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Daughter of Shale and Eyes High (AU)

Leanan

This one is dedicated to Kathleen and Wingthing in gratitude for inspiration.



Daughter of Shale and Eyes High



Prologue



Skywise stared at the cub she had just saved from a snake. She felt strange. It was as if she was somehow bound to the newborn Blood of Ten Chiefs. She had never felt so close to anyone in her young life. Not even her mother, of whom she had but as hazy memory. Not any of the tribe, who had all been like parents to her.



Joyleaf noticed the girl staring at her and the cub.

“Would you like to hold him, Skywise?”

“Yes. Thank you.” And she held him in her arms, and her heart sang of love. He was a tiny little creature, eyes closed, tiny hands fisted. And he lay there so content, not crying for his mother. Joyleaf seemed to notice that.

“You’re holding him just right, exactly as I was going to tell you to. You will be a good mother someday.”

A mother? She? Not yet.

“I would rather be – a sister.”



Later the cub was welcomed to the tribe, and Bearclaw told tribe name would be Cutter. And they all howled for the Blood of Ten Chiefs.



Chapter One: Dreamberry Love



“Skywise!”

*Puckernuts!* The stargazer thought. She loved her brother, yes, but lately she had begun to appreciate other, more mature company. The age difference between them had never seemed so great. She was a maiden now, he was still a child.

“Hey! Did you forget me?”

“Heh heh… no, Cutter! How could I forget my own shadow?!”

She bent down to explain:

“But Pike and I have a long way to go, and Starjumper’s rump is sore. He can’t take extra riders.”

Skywise placed her arm on Cutter’s shoulders:

“Now, don’t tell anyone… especially Bearclaw! This is a secret hunt! I’m after the most delicious prey there is!”

“Don’t worry, Skywise! I won’t tell! You’ll see!” Cutter called as he ran back towards the holt.



“Delicious prey…?” Pike asked, grinning.

“Wait ‘til you see my lure!”



Skywise had found the place by change, when she had been tracking a buck her arrow had wounded some nights ago. She’d caught the buck eventually, but what she had scented on the way was even better than the kill.



Pike’s mouth hung open when he saw –

“A field of dreamberries!”

“Farther from the holt than we’ve ever gone, but worth the risk, eh?”

“As if you had to ask!”

Pike tumbled headlong into the bushes. Skywise giggled and followed, landing in his arms.



They fed ripe berries to each other and kissed between the mouthfuls.

“Well, the prey is down, my sweet huntress. What now?”

“As if you had to ask.”

They began to undress each other.



A moment later Skywise straightened her back, sitting up from the bushes.

“Mmmm… oh… oh, lovemate…!”

Joining was such pleasure, she would never tire of it. If it took dreamberries to get her lovemate in the mood, well then dreamberries he would have.



She opened her eyes, and it took a moment to realize what she was seeing.

**Pike! There’s a human!**

**We’d better run!** He answered, fumbling with his belt.

**Wait! Let’s take a closer look!**

**Bearclaw won’t like this!** Pike objected, but followed his lovemate.

**Bearclaw thinks we’re fishing in Goodtree’s Glen!**

The human was doing something with some stones arranged in a circle on the ground.

**Skywise! Around his neck – the ornament Eyes High once wore in her hair!**



That did it. Something snapped inside Skywise and she cried out:

“Killer!”

Sword flashing, the daughter of Eyes High rode Starjumper to revenge her mother’s blood. She was too angry to be afraid, too angry to remember Bearclaw’s rule about lifebearers not risking themselves in battle. Pike followed, spear in hand, but Skywise already had her blade at the throat of the human. She demanded to know how the human had got the ornament. The answer was something she would never have expected:

[You…! I know you!]

The human told an incredible story of how he had tried to help Eyes High, and how his brother had died for that. Skywise did not know what to think of it. She cut the string that bound the ornament around the human’s neck, and left him trembling on the ground, hardly able to believe the white-haired demoness had not cut his throat open.

**Lovemate!** Pike sent after Skywise, but she ignored him. Alone, she stood under the starlit sky, grasping in his hand the leather decoration that had been her mother’s. And she mourned her parents all over again.



Chapter Two: Eyes Meet Eyes



It was a clear, sunny day, one of the first warm days that Season of New Green. Skywise found it hard to sleep. Something felt out of place, yet not exactly wrong. Different. As if she was someone else and not Skywise at all. As if she was dreaming and aware of it but unable to wake herself. As if she was drunk – but no, she hadn’t touched Pike’s dreamberries for days. She got dressed and climbed out from their den, leaving her lovemate asleep. On the branch she met Joyleaf, who was making a new flower garland to wear in her hair. Skywise did not know where the words came to her tongue, but she found herself asking:

“Where’s Cutter?”

Joyleaf smiled, as if she knew a secret or something. Then again, Joyleaf often smiled like that.

“He went to try his new bow. He said he couldn’t wait until night. He won’t be long.”

Skywise did not know why she was so glad her brother would be back soon. She did not remember ever having missed him so much, but she knew not why. There was nothing special to show him or tell him, nor any reason to worry. He was old enough to take care of himself now.



Cutter did indeed return soon, with a freshly killed rabbit in his hand. Skywise climbed down to meet him. Cutter called out proudly:

“I got him on my first try!”

“Either the bow is much better than your old one, or you’ve finally learned to aim!”

“Skywise…” Cutter walked very close to her. Suddenly he drew his knife and cut something loose from the insides of the gutted rabbit.

“The meat goes to Moonshade and Rainsong, naturally.” He said, referring to the two lifebearers.

“But I would like to give you this.” He held out the still-warm heart of the animal.

Skywise reached out her hand and took the strange gift. Usually, the heart was given to a lovemate. But of course, Cutter did not have one yet, so he had to make do with a sister. And what was that nervous scent Skywise sensed from him? Of course. She should have guessed. He was about to ask for some favour or other, and the gift was meant to soften her. She met his eyes with her customary grin.



And looked deeper than she had ever looked before. Straight into his soul.



~**Tam?**~

~**Fahr?**~

Cutter stood back, startled. Then he caught her in a tight embrace. They stared each other for a long while, drinking in familiar features transformed by the force of Recognition.



“But you are so young…” Skywise tried to protest.

“I’m old enough.” As if to prove it, she lifted her off her feet.

“Whee!”



Other voices joined Skywise’s laughter. Joyleaf had woken everyone with a sending.

“Well, strike me with skyfire!” Bearclaw exclaimed. “My cub is not a cub anymore.”

Joyleaf laughed and ruffled his hair:

“Two turns from now we’ll be grandparents. How does that sound like, Old Badger?”

The chief found no answer.



“The High Ones have truly blessed us,” Rain the healer stated.

“First Strongbow and Moonshade will have their second go at it, then my little Rainsong goes and Recognizes Woodlock, and now you two.”

Pike and Redlance sat on a branch almost directly above Skywise and Cutter. If Pike meant to whisper, his voice was too loud for them not to hear it:

“Cutter doesn’t know what a striped buzznest he’s stepping in. He is going to be nutmash. Totally.”



~**Tam, what about Pike? He’s my lovemate. Could we…**~

~**Tree with him? Of course.**~



Skywise looked up and called out:

“You won’t be off the hook so easily, Pike! Would you like to tree with us?”

“Thank you, but no. Not right now at least. The High Ones know I need some rest!”

Skywise laughed.



Cutter was beginning to feel a bit apprehensive of the whole Recognition thing. Maybe he’s been just a bit too hasty to assure her of his maturity? Everyone knew about Skywise and her love of sharing. Cutter had heard she’d been with half the male wolfriders, at least, and some of the females too. And what they said of her seemed to suggest she had quite and appetite for joining. Cutter had loved her all his life, first as a sister, and recently he had started to see her in a new way. He had almost decided he was going to ask her to initiate him. That was why he’d given her the heart of the rabbit – the rabbit! He’d forgotten!



