For my Soulsis, whose idea the Caves were – though these ones are an itsy bit different from yours!


Wish Fulfilment

"Just because you wanted me and couldn't have me." The fire-lord said smugly.
       "Wanted you!?" the water-were was outraged. "That is such a - a - lie! Ooooh! Get away from my river before I - I bite you!" Arrum shrieked, stamping a high-arched foot, her hands clenched into fists at her side. Dahga laughed, provocatively insolent. The sprite glared at him, then leapt fluidly into the stream, her body changing as she hit the water. A large, sleek otter with garnet coloured eyes scowled furiously at him from the middle of the fast flowing river, whiskers aquiver with indignation. Arrum sinuously dove into the water without a splash and re-surfaced holding a fat trout firmly in her strong paws. She locked eyes with the amused dragon then messily, and with obvious relish, sank her sharp teeth into the fish and ripped it in two, noisily making a meal of its head.
       Dahga laughed, not at all intimidated, and stood up from his languid sprawl on the river bank.
       "You're cute when you're angry, you know that?" he smirked, easily dodging the half-eaten fish she threw at him.
       "Piss off, you contemptuous, arrogant, shitful - " Arrum ground her teeth together as she ran out of words harsh enough to adequately describe her feelings for the - admittedly attractive - male. Dahga smiled at her, a genuinely warm and sweetly seductive smile and Arrum cursed her traitorous insides as they flip-flopped with desire. Then he grinned cheekily, thankfully ruining the effect.
       "I'll come back and give you a tumble when you're in a better mood."
       "Don't bother!" Arrum shrieked at him as him as he flapped his glorious emerald wings and took off, laughing, into the sky. "I'll never be in a good mood when you're around!"
      Arrum screamed in fury and sank down in to the water to have a glorious, thrashing tantrum on the river's sandy bottom.

Tired out, she morphed back to her human form and floated to the surface, pushing herself out of the fast moving flow towards the calmer water at the river's edge. Arrum sat cross-legged in the shallows, the water just lapping the undersides of her small breasts and sighed deeply, feeling sorry for herself. A small whirl-pool formed around the water-were, the force of it sufficient to drop the level of the water around her until it was even with her waist. A face, triangular and beautiful with long, slanting eyes, formed in the wall of the whirlpool, holding its position as the water flowed over and through it.
       "Why do you let Dahga get to you?" the face asked.
      Arrum sighed again. "I don't know, Taitai."
      The water nymph pouted. "Why don't you just sleep with him and get it over with? You do want to," the face in the water smirked prettily, "and he does come highly recommended as a lover."
      Arrum squirmed and flushed. "I can't. It just wouldn't be right." she mumbled.
       "Why ever not?"
       "He's not otterkin." Arrum explained patiently. "We only have one mate, and that's a life-long bond. To give myself to him - especially him, who wouldn't know fidelity if it bit him on the arse - it just wouldn't be right."
      The whirlpool dissipated suddenly, the cool water slapping against Arrum's body as it returned to its normal level. Taitai half rose out of the river, the afternoon sun glistening over the fluid lines of her supple body. She tilted her head and looked down at the young mortal female.
      "I do know otterkin are sociable folk. Why are you alone? Why aren't you with your clan?"
      Arrum bristled. "It's not unusual for us to go wandering for a while."
      Taitai laughed. "And you lot usually go wandering straight to another clan, not find an isolated spot and hide."
       "I'm not hiding!"
      Taitai flowed towards Arrum, wrapping watery arms around the water-were.
      "You've been here almost half a year. By yourself." She planted a cool, moist kiss on the female's cheek. "I've been watching you become more and more unhappy."
       "I'm not by myself." Arrum grinned. "You're along to bother me every other day."
      Taitai frowned. "I'm serious, dear one, why are you alone? Don't you want a mate? Cubs?"
       "Of course I do."
       "Then why - ?"
       "Because I wasn't interested in any of the available males, and some of them were becoming so insistent that I choose one of them I couldn't cope any more."
       "What was so wrong with them that you felt you had to run away?"
      Arrum crossed her arms grumpily. "They were all so - stupid!"
      Taitai laughed. "Young males – regardless of species – are not known for their brains!" she smirked wickedly, "And thank the moon and stars for that, I can think of nothing less tedious to do with a male than have a conversation with him!"
      Arrum chuckled, nymphs' sexual appetites were legendary.
       "That's all very well but if I'm going to be stuck with somebody until I die I want there to be more between us than simply... you know."
       "And how do you think you're going to find any male, let alone an intelligent one, holed up here? Hmm?"
      Arrum shook her head. "I don't know, Taitai. I only planned to stay here for a little while and then move on, but the longer I stay the harder it is to leave." She gazed sadly at the nymph. "I've lost my way."
      Taitai smiled and she tapped Arrum's nose, leaving a wet smear behind.
       "I think I know something that could be of help."
       "Like what?"
       "There's a place, a series of caves, very famous, called the Seekers Caves. It is said that you can find the answers to your heart-deep questions there – even if you don't know what the questions are."
      Arrum looked sceptical.
       "If these 'Seekers Caves' are so famous, why haven't I heard of them?"
      "Because you – " Taitai brushed a fond kiss over the water-were's lips, " – won't talk to anybody!"
      Arrum harrumphed. "I'm not going traipsing off to some grotty old caves."
      Taitai shrugged and flowed away from the female. She smiled and arched playfully backwards forming a flowing circle of water, before reforming briefly to stand lightly on the surface of the river. Taitai drew herself up to her full height - considerably taller than the otterkin's bare five foot – and smiled benevolently down at her friend.
       "Think about it anyway, Arrum. It's a destination at least, and it's not here."
      And then she was gone, gracefully sinking into the water, her beautiful face upturned to the rays of the setting sun.

