Chapter Thirty-four Summary: - Kataya and Lantash undergo the Sevesh Lok Twin. Involves Bloodshed, so if blood bothers you, please read with caution. Sam, Daniel, Malek, and Jacob/Selmak stand as witnesses. We meet Lantash's children, Taesha and Lanwin for the first time.
Author’s Note: - I consider this and the preceding chapter to be pivotal in the story as they bring the subplot of one of Lantash's past loves to a close. Warning: - If you are bothered by blood, this chapter might bother you a little. Although I don’t consider it violent, exactly, it is not for the squeamish. There is a lot of blood.
Sevesh’en Twine Coeuramator - The Entwining of the Heartmates Sevesh Lok Twin -The Releasing of the Entwining.” Amat Et Aevum - Love, Into/For Eternity Sevesh - A Rite of Release Coeurawyn – My Heart
Jack and Teal’c sat quietly in a pew near the front of the large room along with Garshaw and Jocasta. Well, Teal’c, Garshaw, and Jocasta sat quietly. There were more than enough volunteers, and Merdwin felt there was no need for them in that capacity. They had, however, been given crimson robes to wear over their clothing. Jack was alternating between frowning, jerking on the robe, and gazing upwards at the arched ceiling of the cathedral-like room. “How high do you think that is, Teal’c?” He asked, in a soft whisper. “Don’t you think this place would be really hard to heat?”
“I do not believe that heating was in question when it was built. This chamber is meant to induce peace and tranquility, which it does in abundance,” Teal’c replied, as he looked from the candles burning in the tall candelabras to the soaring stained-glass windows.
Jack jerked on the robe again and holding up his arm, he peered into the full, wide sleeve. “Why do you suppose they make these sleeves so wide, Teal’c? You think they used to hide stuff in them?” He asked, as he felt around inside the sleeve looking for hiding places or pockets. He gave a sound of triumph as he located a small pocket in which he found a small handkerchief. “Not much of a hiding place,” he grumbled, as he continued searching. Giving up on that form of entertainment, he looked around the room for anything else that might hold his interest.
Looking at the large marble slab that dominated the front of the room, he leaned toward Teal’c, and whispered, “Do you think they ever did ritual sacrifices? There are iron rings in the front of that slab of stone or marble or whatever it is.”
“I do not know, O’Neill. It would seem to be highly unlikely that they continue to do them, however unfortunate that may be at this time,” Teal’c answered stoically.
“Hey! What is that supposed to mean?”
He didn’t receive an answer to his question, as a melodious chanting began high above them, and they watched as Daniel and Lantash entered the room. Looking at them, Jack again leaned toward Teal’c to whisper a comment, “He looks like he’s getting married, not divorced.”
“He looks quite handsome as does Daniel Jackson. Furling dress seems to become them. I believe that both Lantash and Kataya will be dressed similarly, to how they were dressed on the day of their entwining, which I believe they call the Sevesh’en Twine Coeuramator, the Entwining of the Heartmates. This is the Sevesh Lok Twin, or the Releasing of the Entwining.”
Suddenly, Jack said, “What the He--, er heck, is going on? Why did they tie his hands? Do you think this is going to be worse than Merdwin explained?”
“I believe that the binding is symbolic, O’Neill,” Teal’c said quietly.
“And I am sure, Colonel, that if we simply remain quiet and watch, we will see why in due time,” Garshaw commented quietly.
“Well, yeah, we could do that,” Jack agreed, lapsing into silence.
Merdwin entered next. Walking to Lantash, he took the end of the long lavender cord that bound his hands, which Daniel was holding, and tied it to a ring in the altar. If possible, the chanting became even more beautiful when it changed and what sounded like a pipe organ joined in. As if that was a cue, a door on the side opposite to where Daniel, Lantash, and his other witnesses had entered opened, and Kataya and Sam, along with Kataya’s other witnesses, entered the chamber.
