Winds of Change Ch. 02bywhitesabretooth©
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 is the second chapter, I hope you enjoy it, I know I am probably going to get some angry emails about the ending so I warn you, there is kind of a cliff hanger at the end of the chapter.
I would like to apologise to anyone who I may not have gotten back to and I am going to answer a question that quite a few have posed to me recently. Do I have a picture or drawing of Amy's crest, I kind of have a mental picture of what it should look like, sadly every time I've gone to draw it I've never quite gotten it right. I promise the moment I do get it just right I will let you all know what it looks like.
As normal all feedback is welcome and I give thanks to my stressed out editor, I hope her work load starts to calm down.
Sage walked into the training field just as Alanna dismissed the wings for their free time and lunch break several days later. Sage wrapped an arm around her sister, how has your day been?
Alanna growled her response as they walked into her office; the other instructors were waiting and stood when they spotted Sage.
"Sit... this isn't formal, I've just come to see how my sister is doing." She informed the men. Sage sat as Alanna did and as soon as both women were seated the three men sat. "Come on... what made you growl?"
"They resist my teaching and all I am trying to do is bring up their fitness." Alanna explained.
Sage shrugged, "they have been taught that what they genetically know in the way of battle is the best, and that includes how they train their bodies. To trust the knowledge passed from father to son. Of course they are going to resist."
"You didn't resist when ma took over your battle training," Alanna pointed out.
"Yeah... but I had been watching ma and you guys and came to realise that perhaps learning what she had to teach me would make me stronger. I wasn't wrong." Sage explained, "I am sure Tarval's second reason for getting lessons from you was because you used moves he hadn't seen before, you challenged him to change."
"What was the first reason?" Alanna asked puzzled.
"Um... attraction," she replied as if it was obvious.
Alanna chuckled, "alright, you doing anything tomorrow?"
"Yeah... nothing," Sage replied.
Alanna closed her eyes and clicked her fingers, "rest day."
"Yeah and its market day," Sage said as she rubbed her hands together.
"What will the boys do tomorrow?" Alanna asked Thane.
"Nothing... they are restricted to the keep and if the markets are here they are restricted to the school. All will go visit their parents." Thane explained.
Alanna nodded. "Okay then, Sage day after tomorrow, doing anything?"
"Nothing I can't reschedule why?" Sage replied.
"Because I want to show them what is possible with what I am going to teach them. I'll see if I can get Tarval, Destiny and Susan to help give them a full understanding of what is possible. I also want you guys to help me teach the boys." Alanna explained.
Sage nodded, "I can do that."
"Nathan will resist which means his wing will resist." Thane added.
Alanna nodded, "yes... I don't like him as leader, too hot headed."
Thane nodded in agreement.
"His wing is always the last to form up, the others are formed up and waiting for you before you enter the field." Cia supplied to the conversation.
"He'll see his father tomorrow, if it doesn't correct his attitude at the first sign of slight rebellion I'll send them to the yard, the suicides obviously aren't correcting the behaviour." Alanna said firmly.
Thane nodded, "and if he continues to lead the wing to the yard they will rebel against him, they will stop following and force him to conform to the group and the new leader."
"We'll see what happens after rest day." Alanna told the room effectively ending the post training meeting.
Sage and Alanna left together, "So how have you handled being training master."
"Dominic said be firm but fair, and that is what I am doing but sometimes I just want to clip them behind the ears." Alanna explained.
"A cuff is acceptable if followed by a warning." Sage explained, "One warning and if that doesn't work; send them to the yard."
Thane had explained it all to Alanna that first day but as of yet she hadn't needed to take anyone to the yard. "I haven't sent any to the yard yet, I am using suicides as a second chance corrective."
Sage grimaced, "I remember the first set of suicides Sammy ordered, I almost collapsed after I did the last set. They will come to hate them but they are young men, they will rebel as that is what they do. Eventually they will all spend time in the yard." Sage explained. "Now Susan ordered me to take you to lunch then to the infirmary," she told her sister.
