Forests of Eyulf: Instincts of Blue
Disclaimer- This is a fantasy story in which the main characters may follow the archetypes represented by Xena and Gabrielle . Some may not consider it an actual piece of fan fiction. Xena, Gabrielle and Cyrene are characterizations that are owned by Renaissance/Universal and the author of this story is merely borrowing them and their personalities . This story depicts a loving relationship between characters of the same sex. Violence occurs within the context of good fighting evil.
Thanks as always go to my editor and friend "Wishes". And to those who encouraged me to write and offered feed-back to me with this different piece of fiction.
Comments are welcome and appreciated. I can be reached at Cpell49171@aol.com or at email@example.com.
Characters and there "Xena Warrior Princess" Counterparts:
Zya- Xena Brielle-Gabrielle Nyka- Argo Reina- Cyrene Lai- Lyceus Drad- Draco Terrence- Toris
All other characters are invented by the author for the sake of the story plot.
Driven by a reflex Snared by nature's way Bound by timeless urges Human or am I beast? Survival of the fittest Standing under the Moon Hear my wolf cry echo Resounding into my soul
In the year 3278, the people of Nadir moved out the plains of Adean into the forests of Eyulf, land of the Ulfr people. The old ones still whisper that the trees there turn to wolves in the sacred forests. But the stories are old and mostly forgotten in Nadir.
The lone she wolf hid herself in the darkness as she tracked her prey under the yellow moon. Only her blue eyes stood out among the scrubby pines that had been her home and that of her mother and grandmother before her. Her coat, a dark ebony, stood bushy and full as the cold season drew near. Tonight, as on so many others in her life of twenty cycles, she hunted the Nadir, the invaders of the sacred forest the killers of her brother Lai.
While her pack rested this night savoring the dusk kill of wild boar, the she wolf roamed the night in restless anger. If her scouting proved fruitful, she would ead her brothers tomorrow night in a feast of Nadirean blood. She lifted her nose high and sniffed the chilly air. The wolfs blue eyes became narrow slits as she raised her head proudly and bayed at the still rising moon. The war-god Ares blessed her diligence. A new group of humans had desecrated the sacred woods of Eyulf. Their odor was obnoxious amidst the sweet smelling pines.
Zya, taller and more agile than the most skilled males of her pack, jumped easily to an overhanging tree branch. She called once more hoping the one she left in charge heard her cry of success. Even if her cousins with the red coats heard her, it mattered not. She would see the death of all those with Nadirean blood or die trying. Her second Cousin, Drad, called back in friendly warning. The kill was theirs, he warned in short high yips. Though displeased with her cousins attitude and lack of honor among the Ulfr, she answered with a howl of congratulations and moved closer to watch the slaughter. Interference would breach the sacred rule of conduct among the Ulfr and even joining the skirmish could mean her own challenge among her red cousins. With so many brothers and sisters already lost to the trespassers, she contented herself with watching in the shadows.
Zya inched closer to the tents as she listened to the cries of surprise and pain. Drads pack had lost even more to the Nadireans than her own family. Her code of honor would have compelled her to leave the women and children. Drad did not share that belief, and Zya watched coldly as her cousins tore at the throats of young and old alike. No Nadirean would live to resettle here , she thought to herself, turning to head back into the inky darkness.
A yelp from one of her cousins caused her to turn her head. A petite young human fought valiantly to defend a fallen old couples bodies. The girls parents? the she wolf wondered. She moved her body a bit closer to watch the boldness of this Nadirean who swatted at her cousin with a staff of wood. The Nadirean showed courage she would expect only from an Ulfr. The human was tiring, and her cousins had begun to circle the girl and the two bodies.