Jack immediately looked for the binding on her wrists; it was there. He watched, as she stood quietly by, while Merdwin took the end from Sam and tied the cord to another ring in the altar. They waited patiently as Merdwin turned to a large tome laying open upon the altar stone and began a chant.
“What’s he saying?” Jack whispered to Teal’c.
However, it was Garshaw who turned to him and gave him a loose translation, “He is explaining that they are true Heartmates, joined by love and passion, but that they have each found their Soulmate, and therefore, they wish the Entwining of their blood to be severed. They wish to leave their auras entwined, that the love will remain for eternity, without the intensity of the pull of the passion, which they both now feel.”
Untying the cords from the altar, Merdwin proceeded to tie the one that bound Kataya to the one that bound Lantash.
Looking up, he stopped the chants being sung.
Merdwin began to speak, “I wish to first put the questions to Martouf of the Tok’Ra.” He watched, as Martouf came forward, before saying, “Martouf of the Tok’Ra, you have come to this place, on this day, to sever your physical tie to Kataya of Cadwaellon your bonded, formally entwined Heartmate. Have you searched your heart and soul deeply, and found that this is the only honorable way for you?”
“I have.” He looked at Kataya, as he replied solemnly.
“Do you wish to sever only the tie of passion of the blood?”
“I do,” he stated clearly.
“Do you wish to keep the love of the Heartmate, as evidenced by the retention of the entwining of the auras and the sharing of the pain of the severance?” Merdwin asked the third, of the three questions that he must answer.
His voice firm, he replied, “I do. Kataya of Cadwaellon shall remain my Heartmate for all time, for eternity.”
“So be it.”
Watching him, Merdwin waited until Lantash came forth, then said, “Lantash of the Tok’ Ra, you have come to this place, on this day, to sever your physical tie to Kataya of Cadwaellon your bonded, formally entwined Heartmate. Have you searched your heart and soul deeply, and found that this is the only honorable way for you?”
His voice firm and clear, he stated, “I have.”
“Do you wish to sever only the tie of passion of the blood?
“I do,” he replied.
“Do you wish to keep the love of the Heartmate, as evidenced by the retention of the entwining of the auras and the sharing of the pain of the severance?”
Gazing into her eyes, he smiled wistfully, but answered with love, conviction, and sincerity in his voice, “I do. Kataya of Cadwaellon shall remain my Heartmate for all time, for eternity.”
“So be it.”
“Who wishes to stand for Lantash and Martouf, as primes, to witness the ties as they are severed and to sustain them and share their pain?”
“I am Daniel, Daniel Jackson, and I wish to stand as prime for my friends, Lantash and Martouf of the Tok’Ra,” Daniel said. His voice was firm, steady, and strong, as he stepped forward to stand next to them. He and Lantash exchanged a long look as Daniel used the word friends and nodded his head once, decisively. Lantash bowed his head in both understanding and acceptance. The first layer of their bond would be forged in the blood and pain of this day.
“I still think he is nuts,” Jack whispered to Teal’c.
“Hush, O’Neill, please be silent, so that we may hear what is being said,” Teal’c replied, obviously engrossed in the proceedings.
“We are Selmak and Jacob of the Tok’Ra, and we also wish to serve as a prime for our friends.” Selmak stepped forward to stand next to Lantash and Daniel.
“Very well,” Merdwin agreed, before turning to Malek and Brialek. I understand you and your hosts, also, wish to stand as seconds for Lantash and Martouf, to witness the severing of the ties, and to sustain them?”
“Yes,” Malek replied.
“Yes,” Responded Brialek
“Very well, and you?” Merdwin asked, as he turned to the men standing behind the Tok’ Ra.
“We are willing to lend our aid for sustaining them and sharing of the pain, if needed.” The leader of the group acknowledged for the three of them.
Merdwin nodded his acceptance of the Priests, and then turning to Kataya, he said, “Kataya of Cadwaellon, you have come to this place, on this day, to sever your physical tie to Lantash and Martouf of the Tok’Ra. Have you searched your heart and soul deeply, and found that this is the only honorable way for you?”
