Author: Rogue Roxness PM
Sequel to The Second Sister. Cate returns to the country of her birth to find her grandmother. With the help of an alluring shapeshifter, she must escape a sorceress, join a rebel army, learn to control her magical powers, and find a traitor. F/FRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 30 - Words: 73,904 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 12-24-09 - Published: 12-22-09 - id: 2755169
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The funeral began just after sundown on the next day. In the very center of camp, a great bonfire had been stacked high above our heads. Smoke rose into the darkening sky, swirling up towards the stars. It carried our grief, our prayers, and our hopes with them. At first, the large tower of flame let out cracking, popping noises, but they grew quieter, or we grew used to them.
The Amendyri people had burned their dead for thousands of years. It was tradition. Maybe that was one reason the Kerak seemed so monstrous to us. Using the ashes of the dead for dark magic was a terrible crime. Since there was no time for a funeral at the battlefield, most of the bodies had been burned quickly, and their ashes scattered or buried. Some of the families in camp kept them.
"I want us to die at the same time," said Larna, who was standing with her arm around me, staring up at the giant column of flame. "We should be burned together."
"I hope so, too." But I knew that one of us might die first. Some of the fighters that were killed left families behind.
"I am not afraid of death..." I tilted my chin, looking at Larna curiously. The firelight brought out the hollows of her cheeks, painting her skin in hues of brown and gold. Her hair mixed with the dark sky. "I know that I will always be with you, even after death."
From my soft-spoken lover, those words shook me to the core. I clung tighter against her, and she steadied me with her arm. "I love you," I whispered in her ear. "That is the most romantic thing you have ever said to me..."
Larna frowned. "What about the first time I said that I loved you?"
"That was the other most romantic thing you ever said."
"What about when I told you that you were my moon and stars and sky, and I would be honored if –"
"That, too," I interrupted, feeling much lighter. "Fine, you say a lot of romantic things." The corners of my lips were turned up, and my eyes were a little brighter. Only Larna could make me smile at a funeral.
We stopped talking as Jett Bahari stepped out from the circle of people around the pyre. His skin was almost as dark as the sky above him. The whites of his eyes stood out eerily until he stepped closer to the firelight, the dancing yellow tongues of flame bringing color back to his face.
"Alaram irini. To honor the fallen."
"To the fallen," we said. It was like a toast, but no one raised a glass to drink.
"Alaram enias. To honor their memory."
"To their memory."
"Alaram abios. To life."
In small groups, the rebels approached the fire. Because there was no time for a proper funeral at the battle site, they scattered pinches of ash that they had saved onto the fire. Family and friends tried to put their loved ones to rest.
Larna had a small clay jar with the ashes of our pack-members that had died. Unless they had close family members, like a mate, to do the honor, it was their Alpha's job to scatter their ashes. It still surprised me every time I remembered that Larna was the leader of our pack. She threw her ashes on the fire with the rest.
All around us, people started singing. It was such an old song that no one remembered when it was written, or who first sang the words.
To those who have fallen asleep, you will not be forgotten.
Body and flesh are passing, but the spirit is eternal.
Alone, I stared out over the mountaintops and the Forest. From this high, I could even see a line of green beyond, where the plains began. At that moment, the world felt very big, and I felt very small.
Death was on my mind. The battle was five days ago now, but still vivid in my memory. Sometimes, I woke up shaking in Larna's arms. She told me I did not scream or cry out, but I heard screams in my sleep. I had seen so many die... and for some reason, Larna and I were still alive. I was bitterly grateful for that.
My mate was handling it better than me. She did not have nightmares. Once in a while, usually at night, I would notice a sad look on her face in the firelight. When I saw that look, I held her hand and stroked her hair. It was my job to drive those feelings away and make her heart warm again.
I sensed someone behind me. My nose told me who it was. A human's scent was as unique and easy to recognize as a face for me. This scent carried herbs and ash and the wind. "Auriye?" I called out, turning to look over my shoulder. I was right. The old woman approached me slowly, but there was no limp. Perhaps her joints were just stiff from the cold.
"Arim dei, young shaman," she said, standing beside me to gaze down the side of the mountain. The Forest stretched out below us, an ocean of branches and treetops. The color was strange mixture of mottled brown and green, since some of the trees had lost their leaves, but the pines had kept their needles.
"Jett Bahari was telling me that you and your mate killed the traitor," she added when I remained silent.
My cheeks colored. Larna and I felt responsible for bringing the Farseer pack to the rebel camp. In a way, the deaths were our fault. Auriye echoed my thoughts. "It was not your fault." I did not sense the use of magic, but I could not be sure. Maybe she was just perceptive.
"I wish that no one had died," I said. But wishing could not change the past. If only things had been different... There would have been no attack on the camp. Kalwyn and Farseer might still be alive, too.
I tore my eyes away from the great Forest and looked at Auriye. "Kalwyn never finished teaching me." I reached up to touch the Deadeye that still hung around my neck. A thought came to me. "Will you teach me about magic?"
"I am not a shaman," said Auriye.
I persisted. "That wasn't a no..."
"Maybe I can be showing you a few things, but I canna be your teacher forever. We use different kinds of magic. You will need to study with another shaman."
My view of Auriye and the Forest faded as my thoughts turned inward, remembering. "In Kalwyn's house, I saw the moving energy of a person that was gone... do you think that I will ever speak to her again?"
Auriye shrugged. "We are not knowing what happens to the soul after death. Many believe that the Maker takes them to a place of rest."
