Chapter Thirty-seven summary: Lanwin and Taesha attain their knighthood. Afterwards, there is a meal, and during that, Artereos tells them of his plans for Sam's training and for Sam and Martouf/Lantash's wedding. Once they have adjourned to the game room, a short discussion brings forth questions that must be answered before the majority of the Tau'ri return to Earth the next day. Malek and Gwennetha begin their courtship.
Carus – Dear; Dearest Amat - Love Carusawyn - My Dear, My Dearest Amat Wyn - My love Coeurawyn - My heart Sevesh - A Rite or Ritual Sevesh Lok Twin - Rite of Release “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Jack had to admit that he was curious about this particular rite. A knighting seemed a simple enough thing to go through and, after seeing the rites this morning and afternoon; he was not expecting anything as emotionally or physically trying as the Sevesh Lok Twin. At least, he hoped it would not be.
He saw Merdwin leave several minutes ago, and then return with Artereos. They both walked straight to the front and were standing before the altar stone talking quietly. Both were dressed in what he assumed were very formal clothes, for they were made of rich fabrics. He thought Artereos looked distinguished. He saw him glance to one side and then nod. Merdwin glanced up, and a low melodious chanting began and, as it worked its way to a crescendo, the attendants at the back threw the doors open, and the two young warriors, surrounded by priests and priestesses, were walked slowly toward the front of the room.
He watched as their escorts walked beside them until they reached the front of the sanctuary. Then they presented them to Artereos and Merdwin as squires, who were requesting a presentation to the All, in hopes that they would be accepted and become full- fledged Katteri-enti Warriors. They were dressed in white tunics, black pants, and black boots that laced to their knees. As they knelt on the cushions placed on the stone floor, Merdwin and Artereos came forward and stood in front of them.
“Lanwin and Kataesha, you have come forth to be presented to the All as Warriors, able and worthy to manifest as Katteri-enti; Warriors who will go forth in defense of that Light. As such, it is on this day that you shall bend your will, your head, and your knee, to the good of the All, and pledge yourself to its defense and protection, for as a Warrior of the Katteri-enti, it is your duty and your honor to so serve,” Artereos stated, quietly.
Turning to the young man, he said, “Do you understand and wish to pledge yourself to this cause?”
“I do, Sire,” Lanwin, replied.
“Are you willing to accept the mark of the Katteri, to prove your desires are true by accepting the possibility of death, and bend your knee to those whose commands you are bound to obey?”
“I am, Sire,” Lanwin again replied.
Turning to the young woman, he said, “Do you understand and wish to pledge yourself to this cause?”
“I do, Sire,” Kataesha, replied.
“Are you willing to accept the mark of the Katteri, to prove your desires are true by accepting the possibility of death, and bend your knee to those whose commands you are bound to obey?”
“I am, Sire,” Kataesha answered.
Merdwin and Artereos turned and moved aside as Kataya and Lantash came forward, Kataya in full Katteri dress uniform, Lantash in traditional Katteri clothing and robe, again in richer fabrics than they usually wore. Standing in front of her son, Kataya looked at him, then at her daughter, threw back her head, and manifested as full Katteri- enti.
Stepping to her son, she looked down at him. First snarling, and then hissing, she reached out and left four widely spaced slashes on his throat. Jack jerked and decided that maybe this was not going to be an easy one after all. Damn, that had to hurt; the blood was running down his throat and onto.
Kataya watched as it trickled down and onto the tunic. Once it reached it, staining it bright red, she leaned down and ripped it baring her son’s chest. With a long deadly claw, she cut deeply into his chest the symbols of the crown over crossed swords.
Once the blood began to run from that, she stood quietly contemplating him for some moments. Before long she declared to the room of people, and to him, “Your name, my son,” she declared, “Tells who you are and from whence you came. You are Lanwin Dom’ Katash of Cadwaellon, male offspring of Dominic and Lantash the Tok’Ra and Kataya the Furling Warrior. You are the son of the Tok’Ra dragon and the Furling Kat-entity and you, the son of our blood and our seed, shall be known to the All from this day forward as LanKatash PenDrawyn; Lantash and Kataya’s Dragon of Strength. The All will welcome you and your efforts on its behalf.”
Lanwin’s breath stopped, as he realized that his mother had just renamed him to the All. To do so was unusual, in that it meant that the person she was presenting to the All was special, and should be known to the All by a special name. She was telling him in a way that he would recognize at once, on a deeply personal level, that she felt him to be capable of everything he wished, and that, in her eyes, he was a worthy son for a Dragon Slayer.
By not stopping the flowing of his blood, the All was signaling that it agreed. He would not fail her, his father, or the All, now or ever. The blood dripped down his chest, and he looked up and into his father eyes. The glow shining forth from his father's face, as he gazed at his son, also, told him of the pride he felt in him this day. No longer would he question either his mother's love or his abilities as a Warrior.
Drawing her sword, Kataya looked to Lantash, and he placed his hand over hers on the hilt. They placed it on the first of the four slashes in Lanwin’s neck, and Kataya said, “Do you accept this devoir which sends you to the far corners of the universe to fight the enemies of the Light that is the All?”
“I do,” Lanwin, answered.
Moving to the second slash and pressing against it, causing more blood to flow, Kataya asked, “Do you accept that you will bend your knee to the Sire of this land and attend unto his commands, as commands from the All?”
“I do,” he again answered, in the affirmative.
Pressing deeply into the third slash, another question was asked, “Do you pledge yourself from this day forward to strive to use wisdom in your endeavors, great strength of purpose in your actions, and to shed your blood to the death to protect the Light that is the All?”
“I do,” he said, his voice firm.
As the fourth and final slash was cut into, Kataya said to her son, “Do you swear to be true, valiant, courageous, and above all, pure in your heart, that your deeds will always be honorable and justified in your defense of the power that is the Light of the All?”
“I do,” Lanwin, answered.
“Have you more to say?” Kataya asked.
“I do. I was brought forth from the loins of my mother Kataya the Warrior, gotten on her by the seed of my fathers, Dominic and Lantash of the Tok’Ra. I am Lanwin Dom’Katash, to be known to the All as LanKatash PenDrawyn. I swear on this,” he ran his fingers through the blood that still ran down his throat and dripped onto the ripped tunic, and held it for them to see, “the blood of my body, that I will forever defend the light that is the All, and the peoples and races of the universe. I swear to respect and find beauty in the diversity and differences of the sentient beings, which make up those peoples and races, as the All wishes us to do. I give my oath of fealty to my Sire, who is at the command of the All, and I pledge unto him my allegiance that I will forever serve him in any way I can, to ensure that the Light that is the All, is not extinguished. My will shall bend unto that of the All, and I will defend and protect the All with honor, wisdom, and justice, to my last breath, and to the last drop of my blood. This is my solemn Oath.”
“So be it done,” Kataya said, as she and Lantash laid the blade once more against each of the slashes and each, in turn, healed.
Smiling slightly at Lanwin, Kataya bowed her head in acceptance of what he had said, and then passed on to Taesha. She looked down at her daughter with an arrogant tilt to her head and a slight smile on her lips. The arrogant tilt to Taesha’s head matched that of her mother’s and told Lanwin that Taesha would not feel slighted if she was not renamed. Taesha did not need a new name to know her mother’s heart, or her place in the All. She was the daughter of a Katteri-enti Warrior, a Dragon Slayer, and she knew and was comfortable in her abilities.
