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.
A shadow in the moonlight I cry into the night I stalk my prey and bare my teeth and feast upon my rage Snared by greater purpose, I look upon your face The call you make is greater than nature's timeless way Confusion melds into tenderness , love the greater drive Your needs and mine are the same now, together now as one
The black she -wolf raced through the forest. A group of six male wolves bounded at her heels. The she-wolf could see the moon cast its shadowed gaze through the large pine branches. "Stay sharp!" she projected to her brothers. She let her blue eyes work as a back-up to her ears for any unwanted surprises. The she-wolf was not sure what had sent her back to the cursed Nadirean encampment this night. She had told herself it was to check for further Nadirean presence in the area. Kern and the other brothers had admitted the need to mark the area as their own before the reds returned. Zya knew though, deep down inside her the he crimson blood of Brielle was the reason she had returned. The fair headed one would wonder of her village's fate. Zya shifted to her human form long enough to bury what she thought were the bones of Brielle's parents while her brothers scoured the immediate area for any presence of humans or reds. The bushes and trees surrounding the destruction marked, Zya and her group started home.
Zya's fur on the back of her neck bristled, as she entered the outer perimeters of their encampment. Zya reached into her mind and sighed thankfully. Brielle still slept peacefully. Zya could feel her breaths come deep and even. "Mother? Mother?" she called next as her mind reached to her mother. The black she-wolf took off with long stretches of her legs towards her encampment. Her mother's only response had been a long, sharp growl that Zya knew meant one thing, trouble.
Zya landed with a thump next to the equally dark she-wolf, whose protective blue gaze bore who bore into an intruder, a ragged eared male. Reina launched an attack as her daughter landed at her side. The male wrestled with equal fervor. Zya could only watch helplessly as the two wolves fought. She knew to step into this challenge could dishonor her mother. Zya knew that this male Nalek had questioned the ruling authority of the blue eyed she-wolves many times. But never so directly, Zya thought, as she moved backward a few paces to stand in front of her Nadirean mate.
Zya looked up her mother proudly as she used the rage filled male's irrational advances against him. Zya looked with equal pride at the group of brothers who lined the cave's entranceway. Zya ruled the family now, but Reina had ruled before her. Reina still fought with the same prowess as when Zya's grand mother had stepped down to allow her daughter to wield power.
Zya snorted a chuckle as she saw Reina clamp her jaws around the ntruder's neck and bear down with a victor's wrath. Older blue eyes melded with younger as Zya stepped forward at her mother's invitation.
"You invade my home, threaten my mother and my family," Zya projected as she moved to stand over the fallen male's body. He looked up into two pairs of blue eyes. "This is a serious offense, Nalek." Zya nodded her black muzzle at her mother, who instantly released her strong hold. Kern and two other brothers moved on either side of the fallen male, surrounding him in a circle of angry stares
"The Nadirean threatens the entire family of Ulfr," Nalek projected weakly. "Someone has to be brave enough to stand up to you blue eyed bitches who have dominated our society for generations."
"So you attack my older mother and my mate after I leave the encampment?" Zya projected letting her warm breath surge into the male's brown eyes causing him to blink.
"The girl must be killed. Don't you see how she already undermines our way?" Nalek projected his voice, getting louder with every word.
"Anyone who challenges me can meet me on the sacred rock in open combat." Zya bellowed loud enough for the whole encampment to hear. "You, Nalek, follow a path of dishonor and cowardice." Zya raised her head fully and stared at her first in command. "Since our brother dislikes the way of our people and leadership of the blue, let the brown eyes decide his fate."
Kern looked at his superior in momentary astonishment before giving his head a slight nod and trotting out of the cave to call all the brown hunters and fighters. Zya looked at her third in command and cocked her ears in a nonverbal command to remove Nalek from her home to just outside the cave. The ragged eared male pushed himself up voluntarily and limped toward the entrance. Zya snorted angrily, trying to control her emotions. The trial moved to the moonlit night, she and her mother moved off to the side.
