Category Archives: Eroticism

O Beauty, thou art Relentless

[a sensuous meditation from ~burning woman~ ]

I drop my hands slowly to my bare thighs and gently pass them over my skin. I realize, mind fully engaged, that both, my hands’ skin and my thighs’ skin is my skin. The pleasure that arises from the touch is my pleasure, not someone else’s hand-me-down. Mine. I pleasure myself thus, as my hands, of my own free will, continue to feel me, down to my knees, then around the back, over my round buttocks, up and around my slim waist, up more, to my armpits, hairless and lightly tanned. I continue to explore this marvel of my body, moving to my throat, down, extending my fingertips lightly between my breasts, then outwardly, cupping, then gently rubbing my nipples to make them stand out, throb, hunger for a baby’s lips, adding to the effect of this beauty that is all mine.

I am not done exploring. My hands, of their own volition, move down, caressing, caressing, so gently, my fingers eagerly exploring between my legs which, as I stand on wet grass, spread out. I feel my heat there, my desire for that ‘more’ that drives ‘normal’ people to seek out another to complete the cycle.

But for me, the transgender, the androgynous, there is no need of another: I complete myself and with a loud moan of utter satisfaction, let myself fall to my knees in the grass, bending back to stare into an intense blue sky, my auburn, waist-length hair spread out under the back of my head, a living pillow of lavender scent. Up there stars without number play hide and seek and as they have all my life, invite me out to them to let them taste me.

An image of a nature creature appears in my mind, rolling over towards my knees spread in subconscious invitation. It murmurs, ‘Earth girl… earth girl… O Beauty, thou art, relentless.’ I lock the feeling in a smile so it can never be taken from me.

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Intercourse and Aftermath

[a short story by ~burning woman~ ]

Intercourse, he said. He said it in such a way as to make the whole process quite disgusting. It wasn’t what he said caught my young girl’s attention, it was simply the fact that he, was a he. Men don’t downplay intercourse, simply not done. It’s the highlight of a date, a casual encounter, even of a late evening with “the wife” after watching a steamy movie.

Intercourse, if you think about it, is tolerable only to those who are so madly in love they are actually mad. It’s hot and sweaty; messy; painful even, certainly makes anyone who is anyone, vulnerable to another and who needs that? It’s chock full of expectations and more often than not, it’s a damn trap. She gets pregnant and then the guilt trip starts until a few months later you’re getting married, hitched, hooked and that’s it: your life’s essentially over.

That’s how he described it to me. We’d gone off in his car and we were parked on the top of Knobhill. I know, every mid western town has a knob hill and so did ours. Who was he? He was the guy, you know. He was Pete. Peter Nelson. Basketball, football, baseball, top marks in chemistry, and he owned his own car. Some of us would have publicly confessed to using hair extensions just for a chance at a date with Mr. Everything.

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to make him out to be this guy who can get any girl he wants just because he’s a hunk. He is a hunk, but there’s more to him than that. There’s a side to him I could boast of being the only girl at Simpson High who knows about. He’s intellectual. He likes to discuss issues, ideas, concepts. Even on a date when there’s only him and me, or whomever the lucky girl is. He likes to sample us. We don’t mind because we know that sooner or later his wheel will stop and land on one of us. Just let it be me, that’s all.

I wanted to stop him and give my two bits’ worth about intercourse but I thought my experiences, that being a grand total of none, simply would never match up to his. It seemed to me that the only way to convince him that intercourse wasn’t such a bad deal was to offer it to him. Make myself his guinea pig. I had some attributes too, it wasn’t like a was a charity case. I had my own list of social successes to look upon. Honour roll four months in a row. Chosen snow queen. Had played Juliet in the Player’s Guild Easter presentation and received a standing ovation. My dad had his own jewelry store and my mother was choir director at St. Jude’s Presbyterian. In short, we were ‘somebody’ and that had to mean something.

So here we are. It’s dark and the stars are sparkling and twinkling in a late Spring night. We’re kind of sprawled out on the front seat of his two-door, two-tone hard top 56 Meteor. The windows are partially rolled down to prevent fogging and so we can smell the freshness of Spring seducing Lewisburg. Below Knobhill on the east side are remains of a marsh and the frogs are in the midst of a very serious symphony down there.

Pete’s got the radio on and the local station is playing late night favourites for lovers. Elvis, “You saw me crying in the chapel” is playing as I reach up to Pete’s mouth and place mine on it. It feels really nice and I’m a bit surprised at being so forward. What’s with you, I think of myself. Well, I can’t help it. That wheel of fortune has to stop sometimes, and on someone’s number, may as well be mine.

He gets more interested in me, less in his deep philosophical ponderings. This is good for me. I offer more and more and his body seems to want to take more and more of what’s being offered. I take his shirt off and start caressing his back at first, then I move my hands to his chest and push my fingers through his chest hairs. It makes me tingle all over. I kiss him more ardently and to my surprise, he responds equally ardently. I’m actually in the process of seducing Peter Nelson, me, Anne Foley.

He fumbles around a bit and manages to unbutton my blouse and pull it off me. Now my heart is beating really fast. Next, he finds my skirt’s zipper and undoes it. I feel something new and strange happening to me. I let him pull my skirt off then reach for his belt. I undo him, then unzip his fly. My turn to push his pants off. As I slide down to undo his runners he unsnaps my bra and slowly pulls it off and lays it on the dash. I have his shoes and pants off. There we are, me in my panties, him in his briefs. Who goes next? I wait while he runs his hands and arms all over me, then fondles my breasts. By then I’m a goner. I impulsively pull down his briefs and grab his erection. I don’t know what to do with it, I just want the feeling of holding it.

And what a feeling it is! It’s totally nuts. I hear music. I hear thunder. It’s my heart sending waves of blood thundering in my ears. I have tears in my eyes when he lowers his face to my left breast and begins to suckle. I hold his head in my arms and the world turns. He slips my panties off me and I push and squirm until I’m lying on the seat and he’s on top of me. The world turns again… and again… and again and in my head I hear a voice that sounds like mine saying ‘I want you, want you, so want you, forever.’

Peter and I have been married for thirty years. Today is our anniversary. It hasn’t all been romance and flower bouquets. Our roses had thorns. Our first child, our little Rose who was engendered that wonderful night on Knob hill in Lewisburg died of crib death at three years old. Our second, our son John made some bad choices. Fancying himself a drug king, he had a brief career as a rich drug dealer and is currently doing life for murder. His Panamanian wife with her two children has returned to her homeland and we never see our grandchildren. Our youngest is now our family. A successful lawyer married to a girl I absolutely adore and they have one daughter who is allowed to spend so much time with Peter and I that sometimes I confuse her with my own first born and I call her Rose.

Ours isn’t meant to be a sad story because it is rather a common one. But I can assure you that after that first night Peter and I discovered each other and made love happen, he never again downplayed the pleasure of intercourse. After I teased him about his youthful philosophy he would say, “I found out what showers are for and let’s never stop taking them together.”

