From past memories to current problems
(The tale of Trex)
Five years had past since that day with Fera and the exploding melon. The importance of the many events that had been set in motion so long ago were yet to be realized by all, but that would change soon enough...
Trex, for one, was enjoying the warm breeze of a lovely summer’s night. The lion male had just entered adolescence and was still coming to grips with the many changes he had gone through in the last year or so.
He stood alone on a grass covered hill next to a track that travelled through the deserted open farmland around him. The sounds of chirping insects from the scattered bushes and lonely trees helped him to concentrate on what he was doing.
Breathing purposefully, the lion youth went through his balance routine in the moonlight. He shifted his weight fluidly, swinging his arms and legs slowly in the way he had done many times before.
Trex had grown a lot in five years; he was only about a head shorter than his uncle now, though still a bit skinnier.
He finished his lengthy routine with a calm and deep breath. Relaxing a bit, he lay down in the meadow to look up at the stars.
The Anthro lion male still only wore short pants with a belt. To this belt was clipped a noticeable large, gold-lined, black stone-pendant. He also wore an orange sash around his right shoulder which attached to the large pendant on his belt. The unusual orange fabric somehow gave the impression it was much larger then its crumpled form would indicate.
In the distance, Trex could make out the lights of his destination. The city of RefugeCross was just visible over the next hill, torches and fires twinkling in the distance to provide a soft orange glow to the ornate towering structures and the central palace complex.
Lying next to Trex was the tattered book that he had been reading before it had become too dark. Trex absentmindedly flicked through the pages until he got to the cover. The title: ‘Undiscovered country’, was just visible in the moonlight. It was an adventure story about lions, wolves, war and discovery. It was the third time Trex had read it. The young male loved adventure stories. There had been little else to do on his uncle’s farm over the last few years except to work, read and train.
Thinking about the wolves in the book, Trex’s thoughts drifted towards memories of Sara. That day the melon had exploded in Fera’s face was the last time he had seen Sara or any of her family, despite how close by they lived. He wondered what had become of her. These thoughts fell away and he placed the old book into a saddle bag, Trex had bigger concerns.
Life was always easier in his adventure stories, the heroes didn’t have to worry about school, or training, or what to do with their lives; it all just sort of happened to them and it was clear what had to be done, Trex envied that, but his immediate world was much less clear.
Trex let out a sigh. He then put his index fingers to his mouth: a sharp whistle pierced the still darkness. In the distance a larger shadow moved.
Thinking of Sara again and the adventures they used to have, Trex suddenly felt restless; perhaps it was time for another one of his early morning “outings”.
‘No harm… no foul,’ Trex said to himself quietly, an uncommonly mischievous grin appearing below his triangular nose.
Very early the next morning, high up in a cloudless, dark sky, a solitary bird circled slowly over the sleeping city of RefugeCross. This bird looked quite similar to a hawk here on our world, but this pale yellow creature had a two and a half meter wing span which was currently stretching wide to catch the breeze. It had been flying all night with a document strapped to one of its powerful talons.
Like an identical bird that had arrived at RefugeCross two hours before it, this flying messenger was part of the Lion Empire’s extensive postal system. But unlike the other messenger bird that had long since landed, this one was still alive.
All this was of no concern to the flying bird as it flapped its wings lazily to catch the breeze. Descending slowly, the animal scanned the landscape around it. To the north, immense mountains towered over the otherwise flat landscape; some of the snowy peaks even reaching higher up then the winged messenger was flying. Towards the east, the desert horizon was starting to glow a deep red in fiery anticipation of dawn. To the west and south, stretched a great ocean, never ending as it reached on and on towards the horizon.
Just below the rapidly descending bird, wedged between these vastly different landscapes, the ancient lion controlled city of RefugeCross was covered in a heavy morning fog. Elegantly built old towers reached over the thick mist; their cylindrical forms and bulbous onion shaped tops keeping watch over the city and its river.
Far below, within the inner city of RefugeCross, in one of the many gardens that snaked their way through the administration wing, a cloaked figure could barely be seen through the choking mist. Its hurried little steps could be heard on the polished flagstone. Walking to the top of a series of wide stairs, the lone figure met up with a group that was similarly clothed to protect against the morning chill.
