“What was he smuggling?” asked Hula as she struggled to speak calmly.
Zilan hesitated, that was the one question he could not answer at least not currently.
“I cannot tell you now but I will, soon.”
Hula’s thoughts grew conflicted. She was a royal and as such was taught that all who associated with criminals let alone beasts deserved to perish. For a long time, she believed this to be right or rather she didn’t really care, but now Zilan someone she held close to her heart was saying something different.
Before she could finish organising her thoughts, someone knocked on the door twice and proceeded to enter the room.
“I’ve come with your purchase.” The owner of the voice was a short man whose appearance seemed more like a giant meat ball. His arms and legs were short and abnormally big, his face resembled a thoroughly flattened chapati and his eyes were so extremely narrow that they looked shut.
“Two thousand gold was the bid. Pay up!” he said.
Zilan coughed once before reaching into his void sack and pulling out an amethyst coin. The fat man quickly swiped it from his hands and while forcing his eyes open smiled and asked,
“Would you like your balance or should I add this to your account?”
Zilan thought on it before pointing at Hula and saying,
“I don’t have an account so please put the balance in hers.”
How could he not see what the fat man was aiming for? By opening an account Zilan would have to pay a fee that was almost equal to the balance.
The fat man’s smile quickly turned into a deep frown as he pulled a small metal box from his void sack.
“This is your item. Thank you for your patronage.”
Zilan carefully grabbed the box from the man’s onion sized fingers. He then stared at it for a moment before opening it, slowly.
As soon as he laid eyes on the core, Zilan felt a sharp pain in his chest, it was like a lightning bolt had fallen from the heavens and struck his heart.
A few deep breaths later and he closed the box.
“If everything is in order then allow me to escort you out.” stated the fat man.
“No need!” Having said that Hula grabbed hold of Zilan who was still in a daze and pulled him out of the room.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“What’s done is done!”
“Then was it worth it?”
“The price the Bea…Flesc had to pay?”
“Is there anything in this world more precious than a good person’s life?”
Hula let go of Zilan’s arm and the two continued to walk in silence. Needless to say the mood had turned dark.
As they approached the exit, a young man suddenly walked out of the shadows and stood in their way.
“Give me the core!” he said.
Zilan was caught off guard, “Who are you?”
“That foul creature harmed my brother. Therefore it’s core is mine to destroy! Whatever your price, later…..”
“No.” Stated Zilan as he glared at the young man standing before him.
“What? Do you know who I am?”
Janam’s brother fiercely moved closer, most likely bearing no good will.
“Who you are? Who gives a sh*t who you are? Do you know who I am?” shouted Hula.
She casually removed a badge with a saber crest from her void sack and showed it to Janam’s brother.
“Why don’t you tell me who you are then?” asked Hula as she contemptuously glared at the man before her.
Zilan stood there shocked by what he was hearing and seeing. It turned out Hula wasn’t someone to be trifled with.
Janam’s brother coldly snorted as he turned around and walked away.
“Hmph! You’re going to regret this choice, when the day comes.”
Zilan felt like laughing at the scene he just witnessed.
“What’s wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?” asked Hula.
Zilan finally couldn’t hold it in. He burst into a loud laughter that echoed through the hallway.
Hula’s cheeks flushed red, she then kicked Zilan in the leg and strolled ahead.
Zilan calmed down and increased his pace in order to catch up. When he did, he held her shoulders in place and told her to stop moving.
“Thank you!” was all he said but those words caused her heart to jump.
She then slowly turned around intending to say something, but before she could Zilan bent down and kissed her on the cheek.
This time, her heart beat not only jumped but started beating faster. She felt slightly lightheaded and for some reason excited and scared at the same time.
“I have to go!” said Zilan as he let go of her and walked away.
Hula wanted to stop him but the, “This is enough for now!” thought made her reconsider.
“Zilan has gone through much in one day, this is already enough” is what her conscience told her. And so she watched as Zilan walked out the exit and disappeared into the vast crowds of people.
Morning the next day.
Hula had barely slept the night before. The image of Zilan kissing her appeared every time her eyes closed.
“My lady, you seem happy today.” said the maid as she helped dress Hula.
“Hmm, Do I?”
“Does it have anything to do with where you’re going?” asked the maid.
“Hehe..Maybe. So then, how do I look?”
She was wearing a grey jacquard sheath dress that dropped to her knees and was tight in all the right places.
Meriem the maid looked at the playful smile on Hula and sighed,
“You look beautiful. That boy will be very happy.”
Hula hugged the maid, left her room and went down the stairs where she encountered her Father.
“Where are you going?”
“To see Zilan.”
“Oh! Good, Good….send his Uncle my greetings.”
Hula happily nodded. She then got in the carriage and made her way to the Dual winged Sparrow.
Ten minutes later and the carriage arrived. Hula impatiently got off and walked into the restaurant.
“Oh! If it isn’t little Hula. What can I do for you?” asked Zilan’s Uncle.
“Um…Is Zilan around?” she asked while avoiding eye contact.
“Eh…Did he not tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“Zilan moved to a nearby inn. He said he found a new recipe for the custard and needed to be alone in order to get it right!”
Hula’s eyes widened,
“Do you know the name of the inn?”
“I do, but I don’t think it’ll be wise to go and see him. He…wasn’t in a good mood when he left.”
“Oh! I understand.”
Hula confusedly exited the Dual Winged Sparrow.
“Stupid, Zilan!” thought the pouting Hula.
Zilan sat alone in his room which contained only a bed, a cupboard and a small desk in the corner.
In his hands was the voidless sack he got from Flesc. From it, he pulled out a tattered book that was clearly missing some pages.
He opened the book and began reading,
“This is it!” he whispered.
The book spoke of the workings of the beast world in ancient times, a record of sorts.
“Before man was created, all living things in this world lived in harmony. Animals lived like animals and plants survived in their own way. However, the heavens sent a God down with the purpose of creating order.”
Zilan paused, “ A God?”
“The God despised us Beasts with exception to one species. The monkeys!
He used his power to craft them into his own image. Giving them knowledge and gifting them the ability to ascend the heavens by means of cultivation. However he added one more thing, hatred for all beasts and the mind set that any inferior life form was theirs to use.
Vegetation was destroyed in order to create room for their new borns and many of us Beasts perished in battles to keep our homeland.
But all of this changed with the coming of our King. The first Divine one, born from our world’s core with one mission, to rid our land of the God.
The King taught us how to harness the power the universe and the world granted us. He preached to us saying, “ The Heavens are not almighty! The universe is all.”
It was only a matter of time before a war broke out and our King clashed with the God. The battle took place outside the confines of this world but the sea still rumbled and the earth still shook.
In the end our King died and the God lived but paid a hefty price.”
“We mourned the death of our King and promised to use his teachings to once again rise up but that thought was soon squashed. The God sealed the power of the universe from entering into this world and thus our power to fight back was lost!
Years later, the King’s Generals left this world to find their Lord’s body. When they finally located it, two of them gave their life in order to destroy the King’s core.
The result caused vast amounts of his essence and divine power to spread into this world. The storm of energy caused cracks to open up in the seal placed around our world.
That was the final day of happiness for our people.”