The Lupine Saga 7

Kelin’s suggestion had surprised everyone, but no one was as surprised as King Fidel for the next two hours. It was a musical, of all things. The story was about a woodcutter who one day found a jeweled necklace inside a tree he had cut down. The woodsman couldn’t figure out how a necklace could be inside a tree, so he took it to the city. Everyone knew he was a poor man. Instead of listening to his story, they turned him in to the authorities. He sat in jail for three nights as he waited for the royal guards to arrive. He overheard on the third night that the necklace seemed to belong to one of the princesses in a foreign land. The relationship with that land was unstable, and so any little break in trust might mean the end of the kingdom. A lowly woodcutter stealing royal jewelry was unforgivable, and it was expected that he would be tortured then killed as a sign of peace.

The woodcutter feared for his life, so he managed to break out of the jail, take the necklace, and run away into the darkness of night while his guards slept. He didn’t know where to turn, as no one that he knew would hide him. Remembering the guard’s story, he decided to clear his name by returning the necklace to the princess. He hid in a wagon heading to that land; however, on the way the driver was attacked by wolves and killed. Jo’ei hid until daybreak, at which point he left the wagon with what food he could carry and continued walking down the road. Along the way, he met an old shepherd and his sheep. The shepherd helped Jo’ei past the wolves’ territory, after which they parted ways. After walking for two days with no food and no water, Jo’ei passed out while entering a city. He awoke hours later in a cool house with a tiny girl looking after him. The girl got her father, who said he was a doctor. Jo’ei thanked him, but didn’t mention anything about the necklace or his journey. Before he could leave, the doctor asked him for compensation for the treatment and food that had been provided.

The doctor smiled once he learned that Jo’ei had no money, and so for the next two weeks he forced every sort of labor on Jo’ei in order to compensate him for the use of medicine and food. It was a slow process because Jo’ei still had to eat each day. He gladly did all the woodcutting, the babysitting the little girl needed while the doctor went gambling, and the treatment of patients who couldn’t actually afford the personal service of the doctor. Jo’ei was a cheap substitute who still managed to get a profit for the doctor from these lowly patients.

Two weeks of work went by, and the doctor acknowledged the help that Jo’ei provided. In an uncharacteristic way, he gave Jo’ei enough food and water to last for two weeks, and wished him luck on his journey. Jo’ei left the city and continued on the road to the foreign land. He traveled for a week without seeing another living creature. He heard the far-off growls of meaner creatures at night. He still didn’t know exactly how far he had to travel in order to reach the foreign land. However, he was already in it at that point. After another two days, he saw a city. It was a city of splendor and people. There were people everywhere. The guards at the gate didn’t pay him any heed. He made his way to the center of the city, where there was a large palace. He entered through the front doors, which strangely enough had no guards protecting them. There was a large empty hall with another door at the end of it.

When he opened the next door, what awaited him was a large company of guards, all with lances and swords. They stood at the sides of the carpet. In the distance, the king’s throne and a few people could be seen. Jo’ei was wary; nevertheless, he took a step into the hall. The guards were eyeing him, but no one stopped him. He took another few steps, just to make sure. With that, he walked all the way up the hall until he was almost at the steps leading up to the king. Finally, the last row of guards stopped him with crossed swords. The king told him to speak from there, and Jo’ei explained that he had come to return what he found, the necklace. He held out the necklace for all to see. In the next instant, one of the women at the king’s side ran down the steps and came face to face with Jo’ei. She was crying as she took the necklace from his hands. She turned it over in her hands a few times, and then commanded the guards to stand down. She then put the necklace around Jo’ei’s neck and kissed his cheek. The surprise was astounding, as Jo’ei learned that the necklace was in fact his. His parents were actually cousins of the current king, and had left their life of nobility in order to pursue a simpler life. They had died in a terrible accident many years ago, and so Jo’ei had never known. The story about the lost necklace wasn’t true; it was bait to find these long lost relatives.

Jo’ei obtained status and nobility, but the story didn’t end just yet. He traveled back to the city where the doctor lived, and rewarded him for his help. When the doctor asked why, since he had been so rude, Jo’ei told him that he knew what he did was out of both grief for a dead wife, and care for a motherless girl. He spent the next few months searching fields, roads, and towns until he finally found the old shepherd who had helped him for a few days. The shepherd would not take any reward, and instead Jo’ei gave the shepherd a promise of help whenever needed. A promise, the old shepherd agreed, would be a great reward. Finally, he returned to his original home and added proper titles to his parents’ graves.

