Space, the final frontier low earth orbit.
Malice was cursing under her breath as she piloted a Valkyrie Cyclone in one of the most furious dogfights she had been engaged in for a long while. They had intercepted an enemy force, race unknown but they had good fighters and excellent pilots.
The pulse cannon and missile fire was thick enough to walk on. It was becoming increasingly difficult to survive.
As she lined up another shot there was a brilliant flash of light and the fighter shuddered like it was being shaken by a wolf. Then every warning light in the cockpit came on as the fighter spun out of control.
“Mayday, Mayday Mayday, This is silver one I’m hit fuck and Im going down! Exact coordinates unknown I tell you if I survive the sudden stop.”
She repeated the message she was having a problem reaching the ejection handle because of the g force. When she finally ejected she was too low to deploy her wings and she impacted not far from the remains of the fighter leaving a second crater in the ground.
Saw it come down. Brought some memories back of a long time ago when I sang to my goddess. It’s been really too long...another lifetime.I’ve been here a few days. They seem like years. Another person’s there; just one woman this time, a warrior, slipping through the portal.
There was some battle. I sense that. Wings. Perhaps I should go see if she needs help.
I’m in no way ready to start things up again, being the hero, but I can’t help myself
I was a shepherd once
It’s what I do best.
“Ohh fuck that landing could have gone better.” Mal groaned. “Did anyone get the registration of that shuttle that landed on me?”
“Good Nyborg man.” She chuckled remembering an old movie the humor caused a coughing fit as she tried to get the sand out of her lungs.
As Malice became more aware her right arm and hand blazed with pain causing the Valkyrie to hiss.
Looking at her forearm she saw a three inch sliver of metal from the warhead of the missle that got her in this fix.
“Shit!” she snarled as she tried to pull it out but with her hand and the metal sliver covered in her blood she couldnt get a good enough grip even if she had the strength to pull it out.
“Ok Soldier on your feet let’s get to the ship.” She muttered as she got to her feet wobbling slightly. She felt drunk as she climbed the impromptu crater she had created.
“Malices Divot.” She declared as she got to the top her crater was five or six foot deep in the soft sand. Not ten yards from the spot she landed was rock.
The Valkyrie raised the fingertips to her lips and kissed them thanking her luck. Then she saw the remains of the fighter strewn all over the landscape.
“This just keeps getting better and better,” she whispered before she fainted dead away back to the sands.
Movement. Scanned the wreckage from here. Yeah, the silver eyes still work. I’m retired but still have the perks: enhanced senses, strength, a dubious mortality. don’t age much although I think I pass more for a fit forty than 35 of centuries ago. Only thing I don’t have is the ability to find others.
Scattered to the far sides again -- maybe even off world -- other dimensions or existences. Not even sure if I AM in physical form any more. After you die a few times, and get brought back; rejuved, it starts getting sketchy.
A battle between worlds and her ship fell out of the sky.
My senses tell me this comes to no good. I’m tired of the missions. Tired of being blamed It’s what people do. They call on gods and when things still go sour they curse and blame then -- style them as demons. It’s why I left the mountaintop; rounded up a few sheep and goats, and decided to sit it out for a few eons. Miss my family, but we all went through that, broke apart and lost touch.
The vessel broke apart on contact? They don’t make them like they used to.
A woman warrior is hurt in there. I could cure her with a touch, but she’d just be ungrateful. She is a warrior after all. I’ve known a few like her: my Ari, Pothe-Athene, Suli, Diann,
Hatse... Kara. She’s collapsed now. Perhaps, if I am quick, I can get in to fix her and get out before she wakes..
At this point Marai steps out onto his never-changing stone porch where thousands of years earlier he sang to Ashera, raises his fist and brings the pink bubble into encompassing reality around him. He would rather run on powerful and swift legs, but she might be awake and ready to argue.
I step from the bubble. She’s groaning, but still too weak. If I work in dream mode…
Malice sensed the presence of the other person then there was a burst of magic.
There was enough residual energy to bring her back to more or less fully aware. The Valkyries eyes changed as she extended her claws. She was injured and the pain reduced her to a primal level.
