Chapter Twenty-seven Summary: Daniel and Kataya share the Fire Dance and then Kataya manifests as the Dragon, so that Daniel will know what it is like. Merdwin does a temporary healing on her, and then they go to do some sword practice. After they finish, Sam joins them and has her first sword lesson working in tangent with Kataya. Jack is somewhat appalled at all of the abilities and information that Sam will need to master in seven weeks. Later, Lantash visits Kataya and they come to an agreement.
Amata Tu – I Love You Semper. - Always Et Aevum – For/Into Eternity Aima Coeurawyn - Blood of My Heart Sevesh Lok Twin - Rite of Release of an Entwining Adorato Coeurawyn - Adored of My Heart Adorato Wyn - My Adored One Amat Wyn - My Love Igisadonis Animowyn – Beloved of My Soul “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communication
“Merdwin, I am ready for you to perform the healing rite, and then I wish to do some sword practice. Samantha wishes to attend. I believe it is time that we begin to practice more openly, so that the Tau’ri soldiers will become used to our methods of battle,” Kataya sent to Merdwin.
Merdwin agreed. “I will join you in about half an hour, if that will be all right. I want to let Janet know where I shall be, and I wish for a few words with Garshaw.” He frowned for a moment. “Are you sure you are up to sword practice at this time, Amat Wyn?”
“Half an hour will be fine and so shall I, Merdwin. I will be in Daniel’s quarters. Thank you,” Kataya finished her conversation with Merdwin and turned to Daniel.
“Merdwin will meet with us in a half hour. In the meantime, I would just like to be with you, Igisadonis Animowyn.”
Daniel smiled down at her as they walked toward what was now their quarters. Upon entering their room, Kataya turned and embraced him. His arms went around her, and he became aware of the energy that began to swirl around them. She was summoning the fire. He held his breath, as the energy around them built higher and higher. It had been so long since he had experienced this with her. He brought her body closer to his and clasped her tightly. The pulsing of the energy made him feel as if he was moving, waltzing, and yet, they had not moved. He felt it as it started to recede, and he wished she had taken it to the next few steps, but knew there was no time. This had been the first of the levels to which the fire could take them. It was a gentle romantic prelude to the passion that she could bring forth. This was the dance of friends and cautious lovers who were just finding their way in the sea of passion that could follow.
As it slowly died, he rested his forehead against hers, and cradled her against him. He watched as the stones on her circlet glowed brightly, and he knew she was pulling energy from the Universe. Something she had said suddenly came back to him. “Kataya, you said that Merdwin was going to do a healing rite for you. I thought you said you had to go to Avilion for that,” he said.
She nodded her head, and then explained, “I have given some thought to this situation. There is a way that I may be able to avoid having to make an extra trip to Avilion just for healing. Merdwin, as you know, is an Enchanter, a high priest of the All, and he has the ability to heal. The priests and priestesses are great healers, and they use their own energy, as well as the energy of the universe in healing. Merdwin can do as I wish, without me having to travel to Avilion.”
She paused, and then said, “I can draw great amounts of energy from the universe by manifesting. I have done it before when the necessity arose, as it did after I returned from Bastet’s with Lantash. Once my father and Merdwin returned, they convinced me that I must get well as quickly as possible.”
“We are alone here, and no one can possibly see me except you. In these circumstances, it is safe for me to manifest. I can make a great deal of energy available for Merdwin to work with by doing this, Daniel.” Again, she paused, and seemed to look beyond him for a moment. “I also believe it is only fair that you see what I am. I suppose you could say that my conscience is bothering me. We have talked of power and manifestations, but I have never shown myself to you as the Dragon. I know you love both the Kat-entity side and my human side, but I think you have the right to know what else I am.”
“It will not make a bit of difference to me. I will love you forever, Kataya. You are my eternal mate, no matter what you are. I loved you yesterday, I love you today, and I will love you all of my tomorrows. So, show me, love, and know that it will make no difference to me.”
Kataya smiled tremulously at him and nodded. Even the Dragon could shed tears, could it not?
He watched, as she stepped well back from him and began to manifest. She was a truly magnificent sight. Dangerous and pagan, the power of the Kat entity was there, but other characteristics showed the dragon. Ribbon devices appeared on both arms, but as a part of her, and the circlet around her head was no longer a separate piece that lay on her, it, too, was part of her. All three pieces gleamed golden in the light. Daniel watched, fascinated, as a shield and sword appeared. As the energy swirled higher around her, armor began to appear, clothing her in a tunic made of gleaming iridescent scales, girded in gold.
He watched, breathless, as she pulled large amounts of energy into herself, until she seemed to glow. The energy in the room was so intense; he felt the hair on his arms and head raise slightly. This was more than the benign energy of the Fire Dance, or even the more lethal energy of the Katteri. This was the Dragon of the Fire, and he realized that her abilities to pull energy in this form exceeded greatly anything she was capable of at any other time, even when she manifested as Pantherataya. It was almost as if she became a part of the Universe.