The last song ended with every child on stage. Finally, they all bowed, and the curtains fell. A roar of applause ensued from the crowd. Aoi was clapping, and the king was crying, of all things. She turned and laughed a bit at him, which made him chuckle as well.

“Didn’t I say that we had great students?” he asked.

“I certainly didn’t expect that out of such young kids. I could be a little more judgmental of the production and the story if it was something a much older class, or even a theater group produced. But for young kids, it was wonderful,” Aoi said like a pleased critic.

“Aoi, can you help me up? Just so I can lean against the railing by myself. I want to address everyone. Make sure you aren’t seen assisting me.”

“As you wish.” Aoi helped Fidel up. Fidel waited for the curtains to rise. All the kids were still on stage. Mustering his strength, he yelled over the roaring crowd.

“I request silence!” The crowd died out quickly. “Thank you. Students, children, teachers, thank you for your production.”

In unison, the children replied, “You’re welcome, King Fidel!” They all took another bow.

“I have seen many things as a king. Noble parties, world-renowned plays, performers that do things that would astound the mind. I have seen trained animals work as teams in perfect unison, people that could twist their bodies in unbelievable ways, and competitions that make men’s blood boil. Of course, I have also seen many school productions and many plays. But never have I seen a group of young kids produce a musical! The caliber was also quite good! I have to know more about you all. Please come to the front when I ask for you. First, who offered the idea for a musical?”

“That would be me, Kelin, son of Doufer.” Kelin walked to the front of the stage. In the musical, he was the doctor.

“Doufer? I know that name. Ah, you’re a red lupus. You certainly must be rare in many ways. The power of Doufer, the rare color, the suggestion for such a production. Very commendable. Next, who did the choreography?” There was no answer to the king’s question. The students all looked around at each other. A couple of students ran off stage, and then dragged a sleeping avian to the front. One of them spoke up.

“Sir, it’s this one. Her name is Harnes. She has a bit of a sleeping problem though, as you can see.” The entire audience roared with laughter. The commotion woke Harnes up, who looked at the people holding her by the arms. Without noticing her surroundings, she threw them off with a jerk of her arms. She folded her arms and pinched her brow into a vile frown.

“Clarence, Jo’se, are you touching me while I sleep? What’s the meaning of this?” The audience’s laughter became louder. Harnes realized where she was, what she was doing, and who was standing on the balcony laughing at her. Her feathers ruffled as she was struck with fright, and her face paled. Before she could run in terror, King Fidel started speaking.

“Dear girl, the moves you taught such a young bunch were quite good. Everyone moved well, and quite naturally. It must have been a very weary task, you deserve praise and rest,” Fidel said. Harnes blushed and bowed. She then turned around and walked off stage briskly.

“Let’s see, I’ve about forgot who to ask for. Ah, that’s right. I suppose there had to be a director. I don’t suppose that was the teacher, was it?” Fidel asked. Sensei heard this, and decided to come to the fore anyways.

“I am the teacher, but I am proud to say that I played absolutely no part in the production, direction, creation, or otherwise in this. I simply supervised. The director is a brilliant boy, although quite reserved.” With that, Sensei walked off stage, and soon came back holding the hand of Pete. He was obviously very nervous.

“Er, um… Oh, right. I’m the director, Pete. I mean, sir. Yes, hello sir. Thank you sir.”

“Wonderful job. The interactions and scenes both flowed well. Keep up the good work for your teacher,” Fidel said.

“Yes sir,” Pete said with more confidence.

“All of you who had acting parts, I’d like to thank as well, you all did well. Especially your lead, he was the perfect person for the role. Everyone please give another round of applause for the children.” The crowd again clapped and cheered, before being silenced yet again by King Fidel.

“Finally, I want to meet the student that actually wrote the story and script. You’ve all surprised me with your individual achievements; I don’t suppose just a single person wrote these themselves as well?” The students fell silent. Moving to the front was Kelin again.

“Sir, it was all written by one boy,” Kelin said.

“Then where is he?” Fidel asked.

“He’s here, but he wasn’t expecting to be called to the stage, especially not like this. I know he would be happy to answer you, however not everyone may appreciate it,” Kelin explained without a flinch.

