Part III Summary: Justin realizes that even with help from Lantash he cannot be healed, however Martouf is not so badly injured if only he can obtain treatment. Knowing that Lantash could heal him, Justin talks to Martouf about the Tok'Ra.
Warning: Character Death
Coeurawyn – My Heart Carusawyn – My Dear One, My Dearest One Coeurawyn Mae’tek – My Heart’s Mate Igisadonis – Beloved, used only to a Soulmate, or Lifemate Et Aevum – For/Into Eternity Amat Wyn – My Love “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
The other man arose from the cot where he was sitting and sat down heavily beside the one the young man had been settled on, leaning against it for support. He looked closely at the man lying on the makeshift stretcher on the cot and realized it was the youngest of the son’s of the Royal House of Avery’en. Martouf.
A smile lit Justin’s face accompanied with a look of relief. He knew who he was, and he would have his last request fulfilled.
This was the vision of Lantash’s new host, no longer a blurred image in Justin’s mind. Seeing him now, it brought him into sharp relief. He wondered why he had not realized it last evening. It did not matter that he had not done so, however, for it was clear to him now.
The relief of knowing who this man would be to Lantash was almost overwhelming. He knew he could entrust him to Martouf and know that he would be cared for always.
This was Lantash’s new Lifemate, the one who would love him deeply and purely into eternity. The one that would share his next Heartmate, and the one who would share in the love of the Soulmate when she finally came into their lives. Oh, yes, this man was Lantash’s eternal Lifemate, and their Soulmate would bind the three of them forever. Et Aevum. Into Eternity.
Justin forced himself to his knees and leaned over to examine him. He was injured badly, but not so badly that he would have died had he received care and the right kind of treatment.
Unfortunately, there was none that would be sufficient to deal with his wounds on this world unless they could reach the priestesses that had gone to the Old Temple. They would not reach them, for by morning, without treatment, Martouf would not be breathing.
The priestesses that had remained behind in their sanctuary were not skilled healers. The older, skilled healers had stayed and helped as many of the people as they could before heading into the mountains with them to care for those that were injured.
They waited until there had been no one else arrive for a few hours before deciding it was time for them to go. The priestesses left behind were simply to point people to a certain valley and temple, which they did. He had thanked them and left.
The younger ones had no way of knowing if the others made it into the mountains without being killed or not. They had been instructed to wait until it was safer before leaving the retreat. They had not yet been willing to leave it, but it mattered not. They were probably safer in their sanctuary than in the forest anyway.
Neither were they skilled enough to help him to heal, even with both his and Lantash’s abilities. He had his doubts about whether even the older priestesses could have healed him, for he believed his injuries to be mortal. Only a Wiccadian Priestess or one from Avilion, of the highest rank and skill, could possibly have prevented his death. His Kataya was one such, but she was gone, had been gone for many years now.
He and Lantash left the temple after talking to the young priestesses, and they finally caught up to the old couple and the man they were taking with them into the mountains. He had been unable to see him clearly, so could tell little about him other than that he looked like he was young, and he was dressed as a rather well-to-do farmer.
He had assumed that perhaps the man they were carrying was their son. He could think of no other reason they would be carrying a young man with them to the priestesses. They had not told them at the Temple who they were carrying into the mountains with them, only that they were carrying someone, and therefore, they would be making their way very slowly.
Now, of course, he realized that they were taking the last of their leaders; the last of the symbols that had defined their world with them to what they hoped would be safety.
Justin closed his eyes and allowed himself to relax against the cot for a time. He would think about what needed to be accomplished in a while. For the moment, he simply wanted to exist and absorb the energy around him.
Lantash’s mind would not slow though. This entire mission had been one error and misjudgment after another. He felt the harshness of grief begin to well within him. He had come to love Justin over the years they had been together. Of course, it was not all that many compared to some he had been with, but they had seen a great deal of emotional turmoil in their years as Lifemates.
Justin had dealt with the anguish of the loss of Lantash’s previous Lifemate, Dominic. The Lifemate that he had been with for over four hundred years and loved so very deeply. Dominic had been such a wonderful person. Gentle, kind, and loving, yet emotionally and mentally strong, wise, and intelligent.
Poor Justin had lived beneath the shadow of that love for as long as they had been Lifemates. Yet he had never faltered in his own love of Lantash. Moreover, Lantash had come to appreciate and love him for his own attributes and personality over the years.
Then, too, there had been their love of Lantash’s mate and their children. Lantash and Dominic’s children. How he had loved the woman that was his mate and the mother of his children. He rarely thought of her for the anguish he felt, when she entered his mind, was all-encompassing and could be enough to bring him to his knees.
He had loved her, and his children, intensely and deeply. When she had to leave, and return to the war her people were waging, he had gone to a very dark place in his mind, and Justin had lived through that pain and agony as well as Lantash’s wish to cease living. He had put up with more than any host should have to live with.
“Not true, my mate. Lantash, I, too, loved her and your children. I, too, mourned when she left, not to return.”
“As for your love of Dominic, four hundred years is a very long time, and if you had loved him less, well, I would have been surprised and dismayed, for it would have meant that you were not the caring, loving being that I believed you to be.”
