THE BEYOND THURIA TRILOGY – BOOK 2
Brutally beaten to death in front of her, the tragic loss of Vanarra’s mother had always defined who she was. Now, seventeen hundred and forty seasons later, she stares down in astonishment at her very own mother lying upon a hospital bed, inexplicably alive!
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Brutally beaten to death in front of her, the tragic loss of Vanarra’s mother had always defined who she was. Van was an orphan, a mixed blood, and a victim of the great family houses’ unyielding hatred of her kind. Her lifelong friendship with Sahnassa de Orturu helped her change those houses, grant mixed bloods equality, and live far beyond a normal Thurian lifespan. Although coming to a bitter peace with her distant past, Vanarra never forgot those brutal moments of her beloved parent’s pitiless injury and murder. Now, seventeen hundred and forty seasons later, she stares down in utter astonishment at her very own mother lying upon a hospital bed, inexplicably alive and recovering from those very same injuries.
Matching her mother’s plight, the once great houses that Vanarra restored now exist in an utterly wounded and failing state. Their rights were unjustly torn away by corrupt politicians. Their ranks were insidiously infected by Sahnassites and Vanarrans. Their once noble leadership has been reduced to either twisted perversion or despairing impotence. Vanarra faces the task of not only helping her mother recover and find a new place in this far distant time, but she must also aid and restore the family houses. Failing to resurrect the great houses will undoubtedly cost Thuria its future. Failing to help her mother survive in this new time would cost Vanarra de Gonari her very soul.
She has no choice but to bravely face both the consequences and requirements of … resurrection.
It was the moment when her frail and desperate hopes had been destroyed, and the males began beating her, abusing her … murdering her. Hard swipes of the claws across her back or merciless kicks to her gut and the blinding pain that racked her body were nothing aside of the realization that she had not only killed herself but her poor baby kit, the child her infatuated and forbidden love had sown into her body. Vannie was nothing more than an innocent child rejected callously by her family the moment she came from the womb, and when, as mother, Shenaria refused to forsake her, she was abandoned, as well. Shenaria was alone in the world, her mate gone, having disappeared in a way that terrified her – reports of hovers surrounding him, Faelnar dragging him inside, and her dear lover never being seen again. Seasons upon seasons of struggling to eke out an existence had ended in failure, with even the scraps they owned gone and their shelter being taken away this very sol.
As the pain tortured and destroyed her body and the cruel insults of her attackers tore at her soul, she wept that she had not forsaken her pride and taken the less honorable path, the safer path – selling her body, still young, still attractive – instead of returning to her family for help. When they were finished with her, Shenaria lay dying in a pool of her own blood – pain and despair as potent a force in ending her life as her own wounds. Opening her eyes for what felt like the final time, she saw a female, one she knew, bending over her. She had begged that dame, Amyra, to take care of her poor Vannie, the kit she was orphaning in that moment. Assurances came from the lips of the dame as all fell to blackness around her, cold and terrifying, final and merciless.
Then, to her surprise, she stirred. Her eyes opened upon a different scene away from the de Gonari keep. She was still in agony, her body aching, but wounds she received or thought she received were now gone, and a mixed blood construction worker had appeared over her, desperate to help, called for a medical transport, and had started caring for her wounds. Through the blurry haze, she wondered if her house had dumped her somewhere outside of the walls of the keep. If so, she agonized over how she would ever find her poor Vannie. That regret and fear for her little one still sank like lead in her soul, even as the medics tried to reassure her. Their voices were watery, and her vision of them was unclear – some of them looked normal. Some of them seemed to be mixed blood – which she knew couldn’t be. As a mask was pressed over her muzzle, she looked up into the eyes of a mixed blood doctor and lost consciousness wondering if this benevolent nightmare of the afterlife was something everyone experienced when they died.
Memories after that were broken, disconnected from one another – an intense spasm, vomiting, fighting, feeling as if her heart was about to stop until finally there was some measure of peace and a slight sense of wakefulness, of a tube in her mouth, down her throat, and a pressure forcing her to breathe. It was not comfortable; it was not pleasant, but it was salvation against the pain she had experienced earlier. A gentle tightening of the muscles of her arm gave herald to the missing patch of fur there, the needle in her veins, and the cool flow of liquid into her body. “Hospital? Who … who would have me? They just don’t know yet. Think I’m avowed. Oh … Vannie…”
Tears started to streak down the sides of her head as she had regained just enough energy to weep for her poor, abandoned child. In fitful sleep, she rested, knowing no peace, no hope. “My child is dead,” she thought to herself, and Shenaria wanted nothing more than to simply join her beloved Vanarra in death.
“Mommy!” her daughter’s voice called to her, and it, more than anything else, summoned her faculties. There was fear in the voice, worry, and concern that touched her.
“How … did she get in here?” Shenaria wondered absently before calling out, “Vannie?” Another thought slipped into her dazed and confused thoughts. “I’m so glad the tube is out.”