 

Mr. Valentor

 [a short story by   ~burning woman~  ]

Ada Muir has just finished with the bathroom and exits into the hall leading into the kitchen when there is a knock at the door of her small, clean suburban bungalow.

She thinks, ‘What the…at eight AM?’

She looks through the peep hole and sees a man with what appears to be a roll of papers under his arm. She opens the inner door a wedge, “Yes?”

“Ah, good morning ma’am. My name is Valentor. My company has just expanded its readership into this area and I represent the Venus Monthly, a magazine with a varied theme, but dealing mostly with stories emanating from this system. If you could give me a few minutes of your time, I could introduce you to our feature article of the month.”

“I’m sorry, but do I look like I was born last night?” She replies a bit huffed. “I don’t have time for this nonsense.”

“Oh, ma’am, time need not become an issue. If you don’t have any of yours, I’m entitled to let you use some of mine, within reason. Shall we say, a half hour of my time for free and you take out a one year subscription to Venus Monthly.”

Ada Muir, as it happens, is a part-time reporter for the Rosedale Herald and she realizes this cockamamie story could have potential. Plus she is totally taken by his rich, deep, bass voice. She unlatches the inner door.

“C’mon in, Mr. Valentor.”

He walks in. She sees that he is very tall, possibly the tallest man she’s ever met. Well dressed and under the sharp suit, she senses a body of perfect proportions. The face is chiseled but not harsh. She is particularly attracted to his lips and his ears… she gets a sudden urge to kiss him and chew on his earlobes.

‘What’s the matter with me!’ she remonstrates to herself as she smiles at her visitor.

“Nothing is the matter with you, Ada,” says Valentor. “I have that effect on most earth women. It’s called “sex appeal” and one of the reasons I’ve been given charge of this sector. It’s enjoyable for me. I hope it will prove as enjoyable for you.”

“You know my name; read my thoughts?”

“Yes, of course. Why? Should I not? Is this a breach of protocol?”

“I can’t read yours so it isn’t really fair, is it.”

“I don’t understand ‘fair’ in thought exchanges. Whether I read your thoughts or not doesn’t stop you from having them.”

“What if I thought something, well, too personal, or critical of your appearance, and such like?”

“What of it? It makes no difference. They’re still your thoughts. Have them.”

“What if they hurt your feelings in some ways?”

“That is of no concern of yours, they’re my feelings, not yours. What I do with my feelings is my business. Speaking of business, can I show you this month’s copy of our magazine? Cover page here, that’s the Crab Nebula, awesome isn’t it?”

“Are we on your time now?”

“Yes.”

“When you leave it’ll still be eight o’clock my time?”

“Yes, of course. That was the understanding.”

Ada shakes her head. “Oh my, so sorry but in all this I forgot to offer you something to drink, to eat? Do you drink coffee, Mr. Valentor?”

“Yes, I have developed a taste for coffee. It is pleasant. I will have a coffee.”

She deftly slips a pod in the machine, slides a cup under the spout and flips down the actuator, pressing ‘medium’ to be safe.

“Cream and sugar?”

“Sugar only please. Two lumps.”

“They taught you to say that, didn’t they, your trainers before you came here? I knew it, I just knew it!” She half laughs, half smiles. She smells a story; she’s on track.

“I don’t understand. If you knew it, why did you ask?”

“It’s a different kind of knowing. Never mind. Have you ever tried your coffee black only, or with cream, or cream and sugar?”

“Those choices were not included in my training manual. I was not made aware of their availability.”

“Are you an AI Mr. Valentor? Artificial Intelligence? A robot? Are you human?”

“All of the above, of course, but I am also Pleiadian, primarily from source.”

“You mean from the actual Pleiades star system? Now you’re pulling my leg.”

“I would never do such a thing! Such a pointless and cruel thing to do to anyone; particularly to someone as pretty as yourself. What made you think I would pull your leg off? Why? You have such crude notions of relationships here.”

“I didn’t mean that literally! It’s just what we say when we think someone’s lying to us.”

“Why not just say, ‘You’re lying to me?'”

“Never mind. Here’s your coffee. Tell me if it is to your taste.”

“How could it not be? I don’t understand how it could be to someone else’s taste when I’m the one ingesting it.”

“Forget it!”

“That is an order I cannot comply with. I am designed to remember everything.”

Ada puts her head in her hands, “Oh, God! This conversation is becoming anal!”

“I am not God and you have no need to pray to me. Do not be worried, you will get your magazine, I assure you, and on time each month. To clarify, we were not having an anal conversation, we were definitely using our mouths.”

“Arrrgh!”

“Would you like a glass of warm water to help clear your throat impediment?”

“I don’t have a… Look, if we’re going to get along, will-you-please-not-comment-on-everything-I-say?”

“That seems quite impol…”

“Shut up! Just shut up, Mr. Valentor.”

Ada knows that she is now quite flushed and before she even realizes what she is doing, she stands up abruptly. Facing her alien salesman, looking down at his gorgeous face she drops her robe. Valentor looks up at the nude twenty three years, eight months, three days and thirteen hours of age Earthian female and thinks, ‘this I understand.’ He stands also, makes his clothing vanish and lets Ada get a full frontal view of his anatomy, waits while she tries to gather her thoughts, knowing what would come next.

Ada impulsively throws herself into the man’s embrace and hugs him to feel all of him. She then backs away, takes his hand and leads him to her bed.

It is a good thing the neighbours had already gone to work and their kids to school. If they had heard Ada’s cries they would have been certain someone was killing her and likely have called 911. The aftermath of an armed RCMP intervention would definitely have made a colourful story, though probably not one Ada would have cared to read about, much less watch on the evening local TV news.

There’s a lesson for us ladies here. Watch out for those tall, dark and irresistibly handsome time-traveling Pleiadian magazine salesmen. They’re a lot more than they at first appear. Just sayin’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I – The Calling

(Continuing with the saga in which many thoughts are expressed and many things are learned. This is chapter 16. There are 25 chapters in Part I and 25 more following in Part II. I’m writing this because some of you may want to know how much longer you have to suffer through this, others how much more to expect of a journey and adventure through the unlikely possible, or should I say, the possible unlikely.)

Chapter 16
Return to the Cottage – Introducing Genti

Nothing much had changed at the cottage when the travellers returned after their days on the trail. The barn was partially re-thatched but the rest of the long roof would have to wait another season for grass to be harvested for the thatching. Sheep wandered about or slept in the lower field. Pigs squealed and grunted in their pens. Chicken and geese wandering everywhere presented more of a cacophony. Apart from the noise of the animals reinforcing the fact that things had more or less returned to some normalcy, more logs and branches had been dragged in and stacked in ingenious ways to shed rain and provide dry firewood.

They saw men, women and children about, intent on their various duties or their games.

“Why aren’t they acknowledging our approach?” Asked Deanna.

