tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Bonding Chronicles Ch. 17

The Bonding Chronicles Ch. 17

byPantherParabola©

***** Lust Laden Lament *****

There was something peaceful about the darkness. A cool breeze rustled the leaves that shook and shimmied above, and Tani'm could sense them all sway in the gentle wind as she settled back into darkness. Her body was weak, and her mind had taken shelter from her plight, receding back into some unknown but familiar place. The last thing she remembered, was the wolf standing on her chest. Her arm- Ohh god, her arm... the beast had been using all its might to pull it from her body, and... the sound, the terrible sound came back to her then.

Panic threatened to rise up and consume her, the memory a painful bruise that refused to heal. The breeze was still there, and the leaves, everything a soothing caress that blanketed her in calm and kept her from teetering over the edge into terror. The moonlight felt cool as it danced across her skin, the clouds having given way, allowing the full moon to look down upon her ruined state. Tani'm's thoughts kept coming back to her arm, every fiber of her being knowing that it was gone, and her mind seeming to accept that reality with almost no qualm or question.

She could feel a contented sigh leave her lips, even as consciousness refused to grant her an audience, and again the cool breeze brushed across her body, rustling her leaves with a soft and gentle prod. It took several moments for the strangeness of that thought to strike her, and as it did she was reminded of The Glade; her experience with the great maple which rested near the shore of that wonderful, majestic pond bubbling to the surface of her thoughts.

Somehow, she could feel the tree she was resting beneath, the massive sentinel becoming an extension of herself as she basked in her magical slumber. Moments began fading, one into the next, time seeming to slip by in an alien way as the light, water and wind took center stage within her conscious mind.

There was a deep foreboding within the forest, the tree seeming to sense something terrible and dangerous, but as she lay there, the mighty forest speaking to her in a gentle sylvan whisper, she felt the threat vanish. One moment it was there, a tremendous malevolent force that disrupted and distorted the fragile balance of that delicate place, and then it was just gone, the entire forest seeming to relax in the wake of its disappearance.

At some point a strange noise echoed out from the distance, though Tani'm had a hard time knowing if it had been before or after the forest seemed to relax. The breeze and cool sensation of water at her feet muddied her thoughts and skewed her perception. In that moment, she decided that life was glorious, feasting of the soil while drinking from the sky was an existence she could embrace.

Then, as she began to settle into the languid life she had started to accept, nearby voices drew her back into her body. Tani'm's fingers and toes wiggled as she felt the tree drift from her consciousness, and as her eyes began to open, blinking away her slumber, she was surprised to find that she never even considered using her right arm as she tried to stand. It didn't make her task any easier though, and as she attempted to lift herself up, she slipped and fell, failing to find purchase.

Andrew was there in an instant, his small hand with his thin and agile fingers reaching out towards her.

"Here, let me help," he offered, and she smiled at his tone, his face a portrait of gleeful encouragement.

Tani'm reached forward, and a moment before his steely grip took hold, she felt it — a magical bolt of energy that placed something within her; a flicker of light that skittered and danced in the center of her being. It felt warm, content and loving, but foreign and dangerous as well. She tried to deny her reality, to refuse admitting that a bond had just been planted within her, but Andrew's smiling face made that an impossibility.

He lifted her with surprising ease, and the startled woman was barely on her feet before she yanked her hand from Andrew's grip, the small man taking a step back and looking at her with surprise in his eyes. He glanced around as he spoke.

"The wolf is no longer here."

Sara was there too, and despite her missing right hand and scared up shoulder, she was tall and majestic, the picture of athletic beauty. Thunderfoot was resting at her feet, watching Tani'm with worry and compassion shining out from his large innocent eyes. Tani'm noticed the large furrows of torn up skin that etched a path between Sara's perfect c-cup breasts, an obvious sign of the battle she had been in.

"Just..." Tani'm began, panic in her voice as she took a few steps back. "Just stay away from me."