Lanwin watched as his mother snarled, hissed, then slashed Taesha’s throat even as she had slashed his, and waited for the blood to stain the tunic. Once it was well stained, she ripped it open with ease, and used her long deadly claws to carve the crown and crossed swords into Taesha’s chest. The scar would become light, but it would always remain. They were Katteri, and it was the symbol they would bear, forevermore.
“Your name, my daughter,” she declared, “Tells who you are and from whence you came. You are Kataesha Domynara,” female offspring of Dominic and Lantash the Tok’Ra and Kataya the Furling Warrior. You are the daughter of the Tok’Ra dragon, and the Furling Kat-entity, and you, the daughter of our blood and our seed, are known to the All as such. The All will welcome you and your efforts on its behalf.”
Once again drawing the sword she had sheathed after using it on Lanwin, Kataya looked to Lantash, and he placed his hand over hers on the hilt. They placed it on the first of the four slashes in Taesha’s neck, and Kataya said, “Do you accept this devoir which sends you to the far corners of the universe to fight the enemies of the Light that is the All?”
“I do,” Taesha, answered.
Moving to the second slash and pressing against it, causing more blood to flow, Kataya asked, “Do you accept that you will bend your knee to the Sire of this land and attend unto his commands, as commands from the All?”
“I do,” she once again answered.
Pressing deeply into the third slash, she asked the third question, “Do you pledge yourself from this day forward, to strive to use wisdom in your endeavors, great strength of purpose in your actions, and to shed your blood to the death to protect the Light that is the All?”
“I do,” She answered firmly.
As the fourth and final slash was cut into, and the blood continued to flow, Kataya said, to her daughter, “Do you swear to be true, valiant, courageous, and above all, pure in your heart, that your deeds will always be honorable and justified, in your defense of the power that is the Light of the All?”
“I do,” Taesha, answered.
“Have you more to say?” Kataya asked.
Taesha responded, “I do. I was brought forth from the loins of my mother, Kataya the Warrior, gotten on her by the seed of my fathers, Dominic and Lantash of the Tok’Ra. I saw first light in this place and was known as who I am, Kataesha Domynara. I swear on this, which is the source of my life-force and my passion,” she ran her fingers through the blood that ran down her throat, and held it for them to see, “the blood of my body, that I will forever defend the light that is the All, and the peoples and races of the universe. I swear to respect and find beauty in the diversity and differences of the sentient beings, which make up those peoples and races, as the All wishes and expects us to do. I give my oath of fealty to my Sire, who is at the command of the All, and I pledge unto him my allegiance that I will forever serve him in any way I can, to ensure that the Light that is the All is not extinguished. My will shall bend unto that of the All, and I will defend and protect the All with honor, wisdom, and justice to my last breath and to the last drop of my blood. This is my solemn Oath.”
“So be it done,” Kataya said, as she and Lantash once more laid the blade against each of the slashes and each, in turn, healed.
Kataya and Lantash turned back toward Lanwin, as a priest came forward holding a large pillow on which lay a beautifully worked sword, a dagger, and a ribbon device. Kataya indicated to Lanwin that he should stand, and those watching realized that she had changed back and was no longer Katteri-enti. Stepping closer to Lanwin, she took her own dagger and slit the tunic until it fell from his body.
A priestess brought a basin of water and cloths and cleaned the blood from the young man’ s chest and neck, and held the basin as he washed his hands. Another priest came forward and handed Kataya a black tunic trimmed in gold, which she gave to Lantash. He stepped to his son, offered it, and helped him to clothe himself in it.
Kataya reached for the sword and taking it, she girded her son saying, “I gird you with this, your sword, which holds the power that is the All. It is an extension of your power, use it wisely and well, and remember that once named, it will be yours to command. Name it well.”
Next, she picked up a finely worked dagger and handed it to him saying, “This, too, is a weapon of much strength. Use it, also, wisely and well, as you do your sword. Again, remember that once named, it will be your servant, and do your bidding. Name it well.”
Taking the ribbon device from the cushion, she fitted it onto his hand saying, “I give unto you the power of death and of healing. May you use it to heal your comrades and friends, and destroy the enemies of the All.”
Taking a cloak and clasp from the next priest that had come forward, she threw the cloak around his shoulders, and taking the golden clasp that designated his house and rank, she used it to clasp the cloak on his shoulder saying, “I bestow upon you this clasp, designating your rank and house. May you wear it always with pride and honor.”
Indicating he should kneel once more, she and Lantash took her sword and tapped him lightly on both shoulders as she said, “By your oath, you have this day given your fealty to the All. It is with great pride that I bestow upon you the instruments and designation of your new rank and abilities.”
Turning to Lantash, she smiled at him, as she told her son, “Now your father has something for you.” One more time, a priest came forward, and on the cushion that he carried, was an intricately woven circlet and matching arm band, made much in the manner of his mothers, except that the stones were of his energy type.
The calibration was set to his energy signature, as was his dagger, and his sword, he knew. It was a handsome and meaningful gift, for to a Katteri-enti, their circlet was as important as their weapon, for without it, their energy draw decreased significantly, and the armband was a supplement to the power of the circlet. A large emerald shone in the vee, for his energy patterns fell into the greens and blues, with touches of red, a powerful, though somewhat unusual, combination.
As he placed it on his son’s head, Lantash said, “Congratulations, my son, for today you have joined the Katteri-enti. Soon, you will manifest and know the power that is of the Furling Kats, the Pantherataya, and the Lionkatanar. May you serve long and well, but most of all with justice, wisdom, honor, and pride,” Lantash’s voice showed all the pride that he felt in this young man who was his son.
Kataya leaned forward and kissed him on first one cheek and then the other. Smiling at him for only a moment, she moved on to Taesha as Lantash also saluted his son on first one cheek and then the other.
Priestesses brought robes and surrounded mother and daughter as they went through the ceremony of cutting off the bloodstained tunic, cleansing the blood from her neck, chest, and hands and the donning of her new uniform tunic.
“You can look, sir,” Sam whispered to Jack. “She is surrounded, and you can’t see what is going on.” She grinned at him, when he cracked open one eye and then the other, once he realized she was telling the truth, and the young woman was, indeed, well shielded. Sam continued, “It would not really have mattered, because she has something on under it. It must have been dripped on, or they would not have done that.”
“Ah, well, that is good,” Jack said, much relieved, as the last thing he needed, was a glimpse of that body to fuel his dreams. He resumed watching the proceedings.
Leaning over toward Sam, Daniel said, “Lantash is doing really well, don’t you think? I mean, you know he has to be nervous, too, but you can tell he is really proud of those two.”
Sam nodded and said, “Yes, he was very nervous, but so proud of them. This is a very important day in a Furling Warrior’s life. It is the culmination of years and years of work and learning to control their instincts and urges. That inner strength that is so important in a Katteri-enti is paramount. They have to be able to control their urge to kill, and channel it in the correct way. If they have not achieved it, the All will not accept them, and it shows it by keeping the blood from flowing from the slashes, they simply heal immediately. If they do not bleed, they do not receive their rank, until they learn more control. It rarely happens though, from what I understand, as their mentors and instructors submit their names to the Council of the Table for consideration only when they feel sure they are well ready. Rarely do they make a mistake and send someone that is not.”
