tagRomanceIntended Ch. 06

Intended Ch. 06

bystarscape©

Author's Note: The end of this chapter contains a passage describing a sexual encounter which, though consensual, some readers may find disturbing or offensive. Please do not read further, or stop reading after page 3, if you are offended by depictions of brutish sex acts.

~*~*~



Six days passed since Sala and Jakal returned to the settlement. Although they remained wary, to their surprise the Spiritwalker had taken no threatening actions, made no unfriendly overtures at all. Largely he ignored them, and for now they were more than happy to reciprocate.

Life, given the circumstances, was beginning to return to normal.

With one exception; Sedon, the Wolf Clan's Lead Tracker, had yet to find his way home.

Technically, given Jakal and Sala's circuitous route, his arrival might yet be delayed for another day or so, presuming he had traced their path and rested at Fox Camp for a time before moving on. Nevertheless, Keta could not quite shake the sense that something had gone awry.

Because of the great anxiety his long absence stirred among her people, she hesitated to send the Light-Eyed One back into the wild so soon. At the same time, if Sedon had indeed encountered trouble, who better to locate him than a man with the same chosen skill, the very man the other had been charged with tracking down.

Keta invited Jakal and his mate to share the evening meal at her dwelling. In addition to discussing the Lead Tracker's missing status, she intended to probe further into the matter of their tense relationship with the Spiritwalker. She noticed no further conflicts since the night of the gathering celebrating the young couple's return and recent joining; if anything they appeared to avoid him, and he, them. But again, she felt uneasy.

The Clan Leader frowned. The calm stability of her Camp upended, as someone who greatly valued normality and order, she found the irregularity of the last moon cycle unsettling. This all started when Sala decided to run away rather than fulfill her obligation. Her stubbornness set off all this disarray.

Actually, that was not altogether true. The young woman left because of her selection as the Spiritwalker's future mate. It was he who instructed the Light-Eye to find her, and then Sedon to go after them both.

Sala possessing the talisman belonging to the Fox Clan's spiritual leader also proved a disturbing twist, and one she could not simply overlook. Giving an important, powerful object to one outside of their rank, the memory of it last occurring existing only in the Elders' stories, could not have been done lightly. The old woman was very close to the old Spiritwalker, and much like him in many ways.

Keta wanted to question the shaman further, but he had been spending more and more time in the Ceremonial Hut. As an individual who primarily dealt with concrete matters of reason, the Spirit World unsettled her, and she was satisfied to leave such matters in the hands of the spiritual caste. He did not like to be disturbed when he communed with the Spirits, and she was not particularly inclined to interrupt him, so usually it worked out well enough. But now that she had many questions... Was he evading her?

~*~*~



Sala, Essa, Nefa and Yaja sat in the sunshine just outside the settlement. Large leather hides were spread out on the ground, with an assortment of edible plants lined up in neat rows according to type, drying in the heat of the summer sun. They talked as they worked and fussed over Yaja's baby, taking turns holding her.

Essa and Nefa were discussing the meal they were sharing this evening. "Would you like to join us?" Ritol's mate offered.

"I appreciate the offer, Essa, but Jakal and I are sharing the evening meal with Keta and Mifir."

"What about you, Yaja?"

"Thank you for asking, Essa, but Belak and I have already made other plans as well. We have arranged to share pleasures with Letan this evening," she confided with a smile.

Her friends twittered knowingly.

"That should be very pleasurable. He is exceptionally...well endowed," Nefa remarked, unintentionally releasing a sigh. The man's prodigious organ made him a novelty that nearly every woman in the Camp, and a great many outside of it, had to sample at least once.

Yaja nodded, blushing. "That is one of the reasons I asked him to share our furs this night."

The other women giggled.

"Oh, I do not know," Essa dissented. "It is true the Spirits gifted him with a manhood the size of two men. Before Ritol and I were joined, I coupled with Letan once. He was far too large for me; it was uncomfortable and not very pleasurable."

"It would be too much to be mated to him," Yaja conceded, "but it is fun to be pleasured with such a tool once in a while."

"And you, Sala? Would you and Jakal bring him to your furs?" Nefa inquired.

