Here are the elements that must appear in EQ-related writings for July:
Making/not wanting to make a decision
Lifemating/lovemating without Recognition
An elf performing an action or gesture usually attributed to humans
A struggle for personal independence
Remember, other than being EQ-related and containing all six elements, anything goes! Alternate universe, original characters, FutureQuest stories, stories set in our own world-- whatever!
Artists, your submissions can either contain all six elements or be an illustration of one of the writings. I hope we get more art entries this time around.
Have fun, everyone! :D
Shenshen didn't normally look at the night sky with so
much wonder. The sending that Newstar had shared with
her was still echoing in her mind; images of humans
worshiping the moons, calling forth in song and dance
to the glowing celestial bodies. Human beings were
still so strange to the sunborn redhead. And humans
looking at the moons with frenzied adoration, pleading
for favors of the hunt, for favors from each other as
lovemates, for the natural health and long life that
most elves took for granted...a mind opener indeed.
How short their lives and how different, thought Leetah's
sister as she padded on bare feet on the cool sands.
She had been about to search out her usual playmate
when her feet had wandered down a different path instead.
She was following the sparkle and glow from the moons
above without quite knowing why.
The night desert was filled with small chittering
creatures, seeking each other out for food or for
mates. Sometimes even for both at once, as was the case
with a certain type of spider.
Shenshen felt a pang of awe as she again thought
of the killing nature of the Wolfriders and how her
own sister had lifemated such a fierce one.
Shenshen was slightly afraid of
the natural world of preditor and prey;
she was more at peace thinking of birthing
and lifegiving rather than the reverse.
Her mind conjured the swollen belly of a fellow
Sunvillager with a kind of jealousy just then.
How easily it seemed to happen for others sometimes.
Shenshen enjoyed the freedom that came with her own
hut and her own choice of lovemates. She didn't
know if she could devote herself to a family the
way that Rainsong and others had done, but a part
of her still wondered anyhow.
The shadow of a tall waterplant crossed that of another
across the sands before her. The golden-white glow
which was cast onto the ground framed a dark arch,
making a line she was suddenly afraid to cross.
This place was far from the cluster of huts, the safety of elfin
arms, the usual places Shenshen walked. It was as
if some meaning was coming forth from a dream, saying
"here is your comfort, the darkness hides the unknown
Yet there was light past the shadowy lines...and
smiling with arms outstretched in imitation of the
human dancers, Shenshen lept over and began a wild
dance. Her bare arms caught the moonlight and pulled
it down to rub on her skin. She bathed alone in the
wind and the shine until her breathing was so fast
that she had to stop and laugh and catch the air again
Walking back toward the village briskly, she decided
that she would spend the rest of this night alone.
Lovemates would come again with the next glaze of summer
sweat, the next wild dance, the next day in her long
Oh, Nightsea, that was beautiful! I love Shenshen. And the images you conjured...the poetry of your words...Absolutely lovely. :D
Nightsea, that was lovely! Thank you for sharing, both the beautiful writing and drawing! :)
Thank you, [b:d1df650519]Jade Owl[/b:d1df650519] and [b:d1df650519]Snow Wren[/b:d1df650519] for
the nice comments!
I appreciate the posts very much!
Wow, what an amazing way to evoke the elements, Nightsea! I just love Shenshen's moment of personal self-discovery, and painted in such lavish images of light and shadow! Wonderful. And the picture that goes with it, too! I especially love the way you've done the moons. :D
Now, here is my offering. I'm a bit apprehensive about giving this interpretation of Venka as a child, as there is nothing in the canon either to support or to deny it-- but it's my attempt at an explanation of who she is when we finally do really meet her.
MEMORIES AND WISDOM
JULY ELFQUEST GRAB-BAG STORY
Venka stood without moving, gazing at the moons riding the darkening sky. Stars had not yet appeared in the purple twilight, where the deepening orange of the horizon was about to engulf the dwindling shadows of Tyldak and her mother as they flew away. Venka was alone.
She felt her throat constrict, and swallowed. Leaving had been a hard decision for Kahvi to make. Who knew when, or if, mother and daughter would meet again this side of the Palace?
But meet there they would, someday. Venka knew with everything in her that she would never let her father, whom she had never known, complete the crime he had begun when she was still an infant, three eights and four turns ago. She would never let Rayek wipe out the past and everyone in it by using the Palace to change the Firstcomers’ future.
The sun’s heat still lay thick on the approaching night. A memory of another hot evening swirled into Venka’s mind. She had been but eight and three turns of the seasons. . .
Pike and Krim didn’t know the quiet, dark-haired girl-cub was within hearing as, from a distance, they watched their chief study, then count yet again, the marks he had made on a particular tree.
“I don’t know, Pike,” Krim said softly. “We Go-Backs used to make marks like that for the turns we fought the trolls for the Palace. But to count them over and over like that, and think about them, and count them again--”
Pike made a small, unhappy sound in his throat. “I know. It’s like. . . like something a human would do. It’s not natural.” He gave a little shudder of sympathy. “But who can blame him?”