“I’ve cloaked us in a semi invisible veil. I want to test how close the three of us can get to them before they notice us. Advance silently and quietly.”

They were almost among the people and still no one noticed, not even the dogs. A young boy lobbed a rough-sewn pig skin ball and Lo reached for it and held it in the air. The children stopped running and stared at their ball stationary in the air. One girl screamed and the adults turned to see what was the matter. Lo dropped the ball and gradually made the three of them visible.

Children, women, men, all stared at the three travellers mouth agape. Lo addressed them and explained.

“As you probably already suspected, and talked about among yourselves, we are more than we at first appeared. I used this little trick to prove the point, beyond our fighting abilities and speed which you have observed and wondered about. All three of us are in fact wizards or sorcerers as you will. We are of those who fight for what is right, good and just whereas there be some of us who work on the opposite side of it. Now let me reintroduce ourselves to all of you if you would call out anyone near enough to join.”

They waited while the people of the cottage were assembled to hear what Lo had to say. He could tell they were eager for this revelation, very eager, but perhaps not as much as the priest in Glowmere would be if ever appraised of this. Would there still be a wedding or would that change to a public execution by burning?

The people being assembled and Ian MacGruder having nodded his assent, Lo explained.

“Some of you remember the old tales about certain wizards called the Alas, do you not?”

There were nods and “Aye, there be stories still told of such!” from some of the older people.

“Two of us here are of these. I am the ancient Alay Lotharic, hence my nickname, Lo. This woman is the ancient Alaya called Nah’La and is my bound and eternal wife, as I am her bound and eternal husband. Together now after a very long time apart, we seek out two evil wizards we have dubbed  the Betrayers that we may destroy them before they do more damage here, or cause more wars and plagues.

“This third member of our group, this young woman, calls herself Deanna. She is of the Elven race and possesses powers similar to ours and some that are quite, how shall I say it, unique. She met with us and joined us when we went down to that fortified village that is called Torglynn. She has voluntarily chosen to join our quest and to fight for the defeat of the Betrayers.

“That is basically the long and short of it. We intend, if it pleases you, to stay with you for a few more days during which we will discuss our strategy and learn more about each other and our combined powers. There is another powerful member of this group but he prefers to remain anonymous and unseen. You will however hear him howling in the night when he turns himself into a werewolf. I say this because should any of you encounter him you need have no fear and he will be able to speak to you. As long as he is nearby, allowed to roam freely and no attempt made to molest him, you and your animals are fully protected from either man or beast.

“If for reasons of your own you wish to meet with this person, Deanna will lead you to him. Be aware that if your intent is treacherous, all of us including the werewolf can read your thoughts. If the wolf senses betrayal he will kill instantly, without qualms or remorse. The same is true of the woman, Deanna, for she and the Wolf have a bond that only the Elven people and the Wolf Clans can understand.

“I leave you to think upon these revelations. Realize that I have just taken you back into your old memories, traditions and ways. Remember what you once were before you were enslaved by these new ways, by the new Roman God and his violent religion of conquest and enslavement. Remember and perhaps you may regain some of the pride in what you once were.

“If you wish, you may appraise your village priest of our presence. If he is wise, he’ll do nothing about it. If he is as ignorant as most are, and I suspect he is, he will seek to do us great harm in which case the harm will go to him and those who side with him and try to harm us. If our lives are threatened, know that we will fight and kill those who attack us, however many there be. Would you mind giving a little demonstration, Deanna?”

The young woman looked over the rag-tag group with her flashing green eyes, tossed her hair back, raised her arm and pointed at a large stone near a line of trees that defined the edge of the common yard. The stone measures in the neighbourhood of eight feet in diameter, and partially rose from the ground to the  height of a man. She opened her hand palm out. Two heartbeats and the stone violently shattered, it’s debris scattered over an area of several hundred feet, leaving a hole waist deep to a man in the ground.

A collective gasp escaped from many open mouths accompanied by silence. Looks of confusion, of fear and of certain admiration if not actual worship were turned to the three wizards. It was Nal who broke the spell.

“All right, all right! Look folks, I’m still Beanna here. I’m your friend, not a stranger. These things that have come to pass, I knew nothing of them when I lived with you some months past. I thought myself an ordinary lass then and except for my skin tone, my dark almond eyes, black hair and small size compared to you, I would have been the same as you. That hasn’t changed. My powers are not meant for any of you, though I do have a new ability to heal, as does Deanna. This we will do while we are with you. Bring us your sick, your lame, those who have chronic pain and I will heal them, I mean we will heal them. Now, we be starving after so long on the trail, is there food available?”

There was cheering at that. MacGruder came over to Nal and grabbing her, hugged her in his powerful embrace. After releasing her he said,

“Aye lassie, ye and yo’re companions air welcome among us. No one will tell the priest anything I swear, we hold our secrets well in these parts, o’ necessity. Ye were not braggin’ about the healin’ then? ‘Tis true you can do this?”

“Aye sir, we can, and we will.”

“Please call me Ian. An’ I forgive ye fer the meddlin’ in my affairs afore ye left. What ye said needed sayin’. There be new weapons being forged from those we took from our attackers an’ I understand the need for ‘em. I thank ye, lass.”

Nal could not reply. She was choking and tears gushed from her eyes. Apart from her mother, Lo and Deanna, she had known so little kindness or respect through her short years that any amount overwhelmed her. MacGruder noticed and added,

“Ye be a fine girl, Beanna. If ye be half as much a wizard as ye are a good woman, this world owes ye a great debt o’ gratitude already and will owe ye much more. Come, let’s find ye some food.”

He took her small hand in his huge one and led her into the dining area where many had already gathered and were standing and sitting, or busy serving. Lo was on a long bench with several men discussing who knows what and Deanna was engaged in what certainly seemed to be a very serious talk with two tall strangers. A tall young blonde woman was sitting quietly and primly next to the lady of the house. The food came her way and she decided her hunger took priority. She waited for a perfunctory grace to be said then fell to.

The meal was boisterous as such things go but most of the conversation was of the common sort. People’s health, the animals, the weather and in that respect much about the powerful storm that had passed so violently and quickly to the south, bringing lighting and thunder, a thing seldom seen in winter. Several looks were cast at the travellers at the mention of the storm but these said nothing more than acquiesce to the general consensus, that it was unusual.

When the meal was over, Ian MacGruder asked the travellers to join him in a separate and private part of the house.

“First then, I wish to acquaint ye with me own daughter just returned to us from the north where she attended a special kind o’ training place for some chosen young women o’ the clans.”

The tall, slim and quite blonde young woman entered the room accompanied by her mother, Jen and solemnly bowed to Lo and Nal but said nothing, just straightening up and standing as still as if she’d been a guardsman on parade duty.

“This here is Genti, our daughter of whom we are beyond proud. She has been training in secret to become a priestess against the edicts of the Church. Despite the dangers, she chose to enter into this vocation, stating that she did not want to see our old ways die while she could do something about it. Genti is a strong and very disciplined woman who has twice refused a very good match in order to pursue her vocation. I’ll not say more but leave the rest of her story for her and her mother to tell.