Arrum lay on her stomach in the firm and dry tunnel that was the entrance to her holt, her upper body sticking out just enough to let her trail her fingers in the moon-dappled water. She was thinking – she'd been thinking since the naiad had left – about what to do with herself. Taitai was right, she was lonely, but she didn't want to go back to her clan yet and she didn't just want to take off, who knew where she'd end up? Maybe finding these Seekers Caves wasn't such a silly idea after all. Arrum changed to her otter form, sinuously turning herself around within the confined space of the tunnel, and trotted down to the sleeping chamber. She groomed her luxuriant red-brown pelt thoroughly before getting comfortable in the nest of dry, fragrant grass, then she reached out a paw and rifled idly through the collection of pretty, river–smoothed pebbles she'd found on her travels. Arrum yawned and closed her crimson eyes, tucked her nose down between her paws and went to sleep.

      Just after sunrise the next morning Arrum sat on the riverbank and called to the naiad. The water-were had been calling for several minutes, with no response from the beautiful fey, and she was beginning to get annoyed.
       "Taitai!" Arrum bellowed, adding crossly under her breath: "Where are you, you stupid nymph?"
       "I heard that." Taitai's sinuous form rose gracefully from the centre of the river.
      Arrum twitched guiltily, then scowled at the naiad.
       "Why didn’t you answer me?"
      Taitai arched a slim, fluid eyebrow and crossed her arms huffily - yet still prettily - across her full breasts.
      "I was asleep. Anyway -" she sniffed, "I'm not your servant to be summoned at will you know."
       "I know. I'm sorry." Arrum had the good grace to look ashamed.
       "Now I'm here, my mistress," there was no mistaking the sarcasm in the water nymph's voice, "what humble service can I render?"
      The water-were chose not to rise to the bait.
       "I've been thinking about what you said, about the Seekers Caves," Arrum said simply.
       "Could you tell me where they are?"
      Taitai's ill-humour evaporated like mist in the sun and she laughed, flowing towards the river bank and resting her elbows on the soft moss.
       "I can do better than that, dear one," she beamed at the water-were, "I can take you there!"

Otterkin generally didn't have much need for things, including clothes, so Arrum was able to leave pretty much straight away. She did take her river stones, though - she wasn’t sure if she'd be coming back this way, and she didn't want to leave them behind - tucked securely into the small pouch-like flap of loose skin underneath her otter form's armpit.
       They journeyed for a few days at an easy pace, following the river until they reached a point where a smaller, but faster and colder stream joined the main flow. It was as good a place as any to stop for the day, and the travellers spent a companionable afternoon playing in the water and eating (well, Arrum ate, at any rate, Taitai didn't need to) before the otterkin made herself a small nest amongst the exposed roots of a golden-willow and settled in for the night.
      The next morning Taitai took them upstream of the smaller tributary. Even if Arrum hadn't noticed the ragged-peak edifice looming ahead of them, she could have guessed the stream originated from a mountain - its steadily dropping temperature was a dead giveaway.