An uncomfortable feeling rose in the she-wolfs chest as she watched her cousins begin to tear at the carcasses and nip at the girls limbs. Zyas hair stood high on her back and an instinctual growl begun in the back of her throat. As Drad circled behind the girls bleeding back to make the final strike on the neck, the she wolf leapt in the air. Hurtling over the Nadirean, she landed squarely on the back of her second cousin. She bit down hard, and both rolled in the dust and scattered the pack who circled the girl. Drads dark eyes gleamed yellow as he threw off the she wolf and bit down on the shoulder of the human, who tried helplessly to protect the two dismembered carcasses from further injury. Zya twisted as she fell and landed on her four legs. She charged again as the young one fell unconscious on the two bodies.
Her cry of battle echoed in the caverns of the forest as her jaws found her cousins and she clamped down. "By all that is sacred, I will kill you Drad" she sent a message in his mind as she whipped her head back and forth digging her teeth in tighter. "Let her go and be gone, she is mine now and you cannot have her," she added as she lifted her body through the air. She hung onto Drad and propelled them forward into the forests edge.
As their injured leader scampered away into the forest, the red coats began a retreat. Zya bared her teeth to the passers by who would now call enemy.
"I will kill you and control both the red and black of Ulfr," a rasping voice sounded in the she wolfs head.
Zya refused to answer and instead threw up her head and throat to the night sky and let her own voice echo again through the sacred Forest. She padded over to the girl and watched anxiously for the rise and fall of the chest. The chest rose slowly and the black wolf relaxed.
What have you just gotten yourself into, Zya, she thought to herself as she pace ed back and forth trying to figure out her next move. Never before had she placed herself in a position to doubt her actions in battle. "Well, I am not going to start now," she sounded off in her head. She blinked her blue eyes twice and looked straight at the yellow moon.
Standing tall and erect on her bare feet, Zyas closed her eyes again and opened them slowly. Her long black hair blew carelessly in the wind seeming to try to wrap itself around her naked human frame. She stooped down quickly and picked up the smaller body. She gently wrapped her arms around it tightly letting the smaller head tuck under her chin and began the long walk back to the pack that was camped in the next pass.
Zya tightened her hold on the body in her arms as she stepped purposefully into the warm waters of the Kildr that paralleled the packs encampment. She knew that any trace of Nadirean scent would send her brothers over the edge in primal rage. Sitting in the shallows, she lowered the body to her lap and stripped off the bloody, torn garments. Each piece floated downwards to the sandy bottom as Zya cupped the holy waters of cleansing over the beaten body and softly scrub- bed the dirt and grime away. Not so young, she thought to herself as she took in he female curves on the small frame.
"The mark of Ulf ," she whispered . She took her index finger and traced over the dark mark on the fair skin above the womans left breast and swallowed . Zya knew the stories of the mark from times sat at the campfire in her childhood. How was this Naderian marked by the gods? she asked herself. Standing carefully and pulling the wet body closer to her own bronze skin, she crossed the waters to the wall of rocks that guarded the Ulfr perimeters.
Zya picked up her crimson tunic she had draped on a low hanging branch and draped it on her hard-won possession. She smiled as she thoroughly rubbed the garment over the young ones body before wrapping her in it. There would be no doubt of the young ones ownership nor could her brothers question the mark of Ulf.
Zya heard the cries of outrage in her head even before she reached the inner circle of the campfire. Her own teeth bared instinctively as she protectively nestled the Nadirean closer on her large shoulder. "Back," she yelled mentally at her wolf brothers, who had abandoned the boars carcass for a better and more satisfying catch. The young womans blood permeated even Zyas nostrils as the warm blood began to soak the tunic. Zya crouched defensively, ready to kick her brothers away from the smaller form. She bared her teeth again in a loud guttural growl, and the hair on the back of her neck to rise.
Both sides stood in silent confrontation, but neither moved. Zya was the strongest in the clan, her leadership always wise , her loyalty to her own undisputed. The crimson tunic slid off the unconscious womans shoulder as a steady stream of blood oozed from the wound . "Just look," Zya spoke aloud forcefully as she tilted the Nadirean in her arms and threw off the tunic completely.
