Once I met up with my parents, the happiness I felt was suddenly distinguished. They were standing over what looked like my sister, long scars ran down her face and across her eyes.
“Uma…?” I started speaking up, only to be interrupted by my brother, Kasim.
“Is completely blind now. We had hoped the queen wouldn’t have noticed the loss of sight in her one eye.”
Kasim looked down at his paws, guilt flooded his eyes.
“I said I would look after you two. I have failed that mission.”
My older sister, Kali, wrapped her neck around his to comfort him.
“You couldn’t have prevented this.” She told him, eyes glossy from sadness.
“Is Uma gonna be okay?” I asked them, concern in my gaze.
Kasim shook his head.
“The queen is only allowing us one more day with her. After that, she will dispose of her.”
I stood in shock. One last day with my twin? But we had been inseparable since birth. I didn’t want her being taken away from me and our family.
I looked at my mother, head dipped low, eyes expressing a vast amount of emotions. My father stood a little hunched over, which I had never seen him do, and he had the same expression as her. If only I had insisted the queen allow her to work.
The last night with Uma was hard. Mother had traded all of what we could in order to get her some antelope meat. Her favorite. Instead of sleeping on our own branches, we huddled up on the ground next to our tree.
None of us were ready when morning came. Our movements were slow and sluggish, but we all knew that we would all be punished if we came in late.
We had made it to the Lion’s Den just two sun-shifts before it was time to say goodbye. My parents led us into the den, my mother leading Uma with her tail on her shoulder. I noticed the other servants looked at our family with sadness and pity, as if they knew what was going to happen later.
I was then led by the advisor to Prince Ekon’s cave. He was sleeping when we got there, on his wildebeest skin.
“He is here, Prince Ekon.” The advisor spoke in his cold voice. A head picked up and looked over a shoulder. Sleepy brown eyes bore into me with a glare.
“It’s too early.” the prince complained.
“He’s on time.” The advisor nearly snapped out. The tone of voice got the prince’s attention though. He sat up with a disgusted look in his eyes, face scrunched in a snarl.
“Who said you could talk to me like that!” He growled rhetorically.
“Prince Ekon?” I spoke up nervously, not ready for the scornful eyes to reach his.
“Stay out of this!” He roared at me, I lowered myself to the hard rock of the cave with my ears down.
Ekon glanced back at the advisor.
“Leave, you’ve done your job. Tomorrow he can find his own way here.”
The advisor dipped his head politely and padded his way out, leaving me with the angry prince. His eyes turned back to me. Dark brown orbs staring me down.
“I don’t have anything for you today. Mother said an important event was happening today, so I don’t have training.”
“What if you do need something?” I ask shyly, averting my gaze that was held at his paws to his eyes. He growled frustrated.
“I already told you I don’t need you, so get out. And never look me in the eyes again, lowly servant.” his nose crinkled in disgust.
I bowed my head to him and padded out sadly. He was a lot nicer yesterday, so why was it different today?
The two sun-shifts were too fast. I wasn’t prepared for it. The losing of the one that had been by my side since before birth.
I had tried to think of ways that I could save her from the doom that she was being given. It hadn’t been her fault for losing her sight. Why would the queen put that against her.
Padding slowly into the cave of punishment that Kasim had told me about. It had only been used once when Kasim and Kali were cubs. A young cheetah who had broken his leg after an incident with Prince Ekon. The prince’s servant before me.
My family and I were invited to sit in the front where all the animals that were watching would know the family of the executed.
The queen entered the cave, respectful gazes and bows followed her. Prince Ekon behind her with his head held high. The advisor stood a few lengths behind leading Uma to her demise.
The Royals stopped at the front, looking upon the animals that had come to watch. The queen’s voice echoed throughout the cave.
“Today we will be having a very rare ceremony. Some have not even seen such an event as of yet. I would like to let those animals know that this is procedure, and that this will become a norm for them.” She then turned her head to my sister who just stood where she was. The advisor was now standing at the side of the room.
“Uma, Daughter of Chibale, your time has come.”
I watched as Uma dipped her head respectfully for her queen one last time. The queen lifted her paws, unsheathing her claws, ready to strike at my sister’s throat.
There was a sudden smell that reached into my nose, a gas filled the room. A sudden flicker of a quick figure passed my face and headed towards the front. I heard cries from animals all around me, them all rushing out of the cave. I stood still in confusion, not hearing Kasim calling for me to get out. The odor soon became too much for me, and all went black.
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