"The Seekers Caves are at the foot of that mountain." Taitai informed the otterkin, who was beginning to feel the cold despite her thick pelt.
       "Is it far now?" Arrum asked hopefully.
       "One more night," the naiad spun herself into a tall, sparkling column of water, "and then we should reach the entrance to the caves before nightfall the following day."

As Taitai predicted, they came to the end of their journey late afternoon of the next day. The entrance to the Seekers Caves was in a large, rounded cleft at the bottom of the mountain. The stream flowed, icy and clean, from a wide and tall, natural opening within the rock. Arrum clambered out of the water, morphing to human as she did, her bright eyes wide, and fixed on the most intriguing thing she'd ever seen.
      In the middle of the sheltered recess stood an image or a likeness of something carved from clear quartz crystal. It was a big something, easily three times as tall as the small water-were, and the golden rays of the afternoon sun fell onto it, refracting off the natural faults in the rock, casting a multitude of rainbow coloured splashes of light over the bare granite of the mountain. Arrum stared up at it, entranced. Her first impression was that it was a female, her hair rippling down from her head and over her shoulders to mingle with the column of water she was rising from, the figure's face was serene and her arms were folded across her chest in a gesture that was both protective and welcoming. But then Arrum looked again, wrinkling her nose in puzzlement. Was it female? It could be male, she realised. And was it water the figure was wrapped in? The statue was fashioned in such a way it could be air supporting the figure, or earth, or even fire. It was extraordinary and so beautiful.

"It's lovely, isn't it?" Taitai spoke from the stream - the naiad had been leaning on the riverbank, chin in hands, watching Arrum's mesmerized reaction. The water-were nodded, distractedly.
      "It is."
      "It's been there as long as anyone can remember. No one knows who made it."
      "Amazing." Arrum said softly, still lost in contemplation of the statue.
      "See those shards of crystal down by the base?" Taitai giggled at Arrum's confused blink as the water-were wrenched her gaze away from the figure, suddenly realising she was standing amongst a multitude of crystal chips and points scattered over the verdant grass. "Take one of those with you when you go into the caves, it'll help you find your way back."
       "The crystals glow when they're pointing in the direction of the statue. Try it."
      Arrum picked up one of the points; it was as long as her hand and as thick as two of her fingers.
      "Walk away from the statue, and point the crystal towards it."
      Arrum did, exclaiming softly in amazement when the crystal in her hand glowed brightly when it lined up with the quartz figure. The water-were tested the point, moving a little way around the mountain, out of sight of the figure, delighted when the crystal flared into life.
       "This is wonderful, Taitai!" Arrum grinned coming back around to the stream, watching the crystal's light wink off and on as she waved it about. "I don't feel so nervous now about going into the mountain."
      The naiad laughed.
       "That's the whole idea. Maybe you should put the crystal back and get something to eat before you sleep?" she hinted gently.
       Arrum hunted, quickly catching a fine, fat trout, and several of the delicious, fresh-water crays the stream had to offer, before happily curling up to sleep at the base of another obliging willow.

"You've come this far, dear one…"
      It was early the next morning and Arrum stood at the mouth of the caves, clutching a crystal shard, suddenly, overwhelmingly, indecisive.
       "I don't know, Taitai, do I really need to do this?" She peered nervously into the forbidding blackness.
       "I can't answer that for you, Arrum, you know that." Taitai admonished softly.
      Arrum nodded, then glanced at her friend in the stream.
       "I'm frightened."
       "It's sometimes scary starting something new," Taitai smiled encouragingly, "but you have the crystal to guide you back, and I'll be waiting out here for you."
       "You don't want to come in with me?" Arrum asked hopefully.
      Taitai's tinkling laugh echoed around the cave.
       "I don't have anything I need to ask!"
      Arrum took a deep breath, tucking a stray strand of her shoulder length red-brown hair behind her ear.
      "I don't know how long I'll be." she said doubtfully.
       "I don't have to be anywhere else, and it's pleasant here." Taitai grinned. "I'll wait."
       "Thank you." Arrum's lower lip trembled momentarily, then she squared her shoulders and with a final smile for the naiad, walked as bravely as she could along the narrow ledge beside the stream and into the gloom.

