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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Wake Up! Shake dreams from your hair, little one. Attn Rhya


WhiteWolf
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Rhya listened to Owen’s explanation, tightening her hold in mute protest against such ignorance and cruelty. Some of it she’d heard before, bare facts at least, though he no longer remembered that. Still it made her as angry now as it had then.

 

Unexpectedly, he pulled away and she turned sharply. The objection on Rhya’s lips died unspoken when her gaze landed on his back, however, and she merely stared at the tracery and scarring there, horror clear in her eyes. A hand half raised, reaching out to touch the spider’s web of markings but became instead a tightly clenched fist as earlier anger turned to pure molten rage.

 

She would, naturally, have been upset no matter whom was treated so. Rhya had not a vindictive bone in her body, her sense of honour applying not just to herself but to every situation and every person she came into contact with. To her mind, not even her own worst enemy or the lowest criminal deserved such torture but rather a clean fight, a just punishment or a quick death if necessary. That anyone could have treated Owen so had her gritting her teeth and laying her hands on her daggers instinctively… a reaction only inflamed by the emotionless expression he presented her with when he faced her once more. She knew he was anything but emotionless behind that thin façade and knew, moreover, that her anger was futile. It came long after the event, too long to make any difference or alter the effects and she struggled to bring it under control until it was only a smoldering knot in her stomach, to be dealt with another time.

 

She was no longer surprised by his repugnance to the idea of marriage. Indeed, she was more surprised at his forebearance in letting her speak of it at all, instead of uttering an outright refusal to even consider it. Churlish? Rhya almost gaped at Owen in disbelief as she took in his final questions. How could he possibly manage to find fault in himself for responding in a way that any sane human would blame him not in the slightest for? She shook her head, swallowing past the lump of emotion in her throat as he smiled and just looked at him in wonder. She was well aware that she could never truly comprehend the depth of the impact such events had had on him but she could at least understand intellectually why he felt as he did. Yet he had just gone against his own instincts and all but agreed... for her sake.

 

That simple fact both delighted and distressed her in equal amounts. Unable to respond immediately, she did the next best thing, flinging her arms tightly around him and holding on as though her life depended on it. Perhaps it did. Silently, Rhya made some vows of her own in the name of the Light before easing back and replying quietly, “We can find a way. There is neither need for ritual nor for outside taints. We will do only what is necessary for it to be lawful. For the rest... we will find our own path to walk.”

 

 

 

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    “We have been walking our own path from the moment we met, we just did not realise that it was the same path we were both on. If one believed in fate then one could say we were fated to meet. If i had not been called to find you, if the Trackers had not been so busy, then you would have been found by someone else and out paths may not have crossed. Fate hangs on such seemingly random events. At moments like that i often wonder if we have free will or are just pieces in a game of Stones.”

    Trying to understand or predict fate would be enough to cause a headache of such proportions that the only thing to do would be to lie down in a darkened room and wait for it to pass. Events happened for whatever the reason was, and all anyone could do, is survive them and try to come out unscathed. “I do not know about you, but i feel the need to be away from here for a while. Why don’t you go and grab a couple of blankets and a towel and meet me at the bottom of the tree. While you are doing that i will lower Ice and Shadow to the ground.” Rhya turned to go into the house but stopped when Owen continued talking. “Oh and you might want to bring a change of clothes.”

    “A change of clothes ,Owen? What do you have in mind?”

    “You just go and get what you need Rhya, trust me on this one you will enjoy what i have in mind.” Owen grinned at her and watched her as she walked into the house before turning away and getting on with his own chores.

    Owen led them away from the Stedding and further into the foothills of the Mountains of Mist.  Although there was no clear path, it was obvious that this route had been used before, to Owen’s trained eye it looked like a well worn path, and as they walked hand in hand, Owen talked to Rhya about the little tell tale signs that indicated others had come this way.

    Cresting the rise in the path, Owen stopped for a moment to enjoy the serenity of the scene in front of them.  The moonlight bathed the small dell in a silvery light, even the water in the pool had a silvery glaze to it and there was an almost ethereal feel to the place. “Well was it worth the walk Rhya? And the best is yet to come; come on the last one in to the water gets to scrub the others back.”