Growling deep in her throat she backed off, to give her more fighting room. Then she tried to blink, nothing.
Shit, Mal thought, Nothings working. Her armor wouldn’t deploy.
Guess I’m going to have to do this the old fashioned way. Time to die. Was the next thought. She bared her fangs and locked gazes. Malice was ready to die.
“If you’re here to kill me fucker I’d rethink that plan pal. Touch me and I’ll geld you. Turn around now and I’ll forget I saw you.”
Through her pain she noticed the amazing colored energy field. It was pink.
Great, she thought, I’m going to die in a bubble gum bubble. No one at home will ever believe it.
“If you’re here to kill me get on with it. I’ve got more important things to do.”
Then as if on cue there was another blazing flash of pain that made her fall to her injured side.
“Help me.” she pleaded in her pain filled voice.
Poor thing thinks I’m a threat. Don’t blame her. Wounded animal. Gives me plenty of “stay back” cues.
For that instant he thought of Ari again.
She was dying when we met....wounded warrior in her own way although she’d only ever been a thief and an enforcer for her men. He shrugged, remembering how he sat in Sheb and Houra’s old hut and waited until she was helpless before lifting a finger.
This one just asked for help. I didn’t understand her words. I don’t know her race. Looks like a bird, part metal housing of some kind, but it’s just sparking and fizzing, isn’t going to help her. Claws and fangs. Wolf? or Lion? Shape changer too?
She’ll have to stop that. Poison tips won’t hurt me too much, but they’ll slow me down and sting a bit. I don’t want to have to knock her lights out to see that wound in her arm. It’s giving a good bleed thats why she’s weak, I guess.
So he sat, a piece of destroyed and mangled craft between them and sent her a thought.
‘Not everyone you meet wants to kill you...unless you give them a reason’
‘I felt that way once long ago.’ Malice replied as she calmed down. This dude looked tough and felt stronger than she at least at the moment she winced as she moved toward the stranger and lay the injured arm in his lap.
On her injured arms shoulder was a distinctive patch of two intersecting triangles over black climbing roses.
’Thanks for your aide Great Lord” She said formally with powerful deities slash entities the safest course of action was politeness. As she braced herself for the pain to come.
She looked everywhere but at her injured arm. Malice saw nothing but sand as far as she could see. She looked up at the blue sky as she shaded her light eyes against the single stars glare.
“Earth?” She asked at his nod she spoke but not to the male working on her as she narrowed her eyes looking up at the sky.
“Why is it you assholes always strand me in the literal middle of nowhere. At least maroon me somewhere with water and a nice beach or at least somewhere where a girl can get a beer.”
She felt the males eyes on her, she nodded her head as she felt embarrassed the stranger must think her stark raving mad. Which she was but that was beside the point.
“Lord allow me to introduce myself. I am Malice, daughter of Ashlyn niece of Janice Queen of Valkyr. Once you get this piece of metal out of me go. The creatures who did this will hunt for me, I will not reward your kindness with death because you helped me.”
As soon as she finished she started scanning the sky. If they had an inkling that she was still breathing it would only be a matter of time before the hunt started in earnest.
“So what do I call you and what in the name of the infinite are you doing out here? Besides rescuing my dumb ass?”
“Just say Marai, or Marai Sojourner. It’s my home, this wilderness, or one of them, Malice Ashlyns Dottir
He waited for her to say something, reading the expression in her surprised eyes.
“I did live in the North Country for many a year, but it was cold and wet. The sun? Allow me”
Marai touched his fingertips to his lips and made a gentle sign in the air. “I learned this from an old friend many years ago. At that point a cloud formed out of nowhere and moved in front of the sun.
But he didn’t wait for her to speak. He watched her eyes and the frown she tried to hide under an unimpressed expression.
“Now I can either put you to sleep, or you can bite something while I work with your arm so you’ll feel brave about it.
“I remember Ari used to like to show me how tough she was like that.”
“By the way, I understand the marking on your arm. I’ve seen it before. One of the reasons I left the North Country was that I got tired of all the war, whether it was here on Earth or in the Aesgaard Realms and dimensions. Here, there’s no one. There’s no battle except for the occasional band of raiders.”
