Title: Rock Hard!
Summary: Kiera Aigner's third and final rock climbing course is about to begin and Theran Ryan has been preparing for and anticipating it eagerly. Five days to complete a climb, no ropes and no room for error... Will she have the courage?
Disclaimer: Any characters resembling anyone or anything are well, incidental. No profit is being made from this and it is original anyway. Contains romance between women, so if this is not your thing, go find something else to do or to read...
Copyright: This entire document/story is © Copyright, 2005 by Rain.
Notes: This is the third of a planned three stories... The reading of: Rock Me! and Rock On! - Is recommended, but not completely necessary. Feedback is always appreciated, thanks for reading!
- Chapter One -
Strong hands gripped an edge on the rock wall, searching and then finding a secure hold. Then, as if simply to further irritate gravity, a head appeared, crowned by a shock of windblown blonde hair which framed eyes as blue as a tropical sea.
Without pause, Theran Ryan hauled herself onto the top of the rock wall and stood up, uncaring of how close to the edge she was, or that her feet were protesting, or that she had torn the ski off several knuckles on one her hands, or anything else for that matter.
All that she felt, was the rock and the wind and the sun...
Glancing down, she saw the ground she had recently been standing on some 60 feet away and contemplated climbing down to it again, before deciding that she had done more than enough training for the day, No sense in overdoing it at this point, she had to be in top shape for when her lover's rock climbing course begun, but not injured or overtired.
So, with that in mind, the blonde climber sat down to release her feet form the confines of her climbing shoes and took to the smoothly grassed trail that would lead to the bottom of the cliff, barefoot.
Theran had taken a leave of absence from her demanding job, in order to work
exclusively on her climbing (And her
Romance.) for the past 4 months.
Kiera Aigner, her lover and a master climber, ran her most advanced climbing course once a year and Theran was not only determined to participate in it, but finish it with the highest grade possible.
Now was not the time to hedge and she had come so far already in less than a year, especially the past 8 months...
Theran smiled as she thought about Kiera, they had been lovers for almost 8 months and my, what a love affair it had been.
The blonde woman did not really have the words to describe what she and Kiera had together, but it was extraordinary, wonderful and magical and Theran felt that each day when she woke up, she loved Kiera more.
What's more, though the mysterious dark haired woman was more often than not, off climbing, Theran could feel her lover with her all the time.
Kiera had such intensity, such drive, such passion in everything that she did, that it came as no real surprise to Theran that in love, the master climber was the same way.
In a rare moment of talkativeness, Kiera had told Theran that she felt complete for the first time in her life, like she had found her missing peace, the one that she had searched for always.
The words, though spoken in Kiera's trademark Haiku-like style, spoke volumes to Theran...
As the blonde woman finally reached her car, she stopped to lean against it and smiled.
Kiera had called her the night before and told her that she would be in town for three days, (Starting with what was now tomorrow.) and would Theran like to go climbing with her?
As if her lover even had to ask...
- Chapter Two -
The following day, Theran woke early, anticipating the appearance of her lover and wanting to be ready. The blonde haired climber was pretty sure she had found a spot that Kiera probably had not climbed.
During a recent road trip, in which she had made a point of looking for and stopping at any rock or cliff face to climb, Theran had managed to locate what appeared to be the remnants of an old mine...
After consulting local authorities she had determined that the actual mine shaft was safe enough and as it was lined with natural stones, shaped and placed so long ago, Theran knew that her lover would find it irresistible.
After a quick morning routine comprising of using her free weights, sit ups, push ups and pull ups, stretches, five minutes of jumping rope, hand exercises and some hanging on her small climbing wall, Theran packed up her climbing bag and added several coils of rope as well as harness to her rucksack and headed out to drive to Kiera's place to wait for her lover to show up.
It had been a significant moment about a month ago when the two of them had give eachother spare keys to their respective apartments. Though the trust between them was implicit, Theran knew that Kiera was such a highly private person, that the gesture was as significant as they got.
As she parked her car in front of Kiera's nondescript apartment building, Theran paused for a moment before she got out. This was to be the first time she was going to actually go into Kiera's apartment alone, though Kiera had left her there on a number of occasions when she had an early departure.
The prospect was at once thrilling and scary and after taking a steadying breath, Theran rose from her car and made her way to the now very familiar front door of her lovers abode...
- Chapter Three -
Kiera Aigner brought her powerful road bike to a stop, switching off the ignition and sitting back to take off her helmet. Shaking her almost black hair free, she smiled slightly when she spotted her lover's car parked tidily in the guest parking lot of her building.