“Now I wish to discuss the matter of the healin’ ye said ye could perform on our people and that ye would. We be in serious need of this gift. Is there some particular procedure ye need done for this?”

Nal answered, “No Ian, just take us where we are needed and we will do what we do. I will go with someone you choose. Deanna, will you go along with someone else that we may double up on our efforts for our time may be short?”

“Certainly I will do that. Someone lead me on.”

It was Genti who spoke, in a low but penetrating voice,

“If I may an’ it please ye, I would accompany ye to t’ sick, m’lady.” She said to Deanna.

Though the words spoke of a deep humility they could not hide the power and authority in them.

That is the “healing time” that would be talked about for long years thereafter when a greater, more eventful thing took place at the MacGruders and surroundings of the cottage than had been the cowardly attack that had killed three of their people. The story would also speak of how a daughter of the clans became a great healer in that time.

Sick, lame, those hurt or maimed in accidents, all were cured, including one young man of eighteen summers who had never been quite right in his head and a blind child of three summers who received her sight.

We often speak of how joyful people are when they are delivered from an enemy, when a war is won and the fighters return home in victory. But nothing can surpass the joy of those who receive their people cured from terrible diseases for which they thought there would never be a cure.

Imagine the joy of that mother of the three year old blind child, to realize her child could see after the Glowmere village priest had accused her and her child of having sin in their lives and pronounced the child’s blindness as a just punishment from God.

Imagine if you can the relief also from the many who were dirt poor, when they discovered that the wizards would take no payment, either in gold or in kind, for their healing services. Yes, it was a time of great rejoicing at the cottage that led to three days of feasting, music and dancing.

When the celebrations began and it looked as if they would go on for some time, Deanna confessed to Nal that she longed to join up with Wolf whose lonely calls she had been faithfully following.

“I need to go to him and run with him. I want to find out what he has learned and done about his own powers and how he can help us since he insists on coming along with us. Of course, he would never leave me.”

“Go then Deanna. You’ve done a great service to all now and it’s time for you to enjoy your own life. Talk to me when you are ready to rejoin us. Now listen, you can’t just shuck your clothes here for me to look after and walk away. You’ll need to find a dry place to hide them and you’ll need to wear them when you return. You will remember the human taboos on nakedness, will you not?”

“I will try. It’s silly but it is their law. Warn me when the festivities are coming to an end and I will return.”

Hidden from any prying eye, Nal and Deanna hugged each other and kissed passionately, chests heaving with desire for each other.

“Go, go before we do more. I know you cannot regret but I might and I don’t want to. I love you and you know that. All of us are caught in our own love triangles with you as the fulcrum and it is a terrible burden but I feel it has its purpose and that will be revealed to us soon. Go, find your mate and play. I return to Lo and the things of men and women and wizards while you deal with those of wolves and elves and wizards. Ah, what a motley bunch we are.”

Reluctantly she turned and walked away, back towards the cottage. When she turned, Deanna had disappeared. She scanned the sloping land and saw the large black werewolf and his huge light grey mate running across an open area then plunging into the woods. Then came the distinct calls as both went about performing their territory claiming rituals. Nal felt her heart grow heavy and began to doubt that Deanna would ever return to her as a human being, if at all.

‘I am being a foolish girl, letting love confuse my thoughts. I must be to the things that now concern us most, to the great confrontation that awaits us.

‘O, Lo, I fear for us. Perhaps it’s because of what happened to me before that I harbour this fear, but it is in me. The fear of unavoidable pain and of death. I feel it coming, Lo.’

Did he hear her thoughts? Did he sense her loneliness and emptiness? There was no response from him as she walked slowly and deliberately back to the feast. She heard the music, then the laughter. Night once again began to claim his rightful share of time and Nal stopped to watch as the huge fire lit as a welcome beacon threw its baleful glare up the walls of the great stone building, drawing portentous shapes upon them.

‘Fire’ she thought. ‘Fire, I have seen so many fires already, too many and their colour drains me of life.’

 

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I The Calling

[I know, it’s been days since I posted a section from the fantasy novel. They’ll come a bit faster now as the novel at approximately 300pp, is essentially finished. I’ve got enough material swirling around in my mind for at least an entire sequel but for now, it’s going to be “the big edit” for a day or so.  I still need to design a cover, then learn how to publish on “Smash Words” I think it’s called. Meanwhile, enjoy. If you’ve lost the thread,  previous sections are here on the blog. Enjoy! Feel free to comment, ask questions, point out discrepancies, whatever!]


Start section 15 (fifteen)

They played with each other for a while then remembering their quest, went galloping down the trail in search of Lo’s scent. The trail was wet and very slippery and in places cut through with rivulets created by the mega storm that would now be but a memory if not for the many broken branches and dislodged stones that lay across the trail. They hardly paid that any mind, intent on their quarry and the pleasant sense of their togetherness and the thrill of the night hunt.

After a two hour run which to them was nothing but a short romp they smelled Lo. Crouching, moving forward silently, they inched up on his hiding place and shelter. They listened and sniffed. He breathed normally and the accompanying packs indicated that his journey had been a success. The wolves backed away and silently retraced some of their steps up the trail until they saw a shooting star across the skies. Normally the wolf wanted a moon to howl at but it was the she-wolf who stopped and began to howl, then yap, then howl again. This was her first night and she was laying claim to her hunting territory and pity any other hunter who disregarded her warning. Wolf gave his own guttural howl as an additional warning. At those sounds all night noises fell silent except the cascading tumbles of storm-fed streams.

They touched noses and leaving the trail plunged eagerly into the broken countryside, simply to enjoy their freedom and the wilderness that was theirs this night. At critical points in their apparent rambling, both Wolf and his mate left scented signals of their passage. ‘You may pass through here but you may not hunt without our permission’ is what it meant. Their signalling would be strictly obeyed and they knew it. It was the law.

Some time later a hare shrieked, then another. Sated then, the wolves continued to explore their territory, once in a while bumping playfully into one another then chasing each other over rocks, streams and fallen trees. They breathed deeply of the night air full of animal joy until the time came to return to the cave and each transform back to their previous state.

Nal was already up and standing outside the cave when she saw the two wolves emerge from the shrubbery. She saw the monster black werewolf with a mane that made him look twice the size he normally was and the sleek light-grey she-wolf trotting lightly beside him, playfully nibbling at his ear. Some moments later Deanna rose from behind a boulder, stunning in her human nakedness and fullness of life while the grey wolf, turning his head but once trotted away to disappear behind a talus.

“Good morning, Nal! How are you today?”