“It’s me, Mommy, it’s me!” Vannie cried out to her. “Mommy, please, please, don’t … don’t die! I need you!”
It was incredible to Shenaria, the thought that Vannie had not only escaped but had found her. “A … horrible mistake … going back, I’m so sorry, Vannie,” the Faelnar mumbled back at her through a bruised and swollen muzzle. “Were … you hurt?”
“No … no, Mommy, I’m fine!” Van reassured her. “But … you’re not! I need you to get better, Mommy! I need you to try to get better! Please!” Her kit needed her, pleaded with her, and the desire to die and end her pain simply vanished like smoke. She wanted to recover, to be a mother to her kit, her kit who had survived and found her beyond all odds. There was still so much of this Shenaria didn’t understand.
“So … strange – like a dream where I … was in a place, and … Anati are the doctors and some of the … nurses, and … I … I don’t … understand it,” she told Vannie, trying to solicit some details from her.
“It’s … it’s going to be okay, Mommy. It is,” her daughter struggled to say without bursting into tears.
“She’s so worried,” Shenaria thought, “but I feel better.” Trying to clear her voice, Shenaria asked, “Where am I?”
“You’re in Shanandrae Commons. That’s what they called this place, and they’ve been good to you. Tried to help you, but you have to try, too!”
That nearly stabbed the Faelnar’s soul, and she was horrified by the thought that her kit might have realized her own mother had given up, wanted to die. As muddled as her thoughts were, she thought furiously to try to understand how she was in the commons hospital. She wasn’t able to pay, obviously, and she wasn’t in the family hospital, which meant someone had to have paid. Aloud, she asked, “Did … family … help?”
“Someone else is helping us, Mommy. Someone is … someone special, taking care … of everything. I … think he saved you.” She thought she could hear relief and a desire to jump on her as Vannie always did. The pain in her gut told her that would probably injure her.
“I … hurt, Vannie. I hurt…” Shenaria warned.
“Mommy, can you open your eyes? Can you just look at me?” Vannie begged her, and although she had been almost afraid to, the dream-like quality of what was happening to her created an almost instinctual fear of opening her eyes. If she opened her eyes, Shenaria was afraid that even her daughter might vanish.
Although it was an effort, the battered Faelnar managed to turn her head to look into the golden eyes of her daughter, and a relief and sense of well-being flowed into her. A little wonderstruck, she looked at Vannie, seeing her completely unharmed, actually looking brushed and well. “You’re … alright?”
“I am. Look into my eyes, Mommy, please! You … you’re going to get better, I promise. Understand?”
Confused, Shenaria was lost in her daughter’s eyes as the young kit pressed close to her. Light seemed to spill out of her daughter’s very soul and fall into her, and the pain she was feeling, the loss, started to ebb away. “It’s so good to see you, Vannie. I … I thought … I’d lost you … lost you, forever. Thought … I’d left you … all alone.”
“I’m right here, Mommy, and I’m not going anywhere. No, I’m not,” her daughter promised. As if to prove that, her daughter just stayed there, staring into her eyes, adoring her, loving her. An incredible intensity just held Shenaria in place. She was too weak to deny Vannie, and in truth, she wanted to study every detail of those lovely eyes of her daughter, eyes that might have closed forever save but for the favorable turn of chance. Shenaria knew, in that moment, that her daughter was worth any sacrifice of herself, her pride, or her inmost being in order to ensure her safety. There was a greatness in her daughter’s countenance as if an ancient and powerful soul was staring through those tender eyes. There was a determination there that was unshakeable, and Shenaria had the oddest feeling as if she was the one being protected by her daughter, and her daughter, strangely enough, seemed more than capable of protecting her. There was reassurance there beyond all reason, and a glowing presence that seemed to enshroud her daughter, was her, and nearly seemed to flow into Shenaria’s body, healing her, loving her.
As she seemed to feel the very touch of her daughter’s love within her soul, the painful aching of her body subsided to the point where Shenaria finally felt able to rest. She just had to know, though, before closing her eyes, that her daughter was protected. “We … we are safe?” she asked.
“We are,” Vannie answered with the certainty of someone who owned all of Thuria and held it in her own paw.
“You … okay if I … sleep a bit?” Shenaria asked, her eyes heavy. Even as tired as she was, she had to be sure.
“I’ll … I’ll stay right with you. I’ll be fine,” Vannie told her mother, lovingly.
“She will be,” a gentle, male voice put in, and Shenaria looked up to see a keen looking Nephti with bright blue eyes putting his paw on her daughter’s shoulders. Vannie looked up, surprised and maybe a little uncertain, but the Nephti told her, “This is a gift, Vannie, like I told you. You and your mother are safe, and you will continue to be safe. That I promise you, upon my honor.”
“Thank … you,” Shenaria barely managed before her eyes shut of their own accord, a gentle smile tugging up the uninjured side of her muzzle. As she slipped into unconsciousness, she had so many questions and wonders about what she had seen, but those couldn’t forestall the oblivion her body demanded for its healing and rest.
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