RTH 2470.09.01, Near Sunrise
Dreamflight stood, stunned. Tears filled her eyes as she stared at the charm in her hand. The delicate feather was, in her mind, ruined, and the chain that had been fashioned for it had been destroyed.
She hadn’t even realized something had happened to her necklace until she and Notch were returning to the Holt after a very enjoyable night together. She had reached up to touch the feather, but it hadn’t been there. Gasping, she had rushed to the site of their tryst and searched frantically for the gift her mother had given her so long ago.
Notch had tried to help, but he didn’t understand when she started crying. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“It’s ruined. It’s just ruined,” Dreamflight cried as she held out the feather-pendant – only now it looked like a crumpled leaf – for Notch to inspect.
“You could get Goldspice to fix it,” he said with a smile. “It won’t be the same. My mother gave this to me!” she had snapped in response.
Still not sure he understood, but hating to see her in tears, Notch put an arm around Dreamflight and let her cry on his shoulder. When the tears subsided, he’d offered, “C’mon. Let’s go back to the Holt. You can talk with Goldspice later tonight, after a good day’s sleep. I’m sure she can do something!”
Mournfully, Dreamflight nodded, and silently they made their way back to the Holt. Originally, she’d considered spending the day with him, but now she just wanted to be by herself. She bid him farewell and returned to the den that was now just her own. It seemed larger without her parents, and she felt even smaller than usual.
For a long time, she sat on the edge of her bed, staring at what had been her necklace. She thought about what she would ask of Goldspice, and she wondered what she could offer in return. Finally, she lay down and drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
RTH 2470.09.01, Near Midnight
Dreamflight carried her treasure toward the forge, still trying to decide what she could offer Goldspice that would entice her to fashion what she had in mind. She was a fisher, so she could offer to catch a choice fish for the goldsmith, but Dreamflight would do that anyway. She didn’t know what she could offer that would be adequate. Probably nothing.
That realization caused her to stop in her tracks. Goldspice wouldn’t want to help her… and even if she did, it would just be out of pity. Dreamflight didn’t want pity. She wanted… she wanted her mother back, and her father back. She wanted everything to be better. Maybe it was better to keep the ruined charm just as it was – it was a symbol of what her life was like now.
“Dreamflight!” the forge’s voice called out cheerfully. “I was hoping you’d come and see me. Notch told me – ”
“Of course he told you,” Dreamflight turned on the smith. “He wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut if his life depended on it.”
Goldspice looked puzzled and a little hurt. “I was just going to offer--” she started.
“To what? Feel sorry for me? To make things better? Well… you can’t. No one can,” Dreamflight said bitterly.
“You’re right, cub,” Goldspice responded matter-of-factly. “No one can change what has happened. But we can support you through it. And I can fix that clump of gold you have there – I made it in the first place. Hand it over.”
Dreamflight didn’t want to apologize for her behavior, and she didn’t want support right now. Still… Goldspice had offered to fix the necklace her mother had given her – without asking anything in return. Dreamflight couldn’t pass that up. Without looking up, Dreamflight held out the ruined necklace and dropped it in Goldspice’s outstretched hand.
Dreamflight murmured a quick, “Thank you,” then turned and ran.
RTH 2470.09.02, A Couple Hours After Midnight
Dreamflight sat by the river, watching the water flow by, when she was interrupted.
Cloudfern’s irritating voice greeted her quietly. “Dreamflight, do you mind if I join you?”
“What?” she asked shrilly as she turned to face him. “What makes you think I wouldn’t mind? You’re the cause of all of this. You’re the reason father left mother. Left me! And you think I wouldn’t mind if you joined me here? What are you thinking? Of course I mind! Not that you really care what I mind,” she added sullenly as she took a deep breath and turned back to face the river. Dreamflight couldn’t stop the tears from falling, but she didn’t have to let him see them.
“All right, child, if that’s what you think, then I should live up to your expectations,” the plantshaper said.
Dreamflight scowled as she sensed him sitting down beside her. “I thought you asked if I minded,” she said pointedly.
“I did,” he said plainly. “But when you pointed out that I don’t care what you think, I decided that was my invitation to do what I pleased. And now, we’re going to talk.”
Dreamflight said nothing, and Cloudfern continued, “I am sorry for all that you are going through, Dreamflight.” She hmmph’d, but he paid her no mind. **I would change it for you if I could.**
There was nothing but truth in sending, Dreamflight knew. But his way of changing things was not how she wanted them to change. His way of changing things was to have Honey whole and healthy, and happily letting Greenweave and Cloudfern be together. His way of changing things was wrong.
“Your way of changing things,” Dreamflight pointed out, “would still destroy my family. So it would change nothing. I don’t know why you bothered to come and talk with me. If you thought it would help, well… it didn’t.”
Dreamflight stood up and was about to walk away when Cloudfern grabbed her wrist, hard. “Stop right there, cub,” he ordered.
She tried pulling herself from his grasp, but couldn’t. He was too strong. She scowled at him, and a growl escaped her lips. Cloudfern stood and towered over her, locking eyes with her. **I wouldn’t have thought it before, but now I can see that you’re quite possibly as selfish as she is. If you genuinely care about anyone but yourself right now, then I hope you will consider this. Your father is hurting. And you have something to do with that, you know. He doesn’t want it to be this way. He’s trying to make the best of things. Do not make it any harder than you already have.**
She didn’t want to hear what he had just said, and try as she might to ignore him, she couldn’t. Dreamflight pulled her arm again, harder this time, and he let go. She stumbled away, crying.