Nal noticed a strange animal scent on Deanna, and her hair spread wild and disarrayed but nevertheless extremely attractive, giving her an animal sensuousness. She reached for the tall girl and encircled her waist, then stood on tiptoe, raised her face to hers and kissed her to share in her wildness. She knew this was a rare moment and such would end much too soon. Plus she missed Lo and was now confused by her feelings, something she had not been a couple of days before. Deanna took her in her own arms and lifting her off the ground, held her up to kiss her also. There was no fear, no shame, nothing to indicate that any of this was in the very least unusual.

‘Go with it, flow with it’ thought Nal. That made it all right and she knew that Deanna or whomever this creature now was, would never again experience any of the deep human sensations of love, shame, sorrow or regret. For the woman she-wolf Elven sorceress was now but imitating human likeness and human feelings; they did not belong to her any longer.

“Would you care to get dressed, Deanna?”

“Dressed? Oh no, thank you. Much too constricting. I’ll wait until Lo arrives, he’s on his way but has quite a load to carry and mostly uphill. Or we could head down and meet him halfway or so and help?”

“Yes, I’d like that. I can’t think straight now anyway and I wouldn’t know what to do. I know I should go hunting but we’ll probably sight something along the trail. I’ll pin something then.”

She stuffed and tightened her pack and weapons and carefully placing them down through the entrance, she slipped through, loaded up, and joined Deanna.

“You’re going to go down naked?”

Deanna had appeared pensive and far away in her mind. “Am I? Oh, yes I will. It’s so much more comfortable this way. Does it matter?”

“Yes, no, I mean fine. I don’t mind. What were you thinking of?”

“It’s selfish. I was following Wolf and thinking about tonight. I’m rather between worlds, Nal and today will be a difficult day for me to focus on anything. I’ll get better at it, I promise. Just give me a few days to adapt. From this vantage, it’s a big revelation I’ve just received and a big step I have taken.”

“That has to be the understatement of the age, girl. From being a normal daughter of a servant woman in a fortified village about to be given in marriage to some lout and no say in it, then captured, raped, tortured and left for dead, to becoming a human Alaya, then discovering she’s after all an alien from a different world, an Elven woman, then deciding to become a shape-shifter to become a she-wolf to roam the wilderness at night with a werewolf of her own creation basically? Hm. ‘Nothing to see here?’ I think there might be. While we’re walking and talking, I need to know, how did you manage to ‘see’ our Betrayers in that far south country?”

“Actually that was very easy. Once I decided that the storm was artificially driven, I focused my projection energies unto its far edge to locate those energies that drove it. I followed those to their source and there were your two very bad people. By the way, did you know they are very ugly? In my opinion anyhow. I watched them so to speak and I could see the sparks of energy that fed the stream that grew and pushed the storm. They were working intensely at that.

“I don’t know anything really about the Alay but I’d say their powers have dwindled, not expanded. What they’ve lost of their natural energy heritage they’ve replace with various aspects of hate, using fear and torture to get information, adherents or sycophants and to drive armies to their death. I didn’t observe them long, I didn’t know at what point they’d notice my energy floating near so I withdrew once I had the information you needed. Plus I’m sorry but I had other things on my mind by then.

Mockingly “Trying to cheer me up again, Deanna?”

Seriously, not catching the drift, “No, I was stating facts. You wanted facts, I gave you facts.”

“I guess my friend and lover Donna is truly lost to me, and also to Lo now, hey?”

“I’m sure I don’t follow. I’m here aren’t I and we are going to meet with Lo and help him with his load? Is it because I’m naked as a human, without my fur that you…”

“Oh, forget it. I’ll find some non-emotional method to communicate with you, she-wolf.”

“I like being called that. Thank you.”

Nal snorted, partly in frustration, partly in disgust and partly in sorrow at the emotional loss of an intimate companion who now chose a wolf to wander with. ‘I guess that’s what comes of mixing worlds. None of us non-Earth aliens should be here; none should have ever been able, or allowed, to come here. We just don’t belong and no matter what choices we make, either nothing will come of it or if something does, it will always go wrong!’

It was in a very down mood that Nal and Deanna encountered Lo. The sight of the naked Deanna, whom he still knew only as Donna, quite surprised Lo.

He looked at the young woman standing in front of him and asked, “Is there something I should know, or someone might wish to tell me?”

Before Nal could make a reply, Deanna said, “What would you like to know, Lo?”

“What’s going on? Why are you naked? Aren’t you cold?”

“Three questions. Many things are going on, as always. I am undressed because I am in my human form and I did not like the tight clothes I had to wear and I can’t be in fur when in human form. I am not cold.”

“Nal, explanation?”

“Oh, Lo. So much has happened in the three days you were gone, I don’t know where to begin. Donna is not Donna. Her name is Deana at the moment, but she is now a shape-shifter and she spends time as a she-wolf roaming the wilderness with another wolf whom she transforms into a werewolf. She accidentally discovered that she is not human either, but a cross over from the Elven worlds and at least her father is an Elf. When we shared Alaya energies, her own Elven nature awakened very abruptly and she developed powers I have never seen.

“Her mind is quite different today, caught up in the wolf world but she thinks she will find a way to re-balance herself. As to clothing, she may, or may not wear any unless forced by circumstances as she is more wolf than human now. I’ll tell you more as we return to the cave, we should keep moving to get there before nightfall.”

Lo gave Deana the clothes and boots he had purchased for her along with her share of the load. He had thoughtfully bought her a trail pack similar to their own, a mid-sized but light sword with a wonderfully flexible blade and a good dagger that was already stuck in its sheath in the left boot – he’d noticed that she favoured her left hand. Deanna tried the boots first and liked them. She tried a shirt and jacket and found she could stretch in them. She was truly thrilled to discover that he’d gotten her a leather kilt rather than pants. How had he known she hated pants? The kilt had a large wide belt that held loops for staff or stick. The sword of course had its own sheath and a body harness to hold it on back or side, so as not to clash with a pack. She put the kilt on and did a lively dance, feeling the freedom it gave her legs.

“Oh, thank you Lo, I can wear these, I can.” She approached him and kissed him lightly. “I do love you, I do. I love all of us. I love this land, this world, everything! I’m in love! Crazy in love, Ah-oooh!” she yelled into the hills to hear them echo her call back to her. “It’s all so wonderful!”

She gave her wolf imitation again and there was a reply from above them. They saw the grey wolf looking down at them and both Nal and Deanna waved at him.

With Lo shaking his head in wonder they stepped lively back up the trail to the cave. The wolf was sitting down in his usual place waiting for them, far enough to be safe if the humans threatened him. With Deanna there however he didn’t feel threatened, just a bit jealous. But night was on the way. He nodded his big head and trotted off.

“So that is your friend, Deanna?”

“He’s my mate, Lo, not my friend. He’s Nal’s friend, she introduced us two days ago and we hit it off. He’s wonderful, so young and alive. Wait ‘til you see his werewolf shape, so big and powerful with eyes that literally glow in the dark. In his werewolf shape he will speak the inner language to you, but not the thought forms. There is no danger of being overheard and he doesn’t say much. We use a very simple and specific language.”