"I do not think so. I appreciate a well-sized manhood, but I agree with Essa; Letan's is too long. It kept bumping the back of my womanhood which caused much discomfort. Jakal fits my body perfectly." She sighed, her skin tingling as she recalled the snug fullness, the completeness she felt whenever their bodies joined together. "Besides, my mate and I have agreed to share bodies only with each other."

The others looked at her with some surprise.

"Whose idea was it, if you do not mind my asking?" Yaja wanted to know.

"Jakal's. But I do not mind," she told them. "He brings me greater pleasure than anyone else so it was not a difficult decision to make."

"I am surprised by that," Essa commented. "Jakal has coupled with a great many women. Why would he wish to be with only one now?"

"It is...complicated. I am not sure I feel comfortable discussing it, Essa. It was a very private conversation."

"Apologies, Sala. I know that sometimes mates are exclusive with each other. I just was surprised that one who has been with so many would wish to stop."

"Sometimes other things matter more than sharing furs with a variety of people," Sala replied somewhat cryptically.

"Well, if you are not going to share bodies with a third perhaps you should get a...carving," Yaja suggested.

"A carving?"

"When Belak returned from a trade mission once," she revealed, leaning forward, "he brought home a carving made of an antler. It was smoothed and shaped to look very much like a manhood."

Gasping, her friends laughed.

"He gave it to me to use if I wished while he was away on his missions." She smiled, flushing. "Well, one night when we were sharing pleasures, he used it while he entered me...as if we had a third. It felt highly pleasurable."

A surge streaked between Sala's legs at Yaja's description. "So he entered you and put it in your...back entrance?" she asked tentatively, seeking confirmation. She had been with two males a couple of times before, but they never entered her at once; it was too difficult to coordinate and at the time, the thought of a man penetrating her second opening did not particularly interest her.

Grinning, her friend responded, "Actually, Sala, it was the other way around."

The women burst out laughing.

"If you are interested perhaps I could ask Belak to talk to Ditil about making you one."

"I, I do not know if I feel comfortable with Ditil knowing what it is for. He is too much of a gossip."

Giggling, the others nodded in agreement.

"Perhaps it does not need to be shaped perfectly like a manhood," Nefa proposed. "If the tip is rounded I am sure it would still work the same without needing to smooth the surface and add extra details; that way its purpose would not be so obvious. Belak could tell him it's...something requested for the next time he trades with, say, Aurochs Camp."

"That is a good idea, Nefa," Yaja praised. "What say you Sala? Do you wish me to speak to my mate about getting you a carving?"

Blushing shyly, she nodded her head to her friends' beaming smiles. As she imagined Jakal plunging it in and out of one of her entrances while he filled the other her sex pulled and twisted.

"You will enjoy it Sala, and so will Jakal," the woman promised. "I think you both will be pleasantly surprised by how much pleasure it can bring between the furs."

~*~*~



"Keta, that was a truly outstanding meal," Sala complimented as they sat around the hearth drinking tea.

"Thank Mifir," the Clan Leader replied. "He is the one skilled at food preparation in this union."

The couple thanked the man, who simply smiled and nodded. A rather restrained individual of few words, Mifir enjoyed working behind the scenes, doing what he could to make his mate's burden a little lighter. He knew she carried the weight of a great many responsibilities; the least he could do was take care of some of their day-to-day matters. Besides, his tireless efforts were always more than rewarded amongst the furs, where she was free to be his woman and not the Leader of their people.

Now that they had eaten, Keta decided it was time to move on to more serious subjects.

"As you know, Sedon still has not made his way home. Given what the two of you told me about the route you took, I recognize it is possible his arrival may yet be delayed another day or two. However, I think it may be prudent to consider he may be in need of assistance."

Sala and Jakal nodded.

"Do you wish us to locate him?" the Light-Eyed One inquired.

Us? Rather than voice her thought, the Leader continued. "Yes. Assuming the Lead Tracker followed your trail, I think it wise if you retrace your steps, starting here and working your way back toward Fox Clan's settlement. I do not believe you will need to travel that far; most likely he simply chose to rest for a few days at Tejed's Camp before resuming his journey, thereby delaying his arrival."

