Jasla & Sterin Ch. 17bykittys_pet©
"During the most dangerous time of the clan there came to the village a group of travelers." He pointed to Sterin, "The Chosen," then he pointed to Jasla, "the Little One." He waved his hand toward the entrance, "the Champion and the Daughter of the Forest. Both the Little one and the Daughter of the Forest were huge with child." He continued in almost a singsong voice the tale he had been taught as a child. "Due to the magic of the time's gate the two she-wolves found their time close at hand. A hunting party found the group unconscious and not knowing who they were they took the Chosen one, his mate and the red-haired she-wolf to the village, leaving the Champion behind."
Jasla listened carefully to the boy's story. The legend he spun was off in some regards but the main facts were there, so far. She looked at her mate and sighed when he would not meet her eyes. His reaction alone told her that something was wrong. The connection that had been established while he had been trapped in his catform still existed. She could feel the shame and self loathing he was feeling. She tried to send a little comfort through that link.
"There were in the village at this time many unmated young she-cats. It seemed to be a gift from the great she cat that this stranger was brought to the village. Five of the strongest and most lovely of the unmated she-cats were chosen and they were placed in the ceremonial hut with the unconscious stranger. They were all chosen for their beauty, brains and strength but also for the fact that they were all ready for mating." The young man blushed as he said that. "They waited patiently for the stranger to awake and claim them as his mates."
Jasla interrupted. "Mates? As in all of them at once?" Her voice wavered a bit as she looked at her mate. Had he mated with...she couldn't finish that thought.
Zeki nodded. "When the stranger awoke he was confused and refused the young women's advances repeatedly. He told my mother of his mate and how he was waiting for his cub to be born." Zeki smiled down at his half brother and sister. "Mother and the others tried and tried. Finally they took matters into their own hands." He carefully looked from his father to his mate. The tension was building but he was sure that the fabled mate of his sire was going to be forgiving. After all was she not the foretold mother of the new clan?
Sterin sunk into himself. Whispering once more, "I couldn't....resist....them." His eyes were closed and tears slid down his cheeks.
Jasla started to speak but Zeki held up his hand. "It must be said that father did his best to resist. Mother had to resort to bondage to keep father from leaving the hut. She had the other mothers hold him down and then used some secret technique to make him bend to her will." The boy sounded a bit puzzled, for he had no idea how she had done it. "The combination of mother's power and the overwhelming perfume of the females made him weaken."
Jasla held up a hand and shushed the boy before he could go on to more intimate details. She shivered and wrapped her arms across her aching breasts. "Please....leave my mate and I alone now." Zeki looked at the small blacked haired woman and nodded. It was up to her now.
He said one last thing before he left. "Jasla, never believe that father didn't love you. He did not betray you. He was overwhelmed by nature." She nodded once, sharply and the boy left.
Sterin sat, sunk into his shame and depression. He had hoped that his shame would have stayed hidden in the past. He knew it was w wrong but he had wanted the women to be lost in time with no sign of his shame. He would have told Jasla, someday, of how he had betrayed her but he had hoped to have time. Time to show her how much he loved her and time to be with his children. He prepared himself for the blow to come. He expected his little hotheaded Jasla to yell, to strike out at him but nothing happened. As the long minutes of silence passed he started to shake, visibly.
Jasla sat and rocked herself. She couldn't believe what the boy had told her. That her mate, her love, the father of her children had betrayed her. She closed her eyes. She knew when it had happened. While she had lain in labor in the hut, he had..she swallowed and then shook herself all over. A part of her wanted to rage, to strike out at him but the wiser part of her soul understood what had happened. If what she had been told was true Sterin had no chance whatsoever. Five, beautiful, naked and ready females all over him. Though she knew they were more human than animal, she also knew that nature had left them a few of the curses of their animal brothers. When a female was ready to conceive she sent out a powerful perfume. To have five of his own kind, ready to mate and all over him must have been a torture.
