tagRomanceIntended Ch. 01

Intended Ch. 01

bystarscape©

Although the story occurs in a particular time, its location is a product of my imagination; it is not intended to represent a particular place or people.

~*~*~


Although her instincts warned her to keep moving, the woman hid for a moment behind a thicket of bushes, planning her escape. Shielding her eyes from the sun flashing between the trees, she scanned the landscape for the most strategic route.

The two most promising destinations appeared to be the steep hill rising high above the ground to her right, or the large, dense forest to her left. The woman remembered a hunting party speaking of a great river, about two days' journey beyond a forest at the foot of a hill. From their description of the area she felt certain it was here.

She could see better by taking the hill, but it also meant her adversary would be able to see her better. Also, running up it would slow her down, something to consider as her pursuer drew ever closer.

Over there the trees are thick, she thought as she evaluated the second route. It would make locating me more difficult without the sun guiding the way. From there I could head for the river. She nodded; probably my best chance. The woman had not yet figured out how she planned to use the river to her advantage. Right now, her only concern was stymieing her opponent.

Taking one last look around, she broke for her destination, slipping from tree to bush until at last she passed into the forest's shady canopy.

The dusky light made it difficult to see. Combined with the close proximity of the trees, her passage was challenging and slow, and more than a little frustrating. After tripping over a root for the countless time, she chastised herself for not considering this variable in her calculations. Still, she continued forward as the day grew long, ever deeper into the forest.

She knew she should keep going; she could not allow herself to be captured. But the woman was exhausted. After running all morning and creeping through the forest nearly the entire afternoon, her hunger and need for rest finally won out.

Sitting at the base of an enormous tree, she reached into her haversack for the travel food she managed to bring with her before leaving. She was far hungrier than the amount she ate, but until her pursuer gave up the chase, food needed to be rationed. Although she took advantage of any sources along her path, there wasn't time to search for food.

The woman did not mean to do it, she intended to rest only briefly before resuming her course, but between the hunger and exhaustion from running for days she fell asleep with her back against the massive trunk.

After sleeping for some time, a distinct musky odor incorporated itself into her dream. She knew that scent; what was it? Now, emanating from somewhere in front of her, a subtle warmth drifted toward her body. All at once, she was jarred into consciousness.

Heart pounding, she opened her eyes to find herself face to face with the Tracker, his legs astride hers as he squatted, studying her face in silence. Only his heavy breathing gave away his recent arrival; she had made him work hard this day. The woman gasped in shock to suddenly be looking into the eyes of the man who had been trailing her for five days.

"You are highly skilled at evading capture, Sala," he said at last, his voice low. Surrounded by the thick deep of these trees, quieter speech seemed somehow more appropriate.

"But clearly not infallible," she retorted, trying not fixate on the startling blue of his eyes.

Most of their people shared the rich depth of Sala's dark brown eyes, but every now and then a child in their Camp was born with either blue or green eyes. Because they all had dark hair and lightly tanned skin, this single difference gave the Light-Eyed Ones a striking appearance that brought with it certain advantages.

According to legend, a great many generations ago, not long after the Great Ice retreated, a small party of travelers passed through the land of their ancestors. Paler of skin, with eyes blue as the sky or green as leaves, the men learned their language and adopted their ways. The strangers were said to have lived among them for several years until the Spirits called them to resume their great journey.

As travelers they had learned much, both from interacting with different Peoples as well as from their own experiences. They brought with them many new stories, ideas and innovations. In return for these contributions, the men earned a favored status among their people. Many children were born during the years of their stay, further proof of the luck and great fortune they brought to the Wolf Clan.

Many years after the men had gone, the females who were young women during the time of the Travelers awaited the arrival of their children's children. To everyone's astonishment, a girl was born with eyes blue as the sky. A boy was born shortly thereafter, possessing bright eyes green as leaves. From that time forward, every generation or so, a child or two was born touched by the spirits of the Light-Eyed Travelers.

