A Huntress is Born, Lives, and Stalks Through My Fantasies…

Category Archives: SIma Garo Provides

Vulcan (Star Trek)

Vulcan (Star Trek) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because he is the intersection of the Warp and the Weft, and because I am done feeling vague shame over my love for him….

I offer you  –

Spock – A Most Logical Character

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The Palliative Spore

Inspriration for the nodestone…photo via Google.

From the breath that she had placed the nodestone where Jeniah could not help but find it, Aletris had known that she must, as the counterbalance, create a path to healing, or at least some bettering, against the time when the Trueborn’s need for the tool lessened, because, even then, it was a certain thing that she, who could cling so tightly to her Otherworld prey, would not relinquish it without much struggle – struggle that, after all that had gone before to weaken her, might kill her –

As the nodestone would, too, without protection.

And so, there must be a means by which the poisons of the tool could be lessened, so that the Trueborn might, in time, come to a place where she could heal safely…

The stone she would keep, Aletris knew, until and unless she secured a better trail to lead her to Kaivelt. No poison, now, could be more dangerous to either of them than losing what had been forged in pain and anguish, and which was, in the end, the only hope, now, for either of them.

She had never created such a thing, and, in the beginning, while Jeniah raved with Huntlust and the deeper passions of Kaivelt’s fiery madness, she had little enough time to consider it. This daughter was a danger now, to herself and all others, and that bore watching, constantly, so that she could shield the rest of her children from it, leaving only the intruders defenseless against her skill and cunning, for even their strange light-bending weapons could not help them if they took note of the need to draw them only as their throats were being torn from them.

And, still, she was the world, and the only home any of her children had ever known – save this one, who could feel as Kaivelt did, and was coming to know his wondrous worlds – the desert world, the water world, and the strange world that forged its own path through Everdeep.

It was a good thing, the distracted time of sending prey away from the Trueborn’s need to rend them, not for true hunger, but for bloodlust; it allowed her a fine understanding of the full scope and shape of the madness, and so her panacea would be fit to the need, created solely for that purpose.

Like the nodestone, it must appear in a place and at a time when Jeniah would be drawn to it, because, if not, there was no way to force this one, now, even if she would.

A glowing thing, that grew only in the shade, in restful places….but not one that needed ground to srping forth in, for the Trueborn was more a creature meant for the trees, and most often took her shelter in a bower or upon a limb.

When the Trueborn fixed her maddened energies finally only on the interlopers, Aletris began her study, creating, rejecting, creating again, testing, adding a bit of this and removing a bit of that…

Until, finally, she looked upon a delicate spore that blew upon a wind she conjured just for it, to land in the mossy place on a wide high lifepine branch, just the type of place that would draw the Trueborn when she must have a bower for her Matehunt.

Aletris’s Palliative Spore

With delicate weavings of sunlight and shadow, rain and time, the spore grew into a lovely mushroom, its creamy skin flecked with hints of iridescent orange in ever shifting patterns, and aglow from beneath, as the nodestone glowed, only this the soothing orange glow of a fire succumbing to hunger, slowly…

She examined her creation, and saw that it was, indeed, very good, and perhaps, just what was needed.

She rested, then, and, when she was recovered, set herself to create a forest of the spores, so that she would not miss the next place where the Trueborn ceased her ravenings….


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…

 

 


https://i2.wp.com/4.bp.blogspot.com/-LjAYlnVDiLU/ULVx34HWaJI/AAAAAAAAGnE/GYhSHa200zY/s1600/lynx_in_snow.jpg

Inspiration for Jeniah. Public domain – click for source.

Jeniah had gone into the trees, and remained there, as they skirted the edges of the Poisoned Lands. She was lost in her awarenesses, Aletris and Kaivelt winding together, becoming more and more a part of her being, with first one and then the other dominating.

Vaara wondered if this was a great danger, or a blessing, but she could not know enough of the variables to begin to formulate a useful equation.

Since it was quite likely that she would be seriously mind-injured if Vaara or anyone else interfered before she was done, there was little point in attempting to take her attention.

~Sima garo provides.~

It was a sleepy, half-dreaming thought, and she wasn’t sure Kaivelt meant to send it to her, or even if he knew he had thought it. But there was a certain peace in it, and Vaara knew he would not feel so if there were danger to Jeniah in this sharing with Aletris.

