Waking up, I felt somewhat heavy. Today was Eleanor’s turn. It was the first thought that came into my mind. For some reason it didn’t make me that happy, instead it made me somewhat angry. I was sure that I’ve put everything behind me, seeing how well I got along with Leah and Lilith, but it seems that not all my feelings were sorted.
Just last night I had a splendid time with Aedim and before that with Meriden, but today I felt some pressure, as if I forced myself to go ahead. Did I not want to go ahead with Eleanor’s trial? I mean, I was angry at her before, but I forgave her, didn’t I?
I know that she was the instigator of my betrayal, the other two only following her orders, but even though the two vixen were the ones who did more harm, kidnapping Meriden, Elaya and Aedim, getting information and more, it is Eleanor whom I am angry at.
I punished her somewhat, but I couldn’t separate her from other two, it would be unfair to her, they played a major part on her plot. But them, they were forgiven easily, their bodies and soul now belonged to me, But Eleanor, she still has her arrogance, thinking of herself as queen and demanding royal treatment. She did not learn her lesson and she thought herself innocent.
We avoided one another a lot, I’ve seen her much less than others. She pushed most of the communication onto Leah, so I barely had her near me. May be she wanted to avoid me as much as I her.
Even throughout the trials and parties, Eleanor tried getting away from me once we were alone, not wanting to see much by herself. Was she afraid of me? Or did she feel my hidden animosity towards her?
I didn’t know the truth, but the question filled my mind and made me ask myself such things. It was a hard morning to wake up and carry on. The unknowing weighing heavily on my shoulders, the uncertainty messing up with my head. I avoided thinking about it for precisely this reason.
Leaving Aedim sleeping, I leave the tent and walk around the party. It is already afternoon, it seems I am getting into the habit of waking up so late. People are mostly awake now, still partying. My trials have always been so great, with parties and fun. Every time we would go for days afterwards, just wasting time. If people underwent the trials at the same time, they did them before mine, so they could party with us and not have to put up with plenty of people walking around drunkenly. Only those who were plenty far didn’t care much.
I grab a rum-like drink and with my tolerance lowered, I take a nice big gulp of the stuff, making the burning sensation go down my throat. It is nice being a monster, my throat doesn’t mind having horrible substances and things showed down. I can easily cram a whole steak down without even chewing.
With my mind heavy with questions, I decide that the best way is to drink all the worries away, I am not planning to be having children in the next year, so I can drink all I want. Trying to get rid of the stress, I overdo it a little and start partying like crazy. Before I know it, the party goes full force, people dancing, singing and fighting. The fur balls running around, doing whatever it is they do. The girls start dancing as well, showing off their new bodies, which I must say make them look sexier than before.
Strangely, Eleanor is not around. In fact, I haven’t seen much of her since our talk in the tent after I turned Elaya. She is avoiding me now. I understand that something is wrong, but I am unwilling to do something to fix it. I just want to forget it and ignore the problem… No, this is the exact mentality I had when I ran away before, I have to face it now.
I depart from the party looking around for Eleanor. I asked Leah and others, but they didn’t know where she was. Running around, there doesn’t seem to be any sigh of the queen around, it’s like she isn’t even here. Asking around, many people didn’t see her much today or yesterday.
It is still daytime, but if it goes like this, I won’t be able to talk to her. In order to find her, I decide it would be best to use my meditation. I settle down atop some tree and close my eyes, listening in to her heartbeat. I did this before and still do from time to time, but I haven’t purposefully looked for a single one of the girls like this. I doubt I’d be able to do the same with anybody else, like Frez or Bella, I don’t know their heartbeats well enough.
Listening in, I find something strange. Eleanor is nowhere near the forest. I can’t hear her heartbeat at the party, in any of the tents, anywhere in nearby places… I extend my range and try to cover as much area as possible. With a quick scan, I understand that she is not in the Great Forest. That or her heart isn’t beating… But surely she is not dumb enough for that…
I turn into my fox form as well as augment it with other beasts, pushing my senses to the limit. Now I can feel the smells from the party even I am a rom them, but I don’t need that right now, hearing is what’s important. I shut down my senses one by one, sight, taste, smell, touch…
Pushing on, I extend the range of my sense of hearing, listening for that single heartbeat, the girl whom I am angry at. I don’t clearly understand how far it extends, but I push on. At some point I hear it. The slight noise, the drumming of the heart. It is far away to the east and to the north… The human kingdom? Did my senses reach quarter of the way across the world? What?
I found the last of the six girls and I know where she is now. Ignoring the ridiculous power or my senses, I charge for my tent to grab the portstone. I set it to go to the human capital, specifically my chambers, where it leads to. Once there I search around for Eleanor.
Using the same method, I quickly find her away from the castle and below ground. After twenty minutes of running around, I finally come to the place where Eleanor sits. The dark place, it smells foul, the floor covered with my dried blood. It is the same place that I stayed at for five months previously.
“Eleanor, what are you doing here?”
“Why did you come Zern? You should be enjoying the party.”
