Part 1: The Child Of Rain
“Now, there are many stories to be told here, stories of importance. Whether it’s a greedy king, an angel of death and mercy, a half-blooded prince born without a crown or a terrifying beast that longed for sunlight, all stories lead to an end. An end that seems almost endless.”
“To understand it all, let us begin with the child of rain.”
An intense rumble shook the ground along with the very trees rooted in its vigorous soil. The sound produced by the enraged roars carried on through the starless and moonless sky. Darkness fled as a flash of white lightning struck down from the heavens above, violently tearing through the bark of a nearby tree and sending its parched leaves aflame. The flash alone was enough to catch a glimpse of the blue she-beast running through the undergrowth just before vanishing into the trees. The darkness returned in seconds aiding in cloaking her from the eyes of her hunters. The flames blackened the figure’s shapes moving around the inferno engulfing the tree, making them appear as if they were shadows. However, the clucking sound of their horses and growls from the beasts at their sides spoke otherwise.
Rain began to fall heavy as wisps of wind beckoned the storm further inland like a siren luring a man closer to the sea. Lightning tore across the sky once more, blinding the she-beast as she ran, but she didn’t stop pushing herself to getaway.
Run. Run. Run.
It was all she could think to do. There was no place big enough to shelter her from the storm and no place safe to hide her from the hunters. Gaining enough distance from the threat seemed to be the only plausible option she had left, and so she kept running. The rain was freezing now and felt more like needle ends as each droplet collided with her backside. With each gust of wind, her body shivered despite feeling numb to the bone. Every breath caused her lungs to burn. Her heart raced on, sounding like a stampede against her chest. Her ears deafened from the thunder, wind, and rain, and yet the pounding of her heart seemed to be louder than anything else. Soon her legs began to fail her as the weight of her aching body could no longer be carried by the weakness of those legs. She grew tired all too quickly and had to stop. The sounds of her hunters were faint, but still dangerously locked on her trail and so she took this as a sign to make a choice.
She had been carrying an infant in her maw while running. It was her cub and hers alone. This wasn’t at all what the she-beast had wanted for her child, but she was running out of time and out of options. Her fate had been sealed the moment she left the floating islands. It was the only safe place she’s ever known, but her child’s fate had only begun and will carry on with or without her mother. Sacrifice is all she can give now.
Searching with keen eyes the she-beast spotted a nearly hidden hole beneath the base of a large tree, a burrow of sorts. Quickly she placed the small cub inside the burrow and with a second glance, she gasped when the cub slowly opened her eyes. She had never gotten the chance to see her child’s eyes. They were beyond anything beautiful, beyond anything natural. Certainly nothing like her own.
The she-beast’s ears sprung to the sides reacting to the familiar sounds of danger. Her heartfelt hallow, perhaps even shattered at the thought of knowing what had to be done. To leave her child alone here would mean abandonment, but she had no other choice. She’ll never get to hold her child again. She’ll never get to see her grow up or make memories with her. Her child won’t even know her mother or the reasons why she had to leave. All she’ll ever know is abandonment but she has to survive even if it means just that. She deserves more than a few weeks of life.
Her eyes swell with tears, but she swallows the guilt and grief. With a heavy heart, she let out a mere whisper but spoke as if to a being only she knew was there, “Hide her scent. Keep my child safe, I beg of you.” The she-beast then covered up the burrow more with fallen foliage before backing away hastily.
“I love you,” she whispered just as softly as before, only this time she could feel the damage her own words had done to her heart. “I love you more than I fear death...Goodbye, little one.”
And just like that, the she-beast bolted, letting what was left of her strength carry her in the opposite direction of which the hunters came running. Another flash of lightning and she was spotted. The heavy hooves of horses passed by the burrow just as swiftly as the lighting overhead and without hesitation to stop or spare even a second glance. Not only were there wolves following closely behind the hunters but three, maybe even four terrifyingly large black beasts tearing up the soil with every grasp of the earth in their path. Their bulky bodies rushed by in a matter of seconds completely unaware of the cub hidden within the barrow to their right. The rain kept the child’s scent hidden along with the foliage that hid her from sight. Perhaps it was the black beast’s determination that blinded them from realizing that the mother tigress was without her cub.
Within an hour the storm had breathed it’s last before finally dying down to a light and gentle rain. The wind had all but gone still along with the trees and undergrowth. As the hours continued to pass on the sky became littered with stars once more as the clouds retreated, leaving the waxing moon able to cast its faint light across the dark forest.
The cub remained hidden inside the burrow shivering but somehow still alive. She had been drenched in cold rainwater, and her body twitched from lack of movement for being halfway stuck in a pool of gunky mud for hours on end. Yet somehow the cub managed to survive. Any cub of her age, let alone size, would have perished within the first hour, but that night spoke differently. Surely it had to be the stars watching over her.