"What am I?..." I asked myself looking at my reflection in the small stream that ran near the holt. "Am I human?...elf?...wolf?" I touched my face. Still seeing myself there, but much more intricate beauty replaced what I had always known as my visual being.

"What are you thinking about?" Longreach said coming up behind me, and placing his thin four fingered hand on my shoulder.

I sat back from the stream and looked up at the standing storyteller. "I'm trying to figure out what I am now..." I said pulling my knees up to my chest.

"Ah...well maybe if you start with what you were, you may find out what you are, and then you can find out what you will become." He said pulling a small pouch from his belt. "Now, start from where you were born..." He handed me a handful of dreamberries.

" I am not a storyteller? I could never-" I was surprised.

" that may be true; however, only you can recall memories in which I have never seen." he said calmly.

I swallowed hard, and took a dreamberry from the pouch. I let it sweet and then sour taste fill my mouth with its potent essence. The sound of the stream filled my ears. I closed my eyes. The water turned to the crackling of a fire, and suddenly I was there.

"Henna! Where are you?" My father yelled from our stinking deer hide hut.

I came running from the edge of the forest hurriedly trying to slip my ravvit skin covering back over my head. I had taken to running around naked when I was alone. It was better than wearing the stinking, fur matted, corpse that hung loose from my body.

"Coming!" I called nervously.

I rounded the corner of the hut just as he stepped into my view. I stopped short, my heart taking a leap into my throat. I had forgotten to take the flowers from my hair. He didn't miss a thing, his hand shot out and I was grabbed by the hair violently. " You've been pretending to be one of those demons again! Haven't you!" it wasn't a question.

"Father I-" I started to plead, but was abruptly stopped as hard knuckles met my face. The tang of blood fell from my nose and entered my mouth. He through me roughly to the ground, and whipped me soundly with one of the laces from his tunic. "Gotara will have your bones for a necklace!" he screamed at me. "It's time you were punished!" He said panting, the leather falling to his side. "It seems that the whippings and the stories are not enough to keep you away from them.

"father no!" I cried tears running down my face."You're wrong! They are good! They are beautiful!"

"Only to lead you to your death!" he countered once again grabbing me by my hair and shoving me towards the village. "One of them has been captured!" he laughed at me wickedly as he kept up his tirade of pushing me. "If you want to be a demon you must be punished as one!"

I gasped as I saw what I first thought was a child struggling to get free of two warriors who were yelping in high pitched triumphant yells. They strapped the demon to the sacrificial rock in the middle of the village, binding its wrists as if it was hugging the boulder. My father pushed me into the middle of the circle. "Offer my flesh to Gotara!" He cried insanely. "May her and the forest demon soul be devoured for their existence!"

I was beyond my fathers love now. He turned his face away as I was tied along side the battered but beautiful creature snarling wolflike at the throng of people terrorizing it. It was then that I noticed that it was a woman. My hand lay next to hers, and with out thinking I gently grabbed it. Her gaze turned to me and the snarl slowly disappeared from her face.

Then our momentary gaze was broken by a painful slash of the thorn whip. Our screams melded together for over three hours. She, barely breathing, and I with my wrists broken, were on the edge of no more pain. When cries of death reached our ears. A furrowing pack of wolves and their graceful riders swooped into the village. The beautiful creature was cut free and draped over the back of one of the silver beasts, during the carnage. The rider a taller demon than her, began to mount his wolf, but before he could grasp the creatures fur, amidst the clanging of spears and daggers, our eyes met for one brief instant. I pleaded silently. "Don't leave me I whispered"

I heard his musical language speak to another of his kind, and with hesitation my bonds were cut, and in my language I distinctly heard the words "Run-Hide-will come for" I took no time in the commotion to dart towards the woods while I would go unnoticed. I ran for what seemed like forever, holding my broken limbs close and cutting my feet deeply on the forest floor I slid into a small ditch covered in brush and lay there catching my breath and praying that the hunting party would not find me.

Night fell, and I was starting to believe I would die there, alone, and in pain. I heard the sounds of predator and prey lurking about, my heartbeat pulsing in my throat and then finally I heard something moving above me in the trees. It sounded as if a small flock of birds were arguing. "Hello..." I said timidly. Instantly the noises stopped, and a long silence ensued.

Then, I saw the silhouette of two demons drop from above, just hand spans away from me. They walked slowly towards me and stepped into view from the moonlight that had found its way onto the forest floor. The first of them seemed a bit more confident than the other, walking with his head held high, but with a kind look set upon his hansom face. The second I couldn't see his face, but was clearly on alert due to the nocked arrow in his bow. The first beckoned me. "Come" he said clearly struggling to use my language. "No hurt."