Alanna rolled her eyes as they walked into the keep, "I am only a few weeks along, what does she expect to see?"
Sage shrugged, she didn't know, "Maybe she just wants to see what an accelerated pregnancy looks like, week by week."
"Great... I'm a guinea pig." Alanna said sarcastically.
Sage chuckled, "come on, it's not that bad, I am sure part of it is that the healers here are just as interested and want to see how your little one will develop."
"You're the first to call it a little one; everyone else is convinced it's a boy." Alanna remarked.
Sage grinned, "Yeah well... Everyone thought I was a boy until I came out. Until someone holds the child up and tells me it's a boy; I'll call it little one."
"What if it isn't a boy?" Alanna asked a little anxious.
"Tarval won't care, either sex is fine as long as it is healthy and his." Sage grinned, "Ma told me Da was speechless as the midwife handed me to him and declared a girl. I was wrapped firmly up in a blanket, he opened the blanket, he had to make sure, but he couldn't deny the evidence, I was a girl. He had always wanted to call his first child Sage, since it was a pretty androgynous name he decided to keep it. He then clumsily wrapped me again and went to declare me to the keep. Ma wasn't there for that but Iron-arm told me about it, told me that Da stood on the dais and held me out to the men. He said, 'It is a joyous day for the keep, the love of my life is fine as is our daughter.' Iron-arm said the keep was silent until someone said, 'the Dephalim are dead...' Da then unwrapped me and held me out, everyone could see the immature wings on my back and that I was very much a little girl."
They walked into the keep and started making their way to the great hall. "One of the women came forward took me from my da and wrapped me again, she glared at him and said, babies need to be kept warm. The keep didn't stay shocked for long, the first female Nephalim was born to their keep, the celebrations lasted for a week." Sage continued.
Sage smiled, "The first time I was put down in the nursery they had an argument, the room had been filled with things for a little boy, ma wanted to redecorate for a little girl. Guess who won?" she prompted.
"Bianca?" Alanna guessed.
"Nope... da did, although he compromised, the little fake swords and armour got to stay, I got to have a rag doll and any stuffed animal ma could make or find." Sage explained.
"How long did the rag doll last?" Alanna asked with a small grin.
"I was four when I cut its head off with one of the fake swords. I then ran around my room making war cries as I held the head by it hair and waved my sword. Let's just say ma was mortified but da just chuckled and said that's a war lord not a princess." Sage explained before both women chuckled.
They got to the main hall which was a hive of activity, most if not all took their noon meal here. Tarval spotted Alanna and waved; she smiled and walked over to him dodging between bodies and chairs. Tarval had already gotten her a large serving of the heavy stew that was on offer, when she got to him she tilted her head up for a kiss and got one, only not on her lips but on her forehead. She pouted a little and Tarval sighed giving her a quick kiss on her lips.
"Now sit before your stomach gets so loud it drowns out everything else." Tarval told her.
Alanna rolled her eyes and sat; she looked at the stew and felt her mouth water, her stomach made a demand. Slowly she started to eat, dipping soft bread into the gravy between bites of tender meat and vegetables. "What meat is this?" Alanna asked as a woman put more bread in a basket.
"Grayatha," the woman replied.
"Isn't that the rat like creature that lives around here?" Alanna asked.
The woman nodded, "yes and it makes great eating. Mind you it takes a good six mature ones to make enough for the entire keep; the men managed to get eight this morning and are going out to see if they can get a few more, they are great in a pie."
"I've only seen the little ones, the Graya, how big do their cousins get?" Alanna asked.
"Quite big, I've seen one with a body almost as long as my husband's, an adult male, the hunter who snagged that one nearly lost a few fingers but said he wouldn't trade the experience even if he lost his fingers." She told Alanna with excitement before moving away.
"That sounds like fun... think the men will mind if I join them?" Alanna asked.
Tarval watched her for a moment, part of him was glad Alanna was fitting in and wanting to join the activities of the keep, but the other part didn't want to put her in danger and hunting Grayatha was dangerous, more so if you stumbled upon a nest that were supporting young. However, he had seen Keira, Amy and Sienna hunt well into the late stages of their pregnancies so it shouldn't be harmful for Alanna to hunt.