 

    “If you think i am going swimming in a freezing cold pond Owen you have become bereft of your senses.”

    Rhya smelt of determination and wariness, which only made Owen smile all the more. “Do you really think i am that light blinded that i would expect you to freeze your toes off? The water is heated from below by the heat from the rocks. Even in the dead of winter this pool does not freeze and as long as you keep all your body but your head under the water you would be fine, trust me. “Owen winked at Rhya before racing off down the path, pulling at his shirt and breeches as he went.

Owen

 

The WhiteWolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

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Rhya laughed at Owen’s enthusiasm, all wariness dropping away, and followed at a far slower pace, enthralled by the moonlit beauty of the dell. At any other time, she’d have been tempted to sit and enjoy the silence and the scene before her… but right at that moment she was rather distracted by an altogether different view.

 

She easily found a slight outcropping of rock, jutting conveniently over the edge of the water and paused, a mischievous half smile crossing her face as she watched Owen swim. She’d heard of hot springs and pools heated from the earth but had never actually experienced it first hand. Strangely enough, for an idea that might seem insane to many, she found the thought of swimming at night appealed strongly to her. It had been a long day and, in some ways, an even longer evening and this just might soothe away the last of the stresses that still lingered.

 

The water was smooth at her feet, disturbed only by a few ripples and Rhya noticed that the stars were reflected there as though in a mirror. Mesmerised, she slowly peeled off her trousers, throwing them behind her uncaring of exactly where they landed then grasped the bottom of her shirt, raising her arms to tug it over head and stood poised for a split second before diving cleanly into the water. Owen had been right, it was delightfully warm and with no shocking chill to deal with, Rhya aimed for a spot behind him, using her momentum to surface quickly and push down on his shoulders suddenly, for once catching him unawares. As he went under, she let go and flipped over, making strong strokes for the far side of the pool before he had a chance to recover, her laughter ringing through night air and echoing off the rock face behind them.

 

For the first time in many months, there was no weight pressing on her, nothing to spoil the moment and she flipped again, to float on her back so she could see the moon. “It’s magical...a truly enchanting place.”

 

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    The heat of the water seeped into Owen’s limbs, relaxing his muscles and his mind. He had a lot to ponder, first the accident and his enforced period of inactivity, then the shock of Rhya not being home, and then an even greater shock. Marriage? How can one word bring on such .......

    His train of thought was completely disrupted by the sight of Rhya removing her clothes with what seemed like total abandon. When she was naked she stood for a moment, stretching, and the moonlight rippled across her body. Whether she knew it or not, Owen thought it was one of the most erotic sights he had ever seen. Rhya had a wide eyed innocence about her, that was tempered by recent events, and that only added to her allure.

    Swallowing the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat, Owen tore his gaze away from Rhya, if he continued to stare at her she would think he had never seen a woman naked before.  Get a grip on yourself you stone brained idiot. This is not the time to be thinking like that, this is a time to show her your love, not your passion.

    It did not take Rhya long to swim across to Owen and soon he felt her fingers working away at the knots in his back. At first she was hesitant; obviously the scar tissue took some getting used to. However, the more she worked at it the more pressure she used.

    “It’s magical...a truly enchanting place.”

    Rhya’s voice drifted across the stillness of the dell, but did not disturb the peace of the place. Owen had not realised before just how good Rhya’s voice sounded, well apart from when she was scolding him. She had a gentle lilt to her voice, and at this moment it seemed in perfect harmony with their surroundings. “Yes it is Rhya; it is one of my favourite spots in the forest. Seclusion is something that has an appeal all of its own.” Owen turned around to face Rhya, his arms easily sliding around her body and pulling her closer to him. “You know, i think i could get used to this, it has been so long since i felt this way, i had almost forgotten what it feels like to share with another.”

    “Well don’t get too relaxed, it is your turn to scrub my back now.” With a mischievous glint in her eye, Rhya slipped out of Owen’s arms and turned her back to him, obviously not caring how much skin she exposed.

Owen

 

The WhiteWolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

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With her back safely turned, Rhya smiled quietly to herself, more than pleased that Owen appeared to be relaxed and happy. She was contentedly comfortable in her naked state. Normal modesty no longer applied given the agreement they had so recently reached and the entire situation felt nothing but natural to her… but that was not to say she was entirely oblivious to his reaction.