“Rainsong! Moonshade! I brought something for you!” He lifted up his kill.

“Keep it, Cutter!” Moonshade called back. “Maybe she isn’t a lifebearer yet, but she will be, and you’ll be too busy to hunt tonight!”

“Yes, you’ll need the meat more than we do,” Rainsong agreed. “Isn’t Recognition wonderful?”



Skywise sensed that Cutter was worried.

~**Tam? What is it?**~

~**I’m afraid… I mean, I have never…**~

~**Don’t worry. What was before is past. This is now. This is Recognition.**~

~**Oh, Fahr…**~ He embraced her once more.

~**Come.**~



Skywise led the way to her den. It was the highest in the Father Tree, closest to the stars, and it had belonged to her mother. She loved living up high of course, but for once she wished the climb had been shorter. She was burning, she was aching - she had never felt such a desperate urge for joining. Always, it had been her choice, but now Recognition had made the choice for them both. She had never given much thought to the whole idea. It was something that happened to others. She had smiled, listening to Nightfall and Dewshine whisper about who they would like to Recognize when they grew up, and all she had thought was she couldn’t choose, she dreamed of everyone, and she had wished the others luck and asked if they would share.



Now she was in her den, and she sat on the soft furs and began to undress. First she took off the headpiece, a gift from Cutter some turns ago – although he had thought she’d wear it behind her ears as a hair decoration. Then the wristbands, those too resembling armor more than decoration. The other females had often wondered why someone so obsessed about the males didn’t pay more attention to her looks, but the truth was, Skywise had a secret dream. No matter what Bearclaw said, one day she would be a warrior. The humans would not catch her helpless like her parents had been. Now, though, she was not thinking about those dreams. She undid her belt and threw it and the sword attached to it into a dark corner. Cutter was watching her. As she bent down to take off her boots, Cutter reached out and helped her. And then he helped with the rest of her clothes, and she with his.



Skywise had thought she knew all there was to know about joining. But she was proved wrong. Nothing, nothing she had ever experienced could compare with the intense, wild magic that was Recognition. It was fire and it was ice, it was the wolf in her in heat, it was the voice of the High Ones singing in her blood, weaving a spell. There was no choice, and although she loved Cutter, this had nothing to do with love. It felt – it felt as if the stars themselves had come down for her!



And a fear of loneliness she had never admitted having was gone once and for all. As long as she had Tam, she would never again be alone.



Chapter Three: Madcoil



It was just a hunt, she had said, and her belly hadn’t swelled yet, it wouldn’t be in the way. The cub had just begun, she wanted to take part in one more hunt before she would be forced to hole up back at the Holt with the other lifebearers. It was just a hunt, and anyway Rain the Healer was coming with them. Skywise had pleaded, first with Cutter, then with Bearclaw, until they had agreed to take her along.



And of course when they sensed the strange scent and felt the terror in the air, it would have made no sense to send her alone back to the holt. Surely she was safer with all the hunters?



But it would turn out that no one was safe that night. Rain the Healer was the first to die. The monster attacked wolf and elf alike, and with one slash of a huge paw it threw Skywise down before she had time to escape.



She fell on rocks, and the pain was unbearable. The monster was in her head, it could send, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst was the faint and wordless sending, first inside her, then, horribly, nowhere, out in the air - the last caress of the spirit of her unborn cub as it died and left her. It was with her just long enough for her to learn that it would have been a daughter.



“Run! Run for your lives!” Bearclaw commanded. Skywise couldn’t even walk, so Cutter carried her and helped her into a tree. Voices around them called for Brownberry, Longbranch, and Foxfur.

~**Fahr? Are you all right?**~

~**Tam… Oh, Tam! Our cub… is no more. I felt her die.**~

Cutter wrapped her in a tight embrace, tears flowing freely down his cheeks. Then they heard Bearclaw’s anguished voice:

“Joyleaf!”

“Answer us, sister!” Treestump added his voice to the call.

When no answer came, Bearclaw climbed down and stood still a long time, sending.



~**Go to him.**~ Skywise knew what Cutter wanted. ~**Joyleaf is my mother, too.**~ She would not say “was”. Not before it was certain. The thought was too terrible. Wasn’t losing one mother enough?



Apparently not. There was no measure, no limit to the pain Madcoil had brought. Joyleaf was gone. Bearclaw wanted to revenge his lifemate, and he wanted to go alone. The others objected of course, but he drew New Moon and made it a matter of challenge.

“Who wants to cross me? You, One-Eye? Treestump?”

A new day was dawning. Skywise had gained enough of her strength to stand on her own. She could hardly believe her ears when Cutter spoke:

“The others must go back, I agree! But I’m coming with you! You can’t stop me!”

He had never defied his chief before. To everyone’s surprise, Bearclaw didn’t object. He turned to track the beast, while Cutter held back a moment longer.



“Treestump… If we don’t come back, you are chief. Take the tribe far away from here. Bearclaw and I want you to live – understand?” Then he turned to Skywise.

“That includes you too. Don’t come after us, no matter what. I have to know you are safe.”

“Oh, lifemate! Timmain keep you!”

She had never called him lifemate before. She knew if she embraced him now she would never be able to let go. So she just stared at him, and after him, until One-Eye had to take hold of her shoulders and turn her to the path towards the Holt.



Days went by. The lifeless remains of the unborn cub left Skywise’s womb with more pain than an actual birth would have been. Moonshade had scolded her first, for going on the hunt, but at last she too could only pity the stargazer. She was a shadow of her former self, refusing to eat until Clearbrook forced her to.



Then the summons came. The wolves howled a message from Cutter, and no-one questioned when Skywise declared she would go with the others.



Cutter sat on a stone in the middle of a glade. He did not answer Treestump’s greeting. Skywise ran into his arms. They had no words, not even a sending. Skywise sensed his sorrow was even deeper than before, and stood back, waiting.



Treestump spoke, explaining they had left Woodlock to guard the lifebearers. Cutter interrupted his babbling:

“Bearclaw’s dead!”

There was a moment of silence. Too much sorrow, Skywise thought, all too much.



Treestump took out a bit of leather cord and tied the chief’s lock in Cutter’s hair.

“What is your will, my chief?”

Skywise stared at her young lifemate. He seemed older, suddenly. Stronger. She tried to tell herself it was just a bit of leather in his hair, that nothing had changed – but she knew her whole world had changed, and herself with it.



Cutter answered Treestump’s question:

“Madcoil can be killed. Bearclaw wounded it! But he was wrong to think he could destroy the monster alone! I promised Bearclaw I’d finish what he began – but I need all of you to help me.”

Then he did something Bearclaw had never done. He asked them:

“Will you?” He could have commanded them, but he didn’t. And with that choice he won them over.



They tricked Madcoil from its den and caught it in a net, and Cutter stabbed it right through the eye. Skywise watched, heart racing, as he used himself to bait the monster. She loved him with all her heart, but watching him that day she learned to truly respect him, too.



Three turns later Recognition reinforced its hold on them, sudden and undeniable. But no new life began, and Skywise learned the full depth of the wounds Madcoil had left in her. She would never be a lifebearer again, at least not while they had no healer.



After that revelation, of course, there was no reason to keep her from fighting the humans. Cutter was surprised and a bit scared of the wrath his lifemate felt towards them.



to be continued....

Leanan

I almost forgot the illustration, and that was what started this...

Kathleen

Nooo!
No no nno no no no!
You can't leave it here, argh, i'm crazy now. It's all so sweet and tragic and I wanted to cry, so you have to finish it soon! Soon! Skywise has to be healed.
I'm going to go back and read it.
Agh! It's still the same, all the pretty prose, and the sweetness, and the fluff mixed with...
Waaah!
Unhappy
Very good. Now that I'm done being a crazed fangirl, write more please.

Leanan

She will be healed. I promise. Be patient...

wildfire

Cool! I actually like the female Skywise. Just one question; what was the name Skywise´s and Cutter´s daugter? (Boy it felt weird writing that!)

