Chronicles of the Council: The Hunter - Part One
"Altador, sweetie, do not put that in your mouth," Marina said softly as she bent down from her chair in the council chamber, pulling her son onto her lap so that he would not gnaw on the chair leg. The young Lupe snuggled his face in his mother's fur; light brown with speckles, just like a biscuit. Altador mouthed his paw, sucking on it until drool dripped down his white fur, his mother pulled it out of his mouth while listening to the conversation being held in the chamber hall.
"Lupcanus, the Chieftains of our civilization have declared war on Vesack to the north," Belan said urgently, his brown spots twitching nervously.
Altador wiggled out of his mother's grip and climbed down from the chair. As he picked up his toy bow and arrow from the floor, he gazed up at his father. Lupcanus rested his chin upon his paws in contemplation. Upon the stone chair where he sat rested an eight-point sun, the symbol of Lyetia.
Belan continued, "Sir, the Chieftains have requested that two hundred provisions be acquired for each of their armies. This totals to one thousand provisions. I fear we will not be able to harvest enough food nor produce enough weaponry for them. I propose that we break away. Attempt to find our own civilization."
"We should not be hasty," a pink Lupe piped up from the far end of the table, addressing Belan. "The five Chieftains rule with an iron fist. If our village were to disappear then we would surely be hunted down and enslaved."
"Altador, do not shoot arrows in the council chambers," Marina fussed, picking up the young Lupe once more.
"We need weapons at least, then! So that our people may learn to protect themselves in case an emergency arises!" Belan protested further, paying no attention to Marina or Altador. Standing from his chair, his paws slammed down on the oak table in anger.
"Tassay speaks with truth," Lupcanus stated. "Engim, my fellow village council member, you have sat silent this time. What thoughts spin around that genius mind of yours?"
The Lupe smiled a toothy grin, the red and orange fur on his head dancing like a fire between his ears. "One day Lyetia will need an army to protect her citizens against these corrupt Chieftains; however, I do not believe today is that day."
"Then let us call for a vote," Lupcanus said. "All those in favor of raising an army raise your paw." Belan raised his paw. Lupcanus continued, "All those in favor of remaining hidden, raise your paw." Five paws rose in the air, pink, black, the deep blue of Lupcanus's fur, a biscuit brown, and a tiny white paw.
A loud laugh thundered from Engim. "Would you look at that, even your son votes against unnecessary violence!"
An Altalaphus cawed outside the hut window as Altador lowered himself onto his pale cot, his head hitting against the ceiling rafters; a consequence of his tall figure. The cot groaned under his weight, the boards creaking and splintering slightly. Placing his bow and arrow next to him on the bed, Altador surveyed the damage done to his leg.
"How many times must I tell you not to climb over the Southern Mountains?" His mother gave an exasperated sigh, placing a dramatic paw upon the side of her face. Altador sat on his cot, wrapping a bandage around the gash on his leg. He squinted in the dim candlelight as he passed the bandage around his fur once, then twice, tugging gently as to be sure that the bandage snuggly protected the wound.
"Therend, can you draw the curtains?" Altador asked a yellow Lupe who hid in a shadowy corner of the hut. "It is dreadfully dark in here. Ah, now I can see!"
Marina stared at her son like a statue, her mouth occasionally twitching, reverting her face from anger to worry. Altador grinned at Therend, amusement sparkling in his golden eyes. "Therend and I have seen with our own eyes, Mother, there is nothing beyond the Southern Mountains other than a vast span of water. Why must you worry so much?"
"I am upset that you continuously disobey the Chieftain's orders. Everyone must obey the rules. Whether you are the son of a village council member, or the son of a baker, it does not matter." Altador's mother gave Therend an accusing look. "This has to stop, Altador. When your father returns from his hunting trip you will be spoken to. Sternly!" She swooped from the bedroom, pushing a pale cloth from the doorway as she left.
"Perhaps your mother is correct," Therend said, loitering in the afternoon sunlight that shone through the window. Altador smiled at his companion; his yellow fur like a brother to the bright yellow sun of Lyetia
"Oh, do not tell me that you are becoming a worry-wart my dear friend," Altador chuckled. "Does your bravery falter? Does your sense of adventure age with your young body?"
"It does not," Therend spat in defense. "I am as brave and adventurous as my father was. You however, may never be as wise as your father."
Altador simply laughed at this insult, allowing the words to wash over his white fur like a harmless stream of water. "Perhaps I am not as wise as my father."
Standing from his cot, Altador tested his leg by placing some gentle weight on it. Pain shot through his muscles, but his smile did not falter. Pain was a lesson of his mistakes, wounds a memory of his grand adventures.
A deep horn reverberated through the valley, bouncing off the snowy mountain caps; joyous tunes for the town, yet a reminder to Altador of his mother's threat.
"Your father returns," Therend stated. "Are you prepared for him, Altador?"
Altador murmured, "As ready as I will ever be."