Zya took a long protective look at Brielle. Zya knew it was mostly to reassure herself but also knew that she would never admit it aloud. All she wanted to do now was to gather Brielle in her arms and hold her. Only her sense of honor had kept her from killing Nalek on the spot. Zya had seen the blazing in Reina's eyes when she bit down on the ragged eared brother. Her mother had fought to control her inner fire also.
The younger she-wolf walked to where she could see the moonlight and lifted her brilliant blue eyes to the moon. Then she closed her eyes and allowed her body to change shape to human form.
"At last," Nalek thought as he watched Zya move away from the Nadirean and into the moonlight. Strike when they are at their weakest , Nalek thought as he allowed a surge of energy to pump through him. He broke through the brown bodies and leaped for the form on the bear skin .
"Nooooooooooo!" Zya yelled aloud. She wrapped her long human arms around the wolf's back legs and pulled with all her might. Zya angrily threw the wolf into the gathering of brothers, making them scatter with the forceful impact. "Kern, take the meeting to the campfire, please," Zya spat loudly. She watched the group of twenty or so males move a hundred or so paces away. Nalek was being dragged by a clamp hold to the neck. Nalek just sealed his fate, Zya mumbled, kicking the dirt with her bare toes in disgust.
"Zya?" the young blue eyed woman mentally heard along with a verbal gasp. Zya's eyes were drawn like magnets to eyes that were green as the sacred trees, and she swallowed in response. "Mother, I think you better go," Zya projected astutely as she saw the green eyes wildly focus on the large blue eyed wolf the standing beside the side wall. "I'll call you shortly," Zya projected a promise as she watched her mother trot silently away.
"Easy, Brielle, easy," Zya murmured in her deep voice's mantra as she stepped forward she noted the quickened breathing as the young woman struggled to get up despite her obvious pain.
"You know me, Brielle; look into my eyes," the large woman projected. Zya pushed her long ebony hair off of her chest and crooned her request to the woman's mind once more.
"Yes, that's it; relax..... you know my eyes, Brielle , don't you?" Zya said aloud as she lowered her naked frame to the edge of the pelts.
"Be still, Brielle;, that's it," Zya projected, noting her new mate's slower breathing and stopped struggles. "Look at me," Zya whispered. "Look at all of me," the ebony haired woman added as she displayed her body and proudly waited for her to see the mark on her own body.
With the first tear that fell, Zya was reaching out her bronze hand. "It will be okay, Brielle... come to me," Zya projected. She did not know how, but it was obvious that this Nadirean heard her. A shaky hand reached forward, and the intensity of the touch caused this seasoned hunter and fighter to shake herself.
"Her spirit calls to you. Let yours answer back." Zya remembered her mother's words and she instinctively moved forward till both women were enveloped in a gentle embrace. Tired green eyes peered upwards into the blue. Zya marveled at how her mate settled the moment their bodies connected.
"I answered back." She sent a private projection to her mother who she felt, stood a few yards outside her cave. Zya looked down into the smaller woman's sleeping face, which she held against her own mark, and smiled. "I answered back."
"You can't be with her all the time." Reina spoke in a whispered tone as she noted that Brielle's hand that tightly clasped to her daughter's larger one even as she slept.
Zya nodded in acknowledgment. Her mind carried her to the proceedings that continued even as the moon cycle neared end. The pack still had not agreed on Nalek's fate, she thought to herself.
"Mother, unless he is killed, he will always be a threat to her," Zya projected. She blinked back an anxious tear . "There are some brothers who sympathize some with Nalek. Some that feel threatened by Brielle,"
Zya loosened the fingers that gripped her hand and kissed them before tucking them under the bear skin. " How could I let her live, share blood with her just to see her attacked, mauled? She is not one of us. If she were challenged, even under the letter of the law in an honorable fight... her human form is weak and useless against even one as young as say Nerri" The younger she-wolf stood up and walked to the edge of the cave to peer over to the proceedings . The eyes, blue with emotion, now hazed over with a wall of stoicism.