Kathleen

Did they even give her a name?
I mean she died so quickly. Unhappy
YOu made me sad again.

krwordgazer

A very interesting twist, Leanan. And well-written, as always. :)

I did find the scene where Skywise finds the human responsible for her parents' death to have not quite enough changes to make me feel I wasn't reading very nearly the same story I had already read. True, it was Pike instead of Foxfur, but that's really the only difference. Is there anything about Skywise being female that might have changed the way the scene actually plays out? If not, perhaps that scene ought to be left out of this version.

I really liked the way Skywise being female changed her relationship with Cutter. The part where he brings her the heart is well done and very intriguing. That it would be Skywise he wants to "initiate" him rather than Nightfall was a great twist!

I am looking forward to seeing what happens when Leetah is brought into the picture. And Rayek. Possibilities abound! :D

Kathleen

But somethings are just the same no matter what gender you are. I know if I had my little brother infront of me now, i would act the same if I were a boy. Grab him and hug him and cry and lock him up so he could never be hurt again.
Same thing with Skywise. It doesn't matter that she's she, or He's he, it's the same story, and it's a portion of hir history that must be told, to explain things about her, and zzz.........

Fourleafclover

Wow! Surprised Great story! And a female Skywise... poor Leetah! Who could compete with that?

Kathleen

I know! A female Picknose!
:listens to crickets chirping:
Just kidding.

Leanan

I know, wordgazer - the scene was included simply because I love it... and I agree with Kathleen. Gender doesn't affect souls. She is who she is, if she was any different her soulname wouldn't be Fahr.

I'm working on a new chapter...

cactus

[quote:60a299d1a7]I'm working on a new chapter...[/quote:60a299d1a7]
Can't wait.. :D

Rainedancer

See Leanan you have to write faster Kins health (and probably sanity) depend on it!!!
And I want more too! :D

Fourleafclover

Can't wait for the new chapter! I've been musing over all the things I like in the worldpool epic...

A Cutter, Skywise and Pike - three-mating? Surprised Yowza!

The fact that Cutter seems pre-destined to wind up with an older woman... Grin

Leanan

I have trouble. I can't decide what to do with Leetah. Another Recognition for Cutter? Something else?

Any ideas?

Kathleen

Leetah could recognize Treestump!

Leanan

I mean serious ones...

Waitaminute - was that a serious suggestion, Kathleen?

krwordgazer

Well, to follow this out logically. . .

If we have Skywise a girl, and Recognized to Cutter, then it's unlikely he'd Recognize Leetah, too. (Recognizing a new partner is supposed to take place, if ever, many years after the first Recognition). So Leetah would stay with Rayek. And they'd probably BOTH feel threatened by the Wolfrider's invasion of the nice order they're used to, where Leetah and Rayek more or less called the shots in the village.

Leetah would heal Skywise anyway, of course. And she'd conceive, because the Recognition has just been waiting for her to be able to. What would the child be like? I don't know. Surprised

Rayek and Leetah would have a long conflict with the Wolfriders over who are going to be the chief providers and all that, and eventually Rayek and Leetah together might leave.

Just some conjectures. For what they're worth, which might be nothing. :)

Leanan

Rayek and Leetah leaving together... nice idea... Leetah Recognizing someone else, also a nice idea... What if it was Rayek who... nah. Wingthing already explored that possibility quite effectively.

Thanks... I may be able to work on this...

Kathleen

Oooh?
Leetah should recognize a Go Back.
Just because of the fights they'd have.
Leeeeanaaaaan?
When isthe next chapter?

Leanan

when I get it done and no sooner, honey.

Kathleen

Waaaah!
:Reverts to two year old:
Unhappy :( Unhappy

MrsGrizzley

I must say, I like this storyline. This is definitely a cool prospect and I don't know exactly what needs to happen with Leetah, but she is the secret to Skywise's regaining her ability to bear children.

I *do* know that not being a "lifebearer" anymore, Skywise would be the only female to participate in the raid on Sorrow's End.

I *don't* think that Leetah should Recognize Rayek. He wants it too much. He assumes too much that she is supposed to be his. He needs the taking down that her Recognizing someone else would be. That said, who else would be compatible with her.

Only Cutter and only because he is Chieftain while she is Princess. He is leader and she is Healer.

Their tribe has no Healer and his true compatible mate is barren without one.

I see a three-bond in the future, does anyone else?

Mrs. Grizzley (very intrigued)

Kathleen

I think that while Skywise and Cutter might be grateful to Leetah, and I am concerned about Suntop and Ember's arrival into this alternaverse, to say that only Cutter can recognise her is a bit, well, shortsighted.

If recognition is so rare, it most likely wouldn't happen to Cutter again, so quickly. In all likelyhood, there would be another recognition waiting for her(like Pike, or even Wing) among the wolriders, or another Sun Villager might recognize another wolfrider alltogether.

MrsGrizzley

I'll admit, it might be shortsighted, but the problem is that she is so strongwilled in her own way that I cannot see her being compatible with anyone who is not also strong willed. And I cannot see her being compatible with anyone who does not lead.

This, of course, begs another question.

I'll accept that Recognitions don't seem to happen quickly, so just how many years are needed between them?

Would Leetah Recognize . . . uhm. . . *urp* Strongbow? Don't hit me!

The willpower is there. The strength is there. Unfortunately it wouldn't be a happy situation. Remember his response to Leetah's unwillingness to accept Cutter? And Cutter's unwillingness to force the issue?

Gak. I think Strongbow's going to have a few choice words to Send to me over this one.

Mrs. Grizzley

Kathleen

No. No no no.

:Shudder:

That is so far out of here that I now have to go crawl under my bed to hide from it.

Definitely not Strongbow.

Oh heavens.

Maybe an entirely different maiden will reognize someone else, but Leetah and Strongbow would break the universe.

krwordgazer

I agree- bad idea. But I don't think what you guys are afraid would happen. Strongbow might try to force Leetah, I agree (thinking he was doing the right thing, following the Way), but he'd quickly lose his taste for it when she fought back. And Leetah? She'd suddenly learn what pain-sending was, which would emphasize the point even more strongly!

Strongbow's more tender and compassionate than he gets credit for, and he would find that a forced Recognition is even worse than denying it. So he'd run.

It seems to me that things would stay right there, while both of them sickened, until Moonshade held them both at knifepoint to make them listen to her and convinced them to give in. :D

But anyway, all three of them are standing behind me with arms folded, sending daggers. So I'll quit before I get hurt. Wink

cactus

Strange. I immediately thought of Strongbow too. Surprised .
(And then Moonshade can recognize Rayek Grin .)
If she is to recognize a wolfrider, and one that is not recognized to someone else there are not many to choose from. Pike, Scouter, Treestump and Redlance. Can't really "see" any of them fit to Leetah :D

Well, I am looking forward to read it, no matter who she ends up with. :D

MrsGrizzley

I know.

But even bad ideas can make for interesting discussions. And they help make decisions because they limit options some. When you know where you *aren't* going to go then you can start seriously talking about where you *are* going to go.

So, what *would* happen. Leetah needs a Recognition. She needs the soulsearching that it would entail and she needs to know that there are some things that she cannot resist, that she cannot change, that she must bend to and accept.

Moreover, she has to Recognize someone who understands that she must be free to come to her own acceptance.

Problem is, there aren't that many unattached males in the Wolfriders, and those that are . . . aren't what I would call good matches. Scouter's off the list because nothing needs to come between him and Dewshine until *Dewshine's* Recognition with Tyldak, seven years into the future. Redlance hasn't Recognized, but he's so perfectly paired with Nightfall that I wouldn't do anything to interfere with that relationship. Wing is still a baby. Woodlock recently Recognized. One-Eye? Hmm, maybe. He's had time since his last Recognition, but his system isn't really seeking. Treestump? Hmmm. No, he's in the same boat that One-Eye is in, last Recognition was long enough ago that the result has gained some maturity, but not really enough that his system would be looking for another one. Pike is the only *really* unattached male and he's a bit . . . fun-loving, though Leetah could certainly use a dose of his beach-bum attitude.

