Chapter Four Summary: The Furling Warrior makes arrangement to travel to the Tau'ri and while doing so makes an unsettling discovery about the future of her mission. This is our first look into the Furling as a species, and it gives some insight and clues as to who (and what) the Furling are.
Carusawyn – My Dear One, My Dearest One Caruswyn - My Dear Amat Wyn - My Love Sevesh Lok Twin - Rite of Release of Entwining “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communication
The stone ring stood on a raised dais in the middle of the castle courtyard. Around it, there was a circle of stones reminiscent of Stonehenge on Earth. At one time, it might have been a place of worship, or an observatory to study astronomy. It could have been a place of human sacrifice. Whatever its purpose was in the past, in the here and now, it was the centerpiece to a beautiful courtyard garden. When it suddenly came to life, none of the people passing seemed to give it much thought. A few glanced at it in mild curiosity. Either this was a common occurrence; they were expecting someone, or both.
A very small group of people entered the courtyard through the portcullis and proceeded towards the steps that led to the ring. Just as they reached the bottom step, the figure of a woman stepped out of the shimmering blue light. Her gaze swept the area, quickly assessing, watching for any immediate danger. Finding none, she relaxed and allowed herself to smile. Thank the universe; home had not changed.
Her gaze moved to the group of people waiting at the bottom of the steps, and her smile widened. She would have liked to rush down the stairs and greet her friends with enthusiasm; however, the formal greeting must first take place. Informal greetings would have to wait. She had a position to uphold.
Her stance was regal as she brought her arms up, across her chest, palms against her skin, her first and fourth fingers extended, her other fingers and thumbs folded into her palms. She slowly bowed her head in silent acknowledgement and greeting.
She descended the steps toward the group that stood there. Reaching them, she extended her arms in front of her with the palms now facing upwards, the fingers still extended, but the thumb and other fingers now came together and pointed skyward.
The group watched as a tall, handsome man, who appeared to be the leader of the group, stepped forward to greet her. He mirrored her gestures in every way, except that when he extended his arms, his palms were pointed towards the ground. He brought the tips of his extended fingers into contact with the tips of the woman’s fingers. After bowing his head in a respectful gesture to her, he was the first to speak.
“I greet and welcome thee from my heart Kataya, Lady of Cadwaellon.”
“My heart answers thee and gives greetings and gratitude to yours, Merdwin, Lord of Werllockian.”
The formalities over, smiles and greetings were exchanged all around. The group dispersed, so that each could continue with whatever duties they had to perform. There would be much feasting tonight. The daughter of Artereos of Cadwaellon had returned home.
“Even in your uniform, you look elegant and ravishing, my dear,” Merdwin said, as he caught Kataya's hand in his, lifted it, and placed a kiss on the inside of her wrist, while looking deeply into her amazing violet eyes.
She laughed up at him, as she replied, “Do you ever stop trying to seduce the women, Merdwin?”
Laughing with her, he answered, “But, there is so much joy and excitement in tempting ones fate, is there not? The heart pounds and beats ever faster, the breath quickens, the blood rushes to ones head (among other places). Does it not thrill you to know that you can cause a man to lose his head over you? Is there no excitement in the knowledge that a man would fight for you, even kill for you? Women are the true ‘Holy Grail’ and passion is the wine within it, a drink to be savored and enjoyed.” He looked down at her, his eyes challenging her to dispute his statements. Refusing to be drawn into his trap, she smiled at him, her amusement at his words evident in the sparkle in her eyes.
They strolled into the castle and entered a chamber, which overlooked the castle walls and gardens. Kataya made her way to a window seat cut into the stone underneath a high arched window. The sun shone through the panes and caused the dust motes in the air to do their dance in a golden haze. It was truly beautiful here.
She turned back to her companion to finally answer his statements, “And you would know, Amat Wyn,” she laughed, “For you have sought and won many.”
“However, not as earnestly as I have sought you,” He rejoined swiftly, his voice taking on a serious tone, his eyes unreadable.
