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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Alliances



Zirede tightened his hold on the struggling female. He let out a muffled grunt when she kicked back her head catching him in the chin. As he let out a curse, she took that moment to bite down on the pad of his hand. He pulled his hand away from her mouth, and she opened her mouth to scream again. Diewen had entered from the portal and Zirede shoved her into his arms. “Take the little hell-cat”, he said thrusting her toward the surprised male.

Diewen restrained CeCe with a swift club to the head, dazing her. He watched as Zirede looked down at his paw, where blood was welling from the bite. “Hellcat indeed. Are you okay? Watch out! The others are coming through.” The two males moved away from the portal as the rest of the crew came through. Diewen looked down at the dainty female and couldn’t help the smile from forming at the thought of her getting the better of Zirede.

Nilla stepped through the portal assisting Rauwyn to walk. Rauwyn stumbled as they fully entered the cave. Nilla didn’t catch her quick enough and Rauwyn fell to the cave floor. Zirede rushed towards his mate, just as Bumbles stepped through closing the portal behind him. He turned from the portal to see the female held in Diewen’s arms start to stir. “She is coming around, Diewen, be careful.”

CeCe came around her head fuzzy from where the small Rex had hit her. Her first sight was the female falling as she entered the cave. She watched as fresh blood quickly soaked through the bandage around her waist. She shouldn’t have cared if the female died or not but she felt the irresistible urge to aid the fallen Felis. She resumed her struggles feeling if she could just break free and get away from the female, the urge would pass. The one who held her was small but wiry and she thought of her draining power. She grabbed his arm and concentrated on weakening him just enough to break away. She knew the moment it began to work as she felt his hold on her lesson.

She shook herself free from his hold and tried to head toward the mouth of the cave but instead, she found herself walking toward the injured female. If she was surprised that said nothing of what her attackers were feeling. She knelt next to the pretty, but haggard looking female. “Let me help. I am a healer.” She said as she reached to uncover the weeping wound. The big male she had bitten tried to get between them, but she simply reached out and used him for energy. He stopped and landed on his rear end. “I need your energy to heal her. Please, I will not hurt her.” She waited for him to move away before bending back to the female.

Zirede watched the captive closely as she went about removing the bandage over Rauwyn’s wound. He still couldn’t believe how tired he felt from her simply touching him. He hated to think what she could have done if she had wanted to kill him. He looked up to see the same confused look on the others faces as he was sure he wore. “Why are you helping her? This won’t change what we came here to do. In fact, it was one of your friends that caused her the injury. I will have my blood price for the injury to my mate.” He drew back as the captive looked up at him, she had tears in her eyes. What caught his attention the most though was that her eyes were glowing.

Diewen stood to the side of the little she-cat. Something about the way she tilted her head as she studied Rauwyn’s wound sparked a long-lost memory. He knew her from somewhere. He moved around to stand beside Nilla, who was watching the healer intently. He heard her draw in a loud breath as the healer’s hands began to glow where they lay against Rauwyn’s wounds. When she looked up at Zirede he noticed her eyes held the same glow.

“Do you see what I see?” Diewen asked Nilla. He glanced towards his friend and found his answer by the startled look on her face. Nilla must have finally comprehended that he had spoken because she nodded her head in assent. “Have you ever seen anything like that before?” He asked again and this time she shook her no. Out of questions, he glanced back at the healer. When she seemed to melt before him, he rushed forward without thinking. It was Nilla’s hand on his arm that kept him from falling over Rauwyn’s sprawled legs.

The healer raised her head a bit to see what he had done, and that is when he knew why she looked so familiar. He had been just a kit when his mother had worked in the castle of the Mithralian queen. He remembered the young princess often coming out into the kitchen gardens where he and the other children of the servants played. She was older now but he would bet all his ill-gotten gains that this was the same girl. He stepped around Rauwyn and Zirede to lean down beside the weakened healer. In a low voice, he asked her.  “Are you Princess Cecilia of Mithral?” He didn’t get his answer because at that moment all hell broke loose as Bo and the rest of the gang entered the cave.