They eagerly set to sharing the new rations, and the story of the storm was told. Lo was filled with gratitude to Deanna for discovering the current whereabouts of the Betrayers as he and Nal called them. That name would stick. Bits and pieces of Deanna’s story came out during the meal and he thanked her also for making the water baskets when he drank from her new one. Then he said to her,

“Before you go off with your wolf mate, could you demonstrate for me your powers of projection? If possible, would you share them with us?”

“I will show you and of course I will share them with you if you are able to absorb them and use them. See?” She stretched her arm, opened her left hand as if she were pushing something and some distance away a pile of rubble exploded in all directions. The large old stump that had held the rubble was gone, vaporized.

“That Deanna is truly impressive. I exhausted and it’s getting dark. You will want to go off with your mate, and I certainly want to spend the night with mine. Tomorrow morning, when you return, can we try the transfer?”

“Yes certainly. Now let me shed my clothes here and I’m gone.”

Nal picked up the pile of clothes, the boots and the pack and while holding them began to cry again. Lo came over to her and held her.

“I think I understand. I feel heavy too, as if we’ve lost her, but it’s a part-time thing. She’ll be with us for a while yet, she will not back down from her promise to help us. But I love her and so do you and this is a heavy loss which of course she cannot feel nor even notice. I gather she no longer shares our feelings and emotions. But girl, we have each other do we not? More for us then!

He picked her up, carried her to the entrance, lifted her through the opening and followed. She placed Deanna’s belongings on one of the many rocks that lay around the cave, stirred the fire and joined Lo in their bed.

The earth turned for the two of them as it had done over millennia and for hundreds of millions of times. Satisfied finally they went into a deep sleep.

They were awakened in the early morning by the naked Deanna whistling as she threw an armful of dry wood into the cave, slipped in and stoked the fire. Nal and Lo got up reluctantly and after standing by the roaring fire for a time while holding each other with their eyes closed so as to feel each other more, finally got dressed along with Deanna.

“I’m sorry but in all the things happening to me, I forgot to give you my little bundle of laurel roots to take to the village. I can’t find them now. The storm must have washed them away.”

“It did not. I remembered and took it with me. Your old friend was very grateful and he says thank you and to make sure you do take good care of yourself. It’s fine, he promised not to tell anyone that you were alive and leaving. ‘Right good move that.’ he said. ‘She’s much too smart a girl to let her heart die in this place. I wish I could be with her, but I wish her well.’ he also said.

After the attempted transfer of energy, and time would tell how well that worked, as they stood and hugged by the fire they decided the cave had served its purpose and to leave that morning, heading the way they’d come back to the cottage. The packing was swift and efficient. Deanna did hers also in record time; they said goodbye, thanking the stones, the land, the waters and the air for according to Deanna it’s how the wolves did it, and they moved on quietly and swiftly with their augmented speed. Once in a while the grey wolf showed himself as if to assure the travellers that they were being watched over and protected. Deanna would raise her hand and wave a certain way and the wolf would nod his head and disappear.

One night and two days on the trail passed without any incidents and they arrived at the cottage late one afternoon as the sky was darkening with clouds again. Deanna had decided to remain human for the entire coming stay at the Cottage, or as she said, at least hoped she could contain herself that long, explaining to Wolf that she would not be shape-shifting and doing any hunting with him for some time. She also warned him to remain carefully hidden for there were wolf hunters and hounds here and she could not protect him.

‘Stay far enough away to be safe but give me the inner talk in my head at night, and let me hear you howl. Try not to be too lonely. Find some friends, play, hunt, enjoy. We will be together forever very soon. Our time here is coming to an end and I will be taking you home where you will be recognized, accepted and loved. Remember also about the ordeal I mentioned and that I will need your help and protection soon. Practice to be your werewolf self. Learn what powers you have and use them. I love you, always.’

The grey wolf did not understand ‘time’ or ‘always’ but it didn’t matter, he understood ‘love’ and that was enough. They touched noses and she held his big paw in her hand then let him go. He vanished, blending in with the low shrubbery.

End of section 15 (fifteen)

The Gyre Sniffer

a short story by Sha’Tara
(inspired, in part, by the article, “Gyres” by Bucky McMahon
View story at Medium.com

There are twelve of us aboard the “Gyre Sniffer” as we call our sloop. She isn’t pretty, but can take gale-force winds as if they be but a breeze. All her gear is top of the line. Our crew is the best of the best of the best as they so proudly say in the military.

Our job? Well, more of a lark, really, because we were all very well off and could spend money liberally, was to find the sea’s most horrific, deadly, large, stinky, poisonous floating garbage island. We had heard that it was guarded by a giant sea monster evolved from the materials it had found inside the floating plastic garbage.

We hadn’t had much results with satellite feeds or “Googling” our target and we didn’t care. Actually, we didn’t want to rely on advanced tech for this, we wanted it to be a sort of Moby Dick adventure. We were first of all, going to have as much fun as possible, even when we came face to face with the plastic sea monster and prepared to kill it.

It was Selina, the Portuguese girl, who was the first to throw her tablet and cell phone overboard. We remonstrated her about this, of course, but her reasoning was impeccable: they’re kin to what we’re searching for, follow them! We’d had a few drinks, the joints had been passed around and under the circumstances we thought she made total sense. That’s how serious we were.

We had managed a pretty good gender mix, five women, seven guys, everybody from late teens to mid thirties range and all of us totally freed from any sex taboos. When the sun shone we went about naked and enjoyed ourselves whenever in the mood, wherever we happened to be lying or standing, by reading and studying – yeah, right!

We ploughed on, using solar power to run our freezers, fridges, computers and minimal guidance systems, enough to avoid colliding with any cargo vessels we may encounter which to this point was none. We would get excited when we saw flotsam and made for it. But like Selina’s tablet and cell phone, they were on the way, not there yet. Since following was too slow, we calculated the flotsam’s direction and pushed on.

When high, a couple would jump in the sea for a dive and swim and more sex. Sharks? We figured in such an empty world they had better hunting nearer beaches. Yeah, we’d all seen “Jaws” – we even had a copy on a disk drive aboard. That’s how serious we were.

We weren’t so much interested in killing a monster. We certainly didn’t see ourselves as heroes. We were, to tell the truth, just a tiny segment of the earth’s richest “kids” utterly bored with our lives. We had met here and there, at parties, ski resorts, spas, even in board rooms, make that bored rooms, and in semi-drunken, stoned talk, had put this thing together. We ‘coagulated’ together as we discovered our mutual skills and sexual attraction.

We bought the sloop, had her completely overhauled, came up with the Moby Dick idea, geared ourselves up and met one foggy, dreary morning at some dead-beat marina along the Florida coast. We sailed, I mean that literally. We had thrown out the diesel engine and back-up gas engine also. We were going to sail, come hell or high water. If it meant it would be a one-way trip, so be it because nothing is worse than depression borne of absolute boredom.