She shifted on her seat to gaze out the window as she responded lightly, “So you say. Come; let us drop this game we play, so that you may tell me all the news.” She did not see the shadow of pain that briefly crossed his face. How he loved this woman. Had loved her for centuries. For brief periods, he was able to call her his own. Years and months filled with light and laughter. To this day, he still remembered the softness of her body as it lay beneath him, the sound of her voice languid with passion, the sweet taste of her on his lips, the rose and musk scent of her as they lay entwined. Dear universe, what a passionate woman she was. Well over two hundred years had not dulled the memories. They would always be this way together, and both of them knew it. However, only when the times were right, and for now it was not to be.
Furthermore, she was honest, withal, and he had always known that her heart belonged to her true mate and that, though they were dear, each to the other, he and Kataya would never be more than loving friends and true and passionate Heartmates, when all was said and done. He knew he had a special place in her heart and always would, and perhaps, someday, when he met his own Soulmate, he would be content with that.
“Merdwin, are you alright, Caruswyn?” Her richly dusky voice broke into his reverie.
“What? Sorry, my love, I just remembered something that I was supposed to get finished before tonight, but there is still plenty of time to do it. What were you saying?”
“I believe I requested that we stop playing the flirtation game, pleasant though it is,” She answered softly.
“As you wish,” He agreed, and then paused, for a moment, before saying, “Your father is within. He is deeply involved in an intricate and delicate negotiation with the Ardenians. Something about sheep, if I remember correctly. He is looking forward to seeing you.”
“Sounds terribly important,” she laughed indulgently, as though she was well aware of the oddities of her Sire, and was amused by them. “He loves me well, Merdwin, of this I am sure. I can wait upon his sheep; these things make him happy. Our reunion can wait until he is finished with his meeting, for he truly enjoys even the most trivial of them, you know.” She smiled up at him as he stood leaning carelessly against the wall.
“I know. Which is why I always let him know about any and everything that comes up. He has so much energy that there are times when just watching him fatigues me,” He answered in a languid tone.
“I doubt that, Merdwin. You have enough energy and stamina for 10 people,” she said as her gazed rested fondly on him. “What of our children, my dear? You have not mentioned them, and neither of them were there to greet me. Is something wrong?” Her gaze rested fully on him, her eyes suspicious.
“No, not at all. Our children, as you know, are very busy people. Merdwain is still with the Ancients, a fact of which I am sure you are aware. I am afraid our son takes after me, Amat Wyn. He will be a very powerful Enchanter someday, though his Katteri skills may be neglected for a few millennia.” He stopped and appeared to be studying his boot. Then he cleared his throat. “Our daughter—our daughter is very much like you. She is recovering from a battle wound and—”
“What? You have waited until now to tell me?” Kataya asked.
“She really is fine, Kataya. A little difficulty sustaining her energy levels is all that is left, and it will soon pass. The priestesses were very pleased with her recovery. She is very angry with herself for, her words, not mine, her own stupidity and carelessness. It is just as well that she is taking leave of fighting for a while, as I understand you will be naming her to take your place in our government?”
“Yes, Merdwin, the rumors are true. Or did you get your information from Artereos?” Kataya asked sardonically.
“A little bit of both. Gwennetha will make an excellent leader, Kataya. I am very proud of both of the children you gave me.” Merdwin’s voice dropped, and it became intimate, soft, and compelling, “And of their Mother, Kataya the Warrior, Lady of Cadwaellon.”
Standing to do so, Kataya reached up, cupped his cheek with her hand, leaned forward, and kissed him gently, “Thank you, Merdwin. That means a great deal to me.” She smiled at him, as she resumed her seat and allowed her hand to fall into her lap.
“You are most welcome, My Lady.” He pushed himself away from the wall. “Well, I need to go see to some things. Do you want me to show you to your chambers, or do you want to remain here for a while?”
“I believe I will stay here for a while. My chambers have not changed have they?”
“No, they are the same. Gwennetha is in her chamber if you wish to visit her. The banquet will be at eight of the clock. You are the guest of honor, so do not be late. Although, you would no doubt be forgiven by all,” he said, as if stating a fact.
Shaking her head at him, she replied, “I will not be late, so there will be nothing to forgive, as I prefer not to test your theory. Is it a very formal occasion, Merdwin?”
He looked somewhat abashed. “I am afraid so. You will want to wear your formal circlet and your loveliest gown. Your dress sword, as you know, will not be needed, but your dagger will, of course.” He paused for a moment. “I believe Artereos will make the announcement tonight about your next assignment. He will also announce that Gwennetha will be taking your place in the Government until your return. I expect the news to be well received. Gwennetha is liked and respected just as her mother is.” Again, he hesitated.
