To Shirley, Wishing You A Happy Retirement

 

Thanks to my beta  reader Atymer, and to Fingers and Gail for their input

 

 

Dark Guide

 

Guided Fury Part one

 

As dawn broke, it was to a misty morning. Warren and the Clan Council stood outside of the meetinghouse. Willard was bragging that no Sentinel would dare to challenge him. Right was on his side.

It was then he noticed the attention was fixed on the other side of the square. Out of the mist, like wraiths, Warren saw them appear. In the middle, the Dark Guide, his long hair and robes bouncing with each step, flanked by two Sentinels. They looked grim and lethal as they matched his stride. To Warren it was as if they walked in slow motion--he could see everything in that short space of time. He saw the smile the Dark Guide flashed to the Sentinels on either side of him as he reached over his shoulder and pulled his sword.

Saemund had heard the tales of the Warriors of Death that swept through battlefields killing all who got in their way.  This is what he was seeing made flesh.  Those that stood against them died.

At the end only three men stood, then the roar of victory from the two Sentinels cut through the air, but it was also a roar of challenge to those that would try to take the Dark Guide.

 

0-0-0-0-0

Warren stepped forward, “Truth had been made flesh.  Let this blood wash away the slur made on your honor.”  He paused and waited, holding the gaze of the Dark Guide.

Blaer nodded and then crossing his arms so that the palm of his hands rested beneath his collarbone, he dipped his head; at no time did he break eye contact with Warren. Then he turned on his heels and walked back to their tent, the two Sentinels falling in on each side of him, the people melting back, having seen for the first time what the Dark trio was capable of.

Saemund hesitated.  He was about to follow but was drawn back by Fallon, Warren’s advisor.  Now was the time to talk and for deals to be brokered. Tomorrow the first of the challenges for the position of Sentinel Prime of the clans was due to start. Warren knew he had to negotiate from a place of strength now, otherwise once the challenges started, if Blaer and Jeme moved through to their rightful place, his position would be weakening by the days.

0-0-0-0-0

At the tent, Huon sank down outside of it, his sword still unsheathed, sitting cross-legged as the dark pair entered.

 

0-0-0-0-

Blaer entered the tent without a backwards glance at his Sentinel and made his way to the furs.  He shed his black robes like a second skin. His Sentinel made no comment; the air in the tent was crackling with the build up of emotions. Jeme tilted his head and inhaled.  His Guide was in heat of the bond, they needed to reaffirm that their mate was unharmed by combat.

A smile unseen by the Sentinel touched the lips of the dark Guide as he heard the deep low growl of his Sentinel, as the panther came forward, replacing the Dark Sentinel. The growl sent a flood of warmth through the dark Guide, changing his scent and earning the growl of approval from the Primal Sentinel as the Dark Guide went into heat.

Turning finally Blaer acknowledged the Panther, never breaking eye contact. With the sensual grace of the dark Guide he lowered himself down on the furs. When the panther crept forward he reached for and tossed one of his boots so that it fell near the Panther’s feet making him jump back.   Even as he tried to creep forward the other boot followed again forcing the Panther back from the furs.

Blaer leaned back against the fur covered saddles they used as pillows and never breaking eye contact whipped his hand down chest and over his thigh, then raised his hand to his face and blew across his fingers.  Eyes bright, the expression on his face one of mischief, he watched his Sentinel now openingly scenting the air, his nostrils flared, his mouth open so that he could taste his mate’s scent.  His eyes flashed as he saw the scent coming off his mate like a dark pulsing spiral of mist.

 

Blaer reached back and undid the hair tie.  His long hair cascaded round his shoulders.  Then wetting his lips with his tongue his own blue eyes reflecting his Sentinel’s need to bond, he spoke, “Claim your Guide.”

The words, said with a husky whisper, were all the invitation the Sentinel needed. 

 

Still fully clothed the Panther pounced on his Guide, hands moving over the now writhing body.  Blaer had connected with his Sentinel’s mind as soon as they touched.  It was like a lightening charge running through his mind-blowing open the pathways for the darkest bond.

The deep connection brought with it the Sentinel’s senses.  The Dark Guide was reveling in the increased sensations. The clothing against his skin was a sweet torture against his chest and thighs as he wrapped himself round the larger man. When the panthers teeth grated down the column of his throat he moaned, at the nip he screamed.  Blaer’s arms and legs tightened round the body of his Sentinel as he tried to merge with him wanting his Sentinel buried deeply inside of him, so that they where no longer two people, but one, one heart, one soul, one body.  Hands, calloused by years of training in the art of the warrior, made his breath come in harsh pants as they mapped his body.

When the Sentinel panther chuckled, his breath on the heightened sensitive skin made Blaer arch against him, rubbing trying to make the panther claim him. The dark Guide was beyond coherent speech. His hands clawed at the Sentinel’s chest and shoulder trying desperately to mark his Sentinel even as the panther worried the bite on this throat marking his pale skin. 

Blaer gave a cry of frustration as his hands where caught and held tightly in one large hand at the middle of his back. Using his free hand the Panther cupped his Guide’s face, his thumb brushing almost roughly over Blaer’s full lips so that he could taste his Guide’s scent. A shudder ran through the Panther as he Guide’s tongue swept around the ball of his thumb. That swept away the last of the Panther’s control.  When confronted with his mate in the heat of the dark bond, needy body pressing against him begging to be claimed not in words but in action, the very heart of the primal panther was touched.  His hand brushed his Guide’s face then fastened on the long hair.   He pulled Blaer’s head back exposing his throat.  With a roar the panther, his teeth clamped onto the pale skin at the base of his throat bit down hard at the same time his body pushed the Dark Guide deep into the furs.

0-0-0-0-0

Outside the tent a smile twitched the lips of the Shield as heard the moans and cries coming from the dark Guide as he was claimed in the darkest bond. His blood already heated by the fight, Blaer was vocal in the furs.  A good sign in a mate, but then it was always said of the Dark Guides, that no other Guide could come close to them in the bond. The scream was then overlaid by the low-throated growl of the panther.

