M.I.L.F.

Time line: March 18th, 2008

Lyla had been having a rough week. Her thoughts were torn over the loss of her child and the longing to hold the life created between her and Ramiel. Words would never be able to capture the feeling of a life growing inside her. The magic of the life created between them, her and Ramiel. No pain could express the loss she felt, worsened by all the could haves that would have prevented it.

Should we try again? How much do I want to hold our baby? What about Ramiel? He didn’t want it anyway. But I have never seen him so hurt or sincere.

So many thoughts crowded her mind as she searched for the lusting. I have to learn that rite. She was not having luck in her hunt; however something else was. Lyla froze, she had become the prey.

She looked slowly around herself. She was alone in Shadow but she was within the bounds of her pack’s territory. Most of the hostile spirits had been removed by now, but she knew the desire spirits were still around somewhere. Those, of course, wouldn’t be what was hunting her now. She let her eyes bleed to the aspect of the Wolf and looked carefully, slowly around.

She caught something out of the corner of her eye and then it was gone. This repeated several times. Just as she was close it would disappear. It was toying with her.

Suddenly, Lyla took off at a full run, transforming into a huge reddish wolf as she shifted to Urshal form. She leapt upslope among the eerie reflections of the mountains in shadow, clearing a stream in a single bound, zig-zagging through brambles and clawing tries until she spying an outcropping. She sprang up onto the rocks, knowing whoever was stalking her would be forced to pursue if they wanted to keep following her, and scrambled to the cliff face. There, she froze and let her gifts of blending protect her. She transformed like a supernaturally powered chameleon and became one with the cliff. There she waited to see who it was that would stalk a wolf.

Movement followed her. The unseen form kept pace. Once in position Lyla could see the outline of a human moving jsut as quickly and as agile as she in Urshal form.

The woman finally let herself be seen as she stood on the cliff waiting for Lyla to reappear. She was strong, fast, and powerful. Lyla could feel, as well as see the spirit brands that ran down both sides of her body, and traced up her neck.

Her eyes and hair were the same dark shade as Lyla’s used to be. “Not bad. Not great but not bad. Come out little wolfe.” Her voice was calm and playful. Lyla coudn’t help but think it sounded a lot like Ramiel when he gets in one of his trouble making moods.

Lyla blinked in recognition and surprise, then allowed her camouflage to fade. The effect caused her to smoothly drift into visibility. It was her mother, but because it was Melisande who raised her, it was a little confusing as to how to refer to her.

“Mother,” Lyla said. She stood now in human form and watched the other carefully. In truth, the older werewolf looked old enough to be an elder sister, but not her actual mother. That, of course, was one of the few blessings of the Uratha; Luna granted them long life and a slow aging process once they first Changed.

“If you choose to call me that. Mel is the one who raised you though. But you are aware of the reasons why now aren’t you.” She sat on the edge of the cliff and looked out across the lands. “How is your search going?”

“I haven’t found it yet, but I will,” Lyla said. “This particular spirit doesn’t dislike me. I believe it will deal. What about you?” she asked her mother. “The rest of the pack doesn’t know you; they might try to confront you because we’ve had a bit of trouble with trespassers who don’t want to leave lately. They are on edge.”

“I am not concerned with your pack. If they choose to confront me that will be their mistake. Of course that is if they can find me. What is it you are searching for?” She asked.

Lyla gave her a wry smile. “I didn’t mention my pack for your safety, but for theirs. Don’t hurt them, mother. This is their home.” She paused a moment, a little startled at her own words. Why hadn’t she said that this was our home?

But she continued to answer Lilly’s question. “As for what I’m looking for, it’s a spirit that can teach me a rite I need.”

“Well I wouldn’t want to be so rude to someone in their home.” She said.Then her focus changed, became more serious. “You should be focused on more serious things. That is why I am here. Mel and I will raise your child, that is the choice you have before you. When the baby comes you have to let us take it. We can protect it better than either of you can.”

Lyla looked stricken. Horror only recently past reflected in her eyes. “I — I can’t. My baby is…” Tears pooled in her eyes and she was only able to hold them back by not saying it.

“You have no idea what is at stake here kid!” Lilly let her power flare. But only momentariyl as her mind began to wrap around the tears. Her head cocked to teh sie as she looked at Lyla. Then without warning she shifted to gauru, and sniffed her. Taking in long breaths, she repeated the action until satisfied. She returned to her normal state.

“You lost the baby.” She said in a calm tone. “That makes things easier,” she said. “But not on easier to bear.” Lilly rubbed Lyla’s back to try and comfort her.

Lyla wiped her eyes and drew a sharp breath. She squared her shoulders. “I keep thinking what could have been. It’s a bad trap, one so easy to fall into I feel like it would just swallow me up and there’d be nothing of me left, either. So, I’m trying to focus on my future,” she told Lilly.

“I was so wrong about things and I have no idea how it could have gotten that way. I thought Ramiel wanted to have a child with me, but really he hadn’t intended that. When I told him I was pregnant, I thought he just about had a heart attack. But then he really warmed to the idea. We were both looking forward to it, ready to defend ourselves and our family to the last. Did you know he built a nursery? And painted it with… incredible things. It is a totally different Ramiel than you ever get to see.

