Inspiration for the nodestone.

Aletris felt her Trueborn’s need; her hunger for her mate was become desperation, matching his.


If they could not be brought together, in some way, both of them would die, and the loss to their worlds would be perhaps immeasurable.


The loss to her, in this daughter dying before time, would be massive, and she was not willing to lose her. Not only did she have need of her, for her sensitivities, and her ability to touch the mind of her Otherworlder, with his deep knowing of things that went beyond mysteries, here, to the level of the unimagined, but the child, as all her children was dear to her, and a touchstone to many others…


More than that,though – Aletris wanted Jeniah to find happiness, to be mated, as she longed for, to the only man who had ever so moved her soul.


She herself was not able to fully fathom the forces that drove Kaivelt to such madness in pursuit of his couplings. But Jeniah knew it, understood it, to her core, in ways that were beyond any legacy of birth, of this world.


They were soul-matched, and must have one another, or else both die.


She could not fathom the connection, yet, in all of reality, she knew that such things could happen, and were beyond any effort at control.


She could ask nothing more of Jeniah, now – she must free her from all else, and allow her the space and time needed to touch the soul of her lover, and to discover all that lie between them, all that had been Broken, and to heal all that could be healed…


She steered all others of her children away from the Trueborn, so that the roiling need to destroy, born, perhaps, of the Tacivaarii Huntlust that had always been so strong in this one, almost, always, at the edge of her ability to control it. Perhaps, too, born of that need to strike out, smash, splinter,and rend that was so deep in the character of Kaivelt’s strange mating-madness.


Jeniah seemed to know how incapacitated she was. She left the Broken in the rift…a few small rodents steered in their direction, and a spontaneous fresh spring, saw that they would not hunger or thirst excessively.


The Trueborn headed for the diggings – the newest gaping wound in Aletris’s hide, where the pain was still fresh and raw…to her, now, it was desert as her mate desired, and she Ran, unthinking, unknowing, until she could run no further, and fell…


In that moment, in the place where she had fallen, and in the instant that her eyes were closed with the force of the impact, that Aletris knew what she must do.


It was dangerous, certainly – the stone might kill, and, without doubting, would further madden her mind, and, through her, Kaivelt’s.


But it would be the way for them to touch, to connect, so long as Jeniah held the stone close to her skin.


And, perhaps, she would be able to hold herself against the inevitable poisoning of the glowing stone, with the strength of her bond.


At least, if the madness brought further violence, there was nothing there for her to destroy, beyond the rapists and their abhorrent doings…


And there, in that thought,was the beginning of a plan.


Aletris knew well her daughter’s strength of will – she had known it, all her life, and before, in those who had created her in the depths of their own struggle each to impose their will upon the other.


She knew, too,how those beings had twisted her life, and her growing, each in a misbegotten effort to own her – she, the child who could never be truly owned by any but herself – for she was, in the moment of conceiving, already what they had made her, and that was a thing that might be hidden or bent, but never changed, save at the cost of her life.


There was a danger she could see, in turning the Trueborn to her will, now, without first asking…even though what she would have her do was well within the longings of the nature she now shared with her maddened lover.


But, was there a way,now that her mind was wholly gone to his ravings, to ask her, or to receive the answer?


Aletris did not know – and, despite her own insistent need to be rid of the invaders, stop their breakings and thefts and killings, she would not turn the woman to her purposes without receiving her boon…


But,as so often happened with this one, her own desires fed the needs of her world…


While Aletris considered options, the woman rose, holding to the stone, and utterly lost now to anything but Kaivelt and his lustful rages, streaked away, finding a poisoned rabbit too near death to resist her graceless and plunging descent – even though she had not taken Lynxform.


She tore the rodent into shreds, echoing the destruction she could feel Kaivelt wreaking, on his own homeworld. She did not eat, not even the heart or lungs – most sacred tenet of the Tacivaarii. She kept none of the hide, except a scrap just large enough to form a sack to hold the nodestone.


Still bloody, without any effort at cleansing, she tore at the bark of a dying lifepine with teeth and fingers,to get at the long, once-pliable fibers beneath. These she knotted into a rough loop upon which she threaded the still-bloodied bit of hide, shaped into a pouch to hold that which she treasured.


Once it was around her neck, the nodestone hung between her breasts.


There was nothing in this to suggest that she was an artisan of fine merit, with clay, with the preparing and use of hides, or with anything else. It was a crude tool, meant only for the purpose, done with little attention and only such care as to see that the treasure within would remain solely her own.


It was the mark of the savage creature she had become, bent upon nothing but the force of her needs, and her mate’s.


She was ravening, and ravenous – not for food, but instead for another target to aim herself at, to destroy, in the mad hope that, in so doing, she would ease the firestorms of desire and need and emotions too long denied, in them both…


Somehow, this rapacious sundering of all she had been before, of all expectation of being any certain way, had healing and purpose in it.


Sides heaving, Jeniah noticed her in her mind, and Aletris presented the thought that she would go, if not wanted…


Wordless clutching, almost desperate, was the response – the power of it nearly enough to shake even a world.


Aletris understood. She was the means of their touching, their joining, and Jeniah would not sacrifice that.


And so she dared to let her thought float out, not asking, nor forcing, simply placing the idea where it could be found, if the Trueborn looked –


It was seized upon in the next instant, her mind fixing on it as the answer – the only logical one, nattered their minds, gone far beyond any logical thought already – to the need to destroy, to excise that which caused their pain and aloneness…


She would do it, and with pleasure and ecstasy in the doing – not because Aletris wanted it -but because she herself did.


And the knowing of it seemed to bring a certain peace, and she sank down where she was, removed the nodestone from its crude pouch, and, cradling it, gave herself over to her matings…