Chapter Thirty-six Summary - Merdwin and Kataya discuss Malek and Gwennetha, the battle, Morgasha and what may or may not come to pass. Daniel and Sam go through the aural entwining. Sam and Kataya join their spirits. Daniel and Martouf/Lantash spend some time talking. They discuss the Furling race and some of the things they believe to be true of them. They begin to bond.
Sevesh’en twine Coeuramator - Entwining of the Heartmates Caruswyn - Dear one, dearest one Amat Wyn - My love Coeurawyn - My heart Coeurata’irs - Heart-brothers, brothers of the heart Sevesh'en Coeurata'irs - Rite of the Heart-brothers.
Lanwin and Taesha faced one another within the practice area and saluted each other. Slowly, they began the session, each determined to best the other; however, after almost an hour, Taesha cried to her brother, “What is the matter with you, Lan? I have been able to hit you, as I will, this entire session. Are you not concentrating at all?”
“My question exactly, Taesha. I believe the two of you have done enough for one night,” A voice spoke out of the darkness, from the side of the room. “And Taesha, while we are asking questions, you need to give thought as to why you did not detect my presence as, of course, does Lanwin, for I was not shielding. However, you can do that in the sanctuary. I wish to speak to your brother alone, please.” Bowing silently, Taesha left the room, but as she left, she threw her brother a look of sympathy. He shrugged, but turned to answer the statement.
“It is not your place to speak to me of my abilities, or lack of them. That is for my mother or grandfather to do,” came the somewhat sulky reply.
“Had your mother seen that dismal practice session, she would certainly have had much to say. Be glad that she is still recovering, or she would have come, and your pride would have hurt for a very long time. Come; let us be comfortable while we talk.”
Moving to the window seat, he assumed a relaxed pose as he stared out the window at one of the rising moons half obscured by the gathering clouds. Soon, it would be time for the life giving rain and by morning, the sun would shine once again as always. “I am willing to listen, Lanwin. I realize that something is bothering you. You were quiet during the meal. Your mother noticed also, but I believe she had to deal with your father, your grandfather, Samantha, and Daniel. Otherwise, she would have sought you out herself.”
“It must be difficult for you,” the young man, taunted, “to have, not one, but two, rivals for my mother here.”
“While it is good to know that you do not believe gossip, this time some of it is true. I have met my mate, and I have come to realize that your mother was correct to deny us a formal blood tie. She has always insisted that I had yet to meet my soul’s mate, and that I someday would. Again, she proved correct. Despite those truths, I love her deeply and admire her still; I always will, for the love between your mother and I is eternal,” Merdwin said softly. “What is wrong, Lanwin? You may as well tell me; otherwise, your mother or your grandfather will confront you. Perhaps, I can ward off an unpleasant interview, if I know what is going on.”
Merdwin waited patiently, as time stretched tautly, “Surely, she could have consulted us, before breaking her tie to our father,” he suddenly burst out.
“Ah. I see. You feel she did not love him sufficiently to be able to break the tie so quickly and easily. And yet, you have always been told what a great love they had for one another. Tell me, why do you not hold it against your father that he is taking a new mate, and that she is not the first? You knew he had taken a Tok’Ra mate.”
Lanwin looked at him and opened his mouth as if to speak, but no words came. After a long moment, he finally said quietly, “I do not know. Perhaps, because my mother left him, I have always felt that he deserved to be happy, and that is what she always told us.”
The young man rubbed his face, and said, “I do not know what I feel. I am confused. I thought she loved him more than life itself, as she did Dayillon.” Lanwin stopped speaking, but it was evident that he was not yet to the center of the problem. Merdwin waited patiently. “Is it because of him that she can so easily give up my father?” He finally asked.
“It is not easy for her, Lanwin,” Merdwin sighed. “Your mother was very close to death today. She was bleeding, a side effect, as you know, of being with both a bonded Heartmate and Soulmate. Samantha found her in a pool of blood, her life force all but gone. Then she went through the Sevesh. The tie between your parents took me over an hour to sever. That is not a dilettante love; it is a bond almost as deep as a Soulmate. Although they shared the pain, they each had several witnesses, all of which had to come forward to help sustain them, so they would not lose consciousness. I do not think you should question the love that exists between your parents.”
Straightening as he took in what Merdwin was telling him, he said, “I feel like I should apologize to her for doubting her. I did not know, did not realize.”
“You need say nothing. She understands, and she loves both you and Taesha very much,” Merdwin assured him calmly and gently.
“Well, there has never been any doubt that she loves Taesha,” he laughed a little bitterly, “but sometimes I question her love for me.”
“Why?” Merdwin sounded truly surprised.
He looked at the man sitting next to him, and the pain in his eyes was easy to see. Almost whispering, he asked him, “Have you never seen her look at me with pain in her eyes? Sometimes, she can barely stand to look at me. What could cause that, except that she does not love me? That I am a disappointment to her?”
Merdwin shook his head in denial of his suppositions, reminding him, “She has never been disappointed in you, but once, and I believe you know of that which I speak. Your foray into manipulation using your looks and charm disappointed her greatly. However, she forgave that long ago and wrote it off to youth trying out its wings.”
Sighing, Merdwin leaned forward, and said quietly, “We know the story of your father’s death, Lanwin. All the things we never knew, or understood. Why she almost let herself die; why she allowed Lantash and everyone else to believe she chose him over Dominic. All of it.” He could feel the young man stop breathing and freeze in place. He waited, and finally Lanwin put forward the question he expected.
“What did you find out?” Lanwin asked, when he felt he could hear the answer calmly.