So she settled into wary ease…Jeniah’s presence in her mind was at once highly attuned to her surroundings, and vague with the depth of the new sharing, and the fire-traced edges of Kaivelt’s dreamings.

She could feel that things were being shared, between her sister and the planet herself- for Aletris was indeed self-aware, and, moreover, utterly certain of her ever-shifting places, in Everdeep and in the lives of her diversity of children. But she could not spare all the focus that was needed to be fully aware of these strange Otherworlders, and she couldn’t know them as she did her own children, born of her earth and sustained by her.

As she skirted the edges of the Poisoned Lands, where the snow was still as it had always been, Vaara kept her focus outward, on the details Jeniah might easily miss, during her joining.

They had had no plan – there were too many Tribed, and too maddened by the poison they might have been ingesting for many sunrounds. They could not contain them all, not in the time they had to them.

But Aletris had a plan. She would use Jeniah to sense the Otherworld interlopers, and the poisoned Tribed. Then, she could direct her strength outward through the Tacivaarii Trueborn, and prevent her children from being wantonly killed.

That would be the beginning, but there was more – much, much more – in the sharing than what she could sense, beyond knowing that she, too, had her part to play in the rescue of her world.

And so, she patrolled the edges of the blasted lands, pointing her nose first to the directions from which the maddened Hunters would come, and then into the Poisoned Lands, where the dust- streaked snow thinned from the unnatural heat, and where the small sounds and scents of life abruptly ended, because none could live long in this inhospitable place.

Joined to Jeniah, and so sensing her deepening ties to the consciousness of their world, she could feel something of the depths of anguish and rage for ever life lost, every grain of earth taken by the invaders.

She had been searching for three sunlengths when she caught the scent of the approaching Hunters. There were not as many as there had been; their madness had caused them to fall upon one another, and some had not survived.

Aletris knew it too, and there was a wave of sorrow, and a deepening of rage,from the echoes of Jeniah’s mind. There would be an accounting, from the planet, for all the damage and death that had been wrought as a result of the invasion and rape.

And her part in it was to find the poisoned ones, to know just where they were, because the taint of the deep poisons made them other, and hard for the world to sense. In some fashion, the were no longer wholly of this world, because they held the poisons born of the Otherworlders’ violent attacks.

She would undertake that duty willingly – Vaara was beginning to sense that Aletris, too, had equations which governed her, and that these equations had become, with the arrival of the Otherworlders, dangerously imbalanced. Life was becoming a skewed and dangerous affair, and, if nothing was done to bring that equation back into balance, the consequences might prove deadly, not just for the poisoned ones, but for all life everywhere, and for Aletris herself.

The scent was still thready and weak in the crisp midwinter air, and unmoving, now – the poisons so long in their systems had kept the hunters from eating as they were intended, and they were grown weak and malnourished, and in need of frequent rest. They would not reach the edge of the Poisoned Lands this day; and perhaps not on the morrow –

“They will not reach them, kelaan.”

Vaara started – she had clearly been dangerously preoccupied, that she had not sensed Jeniah’s approach.

Her sister smiled, clearly reading her reaction – but this was and was not Jeniah, and, at the same bloodpulse, was and was not Aletris. There was deep power and knowing in her.

“How will they not, Jeniah? We do not have the strength to stop them, without further breaking the world.”

“I am the world, child.” Deep run of amusement and affection in the scent, as though her answer had been a private joke. “You need only find just where they are, and I will see to the rest. There are ways of breaking that are natural and helpful to me, and these I will use to protect my children, to offer them up to you for healing, and to prevent their untimely death at the hands of those who abuse me.”

“I will go ot them at once-”

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a6/Winter_Wolf.jpg

Inspiration for Vaara – photo by Wikipedia – click for source.

“No.” The single syllable held echoes of Tacivaar, and Kaitiiraan, and Jeniah at her most imperial – but, beneath that, there was a deeper command, and a kinder – Aletris herself was opposing. “You need rest, child – and you are near enough to your next dosing – and this one through whom I speak cannot hold my thoughts without rest, and time to be with he who is her Chosen.”

“Then what would you have me do?”

“You will come to our shelter. The poisoned ones will not approach it, if we’re within, or nearby – they are maddened enough to believe that they can avoid our detection if they do not, and their blood boils not against us, but the Otherworlders.”

“But, if we are taking shelter, can they not elude us, sister?”