This is what might have saved Dominic had she been able to manifest. It was beautiful, and fearsome, and he could not even imagine what it would look like when she and Sam joined their power and manifested together, but he felt sure that those who witnessed it would be awed.
He watched, as she slowly changed back and looked at him, silently waiting to hear what he had to say. He smiled his sweetest smile and shook his head, “I told you it would make no difference. I still love you. You are always beautiful to me, Aima Coeurawyn, even as the dragon.”
They turned at the knock on the door. It was Merdwin.
“I am ready, Merdwin. I have pulled a great deal of energy, so you will have much to work with. I believe the energy did some healing already, so I am confident that with your help, we can slow much of this, and perhaps procure us the extra time we need.”
“Good.” He indicated that he wished her to lie on the bed, and this she did with Daniel sitting close beside her. All was quiet as Merdwin began the healing rite.
“Carter, are you really all right with all of this? I mean, you know, if you don’t want to go through with it, we’ll just add more firepower. Didn’t you tell us that Kataya said Artereos thinks she could do it alone?” Jack questioned Sam.
“I am fine with it, Sir. I, well, at first I was, I don’t know, in shock I guess. But, I’ve had time now to think about it, and I feel very strongly that I should do it. Maybe they are right, and Kat could do it alone, but I think the All set it up this way for a reason. I think we both need to do this together, to do what has to be done.”
“Do you know yet, Major Carter, what manifesting as the Dragon entails? It is, I assume, an actual change in your physical appearance.”
Sam looked startled, “Well, uh, I don’t know. I mean, I have not thought that far ahead, I have just been getting used to the idea of kind of being part Furling. I just hadn’t given it any thought yet. I, well yeah, I guess it does mean that I will go through some physical change. I guess I really should ask, huh?” She gave him a slight smile as the ideas that Teal’c had raised circled her mind.
“I hope my question did not upset you, Major Carter,” Teal’c said remorsefully.
“No, no,” Then seeing his steady look, she continued, “well, maybe a little, but I am glad you brought it up, Teal’c. I need this kind of information, and the sooner I ask the question, the longer time frame I have to assimilate and accustom myself to what I am told.”
Teal’c bowed his head in silent acknowledgement and agreement with her statement.
“Well, we’ll be there to protect both of you, Carter. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we are going to go about this. Our team will be the largest. I’m looking forward to forming the teams and seeing how all of this is going to work. I just hope we don’t end up with oil and water.”
“I don’t think that will happen, Sir. The Katteri seem to be reasonable people who want to take Bastet out once and for all, and the Tok’Ra want revenge. I think cooperation will be the word of the day.” Sam replied. “Although,” she added, “It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few integration problems at first.”
“Indeed, O’Neill, I, too, would expect very high levels of cooperation between the races. I only hope our Marines are as cooperative as I believe the others will be.”
“Oh, they will be. Anyone who doesn’t give one hundred ten percent will not be on a team, or if they make a team and don’t measure up, they’ll be replaced a.s.a.p. And, I’ve made sure that it’s going to be a big deal if you’re chosen for this mission. I’ve already put it out, on the q.t., of course, that it will be really difficult to land a position on a team. Only the very, ~very~ best will be chosen. You know the marines as well as I do. That is a challenge they won’t refuse.” Jack smirked at his own ingenuity.
“Well, I, for one, am glad that General Hammond agreed to only use volunteers,” Sam said, as she smiled in response to Jack’s evident self-congratulation.
Then, changing the subject, she continued, “Merdwin and Kataya are going to do some sword work. You guys want to go watch with me? I think they finally got the room ready that Merdwin requested for the Katteri to practice in. It has a raised platform and no equipment in it that they could damage. I am really looking forward to finally seeing them together using their swords and energy.”
“When are they going to do this, Major Carter?” Teal’c asked.
“I expect to hear from them quite soon. I am just waiting for Kat to contact me. I can’t believe it is only thirteen hundred hours. It seems like we have been here all day already, but at least this should be kind of fun to see. We could head on down there if you want.”
“Sure, why not? Jack answered, as he pushed off from the Lab table against which he was leaning. “Is Marty joining us later?”
“He will if the Tok’Ra get settled, but he thought he should help Dad show them around, help them figure out how to use the mess hall, and answer any questions they might have. They are going to be here for several weeks.” Sighing inwardly, she ignored the Marty that had fallen from Jacks lips.
“Yeah, I know. I’m thrilled,” Jack said, sarcastically.
Sam looked at him for a moment, then shrugged and grinned. The Colonel was the Colonel, and he might never be able to come to terms with the concept of ‘good Goa’uld’. She hoped he would continue to accept her if she ever decided to blend, which she realized was a distinct possibility, now that she was aware of what a wonderful relationship could develop between host and symbiote. It would not be happening any time soon though.