He started to spread his fingers out just above her face to send her into a numbing sleep.
She stopped him with her good hand.
“You said Aesgaard? What would you know about it?”
“I was there once. That’s all I want to say. Right now, your arm...” He brought his hand up and pointed to the silver spot between his brows. He knew the image she saw by the astonished look on her face right before she slept.
“Pleased to meet you Marai.” she said with a smile splitting her tanned face.
When she did all the hard planes and angles melted from her face making her look younger than she already did. She chuckled at his remark about the north country.
“Yeah I’ve been there Marai. You think thats bad you ought to try Norway or Sweden where it snows from October to May.”
Malice tilted her head sideways as she watched him cast a spell that lowered the sun’s intensity. It didn’t tell her how he did it but it confirmed in her mind that this male was more powerful than she which was a strange feeling.
“Much better, the Valkyrie said with an audible sigh of relief. “I left my sunglasses on my other ship.”
The chuckle from Marai told her alot about him. There was a very active sense of humor under that reserved exterior as he explained her options for getting the shrapnel out of her arm.
“Sleep is fine as long as you’re prepared for what I might tell you while I’m under. Keep anything I say a secret.”
“Ari, was that your mate?” she asked before Mal could catch herself.
The key phrase is used to be, goddess the poor male shes passed.
“Forgive me Marai for my forward behavior, my mother says that the Valkyries are the souls of curiosity. Thats none of my business.”
Malice nodded as he spoke of the war that was ongoing in the realms. She understood Marais feelings especially after his loss.
“I’ve been fighting that war in the Realms of Asgard so long that I can’t remember not fighting or being afraid.”
“The war has gone badly Valkyr has been taken and my sisters slaughtered like cattle. As far as I know there are only three left: my sister, my mother and myself.
As she spoke her anger rose the whole fall of Valkyr had been before she had been born but Ashlyn never let her daughter forget their blood. She had sworn them both to avenge Valkyr when she and Mist were children.
“I fight to protect these mortals to shield them from the evil of my enemies. I have no other options.”
“There is no gain without sacrifice Marai. Tell me what do you know of a race called the Enotai?”
“Let’s talk later, you need to sleep,″ he said as he put her into painless slumber.
Ari. Should I tell her about the woman...the women I have loved? She intends to be on her way once I’ve patched her up, but that’s the way it starts. She’ll need rest, but won’t want any. Then whatever was chasing her might zip through the veil for another shot at her.
Marai stared at the unconscious woman, straightened her wounded arm over his lap and began to study where the fragments of metal lay. Seeing the removal wouldn’t cause worse injury, he gestured over them so the larger bits lifted out just as they had pierced her skin. Smaller pieces, he touched and dissolved, then pinching the edges of the cut together, he sealed the wound.
And now, I hope she understands, but she can’t stay here.
Marai lifted Mal and as soon as he stood, faded back into the tawny horizon with her as if invisible.
He placed her on a mountain of sheep hide in his cave and sat far away enough that she wouldn’t think he intended to use her.
She mumbled as if she was about to wake.
I COULD tell her about Ari, but I don’t know if she’d understand. She used the word mate. How could I explain her, or my precious Naibe, or Deka who was lost to me, or Ilara my first or the many who came after. When one lives long, the women fade away. If they, too, have a long life like mine, I can only give them wings.
And then he noticed she had been watching.
For awhile Malices mind truly slumbered nothing but blissful painless uninterrupted sleep.
Then the voices began, thousands of icy knives in her mind, poisonous whispering, gibbering constantly, commanding her to kill, demanding blood.
Malice frightened awake sat bolt up with hands up beside her head squeezing her eyes shut. Swallowing down her fear repeating the litany of fear over and over in her mind as her body shook.
“Fear, is what drives them. We, as a people, have no need for fear.
Fear is what gives life to passion.
It drives the soul to break the barriers one’s mind has set in place.
Fear, keeps you alive, when the will to go on, ceases to exist.”
Then Marai found her kneeling down beside her stroking her hair.