Turning to look into his eyes, as he had hers, the answer she gave was soft, but firm, “I have.”
“Do you wish to sever only the tie of passion of the blood?” Merdwin asked her.
“I do,” still, her voice held steady.
“Do you wish to keep the love of the Heartmate, as evidenced by the retention of the entwining of the auras and the sharing of the pain of the severance?” Came the third, and final, question that must be answered.
For a moment, as Lantash looked into her eyes, he saw the depth of the pain she was feeling at the thought of the severing of their ties, and he realized, perhaps for the first time, how truly difficult this was for her, too. As the silence lengthened, she looked past him to Daniel, before turning back, to gaze into his eyes. Her voice was husky with pain and love, but firm and full of the conviction that this was the correct thing to do, as she finally answered Merdwin, “I do. Lantash and Martouf of the Tok’Ra shall remain my Heartmates for all time, for eternity.”
“So be it.”
“Who wishes to stand for Kataya, as primes, to witness the ties as they are severed and to sustain her and share her pain?”
“I am Samantha, Samantha Carter, and I wish to stand as prime for—for my sister, Kataya of Cadwaellon.”
“I am Seraphynara, and I desire the honor of accepting the pain of my, ah, friend, Kataya of Cadwaellon.
“Very well. Gwennetha and Garwynthia, I understand you wish to stand for Kataya as seconds, to witness the severing of the ties, and to sustain her?”
“Yes,” they answered in unison.
“Very well, and you?” Merdwin asked, as he turned to the women standing behind them.
“We are willing to lend our aid for sustaining her and sharing of the pain, if needed.” The leader of the group acknowledged for the three of them. Merdwin watched, as Janet nodded her assent.
“Very well, we will begin.” Merdwin led Kataya and Lantash to the cushions in front of the altar and indicated they should kneel facing one another. They were perhaps a foot or two apart. Gesturing, he indicated that the witnesses should arrange themselves on the corresponding side and behind them. He then arranged Kataya’s sword and dagger on the altar, along side the ceremonial dagger.
First lighting two candles on the altar, he then turned, and looked to the loft and again the chant began to flow, this time a cappella.
Picking up Kataya’s sword, he held it upright in front of himself and spoke some type of chant or spell; it was hard to tell.
“What is he saying?” Jack whispered.
“He is telling the mysts of the All, that the sword and dagger he is about to use are honorable weapons, the sword and dagger of a valiant Warrior, one who is known and proven to be pure of heart. He is asking that the mysts allow him to open direct lines to the couple’s hearts and allow their blood to become one with the mysts of the All. He asks that it sustain them through the coming ordeal, and return from whence it came once severed and unbound. Now, he is asking the mysts to heal the slashes that the blades are about to make, once the ceremony is over,” Garshaw whispered back.
Merdwin laid the sword between the kneeling couple. Taking Kataya’s dagger, he passed it through the flame of the first candle and then approached her. He made a slit in first the right side and then the left side of her throat. After again running the blade through the flame of the same candle, he then turned to Lantash and did the same.
Merdwin then turned to the second candle and passed the blade through the flame of it. As he held it above Kataya’s wrists, he looked to the attending priests and priestesses and they came forward to place around the minor witnesses shoulders, capes of crimson. The four primes, the couple, and Merdwin were without protection. Unbinding her wrists, he slit first one and then the other. Again, he passed the blade through the flame of the second candle, untied Martouf’s wrists and slit them. Beginning another chant, he then tied their wrists to one another’s.
“What is he saying now?” Jack whispered again. “And why aren’t they bleeding?”
“He is explaining to the All that the couple wish only the passionate bond severed, so that they will no longer feel the pull of the tie between them so strongly. They wish to retain the tie that binds their hearts, and they are sharing the pain of the severing of their entwining.” She paused, listening, and then continued, “The binding of their wrists to one another is to allow both to feel and share the pain. Otherwise, it would only cause pain to the requesting party, who would bear the pain, regardless of whose blood was being cut. If one refused the Sevesh lok Twin, then the refusing party, if the All found the request justified, could die.”