“Preposterous. That isn’t an explanation. Nobody need fear, I just want to thank. Everyone will be happy to see the creator, be he nervous, unconscious, or otherwise,” Fidel said. He was surprised at this resistance, but didn’t take offense.

“As you wish, even otherwise. Then please, welcome the boy who created the story and wrote the script. We were only notified of this a week ago, and the production we made was almost a finished product. The choreography and direction took the full week to get down perfectly, but nothing would have started without the story. He offered to complete it, alone, in a single night, which he did. We owe him our thanks.” Kelin walked offstage for a few moments, and came back with another young boy beside him. Va’il took a few steps to reach front and center stage, then greeted the king.

“Sire, my name is Va’il.” The crowd started murmuring. Va’il’s ears twitched as he heard the word “half” thrown around the room. It appeared that even King Fidel was taken aback. His hold on the railing faltered, and his balance was suddenly thrown off. Aoi crept up from behind and grabbed hold of Fidel to keep him upright.

“Are you okay?” she whispered.

“Yes. This is just a horrible time for my strength to give out. I don’t think anyone can see you from this angle. Please keep me up; it would be a disgrace to this boy if it seemed like I was surprised at him being a half,” Fidel whispered. Aoi braced herself at the back of Fidel, and made an effort to disappear behind him. It was too late though. From that angle, there was no one who would normally be able to see what just happened. Nor was anyone looking. No angle, but from the one Va’il was looking from. Moreover, no one was looking at the king but Va’il, whose sharp eyes caught the entire thing. However, Va’il didn’t think that Fidel lost his strength because of the surprise that Va’il was a half. Even if it were, the thought wouldn’t have been Va’il’s first.

“Are you–” Va’il started, but King Fidel had already begun to speak.

“Your creation will make your parents proud. Both of them, certainly.” Fidel had hinted at his personal recognition of halfs in the statement, which quieted the murmurs in the crowd.

“Sire, I have no father. None that I would want to make proud,” Va’il replied without thinking, and with an air that no one could mistake for anything but hatred.

“I see. You certainly make quite a statement of both ideal and character. Can you tell what your inspiration for your story was?” Fidel asked.

“I had some help to see what the words translated mean, but I wanted to make something where the title was a play on my mum’s name, in old Fervish. Oh, and mine too. Silver found at daybreak is a good title, I think. But I still couldn’t think of a way of putting Mai’ou’s full name in the title,” Va’il said casually.

“Very astute young boy! Very well done. Thank you for your presentation everyone. Have a safe journey home.” The king talked and smiled quickly, and then left before anyone else in a hurried fashion. Aoi followed him closely, but he seemed to have regained his strength. For the rest of the night, he spoke to no one.

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The Lupine Saga 6

“There has been a change in plans, due to the return of the king,” Sensei announced to the class, “and so we are going to be doing a presentation for the king at term’s end instead of deciding the next term’s arrangements. Not to worry, as it’s really just a formality anyways. The teachers always make the actual decisions in the end.” The students breathed a sigh of relief, as they thought their burden was lifted.

“What kind of presentation?” Harnes asked, now being completely awake.

“That’s for you to decide. Any suggestions?” Sensei asked.

“Let’s bake cakes and see who makes the cake the king likes best,” Rowlf said. The bearan had a sweet tooth that rivaled a swine’s. Many in the class spoke in approval, but Sensei wouldn’t accept it.

“Out of the question,” Sensei said. “Offering food to royalty is not acceptable, for two reasons. One is that a king’s food must always be tested for poison, and the other is simply a personal matter. What if the king doesn’t like sweets? Actually, think about it again. Would he be able to eat a cake made by each person here? No, something different. Entertaining please, and nothing that would physically involve the king.” Sensei looked around the room that had fallen silent. Pete raised his hand. “Yes?”

“Martial arts competition?” Pete asked.

“No,” Sensei said before anyone could voice approval or disapproval.

“A play!” Va’il said without waiting to be called on. A few children started murmuring, but no outright approval or disapproval was expressed.

“Oh, that’s closer to what I had in mind. Any comments?” Sensei asked.

“I have an idea,” Kelin said while reading a book.

“Really, then let’s hear it,” Sensei said. Kelin remained silent for a minute. The room quieted down and everyone started turning to look at him. Kelin turned the final page of the book he was reading, read the ending lines, then closed the book and put it down. Looking up, he gave a suggestion that no one expected, but readily accepted.

