Sarah awoke with a start, slowly remembering the events of the day befoe as if she was living a dream. As she looked around the lodge, she realized, it wan't a dream. Several young women were looking back at her, nervous to the point where they did not blink.
Sarah smiled, and slowly stood, her quest was not complete. She had to find her father and Reginald. The light that filtered in was dim, but it highlighted the doorway. She walked toward the door, and the young women moved out of her way. As she stepped out into the daylight, Pitrok was waiting. He smiled and motioned that she should follow. As she smiled her understanding, his eyes lowered and his smile more tremulous. He offered her a panther's claw that had been made into a necklace.
Now Sarah had a problem, what did this gesture mean by his beliefs and customs? Was it friendship, betrothal, marriage, a shared warrior bond? She just didn't know. She looked at him and trusting to luck accepted the gift. She promptly put it on, and he laughed and put a matching one on.
Pitrok then motioned for her to follow once again. He led her toward a large building in the center of the village. It was festooned with images of hunting gods, weather gods, fertility gods and what could only be spirit gods. Pitrok took her to the entrance and motioned her in, but he was not allowed to follow. As she stepped into the chamber, it took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust from the bright daylight.
"You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen." said a deep gravely voice. One that lived in Sarah's soul. Sarah's head whipped around, and she focused on a supine form that was newly scarred, battered and bruised. "Sure took you long enough to find me." Snort raised his head and gave her a wink.
Sarah instantly transported to his side, there was never any recollection of movement. One second she was at the entrance, the next she was in his arms. They kissed passionately and then slower, softer, lingering. Sarah was crying, softly repeating "I knew you were alive.." between each kiss.
"Why, hello Sarah, do you have anything saved for another? Although I do realize that an old man is not as handsome as your young one." Prof. Archibald Swithington looked down at his daughter with a huge grin on his face.
Sarah looked back and forth between the two men that were pivotal in her life. She smiled, she glowed, she dazzled and she cried. All was right with the world.