The Krascheam Chronicles: Guided:

~Prologue ~

 

*Long ago in a land far away, lived a warrior named Thandayar – Claimer and Guider of souls to the Afterlife – belonging to a shape-shifting Corvus clan who settled in a land they named Thoridian, in the world of Krascheam. Many other clans had also settled there, staking claims on their own land, attempting to live in peace. Unfortunately, peace can be elusive, clans will war and grudges will develop. Each clan had their own work to do, as they strove to live peacefully and keep to themselves. Until a young maiden became overwrought with jealousy and her desire for vengeance. Lives changed as a result of her treachery and scorn. Many, many lives changed…*

 

  ~Thandayar’s Story~

It had been six hundred years since He lost His Mate. Since He was happy. Since Fiona was birthed. Since He failed Himself, and His clan, when He and Pandarius had been wrong about Sredanas’ soul needing to be guided to the Afterlife.

So many things He had been wrong about. So many failures. So many losses. He had sought revenge, trying to destroy the clan responsible for all the carnage and death for six hundred years. Another failure in such a long, twisted line of them.

But, there was one thing He had never done again. Actually, two. The first being, He never, ever made another mistake in his Claiming duties. And, He most certainly had never even had a single thought about falling in love again.

Oh, there had been many offers. Chances at so-called ‘happiness.’ But no, He knew. Thandayar knew there would never be another woman or Mate for Him again. If He lived another thousand years or more, it was not possible.

His heart died that day, along with the loves of His life. His unborn babe whom He would never know. He would never have the honor of doing those Fatherly duties He had already set His mind, his heart and his very soul to. Never get to cradle their babe in His loving arms, change a nappy, feed, rock, walk, talk or sing to sleep.

There would be no teaching of skills, nor how to master the powers of which His son or daughter would surely have been born with. Nor would He get to give His son ‘woman’ advice. He shook His head in part bitter-amusement, and part bone-marrow-deep sadness.

He would also never get to chase away any young men, whom would most certainly have swarmed around her, had they been blessed with a beautiful baby girl. A precious girl whom would surely have had the look of her Mam, His Mate, His beautiful Bredania.

There would never be those frustrating moments, ‘Mam-daughter’ talks of boys or fork-tongued-friends telling untruths of her behind her back. Or those sweet, precious moments of happy-heart-melting-joy when a boy gave her a first kiss, or simply held her hand.

Of course with Bredania’s patience and kind, pureness of heart, she could have handled all of those things and more. But Him…? He let out a low, bittersweet laugh.

He would have most likely wanted to take such a boy out back and tan his hide, or at least scare half the life out of such a brazen boy who would dare do such things to His daughter.

But alas, those memories would always have to remain sad, bitter fantasies alive only in Thandayar’s heart, mind and soul. Fantasies that probably were not very mentally or emotionally healthy, but fantasies that kept Him more sane and better rooted in the here and now, than He knew He would be without them.

To come so close, close enough He could almost feel himself holding their babe in His arms, watching over both of the loves of His life. Ah, their babe, whom He could imagine nestled so safely and lovingly in its Mam’s arms while suckling at her breasts…

It still made no sense to Him, no matter how he assessed the scenario. How could anyone love another so much, so fully and completely, only to lose them, then simply forget of their existence?

How could anyone simply up and walk away from those ‘almosts’, and forget all about those people they had loved more than their wildest imaginings, yet they could let them go. As many of his clans-folk had done.

Never to speak, nor think of them again… It was sadder still, to think of those poor souls. One had to hold on to those precious, ‘almost’ gifts, keep them forever engraved into one’s heart, mind and soul.

He felt certain He could not have gone on at all, without those things. With no real or imagined memories, none of His own fantasies, He surely would have died of a broken heart. People say it is not possible, to die like that, but He knew.

It had to be true. Just the pain from the loss alone was so intense, so sharp and relentless, He almost had not survived it way back then, when He lost his Bredania.