Daniel nodded. As soon as Sam started explaining, his mind allowed him the memory of the day he received his first rank. At the time, he did not believe that he was truly ready, and kept refusing to allow his mentor to submit his name to the Council, although, he had already received his seventh Priest level; third level was the normal point of presentation to the All as a prospective Warrior. His mentor finally simply submitted his name without telling him, and it was not until the day of the ceremony that his parents told him. It was all he could do to keep from throwing up before they entered the Sanctuary, and then, he almost passed out from the relief when the blood actually ran in a stream and drenched his tunic. He smiled slightly as he remembered the pride on his parents faces that day. And, as for Kataya, you would have thought he conquered a world and gave it to her. Her pride in him shone from her eyes, and that was the first time he let himself believe that maybe she really was proud of him. He smiled at Sam. “I remember, Sam, and you are right. It is an extremely important day in a Warrior’s life. No other gain in rank gives any more pride than that first one does. It is an amazing feeling.”
Sam smiled at him rather ruefully, saying, “I may get to find out. After seeing this I can’t say I am looking forward to it though.”
He shook his head telling her, “Actually, it is not nearly as painful as it looks. It is almost as if it is mildly anesthetized.” Realizing the next step was about to take place they both turned their attention back to the Ritual.
With the donning of the Katteri-enti uniform tunic, the priestesses removed the robes and the ceremony was repeated for Taesha. The circlet her father gave her calibrated perfectly to her sword, dagger, ribbon, and armband and her energy signature, which were of the greens and purples with touches of her mother’s gold. It was another strong combination.
Artereos and Merdwin came forward to offer their felicitations, and then they turned them to face the group watching, and presented them by name and in their new rank. Then it was over, and it was time to go for the evening meal.
Dinner conversation centered on Sam’s training because, with the ceremonies completed, it would now begin in earnest. Artereos decided that Martouf and Daniel would stay with them at Avilion, as he had decided to conduct her training there, instead of taking her on to Cadwaellon. There was no real reason to go there, as they had everything they needed here, and in fact, the Sanctuary would be more conducive to working on her abilities to join with and draw energy from the All.
Artereos and Sam took part in a quick practice session before the knighting ceremony to see what had happened during her joining with Kataya. In his opinion, Sam would need no more than three weeks with him. Jack was stunned, but happy, with that announcement. He would rather have them all back on earth, working on their teams and getting them ready, so the faster Carter learned what she needed to, the better. Still, that Artereos felt that she would have learned all she needed to from him in so little time left Jack almost speechless.
He did wonder though, just how hard it would be on her to do it that fast. Sam assured him he did not need to worry about it. Just as Kat had promised, after the link, she could tell a huge difference in her abilities. It was as if she had absorbed it. There were all kinds of things about the sword, dagger, and ribbon that she had not known before, but that she suddenly now knew. She felt sure that other things were just waiting until needed to pop up, because that was what happened during the sword practice with Artereos. She was not even nervous the second time, as she was before her joining with Kataya.
Her inner peace and sense of balance advanced tremendously during her linking with Kataya, as well as her grasp of the major maneuvers with sword and dagger.
Merdwin would also be remaining, for he would have a great deal to do with her training. He would teach her how to use her senses and to become attuned to the world around her. He would continue to teach her shielding, perception, and how to both throw illusions, and detect them.
Kataya would work with her until their fighting abilities worked as if they were one entity. She would also work on her abilities to draw energy and find peace within herself. Inner strength was paramount if she was to manifest and be able to control the power. She had already learned much, and Kataya felt confident that the remainder would take little time for her to master.
Sam’s mind slipped back to their conversation. Kataya explained it very carefully, “Still, even as a Dragon, if you do not gain a Priestess level of at least three, the All will reject you, Caruswyn. You would be a danger to everyone without that control, not just Morgasha/Bastet.”
“Kataya, don’t Warriors study for years and years before they are at that level?”
Kataya smiled at her saying, “You are already at the first Level, Sam. As for the time factor, yes, this will be an extremely quick rise to third. It does usually take very much longer, however, since you will be concentrating on control of your instinct to kill indiscriminately, and not healing, sustaining, or infusing, it will go much faster. Usually, a Priest or Priestess is required to gain the healing arts along with the control before they move from one level to the next. It is that which usually takes years of study and practice to do, not the control, although some do have difficulty with it. You will not need to learn the healing disciplines, although if you wish to learn some it would certainly be possible. There is also the Warrior’s training to consider. Regardless what Priest or Priestess level you are, if you do not have the skills to do battle, then the All will refuse you. You must have both, which you will. Most work for many, many years to learn the skills, which you will learn so very quickly. However, they do not have the benefit of a soul and mind-link with an adept Warrior. No, we cannot simply give them the knowledge. They must earn it for it to mean what it must.
The comment about killer instincts worried her enough that she asked Kataya about it right then. “Um, what do you mean, my instinct to kill, ah, indiscriminately?”
Kataya had been very solemn when she answered her, replying, “We do not know if you will have our instincts or not, Sam. We must assume that you will. There is no way to know for sure; therefore, we are erring on the side of caution and giving you the skills you will need if you do develop our instincts.” Then she shook her head and smiled. “It is only in a Warrior manifestation that it could happen. You are not suddenly going to become a crazed killer. Remember we are talking major battle. Once we manifest, we must have the control and strength to think, rather than simply kill because we can. We are Kat-entities, Coeurawyn. It is in our very nature, which is why you must reach that level of control. Most level twos can control it; we prefer the safety margin, the extra layer of protection, so we, and the All, insist on level three.”
She had felt very much relieved. She was imagining having to be constantly on guard against attacking someone. What a relief her answer was. She came back from her trip down memory lane to hear Artereos explaining more fully to the others.
If needed, Artereos pointed out, though he did not believe it would be necessary, she and Kataya could join again. He considered the chance that would need to happen to be very, very, slim indeed, although it would be sensible for them to do some light joining from time to time simply to reinforce and grow in their knowledge of one another.
Merdwin and Kataya could continue to work with her back on the Tau’ri home-world once they returned. Artereos said he saw no problems with her training, or in her ability to accomplish the mission. He was, he said, quite confident that things would go exactly according to plan. They, Kataya and Samantha, would return to Avilion three or four days before the mission, and then return to earth the day before it was to take place.
As for now, they would return to Earth in a couple of weeks and have the Tau’ri and Tok’ Ra wedding and joining ceremonies. The Furling joining rites would wait until after the battle. Janet and Jocasta would work on getting things ready from the Tau’ri end. They would be in touch as to what day would work best. The bridal night, Artereos said, his imagination fell short of being able to plan. After that brief break, they would return to Avilion for one more weeks’ training.
As the conversation turned to general topics, they left the dining table and headed to the game room with their after dinner drinks. Kataya watched her eldest daughter blush, as she talked to Malek. Sighing, she realized it would perhaps be prudent to talk to Lantash. She walked to his side and asked him quietly, “Will you walk with me, Lantash? If we head through those double doors, we will be in the side garden and there are some arbors where we can speak privately.”
Looking at her with an inquiring lift of his brows, he bowed his head and indicated he would follow her. Once outside, they both looked up at the two moons that had arisen and were without clouds this night, making it very bright. Nodding at a side path, she said, “There is an arbor down this walk where we may sit and be comfortable. It is very close by, and this actually should not take long.”
“I do not mind,” he said, as they approached the bench and made themselves comfortable. They both breathed in the heady scent of the flowers blooming overhead.