“Kataya.” She nodded her head for him to continue. “There is to be a gathering of the Table tomorrow. I wish for you to be sure to attend. It is time for you to put forth the names of the squires you feel are ready to be Knighted and receive their rank. I thought you would want to know.”
She smiled at him gently. “Thank you Merdwin. It was very kind in you to let me know.”
He smiled back and said, more brightly, “I will see you tonight then.”
"Yes, I will see you there.”
“I am sure you will.” With a wicked grin and a jaunty salute, he quickly left the room.
She watched him leave the room and sighed. What a handsome man he is, she mused to herself. Charming, kind, and amusing, tall, dark, handsome, and elegant, he was a much sought after man. She had heard him described as handsome as sin and twice as spicy. She had to agree. Moreover, not only was he handsome in the extreme, he was, also, the most powerful of the Sorcerers, Enchanters, Wizards and Warlocks in the Katteri-enti, in other words; The Master Mage. In addition, he was all that before one even considered his knowledge of bedroom sport. That was quite extensive, and his expertise in the art of lovemaking was well known off-world as well as here at home. Furthermore, it was commented on. Often. She smiled softly. Those comments were correct for he was all they said of him…and more. She should know for they had been lovers often over the many millennia they had shared. He was not a formal Heartmate, but had things been different, she would have agreed to a more formal binding. However, their spoken bond was strong, stronger than many formal bonds actually, so she would not repine.
However, she did not stop thinking about him. There was an aura surrounding him that set a woman’s senses to humming. His deep blue eyes could mesmerize, and his touch could inflame. Exciting, enticing, sensual, seductive, all those things, and yet, she still could not love him as she should a Soulmate. As a lover, a friend, a Heartmate, she loved him dearly, deeply, eternally, more than her own life, but she could not bring herself to become either his formally bonded Heartmate or Soulmate. Why could she not have loved him in that way, she wondered, as she had so often before? At least, she had the good sense to choose him to father her first kits.
She could hear Siesha whisper to her. “But he is not the Soulmate. You do love him, just not enough to stay with him always.”
“I know. I wish I could have felt that way about him, but I cannot. I have never felt that I made a mistake by not taking him as my entwined Heartmate. He is a wonderful man, there are none better than him, except perhaps my Dayillon. Nevertheless, a formal binding would not have worked out between us. It was foreseen to be so and I would have tempted fate had I entwined or joined my blood to his. No, I am glad we are spoken Heartmates, lovers, and friends. We made two beautiful children, and we have managed to remain close, dear, and loving of one another. That is enough. I think I will go see Gwennetha, and then get ready for the banquet.”
“An excellent idea. After all, at your age, it takes longer to be able to appear at one’s best”
“Must you always bring that up?” The voice in her mind laughed softly.
Coming to her feet, she walked across the floor and out the door. It was time to look forward, not back. She began to stroll towards her eldest daughter’s chambers. Merdwin had not mentioned her other two children. He would have if something were wrong with them, of course, so she was not concerned. He had alluded to them. He was aware that they were ready to receive their rank and become part of the elite of the Katteri-enti. She had seen too much of their training herself. When she had returned to the war, she had left them with her Father, the greatest warrior of all time. They had been taught well. She had no concerns about their abilities as warriors. It was time they took their places amongst their peers.
Gwennetha would have news of them. The two sets of her children got along well. Mostly, because of Gwennetha’s unconditional acceptance of the two younger kits. Gwennetha had truly lived up to her name, which for her people meant ‘Blessed’. She was indeed a blessing to her family. Especially, to her mother. It had been a very long time since they had a chance to talk; it would be most enjoyable. Reaching her daughter’s door, she raised her hand and knocked.
She opened the door and walked into the room. She had forgotten how much her daughter looked like her. They were similar in every way, including those amazing violet eyes. Her daughter, though, had just enough of her father’s features to make her beautiful. She was so proud of this woman, her eldest daughter.
“My Lady Mother, I am so very glad you are here.” The younger woman started to assume the formal greeting position, but Kataya stopped her with a hand.
“We are alone, daughter. There is no one here to notice if the ‘proper’ rules of conduct are not followed. Personally, I would prefer a warm and loving embrace from you, as I wish to give one to you.” The two women came together with tears and joy. It had indeed been a very long time. “We need to talk. There are things that need to be discussed.”