“Shush Malice calm down, it was a dream.” Marai gasped he saw her fangs at the full extent as her mind focused on him like some great predator. Gradually her breathing slowed as Marais presence brought her back to the here and now.
“It’s not real, it’s not real, thousands of voices screaming piercing my mind like knives. A dream Marai, the Enotai are a living nightmare, until I kill the man who did this to me the nightmare will never end.”
Malice impulsively embraced Marai, then laid back down before whispering.
“I’m so tired of being afraid.”
“Sometimes they aren’t men or women, or for that matter human, Malice. I had to face something like that a long time ago. It had been a creator - a scientist in its world.
I never was sure how much of it was part of me in some other form and how much BECAME part of me as I grew in power, mixing memories and such.”
“There were some who believe I was, how do they say in some timelines, “conned” or sucked into a game to be a replacement body for one who wanted to walk as a man but didn’t want to be less than a god. “
“Those I chose for my family were also picked out for this. We fought it, but like a curse and more like a virus it infected us and drove us apart, made us lose faith and trust. And there was fear, but nothing we could actually battle. That would have been easy.”
Perhaps this entity was like your Enotai.”
Marai looked up as if he heard something outside the cave. He raised his fingertips and drew darkness over the opening.
“One of us has a visitor,” He shrugged.
“Shit.” Malice cursed under her breath she wasn’t a hundred percent yet. She hated hiding.
Malice closed her eyes and spread out her senses to see if she could “hear” anything. It was a passive method to listen to surface thoughts.
“Thats one of the Enotai’s favorite tactics, Malice whispered. “They enjoy the misery of others, enjoying causing pain. Driving a wedge between loved ones.”
Malice stopped whispering sensing a threat. Then she heard a siblant voice.
“Where is she? Blasted woman! He told me she would be here.”
“Zander.” She breathed the name, causing Marai to look toward the door.
“Malice I know you’re here somewhere, it’s your old friend Zander. Come out and play.”
“Who is he Malice?” came Marai whisper as he breathed in her ear.
“A true monster.” was the short answer anything longer would have to wait until after Zander left.
I’m not here, head East. She silently gave the command. When Zander spoke next Malice grinned.
“Well shes not here, the nearest water is east. The hunt continues.” The hated voice said aloud. Malice listened as his presence faded away. She turned to Marai.
“I’m sorry Marai, I’ve brought my problems into your life. I’ve endangered you. I’m leaving now after I’ve cleaned up the crash site outside. Zander isn’t very bright but hes not alone.”
Which I knew would happen before I plucked you out of the flyer and fixed your arm. I could have decided to say to myself “Oh, not craft falling from the sky again” and let the sun, buzzards, or wolves take care of you. That was the way it happened a few thousand years ago. I was curious and thought it might be the goddess calling to me. Then after that I met the beginnings of my family.
He shook his silver head, voice tinged with bitterness. “I can’t get away from being a hero, it seems. All of the open sky over this entire world and you picked mine to fall through. Do I have a Hero for hire sign slapped on the cliff face?”
Malice started to snarl, irritated. Her fangs presented and a curse found its way to her lips..
“But before you get excited, understand I DO enjoy helping when I am needed. You needed help and I wasn’t about to abandon you out there. Besides, I thought it might have been Djerah who found a portal in, until I heard weapons fire.”
“I know you want to be on your way, and you just deflected this Zander with a good old-fashioned round of thought farming.
As you said, once he realizes you’ve done this, he and others will be back. We shouldn’t be here then.”
“Do you have a better idea? Weapons? I didn’t see any.” she pouted, folded her arms hard and then winced at the pain in the injured arm.
“Right. Not completely healed.”
“Can you stand or do you need help?” Marai rose and reached to assist her. She shunned the help and pushed to her own feet.
“Follow me, then...And while you do, please tell me how your “War” with these Enotai got started, who it is you feel you need to kill, and mostly why they want to kill you...And above all, don’t see me as a threat, no matter what you see.”
Marai stretched and moved past the woman into the darker and quieter depths of the cavern. He knew the exact moment she noticed the bluish glimmer in the darkest part...
“What the...” she started to say.
Marai caught Malice as the pain crumpled her over to her injured side.
