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Jeniah could feel Shinjao and, more dimly, Rachyl. Kaivelt became less distinct; even though she had known that he would, that he must, to commune with the two healers, it left her feeling bereft, somewhat cast aside.

“You cast him away yourself, more than once, sister. There is no reason in now mourning such a small parting.”

“No, it doesn’t make sense.” She shrugged. “But then, neither does anything about what lies between he and I. Why should this be any different?”

~ Sima garo provides, my own. Even when you do not understand. So you have said to me, when I doubted.~

It was a distracted musing, but she took odd comfort in it, and in Vaara’s acceptance of their link.

She let his thought, his mind-voice, his presence, become as a glowing ember within her, to warm her as they Ran, and as he gave Rachyl what he could give her to help those who might be wounded by what his mind referred to as ‘energy weapons’.

To occupy herself, she allowed herself to sink into awareness of the Huntthread, and the deeper, richer, and far more elusive rhythm of Aletris herself. She needed to shift a great deal of her attention to perceive that low thrum – it was a deeper part of her, even older sound than bloodpulse or breath.

Generally, she lived her life, part of that deep rhythm without being truly present in it. Now, though, Kaivelt’s presence suffused her with his calm certainty, she began to feel Aletris, too, rising up through her; she began to vibrate to the pulse of her world.

This had happened before, but never so naturally, or so fully. She was herself,running along the ground, and she was also the earth, embracing the fleet feet of the Huntresses as they Ran, the tiny stumbles of the newly born, the cradle of Watersdeep and rivers and streams, and the sustenance of roots…

And there were the Wounds – the wounds her Trueborn children had inflicted- painful, but a part of the way of things – her children had need for these contests, sometimes, and there were ways of healing…

But the rending…the tearing…the raping! These things – unnatural, wrong! – these creatures from not-here, taking without offering, without balance, without leave. And the taking was infecting the world, and Aletris could not rid herself of them.

Her world needed her. Aletris needed help; Aletris was far from helpless. She would give her energy, her power, her wealth of resources, to aid in the ridding.

She ran, and leapt into trees where they still stood, here before they became barren skeletons that could no longer even harbor life, and flowed from branch to branch, knowing that, joined with her world, she could not fall…

And Kaivelt was a glowing warmth, within, blending with her, joining with Aletris, as he helped Rachyl learn what she would need to learn, becoming somehow a part of this world too, in his willing service to her and this planet she called home…

]

~Sima garo provides, my own. For you, and perhaps also for such as I – ~

She felt his fatigue. He was recovering himself, but it was arduous and slow -like a tenday hunt, thriceten over. And, beyond what they shared, he had had contact with no one. In truth, he had not yet left the Severed Ones. He knew he would go to his old friends as they ventured into Everdeep to search for the entity that still sought him, still sought its purpose.

But he had been so long away, so long from allowing and accepting emotions as part of him, inextricable. This renewed joining, begun involuntarily, almost reflexively, had shaken him, and left him raw.

Her needs, at the same time, strengthened him and made him vulnerable. He was coming to life – but with a woman he could not see, could not touch, could not claim in the way all he was yearned for.

It did not matter to her that she was the stronger in the arts of the mind. But, to him, there was an unspoken threat in it, and a fear, because she had Severed him so easily. So long as he had been unaware of her power, or thought that she was only fantasy it troubled him little, this contact between them.

But now –

~You could Sever me in a heartbeat – or kill me.~

His concern brought a wave of dark amusement. ~ As I have always been, fierce one. And as I will be able to, as easily, if we are truly together.~

He was fatigued from the sharing with Rachyl, which had required much of him. Soon, now, sleep would take him – but he resisted, needing to understand this new threat that she posed. ~It has always been so, my own?~

~Always. I cannot be other than what I am. ~

~No. As indeed I cannot…~ He probed her now, clumsily because he was so near sleep, searching for some comprehension. ~I have wounded thee, as badly, and still can and may?~

~You had no need to ask, Kaivelt. You know already the truth of it. We can and will hurt one another, as all who give of themselves, and open themselves, can and do. ~ She stopped herself so that she would not say the rest, but he stroked the place where she held the thought – a supplication, and an offer.

Jeniah returned his caress. ~ I give you my trust, Kaivelt, my fierce one – even in the face of what you have done, and what you may yet do. I trust that you do as you do with the best intent you are capable of, at all times, and that you will trust in me to the extent that you are willing and capable of trusting. I ask nothing of you that you will not freely offer – now and ever. You are your own, fierce one, and not mine to lead or command.~

~You offer so much…and I have nothing of value to offer you in return – not even myself. ~ After so much damage, so much change, so much exertion, he was feeling particularly bereft of self and anchor, in this moment. He wanted to hold to her, but could not as yet trust, and knew he might yet be swayed in another direction, and away from her.

Jeniah smiled. ~You are more asleep than awake, now, but hold these words in your dreaming, if you will. ~

~I will, my Huntress, my own.~ She knew well enough to smile at his flow of feeling – he held himself always wary of any such displays when well awake – but,as sleep neared, he softened as though he were a milk-drunk babe –

A half-dream, vivid, sensual – he lay with his skin bare against his mother, smelling her, gulping at her warm sweet milk. He watched the play of her face, the way her gaze made him feel as warm and safe as her milk, even though she was cooler than him.

And, somehow, he was also with her, holding her, surrounded by arytana and starlight, and all was feeling as he surrendered to the visions and sensations.

Jeniah could not join him, because Aletris was singing in her soul, too, and she was not now free to go where his dreaming led. Instead, she slipped her thought into his paired dreams and he sank deeply into them. ~You are enough, as you are. What you have to offer, freely, is enough. And those are all I have to offer you.~

He was the babe, his suckling slowing now, sleep coming for him, the milk escaping to drip into his ear, tickling, and he laughed a surprised infant laugh, still staring into the vivid blue of his mother’s eyes, as she laughed along with him…

Inspiration for Jeniah in Lynxform. Public domain image. Click for source.

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