They shivered at the water in the pool so they didn’t stay in that long. After breakfast, I went back to the rockslide with a small dark lantern and looked at the opening. I shook my head and started removing the last two feet of rock and debris. I finished just before lunch and entered carefully. I found the first body just inside the opening. As I stood over the skeleton, I realized it was the man I had come to find.

His name had been Blade Master Roschta Andersee and he was one of my ancestors. I knelt carefully beside him, “Grandfather, forgive me, I have need of the relics.”

I carefully removed a gold ring, a silver bracer and the sword that was on his back. I slipped the ring on my finger and the wrist band around my forearm, the sword I slung over my own shoulder. I left and returned with a cloth. I carefully rolled him in the cloth and picked him up. Outside, I moved to the side and placed my grandfather on the ground.

Pulling out a small vial I poured it over him and knelt beside him. I pulled my power into a focus and touched his body. As I stood up and walked back into the dark entrance to the caravanase his body was enveloped in a pillar of fire.

Inside the caravanase I found the first pillar and the mage light still there. I touched the silver spot on the side and it sprang to life. I found many more bodies in the open chamber and when I entered the old stables I was surprised. I lit several more lamps to reveal nine sherise in stalls, there were twice that many skeletons in other stalls. As I moved to the stalls I saw the stasis spells that surrounded the sherise.

I extended my senses and looked at the stalls, a mage had to have set these. I moved to the center and slowly extended my hand. I touched a single hanging pendent and felt the stasis spells vanish. The sherise came awake slowly and then moved out of the stalls to surround me. Several seemed to growl as I stood my ground looking at them. I smiled softly, “I am Blade Master Kendell. You have been asleep for a very long time. Who leads?”

There was a soft chirping as they seemed to consider. Finally a mare stepped forward and I bowed, “My grandfather was Roschta Andersee. Did he lead the herd?”

The mare stepped closer and smelled me, before rubbing her head against me. When she looked at me and purred I had the answer to my question. I gestured towards the lights leading out, “My mates and herd are outside.”

As I led the way, they took turns walking beside me so they could smell me. When we cleared the rockslide Justin gave a soft twittering sound and Terra joined him. Now that we were outside, I was able to get a good look at the sherise.

There were eight mares, (four were in the late stages of pregnancy) and one young male. Megan and Zera came towards me from the camp looking happy and excited. When they got close, I stopped them when the sherise started to growl.

Sherise have a very strong sense of smell. I walked to Zera and like before I slowly undressed her. I put my finger inside her and wipe her wetness across her tummy. I took her hand and walked her back to the mare that was leading this herd. I stopped her in front of the mare and stepped back. The mare moved forward and smelled her and then licked her pussy.

The young male came forward and spent a little more time with his tongue inside her then he should have and I stepped forward to lightly slap his shoulder. The mares all stopped moving and the young male looked at me for a long time. I looked back, not breaking eye contact, “She is my mate. I am herd leader unless you wish to challenge?”

Justin moved forward with a growl and I held out my hand to stop him. The young male had started and then backed up quickly. He stopped and then slowly bowed, going to his knees. I moved my hand and Justin moved forward and stood over him. He gave a single chirp and the young male put his head down.

Justin looked at me and nodded before lowering his head and rubbing the other male. I kissed Zera and took her back to Megan. Megan knew what was happening and had undressed. Again I put my finger inside her and wiped her wetness on her stomach. When I led her forward to stand in front of the mare, Justin moved around to stand with his head on her shoulder.

She reached up to caress him as the mare stepped forward to smell her. The mare smelled her and then chirped. The rest of the sherise stopped moving as the mare pushed her tongue into Megan. She turned to look at her herd and chirped again, the young male came forward slowly and put his head down to lick her pussy and Megan groaned.

He pushed deeper and then lifted his head to look at Justin pleadingly. The herd leader shouldered him and one by one the other mares came forward to smell her. When they were done, I stepped forward, “I need to finish checking the caravanase. There are people looking for me so be careful when you browse. I will only be staying here another day and then I go south. Will you go your own way or will you join my herd? You can decide and tell me before I leave.”