“Samantha, Merdwin has finished the healing rite, and we are on our way to the practice room the General had prepared for us. Bring your sword and circlet in case you wish to join in,” Kataya told her over their link.
“All right. I will go get it. Jack and Teal’c will be with me. Is that a problem?” Sam asked her.
“Not at all. It is time others saw the Katteri method of battle. The door will remain unlocked, so that others can watch as well if they wish to do so,” Kataya assured her that others watching would not be a problem.
“Great. We will be there soon,” Sam answered as the three of them started down the hall.
“We will see you there.” Kataya closed the link after she had agreed. She and Merdwin both wore the traditional Katteri uniform. They chatted amicably with Daniel as they approached the room. Entering it, Merdwin and Kataya examined the platform, which General Hammond ordered built, in the middle of the room. It was quite large giving them plenty of room to maneuver. It was a raised platform so with those practicing above anyone watching, it was less likely that they would injure a spectator. They would be using a mild form of energy, but it was somewhat stronger than they had used in the briefing, when they had demonstrated the energy use of the Katteri. It would not kill anyone, but it would hurt if someone was hit. General Hammond had insisted on the “ropes” around the edge to insure that no one fell off and was hurt. They climbed the steps and took their places facing one another across the open expanse of the platform.
Daniel turned and greeted his teammates as they entered. Jack threw a jaunty salute to Merdwin and grinned at him. “Okay, let’s see what it is you can do with that thing, Merdwin.”
Merdwin bowed toward him and turned toward Kataya. They came to attention and saluted one another across the platform. Merdwin began suddenly, sending a bolt straight at Kataya who deftly caught it, enhanced it, and went on the attack. As she sent bolt after bolt towards him and he retaliated, they both manifested, as Teal’c had once speculated, into complete Katteri-enti.
The group that had come in with them soon lost the lightheartedness and smiles they had begun the session with. This was no playful tossing of energy bolts; this was a practice session in earnest. As the energy blasts began to ricochet off the walls, the noise began to attract other spectators. Marines and Airmen began to come in and watch. You could feel the energy in the air. It seemed charged with it.
Suddenly, one of Kataya’s bolts made it through Merdwin’s defenses and struck him on the shoulder, spinning him around. He fought back violently, and as she parried his streams of energy, they flew around the room leaving some small black spots on the walls. Those watching soon began to duck out of the way, as the fighting became even more intense. It seemed as if the two locked in battle had forgotten they had anyone watching.
Daniel stood tense and still, watching. Sam, also, seemed lost in the intricacies of what she was seeing. Martouf came to stand close beside her, and he realized that she was totally immersed in what she was witnessing. He also realized that her sword was glowing softly. He touched her arm and pointed to her sword. She stared at him, for a moment, before following his gesture and seeing what was happening.
She stopped the seeping of her energy as she had been taught to do. She realized that she needed to become more in tune with her own energy pulses, so that she had more control of her abilities. Grimly, she realized that she had a great deal to learn.
As one of Merdwin’s shots caught Kataya, Daniel jerked, but forced himself not to move toward her. He closed his eyes for a moment. This was what she did, and he would not interfere no matter how difficult it was to stand by and do nothing.
If anything, the shot that hit her made the fighting more furious. Now, both were taking occasional hits. At times, it looked as if they were performing some odd, dangerous dance. As the pulses of light began to dim, the two combatants came to a halt, both leaning forward on their swords and breathing heavily.
When his breathing leveled off, Merdwin said, “You have improved tenfold since last we paired to practice, Kataya. No wonder they fear you so in the Pegacian System. Artereos spoke truth when he said you have become formidable. Never before have you broken through my guard so quickly and easily. I will look forward to facing you once again in battle when you are at full strength. I congratulate and salute you.”
“It was a good practice session, Merdwin, thank you. You have lost none of your expertise.” Kataya’s voice held admiration.
Jack turned to face the men and women who had been spectators at the practice session. He wasn’t surprised at the somewhat stunned looks that some of them had on their faces. What they had seen Teal’c and him do had not prepared them for this. “You all need to know that if you are chosen for a mission with one of our Katteri allies, you will become very familiar with their method of fighting. However, that is for another time. For now, the show is over, folks.” He turned back to Merdwin and Kataya, who were holding a low- voiced conversation with Sam.
“Samantha, you have learned much already. When you work with Artereos, you will see how very quickly you will pick up that which you need to know. You will be quite capable of doing this. It only seems impossible to you now, because you have had very little true training. You will be fine, I promise you,” Merdwin was saying to her.
“I thought I was picking it up fairly quickly, but you guys…” she left her sentence hang, unfinished, in the air between them.