Krim grunted. “Blame Rayek. Cutter should have killed that black-haired dung chip when he had the chance.”
Pike sighed. “He knows, Krim. He knows.”
The little girl-cub hidden nearby shivered. No one had ever spoken of Rayek like this in front of her, except, sometimes, her mother-- but Venka knew how they all felt. But she knew, too, how much they valued her, not just for her magic, but for herself. And Cutter was so gentle, despite his basic fierceness-- so kind, despite the sadness that flowed beneath it all like an underground river-- that Venka was determined that her father could not be allowed to do anything more to hurt him. . .
Venka shook herself out of the memory and gazed again at the sky. The moons were far apart just now, Mother and Daughter regarding one another from a cool distance. She could no longer make out Tyldak’s form, nor the shadow at his side. Loneliness gripped her, and along with it, another memory. . .
Shenshen and Zhantee were sitting side by side on the riverbank, splashing their bare feet in the water, talking and laughing. Venka, now two eights, stopped short on her way down to the water, watching them.
She saw Zhantee pluck a white flower from the grass beside him and weave it into Shenshen’s curls. Shenshen, giggling, stuck a similar flower in Zhantee’s hair. Laughing, Zhantee shook it out and put his arms around her.
Something hot and heavy came into Venka’s throat, sitting on her chest, nearly suffocating her. She wanted to run down the slope and push Shenshen away. She wanted to slap her.
Instead she stood silent, forcing her breath to stay quiet and even, her fists clenched with effort, while Zhantee and Shenshen, now leaning against each other, continued to talk and watch the water.
Zhantee had always been a favorite of Venka’s-- someone she felt close to in a special way throughout her young life. But Shenshen was his special friend, too! Why shouldn’t she be? What was this terrible, choking anger?
The word came into her mind on a wave of shame. She was jealous-- like her father had been of Cutter and Leetah.
Like her father.
On noiseless feet she was running back to the cave where she and her mother slept. She would gather her few belongings and run away. It was against the rules for a cub to go outside the thorn wall, but what cared she now for rules? She was. . . like her father.
Voices were coming from the cave as Venka approached. Shouting voices.
“It was just a lark! Don’t you know how to have fun ?” That was Mother.
“Fun?!” That was Cutter. “Kahvi, the rules are to protect the whole tribe. Why can’t you just for once cooperate?”
“Cooperate,” he’d said, not “obey.” That was because Kahvi was a chief like him. But shame enveloped Venka once again.
A rule-breaker. The one thing about her mother that had always embarrassed Venka. But that’s what Venka herself was becoming, now.
Venka turned, tears blinding her, and stumbled away into the woods. But long before she got to the thorn wall, her legs went weak. Venka sank down onto a rock and lay across it, trying to keep quiet, while the sobs shook her. On the ground, not a sound. . .
“Venka? What’s wrong?” The voice behind her was soft, the hand on her shoulder gentle as only Zhantee could be.
She twisted away from him in shame. “Leave. . . me. . . alone. . .”
“Not in this state, I won’t,” Zhantee said firmly. His arms came around her, lifted her. The mild Sun Villager sat down himself on the rock, the girl in his arms. He held her long and long, till her choked sobs lessened, then stilled. Then he sat her back on his knees to face him. She would not meet his eyes.
“Venka, please,” Zhantee pleaded. “If you can’t talk, send. Share.”
It came out of her almost against her will. Seeing him and Shenshen together. The horrible hot feeling that had filled her. Deciding to run away. Hearing her mother in conflict with Cutter over breaking the rules again.
*I-I was ready to break the rules too. Like my mother. And I am . . . jealous like . . . like my father.*
Zhantee was silent for a moment. Then, *Venka, look at me,* he sent.
Reluctantly she raised her eyes from the forest floor. At the compassion in his eyes, the tears pricked hers again.
Zhantee continued to send, so she could not suspect he was just trying to make her feel better. *You’re not Kahvi, and you’re not Rayek. You’re Venka. Venka.*
She stared at him.
*Yes, your mother and father are part of you.* His mind-voice was soft but clear. *But who you are lies in the choices you make. You may feel jealousy, or rebellion, or despair. But you don’t have to act on them. You wanted to slap Shenshen just now, but you didn’t. You wanted to go outside the thorn wall, but you didn’t. You didn’t because you’re not Rayek or Kahvi. You’re Venka.*
“I am Venka,” she repeated aloud. She could feel her mind clearing. He was right. Her feelings didn’t own her, she owned them. She took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment. “I understand. I can use my mind. I may feel jealousy, but I don’t have to be jealous. I may feel like breaking the rules, but I can choose to keep them. I can think.” She opened her eyes and looked at him, gulping a tiny laugh. “Jealousy is silly. You do not love me less because you also love Shenshen. And the rules are for the good of us all.”
Zhantee grinned. “That’s right-- though Shenshen and I are just very, very good friends.” He sobered, gazing at her a little shyly. “You have always been wise, sweet one, even when you were little.”
Venka smiled. “Thank you, Zhantee.”
He bowed his head to her. “And what does Venka choose to do now?”