The crystal she was holding, Arrum was happy to find, carried its own soft luminescence, providing a welcome source of light; and to her immeasurable relief when she tested it by slowly turning a full circle, the crystal glowed brightly only at one point. But still, to be on the safe side, Arrum decided to follow the stream - if all else failed she could follow it back out of the mountain.
       "Well so much for that idea." she muttered to herself, annoyed, when the flow of water disappeared into a large, dark hole she wasn't game enough to go through. Arrum noisily blew out a breath then frowned, holding the crystal in front of her, and took stock of her options. The path she was on veered off to the right, away from the probable flow of the stream, penetrating further into the mountain. She could keep following that or - she swung the crystal round until its glow brightened - she could leave.
       And do what? Go back to her isolated hole in the bank?
      Arrum sighed resignedly and continued along the path.

Without the sun as a guide, not surprisingly, Arrum soon lost track of time. The water-were had no idea how long she'd been in the mountain, but she was hungry now, and cold. She'd seen nothing growing on the featureless rock of the passage, let alone anything she'd consider eating. Arrum wrapped her arms around herself, shivering, and wondered what to do.
      She paused, focussing her attention… was that the sound of water she could hear in the distance? Arrum edged quietly further up the path. The passageway suddenly spilled out into a low-ceilinged chamber through which a broad, slow-moving stream flowed sluggishly. Arrum grinned, if there was going to be anything to eat in this place it would be here. She squatted down by the edge of the water and held the crystal out over the surface. It didn't look very deep, and yes, she could just discern the pale shapes of the fish swimming in there. Arrum froze, her sharp hunter's eyes following the sinuous movement of what would most likely be her next meal…

There was nothing like having a full belly to put you in a better frame of mind, Arrum mused to herself as she finished off the third fish of her catch; she scooped some of the chilly water up in her cupped hands, drinking deeply before picking up the crystal again. Arrum contemplated the water. It looked like she'd stumbled back across the river, she may as well try and follow it, see where it took her this time.

Arrum wandered along beside the river for an indefinable length of time, eating when she was hungry, sleeping when she was tired. She found many beautiful and wondrous things in the caves - rock formations that had taken on eye-twisting shapes; bright clusters of raw jewels embedded into the stone; bizarre, pale and blind creatures that nevertheless tasted very good - but she still didn't feel she was any closer to finding out the answer to whatever question it was she was supposed to be asking. And she was missing the sun's warmth, the colour it brought to everything. She'd go a little further on, she promised herself, and then if she was still at a loss as to why she was here, she'd turn around and go home. Really home, to her clan, not simply back to her solitary holt. Arrum giggled, if she could find the courage to come into these caves in the first place, saying a firm, and definite, 'no' to the idiotically persistent males should be a breeze!

Some time later, Arrum had to make a decision.
      The river disappeared again into a solid wall of rock, but the path continued on into the darkness. Arrum pursed her lips, considering; she had no idea where she was, or how deep into the mountain she'd journeyed - it would be prudent to turn back now. Oh, what the hell, with the crystal to guide her back to the entrance, she couldn't get lost, and she was strangely reluctant to leave just yet. She plunged on.

Arrum stood at the edge of an abyss, peering cautiously over the edge of the nasty drop. She shuddered, she couldn't see the bottom with the pale glow from her crystal. Morbidly curious, she dropped a stone into the chasm and listened for the sound of it hitting bottom… and listened… and listened. Arrum shuddered again, this was far enough, time to go back - and then she saw the bridge.
      A short distance from her, a fine spar of rock spanned the distance between the edges of the chasm. It was easily wide enough to walk four abreast, Arrum discovered when she went to investigate, and it seemed stable enough. Crossing the bridge would make a great tale to tell the little ones… All right, she'd take this – final – challenge and then she'd go home.
      Marvelling at her bravery, the water-were edged out onto the rough surface.

She was almost half-way along when the tremor struck.

Terrified, Arrum dropped to her stomach on the bridge as the world shook around her; she could hear huge boulders being torn from the walls and cast down into the bottomless darkness along with raining showers of smaller stones and heavy dust.
      And then it stopped.
      Heart beating wildly, Arrum lifted her head in time to see her crystal - which she must have dropped in her fright - roll over to the edge of the bridge.
      Too scared to move, she couldn't make any attempt to grab it, watching helplessly as her lifeline to the outside world tipped over the edge, taking its comforting light with it as it plummeted downwards. The darkness descended on her like a smothering blanket of cold mud.