"The mark, she carries the mark," a gray streaked male mumbled to the pack mentally as he pushed through the line of brash, young males who had been ready to kill their leader moments before. The old male moved closer, narrowing his brown eyes as he walked forward to stand a few feet in front of Zya. He turned his head to look at a small male barely an adolescent. "Nerri, tell your Uncle Teldar what you see," he spoke mentally as the young brown peppered male shly moved forward in the developing crowd of young and old alike.
"Its like Zyas" Nerri muttered with amazement echoing in his mental voice. Zya had gently placed her bundle by the fire and stood before her clan in her proud nakedness. It was moments like these she used her ability to change forms at will to gain respect from those around her. She was proud of her regal female form. Just as she was proud of the fear and trepidation she invoked as she stalked with her blue eyes blazing in her ebony mane. Her blue eyes blazed as she whipped her black hair to uncover her chest.
Zya smiled at the mental gasps of shock she heard as she better exposed her right breast. She had always hidden it carefully behind her tunic or beneath her hair. Knowing it made her stand out even more amongst her people than just her blue eyes amongst a mass of browns. She had always looked to the mark as a sign from the gods of her special calling in the clan. A calling she had spent her whole life trying to live up to.
"Kern, double the guards on the perimeters and come to my cave at high moon," Zya spoke as she gave her gray haired uncle a thankful nod . Carefully she lifted the bundle in her arms and strode in quick steps to her cave that lay cut into the mountain.
"She has lost so much blood," Zya murmured to her uncle as she threw down another linen cloth that was saturated with the green eyes blood.
"Down to the muscle, I see ," the older wolf spoke mentally as he moved closer to the pallet where his niece pressed a compress to the mauled shoulder.
"Even if I stitch the muscle closed and close the skin she may never use the arm again," Zya told her uncle with a matter of factness. "That is, if she does not die from fever or blood loss first," she added gravely as she picked up her thread to begin the delicate process.
"Zya, this one must live," Teldar, the eldest of the pack spoke emphatically with his mind as he paced before the fire. "Our clan and the Nadireans depend on both of you ....your blood..."
"Nooooooo !" Zya interrupted loudly mentally. "She is a Nadir ."
"Child, she carries the mark," Teldar countered emphatically.
"The reactions ," Zya proposed.
"Are unknown on her kind Zya," the old wolf's voice echoed in the woman's head as he moved to stand directly over the pale small face, "you must try."
Zya sat down on the pallet and closed her blue eyes. She exhaled a ragged breath and stared down into the visage of this other that had changed her life so fast. She picked up the blue jeweled knife passed down by her mother and swallowed. The knife trembled in her hand as she remembered her dear brother Lai. "Lai," she whispered as she let the knife graze her right wrist and her blood began to flow. She quickly lowered her wrist to the mauled shoulder as her dark red blood mixed into the wound .
"Zya? what is it?" Teldar asked as he watched his normally stoic niece gasp aloud and tears come to her face.
"I , I ,I," she stuttered aloud as she tried to make sense of her feelings.
"Dab some of her blood on your wound," the old wolf entreated as he looked into his niece's still shocked countenance.
Zya nodded, rubbing in the lighter shade of blood before bandaging up her wrist quickly.
"Close the wound child," the old wolf prodded sensitively as he watched his niece stitch the skin shut and bandage it with a filmy white cloth.
Zya raised the bear skin over the young woman's body before turning back to her patiently waiting uncle. Absentmindedly taking the smaller woman's hand in her, she spoke aloud to the wolf who sat at her side. "I saw her life, I feel this, this ."
"Yes, It overwhelmed me at first "
"Zya, look at me. You need to be strong now. Your clan needs you and will look to you for guidance." The old wolf spoke mentally before resting his head on his niece's lap affectionately. "What we sought out as a medicine in healing has had a counter-effect of great intensity. She will need you."
"Brielle, her name is Brielle," Zya whispered, throwing her black hair off of her shoulder in a soft swing of her head.