#

The king’s carriage moved slowly while being accompanied only by his personal guards and attendants. In the carriage were Aoi and King Fidel. He looked healthy and happy. He and Aoi were both dressed in exquisite clothes.

“Miss Aoi, I think you will enjoy this. The students at Makeen academy are intelligent and brave. They are sure to provide some entertainment,” he said.

“Yes sir. Nevertheless, what are they supposed to be doing? I did see the invitation; it said nothing about the type of performance,” she said.

“Ah, true. They are probably putting on a play of some sort. I don’t imagine they could be doing much else. If it was up to me, I’d pick a competition, but these are only kids of about nine. Their imagination and abilities only go so far at that age. Though, still, I hear we have quite a few kids who seem much older than they are,” he said, a touch of admiration in his voice.

“You really are proud of them, aren’t you? That’s quite admirable, that you take so much interest in them.” Aoi smiled as she conversed.

“I don’t like saying it, but after my death, our youth will have to pick up my slack. We rely on them to keep us going in tough times. It’s only natural that I should love them, to take pride in them,” he said.

“Yet you have no wife yourself?” she asked.

Fidel stopped smiling at the comment. He thought about how to answer for a while, but Aoi spoke up again.

“I’m sorry, I know about the rumors now and I couldn’t help myself. I shouldn’t have said anything,” she said.

“No, it’s alright. How about it Miss Aoi, would you like to have a child with me?” Fidel asked while staring at Aoi. She was taken aback and couldn’t think. He reached up and took some of her blue hair in his fingers.

“I… not. I could. I…” Aoi stumbled over the words, but stopped when she looked at Fidel. He wasn’t looking at her anymore. He was rubbing his fingers in her hair and staring down at his own hand. He seemed to be lost for a moment, but he then regained his composure. He acquired a large smile of the mischievous kind. She grabbed Fidel’s hand and detached it from her hair.

“Sir, I would appreciate it if you didn’t play around with me. It could be bad for your health. As your doctor I must–” she started, but Fidel cut her off.

“Ha, quite right,” he said while slapping his leg. “You’re a quick one. Quite smart. Maybe now you can think a little more deeply about all those rumors you have heard of me. I like how honest you are.” She blushed again at the words, but he continued unabated. “My situation is my own to handle. I have my own way of dealing with those I’ve loved and lost.”

“Lost?” she asked.

“It’s an expression. I used to be a bit of a playboy, but things have changed for me. Now I’ve ended up alone and about to die. Oh, but don’t suffer grief for me. I’m not dead yet. We’re about there; let’s see what the children have in store for me tonight.”

#

In the large auditorium, the king was seated in a balcony. Below were rows of parents and nobles. A school function that the king himself was attending was one of the few reasons that would get a noble and a commoner in the same room. Makeen, almost unique in the world, taught both noble and common children of all species, as the main school and social example of the city and nation of Rising.

Once everyone was seated, the lights were moved until only a stage for the performance remained lit. A backdrop came from the ceiling; it was a picture of many trees. Silently, one student came out. It was Rowlf. He was dressed in oddly colored clothes and held a pretend axe. Once he got to the middle of the stage, he stopped.

“My name is Jo’ei, and I’m a woodcutter. Nice to meet you.” He smiled, and the audience clapped lightly in recognition. A child dressed in all black holding a pretend tree stump ran out on stage, placed the stump, and ran off. Rowlf swung the axe at it a few times.

“Every day I’m in the woods with my trusty axe. It’s my lone friend as I make my living this way. Never did I imagine it would bring me so many troubles and blessings.” The curtain fell. It rose again on a new scene; this time the backdrop was that of a city, and all the students were on stage dressed as common folk, merchants, and nobles. They were all still. Rowlf wasn’t on the stage with the rest.

It was at this point that the performance really took off. Rowlf walked up on stage from a sideline, and a few of the students turned and exclaimed that Jo’ei had arrived. One remarked, “Oh, it’s just the lowly woodcutter.” Suddenly everyone stopped but Rowlf, who made his way to the middle of the stage. Once there, everyone lined up into three groups.

“I’m just a lowly woodsman.” Rowlf was singing.

“He’s just a lowly woodsman,” the other students sang.

