JP with mdman and Cindy

Ch’Truta lifted Islana, his arms about her waist, holding her close to him. She wasn’t heavy to begin with, but the water made her even more so. He kissed her for several minutes, full of the passion within him.

As the kiss ended, he looked about them. This would be a perfect place for them to live. Alongside the lake. A home built on the slight raise overlooking the lake. A real home, not a hut or tent. Perhaps after the war., he thought.

Ch’Truta considered himself truly blessed. He was an outsider from those she led. True, she was an outsider as well, but she could have rejected him. She chose to love him. He turned to try and behold her face . Gaze into the soft emerald eyes.

A movement and the sound of a wing flapping caught Ch’Truta’s attention. He turned to see a blue heron. It wasn’t the size or the color of the mighty Uctilo’rhu, but it caused him some anxiousness. Was the god attempting to send a message? Were the spirits of the swamp reaching out to him? If they were, were they angry or passing on a blessing?

Ch’Truta quietly whispered, “You have the power to speak with animals.” He motioned with his eyes to the heron. “Can you speak with it? Ask him if he is a messenger?”

Islana's gaze followed Ch'Truta to the large bird with the grayish-blue body and long neck. What a beautiful sight.

His question caught her off guard. People never really seemed to understand her power or how it worked, exactly. "I communicate with them but I can't hold a conversation with them. It's more simple requests." She didn't command the animals, at least not in her mind. "Kaithak is an exception, though he doesn't talk back to me in my mind, he does seem to communicate with me." Though they had been together a long time. "The Skelep is a spirt of the dessert and unlike any animal I've encountered before."

"I can't guarantee an answer, but I could try having it signal us a response." It was the best she could come up. It if was a messenger, it could likely respond, at least that was Islana's theory. "You know Blue Herons are considered lucky, at least as I was taught." Just an added thing, maybe a chance to ease his mind.

Islana concentrated, sending out the question - are you a messenger? Telling the heron to give them a sign. Her eyes flashed green.

The heron turned and looked straight at Islana, it then dove into the water several feet away from them, arriving back to the surface.

The large bird then took to the sky circling around them and landed on the water close to the pair, dropping the fish in front of them. Gave a slight nod of its head and then took off again, this time flying into the distance.

Putting her hand to her forehead, she laughed slightly. "Well, either the message is one of approval or that aviary friend thought we looked hungry.”

Ch’Truta actually breathed a sigh of relief. Not only were the spirits still with him, he had their approval. Uctilo’rhu sent him this messenger.

Ch’Truta glanced back down into her face. He swooped her up into her arms. One arm held supported Islana’s knees. The other her back. He carried her to the fish. Ch’Truta gently sat her then sat down beside her.

“We shouldn’t let the Ancient One down,” he said. “He has provided sustenance for us.” Then he looked deep into her eyes. “Perhaps a symbol of how I hunger for your presence when you are not near me.”

Islana felt completely safe in his arms and enjoyed those moments, including being carried. Smiling to his words, "We'll need a small fire then." After her time on the pilgrimage, Islana never wanted any raw meat again. Fish fell into that category.

Ch’Truta nodded in agreement. He had found some tinder and kindling. Without a flint, his skills at starting a fire came in handy. All young boys learned this growing up in the swamp. Soon, with a few sticks, he generated enough heat to bring smoke, then a flame to dry leaves. He added more leaves, then small sticks. As the flames grew, Ch’Truta added bigger fuel.

Retrieving his knife from his shed clothing, Ch’Truta cleaned it first, then cleaned the fish, dumping its innards into the lake. He quickly built a spit and, using a vine, secured the fish on it and set it above the flame. The fish began to cook.

He returned to Islana’s side. “I never would have imagined this. Being alone with one as beautiful as you. My soul soars as the heron did.”

As he was taking care of the fish, Islana got up and wandered closer to the lake. She foraged some small green plants and blackberries. Then returned with them, sitting back down, once the fish was cooking she explained, "Something to even out the meal. The green is watercress. The berries are just blackberries." Those things didn't grow in the desert, she knew but was unsure if Ch'Truta had encountered them in the swamp.

Her eyes sparkled with Ch'Truta's words, she cupped his strong jaw line gently in her hands, "I am so happy and grateful to have found you." She never had anyone like him in her life, not anyone that loved her the way he did. Still something always nagged at the back of her mind, the redhead knowing far too well how quickly things could dissappear from her life. She didn’t want to lose him or this. Sister Locust was a pretty amazing mantle to have been bestowed, but Islana worried far more about losing Ch'Truta.

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