The dreams used to be few and varied, but now when they come they always begin the same.
The first thing Cloudfern sees is his grandfather's face. It always looks like he usually remembers it, wills himself to remember it: calm green eyes, face fur and a smile that radiates mischief and age.
Then there are clickdeer everywhere. His mother, grandmother, grandfather and sister are all sending, shouting, but the thunder of the clickdeer's hooves drown out the mind-touches, making them into a jumbled mess of emotions and pictures. He clings to Spinner's fur, knuckles white as snow, fingers cramping. All air is knocked from his lungs as his wolf-friend leaps and they're both hit midair by a mountain of fur and legs and panic.
The collision lands him in a cave that isn't a cave, which smells of death and where shadows tall as trees tower over him.
**Close your eyes, little brother,** his sister sends, **and see nothing.** And then he smells burning flesh and there's screaming and so much fear he feels sick to his stomach.
Right thereafter, or maybe nights later, he's riding, or running – it differs from dream to dream. His eyes are downcast, either watching the white of snow-covered ground or the white of Tailchaser's fur. He knows they're all dead: grandfather, grandmother, mother, father and all the wolves except Brightwood's bond.
Brightwood lies bleeding in Farscout's arms and she's shouting: “No!” as Mushroom flaps closer.
Her faces melts into a cloth of white webbing, a still cocoon that lies in an all too-empty den, as Farscout walks away and leaves him alone with his not-sleeping sister.
**My name is Seth.**
The tribe has to know. But they do know, have known for uncountable eights of turns.
There's a wolf on his left and a warm body on his right. The fur of the wolf shifts in the light of the setting sun, from Tailchaser's frosty hide to Crowsong's brown and gray, with many shades in-between from wolf-friends long lost, or maybe still living.
He never turns to look at the elf. He should feel Greenweave when he reaches for the other, but there's always the chance it won't be, so he never does.
Outside there's a wall of thorns.
Another elf darts by – sometimes with ruddy brown hair, sometimes with honey blond - but always too quick for her face to be more than a blur against the background of sharp brier.
Then the thorns are covered in red and blue. The Fierce Ones are in the Holt, bleeding from cuts all over their bodies. The wall behind them is broken and they laugh as they storm through, uncaring of their own wounds as they swing their clubs and throw their spears.
In the tree crowns there are three elves, hidden by the leaves but there. Two lure the third away before the last five-finger is through the thorns.
Cloudfern never sees any of his kin fall, yet the ground is soon covered in red. There's no scent though, none at all, and the forest around them is quiet.
His hands are glowing a faint green, and the grass snakes up to ensnare the humans' legs. Soon the trees are dancing, smashing humans under their root-feet as they step in beat with his magic. The crushed corpses keep on twitching, hands reaching out for broken weapons.
And he can feel himself smiling.
Cloudfern remembers these dreams in bits and pieces, which quickly fade as the sun sets. He wakes, trashing and whimpering, and is left nauseous without knowing why.
Until the next time.