I don't envy your decisions, but I'm glad you're the one making them, . . . and not me! *grin*

Mrs. Grizzley

lunakat

Hey! This is so very cool! I've had no time to comment- but I've really enjoyed reading your stories, Leanan!

You and kathleen are really spicing up the board!

It seems the Leetah situation has a number of possible ways it could go. Here's my opinion:

If Cutter and the wolfriders arrive in Sorrows End, then Leetah would clearly heal Skywise so that she could give birth again...

But, is it possible for an elf to recognize twice? Apparently, it happened to Bearclaw, so...

there is a possibility that Cutter might recognize Leetah, given the fact that the female Skywise is barren. Is that the sort of thing recognition would pick up on? Would it compensate for an accident like that by striking twice, but pairing an elf with a more viable mate?

If so, then watching them try to resolve it could be interesting...

On the other hand, watching Leetah try to come to terms with the wolfblood in these newcomers, never having recognized Cutter, could be interesting too. If Cutter recognizes Leetah, that would also mean that Rayek and Cutter would not be at odds. They could be very powerful allies... Or would Rayek feel threatened all the same?

Actually... here's a thought... if Cutter and Leetah never recognize, then the Wolfriders might simply attack the Sun Folk and get away with it. Without Leetah's kidnapping, there would be no reason for Rayek to pursue them, or for Cutter to return to the village. I wonder if the Wolfriders would make a life for themselves in the hills, periodically raiding the Sun Village? How long would that last? What kind of interactions would the two tribes have?

(And now you've been exposed to my very rambling trains of thought!) Wink

Leanan

Well... I decided there had better be a Recognition to unite the two tribes. But not between Leetah and Cutter. So here (chapter 5) is what I came up with...

Chapter Four: Desert

The humans had burned the Holt, and the only escape route was through the troll tunnels. Unfortunately Greymung had cheated them and they were left stranded in a blocked tunnel, in a schorched, lifeless wasteland under the burning sun.

Quite by chance Cutter and Skywise found the magic hidden in the lodestone, and decided the direction it pointed - right towards the burning waste - must be a sign. And once night fell, they left the shelter of the cave-mouth and began the long journey.

And finally, after three nights, after the loss of two wolves and the painful decision of leaving Redlance and Nightfall behind, they reached the mountains. Strange plants grew in the shadows, plants all covered in sharp spikes. One such stung Cutter as he walked past, and being tired, he lost his temper once again and cleaved it in two with New Moon. And to his surprise saw the blade was wet.

Pike laughed:
"Leave it to Cutter! He found us plants that store their own water!"

Skywise bent down to drink. Then she saw Cutter wasn't drinking, he just sat on a stone, staring into emptiness. She filled her palm with the sticker plant's juice and offered it to her lifemate.
**You did it, Tam! You brought us to Sorrow's End.**
He reached out to touch the lodestone, which once again hung on its cord between Skywise's breasts.
"Seems to me we wouldn't be here without you, and this. But we aren't all here."
"Stop blaming yourself! It was a human that wounded Redlance. A human. One more life for them to pay."
"I hope we're done with humans." Cutter sighed, and added silently:
**I'll stop blaming myself if you'll stop blaming yourself for what Madcoil did to you! You've shown your worth to the tribe now, lifebearer or not. And I need you. I love you.**
**Lifemate”¦**



Chapter Five: Raid at Sorrow's End

"Rayek, stop that! You're making me spill the water!" The healer was starting to lose her patience.
"How long will you torment me, oh hair of sunset fire? I have asked you to be my lovemate! Any maiden here would say yes!" The hunter let go of her.
"So go and take any maiden! Stop bothering me. I'm not interested. Which of those words you don't understand?"
"But you are the only one worth having."
He wrapped his arms around her, too tight. It had been a mistake to share with him. He hadn't been interested when it had mattered. Not all the long years she was growing up, and growing up to admire him. Not when she tentatively asked for initiation. His brusque refusal had hurt her, but those wounds were long since healed. No, what really hurt her was he had turned to her only when her healer talents finally matured and she cured his arm, and even then only because initiation with a healer might heighten the changes of Recognition. Only because he so desperately wanted to Recognize Leetah. But soon Leetah was forgotten as she had done what she was famous for - given freely, all of herself, using her healing powers during a joining, sharing with him what she had felt for him when she was younger. Rayek wanted more. For a while it had been fun, but he had been just one of her many friends to her, freely sharing. But he didn't like it that way. He wanted to be her one and only lovemate.

Too bad the childish crush was gone. She had seen him for what he was, an arrogant one, wanting her for her magic and not for herself, a proud one unable to understand there was something in the village that was not his, that would never be his. And she had learned to despise pride.

"Oh! You're holding me too tight! Let me catch my breath - and I'll give you an answer!"
"Very well, then”¦ I release you!"
She ran away laughing, clutching the water jar without spilling a drop.
"Wha-?! ShenShen!"
He called for her, too proud to run after her.

Then she heard the horrible noise. The howling. And a pack of wolves flowed down the hillside into the village. Each shaggy beast was ridden by a pale barbarian, each rider wielded a weapon, and from the throats of both mount and rider the horrible sound came forth.

The first rider, a fair-haired youth, threatened ShenShen with a curved blade and grabbed the water jar from her hands. The second one, a silver-haired female, bent to stab a loaf that had been in Minahd's lap a moment ago. The frightened baker screamed in terror.

But the third rider stopped in front of ShenShen, while the others spread out to steal more food. By then Rayek had come to her aid, pointing his spear at the attacker.

He had a spear as well, and he made a stab that turned out to be a feint - as Rayek twisted his weapon to deflect the blow the wolf stepped closer and the rider kicked him in the face. "Never point a weapon, black-hair, unless you know how to use it!"

ShenShen stood defenseless now, too scared to move. But the stranger did not attack. He stared her right into the eyes.

His skin was pale, burned by the sun. His hair was red as fire, shaggy like a mountain lion's short mane. And his eyes were a clear, deep purple.

ShenShen had never looked so deep before into any pair of eyes.
"Wh-what do you want?"
For answer he grabbed her, swung her across the back of it and carried her away. She screamed as loud as she could, and heard Rayek calling her name.

The fair-haired youth howled, raising his sword. The other savages came to him, ShenShen's captor among them.

The silver-haired girl smiled at him and said:
"Uh”¦ excuse me, Pike, but it doesn't look like you're carrying much water!"
"Huh?" He seemed to notice the struggling ShenShen only then.
"Oh”¦ I'll explain later."

They carried her up the hill, on to a relatively level landing. The pale people seemed to talk to each other without saying anything. ShenShen wondered if this was the "sending" her sister Leetah was so good at. They ate and drank of the spoils of their raid greedily. She saw the silver-haired one was the only female among them. That seemed strange. Was that why they had taken her - to have more lifebearers? Just as they had taken the food and water - because they were hungry and thirsty? Or had one of them sensed her healer powers somehow? Either way, it was a terrifying thought to have when captured and helpless. ShenShen began to struggle again. The red-haired male was holding a hand on her mouth and his other arm was around her. He was strong. He seemed to be mentally arguing with the fair-haired youth, who was obviously the leader of this ragtag band. ShenShen had learned a lot watching Savah teach Leetah. Expressions could tell as much as words sometimes.

Her captor sat down, keeping a good hold on her, his hands on her mouth. ShenShen bit him. Soon he whispered:
"Uh, listen”¦ I'm going to take my hand away”¦ but if you sceam - well, you won't like what will happen to you!"
He moved his hand. ShenShen screamed.
"Pike, you bird-brain!" The fair-haired youth snarled at her captor. The silver-haired girl stood up to defend him:
"It was my idea, Cutter. Sorry."
"Hmph! You and your ideas."