Dreamflight didn’t want to be at the Dentrees, and her encounter with Cloudfern had her avoiding the river. She headed toward the den’s creek just past the wolf dens. Maybe there, she could find solace in solitude.
Wrong again. As Dreamflight neared the trickling stream, she saw other footprints as well. “Chicory,” she said to herself.
“Dreamflight! Over here!” her friend called.
Grateful that someone was glad to see her, Dreamflight slowly made her way to where Chicory sat staring at the mud. Dreamflight could well guess what her friend was doing – watching for some animal to tunnel its way through the mud and onto the ground. It wasn’t Dreamflight’s favorite hobby, but at least she wouldn’t have to talk. Usually, when they watched animals, Dreamflight and Chicory sat long periods of time in silence, not even sending.
Dreamflight plopped down next to Chicory, who, as expected, said nothing. They watched the mud for a while, but then Chicory surprised her by breaking the silence. “Change is hard, isn’t it?” she asked.
“What?” Dreamflight responded.
“I know what it’s like,” Chicory shared. “Windburn and I used to be so close… we did everything together. But then he Recognized Whispersilk… and nothing’s the same. I’m just saying… I’m here for you… and I understand what you’re going through.”
Dreamflight stood up and backed a few paces away. “I don’t think you do, Chicory,” she spat. She wasn’t going to give her fellow fisher a chance to respond. Instead, she turned and ran. Again.
RTH 2470.09.02, A Few Hours Later
She ended up in the broad meadow, seeking silence and solitude, but again coming up short. Moss was walking her way, drum in hand. She remembered how she had treated Goldspice earlier that night, and she could only guess what he might say. Biting her tongue, she waited for a remark from the older elf, but there was none coming. Instead, Moss handed her the drum, took her hand, and turned again.
“I’ve been working on a song. I think you should hear it,” he said, and started walking. A hand of paces later, he turned and looked at her. She hadn’t moved. “Well, are you coming?” he asked.
She had his drum, so Dreamflight guessed that she would. She followed him out onto the meadow. When he sat down, he was facing the direction of Badger’s Lake. Dreamflight sat beside him, offering the drum to him as she did.
He shook his head, then told her, “I want you to drum.”
“Me? Drum?” she asked, shocked.
“Yes. It will keep you busy enough to enjoy the song, to actually hear it.”
“Oh.” She didn’t know what else to say. She wasn’t a drummer. But… she could keep a beat. And she liked to sing, so maybe… maybe it was good that she had run into Moss. Still, she felt a bit awkward. He was going to share a song, and actually wanted her to drum. So was she supposed to start drumming first?
“Just play, Dreamflight. I’ll tell you faster or slower, and you’ll find the beat,” Moss told her.
Dreamflight acquiesced. She started slowly, then increased the rhythm until he was satisfied with it. She played for a long while, and still he had not started singing. She stopped. “I thought you were going to sing,” she said accusingly.
“Yes. I was. You just have to be patient,” he said calmly. “I’ll sing when the song is ready.”
“You said it was ready.”
“The song is complete, but it is not ready. You have to be patient, Dreamflight. Some things take time,” he said pointedly, looking at her.
And then she realized what he was doing. And she didn’t want anything to do with it. “I see. You didn’t really want to share a song with me, did you? You just wanted to… oh, who knows what you wanted, but it’s not working. I know I have to be patient. I know I have to wait until someone becomes a healer! Like that’s ever going to happen. Look at Farscout. He’s been waiting since before I was born. And Brightwood will probably still be in wrapstuff and Farscout will be dead and gone. And what will she wake up to? What will mother wake up to? Patience? For what? For a song that you really hadn’t written. I don’t like being tricked, Moss!”
“You’re the only one who’s playing tricks, Dreamflight. You’ve been tricking yourself for turns and turns. Anyone with eyes to see knew that Greenweave and Honey weren’t as happy as he was, and is, with Cloudfern.”
Dreamflight gasped, then fled. Again.
RTH 2470.09.02, Morning
Most of the tribe had retired. Sunlight was peeking through the trees and Dreamflight was having yet another restless night’s sleep. She felt horrible about the way she’d been acting. It wasn’t like her to blow up at friends, or at anyone else, at least, not this frequently. She hadn’t felt like herself lately.
She didn’t like herself, either, she decided. If she kept snapping at her tribemates like she had been for the past few weeks, no one else would like her, either. But… it hurt. Her world, which had seemed so perfect, had shattered with Honey’s sickness and wrapping. Maybe she should have had them wrap her at the same time. Then she wouldn’t have been awake for all the changes.
Dreamflight shuddered. Those changes would seem even more harsh to her mother, Dreamflight realized. ‘And it’s all Father and Cloudfern’s fault!’ she thought bitterly, then began crying. Moss’s words returned to her, Anyone with eyes to see knew that Greenweave and Honey weren’t as happy as he was, and is, with Cloudfern.. She didn’t want to think about it. What if he had been right? What if…? She couldn’t think about it now. She wouldn’t.
Dreamflight continued crying as she banished Moss’s words in denial. She sobbed as she remembered as many of the perfect family moments that she could. And soon, she was asleep.
(The sequel to this story is ”Brawl”.)