“She could not manifest as the Dragon. That goes almost without saying. The only way to save them both was to do so, and she could not. Dominic was injured to badly too survive. Lantash, himself, was next to dead, and as you know, he remembered nothing. Bastet had tortured them in such a way that their deaths were long and painful. Your father requested that your mother kill him, knowing he could not survive. His other request was that she take his soul back to Avilion and have it woven into Lantash’s. He also requested, and received, her promise not tell him of it. Ever. These things she did. Therefore, your father Dominic’s soul is now part of Lantash. She killed him, Lanwin, and sustained both Lantash and Dominic’s soul, at great risk to herself, I might add.”
“Do you wonder that sometimes when she looks at you, she has pain in her eyes? You are the image of the two of them. Except for the eye color and the skin texture, you could be Dominic. You have the charm of Lantash, his skin texture, and his eye color. When she looks at you, it is as if she is seeing them again. It has nothing to do with her not loving you; it has to do with her loving you so much that it hurts. Had she known you thought she did not love you, she would have explained to you herself that it was the opposite. She loved you so much.” Merdwin frowned for a moment. “Your mother has often told you that she loved you. I have heard her tell you so myself.”
“Yes, but I have never truly believed it, until now. I am sorry. It never even occurred to me that she saw them when she looked at me, or that it would cause her that much pain. I should have left long ago so as not to remind her,” anguish colored his response.
Leaning forward, Merdwin placed his hand on the young man’s shoulder and squeezed lightly before smiling slightly. Then he shook his head, saying softly, “No, Lanwin, that would have been worse for her. She could look at you and remember the sweet good times, as well, you know. She had nothing like that to remind her of Dayillon. Be happy for her, Lanwin. She is a wonderful woman, and she deserves to be happy. She has put her duty before her personal wants and needs for millennia. Do not begrudge her what she has now. Allow her to be happy for this short time.”
Straightening, he turned toward the hallway, telling them, “Now, both of you need to work on shielding your energy signature, as well as your perceptiveness. You will need to be able to hide that signature during the upcoming mission. Taesha, you can come out now. Both of you really are abysmal at it, you know.”
“I have always had trouble with that, Merdwin,” Taesha said, as she walked out of the shadows of the hall. A shadow moved behind her, and it said, “Do not worry too much about it, Coeurawyn, a little extra practice, a tip, a trick, is all that is needed, and I will help you and Lanwin. Even the great Enchanter sometimes cannot perceive the presence of another,” her mother said, as she stepped into the sporadic moonlight.
Turning to her, Merdwin smiled sardonically, “But then, I am rarely in need of detecting a master enchantress. We are well matched, Kataya. You have increased your ability to conceal your energy signature.”
No longer able to contain himself, Lanwin broke into their conversation. “Mother, I am so sorry,” he began.
“You have nothing to apologize for, my son. I should apologize to you for allowing the pain to show. Merdwin is correct. I do love you, very much.” Then she smiled at them, as she said, “Nonetheless, it is time you were both in bed, just as I should be. Daniel will be searching for me, if I do not return soon. Now go, both of you, and perhaps tomorrow, you will do better, yes?”
“Yes, I believe we will,” her son answered her, as he leaned forward and kissed her gently on the cheek, a gesture she returned as she looked into his eyes.
Stopping him as he turned to leave, she reached up and caressed his cheek, saying, “I have always been proud of you, as well as loved you. You have nothing to prove to me, Lanwin, not now, and not ever. Please remember that, for it is truth,” she said earnestly, as she nodded toward the door.
“Thank you, maman,” he used the childhood name he had not used for years, as he turned and escorted his sister from the room.
As the two left, she turned to Merdwin, “Thank you for what you just did, Carusawyn. I always knew there was something that bothered my son, but never would he tell me what.”
Turning to gaze out the window at the gathering clouds, she said softy, “Avilion truly is a place to heal. Soon, my mother’s heart will also heal, and she will join again with my father. I wish I was going to be here to see it, but at least I know in my heart that it is so,” she sighed, almost to herself.
“Kataya, I will not allow you or Samantha to die, I promise you,” Merdwin said solemnly.
As she gazed at him in the moonlight, the tenderness she always felt for him caused her to smile, “I am aware,Amat Wyn. I know you will do your best, but know that if you cannot save us, it is all right. Samantha and I both know the risk we are taking.”
Merdwin nodded and said, “You should be in bed, Kataya, your strength has not yet returned, although I noticed that Artereos gave you energy earlier.”
Smiling up at him, she agreed, “Yes, he did, and it was most welcome. The I know you will do your best, but know that if you cannot save us, it is all right. Samantha and I both know the risk we are taking.”
Merdwin nodded and said, “You should be in bed, Kataya, your strength has not yet returned, although I noticed that Artereos gave you energy earlier.”
Smiling up at him, she agreed, “Yes, he did, and it was most welcome. The Sevesh took a great deal out of me. I wish again to thank you for what you and Samantha did this afternoon. It came upon me very quickly. I truly was about to contact you to tell you I was leaving for Avilion. I passed out again,” she frowned, and muttered crossly, “and I have no idea why I am doing that.”
“The only time I have ever known you to faint was when you were with kits. Are you pregnant, Coeurawyn?” Merdwin asked gently.
Shaking her head, she told him, “No, much as I would welcome that for Dayillon, I would not allow it to happen at this time.”
He nodded, replying, “I did not believe so, since Dayillon is not ill, but one never knows.” He shrugged. “Then it was from the bleeding, Kataya. I think you were weaker than you knew, and it will no doubt stop now,” Merdwin said.
“You are probably correct. I can think of no other reason for it. And I feel fine now, whereas before I felt lightheaded most of the time,” she murmured absently.
“And you did not think to tell me,” Merdwin was exasperated. “Had I known that, I would have known how badly it was affecting you.”
“And you might not have allowed events to follow their course. It is as well you did not know.” She smiled slightly at him, and then said, “I came looking for you, actually. Daniel and Samantha have agreed to have their aura’s entwined tomorrow. It is well that it be done. All of their doubts will then be banished.”
