Chapter Thirty-three Summary: - Chapter Thirty-three Summary - As Merdwin and the Priestesses work to keep Kataya alive, Daniel has a discussion with Kataya's daughter, Gwennetha, that causes him do some serious thinking about his attitude towards Lantash. Lantash and Daniel come to terms with their feelings about one another and the fact that they love the same women. They begin to build the foundation for a deep and serious future relationship. (This will become very important in the future.) Kataya and Lantash finally come to terms with the need for their "divorce," and say good-bye as only true lovers can.
Igisadonis Animawyn - Beloved of My Soul Aima Coeurawyn - Blood of My Heart Sevesh Lok Twin - Rite of Release of an Entwining Adorato Coeurawyn - Adored of My Heart Amat Wyn - My Love Coeurawyn - My Heart Sevesh’en Twine Coeuramator - Entwining of the Heartmates Amata Tu Semper – I Love You. Et Aevum – Into/For Eternity “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic communications
The group of Tok’Ra, Tau’ri, and Furling walked across a courtyard and began to climb the steps that led to the large wooden doors. Once they all arrived there, Gwennetha opened one and then led them across an immense great hall, to another set of stairs, and thence to what looked like a small room, but which was apparently a transporter of some type. Stepping out of the room, Jack looked out a long narrow window, and realized they were near the top of the structure. They walked down another immense high domed hall to more large wooden doors that she opened and then motioned them to enter.
Seated inside, on a comfortable looking sofa, was Daniel; however, he looked anything but comfortable. He sat with his elbows on his knees and his bent head resting in his hands. Sam sat next to him and slowly rubbed his back. Martouf stood behind them looking somewhat lost and very much alone. It was obvious that he was under a great deal of emotional distress, as were the other two people in the room. As they entered, they heard Daniel saying, “Sam, Lantash needs you more than I do. Please, go to him. You are his mate, and I really will be all right, I promise you. Go on, go.”
“That is what you always say, Daniel,” Jack said, as he made his way over to his friend. “And what is even more astonishing is that you always are.”
Now that Jack was here, Sam promptly got up and made her way to Lantash. She had been dividing her time between the two of them, trying to comfort both. When one requested she see to the other, she had gone to them, and somehow, they each had seemed to draw both strength and comfort from her. She was relieved that Jack and Teal’ c were finally here. She could safely leave Daniel to them. Coming up to Martouf, she placed her arms around him and gave him a brief, hard hug. “Merdwin said, she will be all right, Lantash,” she tried to reassure him through Martouf.
Lantash took control, replying, “No thanks to me. If it were not for Martouf, I would have let Daniel kill me. At least then, she would be free and not slowly bleeding to death,” he said, his voice bitter with regret.
Samantha sighed. She really could not dispute what he said. If he had agreed sooner this would not have happened. Although, perhaps Kat should have told him she was bleeding. Of course, telling him would have been against her principles of choice free from pressure. She sighed again, “Kat chose this path, Lantash. She would not thank you for beating yourself up.”
He smiled down at her briefly, “No, she would not, but she is not here to berate me, so you must do it for her, Coeurawyn.”
“And I will,” Sam sighed, as she rested her head against his chest. They stood quietly, each lost in their own thoughts, as they took comfort from one another. Sam rubbed circles on Martouf’s back, much as she had Daniel’s a short time ago. For some reason, that simple gesture was comforting. Perhaps, she thought, because it was a gesture used by mothers to quiet their infants and young children. It was odd how we seemed to take such things with us into adulthood. Rocking oneself for comfort was another thing Sam thought perhaps harked back to childhood and a mother’s comfort. Of course, that did not explain why it was also soothing to the symbiote, unless it comforted them through the host, which, she supposed, was possible.
“Daniel, what happened, do you know? All Janet was able to tell us was that Kataya had started bleeding, and that Lantash has agreed to do the Sevesh Lok Twin thingy,” Jack said, trying to figure out just what had taken place that had caused them all to end up here. “What happened when you got here? What was Merdwin saying?”
“She has known she was running out of time, Jack. Even her father said she needed to do something about it soon. Merdwin didn’t say a lot, only that he thought she would be all right, but,” Daniel stopped speaking, and shook his head. “She was so pale, Jack. She looked as if all her blood had drained out of her. There was so much blood,” he whispered. “I could not tell if she was breathing when we got here, and I could not hold her. Merdwin said that the only thing keeping her alive was his life force, and if I took her from him, she would die,” he continued, his voice harsh with pain.
“If Merdwin said he thought she would be all right, then you probably don’t have anything to be worried about. He is sharp, Daniel, and he knows their abilities; you know, what they can and can’t survive. Maybe you should be a little more optimistic. It sounds like he knew what he was doing,” Jack said, latching onto the most upbeat portion of what he had heard.
“You did not see his face, Jack, or hers.” Suddenly overcome with intense emotion, Daniel was on his feet and heading for the door. As he passed through, out into the hall, Gwennetha motioned the others to stay, and she followed him out. This man was her mother’s Beloved, the mate of her Soul. She firmly believed her mother was not going to die at this time. Kataya the Warrior had a purpose she had yet to fulfill, if she understood the information imparted by Merdwin correctly, and she believed that she did. Furthermore, she arrived alive, and it was very rare for someone to pass after arriving at the Sanctuary.
Therefore, it was up to her to reassure the Beloved One and comfort him, as well as try to stop the anger she felt coming from him, which was directed toward her mother’s mate. She sighed. How complicated her mother’s life had become. Watching the grief descend upon the young man’s features, she went to him to give what comfort she could.
“Daniel,” she said, softly. He spun away from the window he had been gazing out and turned to her. She looked so much like her mother; it took his breath away for a moment.
“You look like your mother,” he said the first thought that came to him.
“So my mirror tells me,” she affirmed, in her soft tranquil voice. “You are my mother’s Beloved,” she continued. “You grieve, and yet nothing has happened for you to grieve over. Do not lose yourself to your fear and sorrow.”