She considered. Then she raised a hand and softly stroked his cheek, his hair. “Venka chooses. . . to be with you. To learn more from you, Zhantee. Much more.” She took his face in her hands and nuzzled him.
His arms about her tightened. They rose, then, and hand in hand went to his den. There, tenderly, carefully, sweetly, he joined with her for the first time . . .
The voice that had been in her thoughts sounded suddenly behind her. “Venka! The hunt’s on. Where’s Kahvi?” Venka was surprised to find the purple-and-orange twilight still about her, the moons still soaring above the place where her mother’s form and Tyldak’s had vanished. And Venka knew, as she explained to her lovemate what had happened, that she had a decision of her own to make now.
Kahvi, just before she left, had given up on revenge and had asked her daughter instead to “teach him so he learns!” Until then, what Venka had been going to do when her father returned, was her mother’s work. Now it was Venka’s own. And now her approach to it was her own decision.
She decided she needed more information.
“Zhantee,” she said, fixing him somberly, intensely, with her eyes, “share a memory with me. In the Sun Village, before. . . before all this, what was my father like?”
It was not that he had never shared with her about her father. But Zhantee understood that what Venka needed now was a summing up of all Zhantee felt and thought about Rayek. He spoke honestly, sending feelings and images along with his words.
"I was one of those who admired him. . . even liked him. When he reached a goal, he would not rest, but always aimed higher. I think perhaps I am a Wolfrider now because of Rayek’s example then.”
Venka nodded, thinking. There was more to her father than his actions. And of all she knew of him and of what had happened, there was one thing neither she nor anyone else had ever heard”“ his side.
She determined that when the time came, she would at least be fair to him.
“That helps. Thank you, Zhantee,” she said.
They smiled at one another.
And with her hand in her lovemate’s, Venka returned to the life of her tribe.
Thanks, krwordgazer for the praise
on my text and art this month! :)
I particularly thought that some of
your dialog was very "in character/canon-like"
in your own story!
Especially these bits:
"Krim grunted. “Blame Rayek. Cutter should have killed that black-haired dung chip when he had the chance.”
*Yes, your mother and father are part of you.* His mind-voice was soft but clear. *But who you are lies in the choices you make."
Great stories, Boardma and Nightsea! The Shenshen picture is awesome, too!
:clap: I loved that venka story! :D
Oh, these are wonderful stories!
Shen shen's story is very evocative.
krword-- I do very much like your portrayal of Venka. Her insecurities make a lot of sense, in terms of her character. And it's appropriate that Zhantee-- who is himself bicultural-- helps her through them.
Thank you for that beautiful picture of Venka! Honestly, I can't see it happening any other way... so unless Wendy says otherwise... it's canon for me:)
I'm working on mine... And I think it'll be Dewshine/Tyldak through Scouter's eyes... I think.
Wow, thanks, everybody.
Looking forward to yours, Snow Wren! :D
Gazer, that was beautiful. And so very...Venka! Well done.
Leetah steeled herself, her fingers shaking as they drew her golden knife from her belt. Gulping the stale, dank air, she started cutting the cocoon away from One-Eye's prone body.
As soon as the strands parted, she felt a sigh, a release, as One-Eye's spirit fled it's shell. "No!" She whispered fiercely, snapping her eyes closed and calling on all her power as a healer. Reaching out with a hand completely encapsuled in her own soul, in her love, she caught and held the tattered edges of the wolfrider's spirit - and was caught, and held, herself, by what she touched.
Memories washed over her like flood-water, completely overwhelming her senses. Heat was the first thing she was aware of, a sort of damp heat, like she had never before felt before.
She opened her eyes to a moonlit clearing, luminescent with lingering randrops, teeming with hidden, secret life. Fascinated, she breathed in the forest air, marveling at all the different scents. Was this Tam's Green Growing Place? Why did she feel so at home here, then? It was frighten -
Her thoughts were cut off by a sharp pain, a slice of bright, sudden wetness across her arm. She tried to gasp, and found she had no voice to do so. Instead she felt her arm raise, her fingers trace the wound, and a low chuckle reverberate through her chest.
A memory. She realized. I'm seeing a memory of One-Eye's. She didn't know how it had happened, but she was seeing his life...from his point of view.
The body she inhabited looked up at the elf maiden standing across the clearing from him, and his pulse quickened. She was beautiful, shining in the starlight, silver hair cropped short, a triumphant smile curving across her lips. She held a dagger in her hand, and it dripped with blood.
"Sorry." She said offhandedly, with a flick of her hair. "You should pay more attention, though, Woodhue."
"Maybe if you weren't so cursed distracting...." Woodhue growled at her, goodnatured. His mouth was dry. In truth, he was quite enjoying the distraction...
Leetah was amused. She knew how this turned out..or at least she thought she did. But she didn't belong here. She needed to get...what? Back? Forward? She needed One-Eye's soul to remain in his body...
Clearbrook grinned flirtatiously, stepping closer to him across the rain-slick grass. "Do you really want to spar, Woodhue? Don't you think there are other things we could be doing? More...interesting things?"