In a leap, Neko landed to knock the male away from his sister. “Get your paws off my sister!!” he growled. He caught CeCe has she slipped from the arms of the intruder. He wrapped her in his embrace, shielding her from the strangers. Bo had by this time joined Neko and stopped to fully take in the scene they had interrupted. He was as upset that the little male had been touching his mate, but he also saw that the intruders had a member injured. He watched as the rest of the gang took up positions against the intruding group.

“What is going on?”, he asked. The tension in the cave was thick, He took a deep breath trying to breathe in but found it difficult from the stiffness of his muscles. “Why have attacked my mate? Who sent you? I think it is time for answers.” Bo grabbed the Rex and shook him. He had to give the small male some credit as he fought against his restraining hands. “Hold still, you wiggling wastrel. I won’t hurt you…yet. I want answers first.” He shook the male again for good measure while studying the female lying on the floor.

Zirede growled as he spied Bo’s attention to his mate. “You say the healer is your mate, well this is my mate.” Here he brushed his hand down Rauwyn’s cheek, taking note that her fever was gone. “It was one of you that injured her. I came to collect a blood debt from her assailant. As for the group, we have been sent to end your quest by our master.” As Zirede explained this his eyes were on the dark male holding the healer. “I will have your head if my mate dies. Be warned dark demon.”

Zirede glared at the one who had almost cost him his life and was startled when he heard a sound. “I will live, my love,” Rauwyn said her voice raspy from lack of use. “I feel stronger with each passing moment, and if you just look at my wound, you will see it has faded as if never there.” She emphasized her words by pulling the bandage that had covered her ravaged side. The fur lay undisturbed as if the male’s claws had never touched her. “My worry now is the healer. Is she okay?”

All eyes turned toward Neko and CeCe. Bo bent to kiss her forehead and took note to her breathing. A soft snore was his answer. “She is asleep. That, unfortunately, is one of the costs of her gift, it depletes her energy. She usually will draw from someone before attempting to do it. I wonder why she didn’t this time?” He looked back over to the striped female who was trying to sit up despite her mate’s insistence that she get some rest.

Zirede gave up the battle and helped Rauwyn sit up. Bumbles brought her something to lean back on, Azereus doggedly following him. “She did say something about that when she touched me right before you came in. I felt like she was sucking the life out of me. When she let go I started feeling better. Why would she offer to heal her enemy?” he asked. He fell back on his bottom so that he could sit bedside Rauwyn. He pulled her close as he felt like he needed to keep touching her to make sure she really was better.

Neko hadn’t noticed that CeCe was awake until she spoke. “I felt drawn to her. Believe me, I fought the urge but my gift is stronger than me. I am still learning how to control it. For some reason, I feel like I was meant to heal her.” She batted both Bo and Neko’s hands away as she fought to rise. “Get off me, you are pissing me. I want to get up. Come on guys.” She said in exasperation. Finally, she broke free and moved to where Rauwyn was sitting. “I stopped pulling energy from you because it was hurting her, due to your mating. I was pulling her energy too. So, I chose to use my own to complete the work.” She took Rauwyn’s hand, “How are you feeling?” she inquired of the pretty female.

While the others had been talking Diewen continued to study CeCe. He was certain that she was the same female he had known at the castle. “You are her!” he said excitedly. “You’re the princess. I knew you when you were little, but you are her.” He suddenly dropped to his knee, bowing low. “You are no longer the princess though. You are my Queen. I swear my service to you.” He said to the astonished crowd. “I am Diewen, my mother worked as a cook in the royal kitchen. We played together as kits.”

CeCe studied the young Rex before her. He did seem familiar, as he spoke she flashed back to playing in the kitchen garden with the servant’s children. Those had been some of her happiest moments. “Please stop bowing, and rise. I remember you a bit. It has been a long time and a lot has happened since those days playing in the gardens. I am just CeCe, I am the queen of nothing. My home is gone.” She said sadly.