“What? How can you say that? Your mother is dying,” Daniel, pointed out harshly, remembering the pale, still figure that Merdwin had carried in here and with which he had then disappeared. As he had told Jack, he was not even sure she had still been breathing.
“Her life force was not extinguished, Daniel,” Gwennetha reassured him. “She is with the priestesses, and even more importantly, Merdwin is also with her. I believe you are familiar with the saying where there is life there is hope. Surely, you do not believe my mother would leave you or this space in time, easily. She has much yet to do in this life. She will return to you,” she told him with conviction.
“How can you be so calm? So, so, unemotional? Don’t you care?” He demanded.
Moving closer to him, she touched his arm, and he felt her touch his mind briefly before withdrawing. He frowned. She had not read his mind, simply touched it.
“My mother once told me that you had a beautiful soul. She spoke truth.” Turning, she walked to one of the window seats and motioned him to join her there. “Many can see the unicorn, but few can feed it. My mother, as you are well aware, is one of the few. You, also, have always been able to walk amongst them at will and without fear.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” He asked, tersely.
“You do not remember, but you will,” she sighed, and then answered his earlier questions.
“Daniel, I am calm because a storm does not rage here when there is no need of rain. I am unemotional because, soon, it will be my time to sustain my mother and work to heal her. If I use my energy to become distraught over her, then I cannot function to help her,” she pointed out.
“There is a message in there for me, isn’t there?” He asked quietly.
“Only if you see one,” came the soft reply. “I care deeply, but my mother will not be gone from us forever if she dies. We will be together again. My caring is more for the man who stands and feels alone, although his mate and his friends surround him. The man who simply took his vows to be so binding that he had to work to convince himself that not only was he allowed to break them, but also that he should do so. The man, whose only true transgression, was to love my mother enough to join with her and give her eighty years of happiness. For they were very happy together, Daniel; you should neither envy, nor begrudge them that happiness. Lantash is not to blame for this anymore than my mother is to blame for it. It has happened, and now we deal with the consequences.”
She smiled slightly and laughed gently as she said, in perfect imitation of Kataya, “Gwennetha, it does not matter how large or small the action, there are consequences. Be sure you wish to deal with them before you commit the action, because you shall have to do so. No matter what path you choose, you will have to deal with what you find at the end, as well as what you find along the way. I wish I knew how many times I have heard that from her lips.” Sighing gently, she said, “I am trying to tell you that she was aware of the consequences of her actions, and she was willing to pay the price. Do not dishonor her by belittling what she was trying to do.”
Daniel looked at his mate’s daughter and saw her mother again, not in her features this time, but in her attitude and beliefs. This could have been Kataya talking to him.
“You are telling me to forgive Lantash, and stop blaming him because Kataya chose this path herself,” he said.
“Yes, I am,” she said frankly.
“I don’t know if I can. She was trying to do the right thing. I am not sure he was,” Daniel rubbed his temples, as he thought about what she had said. Sighing himself, he turned to face her and said as straightforwardly as he could, “I keep asking myself, why? Why didn’t he just agree to it once he realized that Sam was his Soulmate? Why did he insist on staying entwined with Kataya?”
“You have not remembered the rites, have you? The joining and entwining?”
“No. No, I have not. I have tried, and I have had impressions, but I have not been able to actually remember what they entail completely,” he agreed, in his honest way.
“Perhaps that is where the answer lies, at least in part,” she told him, softly.
“Kataya went through the same rites he did, and she was ready to do it,” Daniel replied directly.
“She had much time to grow accustomed to the idea. Do not forget that she knew many months ago that you were her Soulmate, and that if Lantash still lived and was near, she would have to go through the Sevesh Lok Twin. He has only had a day or so to come to that conclusion. I also believe that there is no one all-encompassing reason, but a myriad of reasons, which all touch on one another, as to why things have happened as they have. You must understand that for Lantash, it was neither black nor yet white and his thoughts have, no doubt, had trouble integrating all of the threads, to come up with a cohesive picture in order to choose a path. I believe my mother understood this to be so, else she would not have been so patient.”
Daniel leaned back and shut his eyes, “Of course. It had not even occurred to me.”
“Lantash is a good man, a special being, Daniel,” she said earnestly. “He has done nothing wrong. He loves my mother, as you love his Samantha. Perhaps you should try reversing the positions. You are the one entwined with Samantha, whom you have not seen for over one hundred years. Whom you love and will always love. I think it would take your heart time to realize that the love would always remain, that releasing the entwining would not destroy it,” she pointed out.
Daniel nodded, and then stood, “I need to go make an apology. Sam understood it; why didn’t I?” He murmured, almost to himself.
“Samantha had the benefit of the link with my mother. She was able to feel and comprehend the emotions, so she knew what Lantash was feeling. That is all.”
As he held out his hand to her, she placed hers in it and came gracefully to her feet. Leaning forward, she kissed him gently, and said, “She will survive this, Daniel; I have great faith in her. Remember that she loves you greatly, and that she will fight to live for you now that you are together again.” She smiled slightly before continuing, “Moreover, she is at the Sanctuary and she has Merdwin with her. I am not sure she could pass from us even if she wished to do so, not with those two very important circumstances ranged against her.”
“Now, go back inside and help Lantash. After all, you have much in common, for you both love the same women. That alone should forge a bond between you. Each of you is completely capable of understanding how the other feels, for you feel the same things yourself,” she reminded him.
Daniel nodded decisively, “You are right. I have some fence mending to do.” He paused, looking at her, “Thank you. You are very like her, you know.”
“So I am told,” she responded, with a wider smile. “Now go and do what you can for him. He, too, is my mother’s mate, and she loves him. As such, he deserves our respect and understanding. I believe that you have understanding in abundance, and I know that your honesty will insist that you give him the respect he deserves.”
He smiled slightly as he nodded, turned, and re-entered the room.
Daniel quietly joined the group now clustered around the sofa and chairs. He hesitated for a moment, as everyone looked at him, but then he looked directly at Martouf, and said, “I would like to talk to you outside, if you don’t mind. There are some window seats where we can be comfortable,” he said mildly.