 

It didn’t cross her mind to think anything more of it until she felt his hands on her back and shoulders, returning her favour of moments before. Then, unbidden, her mind threw up a memory of finding Owen in his bathtub and she sighed softly, realising at last just why she had reacted as violently as she had and what precisely had made her uncomfortable. And that same feeling is alive and well now, she acknowledged ruefully, her skin prickling with awareness.

 

She was about to voice her revelation but paused. Another thing he has no memory of. The slight sadness that thought brought was washed away though as Owen’s hands did their work… possibly a little too well as she found breathing decidedly difficult. Not all of the heat could be blamed on the water but she was fairly sure she might be capable of melting herself if she allowed that to continue.

 

She turned quickly, quirking an eyebrow and planted a kiss cheekily on the tip of his nose then flopped backwards, chuckling at the splash she caused and swimming away towards the cliff.

 

“There’s a ledge up there,” she called back quietly, pointing. “Is the water deep enough to dive from that height?” 

 

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    Owen could have cursed out loud with annoyance at the sudden loss Rhya’s body. “Yes the water is deep enough, just watch your feet on the rocks, they will be slippery at the best of times, and wet feet do not make for good grip on slick rocks.” Leaving the pool was a lot harder than getting in and it ended up with Owen having to boost Rhya onto the bank, where she lay like a fish out of water for a moment, affording Owen a very pleasing view of her body. Once she got to her feet, Rhya glanced over her shoulder, she wanted to know that Owen’s eyes were on her and she was not disappointed.

    Deftly she made her way across the damp rocks to the ledge she had indicated and stood balancing on her toes, her arms raised above her head, and her still damp body glistening even more in the moon light.  With one swift movement she pushed off with her legs and her body described a graceful arc as flew away from the ledge.  Rhya was definitely a sight to behold, and Owen counted himself very fortunate to be in the position he was.

    The splash of water brought Owen’s mind back to his current situation and as Rhya surfaced he swam across to her, his smile matching hers. “Are you sure you are not part fish my love?” Laughing he held her in his arms, his fingers gently caressing the skin of her lower back, moving in small circles. The softness of her skin contrasted sharply with his own and Owen felt he could continue touching her for the rest of his life.

    “It would be so nice to just stay here and not have to deal with the .......” The rest of Owen’s sentence was lost as Rhya kissed him. “This is our time Owen; let’s not spoil it by worrying about matters that we have no control over. They will be dealt with in their own time and not in ours.”

    Owen wiped away a trickle of water from Rhya’s face and gently kissed her eyelids and then her lips. “How did you get to be so wise Rhya?”

Owen

 

The WhiteWolf

 

Ranger Leader 

 

 

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“No, not a fish as far as I know,” Rhya responded, delighted with her escapade. “I always enjoyed doing that. It feels as I imagine flying must… there is a sense of freedom about it...” her voice trailed off, distracted by the sensation his fingers were causing against her back.

 

“It would be so nice to just stay here and not have to deal with the... ”

 

Rhya’s kiss cut the sentence off short, not so much because she was trying to silence Owen as because she simply wanted to. The result was satisfying on both counts just the same and she took the opportunity to remind him that there was little point to worrying over what they could not control.

 

“How did you get to be so wise Rhya?”

 

“I’m not so certain it’s wisdom as merely a practical nature,” she answered thoughtfully, considering the question in all seriousness. “Between my father’s attention to training me for the business and the time I spent with my grandmother... who was very wise... they made certain I would be nobody’s fool and as capable as possible. Family businesses in Saldaea come to the eldest child by right you see. My path, then at least, was set from the day I was born. My sister had the luxury of being flighty and mother indulged that dreadfully. Though, I must admit, I do not believe it was ever in my nature to be that way, even had I been given the opportunity,” she paused and wrinkled her nose. “Mother said I was too prone to dark moods and being solitary. I was a severe disappointment to her.”

 

Rhya looked away briefly, attempting to cover what was an old pain and one that could not be rectified. If there had been any lack in her life, it had been knowing that her mother loved her not at all and in spite of the full measure of her father’s care, it was the one thing she wished for in her darkest moments. She shook her head in dismissal, brushing the matter off and smiled up at Owen. “But that was then and this is now... and I’m sure it is not my supposed wisdom that is occupying...”