Her heart was a drum, pounding away in her chest, any sense of calm that the forest had given was replaced by terror at what had just happened. There was concern in Andrew and Sara's eyes, and while she could see Andrew's lips moving, she could not hear his words over the sound of her own heart, which beat with a panic driven fervor, echoing out through her body and drowning out everything else.

She turned and sprinted into the forest, the periphery of her vision lost as she made a mad dash through her emerald home. It wasn't until she collapsed to the ground some time later, that she began to consider what had been done. Sweat saturated her clothing and stuck her long black hair to her body, muscles twitching and aching against the exertion she had put them though.

After rolling to her back, she could tell that the moon was much further across the sky, and realized she must have been running for hours. An owl hooted off in the distance, and many rodents and small creatures shifted in their burrows. The forest was once more alive, the animals already adjusting back to the lives they had lived before the wolf had invaded their home.

Tani'm's left hand came to her chest, the flutter of that foreign invader felt deep within her body and drawing her attention like an itch that would not be scratched. As she caressed her chest, she almost expected to feel it there, dancing beneath the surface, but all she felt was her shivering body and the small puncture wounds from when the wolf had ripped her arm from her.

She released a deep sigh, the warm gust of air declaring her worry, but doing nothing to alleviate it. The clouds from earlier that night were gone, leaving an open mural of celestial beauty above her, the milky way sparkling in the firmament. As she lay there, her heart finally settled and her skin stopped its quivering dance, allowing her to wallow in her worry.

Through all that time, she was no closer to knowing what to do. Andrew was there within her, she felt him, but she felt no need to go to him. No draw that demanded her action. Instead, she found herself lying there, the soft mossy soil soothing her body, while her mind raced for an answer. She loved the life she had built, and the twinkling stars that shone in the sky above gave voice to the wonders she craved.

There, in that small clearing, she was free in a way she hadn't been for most of her life. Her parent's no longer laid claim to her power, and the Quinault Indian Nation gave her the freedom she knew she deserved, asking very little in return. It had taken a lot for her to find that independence, and she loathed the idea of giving that up to anyone. She felt it again, that flickering movement of something within her mind; Andrew and his foul magic.

Animals began to stir far off at the edge of her ability, a stream of disruption was leading a direct path towards her, small animals taking shelter as it moved ever closer.

The wolf was gone, she knew that with a certainty she did not question, and so Tani'm didn't bother to rise. She didn't even turn her head as Thunderfoot bounded into the clearing, the large rabbit darting over to her and rubbing her shoulder with the side of his face.

She reached up and caressed his cheek, the playful animal pressing his face into her hand with such force, that once she removed it, he fell to the side, a chortling laugh escaping his mouth as the jackalope's body slid in beside her.

His antlers were broad and heavy, but he maneuvered them with skill as he fell, the rabbit shimmying its body and kicking its arms and legs until it was pressed up against her, both of them looking up towards the heavens.

There was so much joy in the animal that it radiated from him, threatening to overwhelm her sour mood. Every few seconds he would jerk his head, lightly slapping her with the side of his antlers, chortling and snorting with glee as she grumbled at his new game.

It didn't take long for her to stand, her eyes accusatorial as she stared at Thunderfoot, who sat up and watched her. The jackalope was a picture of happiness, joy radiating from every small movement that he made.

Karen had done a remarkable job, Tani'm observed. The magical creature was beyond healthy, any sign that the rabbit had ever lost a limb was nowhere to be seen. There was something about that thought that brought her back to Andrew, and those words she had missed as she ran off.

Thunderfoot moved, breaking her errant thought as he looked off towards the east, his eyes opening wide as he nodded his head in that direction, before returning his gaze to her. A moment later, he did it again, and after she refused to consider his message, the large rabbit hopped over and stared into her eyes.

"You follow."

It was a childlike voice that she had heard a few times before from Thunderfoot, usually at times when the rabbit was desperate to convey something important. There was no pause, one moment the creature had issued its command, and the next it had bounded off.

She shook her head and then took chase, the jackalope moving slowly, making her task easy as they scurried through the forest. Their destination soon became obvious to Tani'm, who realized that her panic driven flight from Andrew had not been as random as she thought. The forest was familiar, and with every step she was getting closer and closer to her house, which rested just a few hundred yards away.