Martouf nodded briefly and, without a word, turned to accompany Daniel into the hallway. “Daniel, don’t…” Sam began to say.
“I am not going to. I need to talk to Lantash, just us.” He looked at her earnestly, as he said, “It is important, Sam, to both of us, maybe to all of us. I promise you that when I said talk, talk is exactly what I meant.”
“All right, Daniel,” Sam said. She had always trusted him before, and there was no reason to stop. He had never lied to her, and he would not start now, she knew.
Once outside in the hallway, Daniel led the way to the window seat that he and Gwennetha had just vacated. As they seated themselves, he leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees, his hands dangling between them. Lantash sat quietly, waiting for him to say something.
“As much as I would like to blame you for this, it is not your fault,” Daniel said suddenly. “It is not your fault; it is not Kataya’s fault. Both of you were doing what you considered the right thing. Kataya was willing to accept the consequences, and we have to be too.” Sitting up straight, he looked directly at Lantash, “Do you understand what I am saying?”
“No, I do not. I am obviously to blame. My refusal caused it. If I had simply agreed to do it, we would not all be sitting here now, waiting to see if she will live, or die,” Lantash replied, his voice harsh with bitterness and regret. It was obvious that he had taken the full blame that Daniel had laid on him.
“No, we might be burying you instead; not a viable alternative in my opinion. Kataya would have blamed herself, and Sam would have been in despair, lost and alone.” Daniel shook his head. “That would not have been a better outcome. Besides,” he added, “We are all assuming she is going to die, and as Gwennetha pointed out to me, she has not died, and we are all lamenting something that not only may not, but in all probability, will not happen. Every one of us is expecting the worst, and that may not be what comes to pass at all. Kataya is not one to give up easily, and I don’t believe she is ready to leave this time and space just yet,” he repeated Gwennetha’s words, feeling they were very true of Kataya. He smiled wryly as he continued, “Then too, she also pointed out to me that we are at the Sanctuary, and Merdwin is with her. In her opinion, Kataya could not die even if she wanted to. I am choosing to place my trust in Gwennetha, rather than my runaway imagination.”
Turning completely serious once again, he said to him, “Look, Lantash, all I am saying is that I don’t think you should blame yourself, and I had no right to blame you either. I am sorry I hit you; I was out of line.” As he looked at Lantash, he realized that he had a badly bruised face consisting of an eye that was turning deep purple, and a jaw and cheek that were going to be a perfect color match if he did not do something to stop it. Frowning as he realized this, he asked, “By the way, why haven’t you healed the bruises on your face? They look very painful, and I am sorry.” He paused for a moment before adding, almost humorously, “I am also surprised. You must have allowed that to happen because I doubt very much I could have managed to land more than one punch otherwise,” Daniel said, acknowledging Lantash’s superior strength.
Lantash sent Daniel a sardonic look, “Martouf insists that I leave it to heal on its own, slowly and painfully, as a reminder to me of what I have caused. I did not argue with him about it. He is upset enough over what has happened. Do not forget that, just as the two of us love Kataya, Martouf is also coming to do so. Needless to say, he is extremely distressed. Moreover, you are correct; I did allow it at first, until I realized I had no right to do that to Martouf.”
“And, although you may not realize that I was serious earlier, when I told you that you could kill me if Kataya died, he is well aware that I was very much in earnest,” Lantash answered. The grimness in his voice alerted Daniel to the fact that he was, indeed, serious.
“Well, that is not going to happen, so he can stop worrying about it, and you can stop thinking I would even consider it. As for leaving the bruises, that is all well and good, but the thing is that it is going to upset Kataya. She is going to be upset enough with both of us for arguing, without throwing a visual reminder at her that it actually went beyond argument to physical violence. And I know it is selfish, but since I am the one that attacked you, I really don’t want her reminded of it any more than necessary, y’know?” Daniel said firmly.
Tilting his head as if listening, he said, “Martouf and I had not considered that. Neither of us wish to cause her, or you, any more distress than we already have, so I will begin to work on it at once.”
“I think you waited too long, Adorato Coeurawyn, for I have seen it, and Daniel spoke the truth. However, contrary to what you both expect, since you have obviously punished each other already, I will say no more about it.” Both men jumped to their feet and spun around at the sound of Kataya’s voice coming to them from farther down the great hall. As she walked toward them, both noticed how pale her usually golden skin was. It was obvious that she had bathed, and she had on a clean gown, so there was no outward sign of what had occurred.
Reaching them, she let her hand lay softly against Lantash’s skin over one bruise and then the other. “Now you may finish the healing process, Lantash,” she said gently.
“You took the pain,” he said softly, “Why?”
“Because you do not deserve to feel it any more than I do. Daniel is correct in that also, Amat Wyn, for you are not at fault, and neither am I. You came to the decision on your own, without knowing of the bleeding, so I am hoping you are truly ready to go through the Sevesh Lok Twin.”
“Kataya, do the others know that you are all right?” Daniel asked.
“Merdwin should be with them by now. Please remember to thank him and Samantha, Daniel, for without their help things might have turned out differently,” she said warmly, realizing he was intending to leave her and Lantash alone.
“I will. We will wait for you inside. Kataya, take the time you need, if you can. I will tell Sam,” Daniel nodded decisively, as he turned to go back into the room. Just before entering it, he turned to Lantash, “Listen to her, and know that I, too, understand what you are feeling, just as Sam does. We will see you both after while.”
Lantash looked bewildered, as he turned to Kataya, saying, “I do not believe I understand. What did Daniel mean?”
Kataya looked at him and turning toward the room they had arrived in, she said, “I believe that he just indicated that we should take some time together before we say good- bye to the part of us, which we have agreed we must release. A lover’s good-bye, so to speak. Come, Lantash, walk with me, and we shall say goodbye as lovers that we may be reborn as loving friends. Come.”
