Winds of Changebywhitesabretooth©
Author's note: All characters and companies mentioned in this story have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone or anything bearing the same name or names. Events portrayed in this story are pure invention and have not been based on any events that have happen in real life. All the characters involved in any sexual acts if their ages are not mentioned beforehand; are over 18 years of age. Enjoy.
Here it is the eagerly awaited next instalment of the of the Twists of Fate series. I apologise for the delay in getting the first chapter out but life has been hectic. As normal thanks goes to my editor and you the reader, all feedback and comments are welcome.
So back to the world of Sogol.
Pregnant. Even a week after having Thais declare it and Nathanael confirming it mere minutes later, it still left her shocked. To say Tarval was pleased was an understatement, he was ecstatic but it was tempered with the nerves of a first-time parent as this was his first child.
Back when they were new mates and they first started talking about the possibility of children Tarval had made one request, that for their first child he wanted her tended to by people who knew about Da'Vaila pregnancies and the complications that might arise with the birth of a baby with wings. She had agreed because she knew it would be smart to have experts looking after her at least for their first, which was why she was glancing around their rooms wondering what else she needed to pack.
She came to a stop before a full length mirror and stopped to look at herself, was she ready to be a mother. Too late now, her beast scoffed at her. Her dark eyes took in her features, dark brown hair fell in gentle waves down to her back; a black and white feather was tucked behind her left ear, the symbol of her union with Tarval. She looked over her body looking for something which would convince her she was pregnant, it just seemed so... unreal to her, fourteen years they had been together and only now were they successful. Her body hadn't started to change yet; it was lean with firmly packed muscles as she trained hard to keep herself safe. After living the childhood she had, she had taken to the warrior arts strongly, building herself up to be able to protect herself from anything life threw at her. Well... anything but becoming a mother.
Amy stepped up beside her daughter and wrapped an arm around her. "What's wrong?" Amy asked. Alanna turned to the woman who had given her everything, her mother. Generally if people meet them without knowing they were mother and daughter people assumed they were friends and not even consider their real relationship as possible. Amy looked no older than she did when Alanna first met her, oh her midnight black hair was longer and her body was leaner, ins 'but' you would never believe that she had given birth to triplets or to a fourth. Glowing green marks ran up Amy's arms and neck and as well as over many other parts of her body. Her face was delicate but when needed there would be steel in her blue eyes; considered by those in the know to be the most dangerous creature currently known, she was not to be messed with... ever. However, to Alanna she would always be the woman who held her as she healed, body and soul, her mother.
"I'm pregnant nothing is wrong," Alanna answered even as her hands ran over her flat stomach in which the proof of her love for Tarval was now growing, she couldn't even remember going into heat but she must have to be finally be pregnant.
Amy sat her daughter on the bed, "Nervous?"
Alanna nodded, how could she not be nervous, she had never been pregnant, never had a life so dependent on her before. Children had; up until very recently; been an abstract thought, not something she had seriously thought about, now however she had to start thinking seriously.
"Don't be... you'll make a great mother." Amy said in a reassuring tone.
"But I'm nothing like you," Alanna complained.
Amy snorted in an undignified manner, "don't compare yourself to me, we aren't the same, I did my best and still do my best with all you guys. I made mistakes and you'll make mistakes but everything will turn out fine." She said trying to reassure her daughter. "Besides while it's a baby you'll become confident. I promise." She patted Alanna on the thigh. "Susan and Destiny are going with you so that Susan can learn how to treat wings; you rank them so please keep them out of trouble."
Alanna grinned, trying to keep the inquisitive Destiny and the outspoken Susan out of trouble would probably take up most of her free time, "I'll try no promises though."
"I heard that!" Destiny complained; as she had been slowly walking pass the door with her trunk for that part of Amy and Alanna's conversation.
Alanna and Amy chuckled, Amy hugged her daughter, "you'll do fine and we'll be there the moment Remus comes and tells us you're in labour."