“This sounds serious. You are taking on a dangerous assignment. How long are you here for? Surely you are not leaving right away?”
“No, not right away, but I will not be here for more than a week or so. I have taken on a new assignment.” She clasped her daughter’s hands in her own. “Gwennetha, I am going to the home of the Tau’ri. To Earth, as they call it. The battle against the Goa’uld in that sector goes badly. Help is needed.” She stopped and drew a long breath. Looking into her daughter’s eyes, she began to tell her what she needed her daughter to do, and what she felt about what was about to happen.
“I wish for you to take my place among our people. You will make a strong and capable leader. This is important. It is what you have worked toward for a very long time.” Her mother reminded her that she knew of her ambitions to become a leader amongst their people.
“You are serious are you not? You really want me to take your place in the Government?” There was an undercurrent of excitement in her voice.
“Yes, I am. Will you do it?” Kataya asked.
“Yes, I will. I just hope I am half as good as you.” She responded, uncertainty plain in her voice, as thought of all the responsibilities that would come with the appointment.
“You are every bit as good as I. With a little bit more experience in diplomacy, you will be superb. I am so glad the idea pleases you.” She answered steadily, with conviction.
“It thrills me. Does my father know?” She asked.
“Yes, he does. We will have time tomorrow to start going over the things you will need to know. Would you wish to accompany me to the Tau’ri? It would be an interesting diplomatic foray for you. Give it some thought, and let me know later in the week.” Kataya suggested.
Kataya stopped, then said, “There is something else I wish to discuss with you. How are your brother and sister, Gwennetha? Have you seen them lately?”
“They are both on Cardwellan, in the Morovian Sector. The fighting has been heavy there recently, but as far as I know they are fine.”
Kataya nodded in relief, as she said, “I felt your father would have told me if anything had happened to your brother and sister, but I did not want to bother him with a lot of questions.”
Her daughter looked at her with wise, loving eyes. “You mean you did not want to bring him pain, by asking him for news of your children by your Tok’Ra lover.” She smiled at her mother, continuing, “He would not have minded talking to you about them. I know you fear otherwise, but he is quite fond of both of them. He spent quite a bit of time with them when they were training here.”
She paused before saying, softly, “I know how you feel about my father. You were lovers when Merdwain and I were born. You both felt it was time to ensure the continuance of your lines and Grandfather was anxious for grandchildren. It was not a hardship for either of you to accommodate him. It is not true that you do not care for him, as some say. You have always loved my father and you always will. He is your friend, your lover; you love him in a deep and eternal way…however, you will never love him in the all- consuming way you love your Soulmate.”
“I understand that and in his heart, father understands it, too. It causes him pain, but he does understand it. He loves you very much. You know that, too, and you always have, which is why you go out of your way to take assignments that require you to be as far away as possible, so that he will not constantly be reminded of you.”
“Tell me, Gwennetha, does it bother you that your father and I were never joined formally by our customs and laws?” Kataya asked her daughter. Somehow, in all the years, this topic had never been so openly discussed.
“No. Not at all. You and my father taught me that it is possible to be eternal lovers and still remain the very best of friends. From the two of you, I have learned that being true to one’s self, is the most important thing you will ever do, for only then can you see the world around you as it truly is. You also taught me that sometimes, it is both desirable and necessary to go against the norms set before us. You waited a very long time before you had kits, and” she drew in a deep breath, knowing her next words would be extremely painful for her mother, she said, “since you felt your Soulmate would never return, you felt the least you could do was to grant Grandfather one of his dearest wishes. I also believe, though, that while your duty to Grandfather and the family line was important, you also wished to have kittdren. Several things came together to cause you to make the decision you made; I am content that your reasons were enough.”
“You taught me that it is possible to do what you feel should be done, without compromising your personal integrity. I know that you refused the bonding with my father because you felt it was not fair to either of you. Neither of you was the other’s Soulmate. To formally bond, in your eyes, would only make it almost assured that you would hurt my father even more, if your Soulmate ever did return, or if a deep-heart Heartmate should come to hold your heart. You refused to cause him that much pain; it was simply unacceptable to you. You also believed that he might find his Soulmate or a deep-heart Heartmate. I respect and admire you for the stand you took, and for the way you have always treated my father with respect, gentleness, and consideration. Nor do I resent your Tok’Ra mate, or my stepbrother and sister. What you feared came to pass; you found a deep-heart Heartmate, and you had eighty joyful years with him. I just wish you could find your Soulmate. I wish father could find his also. He has so much love to give to someone and a Soulmate would be that someone for all time.” Her words assured her mother that she understood.