Arrum lay flat on the stone bridge, her fingers seemingly welded to its surface, wondering if she could go mad from terror. She was alone, lost in the dark, suspended precariously over an unfathomable drop. She was going to die here and her family would never know what happened… Eventually though, a slim, stubborn shard of reason forced its way to her consciousness. Yes, she probably would die - if she stayed where she was. Arrum's thoughts careened wildly around in her head. She might, might, be able to retrace her steps to the river, where even in total darkness she could follow that back. She could see in her mind's eye the path she'd taken when she'd walked away from the water that last time. But what if she took a wrong turn? What if she got lost? Arrum gritted her teeth, taking deep breaths trying to calm her heart: there was no choice, she had to try.
      Very, very carefully, Arrum wriggled backwards on her stomach along the bridge, sensing the yawning pit beside her and fearing at any moment she'd lose her grip on the rock and tumble over the edge. She wept with relief when she felt the jagged lip of the chasm beneath her outstretched hand, and as quickly as she dared she scrambled over to the blessedly solid wall of the mountain, huddling against it until she stopped shivering.
      Oh yes, this would make a fine tale - she giggled a little madly to herself - it will give the little ones nightmares, their parents would be so pleased. Forcing herself upright, Arrum hugged the wall as she began to retrace her steps.
       It was hard to concentrate, every sound was magnified by the darkness and she was constantly battling down the debilitating terror that she'd got it wrong, and now she was just wandering blindly - any minute now she'd stumble into another chasm and that would be the end of it. Arrum was so tired, desperate for sleep, but she daren't stop until she found the river. If she fell asleep, she wouldn't know which direction she'd been heading in, and then she'd be truly lost. She shuffled on until she just couldn't go any further, then she dropped to her knees, too weary to cry. She had an idea as she fell onto her hands and felt the loose gravel beneath her palms. Arrum scraped together as much of the passage's debris as she could, mounding it up into an unmistakable marker, rounded at the end closest to her, pointed at the other. Now, so long as she didn't disturb the marker while she slept, when she awoke she'd know which way to continue.
      Arrum morphed into her more cold tolerant otter form, curling up on herself to sleep.

She jerked awake, opening her eyes and wondering why it was so dark? Where had the sun gone? Then she remembered. Trying not to panic, Arrum carefully felt around for the pile of gravel she'd left on the floor of the passage. To her relief it was still there, and still intact. Ignoring her empty stomach, Arrum got to her feet and carried on.

Again, she had no idea how long she trudged along for. She was thoroughly disoriented, how far had she come? How many of the side passages had she passed?
      To make matters worse, her eyes were beginning to play tricks on her. Arrum shook her head, trying to clear the tiny, persistent glow of light from her vision, she had to concentrate or she was dead. The glow didn't disappear, in fact, it seemed to be getting closer, brighter. Arrum froze, hope bubbling in her heart - was this someone else with a crystal? Her instinct was to move as fast as she could towards the light, but caution prevailed. It might not be another querant. Trolls and ogres and other horrors lived in caves, she remembered hearing. Erring on the side of caution, Arrum squeezed herself into a shallow alcove in the passage; she'd wait and see who it was before she got excited.
      The light came closer and finally she could hear the soft footfalls accompanying it. Someone passed by her hiding place; the fleeting glimpse she got of them - male, bare-chested but wearing loose trousers, not a troll - was sufficiently non-threatening to bring her out into the open.
       "Um, hello?" Arrum said, straightening up.
       "Gah!" The male yelped, startled, flattening himself against the rock, his eyes wide and wild under his shaggy fringe. He glared at her. "What do you think you're doing? You scared me half to death!"
      Arrum fought down her giggle.
       "I'm sorry. I wasn't sure if you were a troll."
      He recovered his composure quickly, peeling himself off the wall and padding over to her. The stranger was several inches taller than her, with indeterminately - in the faint light of the crystal - pale coloured eyes.
       "What are you doing here?" he asked with concern. "Are you lost?"
      "I am." Arrum nodded. "I dropped my crystal when the earth shook."
       "Lucky I happened along then." He grinned at her - he had a very nice grin, Arrum noticed absently. Then he frowned. "But that was ages ago. You've been wandering around in the dark ever since?"
      She nodded again and her stomach growled. "I'm very hungry." she said unnecessarily.
      His grin widened. "Hello, 'very hungry', my name is Darsk."
      Arrum rolled her eyes even as she laughed. "And my name is Arrum."
       "Pleased to meet you, Arrum. Shall we get something to eat?"