Sure enough, a short time later, she found herself on a familiar trail, before exiting the forest and arriving at the edge of the clearing that surrounded her small house. Thunderfoot sprinted across the large open area, a chittering noise declaring his goodbye as he vanished into the brush on the far side. For the briefest of moments, Tani'm thought she saw a flash of yellowish-orange move through the shadows, giving chase to the large rabbit as he disappeared into the shelter of the trees.

She felt no fear, and sensed no danger, so instead of attempting to rescue her companion she turned her attention to the familiar car that rested in her driveway, its engine still making small noises as it cooled and settled from the drive there.

"Karen," Tani'm said with a dispassionate voice as she approached her house.

The older woman was leaning against the wall beside her door, a look of eager patience spread across her face. Tani'm was surprised how difficult it was to be cold towards Karen, the taller woman flashing a smile that seemed to cut through the night.

"If he wants me to come to him, you can tell him to fuck off."

Karen blanched at Tani'm's statement, the words seeming to confuse and stun her, the only reaction she could give was to raise an eyebrow and make her befuddlement clear.

"Don't pull that, he knows what he did."

Tani'm could tell that the older woman had been intending to give her a hug, but took a step away from the door as Tani'm continued her verbal assault. It was clear that Karen wanted to say something, but was second guessing her message as the young druid climbed the couple of steps to her porch, and opened the door with a practiced skill that made it seem as if she had done it a million times before.

"May I enter?" Karen asked, her voice gentle and soft like the breeze.

"Sure."

Tani'm was in her bedroom before Karen entered her house, the broken bedroom-door doing nothing to provide privacy as she started trying to remove her leather armor. It was frustrating, and with each passing second she was growing more and more annoyed with every button that refused to slide out of position.

Her heart was beginning to race as her temper once more grew, Andrew's face flashing behind her anger until a firm but feminine hand reached around her from behind. Their fingers interlocked, stopping Tani'm's futile struggle as Karen pulled the small athletic woman back against her warm body.

"Shhh," Karen whispered, her voice a taste of spring in the heart of winter. "Relax."

There was power and sympathy in Karen's words, taking the edge from Tani'm's frustration and allowing her heart to stop its frantic race. For a moment, Tani'm worried that it was Andrew's influence making her settle, but as she savored the familiar feelings, she recognized them for what they were; Karen, and her amazing gift.

"Why are you here?"

Her question had the scent of defeat, the relaxation of her body seeming to declare a resignation to a fate she feared.

Karen kissed her right shoulder, just above the magical poultice that continued to sooth the small woman's aching wound.

"I would have thought that was obvious, sweet girl."

There was honey in her voice, each syllable a delightful invitation, and reminder of pleasures Tani'm would never forget. The ghostly scent of caramel once more played tricks with her senses, and put her on edge as they led her thoughts back to Andrew.

Karen let her go, sensing the return of her foul mood. The older woman glanced at Tani'm's bed, seeing the tattered and destroyed state of the mattress, and abandoning her plan to sit on the once proud furnishing.

"Tani'm, what do you think Andrew has done?"

The smaller woman whipped around, anger blinding her to anything else, until, just as she prepared to unleash another harsh statement, Karen reached forward and began to undo the buttons that held her armor across her chest. It was such a simple thing, but spoke of the care that Karen carried with her in every way.

Tani'm's anger was dulled by the selfless act that the stunning brunette performed, forcing her to shake her head and sigh.

"Come on, Karen. You have to know."

Karen never raised her eyes from the task she was performing, her fingers working with slow and deliberate care as she smiled and raised an eyebrow, her expression making it clear that she wanted to hear it from Tani'm.

"He got his way, okay? He finally got his hooks into me."

There it was, relief washing across Karen's face as she heard confirmation of something she already knew. The most infuriating thing for Tani'm was not that reaction, but the lack of a response. The older woman just continued her work, never raising her eyes, or volunteering anything more than a smile.