The Sentinels and Guides of the clan that passed the tent had an indulgent smile on their face.  The dark pair has a certain reputation for their bonding, and it was not unusual to hear the screams of the dark Guide echoing across the camp, well at least to the ears of the Sentinels.  His panting, groans, and the cry of his Sentinel ignited the need of the other Sentinels to claim their Guides, and more than one Guide has found themselves thrown over a broad shoulder and taken to bond. It certainly made life interesting. The feayr just shrugged and ignored it as Sentinel ways.

His smile died as he thought about Sarane, his Guide.  Blaer had told him to be patient and that she was coming.  He had seen her spirit animal when he had walked the spirit world.  But still, for Huon it was hard.  He needed her, wanted her.  Ruthlessly he pushed the anger down, and turned it into an ice-cold ball of hate for the man that had taken his Guide. Hate that would fuel his revenge when he rescued his Guide. The man that took her would die, never to threaten his bond again.

Huon heard his brother call for him.  He took a deep breath and then silently got up from his post, pausing at the entrance and waiting a heart beat before actually coming into the tent.

 

Jeme was sitting with his back against the fur-covered saddle.   Blaer was splayed across him like a living blanket, one hand pressed to his Sentinel’s broad chest, eyes closed, long damp hair plastered across his face, his throat marked with a darkening bruise.  He was asleep, one leg slung over the Sentinel’s hips, his body welded to that of the older man.  His naked body was partly covered by a fur blanket.  Blaer stirred, as he must have sensed another Sentinel.  Jeme’s hand moved soothingly under the blankets.  With a soft sigh, still half a sleep, Blaer pulled himself up, his body sliding over that of his Sentinel as he moved to nuzzle against the older man’s throat, then he settled and slipped back to sleep.

 

Huron picked up the wine skin and brought it across, holding it as Jeme took a long drink,

 

“Thirsty work brother.”

“Always.”

Huron chuckled softly, then reached out, running a hand over Blaer’s hip and thigh. Blaer moved in his sleep turning his face into Jeme’s neck, pushing up against him.  When Jeme increased his hold, Blaer settled back down again.

The Shield lifted his hand and inhaled the scent from his fingertips.  He nodded his approval.  Blaer’s scent was edged with that of his Sentinel, the ownership of the Guide was proclaimed. 

 “Your bond with Blaer,” Huon said.

 “Is honored in my hear and soul.” Jeme replied.

“Well spoken brother.” The Shield paused then added. “I have my answer.”   As Shield it was his mission to protect the Dark Guide even from himself. Not an easy task with one so impulsive and spirited as Blaer. He had sat by the tent.  He had listened to the voices of the people round them.  Their combat had silenced the voices of the unbelievers, but the rumors round the camp fires still spoke of an un-natural alliance between Sentinel and Guide. Finally he realized that he didn’t care, Blaer was good for his brother, and he had found peace of mind and of the soul.  Blaer was Jeme’s mate, his soul keeper, and that was all that mattered.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Morgan had hunted his daughter down.  They had tried to tell him that she was a Guide and he had dismissed it. Sarane was nothing more than a silly girl that has allowed a sweet talking mercenary to make her believe his fantasy. Once the mercenary had finished with her, his young daughter would be discarded. It was up to him to rescue her.  Morgan looked round at the eight men with him, good solid men of the clan, he nodded his approval.

The plan had been simple to kill the mercenary animal that had taken his daughter.  But Sarane had fought him tooth and nail to return to that scum. In anger for the first time he had raised his hand to his daughter and she now sported a black eye and split lip. Guilty now, he refused to speak to anyone. Instead he rode with his arm round his daughter’s waist.  A Guide.  His daughter had loved the tales spun by a Raider, who wanted nothing more than her body and would sell her when he had taken his fill of her.

He would be relieved to finally see the distant tents of the Gathering.  Once there he would find their clan and he would speak to Wilhelm about arranging a new match for her.  But first she would have to be examined by the Midwife. If the mercenary scum had violated her, her price would be lowered. But he would make sure that by the time she left the Gathering she would be married.

Morgan tightened his grip on Sarane, more a merchant than a warrior Moran had known that without his friends he would never have beaten the mercenary.  The man had fought like a wild animal, protecting its mate. He started and looked down at Sarane, could he have been wrong?   He steeled his heart, with two of his friend’s dead he couldn’t afford to think that way.

They set up camp near a small stream giving fresh water for the horses. Sarane was huddled in a blanket, refusing food and drinking only a little of the water he gave her. When he had brushed her face trying to comfort her like had had done when she was a small child, she had pulled away.

“Sarane, I won’t hurt you again, my darling, It wasn’t you I was angry at it was that man.”  He put so much hatred in that one word that it brought Sarane’s head up. 

“Father, look at me”, she held a hand out, it shook like a leaf in a storm and she clinched her fist. “You have to take me back to Huon, or else you will loose me, I am a Guide.”

 

“No,” Morgan made a slashing motion with his hand, “Females can’t be Guides and even I know that “

But Sarane ignored him, speaking through his words, “I am not lying, return me or I will die, already the emotions-“

“A foolish girl that is all, nothing more now go to sleep, in the morning you will feel better.” 

Sarane rolled up in her blanket, the tears silently falling down her face, her body burned with the need to bond and she nearly lost herself, when something touched her mind.  It was so brilliant it was like a strike of lightening, blazing across her mind. “Blaer”, she said the name softly, repeating it again and again.  Each time it soothed her, and the emotions she was feeling was pushed back down.

At first she had feared that her father would tie her down, to prevent her running back, but then she realized with a snort that he wouldn’t. To her father she was a weak and deluded girl, not capable of trying to escape. She would wait and then take the opportune moment.

That night the men had gathered round the fire drinking and telling stories.

Sarane waited until they had settled down for the night, and got up.  The guard came to her so she put her head down as she muttered she had to relieve herself. He had pointed to a part of the camp and turned away.  That was when she hit him.  His legs had folded and he collapsed with a hoarse gasp. With a quick look round she disappeared into the night.

. As she walked she gave a prayer to the Goddess of the Moon that she would find Huon alive and well. She had to she couldn’t even think what she would do if Huon was dead.  Sarane quickened her pace as she heard a wild animal, her imagination running wild. It was then she felt Blaer again in her head, concentrating on him she began to follow the empathic trail he was projecting.

