Tobi saw herself lying beside the boulder, Tess’s unconscious form atop her own. Flies covered them both. From the astral plane, she observed the ruckus that the scene had caused for all of those in the clearing. She also saw Neem fall to her hands and knees and the darkness that flashed in her eyes as she looked toward where she must know that Miss Antonina would soon beckon her to assess Tess and Tobi.
As always, Midnight’s form was more solid in this plane than at any other time. She gazed at him as he casually walked to her body in the clearing and nuzzled her cheek. She wanted to call to him. She wanted more than anything to feel warmth and kindness from a creature that loved her. She hadn’t felt that since the death of her father and her heart ached for a loving touch; she stayed silent. Tobi didn’t know why or if it would ever change, but she did know that calling out to Midnight would be a fruitless endeavor.
As she wrestled with her loneliness and confusion, she began to hear a distinct crying. Not the crying of a human, but the distressed call of the Elk. She knew it all too well. It haunted her day and night, reminded her of the last time that she had seen Vawndila.
As real as if she were living that moment again, she saw the little girl asleep in her arms, exhausted and undernourished from constantly moving from one hiding place to the next to avoid the Umlakka. how Tobi had wept that night. She had begged quietly that her tears falling on the fine, soft fur of the girl’s face would not wake her. It had almost been too much for her to bear when she had finally let go of Vawndila’s tiny body. She hadn’t let go for a long time that night, not for many hours.
To be continued…