"Do you ever answer yes or no?"
"Maybe," said Auriye, just to be irritating. I smiled. That reminded me of Kalwyn. "Yes," she finally said. "I think that you will speak to Kalwyn again someday... but not on this earth. Perhaps you will be seeing magical energy in her shape, though."
For a while, we were content to sit in silence together. For the moment, at least, I had a new teacher. But she would never replace Kalwyn. I had learned so much from her. She helped me to accept my Ariada blood without shame. I wrapped my fingers around the Deadeye. It was warm in my hand...
The sun was just rising above the mountains, so I knew that this was a different place, a different time. Larna approached me from behind, taking her seat beside me in front of the little house that we shared. Wanting to feel her warmth, I rested my head on her shoulder, closing my eyes as she pressed a kiss to my temple. Her arm found itself in a familiar position, wrapped around my belly, which had grown too large to hide beneath my clothes.
"I wish I could be feeling them," she said, letting her hand roam across my swollen stomach. I shivered.
I shifted my head against my shoulder, looking up at Larna's pointed chin. There was a relaxed smile on her face, although the sense of possessiveness and strength that were her core remained. The proud angle of her head and the set of her shoulders clearly said that I was her mate, and these were our pups. "You will," I said, resting my hand on top of hers. Our fingers linked. "I only started feeling them a few days ago."
Larna remained silent and thoughtful for a few moments, and I was content to rest against her side. To me, the most perfect place in the world was in her arms. "We should start thinking of names. I wonder how many we will be needing," she said, almost shyly. The streak of timidity in my proud Larna made my lips turn up in a small smile. Even though she would never admit it, she was a little frightened at the prospect of having children.
"We need three," I said. I could not explain how I Knew, but I was carrying three children. "It is a good sized litter." It felt strange calling my pregnancy that at first – a litter – but there was clearly more than one child growing inside of me. Wyr rarely had just one pup at a time, although litters of more than four were very unusual.
"You said that they looked like me?" Larna asked, even though I had already answered that question at least a hundred times.
I indulged her. "Yes, Tuathe. All three of them will look just like you. They will be handsome and strong pups."
Larna looked proud and a little disappointed at the same time. "I wanted them to look like you," she said, kissing my hair. "You are so beautiful..."
"I am sure they will look a little like me," I said, trying to appease her. "Ellie keeps asking me when I will come visit. I know that she and Belle want to be there for the birth of their Godchildren."
At the mention of a visit, she frowned. A worry wrinkle creased her smooth forehead. "We canna go back to Seria right now. The rebellion needs us here, and traveling is dangerous. And you are carrying our pups now..."
"I told them that. Ellie says they will come here, but I can't believe they're serious. I have no idea how they would get across the border and up into the mountains..."
Larna snorted. "Little bird, your friends are delusional. Are all Serians like that?"
I smiled, shaking my head against Larna's chest. "No, only Ellie and Belle. The rest of them are usually normal."
"Maybe living in Seria left you a little crazy," Larna teased.
I lifted my head up, nipping affectionately at a tempting ear. "Maybe. Maybe I should show you how crazy I am..."
I blinked. Auriye was looking at me curiously, but she did not seem worried. "Cate, what did you see?"
I smiled. "Nothing," I said, leaning back and staring up at the sky. "Nothing about future battles or our enemies."
The old woman smiled, too. "Not all visions are great, important messages for the kingdom," she said.
"Not this one." But it was a great, important message to me. I wondered if I should tell Larna about the vision. No, I decided. I wanted to keep this to myself for a while longer. If I was right, we would have many years to enjoy our children together.
Do you have a Beta reader? I found insert misspelling here
The beta reader I hope to be working with is sick in the hospital at the moment, and could not beta read this story right away. Hopefully in the future, I will post a corrected version of this story. Therefore, any spelling mistakes are mine and mine alone. I apologize for them, and hope that you enjoyed the story anyway.
You dedicate this story to your "Mistress". What's up with that?
You actually read the dedication? GASP! I think you can figure it out for yourself. I've basically let you in to my head, and my bedroom, by writing and sharing these stories anyway. At least, the "tame" parts...
Why is the writing style so different between some of your stories?
I try to give each story a unique "voice". Ellie's voice is florid and a little over-descriptive at times. If the sex scenes in The Second Sister ever seemed a bit too "Victorian/Bodice Ripper" with all of the romanticized, flowery allusions to the female anatomy, that is Ellie's fault, not mine. I purposely tried to shorten the sentences in Wolf's Eyes to reflect Cate's personal voice. In my third person stories, the sentences are also shorter, and the stories are more dialogue-centered.
I have noticed that you use weird colors and numbers in your stories. Anything to that?
Hell yes. I love using numerological and color(ical?) symbolism. I have even inserted some directions (north, south, ect) and played around with symbolism from that perspective. .com/doc/6472314/Symbolism-in-Literature
Why do one or more characters seem to lose their virginity in every story you write?
Someone who got a sneak peek at the other novels on my hard drive mentioned this. Write what you know, huh? My girlfriend and I were each other's firsts. I guess this is my way of paying tribute to that experience, and our relationship. At the urging of my friend, I have initiated Rae's Cherry Counter! Now I can keep track of all the deflowerings that seem to occur in my stories, whether I plan it that way or not. It counts if: it's consensual, and it's explicitly written out. So far, the count is: ... 3. One for TSS, two for Wolf's Eyes.