“The darkness is always present, even when there is light. I can feel it, I can hear it. When I close my eyes it rises from the deepest, darkest reaches of my soul.” – Copper Tenderfoot
The usual sounds of the forest were silent, only the slight rustling of the leaves could be heard over the frightened breathing of Copper and his parents. The cold night air clung to his chest with each breathe that he took. The screeches and ear piercing hollows ripped through the forest, echoing louder and louder with each moment. The screeching shrill cry was answered by another and another, till the forest was engulfed in the thunderous roar. Copper’s father grabbed his arm and pushed him to his feet.
“Come on Copper, we must run.” Copper’s father whispered through clenched teeth.
They ran. Copper looked back and saw the shadowy forms crashing through the trees. He was exhausted, unable to even change form anymore. Though changing form had proven useless, their pursuers found them every time. They were relentless hunters, nothing got away from them. The sounds of their talons ripping through the underbrush and tree limbs sent uncontrolled shivers up his spine. These creatures were the essence of nightmares. The taunt ashen skin stretched tight against muscle and bone, as well as the black sightless eyes made Copper want to do nothing more than run and hide. He needed no urging from his father in that respect.
He felt the blood curdling scream rip through him. He turned to see the black sightless eyes of the creature staring right at him. Its scream ripping through the night as a blade pierced through its chest. The black orbs of its eyes still looked at him as the others dragged the body away. The feral cannibalistic nature of the creatures made Copper wonder what purpose such a creature could serve.
Were they once something else?
Maybe they simply spring forth from the nightmares of some crazed mage? Copper wasn’t sure, but for once he didn’t really want to know the answer to that.
“Run, don’t stop.” Copper’s father screamed as the creatures ripped through the body of their fallen comrade.
Copper looked around as the world seemed to slow down. He couldn’t move. In stunned horror, he watched as his mother was lifted off her feet into the tree tops above. Her screams echoed loudly throughout the forest, and then silence fell for a moment. Copper heard the wet tearing sound of flesh…
Copper shot up from his bed roll. His eyes open wide in terror as he looked around. He a saw large shadowy shape loom largely over him. He tried to shape shift, but his mind was unable to focus on such a task at the moment.
“Wake up lad!”
The deep voice shouted several times before the young changeling could register the words. Copper blinked several times before he came to his senses and fully aware of his surroundings.
“Tinker ! ” Copper Smiled as he jumped to his feet. He looked around the ruined campsite wondering what or who had made such a mess.
“What’s wrong? Why you looking at me with bloodshot bulgy eyes ?” Copper asked as he looked dumbfounded at Braydin.
“What?” Braydin asked exasperated.
“Well look at this place. The campsite is a mess!” Copper answered. He turned and started to pick up pots and pans and broken shards of pottery.
“You mean to tell me, that you don’t remember!” Braydin couldn’t believe it, the changeling was a bit daffy, but not that daffy.
“You was have nightmares, thrashing and screaming and changing back and forth for hours. It took me forever to just get you to wake up.” Braydin looked at Copper expecting some long drawn out story.
“Hmm, I don’t recall having a dream. Changelings don’t really have dreams. Maybe it was you having a dream about me having a dream.” Copper grinned as felt satisfied he had solved the mystery at hand.
Braydin merely shook his head and started cleaning up as well. He wasn’t going to pry. If Copper wanted to talk about it, then he would. Braydin recalled Copper screaming throughout the night the same word over and over. The lad would scream “Uttar”. The sound of his screams still echoed in his mind. He wondered who or what the Uttar were to have scared the lad so much.