‘This is completely unacceptable Captain,’ said the newcomer. The words tumbled out of his mouth in a high pitch squeak, as if every word was trying to overtake the one before it in the rush to be heard. He was obviously upset. Taking off his hood, the elderly male revealed himself to be of the Anthro lion race. He’s shifting eyes looked around nervously.
‘We can’t have these barbarians simply walking through our city at will,’ he continued.
The group of twelve stopped as the Captain turned to address the newcomer.
‘I assure you that the city is safe councillor,’ the Captain replied in a steady voice, ‘it is too early to make any assumptions… or accusations.’
The Captain smiled. His sharp teeth briefly caught the dim light from within the gloom of his hood. Turning back, he led the small group on.
The lion councillor looked uncertain, his large round ears drooped slightly as he got the feeling that he had just been talked down to, but not really sure how.
‘Come on Herrol,’ stated a kind voice from behind.
The uncertain councillor called Herrol turned to see the kind face of a older lioness. She smiled at him reassuringly.
‘We will discuss all this in the meeting,’ the lioness said kindly, taking him gently but firmly by the arm.
‘It’s just that we all know that he is too easy on those wolfs,’ Herrol stammered in defence of his outburst.
Appearing out of the fog’s gloom in front of the group was an impressive wooden door flanked by two bronze oil lamps. The group had arrived at the council chambers. The structure was built partially into the northern inner city walls that towered over the main city below.
Anthro lion buildings resembled a mixture of Mediterranean and Arabic building styles here on Earth.
Opening the door, the Anthro lion Captain allowed the council members to gratefully enter the large open chamber, their padded feet leaving wet paw-marks on the polished marble floor.
Some lions warmed themselves by small stone heating ovens that had been set out on the wooden oval table at one end of a large empty public gallery.
High above the assembled lion council, a shadowy figure also prepared to take, unofficial, part in the meeting.
As he had planned, Trex silently leapt through the shadowy maze of archways which supported the large domed roof of the council chambers. He was travelling almost ten meters above the stone floor below.
Arriving at his chosen perch, Trex positioned himself so as to have a view of the council while still remaining out of sight. The meeting was starting much earlier then he had expected.
Back at the large oval table below, the meeting got under way.
‘Firstly I would like to have a full report on the break-in last night, captain Felx,’ said Councillor Herrol with renewed authority. The Councillor’s long whiskers twitched impatiently on his smooth, orange-fur covered face.
Trex knew that the short councillor was fearful and generally distrusting. Councillor Herrol opposed any change beyond that which he himself knew and understood. As far as Trex was concerned, what Herrol knew, was not a lot.
‘News sure travels fast,’ replied the lion Captain in a casual tone. He was trying to defuse the tense situation, ‘it was only reported a few hours ago.’
Herrol’s unimpressed face was enough to convince the Captain that his attempted humour was misplaced. Captain Felx coughed to break the sudden awkward silence. Scratching his brown, trim beard absentmindedly, the lion Captain continued with more confidence in his standard official military voice.
‘As stated before, we are still investigating. Lieutenant Millan is at the scene as we speak, she is currently following a trail on the coast.’
Up in the shadows, Trex listened on with interest.
‘Surely you have a few more details for us Captain Felx,’ stated a different councillor with a smooth reptilian voice.
‘At this stage the victim would be able to say more then I, Councillor Gerak,’ replied Captain Felx honestly. He maintained steady eye contact with the dark councillor called Gerak who was sitting to one end of the table.
‘And who would that be?’ Gerak asked. The middle aged councillor’s facial features were as sharp and crisp as his name
‘That would be Head Councillor Tasch,’ replied Felx. His hand respectfully gestured towards Tasch in the head councillor’s chair.
Tasch was the same older lioness who had comforted Herrol a few minutes before.
There was a collective drawing of breath from the others around the table.
Up in the rafters, Trex almost whistled in surprise, clamping his hand across his mouth just in time to stop himself.