Sarane’s hand flew to her mouth as too late she saw a figure detach itself from the trees.  It was moving fast and had her by the waist, throwing her to the ground.   A hand clasped over her mouth, a hard lean body pinned her down and a low-throated growl raised the hairs on the back of her neck. There was a flash of moon light on metal and a knife arched towards her throat.  In that split second she knew it wasn’t Blaer she had been following, and she would die because of that mistake. The emotions smothered her, the need to kill to protect what was his tore into her mind, just as the knife would penetrate her body. Her mind seemed to explode from the power coursing through it, and she spiraled down into nothing.

0-0-0-0-0

Huon came awake.  He was shaking violently, his breath coming in harsh gasps.  In his sleep he had seen Sarane, the knife slashing at her throat.

Hands rested on his shoulders from behind.  A smaller, sweat slick body plastered it’s self to his back.  Blaer, he knew the scent. The Dark Guide whispered softly into his ear, then the hands moved, sliding round his chest. Blaer’s face nuzzled the nape of his neck.

 

“I saw your dream through our bond Shield.  You felt her fear, but follow me Huon.”

Huon felt Blaer’s mind press against his.  He had to fight against pulling away from the touch, but he had to know. He opened his mind to Blaer and felt the warm caress as the Dark Guide entered, moving through his thoughts.  It was as if Blaer took his hand.  The world spun and Blaer was his only anchor to sanity. Then he saw Sarane.  Another Sentinels’ presence was near her.  He growled his hackles rising, but then he saw the shadow and the breath caught in his throat. Another Dark Guide, with flashing eyes, as spirited and passionate as Blaer. Then he heard Blaer’s voice, “My brother will protect her.” Huon was then pulled back to the present.

“Blaer thank you.”  He didn’t turn, but covered the Dark Guide’s hand in his, raised it to his lips and inhaled Blaer’s scent.  He smiled against the Guide’s hand, as he smelt the changes in the Dark Guide. Blaer wanted to bond.  His need was riding him like a drug.  So it was true what they said about Dark Guide’s that they where insatiable in the bond.  Blaer was going into heat for the fourth time that night. Huon lightly bit the Guide’s palm and heard the gasp.  A chuckle from his brother and the scent thickened with need.  Blaer’s hand fastened into his hair and pulled him back towards Jeme. Huon felt Blaer link the three of them together again and he sank willingly into the three-way bond, even as he wrapped himself round the sweat slick body of the smaller Dark Guide. The heat radiating from the Guide seemed to burn through his clothing; quickly he shed his tunic, reveling in the silk like texture of the Guide’s skin against his. With a roar he bit down hard on Blaer’s neck.  The Guide bucked under the two pairs of hands moving over his body, as he was touched and scented, his body pulled, pushed and spread so that the Sentinels could map him. The Guide was beyond words now; the only noise was a whimpering, spaced with shuddering breath. When he was reduced to nothing, Huon pulled back and Jeme took him deeply into the bond.  Jeme would share, because he was the Shield, but in the end there could only be one Sentinel to one Guide, Dark need Dark. As Jeme claimed Blaer, his well-used voice screamed one more time, then lapsed into silence as the intensity of the bonding knocked him out. Three had now become one.

00-0-0—0

Blaer yawned and gave a soft groan as his body responded to the rigors of bonding with two primal Sentinels.  A small smile touched his lips as his hand subconsciously brushed the nip marks on his body, his throat, shoulder, belly and thighs. He had lost control, trapped between the two primes, hands moving all the time over his sensitized body. Feeling their emotions, channeling and amplifying them then sending back his emotions. Words no longer necessary, as through the link they knew what he needed. Blaer had been on the verge of falling into the void of darkness, lost in the intense emotions of the two primals.  He had pushed forward then back trying to maximize the sensations, their clothing almost painful to his skin.  He had screamed only to find that he could taste their combined scent, so strong that he could have cut it with a knife.  The pathways of his mind were throbbing in time with his heartbeat. Then they had bitten him, one to the throat one on the shoulder.  Pain sparking pleasure, he had shuddered and then blacked out as his last barrier to over load crumbled. Only the two Sentinel’s minds kept him from becoming lost.

As a Dark Guide he was an assassin, a trained killer, yet in their link he could feel their love and the need for them to protect and cherish him.  Burying his face against Jeme’s chest he closed his eyes and went back to sleep sandwiched between the two large primal Sentinels.

 

 

0-0-0-0

Sarane came round but she made herself lie still as she sensed the emotions of the people around her, then she shuddered her eyes flying open.  Kneeling looking down at her was a young man all in black, a Dark Guide, but instead of the purple braid that Blaer wore, he had the deepest scarlet.

 She reached out with her empathy and again it was thrown back at her, the Guide lashing out, a smile touched his lips. The power of the Guide was crackling over her and then a hand gripped the Guide’s shoulder. “Let her up Gamin, the kid isn’t going to threaten us.”

She tried to center her emotions to reassure him, but all it did was anger him, his eyes flashed, “The bitch is a Guide,” His head tilted slightly to one side, “and she is bonded.”  The contempt rolled off his tongue, “lost your Sentinel.” His emotions cracked across her like a whip and she flinched. “You think that you can take my Sentinel.”  His lips twisted into a chilling bright smile.” Then I kill you and everything is back to normal.”

The hand flexed on the dark clad shoulder, “No Gamin, NO.” The well-built man shook his head. “She is just a kid and we don’t kill children.”  He eased the dark Guide to his feet and then slipped an arm round the other man’s waist and pulled him close. For the first time she really go a chance to look at them. The older man was taller than Jeme and Huon with a powerful build.  He moved with a fluid motion of a warrior.  The Guide was smaller around Blaer’s height.

The Sentinel’s voice had a warm deep note to it that Sarane felt herself drawn too.   But the spitting wild cat that he held against him would kill her if she looked at the Sentinel the wrong way. Even with his Dark Guide tucked against him, he was trying to comfort her.  “No one is going to hurt you kid.” He leaned forward and offered her his hand. Sarane hesitated and allowed him to draw her to her feet. 

Once he knew she wasn’t going to fall down again, he turned his attention to the dark Guide. His tone dropped and he began to sooth and settles him. Sarane felt her face begin to heat as the larger man buried his face at the junction of the Guide’s shoulder and neck.  The smaller man looped an arm round his head, holding him in place. His body moving wantonly, that was the only way she could describe it, against the larger man. She saw the affection between the two men.  The emotions rolling off them, transmitted by the dark Guide to her as confirmation of his ownership of the Sentinel, caused her to blush, fusing her face bright red. It was raw sexuality, then it was as if all emotions where cut off and she fell to her knees. The emotions had been that strong.

