The first meeting of the princesses was entertaining. The first one I met was of course Elaya. When I was presented to her, I dropped on my knee, with my right hand on my heart and my head down. It was not a custom, just merely something from my previous existences, but it made a good impression on others and especially Elaya. For me it was my sign of loyalty, and for her it was the first time somebody seriously treated her as a princess.
When I stood up, she embraced me, showing how touched she was. Her eyes were wet, but no tears came as she held back. Still, when I put my arms around her, I felt her tremble. She was never shown such affection, even by her immediate family. When we separated, she still stood beside me, even when I came to greet others. Even though Val tribes were matriarchal in nature since the Matriarch, for Elaya, I was the king.
When I walked up to Eleanor, her face showed contemptuous smile. When I merely bowed to her, instead of kneeling, her face distorted in disgust. She gave me a quick look of pure scorn and turned her head away. I didn’t speak to her that day. Of course her mother gave her a scolding, but it was merely for looks. Eleanor’s mother was of the same opinion of me as her daughter was, like mother, like daughter.
Aedim showed clear interest in me after my introduction. Perhaps she truly could see the mystery that I was, or maybe she enjoyed my mature presence, different from any other childr our age. We talked a lot after the rounds of introductions and she turned out to be rather knowledgable. I felt like she had an ancient soul, wise beyond her years.
Leah had a mischevious gleam in her eyes, her smile clearly showed her future intent. I would be the main focus of her many pranks. Even mere minutes after I met others, her undergarments were somehow “lost” and ended up in one of my pockets. There was no punishment, as it would be obvious that such a pretty girl would have a problem with suitors, even if said suitor was right in front of his betrothed. She “forgave” me and promised not to harbour any bad feelings for me. Of course all of that said with a bright smile showing her sharp canines.
Lilith didn’t even let me finish saying my name, when she jumped at me and kissed me. It could be considered innocent game, if not for her looking right into Elaya’s eyes as she did it. Exchange of that first kiss was somewhat of a shock for her, so I had to make it up for her later. I couldn’t leave my future bride unhappy. Interestingly enough, I was major focus of Lilith’s various affectionate gestures in the future, as she did her best to tease Elaya. Not that I was against it, I always had to give her more attention afterwards. Win-win.
Meriden was the most active of the bunch. She already was getting swordplay lessons from her father, so she challenged me to the duel. If I didn’t have any experience from past lives, no matter my training in this one, I wouldn’t have beaten her. She was swift like a coursing river, but with all the force of a great typhoon. She clearly had the strength of a raging fire within. Such passion for fighting. For many years afterwards she would spar with me to try to bring me down. Funny that she was always the one who ended up on her knees, aha… Probably shouldn’t say it about a four year old.
After all the introductions were done six of us talked for a bit, with Eleanor clearly showing her contempt for lesser beings and not wishing to breath the same air. Although her faint interest could be seen in our conversations, she made effort not to show it. After the prank and a duel, we talked a little and then dispersed. There were plenty other kids to play with, and Leah took great pleasure playing with them. In the end, I stayed with Elaya and Aedim. Elaya was content with holding my hand as we sat, while I and Aedim talked. I did have to give a couple of cute kisses to Elaya for Lilith’s little joke. I would totally be a part of some more jokes if opportunity presented itself.
The night was enjoyable for all of us. In this realm giving gifts was not a common occurrence other than during some major milestones, so we didn’t receive anything. Although, not entirely true, Elaya was ecstatic, she received me. Albeit unofficially, I was part of Val’Kira tribe and pretty much her property. If princess wished, she could do anything with me. Not that I complained, she treasured me like her own life.
My mother who brought me had my younger sister, Zerania, who was just a baby. When she left me with Elaya, I was to remain with her for the rest of my training until I became a guardian. She was somewhat sad to let me go, but my father made her leave me. He didn’t want a waste of space to be around and he was glad to be rid of me. My mother said her goodbyes and left.
We stayed together talking for a while. Aedim liked talking to somebody like her, adults and relatives treated her as a mere child who played games with them. I could clearly see intelligence even in her four year old mind. It was immature and very young, but it was there and she was glad I noticed it.
We talked for a bit and then we decided to join other kids. They were doing different things, like playing tag or hide-n-seek. We joined in and had fun together. Amongst the kids, there was almost no discrimination at that age, so Elaya could enjoy herself without the stigma of future demise. She tried playing with kids before, but she was too shy and scared. It was my presence that made her more confident and allowed her to talk and mingle with other kids. I always stayed by her side to make her comfortable, she was my family now.