“However, you did and you are. You are a deeply caring, intensely passionate, being. It was inevitable that you would love him so completely and eternally with every bit of your very being, all of your heart and soul.”
“Do not begin to berate yourself with the past again. It is over and dealt with, and we have passed it long ago. You love me, you care for me, and I feel the same for you. You gave me the love I had for Kataya and your children. For that alone, you are forgiven for every imagined fault you have. They are imagined by you, for I do not believe in them. Now come, leave the past where it belongs, and come into the present.”
“The scion is young, and you could heal him, Lantash. One of us must talk to him. If he will agree, you must take him as your host. You must return with the intelligence we have gathered. I am far too injured for you to heal, and you should stop attempting to do so. It is doing nothing but weakening you, when you will need your strength and ability to heal your new host.”
“You are very much aware that the time for you to take another host has come. Allow me to die and return to the Soul from whence I came. I will return, as you know. Someday, perhaps, we will even meet once again. Do not mourn for me, when I am gone, for I will live on within you as all of your Lifemates have done before me.”
“Allow me to step down and take my new place within your heart and make room for your next lover, the next heart within which you will make a home.”
“Stop talking as if you are already dead,” Lantash snapped. “When we die, we shall no doubt die together. You know the chances that he will agree to become a host are slim to none. Stop trying to get rid of me,” Lantash’s voice was strangled, his pain at the thought of losing Justin sharp and deep.
His host laughed shortly. “As if I would do so, Lantash. I love you too much to make the parting easy on either of us, but you know, as well as I, that death holds no fears for me and my kind. I will return, just as you shall, if you pass with me.”
“However, there is no need for you to do so. It is time for you to take a new host. One that is young and strong. I believe this one, when not injured, would fit that description. And since I have looked and seen his wounds, I know they are well within your abilities to heal.”
“Justin, please stop fighting me and rest, so that I can at least attempt to heal us.”
“Lantash, no. Stop. I am dying. We both know it. You must take a new host. Please, do not give up now; not after all we have been through together. Our life has had much sorrow, but it has also held much joy. Do not abandon this life just yet. You have much yet to live for and to do. Your fight is not yet ended.”
“Release me, my mate. Allow me to pass you unto another’s embrace, so that I will know you are cared for by them. The Mysts of the Soul are coming ever closer, Lantash. You must allow me to crossover. She will come for me soon, if you will but ask it of her. Give me my last request of you, Lantash, Carusawyn.”
Lantash sighed and then said, grudgingly, “You may talk to him. I will say no more. However, if he is the least bit opposed to me, then you will say no more. That is the most to which I will agree.”
“It shall be enough, Coeurawyn, I promise you.”
The Wiccadian opened his eyes and looked around. The old couple was exhausted. They needed rest. He used his abilities to lull them into a deeper more restful sleep, for the old woman was restless in her worry for her charge. Then he stood and slowly made his way to the lamp, relighting it, before returning to the cot and giving his attention to the man lying there.
He sat down beside it again to rest for a short time. Then he rose to his knees again and leaned over Martouf reaching for his mind. Justin was a strong telepath; it took little to enter the other’s consciousness.
Martouf awoke slowly. There was a man leaning over him. A golden-haired man with an arresting, beautiful face. In the light from the lamplight, his eyes looked violet. Such arresting eyes. He gazed into them, feeling them pull him farther into wakefulness. He knew those eyes. He had seen them before.
The younger man frowned, his memory reasserting itself. “You are Justin and Lantash, the Tok’Ra, are you not? I am—I am Martouf. Martouf Destinyon Avery’en of Avoreyon and Arsennia.”
“Yes, I remember you, and yes, I am Justin of Killadian the Wiccadian, host of the Tok’Ra, Lantash of Lanaekqa Aroriesh.”
“You are the one that came to try to warn us. I remember you well.” His voice was bitter as he continued, “My brothers did not believe you. Such foolish pride, they had. I believe my father would have reconsidered had we had more time. I believe my brother sent word to Arawn that you were there.”
Justin nodded. “Lantash and I, also, believe this to be true. As for your brother’s foolish pride, you did not share it. You believed us.”
“No, I did not share it with them, and yes, I believed you. You had no reason to lie to us. I should have tried harder to convince them.”
“My poor father. He was a good man. A caring man. His rule was long and prosperous for the people. I wish you had met him when he was younger and not so bowed with age. You would have respected and loved him as his people and his family do. If only…but that is useless thought, now. All is lost.”
“My people are enslaved or dead. Mostly dead, I would imagine, as they would not give up the fight. So many young men and women slaughtered. So much youthful promise gone, forced too early from this life. The children. So many children, born, and unborn, dead. All because I did not insist my father listen to me.”
“I should have told, warned, my mother, my sisters, my—my betrothed. I should have taken them away last night, but I did not. I and only I am to blame for their deaths, for I could have taken them to a safer place. I should have taken them.”
“My father was up in years, and he had spent a full life, but my mother, though old, was not yet truly elderly,” Martouf whispered as if speaking to himself. “She was slaughtered with the rest. My mother was much younger than my father was, but she adored him. She might not have lived on without him, so perhaps it is as well she followed him into the Mysts.”
