Chapter 11 - Stone
Stone always thought he would tremble before Her, but no. Instead, he felt only love reaching out to him, warming him as if She were the flame ignited from within him.
He couldn’t tell if She was a solid being or a spirit with definable features because the light blinded him from getting a close look at Her. Long silver hair trailed behind Her, and he thought he caught a glimpse of a smile tugging up a smooth cheek as Her attention seemed to rest on Aubree before it vanished behind the light and he could feel Her gaze on him now.
“Stone,” She said in a voice that was soft and soothing, “you think I have abandoned you all these years? My dear lycan. Truth is that those who have suffered the most will be rewarded the most.
“I have granted you a soulmate, whose soul was so pure, none dared harm her—until she was taken from you. You suffered again because of it, but you stayed strong for your loved ones.
“I wanted to bless you and your offspring, but I knew how hard your heart was towards humans. So, I granted you a second chance with your soulmate. But you had to open your heart to her and come to love and accept her for who she is, human and all.”
Stone was stunned and didn’t know what to say. He could not even muster a thank you.
“Do you accept your soulmate, Stone, even though she is human? Even though she will live a short human life, vulnerable to the elements, breakable in battle, and liable to die by your hands?”
Pain flared up within him at the thought of losing Aubree, but he bowed his head and held onto the love that coiled around him.
[Yes,] he said.
She hummed. “I know you do. It is impossible to lie in my presence. However, I wanted her to hear it.
“You have been hard on her, and no matter how strong, brave, or in love one can be, an inkling of doubt can’t be helped when given reason to. You have shown her your fears and vulnerabilities that have influence your actions, but your actions have brought about a seed of doubt. Once planted, it can grow, or be stomped on. Even if stomped on, doubt can grow back like a weed.”
She turned Her attention to Aubree, though She spoke to Stone as well. “You have no reason to doubt, my dear. I shall dig up the very seeds and roots your doubt has been planted in, so it can never sprout again. This is my gift to you.”
[Thank you,] Aubree said.
“I have blessed you both,” She went on. “Complete the bond and let your souls be united once more. The bond wasn’t completely severed, as it never is between mates, even in death. That is why you feel connected. That is why you feel connected with your parents and son here in this space between realms. Soul connections are, and always will be, stronger than blood connections.
“Because your soulmate was reborn into another body, you feel connected still with her soul because it was never completely severed. It is not a complete connection, however, because she has been reborn again. That is why you feel the urge to complete it.
“Seal the bond, claim each other’s souls and bodies, and be united again. I bless you.”
Confusion crossed Stone. [You mean, all this time, I’ve been holding back and I did not have to?]
“I am pleased by your restraint. You love her so much that you have been able to hold yourself back from a natural urge designed to bring soulmates together and seal the bond. All the more reason you are worthy of having your mate returned to you.
“However, had you marked her, she would have suffered the consequences.”
Stone was still baffled. [How then can I seal the bond if there are still consequences?]
He couldn’t understand what she was saying. The risk was still present?
“My dear lycan,” She said. “The secret lies in your blood. Your ability to heal will be the difference in life and death and her ultimate destruction. A transfusion of blood will prevent the beast from consuming her sanity when you mark her. It will also give her the ability to heal like yourself.”
She lifted a delicate hand. “Cut each of your palms, and press them together. Allow your blood to enter her and when her cut heals, then you know it is safe to proceed.”
Lowering Her hand, She continued, “The blood of a lycan must not be shared, but for you, I make an exception. For you to be together for centuries, your blood must be shared.”
[So, if I give her my blood before sealing the bond, she will not be cursed?] Stone clarified. [She will remain human, but a human capable of living hundreds of years?]
“For a short time, yes,” She said. “She will still transform at the light of the full moon against her will as a result of formerly being a human and bitten, but bloodlust will not run through her veins. Her soul is lycan and will yield to me once your blood mixes with hers and she bears your mark. You will both find peace, as all soulmates do when they seal the bond.”
She smiled in a way that lifted any doubts from within him. “Seal the bond, my dears. You have nothing to fear.”
[Will it be safe to have pups?] Stone asked.
“Yes, but your pups will be special,” She said, the bright light around Her flickered brighter for a second, as if in excitement. “They will be neither lycan, nor human—not even werewolf, like the ones you know. Aubree will carry them to term in her human form and they will be born human but capable of shifting into wolves immediately. They will grow faster than lycans but slower than humans, so they will mature faster. When they reach maturity, they will have the ability to transform into lycans and find their soulmates.
“They will grow up fast, Stone, reaching maturity around thirty years of age while appearing half that age. Enjoy them. Time will fly faster than you are used to.
“Everything else will be the same as you know, Stone.” She gestured to Aubree. “Aubree will lose her monthly menses and will become fertile at the next lunar eclipse and every one thereafter.
“Once your pups reach maturity, they will be no different than the next mature lycan, only younger in years.”
A pause fell, and Aubree spoke up now, having been quiet during the entire exchange. [Should I worship You now?]
The Goddess smiled at Aubree. “Yes, my dear. Your soul has always belonged to me and no other god. In time, you will come to learn all. I do not expect you to learn everything at once. You have no memory of your past life, nor should you. You have been reborn into a new life.”
She chuckled lightly, the sound light and breezy. “Yes, Tabula rasa. Like a blank slate, you’ve been reborn again. When you both seal the bond, you will become the being you were destined to be.”
[I will become a lycan then?]
An inkling of fear tingled the air, but the Goddess snuffed it out and radiated love around them as she spread her arms out wide.
“Yes, my dear. You needn’t be afraid of it. This is your destiny, but Stone will not claim you until you are ready. He has shown great restraint, even when his body turns against him.”
Reaching out a coil of affection, Stone touched Aubree’s soul as he would caress her cheek with his knuckles.
Turning to Stone, the Goddess’ voice became serious. “Until Aubree’s first shift, her scent will confuse lycans and they will not accept her, nor your bond. Do as you have already been doing. That by rejecting her and your bond, they are questioning me and rejecting me and my blessings. Until her first shift, they will not have the proof they seek. Be patient with them. You have done well, thus far.”
She drew away from them. “I will leave you now with a few hours left of the night. This will be your last chance to gaze up at the night sky like you used to be able to do hundreds of years ago. Enjoy it, my darlings. Blessings unto you and all that you do.”
Just as She had come, She left in a bright flash of light.