Stepping inside the room from the hall, Lantash was surprised to find himself in a garden. As he looked around, he realized they were in the garden they had often walked in before. He stepped forward and followed her silently down a path that he did not remember. At the end of the path, the forest started. Standing at its edge was a large unicorn. He watched as Kataya moved to it, offered it something, took a golden bridle from the garden wall, and threw it over the animal’s head. Leading it to some steps, she mounted and then turned to him.
“Come, Adorato Coeurawyn, and we shall ride the wind and dance in the fire for the last time as lovers.”
As if in a trance, Lantash followed her, mounted behind her, and clasped her waist. She released the reins, the unicorn bounded forward, and soon it did seem as if they were riding the wind, although they never left the ground. All too soon, it was over, and they were in a beautiful wooded glen. Dropping the reins to the ground, they dismounted, and Kataya removed the bridle, allowing the animal to graze. She turned to Lantash and led him into the gazebo that was there.
Standing in the center of it in a circle on the floor, she took his hands, placed them at her waist, and placed her hands on his chest. Closing her eyes and throwing her head back, she began to summon the fire. It was not the sweet gentle fire she had shared with Daniel just the day before, but the raging passionate fire of lovers who knew each other well and reveled in one another.
And so, they stood as the fire took them to completion, and as it died, Lantash stood with his head bowed and his breathing ragged. “I had forgotten. Why?” He asked, almost helplessly, trying to understand.
“Hush, Adorato Coeurawyn, for it is over at last, and we have joined for the final time. The next time you experience the fire, it will be with Samantha, as it should be, and I shall be with Daniel, also as it should be.”
“Why did you do this?” He asked her.
“Because it will allow you to know that I will always have you in my heart, as I will always be in yours. You did nothing wrong, in waiting to decide, Lantash. Our love is a mighty one, full of passion and desire. We have always known that it was one of the most intense of the Heartmate bindings.” Taking his hand, she said, “Come, let us sit, for there are things you should know, and now that you have agreed to the releasing rite, I will tell you.”
As they sat on the seat and faced one another, hands locked together she began, “We talked of Soulmates and Dayillon, when we were together, but you should know how that pertains to us. You know some of this story, but let me tell it from the beginning, please.”
Looking into the past, she said, “In my first living, I fell in love with a young man named Dayillon. Our souls knew one another, and we became lovers and bonded as Soulmates do. For millennia, our souls sought and found one another, although each of us had other lovers during the lonely times.”
“These others were lovers, and they were cared about, but most were never deeply loved. Then a terrible thing happened. One living, I was to have kits, and Dayillon and I were attacked. I lost the kits, and Dayillon blamed himself. He went after those that had caused this, and in the ensuing battle, he died, and after taking my revenge, I too, died. When I was reborn, I waited long years for my love, but still he was not there. He never returned to me.”
“Centuries passed, and one day I met a wonderful man and his symbiote, and they came to love me deeply. The more we were together, the more love I had for them, until our love became as a living thing. Never in the three hundred years since Dayillon’s death, had I loved so very much, and since I had come to believe Dayillon was never coming back, I thought to take the lover as a Soulmate. In the end, I thought better of it, but still chose to entwine with my Heartmate, to bind myself to him in the ways of the entwining rites of my people, and to be bound to him always, into eternity. And we were happy.”
Smiling gently, she said to him, “We were happy, Lantash, and for those years, I am so grateful. I was truly blessed, when I found you to love me, for once your love is given, you do not abandon that love lightly or quickly. And neither do I.”
“What I am trying to tell you is that the binding we went through was very intense. When the priest entwined our blood and our auras, extra twists and bindings appeared that should not have. Neither of us could have prevented the tightness of the binding, we loved so very deeply. I am so sorry for the pain it has caused and may yet cause you, for truly you do not deserve it. Therefore, you see, it is not your fault that this has happened. This is simply another reason it is so much more difficult for us to part than perhaps it should be.” Taking a deep breath, she told him, “There is also the Prophecy to take into consideration. Had Daniel and I never parted, you and I would not have met and thus we would not yet be approaching the Great Battle. What we had and what we still have was meant to be. We were meant to be deeply and eternally in love. I do not regret a single moment that we were together, Lantash, and I never will.”
Lantash nodded briefly, before saying, “I believe you may be correct. It, too, could be making our parting harder to accomplish than it would be in a normal binding.” He hesitated for a moment and then very quietly he asked, “Dominic?”
Nodding, she acknowledged, “Yes, Dominic’s soul threads do not help at all. They too, have caused you to question the breaking of our vows and bound us even more tightly to one another.Do you understand why you must not blame yourself anymore, Lantash, Amat Wyn?”
Looking down at their entwined hands, he thought of how their hearts were so entwined with one another. His voice husky and low, he said, “Yes, I think I do. Will we—will we truly, always, love each other, Kataya?”
“For eternity, Igisadonis Animawyn, Beloved of my soul.”
“You have never called me that,” he said on a quickly indrawn breath, as he raised his head with a jerk. “That is only for the Soulmate.”
“No, I have not, and I never will again. Nevertheless, know in your heart, between us, that one time I did call you that, for that is what you shall always be to me, and I have always called you so in my heart. My love for you, Lantash, is truly eternal. I would die for you today, as easily as I would have died for you all those years ago.”
“You almost did.”
“What have I done to deserve that two such women love me so? I do not understand,” he whispered.
Kataya chanted a short soft tone, and immediately, the unicorn appeared. She placed something in Lantash’s hand, and said, “Feed it to him.” Once the animal had eaten it, he tossed his head and moved away to start to graze again.
“I do not understand,” Lantash said.
“Only the pure of heart can feed the unicorn, Lantash. You thought you rode it because of me, but you could ride him in your own right. Daniel, also, has the ability, for his soul is pure and beautiful.”
“I am not pure of heart, Kataya. I have wicked thoughts and urges; I am not untouched,” Lantash said quietly.