“Samantha,” Merdwin said softly, “You have just witnessed two of the very best, even if I am the one to tell you so. You share soul threads with one of them, and through those threads, you descend from the greatest Katteri Warrior there has ever been. Your soul’s father, also, is a great Katteri Warrior. You will learn quickly and well, I have no doubt, whatsoever.”
Sam drew a shaky breath, saying, “I will just have to have faith that you are correct in this. So far, neither you, nor Kataya, have been wrong about what I can do. Do you know yet when we are to go to Avilion? It will be soon won’t it? There is so much I have to learn, in such a short time.”
“I am not sure. It depends on some other things, as you know. We need to finish the meeting with the Tok’Ra for one, and you need a little time to assimilate all you have learned today. Do not feel you must rush into this, for I promise you, the abilities, and learning to use them, will come quickly, once we are at Avilion and the joining takes place,” Merdwin responded, calmly.
Smoothly, he changed the subject to a more innocuous, less stressful one. “We will probably make our decision on who to offer the assignment to when I return to Avilion, although I am sure that Artereos has many in mind. We will often offer an assignment to many more than is needed, so that we can choose the very best suited to it.”
“Most Katteri are willing to undertake difficult assignments, if they feel they are at all qualified for the one offered.” As he rambled on, talking of the process the Katteri used to choose those sent on assignments, his low tone and calm demeanor were having the desired effect on Sam. She was listening, and no longer did she look shocked to think of all she must learn in a few short weeks. Kataya turned to her.
“I think we should have a little practice now that the others have gone. Not the type that Merdwin and I were doing just now, Sam. I think we should try a little teamwork. You and I should see how well we can work together at this point, against Merdwin. We will use a low energy level, and we will take it slowly at first, so that you can get a feel for what we need to learn to do together.”
Sam looked startled for a moment, but then she nodded her head in agreement. She needed this type of practice. She was getting better with the sword, but she needed to be able to use it in conjunction with Kataya. The three climbed the steps. They saluted one another to indicate their readiness to begin.
The session began slowly, with both Kataya and Merdwin giving pointers to Sam. Soon, the two women began to work more closely together. Occasionally, Sam and Kataya worked in perfect harmony. It was not long before Merdwin manifested, in order to defend himself more adequately. Sam realized that her movements were much smoother and more controlled than they were when she simply practiced by herself, or with one of them. It was as if the thread that linked her to Kataya was allowing her to be more aware and attuned to what was happening.
“How in the hell is Carter gonna learn all that stuff in, what, seven and a half weeks?” O’ Neill said, in an undertone to Teal’c. “I mean, you saw Mer and Kataya together, T. What are we asking Carter to do?” O’Neill, asked, his voice rough with concern.
“If our reading of the situation is correct, we have little choice in the matter, O’Neill. However, I do not think you should underestimate Major Carter’s abilities. She is doing quite well for her first time with the two of them,” Teal’c replied.
“Well, yeah, but they aren’t using a fraction of their abilities, Teal’c. They’re just playing catch compared to what we saw earlier,” Jack responded.
“I disagree, Jack,” Daniel entered the low-toned conversation. “Merdwin has had to manifest in order to protect himself. When they were just throwing energy around, he didn’t have to do that.”
“Samantha will be trained by Kataya, Merdwin, and Artereos. I realize you do not understand what that means, but you must believe me that she will have the best instruction possible. There is no greater Katteri Warrior than Artereos, and to be a pupil of his is a great honor. She will be envied by many of the aspiring young warriors,” Lantash said, as he entered the conversation.
“I know, however, that it will be severely taxing on her physically. I cannot think of something to compare it to unless it would be the Jaffa training camps, with kinder officers, of course. She will be trained in the art of sword work until she drops from exhaustion. She will be pushed beyond anything she thought her body could endure, and then, when she has rested, she will start all over,” his tone and words deliberate and measured, Lantash informed them of what he knew to be part of the training.
He continued in the same manner, as he outlined more of what would be expected of Sam, “She will be taught to master the ribbons, as well as the dagger and sword. She will learn to control her energy and use it to its best advantage. The circlet will become a part of her to the point that she will feel incomplete without it. To throw and maintain a personal shield will be paramount in her training, I am sure.”
“She will be taught to use her senses to determine if the threat is real, or illusion and she will learn to walk in, smell, hear, and feel the air and her surroundings like a cat. Sensing things will become second nature to her. To perform blind is the ultimate skill. She will be expected to accomplish it,” Lantash left nothing out that he could remember of the training of a Katteri.
“And you’re willing to let her go through this?” Jack questioned, in the same low tone, so as not to be overheard.
“To be the Dragon and face Bastet/Morgasha, without those skills, is to kill her. You may as well take her out and shoot her now, for her death would be just as assured. I would rather see her exhausted and crying with fatigue now, than to see her lying dead in my arms later, Colonel O’Neill,” Lantash responded, in a clipped tone, his reply blunt and honest.