They turned to leave the building and head back to their chambers. “I must also thank you again for talking to Lanwin. He needed to hear it from someone besides me.”
“You are most welcome, Kataya. He is a good man, and will someday be a fine warrior. Once, that is, he realizes that he is as good as the rest of his line. He is fearful that he will not live up to you and his grandfather.”
“He has nothing to live up to, Merdwin. My destiny was writ long ago, as was my father’ s…and yours. My children may choose their own path, and for that I am thankful, as they should be.”
Merdwin shrugged, as he pointed out, “I am just saying that in his mind, he must be as good as, or better than, what he has just discovered is a Dragon Slayer. An impossible task and you know it. I am not sure how to let him see that he has nothing to live up to in either of you. Perhaps we should have Artereos speak to him.”
“Perhaps. It seems my son, also, has doubts, which need banishing. I will think on it,” Kataya replied. “Tell me, Amat Wyn,do you have trouble accepting what Samantha and I are about to do? Do you think my father does?”
“I have no ambivalent feelings, Kataya, for she is evil. Artereos feels the same. Both of us feel sad that it must come to this, but there is no other way, and we are both aware of it. It is bothering you?” Merdwin asked anxiously.
“No, it is not. You know my feelings for her. She must and will die; I have no problem with that whatsoever. The list against her is long, Merdwin, as you know, for it starts with you. I have been promised Vengeance, and I will relish it, regardless the cost.”
“Good,” he said. As they mounted the front steps and entered the hallway, the rain began to fall.
“There is one more thing we should discuss, Amat Wyn,” she stopped his goodnights with her words.
“What is that, Kataya? Have I forgotten to do something?” Merdwin asked, mentally going over all of the arrangements that had actually already been made, as they had simply assumed that things would come to pass as Artereos wished them to do as they always did.
Kataya shook her head saying, “No, as far as I know all of the arrangements that were needed have been taken care of. This is a different matter, and one that is just between you and I for now, although I am sure that Father has already noticed. I am not sure that Lantash has, but I will speak to him soon.”
“Ah, you have noticed the interest our daughter is taking in the Tok’Ra, Malek.”
“Yes. I knew him slightly before, but not well. I have, shall we say, touched his aura as well as his heart and soul. He appears to be a good man. The stray thoughts and feelings coming from him and his host during the dinner were, ah, almost blush-worthy, though.”
Merdwin laughed aloud, and Kataya hushed him, reminding him that they were in the hall. “Do you want to draw the entire household down on us?” She whispered to him.
“No, especially if it is Daniel. After seeing what he did to Lantash in your defense, I am very sure I do not want him finding us,” he teased her gently.
“Daniel loves me well, as he has always done, Merdwin.” She frowned slightly, before saying, “I do not believe he realized he had been gone so long. He is very upset about that and the kits, you know. I wish I had blocked the memory so that he would not have had to relive that pain. However, I did not, and it is too late now and very far off the subject at hand. What is your impression of Malek? Is he worthy of your daughter?”
Merdwin was quiet for a moment, and then said, “If I say no, will you do anything about it, Kataya?”
“No, Merdwin, I will not. She must make her own mistakes, as each of us had to do. However, I prefer to know if you believe I am going to be called on to offer a shoulder to cry on, or not,” she said firmly.
Continuing, she said, “So far, I like what I have seen. It took courage to insist on being a second for Lantash and Martouf. He held up well and did not draw back from the pain, but leaned into it and took as much as he could through Daniel, knowing that he, as a symbiote, had more stamina. I was grateful for that,” she stated her thoughts aloud. “I do not know for certain, but I believe he and Lantash are close. When Lantash and I were together, we saw Malek infrequently. Our missions conspired to keep us on opposite schedules, and though I know they were friends, and we got along well when we did meet, still I know little about him. I will ask Lantash about him tomorrow, but tonight I want your opinion, Coeurawyn, so stop being evasive, and tell me what your thoughts are.”
“I like what I have seen of him. I believe he will take some convincing that we will not disapprove of him for our daughter. I felt some trepidation coming from him earlier, as well as the thoughts you caught, as to what he would truly like to do with Gwennetha. I believe he and his host are honest souls and able soldiers. They are willing to do that which they must for their people, very reminiscent of Lantash, in fact. I believe there is a deep friendship between the two. He tried to convince Selmak to let him stand as prime, but as you know, Selmak refused him. I believe it frustrated him, as he wished to be able to help Lantash and Martouf more than he did. So all in all, I agree that he is a good man and probably quite worthy of our daughter’s regard.”
“Whether it will deepen to a Heartmate binding is yet to be seen, but even if she only takes him as a lover, it is good to know that her choice is falling on souls of whom she can be proud,” Merdwin gave his opinion concisely and quickly. Then he asked, “Did you by any chance catch any of her thoughts on the matter, Amat?”
“Yes, she is very interested in him, but not just on a purely physical level. Her interest is deeper than sexual, and I believe she will be cautious in this instance, for she suspects he will become more than just a lover,” Kataya said quietly and firmly.
You know something that I do not, Amat Wyn. What is it?” Merdwin asked softly.
Shaking her head, Kataya answered, “I am not yet sure, Merdwin, but if I find my instincts coalescing into a firm vision, I will tell you. I do not believe it is anything that need concern either of us, I assure you. All right?”
Nodding, he agreed. “Your instincts have always been good, and I have no reason to believe they would not also be so in this instance. So, we are in agreement that we will simply observe and encourage him, if he seems to be too leery of us?”
She agreed softly, “I believe that would be the best thing to do for now, Merdwin, yes.”
He nodded his agreement with their decision. “Now you should go to bed, also, Carusawyn, for tomorrow will be a long and eventful day,” Merdwin reminded her.