“When did you grow up before my eyes, my daughter? Just yesterday, you were rebelling against everything I stood for; the day before that, you were wrapped in my arms, suckling at my breast. It means much to me that you understand the pain in my heart for what I inadvertently did to your father. It makes my heart glad that you have forgiven me.”
“There is nothing to forgive. I understand that now. You followed your heart and it led you true. And then, there was Grandfather’s dearest wish, another of the reasons you made the decision you did. Could I ask you something?”
“Anything you wish.”
“Did you ever, um, wish that you had waited until you met your Heartmate? Did you ever wish that you had told Grandfather no, denied yourself kits, and waited to have kits until you met him?”
“No. I have never regretted or resented any of that. Gwennetha, the heart and soul are so vast that there is room for many, many loves in a lifetime. I do love your father, as you said; I love him very deeply and passionately. Mostly though, I would not give up you and Merdwain for anything. No, I am not the least bit sorry. I would do it all over again tomorrow, if the choice were the same. The only thing I have ever regretted was the pain your father feels,” Her mother assured her solemnly.
“Grandfather wishes me to mate to have kits.” Gwennetha said softly, looking at her mother with sadness in her eyes. She did not want to disappoint the Grandfather she adored.
Kataya sighed. She had expected this sooner or later. “Have you met your Soulmate, Gwennetha?” She too spoke softly.
“No.” She swallowed. “I wish I had, but I have not.”
“You must follow your heart. Do not mate just because your grandfather wants you to. Or, because that is the road I chose. We each have to live with the decisions we make for a very long time, my dear. Be very sure of what you want and do not join unless you find your Heartmate or Soulmate. Even Father will tell you that. Each path we choose to follow has consequences, be very sure you wish to deal with them before you choose a path to follow, for you will have to deal with them.”
“Do you think he will understand if I tell him I would prefer to wait?” The young woman asked almost anxiously.
“Yes, I do. He would not force you into doing something so important, Gwennetha, I assure you. Do not forget that I am an ancient soul, and yet I did not have kits before you. He will understand.”
“How did you make your decision?” What made you decide to do as Grandfather wished but to do it outside of the Furling rituals? Our rites and rituals, do they have something to do with your decision?”
Kataya stared at nothing, lost in a vision that only she could see. She looked as if she was very far away. When she returned from wherever she had been, she started to speak.
“The beginnings of the Rites and Rituals of the Joining and the Entwining are shrouded in the mists of time, in the mysts of the All. That they have profound meaning to our people is unquestionable. For you and I, they mean even more, since we have both Wiccadian and Furling blood in our veins. The Furlings are an ancient and powerful race, whose very essence and beginnings are entwined with the dawn of all that is and all that will be. Some of us have lived countless lifetimes. You are a young soul, whereas I am a very old one. Your Grandfather is ancient. The Furlings draw their life force from the forces of the universe. The Wiccadians from all living things: The forest, the sun, the rain, the oceans, the moons, the stars, the very soil we tread upon, our very essence is made up of those things.” She stopped speaking to gather her thoughts.
“We sometimes find one who completes our heart, but not our soul. To find and entwine with ones Heartmate is a wondrous thing. In some lifetimes, a Heartmate is all we have. When we find the other half of our soul, he becomes both Heartmate and Soulmate. When we are joined by the exchange of our blood and auras, our essences are bound together for all time. It is a joyous happening. Sometimes our time together is brief. Sometimes it gives us many years before we must once again part.”
“I wish there was some way I could describe it to you. The heights, to which a passion of the body, which is complemented by the wholeness of the soul, can bring, are wondrous. To worship your lover, your mate, body and soul, and to be worshiped the same way in return. Poets through the ages have tried to give voice to the wonder of it. Writers have written volumes trying to explain it. Composers have written beautiful music to glorify it. It is the Alpha and the Omega.” She shrugged a little self-consciously; “I cannot explain it. It is something you will only completely understand when you have found either a Heartmate or a Soulmate.”