‘Is this correct Tasch? Was anything taken?’ asked another female councillor in concern.
‘It’s ok Emela,’ replied Tasch, ‘they don’t appear to have taken anything of value.’
Trex was impressed, this was definitely better then the usual boring reports. Not only was Tasch the Head Councillor, but she and her husband were also Shaman, and very powerful ones at that.
‘So what exactly happened?’ asked Councillor Emela, with continued concern.
‘Nothing that exciting I’m afraid. We were woken up by some guards this morning when they came by to check on us. We then noticed that someone had been through our things.’
‘Do you know what was taken exactly?’ asked Gerak, his normally cold expression cracking slightly to show genuine concern.
Captain Felx allowed his eyes to flick across to register this rare occurrence.
‘At the moment all we have found missing are some papers, a few letters and a personal seal,’ said Tasch
‘An Imperial seal!?’ exclaimed Herrol, jumping to conclusion, and almost jumping out of his chair.
‘No Herrol,’ stated Tasch reassuringly, ‘I said a personal seal.’
Having quieted Herrol, she turned back to the lioness that she had been speaking to.
‘Naturally we keep all official papers and such better secured.’
‘I’m surprised they were able to get in at all,’ interrupted Gerak. He leant back into his padded chair. Resting his elbows on the leather armrest he brought the tips of his fingers together in front of him, his eyes moved to focus on Captain Felx.
‘I would hope the, entire, residence of our citie’s only senior Shaman was a little better secured,’ he said in a silky voice, laced with disapproval.
Captain Felx returned and held eye contact with the disapproving councillor, as if to silently answer his challenge. Doing so, Captain Felx also noticed that councillor Gerak’s hand was freshly bandaged.
High above the councillors, Trex lent against a column, digesting the information. Tasch and her husband did have one of the safest residences in the whole city. Located in the main palace complex, you had to get past by two secure checkpoints to gain access, or tackle some seriously high inner city walls, two of these imposing walls faced directly onto the sea.
‘The workshop, study and our chambers have extra measures in place,’ replied Tasch deadpan to Gerak’s comment before Captain Felx got a chance to respond, ‘you needn’t worry yourself.’
‘Considering this morning events,’ Gerak said calmly, ‘obviously someone must.’
‘Captain Felx,’ interrupted Herrol suddenly, ‘do we know how these wolves got in?’
The Captain’s eyes narrowed as he momentarily showed his displeasure at the comment.
‘It appears that the, individuals, scaled the inner walls from the cliff side,’ he stated, with noticeable emphasis on the word individuals.
‘They used ropes to access the main residence balcony,’ he continued.
Behind him, Captain Felx’s tail began to flicker a bit in irritation; it had not been a good morning.
‘And this was not noticed by your patrols,’ asked Herrol, one eyebrow raised.
Felx gestured with his hand to one of the large open window that faced the city below.
From above, Trex watched as the councillors turned to see that the mist was still quite heavy. Through the top of the haze they could just make out the morning sun’s rays as they slid down the distant northern mountains, the snow-capped peaks shining like fiery orange beacons through the fog.
‘Fog like this happens only a few times a year,’ Captain Felx stated, ‘we are dealing with very patient and bold professionals.’
The councillors turned back to face Captain Felx.
‘Even so,’ Captain Felx continued, ‘a guard discovered a rope and raised the alarm. Unfortunately, the thieves were able to slip away in the fog before we could secure the area.’
‘I suppose it was good that the wolves were discovered before they could take anything of value,’ said Herrol, self importantly.
Up on his perch, Trex rolled his eyes in annoyance. Councillor Herrol’s continued anti-wolf attitude irritated Trex almost as much as it did the Captain. Trex couldn’t understand why the lion councillor chose to live in the occupied territory if he mistrusted wolves so much.
‘Herrol,’ stated Tasch calmly, not turning to look at her fellow councillor, ‘at this stage we are not sure who the thieves are, I wish you would stop calling them wolves.’
‘Who else would it be… one of us?’ replied Herrol. Becoming upset, he gestured animatedly towards the others with his hands.