"Brielle will need you," Teldar corrected, a smile showing in his brown eyes.
"I would have done it on my own. I would not have let her die."
"I know, she-wolf, I know." `````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` ````````````````````````````````````````````
Zya gently placed Brielle's head back on the pallet of furs then moved the wooden cup to her side. "Rest easy, Brielle," she murmured softly, gathering up her healer's wares in her arms. She stood and turned to poke her head out of the cave . " Nerri! "she called aloud amongst the unusual hush in the black Ulfr. Zya ignored the anxious brown stares from the wolves that paced around the fires. She knew all waited and wondered about the Nadirean marked by Ulf. She wondered herself. The time had come for her brothers to know of her cousin's lack of honor and the rift now created amongst the red and the black.
Zya moved out into the cool night air and looked at the moon before she closed her blue eyes. Changing form, she opened them as her younger cousin Nerri bounded to her. She loved Nerri, so like Lai, always eager to please and help. The she-wolf shook her black coat before meeting the adolescent wolf's gaze.
"Could you stay with her for a while?" Zya projected to her cousin as she turned to look once more at the pale, quiet Nadirean. "I need to talk with the pack and tell them about Brielle."
"Ahhh Zya," Nerri complained "I am part of the pack too you know, I 'll miss everything."
"Nerri, I promise I will tell you all about it myself when I get back," the she-wolf owed with a swish of her tale. "This is even more important than the meeting, nephew. I am counting on you to watch her call to me if there is any change."
"What if she wakes up and sees .."
"She won't; I just gave her some herbs to let her rest." Zya reassured her cousin with a lick to his brown cheek. " I trust you, little cub, above all my greatest hunters to protect her and keep her safe."
" You can count on me," Nerri yelled into Zya's mind with his usual youthful zeal as he pranced into the cave's interior. "Just remember you promised to tell me what happens."
The amusement reflected in the she-wolf's eyes melted rapidly as she let her blue eyes fall down to her brothers and sisters as they meandered by the fire. Nodding to her uncle, she moved toward the blaze. Her second, Kern, followed her a respectful two paces back. Zya knew that life in the forest would never be the same.
"They have no honor," the plump brown male projected as he snorted into the crackling fire
"Drad did not know of the mark when he struck her Shimeer," Zya countered quickly in defense of her red relative, " I told you all somehow I just knew to stop him." The She-Wolf walked to the boar's carcass and took a deep bite and chewed softly.
"The reds always have flirted with the rules in our code of life," a brown female with white paws projected with disdain.
"Only to suit their needs," another added, bringing on a wave of grumbling and agreement in the group.
Zya turned from her evening feed and jumped upon the jagged rock that helped diffuse the campfire's light to unwanted eyes. She arched her black body proudly and looked into the crowd. The she-wolf's blue eyes blazed in the campfire as she projected her thoughts into the group below.
"The reds will not be allowed to subjugate the blacks to their way under their leadership. We will defend our way and our land . in battle if necessary. Are we agreed?" A harrowing echo of howls answered back into the pines and echoed again and again in the mountain ridges.
"Ohhh, Zya? " Nerri projected privately into the black wolf's head. "She is breathing real heavy like and shivering."
The blue eyed wolf closed her eyes and turned her mind's focus back to her cave. She drew into this connection she had discovered by accident and shivered momentarily despite her proximity to the fire's heat. "She is scared, Nerri," Zya answered back softly to her young cousin, "the howls frighten her even in her sleep." Zya reached into the green eyed one's mind and projected soothing thoughts. She was unsure that Brielle would comprehend her projections, but she hated to leave her meeting only half finished to go to the cave. Especially when her pack was so worked up with the dark lust.
"How is she now?" Zya asked her older brother's cub.
"Better, Zya," Nerri answered.