“Easy now,” He said as he helped the Valkyrie back to the bed. When she got sat back down he went to a niche coming back with a couple of cups and a earthenware jug.
Setting the cups down on the table he poured Malices first then one for himself. Malice sniffed hers suspiciously. It smelled slightly like honey.
“What’s this caveman homebrew?”
“Something for the pain Malice for both your arm and your soul.”
Malice grimaced as she looked in the cup. It never failed healers all over the universe made potions that tasted like the inside of a goblins boots.
The Valkyrie sipped once then grinned.
“Mead in the middle of the desert, just one more amazing thing to add to my list.”
Marai chuckled at her as he watched drink then first cup and then held hers out for more. Then Malice transformed back to the wary animal again.
“Where would we go that would be more dependable than here Marai. As much as I hate it until this wing is healed I’m grounded on this ball of rock.”
“And where the hell am I? If we’re going to stage a fighting retreat I sure want somewhere to go preferably with an army.”
Malice followed him through the caverns carefully moving slowly so she wouldn’t trip over anything in the darkness.
“The war with the Enotai started long ago thirty or forty millenia before I was born. They are parasitic beings absorbing others to add as they say to their design. Over the millennia they have become almost gods only one thing eludes them. Immortality. When they invaded Valkyr they attempted to wrest from me the secrets of immortality when I couldnt tell them they sold me as a slave.
Malice put her hand out to steady herself.
“To curry favor with the Pathen, the overlord of the Enotai his Queen they gave me to him and between him and Zander they had me raped beaten and tortured for years, then they tried to turn me against my sisters and destroy the remaining Valkyrie resistance on the planet.”
The Valkyrie looked sideways at the area Marai indicated.
“Is that a gate?”
“Those are many questions you’ve asked and some of mine you answered. We can talk about it, but if your Zander friend has wits enough to operate a craft, he’ll know you are in here.”
Marai nodded. “This back part is less know-able. You aren’t ready for battle in anything but your spirit. You need another day at least for full strength. Now... `` he paused and brought out more jars of drink. “This is the more powerful brew - Mead, yes and honey sweet but sour.” he found a spot where rock formed a natural bench. “My sister’s recipe. I added to it and began to make it when I found out her great-grandson had never learned how.”
“As for why in the desert? Simple. Water’s not fit to drink. Brewing purifies it. We have honey and get dates in trade.”
He took the empty cup and set it aside.
“Where this is, is Sin-ai...Mountain of the Law, Place of the once god Sin. It’s on the overland path between what they now call Egypt/Aegiptos and Lebanon.
“Why not fly?” Malice asked, checking the place where the edges of the wound were sealing.
“One could.” Marai nodded. “And years ago, taking the Green Sea was a good choice. Before that, human boats lacked worthiness and were taken by pirates once they left shore. This way had plenty of thieves too. But they could hide in the rock and so could we who live here. A water hole is easier to defend than a boat...most of the time.”
He grew silent. She noticed and he knew that too.
“I made you think about your family again, didn’t I? Someone killed them in battle, didn’t they? Malice trained her eyes on her arm, and this time turned and tested it, wincing.
“No. not killed. But that’s a long story, not all of it the worst you’ll ever hear. It was just a waste.” he rose, turning to help her up. He lay his hand along the wound and nodded.
“Getting better. Won’t be long. You’ve also given me the answer I needed about your Eno’tai. They are not yet immortal and want the secret. I knew men like that in many places. What they want is power and control. That’s what happened with Ptah-tenen. As for the gate you asked about. It IS one of many on earth and in other realms. If I take you, just to help you hide until you are strong, I have to decide if I’m not making things worse.
The two entered a clear, cavern-like room with a disc in the middle of the open floor area. It was quiet, empty, worshipped, as if no one knew it existed.
Malice listened carefully to Marai. She smiled sadly as he spoke more of the battle that his family was lost in. She could understand his sentiment about boats.
“I never liked being stuck in a boat, might as well pin a sign to your ass that says “Shoot me!”
Malices heart leapt when he mentioned Sinai and the mountain of law. Then something occurred to her.