"My Wolf is interested, I might let her out," Alanna said a little oblivious to Tarval's mood.
Sage sat beside her sister as did Susan and Destiny, "So... you want to go on the hunt?" Sage asked and grinned as Alanna nodded.
"Count me in," Susan added. "My cat feels like a little bit of a rough and tumble."
"Okay," Sage said as she looked at Susan and Alanna, they were making their way to the outer wall for the hunt. "Grayatha are as Alanna said rat like, but I would say they are more part rat, part wolverine and part dog. They are vicious and will attack in groups if we stumble across a nest. This is rearing season for them and they will protect their young more ferociously than any other time of the year."
"So we don't want to stumble upon a nest?" Susan questioned, hitting a nest sounded like a good option when you were after numbers.
"Depends, males will be thrown out and they form bachelor nests, once they are old enough they will challenge a dominant male for his and his 'brothers' harem." Sage explained.
"So a bachelor nest will be better than a breeding nest?" Alanna asked.
"If we even find one," Sage offered a square of fur to Alanna, "you have the better nose... that is Grayatha fur."
"Hey are we going or what?" A young warrior said as he jogged pass, a special kind of bow and arrow rested in his hands and a quiver sat at his hip.
"Go we'll catch up," Sage told him.
"Has anyone told you you've been getting lazy?" He called back a moment before he took flight.
"Mich is such an arse!" Sage growled in response.
"Hey... when we come back with a couple of Grayatha and he comes back empty handed he will look the fool not you." Alanna told her sister as she looped her sword belt so that her sword was on her back. Sage and Susan copied her; it wasn't safe to leave the keep without some form of weapon. They would be hunting in their hybrid forms as they would need hands to climb the cliff face that the animals called home. Their clothes vanished and the cracks of bones filled the area, some of the warriors going on the hunt watched in fascination, they didn't get to witness complete changes very often, they saw eyes change colour, the hint of teeth but nothing more until after the shift.
Alanna stretched and yawned once her shift was over, her long red tongue curling, the wolf was forward in her mind, ready and eager to hunt. She was a magnificent creature, perfectly formed even though she was caught somewhere between human and animal with lean muscles, her coat was grey with black highlights and slightly shaggy. A gold band of metal hugged her neck and was easily seen through her coat, a black and white feather rested against her left shoulder and could be traced back to her own scalp, that feather would always be a distinguishing feature.
The square of fur had been dropped during the transformations, she reached down and picked it up, holding it to her nose so that she could hunt her quarry and lead her pack sisters to food for the den and food for the cub inside her. After several deep breaths she dropped the fur and howled calling the start to the hunt. Susan roared in response and Sage snarled; the only time she had a voice was when she was in her hybrid form so she was going to make use of it today.
They moved as a group and started down the cliff face using their claws to find cracks until they came to a ledge almost fifty feet down from where they had started. Alanna sniffed, using her far superior olfactory senses to almost taste the air. The scents on the ledge were Grayatha but were weeks old.
Old scents. Alanna told the others.
Sometimes they move further down during this time of year, Mather won't like us being so close to his forests, whatever we do we cannot leave the cliff face or we risk his people. Sage added.
Who is Mather? Susan asked as she hadn't met him before.
A Santaur, cross between a man and a deer. Alanna explained as she started to move further down.
Ooo, I want to meet one. Susan replied as she followed Alanna further down.
And I am sure he wants to meet you, Sage replied slightly amused.
Less talking please... Alanna requested as she focused on her path, one wrong hand or foot hold and she would be sliding down the cliff and she didn't want to deal with gravel rash as that stung. After another forty feet descent Alanna came to a new ledge, she sniffed deeply and the scent she wanted she found, and not just one but a few and not weeks or days old but a mere hour. Found some!