Jack absorbed that information and realized that was why Kataya had insisted that Martouf and Lantash agree. That puzzle solved, he asked again, “So why aren’t they bleeding?”
“They will be,” Garshaw responded briefly.
Looking back at the altar, Jack was surprised to see the blood begin to flow from both of their necks, but not down to drip on the floor; it was floating across the short distance between them and quickly twisting and entwining. He noticed that Merdwin looked at the column that was rising, grimly. It was so tightly entwined, that Jack couldn’t imagine how they were going to figure out what went where to separate it. Not only that, he thought, but how was it just standing there, between them, as if it was a solid, intricately woven, piece of something solid, instead of running all over the floor?
“Teal’c, how is it doing that?” He whispered.
“I do not know, O’Neill, but Merdwin is an Enchanter of great skill and power, or so I believe, therefore, perhaps he is doing it. It is as well,” Teal’c continued, his voice sounding grim, as he surveyed the cord to be severed, “that he is, because it looks as if it will take great strength and skill to sever their bond. It appears to be immensely strong.”
“There’s blood beginning to drip on the floor from their wrists,” Jack continued his whispering to Teal’c.
Teal’c nodded, still engrossed in the ceremony that was taking place. Ancient texts and legends spoke of Enchanters who could control and manipulate the blood. It was a myth. He smiled to himself. No longer.
Suddenly, Kataya spoke, though never taking her eyes from Martouf, “You must begin, Merdwin. I am ready, so please do not worry for me.
“As am I. Please continue,” Martouf said.
“We are both ready, Merdwin,” Lantash came forward long enough to reassure him.
Merdwin nodded and turned to the altar, although it was obvious, he would rather not be doing this. Lighting a third candle from the flame of the second, he picked up the ceremonial dagger and holding it, he chanted something that sounded a lot like the previous chant about the sword. At least it did to Jack; he turned to Garshaw.
“Yes, Colonel,” Garshaw said, before he could ask. “He is telling the All that the blade he holds is the blade of Artereos, the First-born of the All, and it has always worked swiftly and truly, never has it failed in its endeavors. He is telling the All that this is the dagger, which has served from the beginning of the myst times. He is asking that it lose none of its sharpness and that it cut cleanly and swiftly, so that the couple can find the peace they seek. Now, he is asking that it sever quickly and precisely, so that the blood can return to its first home.”
“First home?” Jack whispered.
Nodding, Garshaw whispered back, “During an entwining, the blood flows forth, entwines and then returns, mixed, to the couple, thus they reside within one another. Most,” she continued, “are not so tightly entwined as this, from what I remember seeing when we were here at the sanctuary.”
They watched as Merdwin grasped the cord of blood in his hand and looking at it closely, made the first cut. Kataya gasped, but remained upright. Merdwin paused.
“Do it,” she ground out.
Jack watched in fascination, as Merdwin began to cut in earnest on the cords in front of him, and the blood soon began to flow. Each cut began to weep and then slowly drip onto the cushions. As first Kataya, and then Martouf and Lantash, felt each cut and slash into the cord; they gripped each other’s arms tightly above the bindings on their wrists.
Thirty minutes later, Merdwin had still not freed any of the threads of blood binding them together. “Kataya, do you have any idea of how tightly these strands have woven themselves? They are next to inseparable, in the way of joining, not of entwining.”
Lantash took control and spoke to him, “You must understand that Kataya believed that Daniel would never come back, and I did not believe that a Soulmate awaited me. We allowed our hearts to beat as one, and the love and passion we had for one another was a living thing for a very long time. You must become more aggressive in your endeavors, if you wish to accomplish that which must be done.”
“He speaks truth, Merdwin. Stop trying to be gentle; you are only prolonging the pain for each of us. Please, just do it,” Kataya added her opinion.