And when it dawned on Him that the babe was lost to Him as well, of all the blows. One of the worst, most pain-filled moments of His long, empty life, was then.

~~~~

Thandayar had gone to the temporary camp He had made for His family. He had constructed a cozy tent of several large hides from a recent, successful hunt. It was one of the larger tents in their latest temporary settlement.

He had taken some left over hides, some clothes making fabrics, linens and other such goods, and had partitioned off sections of a decent size so each person or couple, as it were, would have a basic bedchamber of sorts.

The men had made very comfortable sleeping pallets on the soft ground for their slumber and for the women who were becoming weaker with the sickness.

He and His clansmen had thought of their ‘new home’ as wonderful. It was of a great size, even though they knew it to be only temporary. They all agreed wholeheartedly that they may as well be comfortable no matter the place or circumstances.

The clan had camped in that area for about three months. Bredania’s was now in the confinement stage of her condition. She had been feeling surprisingly well for several days. A very comforting thought, considering how badly she had felt from the babe sickness of the early morns.

This day, when He came into their makeshift bedchamber, she had lain on her side on their pallet made up with crisp linens and enough freshly cleaned, or freshly beaten-shook out furs.

The pallet worked perfectly to keep them warm at night. Although they did not require much assistance in that area, they always kept each other warm in the cool hours of the night, and the equally cool hours of the early morn.

Those furs served exceptionally well in at least one other manner. They had several layers neatly spread out underneath them, to add as much comfort as possible for his beautiful, precious, perfect mate, and their miracle.

The unborn babe Bredania had carried so well for almost nine months. Those added furs underneath them made for the softest and warmest floor pallet He had ever slept upon.

Forced to pack what they could in the small amount of time alloted to them, their Heavenly bed had been left behind. But this pallet was a great second in the running of anywhere He had ever lain His head of a night.

Now, there she lay on her side, facing the back wall of their makeshift bedchamber. She heard someone enter and carefully, slowly rolled her ballooned body over, her head making the turn first.

Her eyes sparkled with the purest love He had ever witnessed. She smiled at Him and their gazes remained locked upon each other’s.

Thandayar was already crossing their bedchamber as she gracefully offered an uncovered, perfectly toned arm toward Him. He reached her side in three strides, gently taking her hand in His, and smoothing His other hand up the length of her bare arm till He reached her shoulder.

Neither of them needing to voice a single word, as they always knew instinctively how the other felt, what they needed, wanted or anything else. No, they could not ‘read’ each other in the sense that they could read strangers, people not of their clan.

But they knew everything, from the depths of their very souls, and that was only another reason they were full certain they were true Mates. That kind of connection was very rare.

One had to feel more than merely blessed, or to be of an exception, to find, then to live and enjoy the kind of love they had. They had thrived and relished and lived their every moment for one another.

They had been together every possible moment that wasn’t calling Him away to retrieve and guide souls to the Afterlife, or her to help birth babes, working with the herbalists of the clan, or anything else she could help with.

Thandayar and Bredania both were generous with their time, their knowledge and they both loved being able to help whomever was in need, as long as they were able.

Even if there was something neither of them knew much of, they still would go. It never does hurt to have another pair of hands, another brain, or simply another warm body for moral support.

Thandayar stilled Himself, then knelt next to the pallet, her soft hand in His own, and leaned way over. Being seven feet tall and kneeling on the floor, yes, it was a long way to lean over to kiss her. But more than worth it.

He would lean like that, or do whatever, no matter the discomfort, He would do it all a million times over just to give her simply one small, sweet, perfectly placed kiss on her lovely, supple lips. Oh, how He loved her. No, not love, He worshiped the very ground she walked upon and always would.

Especially now that she carried His babe… their babe. He would do absolutely any and everything for her, for them both. Including any little, or big thing she would ask of Him. Which to His dismay, was not much. Bredania was an independent woman. Did not like having to rely on others for any reason.

Lucky for Him though, since she had been with child and consequently started swelling and rounding out in all of her glowing beauty, she had needed His help more and more.

Not for anything He had considered difficult, only to reach something she could not, or to fetch water, chores such as those which required more height or strength than she possessed.

Anything to spend time together. As shy as she had been around the rest of the clan, she was so different now that she was with child. Happy, carefree, but mostly around Him. She did have a few friends, even a very close friend, Gwenlesh.

Still, what a very lucky man. Yes, very lucky in deed. He was well aware of this fact. A fact which made His heart swell to overflowing with more love for her every day. He often wondered if one’s heart could actually explode from the natural force of love.

With a love as strong as theirs, not once did He consider whether she had loved Him in equal measures. No, He knew. She always made sure of that. But now…

~~~~

Going back in time, wanting to keep going, further and further till the first day they had met, out in that wild herb field when He got His first glimpse of her.

Beautiful, golden hair flowing in the light breeze, shining like spun gold. She looked so carefree, so happy and unguarded. Alone, in her own little world several paces out in the field, smelling, cutting and simply relishing her time spent working with the flowers and herbs.

He had never seen anything like this. Like her… And that first glimpse was all it took for Him. He was awestruck. Then, He actually fell off His horse! Nobody nor anything had ever literally unbalanced Him before. Ever. She was the epitome of perfection.

Then she turned to see what all the fuss and noise was behind her. Which, incidentally, had been His very own clansmen, laughing! Full, deep, throwing-their-heads-back laughing at Him for tumbling from His horse. He was quite certain His mount was snickering, too.

He was doing His level best to gain a proper foothold and to look at least half way like a man-full-grown and not a green, untried youth. Although that was exactly how He had felt.