When she had first met Blaer and Jeme she hadn’t been on line.  She understood now that Jeme must be shielding Blaer’s emotions some of the time to save the people round them from getting the full force of the bond.  But this Guide wore his power on his sleeve and he didn’t seem to care who felt it.  This was his Sentinel and he gloried in the darkest bond.  She knew then she had to be careful.

 

0-0-0-0-0-

Early Morning.

When Blaer got up he was aware of both Sentinels watching him.  His time in his mother’s temple made him at ease with his body and being naked in front of his Sentinel didn't bother him. It would be foolish; between them they had taken him in the bond. Jeme had claimed him totally in the bond; Huon had enforced his position as the Shield and joined in the claiming. He smiled softly in contentment; their own bodies bore signs of his ownership. So he ignored their looks, but at the same time felt the heat of their gaze traveling over him, their emotions buffeting against him, telling him clearer than any words what they needed.  To test it he reached for the water bucket to wash.  As one they had growled at him, low and deep-throated growls that echoed through their chests.  They wanted their scent markers to remain on him. A sign to all Sentinels of his bonded status, to both men. 

Instead he had pulled on a thin robe.  The material was so sheer it was as if he was naked.  His Sentinel, at great expense, had bartered for it. He left it undone.  He stifled a yawn and collected the food.  Instead of making three plates of food he made only two.  Bringing them across the tent, he knelt and offered them to his Sentinel and shield.  He returned with the skin of wine and he mugs, only to find he was gathered close to Jeme as they shared the same plate.  When he reached for the food, Huon caught his wrist and Jeme lifted a morsel holding it out for Blaer to take.  Understanding he leaned forward and took the food from his Sentinel’s fingers, this action repeated as he was given his share of the food. The primal Sentinel was providing food and shelter for his Guide, the most basic part of his make up.  After claiming his Guide, the Sentinel needed to prove to him that he could provide for him.  In between the morsels he gave Blaer, Jeme ate his own food, tasting his Guide on his fingers.

Jeme was content, his Guide held tightly onto him, feeling the warmth of his body branding itself against his hip and flank even through the thin robe.   Huon poured the ale and taking a mouth full, he passed it to his brother, watching while he drank and then held it up for Blaer.   There was a feeling of contentment running through the Shield at the submissive nature of the dark Guide.  After last night he understood his place. Huon ran a calloused hand under the thin robe, over Blaer’s hip and lower back losing himself in the texture of skin and bone.

Blaer took a deep breath.  He was not the play toy of the two primals.  He was willing to allow so much but then he had to put them in their place.  His hand came down hard on Huon’s hand causing him to pull back, the pain all the more acute because of his sense being turned up. He peeled himself off Jeme and collecting the plate and mug of ale, went and sat back on the furs keeping his distance.

The growl started back up again and he slung a boot at them. They would have to learn. As a dark Guide he would allow so much from the primal Sentinels. But they had to understand that he was in charge. He would allow them to play their game of dominance and submission, but then he would show them just who had the control and they would come to heel.

0-0-0-0-0

Early Morning

Sarane sat near the fire wrapped in the blanket the older man had given her. He had been kind and understood when she had begun to shiver, not so much with cold as with the emotional strain of trying to keep up her barriers against the force of a dark Guide. Then as sudden as it started the Dark Guide Gamin had let her go.  She had the awful feeling of a wild cat playing with a mouse; at any time he might again test her barriers.

She tried to listen out for her father, sure that at any time they would come bursting into the camp to take her back.  With a guilty look she watched the two men.  Could she really endanger them? Her father would give no quarter if he saw a dark Guide, his hatred of them was well known.  He believed them nothing more than killers and whores that would bind a man’s heart to the Dark Arts. Sarane bit her lip, but she also knew that without the Dark Guide, she would become lost into a void as deep as the one that threatened Huon. Somehow being around the Dark Guide prevented that happening and she had no idea how.

The Dark Guide was sharpening his swords and knives, his gloved fingers moving the whetstone over the edge of the blade. She tried to judge his age. He looked as young as Blaer, but something told her he was older, perhaps in his late twenties. His head was down as he watched the blade, his long hair no longer tied back hung down acting as a veil. 

The older man smiled and handed her a bowl of stew with a chunk of bread, a piece of straw sticking out of it. He smiled as he saw the look she gave his Guide. “Don’t worry Gamin won’t kill you.” he cocked his head to one side then smiled as he added “well not yet.”

Sarane reached for the bowl her hand touching the older man’s by accident.  The Guide’s head came up and the warm chocolate colored eyes flashed with a chilling glare. She knew then she had to make him understand she was no threat to him and his bond. It took all her courage to do it, remembering back to the camp, she moved closer to the dark Guide, only wanting to run away from him.  Sarane knelt and lowered her head, when all her instincts told her to not take her eyes off the Guide.

“I am a Guide, but my Sentinel was injured, I am trying to find him, I want no others.” She took a deep breath remembering how Blaer had acted. “Dark Guide,” Sarane stumbled over the words, “please I mean no harm to your Sentinel, honored is your bond, I only wish to find my Sentinel.”

Slowly she looked up, the Dark Guide had leaned forward she didn’t pull back when he put a gloved hand out and cupped her face. “What happened to your Sentinel child?”   She forced herself to not bristle at the name child, but tried to send out her emotions to sooth him, to be submissive to the Dark Guide.

“My Sentinel is a good man, but he is a mercenary and after our bonding, my father hunted us down, they thought they had killed him when they took me.” The silent tears began to fall down her face, she dashed them away. Lifting her face up to look at the Dark Guide she reached out and caught his gloved hand, “You understand, I know that he’s not dead, I can feel him.”  She touched her heart.

 For a long moment the Dark Guide just looked at her, his eyes meeting hers and she felt as if her whole life was being weighed. The caress across her mind was like a cooling breeze on a hot day.  It was then she realized that the Dark Guide was supporting her. Suddenly she screamed as his mind tore through hers like a knife through butter, the next thing she knew she was being cradled in the arm of the Sentinel. He was leaning against a tree, his other arm round his Guide.  The younger man cuddled close to him nuzzling at this throat.