While she had been talking she noticed the other intruders bowing as well. She startled when she felt Rauwyn’s hand touch her own. “It matters not if there is a city. Our Queen is more than the city that she rules. You are Queen of the Mithralian people, not the building we dwell within. You do have a home, and people who are loyal to your line.” As she finished Rauwyn inclined her head to CeCe. “You are my Queen.”

In that moment CeCe felt the full weight of her royal blood, she had her people still. Mithral was still alive, the enemy hadn’t beaten them. “Thank you. I will try to be a good queen, but I’m not even sure how to do that. Never have I missed my mother more than at this moment.” Her voice broke a little as a tear made its way down her cheek. “I am overwhelmed, to say the least. Now please tell me, who sent you to end our quest?” She looked around at the faces of her new subjects. It was the one who resembled her patient that finally spoke. The name that Nilla spoke, awoke a fear in CeCe as she heard the name of the one who had destroyed her world.


“His name is Amerak. He is our master. He has sworn to find the Triad and he will kill anyone who stands in his way. I have seen firsthand what he does to those who try to fight him.” Nilla’s found her voice a bit gruff as she thought of the little apprentice’s crumpled body. “If you seek the same prize, then be warned. Even if we break off our pursuit, others will follow.” Suddenly the cave seemed to be just a bit too crowded as the full weight of what she said was heard. A feeling of doom permeated the huge cavern.

(I apologize for not getting the post out on Friday as it should have. Unforeseen technical issues delayed it.Thanks for being patient.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Unexpected


CeCe woke up to a weird sensation in her head, and a weight on her body. She tried to move only to have the weight tighten around her. She opened her eyes slowly and smiled feeling the familiar warmth of Bo wrapped around her. She loved the way even in his sleep, he wanted to protect her. His large body curling around her smaller one. She smiled a bit bigger when she heard his purr of contentment when she snuggled deeper into his embrace. The sensation in her head was lessening and she drifted back to sleep held in her mate’s strong arms.

Neko jerked awake from a terrible dream he had been caught in the middle of. In it he was searching for his sister everywhere, calling her name but his voice seemed to be sucked into a void before it could be heard. It was so hard to see with the snow blowing in his face. He felt a sense of terror building deep within himself at the fear of not finding her. Soon he stumbled upon a small mound covered in snow. As he studies the mound, a pool of blood encircles it, spreading ever wider until it has coated him too. He reached for the mound and turns it over. Lying in a huddled ball is his sister; her body cold and lifeless. It is her eyes though that strike Neko the hardest. They are filled with a look of disapproval and loathing. He had failed to save her.

He shook the images from his mind, trying to quell the feeling of dread. He rolled over to look to where his sister slept within her mate’s arms. How could he have missed them mating? He knew it was stupid to feel like Bo had encroached on his territory, but it was his job to protect his family. Feeling like he was spinning in circles with these thoughts, he climbed out of his bed. He figured it was a perfect time to check the weather and get some fresh air. Moving quietly through the sleeping bodies, he made his way towards the cave entrance.

The brightness of the sun hitting the newly fallen snow temporarily blind Neko as he exited out of the dimly lit cave. The world was carpeted in the white snow. Icicles glistened like diamonds from the branches as the sun reflected off them. The only sound to be heard was the ice crashing down through the bows of the trees to the earth below. Neko shielded his eyes taking in the area, scouting for the way to go when they broke camp. This high in the mountains it was best to move through the day because come nightfall the temperature would drop. He didn’t plan on being caught out in another storm if he could prevent it.

He felt a presence behind him and turned his head to see Max stumbling out into the bright morning light. He grinned a bit at the clumsy way Max tackled the snow drifts to reach him. His short legs no competition for his own long-legged stride. “Hey Max, how are you this morning?” Neko enquired of the shorter Felis. “Do you think we will have any major problem getting back on the trail today?”

Max huffed a breath of air out before taking a long sweeping look around the glade. Here and there the darkness dotting the hillside gave evidence that there were other caves scattered in this area. He finally pointed in the direction where it looked like it was a sheer climb to make it up the mountain. “We need to head in that direction to go to Black Barrow. It will be a climb and with the snow, the possibility of slipping is higher but it is the straightest course. I take it from your friend that there is a bit of a time crunch on getting there.”