“That is very true,Caruswyn. Goodnight,” she said, her voice still little more than a whisper. Standing on tiptoe, she kissed him on the cheek and started up the stairs to her chamber where her Daniel awaited. She was tired, but at peace for the first time in several days. Tonight she would sleep well.
Sam stood at the long window, looking out over the courtyard, to the meadows and finally the forest. From there, her eye continued the journey to the mountains in the distance. Avilion really was a beautiful place. Pulling in a shaking breath, she allowed the peace that surrounded everything here to seep into her. She had not expected the emotions that swamped her—or the memories. Her times as Dayillon’s, Daniel’s, Heartmate had returned to her, and she had almost cried out, as she relived the pain of leaving him.
Closing her eyes, she relived the last hour or so during which she and Daniel had made their vows and entwined their auras. They took her to a very beautiful, but quiet chamber where she bathed in scented water with a soft clear soap that smelled of lilacs. It had been so soothing that she had not even objected when they dressed her in a gown of royal blue trimmed with silver that swept the floor in a train in the back, and had sleeves that swept the floor over the long tight under-sleeves. Her circlet had flowers entwined in it.
At the correct time, she had walked calmly into the Ritual Chamber with Kataya walking beside her, lending her support. She had cautioned her that the binding would bring forth memories that would be quite intense. She remembered smiling and telling Kataya not to worry, and she remembered the look of resignation on Kataya’s face and then the nod of acceptance, which she did not understand at the time. Now, she realized that Kataya had realized that she did not believe her; that there was nothing she could do, but stand by her as she relived the memories. And, of course, she had been there for her as had Daniel, who had already relived his and knew what was coming for her.
The chanting she loved had started as she walked toward Daniel and Martouf. Both were handsome in traditional Furling dress. Daniel had also been wearing the same royal blue with silver trim. When she had reached his side, they had turned together to face Merdwin.
“Daniel of the Tau’ri, it is our understanding that you wish to formally acknowledge Samantha of the Tau’ri as your eternal Heartmate. To prove the depth and enduring quality of the tie, you at last wish to entwine your auras that you may reside within each other’s hearts, and dwell there in love for all eternity. Is this truth?” Merdwin asked him.
“Yes, it is, and I do wish it. Samantha of the Tau’ri is my Heartmate, and I will love her always. She will be the Adored One into eternity,” Daniel answered his voice deepening with sincerity.
“Daniel of the Tau’ri, are you willing to remember each of your pledges to one another down through the ages and keep them in your memories and your heart for all time?”
“I am,” Daniel said softly.
Turning to her, Merdwin had said, “Samantha of the Tau’ri, it is our understanding that you wish to formally acknowledge Daniel of the Tau’ri as your eternal Heartmate. To prove the depth and enduring quality of the tie, you at last wish to entwine your auras that you may reside within each other’s hearts and dwell there in love for all eternity. Is this truth?”
“Yes, it is, and I do. Daniel of the Tau’ri is my Heartmate, and I will love him always. He will be the Adored of My Heart into eternity.” She had answered firmly, knowing in that moment that it was, in fact, very true.
“Samantha of the Tau’ri, are you willing to remember each of your pledges to one another down through the ages and keep them in your memories and your heart for all time?” Merdwin had then asked.
“I am,” she had responded softly, as had Daniel.
Kataya had taken her hand, Martouf had taken Daniel’s, and they led them up the two steps that put them on the same floor space as the large stone altar. They had walked them to the center of that area and stopped a few feet from the altar where Merdwin had gone to stand. Placing cushions on the stone floor for them to kneel on, as well as for themselves, they had then all four knelt, each pair facing the other.
Merdwin had begun to chant, and Sam had first become aware of the intense fragrance of the incense. Then she had felt and seen the strands of light that seemed to leave her, yet stay attached to her. They had gone forth across the short space that divided her and Daniel and began to entwine with those that came from him.
Without knowing why, she had reached for Daniel, as he had reached for her. As they joined hands, and the strands continued to twist and turn, Merdwin had said to Daniel, “Do you wish to take Samantha as your bonded Heartmate? If this is so, you must declare as much to her.”
Looking at her intently, Daniel had said to her, “I am your Heartmate, and you are mine. The Adored One. The Adored of my Heart. By this binding of our auras, you will remain so for all eternity. This is my desire, as it has been through the ages that we have been mated, one to the other.” She had heard him catch his breath and tears came to his eyes. He had looked at her with such pain and such love that she had felt his emotions.
When he finally closed his eyes for a moment with a sigh and then opened them to look at her and smile, Merdwin had then turned to her. With a gentle smile, he said, “Do you wish to take Daniel as your bonded Heartmate? If this is so, you must declare as much to him.”
Turning her gaze from Merdwin to Daniel, she had said, “I am your Heartmate, and you are mine. The Adored of my Heart. The Adored One. By this binding of our auras, you will remain so for all eternity. This is my desire, as it has been through the ages we have been mated, one to the other.” Then, it had been her turn to catch her breath, as each of their times as mates had washed over her along with the resultant good-byes. All the love she had shared with this man through the last millennia plus came flooding back, and tears streaked her cheeks as she felt each parting, too. The sweet and the bitter washed over her in waves. When it passed, she, too, had closed her eyes for a brief moment, then opened them, and smiled at Daniel as he had at her.
Then Merdwin was speaking, and she had listened and watched. As Merdwin again chanted a short spell of some kind, the strands had left them completely, but once apart, they had circled them, and then dissolving into shining particles of light, they had reentered them. It was impossible to tell which particles belonged to which of them.
Once that happened, Merdwin said, “Daniel and Samantha of the Tau’ri have spoken their vows one to the other and declared to the All that their love is eternal. In answer, the All has taken their auras and shared it between the two. Now they reside one within the other. As it has been before it will now live forever. So be it. The rite of Sevesh’en twine Coeuramator of the auras is completed.”