He was almost rambling and Justin allowed him to talk, knowing these were things he needed to both think about and come to terms with. “My brothers and my sisters are all gone, even the youngest of them. They were beautiful, kind, and sweet, my sisters. They died before they reached full bloom.”
“My father. He should have passed on the crown long ago. Unfortunately, he did not trust my eldest brother. With just cause, it seems. It was my eldest brother’s treachery that brought this upon our house and our people. He has doomed this world to destruction and woe.”
“I can only hope that some of our people escaped to the mountains and the Temple that is there. It was built long ago, and it is a place of refuge. The Jaffa cannot find it, and that is well.” Martouf lapsed into what appeared to be a very sad reverie.
Justin spoke softly to him, “I am sorry, but I am fairly sure that many of your people that were not taken as slaves were killed. He would have left a small population, but one that was not large enough to rise against him.”
“They will have been taken aboard his ship and are being held in holding cells until the world is destroyed. Then those that he feels are fit to serve or breed will be sent back to begin rebuilding, but in a much more primitive way. He will want them to have no technology of any kind.”
“We can only hope that some of them know of another world they can escape to once he sends them back to begin rebuilding. The Chaappa’ai will not always be guarded once the populace is subdued.”
“Some of your people are in the mountains, if they managed to flee from the Jaffa. I came by ship. I could take them to a new home, but I am dying. I will not see another day dawn.”
“But, you are Tok’Ra.” Martouf frowned as he tried to remember what he knew of them. “Will your symbiote not heal you?” He asked in confusion.
“I am injured too badly for either of us to be able to heal me. He is trying, but he is only prolonging our death. He, of course, will die with me without another host. He has much intelligence to relay to the Tok’Ra. I had hoped he would survive.”
“I believe that I, too, am dying. I would willingly take him, but there is nothing I can do for you, or myself, without a healer or medicines. Perhaps the old couple, one of them would take him if I asked it of them.”
Justin shook his head. “No, there is no point in forcing them to try to do something that they would not understand. They would not do it willingly, and Lantash would not go unless they were willing. It will not do.”
“Then he will die with you and his information against the Goa’uld with him. Perhaps you could tell them? No, of course you could not. If they were caught, they would give the information. It is possible that they are too old to understand.”
He so wanted the Tok’Ra to survive and continue to fight the Goa’uld. He wished there was a way, but he knew that the old couple were not the answer. If only they had made it to the Temple. There would have been hosts available there.
He remembered his earlier plans, the ones he made before he was so badly injured. That, too, was his fault. He had not been listening and watching as carefully as he should, otherwise he would not have encountered that last Jaffa.
Martouf closed his eyes in anguish. “I was going to try to find you. I wished to join the Tok’Ra, once my people were settled. What few of them that are left that is.”
“So, Lantash, your question is answered before it is even asked. He was looking for us so that he could join in our battle against the System Lords. He wishes to become Tok’Ra!”
“Yes, I must admit you are correct.”
“I will explain to him. He does not realize that he could be saved by you.”
“Martouf, please listen to what I have to say to you,” Justin said quietly. “You are not so badly injured that Lantash could not heal you. I have looked into your body, and I have seen your injuries. There are no serious internal ones. Neither wound, in and of itself, would have killed you. Nonetheless, you have lost a great deal of blood, and there is still some internal bleeding that must be stopped, if you are to survive.”
“Was I not so near to death myself, I could probably have healed you, but I am in too depleted a state to help you. However, if you meant what you said about being willing to take him, Lantash can give you back your health.”
“You are offering me life. A life in which I would be able to fight against the evil that took my family, my home, and my way of life.”
“Why would you think I would refuse? I am dying. My family, my home, my betrothed, most of my people, are all gone. I have nothing left to keep me here.”
“There is a ship, and I could relocate those of my people who have escaped and survived. I would gladly share my body for those things in return. I spoke the truth. I wish to become Tok’Ra. My intent was to begin my quest to find them as soon as my people were in a new situation, a new homeland. I want to begin to actively fight to defeat these beings of evil,” Martouf assured him, almost breathless with a newfound hope. Perhaps he would be able to carry on both his and his father’s wishes after all.
“Lantash is a very intelligent being, and he is extremely well educated. He has much scientific as well as practical knowledge. He prefers to be an operative and work actively against the Goa’uld. You would not sit in a lab somewhere. You will be quite active against them.”
Martouf smiled slightly, as much as his pain would allow. “I understand. I believe that would suit my purpose quite well.”
Justin’s eyes glowed and Lantash came fore to say to him, “You must realize that we have no royalty, only our Queen, and she is dead. You also must realize that we could be together for a very long time. Perhaps as long as four hundred of your years.”
“Moreover, there is a chance that the blending will not work. You are injured, and I am weak from attempting to heal Justin. There is always a chance that we will still both die.”
“I understand, but if we do not attempt to blend, then there is no chance that any of us will survive. We will all die. Then, there is no doubt that your information will remain hidden, and what is left of my people will suffer more hardship.”
“As for my position, I have none. I am well-educated, however, for I was the youngest son. It was expected that I would never ascend the throne, and so I was indulged in my wish for learning more about many different subjects than, in the normal course of events, would have been part of my education. I do not think you will find me ignorant, nor close- minded.”