The man doubted it; when he was on a mission he would never be diverted from his target. Staying overnight was one thing, but several days was unlikely. Then again, given his own behavior during his last assignment, he supposed anything was possible.

"Understood. My mate and I will leave first thing in the morning."

"Good. Now that that is settled, there is another matter I wish to discuss with..."

Crack! Crack! Crack!

The two couples jumped, startled by the unexpected intrusion into their private conversation. Keta looked at Mifir and nodded.

"I must speak with the Clan Leader. It is most urgent," a male voice insisted after he disappeared behind the flap.

"It is all right, Mifir," Keta called. "Dosat may enter."

Lifting the leather hide, the Hunter rushed inside, his face pale.

"Keta, please, you must come quickly. It is about Sedon. Traders have just arrived from Horse Clan. They came upon him this morning on their way here. Clan Leader...Sedon is dead."

The woman and her guests sprang to their feet, hurrying outside to engage the visitors.

A female and male with heavy packs at their feet stood near the dwelling as a small crowd began to form around them.

Exchanging swift greetings, Sala and Jakal learned the pair was Asra and Lomal, Traders from the Light-Eyed One's mother's current home.

"Asra and Lomal, please, come to my dwelling," the Clan Leader urged. Though they had not been explicitly invited, since the news concerned the Tracker's colleague, he and his mate followed the group back inside.

Settling around the hearth, Mifir offered the travelers cups of hot tea.

"My mate and I had been traveling for several days in order to trade with your people," Asra began. "We did not keep up the brisk pace we usually do, and we soon realized our journey was taking us far longer than we had intended. In order to shorten the distance, we decided to divert from our normal route this morning, cutting across the forest about half a day's distance from here."

"As we picked our way through the trees, we quickly learned why this 'short cut' was not highly utilized," Lomal continued. "The ground was rocky and covered with slick vegetation; several times we nearly lost our footing. Just as we were considering turning around to resume our original path, Asra slipped and almost fell into a ravine."

"Some items we wished to trade had fallen from my pack," the Lead Trader explained, "so we had no choice but to hike to the bottom to retrieve them."

"Almost as soon as we arrived we discovered the body of a man," her mate went on. "He was obviously one of our people, though we did not personally recognize him. We found the contents of his haversack spread all over the area, but we eventually located something which identified to which Clan he belonged." Lomal handed an object to Keta.

In the Leader's palm lay the tracking talisman of Sedon.

Despite previously knowing the outcome of this tale, nonetheless Sala gasped in horror at the sight of the charm. He and his mate Jila had four children at their hearth; his family would be devastated.

After sitting in stunned silence, Keta slowly closed her fist around the carving. She looked soberly at her mate. "Mifir, please summon Nerin. After I speak with him, I will need to inform Jila of this tragedy. Asra, Lomal, Jakal, please remain. What I wish to discuss with the Lead Hunter concerns you as well. Sala, if you will excuse us at this time," she concluded, nodding at the young woman.

Sala gave her mate's shoulder a comforting squeeze as she stood up; glancing at him one last time, she left the somber dwelling, haunted by the look in his eyes.

Despite her arrangement with Jakal to be accompanied at all times by at least one other, Sala instead headed straight for his dwelling, not in the mood to talk about what she had just learned. Putting herself in Jila's position, she understood that upon discovering others had received news of her mate's death before she herself would only deepen an already gaping wound. She did not want to add to her grief.

When some time had passed and Jakal still had not come, Sala decided to heat some water to make a relaxing infusion for the two of them. Just as the water began to steam he entered.

Quickly scanning the room, he asked sharply, "Sala, why are you alone?"

Taken aback by his harsh tone, she looked up into his blue eyes. "I, I did not wish to speak to the others about Sedon. I was thinking about how I would feel if I were Jila..."

Grasping her arms firmly, he captured his mate's gaze in his. "Sala, do not ever do that again. We agreed you would not be left alone until," the man lowered his pitch to an urgent whisper, "until we defeat the Spiritwalker." The volume of his voice increased as he began speaking ever more rapidly. "How can I trust you will remain safe if you cannot follow a simple agreement? Do you not think your life important? Do you not think what it would do to me if..."

The Light-Eyed One suddenly dropped his hands as his eyes finally registered the stunned expression on the woman's face.