That had been it. Kataya had helped her up and hugged her and then Daniel. Martouf and Lantash had done the same. They had walked down to the group that had been watching and accepted their congratulations.
Now here she stood, reliving those memories that had flashed so quickly through her mind. So. It was very true. They had been together more than one lifetime, and each parting had hurt just as badly as the one before. Now, she had a Soulmate that she would someday have to say good-bye to. However, not forever, she realized. It would not be forever, for they would be together again, she was sure of that. Very, very, sure.
She felt the hands fall onto her shoulders and turned into the arms that came around her. Martouf held her gently and stroked her hair, but it was Lantash who came fore and spoke to her.
“It was emotional for you, and I am sorry it took you unaware. I am surprised that Kataya did not warn you of what would take place. You have a history with Daniel; she should have told you the memories would flood you.” He spoke softly, as he rubbed circles on her back, as she had done for him the day before.
Sam sighed, “It was my own fault, Lantash. She did tell me; she tried to warn me. I guess I just did not really believe it. I mean, I did not remember ever being with Daniel before so…” her voice trailed off. Smiling slightly, she said, “Now that I know, it seems very right, all of this. It is as if I have come home, in a way. I don’t know how to explain it.”
“You explained it very well, my love. I am so very glad I finally agreed to the Sevesh and only wish I had done so earlier. Soon you will know this peace that comes with the aural binding. Believe me, it is a wondrous thing,” he said, his voice deep with meaning. “The Furling could probably explain it better, but I will try. I believe the feeling comes from the fact that although a mating by the declaration is a true mating, the actual ceremony makes you a permanent part of the Adored one. You have a place now in his heart where a part of you dwells, as he does in yours. It is a place that belongs to only you, and no one else will ever share it or take your place in it. You are, in a sense as you said, home.”
“That was very well stated, young one. You could be a Furling yourself; your explanation was so accurate.” The couple turned to watch the (old?) gentleman as he made his way toward them. “Now, my dear,” he said, as he addressed Sam, “You will no longer have to lie awake and wonder what it is that Kataya and your lover feel for one another. All you need do is think of Dayillon, and you will know.”
Sam blushed that Artereos could know that she had wondered about their tie. That she had thought about it, no matter how hard she tried to suppress those thoughts, or how logically her mind could explain them. She had wondered if her time in Kataya’s mind had told her the truth of the feelings she would have for Lantash once the blood tie was gone, and now she knew. Their tie of passion gone, well, at least very much subdued, Kataya felt for Lantash and probably, Martouf, by now, exactly what she felt for Daniel.
Looking up from where she had been contemplating the floor, she looked directly at Artereos, and said, “You knew, and that was the whole reason you more or less forced Daniel and I to go through the aural binding. To show both of us, not just me, that we had no reason to question it or to fear it. You did it to banish all of our doubts. Thank you.”
“This seems to be a very popular place. And, I agree, sir, thank you,” Daniel said, as he walked down the corridor toward them. “I did not mean to eavesdrop, but I am afraid your voices carried to me as I walked toward the sanctuary. I apologize.”
“I do not think it was a deeply private conversation, and you were, after all, a part of it. How are you feeling now that it is over?” Artereos questioned him.
Daniel frowned. “Comfortable, I guess, calm, and perhaps,” he scrunched up his forehead as he examined his feelings, “yes, quietly happy, content. I do not know how else to explain it. It did release some of the feelings I have been having about Lantash and Kataya. I thought I had finally won over them yesterday, but I guess it was only in my mind that I was able to accept the whole thing. My heart still was not sure. Now, as Sam said, it has banished all of my doubts.”
“Good. Now the two of you will soon feel the need to cement your friendship. Just tell Merdwin, it is a very simple rite and can be done anywhere,” Artereos assured both he and Lantash.
Daniel looked bewildered and glanced at Sam to see if she understood what he meant. For once, his agile brain did not make the intuitive leap from inference to fact.
Seeing the look, Artereos smiled at him. “Soon, you, Martouf, and Lantash will feel the need to join as true brothers of the heart,” he said, “But, do not worry about it. When the time for you to become Coeurata’irs, is right, you will know.”
“Sir…” Sam started to say, only to have him interrupt her.
“You are to call me, Artereos,” he said, with a smile at her. “Yes, my dear? What is bothering you?”
“Artereos, then. I do not understand how all of this affects Martouf. I mean, it was Lantash and Dominic that entwined with Kataya. What of Martouf’s aura? How does that work?” Sam asked hurriedly. This had suddenly come to her a few moments ago, and it bothered her that he might not be sharing in these feelings.
Artereos paused, before saying, “The blending between symbiote and host makes for some rather odd results with our rites and rituals. One would assume that Martouf’s blood would not have come forth during the Sevesh, since he and Kataya did not entwine. We have found, however, that the blood tie that was between the symbiote and the mate moves from one host to the next, while for some reason, the aural tie does not. We believe it is a chemical process of some type that takes place within the host/symbiote relationship that causes the blood tie to remain.”
“Therefore, I am afraid that Martouf and Kataya are not joined in the way that you are to Daniel. He feels that which Lantash feels, but until he feels himself able to claim Kataya as his mate, they cannot entwine their auras. You and Daniel have a long history as mates, Samantha. Martouf and Kataya may not. He must decide he loves her enough to wish to entwine auras with her and claim her, before we can do the rite. He agreed to the retaining of the aural tie that was already there, so he only needs to wish his own aura added to make the blending complete.”
“I see,” Sam said, sounding sad.
“If it will make you feel better, my Samantha, I believe it will be soon. My feelings grow stronger each day, and now that I no longer must fight against them, I believe they will grow much faster,” Martouf told her gently. “I was not sure how you would feel about me having feelings for Kataya, so—I was—unsure,” he said haltingly, obviously embarrassed, “If I should mention them—at all.”