I kissed Megan, “Go through my packs, there is dried meat and several dried packets of vegetables with herbs. Put them in water and let them simmer.”

I walked back into the caravanase, in the storeroom next to the stables, I found the caravan’s packs. All were rotted away, but in the remains of three I found the remains of ancient armor and weapons. These I knew I would take with me if I could. I crossed the cavern to the merchant rooms and found another surprise.

I knelt as I looked through the shimmering doorway. Grandfather had been escorting the remaining kittlings away from the old mage empire. Now I was looking at five unbonded young females and two males held like the sherise. I knew the descriptions from reading about them. They were cat like creatures that the old mage empire had declared less than human.

The empire’s mages had started altering them, until Blade Masters of the time had stepped in and then it had been war. All the kittlings in the empire had been killed. Grandfather Andersee and another man, a mage strangely enough, had saved a small group of kittlings.

They had been held by several mages that were altering them out of the empire. Looking through the shimmer at these females, I found them strangely beautiful. They looked to be fifteen or sixteen accept the two males, they were younger.

Each had a set of golden scale armor at their feet on top of a pile of clothing. There was a set of weapons to the side of each. There was also a row of large packs sitting just behind them. Each kittling had a different pattern on their fur, in one hand they each held their bond collar. All five were standing facing the door naked.

I sighed and stood, above the doorway was the pendent I was looking for. I pulled my power to me and reached up to touch the pendent. I was going to step away so they would have the chance to put their bond collars on. Unlike the sherise, they went from stasis to full awareness and looked at me. I felt a tingling as their eyes locked on mine and was almost overwhelmed as I felt each of them bonding to me and slowly knelt, “Peace to you Kittlings.”

The first to move reached me and knelt in front of me and bowed her head. She was white with a long tail. Her breasts were well formed like a human females. She stood 5’6” tall and had green eyes like all kittlings, “Bonded, I am Alex. Mage Edwards said you would come. Blade Master Andersee had these words for you.”

Her voice changed and I knew I was listening to my grandfather. “Grandson, Mage Edwards has told me you would come because you had need of the royal relics. I have a debt to these kittlings. I have made it so that when you wake them, you will bond with them. I am sorry, but they can no longer return to their people and you are their only hope of a life.”

She paused, “They are no longer like their parents. The girls can only bare young from a human male. Their children will be kittlings like themselves. The male kittlings will produce young, but only from a human female and the child will be human. Care for them well grandson and may your blades strike true.”

She shook herself, “Bonded, I am yours.”

She stood and moved back to her armor. The next girl knelt in front of me and bowed. “Bonded I am Katie and I am yours.”

Katie was 5’8” and solid grey with a black blaze on her forehead. Next was Sara, she was only 5’2”. She was a light blue color with light green stripes all the way down her tail and her tail reached down to her ankles. After Sara was the first male and he knelt with a smile, “Bonded I am Thomas and I am yours to command.”

Thomas was 5'4" and green with blue feet. The last was solid black and 5'6". He knelt to look into my eyes, “I am Jason bonded and I too am yours to command.”

I watched as they dressed and decided to have them help me bring out the ancient armor and weapons. When we came out of the caravanase, Justin gave a sharp twittering sound. All the sherise looked at us and moved together, the lead mare chirped at Justin and he seemed to relax. Megan and Zera watched from the camp and I could see they were a little unsure. When we reached the camp, I gesture to the side, “Put everything over there and come meet my mates.”

Zera and Megan stood fidgeting as the kittlings set their packs, ancient armor and weapons down. I held out my arms for the girls, “Megan, Zera, these are kittlings and they are bonded to me. It seems my grandfather left them for me.”