“Pure of heart, in the manner that we mean it, is simply a way of saying that you strive always to do that which is right and good. We all have evil thoughts, Lantash, but the test is whether we follow through with them, or let them die within us. And if you mean you are not untouched as in being a virgin, then I can tell you truly, that is a myth that should never have grown around the lusty unicorn.”
“You and Daniel both strive to do that which is right, and in so doing your hearts are pure. Truth is purity, Lantash. Striving to see beneath the surface is truth. Furthermore, you have always been truthful to yourself, if not always to others. Daniel and I are the same, and Samantha has learned through her life lessons to be so, also. I know I am not explaining this well, but believe me, Lantash, there is something in both you and Daniel that is good, pure, and incorruptible; that something is rare, and it is to be treasured when it is found.”
“That is what makes Samantha and I love the two of you so very much, so much that either of us would die for either of you. It will always be this way, into eternity, now that Samantha has come into her own. And you love her more than life itself, do you not?”
“Yes, you are correct in what you say of my feelings for Samantha. I truly do not think I would wish to continue living without her.”
Kataya’s voice was intense with emotion, as she answered him, “Should something happen to Samantha, you must promise me that you will not give in to your sorrow. You must continue to live on, and you must promise me that you will see to it that Daniel, also, lives on should something happen to me. It is important that you promise me this, Tash.” He frowned, as he sensed the urgency in her.
“I do not understand. Why do you wish that I promise you this?” He asked.
“Please, just believe that it is important that you both continue to live. You must continue.”
He was puzzled, but he could tell that this was very important to her, so he gave her his word. If anything should happen to either of them, he, Martouf, and Daniel would go on alone.
“Though I have said this to you before, I wish to tell you one last time. As a lover, a Heartmate, and with the depth of the Soulmate between us, I say only to you; Dayillon will always be the true mate of my soul. He is my first love, and he will be my last, if the day ever comes that eternity is not endless. But, the love I hold for you in my heart, shall also beat forevermore. Amata Tu Semper. Et Aevum, Lantash, my truly much loved and adored one.” Then, softly and gently, she asked, “Are you ready now, Adorato Coeurawyn? Shall we break the passionate bond that ties us, so that we may revel in the loves that await us both?”
Standing and holding his hand out to her, he said, “Yes. I am ready now. Truly ready, I believe.” He began to turn away, but something within his heart drew him back. “Aima Coeurawyn, Blood of my heart, I too, will always hold you in my heart in this way, as I always have, though never will I call you so again. Amata Tu Semper, Coeurawyn, Et Aevum.”
Smiling at him through her tears, she nodded her understanding, turned, and led the way to the center of the gazebo. Lantash was surprised to find himself in the same small room that had whisked them away and to the garden.
Waiting for them, was the group they left behind. Stepping forward and bringing herself into Daniel’s waiting arms, she turned to them and said, “Merdwin, we are ready to participate in the Sevesh Lok Twin. We must begin the preparations.”
Merdwin bowed and suggested, “I think another session with the priestesses first would be advisable.”
“Yes, I agree.” Taking Daniel’s hand, she turned to the others and said, “You will all be shown to apartments where you may refresh yourselves, and you will each be given a change of clothing or a robe to wear in case you wish to attend the rite of Sevesh Lok Twin.”
Merdwin nodded, and turning to Lantash said, “You will need to go through the ritual cleansing. We will provide you with the proper raiment, and our own people will perform the pre-rite rituals. You must have witnesses to stand by with you. We can provide priests who would be capable of helping you should it become necessary. I myself would stand for you, if I was not performing the rite, and if you wish for that, then another of our high priests or priestesses could fill in for me,” Merdwin offered.
“That will not be necessary, Merdwin, but I do thank you for the offer. I believe that both Kataya and I would prefer that you do the actual performance of the rite,” Lantash said, firmly. “However, I am not sure exactly what the witness must do, so I need to be informed before I can choose who I wish to stand with me.”
Merdwin and Kataya exchanged glances, before Kataya said, “The witnesses are there for two reasons. The first is to be witness to the cutting of the ties, to be able to attest to the fact that it was indeed finished with both participants still conscious and aware. The second is to be support for you if the pain becomes too intense. If that happens, then some of the pain will transfer to them to allow you to remain conscious and complete the ritual. I am afraid that you cannot appoint or choose your witnesses, Lantash. They must volunteer, since there is physical pain involved. However the second part will not pertain to your witnesses, so for you that part is irrelevant.”
“To allow you to remain conscious, as in, the pain is so intense you pass out?” Jacob asked.
“Yes,” Merdwin replied. “I am afraid it can be quite painful when the entwined strands of their blood are cut. It is an archaic and ancient rite that comes to us from the Myst-time.”
“It will not matter for them, Merdwin,” Kataya said again.
Turning to her, he said, “I believe you should allow Lantash to accept some of the pain, Kataya. You are too weak to bear all of it.”
Her voice grim, she replied, “Weak or not, I, and I alone, will bear the pain as is my responsibility and right.”
“Your right?” Jack asked, his voice edged with disbelief.
“Yes, Colonel, as the one requesting the sundering of our bindings through Sevesh Lok Twin it is my responsibility to accept the pain of the separation. Lantash did not ask for this, and Martouf certainly had nothing to do with it. The mate has no responsibility to share any part of the pain, as long as they agree to the rite.”
“Is that true, Merdwin?” Daniel asked quietly.
“Yes, it is. I know what you are thinking, Daniel, but there is nothing I can do about it. Those are the laws surrounding the rite.”
“Do I have no say in this?” Lantash asked suddenly. “Do I have no choice?”
“No, I am afraid not. It is solely my decision,” Kataya said firmly.
“Merdwin. No. You know how I feel about this.”
“Yes, I know,” he said, his voice more grim than hers had been.
“Kataya, may I speak to you, please? Alone?” Lantash suddenly spoke up.
She looked at him, for a moment, and then agreed. “This way,” she said, as she turned and walked to a door that led into the sanctuary and from there into a small alcove where they could sit and look out upon the magnificent view.