I can see that the girl has been crying. Her cheeks have wet trails going down, but she still tries to sound dignified.
“I came here for you, you ran away from us. Why?”
“Why wouldn’t I? You hate me, the way you treat me, it’s evident. The way you speak to me, you treat me compared to others. Why do you even bother trying to speak good to me?”
“You are one of my six…”
“So what? You still hate me after what I’ve done. Why do you keep up appearances, why don’t you just discard me like you should have?”
“What Zern?! I know how you feel, I see it every time you look at me. The anger, the scorn, the contempt for me. It was the same way I looked at you back then. Why do you insist of me being one of the six?”
She is crying now, not hiding her tears, not trying to look strong.
“Why do you keep going? You punish others for me, you push me away and then you treat me like nothing happened. I can’t stay like that. Just sort this out already!”
“Eleanor, you are my fated…”
“So what?! We have a dozen children born, fated to one another? And do they all go on marrying and becoming one big family? No, they have one single partner each! What is it to you that you have me or not?
I slowly come to her, trying not to look away from the crying girl. She looks so weak right now, her inner turmoil, her weakness exposed for me to see.
“You are still my fated…”
“Stop with that! Why do you keep calling me that? Why do you treat me badly if I am your fated? Clearly you don’t want me to be. Just pick somebody else and be done with this. After all I’ve done, you still treat me like crap…”
At those words I snap, I come closer to her, pick her up with my hands and slam her into the wall. She flinches from the impact but stays conscious and looks at me.
“What you’ve done? Girl, don’t fuck with me. Do you know how many lifetimes I’ve lived? I don’t remember them, but I know they are there! And you know the worst thing that can happen to you? No, it’s not torture, it is not death or loss of loved ones, those things heal, after a year or a decade or a lifetime, but they heal. It is betrayal. The trust you’ve put in somebody, shattered by an act of betrayal, that is what hurts the most!”
At some point I’ve changed into my behemoth lion form, towering over her, my claws dig into her skin, making blood come out. Four claws on each hand dig into her back and two from my thumbs cut her shoulders. Her face distorts in pain, she is terrified to see me like that.
“You are my fated, my one pillar that should be holding me up in this world. I didn’t care for the betrayal of my father, the elders or the humans. What hurt me was you, one of my fated, going out of your way to hurt me! Do I care about being a king? I don’t! I told Bella and now I am telling you, the only thing that matters in the world are the memories you leave behind when you go!”
I begin shouting, almost roaring at this point. The echo travels through the empty corridors, through the stone walls. I don’t care if somebody hears me now.
“What I wanted was all of us living a happy life! I would have fine to life peacefully, being simple tribesmen, hunting and having children! I don’t need to be some hero or king to enjoy life.”
“Zern, I only wanted to do something for you, like others…”
“Did I ever say I needed you to do something? Did I ever tell others that? No, I am grateful just to have you girls, I don’t need anything from you. Throughout many lifetimes, there are many shit things that happen. And throughout all that, you learn to enjoy the little things, the minutes you’ve spent with the ones you love.”
My temper cooled down now, my outburst mostly gone, now simply the residual feelings flowing outwards.
“All I wanted was to create great memories. Yes, I am angry at you, but I don’t hate you, not as much as you hate yourself. Just look at yourself, you’ve become arrogant again, like you used to be back then, before you met me. You think of yourself as high and mighty queen, treating others like that, treating me like that. Is that what you wanted to be when you decided to become mine?”
A valid question to be asked. Eleanor was the one who wanted to be with me, she reached out to become one of the six, even before the Leah and Lilith. She changed through our times together, becoming kinder, gentler. But now, she was turning back to her normal self.
“Don’t you see? I wanted for you to remember all the good things about us, to tell our children how we loved one another. But all you can think of now is your betrayal, your guilt is eating at you from the inside, consuming what you’ve become through out time together. You are loosing whatever we’ve built together. I will get over my anger, but will you ever recover from what you’ve done?”
Hearing my words, Eleanor’s eyes open in shock. She didn’t think of it like that, she felt guilty, but she thought that she had to act like a royal queen or otherwise her efforts were all for naught. If she couldn’t make me forget her betrayal, at least she could make her effort not be in vain, becoming the best queen she could be. But that also meant, she would forsake whatever she was with me.
“I was hurt, badly, by your betrayal. But what hurts me now is the fact that you are betraying our time together, the happy years we had, the memories we forged together, just to prove to somebody that your betrayal was a good thing. It wasn’t and it would never be, but I don’t care. If you would have turned into the sweet girl I knew and loved, it would have been forgotten by now, but instead you chose to keep playing this role you yourself came up with. You foolish little girl.”
My voice now sounded more sad than angry. I have felt detached from Eleanor for quite a while and even if Eleanor wasn’t my absolute favorite of the girls, It still hurt me to see her turn into whatever she once was, throwing away everything we’ve done together. The girl is crying now, pouring out her own feeling she didn’t know were there. Her cries are not muffled or quieted, she no longer holds them back, letting them go.