“I am always amazed at the beauty that dwells here, no matter how many times I see it,” Lantash said, softly.
“It is a truly magical place, is it not? I have always loved it here. No other place in the universe has such peace or healing properties in my opinion, although Cadwaellon is close,” Kataya replied.
“I will certainly not argue with you. However, you did not bring me here to speak of the beauties of this world, Kataya. What is it that you wish to know?” Lantash asked, remembering that she had requested they come out here and, with the blood tie now gone, he did not believe that it was for anything other than a discussion of some matter, even though there was still an echo of the desire and need that had always been between them. Although Artereos gave him the information long ago, and Kataya more recently, he would question Merdwin about it later to ensure that it was no more than it should be, although he was fairly sure it was not. He smiled to himself as he realized that he was looking on Merdwin as a friend and comrade now, something that would have been impossible years ago. “Lantash, Kataya is talking to us, you must answer or give me control,” Martouf urged him sternly.
“I apologize, Martouf. I will return my attention to where it belongs,” Lantash quickly assured him before turning toward Kataya, who, he recognized had stopped talking and was smiling slightly.
He heard her laugh softly, as if she had read his mind, and then she asked quietly, “Do I now have your attention, Amat? I will ask you again so that you do not have to attempt to find the question within Martouf’s mind. Now, what can you tell me of Malek?”
Lantash looked at her ruefully, before telling her, “I am sorry, Coeurawyn, but I was distracted by something for a moment and then I realized something of equal importance…important to me, that is, and so there is no need for you to worry about it.” He swiftly changed the subject. He did not want to have to explain his feelings about Merdwin. He was just exploring them himself. “Malek? Ah, so, you have noticed as well? Do you have objections, Kataya?” Lantash wanted to know. “I believe you knew him slightly from before.”
She looked towards the light shining from the room they had left. The two people they were about to discuss had not joined the others in cards, games, or conversations, but had instead wandered over to a secluded corner of the room, and they appeared to be deep in a discussion of their own. Knowing this, she raised her eyebrows and said, “I could hardly help but notice, since he gazed at her all through last night’s meal and tonight’s as well, and yes, I remember him from our time together, but I never had the chance to know him well. A hundred plus years have come and gone since then, Carus.” She sent him a look, which told him that he was not fooling her for a minute. She knew him too well not to realize that his thoughts were such that he did not wish to divulge them to her. The glance also assured him that she would not pry into his private thoughts. She had always known when to leave something lie, he remembered.
She tilted her head as she studied him, before explaining, “Merdwin and I discussed it last night, and neither of us objects, but it was decided that I should at least ask you a little about him. I am afraid that both Merdwin and I are guilty of a little probing of his aura and gathering of his stray thoughts. Neither of us have felt or, ah, gathered anything to cause disquiet in us; however, she is my eldest daughter, Tash. She has never been deeply in love, nor had a serious Heartmate that I am aware of, although she has had lovers. That is not the same as a Heartmate that she wishes to bind too, as you know. I would hate to find he already had a mate after she falls in love with him, and if my memories are not false, he did have a mate. But then, he also had a different host, as did you.”
Lantash acknowledged that her reasoning was sound and within acceptable bounds. The question she asked was one that they should be concerned about and one that they had a right to ask. Nodding once more in agreement, he told her, “I agree. Certainly, that would not be well done of him; however, you need not fear that. He lost his last mate during an evacuation over twenty years ago, and he has not taken a new one as far as I know. I believe that he would have told me if he had done so. He has had an occasional mild relationship, but nothing serious. He has been a good and loyal friend to me, and I like him very well. He was, in fact, the one who finally convinced me that I could release you, Kataya.”
She raised her eyebrows in an inquiry before asking, “How did he do that, Lantash?” He had aroused her curiosity, and now, she wanted to know. She had wondered at his sudden capitulation, when she had actually expected it to take another day or more.
“He pointed out to me that what I feared to give up was the love of a woman who would choose a symbiote over that of a human host. I told him you had assured me the love would remain, and he asked if I trusted you to tell me the truth. I told him yes; that you were not lying to me. He then pointed out, that in that case, the love we shared would not be lost because we did the Sevesh. I know you already assured me of that, but he made me see more. He made me see that, for one moment in time, I had a love that would put me before all others, that would die that I might live, and I would always know what that was like. He made the comment that many would give much for a love like that, including him. He made me realize how truly blessed I was to have had not only that, but the love of Samantha, as well,” Lantash pointed out, softly.
“Kataya,” he continued, just as softly, “I forgot to tell you something yesterday, before the Sevesh, and it is something that I should have said to you. No, that is untrue; I should have said it to you over one hundred years ago, but I did not. You deserved to hear it then, as much as you do now. I have realized that I never once told you just how much it meant to me that you did what you did. I berated you for allowing Dominic to die, while allowing me to live, and I should not have. I never admitted to you what it meant to me, deep within my being—within my heart—that you would choose me. I know you had no true choice, but I will always believe that if you had, then you would have chosen me, and for that love, I do thank you. I do not believe you will ever understand what it meant to me.”
Kataya blinked swiftly, and wiped away the tears that fell from her eyes, before finally smiling slightly. “The night I told SG-1 what happened at the time of Bastet, I admitted later, to Daniel, that I have always felt great guilt over Dominic’s death; I have always known that if there had been a choice to be made, you would still have been the one to survive, not Dominic. So you see, Lantash, your belief is correct. I appreciate your feelings, and I thank you for telling me. It means more to me than you will ever know. I…I loved Dominic deeply, Adorato Coeurawyn, but I have always loved you more. Taking Dominic’s life force was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. Had the situation been such that I was the one making the final decision, I believe it would have devastated me. No one should have to choose one loved one over another. I am grateful that, in the end, I had no choice to make, even though I knew in my heart, which one of you I would have chosen.”
Shaking herself loose from the memories and pain of the past she asserted, “Enough of that. It is a subject that is best left in peace. Besides, that is not what I wanted to say to you, even though it is, in a circuitous way, about the same thing…your lovability. I have never found your physical body repulsive, Lantash, and neither does Samantha. She has held you in her arms and looked into your eyes. She knows what and who you are, and she loves you as you are. By blending, you become a being that can touch us, hold us, and talk to us, which in your original form you cannot do. Nonetheless, it is you, your essence and your personality that we love, not what your physical body is.”
She smiled at him, and said, “However, we were discussing Malek, and while I understand how the conversation became diverted, I believe we should steer it back to where it was.”
Lantash nodded. He had said what he had needed to say. Kataya had told him a thing he needed to know, also, and that was enough. Finally, after all this time, it was ended, and they were both at peace. They would not speak of it again.
Gazing out across the moonlit garden and thinking back to earlier when he had watched his friend’s face as he gazed at Gwennetha, he turned back to Kataya, and said, “I do not think you need fear for your daughter, for Malek seems as taken with her as she is with him.” He paused for a moment before adding, “He has been a good friend to me, Kataya. When you had to leave and my world went dark, he was one of the few lights I allowed into it. He saved me from death more than once during the years when I did not care.”