The Tracker smiled at the sarcastic retort from the woman so close to his body he could feel her warmth. "Still, it is not often anything takes me so many days to find. I might not have been so willing had I known you would be this elusive," he joked. Her feminine perfume drew him a just little closer.

"There is still time to turn around if you wish to change your mind. I will tell no one I ever saw you."

I can see why the Spiritwalker chose her to join with him, he thought with a grin, appreciating her strong, defiant spirit. Looking into her eyes' deep pools, he noted the symmetry of their size and shape. Scanning the rest of her features he thought, she is striking, truly beautiful.

Never before had he really seen her, and Jakal had known Sala all his life; how could he not have noticed before? Now that he had, his loins tightened as he envisioned sharing bodies with her, many times over. He watched Sala's lips part as she began breathing a little heavier, and wondered if she was drawn to him too.

Sala felt Jakal's heat grow as he drew closer. She knew she should tell him to move away, that he was too close. He was not there to help her escape; no, he was there for the specific purpose of bringing her back. Despite this she remained rooted to the spot, transfixed by his gaze.

"We should set up camp soon, before the sun drops from the sky. The day has grown too long to start back now."

Interrupted from her reverie, the woman blinked and saw the Tracker now standing above her.

"We will need water," he continued, holding out his hand to help her up. "I believe there is a stream nearby." He picked up the heavy pack he always carried with him and stood for a moment, listening intently, feeling and smelling the air. "We should find it this way; I do not think it will be far. Are you ready?"

"Why should I go with you?" Sala shot back, her jaw lifted in defiance.

"Because when darkness comes I think neither you nor I will desire solitude in the black depths of this forest."

~*~*~


Jakal's homing skills proved accurate. The pair found the stream they sought and set up a small leather shelter a short distance away. It would be a tight fit inside; he was used to camping out alone and needed only a small sleeping space. The leather of a lean-to was heavy. The smaller the shelter, the lighter the load, and less baggage meant swifter passage.

Opening a leather skin, the man offered Sala some of his travel food. The little cakes made of dried berries, meat, fat and other ingredients offered compact but nearly complete nutrition. Chewing in silence, the two tried to ignore what had passed between them earlier, tried to ignore their scents mingling within the shared space.

"I am sorry you are not happy about returning to the Camp," the Tracker said at last.

"If you were being forced to join with someone you did not want, someone you would never choose, perhaps you would understand." Sala responded with so much conviction he was taken aback.

"You are correct, I cannot truly know your thoughts," he admitted, "but I do know what it means to be bound to obligations for the good of our people."

"Good of our people?" she spat. "The only good it serves is the Spiritwalker's power and prestige. They tell us the Privilege of Selection came from the Great Spirits themselves, yet not even a Clan Leader can force a joining against another's will."

Jakal was stunned by her boldness, but after his shock passed he studied her, pondering her words. It was true their spiritual leaders were the only ones with the status to claim a mate, with or without the Intended's consent. Only those currently joined were exempt. It was considered a great privilege to be selected, a status no one would refuse even if they could. She was right, though; no one else, not even Clan Leaders, had the power to force a joining.

Still, there is more to this than a simple matter of disagreement with a long-standing custom, I am certain of that, he thought as he arranged a pile of tinder on the ground in front of him. There was a passion, a fervor behind her words that betrayed something much deeper under the surface.

Jakal retrieved from his pack a piece of flint and another, special stone. When struck together they created sparks. If aimed correctly, at least one of the sparks would land on the tinder, providing the basis of a campfire. The Spiritwalker was so angry, he remembered, almost in a rage when he sent me after her. What is going on between them? Watching the kindling stacked atop the tinder ignite, the man continued to ponder the situation of which he unwittingly found himself in the middle.

Total darkness dropped on them just as the edges of the largest logs began to glow and catch flame. Only the fire and the front of their bodies could be seen now, all else swallowed by the night.