Woodhue licked his lips. Her message was pretty clear, but...he'd waited for this for a long time. He wanted to be sure. "Yes, actually..." He cleared his throat. "Clearbrook, do you want to be lovem-"
But she'd reached him, and lifted her face to his, and her lips were on his, and...
His words were lost.
When he could think again, he stared down at her, wide-eyed. "What was that?"
She shrugged, the movement rippling her body beautifully. "I saw the humans doing it. The males seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I'd try it out." She grinned. "Did you enjoy it, lovemate?"
He grinned back, pulling her to him and nudging noses. "Very much. Shall we try again?"
Leetah managed to loosen One-Eye's hold on her and fled back to her own body.
A pang of jealousy stabbed through her. To love like that - equally, beautifully, painlessly - without compulsion. Because you want to, not because of some ancient force pulling two souls together...
She shook herself. What was she thinking? She had Tam. What else could she possibly want?
But to have that choice, an independant decision...To have the freedom to say "No..."
She turned her attention to the task at hand - only to realize that in letting her go, One-Eye had been released from her grip.
She teetered on the edge of giving up, of letting him go. He'd go to the Palace....be happy there, be safe.
She remembered the firtatious, youthful Clearbrook of Woodhue's heart, with her short-cropped hair and laughing eyes. And she thought of the Clearbrook that had left the room only hours ago with the other wolfrders. Her hair was again short, but her eyes contained no mirth, only death, blood and vengeance.
Those cold, empty eyes made her decision for her.
Leetah called on her powers, and began to force One-Eye's dead body to live.
Wow, Jade Owl! Bittersweet and powerful!
That was beautiful, Jade Owl. A wonderful look at Clearbrook and One Eye's past together...and it was pretty funny, too! Curse you people and your awesomeness! Now I must write!
Voll was carefully carving a fishing hook from the one of the bones from last night's kill, trying to keep his mind trained on the task. One wrong move from his knife, and the bone would be ruined. He scowled and grunted as he cut his finger. He really should have asked for Winnowill's help...she was far better at this than he was. He sucked the blood from the nick and continued his carving. The stifling, heavy summer heat was not helping matters at all. Careful now...
"Hello, Voll!" came Cuminor's shout from behind.
"Curse it!!" Voll snarled, glaring at the broken pieces in his hand and then up at his brother. The lad gave his glowering brother a sheepish, apologetic smile, wincing slightly.
"Eh...sorry about that...I didn't realize you were workin' on that...heh heh."
"It's fine, Cuminor...I was getting rather frustrated with it anyways." the elder Elf sighed, chucking the failed attempt onto the ground and resheathing his knife. Voll returned his gaze to his teenaged sibling, who was shifting from foot to foot nervously.
"So...why are you here?" he asked, patting the grass beside him. Cuminor slowly lowered his lanky form onto the ground, his expression nervous...almost pained.
"I, uh, came for your advice." he admitted. Voll blinked and raised one eyebrow.
"You? Coming to me? For advice?? Did Haken spontaneously adopt a human today as well?" he teased. Cuminor shot Voll a dark look.
"Shut it. I'm being serious..."
"The world is coming to an end!!"
"Voll! If you aren't going to take my words to heart, I'll look elsewhere for help!" Cuminor snapped. Voll sobered at once, though he was deeply perplexed at this point.
"I am sorry, brother. What is it you need advice for?" he asked. Cuminor's sullen look melted back into jittery anxiety.
"As you know I've had my eye on Nimora for a while now-stop smirking, you cloud head!- and I was wondering if you could give me guidance on how to woo her into becoming my lovemate." Cuminor said, blushing slightly. Voll allowed himself a smug grin, but bit his tongue to keep from saying 'I told you so'. Then he suddenly frowned, puzzled.
"But...you two have joined and shared a room off and on, have you not? That makes her your lovemate." he pointed out. Cuminor sighed and pulled up a handful of grass.
"Well, yes...but she has other lovemates. Doros and Tomek and Talno. I...I want her to be just [/i]my[/i] lovemate...mine alone. I get so...angry when I see her with others." Cuminor growled, momentarily clenching his fists. Voll nodded in understanding.
"Ah...you are jealous. I remember feeling that way when Winnowill used to play about with Zurri." He said sagely. Cuminor looked at Voll and tilted his head, a habit from childhood he had yet to lose.
"You know my dilemma, then. Could you tell me how you and Winnowill became lovemates?" he asked hopefully. Voll shrugged.
"I have known Winnowill since her birth. We grew up together. Always we had the sense that we belonged together. One day shortly after Winnowill became eight and seven, we moved in together. A Turn after that she felt comfortable enough to join with me. There was little to be said or done...we just sort of...knew and came together." The older Elf supplied, smiling softly at the memory. Cuminor frowned.
"That's all very well and good, but some of us aren't quite as fortunate as you, Voll. What about getting her to be just yours and no one else's?" the younger demanded.
"Hmm. Well, when I found out she was joining casually with Zurri; I went to her and asked her to stop. She asked why, and I told her I didn't want to share her. I told her that I was hers and she was mine and that was that." Voll said.