"Call again if you need me," Zya reassured as she let out a loud guttural bellow that drowned the crowds rage. Her crys end silenced her brothers as she arched her back and projected in quick words. "I have told Kern to double the guards. A scout has already been dispatched to follow the reds movements. Anyone have anything else to say, speak it now!" Zya ended making sure her blue eyes traveled to each of the clan who stood around the campfire.
An uneasy silence ensued. The only noise Zya heard was that of the night creatures and that of the occasional snapping of wood in the campfire. If she cocked her head just right, her pointed ears could make out the gentle snores of the one called Brielle back in her cave.
"What about the Nadirean?" The ragged eared brown male spoke up. "Has everyone here lost their senses so much thinking about the reds that they have forgotten we have a NADIREAN right in our own homes." The male, Nalek, snorted through his long nose loudly sending mucus spewing into the flames.
Zyas long frame extended through as she dived through the air. The sea of wolves parted as Zyas paws landed in front of her ragged eared brother. She glared at him with blue eyes of superiority. "Brother Nalek is right, our lives are now changed. Our way must be hidden from her for now. But this Nadirean carries the mark." Zya ended her projection into her brothers and sisters minds turning away from Nalek to stare at the pack. "No one will see the girl except in their human form. No one!" Zya commanded.
"How is she, Zya ?" a young adolescent female interjected meekly. "Will she live?"
"She should be dead, Sari," Zya said softly. "I have given her a chance now. Her body now carries the healing powers of the Ulfr," she ended in a whisper.
"It was the only way," Zyas Uncle Teldar projected through the crowd. "She must live. She carries the mark of Ulf. Her blood now carries Zyas and Zyas carries the Nadireans" The aged Teldar jumped upon the high rock with the ease of a youngster and looked down into the crowd. "The girl, Brielle, and our leader, Zya, are the same entity now treat the Nadirean with respect of our code; if not you are no better than the reds."
Whispers turned to silence. And silence into agreement as the clan adjourned to pass the rest of the night in rest in their dwellings. Zya was the last to leave the fire, staying on to ponder in its flames. So much had changed in such a short period of time. She had to protect her people and the way of her brothers and sisters. But now, she also was bound by blood to the small blonde Nadirean who slept in her cave. Zya blinked her blue eyes and lost herself in the ebbing blackness.
Like a comfortable melody, sounds of the busy, tiny village enticed the dark haired woman awake ,to start a new day. She could already hear Severn the blacksmith beating hot metal with his hammer and giggling of happy children running through the narrow alleys that served as streets between living caves that were edged out off the mountain. Zya sniffed in the late morning air and smelled the familiar smell of her mothers cooking fire that lay just inside the protective circle of warriors abodes. On a breezy day such as this, the tender wind would carry the smell right into her cave and tease her awake just like when she and her younger sibling Lai slept together as children. As mother to the chieftess, Reina did not need to help with the noon meal the camp ate together in their human form, But still Reina did. Zyas mother, like her daughter, was not one for idleness and enjoyed having an active role in the daily life of the clan.
Zya opened her blue eyes and let them focus on the smaller form at her side on the furs. Brielles warm breath seemed to caress her tanned human cheek. Hesitantly, Zya sat up and stretched her nude form, reaching for the blue tunic that sat folded beside the pillow.
"Kern, how was the watch?" she projected to her second in charge as she slipped the soft garment over her head . She picked up her medicinal supplies, moving back to the bed while waiting for her seconds morning report. A report that could thankfully be held tenetically so she could tend her patient. All of her people were able to communicate with their minds from an early age. Some rarely spoke aloud even during their sun cycle. Zya made a mental note to ask that they speak aloud around Brielle..
"All quiet, Zya,." Kern reported in official clipped fashion. "I have placed a daytime watch on the perimeters. Figured it would be best with the tensions and anxieties so high."
"Good work," Zya complimented mentally as she stretched out two long fingers and felt for fever on the Nadireans forehead. "Let me know when the scouts arrive. I will be watching my patient if there is a problem."