Reina gave a passing look at the sleeping Nadirean before padding silently on bare feet to the entranceway of the cave .With the love of a mother, she put her hand on her daughter's cheek before letting it fall to her child's broad right shoulder. I must tell her, Reina thought, as she opened her mouth to speak.
"Mother, Mother, look; Here comes Kern and Uncle Teldar. At last! " she exclaimed aloud. She watched the two wolves, the moon to their backs, trot slowly up towards the leaders cave. Given a reprieve, Reina closed her mouth. Zya's eyebrows arched as she realized no one but Kern and Teldar had left the meeting. She took a deep breath to calm herself as her Uncle's gaze met her own in formal acknowledgment.
" The pack has agreed to severely punish Nalek for his insubordination and attack on your mate," Kern projected in a unfeeling official emotion. "Two possible choices have been proposed. But the vote is dead-locked. If we are to finish the proceedings by sun cycle, the blue must break the tie."
"No, Zya," Teldar spoke up as he saw his niece take two steps toward them. "You cannot go this time. Not with another blue female still in our family."
"But, Uncle," Zya spoke with exasperation. The hand that still lay on her shoulder move to cradle her back in loving agreement.
"Daughter, your uncle speaks the law. You are too personally involved in this situation. Your judgment would be biased, " Reina projected to all that stood there. "Let's go, I will need to start cooking soon." Giving her daughter's shoulders one last squeeze, she looked at the moon, blinked, and arched into her beautiful black form. Her blue eyes meeting Zya's one last time, the older blue eyed she wolf ran down the hill.
Zya 's tired eyes opened to full wakefulness when the stirrings had started beside her. Zya let out a mental call to her mother as she grabbed the small blonde's limbs. Zya had seen convulsions before amongst injured Nadireans she had encountered in fights. Limbs thrashing. Bodies jumping up and down as if posessed by a wildness unknown. Brielle's chest heaved as her eyes rolled back and her limbs flailed erratically. The she-wolf grasped the rocking body to her own naked chest and held tightly. Nalek's threat was replaced in her mind by the turn in Brielle's condition.
"Mother?" she whispered mentally, knowing her mother's presence would have to wait till after judgment was executed on Nalek. Why has it taken so long anyway, she thought. She let her eyes dart quickly to the rising sun before going back to Brielle's jerky movements. Fever, is this due to fever? she asked herself . She cursed those unseen differences between Brielle's kind and her own.
Though trained in the healing arts by her Mother, Zya had already stumbled upon differences between this Nadirean and her brothers and sisters. These differences had caused the she-wolf a string of petitions to the gods above and many a mental consultation with her more experienced mother. The Ulfr did not experience fever such as this young one fought. Reina had explained that this was a result of the milk the Ulfr young drank from their mothers for around 8 seasonal cycles
The she-wolf tried to wet her dry mouth. "Steady, Brielle, steady," she entreated her mate aloud. Zya ignored the sharp jabs Brielle's body landed on her bare chest and legs and pulled her even closer. Zya groaned as a warm burst of energy hit her in her chest. Zya fought to keep her eyes open and her arms steady on Brielle's twitching form. "She groaned, too," Zya realized as her mind fell out of a mental haze. Zya's pain was now replaced by a strange but painless feeling in her breasts. The dark haired woman shook her head trying to clear her mind.
"Oh, Holy Wonders!" Zya whispered aloud as the throbbing in her breasts moved in quiet rhythm with new information that pulsed into her mind. Instinctively, Zya lowered the twitching girls face from her shoulder, careful to keep Brielle's and her own marks of Ulfr touching. Zya watched with anxious eyes as Brielle's mouth grabbed hold of Zya's burning nipple and began to suckle. Her eyes softened as Brielle swallowed and the burning in her chest lessened. Brielle 's body relaxed, and her right hand cradled Zya's other nipple protectively. Through closed eyes, she reflexively sucked and swallowed.
"How am I going to explain this to Mother?" Zya whispered, looking down at Brielle's mouth firmly clasped to her breast.