“Very well,” he agreed, and taking a deep breath, he brought the dagger into a knot and instead of steadily working it loose with small cuts, he severed it. Blood splashed from the cut onto him and the couple and Kataya screamed.
He stopped and watched, as she straightened from where the pain had doubled her over. “Do it, Merdwin,” she ground out, panting.
Nodding his agreement, he went onto the next knot, and again, Kataya took the pain, but this time he continued, barely pausing. First one, then the other felt the cuts and then Lantash’s voice reached him, as he worked on an extremely tight knot.
“Merdwin,” Lantash gasped, “Kataya,” he continued, panting, “I think she is about to pass out.”
“I am still all right,” she whispered.
“I am not even half way through, Kataya,” Merdwin, told her quietly.
“Then become more aggressive, Merdwin,” She gasped, between breaths. “This is almost worse than having kits,” she said, suddenly.
“Having kits is worse than this? I have forgotten. Are you sure?” Lantash demanded.
“Having had first hand experience of it, twice, I might add, I can definitively say, yes, it is. Did you think I screamed and was acerbic about your ancestry, parentage, and personality, to annoy you when Taesha and Lanwin were born, Lantash? I did not share the majority of the pain with you.” She replied.
“I had forgotten, Kataya, and though I love my children, I would never do this to you again. Samantha,” Lantash managed to pant, “I will not put you through this much pain. There will be no children.”
He heard Kataya give a short, sharp laugh, “Lantash, women have been doing it for millennia; she will survive it and have something in return, just as I did.”
Her scream brought him back from his irrelevant thoughts of children to the present with a jolt. A stab of pain bringing blackness to dance before his eyes followed closely upon her scream. He felt Daniel kneel beside him as he swayed, and take him in his arms, following the instructions he memorized before the rite began. He also felt the jerk of Daniel’s body, as the first of the pain that was now constant within them, hit him.
“Merdwin, they can’t survive much more of this,” Daniel said, through gritted teeth, surprise at the intensity of the pain evident in his voice. “Is there any way we can pull more of this pain out of them?” Daniel asked desperately, as he encountered wave after wave of it. Not just from the cuts that Merdwin was still making, but the dozens that were already there. He also realized that he was picking up the remnants of the pain that had surrounded their hearts, during the last few days.
Looking down, he realized that they had all been so mesmerized watching the cord of blood, they had not noticed the cuts that were appearing on their bodies. Appearing and bleeding; deep red blood ran or seeped from the slashes, running down and dripping onto their clothes and the floor. Dear God, Kataya could not afford to lose this much blood, could she? He looked over at her and was surprised to see her still kneeling on her own. She caught his glance.
“The last few were evidently tied to Martouf and Lantash’s blood. Mine will be found again, soon, I am sure,” she told him, quietly.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Merdwin indicate to Sam that she should get ready to step in and so, she braced herself. As she doubled over, she saw and felt through their still bound hands, Lantash straighten as he gripped her.
“Selmak, Seraphynara, join Daniel and Sam, please. I must attempt to unwind some of this. I cannot simply continue to slash my way through the knots; I must work some of them loose,” Merdwin instructed quietly. “While I am doing that, you can pull some of the pain through and into yourselves, and thereby give them some relief, even if it is only momentary.”
As Merdwin worked at the knots, trying to unravel them, the primes for Lantash and Kataya were beginning to know why Merdwin had tried to talk them out of doing this. Panting against the waves of pain, Sam turned her head toward Merdwin, “How much longer? I don’t know how much more she can take.”
Pausing for just a moment, she then continued, “No, make that I don’t know how much more we can take. We just started; they have been at this for over half an hour already.” Sam looked down to see that her comment had brought a small smile to Kataya’s lips for a moment. Sam wiped the sweat from Kataya’s forehead, while Seraphynara helped support her on the other side. She reached into her sleeve, pulled out a small handkerchief and used it to wipe away both sweat and blood. It was soon soaked, and she threw it aside, as Gwennetha came forward with a clean one.