Soon Rayek reached the top. The other strangers had concealed themselves among the rocks, ShenShen's captor stood alone, with her slung across his shoulders. He and Rayek exchanged some insults, then Rayek made a threat, and a spear-point touched his shoulder. The spear was the one her captor - Pike? - had been carrying, and it was now held by the silver-haired girl. Rayek was surrounded by the savages. The female reached for his spear:
"Let's have the pig poker, long-face!"
"You dare -?" Rayek used his power on her. The girl stiffened and stood unmoving, unseeing.

The others wrestled the spear from Rayek and covered his eyes. He cursed, and happened to mention the name of the High Ones. The savages were surprised:
"How dare you profane our ancient fathers?" The one called Cutter asked him.
"We are all descendants of the High Ones, stranger! Can you not see we are all of one race?"
ShenShen spoke up, still held by her captor. A lot of explanations followed both ways, although Rayek wasn't much help, since his pride had been injured. Finally some kind of truce was reached and ShenShen invited the savages to the village. They had to wait while four females and three children were fetched from some hiding place.

The Sun-Touched welcomed the wolfriders, and accepted Cutter's apology. ShenShen admired how his father got their respect just by being what he was. Cutter suddenly spoke, interrupting him. It turned out they had left two of their number behind in the desert. He declared he was going back to them and asker if there was a healer in the village.
"I am a healer." ShenShen said simply. Rayek argued that she shouldn't go, it wasn't safe.
"I'll do my duty. You can come with us."

They rode on zwoots following Cutter on his wolf. In the desert they found the wounded male and his lifemate.

ShenShen had been surprised to find she longed for this to be over soon, so she could return to the village. Back to the one called Pike. Although another name sang itself in her heart, the name she knew not the meaning of. She knew the symptoms, having seen them often enough. Could it be - Recognition? If it was, there was no choice. After all, Recognition meant children. He might be a stupid savage, but if Pike could give her a child of her own, she would forgive him everything.

Then she healed the one called Redlance. Touched him, formed a tentative connection with body and soul both - and she learned. About the wolfblood. About mortality.

And she decided she had to fight Recognition. The alternative was too horrible - to watch her own children someday age and die. And the worst of it was she couldn't tell Pike why she was refusing him. It seemed his people had no idea of the curse they carried in their blood, and she wished them to remain innocent. So Pike would misunderstand her refusal, he'd think it was pride.

To be continued...

Kathleen

Ooh?
This is cool, and very interesting.

I like the idea of Shenshen being a healer(it's something I've explored in my mind) and I really like this.

krwordgazer

Ahh. Shenshen and Pike. Good choice.

And I like how you've defined her relationship with Rayek. Very interesting!

Can't wait for more! :D

Leanan

i'm not entirely satisfied with these chapters but... here goes:

Chapter Six: The Healing

The people of Sorrow’s End were preparing a celebration to welcome the Wolfriders. ShenShen was practicing a dance with some of her friends. Skywise, when she found her, stood mesmerized, watching the graceful movements and the flowing veils. She had never cared much for making herself pretty, and now for the first time did she suspect she might have missed something. Finlally she remembered what she had come for.
“Healer?”
ShenShen halted, then spoke to her friends:
“Go on without me.”
Then she turned to the silver-haired maiden.
“What is it? Is Redlance all right?”
“Yes, don’t worry, you mended him enough that he can mend himself. I’ve come to ask something for myself. A healing.”
“Yes?”
“Some turns ago, our tribe was attacked by a monster born of foul magic. Madcoil. It slew six, among them Cutter’s parents ”“ and Rain the Healer. But the full count of lives lost was seven. It struck me down, and I lost the life I was bearing. And later I learned I had lost something else ”“ I could not bear a cub anymore. And we had no healer. Can you help me?”
“I’ll try. Come.”
She took her into her hut and instructed her to lie down.

“What’s your name, by the way?”
“Skywise.”
“And who’s your lifemate? The one whose child it would have been?”
She smiled when she answered:
“Cutter. Our chief.”
“Why didn’t he come with you?”
“Because if I can’t be healed, I don’t want another disappointment for him. A pleasant surprise is much better.”

ShenShen touched her, joined minds in a way that resembled, but was not quite, sending. Soon she saw what was wrong. Like many of the worst ills, it was a small thing really, that was out of place and broken. Easy to mend. So she mended it.

When she lifted her hands, Skywise moaned. She realized the Wolfrider had been biting her lip to silence herself.
“Oww ”“ that hurt, you know? Did you”¦?”
“Yes. It is done.”
Skywise got up and took ShenShen’s hand between her own two hands.
“How can I ever thank you enough?”
“No need, I just did my duty.”
“Well, you’ve earned my friendship, ShenShen. Now and for ever.”

But ShenShen didn’t answer. Skywise thought she was tired from the healing. In fact, she was fighting back tears. How easily the wolfblood used words like ”˜for ever’, totally ignorant ”˜for ever’ was something she didn’t have.

Chapter Seven: Challenge

Days passed. Pike tried to court ShenShen with clumsy apologies and gifts. One afternoon he stood against the wall of ShenShen’s hut.
“Would you at least tell me why? You said you can forgive how I treated you ”“ so I don’t understand. Why refuse a truth we both know?”
“I’m sorry, but I owe you no explanation.”
“In my tribe we don’t play games with our hearts. We know ”““

Just then, someone grabbed Pike’s shoulder. Rayek. He threw him to the ground and tossed a sculpted metal stick into the ground beside him. Then he was gone.
“What’s this?” Pike asked, puzzled.
“A challenge wand! Rayek, you zwoothead! Well, go to Savah’s hut, Wolfrider. The rest of us will be there soon.”

ShenShen sat between her parents, Pike and Rayek stood on opposite sides before the Mother of Memory.
“Children of my children’s children”¦ hear now a chant that is older than old, and truer than truth itself”¦ heart to heart are lifemates bound, soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes”¦ maiden, amongst those gathered ”˜round stands your one love recongized? Speak his name and all is done! ”˜twixt these two you must decide! ”˜Nay’ to both or ”˜aye’ to one? Which of them must step aside?”

ShenShen didn’t waste time before answering.
“Nay to both! Rayek, you don’t have the right to make the challenge! Why would anything that has happened change my answer? And why would a contest solve the choice, if a choice there was? You think I care about winning and losing? All a trial would mean to me is needless hurts and bruises to be healed!”
“Very well.” Rayek left the hut. Toorah hugged her daughter. Pike stood silent only a moment. Then he spoke:
“And what about me? What about Recognition?”
“Leave me alone!”
So Pike left, too. ShenShen’s parents, unable to help her, went their way as well, hoping the Mother of Memory would offer some consolation.

“Child, what is it? I sense no disagreement between the two of you. Why fight Recognition?”
So she told her. About the wolfblood. Tears welled in her eyes.
“But daughter, hasn’t it occurred to you that you could change it? You, with your healer’s touch, could remove death from your children’s blood.”
“Could I?”
“I’m quite certain you could. But I advise you to wait until your children are old enough to make the choice for themselves. What is burned away can never be given back. And the wolfblood gives many strengths, not just weakness.”
“Oh, Savah!” ShenShen buried her head in her ancient teacher’s lap.

She found Pike at the zwoots’ drinking through. He was staring at his reflection in the still water glumly, perhaps wondering if it was his looks that repelled ShenShen.
“Pike?” She smiled at him. He couldn’t bear the gentleness in her eyes, and turned away. But ShenShen went to him and placed her hands on his arms from behind.
“Behl?”
He trembled as she embraced him.
“Strange”¦ now that I have said it aloud, I know what a soulname is, and what it means. Pike, Howlkeeper, son of Rain the Healer, all that you are is Behl.”