She looked up at Sterin for a long time. She could see his trembling and she could feel his misery. She slowly reached out and put a hand on his arm. He started and tried to pull away but she wrapped her hand about his arm and then reached for his other arm. Slowly she pulled him forward and when he held back she got up on her knees and crawled to him, wrapping her arms about him. She bent her head and lay a gentle kiss on his temple, whispering, "it doesn't matter."
Sterin stiffened as his mate's arms slid about him but at her soft words he broke down and started to sob. He could feel her arms tighten about him as his body shuddered with the force of his emotions. How could she say that? How could she forgive him? He could not forgive himself. After a few moments he gently but definitely pushed himself away from his mate. "Jasla....I'm sorry....I don't deserve to be your mate." He started to get up, to leave but she grabbed him tightly once more.
"Never say that! You are my mate. Forever! Do you understand me!" Her eyes glowed in the dimness of the enclosure. "You are the father of my children, the other half of my soul." Her voice softened. "After all we have been through can you really believe that I would let you go?"
Sterin looked into his eyes and felt the wash of pure love coming through the link they still shared. Love and something more. A maturity that he had not noticed in her before. "How....how can you still love me?"
Jasla slowly smiled. "I have always loved you, Sterin. From the time we were cubs I loved you, not as a brother but as the mate of my heart." She loosened her grip from about him and when he made no move to leave she gently touched his cheek with her fingertips. "Nothing can come between us, Sterin. Nothing. No wolf, no vampire, no cheetah will change how I feel for you. We were destined to be." She touched his lips softly and when his hand came up and pressed them close she let out a tiny sigh of relief. Though she knew he was still trembling inside, still convinced of his shame she knew now he would not leave her.
"Sterin," she started and then waited for him to look at her. When his eyes slowly came up to her she looked at him with a sly grin. "Just promise me that you will try to stay out of the clutches of strange females in the future."
Sterin looked stunned for a moment and then he let out a quiet and embarrassed chuckle. In a tiny voice he answered her joke. "I promise."
Jasla hugged him tightly and then turned him to face his children. "Did you really think you could leave, beloved?" She reached out and picked up their daughter and gently slid the child into his arms. "Little Lian would hate to lose her daddy as would Leander." She smiled softly as Sterin's arms enfolded his small child. "You have a family," she raised one brow, "a larger one than we thought but one that needs you just the same. Don't give that up."
Sterin stared down at his little daughter, so much like himself and then up at his mate. The love and understanding her eyes crumbled his resolve. There was no way he could leave them, no matter how unworthy he was. "I will make it up to you....somehow."
"You already have," was her soft reply.
Together they gathered up their children and joined the others outside. It was a strange gathering but one that made Jasla smile. Sterin was introduced to his children and he introduced them to their tiny siblings. The five young cheetahs oohed and ahhed over the tiny cheetah/wolf cubs and smiled at Jasla. The ancient healer spoke to them all. "It is now time for you to go home travelers. The chosen's children will be your escort. A few days from now the rest of the hidden tribe will join you, in peace." She hugged them all and sent them off with a wave.
The trip back through the Unicorn's forest was quiet. The peace of the hallowed forest filled the tired hearts of the travelers with a sense of longing for their homes. The new mothers walked side by side, carrying their children. They talked quietly about the village and smiled as they both agreed that the surprise on the faces of both Niviel's and Nickodemous' mother would be a sight to behold.
The two fathers were just ahead of their mates. Nickodemous looked on with amusement as Sterin was bombarded with questions by his suddenly found offspring. Jasla had taken him aside and explained in no uncertain terms that if he said anything to make Sterin upset she would remove his chance to become a father again. What had surprised him was that Neviel had been in total agreement with her. Of course they didn't need to warn him of Sterin's delicate balance on the matter. He understood how the cheetah felt.
He smiled as once more the more aggressive of Sterin's daughters asked about some thing from the time before Nickodemous had met him. The look of tried patience on Sterin's face made Nickodemous laugh. And the look that Sterin shot toward him made him laugh even more.
"What is so funny, Champion," asked a soft feminine voice from just behind his shoulder. He turned and looked down at one of Sterin's three daughters. This was the healer, Tijas.