"I, I am sorry," he stumbled. "It is just...I...I never expected this to happen."

Sala wrapped her arms around him. "No one could have foreseen this, Jakal."

"Sedon was probably trying to cut across the forest to save time, just like Asra and Lomal," he speculated numbly, staring into space as his mate held him tight. "If I had not tried to divert him by crossing the river, he probably would not have felt such haste to overtake us."

Pulling away, she looked him in the eye. "You cannot know that. You do not know why he chose the path he did. It may have had nothing to do with us."

She could see he was not convinced.

"Jakal..."

"Keta has asked the Traders to lead Nerin, some of his Hunters and me to Sedon's body so that we may bring him home for burial," he went on flatly, as if he had not heard her. "We leave in the morning. We should not be gone longer than the day after this next one."

"I wish to go with you," Sala told him.

"No," he replied firmly. "That forest is too dangerous, and I will not subject you to seeing his...body in such a manner. The Traders said that it was badly broken in the fall."

"But I thought we were going to try to stay together as much as possible."

"We are. But this is something I need to do on my own, Sala. It is my burden, my responsibility. Besides, I have already made arrangements for you to stay with Belak and Yaja. Please remain in their company until I return."

"But..."

"Sala, please. I do not wish to argue with you about this."

The woman studied him for a moment; she could not understand why he seemed to be placing blame onto himself. The Spiritwalker is the one who sent Sedon on this mission, she thought, not Jakal. Nevertheless, it was clear he was still in shock. She hugged him again.

"Very well, my mate. I will do as you ask."

~*~*~



Despite her overtures that night to engage him in pleasures of the body, Jakal was unresponsive and could not be coaxed into changing his mind. Understanding her mate was preoccupied by the shocking news of his mentor's demise, Sala pressed her warm naked body against his, hoping her touch provided him at least some small comfort as they lay nestled in the furs.

"Jakal," she started in a small voice, "I, I hope you do not blame yourself for what happened to Sedon. The Spiritwalker sent him on this mission, not you."

He sighed heavily. "I do not blame myself... Well, that is not totally true. I know I should not blame myself. It is not so much that I feel guilty because he was sent to find us, Sala. It is more about the circumstances under which he died."

Disengaging his body from hers, Jakal slid down to look into his woman's eyes. "When Sedon trained me to become a Tracker, he told me I had natural instincts which, with proper training, would help me become highly proficient in my chosen skill. Once, he even admitted I had the potential to surpass his abilities one day.

"The thing was, I already knew that my abilities outshined his. When we engaged in training exercises, at first I would...let him think he had located the target first. But after a time, he figured out I was purposefully holding back to spare his feelings, and he insisted that I work to my fullest capacity, even if it injured his pride a little.

"After he had given me permission to show off what I could do, over time I grew increasingly competitive. In my arrogance I began to wonder why he should be the Lead Tracker when I was clearly the superior of the two of us in our chosen skill.

"One of our training exercises involved us taking turns as 'predator' or 'prey'. When it was my turn to be the Tracker, or the 'predator', I found Sedon very quickly, so quickly I actually startled him when I came upon him. I even growled, and I swear his spirit nearly left his body he was so frightened for a moment. I thought myself quite clever.

"The next day I was to be the 'prey'. Part of the reason for playing both roles was to sharpen one's awareness of the signs all individuals, person or beast, leave behind, signs which either assist in, or impede, one's discovery. I thought it would be amusing to play another joke on my mentor, this time by sending him on all sorts of false starts, making it much more difficult to find me.

"The ultimate prank I had planned led him straight into a marsh where he would get all wet and muddy. I hid nearby, waiting for him to arrive. What I did not know was that there was quicksand; I am still not certain how I managed to avoid it myself, given that Sedon followed my trail almost precisely.

"He became mired in it and was sinking fast. Thankfully I was nearby and could pull him free. He never said anything about it, but I think Sedon knew I had led him into a trap; not that I had intentionally tried to get him stuck in quicksand, but that I repeatedly attempted to throw him off my trail, simply because I could. I suspected he never confronted me about setting him up because I was a Light-Eye, and I was so ashamed of my actions that I hid behind my status in order to avoid having to admit what I had done.

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