“Where did you get that?” Daniel asked.
“There should be one in your sleeve,” someone, he was not sure who, replied. He saw Merdwin frown at the attendants, who immediately stepped forward with cloths for them to use, to wipe away the sweat and the blood. They would no doubt hear later about the neglecting of their duties. No doubt, they were caught up in and mesmerized by the ritual they were witnessing to the point that they had forgotten everything else. Daniel was glad he was not going to be on the receiving end of that lecture.
“I have to begin to cut again. I have gone as far as I can attempting to unravel it. There are knots that must be severed.” Merdwin indicated them with the tip of the dagger. “I have tried, but they simply will not come apart. I have only seen one other entwining of this strength and intricacy.”
“Who was that, Merdwin?” Sam asked, as she gritted her teeth against the waves of pain, and attempted to take even more from Kataya.
Merdwin halted for a moment, looking at her and Kataya, and then he said, “It was the entwining of Gwynnivar and Llancellon, your mother and father. Evidently, these intense entwinings are inherent in your make-up. It would suggest,” he said, as his look moved to Gwennetha, “that the females of your line should remember this before you agree to mate by ritual.”
Kataya attempted to laugh, but it ended in a groan, as pain sliced through her again. She did manage to gasp out in reply, “It is also possible that our being so closely entwined has something to do with the prophecy.”
“Very possible, Kataya, and a good point. However, I still believe that any female of your line would do well to consider this when trying to decide whether or not to bond to a mate by ritual. To do so lightly would be foolish, if my first assumption is correct,” Merdwin replied.
Pulling herself upright and out of Sam’s arms for a moment, she watched as Martouf and Lantash did the same. Kataya tightened her grasp on his arms and at his nod, she said to Merdwin, “You must continue, and you must become even more aggressive. Neither of us will be able to endure a great deal more of this.”
She watched, as Martouf took control again. They had switched often, but it was becoming harder for Martouf to remain upright. “Please, Martouf, let Lantash sustain you,” Kataya whispered, as she watched him struggle.
Martouf nodded, and said, “I will in a moment. I am simply giving him a few moments to try to recover a little.”
“I am going to cut again, now,” Merdwin, warned them, before he again plunged the knife into a knot. Sam, Kataya and Seraphynara all gasped, as the dagger slashed its way into the knot. With the next slash, Daniel, Martouf, and Jacob were left panting from the pain. Thus, it went, first slashing through the knots, and then unwinding and disentangling the cords. Blood seemed to be seeping from dozens of cuts, dripping onto the cushions, floor, and clothes of those participating.
Daniel looked down, and was surprised to see cuts on his arms. He looked at Sam and saw that she, also, was beginning to bleed. Looking at Kataya, he blanched. She was so pale; she looked as if there was no blood left within her body. Her skin was becoming transparent. Looking down, he realized that Martouf was not in much better shape.
When he felt the hand come down onto his shoulder, he realized that the next set of witnesses had come forward. They grasped his and Jacob’s shoulders and braced them as they braced Martouf. Soon, he felt them kneel to take more of the weight off them, as Martouf lay limply between he and Selmak, heavy in their arms, but still conscious. Daniel soon realized that Malek, who had come to kneel behind him, was leaning into him, supporting them, and he seemed to be actually pulling the pain into himself, thus giving relief to Martouf, Lantash, and Daniel.
He gasped, as Merdwin made another slash into the bloodied cord. Still, it held, the entwining so tight it was impossible to unwind more than a small portion at a time. He heard Kataya and both of her primes gasp. Then he felt another searing slash and this time it felt as if his back was on fire. Daniel moaned and heard an answering one from behind him as Malek pulled it from him into himself. Martouf appeared to be barely conscious, but then he felt him attempt to sit up, and knew that he was still with them.
Looking again at Martouf, Daniel knew that even with Malek and Brialek now helping, if it was not ended soon, neither Martouf nor Kataya would be conscious, and the rite would end without success. As he watched, Lantash took control and again attempted to straighten and take some of the weight off the witnesses supporting him. He was unable to do so, but he kept control.