“The point I am trying to make, though, is that I made the decision that was right for me, based on the circumstances I was in, as well as our past…our beginnings, for they make up who and what I am. Where we come from, what makes us what we are, those are the things that influenced me the most. I could not go through the Rites and Rituals with your father when I felt, no, when I knew, that he would someday find his Soulmate. For he will, Gwennetha, of that I have absolutely no doubt. I walked the All for many days and nights before I decided what to do. I am glad that my time there convinced me that I could do what I wished to do and still remain true to what I believed. You must make the decision that is right for you, and you alone know what that is. Do not let others influence your decision. You must do that which you choose to do. Only then will you be at peace with yourself.”
“Tell your Grandfather you want to wait, if that is what you wish to do. He will not be angry. In fact, you can tell him that I believe I have found my Soulmate at last, after all these years. The thought of the chance that I will have another set of kits, sometime in the future, will keep him occupied for awhile.” She smiled into her daughter’s eyes just before she launched herself into her mother’s arms.
“I am so excited for you. Where is he? What is he like? Will we like him?”
Laughing again, Kataya held up her hands as if to fend off all the questions. “He is of the Tau’ri. He is a scholar and a warrior, much as he has always been. I think him handsome. I have not met him physically yet, but I have touched his mind and soul, and they are as beautiful this living as they have always been. He is a truly beautiful person.”
She continued, saying, “His soul is very old, actually one or two years older than mine, so he is a mixture of both young and old. He had a Heartmate in this living who died, and he grieves for her still. As you are aware, we have been together in many lifetimes. He, of course, is not aware of this yet. Whether we will be together again in this lifetime, or not, is yet to be decided upon. We will just have to wait to see if things will work out, and I think that is all the questions for now,” She said, as she glanced at a timepiece on the mantle.
“Look at the time. We both need to get ready for tonight. Wear your most dazzling gown. Men are very susceptible to woman’s femininity, which is good for us, I suppose. One should always stay in practice, at any rate. It is like being a Warrior, always be prepared. Now, I must go. I still have to answer that age-old question of all women.”
“What is that, mother?” Gwennetha looked perplexed, wondering to what her mother could possibly be alluding. It was, after all, only a banquet. There should be no profound or weighty questions to resolve.
Kataya grinned at her, eyes sparkling with humor and lips curved in a smile before answering, “I do not have one decent thing…What, in the universe, am I going to wear?” As she leaned over and softly kissed Gwennetha’s cheek, turned, and headed out the door, she heard her daughter’s laughter follow her.
“If I am not careful, I will become a philosopher, Siesha.”
“You are probably correct. I hope I gave her the right answers.”
“I believe you did.”
“Since I am agreeing with myself, that does not give me a lot of comfort.”
“It is good practice, if you are to become a philosopher.”
“If you do not mind, I think I will pass on that, as Jack O’Neill would say. Oh, dear, I have not even met the man yet, and already I am picking up some of his ways. This should be interesting. I am looking forward to my new adventure, Siesha, but for this week, I think I will concentrate on enjoying being home.”
With those thoughts, she began noticing her surroundings. She realized little or nothing had changed. Father’s penchant for leaving things the same for centuries was evident. Kataya could not remember the last time any of the furnishings had been moved or changed. Perhaps, if her mother had not gone into the cloister in the All, things would have changed more often. As it was, at least it all stayed familiar. Right now, she was thankful for that. She needed the continuity and stability. She was about to make a great change in her life, one that would change her future and her life forever. She would enjoy her time here.
In her room, she realized that the Mirror of the Mysts was still in her chamber. She approached it slowly, lit the candles on either side of it, and gazed into its depths. She sighed deeply. There were dark clouds within, dark clouds and shadows that were interspersed with a jumble of images of events not yet close enough to discern. And blood. A veritable sea of blood…and she and Samantha of the Tau’ri were in the middle of it all. Together.
The old gentleman was staring out the high arched window into the garden below. He was a very distinguished and unexpectedly handsome man. His hair was white, thick, and waved to his shoulders and somewhat beyond. His brow was high and broad. His eyes, under winged thick white eyebrows, were a piercing, deep emerald green. His skin was a golden color adding even more to the impression of a large powerful lion. He stood straight and tall as a Warrior would and had about him an air of barely leashed energy and power.