"What did she say to that?" Cuminor asked.
"Well, she laughed at me for a while, but she agreed to stick with me once she saw how serious I was." Voll chuckled. Cuminor drew his legs up to his chest and propped his chin on his knees, pensive. Silence filled the heavy summer air.
"So...you're saying that I should just tell her that I do not want her to see anyone else?" he asked at last.
"Well, I would voice it as a request. In the end, it is Nimora's choice. To become your serious lovemate is a decision she may or may not want to make." Voll said gently. Cuminor's shoulders sagged slightly.
"I'm doomed, then. You know how she likes her independence...she refuses to stay with a mate for more than a couple of days before moving back to her own room...there is no way in the heavens that she is going to accept me! She would think I was trying to control her or some rot like that!" he groaned despairingly, his face pressed into his thighs as his arms circled his drawn legs. Voll gave his little brother a sympathetic pat on the back, feeling a wave of melancholy wash over him. His annoying pest of a baby brother had been replaced by a two eights and one adolescent who worried about girls more than mud and bugs. Where had the years gone?
"You do not know for sure that she will reject the idea, Cuminor. She might and she might not. You will never know unless you try." he counseled softly. His brother sighed and lifted his head, staring across the clearing for a moment before rising to his feet, dusting dirt and grass from his breeches. He smiled wanly at his brother.
"Thank you for your help, Voll. I know what I must do, now." eh said, a determined glint suddenly stealing into his gray eyes. And so, shoulders squared and head held high, Cuminor strode away, back towards camp.
It was a little while later that Cuminor stood just inside the entrance area of the tribe's home, staring across the room where Nimora was trying to fletch an arrow. Cuminor couldn't help but stare at her. She was...enchanting. Her golden hair, her beautiful blue eyes, that clever smile of hers, her nimble hands...stars, ever her breathing fascinated him! It was hopeless...he was in love, curse it, and he had never been happier being so miserable.
After taking a deep breath and saying a small prayer, Cuminor walked across the room and stopped in front of Nimora. The female looked up and smiled happily at him, putting aside her arrow and pulling her hair over her shoulder.
"Hello, Cuminor! What are you up to?" she asked cheerily. Cuminor said nothing, but bent down and pulled Nimora to her feet. She stared at him and Cuminor finally drew on his courage.
"Nim...I have seen how you spend time with other people, and I do not like it one bit. It drives me mad, to be truthful. I...I want to be your only lovemate...and I want you to be my only lovemate...and I know you're probably thinking that I wish to control you and what you do and that's not what I want at all! I just want to...to be with you, Nim, and I want to know that we belong to each other and no one else. Oh, curse it all, Nimora, I'm in love with you! What do you say?" Cuminor babbled, taking her hands in his own and gazing intently at her.
There was complete silence inside the cavern as the few other Elves present stared at the young couple. Nimora's face was impassive as she stared into Cuminor's large gray eyes, turning his words over in her mind.
After what seemed to be an eternity, she smiled and wrapped her arms around Cuminor's waist, her head resting on his shoulder.
"I love you too, Cuminor. I am yours." she breathed. Cuminor face split into a wide, joyous grin and her threw his arms around his lovemate, sending her his love and utter delight.
Looking over the top of Nimora's blonde head, he saw Voll leaning against the wall, arms crossed and a satisfied smile on his face. Grinning, Cuminor stuck his thumb up and winked. Still smiling, Voll copied the hand gesture and returned the wink. He then turned and climbed the stairs, his cloak billowing out behind him.
Yes, Cuminor gave the thumbs up. He's just like that, you know. Plus, his big brother would look soooo awesome doing it too. :D And OMG! It’s not centered on Voll and Winnowill!!
And...and C-Cuminor's gone and...admitted love f-for his maiden... in a mature manner...OH, HIGH ONES! MY BABY'S GROWN UP!!! :crying:
Jade Owl, that was powerful. So much emotion there, and the memory scene was filled with wonderful sensory detail. I loved Woodhue's reaction to Clearbrook's kiss!
And Leetah's self-struggle-- so believable. I did wonder a little why she didn't put her relationship with Rayek in the realm of a chosen lovemate-- though I know he did try to compel her. Perhaps if you changed her thoughts to: "Because you want to, not because of some ancient force pulling two souls together, or the pressure of another's desires on your own. . ," then reader's would see more clearly why she feels she has not experienced this kind of love she's jealous of. Just a thought. . . .
Arill, your Voll-Cuminor stories are always so fun and sweet! I love the relationship between those two, and the coming together of Cuminor and Nimora warms my heart. I'm not sure elves really define lovemating so exclusively, but the scene is still very enjoyable. And, well, we really know nothing about how the Gliders did things so long ago, so it could actually be that they did form more exclusive bonds like that. Anyway, well done! :D
Better late than never... Sorry it's so long... and the ending felt a little abrup. Anyway...
Strongbow asked me what I saw... I wish now that I’d been born blind. I wouldn’t have seen them, and Strongbow might not have shot them down. We wouldn’t have been captured, and Dewshine would still be as happy with me as she was two nights ago. Oh, High Ones”¦ why???