“You really have no idea of what we are going to be facing. I have faced Bastet before, and she is a formidable opponent. Moreover, that was with Morgasha not bothering to take part in Bastet’s activities. I faced only the Goa’uld part of their partnership. With the two of them working together, she will be beyond anything you, or I, have ever seen,” he continued inexorably.
Eyes narrowing, Jack stared at Lantash, as he asked, “How do you know all of this, anyway? You didn’t become a Katteri-enti, did you?” Jack frowned, as he gave that some thought.
“No, Colonel, if one is not born with a Furling soul, one must go through the fire and be reborn to do that; however, I am Kataya’s Heartmate, and I watched as she began the training of our son and daughter. I am Tok’Ra, O’Neill, and, yet, I thought it excessively stringent. I took her to task once for being so exacting on our children. She took me on a mental trip through the battles and assignments she has had. I never again asked her to be less stringent. Training, as you know from your own experience, is paramount to success in many instances.”
“I think he is right, Jack. Look, I admit my memories are spotty at best, but I do remember enough to know that Sam is going to go through a training that makes our boot camp look like kindergarten, and she is going to do it quickly. She needs our support and encouragement, not a lot of negativity, okay? Please, Jack, trust Merdwin and Kataya on this. They know what they are doing.”
“I agree, O’Neill. I, too, am distressed at what Major Carter will have to undergo. I would, however, agree with Lantash that I would prefer that she be as well prepared as possible,” Teal’c added to the conversation.
“Well, did anyone consider that she doesn’t have to face this thing as a dragon? That she can just be Major Carter, USAF, and use traditional ways to fight this Goa’uld, or Furling, or whatever it is?” Jack hissed quietly.
Teal’c looked at him for a moment, and then said, “I am sure she could, O’Neill, but convincing her of that would not be easy. I imagine it would, in fact, be most difficult, if not impossible.”
“I really think this decision is up to Sam. We can’t make it for her, any more than she could make it for us. She needs us to be there for her, Jack, that will mean more to her and help her more than anything else. Truly,” Daniel nodded his head decisively, as he stated his view.
Jack sighed, “I guess you’re right.”
Sam realized they were not using all of their strength and ability, now. True, Merdwin had manifested, but she had seen him just minutes ago against Kataya. It was obvious he was holding back. They gave the signal to stop, and she worked to control the energy that was pouring into the sword. She was really tired.
Walking slowly down the steps of the platform, she found herself wondering how Kataya was expending all this energy. She frowned to herself. Merdwin had performed the healing rite, but she knew from what she had learned while linked to Kat earlier that it was a stopgap measure at best. She sighed to herself. Lantash had to do the Sevesh Lok Twin soon. She knew that Selmak had explained to Lantash and Martouf about Dominic’s soul, and that they felt that it was causing the problem. Surely, he would now be able to work through this and allow Merdwin to perform the rite.
Joining the group, she was surprised when the Colonel said, “So, Carter, whadda ya think? Still want to do this? I mean, do you know what the training for this is like or anything?”
“Yes, sir, I know. I shared Kataya’s memories of her Katteri-enti training. It will be extremely difficult. I am aware, Sir; I am not going into it blind. At least,” she sighed, “not yet.”
“Carter, you don’t have to…”
“Yes. Sir. I do. I have to do this. I will be fine, really, but thank you for being concerned,” Sam said.
No one noticed that Kataya had suddenly turned very pale. Standing in the shadows at one side of the platform, she had not joined the group yet. She said, as she stood back from them, “If no one objects, I believe I will go and rest for a while.” As Daniel turned to her, she smiled at him and shook her head. “You do not need to go with me, Daniel. I really do wish to rest.”
Walking to her, he kissed her lightly. “All right. I need to get some work done on a few things anyway. SG-10 brought some more stuff back for me to go over. Those guys seem to have some kind of radar for finding old manuscripts and artifacts.” He laughed softly, “Not that I am complaining.”
As the group turned and headed out the door, Kataya heard O’Neill say, “Hey, anyone want some snacks? All that energy being expended made me hungry.” Hearing the agreement from the other members of the group, she turned and walked sedately toward Daniel’s quarters.
Once there, she showered, changed, and then began to meditate to replenish the energy she had used earlier. It had been harder on her than she had expected, and that worried her. She did not feel comfortable manifesting as the Dragon often. While it was not unusual for a sudden drawing of energy to happen in the universe, she could not continue to do it here, for a frequent large draw in the same place might be detected.
When the knock on the door came, Kataya called out to whomever it was to come in, as she stood and faced the door. She was unprepared to see Lantash standing there.
Taking a deep breath, she said, “Lantash. I was not expecting you.”
“I have come for an explanation of why you would not trust me enough to tell me what happened in Bastet’s stronghold.”
