Mevvi could tell from looking at him that the strange boy was probably from the branch layer below. People who lived here on the topmost branch layer, like her family, tended to have grey or even green-grey fur and their tails rings were barely lighter than their body fur. This boy had crisp, cream tail rings and a reddish-brown body – too dark for the families she knew and that flash of light on his tail could attract one of the sharp-eyed airborne predators even through the leaf canopy. Like Mevvi, this boy was still of a size where the tormu and the larger hoku were a danger.
“Thank you for reminding me.” Back down below the leaves the dark furred boy ducked his head apologetically, adding, “It’s just that I wanted to see what the clouds used to show me. What are you up here for?”
“Boys!” Mevvi’s snort was credible imitation of her mother’s. “I’m working. I’m collecting erimi blossoms so we can dry them to make the healing teas.”
“Oh,” Kuttik’s response was long drawn out and thoughtful, “I’m Kuttik, I should have said.” He scratched behind one ear with his hand in embarrassment. The first time he’d met a member of a family he didn’t know and he had completely forgotten his manners.
“I’m Mevvi,” she said sweetly in return. She refrained from indicating a territory claim, after all her family didn’t really control anything this far from the platform.
“So,” asked Kuttik, reassured that he wasn’t too close to someone’s home without an invitation, “aren’t you really young to be doing something like that on your own?” Mother, Grandmother and Greatgrandmother traded for the healing teas with erimi and yuki in them. Kuttik only knew that they were expensive.
“Erimi flowers right at the top of the canopy,” Mevvi explained, “Because I’m smaller I can get right up to the flowers and take much less of the plant when I pick them. Then the plant flowers again sooner and we can come back for more.”
“Ah,” Kuttik was satisfied with that. “Can I help for a while?”