Pleased to the point of surprising herself once again, Kiera dismounted from her bike and the walked the bike into the backyard of the building, intent on locking it into her storage space.
The dark haired master climber did not anticipate using the bike again today and preferred to keep it secure and out of the elements whenever she could.
Also, the bike needed a servicing before she rode it for any serious distance, something she hoped to get to, maybe tomorrow.
'Maybe Theran would keep her company...' The thought popped into Kiera's head rather suddenly and startled her ever so slightly.
It was so unusual for her to want to spend time with anyone, that she did not quite know how to respond to the feeling, but she was learning.
As she locked the padlock on the door of her storage area, Kiera suddenly felt an urgency to be home already and with that, she walked with quick steps to her apartment.
- Chapter Four -
As she opened her heavy front door, Kiera became aware of the smells of cooking; not only was Theran in presence, but it seemed breakfast was on its way too.
The thought put a slight smile on the master climber's face, Kiera knew that in spite of Theran's gregarious nature, the blonde woman was capable of being very shy.
The first time Theran had cooked for her, Kiera had instinctively understood that for the blonde woman, it was a very intimate thing to do.
Of course, it did not hurt that Theran was an excellent cook and not long after Kiera had found herself cooking for Theran, something she had almost forgotten; how it felt to cook for more than one person.
As if summoned by her thoughts, Theran appeared from the kitchen and smiled one of her million dollar smiles at Kiera.
"Hi..." Kiera said, letting her feelings show in her voice.
A moment later, strong arms enveloped her and Kiera felt herself lifted and squeezed until she squeaked, no mean feat at all.
"Hi yourself! You hungry?" Theran's smooth voice caused Kiera to shiver slightly and when the blonde woman followed her question with a kiss, Kiera forgot what her answer was going to be.
Ah but Theran knew how to kiss; Kiera could feel it from the top of her head to the soles of her feet and the feel of the blonde woman in her arms was just indescribable, something that Kiera was sure she would never tire of.
"I love you..." The words tumbled off Kiera's tongue as soon as Theran freed it to speak.
Sparking blue eyes smiled at her as the blonde woman gave her a final squeeze and then Kiera felt herself being dragged into her kitchen where breakfast awaited...
- Chapter Five -
Theran could not help but stare at Kiera, the master climber was simply stunning to look at and the blonde woman was sure she would never get bored of just staring at her lover.
Kiera had revealed a little of her history to Theran, the reason for the slight accent in her voice. Kiera had been born in Europe, more specifically in the Mediterranean region, which also explained her exotic looks and night colored eyes...
Shaking herself out of her reverie, Theran rose to collect their dishes, waving Kiera off as the other woman rose to help.
"I found a new climb today and wanted to bring you to it..." Theran said the words quietly as she rinsed their dishes and put them into the dishwasher in Kiera's kitchen.
"Sure! But my bike needs servicing, so we should use your car..." Kiera's immediate response warmed Theran's heart and after pausing to kiss her lover, the blonde woman walked to the hallway.
"Well, ready to go then?" Theran teased her still seated lover.
The trip to the climb would take over an hour, plenty of time for the to digest and for them to talk too.
Immediately, Kiera rose and walked to her living room, snatching up a bag of hardware and ropes that was always ready, before standing before Theran expectantly.
"You going to tell me about it?" Kiera seemed to ask hopefully, the action causing Theran to laugh lightly.
"Nope, it's a surprise, now come on!" Theran said, grabbing her lover's hand and dragging her out of the door which was firmly shut in their wake...
- Chapter Six -
As she turned the key in the ignition of her car, effectively silencing the motor, Theran did her best to maintain a straight face as she watched her lover search around for whatever it was they were going to climb.
"I don't even see a bump anywhere, Theran..." Kiera said at last, apparently having given up her search.
"Just you wait! Now, come on lazy bones, we need to get ready as soon the sun will be in its zenith so the light will be best." With those words, Theran rose from the car and moved her seat forward so she could access her equipment.
"We'll need rope and repelling gear, enough for a hundred feet, if we want to do the whole climb." Theran said as she set aside her climbing bag and proceeded to work on her coils of rope, checking them carefully, before setting them aside and removing her outer layers to reveal snug fitting attire that she preferred to climb in.
Kiera seemed frozen in place for a moment, before she got out of the car and proceeded to do her own checking and changing and soon the two women were walking together towards the area a few dozen yards away where the mine shaft was.