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The Characters so far in TLP

Now that what was known as Chapter 1 from my original publication of “The Lupine Prince” has been posted over the past five weeks, I’m doing a brief overview of the characters introduced so far with basic notes on them. Tomorrow resumes with chapter two, and with it, more characters and more happenings. If you haven’t read it yet, it starts here: Together with Silver, The Lupine Prince.

I’m writing this at a time when I know far more about the characters than is revealed here, but please use this as a basic guide for your imagination. These are animated characters. Some, like bearans, rhinos, and swine, look like the kind of animal characters in the older Disney films for The Jungle Book and Robin Hood [1973] (In other words, movies I saw many times as a young kid born in the 80s have a significant influence.) Others like the felis, avians, and lupus are like Japanese anime; humans with ears/tails/teeth differences, and other small differences. I feel I have to make this correction, as someone long ago thought lupus were werewolves. They are not, and the story as a whole is not related to the particular genre and settings those are in. More details about the characters will be revealed in time, but since there’s quite a few already introduced, it’s better to keep them simple. At least until someone decides to draw them in a way I like. That said, some of the characters I do mentally think of in certain ways, so I’ll include that where possible. And some of their personal looks and descriptions are actually plot-relevant, so having a basic outline for some of them from the beginning assists later.

Va’il – Main Protagonist, Half, Lupus (Mother Mai’ou) and Human (Father unrevealed). Silver Eyes and Hair/Fur. Male. Seven years old, about one year younger than his friends and classmates.
Mai’ou – Va’il’s mother. Lupus. Brown hair. Female. A young mother.
Kelin – Va’il’s lupus friend. Red hair. Male.
Pete – Va’il’s swine friend. Pink and Rotund. Male.
Zeick – Va’il’s previous friend who has pulled away and joined Riley’s group.

Jane Lucrene Melonscone – Important to the story. High-noble (a special noble of the highest class in this nation, specific details about it are not to be presented at this time). Human, blonde. A mother. Female. (My mental image of her has always been one specific person, aside from the eye color. This is not exactly how she looks, just the idea. From the Japanese Novel and Anime, Toradora, Yasuko Takasu. Google search for her image: Yasuko. For someone so strict, she has a look that is completely unlike her persona.)
Jane’s Unrevealed Daughter.
Shiroi – Servant in the Melonscone household. Avian, white feathers on her head and arms. Female. (Avians can be thought of as very light [in weight] people with feathers instead of hair, and talons in place of fingernails. Feathers for most of them cover at least their heads and arms, but I haven’t specified further. They do not a beaked appearance, just sharp/angular features in some avian races. Generally thin, and have a huge variety in appearance compared to other species. Shiroi specifically looks similar to actress Freya Allan [if she were animated] in feature/facial structure with the avian and age/etc. changes.)

Sensei – Teacher of Va’il’s class at the school. Sensei is his name, it doesn’t mean teacher in this case, even though he is. Typical middle aged white teacher with brown hair, but balding. Male.
Harnes – An avian student in the same class. Black feathers on white skin. Female. Anime character that she somewhat resembles is (Google image search link): Kiyoko Shimizu from the anime Haikyu!! – Harnes had an appearance like this in theory ever since her initial creation, but it wasn’t until seeing this character design that I could pinpoint something similar. In Haikyu!! the sports team is themed around Crows (So a natural tie-in as well. Harnes has black feathers and we’ll reveal her actual race at some point.), and the manager Kiyoko has that coolish demeanor, glasses, and sharp face that goes with the stereotypical “class representative” look that’s common in anime. It’s because of how sharp the animation/design of her is that she can be so reminiscent of the avian motif. So, Harnes is similar, but not exactly, in appearance to a Kiyoko with black feathers instead of hair, no glasses, and younger.

Riley – Human bully at school, noble. Brown hair and Tan skin. Male.
Clarence – Swine member of Riley’s group. Male.
Lauren – Bovine member of Riley’s group. Unspecified appearance, other than has horns. Female.
Jack – Hare member of Riley’s group. Grey fur. Male. (Hares are likely similar in appearance to the rabbits in Disney’s 1973 Robin Hood. Perhaps more Japanese-anime in style, but it’s fine to think of them in that cartoon style.)
Unnamed Avian – Member of Riley’s group. Brown feathers. Male.

Yan – Lionel upperclassman at Makeen who wants to be the priest of Rising, and the school idol. Dark skin and a standard male lion’s mane around his neck. Male.