“As for the length of our time together, none of us knows the future, but if I have four hundred years with you, I believe I shall consider myself blessed.”
“Then you are—truly willing to become my host?”
“Yes, I am quite willing to take this chance. All I ask is that you do what you can for those of my people that have survived.”
“I will promise to do all that is within my power to accomplish for them. I know of a world that is fruitful and the people there will welcome them. They are few and from different worlds. We often take refugees there. It is unknown to the Goa’uld. They will find a place to call home there.”
Martouf nodded. “I also know of a world where they could go. Perhaps you know of it, but that is a subject that can await discussion until after we see if you can truly heal me, or if I am closer to death than you believe.”
He looked steadily into Lantash’s eyes. “I am ready whenever you are. I will rest until you believe that it is time.” Martouf closed his eyes, giving Lantash and Justin the time they might need to say good-bye. He could no more get up and walk away than he could fly, but he could shut his eyes as they talked, and it was the least he could do.
As he lie waiting, he thought about his life; the life he had known until now. The youngest son of the Royal Family, he had been indulged from the day he was born.
With no set position in life at the court, he had been freer than his brothers to do as he wished more than they had been. Although he had to learn all of the court rules and etiquette, it had not been taught as stringently to him, as it was to the others. He was glad, for he never aspired to the throne.
It was ironic to realize that had there been a land and throne left, he was now the heir to it. He would have laughed if his situation were not so desperate.
He had been happy exploring and learning. He was fascinated by the ancient civilizations that abounded on his world. He enjoyed sailing, and he had been in the Royal Navy. He had spent time in their army as well. He had traveled through the Chaappa’ai. He had been to and seen many things and many places. Yet home had always called him back. No more would it do so. Now his home would be with the Tok’Ra.
He and his brothers, except Mikelin, had enjoyed doing things together, and he had spent much time with them. They often rode their hosseks into the mountains and remained for days at a time hunting and fishing. They all enjoyed playing at different sporting games and were very active in that way. He loved to fence with them, as well. They had all been fond of one another, and he would miss them dearly.
He had loved his little sisters more than he could say, and he would miss them and their artless chatter very much. He was grateful that they had not been taken as hosts or slaves. He would not have been able to endure knowing they were being used in those ways. They had truly been lovely both within and without, and it hurt him to think that he would never hear them singing or laughing again.
All in all his life up to now had been pleasant and fairly uneventful. Other than losing his first love, he had managed to live through thirty years before anything untoward had disturbed the pleasant tenor of his days. His thoughts slipped back to his world and the place he had known as his in it.
He was heir to his mother’s homeland, Arsennia, and had always been so. In the normal course of events, he would have taken Mareena there as his mate, and they would have made it their home.
It was a fertile area some distance from their main Palace. He wondered if the Goa’uld had destroyed everything there. He hoped that Corrin had been in time to warn the people, so that they had time to escape into the mountains, and from there on to the temple.
His mother had come to Avoreyon from Arsennia as a young woman to become his father’s mate. He had been much older than her, but she had loved his father, of that there was no doubt. Their joining might have begun as a political arrangement, but it had not stayed that way. Moreover, his father had adored his mother, until this very day. They had all had a wonderful example of what a joining should be.
Had he bonded with Mareena, their bonding would not have been as truly loving as a joining should be. He would not have loved her in the way that his father adored his mother, but he knew that as he liked children, he would have been as doting a father as his own father had been.
He had loved and respected his father, that good, kind soul. Though already well into his prime when Martouf was born, he had still found the time and energy to spend with the curious and rambunctious boy as he grew to adulthood.
He had been a cheerful and even-tempered man, except with those that were proven to be wicked and evil. Furthermore, even with those he was fair, and often gave second chances, if he felt they were deserved. He had learned from him that there were degrees to badness, and that he must distinguish those who were not truly black-souled from the ones that were absolutely evil and malevolent.
Thus, he learned wisdom about others from the man that was his father. So much, he had taught him as he grew to manhood and beyond. Martouf had learned much about pride, honor, and respect from him. He had learned about honesty and trust. Moreover, he had learned to forgive when it was deserved, and he had learned the difference between those deserving it and those who did not.
He had learned to set women in a special place of honor. Not a pedestal from which they could fall, for he knew well that they had faults and were not perfect beings, but a place where respect and love could be lavished upon them.
Not all women, of course, anymore than all men, were good. Nevertheless, those he cared for were treated with the love, honor, and respect they deserved.
Finally, he allowed himself to think about his mother. He felt the shaft sink more deeply into his heart. He had adored his mother, as he had no other woman, for she had a special place in his heart. He had always known she loved him deeply, as well.
She had been a light and happy spirit, always smiling and always making his father smile. Since his father, also, was a man given to smiling and laughter, their home rang with laughter often and long. She was wise in the ways of people, and he had learned much about them from her.
She had been tender, gentle, loving, and kind. Rarely did she become angry or raise her voice. He knew it was said that of all the children he was most like her in that way, for seldom did he raise his voice in anger.
However, while it was true that it took a great deal to anger him, when he did become angry it was a very intense emotion. It would sometimes take him many days to overcome it, if the reason for it was sufficient, and he truly felt deeply about it.
