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I shiver-sweated in my furs, and heard my voice emerge in Kaivelt’s tongue.

…In my furs?

I shied from the question – Kaivelt was slipping away, melting like snow the spring sun has too long warmed, becoming, once more, only a part of Everdeep, only a part of my dreaming…

But not by his choice…

And not by mine.

We spoke the words, together, while we could still feel each other. His soul knew them for binding words that would seal us as tight as the Huntthread.

No.

Tighter.

“This is no dream. I am real. I await you.”

Wherever he was on that dusty red world, his Healer pumped curatives into him, and he was slipping, slipping away, becoming nothing…and I was slipping too, away from him, icy Everdeep pulling me away, away…

I faded into his fevered dreams, unable to cling more tightly.

He was of a people who did not count dreams as true. I must not be his dream, and nothing more!

“This is no dream. I am real. I await you.”

As my own life pulled me back more and more powerfully, I felt him grasp at that thought, hold to it, with something as deep as life, deeper than reason.

Gasping whoosh of breath, of awareness of place….sweatdrenched furs, cookfires, roasting rabbit and kalaana, the scent of Healer Xanaas, and Trinna, and Tacivaar, and the rest of the Pride, worry threaded through all, the sounds of the other children at play and the Singers weaving a healing song…

“Will she live?”

“It is up to her. She may choose to stay with her dreaming, and create her truth there. If she does, her body here will die.”

“Die?”

“You speak, Trueborn?”

Kaivelt was nothing more than shadow or mist on a fall morning.

I could follow where it led, still, find him, be with him…I could scent the trail, feel it to my marrow.

But then there could be no Runs in the Huntlands, no prey – no Dancing, or Singing –

~Be with your people, my own. I will find you.~

Only his fierceness and his stubbornness allowed as much. He was smoke against the stars of Everdeep, rising and fading until I could barely scent him in my mind, less than a dream.

One thought more…

~Remember.~

We thought it together, and then my eyes opened to stare up past the cookfires – to the scrap of Everdeep seen through the venting hole…

Somewhere in that vastness – vastness within vastness, endless vastnesses – was my prey, and my Hunter…

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