As her logical mind drowned itself in the peace and closeness that permeated her soul, she whispered again, "How am I going to explain this to myself?"
Brielle let her green eyes open to tiny slits. Her nose burrowed closer to the warm skin, and she inhaled the familiar scent. A smell that's unique ragrance seemed to mean safety to her. And for the first time in her life, love. Her ear took comfort in the mantra of soft beats that echoed dependably and steadily below skin's warmth. Sounds with a reliability her own life had never known. Each beat a promise that this other one was there. The one whose smell she knew.
Brielle let the warm liquid run down her throat and into her stomach. She wanted more, needed more. Her mouth innately fastened itself on the warm, full piece of tissue, and she swallowed again and again. The liquid warmed her whole body soothingly as if tucking her mental thoughts under a blanket. Only instincts were left to peak out from under the mental covers. As the gnawing pangs lessened, she suckled more deeply. Her mouth and mind memorizing the feel of the liquid's source.
Brielle hiccuped as her stomach grew full. Then the hands were there . The gentle hands with calluses that now tickled her cheek. "Let go. That's enough," the strong deep voice echoed in her mind and teased her unconscious to obey. And she did, allowing her cheek to lie on the soft milk source as she took deep, healing breaths.
Brielle whimpered aloud as she fought to open her tired green eyes. She had to see. She wanted to see the source of the smell, the taste, the warm soft feeling.
"Shhhhhh, go to sleep. Shhhh," the voice spoke in her mind
She let out a sigh and gave up the struggle.
Hi, Here is part 2b.... Thanks again for giving my story a chance Tammy
"Oh, blessed Mother," Reina thought as she stared into her daughter's cave's entranceway. Reina shook out her fur and looking at the last remnant of the moon, blinked her blue wolf eyes changed forms. Reina lifted her violet unic over her head while watching the quiet scene that went on against the cave's right wall. If she had not been seeing this with her own eyes, she would not have believed it herself. Reina watched with curious wonder as her daughter sat in serene meditation, gently holding her small, frail mate to her breast. Zya's awareness, was so sharply focused on the small head that suckled at her breast that Reina had entered the cave unseen and unknown.
"She, she swallows," Reina confirmed in her mind as she watched Brielle greedily suckle from the breasts of her daughter, whose womb was still barren. How is this possible she whispered to herself as she watched the demeanor of her middle child. Zya, head of the blacks, whose name was spoken with fear and respect among all the family groups of Ulfr, sat like a new mother, enchanted by the entity that nestled in her arms. Reina forced her feet forward. Her talk about Nalek's fate was whisked away the moment she laid her eyes on the picture of tenderness before her.
"Zya, Zya, sweetheart," Reina spoke gently. She sank down on her knees and gently moved an errant lock of dark black hair back over the large browned shoulder-blade.
Zya growled as she tightened her grasp on the still feeding Brielle and bared her teeth at the intruder. "Mom? Momma," Zya whispered. Surprised, she let her vibrant blue eyes, watery with emotion, reach into the older ones.
"Are you all right dear?" Reina spoke mentally as she felt her daughter's flushed forehead. Zya looked down before peering back up at her mother's concerned face.
"Fine, I think..... We both are now.... " Zya murmured aloud flinching slightly as Brielle's mouth pulled hard on her sensitive nipple.
"Tickles a bit doesn't it?" Reina spoke aloud . Her quirky grin spreading to her blue eyed child who reached out for her mother's hands.
"Her body was jumping. I did not want her to injure herself more so I grabbed hold of her." Zya spoke seriously, keeping her eyes on her mother but her hands on her mate. "Our marks touched. There was a power, a warmth that flowed into my breasts and I knew what to do."
"And the tremors stopped?"
"Instantly. And I do not know how but she feeds from me like a hungry babe." Zya finished her explanation. She looked to her mother with questioning eyes.
