Book the First:

War Is Like a Wolf, Running From It is Futile.

Chapter One:

Mistoffelees Among the Elves

"Come hastily Jellicle friend, the sky speaks of coming snow." the elf: Glindor said in that voice like a faint winter breeze through the branches of an evergreen.

I turned to him, roused from my stupor of thought, he gestured to the path ahead and I nodded taking a deep breath as I walked on, my sword clanking in its scabbard at my side. Overcome with a sense of premonition I regarded the thick foreboding trees that stood like a wall at either side of the path. They made me uneasy, gnarled and rough their trunks and branches a grim melancholy grey-brown, ever reaching out to us, slowing our progress.

I cast a spell of silence on my sword, masking its mundane clank. My tail twitched behind me, pointing the blade that I'd magically adhered to the tip at the empty path behind us that seemed to close with trees as soon as we were through.

"How far does this forest stretch?" I asked Glindor in barely more than a whisper, lapsing into my own tongue: Jellicae.

"As far as the trees grow." he answered in Elvish.

"You do not know?"

"I am young and this place is as strange to me as it is to you." his bright green eyes regarded my look of annoyance in amusement.

"After travelling among the Elves for so many months I was of the impression there was little or nothing you do not know." Glindor laughed quietly, an indescribable music in the sound. Renok, an Elf of the Golden Wood, turned about and eyed us warningly.

My paws began to feel heavy as the long march of the night caught up with me. I was cheered, notwithstanding, when the treetops were kissed by the first rays of the dawn light. The branches turned a fiery red as if held by a hand of flame, and soon the path was flooded in a liquid golden light that warmed the cool ground and our faces with its cheer.

"Friends!" Renesong, the female Elf that led us called, "We are weary! There is a hall of my people not far ahead, there we can take a meal and rest in safety from the dangers of the wood!" A faint cheer rose among our company and broke into a merry song of home-coming.

Sing O! Wanderers at home,

The trail was long and weary

But home still we have come!

Sing O! Travellers in safety,

The journey was fraught and errie

But sup will welcome us loftily!

Sing, sing O!

Have no fear, fill with peace

Heed no nightly noises!

But sing, sing O!

Elvish song, like my own kind was cheery and gay but often filled with legend or meaning. It was good to be among Elves, they were much like Jellicles in many ways and it had been far too long since I had walked among my own people.

We reached the hall in little time and made it bright and home-like with our voices, it was formed from the living forest and once the torches were burning it seemed a magic glade completely cut off from the world.

I heard snatches of conversation as I passed groups of Elves, I was strange to them and my folk had been only heard of in song and legend. They were discussing the meaning of so many creatures of the ancient tales walking the world again as though they had stepped from the lyrics of a midwife.

It often amused me, this estrangement, but now when I had no one about me that understood me and knew me for what I was it was disturbing. My sense of foreboding grew with each passing day; the Elves were a kindly race and trusted my kind because of the stories that they still believed from the old times. The day would come when the Elves may no longer be behind me…

Caring not at that moment I was determined to enjoy the food and drink before me, and the company about me. So I sat among them, making merry and speaking light of the impending battles we strove to face.

My thoughts were not my own, notwithstanding, even as Elkwin a tall, fair elfmaid spoke to me in her own glittering tongue of events long passed and heroes long dead. My mind was far off, in a land I had left what seemed like aeons ago.

I dwell on her that always has presence in my thoughts; my absent ponderings growing and taking form like a rapidly rising sun. She was Victoria, a noble queen of my own race, slim and strong.

She carried a light bosom and boasted round, well shapen hips. He face was angular; a hard nose and sharp chin that softened at her cheeks to form a sweet, oval whole. Her eyes were bright and blue, gleaming with curiosity and innocence: She was beautiful. The robe she took to wearing of pale blue, the colour of the sky on a perfect midsummer's morn, was open showing her coat to be as pure as her spirit, creamy white and unmarred.

Victoria was sweet, fair and gentle. My paw crept up, grasping the amulet of jade that she had always worn at her throat, bestowed upon me when I left her. She was the reason I was not in company with my own folk, not that I could ever blame her for it.

On the grim, grey-skyed and cloudy morning that took my tribe to war I remained, refusing to leave Victoria who was very much pregnant with my first young ones. We were very young ourselves, the ball that had joined our souls, our lifebonding, was only the second she had ever attended, my third.

Now, her belly full and round with kittens for the first time, I could not abandon her with no one left able to protect her. Few of us remained, only those not any use in a fight: the elder Jellicles and a handful of others.

Among these was a companion who had been my friend since she crawled out of the den where she was born: Jemima. She was also expecting her first litter; her mate had gone, thinking that he would be back in time to see them born. I often spared thought for Tugger; he had hidden a noble heart beneath a merry carefree exterior.

My Victoria was so proud, so very proud to bear my kittens, one could see it in her eyes and she told me so herself many a day. When her confinement began and she was trapped within our home I never strayed from her side for her every waking moment. Hunting for her meals while she slept.

Not a moment passed when she did not look on me in gratitude, her eyes shinning like twin stars in the torchlight of the otherwise dreary room. She needn't thank me though, I was helpless to her; more in love with her then most would consider possible.

Lifebondings were notoriously rare with great reason, the Oathsworn, (the cat to perform the ceremony and a priest of the Everlasting Cat) went on a spirit walk to Heaviside itself and conveyed with the spirits therein, the Goddesses Bast and Cer especially. If given permission and approval to proceed then in the ceremony you give to your bondmate a piece of your very soul, and they a piece of theirs to you. They will be a part of you even after death; lifebonded truly is forever.

Marry, I digress.