Duke Tourney – A noble who is Jane Melonscone’s friend. Kind-of. Only slightly older than Jane, a kind of strange presence, but not actually offensive. Male. [Is this noble a Duke or is that his first name? Perhaps both? The world may never know the answer to this mystery.]

King Fidel – King of Rising. Human. White hair, blue eyes. The Kings of Rising all have white, not grey, hair. Think of hair dyed White, it doesn’t look grey. Regardless, it throws off the interpretation of his age. Would look to be in his thirties if his hair was black. He’s younger than Jane. Male.
Aoi – A young woman from the Water Kingdom, Ens. Human (Ens race). Blue hair. Female.
Rillin – Advisor (of three) to Fidel. Human. Old with grey hair. Male.
Diren – Advisor (of three) to Fidel. Hare. Grey fur, also older. Male.

Some of these characters are minor, some are major, and others will be adjusted.

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The Lupine Saga 5

“Then it was just ‘bang’ and everyone jumped!” Va’il and Mai’ou were sitting at the table eating supper, and Va’il was explaining everything he had seen when the king made his entrance.

“It exploded into a million pieces that shimmered different colors. There were fireworks of many sizes and colors. They were loud and exciting. My heart was beating so hard. You should have seen it. Why didn’t you Mum?”

“Even on Saturday, I work. Big day for me in business as well. I was selling to every hungry carnivore looking for a bite while watching the festivities. I may not have seen the celebrations myself, but I was celebrating in my own way. We’re going to be eating for a long time without problem thanks to Fidel,” Mai’ou said.

“You mean King Fidel. You can’t be casual with royalty Mum. Oh, and there were also flags. See mine? ‘Mai lo fa.’ What does that mean?” Va’il asked.

“‘Mai’ is day, ‘lo’ is king, ‘fa’ is forever. It’s a motto in old Fervish. It’s similar to ‘long live the king,’ but the exact meaning has been lost. I think it’s supposed to mean: The king of today will last forever,” Mai’ou explained, “but you should know all those words at least. Have you been paying attention in language?”

“Yes Mum, it’s next year that we start learning the old words. But, that meaning is strange. It’s impossible for the king of today to last forever. Isn’t that lying?”

“Va’il, this is different. It’s respectful even though it might seem strange. Many things are strange but done anyways when it comes to nobles. Even you knew that the king has to be addressed with a title. It’s like that.”

“Well, okay. But those words, they sound like names. Day is ‘mai’? So does that mean your name means something? What about mine?” Va’il asked, his eyes shining with anticipation and eagerness.

“Silly, you know you’re ‘va,’ meaning silver, ‘il,’ meaning together. Silver because of your hair, together because that’s what we will always be!”

“But what about you? Day? Day… what?” Va’il asked.

“Divine day is the meaning of my name. My father called me that because I was the last of his children, and the only girl. He had always wanted a girl. After four boys, he thought it was a divine day when I was born. Haven’t I told you before?” Mai’ou asked.

“Hmm, maybe I forgot. I’m not that old after all. Or I didn’t understand before. It happens from time to time, I think.”

“The books were true after all,” Mai’ou mumbled to herself. She didn’t expect Va’il to hear her.

“Books? What do you mean?”

“I… well no, I don’t have to hide it from you. You know you’re different from other children,” she said cautiously.

“Yeah, I’m a half. But I don’t mind, because I love you. But father, I won’t forgive,” Va’il said spitefully. Mai’ou was troubled for a moment, but decided to continue with what she was saying instead of talking about the emotional subject.

“Well, as a half you get traits from both species. Within a single species, your traits are normally a selective mix from both parents. With a half, there isn’t the same kind of easy mix, since we have entirely different traits from humans. Oh, and humans are the only ones who can have children with almost all the other species. They aren’t limited by family,” she said.

“Family? What’s that have to do with it?”

“Family type, like how both lionel and the felis are similar to each other in many ways. They can have halfs as well, but no lionel can have a child with a hare because they belong to different families. Humans are the only exception.”

“Why?” Va’il asked.