While he did not seem to be enjoying the view through the window, neither did he seem displeased. He appeared to be contemplating the deep red roses climbing toward the window. He had been staring at the same bloom for thirty minutes. His thoughts were millions of light years away.
He turned toward the door, a welcoming smile lighting his face, as Kataya entered the room. How proud he was of this woman, who was his daughter. She had become a magnificent Warrior, as he had always known she would. Someday, she would step into her place, sit in the chair in which he now sat, and lead her people. He hoped her mate would be beside her, and he believed he would be, for it had been foretold. The Kat’s mate would someday draw the sword, and when the time came, they would rule together.
She smiled at him and stood on her toes to give him a kiss on the cheek and a quick embrace. “Good morning, Father. Have I kept you waiting long?”
“Not at all, my dear.” Then he chuckled softly, “No more than I expected to be, anyway. Over the many millennia, I have become accustomed to waiting on a woman, whether she is getting dressed, shopping, or simply reading a book. It matters not the activity involved; I will be waiting regardless. And because I love them dearly, I do so patiently and happily, knowing that they will be with me soon.”
She smiled at him, kissed him once more and hugged him fiercely, “I am sorry, my Father. It seems to be taking much longer than I expected to get my affairs in order and get ready to leave. Each time I believe I have everything settled and in place, something else comes along and demands my attention.”
“It was not a problem. I have been enjoying the garden. Are you ready to leave for the Tau’ri? Have all of the problems been taken care of and settled then?”
Kataya nodded, sending him a look full of affection, “Yes, the roses are a lovely shade of red. As far as my arrangements go, I hope everything is finally under control, at least as much as it can be. I truly believe that this time I will actually leave. I really expected to have left for Earth two weeks ago.”
He nodded his understanding. “I cannot say that I am sorry you have been delayed for I have very much enjoyed having you home. It seems a very long time since we were granted the time to simply spend with one another, as we have the last three weeks. Come. Let us sit on the window seat. There are things I wish to discuss with you before you depart. I wished to wait until you were actually ready to leave before going into them, however. Last minute things, my dear.”
She searched her father’s face. “Something is worrying you,” she said.
“Not really worrying. I trust you to take care of yourself.” He paused before continuing, “You have looked into the Mirror?” There was an edge of anxiety to his voice, but it was quickly suppressed.
“Yes,” she answered quietly, “I, too, have been watching it. It is still too soon to know what it truly portends.”
“What are you sensing about it? I know you well enough to know that, in all probability, you have been receiving the images since you arrived. How do you feel about that which you are seeing?”
She frowned slightly and contemplated what her feelings the last three weeks had been. She had to give an honest answer. He would know if she did not, and he would not thank her for keeping anything from him. She sighed softly. “Foreboding,” she paused, then raised her head to look at him, directly. “I feel foreboding. There are many dark shadows and much turmoil. There is a definite, definitive, danger. I can not yet see from which direction it is coming.”
She glanced down and then back up, to look steadily into her father’s eyes. “I have reason to believe that there is both emotional and physical danger around me. Since there is usually physical danger around me, and the Mysts do not usually show anything like this, I have to conclude that the Mirror is warning of a specific incident or incidents. Perhaps there is more than one; however, only time will tell us the truth of the matter.”
“I agree. You will be careful.”
“Kataya,” he paused for a moment before telling her, “I am unsure of many things surrounding this venture, except that it is the direction in which we should be travelling at this point in time. The All is quite emphatic about that.”
When she nodded her head in acknowledgement and agreement, Artereos continued, “I want to let you know what I have decided about the discussion that took place at the Council meeting two weeks ago. As you will recall, we discussed at length the progress of the war against the System Lords in the Pegacian System.”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Since the Council agrees that the fall of the Goa’uld in the Pegacian System is only a matter of time, I have decided that it may be time to start gathering more intelligence from Earth’s sector of the Universe. I have decided to place some of our people capable of infiltrating the Goa’uld in some strategic positions. I know that you will be able to send me valuable information, but I think it would perhaps be wise to spread out across that sector. It could very well be that our next theater of operations will be there. It has always been my intention to return to aid Earth. Thor’s request and your acceptance of the assignment have simply accelerated the aid somewhat.”
“I understand. I will do my best not to disappoint you or Thor.”