“Hush Child.” The older man tilted his head slightly so that it rested against his Guide’s head.”  He meant no harm, but he found you Sentinel and he is safe and waiting at the Gathering.” He paused, “Gamin will allow you to travel with us and will shield you.  But you owe him your loyalty and one day he will collect.  Do you agree, Sarane daughter of the Clan?”

“Yes”

“That what is agreed is done,” The Sentinel intoned levelly.

“I don’t know your name.”  Sarane addressed the Sentinel; she knew the Dark Guide was Gamin.

The Dark Guide hissed and snarled at her.   “Mine.”

“She issues no challenge, my Guide, my life, my mate.” The Sentinel pacified him.  Like all Dark Guides, Gamin was impulsive, spirited and could only be tamed in the bond.  The songs sung in the taverns put it crudely but it was the truth, the only tamed dark Guide was a f....

The Sentinel broke away from that line of thought and kept petting him until he calmed.  The last thing he needed was his emotions to fire his Guide’s need. But it was too late. The scent of the dark Guide going into heat reached him, the rich thick scent that called to him, with his eyes fixed on the young woman, he felt his Guide push up and away from him. Still he ignored his Guide, even as he straddled his lap, blocking his view.  The Sentinel bit back a cry of pain as his hair was caught and twisted back so that his face tilted up to his Guide, the dark eyes where burning with the depth of his emotions. Looking into them he felt as if he was going to explode like dry kindling. Gamin rubbed his face against his Sentinel, his breath brushing across the Sentinel’s lips so that, involuntarily, the Sentinel licked his lips and tasted his Guide.

Then slowly, keeping eye contact until the last moment, he bent down and bit the Sentinel’s throat. 

Sarane tried to close her ears and shut her emotions down so she wouldn’t feel what was going to follow.  Her face burning, she moved as far away from them as she could. Blaer and Jeme had bonded, but they had taken it into the trees, but this pair, oh my gods they were going too…….

 She swallowed hard and sitting down against one of the trees clasped her hands over her ears and closed her eyes.  But even so the throaty scream of the Dark Guide as he was claimed and marked refused to be ignored. Their emotions battered her as a ship in high wind. Sarane couldn’t help but smile as she remembered something Huon had said about Dark Guides being vocal in the bond. As if that was any indication, this Guide was just as loved as Blaer. Huon had said after all the only tamed Dark Guide was a loved dark Guide, and this one was loved. The Dark Guide broadcasted the emotions of the darkest bond, this time his scream was covered by the call of a large predator, his mate answering his call in this world and the next.

0-0-0-0-0-0

The Sentinel held his Guide close, the smaller body plastered to him under the fur blanket. After bonding, exhausted, Gamin slept.  The Sentinel kept his emotions wrapped round his Guide, even as he thought through what had to be done.

At the Gathering his Guide would challenge the Sentinel that had claimed him. Only when that bastard had died would Gamin be free.  The Sentinel jolted as he realized the girl was kneeling down next to them.  Careful not to touch them, her eyes where moist with tears as she bite her lip.  Their joining had been beautiful but at the same time she had felt something else, pain and the need for revenge.

The Sentinel swore, she had felt Gamin’s emotions.

“He’s hurting, I felt it when --”

“When I pulled back from him.”  He sighed, buried his face in the long hair and rubbed his face against the Guide’s throat, then slowly eased the fur blanket down his Guide’s body.

Sarane’s hand flew to her mouth, even as she did it, the Sentinel tugged the blanket back in place.  She had never believed that anyone could survive the scaring and burns that covered the slender Guide’s body.

 “His first Sentinel brought from the Temple a Guide he thought would fit his status, one that would protect him and clear the way for his family to increase in wealth.”  The Sentinel faltered, “ But he didn’t understand what was needed, that a Sentinel must have strength to have a Dark Guide, they are not as other Guides. He believed the stories of the dark Guide, and thought that he had a whore as well as a Guide. Gamin refused him, and went to have the bond broken, believing that it was not his true bond, and that he would survive it for that reason. His Sentinel, was not use to loosing, and with his men attacked him.”  The Sentinel bent his head and gently nuzzled the dark straight hair, as if to make sure that Gamin was still settled peacefully against him. “Mistaking just sex for the darkest bond”, the Sentinels eyes flashed as Sarane was about to question something, “But you”, then she added quickly “my apologies Sentinel, I meant no respect to the darkest bond.”

The Sentinel nodded her apology accepted, “Force Gamin, and when that failed left him to die, his mind fractured by the assault.  Before going to look for another Guide, believing the darkest bond failed because of Gamin. He made Gamin common property of the Sentinel at his father’s camp. That was when I met him.” The older man’s voice nearly faltered as he added,  “He was my salvation and I was his. At the Gathering his Sentinel will die and the blood vendetta will end.”

“I am sorry.” Sarane really meant it, this was not lip service.

“He’s sorry, you’re sorry, everyone is fucking sorry, so why don’t you let me get some sleep.”  Gamin snarled and cuddled closer to the larger warm body as he ran his hands over the broad chest under the fur blankets, and purred his contentment.

The large man moved and his sleeve fell back.  She saw the burns on his wrists and hurried back to fire.  What had she gotten herself into, Dark Guide and a Slave Sentinel? That was why he didn’t give the Sentinel’s name, he was a Slave, the Guide his master. When she got to the gathering death would follow her. Looking across the fire she saw the two horses and wondered if she would be able to steal one, but she pushed the idea back.  She would be dead before she could saddle one of them.

It was past noon when the Sentinel and Guide rejoined her at the fire, she noticed how the dark Guide was calmer and at peace with himself. But all the time he remained close.

The Sentinel  took a seat next to her, and took some of the food from the spit, and gave some to his Guide, as he took a bite, only then did Gamin eat.

The two of them appreciated the meal, and Sarane could at least feel that she was doing something to earn her keep.

It was then a movement caught her eye; she was about to speak when Gamin cut across her “It’s alright child we see them.” He rose slowly to his feet, as he turned. Show yourself and be welcomed to our camp, the Sentinel said levelly.”