Tarval walked in with an expectant look, he was Alanna's own Angel and Black Knight rolled into a neat package, she couldn't image a world without him in it. One of the original twelve Gephalim, he was a large man at eight feet tall with strong broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Straight black hair hung loose and long, framing his pale face; his green eyes were vibrant, he wore no beard and never had as it was something the male Da'Vaila didn't have in their genetics. Glossy black wings poked up from between his shoulder blades, every now and again a flash of white could be seen, the distinctive white feathers which gave him a last name of sorts.
"All packed?" he asked as he reached for her trunk and got her nod in response. If she forgot something... well she had Ancient abilities so could just will what she needed into her hand. He lifted the truck easily and left the room with it. Both women stood and followed Tarval out and to the entrance hall, their things plus Destiny and Susan's were neatly stacked.
"Susan, Destiny, you will be under Dominic's protection but that protection will only go so far, try to keep out of mischief. Obey his rules and know that if Alanna gives you an order, she ranks you so obey." Wolfgang said firmly moments after he joined them.
Susan and Destiny nodded in understanding.
"Anything else?" He asked Amy who shrugged, she had always been a guest and everything had been prepared for their visits. "Tarval?"
Tarval nodded, "Be respectful but don't take crap, I am sure Dominic will explain that when Amy and Wolfgang are around his keep warriors are always respectful, as Alanna says they taught her to fight and they respect her. They may be a little less respectful without your Alphas around, so show them not to underestimate you."
"We'll take them to a sparring session first thing tomorrow morning and the news will spread not to mess with them." Alanna suggested.
Tarval nodded, that worked, most of the men in Sogol valued actions, more so in Dominic's keep.
"Ready?" Alanna asked the group and got nods in response. She focused and a portal started to appear, she really liked this Ancient ability.
Sage tried not to yawn, she was so bored, why did appeal day have to be so fucking boring. Dominic glanced at his daughter, he knew she hated the administration side of being the Keep's Warlord, but she needed to know this as if he was away these duties would fall onto her shoulders.
"What is your opinion?" Dominic asked suddenly.
Sage didn't miss a beat, oh she was bored, but ever since she learnt to use her Ancient abilities she could be bored and still pay complete attention to what was going on around her. "Since neither man will renounce their claim make the woman choose, her choice will be final and they can't influence her choice."
"A sound decision, bring in the woman." Dominic declared. At least look to be paying attention.
Hey it's not my fault I can be bored and pay attention at the same time... blame ma... besides why do I have to be here you know I hate this stuff. She complained silently.
This is a part of your duties as my daughter, you have to learn this. He told her firmly.
I am a warrior not an administrator. She replied.
What am I then? Being a Warlord is more than just commanding the men in battle, it is about punishing those who break the rules, rewarding those who do well, making sure everyone is battle ready and that harmony is maintained to keep an effective fighting force. What do you think Amy and Wolfgang do in their offices? Talk about the hydrangeas or art, no, they are working on ways to keep the pack stable and safe. Dominic said getting a little grumpy, Sage was old enough to know all this.
Before you continue the woman is here, Sage warned just as the woman came to a stop and bowed her head, in respect or fear it was anyone's guess. "Do you know why you have been brought before us?" Sage asked and got a hesitant nod. "Since neither man will stand aside we are asking you, you can choose either man or choose to have neither of them."
Both men crossed their arms and puffed their chests out. The woman mumbled something.
"Louder please," Sage asked.
"Neither," the woman declared and flinched as both men started to advance on her.
Sage's snarl was feral and had the men pausing, her temper was known to all those in the keep and when she snarled it never boded well. Dominic stood, "what were you thinking?" he asked the men. He gestured to several guards who restrained the two men. Sage was moving down from the dais on which she sat with her father, she had lived with women who had been abused and knew how they reacted. She gently took the woman's hand and led her a little away from the men.
"Have they ever hurt you?" Sage asked gently and got a nod. "What did they do?"
"Hit mainly... Luthur... he..."