Looking out the window, Altador watched as his father embraced his mother, lifting her from the ground and spinning her in the air like a precious treasure. A crowd of Lupes gathered around his father as he displayed his catch to the Lupe pack; wild berries, mushrooms, fruits and vegetables; no meats. They cheered and hollered joyfully as they believed that the oncoming winter would not be a hungry one. Altador knew however, this food would not be given to the village but instead would be sent to the Chieftains for their war against Vesack. The war that had raged on for ten years. This war that had caused the disappearance of Altador's neighbors and friends, lost in the midst of a battle never to be seen again.
Altador watched as his mother told his father of his injury and his travels into the Southern Mountains, placing a hand on his father's shoulder. Frowning, Altador observed as his father disentangled himself from the jubilant crowd.
"Here he comes," Altador whispered to Therend.
"Perhaps I should leave?"
A booming voice bounced off the wooden walls. "Yes, I advise you return to help your father at the Bakery, Therend," Altador's father commanded as he pushed aside the bedroom cloth door. Therend gave a curt bow and excused himself from Lupcanus's presence.
"The hunt appears successful, Father." Altador smiled.
"Son," his father began with a heavy sigh. He exhaled, rubbing his paw over his eyes and down his strong jaw. "Perhaps you may accompany me on a walk through the town?"
"I would be honored."
Exiting the hut, the two Lupes made their way away from the crowd. Altador could see Tassay, Engim, and Belan. Engim passed a sack of rations to a shadow Lupe who unconsciously pulled up his trousers up his bone-thin body. Belan glared at Engim as he handed out rations, checking off names on a list of parchment with a coal stick.
Altador's father looked down at the white Lupe and cleared his throat. "Your mother tells me you climbed the Southern Mountains again."
"Oh, yes, Father!" Altador admitted with a delighted grin. "The ocean beyond the mountains is beautiful. The waves were sparkling orange in the morning sunrise."
His father gave a sigh. "You are hopeless, son."
The two Lupes retreated from the town and climbed a hill to the west. Altador inhaled deeply as a warm zephyr tickled his white fur. His father stood tall, gazing over the town. The huts appeared gloomy as the residence of Lyetia sauntered about the cobble pathways. Altador spotted Engim handing a sack of rations to a gorgeous stripped Lupe. They appeared to joke harmlessly, Engim occasionally placing an embarrassed paw behind his head as the fiery fur between his ears wiggled with laughter.
"Father," Altador began as he looks out over the cluster of thatch-roofed huts. "Why does Engim not court that young Lupe he is always attending to?"
His father looked down at him, curiosity glinting in his eyes. "Why such a question, my son?"
"He treats Therend and me like sons to him. I am curious why he does not have sons of his own. Please forgive my rudeness, Father, but I care for Engim almost as much as I care for you and Mother. I wish only for his happiness."
"When Engim wandered into Lyetia he bore many battle scares and wounds both upon his body and his heart. He does not speak much of his life prior to Lyetia; however, I believe he may have lost a family to war." Lupcanus paused momentarily then asked, "Do you know why we obey the rules set upon us by the Chieftains, Altador?"
"So that we do not fall and tear our legs open on a rock?" Altador joked, bearing his leg for his father to see.
His father sighed yet again. "No, Altador. It is so the Chieftains do not bring war into Lyetia."
"I have seen beyond the Southern Mountains, Father. There is nothing but water as far as the eye can see."
"Even seas can whisper, Altador. If the Chieftains find out you are disobeying them, they will bring misfortune and terror to Lyetia. You must promise me, for the safety of our village, that you will not venture in the Southern Mountains again."
Altador paused, gazing over the town he loved and cared for. "I promise not to venture beyond the Southern Mountains Father." Altador could see the paternal pride that shone in his father's eyes. His father must have been so proud at his obedient son.
"Lupcanus, we need to talk," Belan spat, anger steaming off his spotted fur coat as he stormed up the hill behind Lupcanus and Altador.
Altador's father exhaled a heavy sigh. "What is it now, Belan?"
"You hardly came back from your hunting trip with any meat! The Chieftains will have our tails for not providing them with mutton or meat legs."
"Hunting for meat would involve using weapons that I do not have at the moment," Altador's father replied, frustration creeping into the words.
"See, that is the problem," Belan spat. "The war is taking too many of Lyetia's provisions. We should get the blacksmith to work overtime to provide for the war and Lyetia."
The tension and anger began to choke the very air in which the three Lupes breathed. Raising his voice so that it echoed over the hillside, Lupcanus yelled with ferocious anger, "I will not over work an innocent, kind Lupe because the Chieftains decided to instigate an unnecessary war!"
Altador gawked at his father. No longer was he the gentle, kind leader that Altador knew, but instead an anger driven monster that ignored other's perceptions. His father, open-minded and understanding, transformed right before Altador's eyes.
Belan's mouth turned downward into a menacing frown. "Just you wait. If you continue to ignore the need of the Chieftains and the needs of the people of Lyetia you will have an uprising on your hands."
To be continued...