DISCLAIMER: Don't own or create characters, they are Michelle Paver's wonderfull imaginings.
'If you care for him as much as he cares for you'... Torak's name pebble...The twin lakes bursting...'And he does care'...Seshru twisting her wrist...Snakes...'He really does'...The Viper Mage lying dead in the mud...'You were to have been my Tokoroth'...
Renn awoke, screaming, her heart racing and her face wet with sleep-tears. Sauenn lay asleep, grinding her gums as usual. The mage could sleep through anything.
Shaking, Renn stood up and walked out of the shelter. This was the fifth night in a row she had had this dream, and it was always the same. The vivid flashbacks, Seshru's words, it was a nightly terror, and she woke up feeling sick and more exhausted than if she hadn't slept at all. After Renn had splashed her face in the stream she sunk down the back of a tree trunk and tried to steady her breathing. The feel of the rough bark, the wind on her cheeks and the powdery soil under her fingertips calmed her, anchoring her to the land of the living and the forest, instead of letting her drown in her own dreams.
Torak. Renn had dreamt about him too. At the start of the dream he was smiling and happy, and then she was forced to watch him being outcast, and then in the forest with his haunted, hunted eyes. Renn was finding it very hard to forget those eyes.
All of a sudden the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and a shiver ran up and down her spine.
"Renn?" His voice had got deeper over the last few weeks but it was unmistakably his.
"Torak." She muttered, "What are you doing out here?"
"I heard there were a couple of soul eaters that needed destroying." He joked and grinned wolfishly at her. "No, I couldn't sleep. I've been having funny dreams."
Renn sat up a little straighter. "What kind of funny dreams?"
"About what happened, about the flood." He began to strip the bark off a twig. "About Seshru."
They sat in silence for a while listening to the sounds of the forest and each other's breathing.
"It bothers you I look like her doesn't it?" Renn said out-of-the-blue. "I mean, when you look at me do you see her?"
Torak looked confusedly into her dark eyes and shook his head. "No, I don't, I see you: Renn." Comprehension dawned on his face, shattered by moonlight and starlight so he looked like a broken reflection. "Do you see her?"
Renn arched her eyebrows and folded her arms across her chest defensively. "No." Torak looked at her searchingly, and as her black eyes met his gray ones she felt something change inside her head. "Yes, and it makes me feel sick. She told me that I had her, her courage and her talent for mage craft. I don't want anything of hers! Every time I see my name soul I see her laughing at me, her taunting me, her telling me that you belonged to her – "
"Renn, you're not her, you're nothing like her, and you have to see that. And your courage is your own. Seshru had no courage, she was weak, and she hid behind the fire opal and demons and stronger things than her all her life. But, you Renn, you're brave. You came with me to find the world spirit, and risked the Tokoroth for me, you came to find wolf and went into that cave and you risked being outcast, all for a friend. That's bravery Renn, Seshru wasn't brave." Torak told her earnestly. He watched her fiddle with the rowan berry bracelet and reached out to touch it, as his fingers made contact she shivered. "I didn't lose it, or stop wearing it, it broke."
"Oh." Renn tried to make it sound like she didn't care, but inside she felt a little warmth spreading through her. "You know, I've been having those dreams too. It's horrible, when I wake up I'm screaming and I feel so, so terrified. I hear her, the things she said, what she told me." Now she had begun to speak of the dream she couldn't stop, it was like a cleansing rite; to speak was to heal. "Fin Keddin told me she wanted me for a sacrifice, but she said she was going to use me for something else. She said she was going to use the fire opal to summon an elemental. I was going to be her ... Tokoroth."
Torak gaped at her, his eyes wide with astonished disbelief. "That's the most disgusting thing I've ever... Oh, Renn." He tried to put a hand on her shoulder but she shrugged him off.
"I'm not telling you so you'll feel sorry for me, I told you because I don't want us to have anymore secrets. Allright?"
He nodded and smiled.
"How's your scar?" Renn asked, touching her own chest to indicate the place where Torak had been marked by the Soul Eaters.
"It smarts sometimes, but it's healing, thanks to you." Torak pulled on his jerkin to show her the rapidly closing hole kept together with thin strands of sinew.
"That looks as if it needs changing again." Renn eyed the strands critically, "if it isn't kept clean then your souls with fall sick again. She took out a needle from the medicine pouch she tried to keep with her whenever she could, removed the dirty thread and resew the wound. Although the bone needle was thin and sharp it was still painful and Torak grimaced, but stayed silent, and even attempted one of his grins when Renn looked up at him. As she sewed their close proximity meant their heads kept bumping together until they were both laughing.
"I suppose Fa had my Mother to do this for him." Torak said.
"Well," Renn bit off the thread, "you have me." She smiled up at him with a hint of something that Torak thought might be shyness, but then it had gone and he thought he must have wrongly identified the foreign look in his friend's eyes. Renn was never shy.
Out in the forest two pairs of eyes watched the scene; one fondly indulgent, the other shrewd and measuring. It transpired that Sauenn did not sleep through quite as much as Renn had thought, and that the mage was as quiet as a snake when she wished to be.
Fin Keddin, however, had never been asleep that night. As clan-leader peaceful slumber did not come easily to him and at the slightest sound he would start awake, concerned for the safety of his clan. Now that Renn no longer slept in his shelter his restlessness had increased. His brothers daughter was as dear to him as if she was his own, and it made him uneasy not to be able to look over to see her safe whenever he awoke in the night. Her screams had unnerved him and his concern had quickly been aroused.
"Together they will be good." He murmured a half-smile on his face.
Sauenn made a noise with her tongue. "Together they will be great." She croaked. "Perhaps too great. Her power is potent and his a dangerous weapon. Combined, they could create a dragon's mouth such as we have never seen."
Fin Keddin turned to look at the old woman. "Sauenn, you should not forget that they have both combined their powers on occasions previously, and only good has come of it."
Sauenn turned to give him a malevolent stare that was more raven than woman. "Who is the mage here?" she shook her staff at him. "You or me?"
"You, but the ways of the heart are the knowledge of anyone who has loved." Fin Keddin told her sadly.
"Pah!" Sauenn spat. "Your judgement has been clouded by his Mother. You wish her to succeed where you failed."
"My judgement is clear!" Fin Keddin's voice was raised in anger. "And I only wish for Renn to be happy. My past has no bearing on her future." The clan leader turned to face his mage again, but she had vanished, and he was left alone to watch his niece and foster-son play out the old, old story.
I think this is slightly crap, so please reveiw with ways to make it better or positiveness, they make me happy!:)