The Bald Tattooist of Maskerville

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Little Creatures (Part I)

Crossing the bridge was like stepping into a huge zoo, for the canyon below housed animals that were either bred by elves or were naturally created by nature. They were of varying sizes: ranging from the smallest critters to the largest beasts in the land. The tallest they had seen was a creature with leathery skin and the longest neck imaginable that it’s head was even protruding from the trees below. It was heading their way. Ink worried it might crash into the bridge, breaking it to a thousand pieces. However, the bridge was so tall that it merely passed underneath one of it’s open archways.

The cool breeze carried the mellow chirping of the colorful birds flying, their vibrant feathers falling down from the sky as their wings flapped. Once it reached the ground, it turns into flower petals which would disintegrate in a matter of seconds. It was indeed magical like Foril said.

Rebecca was busy staring up at the sky, watching the feathers rain down when a flying klosus caught her attention. It swooped down on them like an eagle catching it’s prey, very fast, that in a blink of an eye, it was suddenly in front of them.

Prince Hanariel landed gracefully looking at the company of masked mortals in front of him.

“Greetings, High Prince Hanariel,” Foril acknowledged bowing his head. He motioned for the rest to do the same. And a chorus of greetings sounded as each bowed to the prince.

“I expect the same politeness when you are presented to the king,” the Prince said.

“What brings you here, High Prince? I would’ve brought them to the palace before you and his highness.”

“I will be personally accompanying them from here. You are needed at the front,” Hanariel mentioned.

Foril looked at the Prince’s eyes intently as if he just heard an important news unbeknownst to the mortals present. He suddenly grabbed the reins of his klosus tightly and turned it around abruptly. The winged-tiger leapt off the side of the bridge and fell several meters, shocking Rebecca and the rest of the guys. They all run to the edge of the bridge to see if he was alright. The klosus spread it’s wings and soared into the sky, bringing with it a strong gust of wind as it took off east.

“Where is he going?” Sebastian asked.

“That is none of your concern, child,” he replied.

“For a moment there I thought the klosus grew mental and committed suicide,” Demelov chirped.

“They are very intelligent creatures. They simply do not go mental,” Prince Hanariel stated.

“Really?! How intelligent are they?” Rebecca eagerly asked. She had been dying to know more about the creature even before she saw one in real life. And her chance had finally arrived. She looked expectantly at the prince.

“Like an average human.”

All their eyes turned at the klosus whom the prince was gently petting. It had a sleepy look in it’s eyes and it’s tail wagged. It reminded them of a dog.

“It acts like a dog,” Demelov noted. “And dogs aren’t as smart as an average human. If they were, they would’ve known not to bite my freaking coat every time I pass by.”

“Technically speaking Demelov, tigers are related to cats than they are to dogs,” Claus corrected him.

“He is quite right. And the pups you get imported from the south have a habit of biting things. But you shouldn’t worry, they will eventually outgrow it,” Hanariel said.

They continued crossing the bridge as Rebecca grilled the prince with more questions which Hanariel was kind enough to answer.

“Do you want to know something interesting about the klosus?” Prince Hanariel asked.

“Yes. Certainly, High Prince,” she replied.

“The klosus can actually see your true forms without the mask. They are not like other animals that do not see the ghoul when your mark is out. They have the gift of true sight which allows them to see the true nature of other beings or see through invisibility spells like the Dimetrodon.”

“Seriously?” Rebecca asked awed. She touched the mask on her face and thought of removing it, just to experiment what would happen. But she thought better of it.

The men were following behind them quietly, the Prince and Rebecca in their own bubble, as she practically cling to every word the Prince said about elves and magic.

“Don’t we look like chaperones and guards for a royal couple?” Sebastian asked annoyed.

Even Frank was worried. “How likely do you think is the possibility that the prince and Rebecca would…. hit it off?”

“Don’t be fooled by his young looks. I may not be Claus but even I know that he is old, like ancient old. Rebecca’s not going to go for someone like that,” Demelov said.

“Why not? He is a prince. He maybe old but his looks surely doesn’t show that. He might even be more handsome than you guys,” Ink said, joining the guy’s conversation for the first time.

They were quite surprised because Ink was usually quiet. He didn’t take part in their conversation much and he very rarely address them directly.

It was Claus who answered his question, “Even if Rebecca did end up liking the Prince hypothetically, still I doubt the Prince would entertain such feelings.”

“Why not?” Ink questioned once again. “She is nice, smart and pretty. What is there not to like?”

The guys looked at him questioningly. He cleared his throat to cover his slip. “I mean, you obviously see that in her that’s why you like her, right? Wouldn’t he see the same qualities?”

“The thing is, marriage of elves to other creatures is unheard of. It just isn’t possible. Anatomically speaking, elves are like us humans. But their body is fused with a bit of heavenly magic when the Lunar God created them. They do not procreate like us. Therefore, a union of an elf to a human or let alone any other creature, wouldn’t produce an offspring,” Claus explained.

“Wouldn’t be that the perfect scenario?” Demelov piped in. “I mean, they could do the deed how many times they want without getting kids. That’s just perfect. Kids are loud and needs a lot of attention.”

“You don’t understand, Demelov. Like I said, the body of elves are infused with magic unknown to us. In some way, they are the only creatures in Paladis that are closest to the heavenly beings. They are purer than us. They don’t have any desire for the flesh.”

Marty butted in, who was actually eavesdropping on their conversation. “You mean to say they don’t do it at all?”

“That’s crazy,” Demelov said shocked. He looked at Hanariel and Rebecca who had now reached the end of the bridge. He watched as Rebecca did the same silly thing again with her boots. She squealed as she waved at them pointing at her toes once more.

“Then, how do they…” Frank struggled to look for the right words.

“Make babies,” Catherine supplied joining the conversation as well.

“That is something Rebecca hadn’t told me yet,” Claus answered.

“Wait… Rebecca told you all this stuff?” Ink asked.

“Yeah, like you said. She’s smart and she’s very fond of elves. Mystical things are all she ever concerned herself with before. But something has changed in her. I can’t exactly tell what but her world is… expanding,” Claus said candidly.

“I don’t know what you’re on about. I mean, Rebecca is still herself,” Sebastian added. “What I’m bummed about is that you didn’t ask the most important question of your life to her.”

“Oh, you mean, will she marry me?” Claus joked.

Sebastian growled. “No, dumbass. How do elves make babies?!”

“Actually, they have some kind of ceremony for that, young masters,” Eris answered.

They all fell silent and looked at him expectantly wanting to know more details. So, Eris continued.

“It’s called Er’harran. When married elves decide it’s time for them to have a child, they would sculpt whichever gender they prefer from dust. Then, they would draw moon runes on a sacred sanctuary where they would place it under the light of a red moon. That is the time when the couple would perform Er’harran. It’s an elf ritual where they would recite life incantations, holding each of their hands while kneeling on the moon runes folding their legs underneath their thighs. The sculpture of their child placed between their entwined hands. As they continue to recite the spell, their life essence would be passed unto the lifeless sculpture bringing it into existence,” Eris explained.

“How did you learn about that Eris?” Claus asked.

“Master Foril told me about it, Master Claus.”

“Wow, he told you that much? I guess you two must be closer than we thought,” Frank said.

Eris nodded his head. “Master Foril is actually a nice person,” he said.

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