“I’m not sure, really. Humans are prideful, intelligent, and resourceful. They can do just about anything well on their own without needing to specialize, unlike some. The legends say that humans were the last of the sentient creatures to arise on our world of Fervi. As the last, they have a special status among all other creatures. We all have our different traits and specialties. The intelligence of the swine, the impulsive quickness of the hare, the extremely light body of the avian, the agility of the felis, and more, all are special features. Humans have nothing special in terms of physical features. In fact, they have many disadvantages compared to us. Strength, senses, and even lifespan, compared to a lupus. The humans noticed this, and were very troubled by it. They wanted something worthy of their special status. That special status is the power of all creatures, in a way. They can have children with most of the sentient creatures.”

“But how?” Va’il asked.

“Because that’s just how the world is, depending on if you want to believe and how you want to interpret each legend. This is all just that, legend. There are more outlandish legends that don’t follow the mainstream thought, like one about a single human fathering all the sentient creatures. There is nothing really concrete to prove what happened in the past. The who and the why are missing from history. There isn’t much written about halfs, because humans have always resented their ability. What has been written about halfs is that they have both advantages and disadvantages in all their traits. You’ve noticed one already: your hearing. It’s better than a human’s is, but in exchange, you sometimes won’t understand the words said to you. It’s supposed to be common among halfs that are from creatures with good hearing. Don’t worry, it shouldn’t happen often.”

“Oh, okay, I think I know now a few more times it has happened. This morning when Kelin woke me up, he said something to me that I couldn’t understand. I thought he said a name so I asked who. And then he yelled at me saying ‘your mom!’ Then I got him all flustered. He really likes you, Mum,” Va’il said with a laugh.

“Yes, I heard this morning. That boy, he is just so funny. Well, he is a lupus after all. We are known to grow up too fast and live too long. I’m still young, and in another few years he will be in the same age bracket as me. What do you think Va’il; do you want Kelin to end up being your new father?” She was teasing him, but Va’il’s mouth was hanging open in shock. “Your food is falling out.”

“No, no! Not Kelin! You’re joking, right? Please be joking!” he said.

“Well, it looks like Kelin and I both love teasing you. Of course not, silly child. Although, I think we would get along really well when playing jokes on you. Now, are you going to finish that?” Va’il breathed a sigh of relief at his mother’s words, and kept eating his supper. The day had been long, and their exchange had taken out the last of Va’il’s energy. Within a few minutes, he was too tired to get up from his chair. Mai’ou picked him up and carried him to his bed. He mumbled something about celebrations as she tucked him into the bed. She covered the candle-torch with a container to extinguish the light in the room. She closed Va’il’s door and went back to the kitchen to clean up their small mess.

She smiled as she cleaned the utensils. That boy, she thought, is just like his father. Rash and inquisitive at times, but still always happy and calming. She sighed at the thought of the boy’s father, and the problems he had caused by having a child with her.

“He won’t ever come back, will he? That man, ridiculous. At least he’s doing well. I’m sorry, your son hates you. You probably deserve it though.” She shook her head and finished the last of her washing. She then went to the window in her room.

Outside was a picturesque scene, the blue moon over the castle. Sendes was a large moon, and it made the entire castle glow with its blue light. Inside were people and things Mai’ou had no desire to see, but to look upon was another story. She and many others that night were staring in the direction of the castle, for one reason or another. Inside there was only one person who could see the king. The woman who had blue hair was on the minds of all the people. Who was she? Why did she leave her kingdom? Was she a gift to the king, known for being a man who loved beautiful women?

It was rumored that the king hadn’t had a tryst in a while, but rumors were never trustworthy. Even Mai’ou had heard of Aoi by the end of the day, but there wasn’t much to learn from baseless rumors. There wasn’t much worry of a scandal like with other politicians, but instead the people were hoping the king would at least have a child. There was no queen, no daughter, no son, no parents, or other relatives. The line of the kings was unbroken in the nation of Rising, not just out of tradition, but need. It wasn’t fully understood why, but everyone respected the white hair that belonged singly to the royal line. No insurrection in history had proven to work against the line of kings. Some were good, some were bad, but none ever truly ruined the nation beyond repair. Even in times of despair and ruin, King Fidel’s ancestors had proven that they could rebuild even from nothing. It might have also been another legend, but history told tales of absolute obedience to royal edicts written by the kings of Rising. Everything accumulated in a motto associated with the kings of Rising: The Right of the Ruler.