I moved slowly. My inability to use my hands made it difficult, but I struggled to my feet anyway. I took a step closer. The archers fingers twitched on the bow string, he didn't raise it. The first made a motion with his hand for me to kneel. I obeyed, and he came forward gently reaching for my wrists. His small four fingered hands, felt around the bones and seemed to come to the same conclusion. Gesturing towards my hands he told his partner something. The other one stepped from the shadows, and my breath caught in my throat. His fire red hair shown in the moonlight, just as in the sun. Obviously younger than his counterpart, his green eyes bore a wisdom beyond his years, that pierced through me like the arrow in his bow.

The gentle one pulled a strip of leather from his belt, and blind folded me. Nervous I kept still not knowing what this was for. "Up" he said. I did and was gently pulled by the arm. Then I understood. They didn't want me to see the way to there home. My feet burned painfully but I didn't complain. I heard the panting of wolves, and the demons' musical language, as we walked through the dense forest. It was cold, making my injuries hurt more. My perception of these thoughts rambled quickly through my mind.

Finally, we stopped, I heard lots of footsteps and frantic speaking. I felt myself being pulled more urgently and then..."Sit down, cub" I heard a demon voice say. I did as I was told, and the blindfold came off almost immediately. I looked around, a beautiful woman demon was holding a leather bladder full of water, and was wrinkling her nose at me. Another one was looking down at me as if he was studying me, and The gentle one and the fire haired archer were sitting in the entrance way of what appeared to be the inside of a large tree trunk.

While I was gaping in awe the woman came forward and pulled off what was left of my ravvit skin clothing. Then without warning me, she dumped the bladder of water over my head. I gasped, the cold water stinging every nerve in my body. She and the male demon beside her scrubbed me until I was clean. They set my wrists and rubbed sap on my cuts. They sent me to a bed of furs which I gladly lay upon, almost instantly falling asleep. I awoke early in the morning, the faint smell of cooking meat filling my nostrils. My eyes slowly opened, and I found one of the gentle ones stoking a fire and poorly trying to cook meat. He took a slight double take, as he noticed I was awake.

"Hungry?" he asked offering a piece of half cooked meat. I took the food thanking him, and choked it down. "Sorry..." he said. "this is the first time I've ever cooked meat."

"How do you know my language?" I asked.

"I've been studying the humans a long time, most of all you."

"Why me?"

"Because I think you are worthy."


"Yes...you possess a gift to see beyond petty childhood tales and see for yourself what is true and what is not, but you proceeded with caution for while most of the stories of us 'demons' are not true. You were smart enough to know that our natural reaction is to protect ourselves when we think we are in danger. To us humans are the ultimate danger, and likewise humans are the same. Hence you kept yourself at a safe distance, but still dreamed of being apart of this." he said gesturing with his hand meaning the tribe.

"Worthy of what though?"

"Ah that you will have to find out for yourself..."

I sighed, and looked down at my broken wrists I was only able to grab small light things, but I would get by. "What's your name?" I asked

He told me in his language and eventually taught me to pronounce it correctly. "But in your language I believe it is 'longreach'"

I nodded and looked around, " where is everyone?"

"Asleep, we roam during the night, but I think we have hunting party out today."

"Did the archer that was with the other gentle one yesterday go with them?"

Longreach smirked. "No Fearfire is tending to the other victim of yesterday's cruelty, and the gentle one you are referring to is Tanner our chief."

A silence fell. I watched him poke and prod the meat, with a knife. "That's a pretty weapon..." I said.

Longreach looked at me, turned it blade inward and held it out towards me. I took it carefully it wasn't heavy, a mere skinning knife to me, a sword to him.

"What are you doing with that!" Someone yelled in anger from the archway.

My head snapped up and I froze in fear. I had and arrow pointed inches away from my heart.

"Drop it!" he said menacingly.


"You humans are all alike! I said drop it!"

Frozen, I didn't understand him. "I don't understand..."

"Fearfire, she doesn't understand!"

I listened to Longreach yell in his language.

"Drop the knife cub..." longreach said.

I did as I was told, and watched the arrow lower, and the archer's taught muscles loosen.

"Puckernuts Longreach! Have you gone foam sick? What was she doing with your weapon?" I still couldn't understand, but it was clear he was asking what I was doing the way he brandished his slacken bow at me.

"She was just looking at it...I handed it to her..."

