Savage Kingdom

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Twelve

She had no idea what situation she had gotten herself in this time.

She was sitting in the corner of the hut and away from the other two men (who were also cats) who were doing their things. Kane didn’t seem to be phased by the situation, his mind was busy playing with the one she hasn’t heard a word come from yet. Maybe she won’t hear a word from the quiet spotted man. They were sitting on the floor while Kane spoke wildly about everything of himself while the other just listened.

The other one she didn’t know what to make of. He can speak for sure. She would look up to see him fixing up the side of the hut that she threw around in her fear. He never wasted a single word complaining about it. He was only finding the pieces and putting them back, some of the clay bowls were smashed from the impact of the wall and she could see the slightly lowered ears on his head. Was he annoyed? Or upset that he had to get new ones?

One thing she didn’t know was that he could feel her stares burning into his back like hot metal. When he would turn to look back at her she would look away and act she was staring at the wall the whole time. Only Kane’s words filled the hut, but that was the other two in their little world.

Clara didn’t seem like she would speak on her own anytime soon. He took his chance to speak first. “You can always ask me anything to help your mind ease, Clara. About me, Caji, the village, anything. I’ll answer it.”

“Okay. Why are we here?”

Out of all the questions she could pick she had to pick that one. By the Gods, he knew lying wasn’t an option. “Like all the other women that were brought here from your world. You have a purpose here, the same for the little boy Kane. There is a way back and every female and male has the option to return to it if they do not have one. Or, they could wish to stay and we welcome them.”

“Have any left?”

He thinks about it for a moment. “No. But that’s because they chose to stay. When you meet them later you can ask that for yourself so you know I’m not lying. I can already tell that you will not trust everything that I say.”

Kane turns his head and looked to Kito with his hand on his stomach, a small growl could be heard.

That thought went by him before with the two of them about hunger. He looks at Clara, “Are you hungry too?”

She knew Kane didn’t care for proudness being a child, but deep inside of her she felt it. Then again she wonders why Kane didn’t come to her with his needs. She says nothing nor does she nod.

Only one word went through his mind. Stubborn.

He waves Kane over to him and the child came instantly. He was treating Kito as if he knew him his whole life and accepted the strangeness of everything normal. How? He didn’t know him? He even grabs Kane into his arms and takes him close to the fire where there was the meat stew that Caji made previously. He was glad he did now.

“C’mon, Clara,” Kane peers to his sister. “See? He isn’t going to hurt me or you,” he looks at the man, wrapping his small arms around his neck. “She is a bit shy around other people. It is usually just me and her. Richard doesn’t count.”

The blonde man chuckles in fondness at Kane’s words, sitting him down in front of the fire and letting him go to sit next to him. “I would be too in her place, but she has nothing to worry from us. She could come sit close to you while you two eat something. I have some food I am sure you two will like.”

He uses one of his wooden bowls to pour some of the stew in. He then hands it to Kane, and when Clara went to protest to him trying some he already had the bowl to his mouth and tilted up to taste it. She saw how he was enjoying it, all of this. The promised safe place that was whispered to him. Another bowl was placed and put beside Kane as an open invitation. He stood up and moved away.

He watched as she stands up, fixing her tunic down her leg shyly, and begins to walk to her brother’s side and the bowl. Kito watches the two sit together and the woman eating. He wishes that keeping distance between them was a good decision now. He didn’t know what he would do when Zeta found about them tonight, because he knew she would find them in here before the beginning of the ceremony. He didn’t know what he would do with Clara during the Ceremony.

The Ceremony was days of all the tribes coming together to play games, socialize, and keep the peace between everyone. Plus when night falls and it was time for the cubs, kits, and kids to retire to their beds is when the games are more personal. This was to celebrate all the Gods, from Kerrani to Asta, the sun. Mostly meant for mates and doesn’t lead to anything too horrifying to the eyes of anyone. He never stays around to watch any of them.