"What does he want?" Tani'm asked, her frustration evident in the way the words flew out of her mouth, each word punctuated with perfect pronunciation.

Karen finished unfastening Tani'm's leather shirt, giving her a playful slap on the hip before stating, "There you go, dear."

Tani'm had no chance to react before the brunette turned and once more considered sitting on the shredded remains of the mattress. With a grumble and shake of her head, Karen dismissed that thought, instead rubbing her hands together and smiling at Tani'm, who just grimaced and rolled her eyes, accepting that she would never get a straight answer.

"If growing back my arm means I have to whore myself to that little man, then I would rather stay the way I am."

It wasn't until she completed her statement that she began to remove her shirt, and as the soft and sweat soaked leather came away, slipping from her grip and falling to the floor, she realized that the puncture wounds she had suffered at the claws of the wolf were healed, smooth reddish-brown skin where broken flesh had been just moments before.

She found it hard to stay mad at Karen, the kind woman's every act seeming designed to provide comfort and support. There was no design behind Karen's actions, just a compulsion to help those she loved... And there it was, the one thing Tani'm worried might make her consider giving into Andrew's despicable power; Karen.

Her shoulders slumped and her breath escaped in a sharp and pronounced exhale before she asked, "What does he want?"

Her tone was pleading, and her eyes were brimming with tears as she looked over at Karen, who was still studying the small woman's supple and delicate chest, her eyes luxuriating in Tani'm's small feminine mounds. Karen bit her lip before she shook her head and forced herself to focus on her young friend, and Tani'm could tell that the older woman wanted to reach out and pull her into a soothing embrace. Whether to comfort or seduce, she was not sure.

"Andrew has no designs for you, or your future, but I'm not here for him."

Karen turned her eyes towards the floor, shifting a piece of broken glass with the toe of her shoe, the coy and shy act making Tani'm trust the older woman all the more.

"In truth, we're just as confused as you seem to be, though our emotions are tending more towards elation." She cleared her throat, adding, "Amongst other things." with a pronounced blush.

Tani'm was reminded of her parents, and the manipulative way that they would word things to try and trick her into doing something for them. It was a painful association, and she knew that Karen meant her no harm, but she still worried that everything she heard was designed to pull her into that trap, that loving and seductive trap. All those early experiences guided her towards what Karen had so skillfully set up, and she decided to just take the conversation where it was destined to go.

"After everything we've shared, you have to understand why I never wanted this. I'm sure you're happy that I'm part of your family now, but it was never what I wanted. Hell, I'm not sure it's what you or Sara wanted, either. How can any of us be certain? We weren't given a choice, that little-"

"Careful," Karen's soft voice interrupted what would have been another hurtful statement, and once more Tani'm was grateful for the older woman's thoughtfulness.

"You're right," Karen began, taking Tani'm by surprise. "We can't imagine our lives without our family, all of us woven together into this amazing and wonderful fabric that shelters and protects us, becoming everything we could ever want. But, all that being said, you're one-hundred percent correct, none of us were given a choice."

Karen sighed, allowing the shock to subside on Tani'm's face. It took a moment for the small woman to realize she had stopped breathing, never expecting Karen to admit to something she had known for days.

Karen asked, "But, how do you feel? Do you love Andrew?"

While Tani'm considered the question she began to feel her temper rise, and realized that so much of that night had gone wrong because she had allowed her anger to control her actions. It took a few moments for her to settle her breathing and consider Karen's questions with what she hoped was an honest eye.

"No, I don't. I respect him, and... Well, I'm amazed by what he can do, but I don't love him."

Her eyes scanned the room, the broken glass and tattered remnants of her bed reflecting the conflicting emotions she felt. Karen's description of her family rattled around in the chaos of Tani'm's thoughts, and as she considered them, there was a theme she began to pick up on. A truth she had suspected for a while, but refused to acknowledge.

"He loves you both very much, doesn't he?" The question had been rhetorical, buying her enough time to consider the thought further. "He seems to be just as consumed as the two of you."

Karen smiled, her eyes twinkling with delight as she beamed at her young friend.

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