“Marai, are you the one who gave the commandments to the Hebrews? Are you Yahweh?”
From her own experiences with humanity they either feared or worshipped someone greater than they. She had been worshipped as a goddess over her long lifetime. If she was in the Sinai, if Jerusalem existed she could go to King David for help.
With the slow process of healing her internal chronographs weren’t working. She needed to know the year but most immortals didn’t care.
“At least now we have a couple of options.” she said as the Valkyrie planned the route across the Sinai.
“Where does the gate terminate? I have the power to gate, but the process to build a permanent one has been lost thanks to Pathen. That would be the best option. Just disappear, forget me asking where it goes, anywhere is good as long as it’s as far as possible from Zander.”
“The other option,” and Malice grimaced “is for me to walk across the Sinai to Jerusalem. A couple of hundred miles of open desert with no cover. This will be the second time I’ve done it. The first time was no barrel of laughs either. If King David is available I could hide in the city and no one would find me.”
A strange snuffling sound could be heard coming toward them. Soon the sound of lite padding steps and nails could also be heard.A resounding sneeze echoed from a close chamber,causing a somewhat feline like voice to engage itself in a whispered tirade “Gods I make a lousy stalker,a lousy feline, a lousy woman, but I can find her she smells so interesting and the other he is wow. That nasty one is headed east. But he left a trap and I got to tell them.” There was a disgusted growl as a furry pink nose poked around the corner into sight.
Malice sipped the homebrew as she listened to Marai talk about how he made it out here. He also reminded Mal of the big problem the same one everyone had out here no water, oasis clean water was a closely guarded commodity. The Dead Sea a couple of weeks away by foot was just that it was so salty nothing lived in it. The land in between was alkali flat as barren as the moon.
“When did you make the trip the first time? Marai asked.
“About 1022 BC lets say I know the House of David very well and David and Bathsheba very very well. I’m family. I’m married to his great grandson, Rehoboam.” Mal stopped she was feeling this meade as Marai had intended, to calm her down to make her sleep.
" Sorry Marai I’m normally not this chatty. Almost becoming a rock souffle does that to you.”
Then on the edge of the hearing was a sound like sniffing. Malice glided across the floor as she made the attempt to extend the claws in her injured arm made her wince.
The Valkyrie didn’t recognise the voice but the news it had was good. She closed her eyes with a smile before she whispered.
“We have a friend..” Malice started as her sensors came back on. “Geez! Sorry sensors are back on.
As the visitor peeked around the corner she extended her hand for the animal to get her scent just before it let off an explosive sneeze.
(Bless you sister. And your neither a lousy woman, feline or stalker, you found me. A trap, have you seen the nasty one?) Malice answered with a smile. Her systems were at only sixteen percent.
“I was praying for help and it has arrived in the form of a very unusual furry friend.”
The pink nose was followed by the furry feline form slightly larger than the naturally occurring animals and completely the wrong colors. The animals’ kaleidoscope eyes were narrowed and one ear was cocked back as she listened behind her.She sniffed deeply and started to purrr,strangely that seemed to up set it.
“Ha I found you....the nasty one...he smelled rancid like poorly kept meat you understand? “The animal turned her head back listening before she continued
“He left some kind of trap I don’t know what triggers it but it looks as though it might cut something in half. ....“a low growl escaped the furry feline ”
Something is coming” her tail lashed agitated as she flipped around. Her claws dug into the cave floor. Her feline crouch was uncoordinated and honestly hilarious. She obviously had little practice as seen by her thin stature and protruding ribs.
“Yahweh?!” Marai frowned, more mystified than irritated. His swarthy skin and expression hardened.
“Yes.” he snapped, then changed
“Err, No!” then hung his head remembering a playful moment in the Ineb Hedj apartment back in the time of King Menkaure when Ari laughed at something he said and called him the worst liar ever.
“Uh...Maybe...let’s say I know more about it and how Prince Ahmoseh got the Law in the first place. He kind of visited once when he was bringing out the refugee families...but somehow I don’t think you care about that too much ``. He noticed the shadowy feline shape lurking near the woman Malice.