Kataya sighed. “Selmak, I suppose?” She asked him.
“Yes. He told me everything. Why, Kataya? Why?”
“If he told you everything, then he told you why. I made a promise, Lantash, and we did have legitimate fears for you. In later years, I would have told you if I could. Perhaps I told Selmak because I suspected he would tell you. I do not know. What I do know is that, at the time, I would not take the chance. I could not lose both of you, Lantash. You meant too much to me. If it meant that you believed a falsehood, so be it.”
As he stood facing her, it was obvious he was thinking of the past. At last, he spoke. “I loved you too much to have taken my life, regardless, Kataya. Although it would have taken time for me to believe that Dominic would prefer to join with me, instead of living another life, I would not have left you alone. Eventually, it would have become a comfort to me to know that he was living on in me, truly joined to me as one soul. As I am sure it will soon now that I know of it.”
“Although there was the possibility that you would have responded in that way, I could not, indeed, would not, take that chance, Lantash. You were too important to me. I saw Dominic’s face, I heard his voice, and I searched his mind and his heart. This truly was his choice. He wanted to join completely with you. He had no desire to live again without you or I. Dominic sincerely desired to join with you and had done so for a very long time, Lantash. This was not something he decided at the end, if that is something that is causing you to remain unsettled and unsure. Nor was his mind clouded; it was quite clear, and he knew exactly what he was asking me to do. He always meant to join with you eventually. I saw it within him. It was a desire that was within his very essence. Had your lives remained together until he died a natural death, his request to the All would have been to become a part of your soul.”
“The All would have allowed it, Tash. I know that because it allowed me to carry it without taking it from me, and it allowed the spinning of it into the pattern of yours at Avilion. Had it not have been willing to join the two of you, it would not have allowed any of that. Although Dominic seemed to believe that I could keep his soul from entering the All upon his death, the truth is that it would have intervened if it felt that he did not genuinely desire to join with you so completely. So there is your ultimate truth and proof.”
Lantash blinked quickly as he swallowed almost convulsively. When he could at last control his voice, he told her softly, “Thank you for those words, Kataya. Even though Selmak told me that you were sure it was what he wanted, I was still somewhat unsure of his statement’s veracity.” He shook his head, as he assured her, “I do not mean that I thought Selmak was lying to me, only that he might not have his facts completely correct. I knew that he believed what he was telling me was true. I am…grateful…that you have told me of his deepest wishes. Evidentially he never allowed those thoughts to move out of his private place or I would have known of his desire. Thank you, also, for pointing out that the All would have stopped it if it had not honestly been his desire to be reborn within my soul.”
Kataya smiled slightly, as she told him, “He was afraid that you would attempt to dissuade him from his desire to join with you. I am sure that had you continued together he would have told you eventually. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to do so. His love for you was very deep, Lantash. I know you are aware of that fact.”
Some of the tension appeared to leave his shoulders, and his face relaxed somewhat, until he returned to the subject they were originally discussing. He shook his head, as he said, “While I am immensely relieved and pleased to know about his true wishes, I still do not really understand why you did not tell me; why neither of you trusted me and my love of you. Dominic’s love for you was as deep as his love of me, Kataya. I do not believe his soul would have allowed me to leave you in such a way, even had I been inclined too. When you add his love to the love I have for you, then in truth, I do not see how I could have done as the two of you feared. Just the thought, would have been enough to tear out my own heart.”
His eyes were desolate and full of grief, as he recalled the time of Bastet and the outcome of their mission. Bringing his thoughts back from the past, his voice still exposed the anguish he was feeling as he told her, “You have no idea what Justin had to live through those first months and years, and then to have to live, also, through your leaving and taking the kits—” He shuddered, at the remembered emotional agony they experienced together.
He looked at her bleakly, as he tried to remember that, perhaps, Dominic’s soul was making the parting worse than it should have been. He realized that it would have been a painful thing to face, in and of itself, but with this added tie to her, he was having a very difficult time working through it.
Lantash paced the floor as he contemplated the situation. When his path brought him near to her, he stopped and drew in his breath sharply. The pull between them was there, and it was as strong as it had always been. He could feel it moving him forward to stand before her.
As he breathed in the scent that was hers, he closed his eyes for a moment, as his emotions roiled, and swirled through him. Even though they were not touching, he could feel the answering tremor run through her and his breath caught in his throat, bringing more of her scent to his already intoxicated senses. She was feeling it, too, he could tell. The look on her face and in her eyes, said it; although, she refused to say the words. As he watched her, she drew in a breath, closed her eyes, and turned away from him.
Time seemed to stand still, and then move backwards at light speed. Suddenly, the intervening years were as if they had never happened; they had never existed here on this plane of existence. Nothing had changed…nothing. She was all he had ever needed, wanted, craved, and he wanted and desired her now. No matter that they had been together for eighty years. Those years were as nothing; she could still stir him to a passion so strong, it would overcome anyone or anything. He was faintly aware of his host protesting, but he paid him no heed.