Scouter found “The Now” near impossible at the moment. There were no trees””only stone. There were no wolves, only birds, both giant and small. There was no freedom””for the cost of freedom would be too high. Not only was Strongbow held captive by these elves; Dewshine was held captive by an even stronger force”¦ one they had dreamed would come to them in it’s time.
He stood by his solemn lovemate as she sat slumped on the dais. Scouter remembered””their landing in the aerie, the many hands pushing and pulling them as they struggled. Each of the gliders seemed to despise them, and anger filled every face; well, every face but one. Tyldak’s eyes were wide. He was looking at Dewshine with shock. Scouter’s life changed forever in that moment.
He felt something pass between the two, and as he watched, he knew. Dewshine had gasped, and she’d turned, burying her face in her hands. Scouter had wanted to comfort her, but then he’d noticed Tyldak, who suddenly seemed uncertain. The bird-elf had taken half a step toward her”¦ then, a look of disgust had passed over his face, and he’d taken flight.
Each of the Wolfriders had been given a task. Somehow, Scouter and Dewshine were kept together, and he had been near her ever since. Near, but unable to get close to her.
Scouter felt certain that at least the Wolfriders knew what had happened. He’d seen Treestump, especially, look towards his daughter with concern. Scouter longed to talk with them, to figure out how to help his lovemate. For now, he was resolved to stay close to her, to help her, to be there for her when she needed him.
A send, unexpected, brought Scouter the first smile in days. “Dewshine! It’s Cutter, and the others! They are here! We will be free!” His excitement tapered when he looked in her eyes and saw something he’d never seen in her eyes before””despair. He hesitated, his desire to be there for her fighting with his desire to run to his tribe. Finally, the thought that they could help sent him running.
One-Eye looked at Treestump. “But we’re not all here! Where’s Dewshine, curse it!? Why didn’t she join the fight?”
Cutter, through with his conversation with Voll, turned and stood beside One-Eye. He looked at Clearbrook, Treestump, and Scouter. “Yes! What’s the big secret, Treestump..? Scouter? Is Dewshine all right?”
Scouter knew that if anyone would understand, it would be his chief. Still, his heart caught in his throat as he said, “She”¦ wouldn’t come with me when you sent us the call.”
Clearbrook took over for her son. “It’s difficult, Cutter”¦ none of us dreamed it could happen!”
That’s the truth! We never dreamed of other elves, even after we found the ones in Sorrow’s End. But these elves”¦ elves that fly on great birds? And an elf, shaped like a bird! No”¦ we never dreamed this could happen.
Scouter and Dewshine had grown up together. They joined with one another before joining with anyone else, and still, they had found they preferred each other. They had become lovemates. Scouter had not thought about Recognition”¦ he figured they had plenty of time. And he knew that Dewshine agreed with him. Now”¦ there’s no more time. She is his now. He found the thought repulsed him. NO! She’s mine! He can’t have her! He doesn’t love her like I do! It’s not fair!
Scouter let the storm of jealousy pass over him, and he remembered Dewshine’s eyes. She’s no more happy about this than I am. But Recognition is Recognition. Oh, my poor lovemate. On thinking of her as his lovemate, he wondered, Will she still want me? The thought made him sad.
The Wolfriders enjoyed some time relaxing before beginning council. Scouter remained lost in his thoughts until he heard her voice.
Scouter heard shame? in her voice and he watched as she moved shyly to join the group. When Treestump reached out to greet his daughter, stating, “Pretty cub, I missed you! We all did! Why..?”, she pulled away.
“Please, Father”¦ just let me sit quietly with you.”
Scouter felt sure of it. She’s ashamed! But why??? What’s happened? She has nothing to be ashamed of! She’s done nothing wrong! Oh, this is not fair! She deserves better than this!
He felt distracted through the council. Strongbow’s passion failed to pull him away from his concern for Dewshine. When Strongbow sent, **We can return to ”˜The Way’ and start a new holt””but not if we stay here!** Scouter wondered, for a moment, if Strongbow realized what that might mean to Dewshine.
He heard Cutter say, “I do remember those good days”¦ and I’d go back if I could. But I can’t believe the quest ends with the gliders, no matter what they say.”
Scouter wanted to go back to those days, too. Then Dewshine said, “If only things could be the way they were... but some of us have changed””inside.”
His heart ached at that statement. And then he heard the fluttering of long leathern wings heralding the sudden arrival of Tyldak. Scouter saw Dewshine’s eyes tinge with fear, but he also saw that she would not look away.
Pike interrupted Scouter’s observations with an outburst as he threw a pear at Tyldak, shouting, “Get out of here, you winged bundle of sticks!”
Scouter stepped in, “Quit it, Pike! We don’t have the right!” I don’t like this, either, but this has to be Dewshine’s decision!
Tyldak landed, then waited. Scouter longed to intervene on Dewshine’s behalf, and he felt anger rising within him””I feel so trapped. There is nothing I can do!