“There will be a blizzard, this night, lasting a tenday. We will alert the runners coming from Osiiraan, so that they can be prepared and sheltered. The maddened ones are not moving, they will be protected as well as they are able to be – but no one will be able to travel, and all will have suitable rest.”

“And what then?” Vaara felt the equation shifting, moving back towards balance, and harmony. But she could not see the shape of it.

“There will be time for planning, as the storm rages.” And Jeniah Changed, and leapt back into the trees, heading at once for their lair, leaving Vaara to follow, alone with her hope and her questions.


Curious? Click here!

Jeniah had gone into the trees, and remained there, as they skirted the edges of the Poisoned Lands. She was lost in her awarenesses, Aletris and Kaivelt winding together, becoming more and more a part of her being, with first one and then the other dominating.

Vaara wondered if this was a great danger, or a blessing, but she could not know enough of the variables to begin to formulate a useful equation.

Since it was quite likely that she would be seriously mind-injured if Vaara or anyone else interfered before she was done, there was little point in attempting to take her attention.

~Sima garo provides.~

It was a sleepy, half-dreaming thought, and she wasn’t sure Kaivelt meant to send it to her, or even if he knew he had thought it. But there was a certain peace in it, and Vaara knew he would not feel so if there were danger to Jeniah in this sharing with Aletris.

So she settled into wary ease…Jeniah’s presence in her mind was at once highly attuned to her surroundings, and vague with the depth of the new sharing, and the fire-traced edges of Kaivelt’s dreamings.

She could feel that things were being shared, between her sister and the planet herself- for Aletris was indeed self-aware, and, moreover, utterly certain of her ever-shifting places, in Everdeep and in the lives of her diversity of children. But she could not spare all the focus that was needed to be fully aware of these strange Otherworlders, and she couldn’t know them as she did her own children, born of her earth and sustained by her.

As she skirted the edges of the Poisoned Lands, where the snow was still as it had always been, Vaara kept her focus outward, on the details Jeniah might easily miss, during her joining.

They had had no plan – there were too many Tribed, and too maddened by the poison they might have been ingesting for many sunrounds. They could not contain them all, not in the time they had to them.

 

inspiration for Vaara’s journey – photo property of NPS and are in the public domain.


Curious? Click here!

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.


Curious? Click here!

The children scampered ahead to the root cellar, along the path they had cleared with their many trips. Cerdin and Oskar had been helping Inura and Andas to learn to make shelters and fires; now, throughout the daylight hours,adults who wanted anything from the cellars had only to ask one of the children of the village; any child able to walk and understand was willing to fetch it.

Today, though, she had been invited to come see their handiwork, and would be permitted within. It was a rare honor.

Winter’s Knell was deep, nearing its midpoint, and the Tribed feasting that accompanied it. The air bit at her; she thought briefly of Kaitiiraan’s Keep, and how, when she lived there, she had seldom had reason or desire to set slippered foot outside.

Here, she wore sturdy boots such as the merchant women wore, and furs given to her as a gift by her sisters. But she did not like to have her face covered, and so the air stabbed into her throat and nose.

As soon as she gained the snug outer shelter, Inura gestured her to a fur draped rock.

“Will you sit for a halfglass, Mother, and take some tea?” She was young, but becoming a fine cook already – as Rachyl had been told Lyrin her mother had been.

“I’ll sit, and drink, and will welcome the warming.”

The other children gathered around her, and regaled her with stories and chatter while she sipped the excellent tea – it even had restorative qualities such as arytana, wakeroot, and amasberry. Rachyl had noted the bank of sensates, and now better understood why Andas had been so interested in the plants lately, and had asked for some seeds. “This is a very comfortable place,” she said. “It’s little wonder that you all so love to be here.”

When she had finished the tea, Oskar took the cup to a sand basin in the corner, washed it, and hung it back on the hook against the wall, where there were several other cups, all hung at child’s height. “Are you ready, Rachyl?”

Of all of them, Cerdin was the most reserved around her; as oldest, he’d had the most time with his own Mother, and she knew that she would never replace the person who had borne and nursed him.

“When you are.”

A babbling of young voices and all but Cerdin clutched at various parts of her, surrounding her like a cloud. She smiled, drawing as much joy from them as they drew comfort from her.