“Justin did not die because of my not caring, by the way. I truly did try, but his injury was too severe for me to heal him. I did try to save him. I would have died with him, but he insisted that I take Martouf, who was also dying, but whose injuries were within my abilities to repair. Martouf was not only willing, he actually wanted to become a host and find revenge for the loss of his world and his family. I had grown to love Justin, and when he died, I felt as if the last tie I had to you was gone. Poor Martouf had no idea what he was getting into when he agreed to join with me, for my grief was more intense than it might have been, since you were also tied to Justin in both my mind and my heart. He never knew that though, for I buried you in my private place and never, until we came across Bastet, did he ever know anything of you. Justin…Justin told me before he died that he knew; that he saw his death and Martouf in a scrying session. He told me several things and all of them have happened except for the last one. He said that he would see us again when there was a great darkness threatening the All. He told me that by then he would have returned to the living.”
Much as Kataya had earlier, he shook himself out of the past and brought them back to the subject they needed to discuss, saying, “Malek is a good and brave soldier, although he is no more diplomatic than I. His host, Devlin, is a happy sort, and he and Jacob get along extremely well. Both have a sense of humor that sometimes eludes most of the Tok’ Ra. I think you will like both of them, even though Malek can be even more serious than I can. He can be very charming when he tries. He just needs to have something to think about other than the next mission. I believe that Gwennetha could be that something. Although, as I said earlier, I believe he and Devlin have enjoyed their occasional fling, I believe they would both be very faithful to a new mate. Both are very honest, Dev almost obsessively so. Once Malek loves, it is permanent; he does not love lightly. I believe Devlin to be much the same.”
“Much like another Tok’Ra I know rather well, then. It was always amazing to me that you were such a truly charming man when you wished to exert yourself. Most would not believe that if told of it. Many only know your temper and your passions.” Nodding her head and smiling slightly, she added, “However, to return to the subject of Malek once more, since you have removed the one real concern that I had, we shall just watch and see what develops, shall we?”
“Yes,” Lantash agreed, and then said, “It is a shame that Lanwin and Taesha have not found mates yet.”
Kataya frowned, “Taesha is drawn to O’Neill. I can sense it in her. She may take him as a lover, but I do not think she would agree to anything more at this time. I know you and he do not always get along, but he would understand her and her need to become all she can as a warrior, so he might not be a bad choice for her. Again, we will just have to wait and see. Lanwin, too, will someday meet a woman he can cherish. Both of them wish to work with the Tok’Ra, so perhaps he will take a Tok’Ra as a mate. We shall see. He is ambitious, and he is putting his energy into making his way in the field. If he meets the right person, he will not worry so much about advancement, he will begin to see that the love of which our people speak can have its rewards as well as his battles can. There is no real rush; they are both still young and finding their way.”
“We should return to the game room. We need to see if Sam and Daniel have made any more plans with father. You know how he loves to plan things, and he will sweep them up before they know what has occurred or what they have agreed to,” she said, as she stood and started back toward the light that streamed out into the garden.
Nodding his agreement with her comments, he then asked, “Why did you rename Lanwin to the All, Kataya? I was unaware that you were going to do that.”
As they strolled slowly toward the door, she said, “I found out last night that Lanwin has always considered himself less than what he truly is, because I did not hide the pain I sometimes felt, when I looked at him. Dear Universe, Tash, to look at him is to look at Dominic,” she said, then paused adding, “and you.”
Sighing she continued, “He was angry and upset that I had gone through the Sevesh before telling them. Merdwin told him the truth of Dominic’s death and your survival last night, as well as the reason for the pain he saw in me from time to time. I think he believed it, but still, finding that he must now live up to not only his Grandfather’s legend, but a mother that is a Dragon Slayer, well, let us say that I could tell he felt he would never be able to measure up.” She sighed, more softly this time.
“I have failed him in many ways, it would seem. I cannot help that I am a Dragon Slayer, for that has always been my destiny, from the moment of my birth. I could, however, have prevented my actions after I parted from Dayillon and then you. I should not have been so uncaring of my own life that I ended up a much talked of Warrior. Moreover, I should have realized he was sensing my pain and misinterpreting it. I did not, and so he has, for years, felt that he was failing me in some way, not measuring up for some reason, and I believe he was convinced he was a disappointment to me,” she said, as she shook her head, as if in disbelief.
“Since the opposite was true, I realized that the one thing he would understand and believe was renaming him to the All. If the All allowed his blood to flow, thus signaling its concurrence, then he would believe it, without a doubt. Therefore, I did, and the All agreed. He is worthy of his new name, and the All accepts him, and his endeavors, on its behalf.”
Lantash looked at his son as they stepped into the room, and watched him as he stood, laughing and talking to Jacob Carter and Jocasta. He was unconsciously fingering the clasp of his rank, his eyes were bright, and he was obviously happy. Lantash looked at his son’s mother and smiled at her saying, “Then I thank you, Coeurawyn, for both of us. I do not think I have ever been prouder of anyone than I was of my children on this day. I am so thankful that I was here to share it with you and them.”
“I, too, am very thankful, Lantash, for I have often wished for you to be here on this day. That my wish has come true is an added source of joy for me. The pride shone from your eyes, and they both saw it. It is something they will never forget, I know, for I still remember the look in my own mother and father’s eyes, when I received my first clasp of rank.”
Glancing across the room and seeing Daniel and Sam talking to Artereos, she said, “We should go and see what Sam and Daniel are hatching with Father. Hopefully, he is not planning the rest of our lives for us.”
As they walked across the room toward them, Sam looked up and into Lantash’s eyes. The smile that lit their faces could have thrown light on the entire room.
“What are you plotting and planning, Father?” Kataya asked, as they joined the group that contained both her Daniel and Martouf and Lantash’s Samantha.
“We will begin Samantha’s training in the morning after everyone has left. The first group of Katteri is going back with Colonel O’Neill and his people. Gwennetha, Lanwin, and Taesha will all go, as well as some of the others we had decided on, and from which we have had agreement. I do not think the priestesses all must go yet. I believe that I will send a few of them now, and then a few more somewhat later. I imagine there will be at least the eighteen we had originally considered and then the priestesses. I believe I will add a few more warriors, but I need to discuss which ones with Merdwin, and then we will send those that agree to take the assignment, through to the Tau’ri world. I will also want your opinion, Kataya, for you will know as well as anyone whom will fit in best with the Tau’ri and Tok’Ra.”
“Alanna tells me that Torleck is being very cooperative. She says he is quite charming and loves to talk of himself and what he considers his better qualities. Most enlightening, she tells me. Morgasha/Bastet’s fleet preparedness has been delayed another full week. He is sure that it is no more than the normal problems one runs into during the building process. Or so he keeps telling her,” Artereos informed them happily.
“She has planted a link then. Very good. I always knew she would be excellent at it, and the last few missions she has been on have proven it,” Kataya said, quite satisfied that things were going along as they should be.
“Yes, and I am thankful that Per’sus agrees that her talents should not be wasted. They seem happy together,” Artereos commented, still smiling widely. He was instrumental in the two of them meeting and so took much joy in their happiness.
“Yes, they do,” Kataya, agreed. “I am happy for them.”
“Have you and Martouf spoken of your own entwining, Kataya? Or is it too soon still?”
“I do not believe we are quite ready to do so. You are as aware as I that if Martouf does not indeed love me and wish to be my Heartmate, that the All will refuse the binding. I can wait until he is sure, and if it never happens then we will not bond. It is not necessary as far as I am concerned, for he feels what Lantash feels. I do not want him to do it for any reason other than that he wishes too, Father.”
