Tektuk: As the months of my exile turn to years, I have thought long on what kept me from claiming you. Such a call could only be settled in blood--by the death of Signak our chieftain, or my own. It is true I feared this battle, and his strength. But not as much as I feared its aftermath: the eyes of Ili your mother, distant and dead, as they beheld the corpse of her mate. This I could not bear, and so I remained silent, ashamed. But fate is cold and cruel, and my fears came to pass despite me. I paint this mark in sorrow, and leave you this offering, though it will never touch the warmth of your hands.

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