The cat people, Te-Nar and his mate De Nera, invited Bolinor and Cassandra to Koldor for the Spring Festival. Both humans were delighted to accept as it had been months since they had seen their good friends. Cassandra teleported herself and Bolinor to the Koldorian capital city called My-Pell, named after their original home capital. The city looked like a frontier town. The cat people had been brought here from their old realm, where they had been fighting a desperate war, which was seeing the slow extermination of the race. Devron’s slavers had attacked in earnest. Bolinor and Cassandra had helped defend the wall, while other mages had done the herculean task of transporting sixty thousand Koldorians to where the magical gate had been found. They in turn were taken to Amberwine. Their new leader, and army general, Te-Nar had released all but a thousand soldiers back to their civilian trade, so a massive building project could be started. They needed to house the people during their first winter.
Cassandra and Bolinor looked about, and could see a lot of the wooden walled, canvas- roofed buildings had given way to the more permanent structures of stone or marble. The tradesmen were skilled in their work and with the whole population rallying behind them, had worked marvels.
The two looked at the Koldorians as they moved about. The Koldorians were human in appearance, their noses and mouths were slightly elongated, and their ears were high on their head. Their mouths were like Bolinor’s and Cassandra’s; not the split upper lip of the regular feline. One of the many facts that had fascinated the humans most of all was that they were covered in a fine body fur, and skin markings that closely resembled the markings and coloring of the real animals. Both Bolinor and Cassandra knew that touching a Koldorian’s body didn’t have the furry sensation most people expected. Their hair was lustrous and silky smooth for both sexes. The men and woman wore Grecian style knee length tunics or dresses, and went bare foot. The colors of the clothing were rich and varied as were the colors and styles of their hair.
Everywhere Bolinor and Cassandra went the people greeted them warmly and sincerely. They all knew if these two and a few others hadn’t helped, they would all be dead. They went to the center of town where the administration building was. Bolinor was surprised it was still a wooden structure. He thought it would have been the first building to be permanently constructed. They went to the audience room where they found De Nera. She was slightly taller than the other Koldorian woman, and had a familiar light gray tabby coloring. Her wavy shoulder length blond hair was luxuriously thick and silky soft; it shone in the morning sun. She had two tiny ringlets on each side that framed her beautiful face. What was most startling were her eyes; they were a pale icy blue, like the sea after a storm, the pupils resembled that of a cats. As befitting a woman who was married, she wore her hair free and down her back. De Nera also wore two jeweled combs, one on each side of her hair that connected across the back by a thin gold chain. This signified her married status to Te-Nar. He would wear a two inch jeweled armband of De Nera’s choice. They had exchanged the combs and armbands at their Bonding. De Nera saw Bolinor and Cassandra, and moving with supple feline grace, rushed up, and embraced them warmly. She hugged Bolinor a bit more chastely. Bolinor and his wife could hear a faint purr coming from the woman’s chest. She must be really pleased to see them. She wore a deep red silk dress that dropped to just below her knees.
Bolinor asked, “How are you? It’s good to see you again.”
De Nera hooked arms with Cassandra. “It is good you were able to come for the Festival. Te-Nar will not be long. He is looking over the Sanctuary. It won’t be long till we leave for there.”
“Why? We just got here,” Cassandra protested.
De-Nera smiled. “I forget you don’t know of Spring”.
“What do you mean?”
“Every spring we come in to our season. Both men and women usually around the same time. It is the time when our bodies go through the changes so we can reproduce. It is at this time that our young, coming in to season for the first time take a mate.”
Bolinor looked stunned, but Cassandra’s face cleared in enlightenment, “Oh!”
De Nera continued, “The Festival lasts three nights. It is a time our whole race shares. All over the country this event is being planned for, and so much care is taken for everything to run smoothly. At the end of the three weeks when our sanity more or less returns, there will be a big banquet, where all the couples, newly Bonded, get the wider armband or their second comb. After that night, couples are bonded for life.”
“Why is so much care taken?” Bolinor asked
“When a couple, especially the woman comes into season for the first time, her mating urges are so overpowering that she will let anyone take her. During the first night if she is not spoken for, some of the available men are put into a large area, and she is led in blindfolded. She will then use the pheromones that the males produce to locate her mate. If this fails, a new group is brought in the second night, and again the third night. If there is still no mate chosen, both the men and women will be taken to seclusion till the end of this year’s season, about three weeks. It will be a hard time for both of them, but attendants are there who can help. A Koldorian will come into season within the first three years that they come of age. After that time our bodies are too old for the change to happen.”
Bolinor asked incredulously, “You let smell pick your mate? What about love? Do you have no arranged marriages between different kingdoms, or families here?” His tone showed his bewilderment and shock.
De Nera laughed. “We mate for life. We have no divorce, adultery, rape or any sex crimes here, other than those committed against us. We get the ‘urge’ once a year, and when we mate for the first time we are chemically bonded to each other. Even during our season when the urge is so strong, we will only seek our own mate.”
Cassandra could see how the idea could work. Bolinor was still perplexed.
“What happens if your spouse dies?” Bolinor asked, thinking of the captain he had met and the general she had married.