The three men stepped out of the woods into the small clearing.  Mercenaries, they where dressed like Huon was, and she went to move when Gamin’s hand brushed her shoulder.

The biggest of the three men, looked round the camp, two good horses and a girl, that would bring a good price, but against it was a dark Guide.  They began to spread out.  Gamin moved to the left and the Sentinel moved to the right, even as the men drew their swords the first one died, Gamin’s hand had moved that fast that she had only seen the blur of silver, and the leader dropped to the floor a throwing spike sticking from his head.

Sarane was as shocked as the men, the dark Guide had issued no challenge, just taken him down, even experienced it had caught them off guard, they had expected the dark Guide’s Sentinel to speak to them first.  With a scream they attacked, Sarane saw the dark Guide block the blade and push the man backwards, they circled slowly, the Guide looked as if he was having the time of his life. After a few more clashes it was more than obvious that the mercenary was outclassed, the Sentinel had finished his man quickly, but now watched his Guide. Sickened Sarane caught his arm, as she could see the dark Guide was playing with the man.  Finally the man lunged, the dark Guide dropped to his knee as the blade went over his head and cut through the man’s waist.  Getting up, the dark Guide watched as the man tried to hold his insides into his stomach, the sword falling forgotten to the ground.  Gamin walked around him, then towards the horse, “Sarane break the camp we are leaving.”

“Gamin.” The name was barked at him.

 

“What”, 

“Finish it now, cleanly.” The Sentinel's tone was like a parent scolding a wayward child.  With a disgusted look the Dark Guide pivoted round the blade cleaving the mercenary’s head off, 

 

“Satisfied.”  His head tilted his free hand moving to encompass both Sarane and his Sentinel.

 

“Yes.”

With a shake of the head the dark Guide went over to the horse.

Sarane tried not to look at the bodies, only when the camp was broken and the horse saddled did she face a problem, who she would ride with.  Gamin kicked his horse forward and reached a gloved hand out, meeting her gaze coldly.

It was then she realized what he had done with that man.  It had been a warning to her, of what he would, could do. She accepted his hand and was pulled up behind him. Hesitantly she wrapped her arms round his waist, hearing him chuckle, “never been this close to a man before child?”

She restrained herself from hitting him, “I am not a child Guide.  I am a woman.” she spat back at him. “Then it was about time that you acted like one,” was the snapped reply,

0-0-0-0-0

Huon came out of the tent and stretched, the night’s rigors a fond memory.

From the corner of his eye he saw movement, turning he concentrated on Saemund.  The clan leader was deep in conversation with a man he didn’t know.  They both looked towards him, and he heard the word Sarane.

Saemund moved to block the mercenary shield, “Morgan is in the meeting hall and Warren has summoned you to attend.”

When he would have rushed past, Saemund caught his arm, staring down the Sentinel.  “Run in there like a bull with its tail on fire and you will lose all. Your claim on the girl is just, don’t,” Saemund repeated the word with force, “Don’t allow your emotions to cloud your mind.  You are the Shield of the Clan.  Act like it and not the mercenary filth you once were.” Saemund had no time to dress the words up, he had to be blunt and hope that Huon would recognize it.

“Saemund”, the name was said with grudged respect.

“Now tell Blaer and Jeme, we will need them both for this, a show of power. Morgan has powerful people backing him, including your father.  This must be resolved now.”

 

When the dark pair entered the discussion in the hall, it became quiet.  The Sentinel Primes exchanged looks as they fixed their senses on the dark Guide. His scent was edged with that of his Sentinel, as it should be, but the scandal showed on their faces as they recognized the scent of the Shield as well.  More damming still the Guide seemed to be in heat, no Sentinel would allow their Guide to appear in front of other Sentinels in heat, but this one reveled in it and their joining.

William stood facing Warren with Morgan by his side.  He had rebuilt his peace with his son and still had plans for a marriage to one of the strongest clan leader’s eldest daughter to Jeme. So his own interests were paramount to those of Morgan, however Morgan was powerful in his own right, this had to be done with tack and diplomacy.

Morgan’s breath caught in his throat as he saw the Shield and the Sentinel Prime of the Panther, it was like looking at one-man split into two. He had been told to keep his disgust of all things Sentinel hidden, but he couldn’t help the look of revulsion as he saw the dark Guide yet again.

William put a hand on his shoulder, “Morgan tell Warren why your are here.”

Blaer’s hand rested on Huon’s arm, as he spoke softly. “Let him speak his lies and then counter with the truth.  Calling him the lying bastard that he is will achieve nothing,” he paused then added, “for now.”

Morgan dashed the tears from his eyes, “We saved her from the animal that would have taken her virtue with his lie, only for her to be so lost in his fantasy that she escaped. We tracked her although none of us have that talent, we found a camp, three bodies, and Sarane’s scarf was on the ground. I fear my daughter is lost to all of us now.”

Huon was shaking his head; he would know if she were dead, he would have felt it.  He looked to Blaer and saw the smaller Guide nod. “She is safe and with my brother Guide, he will protect her and when he comes it will be glorious.”

The Sentinel Prime from the River bend clan had heard the words and whispering into the ear of this Clan leader left the hall.

Thorn had had some teaching from the scribes and knew a little of the history.  His Guide was also of the dark and in the long winter nights had told him stories.  The younger man was busy looking after one of the daughters of the clan leader; she had been mated with the Panther Prime at the time of his bonding and was now pregnant with his child. Her sickness in the morning was making her weak and he was busy preparing a draft for her.

Sitting down, Thorn ran an affection hand over his Guide’s arm and was greeted with a brilliant smile, as through the touch they connected.

“Steffen, when a Guide of the dark calling says that a joining would be glorious what does he mean?”

Steffen stopped what he was doing.  “In what context,” then paused “Ah we are talking of Blaer of the Panther Clan, and this was to who?”

“The Shield, he said that a brother in the dark was coming and their joining would be glorious.”

“Then give offering to the gods and take me to the bond tonight, we will need all our luck and strength tomorrow.”

“Steffen.”

The Guide made a sign, “The chronicles speak of a dark pairing and the shield that will come forth.  This happened hundreds of years ago and great change came.  The Sentinel is the sword and the Guide is the justice of the clan, but there was another, the vengeance.. He came not from our temple but from the other.”