The Tracker's mind drifted to how his own life had been shaped by the long-held beliefs of his people. Long ago, when the first Light-Eyed Ones were born, the Clan's spiritual leader had proclaimed that pieces of the Travelers' lucky spirits remained among them. Not only were the Light-Eyes lucky, but so was the Wolf Clan itself. So long as a Light-Eyed One lived among them, the Clan would retain its luck.

Jakal was not sure if he believed having blue eyes made him lucky or brought fortune to his people. From what he observed, all it seemed to bring him was attention and privileges he did not always feel he had earned. Even so, there was little point in expressing his doubts to his people. He was the only Light-Eye at the settlement, and their need to believe in the luck of the Travelers was too strong. Asking them to think otherwise was almost like asking them to not believe in the Great Spirits themselves.

"I have been thinking about what you have said," the man said, breaking the silence as the fire grew strong and steady. "And I, I think you raise an interesting point. I, too, have questioned some of our traditions."

"Like the special status of being a Light-Eyed One?" Sala suggested.

Unable to contain his astonishment, for a moment her companion gaped at her in silence.

"Anyone with eyes can see your discomfort, resistance even, to being treated differently," she explained, as if she knew his thoughts. "And I suppose you sometimes use your position as a Tracker to escape the advances of the many females looking to share your furs?"

He shifted uncomfortably. Had he always been so transparent?

Once again quiet settled between them as they sat deep within their own thoughts. Sala considered her next move. She could try to steal away in the night as he slept, but harbored doubts she could squeeze past him in the space of a lean-to built for one without waking him.

The Tracker's senses are finely honed; he would probably wake up even if the shelter were larger. Besides, he had been right; she had no great desire to go running off into the dangerous dark, especially in this unknown place that she found difficult to cross when she could see.

Resigned, the woman acknowledged there would be no escaping him this night. Once that was settled, she turned her attention to alternative strategies she might employ, delaying their return until the opportune moment to slip away arrived.

~*~*~


As expected, the space in the lean-to was snug. However, the night air was cold and the closeness of their bodies provided extra warmth that both welcomed.

Sala lay in the dark, eyes wide open, sharply aware of Jakal's personal musk as her body pressed against his hard, muscular form. Though she was loath to admit it, she had fantasized many times about sharing his furs. But she found the way the other women constantly competed for his attention obnoxious and refused to lower herself to their level.

So here I am at last, she thought, our bodies touching from shoulder to thigh, and the only reason why he is here is to take me back to join with the Spiritwalker. The woman shuddered at the thought of sharing furs with the shaman.

All spiritual leaders held secrets—that was to be expected—but there was something about this man, a dark cruelty he hid well from most of their people. Not often did his control waver, but when the veil did fall Sala saw the man's true self.

He caught her watching him during one of these moments. Conducting a special ritual, he was making incantations while the others chanted in the firelight with their eyes closed, bellies filled with a drink that made it possible, with the shaman's guidance, to enter the Spirit World.

Curious about the inner workings of the spiritual caste for many years, that night Sala had consumed less of the sacred beverage than usual, hoping to remain in this world in order to observe the Spiritwalker at work. When she dared to open her eyes, she saw his flashing and glowing, a madness in his face as he strutted, gesticulating wildly before the kneeling throng.

Before she could stop herself, a soft, startled gasp passed between her lips, enough to alert him that an intruder spied upon him. Without the slightest pause in his invocation, the shaman's eyes blazed as they honed in on the source of the sound. Capturing her gaze in his, he seemed to enter her mind, squeezing her while he probed and violated her from the inside out. Just as she began to panic, he released his grip, turning his eyes away.

She avoided the Spiritwalker's attention for many weeks until finally, her curiosity greater than her fear, she resumed her observations, this time more cautiously from afar. He never caught her again, but several times she felt his eyes boring into her skull, and she worried he knew that she continued to watch him.

So when the Spiritwalker announced he had chosen his Intended, the individual who would become his mate and join him in this world and the next, Sala trembled with disgust and pity for the unlucky recipient of his "gift". When her own name passed from his lips, she froze. Head spinning, stomach churning, through a daze she heard him call her name again, summoning her to join him in front of the entire Clan.