As if in a trance, Lantash reached for her. He slid one arm around her waist and pulled her back against him. He lowered his head to her shoulder and nipped at her lightly. Gently, sensuously, he nuzzled her ear, and then ran his lips across the silken softness of her throat. She tasted sweet, and what seemed to be a hundred, a thousand, a million memories clamored at his mind, and pierced his heart. He remembered this silky softness, this captivating scent, and his mind clouded even more with his need to once again hold and caress her, to bring her to the heights he remembered they had reached. Dear Goddess, but she felt so right, so good in his arms.
When he became aware of the shivers coursing through her from his touch, he turned her to face him. One arm locked her to the length of his body, the evidence of his need and passion obvious, as her body molded to his. With the other hand, he grasped her chin, forcing her to look up at him. Her desire for him was there in her eyes and in the trembling of her lips. She desired him as much as he desired her. Their hearts reached for one another as their eyes said what their lips could not. For what seemed to be forever, they continued to look into each other’s eyes. Finally, slowly, he lowered his lips to hers, to savor for the first time, in what now seemed like an eternity, the taste that was Kataya. Dear Universe, it had been so long, so very long. Losing himself to the depth of his emotions, he broke the kiss to nibble at the corner of her mouth and suck gently on her bottom lip.
When she moaned, deep in her throat, he again drank deeply from the well of her lips, kissing her thoroughly and passionately. He had missed her for so long; he had dreamed of her, longed for her, ached for her, and needed her. The feel of her body held close in his arms was driving him beyond reason, beyond coherent thought.
Kataya was immediately caught up in his passion and the love they had once shared, still shared, and she found herself kissing him with all the desire she had always held for him. By the Fire of the Stars, how she wanted him. After all this time, he still had the power to make her tremble with desire. As memories assailed her, she allowed herself the pleasure of caressing the corded muscles of his chest and shoulders. As she stroked the hardness of his body pressed so intimately to hers, it caused her to moan with need of him.
This was Lantash, her Lantash, who had taken her to the edge of the Universe and suspended her there, caught in ecstasy, times out of mind, and the scent and feel of him took the once banked fire of her desire and turned it into a raging burning need. How she had missed him, cried for him, dreamed of him, yearned for him. The feel of his lips, his touch, was almost more than she could bear as the flames within her blood threatened to ignite into a firestorm. She did not want this to end; she never wanted it to end. She could stand here in his arms until the end of time, and it would not be long enough to quench her thirst for him. Except that somewhere within some misty part of her mind, she knew she must tell him to stop. She must stop him or she, no, they, would both regret it forever. That must not be allowed to happen. She would not add yet more pain to that which she had already inflicted on this being who had been so precious to her in the past—and who would remain so into eternity.
Hearing her moan again, his touch gentled and he fanned his fingers out along one side of her face, while his thumb softly caressed her other cheek. As his lips sought and found her throat once again, he lowered his hand to unfasten her shirt, and realized she was moaning, not in passion this time, but almost in despair, and telling him not to do it, that it was a betrayal of everyone. At the same time, he became aware of Martouf talking to him angrily.
Martouf. The Goddess help him, Martouf; not Dominic, not Justin, and Kataya no longer belonged to him alone. By the Mysts of the All, what was he doing? Had he completely lost his mind? He rested his forehead against Kataya’s and drew in a shaking breath. His entire body trembled as his desire for her continued to writhe through it, burning him, its flames licking furiously at his mind and his heart as well as his physical being. It was all he could do to remain upright.
He did not know how long they stood together in each other’s arms, holding each other almost desperately, not moving and barely breathing, as they each fought their emotions, forcing them back where they belonged. He realized that Martouf was telling him something, urgently. He needed to do something, something important. It was the reason he had sought her out, not this. This was what was making it so very hard to relinquish his vows to her, and now that he knew about Dominic, he needed to force that part of him to see the truth. This love was strong, but it was not as strong as the love he had for Samantha. Martouf was correct; they must do what they had come to do. What is more, he would do it, but not just yet. Not until he was sure that he had his emotions under control enough to be able to talk to her without reigniting and giving in to his calming, but still inflamed libido.
Still forehead-to-forehead, and body to body, he slowly began to loosen his hold on her, as she was also attempting to do with him. “I am sorry, Kataya. Dear Universe, I am so sorry,” he whispered, brokenly.
“I know,” she said, “and I understand, for I feel it, too, as deeply and strongly as I always have with you. I truly believe that our love is a living thing, Lantash and it was only to be expected that it would attempt to join its other half. Please, do not be harsh on either of us, Adorato Wyn. I honestly believe that it was fated to happen at some point. There is no need to either apologize or feel remorse. We both wanted and needed to meet and allow our hearts to entwine once again. The more we denied and refused it, the more insistent it would have become. Now, we must go forward. We do not have to forget it happened, but we can and we must set it aside and go on from here, Amat Wyn.”