‘We all know the Captain is too easy on them, they don’t even have a curfew within the city limits!’
Herrol threw his hands into the air in exasperation.
Felx’s expression became more focused. Herrol had once again been able to bring his pet-issue onto the council floor.
‘We have called up more reservists and are sweeping the city and surrounding area,’ said Captain Felx in a businesslike tone, ‘as there are no other critical issues with the rest of my report, I feel it would actually be best if I could rejoin my soldiers at this time.’
High up in the rafters, Trex suddenly became uneasy. As interesting as the information was, this was not the best time to be trespassing in the inner city, particularly with the increased patrols in the area. Normally, Trex’s offence of trespass would not have resulted in a serious punishment, but he didn’t want to test the council’s patience at this time. Standing up, Trex started to make his way to his window exit.
Down below, the meeting continued.
‘And who is to give the weekly report?’ asked Gerak calmly, ‘I am sure that Lieutenant Millan can handle the situation adequately. She is quite capable in these matters.’
Felx faltered, thinking how best to respond.
‘Captain,’ interrupted Tasch. She placed her hands together in front of her as she lent forward.
‘I assume you have your report fully written up?’
‘Yes, Head Councillor,’ replied Captain Felx automatically, ‘I prepared everything last night.’
‘Well then,’ continued Tasch, ‘I can read them out if you like. We can take notes of any questions for you to answer next time.’ The head councillor smiled. She offered one hand, leathery palm up, as a gesture.
‘I am sure given the circumstances it would not be best to detain the Captain any further,’ she added.
‘Here, Here,’ came the general consent from the councillors.
Councillor Gerak remained silent, his dark eyes staying steady on the Captain.
Unnoticed from those far below, Trex had made his way back to the open window. Grabbing hold of the large window frame for support, he looked back over his shoulder to see the Captain preparing to leave the gathering. The more he heard, the more worried he became, he could be in big trouble this time if he was caught, and all because he had been bored. Mumbling to himself, he cursed his stupid adventure stories, this never happened to the heroes he read about.
Behind him, he could hear the councillors continue their meeting; this, however, held no more interest for Trex as he began to seriously concern himself with his escape. This was not going to be easy.
The thick morning mist was quickly clearing and the young lion could see from the light hitting the northern mountains that the sun would soon be up. In a matter of minutes it would be impossible to move throughout the inner city unnoticed by the increased number of guards. Cursing his luck, he realized that his usual path back to his own room would now be too well watched to reach. Panicking, his mind raced, he had to get out, simple as that. Being caught trespassing while trying to escape was as bad as staying here. At least if he tried to escape, he had a small chance of getting away.
Trex checked the tall watch tower in front of him and the top of the nearby inner-city wall for guards. Quickly flipping up the hood of his orange cloak, he jumped out onto the roof, heading east towards the soon to be rising sun.
Like most members of the lion race, Trex had no problems moving silently at speed when he wanted to. Without any forethought, he navigated the angled tiled roofs and round domes of the administration wing of the council chambers swiftly.
Luckily for Trex, the administration building had many different roof levels. Unfortunately, the lower roof was still two stories above the ground and there was no easy way down to the gardens below.
Dashing through the fog from one bit of cover to the next, the lion youth slid and jumped his way forward on bare padded feet. There were indeed more guards then usual. Trex gulped involuntarily. Coming to the edge of the lower roof, he pressed his back against the upper storey’s wall. The wall he was leaning on continued out beyond the end of the roof he was standing on.
Leaning over, the lion looked down into the garden below, his tail twitching nervously below his cloak. Trex’s expression was focused and determined, his breathing shallow. He concentrated on moving on in an attempt to stop fear from gripping him.
Trex jumped off the roof, latching onto a nearby balcony floor that jutted out from the wall he had just been leaning on.
With his legs swinging freely, Trex grunted as he shuffled his hands across until he was satisfied with where he would land.
Letting go, the lion youth fell into a tree immediately below him. Trex emerged at the trees base on the soft grass, his eyes scanning left and right. Frantically, he dashed across the garden, running quickly between the various plants and fountains towards the base of one of the inner city’s four watch towers.