Sam looked at him and shook her head. “I have no objections at all. In fact, I want you to have this same sense of belonging that we all do. Perhaps you should talk to Kataya? See how she feels about it?” Turning to Artereos, she said, “If they agree, it could be done, couldn’t it?” She asked, anxious that Martouf also feel this feeling of belonging that they all felt.
“Yes, as soon as they feel that they wish to, we will do it, I assure you. We can perform the Sevesh’en at any time; it does not have to have an audience, and we have plenty of people to stand witness. Now stop worrying, it will be done in due time, Samantha, and in the meantime, he is sharing it through Lantash, so it is not as if he has no idea what he will experience once he joins with Kataya,” Artereos promised her.
Then he added softly and gently, “You must understand, Samantha, that if they do not truly feel that they love one another deeply enough to entwine, the All would simply refuse to pull forth their aura’s. They will know when the time is correct for them, and they are truly ready, Carusawyn.”
When she nodded her understanding, he continued, saying, “For now, it is time for you to begin to prepare for the, ah, interview with me.” He turned as two priestesses that Sam recognized from the day before came forward. She glanced at Artereos, wondering why they were there, if no one was to know about her. “There were some who were here during the time of Bastet. They are aware of Kataya’s, shall we say, difference?” They have been silent for well over a hundred years. I do not think they will speak of it now,” he said, as Sam hesitated.
“I understand. Thank you again, Artereos.” Sam kissed Martouf swiftly, and turned to follow the two women. She was beginning to feel nervous, and then she felt a hand on her arm. She looked at Artereos, her eyes wide. Lifting her hand, he kissed the inside of her wrist in the ages-old manner, and as the large emerald ring began to glow, she felt a surge of strength flow through her. She could do this. She knew she could.
“Remember, you are a much beloved daughter of the All; it welcomes you and your endeavors on its behalf. Fear not, but go forth into the Tapestry of Light; it is the All of the Universe, and you are its Beautiful Star.”
“I will do my very best, Sire, I promise you,” Giving him her vow, Sam turned, and flanked by the women, she walked sedately down the hall and disappeared from their sight.
“It will be a while now, my sons. Go for a walk. Come back in a couple of hours. My testing of Samantha will not take overly long, but the preparation for the bonding could do so. If by some fluke they are ready before then, we will call you.” Artereos bowed to them, and walked away.
Daniel turned to Martouf and shrugged. “We might as well do as he said. There is nothing for us to do here and the others left a while ago.”
Martouf’s lips quirked in a half-smile as he drawled, “No doubt you are correct, Daniel. I believe we should perhaps become used to waiting.”
Daniel grinned at him as they stepped into the transport room and it whisked them away. Once in the garden, Daniel glanced over at Martouf as they meandered slowly down first one path and then another. “Sooo,” Daniel began, “what do you think of Artereos? For some reason, all of my memories of times spent around him, well mostly those at Cadwaellon are very hazy, which I must admit I find a little odd. I mean, supposedly I have been his son-in-law for thousands of years.” He frowned before murmuring, “I would think that a man such as Artereos would neither fade from one’s memory, nor be forgotten once met. I mean, he is just…” For once words failed Daniel Jackson, a moment that, Lantash whispered to Martouf, they should duly take note of, as he was quite sure it was a rarity.
Martouf admonished him, as he turned to answer Daniel, “Lantash does not appear to have any memories of when he and Kataya were at Cadwaellon with Artereos either, Daniel, although his memories of being here, at Avilion, with him are quite clear and sharp. Perhaps those memories are more meaningful or newer than those of Cadwaellon are. As for what I think of him, I must admit that I am drawn to him.” He frowned, before continuing, “I believe I like him, but I do not know him well enough yet to form a true opinion.”
He paused and Daniel saw him blush slightly. Unusual, since Lantash normally controlled those types of responses. It did not take long to find out why Lantash allowed it to happen. Martouf glanced sideways at him, and then sighed. “That is a lie, as Lantash has been very quick to point out to me. It is my innate caution speaking instead of the truth. I know that I like him. I like him immensely, though I cannot tell you why. I believe that perhaps that is why I am loath to admit to it so quickly into our acquaintance. There is that about him that insists that one trust him implicitly and at once with nothing other than instinct to backup that feeling. Of course, Lantash knows him and perhaps that is part of it as well. I know that I am glad he insisted that you and Samantha go through the aural binding, as I think that in many ways, it will help all of us. I know that does not make sense, but it is how I feel about it, nonetheless.”
Daniel nodded. “I agree, and I also think you will agree even more after you and Kataya go through the ritual. It really does make you feel comfortable,” Daniel said, as they turned down another path in the garden. Looking at the beauty everywhere around him, Daniel sighed before commenting softly, “This is a lovely place, a healing place.”
“It is,” Lantash came forward, to answer him. “As you know, I have first-hand knowledge of it. When I was here after the time of Bastet, Kataya would take me from my tank and carry me into these gardens. Before you ask, no, I do not know how I was able to remain out of the tank while she carried me around, sometimes for an hour or more. I should not have been able to do so; however, I came to realize that there are many things that happen at Avilion that in all verisimilitude can happen nowhere else in the Universe.”
He paused for a moment before saying, “The Furling can completely heal wounds, but they do not do so very often, did you know?”
Daniel looked startled, “No, I didn’t. I mean, I know they can completely heal injuries; I did not know that they do not normally do so. That is not something of which I have any memory.” He frowned before revealing, “On our first mission, Kataya had Sam use the ribbon device on me to heal some broken ribs as well as a knife wound that Jack received in hand to hand with a Jaffa.” Still frowning slightly, he asked, “Still, if that is unusual, what is it that they do?”