Though we had this vague goal of finding a garbage patch and, mythologically speaking, finding a plastic sea monster circling and guarding it, the main point was to become the residents of an ark, the last and only remnants of humanity. So, we would enjoy ourselves, pleasure ourselves, to the hilt and to the dregs.

We ploughed on. The seas rose and fell as did our sloop. We got used to the sussuration of the sea against the hull and the music of the wind in the rigging. We got browner, tougher, smarter and quieter as the weeks passed. We began to see one-another, not just as fun partners or sex objects or casual acquaintances but as individuals; as people, as brains and minds with gorgeous bodies not just made for sex, but to admire and to remember, even in our dreams.

I dreamt of our elected captain, Sir Oliver Hampwell the Third, or “Cap’n” who was twelve years my senior.

As I thought about Cap’n I felt years slipping from my heart. I was getting younger and increasingly introspective. I found so much emptiness in my heart, I had to dig in our stores to find the classics Eugene and Mira had insisted on packing (though they had yet to pull out a single one.) I chose Moby Dick simply because I’d studied it in college but never actually read it. Certainly not to grasp the deep philosophy underlying the story. I read. I actually read. When approached by Darwin who’d been swimming and looked like he really had a ‘need’ I actually turned him down, me! “Not now, Darwin, I’m busy. Later maybe?”

“H’m… sure. I’ll find somebody else, no probs!”

That’s how it was with us. No one would ever insist on getting their way, they’d just find another way, someone else. I was ‘in love’ with all our guys actually, it’s just that I was discovering I developed ‘my moments’ when I had to belong to myself. It was nice to be desired, of course, but even more so to be understood and left alone in those times. I think one could say I was re-birthing myself, re-creating myself. Actually it would be more accurate to say that I was giving myself a life: I’d never really had one before.

We ploughed on. Less and less we listened to satellite radio feeds. There was so much traffic, so much noise, it jarred with our ocean-filled ears. We got more serious about life, more introspective, more eager to share and understand; to listen to another’s story. I would say, “Jesper?” and not “Hey you!” I wasn’t the only one changing, we were all going through it.

We became philosophical. Imagine that, us, the spoiled brats of a planetary elite, seeking the meaning of life.

“When we return to the real world, it’s going to be so different,” said the diminutive Suki. I wonder what I’ll do…”

“Maybe we won’t return. Maybe Suki, this is the real world and we all came out of an illusion. Maybe this ship will sink into the waves and we will become part of something so big we can’t even imagine it,” said Clive, our fabulous cook with the body of an Adonis. I didn’t want to see Clive drown, what a loss, it seemed to me then.

“We won’t sink, we’re past that now. We will sail, we will grow, we will learn more and more. We will all change, evolve. Best of all, we will seek and gain understanding. We will see signs and events in the sea and the sky no one ever saw before and that will make us both, certifiably crazy, and the wisest of people. We can never return to our old lives, you realize? Our past is non-existent. We can only go forward.” So spoke Cap’n, the wisest among us.

We ploughed on, the seas parting freely for the sloop’s proud prow. One sunny morning, with the spray shooting up, I walked up, naked, to the jib’boom to lie on it like a goddess figurehead pointing the ship in the direction of good luck, and a safe harbour. I made it, eyes full of salt spray and I saw the gyre-created island to starboard. I cried out, “Island to starboard!” and slowly worked my way back to a safe deck then joined in the work of rigging our change of direction.

We circled the plastic island for days, smelling the horror of it when downwind. We were indeed horrified. We thought there could never be a man-made disaster worst than this.

Then we heard the news as we were attempting to communicate our find to the “real” world: The US had just dropped nukes on North Korea and both Chinese and Russian nukes had annihilated the US surface navy and taken out most major cities of continental US and Europe. In automatic response, US and European nukes were heading for Russia and China.

Our monster had struck before we could confront it and it mocked us as it sang to us of the end of the world.

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff

Part I  – The Calling
Start section 13 (thirteen)

After a short time searching among copses of green wood Donna found what she needed and borrowing Nal’s dagger, she peeled some bark and sat down, nimbly bringing the pieces together into a very neat basket that included a handle made from a flexible branch.

“There, and yes, it will hold the water.”

They walked down to the stream and Nal remembered that she had no rope, it was in Lo’s pack. Oh well. She took off her shirt and with the sleeves stretched, it was just long enough to reach the water as long as she slid head first down the crack between the rocks and Donna held firmly onto her ankles. She brought up a full basket of the clear and sweet liquid and they both drank their fill. Another dip and they had a full container to take back to their cave.

Before she put her shirt back on, Donna remarked, “You have very cute little breasts… I like them.” Nal looked at her, then slowly slipped her shirt back on, while Donna reached and pulled the centre holding thong and tied it. She gave Nal a look that could not be misunderstood.

By the time they returned, Donna’s blisters were completely gone and Nal insisted they continue with her training. Never, thought Donna, had she worked so hard. How do they maintain this in a battle, she wondered, it’s crazy! The same lazy men she encountered daily in the village would go on a campaign and do this for a whole day just to get killed most of them? Men are crazy, she thought.

When Donna was completely exhausted, she asked, “Can’t we use that Alaya energy to ward off our exhaustion?”

“I don’t know if that can be done. It has to do with something called entropy, a kind of energy you expend that doesn’t come back to you no matter what you do. Lo could explain and I too, when I remember me completely. We should continue.”

Nal insisted she grab the staff and come at her while she defended herself with only the short stick representing a sword.

“Oh but that’s unfair. I could hurt you with this even if I’m dead tired!”

“Yes? Then go ahead, hurt me. Hurt me hard, I give you permission!”

Donna hefted the long staff, felt its wonderful balance even if it was a bit short for her stature, and charged at Nal, swinging the staff to her midriff. She was surprised when she hit only air and Nal was at her back, holding the sword stick at her throat.

“That’s more sorcery, that is!” she exclaimed. “No one can move this fast.”

“The point, the only point, is that with or without sorcery, it can be done. You must therefore learn to deal with it and I mean to teach you that. Can you appreciate the necessity of such a lesson?”

“Yes I can. Yes, I understand. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, whether it seems impossible, only that it can be done. Therefore I have to be aware of such things and learn to parry them; to protect myself from them and eventually, even to defeat them. Yes?”

“Yes, so it’s not just weaponry, it’s also trickery, and speed, speed and more speed. Now that we have a Watcher in the wolf, we don’t need to spend time on watch in the night. Instead we will sleep together, tight together, and I am going to do all I can to pass on whatever I have of my “sorcery” into your body and mind in the night. I will attempt to make us as one so you will become a human Alaya. Have I told you already what an Alaya is, or an Alay?”

“So much to remember that I can’t remember now. Sorcerers? Wizards? Tricksters? Faeries? You are Alaya? I’ve never heard of such people.”