Dewshine’s long, pleading look with Leetah nearly broke his heart. He watched as they walked away, and he struggled within himself. She shouldn’t have to be alone with him!
He heard Cutter ask Leetah, “Is it””recognition?” She nodded.
Cutter went on, and Scouter felt like he had an ally. “Treestump! You mean it’s really true? Dewshine and that-that bird elf are--?”
Treestump stood with his arms crossed, his own heart torn by his daughter’s situation. “Aye... I’m afraid so! It’s a mismatch if ever I saw one, but what can I””what can anyone do? Recognition is recognition!”
He couldn’t hold it in any longer. “It’s wrong!” He needed to voice what he’d seen. “Tyldak treats her like she’s less than nothing! And she feels””ashamed! Like she isn’t one of us any more!”
His heart broke at his admission. But you are one of us. You will always be a wolfrider, Dewshine! He longed to run after her, to tell her he understood. Instead, he chose to wait.
When the council reconvened, Scouter listened as Strongbow again argued for them to leave the mountain. You would leave Dewshine here??? he longed to ask. He remained silent.
Skywise announced that Starjumper had rejoined the pack””Nightrunner had died. Scouter’s heart broke a little more. I have a wolf friend, too, and one day, I will lose mine, too. As he howled with the others, tears escaped his eyes. The losses seemed too much for the moment. He longed to hold Dewshine in his arms. They would have cried together.
Moments later, council resumed. Scouter sat slumped, and his mother gently rubbed his head. “The wolves”¦they won’t desert us. We don’t have to see them””to know they’re there.” He wanted Dewshine to know that he was there”¦ that even if she wasn’t with him in the mountain, she still had him.
“I”¦ can’t leave Dewshine! Not until I know what she wants me to do. We played at being lovemates”¦ but it’s not a game any more.”
Strongbow was gone. Moonshade had left with him. Voll’s paternal sending enfolded the tribe, expressing his grief that he had caused division within the tribe. Cutter’s response, “No! We’re staying, Lord Voll, for more answers””and for the sake of one of our own””who may soon become one of yours!” made Scouter wonder””would she remain here? I can’t picture that! This cold, dark place””Dewshine’s too full of life! She couldn’t stay here!
Scouter didn’t feel like eating. He slowly drank whatever was in the cup, noting that although it was not dreamberry juice, there was a slight aftertaste that warned him the effects could be similar.
After a quick fire, he walked with Pike, who urged him to cheer up. Scouter, head down, thought, If you loved someone more than your dreamberries, you might understand why I’m feeling this way! He felt surprised by his sudden anger, and walked, fists clenched, behind Skywise, Aroree, and Pike. He remained silent as Aroree described the glory of the High Ones and asked, “What should we seek outside when all the world is here?”
Scouter agreed for a moment. Dewshine is my world. If she stays, I will stay, too! There is no one else in the world like her! His decision made, he felt a little better.
The great egg began spinning, and Egg slumped over in his chair, clearly affected by whatever Pike had given him. Scouter saw Winnowill coming. “Uh-oh”¦,” he said.
“Winnowill! She’ll be furious about Egg!” Aroree exclaimed.
Skywise let out, half-laughing, “Anyone want to try apologizing?”
“Noooo”¦!” they responded in unison, moving to quickly leave the situation. As he ran, he noticed a form crumpled by a fake tree and surrounded by small birds. “Dewshine!” he cried.
She looked up at him in surprise and hope, and he quickly moved to her side. She wrapped her arms around him, and he held her close. “Scouter”¦! Lovemate”¦”
She still loves me! His heart leapt.
“I-I’m so sorry”¦ so sorry that””“
She’s apologizing to me?? For Recognition? She can’t help that it happened! “Hush!” He said, letting her know that he still loved her, that there was nothing to apologize for. “Are you all right?”
Never one to be overly concerned for herself, Scouter knew that she was still herself when she replied, “Never mind about me! You must help me save little Petalwing!”
“Petal-who?” he asked.
“Petalwing!” Skywise replied.
Scouter listened in amazement and then anger as he heard her tale. My Dear Dewshine”¦ you should never have had to go through this! And now Winnowill”¦ she’s threatening you”¦” He stood close to her, one arm around her, and the other holding her close.
He wasn’t sure how much longer she could fight it. He knew that denying Recognition could make one ill, and he wondered if it might kill her. She had told him that she did [i]not want this. He wanted to help her””if he could. Looking up, he saw the two who might help.
“Leetah! Cutter! Wait! It’s Dewshine!”
She crumpled. “Timmorn’s blood! She’s sick! Little cousin, what’s wrong?”
She wrapped her arms around Cutter nad cried onto his chest, Scouter right beside her, waiting with arms open in case she should fall further. “Oh, Cutter!” She cried. “Everythying you said about Recognition is true! It’s terrible!”
Leetah spoke up, “Only if you resist it, Dewshine! I know”¦ I know!”
She turned to Leetah, desperation in her gaze. “But you did fight it, Leetah! Tell me how! I-I don’t want this! I want to be a Wolfrider! Always!”