There is a narrow ledge just above you and to your right, I'll climb up and ambush from above. Sage said as she began her climb. Susan and Alanna waited until Sage was at her ledge and it didn't take long, as a snow leopard was a climber which made Sage a natural.
Once Sage was in position they advanced slowly, the ledges were narrow and not good for fighting on.
Remember try not to damage the fur or the tail, it is a trophy to the hunter. Sage reminded.
So breaking necks is best. Susan surmised.
Sounds like it. Alanna agreed as she moved around an outcrop and came to a much larger ledge, she advanced carefully and glanced looking for a cave or opening that would indicate a den. She lowered her head to sniff at the ground and saw a flash of movement just as a large body launched its self at her; two more shapes followed the first.
Alanna felt the impact of the firmly built body and went down as it had taken out her legs. She growled as she felt three Grayatha jump on her. She didn't see Sage come to her aide only to be attacked by several more and even more went after Susan. Alanna felt claws dig into her flesh, she flung one of them off just before it bit her, it thudded into the cliff face with a sickening crunch and didn't get back up. Pushing herself up she managed to shake off one and grabbed the other by the neck and tore it from her back. The one she had shaken off was back and sank its sharp incisors into her thigh. Alanna snarled and slammed her fist down on its head stunning it then quickly she snapped the neck of the one she was holding then tossed it to join the other she had killed.
The one she had stunned was still attached to her thigh; she worked its jaws and teeth free of her leg and jerked its head firmly snapping the neck. She panted thinking the fight was over and turned her attention to the others, Susan and Sage were dispatching their last foes, she was disappointed that the other two looked to be on track to take out four each while she had only taken out three.
The movement behind her went unseen as Sage and Susan finished off the last two. Susan glanced up just in time to see a massive Grayatha launch its self onto Alanna's back, its teeth sinking deeply into Alanna's shoulder and chest. Alanna yelped and went to claw the beast off her; only at the last moment did she remember that the trophy was important. The weight of the animal drove Alanna to the ground as its claws raked down her back.
Do we help her? Susan asked.
No... she won't get to claim the trophy if we do, check the den for any more. Sage said as she watched her sister.
Alanna pushed herself up again and turned her body slamming the animal on her back into the ground. It squeaked and released its bite. That was what Alanna had hoped it would do, keeping it pinned she shifted her body to keep it from biting again and reached around, her hand grabbed the muzzle and rolled off it, she got back to her feet before it managed to shake free of her grip. It launched its self at her again, its jaws snapping, wanting to sink into flesh. Alanna watched as everything seemed to go in slow motion; her hands reached out and managed to catch the muzzle and the lower jaw at the same time, twisting the head away as the body slammed into her. This time she was expecting it and had braced herself even though she was prepared, the impact slid her back a foot. Once the Grayatha's forward motion had stopped she wrapped her left leg around it to hold its body still and wrenched its head sharply to the right, the sickening crunch of the neck breaking seemed almost like a thunder clap but that sound had time returning to normal. She released the body and stumbled away a little to get her bearings.
Sage gave her a round of applause as she approached to see the monster Alanna had taken out, Wow... I never knew they got so big, definitely the dominant male. He must have thought you were the bigger threat to the nest than the rest of us.
Susan returned from checking out the den, there are six more adults bunkered down in the den, as well as about a dozen young. They aren't coming out; I think we should leave them. She told them and they all started to shift back into their human forms so that Susan could evaluate the damage, they made loincloths and breast bands appear on their bodies as they knew Santaurs would be nearby. Susan glanced at Sage but Sage's wounds were nothing more than scratches. Only Alanna had been group attacked and since the Grayathas methods were new to them it had shocked them all.
"Tarval's never going to let me hunt again," Alanna said as she sat on a rock and studied part of the wound on her thigh.
Susan chuckled, "Come on remember when Keira came home with an antler tine embedded in her chest because she misjudged her leap. That was near her stomach and sent Ghan mental; thigh and shoulder are much better places to be hurt when pregnant." Susan studied the chest wound first but the bleeding had stopped and was already knitting its self together as she turned her attention to Alanna's thigh.