“Deka? No it’s NOT.” he stood, a slight animal snort starting and his shoulders beginning to bulk into a pale, moonlike shape, chased by black lightning. His silverfish stone in his brow came forth, but just as it did, he shook the image of forming horns loose into pale winged forelocks again..
“Whoa...that’s not...” Malice crouched in defense, then realized she needed to explain.
“You have an animal form too? Looked a little like a...” her expression widened.
“After years of bliss, quiet and solitude in the rock, peppered by the occasional thought wave, time glitch or flyby from the latest solar boat model, this has happened...” He paced.
“I felt you calling them. Now there’s going to be a crowd”
Malice grinned before she answered.
“Well I am a Fae creature. It’s my magic they are attracted to.” Malice said as she picked up the woman turned feline. “Most of the time they find me driven by desperate need. Besides, eleven cats are supposed to be good luck.”
Scratching behind the cat creatures ears she moved away from the gate to keep the two spells from reacting with each other.
“You can fence yourself in but you can’t fence the universe out. If you think this is bad Marai try coming to my home for yule. Talk about a crowd.”
Malice almost didn’t have the heart to tell the poor male that Valkyrie Clans were big extended families.
Feline eyes looked up at the woman and an unrestrained purrrrr came from the animal much much to its embarrassment “You seem calm for prey....should you not plan to escape? “Her tongue stuck out in a noticeable desire to lick herself and she growled low..that was followed by a noticeable rumble in her tummy in dismay she squirmed free and landed on her feet if somewhat off balanced “I am fine see,meow meow....”
Malice smiled as she heard the cats stomach growling reaching into her flight vest she came out with a ration bar which was ground up preserved meat. Malice opened it and took a sniff. It didn’t smell bad. It was a little smashed. She put down in front of the feline.
(No you’re not fine, eat. Sorry about the condition, it’s the best I could do after a two hundred gee impact with the ground.)
Marai smiled at her and it said a great deal about a person or being on how they treated the creators’ creatures. Malice was no doubt hungry but she fed that ration bar to the cat first.
“Would you care for something to eat Malice that is before the entire celestial host shows up?”
“I’m starved..” her eagerness made him chuckle. Women were strange no matter what their species.
(Now that you erased your hunger milady.)(Who are you and how did you end up in this form?) Malice asked, In her experience the feline acted like the cat form was not its native form. The feline were like herself were graceful killing machines. This poor soul was neither graceful or particularly threatening.
(Are you cursed or are you some poor unfortunate soul who attracted something or someone’s attention that you shouldn’t have?)
Face deep in the ration bar she growled in satisfaction her tail twitching. She sat back on her haunches and assumed somewhat feline-like cleansing as she finished.
“hum what gave me away.” ..a almost tiny tiger like chuffing sound came from her before one paw covered her face
“My name is Saleah and apparently I am too curious “her tail lashed “I was trying to learn more when I was caught by the elder listening to his teaching some boys.” she growled low.
“He asked the gods to punish me and.....“She looked at herself .
“this happened. ...I am sure he wished they had done something else when I scratched his eyes out to escape. ..” she had the equivalent of a smile gracing her feline features as she said that..
.“They could have made it more instinctual though....I think way to person like to catch any food....” she pulled a perfect cat stretch at this point and sighed padding to the male she sniffed deeply.
“He is so spicy. ...his smell you know it almost covers the fact that he is sad...and”she cocked her head carefully staying out of his reach “scared.....of. ....“another deep sniff as she sprinted behind the woman “emotions. ...“she cowardly hid there
“This Fae you speak of.” Marai stared at Saleah, squatted and looked her in the eyes, suddenly a random gentle roar followed by big purring noises that sounded unmistakably feline and even lion-ish. He gently stroked the fur at the bridge of her nose. “What is a Fae? Your race or clan? In my travels I have heard of these, but don’t exactly know what makes a fae. I know I have become similar to one, but I was born a mortal human.” he reflected, thinking about the other part of the questions.
“I take it back. Deka was probably Fae. She was the daughter and mate of a god. Her son was one, but the trait wasn’t passed on.”
Saleah purred and began to rub against Marai’s hand, nipping a little playfully “Answer the question, man person.”