“You have met two now. Lo is an Alay. According to him, I am the reincarnation of his long lost wife, Nah’La, a full Alaya. She was killed, oh, thousands of years ago, and eventually became me. Or, I became her. So, I am Lo’s wife of thousands upon thousands of years ago. I am Nah’La or Nal for short, and I am rediscovering my powers. It is those powers I wish to share with you; to bring you, a human, if indeed it is what you are for I sense something else in you, into the world of the Alay and Alaya, plural, the Alas.

“I would that as I grow, so would you, side by side, spiritual and mental twins, you the healer and perhaps a bit of a fighter, myself the fighter and perhaps also a healer of sorts. Twins of Alaya powers; with Alaya powers. If it frightens you or repels you, tell me in the morning and I will remove all the powers from you, allowing you to function once again as a normal human. I wish to only do this by your permission.

“I’ll bank the fire while you slip in our bedroll and start warming it up – you have more body heat than me after all!”

They laughed. Donna stripped naked and performed a little erotic dance in front of Nal which Nal took the time to admire. Donna laughed and slipped in the bed. Soon Nal joined her, naked also and they clung tightly and happily to one another in the darkness of their protective cave. Nal could feel energy flowing between them and she knew it was much more than sexual attraction. It was Alaya energy and Donna’s body and mind were soaking it all up without any hesitation. ‘How much of me is going to pass into her tonight, and what am I doing?’ she thought. ‘How do I know this is the right thing to do? But I know, I just know it is. It’s how it was always done on our past. I’m only following the ancient pattern, I know that. What I don’t understand is how this human girl can take in so much of my energy and still seems able to absorb so much more. She must be more than human.’

For a while their hands eagerly explored each other’s bodies in a purely lustful and sexual way, then gradually they fell into a deep sleep filled with dreaming. The wolf prowling near the cave opening, having smelled the sexual excretions of the two females in the cave gave a loud howl to vent his own frustration and aroused desires. He too had fallen “in love” with the Alaya’s.

Morning came late in the cave. The two girls spent some time making love then got up, dressed and took care of their fire. They ate slowly, drank the strange tasting water now mixed with some of the bark’s sap run off, then planned their day. Simple enough: more training of sword play and staff work. In between, Nal planned to awaken Donna’s new powers with the making of illusions and whatever else came to mind or got thrown their way.

At noon the wolf appeared and they went to him. This time, as he lay down on the ground, they both lay beside and against him, passing their arms and hands over his thick fur, pulling his ears gently, rubbing his face and kissing him on the nose. A beautiful intimate, quasi-erotic scene which few Earth people would have appreciated but which the Alaya’s perfectly understood the need of. Afterwards they went their own way but the lone wolf, from a short distance, stopped, turned and watched them for a time then disappeared once again.

It was Donna who observed, “He’s lost his mate, Nal. He’s so sad and so alone.”

“I didn’t realize but of course you’re right. We can love him but we can’t replace her and we have to be careful he doesn’t become too attached to one of us either. We are different species and unless one of us became a lone sorceress with powers to transform herself into a she-wolf, this cannot be. I do not have, nor wish, for such power. Do you?”

“I don’t know yet. I do love him in a strange, I suppose ‘unnatural’ way, but if I could choose such a life, would I? Too soon to say. I need to think about this. Me, a sorceress? A shape-shifter? Arch enemy of the Christian religion to be hunted down, captured and tortured as befits a demon? A companion of wolves, to lead a pack, bring down prey, tearing at and eating raw bloody meat? Killing those who hunt us? I can see these possibilities ahead of me in the future but as of this moment I am not ready for such a thing.”

After their meal of dry bread and cheese now flecked with blue-green mould, they continued with their sparring in earnest. Donna had greatly improved in skill and speed, particularly in speed. When she didn’t take a clean shot and would have been hit she moved out of reach in a blur. This pleased Nal enough that she thought it would be time for the illusion lessons.

“You know what an illusion is, Donna?”

“Seeing something that isn’t there.”

“Exactly. From those powers I shared with you, there is one that is used to create such illusions, except that you are in control of them and only those you intend to fool, or confuse, believe they are real. You can do much with such images. You can even make them look as if they were ghosts, or demonic entities. Would you like to see how well we can work with such things?”

“If it means a break from this gruelling sparring, most certainly.”

“Come, stand beside me and hold my hand. Lift your other arm, open your hand and visualize something not too big but obvious. A hawk in flight, maybe? Let’s try it.”

They both raised their arms and opened their hands, pointing at the sky. Suddenly, a large brown hawk, a type of buteo with talons outstretched and open yellow bill, came swooping down from the sky, passed by the two women and disappeared again.

“That was good! Now something on the ground.” They manifested a majestic stag standing on the same rock the wolf had stood on. The animal held his head high, holding his stack proudly and looked around, sniffing at the air. He gave a snort of alarm and bounded off into a tangle of shrubbery. They heard the wolf give chase and smiled as the chase ended in a discomfited wolf when his prey vanished in the air.

“We’re doing well, I think. Now just you,” said Nal. “Manifest a couple of woodsmen dressed in leathers coming towards us and actually seeing us.”

Donna found the exercise quite simple. She brought the men up and they came towards the women, smiling as they approached. She made them stop a couple of yards away and introduce themselves. ‘I am Lance’ said the one. ‘My name is John’ said the other, ‘we’re passing by and didn’t expect to meet two lovely lassies in these parts. We are after a stag that we saw nearby. Did you see him?’

Donna lowered and closed her hand and the illusion disappeared.

“That was amazing, Donna. For a first time? Unbelievable. Your mind truly absorbed the gifts easily. You will go far, very far, with such powers.”

Donna was pleased with the results and beginning to plan how to use her powers to greater advantage. ‘Push’ she thought. ‘Push and always expect more for we are made of greater expectations.’

“I ‘heard’ what you thought, Donna. I agree, we need to push ourselves more and more, for our time is short. Three of us now? Surely our enemies will become aware of such an event and will come searching for us. How I wish I could penetrate their disguises, locate them, learn all there is to learn of their plans in dealing with us. I hate a fight with an enemy I cannot know. Can’t fight with the unknown! It’s like slashing at the air in the dark, you don’t hit anything.”

“We need a subterfuge, Nal. A decoy, perhaps? One of us pretending to change sides, to join with them?”

“That would make sense with ordinary people, they may fall for such a stratagem but I don’t think these fallen Alay would be fooled. They’d pretend to accept, then kill either one of us once they had us in their power. You would be the only one who would even have a slim chance of fooling them, but you’re just awakened. They’d test you in ways you cannot begin to understand.

“Oh, I remember more and more how things work in that world. The abilities to read thoughts, and even thoughts within thoughts. Too late, Lo and I discovered these energies, much too late. Having never needed them, nor ever needed to hide our telepathic communication we were not even aware these things could be used against us. But the Betrayers did and activated them against us. They learned our most intimate thoughts; our plans; our moves, everything. We were open books to them and they eliminated us, one by one until only I and Lo were left, and finally, only Lo.”

End section 13 (thirteen)