Scouter stood, exclaiming, “That ugly Tyldak can’t take you away from us””even if you have recognized him!”
She turned on him. “He isn’t ugly!!!”
What??? What are you saying?
She continued, “When I look at him I see”¦ I see him as he was before Winnowill changed him!”
Leetah helped both of them understand. “You see his soul! It was the same for me! Thought I rejected Cutter’s outward manner””I knew he was part of me”¦ from the moment our eyes met. Couldn’t it be htat way with you and Tyldak?”
She screamed. “NO!!” And she started crying. “Help me, Leetah! I won’t submit to this, I won’t. I’ll be a Wolfrider and bear a Wolfrider’s cub””or I’ll die!!”
No! Please, Dewshine. Oh, Leetah, please help her. Please? He felt helpless. He listened as Leetah offered to do what she could to help, and then felt surprise as Dewshine’s tears turned to smiles at the sight of a winged bug. Scouter was certain he’d never been happier than when he heard her sniffle and say through a smile brighter than the sun, “Y-you’re safe!”
When Cutter pressed Tyldak for answers, it was Dewshine who seemed the most effective. Scouter listened as Tyldak questioned her, “How dare you claim to be elves.”
He wanted to jump in and attack, but Dewshine’s words did that for him. He felt proud of her. In her anger, she had once again found her place. A snarling she-wolf defending her family, she exclaimed, “What?! You, who were not content with the form and powers of a high one””you who wanted not just to float, ut to fly like a bird”¦ you can say things like that to me? What are you, Tyldak? Your body”¦ your words”¦ your very thoughts”¦ are they your own””or Winnowill’s?”
Scouter heard the truth in Dewshine’s response, and he saw the wisdom of it reflected in Tyldak’s eyes. For the first time, Scouter felt sorry for the bird-elf. What would it be like to be a slave to another like that? To have lived in this mountain? Oh, Dewshine”¦ you can’t stay here, but you can’t keep fighting Recognition, either.
He listened as Dewshine wished Tyldak “farewell,” and he wondered what might happen when they returned. Something has changed, he thought.
The blast cut his hand, but he hardly felt it for joy of Dewshine’s concern for him. They held one another a moment, and then Leetah came to him and touched his hand. If only resisting Recognition were as easy he thought.
When Winnowill fell, Scouter sat stunned. How could she? How could she just step off the edge? He wasn’t sure that he understood. He looked at Dewshine. She wouldn’t look over the edge, but he felt certain that she felt a little freer without the Black Snake hovering, threatening. He reached out and pulled her close. Together, they walked back to the great hall, where Leetah planned to heal Voll.
When they looked up, they saw Tyldak sitting in a hollow in the stone. Scouter cried her name as she crumpled to the flor, and he moved to hold her.
He couldn’t help but shoot accusing eyes toward Tyldak when Voll questioned “with whom?” regarding her Recognition.
Tyldak landed a few feet away from them, explaining that he did not want this, either. Voll, with tears in his eyes, pleaded with him to accept it.
Tyldak’s eyes and voice seemed tired of fighting. “Even if I accept””,” he began.
“””I will not!! My life is with the wolfriders! I won’t stay here, and I won’t leave Scouter!” She sat up, and Scouter felt pride that she wanted him, even without Recognition.
He listened as Leetah explained, “Oh, Kitling”¦ in the end Recognition is a command that NO elf can defy! It means new life! And think, there are too few of us as it is!”
She has to do this Scouter thought. And then, the decision he hadn’t even realized he was wrestling with was made. I will be your lifemate, even without Recognition.
“Dewshine”¦” he started, his chestnut eyes deep and caring. “I make you a promise. If Tyldak won’t be a father to the cub you must bear””I will!”
Her head sank. He reached out, placing one hand on her shoulder. He said quietly, tenderly, “And whether it has wings””or your white gold hair and beautiful eyes””,” she lifted her head and turned toward him a little, “I’ll love it””because it will be a part of you!” She placed a hand in his, and suddenly held him close.
Scouter knew he had made the right decision when she kissed his neck””something they had seen humans do, and they had decided it would be their thing, something they did only with each other. He held her, then let her go.
Awww, poor Scouter! In all the hassle with Dewshine and Tyldak, we al forget that Scouter was having a bad time of it, too...to make an understatement.
Thank you, Wren, for giving us this tender insight into Scouter's mind.
(Hugs a protesting Scouter)
Yeay! I'm glad you liked it, Arill!
You really have to feel for Scouter. The Gliders ruined his life...
They recognized his lovemate and tortured her by her soulname, led his father to his death, kidnapped his son and turned him into a Glider, and very nearly got his mother killed.
The poor guy went through a lot.
...I like the latest addition :D
[quote:e1eef4e580]Scouter knew he had made the right decision when she kissed his neck””something they had seen humans do, and they had decided it would be their thing, something they did only with each other. He held her, then let her go.[/quote:e1eef4e580]
I thought that was totally cute :D
OMG thats awesome ^^ i loved it Tymber... Making love in the dreamberry bush... YAY BUDDY ^^