Kai said that he watched one once. A game where they lay a woman on the table and ties her wrists above her head and wears a cloth around her eyes. She is supposed to wear this complicated outfit and hide a small pebble somewhere on them, leaving the male to search for it.

Usually, there are two for the competition. One mated pair against another and the winner gets bragging rights and a prize determined by the Chief. There were other games as well, some involved more touching than others. Those in Heat can’t play because they didn’t know when to stop, and nobody else in the tribe would have fun seeing them trying to.

He wonders what the other little humans would feel about it. Tina watched before with Dahl, but Mia never watched with Kai. For reasons.

There was a lot of silence in the hut. Clara remained sheltered, mostly sticking to corners and continuing to keep a close eye on Kane although Kito knew Caji would not hurt him for anything in this world or another. It made him wonder what she had to go through in her life to make her feel like she always needed to be on guard. To always be on alert. Never facing her back towards them. He was aware of her every cautious movement.

As Caji kept the boy busy once more Kito dared to inch closer to her. He also kept a respectful distance between them, he didn’t move too far. “Caji will not hurt him. I don’t think he could even harm a bug. He always takes them outside.”

She crosses her arms over her chest to assure herself. The strange being was sitting closer and speaking to her, trying to continue his attempts to ease her. “I am still trying to wrap my head around this. You guys and your...” She can’t help but look at his tail again. “I’m used to seeing people like me. This... Is just too strange.”

He grins, “Then wouldn’t your ears and no tail be strange to me? Well, I do not find it strange.”

His words did help one thought racing through her mind. He was from another world and seeing her meant she was just as strange-looking to him. It all depends on everyone’s definition of normal.

Still...

“How is it... Moving? Does it... Does your body have extra bones to hold it?”

She was very curious. He could use that instead of fear. “Not all the way. It still hurts when one steps or pulls it. I have no ears on the side of my head as you do, so I wonder if that looks strange to you. I wouldn’t know. This all seems pretty normal to me.”

She blinks while she aims to make sense of his words. She did, making sure to get another small look to check if Kane was still fine. She holds her arms. “I am still confused about all of this. It’s a lot to take in. I...” Kane’s picture... It was all predicted. By him.

“I know. You are not the only one that had come here last night,” he decides to let her know she wasn’t alone in this. The information would relieve her. “I found another woman in the Jungle. I do not know if you know her by any chance, but I took her to my mother who will take care of her.”

“Do you know what she looks like?”

“I... Cannot,” he admits almost shamefully yet was soon eased with the thought of seeing color now, and he observes her every chance he could get. The dried mud still conceals most of her hair but he can see the blue tint in the faint light of the fire. “I could not see the color of her features.”

What a weird thing to say... “Then I can’t say that I know her until I see her, could I?”

“I haven’t heard anything about her since Zeta took her,” she concludes that this Zeta must be his mother’s name. “But I will let you see her when you can so you can see if you know her. She was found in the same area you were found. She had come sooner before you did.”

Kane turns his body and darts to Clara with a bright smile to show her a small handcrafted item Caji made with three ribbons. “Look, Sissy, he made this for me.”

Clara cracks a smile, “that’s cool, buddy.”

He briskly returns to playing.

Kito detects the way the boy looks at her. He was his sister, yet the light that shone in his eyes towards her was more for the attention of a mother. “You care for him by yourself?”

She shrugs like it was nothing that didn’t need to be a concern. “Of course. He is my little brother.”

“He is young. Is there no male figure in his life?”

She shakes her head, “No. He has been fine without one,” he asks questions just as weird as him. “Do you find it a problem that only a girl takes care of a boy by herself without a man?”

He tilts his head in confusion. He senses her slight anger and wonders what he said to make it that way. “I was just curious myself, Clara. There are usually males here that help care for the young cubs.”

“Cubs?” Is that what they call their kids? What did kids with ears and tails look like? “Oh... Well, why doesn’t he talk?” She motions to Caji.