"Just to slice you in two! Longreach one wrong move and I'll put an arrow in her breast!"

"No need Fearfire...she is harmless..."

"We'll see..." The archer took one nasty glance at me before leaving the den."

I looked at Longreach. "He doesn't like me does he?"

"Humans took his parents from him cub, no need to put dreamberries on it." he took his knife and passed the cooked meat onto a small flat rock and set it in front of me. "He hates you..."

Months passed and I settled into my new home, most were curious about me. Others kept their distance. Longreach spent a lot of time teaching me the language, carefully correcting me every time I made a mistake. Soon I could make out what everyone was saying, and/or singing about. They all were delighted to learn I had some knowledge of hunting, and that for a human I was very light on my feet. Fearfire still avoided me, then again he avoided everyone. Even the woman I had taken to be his mate. I learned that her name was whitelight, and that she after all was not his mate. Longreach almost couldn't explain their mating habits. A soul name was what they called it, and even though I said I did, I really didn't understand.

I also learned that they could have entire conversations without speaking at all, which most of the time left me open for harmless practical jokes. The children were the biggest jokers, always winning the small games we played due to their gift. After a while an elf could walk past me without thinking twice about it. I did feel wildly out of place though, no matter how much of the language I knew or routines I picked up, my size presented to be an ongoing problem. I couldn't go on certain hunting trips, or fit in normal hiding places when in abrupt danger. This led to long conversations with Tanner and Fearfire on my residence in the holt. Like Longreach had said Fearfire just plain hated me.

I was working on my bow one day, and I couldn't get the string to reach the other end, I stood in the middle of the camp fussing over it for nearly the whole morning. I saw Fearfire sitting in the door of his den carving a piece of flint. It wasn't odd for him to be up during the day. I learned that he preferred the heat of the day to the cool of the night. He saw me staring at him and I blushed for sheer fact that he had caught me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him get up and walk towards me, all of a sudden it seemed very cold in the heat of the sun. Without a word he took my bow from me and went into his den. I was shocked that was the first time that I could recall that he had gotten close to me without a weapon drawn or a nasty word.

Tanner emerged from the woods dragging a string of birds behind him. He busied himself by the stream plucking them while I saw some of the children that were awake skipping stones not far from him. Longreach was napping under a nearby dreamberry bush, and I saw Dryleaf sewing her daughters tunic as her back rested against a rock. Had no one noticed what Fearfire had done? Moments later I saw him coming back out of his den with my bow. He had put the string on it, and carefully nicked the ends so that it would pull better.

"Your string was too short..." he said, holding up the other one compared to his. "Here take these, I'm tired of seeing you use your other ones over and over."

He handed me a long bundle wrapped in {deer} hide. I watched him go back to his den gaping inwardly at what had just happened. I opened the bundle and to my surprise I found eighteen human sized arrows. I didn't understand and I'm sure neither would anyone else. Longreach walked up beside me, apparently he had awoken from his nap.

"He's not eating..." the story teller said. "I think he and Whitelight may have recognized."

Knowing this had to do with the soul name I said. "Well then why does Whitelight seem not to be effected?"

"It effects some different than others cub."

"Then why don't they just mate and get it over with? He hasn't eaten in two eights of days!"

"Two eights of days?" Longreach asked.

"Yes." I answered. " he just sits in his archway and carves flint all day..."

"Hmm..." Longreach pondered. "That's odd, why would those two be staying away from one another."

"Don't know, I thought they were lovemates?"

"No, more or less friendly warmth is all they've ever offered each other, or at least that's what his side of the story is, I think Whitelight thinks he is otherwise to her though, which could cause a problem if he has recognized someone other than her."

"But who?"

"Don't know cub..."

Just then I saw Whitelight running from Fearfire's den. She slowed to stalking towards me and Longreach. "I don't care what you are! You stay away from him! Why can't you go back to your own people where you belong!"

"Whitelight that's enough!" Tanner came up behind her. He seldom raised his voice, but his tone was warning enough. "Longreach I need to have a talk with you..."

Longreach nodded and followed him back to the stream, Whitelight glared thorns at me and stomped off.

Then I heard water again it garbled in and out of my senses until I heard Longreach calling my name. I awoke to him laughing. "That was good for your first try."

"Then why do I have such a headache?" I said sitting up, I seemed to have fallen over.

He cocked an eyebrow at me. "You ate one dreamberry."

I rubbed my eyes. "Your turn." I said ignoring him.

He smirked and popped three dreamberries into his mouth.