But that temple is in the territory of the barbarians  He saw Stefan shake his head.

“The second is from the first, and broke away, keeping the old traditions as we embraced the new. They are called the Varian Temple, named for the priest that took them away into the tribal lands of the barbarians. So now one of their calling is coming and the chronicles take one step nearer to being fulfilled.

0-0-0-0-0-0

 

Sarane yawned and leaned her head on the dark clothed shoulder of the dark Guide. She was puzzled by the fact they kept away from the well-worn tracks to the Gathering. Finally they stopped and she looked down in a valley, a riot of colors made it look like a patchwork quilt, the Grand Gathering, and Huon awaited her.

The Guide kneed his horse forward, the people stopped as they entered and watched them in silence, but the Guide ignored them.  The meetinghouse stood out, by the time they arrived Warren and the others had gathered.

A dark Guide was an unknown force, and this one wore the red of the Varian Temple.  Gamin didn’t have to check to know that his Sentinel was on his guard.  When they halted Gamin’s gaze went over the men in front of them, his eyes resting on one of the dark brethren. Ignoring the others he slide gracefully to the ground, facing the other dark Guide.  At waist level he crossed his hands at the wrist, palms toward his body and tilted his head down slightly, all the time his eyes never leaving the other dark Guide. The salute was return, the same but differently. 

Blaer moved forward with a command to stay to Jeme and Huon, even though Huon could barely stop himself from rushing to his Guide.  He heard the kick ass roar of the Dark Guide and obeyed. 

Sarane bit her lip.  The moment she had seen Huon all she had wanted to do was run to her Sentinel and be caught up in his broad arms, but she had strictly understood that if this went wrong people would die. She waited, but her eyes kept moving to Huon, pointedly ignoring her father.

Morgan pushed away and went straight to her, ready to claim what was his by blood. The new Dark Guide moved with a speed that was blinding, the sword in his hand, the blade resting on the man’s chest.

“Gamin no”, Sarane pleaded, “Please don’t’ kill him, please.”

“You know him”,

“My father.”

Gamin tilted his head slightly as if trying to get a bearing on the man.  His lips twitched and-

 “Gamin”, the Sentinel was off his horse and in two strides had his hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Remember we are here to end a vendetta not to start another one.”

“Killing him.”

“No.” 

The Sentinel nodded to Morgan, “Back away before you lose not only your daughter but your life.”

He patted his Guide shoulder affectionately and then helped Sarane down. “Go to your Sentinel child, but remember our bargain.”

“Thank you.”

Sarane hugged the Sentinel, not knowing if she was thanking him for bringing her safely to the camp or for stopping Gamin from killing her father.

Huon swept her into a hug, his kiss was far from chaste, and it contained all the passion of Sentinel for his mate.

Morgan turned “Warren, my daughter.”

Warren was looking to the bigger prize.  Morgan had money and connections, but in Huon he had the Shield of the Dark Pair.   If he was to rule through them, they would have to owe him.  This was perfect.

“Morgan, I accept that she is a Guide and as such can’t be parted from her Sentinel. Huon, Shield of the Panther Clan, take your Guide.”

“No” Morgan screamed and drew his sword. The sound of three blades leaving their scabbards stilled his hand. Dark Guide, Sentinel and Shield all faced him.  He let his sword blade sink to the ground.  He had lost face this time, but others would champion his cause.  He would not leave an asset like his daughter with a creature like this Sentinel.

Blaer looked towards his brother of the dark arts and lunged. Gamin blocked and the two circled each other. In speed and agility the two dark Guides were equally matched.

Jeme rolled his eyes to the heavens as if asking for the gods to help him, as Blaer rolled under the other Guide’s blade, only to have his own attack blocked.  The new Sentinel had crossed to Jeme.  He had caught the man’s scent on the other dark Guide.  He was watching the  fight closely. 

Jeme’s laugh was soft. “Have you had yours long.”

“No.”

Jeme looked the Sentinel up and down, and nodded his approval, “Honoured is your darkest bond, and the chronicles have fore warned of your coming.” He paused “I am Jeme, Sentinel Prime of the Panther Clan, my brother Huon the Shield and you?

“Lo-jin, Warrior of the Northern Hoards and Sentinel to Gamin of the Varian Order.”

Jeme looked back at the two Guides and his nose twitched. Gamin was in heat, as was Blaer and he read the need to bond now riding the newcomer hard as it was him.

“If you catch yours, I’ll catch mine.”  Jeme waited and then launched himself forward.  Catching Blaer, he threw him down even as Loj-in caught Gamin, using all his strength and speed to pin him to the ground on his stomach, one knee pushing up between his splayed legs, his weight holding the struggling Guide down.  Then in front of them all he leaned forward, scented the base of his Guide’s neck and with a snarl, bit him at the junction between neck and shoulder. Gamin stilled, as the Sentinel worried his flesh, marking it. The primal Sentinel was out of it’s cage, and it wanted his Guide to be submissive.

Flat on his back Blaer was nose to nose with his Sentinel he snapped at Jeme with his teeth, making the older man jerk back. But even as he did it he was wrapping a leg round his Sentinels hip, when the Sentinel leaned forward again. Blaer met him face to face, to stop the Sentinel from nipping his throat. Jeme had stopped his duel with the other dark Guide, and thought he could dictate to him, he had to learn the hard way that he wasn’t a weak gray Guide. He was of the dark calling. Blaer’s lips pulled back and he snarled his defiance into the face of his Sentinel.

Jeme got to his feet using his greater strength to pull Blaer up with him, shaking him like a dog might a rat. Then dragged him towards their tent, to settle the matter in the only way a dark Guide and Sentinel could in the bond.

The scandalized intake of breath from the people round them brought Jeme back to the present, still keeping his grip on the squirming swearing dark Guide. Jeme kept his face neutral, “tut tut Blaer, a mercenary, whoremonger doesn’t use language like that, and you a shaman.” He gave Blaer another harder shake, ducking his head as a first lashed out. Jeme laughed then looked towards Lo jin and his Guide, “Saemund, give them a tent a place to bond, within out Clan and we will speak later, once I have taken care of something with this one.”