“I know you will. I am not concerned about that. You made the arrangements I requested of you for the journey?”
She smiled at him and shook her head. “Yes, I have, although, I feel they are a little excessive. I do not see a need for six officers, three lady’s attendants, three footmen, Commander Beldwin, Merdwin, and Gwennetha.”
“I wish you to hand over your command to Beldwin once you reach Earth. It is a symbolic gesture, but most importantly, it will tell the Tau'ri that you are taking an extended leave of your command in our service, and are giving up your rank and duties here, to pledge your life and your sword to their cause. It is much the same in regards to Merdwin and Gwennetha. You will hand her the ring of office with Merdwin and the Tau'ri as witness. I do not wish them to think we take their well-being lightly. That I have sent my foremost Warrior and allowed her to leave our service for them may help them understand how important we consider their Earth.”
Kataya sat quietly contemplating what her father had told her. Finally, she nodded thoughtfully, saying, “All right. I understand what you are wishing to convey to them. I will do as you wish.”
“Now for the last thing we need to speak of, my daughter.” He paused and looked as if he was not sure where to begin. “Gwennetha tells me that you believe you may have found your Soulmate. That he is of the Tau’ri this time. Why have you not mentioned this to me during our times together over the last few weeks? Did you not think I would wish to know or be pleased for you? I am pleased for you.”
She sent him a somewhat mischievous look before answering, “Well, I knew that Gwennetha would tell you, and I was waiting to see if you would bring it up to me or question me about it. I am glad you did, but had you not, I would have made sure you knew before we left today. I, too, am pleased, and…excited. It has been a very long time, Father.”
Artereos shook his head at her. “Someday, Kataya, I will not fall for your games. I tell myself that every time and then fall into the next one.” He paused but quickly continued, “However, I sense that there is something connected to your mate that is bothering you. What do you suspect, Carusawyn?”
Kataya contemplated the toe of her shoe, as she gathered her thoughts. “I believe that at least some of the blood I see in the mirror is because of my Soulmate. As you know, the Tau’ri are allies of the Tok’Ra.”
“Yes, I know. You think that you may see your Heartmate again, and that you will need to perform the Sevesh Lok Twin,” he responded to her statements, frowning a little.
“Yes. As you know, I have always believed that I would know if he had died. I do not know why; I simply feel that I would know.” She sighed softly as she contemplated that fact. She did believe she would know and because of that, she did not believe he was dead.
Artereos nodded firmly, agreeing with her, “I, too, believe that you would know, and it is quite possible that a portion of the blood in the mirror could be from that.”
“I do not believe that all of the blood comes from there,” Kataya answered quickly.
“I agree. I do not believe it does either. We shall keep a close watch to see what events begin to become clearer. In time we should have an idea of what to expect.” He stood and took her hands in his. “It is time, Kataya the Warrior. I wish you well in this endeavor. Remember that I love you well.”
“Thank you, my Father. I will do my very best. And you will not forget my love for you.”
She leaned forward, received his embrace and the kiss he placed upon her hair. Good- byes were nothing new to them. She gave him one last look, a brief salute, and left.
Commander Beldwin, Merdwin, and Gwennetha were waiting at the bottom of the steps that led to the Stargate. She greeted them and motioned the guards and attendants to take their positions. The guards would enter first, followed by the attendants with her luggage. Commander Beldwin and Gwennetha would proceed through next. Merdwin would follow, and then Kataya would enter the stone circle last. Kataya stepped forward, input the glyphs for the planet Earth, and pressed the center. The chevrons locked, and the gate activated. Kataya used the stone given to her by Thor. She did not want them all to go splat on the iris.
She turned to her people. “Do not forget. Defensive positions only. They will have no idea of whether it is friend or foe coming through. There will be weapons pointed at us as soon as we pass through to the other side. Do not challenge anyone. Stay at attention until you receive my signal to stand down. Does everyone understand?”
At the nods of agreement, Kataya gave the signal to proceed.
Taking a deep breath, she watched as her people took the initial steps towards their first true meeting with the Tau’ri in over a millennium. After everyone except Merdwin stepped into the undulating blue circle, she walked calmly up the steps with him by her side. He entered first; after waiting for the space of a few heartbeats, she followed him, walking sedately into the pulsating blue of the event horizon.