I called each of them forward to met Zera and Megan. While they were hesitantly getting to know each other, I took my sling and slipped into the woods. I would need to find more food with this many mouths to feed. I had killed several rabbits and two grouse when I felt the other Blade Master. Dropping the game I moved silently through the brush.

At the edge of a small clearing I saw him standing on the other side waiting. From the feel I knew he was alone. I stepped out of the brush and started walking towards him, “You shouldn’t have come, Heyso.”

He shrugged, “I had to sooner or later. Not that I am worried about facing someone as young as you.”

I smiled as I pulled the golden sword over my shoulder, “Why Heyso?”

He shrugged again as he pulled two short swords from his waist, “Why not? At least I don’t have to worry about assassins anymore.”

I pulled my power in and extended my senses and my stance shifted. A fight between Blade Masters seldom lasted long. As we circled, I held my sword in a high guard position. When he moved, it was a blur, unfortunately for him I wasn’t there. My sword flashed down as I slid sideways several feet. It took his left hand as I was already sliding back and away.

Heyso went to his knees holding his arm as it spurted blood from the stump. He looked at me shocked, “No one moves that fast!”

I shrugged, “I am Kendell Modesa Andersee Saghir.”

I watched as his face registered this and finally he nodded, “Will you give me grace?”

I looked at him for a moment and then nodded. He moved to a kneeling position, with his head and body erect. I slowly circled him and walked up to stand behind him, “May you find peace Blade Master.”

My sword swept across and his head seemed to jump. Both head and body fell quietly to the forest floor. I knelt and rolled him onto his back, his two short swords I broke and placed on his chest. I looked at the body before me and closed my eyes. If I had been watching, I would have seen the burst of light that flashed away from the body.

I cleaned my sword and returned for the game I had dropped. Back in camp I saw the kittlings all holding weapons and facing the forest. They formed a circle around Megan and Zera with the sherise just inside, forming another circle. Both Justin and Simon stood guard by the girls. As I approached they put their weapons away and the sherise drifted out of the circle. Alex greeted me, “We smelt another.”

I nodded, “He is dead now.”

I started cleaning the game and Sara and Katie knelt and started helping me. I added everything to the pot as well as several more packets of vegetables. Zera and Megan were both hesitant to talk. I looked at them and smiled, “Now that it is warmer, why don’t you join me in the pool to wash properly.”

They walked quietly with me, stripping at the edge and walking in. I gently washedthem caressing them softly, “Talk to me my mates.”

Megan and Zera looked at each other and finally Megan took a breath, “Who are they? What are they? And why didn’t you tell us you were going to bond with them?”

I caressed her, “They are kittlings. A thousand years ago they lived in a part of your empire. The mages that ruled then killed them off so as a race they no longer live. These were saved by my great grandfather and a friend of his, another mage. From the look inside the caravanase, there was a fight and I think both my grandfather and the mage were injured. The mage put both the sherise and the kittlings under a spell called stasis. My grandfather set it so that when I woke them, I would have no choice but bond to them.”

I looked at both Megan and Zera, “My bond with them is not like a bond as you know it. It is more like an imprinting on young children but it will grow stronger with time. I did not expect this but I will do as my grandfather asked, it is a debt I will pay for him. They will be my mates as both of you are.”

I took a breath, “Megan, I intended for you and Zera to be my mates as well as your sister Cassandra. She is on her way east to be pledged to a ruler out of the Empire. Ever since the two of you came into my life it has been one thing going wrong after another. Not bad things, but things I didn’t want or expect. Like having to bond both of you and now the kittlings. With my luck I will end up doing the same thing to your sister. I only hope we can all live together peacefully.”

I hugged them, “Please girls, try to make them feel welcome. I think they will become good friends if you let them.”

We finished washing and got out. I made one last trip into the caravanase with Alex. I found the old caravan supplies, all long gone except the pots and pans that seemed still useable. We took all the old mage lights and finally made our way out. While we were in the caravanase, the others had gathered wood and arranged the camp with all the sleeping furs laid out around the fire.
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