“What do you wish to say, Lantash? You know me well enough to know that I feel very strongly about this. It is my responsibility to accept the pain of the parting. The emotional pain you are going through is enough.”
“Kataya, what is the real reason? Why will you not allow me to share this with you?”
“Do you not think I have put you through enough pain?” She asked quietly.
“And do you not think that I have put you through enough pain? I can answer by asking since we shared equally in all of the pain in our past. You were as devastated by our parting as I, and you mourned your loss of me, as I mourned my loss of you.” He stopped speaking suddenly only to begin once more, but in a very strained, distraught tone of voice, “Do you not think that as your mate, I should be allowed to choose whether or not I will bear part of the pain?” Kataya watched, as Lantash suddenly swallowed almost convulsively, and she gasped, when she saw how he was fighting his intense emotions.
“Lantash, please, do not,” she said, in an anguished tone.
“I cannot sit by, and watch you bear by yourself, something that we are both responsible for. Please, do not force me to do this, Kataya, for I do not think I could watch you in pain and not be able to do something to help. If we both bear it, then our witnesses will have less to deal with, will they not? What is the real reason? I know that you would have allowed me to share in it before and accepted it as something that we would do for one another. We have always shared both good and bad. Tell me, please, why you will not allow me to share this with you.”
“You are correct, Lantash, I would have allowed you to share in the pain had we decided to endure the Sevesh when we first parted. However, you are forgetting that there is an innocent party now involved. If it was Dominic, or even Justin, I would allow you to take at least some of it, but Martouf asked for none of this. He has no reason to wish to be put through this, and I cannot do that to him.”
“Let me have control, please, Lantash,” Martouf requested.
“Are you sure? I can tell her how you feel about it.”
“No, I believe I should be the one to tell her,” Martouf insisted.
Kataya watched as Lantash gave way to Martouf and he looked at her with softness in his blue-gray eyes, “You are forgetting that we love as one. What Lantash feels, I feel, and what I feel, Lantash feels. I share his wishes in this, Kataya. You and I have had very little time together, but I have learned a great deal about you from Lantash, and I fully understand and share his desires and wishes. Please do not put both of us through the agony of watching you enduring what must be a very painful event, simply because I am not Dominic.”
Kataya looked at him for a long moment, and then she surprised them both with a request they had not expected. “May I search your heart and mind for your true feelings? If I find you are telling me the truth, then I will allow it.”
“Yes. I am willing,” Martouf said at once.
“And Lantash, is he willing also?” Kataya asked quietly.
“I am, Kataya,” Lantash said, as he once again resumed control.”
He closed his eyes and waited for her to enter his mind. He felt her, light as a butterfly. He smiled slightly to himself, and she answered his thought almost before he formed it. “I almost became an agent after we parted, as it would have suited me to be in dangerous positions, but I was needed in other duties, so I never went any farther with it. However, I thank you for the compliment.”
“You are welcome. Your touch is very light, almost non-existent. You would have made a good agent.”
“I am finished, Lantash, Martouf. You both spoke the truth.” Still, she was having trouble accepting them sharing in it.
“Kataya, please. Do not shut us out of this. You saw for yourself that we want to do this. Do not deny us,” Lantash said softly.
Sighing, Kataya agreed, “All right. I suppose it is only fair, since we both participated in the entwining. We will share this, also.” She continued saying, “You must prepare yourself.”
She hesitated, for a moment, then asked, “May I please talk to Martouf again?”
“Of course, but do not try to frighten him, Amat Wyn. He is not easy to intimidate,” he gave her a chiding look, before letting Martouf take control.
“Martouf, I want you to know that what I feel for Lantash,” she sighed slightly, “I love you, also. I am afraid it is inevitable, for you are part of Lantash, and Lantash is part of you. I hope that does not make you uncomfortable.”
“No. No, it does not. I find it strange, that I can love Samantha so deeply, and yet, have such intense emotions for you. It has, however, helped me to understand the confusion that Samantha felt, when she was left loving a man she had never seen.” He paused for a moment, before saying, “I am finding it, difficult—to stay—unemotional about you and it is somewhat disconcerting. I find myself loving you and responding to your nearness.”
“It will only get worse until we do the Sevesh Lok Twin. I asked to speak to you because I wish you to understand what is going to happen. Do you, have you, has Lantash shown the rite of entwining to you so that you know what it was and how it was performed?”
“Yes, he has. I found it to be quite beautiful and profoundly moving.”
Kataya nodded her acknowledgement of his statement, but refused to give into the tears his statement had caused. She pushed her emotions aside, once again, and continued with what she felt he needed to know, “The rite of Sevesh Lok Twin is the sundering of those ties of blood. It will be very painful, for the blood will once again come forth, and it will become a solid intricately tied cord. We must free the blood so that it will return to its original home and, as I said, it will be painful. You should be sure to talk to Merdwin before the rite itself. He will tell you what to expect. Once we sever the blood tie, it will mute the passionate bond and therefore it is easy to refuse and ignore it. You will have to decide if you wish to keep the aural binding. I, personally, would prefer that we keep it, but if you feel you do not wish too, then when the time comes, simply refuse to keep it.”
“We also choose to keep it, Kataya,” Martouf said, softly. Looking into her amazing amethyst eyes, he reached out slowly and caressed her cheek. Shaking his head, he said, “I believe that the love we will share will be a wondrous thing, completely different from anything I have ever experienced. Is that a true understanding?”
“Yes, it will be totally different than any love you have ever or will ever know. It will be— platonic, for the most part, after the Sevesh Lok Twin, though our passion will never completely die.” She paused as she considered what she should explain to him, however, she realized that both of them had the right to know this. “The love we share shall be deep and abiding, with no beginning and no end. I believe you will be much more comfortable with it than what you are experiencing now,” she assured him, softly. Then she cleared her throat and continued saying, “However, I also believe that you and Lantash both have the right to be informed and to have this knowledge of the Furling.”
Gathering both her courage and her thoughts she told them bluntly, “Lantash, Dominic, and I remained with the Tok’Ra, and thus we never lived among my people.”