While we played, Eleanor often tried tripping me or making some excused to penalize me. She held a grudge against me, so she didn’t hold back when trying to ruin my fun. I didn’t give in, I had my precious Elaya then, I couldn’t ruin her fun by being sad. Aedim also seemed to enjoy herself. The fact that somebody acknowledged her made her very happy and allowed her to open up and have fun. She was still a kid at heart, so who could blame her?
The two pranksters tried their best to make me feel ashamed or embarrassed. Of course I didn’t give them such luxury, but still they pranked me hard, making others laugh at me. The time that Lilith tripped me over Leah and pulled down my pants was dreadful, as everybody saw me in the buff. Elaya was embarrassed more than I was, as her fiancé was exposed in such a manner. I got myself dressed and comforted her saying it was all good, but she almost cried because of it. Aedim, not wanting to see her friend cry, made a point that it was nothing to feel sad about, by lifting her own skirt up. She was visibly red, but for a new friend she did a good thing and stopped her crying.
I thanked her and Elaya hugged her closely. It was their very first bonding experience, formed over my bare behind. What a story to tell the kids.
The pranksters, seeing that Elaya almost cried, looked guilty, but didn’t say anything, they just threw a few glances towards the lioness princess. She just shrugged and went on with her business. I knew that she was behind it, but no harm, no foul, nobody got hurt.
As the night went on we continued playing, dancing around big bonfires, drinking fruit juice and mild mead. Underage drinking was not a problem here, in places water was scarce, so brewing some alcohol was the best way to disinfect the water. We didn’t get very drunk, there was perhaps one or two percent alcohol in a sizable cask, but it tasted sweet and we enjoyed it.
We also tried singing, but mostly we were out of tune, it was like a bunch of cats getting mangled by wolves. We laughed regardless on how bad it was. We also howled and meowed at the moon, shouted cheers snd laughed to the stars. It was a fun night to remember.
We stayed awake past midnight, doing various other fun things. By the end, we were exhausted, falling asleep one by one in a big pile of kids, by the bonfire. While we were asleep, some parents brought us blankets and covered us up. In the north it was always snowing, laying down on the ground could be fatal, so adults made sure to prevent any of us from getting ill and dying.
In the morning we all woke up with much difficulty, still tired but unable to fight the morning sun. Getting up, we were greeted with smell of some nice deer cooking over the fire. The meat was sizzling, which made us salivate. When the meat was done, we were each given a sizable portion and then adults devised the rest amongst themselves. The celebration was going two ways, for the kids and for adults. While we were once again drinking some weak mead, adults were getting wasted on much stronger stuff. Actually, only few responsible ones were somewhat sober in the morning, most of them were drunk throughout the night and were getting more drunk in the morning.
With out energy restored, we continued celebrations. Meriden once again asked for a duel. This time it was a fist fight, which I only won by pushing her down and holding her still. She was shouting angrily at me, but it was my undeniable win. I didn’t want to hit a girl, so that was the only viable option. After tha Meriden made sure to challenge me to more contests, arm-wrestling, running or hiding. Some I won, some I lost. The other kids also decided to join in, so it was an athletic day, thanks to Meriden.
After we got tired, we rested. One of the older folks, who was still sober enough decided to tell us some folklore. They were mostly tales about brave knights and demons of the past, but also some had princesses and beasts. The story of how Great Wolf seduced princess Kira was strangely familiar to me. Elaya hugged my arm and said that she was going to be the Beauty and I would be the Beast. I told her that it would more likely be Beaty and the Fiend, which made her pout. In panic I started to apologize, and said that no matter what, even a fiend I will protect her and save her if need be. That cheered her up somewhat.
When the time came to the evening, people began to say their farewells. It was getting late and everybody needed to get to their homes. Parents got their kids and I went with Elaya to her house. Other princesses said their goodbyes and went to their tribes, which weren’t too far away. We would sometimes see them in the future, although not too often.
With the celebration concluded, we would rest until the next day. Elaya was a princess, she would go and get educated, while I would be training more. Even if we were bound to perish, we couldn’t give up and do nothing. We had to keep on fighting. My infectious spirit actually affected Elaya greatly, and previously shy girl became cheerful and lively. She was no longer alone and lost, she had me and I had her. We were together, I would do everything in my power for her.