As they arrived, Theran gently set her rope bag down and turned to Kiera.
"Here we go!" She said, her smile evident in her voice and with her words, the master climber moved forward to look at what Theran was pointing towards.
"A mine shaft!?" Kiera's voice betrayed her interest and pleasure and Theran smiled widely.
"I gather you've not climbed this?" Theran said as she started to buckle on her harness and secure her helmet, used today due to the unusual nature of the climb; her shoes would go on last.
"Not this one, I did not know it was here..." Kiera said as she in turn performed her pre-climb routine and then the women carefully tied off and secured their ropes and prepared to descend into the shaft.
"I was here a little while ago, when the sun is at this height one can see all the way down. It's clear and I also checked with the local authority, they say this one is stable, that they even have plans to make it into some kind of attraction, some day..." With those words, Theran dropped her rope bag into the yawning maw and a few moments later heard the muted thump of it hitting the bottom.
Moments later, Kiera's rope bag followed suit...
"You go down first..." Theran said to Kiera, knowing that the expert climber would be on the bottom much quicker that she could be, at least for the time being.
Theran fully intended to become a master climber herself, but this was the now, not the future.
- Chapter Seven -
Kiera Aigner made her way down the mine shaft with the practiced ease that literally of thousands of descents created. As she moved rapidly downward, her eyes scanned the walls of the mine shaft, easily picking out a myriad of routes and possibilities and storing them away automatically.
Moments later, her feet touched the smooth bottom of the shaft and then she shifted to to the side in order to give Theran as much room as possible to come down after her.
A few minutes later, both women stood at the bottom of the shaft and smiled at eachother.
"So, you like it?" The pleased tone of Theran's voice made Kiera smile internally.
Her lover had obviously planned this for a little while, knowing that Kiera would enjoy it.
"Love it!" Kiera replied as she chalked her hands carefully and adjusted her rope bag for easy retrieval once she had gained the top.
"So, you chose a side and then we'll climb out together..." Kiera told the blonde woman, wanting the less experienced climber to feel as comfortable as possible.
Theran's bright blue eyes scanned the walls and after a few moments, she had chosen a side.
Kiera would have chosen the same side for her and the knowledge that she was beginning to know her lover's climbing preferences warmed her.
Shaking herself out of her thoughts, Kiera focused on the wall she had chosen to climb, her trained eyes having discerned that it would be the most challenging of the four. Fine exercise for certain, but Kiera was sure that it would pose no problems for her, though it would be interesting and fun.
Silence filled the bottom of the mine shaft as the two climbers prepared their bodies and minds and equipment for the ascent...
- Chapter Eight -
Kiera had made her final preparations and stepped onto the wall, immediately moving up several feet in order to center her gravity and avoid the temptation to step off the wall if she did not feel her grip was right.
It was a habit she had developed early on in her climbing, removing the possibility of stepping off the wall easily and thus forcing herself to learn to correct on the walls or cliff or boulder, rather than to start over.
Mentally blocking out Theran, though aware of the other woman's presence simply due to her highly sensitive senses, Kiera chalked her hands again and proceeded to move up the mine shaft.
It was intriguing, blocks of stone, slabs of rock, even bricks and wood, all forming the surface that lead upwards to the sky.
Though well within her comfort levels, it was still a challenge for the veteran climber and Kiera had learned early on to never feel or think she could automatically master the climb...
The rock did not care who she was, or how much experience she had, everything was up to Kiera herself and in reality, it was herself that she had to master, nothing else.
Pausing on a wide ledge about 20 feet up, Kiera secured her grip and expanded her focus to look at Theran, who was actually at her level on the side of the shaft that was to Kiera's left.
The blonde climber was steadily picking her way up the shaft, her focus obviously on the wall in front of her, her body obeying all commands and moving in perfect tandem with her mind.
Kiera estimated that unless something catastrophic happened with Theran's confidence to stop her from succeeding, the blonde woman would be able to complete the climbing course will high marks and probably in the first day or two of it too.
Feeling the strain of being still, Kiera snapped her focus back to the rock she was clinging to and was soon climbing again, her movements sure, confident, almost supernatural in how easily they seemed to flow, but in reality, the product of decades of endless practice...
- Chapter Nine -
Eventually, a hand emerged from the mine shaft, chalk stained with bleeding cuticles, but strong and tanned and in moments, it was followed by a dark head of hair and then a lithe and muscular body.
Kiera Aigner straightened her body out and stood up, quickly moving to remove her climbing shoes and then padding around to where she knew Theran would emerge shortly.