Lo jin looked up, his larger body still masking his smaller Guide. Gamin was already lost in the pre-bond frenzy of an uncontrolled dark Guide to even hear the words of the people around him. He let out a scream, that made the people cringe, it was primal, but at the same time sensual. Lo jin dragged his Guide, one hand in the long dark hair, the other holding his arm to the tent, that the man called Saemund was pointing too. He threw Gamin in and the leather doorway swung shut behind them..

Huon, his arm round Sarane watched as his brother and the other Sentinel took their Guides away with them. “Your Clan is prospering Saemund, two Guides of the dark arts, if you manage to live through these interesting  times, you might have the power and position you crave.” 

Sarane leaned into him, enjoying the feeling of having him in her head again. Without thinking her mind caressed his.  Huon looked down at her and the heat in his eyes made her blush bright red. His eyes settled on Morgan and his horrified look, the smile Huon gave him was pure predator. Before Sarane could protest, she was thrown over his broad shoulders, and taken to his tent to bed and bond.

Morgan started forward only to be caught and pulled back by Felton, his arm was quickly released, and Warren’s second in command hissed. “You will come with me, and try not to be a bigger fool, then you already are.”

Felton escorted Morgan into Warrens inner room, it was hung with thick hangings, many of them from far away territories, gifts from the other leaders that wanted his patronage.

Morgan paced up and down,  , “Warren what?……….”

But Warren didn’t allow him chance to speak.” You are a fool Morgan.”

“I don’t have to stand here and be insulted.”

“You do and you will.”  Warren leaned back in this chair, his fingers steepled.  “In your daughter you have a link with what might be the most powerful clan in the lands and a dark pairing.  Do you know how many of them,” Warren opened is hands as if encompassing the whole camp, “would give up a years gold for a daughter to be where your Sarene is today, in the bed of the Shield of the Panther Clan? Think man, any children born of that breeding will inherit the Clan.”

For the first time Morgan actually thought it through. “But the Dark Sentinel and Guide they could marry.”

Fallon nearly choked on the cup of ale he was drinking as he stood near his Master. Morgan looked from one to the other, as he saw the same amusement in Warren.

“Ah well, that will not happen unless the laws of nature are changed, you have heard the rumors of the Dark Guide’s preferences and they don’t, if it can be believed, run to the curvy bodies of the women. Any children they father are for the good of the clan.  The gold in their loins, those children are birthed outside of the Clan and therefore can’t claim the leadership of their Clan. So your Sarane could be the mother of the Clan, honored above all other women.  Think of that.

“You believe that?”

“I know that”, Warren breathed.  “In a few days the dark pairing will become the Senior Primes of the Clans and my peacekeepers.  Their power will be harnessed to my will.  Do you want to join me or”, Warren left it hanging in the air, allowing Morgan to finish the sentence.

Warren nodded to Fallon, “Get the ale.  We have something to celebrate.”

0-0-0-0-0

Lo-jin threw his Guide onto the thick sleeping furs in the tent and poured some ale from a pitcher.  It was good and strong.  He was going to need it.

Gamin came up from the furs and the momentum brought Lo-jin crashing to the ground with his wild cat of a Guide on him, straddling his hips.  The smaller man shed his black robes like a snake shedding it’s skin, his eyes flashing red hot and the scent rolling off his body like mist on a summer day.

0-0-0-0-0

Blaer was sulking, Jeme rolled his eyes, his Guide was not happy. He had withheld the bond from him until he found out what was going on. Now he was getting the pout and puppy dog eyes.

“Blaer what was all that about, talk to me, or we will not bond.”

His Guide ignored him as he got to his feet and began to slowly strip off his robes, his eyes never leaving those of his Sentinel. A mischievously grin touched his lips as he could see his Sentinel trying to ignore the call of the bond. Jeme was trying not to watch him but the slightest movement and the Sentinel’s eyes followed him. He closed the distance between them, getting so close that Jeme had to take a step back.  Blaer’s foot tripped him and he fell onto his backside looking up at this Guide.  Blaer straddled the Sentinel’s legs, and eased down gracefully. Leaning forward he breathed his scent over Jeme’s face watching as his Sentinel closed his eyes savoring the moment. Suddenly he was caught and pulled forward, unable to stop the look of triumph on his face as he was dragged down. Then a hard hand came into contact with him, two hard clips and he was pulled upright again. “Now brat what was all that about, tell me.”

Blaer swore at him, “How dare you, you over sensed, knuckle dragging, barbarian mother coupling pig.”  He gave a yelp as he was pulled down again for another clip across his backside.  When Blaer went to open his mouth, Jeme lifted his hand and Blaer flinched.  The Sentinel hid the smile he had faked his Guide out.  He watched his Guide rub himself winching as the skin stung from the blows.

“First Blaer, I am no animal to be manipulated through the bond because of a Guide in heat. Our bond means more to me than that and you, young man, are more than a mink in heat ready to fight or fu.” 

Blaer’s finger against his lips stopped him in the middle of the world.

Jeme caught the hand,  and took a deep breath.  “You will tell me why you attacked the other dark Guide and I mean now.”

Blaer moved away from him and eased into a comfortable position, “That Guide is of the Varian Temple, he is the other part of the legend, but he has to understand that I, “ he paused “What we are and what he will become.”

 

“And what will he become?”

“Jeme you are the Sword of the Clan, Huon is the Shield, I am the Shaman, the justice and he will become the Vengeance of the Clan. None will stand against us.”

 

“And Saemund”, Jeme put in gently, where does he fit in your plan.

“Saemund is.”

“Blaer” Jeme warned.

“His place is not known in the chronicles.”  As he spoke Blaer began to edge forward his hand traced a light pattern on his Sentinel's thigh, the smile becoming more confident as he recognized the light in Jeme’s eyes.  They would bond now.

Jeme smile was brilliant and he pushed Blaer so he sprawled on his back.  He pounced, flattening his Guide, as with a growl he bit down hard on his throat, the panther claiming his Guide, acknowledging the need to merge as one.  Touch, taste, sight and hearing all locked on the mercurial bundle that was his Guide.

0-0-0-0

 

But where peace was found in some quarters of the Gathering, in others people drank, trying to forget what was coming.

Morlock drained his ale, wiping his mouth with his sleeve and belched. In his pocket, gold coin, his mission was far from simple, kill the dark Guide.  He had the feeling he was going to earn the coins many times over.

End of Part One