Neko nodded his head, “yeah, the one who sent us this way says time is important. He also said we are running out of it. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. I will just be glad to get there and be done. I love adventure but this one has lost its adventure quality and now feels more like a chore.” He moved back towards the mouth of the cave, “I need something to cheer me up.” He was met by the twins as they came out blocking him from entering. He failed to see the look that crossed the two identical faces before he heard his name called.

“Hey, Neko!” Donny shouted. Just as Neko turned to see what he wanted he felt something hit him in the chest. He looked down as the snowball exploded on impact covering him in the powdery substance.

“Gotcha!” Dominic laughed as he ducked a missile thrown at by his brother. Neko’s face lit up in a bid smile, his fangs flashing. Suddenly, he was back when the three of them had been kits playing in the freshly fallen snow. He bent and grabbed a handful of snow. He let it melt just a bit and then began packing it into a tight frozen ball. He glanced between the twins, wondering which one to hit first. He did a quick fake throw towards Donny, but at the last minute spun it towards Dominic. That is when the real battle began.

The three of them eventually dragged Max into the fight and it had become Max and Donny versus Neko and Dominic. The snowballs were flying freely between two snow banks when Bo and Azereus made an appearance outside the cave. It was as if a silent communication went through the combatants and the wet snow packed missiles found their mark in the two older Felis’.  One hit Bo on the side of the head and the other one smacked Azereus in the belly. A big “whoof!!” went out of him as he was caught by surprise.

The scowl that Bo gave all the players should have been enough to stop the frivolity. All it did was make them reload and aim again. He looked at Az who was by this time covered in snow, “If you can’t beat them, I guess you join them. A little bit of fun is needed I suppose. The next few days are going to be rough.” He watched Az as he bent to start creating his own ball, and after a moment bent down to build his own.

Nilla heard a tapping and it took a moment for the source of the sound to work into her consciousness. Someone was knocking on the door, she turned to squint at the offending noise and noticed Diewen had risen and was answering the door. She let sleep claim her once more, sure in the knowledge if it was important Diewen would awaken her.

Diewen cracked open the door to their room and when he saw who was there he opened it and stepped outside so they wouldn’t disturb the others. “What news do you bring?” he questioned their early morning visitor. The male that stood before him was dressed in a mismatched set of leathers. His pants a once royal blue but now sweat and dirt had turned them to a dull dark blue. The vest was a potpourri of varies sizes and fabric patches on a what once had been a sleek sable colored garment. He wore his stocking hat pulled low over his ears, but a hole had begun and the tip poked out. His fur might have been white or cream but now was a dingy gray.

The stranger pulled a wrapped object out of his pocket. The course homespun material opened in his hand to reveal blood seal, a talisman that money lenders used when lending substantial amounts of gold. Diewen looked from the stone to his visitor. “Is this what I think it is? Whose blood marks it? I hope you’re going to tell me it is the stone of one of our prey.” He looked expectantly at the scraggly vagabond.

“Nay, not your prey, but it does hold the blood of the one who guides them. My master spoke with Zirede and they reached an agreement over its use last night. With this, if your magician is talented enough he can portal directly to where he is. My master thinks this is what Zirede had in mind when they talked. He wants me to gift you with the stone and says to tell Zirede the price has been paid.” As the raggedy male said this he was re-wrapping the stone. He placed it in Diewen’s hand. “Good journey to you, my friend. Beware the workings of your master.” With this said, he pointed toward the window at the end of the hall, and the sky where black clouds still rolled ominously.

The visitors took his leave and after looking once more toward the window, Diewen re-entered the room where his friends slept. He noticed that Zirede had risen to fix a broth for Rauwyn, and he was slowly spooning the weak broth up to her dry, cracked lips. He walked over and sat close enough to speak quietly but to still give Zirede room to feed Rauwyn. Zirede looked at him as he sat down, “let me guess. Our visitor brought something for us to use. Were there any messages for me?” he asked as he continued in his task.