“Zern, I am sorry, I am so sorry…”
I bring her closer to me and rub her back slowly, trying to calm her.
“There, it’s ok now. I had my share of betrayals before, I don’t remember them but I would have forgiven you given time. You don’t need to prove to anybody that what you did was right. We all make mistakes, and although some maybe vast, all of them can be forgiven. I don’t want you to carry on, thinking about how you betrayed me and how because of that our relationship was ruined. We are one, body and soul, fated to be together.”
Eleanor hugs my furry body, trying to bury her face in my soft fur, trying to stop her tears. She has forgotten this closeness, this familiarity we once shared. She missed it and now that she regained it, it made her cry out.
“Humans are foolish, thinking that one lifetime is all we have. We die and we carry on, forgetting what happened before. It is only when you know that death is not the end that you realize what is truly important. We all make mistakes, some small and some grave, but they all deserve to be forgiven, if the person who made them realizes it. You tried covering yours up, but you shouldn’t have. I forgive you for it, now it is time you forgive yourself…”
Like that, I stop my long speech and let the girl cry. There may be more things I could have said, more things that I should have told her, but I felt it was enough. She understood the reason for my anger and why I treated her the way I did. She understood that she was also at fault, perhaps even more than me.
I turn into my usual form and hold the girl that is before me. It is not the queen, the great Eleanor of the Val’Halla tribe, it is my bride, my little girl who got lost in her own feelings, now crying in my arms. I let her, making sure she understands that I am close, that I still love her.
I let her carry on for a while, before I pick her small frame in my arms and carry her in a princess carry to our chambers. She doesn’t resist, she just hides her face in my chest, feeling like the girl she is supposed to be.
The hard experiences and the dangers of the world chisel away the soft and kind childish experiences that girls should have, only to reveal a distorted image behind that. The children here grow up too fast, even if surrounded by love and care. Sometimes, they need to be reminded that they can have their weakness, their time to lean on somebody else and to let them be frail.
When we reach our chamber, we simply lie in bed, hugging one another. It is still evening, the sun only now setting, letting this world swim in the darkness of the night. We embrace one another, making sure that we are both there, supporting one another. This day I reclaimed my pillar, the person who supports me and carries me on. And Eleanor, she reclaimed a pillar of her own, the pillar she trampled over in her misguided way, wishing to be strong, she only grown weaker, now she rebuilt the foundation of her strength.
We lay like that, just enjoying the kinship, the love we once shared for one another. We haven’t felt this close in a while, not during out baths together, not during our meetings and not during the time we would sleep close to one another. Truthfully, we both missed it.
We spend a few hours laying close together, not sleeping, just taking in the sensation of another body close to us. At some point, Eleanor starts stirring and looks in my eyes with a pleading look.
“Zern, uhm, if you’d have, I would like to be one with you. Like… Like the others.”
She is scared to speak her true feelings, trying to be as humble as possible. I bend down to her face and give her a kiss. It is not a passionate kiss I shared with Aedim or a wild kiss I shared with Elaya, it is an innocent and pure kiss of love and affection. Just simple touch of the lips and gentle brush of her hair.
Truly, even if Eleanor acts mature, tries to rule the whole kingdom and generally does a lot of work, she is still innocent at heart, trying to harden it for her own sake. Out of all the girls, she is the smallest, being about 160cm she still has some growing up to do. Her breasts are size two, and her figure is a little small, her hips not as wide as of any other girl. Overall she is rather petite.
I take her in my arms and stand up off the bed, bringing us some distance away from it. Once we are safe from ruining anything important, I begin my part. Biding my lip, I reach down and kiss Eleanor, giving her some of my blood. She likes it, trying the taste and then parts her lips to invite me. We kiss, still quite innocently, but with me guiding her through.
After few moments, she is covered in black flame, burning our clothes off, leaving us standing there naked. Her form changes, black lighting going through her body. Out of her lower back grows a tail, similar to mine. Her ears turn into a half circles and go higher up on her head, making her look like a lion. Her hair turns wavy, shinier than before. No longer straight, her hair now looks like a real mane, although she would be bold if she was a real lioness. When her transformation is complete, we embrace one another again and proceed to kiss.
This time Eleanor is pushing forward, my blood having effects. Out tails come together, turning, covering one another in a spiral. We begin touching one another, exploring out bodies. I pick her up again and carry her to bed, where we both fall and continue.
The love I made with Eleanor was tender and sweet. I wouldn’t have thought, but she was the most innocent of all the girls, most inexperienced. We took out time, moving slowly, until we reached climax. We spent out time together, making love and tending to our needs.
By the end, I felt like some weight has been lifted, some of my anger has been cleared away. I am not the same good Zern I was before, but I am also not ruthless Zern I was just now. My mind seems clearer, less hazy and I seem to think more rationally now. The changes are not great, but perhaps they are necessary.
We both fall asleep together, our bodies clinging to each other. We both changed this day, something inside clearing away, showing our true selves to the other. Perhaps now we can really put the past behind us.