So, it seemed he had her temper along with her gentle, loving kindness. She was always there, willing to listen and give advice, her wisdom such that her words would usually prove to be true. She had been goodness, love, and light to them all, and to see that light extinguished caused an agony that almost took his breath.
There was no doubt in his mind that the Goddess would reawaken her. Perhaps someday, if he lived long enough with Lantash, he would know her again.
From her, he had learned to be tender and loving. Gentleness was in her very being, and he had learned that at her side. All of the attributes she had spoken of to him, about him, were nothing but the gifts she had given to him, for she had taught him many of those things.
She and his father. He must be thankful to both of them, if he had even a portion of the goodness she claimed he had. He would do his best to live up to her aspirations for him.
She had told him to take with him her love and indeed, just thinking about her, he felt it glowing in his own heart, giving him some much needed comfort.
For her sake alone, not even counting the rest, the Goa’uld would suffer as much as he could make them. He hoped that he and Lantash had four hundred years together for even that long would not be long enough to repay them for killing everyone he held dear.
The Goa’uld had taken her and her love from him, and for that, he would seek revenge. He believed that women were special beings, for there was nothing in this, or any other world, that could take the place of a woman’s love, be it the love of a mother or a heartlove.
He knew this because he had loved his mother and felt the love that she lavished on him. He had also once had a heartlove, when he was much younger.
She had been an ethereal, gentle creature, too good for the world. That had been proven, for she had died and left him bereft. Now, of course, he thought of her with a bittersweet pain. They would never have been happy together had they joined, but he had loved her, and she had adored him.
Sometimes, looking back, he wondered if he loved her because she adored him so completely. For whatever reason, he had loved her and with her, he had learned what it meant to melt in a woman’s arms and breathe in her sighs, as she came to completion. What it meant to lie cradled in soft thighs as delicate hands caressed his skin.
While Narissa had been youth's sweet dream, Mareena, the woman chosen for him would have suited him better. However looking back now, he realized that had he taken Mareena, he would still have taken the wrong woman to bond.
He had acquiesced to the woman chosen for him. Mareena was intelligent and independent. She would have made a terrible slave for the Goa’uld. She would have bowed to no man. He had liked that about her, that fierce fighting spirit and determination. Her intelligence and passion often hid the soft feminine side to her that only those close to her saw.
Had they joined, he would have spent his days taking care of several of the estates his family owned, and he would have had children. That was all over now. Never would any of it come to pass.
The children were the only thing he might regret. He had not cared deeply for Mareena, although he had been fond of her. He had believed that in time, he would come to love her, and that he was, in fact, coming to love her, but it had not blossomed fully. She had liked him well enough, as well. They had talked of it often and mated a few times, enough to know they were compatible.
It was not the mating he had known with Narissa, but it was good sex, and he had enjoyed it. They had known that they could make a bonding work, and so, they had been planning to be joined in the harvesting season. Now, although the seasons would turn, his joining would not come.
Nonetheless, while he was unhappy that Mareena had died, he was not so sad as he might have been. He found that, looking at it from where he now stood in his life; he was relieved that it would not come to pass.
Comfortable as their joining would have been, there would always have been something lacking in it. Furthermore, he now knew that it would have been lacking for her, as well. She was with the one she truly wished to be with and he, well, he might have four hundred years to find his true Soulmate.
But that was for the future not at this moment in time. At this moment he had none of the things he had known all of his life. The familiar was gone, and in its place was uncertainty, sorrow, and fury.
In one afternoon, it had all ended. Had he not been out on one of the estates, he would have died with the rest of his family. He had been very fortunate if only in that one way.
He had done what he could after the fact. He knew, without a doubt now, that his immediate family was all dead. He remembered seeing his sisters-in-law’s bodies. He frowned, feeling sick, remembering that Violetta had been pregnant.
They had tried to fight, to protect the children. However, it had done nothing, except perhaps, made their deaths and the children’s come quicker. Even Martef, the oldest of the children at thirteen summers, had tried to fight, but he had died by his mother’s side. A blessing when all was said and done. They were not hosts, slaves, or being tortured.
Mareena, too, had fought. It was obvious she had fought and died as a warrior. The sword lying next to her had the blood of the enemy on it. Unfortunately, she had stood no chance against the Jaffa. She had died, as had they all.
Lying here as Justin and Lantash said their goodbye’s he realized that he would miss the friendship of the woman who would never now be his mate. Though they had not been passionate lovers, they had been friends. Yes, he would miss her, just as he would miss the children that they should have had together. As he would miss his mother, his father, his family, and his home.
It was all the more items, in the long list of items, to hold and for which to seek retribution against, the Goa’uld. It was that many more reasons to welcome Lantash and his ability to fight them. It was that much more incentive for him to greet his new life, if not joyfully at first, at least eagerly.
He tried to make his mind blank. He did not want to see the bodies of his sisters, and his mother, or Mareena, and his brothers. His father. The only face he had gazed his last upon that was a pleasant memory was the surprise and fear on the face of his eldest brother, the betrayer of his family. Mikelin had believed the Goa’uld would give him even more power and riches.
