Ari, the white lion, sat curled on his throne; his tail waving slightly. He spoke with a deep yet kind voice, “I heard the good news. Congratulations.” Ari was an awakened creature. This meant that, although he was an animal, he had the power to speak. Endri approached the throne and feigned a smile. Ari knew the man far too well to be fooled. The lion rose and jumped down from his seat of power.
Endri sat on the floor, dangling his long arms over his knees. His magical spear, the Spear of Lews, clutched nervously in his hands. “I need to talk to you,” Endri looked to the lion.
“I see,”Ari sat beside his friend and protector. The two were alone in the throne room. They had spent several years together in that room sharing stories, hopes and fears. Although everyone in the small kingdom revered Ari as a deity, Endri knew the truth. “Talk to me. All is well, I hope.”
“Yeah, everything is fine with the child,” Endri answered. “Nana is good. The baby will be here very soon.”
“But…” Ari prompted his friend to continue.
“Nana wants me to give up my position as your protector,” Endri admitted quickly. “She thinks it is too dangerous; says she wants me to do something else.” Endri stood up. “I don’t want to do something else. My job is to protect you.”
Ari felt sympathy for Endri. “Listen to me,” the lion’s voice was kind but strong. “Nothing is more important than your wife and that child.” Endri opened his mouth to protest, but Ari cut him off. “Nothing!” the word came out with a growl.
“It is an honor to be deemed your protector,” Endri argued. “I take pride in my station.”
“I am not worthy of this crown or this throne,” Ari countered. “Just because I can speak does not make me a god. You know that my desire is to be free of this life. I cannot hunt for myself. I cannot leave this kingdom. I appreciate your friendship, but do not take pride in keeping me locked in this cage they call a throne.”
“Let me tell you a story,” Ari softened and refrained from his rantings. “When I was a cub my father was not around very often. My mother taught me to stalk and hunt. One day we were getting ready to take down an antelope, but we were not the only creatures hunting that day. A pack of three yellow dragons were planning on a feast. The dragons did not want us to spook the herd, so they planned on killing us before they went after the antelope. They were on us before we knew it. The dragons spread their wings and started using sound to drive us to the ground. I could not stand it, and I immediately became helpless. My mother, however, was far tougher than I. She ripped the throat of one of the dragons, nearly biting the head completely off. The other two dragons charged, but they never got to me or my mother. My father appeared and pounced on one of the dragons. The unsuspecting yellow was buried beneath him, and died quickly. The remaining dragon fled, not willing to battle my parents by himself.”
Endri was captivated by the tale. “Luckily your father was there,” he remarked.
“Exactly,” Ari nodded his maned head. “That is what I came to understand; he was always watching over us, even when I did not know it.”
“I understand,” Endri reached out and scratched Ari behind his ear, which drew a happy purr from the lion. “So you think I should quit?”
“Perhaps we can figure something out,” Ari gave a shake that started at his head and made it’s way all the way to his tail. “We will figure something out.”