Death & Dream (AU ending to   2511.02.16*  
Written By: Whitney Ware
(2012 Treasure Hunt) The story could have had a very different ending...
Posted: 09/03/12      [8 Comments]

2012 TREASURE HUNT CLUE #3: We were depicted as Death and Dream. Who are we? (Answer: Fadestar and Farscout, in art by Linda A. for the 2010 Comics/Manga AU Contest)

(Ed. Note: this is an AU ending for the story “First Patrol”.)

When the end came, Farscout could not afford to miss a shot. Three arrows found their marks in rapid succession; three horses went down to thrash and scream in the snow. The fourth rider charged for him, and a spear-thrust ripped his bow from his hands. Enough time left, then, for Farscout to tumble aside and come up again with his spear in hand. Time for a fast breath and to set the spear butt against the charge, before shock of collision. He twisted aside out of its path as the fourth beast came crashing down in a tumble of flailing hooves, Farscout’s spear deep in its chest and its rider broken and bleeding beneath it. But the other three riders were on their feet by then and rushed for him, ruddy axes the color of his daughter’s hair in their hands.

His wolf-friend lunged for one of those warriors. Farscout heard the snarl and snap of jaws, and a heavy, meaty thud of axe embedding flesh. He could not look away from his own foes to confirm Duskgreeter’s death. He did not need to.

The other two were on him then. As big as they were, these humans were fast. Farscout counted his retreat in steps, his greenstone knife in one hand and a knife of deer bone in the other. The bone dagger shattered against metal with his attempt to parry; the stone blade was no less brittle but managed to turn aside the first slash that would have opened his chest.

Then a blow did land. It felt at first like taking a punch from a bear, or being kicked by a marshbeast bull. Farscout felt himself lifted off his feet, saw the spray of his own blood, and could not feel it when he landed in the snow.

**You can do this,** he had sent to her before, when he had sent the girl off toward home and safety. **I will cover your retreat. I will keep you safe as long as I am able. Now go.** Farscout reached out to Fadestar now with a convulsive effort, and found her still running. He knew she was still close enough to hear the sounds of battle behind her. He only wished he had the strength of will left to shield her from the agony in his last sending. She must keep running. She must not turn back. He had bought what time he could — and unhorsed, the Fierce Ones were not likely to catch her. He felt Fadestar’s burst of grief and shock, as she realized the finality of his sending. But she didn’t stop running. She would get home again, Farscout thought. Leather’s child was tougher than she looked. Tougher than she knew, perhaps. Farscout hoped that was so, at least. Fadestar was their tribe’s sole hope of warning now.

The snow felt warm against his skin. Dimly, his ears heard a horn blast which faded along with his sight. Light and darkness became one and the same. He felt his last breath pass, and when his heart stopped, it came to him as abruptly as a sudden waking from a dream.

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