The climb had been fun and different, the near vertical nature of the wall had posed a challenge and the master climber was pleased with her workout.
Carefully, she leaned over so as not to disturb the concentration of her lover as she climbed and took extra care with her feet so that she would not accidentally kick anything over the edge onto Theran.
The blonde woman still had about ten feet to go and as she rose steadily, Kiera felt a deep glow of pride at how well Theran was doing.
Finally, Theran stood up from her climb and stretched her body out, just as Kiera had done and the master climber moved to embrace Theran tightly.
"You are ready..." Kiera's voice was low as she spoke the words.
Theran had asked for the master climbers assessment, promising to abide by it and wanting to know for sure that she was indeed ready for the final course.
Kiera, though she loved Theran more than she had loved anyone else, was always bluntly honest, so had promised to assess Theran and let her know in the week before the climb.
Quite unintentionally, this mine shaft climb had turned into the place where Kiera had made her assessment.
"I am?" Theran said, pulling away from Kiera slightly and pinning the dark haired woman with her hypnotizing blue gaze.
Kiera smiled slightly and nodded.
"Yes, you are ready... Just stay warmed up and limber for the next 4 days, usual workouts, small climbs, eat well, sleep well and stay hydrated. You are ready my love..." Kiera said, leaning in to kiss Theran's lips gently before stepping away to allow the other woman to remove her shoes.
"This was great, thank you for bringing me here..." Kiera said as she started to slowly pull her rope up from the mine, the friction pad on the edge of the mine shaft sending up little plumes of chalk as the rope moved.
- Chapter Ten -
The next day, Theran arrived at Kiera's apartment building in the early afternoon, having gone home in the morning to fetch a change of clothes and to perform her workout.
Not that Kiera's apartment did not have miniature climbing walls or workout equipment, but Theran had wanted to give the dark haired woman the space she knew was needed.
Kiera was nothing if not the most psychic, passionate and tender of lovers and friends that Kiera had ever had, but Theran had known even before they were romantically involved that the master climber needed her space and if not given it, would simply take it.
Theran had noticed, that as she herself became more and more immersed in the world of climbing, that she too had started to crave space and time to herself, much more than she ever had and she considered herself to be somewhat of a solitary person in the first place.
Theran smiled to herself as she walked to where she knew her lover would be working on her bikes and as she arrived at the shed, she smiled fully at the sight of Kiera.
Smeared in grease, wearing an old white tank top and what looked like military surplus pants, the master climber was in sandals and her road bike's engine was scattered across the floor.
It was an adorable, yet intoxicatingly sexy image...
Though Theran had thought her approach was quite silent, Kiera immediately looked up from what she was doing and smiled.
It was breathtaking, with her almost black hair in disarray and her dark eyes sparkling, Kiera was a beautiful woman.
Unable to resist, Theran walked up to her lover and kissed her, uncaring of grease or anything else for that matter.
"Well, hello to you too..." Kiera said as Theran pulled back and with that Theran chuckled.
"I suppose you're going to want my help or something?" Theran asked, removing her jacket and hanging it up, glad that she had thought to wear old clothes, just in case she was drafted as an impromptu mechanic.
"If you don't mind..." Kiera said, the exotic sound of her voice never failing to cause Theran to shiver.
Her lover could say as little as ten words in a day sometimes, so silent she was, so Theran always listened when she spoke.
"No, I don't mind, just tell me what you need me to do..." Theran replied, moving over to a small workbench and turning to her lover in anticipation.
"Well, then you can clean parts..." Kiera said and quickly set Theran up with gloves and a basin of gasoline and several rolls of paper towel.
This the afternoon was spent with Theran cleaning engine parts and Kiera reassembling her motorcycle and changing its fluids and greasing its parts as she went.
The work went smoothly and quickly and in what seemed like no time at all, the powerful bike was ready and the women cleaned up, carefully disposing of rags and used paper towel in the incinerator and securing the shed.
In fact, it had taken 5 hours to complete the task and now both women were dirty, hungry and tired.
"Okay, let's go up to my place and I'll order in some food so we can get cleaned up and rest." It was the first time Kiera had spoken in hours and Theran automatically smiled in response.
"Sounds good to me!" Theran enthused and the two of them quickly made their way to Kiera's home to do just that.
- Chapter Eleven -
An hour later found the two women sprawled in Kiera's climbing gear filled living room, cheerfully eating Thai takeout.