He had never liked his eldest brother. Never trusted him. It seemed that he had been correct in his judgment of his character. He was much like his mother from everything he had heard of her. His father’s first mate, she had been an arranged match, as had his own mother’s mating.
But, Michaela, his father’s first mate was wild to a fault, and he knew his father had always wondered if Mikelin was actually his son. The Goddess knew they were nothing alike in either looks or temperament.
His father had been calm and cheerful. Full of life and fun when he was younger. Kindness and good will had shone from him. Mikelin on the other hand, was greed personified. Yet his father could never bring himself to disinherit him.
He wondered now, if his father had wavered because he was afraid that if he did that, Mikelin would ally with a Goa’uld and raze their world. In the end, he had done it anyway, but looking back, Martouf felt his father had been correct.
The only other thing he could have done to avoid that was either incarcerate him forever or have him executed, and even though he might not believe he was his son, still he had raised him as his son. In all probability, his father could not bring himself to have him sequestered for life or executed. Mikelin, though, had done it to them without remorse.
Mikelin had tried often to convince his father to contact the Goa’uld and become a Goa’uld satellite so they could have access to more riches.
Their people had been unknown to the Goa’uld since they had left centuries ago until Mikelin had contacted them. He had gone behind his father’s back, of that Martouf was quite sure. The only thing the Goa’uld had given his brother was death at the end of a staff weapon.
The man sitting beside him had stopped here to warn them of the impending attack. His older brothers, had not believed there was any way the Goa’uld would bother with them. They had been too dismissive in their treatment of the situation. As it turned out, the attack came even earlier than Justin and Lantash expected it to.
They were caught unprepared. That they had escaped the city was a testament to their abilities as operatives. Only they had not escaped unscathed. Looking back in hindsight, he wished he had followed his own instincts and moved his mother, sisters, and betrothed to one of the outer estates. He wished he had remained at the Palace and attempted to talk his father into calling out the army and putting them on alert.
He was fairly sure that the Army’s headquarters and bases had been destroyed from the sky. Their Navy, also, was probably destroyed from above. Not that it was all that large anyway. More of an exploration fleet than a battle-ready group. They had no feuds with anyone so had no need of a large army or navy. He supposed he should find out what, if anything, was left. Possibly, if he survived the Priestesses would have some information. There were so many things that he wished he had done instead of what he did do.
However, there was no point in berating himself over it. It was too late now, and regret would get him nothing but heartache and guilt. The heartache he could not avoid, but the guilt he could dispense with. Both his father and mother had often said that guilt was a wasted emotion that did no one good. They both agreed that feeling it was wasting good energy that should be put toward doing something good and rewarding instead.
“Martouf? Are you awake?”
“Yes, Justin, I am. How are you feeling? Is Lantash going to be able to heal you after all?”
Justin smiled slightly. “No. I have very little time left. In fact, it is time for the transfer to take place if you are ready to accept my mate as your own.”
“Yes. Yes, I am ready.” Martouf pushed what little trepidation he felt down and attempted to calm himself. Looking into Justin’s eyes, he realized that he trusted this man. Calm washed through him leaving nothing but anticipation in its wake. Somehow, he felt sure that Lantash was everything Justin said he was, and he would be a comfort and a companion for him.
“Can you turn partway onto your side or are you too weak?”
“I think I can.” He moaned but managed to turn half-way so that he was facing Justin full on. “Now what do I do?”
“Now, you kiss me.”
Martouf blinked in stunned surprise. It was an expression that Lantash would, no doubt, come to know well through the years. “Kiss you? Now?”
Justin laughed softy, but it turned into a gasping cough, before he finally managed to get his breathing under control again. “It is the way the Tok’Ra blend, Martouf. Through the mouth, not the neck. They do not wish to leave the scar that the Goa’uld do.”
Martouf nodded, saying, “I see. All right. It shall be as you wish.”
Justin looked into his eyes and Martouf would swear that they were shining with a violet fire in the moonlight as it made its way into the shepherd’s hut, now that the lamp was extinguished. Not glowing from the symbiote, but gleaming with emotion.
He was sure of it as Justin began to speak, “I am passing my heart, my soul’s Lifemate, unto you, Martouf. Care for him and love him, as I have, and he will care for and love you in return, until the day that you, also, shall pass into the mysts beyond.”
With those words and a soft sigh, Justin leaned forward and placed his hands softly, one in Martouf’s hair and one on his cheek, caressing him as a lover would, as he leaned in and kissed him gently, but deeply.
Martouf felt as if he was choking for a moment, and then it was over. Justin pulled back slightly and smiled into his eyes. “Goodbye, my mate. Take with you my love, and may it shine for you both forever.” His eyes closed and he slumped down, his head resting on Martouf’s chest. He had not yet died, but he was unconscious.
Martouf felt his own hand come up and stroke Justin’s hair over and over, until he breathed his last. Then his own eyes closed, and he felt sleep overtake him, his fingers still entwined in the golden curls of Justin’s hair.
Lantash hummed tunelessly as he worked on his new host’s injuries. Anything to stop the pain of the loss that he was feeling. He repeated this step each time, but it never kept the pain at bay for long. Keeping his thoughts busy elsewhere that is. Humming and pretending he was thinking of other things.
