Chapter 14 – A Ripple in a Pool
I was still mildly bothered by my previous memory. It answered a few of my questions about myself. I had lived before I was an Overseer; I’d had a body, a family. If my nostalgic feelings were anything to go off of, I’d had hands and walked on two legs, or at the very least my family had hands. The fire from the memory was uncontrolled, dangerous, and I could feel a distinct fear of it. It made me less inclined to teach my lizards about fire.
The dark emotions I’d felt in the past were equally upsetting. They were from a time long ago, but in the memory they were strong, raw emotions that threatened to take the place of my heart. I had known about those emotions before the memory. It had only been an inkling of them, but I knew they had the power to destroy. They were the reason I created the family heart when I first saw my lizards fighting.
I spent a long time contemplating the memory. Soon, the mountainside colony all had the protective fuzz of early feathering. Sometimes individuals or families would migrate to them, and I simply ensured their children would be protected from the cold as well. When those from the mountainside colony mingled with the nearby forest colonies, while looked at curiously, they were still very much accepted by their brethren. Being able to shimmer and flash their short, fur-like feathers made them able to maintain the standard communication of all lizards.
Seeing those feathers, it created ideas in the minds of the still scaled lizards. Although they had few real predators anymore, back when I first came to them, small, furry mammals and rodents had been a common source of predation. With their tools and cooperative teamwork, they were no longer a threat, and could easily be scared off or killed if they were too aggressive. Not wanting to waste precious food if they killed their enemy, they ate the raw meat, sharing it among the colony. The bones could be used for tools, but anything else was simply tossed aside. After seeing the mountainside colony lizards, they got the idea that the fur could be used for warmth. The forest might not be as cold as the mountainside, but they had their fare share of cold winters which sometimes took the very young or the very old. If they could save the pelts of the furred animals, it could help many lizards, and particularly for the scaled ones who moved to the mountainside without warm feathering of their own.
I didn’t even have to help guide them for such a thing, their own ingenuity made it possible to bring this idea to life. They had always been very smart when it came to tools. They discovered how to use a rock before I came to them, and with only the addition of hands, they became able to make weapons and other tools while I had been lost to the abyss. They were very intelligent, and I was very proud of them. I didn’t have to hold their hand to lead them forward, I just needed to provide some inspiration. They were perfectly capable of the rest.
It didn’t take long for the idea of fur blankets to spread to the other colonies; they were very good at sharing ideas with each other. Clothing in fur pelts wasn’t far behind. They had learned to take the vines that kept the spearheads attached to their spears, and make twine from the fibers, stronger than just the vine by itself. Using the twine, they stitched the pelts together using small sharp bones so that a lizard could wear the pelt hands free.
For the sake of pelts, the mammals and rodents that had once been merely chased away were now actively hunted by the lizards. While Defenders still made up the bulk of the fighting force, non-Defenders also took up spears to hunt, and learned to track their new furry prey.
It all came so fast, I was amazed. In only a few generations, the colonies had changed rapidly. And it had all started with the lizards who so desperately tried to survive on the cold mountain side. I was sure they would never cease to amaze me.
The clothing didn’t take in the shore colonies; living in and out of the water made them impractical. Instead, they took the idea of adorning oneself with fur pelts for warmth, to stringing together pretty seashells with the twine and decorating themselves simply for looks. It was amazing to watch an idea develop on one side of the population and have it turn into something brand new on the other side. The new idea of decorating oneself spread as fast as a wildfire. It sparked creativity the likes of which hadn’t existed before. In addition to physical and visual affection, families now often gave each other hand-made presents to show their love for one another as well. For them, it was just another way to express love for their family.
It was incredibly heart-warming to see the lizards work so hard on their presents for one another. Even if they weren’t very good at it, the effort and love put into it was clear, and they were loved all the more for it. Items that were previously ignored as useless found new life as simple decoration, like small or weak bones, sparkling rocks that couldn’t be used for tools, even the bark of some trees. They decorated their heads, necks, waists, tails, arms, hands, legs, anywhere they could hold a decoration. Some were so inundated with baubles you almost couldn’t see their scales, but it was too cumbersome to be practical that way. Most wore decorations in just one or two places. Hunters and trackers wore ones that didn’t make noise when they hunted outside the colony borders. Some had also taken to carving designs in the pole weapons, which, as the ideas that came before it, spread to many other aspects of carving designs into tools and other decorations.
So much change from something so simple. Like a rock cast into water that rippled onward to the edge of the pool. Despite my reservations from my memory, I knew I must teach them about fire. They would do so many things with it, it would change their lives again, for the better I was certain.
But I was woefully ill-prepared for the disaster that would come shortly after they achieved that fire.