“It is entirely up to the five of you. As you know I believe it should be done, but as you say, it must be his desire. Moreover, there is ample time yet before the Great Battle to accomplish it. We can wait for a time and see if it does indeed develop as I expect it too,” Artereos replied.
Lantash gave way and Martouf took control, to say, “I believe, as I assured Samantha this morning that I will be ready quite soon. I am no longer fighting the feelings, and I find they are growing rapidly.”
Turning to Kataya, he said, “Perhaps we should have discussed that as well as the other things, Kataya. We can discuss it tonight or, if you would rather, we can wait until everyone is gone and things settle down somewhat,” Martouf suggested.
“If you wish, Martouf, but please remember what I said. You must wish for this yourself; it cannot be done simply because someone else wishes it for you,” Kataya reminded him.
“But, you are ready?” He questioned, intrigued, but also confused by how she could be ready when he was not.
“I have not been fighting against my feelings for you. I have known from the beginning that it was inevitable that I would come to love you, and it took me very little time to realize that you would be very easy to love. I came to care for you right away, and nothing has happened to change my feelings,” she said, gently. “You on the other hand, have had nothing but a great many conflicting emotions to contend with. Do not let it worry you, and take your time. As I said, if you never come to love me enough to claim me as a Heartmate, I will understand, I promise.”
Martouf smiled at her, and said calmly, “I will be ready very soon. I am sure of it.”
“Very well,” Kataya answered. “Let me know when you wish to discuss it, and we will.”
Turning to Samantha, she asked, “What instructions have you given about the wedding and the joining ceremonies? Have you decided who to have stand with you? It is traditional for a best friend such as Janet to stand up with you, is it not?”
Sam looked at Kat blankly, for a moment, and then said, “Since we decided that Janet and Jocasta would make the plans and then let us know when to come, I hadn’t given it any thought.”
“I suppose we should make some decisions about some of those things before they leave, so they will know what we want to have done,” she said, as she looked at Martouf. “We can’t just leave it to them to decide on some of these things. They are going to reach a point in the plans, probably sooner than later, and realize they need our input. Do you know who you would want to have as witnesses?”
Martouf looked at Daniel, who suggested, “You know I will be happy to stand witness for you again, Martouf, but you could have a close friend, too. Maybe Malek could be best man, and I will simply stand as groomsman.”
“You want us to have two attendants, Daniel? I thought we were keeping this simple,” Sam said, somewhat testily at the thought of the formality of it all.
“It doesn’t have to be terribly formal, Sam,” Daniel said, as he seemed to read her mind, “and I suggested two because I can already tell that Martouf wants to have both Malek and I there with him. I also think that once you think about it, you are going to have trouble choosing between Janet and Kataya, so the best answer is to have both. It just seemed the simpler way to solve it than worrying about which one to choose. And I suggested that Kataya and I take the secondary positions because I think you and Martouf should have your best friends stand with you and share in this,” Daniel said.
Sam looked thoughtful for a moment, and then had to agree that her Daniel had once again made a leap before anyone else had even thought of the problem. Turning to Martouf, she said, “I agree with him, Martouf. It will mean the wedding is a little more complicated than I had anticipated it to be, but not much so. Do we need witnesses for the Tok’Ra ceremony?” Sam asked.
“Not really, no, it is optional. Everyone present is actually a witness so a specific one is only used if one wishes to honor someone specifically. I would not object to Daniel’s suggestion and Lantash also feels comfortable with it,” Martouf said, in his calm way.
“Should we be writing this stuff down to give to Janet and Jocasta?” Sam asked, as her mind began to think about the actual ceremonies and what all was entailed. She did not even notice when Artereos began to steer the group toward a large table surrounded by comfortable chairs, as he motioned to a steward to bring some small data pads. When the attendant brought them, he said a few words to him, and soon Janet, Merdwin, Jocasta, Jacob, Gwennetha, and Malek had joined the group.
“Are you to have a traditional wedding and a traditional joining, or shall you have one ceremony that is a combination of the two?” Artereos asked.
“I don’t know,” Sam said. “We really hadn’t talked about any of this. Does anyone have any suggestions? Janet? Daniel? How should we do this? We know that General Hammond is going to do the actual service, but if we combine it, how would we do it?”
Janet spoke up, “Maybe you could make up your own service? I don’t know what the traditional Tok’Ra service consists of, but there are plenty here who should know, and plenty of us know most of the traditional Tau’ri wedding ceremony. Surely, we can come up with a compromise. Unless you both want to go through both complete ceremonies?”
Sam and Martouf both looked so dismayed that everyone laughed. The remainder of the group walked up to see what was going on and when told, Garshaw agreed with Janet’s suggestion.
“The Tok’Ra ceremony can be as complicated or as simple as the couple desires. A simple declaration of their desire and intent to be mates and a claiming in front of witnesses is sufficient for us to acknowledge a couple as mated,” Garshaw explained.
“Our service consists of questions and answers, Garshaw, although it would not have to be done that formally,” Janet explained.
“What type of questions do they ask? Perhaps some of the words are the same or would be acceptable for both.”
“Let me think,” Janet replied.
“Wouldn’t it be something like—Do you Martouf, take Samantha to be your wedded wife? Will you love her, honor her, and cherish her as long as you both shall live?” Daniel asked.
“That is one of them, Daniel, but there is more than that,” Janet replied.
“Wait, wait, I think I have it. It goes: I, Martouf, take thee, Samantha to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better/ for worse, for richer / for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, to honor and to cherish, till death do us part and thereto I plight thee my troth. They each repeat that and then there’s the one where the one conducting the service says, um, Do you, Martouf, take Samantha to be your wedded wife, to live together in matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and forsaking all others keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live? Then he says I do or I will. Then there is the ring part…”
“We wish the ring part,” Martouf announced firmly.
“Okay, let me think,” Daniel said.
“Dayillon has not changed at all,” Artereos was heard to murmur, “he is still a walking tome of information.”
Kataya smiled proudly, as she said, “Yes, he is.”
“I can’t remember all of it—something about; With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship and with all my worldly goods I thee endow. Then there is something about; This ring is the symbol of our vows; the exchange of these rings is the symbol of the unbroken circle of love; um, love freely given has no beginning and no end. These rings are the outward pledge of our vows one to the other.”
Lantash came forward and said, “Perhaps now that we have the words, Samantha and I can discuss those which we wish to use and then send them through to you, Janet? You can give them to General Hammond?”
“I think that is a great idea,” Sam agreed. “Now we need to know the Tok’Ra service so I can write it down too,” she continued, as she looked expectantly at the Tok’Ra.
“They are very similar, actually,” Garshaw responded to her look of inquiry. Usually the couple joins hands as the people assembled are asked to be witness to their vows. They promise to love one another and hold each other’s hearts. They promise to cherish and honor one another and to share all of their joys and sorrows, to endow each other with all they have and to be the center of each other's lives as long as they are both alive. They sound very similar to the Tau’ri ceremony to me, and I believe that a service could be made to cover both. Particularly if both General Hammond and Daimesh preside.”
“Got it,” Sam said triumphantly. “I think I agree with Lantash. We will talk it over, come up with a service we both like, and send it through the Stargate to the SGC. That would be acceptable, Artereos?” Sam turned to him to ask.
“Absolutely; I believe it is an excellent plan,” Artereos agreed.
“Janet, I do want Cassie there, please. Maybe she would want to do something? Please think about it,” Sam said.