That night, the Recognition was answered. The following night there was a great celebration, and they were the centre of it. Best of all, perhaps, was Redlance’s gift ”“ the dreamberries. When nightfall had asked for the seeds Pike had supposed she would plant them in the gardens and let them grow slowly, just like the other plants the Sun Villagers used for food. But it turned out Redlance’s treeshaping gift had blossomed at last.

Rayek wasn’t present at the feast. Some days later, after the wolfriders had saved the village from a stampede of zwoots, and ShenShen had saved Dewshine’s life, Savah told them Rayek had left for good. But there were good news too ”“ the day after the stampede Cutter announced there would be a cub, at last, for him and Skywise.

To be continued...


Now before I can continue I need to figure something out. Help would be welcome. I'm not going to remake Ember and Suntop disguised with new names, i'm going to make two new cubs (yes, only two, no twins) with new talents... besides Leetah already got Suntop's magic. So, if when Savah's spirit is captured, it is Leetah who goes to her and gets the warning... then how can I make the wolfriders follow her - and how can I make them to take the children with them? Is there any possibility that Cutter and Skywise's child would have magic? (Pike and ShenShen's certainly will... Pike is the son of Rain the Healer after all...)

Kathleen

gLARG!
No!
Suntop and Ember must be born!
Subliminal mind rays!
Mind rays!
Oh well.
Hey, anyone remember the "Elfquest that never was"?
Maybe They can be born later(looks sad)
I love it! I have no coherency! You stole my coherency!

Leanan

Sorry. Suntop and Ember are Leetah's children as much as Cutter's, it wouldn't 'fit' to give them ot someone else... and those two aren't going to Recognize later either... that would be too many Recognitions...

but this means I get to make two children of my own... *greed*

MrsGrizzley

I LOVE IT!!!!!!

I love how you rearranged things in Sorrow's End, too!

That is SOOOOOO cool!!

Mrs. Grizzley(who *did* have a visit from Strongbow and company)

Leanan

Advice, anyone, on the questions I asked... I won't be able to go on without help...

krwordgazer

Leanan, if you want to make two new elves, you might try Apogee's character generator on this forum. :D

Kathleen

I don't think Cutter and Skywise's cub would have magic. Would S/He really need it? After all, it'll be chief one day. Maybe it's better for it to just have it's mother and father's questing hearts.
Oh, Will Yun be born in this Worldpool? Maybe make Yun's mother a guy, then she could be! Yes, yes, my prrreesciouss...
I think they would take the cubs because maybe the Wolfriders will think, hey, while we free Savah, we might as well move back to the woods, instead of getting burnt all the time. And ShenShen will be all like, Pike, do you want to go? And he'll be all like, hey I do, but only if you do. And Sappy Gooyness will ensue.

OH GOD!

Please please please make Leetah recognize a Go Back! Please!

Leanan

I wanna make them myself I have some ideas...

Spoiler-teaser for the next chapter: Skywise and Cutter will have a white-haired baby girl called Cloud, and Pike and Shenshen will have a boy with dark red hair called Redbird, but when he finds his fire-starting magic his name will be changed into Firebird

I think Yun will be born... Skywise loves sharing ohh yess...

Mmh, good idea about Leetah she deserves some attention too and that sure would kindle some sparks... also the idea of a Go-Back Recognition fascinates me...

twinklebug

Are you going to write more, Leanan? I want more! IwantitIwantitIwantitIWANTIT!!! *pounds fists on the table*

Kathleen

Yess...

Writes more of the precious...

Leanan

Sorry, folks... I'm having trouble with all my stories and the cause is simple: real life. My head has been too busy recently for me to sit down and write.

Kathleen

Real life is the bad thing.

Leanan

btw, fanfiction.net is better than its reputation. One reviewer asked me "it doesn't seem right that Cutter is named Cutter as an infant - didn't he get the name for his skill with a sword?"

I'd never thought of that - and none of you commented on it. And I've no idea what to answer... I do remember he was called Cutter before he had his first metal blade, even before he had a wolf-friend (in 'Starfall, Starrise')... help me people - is Cutter named in any comic about his birth or early childhood? I know Botc names him Cloudchaser but that isn't canon.

Kathleen

No. But it's cute.

I don't know. I don't frequent any section other than the EQ section at ff.net anymore.

Leanan

with some scetchy illustration yes I know I should have used some shading but believe me they would look even worse if I tried..

[b:d6cebbbc08]Chapter Eight: Invitation[/b:d6cebbbc08]

“Lifemate, I want you to meet someone.”
What now, Cutter thought as he rubbed his eyes with his fists, trying to wake himself up. Skywise knew he wanted to sleep during the daytime. High Ones, she should be sleeping too, conserving strength. But no, his lifemate behaved as if she was not with child. True, it hardly showed yet, but surely”¦
“Come on, don’t be afraid.” The words weren’t meant for him. Skywise led a maiden into the sleeping cave. A maiden with auburn hair, serious eyes and a shy smile on her full lips. The way they held hands left no question as to the nature of their relationship. Three so far, Cutter thought, this girl and the youth named Marek, and the weaver Ahnshen who had made Skywise’s new clothes. Three new lovemates that he knew of, and countless playmates Skywise hadn’t bothered to introduce.

Cutter wasn’t jealous. He understood Skywise needed something to pass the time while the tribe hunted ”“ she would not risk this cub the way she had risked the one who should have been their firstborn. Until the cub was born she would not hunt. So Skywise was enjoying her life to the full while her time was still hers. She would be a devoted mother, she would live for their child just as much as her lifemate would, but as long as she was free, she would satisfy her hunger for pleasure-games. If she had neglected him Cutter might have complained, but it seemed for Skywise there was no such thing as ”˜enough’. She would come to him in the early morning, the scents of others on her, and still she would be hungry for his touch. Jealous? No, he was proud of her!

“Beloved? This is Vurdah.”
“She is beautiful.”
“That she is. Beautiful and sweet. She has invited us to live with her, in the village.”
“Live with her?”
“Yes. Vurdah, don’t be shy. Tell him.”
But the girl just looked at him, doe-eyed, then leaned against Skywise, away from him. Skywise spoke for her new lovemate:
“She told me she thinks a cave is not a fit home for us, not with the little one coming. And she would like to help.”

It took Skywise a moment to convince Vurdah she had no reason to fear Cutter. He got the impression the reason of the fear was not, in fact, that Vurdah thought him a cruel barbarian. Ohh no. Vurdah had a crush on him but feared to show her feelings. Skywise encouraged her to speak for herself, and when she shyly asked if he could ever answer her love, he surprised even himself taking her into his arms. Soon the union of the three of them was made real with passionate joinings.

And the very same evening they moved their meagre belongings into Vurdah’s hut. Skywise admitted she preferred a soft bed and a beautiful room to a pile of furs in a coarse cave.

[b:d6cebbbc08]Chapter Nine: Blood of Eleven Chiefs[/b:d6cebbbc08]

Cutter and Nightrunner had had a good hunt, all in all. The rabbits would be enough for the old wolf tonight. Nightrunner lifted his head, sensing a familiar scent. Soon Cutter noticed it too. His daughter was somewhere nearby. He pretended he hadn’t noticed anything and soon Cloud jumped to his back from a rock beside the path.
“Got you, father!”
“Oof!”
“Did I really surprise you?” She wrapped her pale arms around him.
“You’ll be a great hunter someday, Cloud! But get down, now, Nightrunner can’t carry us both the way he used to.”

[img:d6cebbbc08]http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y196/imladviel/forum/cloud.jpg[/img:d6cebbbc08]

They sat down. Soon they heard the wolves howling for a kill.
“Is your mother hunting with the others?”
The white-haired little girl giggled.
“No. She went bathing.” When had his little Cloud learned that sometimes, bathing wasn’t just bathing? How much did she know of what adults did with each other? Cutter wasn’t sure. maybe she pretended to know more than she did.