“But then the fight and… I lost my baby right after. I must have nearly rampaged through all my friends and allies, but I remember recognizing him through the haze and the rage. The stricken look on his face… he knew it was the last moments for my baby, that when I calmed I would lose… everything.”

Lyla took another calming breath. “So I’m here. I came to find a spirit who could teach me the rite Rose told me about. Something called, the Bar to Birth. I’m not going go through this again. Not until I’m good and ready.”

Lilly took daughter in her arms for the first time in over twenty years. “It is hard to convince ytourself that it was not you who killed the child growing within you. But you can not give into those feelings. We are Uratha, we are strong and loosing babies is part of it for those of us who fight. It is just part of life. It took me a while to figure that out.”

She let Lyla go. “Bar to Birth is worth learning. It is for the best too. If you were to get pregnant again they would come for the child. Or we would to keep them from getting it. Plus it will help you have peace of mind. It did for me.”

Lyla had been surprised when Lilly hugged her but something in her spirit sparked and flared with pride and happiness. She smiled just a little. “I thought maybe a desire spirit might be the one to teach me the rite. I’ve had favorable dealings with one before, but I seem to be having a harder time finding it this time. Or her. I think she appeared as a “her” last time.”

“If you can earn it I will teach you.” Lilly said. There was something about the way she said it that made Lyla think it wouldn’t be a cake walk.

Lyla raised an eyebrow. The idea of learning something from her estranged mother was too tempting to pass up. What would it be like to work with her? Will I like her once I get to know her? Questions rushed through her mind but she had to take one step at a time here. “Okay, I’m game. What’s your price?”

A smile widened on her face. “It is simple. You go with me and do as I say. No matter what.”

“And if I don’t,” Lyla said, “then the deal is off and I don’t get to learn from you.” She nodded. “I understand. Let’s do it.”

“Good. We are leaving then.” She stood and stretched. “By the way, why do you say my baby, and not our baby. Do you really think Ramiel isn’t hurting over this? Or did you never consider it to be his child?” Lilly leapt down the cliff.

Lyla followed. “Just because I said it was ‘my’ baby doesn’t mean it wasn’t ‘ours’,” she replied simply. “It was my baby and also our baby. But I was the one who always wanted to have it. He was the one who freaked and had a fit. He came around later. So I guess yeah, it was first my baby and second ours. But I guess it doesn’t matter now.”

“No it doesn’t.” Lilly led Lyla to grove outside of Shadow. There was a portal waiting for her. “You first little one.” Lilly said with a smile.

Lyla looked at it with amazement, then back at her mother. She returned the smile and with a nod she walked through the portal with no hesitation.

Over the next two weeks, Lyla was missing entirely from the Eldon Well area, though she sent word to Ramiel and Ironclaw not to worry. She was with family, she’d said in a message recorded on the answering machine, and that she had some work to do but that she’d be back as soon as she could.

Lilly was a tough task master. She trained Lyla hard in combat when Lyla wasn’t performing some special mission. Sometimes it was simply a retrieval mission no more difficult than a package pickup and delivery to an unnamed person. Other times she had to use all her skills of stealth and burglary to achieve the goal. Lyla never knew what it was all for, but she suspected her mother was also using this opportunity to test her daughter’s skill, usefulness, and ability to follow orders. She asked once what this was all about — her mother treated her very strictly, even using force to teach her daughter that questioning Lilly or her actions was not only disallowed, but considered an insult.

It was very hard for Lyla; she’d never been in a mission-oriented situation before, except for “missions” she’d assigned herself. She wasn’t used to being in the dark about what was going on. But she found that even more than learning a rite, she wanted her mother to be, if not impressed with her, at least pleased. This was a hard realization, and harder still to swallow, but in the end, Lyla performed every task and accomplished every mission exactly as her mother asked — and ultimately, without question.

When it came time to learn the actual rite of Bar to Birth, Lyla found it was surprisingly simple. And, her mother instructed her, it was completely foolproof, so long as she remembered to refresh the rite once every month. She could perform the rite for any woman who desired or needed it. There was just one warning her mother gave her, and she only said it once; this rite could not stop a pregnancy resulting from the mating of two Uratha. Luna’s will was too strong in this matter to be defied. Conception of a Ghost Child could not be prevented by any rite or method. This was just one more burden the Uratha must bear in exchange for Mother Luna’s Blessings.

Late during the second week, Lyla told her mother of the strangeness that occurred to Ramiel and herself when they lost control of their temper; their eyes seemed to take on a bizarre supernatural character. But her mother’s answer left more questions. She told Lyla, “Those answers are best left alone now, though I can tell you this; it is part of your inheritance. Things are about to change for both of you. Pay attention and learn. Otherwise you will find yourself with more regrets.”

After the training, it was time to go home. Lyla stood a moment before the portal that would take her back saying goodbye to her mother. Before she turned to leave, however, Lilly stopped her.

“Before you go I have something to tell you, so listen up daughter. Don’t let your passions rule you but don’t ignore them either.”

“Huh?” Lyla blinked in confusion.

“Go.”

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