The late morning had long chased away all but the furthest shadows of the caves interior with sunshine. It also brought to light the thin sheen of perspiration that covered her patients body. Zya sighed, taking her fingers away from the forehead. At least the fever was not dangerously high, Zya thought to herself. She pulled back the furs down to her patients waist before gently unwrapping the shoulder that her cousin had torn . "Amazing!" she exclaimed looking at how well the wound had clotted together. Brielles shoulder wound was still puffy and bruised.. Zya was concerned about the presence of fever but she had seen the girl stand against her cousins. She was a fighter.
"Daughter?" the tall dark haired woman called as she entered her daughters cave. Reinas dark hair was lined with gray streaks that gave the older blue eyed woman a refined air.
"Mother, come in," Zya beckoned, looking over her shoulder with a smile. Zya lifted the corners of her mouth in a brief smile. But her observant mother could not miss the concern in her brilliant blue eyes.
"I brought some water from the healing waters," Reina spoke matter of factly as she picked up a bowl and poured some of the water in it. "I sensed you had need of it," her mother spoke softly as she knelt beside the pallet of furs by her daughter and began to sponge the line of perspiration off of the girls forehead and neck. "How is she doing?" her mother projected in her daughters mind as she moved the sponge slowly down the girls right arm.
"Well, she has a fever, but you can see that the wound has clotted and.."
"You KNOW what I mean child, I know you are connected with her," her mother scolded softly as she pulled the rest of the furs off to bathe the two legs.
Zya frowned exasperated at how much her mother could always tell about her no matter what. How does she do that, she asked herself as she began to wrap the shoulder with clean soft linen. She looked over at her mother, and her heart smiled. She so loved to watch her mother work. She had taught Zya all that she knew about the healing arts.
"Well?" her mother asked aloud as she pulled back the furs to the girls neck and let her blue eyes bore into her child. "I may be old, young lady, but my mental powers still are as strong as yours, and your aura changed last night after she was brought here," she projected, masking her amusement with sternness.
Zya stared back with equal intensity but soon dropped her gaze and moved closer to her mother. Zya and her mother were two of a kind in the pack. Both with unique abilities and honor accordingly. Both women could change forms at will and were skilled more than their kindred in mental capacity and strength. Both also had the ability to manipulate reproduction so as to ensure the line of another blue eyed female in every generation. Reina had done this with Zya shortly after she met her male mate. Reina in the back of her mind wondered how long till she could hold her blue eyed grand-daughter in her arms. Reina knew that Zya could manipulate her partners chromosomes no matter the sex and race. This was a closely guarded secret passed down among the blue eyed ones of each generation. Zya had till now not bonded.
"She is afraid, mother," Zya projected meekly. "She projects to my mind even now through her fever." Zya continued grasping her mothers hand. "I feel her anger and fear. The Ulfr have taken away all that she knows. She has been ridiculed her whole life for the mark she carries, chastised among her people. How can she accept us .. accept me?"
"Dear one, her unconscious self has accepted you already," Reina assured her nervous child, taking her hand in her own. "She will take her lead from you and how you respond to her."
Zya nodded thoughtfully, feeling embarrassed at her weakness. She retucked the furs around Brielle unnecessarily and let her fingers linger on the Nadireans smooth skin a few moments. The bond between them was already strong, Zya admitted before looking up into her mothers eyes once more.
"This is new for you, I understand," Reina spoke again,, letting her hand slip through her daughters sleek black hair. She knew a dark spirit had clouded her childs disposition since the death of her brother. She knew Zya had purposefully withdrawn from all things but leading the pack and hatred of the Nadireans.
"You see already her spirit calls to you," Reina spoke reassuringly lifting her daughters chin to meet her blue eyed gaze. "Let your spirit answer back," Reina said simply. She stood up brushing the dirt from her blue shapeless long shift. She let her mind stroke her daughters in a loving gesture and wordlessly left the cave.
Continued in Part 2
The Bard's Corner