“You were in a battle situation, and that is quite different. In addition, the injuries were simple. They will heal bones and cuts. Normally though, they infuse life force into you until your own body can heal itself, if possible. I am speaking of major injuries, not minor injuries. When I was here before, they did actual healing on me, of course, or I would not have survived; however, they only did enough to allow my own body to take over and slowly begin to heal me. They simply continued to infuse, I think, life force, strength, or perhaps, energy, would be another way of putting it. Had you not wondered why it took so long for me to heal?” Lantash sent him an inquiring look.
“I had not really given it much thought, actually, but now that you mention it, I guess it does seem odd. I suppose I assumed that your injuries were so extensive that it was beyond their abilities to heal you completely, which once you give that idea some thought, makes no sense at all. I remember Kataya saying that Gwennetha was off active duty until she healed from a wound; I was confused at the time, but something else, ah, claimed our attention, and I never returned to the conversation.”
Lantash nodded, sent Daniel a knowing look, and then said, “I did not understand it at first, either. In fact, in my case and Kataya’s, at that time, we were very nearly beyond their abilities, although I believe it is very rare for someone to die if they can make it back to Avilion. The fact that she managed to arrive here with both of us still alive…as well as carrying Dominic’s soul, is truly an amazing feat. I will remember that forever, Daniel, just as I will always carry her in my heart in her special place.” He paused briefly before adding, “Just as you will always love and carry my Samantha within yours.”
Before Daniel could comment he changed the subject, stating, “They are a very complex race. However, you will eventually remember that. I am always amazed at the contradictions within their society. They are so very pagan in so many respects, and yet, they are very technologically advanced. Because they are, you know. The transporter room? It takes them wherever they tell it to take them. Moreover, they can bring it to them, although I did not know that until yesterday. I imagine I just never paid attention before when I was here.”
He hesitated, for a moment, and then continued, “I asked Kataya once about why their rites and rituals are so pagan, and she said that the beginnings of their rites are lost in the Mysts of time; therefore, she does not know. Disregarding that, she postulates that it is because they are such a passionate and violent race, in so many ways. Her theory is that before the Light spread, and the Mysts became a source of energy, that they were truly savage and even more closely akin to cats. It was only when the First-born began to gain their wisdom through the All and become civilized, that the Light began to shine forth more brightly. She conjectures that then the Mysts began to feed, sustain, and nurture them, rather than cloak and hide them.”
Once more pausing to gather his thoughts, he then added quietly, “Blood is the life force, and it contains that which keeps us alive. Therefore, it also keeps alive our emotions and our passions. She feels that the blood in their rites is to remind them of their past and, also, to show that they have learned to channel and control their violence and passion into forms that do good rather than evil. In many ways, they truly are still akin to the cats that roam their world, so in harmony are they with them. Kataya says that they are kin to them, and that they have learned much from the cats through the millennia. To this day, they live with cats, bond with them, and learn from them. In fact, Kataya has a cat that stays at Cadwaellon. At least, she used to have one, and I assume it is still there, as they are a bond-pair, and they are both bonded to a Vampesian, which forms them into a battle triumvirate.”
Daniel gasped, as he had a sudden vision. Turning to Lantash, he asked, “It is a large black cat; a Pantherataya named Gwynnfar, right? I remember her and…” Daniel stopped and closed his eyes as he attempted to bring the memory back, before saying, “Damn it, I lost it, but I would swear I saw a stunning black and silver haired man with them,” Daniel said, as the memory of the large black cat that had been a part of their lives came back to him.
“Yes, that is Gwynnfar,” Lantash agreed, but not knowing who the man might be, he dismissed that part of Daniel’s memory, and reverted to the previous subject. “The first time I looked into Kataya’s eyes during a full Katteri-enti manifestation, I was shocked to see a savage killer looking back at me. For one split second, I thought she would kill anything that stood in her way, including me, but she turned and attacked the Jaffa that were over running us. I do not know how many she killed, before we finally made it to the gate and were able to dial out of there. They could not touch her through her shield, and the Katteri kept me behind them, of course. The last thing I saw, as I stepped into the Chaappa’ai, was her slashing open a Jaffa’s neck and withdrawing his life force. I thought the Jaffa would follow us through, but they did not, and I found out later that it is because Jaffa cannot get through to Avilion, and neither can Goa’uld. How Teal’c and the Tok’Ra are able to, I do not know.”
Daniel nodded, “I remember something about that, and what you are saying definitely rings a bell. As for you and Teal’c being able to come through, I do not know either, but my guess is that their technology somehow reads intentions; it can somehow see what is in the heart. If so, then any Jaffa or Goa’uld coming with the intent to kill would not be allowed to come here.”
“That would make sense. I do not know why I never thought to ask anyone. If I remember, I will ask Artereos. Now that we have started to discuss it, I am curious,” Lantash said, intrigued now that he had given it serious thought. “No doubt, Samantha will find it intriguing, also.”
Daniel grinned as he agreed, and then he changed the subject asking, “Do you know anything about this joining that Sam and Kataya are going to go through? Or the Coeurata’irs? It means heart-brothers or brothers of the heart, but that is all I can remember. The name of the rite, not what actually occurs during it,” he finished with a derisive snort for his lack of memory.
“No,” Lantash frowned. “I do not. I do not, however, believe either of them to be the same as a mate’s joining. I do seem to remember blood being involved in the Sevesh’en Coeurata’irs.”
“I agree, although I cannot for the life of me remember that, either,” Daniel said, disgust still evident in his tone.
“I am sure you will remember everything in time, Daniel. After all, you have new flashes all the time, do you not? You just had one a short time ago when you remembered Gwynnfar.”
“Yes, that is true,” he replied, and then he smiled at someone he saw coming toward them. “Hello, Lanwin, have you come to let us know that it is time to return?”