“I will. What are you going to wear? Traditional? Your Uniform?” Janet asked.
“She will not be married in her uniform,” Artereos said firmly. “We will see to her gown from here. Please send through some of your images of traditional gowns from your world, and we will see to it that she has something appropriate.”
“I am not wearing a traditional white wedding dress,” Sam said firmly, with a challenging look at him.
“No one said it had to be white, Samantha. We will find something, even if it is a Furling gown, or perhaps your jeans, but no uniform. This is your wedding, not a military exercise, or a medal ceremony. Please, humor an old man.”
Sam sighed, “Okay, but I won’t wear ruffles.”
“Certainly not,” Artereos promptly agreed, “You would look ridiculous. You are sleek and sophisticated, Samantha, and we will see to it that you look as you should,” he assured her.
“Now, I suggest that you, Martouf, and Lantash go someplace where you can discuss what you wish to have said during the ceremony. If you can decide tonight so much the better, but if not, we will send it through when you do decide, as we discussed.
“Now, the gardens are bathed in moonlight; take data pads with you, even if they do not get much use. You young people run along and have a nice stroll. Both moons are up, and it is a beautiful night. There are some lovely bowers at the ends of some of the paths. Enjoy them,” Artereos suggested. “I believe that I will join Colonel O’Neill and perhaps Teal'c, if he will be so kind as to join us, in our game that is very similar to your billiards,” he said, as he headed toward the table. Jack shrugged, Teal’c raised an eyebrow, and they both fell into step with him. Somehow, one just did not even consider saying no.
“Father is quite correct, and the gardens are beautiful at this time in the evening,” Kataya suggested. “I believe we should go for a stroll ourselves, Daniel, but not in that garden. Would you care to walk with me down by the Old Garden Wall, the one by the forest?”
“If that is where you would like to go then by all means, let’s do so, Coeurawyn,” Daniel agreed.
Gwennetha watched as her mother and her beloved left the room and headed toward the side garden. She would take him to the edge of the forest, and they would ride a unicorn to the gazebo in the woods. She was certain that she had taken Lantash there to say goodbye. Her mother would be wishing to add a happy memory to help balance that sad one. It was a good place to Dance in the Fire. If things worked out for her and Malek, she would take him there someday.
She looked at him as he stood talking to Lantash and Martouf. They seemed to be discussing something of importance. Ah, now Martouf and Samantha were heading out to the front garden. She smiled to herself. She would be sure to avoid them if she took Malek there.
She smiled at him as he approached her. She and Dev had talked for a long time during dinner. He and Malek were very different in many ways. Devlin seemed to have a happy personality. He was cheerful and accepting of most things, with a good sense of humor. She had discovered that honesty was very important to him. One of his quirks, he had told her. He had been very open, admitting that he liked women very much. However, he had told her that his honesty reached into his relationships. If he gave his love to a woman, then he did not stray from that, and Malek, he had said, was almost obsessive about being true to a mate. Dev considered him to be much like Lantash. Once he loved, it was forever.
Luckily, they both agreed that once they pledged to a woman it was a lifetime contract. There would be no straying, on either side, he had said, as he looked at her intently. She had gazed at him, and then proceeded to explain the concept of Heartmates and Soulmates to him. He would have to understand, she had told him, that when a mate was waiting for her Soulmate to return to her, it was acceptable to a take a Heartmate. Moreover, that went both ways.
However, she had pointed out, they were not yet even lovers, so perhaps talk of Heartmates, and Soulmates, was premature. He had said, no, it was not. He wanted to understand their society, before he became involved and perhaps took a chance on being hurt, if he did not understand. It had taken quite some time to explain the intricacies of the system, but once he had fully grasped it, he had understood.
It made the situation between Lantash, Martouf, Samantha, Kataya, and Daniel more understandable, as well. Now, he knew why they were so intricately tied to one another. Well, no, not exactly, she had explained. Some of their tie was because of the Dragon Slayers and the prophecy. Most Heartmates did not bind so tightly as Lantash and Kataya. Theirs was an unusual bond. As her grandmother and Llancellon’s had been. Their binding, also, had been extremely tight because of the prophecy. It had definitely helped him to understand more about what was happening around them. Theirs was an amazing culture, he had realized.
Malek was the more solemn of the two, more serious. They complimented one another very well. Dev forced Malek to see the humor in life, and Malek forced Dev to accept that not all things had a humorous side.
Gwennetha frowned. That might not be a true statement. There had been times when shadows in Dev’s eyes had led her to believe that he hid some very deep emotional scars behind his sense of humor. That, in turn, led her to revise her thought. Devlin was already aware that not all things had a humorous side, but he preferred to look for one whenever possible.
Malek had talked to her father and her grandfather this morning and finally seemed to realize that she had been telling the truth. He had yet to talk to her mother, but she would be able to reassure him about her. She was sure that her mother’s attitude would be that it was her life to do with as she pleased. If Kataya saw a definite pitfall she would warn her, but it would be up to her to take the advice or not.
Malek smiled as he walked back toward Gwennetha. She was proving to be a fascinating woman. He wondered if she, too, would wish to walk in the garden. As Artereos had said, the two moons were up tonight. Last night only one had made an appearance, and then been blotted out by the rain clouds, which he had discovered, came only when rain was needed and usually at night.
“Would you like to walk in the garden also, Gwennetha?” Devlin asked her.
“Yes, I believe I would. Would you like to go to the side garden where you walked with Grandfather this morning? Perhaps we will happen across the toad he introduced you to,” she teased.
“You will never let us live that down, will you?” He sighed. Then he smiled as he answered her inquiry into which garden he preferred. “That one will be fine. Was there not a little arbor down that one path?”
“Yes, there are several, and there is even a little gazebo at the end of one walk, down near the Old Garden Wall. My mother and Daniel will come back that way, but they will not return for quite some time. I believe she is taking him to Dance in the Fire.”
“Dance in the Fire? What is that?” Dev wanted to know.
“It is an energy we can summon that we envelope ourselves and our chosen partner in and it, sort of, dances across your bodies. In its most intense form it can be quite, ah, exciting, I guess would be a good word to describe it.”
“This is something that you, also, are capable of, er, causing?” He asked.
“Yes, of course, but our relationship is not yet to the point of doing so in that intensity. There are actually several stages, or degrees, of intensity that can be brought forth. Would you and Malek like to experience the first of those stages? It is often used between friends, or a couple that is just learning of each other. As we are,” she explained gently.
“I see. Well, I am willing to try it,” Devlin agreed.
“I wish to hear Malek’s opinion, also, before we do this.”
Nodding, Devlin allowed Malek to come forward. It was time anyway, as he had talked to Gwennetha during most of the evening, and Malek had been very patient.
“I am willing to experience this, as well. I believe Lantash once told me about what you are describing. He said it was an intense sensory experience that could be quite sexual in nature.”
“Yes, it can be. In fact, in can be summoned during the—well, never mind—we are not at that point, and it can be discussed later. The one I have agreed to do is not that intense, but it is enjoyable just the same.”
They had reached the gazebo, and she took him to the center of it. Placing his hands at her waist, she placed hers on his chest. This was the stance always used with friends, sometimes with lovers, although that was usually a full embrace, and she was not ready to do that.
“Are you ready, Malek, and is Devlin ready?” She asked.
“Yes, we are. What do we do?” Malek questioned.