 

The sentence was lost in a cascade of water that would have drenched them both had they not already been in the pool. It was accompanied by a loud splash to Rhya’s right that had her laughing and spluttering, as she knew immediately what had happened.

 

“Shadow!!! Burn me... but you might... have done that... a little further away!” she choked out wiping water from her face as a cold nose touched her neck.

 

That would not be as good, cub. You are happy. I share that with you.  The message Rhya took from the images the dark wolf sent caused further gales of laughter.

 

“Yes I am happy,” she agreed, glancing at Owen, her eyes dancing merrily at this new predicament, “but how in the Light are we going to get you out of here again?”

 

 

 

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    Rhya is happy? Well i would never have guessed but it is always good to have confirmation. Seeing the obvious joy on her face, and knowing it was nothing to do with Shadow’s unexpected presence, Owen smiled to himself, and knew that not all the warmth he was feeling came from the water.

    “I would suggest that is between you and Shadow Rhya. But i doubt he jumped in here without knowing how to get himself out. Wolves are many things, and young adult wolves often do unexplainable things, but i do not think Shadow is like that. He is too much like his sister. Talking of which i wonder where she is?” Owen was not concerned about the lack of Ice’s presence, she was often absent for long periods of time. However it was unusual for her not to be here with her brother. “No doubt she has found an interesting scent and is running it down as we sit here; she will be back when she is ready.”

    Owen watched as Shadow and Rhya played in the water, it was obvious that a real bond had grown between them and Owen hoped it stayed like that for a long time. Ice and Shadow had been with him for a long time now, and he did not know how he would cope if either of them were ever killed. It would be just as hard for Rhya if anything happened to Shadow now they had bonded.

    “If you are finished cavorting with Shadow Rhya i think it is time we made our way home. Or would you prefer to stay here all night and make our way back in the daylight?”

    Before Rhya had a chance to respond Owen glanced up at the night sky, his eyes registering something, but he was at first unable to make out exactly what it was. Then something landed on his cheek and he realised right away that it had started to snow. “Will this bloody weather ever change? Come on Rhya the last thing we need is to get caught out here in a snow storm and with the way the weather has been recently i think it a fair chance that this snow will not be a light sprinkling.” With that Owen swam over to the bank and boosted himself out of the water. Turning around he knelt down and offered his hand to help Rhya out. At the same time Shadow swam over to the far bank and managed to scramble out of the water, although in the most inelegant manner.

    Owen pulled Rhya out of the water and she just seemed to fall into his waiting arms. The next thing Rhya registered was the feel of a cold wet nose on her thigh. She tried to push Shadow away, but he kept up his insistence until Owen and Rhya had to break apart. “I think he is trying to tell us this is no time to be standing here wet and naked.  Not when we have a warm house where this would be much more to our liking.” Grinning at Rhya Owen looked around to get his bearings and then disentangled himself from Rhya’s arms and started to collect his clothing.

 

Owen

 

The WhiteWolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

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Reluctantly, Rhya found her towel and briskly rubbed the worst of the water from her rapidly chilling skin then donned the change of clothes she’d dropped by a bush earlier. She was loathe to leave the dell and its tranquility, taking many a backward glance as they moved off along the rough path until it was finally hidden from view, but she had to admit that the thought of home and warmth was a welcome one.

 

The unexpected snowfall delighted her though, light as it still was, the gossamer flakes landing like a silvery coronet on the water-slicked darkness of her hair. As they entered the deeper forest near the tree house, the silence thickened, a hush lying over everything as the snow deadened all sounds and shrouded the landscape in an ever thickening blanket of white.

 

Rhya glanced sidelong at Owen and tried hard not to let the laughter she was suppressing sound in her voice as she commented, “We had better get you inside really quickly.”

 

“Why would that be?” his return look was bland enough that she knew he was expecting some smart comment.

 

Her face split in a mischievous grin as she took to her heels, throwing her parting line over her shoulder, “Because if this snow gets any heavier it will be nigh on impossible to find you in it!”

 

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