Theran smiled to herself as she pulled up the sleeve of the sweatshirt she was wearing. It was Kiera's and as a consequence was far too large for her smaller frame, but Theran did not care in the slightest, she was enjoying herself immensely.
Kiera's home was filled with music, books and climbing gear and the walls that did not have climbing holds or exercise equipment affixed to them, had a sprinkling of art on them.
Theran thought that the small apartment was a good reflection of her lover's temperament and found its spartan nature welcoming.
The master climber did not have a TV, but she did have an impressive stereo system and even now, as they ate, soft music played in the background.
Theran was drawn out of her thoughts by Kiera's gentle touch on her shoulder and quickly looked up into the mesmerizing gaze of the other woman.
It had taken Theran some time to get used to Kiera's eyes, how they did not seem to have a pupil simply because they were black.
Upon occasion, when Kiera was standing in direct sunlight, Theran had been able to catch a glimpse of pupils and could also see that her lovers eyes were not one solid shade of black, rather were at least half a dozen shades of night and it was their texture is what gave them so much power over Theran.
Of course in addition to the fact that the blonde climber was totally in love with the owner of the highly unusual eyes.
"Come to bed?" Came the soft request from Kiera, instantly snapping Theran out of her mental meanderings.
"Yes..." Theran instantly replied and set her now empty plate on the low table in front of her and rose to her feet.
A warm hand, soft, even while covered in rough skin and callouses from a lifetime of climbing, grabbed hers and gently drew her towards the other room in Kiera's small home, the bedroom.
It contained a huge walk-in closet, end tables, a clothes tree and a queen sized futon.
Aside from light fixtures and an alarm clock that stood next to a pile of books currently being read, nothing extra adorned the room, rather it was a peaceful, uncomplicated room, conducive to sleep, to love, to contemplation...
Theran stopped at the foot of the large bed and a moment later, felt Kiera's hands on her body, pulling off her sweats, demanding access to her body, her soul, her heart.
Seconds, minutes, lifetimes later, the two women were curled around eachother's nakedness, enraptured in eachother, in the moment, all else forgotten...
- Chapter Twelve -
Three days later, Theran Ryan found herself sitting in her car, taking deep breaths while she tried to calm her anticipation and excitement over what was about to happen.
For the last three days, she had gone over the two pairs of climbing shoes she had chosen to take with her with a microscope, checking the soles, the insides, the seams...
Fresh chalk and chalk ball in her chalk bag, several clean sets of favored climbing clothes, any accessories, additions and essentials, all carefully checked, cleaned and prepared.
She had trimmed and filed her nails and toe nails, carefully examined her body for anything that would or could pose any problems, had slept, eaten, hydrated and worked out, carefully...
Yesterday, she had gone to her local spa and enjoyed a long Turkish bath and then a full body, deep tissue massage, followed by a haircut...
She was ready!
Or so Kiera had told her anyway...
The master climber had been preparing for the past three days as well, so the lovers had not really seen eachother at all, which was to be expected.
As Theran came out of the car, she grabbed her rucksack and her climbing bag and secured the vehicle, before sliding her sunglasses onto her face and walking slowly towards where a group of people stood waiting.
As she arrived, she recognised four of them to be Kiera's protege, obviously along as aids to the master climber, a side benefit being concentrated exposure to Kiera's method, the four had been involved in the first two courses as well.
Aside from that, there were three other people, which Theran determined to be students...
Whatever Kiera had planned for them, it obviously was involved enough that each of them would have a instructor of their own, with Kiera overseeing the whole thing.
The thought send a thrill of fear down Theran's spine, but she was confident that her lover would not have said she was ready, unless she was ready...
As if summoned by her thoughts, Kiera arrived on her motorcycle, it's gleaming black surfaces glinting in the bright sunlight and with the master climber's arrival, the tension in the air seemed to at once lessen by several steps and climb several notches as well.
As Kiera dismounted, Theran could not help but admire the sleekly fitting leather that her lover wore, accentuating her curves and her panther-like power.
The master climber secured her bike and grabbed her things before walking up to the group, her long legs eating the distance, her eyes covered by mirrored aviator style sunglasses.
The approach sent Theran's heartbeat into overdrive and the blonde climber felt that the time had come...
The time for what, she was not at all sure, but the time had come nonetheless and she was ready!
- Chapter Thirteen -
An hour later, Kiera's small group was settling into camp, this time, containing one person tents and a main eating and gathering tent.
The camp was designed to afford the climbers with as much space and privacy as they would need to gather themselves mentally and rest physically during the nights, so that they would be ready for the climb, during the days.
