© 2002-2019 Ruth and Heidi
Published on stormrise.com on June 2, 2002
Part 1


To save his chief's life during a time when an exhausted Wildlight would certainly have gotten himself killed, Snapjaw resorted to extreme measures, taking Wildlight in a chokehold from behind to induce a much-needed sleep in the chief.

But when Wildlight awoke, days later, confined to bed, he remembered nothing--nothing save strange feelings of uneasiness and distrust around the eldest elder.

When a dreamberry vision made Wildlight leap at the shadows thinking they were Snapjaw, he decided to pay the eldest elder a visit to get to the root of what was troubling him... for better or for worse.

* * *

Snapjaw's den really wasn't on the chief's way to his den in the Great Tree, but somehow, for some reason, Wildlight found himself wandering in that direction. Something in his heart told him he was looking for trouble in a place where trouble didn't need to be trifled with.

When he approached the treeden and found it abuzz with the sounds of activity, he wasn't sure whether to be pleased or disappointed. However, he'd come this way and the old elder had been seemingly hard to find lately. High Ones only knew when their paths would cross again.

Wildlight peered at the den's opening silently for a moment, wondering what had happened in Snapjaw's den to make him work so hard so close to morning. Still, he waited for a lull in the action, a silence in the sounds, before he sent.

**Snapjaw, is that you in there?**

In his treehome, Snapjaw was stuffing his new feather pillow under the furs in his sleeping den when he received the chief's sending. He had finished plucking the longnecked honkers, the naked birds still sitting outside at the treeroot waiting to be gutted. Timber was asleep at the wolf's usual spot at the entry of the tree.

The eldest elder ducked out of the smaller den and then out of the tree, careful to step over his wolf-friend. Plucking stray, whisper-soft pieces of feather-down out of his dark brown hair, Snapjaw regarded Wildlight with a neutral expression. Any number of things could have brought the chief to his tree, and Snapjaw wasn't about to give anything away. He also wasn't going to invite Wildlight into the tree. Better to stay out in the open. Those speculative, half-suspicious frowns the red-haired elf had been giving him over the past moon may have finally sprouted into full-blown comprehension.

**Celebration over?** he asked.

Wildlight didn't speak at first. He merely grunted an affirmation that was followed by a very awkward-feeling silence as he scratched the back of his head and pondered why he was really standing there.

"It's getting late," the chief finally answered in his low, gravelly voice. "And I didn't really feel like dancing."

His gaze shifted from the nearby shadows to the elder who had emerged from his den. Strange, the shadowplay of the near-dawn was just enough to remind Wildlight of his dreamberry-induced vision he'd had just a while ago--the one where he'd swore Snapjaw was sneaking up to him threateningly, suspiciously. But he wasn't sure he was ready to discuss that... yet.

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