"My grand-mother once told me a story of her grandmother. Back when the Nadirean's first left the Adean plains to invade our forests. The Naidireans brought sickness with them off the plains. Many of our kind died. Most of the mothers with young were sick, their milk dried up. The tribe was almost wiped out."
"What happened?" Zya inquired, curious about why she had never heard this story before. She looked down at the one that still nursed and pushed away the blond hairs that camouflaged her Brielle's face.
"Your great, great, great, great grandmother had just taken leadership of the group. Her mother dead from the sickness. Though not yet mated and very young in years, the new leader miraculously developed milk. She fed the young. Our ancestors survived."
"But you never.... I mean and grandmother never ... and"
"Zya, it was until now not needed again. Needed not just for your bonded's survival either." Reina surmised. She watched with careful eyes as Brielle slowed her gulps and began to hiccup. "Zya sweetheart, she is beginning to hiccup. That means she has had enough. Any more and she will be sick."
Zya tickled the soft fine hairs on Brielle's cheek and prepared to move the younger woman's mouth away.
"No! Zya, she needs to learn your voice," Reina instructed gently. ""Tell her to let go. You'll see, I bet she does."
Zya looked up at her mother nervously but did as bade .
"Go, to sleep, Shhhhhhhh," Zya crooned in the smaller woman's mind . Zya smiled, then looked at her mother as Brielle took a deep breath and drifted off.
"Mother, it does not make sense," Zya projected to her mother's mind . Zya reached down with her long index finger and wiped a stray drop of milk from Brielle's chin. "Mother, you are going to have a hard time believing this, but when her mark made contact with mine, I understood her body's reactions."
"Go on," Reina whispered while masking carefully the dread that was creeping up from her soul.
"Brielle's body somehow had a reaction to my blood when I introduced it into her wounded shoulder. My blood is acting as a skillful hunter that pounces on its weaker prey. But instead of killing her, my Ulfr blood is changing hers. I do not understand how a Nadirean, even one blessed with the mark, could be effected in this way" Zya gently arranged Brielle on the sleeping furs and stood up and stretched. Allowing her mother time to absorb the early morning revelations, Zya walked to her wooden chest and pulled out her warrior's attire. She needed to be dressed appropriately when she imposed the sentence passed on Nalek by the brothers.
Zya took out a pair of dark black leather leggings and stepped into them. She pulled them up and tied them at the waist with a leather string. Mother is never quiet this long, she mused to herself . She unfolded the black leather vest and quickly placed it over her shoulders. The vest's leather lacings could be fastened later, she thought .
"Mother, what is it? Are you all right?" she asked, concerned and unconsciously threw her mane of black hair back over her shoulder. Zya could feel her mother's blue eyes bore into her back, and an unusual tension drifted through the air.
"Tell me, Mother," Zya commanded stiffly as she grabbed her jeweled dagger and slipped it into the sown in sheath at her waist. She glanced at her sleeping bonded and said again, "Tell me."
Reina raked her fingers through her dark tresses as she stared intently at Brielle's sleepsoftened face. She tucked the furs more tightly around the chin of her daughter's bonded one. Trying to ignore her own child's stares , Reina turned her back to her daughter's mate.
"I am having your Uncle Teldar set up a hammock in the copse of trees near the sacred rock," Reina projected, adding " The whole clan is expected to be in attendance for the handing down of judgment. That will mean your bonded one, too." Reina noted the irritation in her daughter's eyes for a brief second before turning her face away. "You will have to pass down the sentence with myself, I at your side, but your older brother and his mate will be close by and, of course Nerri and Uncle Teldar can be persuaded to stay close to the hammock." Reina felt her young one's eyes bore into her harder and gave up on her attempt to steer away from the secrets she had guarded solitarily for many cycles of seasons. Her daughter's firm hand on her shoulder ended her prattling about Nalek's fate .
"Come, sit," Reina whispered motioning with her hand to the edge of Brielle's pallet. As Zya sat down, her eyes flickered cautious curiosity. Scooting till her body made physical contact with her bonded one's small feet, she settled her back against the cave wall and waited for her mother to begin to speak.