“Yeah... this Deka...” Malice insisted.
“A lioness, a sorceress, a bringer of fire” It was an old Ta-Seti legend, only she didn’t know who she was until it was too late and out of her control...and that of those she loved. It’s why I’m alone much of the time and only visit the safe harbors when some of the others rest and wait for my return.” he smiled wistfully
Naibe knows and waits for me in the time-stop. And no, not AFRAID of emotions themselves... just the death and destruction they can bring, whether by storm, sword, or even if given in love.”
He rubbed his eyes, noticing the woman and the big cat were watching.
“I’ve started babbling. So what is a Fae?”
Malice listened as Saleah told how she was cursed in the shape because some male priest did like her watching them trying to learn. Her silver blue eyes narrowed dangerously. She was a curious child.
(How long ago did this happen Saleh? I know you can sense anger from me child. I’m not angry at you. I’m angry at those ignorant fools who did this. I’ll try to see what I can do to help once I heal.)
Malice looked at the process of the repairs, they were proceeding slowly. The Illusion that she kept herself wrapped in was slowing the repair process.
“What is a Fae, We are creatures made of magic.” Malice said as she dropped her illusions her face and hair didn’t change but she was revealed to have the delicately pointed ears and her wings like a falcon were folded behind her in a display of intermixed gold silver and black feathers.
Along both sides of her neck and along the bottom of her jaw across her chin then up the sides ending with a glowing violet gem between her eyes was an endless procession of black climbing roses. The tattoo went down both arms and ended in a large black rose tattoo that covered most of her left or sword hand.
“My mother the Sorceress Ashlyn wove her magic into my sister and I when my sister Mist and I were conceived. According to her our father is a greater god but she would never reveal his name.”
“I also have a feline form, like Naibe I’m a sorceress. She dropped everything as a field of violet energy swirled in around her. As for shifting or fire this little display is the best I can do right now.
Malice let go of the magic as she listened to Marai speak of his sorceress there was love there.
“If I was Naibe I would be proud to be your mate. Love is nothing to fear, at least you know where she is I have no idea if my mother or sister are still alive.”
Marai felt the sadness Malice that was written on her face.
“I’m stuck here on this ball of dirt with no way off. Even if I had a spacecraft Pathen erased all my memories of how to get home.”
Had the little feline been able to shrug she would have “a cycle maybe two. ... They would have been better off turning me into a tree I have learned so much more now....that is when I keep my mouth shut...and the moron wouldn’t be blind...“she chuffed as she washed her face.
Naibe WAS proud to be my mate. She seduced me entirely and wouldn’t let go, even when she thought I had died. Some didn’t respect her in her grieving for me, and I understand she went mad for awhile, but never took it out on anyone except the one who had been responsible. Sorcery? Not what you think. Power to seduce. She was, well, a goddess. I guess she always was and will be.
Marai left the women for a moment, a bit overwhelmed. They noticed.
“Aww... Is he...?” Saleah’ shoulders twitched in her own sadness.
(Shh. You don’t call a man, when he’s walked off. Trying to get a grip, I guess. I think he’s trapped here, maybe.) Malice silently sent caution to
“No, I’m not crying, ladies.
Marai surprised them. I hear the thoughts of spirit talk. Your fae voices have a different music but I hear and know them, just the way I was able to speak to you, Saleah.
And Deka was the one who rejected me and everyone else in her search for her Ta-Te. THAT god was Ptah-tenen. If you move forward in history that was eventually Aten, who enslaved and drove King Akhnaten mad. It was HE who wiped Deka’s memories and gave her false ones that turned her against everyone. She was too powerful, though.” Marai laughed a little and returned to the two women.
“Sometimes I wish he WOULD wipe some of my memories, but he’s in another realm now. And I could leave here. I have many times. I even have many children by many, many women through time and space. I’m even worshipped in some places. I visit them. But this is my home since I was a little mortal child. I come here to rest, more than anything.
Like I said, Malice, I was expecting a visitor when I found you. Maybe fate left out the detail that you were actually the visitor I should wait for.
It always happens that way.”
And at that moment the impact rolled through the sky like a wave of dark energy.