Hiding in some larger bushes at the garden’s edge, Trex pulled back his hood slightly, allowing the round fury ears on top of his head to move freely. He tried to calm his panting so that he could hear more. The two large circular lobes twisted independently, trying to pick up any movement in the immediate area. Hearing someone approaching, he ducked back down. Tensing up, Trex watched as two female lion guards emerged from the tower’s base. Both appeared to be armed with bow and arrow. Luckily, neither stopped to check the gardens.
Puffing out his held-in breath, the young lion quickly checked the area again. He would just have to hope the fog was still thick enough to conceal him.
Trex’s heart was already racing. He had never done anything like this before.
‘Come on, you can do this,’ he encouraged himself quietly. He took another deep breath to calm himself down a little, ‘think of your training… focus.’
Running at full speed, Trex jumped up, pushing off the rough inner city wall with his large bare padded hands and feet, he leapt the one meter gap between the city wall and a stone doorframe of the tower. Using his strong muscles he rebounded back off of the doorframe - to the wall - and then back once again, quickly gaining height. With one more jump he was just able reach a pole that extended out above the high doorway.
Using his momentum, he swung himself quickly up until he perched himself, squatting, on the pole. The nearby walkway’s edge on top of the battlement was now in pouncing reach, this edge was, however, six meters above a courtyard below.
Not allowing himself any time to think about what would happen if he missed, the lion youth sprang from the pole. Barely catching the walkways edge he scampered up quickly. He took a second to look around, he had not been seen, and no one was on this section of the wall for now.
‘We best get out there quickly,’ came an adult male’s voice through the doorway near Trex, ‘we don’t want the officers to see a stretch of wall unmanned at the moment,’ the voice continued.
Pressing his back to the tower’s wall, Trex froze. The doorway was between him and the outer side of the wall.
‘Wait a second, I can’t get this damn staff to transform,’ said a frustrated female voice.
‘Me’thinks you have been letting your training go my dear,’ said the first voice, mockingly.
‘I wasn’t expecting to be called-up, now was I,’ she replied in annoyance.
It was obvious from their interaction that the two knew each other. They may actually have been married.
‘Can you give me a hand?’
‘Yeah, sure,’ said the adult male.
Risking a peek, Trex stuck his head around the corner. The male guard had turned his back to help the lioness. The lioness had her eyes closed, concentrating in an attempt to transform the long wooden staff she had in her hands into a bow.
Dashing across the open doorway, Trex threw himself over the northern battlement. This section of the inner city wall was well worn from the strong desert winds coming in from the east. The worn edges of the large blocks provided barely enough handholds for the young lion to make his way down.
Though Trex would now normally have been seen by almost the entire city from his perch on the outside of the inner city wall, it was unlikely given the poor visibility at the moment due to the fog, plus most Anthros in the city were still getting up.
RefugeCross was an old city, perched on a small hill, wedged between a large river and the endless sea. This meant that the city had become ever more cramped as its population had continued to grow. Now only a small alleyway separated the inner city’s wall from the first line of buildings. As these buildings were two to three stories high in this part of the city, there was only about six meters of inner city wall that could be seen above the main city’s roofline.
The first light of the morning sun had finally made it to RefugeCross itself, the powerful rays cutting through the morning-mist with disturbing ease. Trex could literally see the sun’s rays moving down the high towers towards him. Progressing with increased haste, he lost his grip and began to slide down the wall.
Clenching his teeth, Trex dug his strong claws into the stonework, slowing his fall amongst dust and loosened stone. Down below, a few larger sections of freed rock hit audibly onto the stone paving. Having stopped his slide, Trex knew that he only had seconds to escape. Looking around frantically, his eyes focused onto the building opposite. He was now level with the flat roofline of the small stairway shaft, separated from it by only the narrow alleyway.
‘What the heck was that?’ said the male lion guard in the tower.
‘Let’s check it out,’ said his female companion.
Rushing out of the tower onto the battlement, the two looked over the northern wall’s edge. Scanning the area, they could only make out a few loose rocks on the pathway below. Both had to suddenly squint and shield their eyes with their hands in the newly arrived direct sunlight.