Without relinquishing his hold on her, he leaned back and looked into her eyes. “I wish to see into your heart, Kataya. It is my right, as the adored of your heart. You cannot refuse this to me.”
“Then you are without honor.”
“That is untrue.”
“Then show me that which I seek to know.” His voice sank to a husky whisper, “Show me.”
Bowing her head, Kataya closed her eyes and sighed. She trembled slightly, and then seeming to come to some conclusion, she raised her head and looked into his eyes. Their gazes locked, she slowly reached for his hand and placed it over her heart.
“The knowing that you seek is within—look deeply, immerse yourself into my body—feel the blood in my veins, feel my heart, see it, Lantash.”
Lantash’s eyes opened wider, as if he was surprised. Strangled sound came from his lips, then a gasp, as if he was fighting for breath. He moaned, deep in this throat. “Kataya— no.”
“Deeper Lantash—you must see all of it.” She leaned slowly forward and brought their foreheads together. The amethyst and the ruby in the golden chain encircling her head began to glow.
With a deep moan, Lantash tore his head and hand free of her, pulling in great breaths of air. He looked at her and she smiled sadly.
“I tried to stop you, my adored one. I did not want you to have to see and feel this.”
Lantash struggled to speak, “Kataya, there is such pain. I do not understand.”
“Yes, you do. I love you. I have loved you for 200 years. You are the adored of my heart. You were the adored one yesterday, you are so today, and you will remain so forever. Our hearts are entwined, but you love another now, even as I do.”
“You love Samantha, Lantash. Remember that everything you could see in my heart, I could see in yours. She is your Soulmate; the two of you are meant to be. You know it is so. You have mated, bonded, with Samantha, which is as it should be, just as I have mated and bonded with my Daniel.”
Lantash whispered, fiercely, “I know. I know and yet, I cannot bring my heart and soul to break our vows.”
She whispered, brokenly. “We gave to each other much happiness, while we awaited our Soulmates, Lantash, but now they are here, and we must be with them. We will always adore one another, but it will not be in the same passionate way that binds us now. Our love was a wonderful and joyful thing, and it can be so again in a different way.”
“You are the adored of my Heart, the adored one. How am I to feel about breaking these vows to you? How do I reconcile my heart to that? My soul tells me it is wrong to abandon the vows I made to you, now that you are near.”
“Neither of us need feel either shame or guilt, with the breaking of our vows. It is as it was meant to be. You felt my heart. Giving up the passionate bond between us will be one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but staying bound to you in this way, when both of us love another—” her voiced became choked with tears. “Please, Adorato Coeurawyn, do not do this to us. Allow Merdwin to perform the Sevesh Lok Twin,” she pleaded with him to understand and agree to the change in their relationship.
Lantash once again paced the room, as his mind grappled with all that he had learned, and now, was feeling, today. “I know in my mind that what you say is true, and we must break the vows we made. I believe it is inevitable, and yet, I cannot yet accept it.”
He paused in his pacing and looked at Kataya. As he did so, Kataya placed her hand on his arm saying, “Adorato Coeurawyn, I will not again belittle what we had together by telling you it meant nothing to me. You know that was a lie, and you are aware of how much I love you still.”
She sighed, and then continued, “Tash, you are not alone in your feelings. I must constantly remind myself that all I am truly giving up is the passion that lies between us. For in truth, that is all we will give up. Our love for one another will not be gone, it will be as strong as ever, and we will remain loving friends for all time. Just as Daniel and Samantha will.”
Again, she paused, before continuing, her voice soft, but firm with conviction, “I will love you, Lantash, always. Nothing will change that. I promise you.”
Lantash looked down into her face, and for the first time, he believed he could soon bring himself to sever their tie. “I will agree to do it, but not just yet, Adorata Coeurawyn. Soon, I promise, but—please, not—not just yet.”
Understanding that he needed time to absorb all he had learned this day and to think about everything, she said, “All right, but Lantash, my time grows short. You felt my heart, and you know what is happening to me. We must do this soon.” She sighed softly. “I must rest now, Tash. I am so very tired, physically and emotionally.”
Lifting slightly shaking fingers, he brushed them softly and gently along her cheek. Then, with one last look at her, Lantash turned and walked to the door. Reaching it, he paused with his back to her, and said, “Kataya. Amata Tu Semper. Et Aevum.” Without turning, he opened the door, stepped through it into the corridor, and softly closed it behind him.
Once he was gone, Kataya sank to the floor, drained. “Amata Tu Semper. Et Aevum, Lantash, Amat Wyn,” she whispered, as she watched a pink-tinged tear fall onto her hand. Time was indeed growing short.