Cerdin lit a small torch for himself, and then led them, somewhat raucously, down into cellar – a hollowed space under a knot of Osiiraan’s massive roots. There was barely room for them all – but the walls were lined with shelves and hooks, and upon them were clay jars, woven baskets and bags, and large gourds and jugs. Mother would have frowned at the materials the storage containers were made of – she preferred fine ceramics and stoneware – but even she would have been able to find no fault in the cleanliness and order of the place.

Cerdin smiled at her exclamation of appreciation, and made a small Tacivaarii bow. Inura took the lead in explaining what the cellar contained – they had done more gathering than the adults had been aware of, and their additions showed a fine understanding of the needs of the village. They all beamed when she selected a few things to have brought to the village-tree, and were busily gathering them up when there was a commotion outside.

“Healer Rachyl! Are you yet within?”

“I am here, ”she answered, embracing the children, who looked up at her with wide eyes – no one had ever breeched this private space before, and they had all suffered the effects of chaos.

“It smells like fear, and maybe fury.” Cerdin scrubbed at his nose as though there was a putrid smell in it, and now he found a fold of her skirts, and half-lost himself within it.

“Shinjao has need of you, at once.”

A jolt of fear went through her. “Is it Salka?”

“No, Healer. The babe is well and bright and thriving. She has had a sending from the Trueborn, and wishes you to come as soon as you are able, to discuss it. There will be need of your services, in a pair of tendays, at most.”

“I will not leave the children.”

“No one would ask that of you, Healer. Only please come quickly.”

There was no need to tell the children that this visit was over. They grasped their prizes and led her back out of the small cellar, and sent her on ahead while they awaited the next need of their services…except for Oskar, who ran ahead and was on his way back before she reached the greatroom. He clutched the patch blanket, and his eyes were wide and serious in his pale face.

“May you find peace, small one,” she said, as he flung himself into her arms and buried his face in folds of the blanket and her shoulder. He murmured something she did not understand, and swarmed down again, and was gone three heartbeats later.

Shinjao, with Salka asleep in her soft hide sling, was waiting for her, to take her wraps and lead her to her withdrawing chamber where Rachyl had never yet been.

There were two of the comfortable wide couches the Tacivaarii preferred, the ones designed as much for their public and unreserved Matehunting, which could happen at any time and with no warning, as they were for sitting upon. There was a small hearth,  acrackle with a bright hot blaze, and a deeply padded chair that had the look of Mother’s Keep about it, and Shinjao gestured to it as she hung Rachyl’s furs on a rack where they could be warmed.

“Will you rest by the fire and talk with me, Rachyl? I have need of a plan, and more healing perhaps than even if all of Osiiraan and the Pridekeep were healers, and free to help.”

“Tell me”, Rachyl said, and noticed that Shinjao kept sensates near her tea preparation table, and that there was another small grouping in a wide wooden bowl set at the base of the table beside her. These were different than the varieties she favored; she decided to speak with Shinjao about them.

Salka whimpered softly, and stretched her tiny body,and then there was the sound of her greedy suckling, and Rachyl felt her womb and breasts clench and ache with wanting a babe of her own. Tears came to her eyes, unbidden, as she listened.

Shinjao half-turned from her herb stores and sensates, and said, softly, “Will you weave some warm clothes for Salka? She will want time on the ground, soon, I think, but she will take a chill while the earth is still cold.”

“I would be delighted,” she breathed, as she tried to make out the scents drifting to her along with stray wisps of smoke from the fire. Shinjao said, “There is a basket near your chair, on a shelf beneath the table. If you would prefer to weave while we speak, perhaps it could provide service to us both.” Rachyl was surprised that she had not yet noticed the basket, but now found in it an answer to the nervous need to be about something that almost had her going to where Shinjao was, even knowing how closely Tacivaarii held their personal spaces.

Public domain image that inspires thoughts of Rachyl weaving. Click for source.

She lifted the basket to her lap, and set to exploring the colors and textures while Shinjao finished with her adding of pinches and sprigs, then set the carved earthernware teakettle upon its swinging hook and turned it to heat over the embers.

She came to sit cross legged on one of the low couches, and met Rachyl’s eyes. “A mixed group of Canivaarii and Tacivaarii – perhaps as many as a thriceten, and likely poisoned since before the time of the Wounding – are moving into the Poisoned Lands, with the intent to kill those they find there.”

“Do they not know that the Trueborn are scouting?”

“They know. They feel that it has been too long – and they yet blame your sisters for the Woundingg – “

“And imitur poisoning does not allow them to trust.”



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