Sage stopped the woman from going further, the knowledge of the two men assaulting her had all the men in the room reacting, resting hands on swords or clenching fists. Her father had always been strict on his men and there was one rule which had always been the strictest, never strike a woman. The rule had been updated as the women of the keep talked their mates into teaching them to defend themselves to never harm a woman, gentle cuffs in a battle ring didn't count. People who broke that rule were tied to the punishment pole in the yard and either lashed with a whip or beaten by the other men, the rule hadn't been broken in centuries. This Keep prided it's self on the fact there was a four to one ratio of women to men, it gave them a much better chance of finding a life partner than other keeps where the ratio was the other way around.
Sage didn't see the movement or who did the deed but Luthur was suddenly on the ground clutching at his privates, another boot was laid into his back.
"Enough!" Dominic ordered and his men backed away, he didn't criticize the actions his men took in the heat of the moment. It was ingrained in their nature to protect their women and they had failed to see that these two men were hurting someone who couldn't fight back.
Dominic considered the two men carefully, he hadn't had to punish anyone for breaking this rule in a very long time but he remembered exactly what the punishment was. Actually he was kind of glad it was these two, irritated that a woman was harmed but glad that he had a legitimate reason to boot these two from the keep, they weren't born here and had not been invited to make this their home. "The sentence for rape hasn't changed, both will be removed of all that makes them men and when they have healed they will have their breastplates broken and will be banished from my Keep."
Several of his men flinched at the sentence; they could have lived with being un-manned, but not to have their breastplates broken by their lord. All knew it meant the men were deemed to be without honour, that their commanding lord had revoked their standing and cast them out. Their only hope was to go back to their original keeps and beg for probation, a chance to prove themselves worthy again and hope that their fathers were high ranking enough to make it happen.
"I didn't rape her!" The other man said.
"But you would have," Sage said firmly as she watched his eyes, he went to open his mouth to lie. "I know when I am being lied to." She reminded and most knew that was true, the Alpha blood in her, from Amy and Wolfgang, let her identify liars. "Take them to the healers," Sage ordered and four of her father's more senior Flight leaders took the men away. "Maggie can you take her too, get her checked out." Sage asked and an older woman led the abused woman from the hall.
"Who is responsible for those two?" Dominic asked as he turned to the other Flight and wing leaders.
Thom stepped forward, fury danced in his dark eyes but he looked straight ahead. "Forgive me my lord, I did not know but they are still my responsibility. I accept whatever decision you make regarding my leadership."
Dominic sighed, "Thom, you are not to blame for their actions, if you had known you would have stomped on it or brought it to my attention."
"They were my men, in my wing, I should have known, with your leave I will go to my rooms and fetch my breastplate." Thom bowed and went to move but there was a solid wall of bodies blocking his path. Thom turned back to his lord and bowed his head.
"Thom, if anyone is at fault here it is I, I should never have accepted them into my Keep, I knew they were trouble when they came here. Not all Nephalim were raised with my ideals which I have passed on to you." Dominic told him firmly.
"I resent that comment my lord," Halt said firmly, "I was not raised here, I came a cocky young fool and you and your Flight and Wing leaders turned me into a man with true honour. Not all men are like them, it is right to give them a chance."
Dominic snorted, Halt wasn't lying; it was common to move young warriors around if they found their presence disrupted the keep. Generally the other Warlord managed to knock some sense into them and they would stay with that keep unless moved on. The Warlord could tell them to leave if he didn't think the men fitted in or found they caused ripples in the existing structure. Halt had been a wild young man and had been moved on twice before coming to Phoenix Keep. Bianca however saw promise in the young man and made a bet with Dominic that Halt would calm down and not be moved on. Dominic had asked what the prize would be; Bianca had just given him an impish smile and started to walk away. 'Put him with Iron-arm,' she had told him before she made a come-with-me motion.
Iron-arm was Dominic's battle master and Alpha Flight leader, he was and still is a hard man, his Wing leaders had a wary respect for their leader who expected nothing less than perfection from those who flew under his direct command. Iron-arm had taken one look at Halt and turned to his Warlord and asked if he was displeased with his service. Dominic had replied "blame Bianca" which caused a faint smile from the coarse warrior. He had then gone on to turn Halt into one of his finest warriors and later into one of his wing leaders, Bianca had been right.