“Why doesn’t Nightrunner lead the pack anymore?”
Cutter weighed his words carefully before answering:
“He’s too old. The younger wolves drove him away. if he tried to go back, they’d kill him.”
“That is”¦ that is”¦” Cloud didn’t know what to say.
“That is the way. And it’s a good one. Nightrunner understands. Besides, he has me to care for him now ”“ as long as he lives.”
Cloud patted the wolf gently. She understood, too. She stood up and closed her eyes:
“I can’t wait to have a wolf friend of my own!”

Suddenly Cutter drew his sword, his eyes at his daughter’s feet.
“Hsst! Cloud, don’t move”¦!” He whispered.
The child obeyed, standing motionless as a poisonous sting-tail climbed onto her sandal.
Cutter prepared to slice it away, when a short sword, thrown, pierced the creature to the ground.

“Thank you, mother!”

[img:d6cebbbc08]http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y196/imladviel/forum/sunv.jpg[/img:d6cebbbc08]

Skywise just smiled. She was dressed in the clothes Ahnshen had made for her, a short skirt and a skimpy top. They looked at odds somehow with the headpiece and wristguards she would never consider giving up. Maybe she had been absent from hunts as often as present, these days, but lack of practice had not ruined her aim. Cutter handed her sword back to her.

Leaving Nightrunner to gobble his feast of rabbits, the little family made their way home. Home, now, was a hut in the village, where Vurdah slept already. As they walked under the sticker plants Redlance had shaped into beautiful, dancing forms, ShenShen came to meet them half running, worry in her olive-green eyes.
“Cutter! Skywise! Have you seen Firebird? I thought he was with Pike but he just came home and hasn’t seen him either. We tried sending but you know how he is, these days.”
They knew, but Cloud wasn’t interested in magic and had paid little attention to the changes in her friend.
“What do you mean, ShenShen? Firebird was always better than me in sending.”
“Cubling,” Skywise turned to her daughter, “You remember why his name isn’t Redbird anymore. Ever since he found his firestarting magic he’s been turned inwards more and more often, much like his mother when she’s healing someone. Only Savah has the power to reach him then.”
“If we don’t find him soon I’ll have to wake the Mother of Memory.” ShenShen muttered. She was worried for her wayward cub, but also angry about the trouble he was causing. This time, however, Savah was not needed, for Pike’s sending reached them, open to all.
**Found him! On the cliffs. And we found something else, too.** Even before the sending was over the wolves howled, the warning signal that had last been used the night the holt burned.
**Humans. One ill, one cub, two adults.** Pike confirmed the message.

The Wolfriders gathered together. Cutter told them to keep quiet and let the Sun Folk sleep.
**I want to see humans too!** Cloud complained.
**No, cubling.** Skywise held her tight in her arms.
**I won’t put you in danger. We’ll go home and stay safe while your father deals with them.**
Her heart was racing and she knew Cloud noticed it. She had had enough of humans for one lifetime.

(Firebird doesn't appear in the story but here's a picture of him anyway)
[img:d6cebbbc08]http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y196/imladviel/forum/firebird.jpg[/img:d6cebbbc08]

[b:d6cebbbc08]Chapter Ten: A Quest Begins[/b:d6cebbbc08]

The humans had been given the small mercy of leaving alone. Strongbow had challenged Cutter because of that, and lost. After a talk with Savah Cutter had considered going out to find other elves. If there were any, together they would stand a better chance.

He sat on the windowsill and watched the children playing together. Newstar, Wing and Firebird were teaching a tame little wolf-like animal to fetch a ball. Dart was showing Cloud how to use the arrow-whip. Inside the hut, Skywise rested half-asleep on the pit-bed. Vurdah came from the well with a jar of water. She started watering the desert-flowers and herbs she grew in little pots all over the upper floor of their hut. Cutter stepped inside and spoke to his lifemate and their lovemate.

“It’s decided.”
Skywise opened her eyes, saw the shadow in his eyes and rose to take him in her arms. Vurdah knelt on the floor beside them.
“You’re going?” She asked.
“Yes, Vurdah. Because I have to.”
**Tam. I’m coming with you.**
**But Fahr”¦**
**But nothing. We both know you can’t find your way around a tree without getting lost.**
**What about Cloud?**
**Vurdah will look after her. Everyone will look after her. A chief’s cubs belong to all his tribe.**
Then she spoke, to the maiden who still hadn’t learned to send.
“Vurdah, I’m going with him. Will you take care of Cloud for us? We’ll be back. I promise we will be back.”
“Of course. She’s like a daughter to me. But I will miss you.” Vurdah wrapped her arms around her lovemates. Tears filled her eyes, but with the sorrow came a new confidence. They trusted her with the child who was dearer to them that anything else in the world. She would be worth that trust. She would not disappoint them.

Cloud took the news surprisingly well. She grinned with anticipation when Cutter told her Strongbow would teach her to hunt, then her eyes went serious again, but she did not cry.

Skywise had some farewells of her own to say. Ahnsen seemed horrified by her decision, but when he saw her in her leather travel clothes he had to admit she seemed more herself, more alive than ever in any fine mothfabric he had dressed her in. Hunter. Warrior.

The tribe took some convincing ”“ Treestump was worried for his nephew, Moonshade and Strongbow would have liked to come with Cutter and Skywise, but the young chief told them he wanted everyone in one place for now.

When they had finished their farewells and led their zwoots towards the Burning Waste, they saw a Sun Village maiden come running after them.
“Wolf-chief! Wait!”
Cutter halted his new mount and Skywise followed his example. They saw the maiden was none other than ShenShen’s sister Leetah, the midwife who had helped with Cloud’s birth.
“What is it?” Skywise asked when she reached them.
“ShenShen told me you would be going tonight. I have a request for you.”
“Yes?”
“If you happen to find Rayek, please give him a message from me.” Then she sent, a strong and vivid connection, for she was one of the Sun Folk with a gift of powerful magic. The message was simple. She loved Rayek although she had been too proud to admit it, until it was too late, until he was gone and she realized just how much she missed him.
“We will give your message if we meet him. Maybe we will, since Savah said he took the same path we are taking.” Cutter promised the tearful maiden. Skywise took her hand and smiled to show she thought the proud maiden had made a wise decision.

The wolves following the zwoots on foot, they mounted the huge animals and rode away into the cold desert night. A song of farewell drifted from the village, every voice joined to wish them the blessing of the High Ones. But Cutter and Skywise heard two voices only ”“ Vurdah’s husky voice interrupted by little sobs, and Cloud’s high and clear cub-voice, sad but unfaltering.

Already the chief and his lifemate missed their family.
[i:d6cebbbc08]
To be continued...[/i:d6cebbbc08]

Well, what do you think? Like my choices or hate them? About Vurdah - I think having one lifemate already Skywise wouldn't say no to another... but it's been a long time since I've read Heart's Way... what book was that published in btw? And what colour are Vurdah's eyes?

Kathleen

I like it. I've always thought Vurdah was a little ill-used by fans, but this story has exorcised it!

Leanan

thanks... at the end of Heart's Way I think Vurdah chose to enter the hut... else how would we meet her giving such sweet farewells when Skywise is to leave with Cutter... and that, I think, is the basic difference between Vurdah and Zhantee and their situations...

Kathleen

They looked kind of alike, too, don't they? Maybe they're cousins! Or siblings!

Leanan

that would be... disturbing, somehow...

krwordgazer

[quote:db2baa8ff9="Leanan"]btw, fanfiction.net is better than its reputation. One reviewer asked me "it doesn't seem right that Cutter is named Cutter as an infant - didn't he get the name for his skill with a sword?"

I'd never thought of that - and none of you commented on it. And I've no idea what to answer... I do remember he was called Cutter before he had his first metal blade, even before he had a wolf-friend (in 'Starfall, Starrise')... help me people - is Cutter named in any comic about his birth or early childhood? I know Botc names him Cloudchaser but that isn't canon.[/quote:db2baa8ff9]

Leanan, I just read the two new chapters, and then I reread the one before (somehow I missed parts of it-- I must have gotten interrupted while I was reading that chapter and then forgot I hadn't finished!), and they're great! I like the healing of Skywise, I like Vurdah coming in (what she really wants is lifemate(s) and a child, and she gets both this way). The two children are cute, and Pike's child having fire-magic is a wonderful twist.