Grinning to Himself for only a fraction of a moment, He remembered where His thoughts had been heading. Yes, the pain was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking when He drudged up those memories.

Still, reminding Himself of His very own take on feelings from a few moments ago, good or bad, they were His memories and they were all He had of her now. Of them…

~~~~

Bredania scooted and wriggled her body about, until she found a comfortable position on their pallet. He carefully helped her, not wanting hurting her from His own strength. Then she reached over and patted one of her adorable, small hands on the pallet next to her.

A gesture for Him to lie down. He did not need to be asked twice. For a certainty, no further invitation was ever needed from her, for He would lie down in a bed of broken glass simply to be next to her. To them…

He laid next to her on His side so He could see her. Then He rested one overly large, very gentle hand over the mound of her quickly swelling belly. She had maintained all along that she had absolutely loved being with child.

Never once had He heard her even so much as grumble from discomfort. She was His rock. Solid enough for them both, and she would be the best Mam in all of History. Thandayar knew this to be for a certainty, as well. How could it be any other way?

Stretching His long, massive body out as far as possible, He sidled up next to her as close as He could get. His left hand still resting on her belly, softly massaging their babe through her skin stretched so taut, for their babe.

It brought a tear to His eyes, that her poor little body had gone through so many changes for their babe. Truly a gem, she was.

He positioned His right arm over her head and reached down, around to her other side, His hand coming to rest around her right arm.

He could not get close enough to her, but He also did not dare push any limits, for fear of harming her, or them.

When she giggled, He gazed into her hypnotic, violet eyes… As always, He completely forgot whatever He had thought about.

Would He ever be able to function in any capacity of a man-full-grown around her? She told Him that she would not break from just His touch, especially since He had always used so much care in His every move, regarding her.

They both lay there until they dozed off. He came awake with a start some time later and had a horrible feeling. He normally would have jumped up quickly, but as always, He was acutely aware of her presence, still lying in His arms. He extracted Himself ever so gently out from under and around her sleeping form, as not to wake her.

Then, He realized what the matter was; She, His Mate, His lover, His best friend was not breathing. He thought perhaps He was imagining things, perhaps overreacting with all the others in His clan being so sick and dying.

It could not be. Not her… But it was. His Bredania had breathed her last. And she had done it while He slept. While He was being her protector, her defender, her everything…

By the Sacred Moon! How could this have happened? And in such a peaceful silence in His own arms? How?! He slowly sat up, never taking His tormented gaze from her lifeless, still beautiful face.

Except to allow Himself a heart-wrenching moment to let His now tear-filled eyes travel down her body, to the large mound of her belly. Their babe… No! That moment, He lost all ability to think, to breathe properly, to know what to do.

He stretched out His right arm and with a shaky hand, very gently placed it atop the crest of her swollen belly. Their babe. Then He had a thought. Perhaps it was not too late.

Perhaps the strongest of their clan could gather quickly and possibly bring her back to Him. They could heal her. And the babe. There was a chance the babe could survive, even if she did not.

Even as tears streamed like a waterfall down His saddened, heartsick face, He knew He had to act now. Rising up, His heavy head fell back as He let out the loudest, most feral war cry anyone had heard before.

Within only moments, other clans-folk were swarming about their tent to see what had happened. He granted entry to only the best after trying in vain to dry His tears. They all, including their Leader, Pandarius, had gathered around Bredania’s lifeless form still carrying their babe.

They worked one of the strongest healings any of them had ever attempted. Willing it with their minds and hearts to work.Thandayar was hopeful, yet stayed back and gave them room to work.

After a small eternity, they each turned to look at Thandayar. He was kneeling, resting back on His haunches, face in His hands and eyes closed. He felt the shift in the air, then He knew. It was too late. Not just for His mate, for their unborn babe also…

From that day forward, He would never be the same again. He would hunt down and find those responsible for this ‘sickness’. He was full certain someone, somehow had inflicted it upon them. But for what reason? It mattered not…

That day, the nice-happy-always-had-time-for-anyone Thandayar died, there in the same room with His Mate and unborn babe… No more of the Thandayar they all loved and knew for so long. After the bifurcation He had suffered, He was no longer a whole, merely a half. And, He was now dead. At least on the inside…

*One does not always know what the change of tides will bring. One’s mind can change when they feel the right shift in the atmosphere, or sense a new presence in their world. Especially when they instinctively know that presence is most likely paramount in solving most, if not all of the problems their clan has suffered for so many centuries. Changing one’s heart, however, is sometimes futile. Asking for help is propitious for some, impossible for others. Fight it as you may, Fate is inexorable, stronger, and has bigger plans for us all* 

The Krascheam Chronicles: Guided  –  Copyright © 2010 by Theressa M. Branham

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