Of course, he often hummed when he did things. Healing, lulling a host to sleep, trying to comfort one of them, even when he was bored. So, he always tried it when he was in emotional pain. Unfortunately, it never worked.
He was trying to avoid the desolation that would come with this newest loss, this parting, but he sighed knowing it would not be held off for long. Justin used to hum with him sometimes...
As the predawn morning hours passed and Lantash worked to heal his new host’s wounds, his thoughts returned to their conversation as he and Justin said their goodbyes.
Justin had known all along that Lantash would survive this and go on with a new Lifemate. He had told him of his visions of the future and the loves that awaited him there.
He was still slightly shocked. So many things Justin had hidden from him, so that he would not worry about him. He sighed as he heard Justin’s voice again in his mind, telling him goodbye. “This is the time, Lantash. I have known for a while now that it was coming, though I knew not how or when.”
“What do you mean, Justin? How do you know this? Have you—have you seen it?”
“Yes, Coeurawyn Mae’tek, I have seen it. I have been awaiting it.”
“Why did you not tell me, Justin? Why have you allowed this to happen without telling me of it?”
“Because the heartbreak will be bad enough now, without anticipating it for months or perhaps years. I did not know when or how, Igisadonis, all I knew was that when you met your Heartmate, I would not be with you.”
“Did you know last night when we met Martouf?”
“No. I did not recognize the scene until we reached this place. Once I looked at him here, I realized that he was the shadowy, fuzzy figure in my visions. I knew then that we were right to come here.”
“This is how it is supposed to happen as long as this thread is intact. You will have much happiness in the future, my mate, but I am afraid that there is also sorrow.”
“No, before you ask, I do not know what events give you either the joy or the sorrow, for I have only the feelings and a few glimpses of shadowy events that I could not make out.”
“It is possible that Kataya or your children are part of your joy, as I sense them close to you when I feel it, but that does not take place for a very, very long time. The sorrow is not defined with even that much.”
“There is another thing that I wish you to know. I also see the two of us together at some point far into the future. Not as Lifemates, but perhaps as brothers of the heart. If the portends remain the same, I will see you again, Amat Wyn, I promise you.”
He had not been able to answer for a time, but it had eased the parting considerably. He would see Justin again. Not as a Lifemate, true, but as a friend and brother.
It helped to think of that. Moreover, someday he would again see Kataya. If the portends stayed the same. If. That was the crux of the matter. If. Well, for now he would believe that they would stay untouched by time. It was the only thing he could hold onto.
He sighed to himself as he replayed the rest of their goodbye. Justin had held him and caressed him as he told him, “I have loved you well, my heart, as you have loved me. I will take the love you feel for me with me into the Mysts, and it will light my way. Remember that the more joy and love, happiness and contentment that you feel, the brighter my light shall shine.”
“Never doubt that I loved you, just as I know that you loved me. Do not compare your love for me to other loves you have had, Lantash, for the love you hold for me is unique and special, as each of your loves have been and as every new love you have will be special and different from any other.”
“Never will I regret choosing to blend with you, for you have given me so very much. More than you will ever know or would believe, if I told you of it. Just believe that my love for you is deep and true and will not falter. It will live on, just as your love for me shall live on within you.”
“I have one last thing to tell you. The love between you and Martouf will be born swiftly, and it will grow deeper as time passes. It will soon be deeper than any other you have ever known, though you will not realize it for quite some time. When you do, you will realize that he is an eternal Soulmate of yours, even as Dominic was.”
“I know you will not accept my words now, and you will probably forget them in time, but the day will come when you will remember them, and you will know why it is so.”
“You and he will have much in common, and you will blend together so perfectly that you will not even be aware of how deeply attached you are to one another or how deeply blended you are. The two of you, while still retaining your individuality, will blend into one being in many, many ways.”
“One day in the distant future you will both realize that your blending gave birth to a new being. You will be very aware of it at that time, and you will be content to have it so.”
“I have loved you and I will love you, Justin. I will miss you greatly, as you know. You take my heartlove with you.”
“And you shall take with you my love, Lantash, as it is meant to be. It is time for me to go now. The Mysts await me.” He had gone then and talked to Martouf. After Lantash left him, Justin said goodbye one last time. Lantash had stroked his hair, all he was capable of doing at the time, as Justin passed over.
Soon, Justin would be completely gone from him. Only a memory. But a good and loving memory. A light unto the dark places.
He sighed and brought his thoughts back to his present endeavor. Justin had been correct about Martouf’s injuries. They were not difficult though the one in his side had been deep and still bleeding. Once he had stopped it, the wound had proved to be no problem. That one being the worst of the two he had healed it first and he was now repairing the last of the wound on his shoulder. There had been no complications or problems. They, symbiote and host, would both survive to fight another day.
Dawn was just beginning to break. He would have to move Justin’s body off them and…what was his new host doing? Why was he getting up? He hadn’t quite finished healing him. Almost, but not completely. He remained silent and still waiting to see what Martouf would do next. He was picking up Justin’s body. What was he doing with it?