Darsk led them back the way he'd come, to the river - at a point that Arrum didn't recognise: she got the uneasy feeling that she'd been heading in the wrong direction.
       "Could you hold the crystal up for me, please, Arrum?" Darsk held out the crystal shard to her. "I'll need its light to guide me back to the shore."
      Arrum nodded and took the crystal, wondering what he was going to do - then quickly glanced away, not sure if she should be looking or not as he undid the drawstring of his trews, letting the garment fall to his feet.
       "Isn't the water too cold for swimming?" she asked the now naked male, who shrugged.
       "Not if I don't stay in too long. Besides - " he smirked, "I have an advantage when it comes to resisting the cold."
      Arrum gaped as he morphed into a big otter.
       "You're otterkin!?"
       "The fur is a bit of a giveaway isn't it?" Darsk was chuckling.
       "But - but I'm otterkin too."
      Otters have very expressive faces, Arrum was easily able to read his surprise.
       "You are?"
       "Yes! Look." Arrum shifted to her otter form. The two water-weres stood nose to nose on the bank of the river, grinning at each other.
       "Fancy that." Darsk said, his whiskers quivering with amusement. "Want to come for a swim?"

"Why were you wearing clothes?" Arrum asked him later, after they'd eaten their fill of the succulent river creatures. Darsk wrinkled his nose.
       "I've been spending time with land-dwellers, in their towns. Some of the other races can be a bit funny about not wearing clothes in public."
      Arrum was intrigued. "What were you doing there? How did you end up here?"
       "I wasn't satisfied with my life in the clan, I wanted something more." He grinned ruefully. "Even though I had no idea what it was I after. So I left and wandered around for a bit, saw lots of different things, met lots of different people, but I still never found what I was looking for." Darsk yawned widely. "Anyway I met an old fox who told me about the Seekers Caves, and here I am. What about you?"
       "Much the same. I wasn't happy, I didn't want to take a mate from the available males, so I left. Except I stayed, alone, in one spot. A naiad, a friend, told me about these caves, so -" she grinned at him, "here I am."
      Darsk yawned again. "Sorry," he said, "it's been a busy day. Do you mind if we rest now before we leave." He looked at her. "You do want to leave now, don't you? I know I do."
      Arrum thought, briefly, about it, then she smiled. "Yes, I think I'm done here."
       They curled up happily together in their otter forms to sleep, twined companionably together in the unconscious affection that otterkin have with each other.

It was inevitable really, but by the time they'd made their way out of the Seekers Caves, given the amount of time they'd spent together, Arrum felt she knew Darsk quite well. They seemed to be happy in each other's company, and Arrum found she liked the male, more than she'd liked anyone else before, certainly more than any of the idiot males she'd left behind. Darsk was intelligent, and funny, and caring and sweet and - oh gods! Arrum blushed when she realised she'd been covertly looking at his body, his genitals, and wondering… Her insides had gone all floppy again, like they had with Dahga, but this time it felt sort of - right, and the water-were wasn't anywhere near as aggravating as the fire-lord was. They were nearing the entrance of the caves, the light from outside was getting steadily brighter and brighter and Arrum realised with a jolt she didn't want to part company with Darsk. She thought he liked her as well, but she couldn't be sure…

"So," Arrum said lightly as they stood just inside the cave mouth, letting their eyes adjust fully to the light, "did you find what you were looking for? In the Caves, I mean?"
      Darsk looked at his feet, a faint blush colouring his cheeks.
       "I think so." he mumbled.
      Arrum waited, trying not to appear nervous. Was he going to say what she thought - hoped - he was going to say? Darsk peeked at her through his thick fringe - in the sunlight, the male water-were's shaggy mop of hair was grey-brown, as his pelt would be, and his eyes were the same shade as storm clouds back-lit by the midday sun.
       "Arrum?" he shyly reached for her hand, "Would you like to come with me and meet my family?"
      Arrum's garnet-coloured eyes shone and she squeezed his supple, strong fingers.
       "I'd like that." she said, adding somewhat bashfully. "And then maybe you can meet my family?"
      Darsk grinned at her. "I'd like that." He leant down and gently nuzzled her cheek, and Arrum's insides went all peculiar again.
       Darsk smiled at her, his probable mate, though the actual mating would come later when they were both sure. In the meantime, though, there'd be hunting and playing together, grooming and caring for each other as - hopefully - they forged a bond that would last them a lifetime.
       "Let's go." Darsk said softly.
      Arrum nodded, then giggled. "Yes, and I have to thank Taitai…"

Holding hands, they stepped out of the Seekers Caves and into the morning sunlight.

© 2002 October 30th Lutra

© 2002 WaveWrights