"Nali was my third cousin on my Mother's side. She was a small mite of a thing . Too small to claim my time I thought. I had all the cubs vying for my attention and was a bit haughty in my disposition, I am afraid.
I craved the attention and fastened myself to it. Mother was very busy with birthing Teldar and trying to lead the pack. The Nadireans had just begun to enter the Forest of the plains and already Mother saw the threat was imminent.
In my fifth summer all the young of that birth season were paired together to begin their wolf training. With the Nadirean's moving into our Forest, the elders saw it even more important for the young to learn to use their wolf skills early. I noticed as soon as we began to learn to run, to defend ourselves, to bite that, though all the young wooed me to be on their teams in our practice sessions, none played with me at other times. Oh, a few tried at first, but their mothers always found us and pulled them away by the scruff of the neck, apologizing to me for their child's irreverence to the black. I did not care; I just wanted someone to play with. Teldar was too small and I felt alone."
"That's why you had Terrance before me, isn't it?" Zya asked, enlightened "So I would have someone to play with."
"That's right, dear, I did not want you to be without a playmate as I was as a very young cub," Reina answered with a smile.
"One summer night, after practice with my group , I meandered to the sacred waters. As I got to the edge of the trees, I saw a group of my young red cousins at water's edge. At first I thought they were play hunting, maybe a rabbit or small fox. Then I heard a weak projection go off in my head, It was one of my own. They were toying with one of my brothers or sisters, and I was enraged. Projecting to Mother, I crashed loudly into the group snapping and biting. They scattered as Mother arrived with a group of hunters. Leaving me to stare down at a small brown female who seemed so familiar to me.
"Thank you," she projected as she lifted her large brown eyes and smiled at me. But I was just getting them where I wanted them."
"Yea, right," I answered skeptically . I was impressed by this small cub's bravery. It made up for her lack of size in my opinion. " I heard your call," I answered . That night Nani and I became friends, though very unlikely ones, others would think. I was tall for my age. She was very tiny. I was strong , prideful. She was fast and humble. Night after night we ran together. We swam together by day. Played house, picked wildflowers. We were inseparable."
Our ninth summer we made a pact. We made it under the crescent moon. By then, I was being taught more and more by Mother during the day. I was learning how to lead, the healing way. The elders had finally noticed what a fast runner Nani was. She was learning the ways of a scout. We saw each other less. We promised that night to always be friends, not only cousins. And on the crescent moon we would always try to run together through the sacred forest that we both loved." Reina's voice cracked with emotion as she closed her eyes for a moment.
"Mother? Are you okay?" Zya projected, lifting her blue eyes to touch her mother's own in a mental caress.
Reina merely nodded, then took a deep breath to continue, " Mother retired my twenty first summer and I led the Ulfr. Nani was the most skilled of all our scouts, and I counted on her for information about the movement of the Nadireans. We still met under the crescent moons; time had made our childhood promise stronger.
"It was one of normal runs under the crescent moon, that meaning I puffed to keep up with her the whole way," Reina spoke as a grin emerged for a second. "She was unusually quiet when we reached our favorite hill. The one where we stared at stars for hours as children and made quiet wishes. ' Reina, I am in love,' she suddenly blurted. He is Nadirean. He knows about me and accepts me as I am. He wants to make a life with me and I him.
I stood for several minutes shocked, speechless . "Where will you go?" I asked her finally. It was hitting me now that I might never see her again. She would lose her standing with the Ulfr when mated with a Nadirean.
"Not far. In the next valley. He leaves his people, too, Reina. We will be alone."
"Listen here... I emphatically pushed in her mind..... you will never be alone... remember our promise... always, I stated with tears in my eyes.
"We still ran together under the crescent moons. I met her mate once. He was blond haired and had stunning green eyes. Their love for each other gave me comfort. Even as I knew her name was spoken with contempt among all the Ulfyr.