‘Hmmmm, check the rooftops from over there,’ stated the adult lioness.
‘I’m on it,’ said the older male guard, running down the length of the wall.
Looking out at the city, the lioness scanned for anything suspicious. RefugeCross had a multitude of building designs. Mostly the residents stuck with classical desert construction, consisting mostly of flat roofs that occasionally doubled as patios, verandas, gardens, or just extra living space. Given the cramped nature of RefugeCross, it was said that one could cross the upper city with never having touched the ground, assuming one of the residents didn’t catch you trespassing of course.
Leaning against a roof stairwell shaft of one of these buildings, just out of view of the guards, was Trex. He was panting heavily with his back against the wall. He had made it. It wouldn’t take much to slip away now.
Suddenly very pleased with himself, Trex took the time to look at the sunrise. It was actually quite pretty, now that the morning light no longer meant him getting into trouble.
Grinning at having seemingly gotten away with his little trespass, his brown eyes looked back down the lengths of the northern inner city wall. As he had suspected, the arrival of the sun had meant the end of the mist’s cover. Trex could now see along the entire length of the wall that appeared above the surrounding building with little difficulty; including, he noted, another cloaked figure which stood quite noticeable on the battlements on the far side of the council chambers.
‘What on…?’ said Trex out aloud, twisting to get a better look.
No sooner had he moved then the cloaked figure had jumped from the top of the wall. Shocked, Trex stood up, momentarily unconcerned about the guards who were still looking for him.
The unknown figure first dropped, then began to curve elegantly along the wall’s surface towards Trex.
Looking closer, Trex now spotted the rope, tied off from the top of the battlement. The figure was using it like a swing to run down the face of the wall in a large arc, reaching the opposite end of the half circle it turned to run back the other way, this time a little lower down the wall, letting out more rope as it ran.
Trex was not the only one appreciating the distant acrobatics, as an alarm bell was sounded from one of the guard towers.
The two guards from before ran towards the council chambers.
Making his own way to the nearby rooftop edge, Trex watched as the spectacle unfolded. Only now did he notice that the cloak was not a typical Lion Empire issue. Though reddish orange, it was obvious from the way it flowed that the material was different.
The swooping figure had now reached the same height as the roofline of the building opposite.
The buildings at that section of the wall were a good four meters away from the wall itself, an impossible jump for a lion, and the figure was still a good three stories from the hard alley-paving below.
Above the swinging figure, guards had now reached that section of the wall. Leaning over the battlement so as to get a shot, two soldiers were already preparing to fire arrows at the swinging fugitive, while two others moved to cut the rope.
Picking up speed, the swinging figure kicked off the wall, leaving behind a small puff of dust. Letting go of the rope, it sailed gracefully through the air.
Completely stunned, Trex watched as the figure cleared the massive distance between the city wall and opposite buildings, two arrows narrowly missing the flying figure as it went.
As graceful as the leap was, the landing was never going to be pretty. Landing on a rooftop patio made of timber and cloth, the figure tore through the light fabric, hitting the rooftop awkwardly and rolling into some cane furniture. No sooner had the individual landed then it exploded from the still settling wreckage, again two arrows narrowly missed it as it leapt headlong over the low parapet and onto the lower roof level. Landing with an elegant role the figure was now mostly clear of the archers. The entire sequence had happened so quickly, as if in a blur.
Had that been a bushy tail? And that impossible jump, Trex thought to himself.
The stunned lion youth watched as the escapee jumped and hurdled its way north across the rooftops into the city centre, it then turned east towards him and the rising sun.
Trex came to a snap decision. Quickly moving off, the lion male leapt from one rooftop to the next, picking up speed. ‘Best to take each new opportunity as it comes’, his uncle had always said.
Having successfully avoiding one danger like the ones in his adventure stories had made Trex hungry for even more excitement. He was still on an emotional-high from his narrow escape and more then willing to put himself into harms-way again. Before the young lion was better able to think through his actions, adrenalin had long since started to flow through his system, clouding his judgment even further.