After the announcement she tried to leave at once, seeking to avoid him for as long as she could. As if he knew her intentions, he snatched her arm, his fingers like a claw, and drew her close. "You will join me for a ritual in the Ceremonial Hut when the sun drops," he whispered, his breath hot in her ear. "It will be lengthy, so get your rest now while you can."

The structure was set back quite a distance from the rest of the dwellings; the reason for this was to protect the people from the powerful Spirits with whom the shaman communed. It also provided a great deal of privacy to protect his many secrets.

That night the woman's future mate performed the ritual, directing Sala to down fetid, unknown beverage. The drink left her muscles lax, almost completely immobile. He then took her, brutally, in every way possible without leaving obvious signs of injury. He promised more of the same in the future, every day if necessary, until she submitted to him. Unable to speak, she moaned in pain, tears squeezing from her eyes, but her groans were swept away with the wind, unheard in the night.

She knew then she had to leave. In the days after her rape, as her body recovered, Sala developed a plan to escape.

Jakal felt a shudder pass through the body of the woman pressed into him, but he mistook it for a shiver. He had been staring into the darkness, trying not to notice her feminine perfume and the softness of her flesh so tightly against his. His erection straining against his leather garment, he longed to turn toward her, stroking her entire body with his hands and mouth. Instead, he stretched his arm over the woman and covered her a little more snugly with the furs.

"Are you warm enough?" he whispered, sensing she also was awake.

"I am. Thank you."

~*~*~


Sala moaned, arching her back as his lips and fingers circled their way to her stiff nipples.

"Yes Jakal, pleeease!" she pleaded, feeling his tongue working around the sensitive nub while his fingertips mimicked the actions of his mouth on the other breast.

The man lifted his head and blew on the nipple he had been suckling, his hot breath making her shiver. Returning his lips to her chest, he drew his tongue from one breast to the other, tweaking the first with his fingers as his mouth explored its twin. A low rumble rose deep from his chest as she quivered under his attentions.

After a time Jakal began twirling his fingers and tongue in widening circles around her breasts, pausing to nuzzle their sensitive underside. Moaning, again Sala arched her body, leaning into him.

Bit by bit he worked his way down her abdomen. By the time he reached her dark, damp curls, Sala's ragged breaths came in short gasps, and she parted her trembling legs in anticipation.

At last the tip of his tongue made contact with the soft skin of her outer lips and she cried out, lifting her hips to press him against her body. The twitter of songbirds pierced the air, breaking her delirium for only a moment before she wrapped her legs around his head.

Sala's eyes flashed opened, her brain finally registering it was the birds that were real and not their pleasures. Then, horrified, she realized one of her legs was draped over Jakal's sleeping form, her wet sex thrust against his buttocks, juices dampening their bodies and the pelts beneath them. Panicked, her mind raced as she considered how to disengage herself from this compromising position without waking the man beside her.

It was already too late. Jakal had awoken some time earlier, before the very first chirp of a morning bird, to the feel of Sala's leg wrapping around his. His skin prickled, the hair on this body rising as the concentrated heat of her womanhood pressed into his backside; it was not the only thing rising.

The heady aroma of her arousal deep in his nostrils, her quiet moans stroking his mind, the man considered rolling over and waking her from her dream with his head between her legs. Just because she was their shaman's Intended did not mean they could not share furs, even if after the joining it could only be with her mate's approval. Jakal's brow furrowed; it didn't seem right for a woman to lose her choice of lovers.

Among their people, it was the woman, joined or not, who decided with whom she wished to share her body. Some, to please her mate, did not lie with others, but that took great respect, mutual devotion and a highly satisfying lover.

It was not considered the usual practice, as they were not a particularly jealous people, but it also was not forbidden; the choice was hers. If a woman demonstrated that she lay only with her mate, it signaled to the others both he and she were off limits.

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bystarscape© 4 comments/ 27498 views/ 21 favorites

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