Daniel knew that if they could not stay conscious, they would have to endure this again. Turning slightly toward Merdwin, he gathered the strength to ask, “How much longer? It has been almost an hour, and I am afraid that neither Martouf and Lantash nor Kataya are going to remain conscious much longer.”
Looking up from where he was struggling to unwind a section of the cord, Merdwin looked at the couple, now surrounded by four witnesses each. Although he had not wanted her to have to bear any of this, he knew it was time to bring the others forward to help. They had come too far to stop and have to redo the entire ceremony, with its attendant agony for all involved. He would bring all of them in at once, as the relief would be greater that way.
He nodded to the priests and priestesses to come forward. Janet did not hesitate to step up and kneel as the others did, nor did she flinch much as the first of the pain found its way into her. A gasp and wide-eyed look at Merdwin were her only reactions. She leaned forward and enveloped Sam and Kataya as much as she could, and the others found places to connect and give support or simply absorb some of the pain.
He watched both Kataya and Lantash carefully, and when he saw first Lantash, and then Kataya, attempt to pull themselves into a straighter position, he knew that they were receiving relief from some of the pain.
The priestesses and priests were trying to do what they could, to give them the physical strength to go on. His attendants had been kept busy renewing the cloths the witnesses were using to wipe away the sweat and blood. Leaving fresh cloths in the newest witnesses’ hands, they retreated to the other side of the altar knowing the participants would need them again soon.
Merdwin himself was sweating from the strain, both physical and mental, that this was causing him. The attendants wiping his face and tending to him were constantly busy. This was not an ordinary entwining. Those who had seen it take place had known it was unusual, but Merdwin had not imagined it would have wound itself so tightly to the two of them.
Remembering how long and hard it had been to sever the tie between Gwynnivar and Llancellon, he knew he should have anticipated this, as this tie was even more tightly entwined than theirs had been. It had taken about an hour to sever Gwynnivar and Llancellon. This one had already taken longer than that.
Seeing where another strand looped tightly around a knot, he once again plunged the dagger in. He heard Sam, Kataya and Seraphynara gasp, but he did not stop. Twenty minutes later, he was almost to the end.
“I am almost through, but this last bit is going to be a matter of simply slashing a way through. There is no other way,” he stated. He brought his arm up, plunged it into the last knot, and attempted to rip it downward through it. It did not give. Kataya and Lantash both screamed.
“I have found it,” Merdwin exclaimed. “This section should release the remainder of the entwining, or at the least, give me something to work with. Get prepared, this one is going to hurt both of you badly, I am afraid.”
“This one?” Sam gasped, as she absorbed more of the pain coming through to her. “What do you think the others did, tickle?” she panted, as Kataya became a dead weight in their arms. Her question was followed by her scream, as Merdwin used all of his strength to slash through the remaining knot and free the cord.
“Merdwin,” Kataya whispered, weakly, “you are sure you are almost finished?”
“Yes, Coeurawyn, I believe that was the last cut; I will be able to untie the rest.” Looking over to the attending priest and priestesses, he motioned them to be ready with clean, warm, wet cloths and towels. “It is almost over, I promise you.”
Looking up, he indicated that the chanting and the music should begin, and a very peaceful sound made its way into the area.
Jack realized he was sweating and gripping the back of the pew in front of him, as were those with him. Evidently, he wasn’t the only one to be affected by what he had witnessed. He also realized that almost every one of those participating had blood on them and it wasn’t just a small amount. He wasn’t sure, but it looked as if the witnesses were covered in cuts just as Kataya and Martouf and Lantash were.
He watched in amazement, as Merdwin motioned to the attendants and was brought what looked like a small cauldron.