“Yes, they are almost ready, so I was sent for you,” the young man smiled at both of them.
“Okay, let’s go then,” Daniel, said, as they fell into step together. Lanwin turned onto a different path, and they followed, realizing he probably knew a shorter way back than they did. He did, and in a very short space of time, they were on their way back up to the ritual chamber. Before entering a priestess gave them each a robe to pull on over their clothing. Lantash’s was blue trimmed in silver and Daniel’s was purple trimmed in gold. He looked questioningly at Lanwin, who grinned at them.
“My mother’s energy tends to the purples, blues, and gold with flashes of flame. Samantha’s tends to blues, purples, and silver, with bolts of white-hot energy. Therefore, colors that designate Samantha are any and all shades of blue with silver. My mother’s are any and all shades of purple with gold.” Lantash, and Daniel nodded their understanding.
Entering the ritual chamber, they saw at once that they were the last of the group to appear. They joined their friends, who were already sitting near the front. No one had explained what was about to happen, so Lantash asked, “What happens in the joining, Lanwin? No one has told us.”
Lanwin shook his head, while replying, “I do not know. There has never been a joining of Dragon Slayers in my lifetime.” He frowned, saying, “I am not sure there have been Dragon Slayers brought forth since right after the Myst-time. We only know of it in legends, so I do not know what will take place during the rite.”
“Wow,” Daniel said softly.
Lanwin and Jack turned to look toward the front. Merdwin, Sam, and Kataya had entered the chamber. Sam and Kat were standing in front of the stone altar with at least twenty feet between them. Both women were dressed in robes similar to the ones that everyone else was wearing, except that they glittered and flashed as the light caught the threads of the material. Two attendants stepped forward and removed the robes, to reveal the two women dressed in tunic and tights, one blue with silver trim, one purple with gold, both made of some material that caught and reflected the light around them. Merdwin stepped forward, and then slid ribbon devices onto both women’s hands.
“Samantha of the Tau’ri and Kataya of Cadwaellon, you have come forth on this day to join your spirits so that they may dwell one within the other and be known fully to each other, one heart, one soul, one mind, when you enter into battle?” Merdwin turned the statement into a question.
“We have,” they answered in unison.
Nodding and stepping back and out of their way, Merdwin indicated that they should begin. Kataya and Samantha raised their hands and began to use the ribbon on one another, pointing the energy at each other’s forehead. Only then did anyone notice that neither of them were wearing their circlets. They stood facing one another as the beams of multihued lights moved through the color spectrum and pulsed, waxing and waning.
Soon, the two women began to move slowly closer to one another, and when they were within a few feet of one another, their hands moved the beams of light from their foreheads to their hands. As each ribbon device both sent and absorbed, once close enough to one another, they reached out their other hand and entwined their fingers. As they joined the hands that wore the ribbon devices, a glow spread out from their clasped hands to surround them.
Suddenly, it disappeared, and the two women slid to the floor. Merdwin waved for their robes. They covered them, before they picked them up and carried them to the stone altar, now covered with a thick layer of soft looking linens. Merdwin checked each of them, pulled their circlets from a spot behind the altar, and placed them on their heads. After they placed the pillows under their heads, he nodded to the attendants that they were finished. Turning, he joined those sitting and watching, and said, “Shall we go? There is nothing more we can do here. They will sleep and remain together for several hours.”
Jack looked at the two women lying on the altar and said, “That’s it? No, blood? No, intense pain? No, chants or spells or anything? Just—sleep?”
“Yes, I am afraid so, Jack. I hope you are not too disappointed that all of our rites and rituals are not soaked in blood,” Merdwin replied, his voice showing the amusement he felt.
“No, no, but, ah, what just happened? And why are they sleeping?” Jack asked, wanting the details of what they had just watched.
“Each of them absorbed the essence of the other through the ribbon. They exchanged their life forces. You cannot see it, but their hands welded together through the ribbon devices. Although we can no longer see it, they are exchanging and bonding their spirits and souls. At the right time, they will activate a latent link that will allow them to access and pool their power. It will take several hours for the transference and binding to take place. They are not exactly asleep, but that is the easiest way to explain it,” Merdwin explained, patiently and calmly.
“I will check on them frequently, and when they are almost finished, I will remain with them, until they become fully conscious, and their hands become freed from one another. You will see no difference in them, but it will be there. It will show the most for now in Samantha’s heightened abilities in the use of the sword, ribbon, and dagger, as well as her abilities to use her energy for shields, to sense energy fields, and to sense shielding in others. As time goes on, those who are very close to them may notice that they sometimes crave the same foods, or are sleepy at the same time. That can happen; I am not saying that it will.”
“Will this exhaust them, Merdwin? Will they need extra rest or anything afterwards?” Daniel wanted to know.
“No, Daniel, in fact, they will probably feel energized, and I am planning on the knighting ceremony taking place early this evening,” he said, as he turned from answering Daniel to face Taesha and Lanwin. “You will both need to go to the Inner Sanctum for the next several hours. The priests and priestesses there will guide you, and I myself will come for you when it is time.”
“Merdwin,” Lanwin began.
“You will be fine. Now go. You will wish to be ready when your mother and father are.”
Nodding at him, the two left to prepare themselves for one of the most important events in a warrior’s life. A young Warrior did not receive his or her rank and become a full-fledged warrior, until the All deemed them ready to manifest into their fighting form. It only happened once in each lifetime, and it was an important day. It was profound, but it was also terrifying. What if they were not worthy? They would know soon, now, for the All would not allow it if they were not ready.
Within the next few hours, they would know if they would be going on the upcoming mission as full-fledged Katteri-enti Warriors with the possibility that they would manifest for the first time during this very important task. It was both exciting and frightening. All they could do was prepare for the upcoming ceremony and hope their abilities were deemed advanced enough.