"Nothing much, Tijas is it?" The girl nodded. "Just a bit of fun watching Sterin there trying to keep up with your sibs."
Tijas nodded. "Bree has always been one for the questions. She drove our mothers to distraction with her questions. The ancient one always believed that she should be trained to be the next shaman."
Nickodemous nodded. He could see the girl as a shaman. With some training the girl would probably settle down. By his best estimation the cubs had to be 16 years old. Just about the age that he had been driving his mother crazy with his need to be and do. "She has the mind needed to be one."
Tijas smiled. "She has been training for the past six years but somehow she hasn't lost her impatience to know everything yet."
As the afternoon waned the troop finally made it to the sacred glade. Jasla smiled as she looked up. Here was a place that she had a found memory of. Here the magical Unicorn had given her a gift that she still hadn't totally mastered. She stretched out her extra sense and mentally caressed her mate. As Sterin looked back, he smiled and then slowed his steps to match his mates. He leaned down and kissed her lightly. "We are here again," he said softly. She smiled and nodded.
They looked up as one as a strong beam of sunlight cascaded over the hillside. And there in the center of the beam, glowing white was the Unicorn. Into each head came the beautiful belling tones of the Unicorn's voice. "Greetings travelers one and all." It slowly paced down the hillside and came to stand in front of Jasla and Sterin. Gently it lowered it's horn to rest first against Lian and then Leander. "Welcome to the world, children of the prophecy!"
Sterin's other children all shouted out a cry of welcome which startled both the parents and their friends. The Unicorn turned it's attention to Neviel and her child. Once more it dipped it's horn. "Welcome too, Guardian." Once more the cheetahs cheered and the parents looked surprised.
Neviel and Jasla both spoke at once. "What do you mean?" They looked at each other and then back at the Unicorn.
"All will be made clear as the cubs grow. But know this. That the children of you, Jasla, Little one and you, Neviel, daughter of the forest, have been foretold. With the birth of your cubs begins finally the joining of the tribes and the golden age for both of the shifting peoples."
The four parents looked stunned. Sterin gently lifted his son from the carry sack that Jasla had him in and cradled him close. He looked up into the glowing sapphire eyes of the mystical beast. "Then our children will grow strong?"
The head dipped once. "More I can not tell you but your children will come to fill my forest one day." With that last bit the Unicorn faded from sight in a wash of golden sparkles.
The two couples settled down for the night with the help of their escort and when the morning came all felt strong and refreshed. Another gift from the Unicorn. The rest of the trip back to the village of the wolves was filled with laughter and fun. The young cheetahs tended to have lots of energy and they would run races from place to place. Jasla and Neviel smiled and shook their heads when asked to join in but the urged their men to go ahead. It was amusing to watch Nickodemous try to keep up with the swift cats. Though he did have much more staying power. The cats had the speed but not the stamina of the wolf.
Sooner than they expected the group came to the path that led to the wolf village and to the sprite's cave. Jasla and Neviel stopped with a smile. "I think maybe we should visit your mother first, Neviel," Jasla said softly. Neviel nodded. "Yes, me too. She will be so surprised!" Neviel let out a little giggle as she watched her mate cavorting about with the young cheetahs. Sterin stood behind Jasla, with his arms loosely about her waist and one hand resting on each of his cubs.
Jasla cleared her throat and the cubs stopped and shifted back to their hybrid forms. She gestured and Neviel took the lead, heading for her mother's cave.
In the magical glade Tyll sat next to the pool with her mate's head resting in her lap. It was a lazy warm day and the two had come out to just be together under the warm sunshine. Tyll's head came up as she heard people coming their way. She leaned down and tickled Nazir's nose with a lock of her hair. "We have company love."
He murmured and opened one eye. "Tell them to come back later."
Tyll looked up and her eyes widened. "I don't think so, love." She gently pushed him off her lap and then sprang up and ran across the glade to her daughter's side. "You're home!!" She stopped just short of wrapping her child up in her arms and her eyes grew wider in surprise. She reached out a trembling hand and looked into her daughter's eyes.