There was a gentle flicker in the room as a portal opened, men reached for swords but stilled when Sage held her hand up. Alanna was the first through followed closely by Tarval, Susan and Destiny. Iron-arm smiled at Tarval, "Hey Tarval," he said his voice booming a little in the room, "I hear that congratulations are in order."
There was good natured laughter as men moved forward to congratulate the soon to be new parents. Like Were, all children were celebrated and protected in this Keep. Dominic's keep was very different to the rest of the Nephalim and Gephalim Keeps who employed a Ward system, but the children of Dominic's keep grew up stronger and became better warriors. None of the others had equated the different upbringing to the reason why Dominic had one of the largest and strongest standing forces on Sogol and why it was the reason he had such a low casualty rate and why the people born at his keep stayed.
Sage hugged her sister carefully. "Sage I'm pregnant, not breakable."
"Alanna, children are cherished and protected here, even the unborn ones." Sage explained and realised she was going to have to have a sit down with her sister and explain what went on in this Keep. When Alanna was last here she had only scratched the surface of the complicated world that was Sogol, and since she was going to be here for a while she couldn't plead ignorance, people would have expected her to learn.
"Court day?" Alanna asked as she gestured to all the people in the hall.
Sage nodded, "the most boring day of the month." You and I are going to have to talk and there are a few books I want you to read. Sage said silently.
Yep... even I know I should have been spending the last fourteen years learning. Alanna added.
Ah... don't worry about it too much... the men in this Keep will let you get away with almost anything short of murder... unless they think the idiot deserved it. Outside of the Keep however you need to be careful. Sage replied happy that her sister was on the same page as her. And besides, you think you need to learn, well so does Tarval, he hasn't paid any attention to pregnant Were females. I'll get Da to chat to him, give him a run down.
Alanna chuckled and watched as the room started to empty, the trunks were taken away until the only people in the room were Sage, Alanna, Dominic, Tarval, Susan, Destiny and Iron-arm.
Iron-arm smiled at Alanna, "Welcome back Brave-heart, I have been looking forward to this the moment I knew you would be here for a while, I would like you to help with the training of a new batch of trainees."
"Fine by me," Alanna answered which caused Tarval to frown. "Come on... it is perfectly safe to help train boys, I won't be doing any fighting, I will just be looking for flaws and correcting... right?" She turned to Iron-arm who shook his head.
"Not quite, I want you to oversee their training, with a couple of instructors helping you of course. But since they are just starting your being pregnant shouldn't hinder them." He explained as it would mean his life if Alanna got hurt while pregnant, once the child was born... well that was different.
"Okay... but if Susan says you are over exerting it ends." Tarval said firmly. Alanna raised an eyebrow which made Tarval's stomach drop.
He knew he would be fighting a losing battle between what they each thought was best for her. Alanna was an independent, head strong person and didn't like people making decisions for her.
Tarval wrapped an arm around her and kissed her temple, please... if Susan says you need to slow down slow down, I don't want you hurt, you or our child.
I'll do my best, but Tarval I won't be meek just because I am pregnant. She replied.
You... meek... never... he answered and started to lead Alanna to their rooms.
"Hey where are you going?" Sage said as she watched them turn towards what were their rooms.
"Our rooms," Tarval answered.
"Those aren't your rooms anymore." Dominic replied. "See Sage had an idea which I thought was good..."
"Wait... back up... Sage had a good idea?" Alanna asked with an amused tone.
"Yeah... I've been known to have them... occasionally." Sage defended, not all her ideas were good, more so if she was in a mischievous mood.
Everyone chuckled, "Okay Sage, explain this idea," Alanna said as she hooked an arm around her sister's.
"Okay so my idea was to use the un-used western part of the keep to make permanent rooms for ma, da and whoever they drag along, I then decided that you and Tarval might like some private space just for you, and da agreed. Then I thought well, there is all that space and while the builders and masons were at it they may as well make up a couple of other sets of rooms for visiting diplomats." Sage explained in a little bit of a rush.