As she watched each of the climbers and her protege settle in, Kiera stretched her strong body and contemplated the best route to the climb.
A small climb would be done today, just so that Kiera could assess the state of the 4 students and so her protege would limber up in readiness for tomorrow...
Nodding to one of her apprentices, Kiera walked over to the eating tent and took up the seat at the head of the folding table that had been set up in the middle.
Less an a minute later, the 8 climbers arrived and Kiera smiled a small smile of welcome...
"Welcome everyone... This is the final course that I offer, after this, you will
chose your own destiny as climbers.
Some of you, will be able to use this experience to conquer any climb you want as you holiday and vacation, as climb at your gym, with your club. Others of you, this will be a beginning of bigger things, an obsession, a life... Today we will do a warm up climb, tomorrow the climb itself will begin. Make sure you get rest, that your gear is in perfect order and as you can see, each of you will have one of my friends to help you personally. I have paired them up with you based on suitability that I imagine there being. We leave for the warm up climb in ten minutes..." Kiera finished talking and rose from her seat, nodding slightly before leaving the tent.
She needed to prepare as well...
The next five days could go several ways, very well, or very badly...
- Chapter Fourteen -
As the sun rose to herald a new day, Theran opened her eyes, instantly awake and ready to face the day.
The previous evening, the preparatory climb had gone well, with each of the students, apprentices and the master climber herself easily completing the task, which was followed by a five mile run and then showers and dinner.
Retiring early, each of the climbers had spend the evening preparing in their own ways for the next day...
Theran could feel excitement pour through her veins even as a certain calm came over her mind.
Kiera had told them that she would meet them at the climb at 10 am, so they were free to do whatever preparations were needed before hand and that her protege would insure that they all arrived on time at the site.
The blonde climber had decided that she would run a mile and the stretch, before eating and showering, so she set about to do just that.
None of the 4 students had any idea what or where they were climbing...
Theran set about to complete her morning routine and soon enough, she and the rest of the group arrived at the climb location.
As Theran stood looking at what she was expected to conquer, she felt her mouth hang open for a few seconds...
Kiera thought she was ready for this?
- Chapter Fifteen -
"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your climb..." Kiera said in a low voice, looking at each of her students and nodding at her protege before continuing.
"To complete this course, each of you will have to complete one of the routes. The grades range from 5.4 to 5.10. Each of you, can climb a minimum of 5.5, believe me, you would not have come this far if it was not the case. However, climbing the 5.4 will not cause a failure and neither will using the ropes. Just remember, you are here to be challenged, not killed or hurt." Kiera trailed off and guided the group to an area where mats had been set out so that the climbers could comfortably sit and change their shoes and prepare.
'It has begun...' Kiera mused to herself as she watched the group.
She herself, planned to tackle the 5.10 route, she had already climbed the 5.4 when she had arrived here shortly after dawn, it had made an excellent warm up...
Kiera saw Theran speaking to the most senior of her protege and then saw the pair walk over to the 5,8 route, which though it did not surprise Kiera, definitely made her eyebrows raise a little on her forehead.
The master climber sincerely hoped that her lover would be successful and so the day was begun in earnest...
- Chapter Sixteen -
Theran was determined, she would succeed at this climb and she would move up, Kiera had not said that they could not try more than one route if they were successful at what they chose to do.
The climb was more challenging than any that Theran had done, but for her level of experience, the blonde climber was in excellent shape and was determined to make her teacher proud, not to mention herself too...
Coiling herself, Theran sprung up and caught a ledge, her chalked hands marking the rock and her muscles straining as she hung suspended for a long moment, then her grip slipped and she landed lightly on the padded mats beneath the rock face.
Her personal instructor pointed at the rock and advised her to try to reach higher.
Re-chalking her hands, Theran concentrated and leapt up, her grip slipping momentarily, but then her hold was secure and she was able to pull herself up, the muscles in her back and arms bulging with effort.
Pausing briefly, Theran perched on the tiny ledge and concentrated on the feel of the rock wall, connecting herself to it and completely blotting out everyone and anyone from her mind and senses.
She would not fail...
Taking a breath, she hugged the rock face and looked up, her eyes picking out possibilities among the myriad of shapes and shades of rock.
With her movements precise, Theran moved her foot and then her body moved up the rock, inch by inch, each moment fueling her confidence, tempering her mind, until nothing except the rock existed, nothing except her breath.
Already she could feel the strain, in spite of her excellent fitness, the angle and nature of the rock was such, that it was going to test her.