"One night I waited for her on our hill under the crescent moon. She was late and I concerned. More Nadireans had moved into the area and Nani and her mate were objects of ridicule among both of our kinds. It was her mate who came. I quickly changed form as I took note of his badly beaten and bloodied body. I knew as I studied his wounds that they were mortal. My trepidation grew. I knew that my friend, his mate, was far along in her first pregnancy. Was she injured too? Dead? Her young one? Her mate died in my arms. The injuries were not bites but those I knew were inflicted with human hands. 'Go to her' he entreated as he passed on to the next life. I needed no other prompting as I changed to my ebony form and took off toward their tiny home, which I had been to only once before. I hoped I would find it."
"It was sunrise when I got there. I cared not that I could be spotted; I traveled on till I reached her cottage before calling her name. Beaten and bloody, she lay in a heap on the floor. Contractions added to her pain. 'Nali, Nal,' I whispered, as I stroked her sweaty brown hair. 'I am here' She strained to open her swollen eyes and looked at me. She could not talk so she projected. 'Save my baby, Reina, please. I am dying; save her.' she entreated."
"Nali died shortly after she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. A baby with the mark of the Ulfyr." Reina continued ignoring the gasp of surprise her daughter uttered. " With downy blond hair and the green eyes of her father. I pricked her tiny finger and watched the blood flow. Nadirean blood. She would not morph and would not be safe among our people. As my own tears fell, I thought of you at home asleep in your bed and of your brother Terrance. My promise to Nali ran to this young one. I would keep her safe. The mark would bring her back to us one day. That I knew. Her mother's spirit would bring her back."
"In human form I carried her to the edge of the plains. I found a childless couple who had a house on the Forest edge. I kissed the young one, touched her mark and sat her down on the door step. Knocking quickly, I changed form and ran as fast as I could. I ran imagining I was with my friend Nali, and I cried and prayed for her child. A child I knew I would see again. The mark would bring her back, and my own daughter's mark would ensure her arrival in the gods sacred time."
"She, she, she is," Zya uttered as she touched her mates cheek and swallowed hard
"Yes, Zya," Reina confirmed moving to sit by her daughter. "She is Nali's child. She is half Ulfyr. That is why she can carry the mark. Her bloodline comes from that of the black. Your own blood has started a change that has just been waiting to happen in the part of her that is Ulfyr. Your milk not only heals her body but, I think, nourishes her deprived Ulfyr self"
"Zya , Zya," the young curly headed pre-teen yelled as he ran into his aunt's cave . As a result of youthful exuberance, he spouted off loudly and danced around excitedly around the dusty floor. "They got Nalek out by the rock, and he tried to escape. Kern slapped him so hard that Nalek's head popped back. And the blood! It took six to tie him down on the stakes and..."
"Nerri!" Reina reprimanded her grandson, " what have I told you about entering a cave, especially the cave of the leader of the blacks?"
"But grandma, its just Zya," Neri whined kicking dirt with his toes.
"I don't care; she is leader, and even if she was not you knock before you enter someone else's cave," Reina rebuked before putting a long arm around her grandson and giving his shoulder a squeeze.
"Sorry, Zya," he mumbled looking at Brielle for the first time. "How is she doing?" he asked, concerned.
"Better than earlier. Nerri, could you do me a big favor?" Zya asked as she laced up her vest and put her long sword on her back.
"ANYTHING! You know that, Zya," the young man chirped looking up expectantly into his aunt's blue eyes.
"Go find Uncle Teldar and see if the hammock is set up for Brielle. Grandma and I will be out in just a few minutes," Zya gently entreated her nephew, who reminded her of Lai more every day.
After Neri departed, Zya moved to stand by her mother, who still seemed affected by the secret that she had revealed. "I wish I had known her," Zya whispered as she grabbed her mother's right hand into her own.
"Me too," Reina whispered. She wiped a tear from her face as she thought of her friend . She thanked the gods her daughter did not hate her for the knowledge she had guarded for so long. "Nali, I got her home," Reina whispered. Still holding her daughter's hand she looked at Brielle. "I got her home"
Continued in Part 3
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