“Just stand with your hands on my waist, and you might want to close your eyes, at least at first. If it makes you dizzy just open them, and it should go away.”
Nodding, he closed his eyes and clasped her waist firmly. Gwennetha raised her face toward the moon and the stars and began to summon the gentle fire of friends and possible lovers. Soon, it swept them into its warmth, and Malek opened his eyes when he felt as if he was moving. He was surprised to see that they were not moving, but the multicolored streams of light fluctuating around them were.
He realized that it was very close to becoming more than it had started out to be. He could almost feel the energy begin to change and take on a sexual edge. He was disappointed when it began to fade before it took on that edge. He watched as it faded away, and realized that he was holding his breath, and that Devlin was telling him they had to breathe, soon.
He pulled a great amount of air into their lungs and looked at the woman who had somehow moved closer and was now in his arms. Dear universe, what was happening to them? This morning he had admitted he was falling in love with her. Tonight he knew the truth; He, they, were not falling in love; they were already there. Pulling her closer to him, he lowered his lips to hers, and then jerked his head up as he heard the sound of hooves pounding on the ground. “Horses?” he asked, as it seemed to fly by on the other side of the garden wall.
“A Unicorn,” Gwennetha answered. “My mother and Daniel have returned.”
“They were riding a Unicorn?” He asked in disbelief.
“Yes, both Daniel and my mother can ride them. Someday, I hope to be able to do so, but it is not easy. I believe that Lantash and Samantha, also, have the ability to ride them. As a Dragon Slayer, she should be able to.”
“I do not think I understand, but we can talk about that some other time. For now, I really would like to finish what I started,” he said to her.
“Are you not afraid of having nightmares, Malek?” She teased him about the very bad dreams he had experienced the night before.
“No. Not anymore, Gwennetha. I wish to kiss you. I need to kiss you,” he murmured, as his lips lowered to hers once more, and this time nothing interfered—at first. As his body caught fire, he moaned. “How long before we know each other well enough, Gwennetha?” he groaned, as his lips sought her throat. “How long? We leave for the Tau’ri tomorrow, and you realize there will be less privacy there than we have in our tunnels.”
“I know. I am sorry, Malek, but I hear my mother and Daniel coming this way,” she whispered, as she slipped out of his arms and turned to face her mother and her mother’s beloved.
“There you are Gwennetha, Malek. It is a beautiful night, is it not? So many stars and the energy in the air is lovely and so near,” Kataya said, as she walked up the steps and into the gazebo.
“Yes, mother mine, it is very heavy in the air tonight,” Gwennetha retaliated.
Laughing, Kataya hugged her, before saying; “I have something for you. This is the key to our quarters. Daniel’s and mine. We will not need it for quite some time to come, so I want you to feel free to stay in it. I have already cleared it with Colonel O’Neill, and he does not object to you using it. Here is the key, and he will show you where our quarters are. Daniel and I are going to bed, ‘Netha, for I find I still tire easily. Merdwin assures me it is still just the aftereffects of everything, and that it should pass quickly, but in the meantime he wishes me to rest more,” Kataya told her daughter, sounding disgruntled and a little cross.
Gwennetha smiled at her, saying, “I believe, from what little you have told me, and what I was able to pry from father, that you waited too long, and that you were under a great deal of emotional stress, which, in turn, contributed to the severity of the problem. You should have confessed to father how badly it was affecting you, and then had him do healing on you more than he did. However, you are here and feeling better, so I will forgive all of you, and simply say, thank you for the key, and please get some rest.” Gwennetha smiled at her mother and the love and closeness they shared was obvious to the two men listening to the exchange.
Nodding, Kataya turned to leave, but then turned back, to say, “You will take care, and keep an eye on your brother and sister for me? I believe they will be fine, but Taesha, especially, may need someone to talk to about, um, things. Lanwin, also, could need some help, but I am in hopes that I have taken care of his concerns.”
“I understand, and I will be sure they both know that I am there and available to talk to them at any time. I promise, my mother,” Gwennetha said, with a smile.
Leaning forward and kissing her cheek softly, Kataya then said, “You will be leaving early, and although I hope to be up to see you off, I will not promise. If I am not, you already have the key, and I will see you at the wedding and joining ceremonies. Goodnight, Caruswyn, goodnight, Malek, Devlin,” Kataya said cheerfully, before delicately hiding a yawn, turning, and heading down the path that would take them to a hallway leading to their room. Gwennetha watched them as Daniel reached out, and wrapping his arm around her shoulders, pulled her close to him, and placed a soft kiss on her head.
Turning back to Malek, she said, “They joined as Soulmates in their first living. They have joined many times through the millennia, and still, they love each other more than anything else in this, or any other world. Just being around them gives one a sense of the wonder of what that type of love can be and mean. I believe that this time they will do a full and complete joining. It will make Daniel happy, for if the stories are to be believed, it bothered him greatly that she would never consent to a joining of their souls.”
“I do not understand,” Malek said. “I thought they joined each other over and over again as a formality, and that the tie also lives from one living to the next. What are you saying?”
“Yes, that is true, and the ties remain. I was speaking of the entwining as opposed to the joining. Their hearts have been joined from the first, but my mother has always refused more than an entwining of their souls. As I would. Daniel has never understood, but I do. Furthermore, I honor her for it, but now, I believe that he is correct. She died the last time, anyway, so they may as well be joined completely.”
Seeing the confusion on Malek’s face, she said, “When a couple join their souls, rather than simply entwining them, then if one dies, so does the other. My mother and Daniel are eternal mates, and they have a very deep bond, still my mother has refused to take that step, as she was more likely to die than Daniel was, and she did not wish him to lose his life because she did. I believe she may have changed her mind, after this last time. Daniel has been gone from her over five hundred years, and at their last dying, she chose death once he died. They might as well be joined by their souls.”
“Yours is a very complex society, Gwennetha. Please be patient with me as I learn about you and all of your customs and beliefs. I truly wish to learn all I can about you, your family, and your life. I want very much to know and understand you, as well as your society, for I believe that they are going to become very important to me in a very short space of time. My feelings for you are growing rapidly. I will admit to a little trepidation, but as I learn more about you, and your people, I feel that will lessen.”
“I will be very patient, and one thing I believe you will learn now. I feel quite sure,” Gwennetha, said to Malek, “that my mother answered your statement about privacy on the Tau’ri world. She also put your mind to rest about her reaction to you, if you will but think about it,” she said, as she held up the key.
Malek was quiet for a moment gathering his thoughts, and then he said, “You are telling me that she gave the key to you, in front of me, so that I would know she has no intention of interfering with you and whatever you decide to do.”
Smiling at him, she said, “Yes. That is exactly what she did, although she actually did more. She is telling you that she has no objection to you, and she is signaling her approval of my choice. She is aware that we want one another, Malek. My mother is very passionate. We are a passionate race, as are the Tok’Ra. For, you are a passionate race, Malek.”
“Yes, we are. Very passionate.”
“I hope that soon I will find out just how passionate for myself. Come to me, Caruswyn, and teach me of your passion,” she breathed, as his lips found their way once more to hers. Dear universe, but this man’s kiss could make a woman forget everything. She was drowning in the feel of him, and it was wonderful.
The twin moons made their trek across the night sky, the stars shone, and the breeze blew the scent of roses across the garden. Under a nearby vine, a toad looked out placidly upon his world. Soon, his mate too, would join him under the deep purple of the night sky.