Once more she paused and as she did so, Martouf smiled slightly, saying, “Whatever it is that you wish to tell us cannot be terrible, Kataya. The Furling are a much respected, and honored people by those who are their allies and much respected and feared by those who are their enemies. If there were something truly terrible about them, or their society, the respect would not remain year after year and century after century. Please, simply tell us what it is you believer that we should know.”
She nodded, and then stated it baldly, “The sexual pull between us will never go completely away. It will always remain, much muted, but there nonetheless.” She stopped as she saw the shock on his face before he could control his reaction. She sighed. “I knew it would shock you, as I do not believe that Lantash ever realized what our Heartmates actually meant to us. Martouf, unlike many in the universe, it is not unknown for a Soulmate pair to welcome a Heartmate into their bed, particularly if a Soulmate reappears while his mate is mated to a Heartmate. Were we living in Cadwaellon, instead of on Earth, if we all wished for it to be, no one would consider it strange if we joined with our Heartmates. It does not always happen, however, neither is it so uncommon as to be noteworthy. An echo of that desire remains and can be called forth by those involved.” She held up her hand as he looked about to speak and continued with the information they needed. “It is, however, quite easy to ignore it once the blood tie is cut asunder. Only when those involved wish it to be resurrected, does it come forward and roam freely. Therefore, do not fear that you will feel the way you do now, for you will not.”
She frowned before saying, “Perhaps I should not have told you.” She shook her head, obviously disagreeing with herself. “I did not want you to feel the desire and not understand why it was there and fear it. There is no need to do so. It is often that we are among those whose mores are much stricter, as they are on Earth. We conform to the society in which we find ourselves, Martouf. You will have no trouble simply pushing it aside should it ever appear, just as Samantha and Daniel will have no problem pushing their desire for one another aside and ignoring it, as well.”
She stood quietly as he and Lantash talked over this newest piece of news. She truly hoped they did not become overly concerned. It was simply a fact of their lives and one learned to live with it. Noticing Martouf return his gaze to her, she waited for his response. “Actually, Kataya, it seems that Lantash was aware of the, ah, way that Heartmates and Soulmates sometimes interacted. It seems that Artereos told them, that is, he told Dominic and Lantash, shortly after you bonded. I understand that Justin, being Wiccadian, knew before Lantash broached the subject.” He smiled at her reassuringly. It was obvious that whatever Lantash told him, it put him very much at ease with the result of the Sevesh. “I understand that once this tie is severed, it is the heart-love, rather than that of the body, which takes precedence, unless there is a mutual wish for the other to be brought forward. I believe we are both comfortable with that.”
As relief swept her, she gave him a slight, but warm smile, before urging him to go, “In that case I do not believe there is anything else that you should know, at least from me. It is time for you to begin the rituals that must be performed before the Sevesh can take place.” She hesitated, before continuing, “If you choose to allow any of your people to stand witness for you, you must warn them that it could become very painful for them, as well as for you. I suspect that Merdwin will be quite graphic with them, and please insist that he tell you exactly what to expect. I do not wish you to be unprepared for what we will encounter during the Sevesh.” She stood and held her hand out to him. As he took it in his and stood to follow her out of the room, she softly touched his face, smiled, and said, “I am glad your bruises are gone, Martouf. You will have plenty of other things for Lantash to heal after the Sevesh Lok Twin and you do not need those bruises on top of that.” She then turned and led the way from the alcove into the larger Sanctuary room.
Seeing the four attendant priests awaiting him, she gestured that he should accompany them, then turned and made her way back to the altar for another healing session, before she, also, went to her own ritual cleansing before the Sevesh Lok Twin.
Standing in the empty chamber, she allowed the tears to come. Tears she had refused to shed, until now. Tears of sorrow, for the ties that had bound her to Lantash for two hundred years were about to be broken, and so was a part of her heart. Why was it that doing that which was right could seem so wrong and hurt so badly? Wiping angrily at the tears, she turned to call her attendants and came face to face with Sam.
“Samantha, is something wrong?” She asked at once.
“No, I just wanted you to know that Merdwin has accepted me as one of your witnesses, and Daniel is going to stand with Lantash.”
“Is Merdwin out of his mind?” Kataya gasped.
“No, I don’t think so,” Sam said firmly.
“Well I do. What in the universe was he thinking?” Turning on Samantha suddenly, she accused, “You and Daniel ganged up on him and simply pestered him into submission, did you not? Oh, Samantha, you have no idea of what is to come. It is a very ancient and pagan rite, and no one who participates will come out without blood on him or her, as well as injuries. It is inevitable.”
“That is why most Heartmates do not choose to be formally entwined. Most entwining of the hearts is simply done by personal declaration, as you and Daniel did, or if it is formal, they do an aural entwining. It does not bind in the way of the blood tie and is not a passionate love, but a heart-love. I am beginning to believe that the rite of Sevesh’en Twine Coeuramator of the blood should be banned.” She sighed deeply, and appeared stricken, before continuing, “That is not true, of course. I do not regret entwining with Lantash, even now.”
“Daniel and I want to do this, Kat. We need to do this. I know you may not understand that need, but that doesn’t make it any less real or legitimate,” Sam said softly.
Seeing the pleading for understanding in Sam’s eyes, suddenly, Kataya realized that she did understand. It was important to her, and to Daniel that they go through this with them; they truly did have a need to share it. “All right, Samantha, I will say no more. I am sorry for sounding ungrateful, and I do understand, I assure you. I believe that I would feel the same were the positions reversed,” she told her softly.
Sam visibly relaxed and gave her a warm, though small, smile, as she told her, “Thank you.”
She nodded her acknowledgement of Sam’s answer and then asked her, “Where is Merdwin now?”
Sam nodded to a door at the back of the room, “I think he is in there.”
“Yes, of course, he would be getting the implements ready. You may as well go and start getting ready. Are there any others who are standing for me?”
“You don’t know who the others are?” Sam asked, surprised.