The information wasn’t a secret but it will take so much explaining to get to the source of why he didn’t speak a word. “He has seen something in his past that took his words. I have known him for some time and he has never spoken a word to me. Most of his friends who experienced the same troubles have learned to speak, but not Caji. He simply can’t find them.”

She looks back at the strange man with the black spots on the back of his arm, and if she had to guess they might have been on his back as well. Cheetah. She recognized the spots because of all the Animal Planet channel Kane likes to watch. They probably didn’t know that though. Was this place like a weird dimension from Earth? In some way, were they connected?

What a weird dimension.

“Your little brother told me that someone hurt you,” this might be a question he shouldn’t ask but he couldn’t help himself. He wanted to know more. For future sake. “You had your face bruised and you were pretty injured. Who would do that?”

He keeps a calm composure although he could feel that pinch of rage inside. The sight of her being pinned by another who wanted to harm her was something that didn’t settle well with him. Evil ideas formed.

Her face slightly pales at the memory of what happened. That the man was... “It doesn’t matter,” she looks down. “That someone is... Well...”

She didn’t say. She didn’t want to say. She just holds her mouth shut and avoids eye contact with him. His heart fell slightly at the look she had, the sheer vulnerable place she was set in. He wanted to soothe her. Even when he did not touch her he felt that deep urge to be around her. Closer. He felt it now, that deep part within him tugging towards her direction like an invisible rope. Was that what the tether felt like? That never-ending compulsion to be close?

He wonders if she felt it too.

She quickly changes the subject to something she was desperate for now. “Do you have anywhere I can take a bath? I want to wash the mud off of me and Kane needs one too.”

With everyone busy with the preparations nobody would be in the washrooms today. Not even Tonilla, the one who supervises and makes sure everything is kept clean. She was busy preparing the security for the village since Dahl is busy with his cub mostly. “We do, and somewhere for Kane to be cleaned of the mud. It’s just... Well, I must take you through the village first to get there.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing?” She made it a question.

“It’s not really, ” he massages the back of his neck in a way that it gave off the impression of a little worry. “You are new and there is no other male human cu- child,” he corrects himself. “A lot of attention will be drawn to you. I am very well known here as well, so many will even approach,” Gods know that Zeta will if she sees her. With Clara’s leg still healing he would not recommend anyone spontaneously grabbing her. “But I will take you if you want to go.”

“Please.”

He can feel every muscle in him relax when she uttered that one word. She was so feminine and petite, it drew him even by the gentle sound of her voice. All she said was please.

“Caji,” he turns to look at the spotted man, who perks up from his small game with Kane to acknowledge his name. “We’re going to take them to the washrooms. Pick up the boy and carry him, we’re going to try to get them there and quick as we can without getting so much attention.”

“Washrooms?” Kane turns his body halfway around to see Kito. “What’s that?”

“To help you clean the mud off of you,” Kito stands up, and although he had tried to avoid doing this before he simply couldn’t help himself to extend a hand toward her as an invitation to help her stand. She stares at the hand on suspicion for a moment, but slowly caves in and reach to grab it.

Even she felt a strange warmth that fills her hand. She immediately wanted to assume that it was just the size of his hand that was bigger than hers that made her hand suddenly warm, but it tingles the same ways champagne in a glass bubble. Gentle, smooth, but not all at once.

She looks up at him just to see another grin on his face and gazing at her like he was humored by a small joke that she didn’t get. She just gives him a nervous laugh and moves her hand away when she was finally on her feet. “Thank you. Now, could you take us there?”

He puts his hand back to his side and sighs inwardly, “just follow me and I will lead you there. Caji will watch over Kane.”

Caji had already opened the door to allow the little boy to run outside first. Kane and Caji were gone before Clara could shout out to him and tell him to wait. The boy was so excited nothing would stop him. Kito chuckled and looked at her worried expression, “I guess all young ones are naturally that excited. Let us go before they get too far of a start.”

It was a way to get herself to hurry, stepping out of the hut and making sure to keep her little brother in sight. Kito made sure that his home was shut and secure before he left with them.

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