her bowl back and drops it in the basin for cleaning on the way out. She doesn't pull her hat, gloves, or scarf on before she goes out.

 

Jaska gives Vuohkku a smile and stands to go get seconds.