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The Lupine Saga 4

The gates closed behind the carriage as it entered the castle walls. The entourage split into the troops and the guards, and the carriage followed the guards. They entered another section of the castle and parked the carriage. The king had been sitting since the gates closed, and he had his eyes closed. The blue-haired woman looked at him carefully. She remained silent, and soon the attendants and advisors arrived.

“Help the king down, quickly. Get him to the room,” said the chief attendant. A couple of attendants climbed into the carriage to help, but the king waved their hands away.

“No, I’ll get down myself.” King Fidel lifted himself up and slowly tried getting down. He slipped a bit on the bottom step, and the two attendants caught him from behind. They looked at the chief attendant, who nodded silently at them. Even against the king’s inaudible objections, they put his arms around their necks and walked him into the castle. The blue-haired woman kept a few steps behind them, and the rest of the attendants followed. The advisors had already gone ahead to the meeting quarters.

The attendants sat the king in his chair at the head of the meeting table. The advisors had already taken their seats. The chief attendant and the other attendants left the room. The blue-haired woman stood a little behind the king’s chair. Once everyone was situated, the advisors began speaking.

“How should we proceed?”

“Do we have a plan in place?”

“What of an heir?”

“Quiet! One at a time! We’ve gone over this before, months ago before King Fidel left. What we should do right now is ask of the king’s health. Miss Aoi, please do tell us what your people said.” The one speaking was an old human with long grey hair. It was one of the three advisors directly under Fidel, Rillin.

“Sir, thank you. As you all may know, I am Aoi from the kingdom of water. I have been sent to watch after the king’s health. I am here until he dies.”

“Dies? Death, he is going to die?” A few of the advisors had begun shouting in disbelief, but it was again Rillin who silenced them.

“Men, please. She didn’t say he was going to have a shortened life yet. Just ‘until.’ I assume that’s the goodwill of the water kingdom. Please go on, Aoi,” Rillin said.

“I didn’t mean to cause a commotion. Forgive my choice of words. It appears I stumbled headfirst into the problem. It was a slip, but it was correct. Until he dies, and he will. In three years, at most,” Aoi said with a heavy note. This time, there was no commotion from the group. Rillin, who had been smiling in expectation of a more positive answer, was dumbstruck. “My people have cures for many things, but unfortunately we have nothing that can help your king. The best we could do was prolong his life. Even that only adds a few years. My assignment here is to do my best to see that he lasts the full three years, comfortably.” The group still had no response to the heavy words.

King Fidel spoke up, saying, “Friends. I am not dead yet. You’re too silent. We knew this may have been our answer before we sought the guidance of the water people. Friends, we have three years. Do not grieve for me yet. For now, I live. For now, I can make an appearance to my people. Now, I can set in motion the events that will guide our future. Do not ask about what the future holds. I have nothing more I want to say or hear. You are all dismissed.”

The advisors were obviously frustrated, but they heeded the words of the king. Everyone, including the king, left the room. Aoi assisted Fidel as Rillin guided them to Fidel’s room. She laid the king down on his bed, and dismissed Rillin from the room. She closed the door to the room, and again went to the king’s side. Prepared before they arrived was a bowl of porridge. Aoi took a small bottle from a satchel she had sent ahead of their arrival in the kingdom. She sprinkled a small bit of powder on the white porridge. It turned green as she stirred it. She had Fidel sit up while she fed him.

A knock at the door interrupted them. Aoi got up and walked to the door.

“The king is not to be disturbed,” she said.

“It is important that I talk with him,” Diren said. He was a grey hare, and one of the advisors directly under King Fidel. His power was about equal to that of the other two advisors that answered only to the king, and their authority was right below that of the king’s.

“It has been a long journey, he must rest,” she said firmly.

“Tell him that it’s Diren, who has come to talk about the events surrounding the day.” Aoi hesitated for a moment, but did eventually walk back to the king.

“Sir, a hare is here, named Diren. He wishes to see you and refuses to leave. He wants to talk about the day.”

“Diren. I need to speak with him. You will let him in. Then you must leave this room. Come back only when Diren leaves,” Fidel said.

“But, you’re–” she started, but the king cut her off with a hand motion. She left the room as Diren walked in. She waited for a few minutes by the door, after which it opened and Diren walked back out. She was startled for a moment, as the meeting was very short.

“Miss Aoi, thank you for your help. You can attend to him again. Our business was important but short, especially in view of his health. Now if you’ll excuse me.” He walked off. Polite, for a hare, she thought.

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