“After a year, sometimes two, the body withdraws from the chemical dependence of the dead spouse, and then they can take a new mate when their season comes again.”
“Once a year you all go off and for three weeks…” Bolinor ended lamely.
“Yes, Commander, I have heard similar descriptions about us, like, we do it like rabbits.” She laughed lightly.
The man flushed a beet red and stammered, “I…I… didn’t mean any offence.”
De Nera’s face took on a wounded look. “That was why the slavers took us, because we couldn’t get pregnant. During our season we were abused, and when we did fall pregnant the women were slaughtered. A woman might last one, maybe two seasons, but not three.”
“What about…?” Bolinor trailed off uncertainly. “What about, you know….?”
Cassandra laughed out loud. “What he is trying to say is, what about the rest of the year? Don’t you have any desire for sex?”
De Nera pointed at Bolinor’s groin. “We don’t think with that.” She pointed to her heart. “We use our hearts,” and then pointing to her head said, “and our minds.”
Bolinor couldn’t imagine life without sex… Only once a year! He enjoyed touching Cassandra far too much, and said so to De Nera.
Cassandra blushed and groaned.
Bolinor pushed on. “What about …intimacy?”
“We are intimate in dozens of ways. We bath each other; cuddle. I personally like my back scratched, and my ears licked. Try doing something sometimes with out ending up ‘doing it’.”
Bolinor looked more confused than ever, but Cassandra looked at De Nera in a new light. Maybe they should try something different some time.
Cassandra asked happily, “So the chances are good, that when we meet you again you, might be carrying a child.”
De Nera looked pained. “The timing is not good. If a woman is not stressed, and well fed, there is a good chance that she may have up to three young ones. But this time I fear will not be good for a lot of us. It will take years to recover from the stress over what the slavers did to us.”
Bolinor asked, “What happens if you have three children? They would be a lot to look after.”
De Nera smiled. He was so innocent that she had to laugh, “They are taken to a place where the elders, and the care givers, woman who never come into season, help raise them. We age different, than you humans do, for every year old you are, we are about four years in equivalent, so the child is not dependent on an adult for more than three or four years. From marriage, to birth, to death, the whole life cycle is shared by our whole race.”
Cassandra looked up interested. “How old are you De Nera?”
“I am six years old.”
Cassandra did the quick figures, “That would put you about twenty four human years.”
De Nera nodded. “How old are you?”
“Me? I’m twenty five.”
The three of them moved about the town. Everyone, no matter what the age, was helping in the rebuilding.
Bolinor was amazed. “At this rate, this city will be built by winter.”
De Nera said, “We are also working on the farms, the place for the infants, and our ships. And before you ask, no we don’t like water, but the men who don’t come into season are greatly honored, as are the woman. We don’t exclude anyone from our society. Men become professional soldiers, sailors and explorers, and the woman become Attendants or Caregivers for the children.”
Bolinor was intrigued and said, “Can I have a look at the ships?”
De Nera nodded, he was like a child with sweets. “That should not be a problem.”
The harbor had a life of its own. The noise and smell of a dozen different human races were here. Looking around Bolinor could see elven ships, both High Elves and Wild Elves. There was even the ugly dwarven mining ships docked here. They could see crews and passengers from the different vessels along the waterfront hawking their ware, buying goods, or like the three of them, just looking around. The three Koldorian ships were fairly big, and looked to be extremely fast. They had a different style of rigging and design. The ship had only one mast. The hull was very shallow; only two decks deep. The main deck was built on twin canoe-like hulls. The ship looked to have three distinct and separate hulls. They could see cargo being loaded into the outer hulls as they watched.
Bolinor was fascinated by the way they had been constructed.
“How big a crew do they need?”
De Nera shrugged. “I’m not sure, I think ten men.”
“This is great, do you think they will mind if I take a look?”
Before she could answer, he was gone. The ship on the outermost end of the dock looked to have finished. Bolinor headed for her.
He stood on the dock. “Permission to come on board.”
The sailor on deck, a large orange tiger-striped man grinned and motioned him over. He had a pair of cotton trousers on, and nothing else. Bolinor climbed on deck. She was wide, almost fifty feet across and perhaps two hundred long. There was a small deckhouse that went below deck. The combined crew quarters and dining room/galley took up most of the mid deck space. Forward of the deck house was the single mast and then two cargo holds, one forward of the mast and one aft of the cabin. Both holds went the two decks deep, about 20 feet in total. The outer hulls were only twenty feet wide and had two holds as well. They too were two decks deep. The Koldorian followed him, and they kept a running conversation as Bolinor explored the ship.
The Commander said, “She looks to be a fast ship.”
The Koldorian, Bolinor found out, was the Captain. His name was G-Col.
“With a favorable wind we can reach Newport in one day. It would normally be two to three days to Jasper,” he said proudly.
Then he heard a yell from the dock. Cassandra and De Nera were both watching a ship enter the harbor, and anchor way out in the bay. De Nera looked extremely upset. Cassandra looked at Bolinor and shrugged helplessly. De Nera ran down the dock. Bolinor vaulted the railing, and rushed to Cassandra.
Cassandra shouted over her shoulder as she started after De Nera. “I’m not sure. De Nera muttered something about slavers.”