Setting the cauldron down near the couple, he picked up Kataya’s sword and began to gather the severed bits and pieces of the cord, undoing any remaining knots. Using Kataya’s sword to stir the pieces of cord, he again began a chant, but before he could ask, Garshaw said, “He is asking that the blood be returned to the person from whence it came.” Jack watched, as the blood once more became a mist, and retreated into the cuts on the necks of the two people whose wrists were still bound to each other.
As the blood seeped back, the two in question straightened, and faced one another. As the last of the mist slipped into the slashes on their necks, Merdwin took the sword and laid it first on Martouf’s neck over the cuts and then Kataya’s, and Jack watched, as the slashes on their throats disappeared.
“This couple is now joined primarily by love, but it is a powerful, intense, and undying love. Heartmates they have been; Heartmates they have chosen to remain, bound for all time within its warmth. Amat Et Aevum. The rite of Sevesh Lok Twin is ended.”
The priests and priestesses moved in with wet, warm cloths and towels and soon had much of the blood removed from the participant’s skins.
Those clothes are a loss, Jack was thinking as he made his way to the couple, who seemed to be recovering rapidly, considering the amount of pain they had just endured. As he approached the group, he realized his first impression had misled him. The two main participants were leaning, rather heavily, against the primes that had sustained the other’ s mate, who themselves looked exhausted.
You could almost see the energy returning to them though, and there was definitely more color in their faces than there had been just a few minutes ago. Recovery from this seemed to happen fairly quickly; that, at least, was a plus. Even the non-Furling attendants seemed to be recovering at a faster pace than he would have thought possible. It didn’t take long for Jack to figure out that the many priests and priestesses that had been hurrying around with towels and bowls of water had been doing some healing. It was the only explanation. Well, whatever it took to get everyone back to normal.
He shook his head. Why, he wondered, would a couple go through the entwining ritual, if removing the tie was this drastic? They must care a great deal to accept that this could happen. Of course, that was the whole point, he realized. What was it that Merdwin had told them that night in his room? “To actually take a mate means we must love passionately and deeply. Our rites and rituals and their consequences ensure that we take a mate only in the case where that is true.”
There was no doubt that Lantash and Kataya had, no, did love, deeply. Jack wondered what a love like that felt like. It must be intense. He scratched his neck and wondered if he was getting hives. It had to be this red robe; maybe he was allergic to the material.
The door at the back of the large sanctuary room opened, and two Warriors strode into the room. As Jack looked back toward the door, he caught his breath. Standing there was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Standing next to her, the light catching the deep auburn of his hair was a young man who was as handsome as the woman was beautiful.
Deep lustrous auburn hair framed faces that were perfect ovals, their skin a glowing golden color. Looking back at only the woman he saw wide, luminous amber colored eyes, set at an exotic tilt, fringed with impossibly long black lashes. Dark but delicate, arched eyebrows, full red lips and a tint of peach on her cheeks finished the portrait of her. He hadn’t even reached her body yet, but Jack knew immediately that she had her mother’s average height and lithe, supple figure.
The young man was tall and broad-shouldered, having a sinewy strength and an almost arrogant tilt to his head. When his eyes finally found his mother, the smile that lit his perfect features transformed his face from a beautiful, perfect statue, into that of a sparkling and dangerous charmer.
Striding swiftly forward, they stopped in front of Kataya, as she stood sheltered by Daniel’s arms and assumed the formal Furling stance, with a difference that the Tau’ri had never seen accorded to Kataya or Merdwin before. Both knelt on one knee, and leaning forward, each took a hand and kissed first it and then the hem of her skirt. They remained kneeling, heads bowed, until she told them to rise and greet her as her children, not as warriors. As they sent a puzzled glance at her, Jack watched as Kataya very slightly shook her head, as if in warning not to do something. And, just as important, he saw their understanding and return nod, as Kataya drew attention to herself, and they were not being watched.
Lantash stood rigid within the circle of Sam’s arms and stared at them, as if he was starving, and they were forbidden food. It seemed as if not even the air around them moved.
Sensing his presence, they turned as one and looked directly at Martouf. “It is true then, what they are saying. Our father is come home.”