“No, it is purely voluntary and, as I was talking to Lantash and Martouf, I have no idea if anyone came forward when Merdwin asked,” She replied.
“I see. I thought it was just a formality, I mean his asking if anyone was willing to stand witness. Other than myself there is Janet, Gwennetha, Garwynthia, Seraphynara, Caliswyna…”
Kataya broke into Sam’s recital of names to say, “Thank you, Sam, there is no need to repeat all the names; I will see them when I enter the chamber. However, please tell me Merdwin did not accept Janet.”
“Yes, he did after a little persuasion.”
“This entire thing is turning into a nightmare,” Kataya said forcefully. Sighing, she then said softly, “Listen, go ahead with the others, and I will see you shortly. I hope all of the priestesses were not accepted as witnesses; there will be none left to do this next healing I need to go through.” Shaking her head, she walked toward the room where she knew Merdwin would be. Before entering it, she turned back to Sam where she still stood, a troubled look on her face.
“Samantha, I thank you, and I thank Janet, also. Now, stop looking so worried, and go begin the cleansing. I will join you soon, I promise, and I am glad that you will be with me, truly.”
“All right, Kat, if you are sure you are okay.”
“I am okay, I promise you.” She turned and entered the room where Merdwin was busy purifying her sword and dagger as well as the ritual dagger.
Merdwin knew the moment she entered the room, and he sighed deeply. He supposed this was his next battle. He hoped he did not lose it, as well. The Tau’ri were certainly an extremely stubborn race.
“Were you graphic in your explanations, Merdwin?” Kataya asked.
Merdwin looked at her in surprise. She sounded normal, neither upset nor angry. “I was as graphic as I could be without becoming sick and embarrassing myself. They are determined to do this.”
“Samantha is a Warrior, and I believe she can handle this. Janet is a healer, and just witnessing it will be extremely difficult for her. She will wish to do something to help and, therefore, could accept more pain than she should. For that matter, have you even discussed with her how to stop accepting it?”
“Yes, actually, I did. I also only agreed to take her as a witness if she would be the last of those that volunteered. It should never reach her.”
“Merdwin, I do not think you are aware of how tightly Lantash and I are bound. When the rite was conducted, there were many additional ties that…”
“I know, Kataya, I was there, although I could not bring myself to preside. I saw what happened.”
She nodded. “I believe you should talk to Daniel and Lantash, as well as anyone else that is standing witness. Please tell me some of our own priests are going to be standing for him.”
Merdwin smiled for the first time in several hours. “Yes, Kataya, there are several.” He sobered, as he said, “Unfortunately, both Daniel and Samantha insisted on being primes, even though I explained quite graphically what will happen. Neither was willing to give up what they considered their places as the Soulmates of each of you.” He shrugged in resignation, continuing, “I imagine Jack and Teal’c are doing their best to dissuade at least Daniel. They will not be able to get to Samantha. I put Janet last, and we must hope we do not get to her. The other primes are Jacob, Selmak, and Seraphynara. Gwennetha and Garwynthia are seconds as are Malek and Brialek. I was beginning to believe that the four of them, that is, Daniel, Jacob, Malek, and Brialek would come to blows before they could settle on who would be primes. Malek is still very unhappy at the outcome; however, Selmak used his status as a council member and elder to overrule him and Brialek. They finally agreed to take second tier, but as I stated, Malek is rather distressed about the outcome.”
“I am sorry, Amat Wyn; I could not talk any of them out of it. Seraphynara and Gwennetha were more polite than the men were, but they also had an altercation as to who would stand as prime. In the end, they threw stones to see who would acquire the position of prime; Gwennetha lost. She was not happy, but stood by the decision,” he explained.
Kataya snorted delicately, “When she does things like that, Merdwin, she is very obviously your daughter.”
He grinned, unrepentant, and continued with the original topic under discussion, “You are still very weak, and you may pass out easily, so it is as well that you have the priestesses with you. At least Lantash has not been under as much stress as you have. However, I believe he is unaware of the weakness that fighting to keep the pain contained and away from Martouf has engendered. It is probably just as well that at least three of his main witnesses are Tok’Ra, for the symbiote will be able to endure more than an unblended human could,” Merdwin frowned, as he contemplated Lantash’s probable weakness.
“In other words,” Kataya answered him, “Neither of us is in optimum condition to undergo the rite. Neither should we wait longer.”
She looked at him for a moment, before saying, “I believe that since Lantash has agreed, and we have said what we needed to say to one another, that the bleeding has slowed considerably. It is not gone, but neither is it as bad as it was prior to our talk. The pain, also, has lessened. If it has lessened for me, then it will also have lessened for Lantash,” she said calmly.
“I am glad to hear that because, although we did what we could, Kataya, short of putting you into a living death, there is nothing more the priests or priestesses can do. As quickly as we managed to heal you, as soon as we ceased our efforts, it began over again. At least it was starting from a completely healed point, and if you believe it has slowed, then I am not in as much trepidation about performing the rite as I was. The priests with Lantash now have instructions to do a healing for him. You will both be in better condition than I had expected, and for that I am thankful.”
Merdwin paused for a moment, before saying, “Kataya, I am sorry that you must go through this, and I wanted to tell you that,” he stopped and cleared his throat, and then tried again. “You were correct to refuse me a formal joining or entwining. I would never have forgiven myself if you had agreed and we had ended thus. It is one thing to go through it with someone whom you love as deeply as you do Lantash, but it would not have been fair for you to have to go through it with me. I realize that now.”
“I love you, also, Coeurawyn, just as deeply as I love Lantash. Have you never noticed that when I am in trouble, I always turn to you first? I am afraid you are stuck with my love for eternity, just as Lantash and Daniel are. It is not an unhappy thing to contemplate,” Kataya said, her voice soft with her love of him.
Kissing him lightly on the cheek, she turned to go in search of the priestesses to have the healing rite done, so she could prepare for the Sevesh Lok Twin. She had done what she could. Now, she would expect the worst, but hope for the best.