Ah, he was laying it on the cot and covering it with a covering he found in one of the chests. His pain over Justin ran through him as he felt Martouf’s own pain when he stood and looked down at Justin’s face, a face quite beautiful in repose. But then, most of the Wiccadians were a beautiful people both within and without.
He was surprised at the sense of loss the young man felt for this man he barely knew. He searched a little deeper into his new host’s psyche and was not surprised to find that Martouf loved most living things, some more than others, and some very deeply.
Oh, Goddess, he was gentle and loving. So much like Dominic. Lantash gasped at his thoughts. If true, then his heart would be broken many times, and it explained his grief over Justin.
Lantash sighed and his own heart ached even more. This one would need much emotional protection and support, for the life he had now chosen was very cruel to them all. He would pick up the pieces of his heart many times in the coming years, of that he was sure. Just as he had Dominic’s.
Even with what he had just learned, he was surprised when Martouf dropped to his knees beside the body. “I will tend and care for Lantash for you; I vow this on your death. The death caused by my people, by my family. Had you not come here, you would have had many more years with your soul’s Lifemate.”
“I cannot give you back to him, but I will do my very best to comfort and console him in his loss. I will defend and protect him to the best of my ability. I will attempt to always soothe, lighten, and unburden his heart, for I believe that it is easily broken, although he shows it not.”
“Most of all, I give you my pledge to love and cherish him for the rest of our life together. I know, from what you showed to me and what I already feel, that I shall come to love him as intensely, as passionately, and as deeply as you have done, until our time together is no more.”
“I promise this to you, as I offer up your spirit to the Goddess of the Mysts of Time, that you might be reborn and live again.” He covered Justin’s face and stood. There was nothing else he could do here for the moment.
The sun was coming up. Lantash had done exactly as Justin had assured him he could, and he was practically healed this morning. It was time to start a new day and a new life.
After covering Justin’s body, Martouf turned to the old couple on the cots on the other side of the small room. They were still asleep, no doubt worn out from the horrors of the day before. He did not wish to wake them, and so, he gathered his clothes, found some cleansing fluids, and made his way outside and down to the nearby stream.
Once there, he stripped off his clothes. He was glad he had enough presence of mind yesterday to pick up a change of clothing while at the Palace. He had shoved it into the satchel with the gold.
He had also taken his mothers joining circlet, and the other jewelry that went with it, given to her by his father, as well as her signet and Coronau. Thinking about it now, he was relieved that he had been cognizant enough to take his father’s rings, signet, and Coronau, the emblems of his station and estate. He would not have wanted them, or his mother’s circlet set, to fall into the hands of the Goa’uld. That he take them had been one of her last requests, as well.
They were probably worth a great deal, but more importantly, they were of value to him for the memories they would bring. Moreover, he would be able to give the joining set to a mate if he ever joined. Yes, those things he would keep for what they meant to him, not their monetary value. The Coronaus he would leave with his people and they would do with them what they would. It mattered not to him now, for the monarchy was no more. There would be no offspring to reclaim their world, their people, or their throne.
Normally, his mother’s circlet set would have gone to the eldest son’s wife, at his mother’s death. Now, he was not only the eldest, but also, the only son. Her joining set was all that he took of her, as he left, aside from her love as she would have wanted him to do, just as his father would have wanted him to do. He knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt. That and the values they had instilled within him. Those he would have as long as he lived.
He stepped into the stream and then dove into the pool a few feet away. It did not take him long to bathe and soon he was out and drying himself in the sun, since he had forgotten a towel, if there even were any in the hut.
He frowned, wondering how he was supposed to know if Lantash was all right. He had heard nothing from him this morning, but he remembered hearing him after they had blended. Sitting up straighter, he asked, within his mind, “Lantash? Are you well? What is happening? Is this the correct way to communicate with you, or need I do something more? Can you hear me?”
He felt the warmth of an embrace, and then he heard him say, “I am quite well, only a little tired. Yes, this is how we communicate, you need do nothing more, and I can hear you. I will become dormant for a short time soon, but you must awaken me before we leave for the Temple.”
“How do I awaken you? Just by talking to you? Like this?”
“Yes. I will ignore everything except my name, but saying it will bring me out of my dormancy. You must agree to awaken me before we begin the walk into the mountains, though. If you do not, then I will not rest, now.”
“If it is that important to you, then of course, I will awaken you. Will it take me long to become more aware of you? I do not—feel you within me. Why is that?”
“I am just now beginning to completely blend with you. I did only enough blending when we joined to allow me to heal you easily. Now, I will begin our deeper blending if you are willing.”
“I am willing. I welcomed you last night, and I still welcome you today. I am fully aware of our situation, and I am completely content to be your host. I hope you will soon learn to trust me, and that it will not prove difficult.”
“No, it will not. Once I complete the blending, we will not be able to lie to one another. Keep things from one another, yes, but not lie. You could not hide a character flaw if you wished to, for those are part of your being.”
“Therefore, I will know if you are an honest, honorable person, upon completion of our blending, just as you will know about me. I do not believe that either of us will be disappointed or surprised by what we find within the other.”
He felt Martouf’s small smile. “Nor do I, Lantash, nor do I.”
TBC in: Take With You My Love – Lantash-Martouf POV, Part IV – Into the Future