Diewen shook his head, and then spoke up when he realized Zirede wasn’t looking his way. “He told me to tell you that the price has been paid, whatever that means. He opened the cloth and held the blood seal up for Zirede to check it out. “Do you think Bumbles is adept enough to use it?” he asked. He was surprised when the stone was snatched from his hands. “Hey! What the…” he began to say only to stop when he realized Bumbles had grabbed the seal.

Bumbles rubbed at his sleep-filled eyes, as he studied the talisman. The darkened spots where Max’s blood had dripped during the contract, still held a strong essence. The seal had been evoked recently. He smiled a little bit darkly. “To answer your question, yes, I am adept at using blood magic, and this you should remember little one. I sat at the knee of a harsh master to learn my trade.” He took the stone and headed back to his pack to prepare the spell he would need to use when opening the portal. “I will be ready soon, you should rouse the others. We need to finish this business.” Was said as he bent his head, his hands buried in his pack pulling out assorted herbs and such.

Diewen gave him a strange looking thinking to himself about touchy magicians and then went about rousing the others.

The snowball fight had ended in a draw, and Bo, Donny, and Azereus went to check the trail to see how bad the snow pack was. Dominic and Neko volunteered to go hunting. The fun of the morning had made them all a bit ravenous. Max chose to stay close and guard CeCe. He had entered the cave to find her sitting beside the fire stirring a pot of porridge. She looked up when he entered, “Good morning, Max. Did you sleep well? I heard all you guys out there having a bit of fun. I take from the silence that the battle is over?”

Max chuckled as he joined her by the fire, “Yeah, it is. It felt good to have some fun after the tension of last night. Speaking of last night how are you feeling this morning?” he asked as he reached to take a mug of coffee she offered.

CeCe cocked her head to the side, and Max could see her trying to remember the night before. “It’s strange. Bo told me of how they found me, but all I can remember is losing sight of the rest of you and then trying to find you. I remember nothing of the fall or its aftermath. I do know that when I woke earlier, my head felt a bit strange but I didn’t think much of it.” She took a sip from her own mug. She noticed the way Max was looking at her and asked, “What has you so perplexed? You look at me so strangely, I feel like I need to reach up and check if I have a third eye or horns. It’s quite disconcerting.”

Max shook his head and laugh. It was a bit stifled but still a laugh. “I’m sorry, I just keep going back to last night and watching the wound on your head fade as if it had never been there before. To see that kind of magic up close is rare for someone like me.” He stood and began to move around, suddenly nervous now that he had spoken. “What kind of magician can heal themselves? I have never even heard that there was such a power. I must admit I have never met people such as you and your companions.”

CeCe reached up to touch her forehead, Bo had told her how they had found her when they had woken up. She felt the residual energy that she had used to heal still pulsing in her blood. She hadn’t known that Max had been witness to the moment though. “We are just travelers, sent on a quest by our Queen. I cannot explain to you how I am able to heal, I can assure you that I am no magician. The only power I hold is that I can heal, but it comes at a cost.” She was glad she had been training herself to control the drain she made on others to heal. For her to heal while unconscious, in a way scared her. What if she had drained Bo? She would have killed them both in vain.

She stood to start packing her things away, and Max came up to her and stopped her with a hand on her arm. “Thank you for explaining what you could. I want you to know I hold you and your friends in high regard and nothing you do will change that. Besides thanks to your quest, I will be able to pay a blood debt on my return to the city.” He went and began packing away his belongings as well.

They soon had the cave packed up and ready for the others to return. Max took a moment to go answer the call of nature, and CeCe had returned to her spot by the fire, this time sewing another rip seam on one of Neko’s shirts. She was happily humming an old tune her nanny had sung to her as a child when she felt a disturbance in the air behind her.

Turning to see what caused it, her mouth dropped open as a gateway portal opened right in front of her. The swirling kaleidoscope of colors held her captive as the eye in the center began to expand. Unknowingly she took a step back as shadowed forms began to grow bigger. She was in the middle of turning to flee when a huge male stepped out of the vortex and grabbed her. Her scream never realized as his hand came up to cover her mouth.