Time stood still as Theran moved and she blocked out the signals her body was giving her, ones of pain and fatigue, fear...
As she reached a slightly wider ledge and a secure set of holds, Theran allowed some tension to leave her muscles and leaned against the rock.
"Theran!" Came a familiar voice and the blonde looked around to find Kiera clinging to the rock face very close to her.
"You can only go up now Theran, you can do this, I believe in you..." Eyes as black as night looked into her's for long seconds and then Theran mentally shook herself.
A moment later, she looked to where Kiera was and saw the space empty...
Even a master such as Kiera would not be able to clear the area in a moment, which meant that Theran had imagined it, or had she?
As she felt the strain in her ankles and feet, Theran refocused on the rock and moved up another step, emboldened by her imaginary encounter with Kiera...
- Chapter Eighteen -
Kiera could see that each of her students was doing as well as could be expected or even better, so she allowed herself a long moment to gaze up at her lover, now above the zone where she could realistically turn back or survive a fall.
The blonde woman had complete focus and Kiera could see that Theran had chosen right when she had decided on this route...
'As long as her confidence does not give out; she has to make the climb...' Her mind told her rather emphatically as she watched.
It was nerve wracking and Kiera felt the itch to climb up to the top to watch her lover's progress from there. She had duties down here though, had to be ready to climb up to help, guide, aid, on the easier routes.
Not that any of the routes were easy, this climb was strictly professional grade climbing or for really, really dedicated amateurs.
- Chapter Nineteen -
Theran had reached an overhang, where she would need to work her way around it, yet not lose her grip on the rock.
It would demand all of her skill and concentration and then some, and the idea cause her heart to race wildly.
'Calm down...' Theran told herself as she carefully chalked her hands and studied the rock above her.
Then, making a decision, she reached up and wrapped her strong fingers around the edge, coiling her body in preparation, readying her muscles and then, she was hanging free for several long seconds as she prepared to move her grip.
Taking a deep breath and focusing, Theran reached and a moment later had her feet under her and was standing on the overhang, hugging the rock with her heart pounding.
She had never done anything like that in her entire life, except in safe, practice situations.
Thrilled beyond measure, she took a long moment to collect herself and chalk her hands, before she studied her next step.
Her confidence soaring, the blonde climber made her way upwards, not thinking about the top, just focusing on her next grip, next move...
Realising, that the rock face was starting to bulge outwards, Theran made sure that each handhold was extra secure before she moved her feet and in a few minutes, found herself at a wider ledge and realising the enormity of what she had to do next.
The jump was not large, but it had to succeed, as if she fell off, she would plummet to her death.
The blonde woman could feel fear surge in her veins, but with it came exhilaration, anticipation.
Without hesitation, Theran jumped, her hands instantly wrapping around the ridge they encountered and so she moved up.
It was ten feet later, that Theran's grip did slip...
- Chapter Twenty -
Kiera felt her heart stop when she saw it, Theran's hand slipped and her lover was moving downwards, rapidly.
"Oh my god!" Kiera exclaimed in horror, her mind freezing as she watched the blonde climber somehow arrest her fall, miraculously...
"Don't let the rock break you, Theran..." Kiera muttered outloud as she watched her lover gather herself and her wits for long, long moments.
Kiera had been there, several times...
Skill, practice and a lot of luck, had saved her and now it had been Theran's skill, practice and luck that had saved her.
'She is obviously meant for you 'Ra...' Kiera heard her subconscious mutter and it even used a nickname only Kiera's mother had used.
Maybe her subconscious was her mother's voice...
Kiera shook off her random musings and focused once more on Theran's climb.
- Chapter Twenty One -
Theran realised that she would need to move up again, but she was still trying to catch her breath...
It had been so close, but her hands had worked automatically as had her body and she had caught and been able to hold onto the rock and the experience had opened a new avenue in her.
The only way was up however and her body was demanding that she move, cramping from her awkward position and from the strain of holding it for so long.
So, with that in mind, the blonde climber moved up, her body obeying, her mind focused, her soul ready.
In what seemed like a short time, she had passed the place where her grip had failed and in doing so, had left her old self behind.
Changed forever, she moved up and up, unstoppable now...
The realization fueled her exhausted limbs and Theran started to flow up the rock, at one with it, part of it.
Moments, lifetimes, eternities later, Theran reached up and hit emptiness.
Confused she looked up and into the black eyes of her lover, whose face was gently smiling down at her.