Neviel smiled and nodded. "Yes, mother, this is my son. His name is Sturr." She smiled proudly and gently handed her mother her grandchild.
Tyll cooed at the child in her arms and looked up with tears in her eyes. "You made me a grandmother so soon, little one." She smiled though. "And such a handsome child he is." She looked up as more visitors to her glade appeared and again her eyes widened. For there standing in front of her were six cheetahs. Not one, not just Sterin but five more cheetahs. "Where?"
Jasla stepped forward, her daughter in her arms. "Out of time, my friend." She smiled and showed off her little golden haired daughter.
Tyll looked down to the child in Jasla's arms. This was easier to understand. "You had your child, too." She smiled.
"Actually children," added Sterin, showing his son to the sprite woman. Tyll smiled but then looked once more with a troubled eyes toward the other cheetahs. Sterin noticed and spoke softly. "They will not cause trouble, honored one. They are....special."
Tyll looked from her grandchild, resting quietly in her arms to the others about her. "There is a story to tell and I think it would be better if we all went inside. I have some nice tea and I do believe I have enough cakes to feed this," she smiled, "horde."
The entire group entered the cave and explanations went around. The four travelers told of their adventures and then the young cheetahs told the legend once more.
Jasla sat back and nursed her daughter while watching her step daughter play with her son as she changed his bottom. It was strange how calm she felt. Looking over to her mate she smiled softly. He was listening to his other son, a quiet boy who was even better at tale telling than Zeki was. The two boys were much quieter than the three girls. She wondered if that would be true of her own children. She softly caressed the head of Lian and whispered to her. "You are part of a large family my fierce one. You won't ever be alone. Like I promised."
Neviel watched Jasla on the other hand. The tiny black haired woman seemed much changed from the fierce, angry young woman she had met all those weeks ago. Motherhood had given her a softness that made her almost glow. In fact in the dim light of the coming evening the blue bead that was woven into her hair glowed faintly. Though she had no training she could feel something coming out of her friend. She was curious but a disturbance at the front of the cave pulled her attention away from the puzzle.
She looked up and smiled. Nickodemous had returned from the village with his mother in tow. From the expression on the elders face she had no idea what her son was up to and she was getting annoyed. Neviel stood and carried her son toward her mate's mother.
Nickodemous' smile broadened as Neviel came closer and he reached out for his son. Carefully lifting him from his mate's arms he turned and presented his mother with her first grandchild.
Michi looked down as her son handed her a bundle. She blinked and then blinked again as a pair of bright green eyes looked up at her from the folds of the blanket. Her arms trembled a bit but she took a deep breath and then looked up into her son's eyes. "Who....no how?"
Nickodemous smiled at his mother proudly. Proud that for once he had made her speechless. "Mother, I would like you to meet your grandson, Sturr."
The elder's eyes clouded over with tears and she brought the little male wolfcub to her nose and gently touched his nose with hers. "Finally....the line of the clan chief is secure." She looked proudly about. "It seems my traveling children have done well." She nodded toward S Sterin and the stranger cheetahs. "Along with curing Sterin's condition it seems you have found new members of your clan and.." she moved toward Jasla. "Brought your own cubs home safely. How this all was accomplished in so little time must be told to the tribe storyteller. It must go down in history."
And it did.
It was a year after the miraculous return of the questors and many changes had come to the wolf village. The day after the return of the four questors the new children were introduced to the tribe. When the five young cheetahs entered the village commons there was a moment of stunned silence and then a cheer went up around the village. Much had changed while Sterin, Jasla, Neviel and Nickodemous were gone. Their trip through time had done more than cure Sterin. It had helped to change attitudes. The last lingering hatred of the catfolk had disappeared. In it's place was a type of regret at the actions of the past. Seeing that the cat kind had not been destroyed had caused much happiness. As the village young people mingled with the five young strangers connections where being made, ones that could blossom into something more given the example of Sterin and Jasla.
After the village's excitement had lesson a bit Jasla had asked the elder to come away with her and Sterin. With the eldest person in the village as a witness Jasla untied the blue bead from her hair and gave it to her heart's love. Joining them forever in heart and soul.