What I can't figure out is how I overlooked your questions. The one above-- no, the stories about Cutter's infancy never show anyone calling him Cutter. They call him "the cub" or (privately) "Tam." In the stories about his childhood, we do see him called "Cutter." That's why, in my story "What's in a Name?", I conjecture that he got the name Cutter in very early childhood -- five years old-- when he stole his father's sword and did something heroic with it. (I don't think in Starrise, Starfall, we need assume that Cutter doesn't have a knife just because he isn't carrying it around the Holt. He looks about 8-10 in that story, and Skywise must be 14-16. Plus there are indications in "Chief's Howl" that young Cutter is a bit careless about keeping track of where his knife is. Though it must be that Cutter didn't get his first Wolf-friend till late-- unless Nightrunner was sick, or something. )

As far as the Wolfriders following Leetah when she gets Savah's warning-- well, Cutter and Skywise are their chief and his lifemate, so naturally they will still want to go to his aid if they're told he's in danger. Cloud, of course, would be very upset about the idea of not going with them to help her parents, so they'd take her, too. Pike would want to go, and would convince Shenshen and Firebird to come, too. Should work fine.

Hope this helps, and sorry I didn't reply sooner.

Leanan

I was referring to the story in chief's howl when i menationed the knife... it didn't look like his name had changed, surely he would have mentioned that when he mentined the name of his new blade...

Hmmm somehow I've missed your 'What's in a name'... lovely, one more of your stories to look forward to...

Your solution to the Leetah problem is perfect, I'm going to go with that I think... hmmm it was going to be ShenShen and the kids they find in Forbidden Grove, now it will be Leetah... which means Skywise's arm won't be healed... which means, blast it, she'll stay back with the children instead of taking part in the attack to Blue Mountain...

krwordgazer

Ah. But is there any reason why Leetah wouldn't be captured with the others, while Shenshen takes it on herself to look after both kids and escape with the zwoot?

I looked again at the Chief's Howl story, and if it's the same one I'm thinking of, Joyleaf says, "But think, [i:fe88b043c2]Cutter.[/i:fe88b043c2] Where did you last use it (the knife)?"

Leanan

well, the only difference would be that she couldn't deliver the warning... but since it had little effect to the story that would work, too...

so what do you mean by the quote? I'm sorry I don't get your point. His name was Cutter. So?

krwordgazer

Ah, I see. Shenshen would have to explain as well as she could why they had come. And there would be a kind of irony in that Leetah couldn't deliver the full message until they were already hip-deep in the danger. Could be cool.

About Cutter, I think I misunderstood your question when I responded to it. I thought you meant you didn't think his name had been changed yet to "Cutter" in that scene where he loses his knife. You were thinking maybe his name had just recently been changed to Cutter, and that's why he got the knife, is that right? But I think he had received the name Cutter earlier, which is why it wasn't mentioned in that story.

Leanan

Actually my opinion was I think he received the name earlier, too, which I tried to prove with the examples...

krwordgazer

Oh. Well, it's almost midnight here, so that's my excuse. . . Grin

twinklebug

Yay!! I love how this story's going! And little Cloud is so cute!!

SUNMARK

WAT MOREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

asinas

Its turning out to be terribly cute! *Huggles cloud* I love it! Really really!

Leanan

Sorry folks... I got stuck on meeting the trolls... Skywise simply isn't co-operating for what I had planned... :twisted:

(Skywise: I won't! No way! Bleh! They're trolls!
Leanan: C'mon... it's no fun otherwise...
Skywise: Use Cutter! He's drunker than me!
*Leanan feeds Skywise some more dreamberries*)

Don't worry - I'm working on it... :P

SUNMARK

Try red wine

Seastorm

I was just searching through the many pages on this forum, and found this story. I love the idea of it, and I love the fact that it follows the (for the most part) the original quest story line.
It is awesome... any plans on continuing it???
:awww: <---- me begging you with puppy dog eyes

twinklebug

I hope so. Leanan's been gone for a while, though, and last I heard she was really sick. :(

Leanan

I've been trying to get Skywise drunk for four years now. He always runs away.

But I think tonight... I will begin a new chapter on this.

Skywise: She's evil! *tries to get out of chains and handcuffs*



:twisted: Of course. I am a writer. All writers are vampires, anyways.

faeriegirl

Yes! I love it too!
*hands Leanan extra rope* anything else you need? :twisted:

Embala

Tried to read this story - no - actually started reading it up to Chapter 4. In fact I was very surprised when I realized I'd read the first part somewhen before ... without noticing that it continues.

Sadly I'm not in the mood for a long read today (English prose costs me endless time ...) - much too impatient and erratic. And the discussions and suggestions make it worse ... to funny and interesting to skip them.

Like what I've read so far ... intriguing ... hope to find time during the turn of the year. You are bumping too many interesting stories at the same time!

Leanan

Grin Ok, I won't bump anymore now.

jeb

I'm glad for your bumping. Bringing up all these stories that I wouldn't otherwise read.

I am enjoying this story, although my mind completely rejects the illustrations of Skywise as a female. :roll:

Leanan

Yeah, that was years before I learned to draw. :oops:

jeb

No, it's not the art at all, just the concept. Grin I mean, it works well in the story, I just have trouble seeing it.

Leanan

D'Oh. I've seen some fabulous Genderblender elf art... Male Nightfall and Female Redlance... female Rayek... I think it can be done well... I just didn't achieve it. The first pic is not too bad... but it's crap compared to what others have done. Too bad a lot of the Genderblender pieces were lost forever when eqfanart.com died. Unhappy

twinklebug

Oh, wow! I remember this! :D I can't wait for more!

Leanan

*glomps Twinklebug* Bugtwinkle! :o :D

lunakat

Are you really going to write more of this, leanan?

Leanan

I have started a new chapter. It is going slower than expected, because real life keeps interfering.

CrimsonAnna

I really look forward to the new chapter. You have a gift for writing fanfiction-you manage to have lots of elements in it without losing the story. It's like reading the OQ only the pictures are written, not drawn.

Leanan

Gah another promise I couldn't keep. The story just didn't come...

Blueflame

I hop Skywise gett's very drunk and flirts with Picknose.........I wonder how Cutter would react ?

Sofia

Oh this was interesting, can't wait to read more!

Beryl

plz write more soon Yay

I love this story and you have written it in sutch a good way Happy

Leanan

I think my main problem with writing more of this is I detest how I wrote many of the earlier chapters... looking back at them now, I copied too much directly from ElfQuest, making only minor changes... oh well... I shall try to come up with something more original for the trolls...

lunakat

This story was so much fun- and I think it was well written. It didn't follow EQ too closely- I mean, it wasn't a mimic of what happened. I would be interested in seeing where you take it, and if you choose to stray from the storyline, how much you divert. Please continue! Please, please! I really love your stories Leanan!

Vaeri

i quite enjoy this story! so much fun...though i rather wish Shenshen and pike had ended up with twins! after all, Shenshen and Leetah share the same genetics, and twins does tend to run in families...ah well. maybe Rayek and Leetah could have twins?

also, i have the answer to your question about Cutter's name! believe it or not, it's in the Elfquest RPG Companion! it's in the "Finding an Elf name" section and i quote,

"Cutter was named because his affinity for cutting weapons was so great even at birth that even his parents could sense it as he lay helpless in their arms"

Elfquest RPG Companion

it's quite fun to read through...i learned lots of little things i didn't know.

Leanan

Thank you! And thanks for the info about the name! B-)

Vaeri

you're welcome!^-~ always happy to help people out! i am a cornucopia of worthless trivia. XD