"Come on Theran..." The exotic voice coaxed gently and Theran pushed her jelly-like legs one more time and then found herself laying in the dry grass and soft dirt at the top of the cliff.
She had done it...
As the realization hit her, Theran felt tears well up in her eyes, which quickly spilled down onto her face and into her clothes.
Humbled, elated, she stood and looked about, awed...
Even as she cried, laughter bubbled up in her throat, pure joy and then she chuckled, remembering how a lifetime ago she had thought that she could simply 'take on' the 5.10 route after doing this one.
Knowing that she would never be arrogant about climbing again, yet knowing that she had what it took to attempt any climb, the blonde woman bent to remove her shoes, before simply sitting on the ground and resting...
It was then that she realised that Kiera was not actually at the top, that she she had again imagined the dark haired master climber and that her lover had once again, helped her find it within herself to accomplish what felt like an impossible task.
- Twenty Two -
When Theran vanished over the top of the cliff, Kiera had resisted the urge to jump up and down with joy.
She had done it...
"Go get her..." Kiera said to the apprentice who had been instructing the blonde climber, one of her most trusted climbers.
The woman nodded to Kiera and moved off to walk up the winding trail that would lead to the top, carrying Theran's climbing bag as she went.
As she waited, Kiera went over to the part of the wall that she intended to climb and blanked out her mind in order to absorb it's features.
It had taken Theran the better part of an hour to complete her climb and it would take another half hour before her lover was back down at ground level.
Mentally calculating time, Kiera decided that she would make this climb today if possible, just to show the students that all was possible, even the seeming impossible.
The master climber was distracted from her thoughts by a chorus of shouts which heralded the arrival of Theran and Kiera did not stop herself from turning and moving to embrace her lover.
Kiera knew she had found the other half of her soul in the blonde woman and was determined not to ever take that for granted.
So, as she squeezed the now mildly protesting woman, she whispered into a delicate ear.
"I love you..." And the kissed the side of Theran's neck, which caused a slight hiss of desire to escape from her lover.
Stepping away from the blonde woman, Kiera saw that aside from some nasty looking scrapes and bruises from her slip, the woman looked nothing short of edible.
Suddenly wanting Theran more than she could put words to, Kiera was forced to turn away quickly, as she knew she would be easily read at that moment and it was private what she was feeling.
Mentally deciding to perform the hard climb tomorrow, after everyone had completed today's attempt, Kiera smiled and turned back to Theran.
"Congratulations!" She said in a low voice and then checked her watch, it was almost time to call it a day, there was still a workout to do and dinner to eat.
- Chapter Twenty Three -
By the time evening had fallen over the camp, one of the other students had been soundly congratulated as well, having managed to successfully complete her climb.
A workout, dinner and shower later, the group had settled down for the night and preparations were made for tomorrow.
To fill the time, the successful climbers would be sent off with their personal instructors to climb elsewhere, or to see what kind of boulders the area offered and anything else that they could come up with.
Kiera would stay with the main group and oversee their climbs...
The master climber had finally decided, that she would complete the 5.10 route in private, alone.
Though she did enjoy the time she spent with these specialized students, she usually only took a day or two to start feeling the pressure of being amongst people and of having limits put on her personal schedule.
Sensing the approach of her lover, Kiera looked up to find Theran walking towards her, the woman's step filled with confidence and power.
As Theran stopped in front of her, Kiera felt a renewal of the desire previously experienced and immediately stood up to embrace her lover.
- Chapter Twenty Four -
As she felt Kiera's arms wrap around her, Theran could practically feel the sexual energy pouring off her lover and her body responded instantly.
Reaching up, she grabbed the dark head and brought their mouths together for a kiss, that started out calmly, but quickly became a raging inferno.
Able to drive Theran wild with just a look, the effect of Kiera's kiss was volcanic.
"I want you..." Theran moaned into their kiss, every cell of her body crying out to the dark haired woman.
Kiera completed her and Theran had decided the moment that she had reached the top of the cliff, that climbing, also completed her.
The combination was perfect...
They were perfect together and as Kiera's hands slid up her shirt and Theran felt strong fingers dig into her back, she moaned her pleasure into their kiss.
"Perfect..." Theran whispered as she reached into Kiera's tent and grabbed the woman's sleeping bag, then proceeded to walk her lover out of the camp area.
There would be no holding back this night, Theran wanted it all and she was going to get it and thankfully, Kiera seemed to be a more than willing part of this plan.
Not many minutes later, the moon was the only witness to the two women as they made love under the night sky, as they became one heart; at last...