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The Kougra Klan: Part Two


by ikea_sale

--------

After the incident which had changed her life forever, Riyita had run for over a day, only stopping once to rest under a tree when she thought her aching feet couldn't take much more. She couldn't believe what had happened to her, and she cried sitting under that tree, wondering what she was going to do. She was all alone in the world now--she had to fight for herself. But she didn't know how.

     The next day, she emerged from the shadows of the forest to find a small woodland village, and she was filled with relief. However, this was short-lived. She had begged for food and hospitality on the doorsteps of villagers, but none had believed her story. Doors were slammed in her face, disgusted looks cast in her direction.

     After a few hours trailing around the village, it started to pour with icy cold rain. Her once soft yellow fur was scraggly and matted with rain, ash and dirt, and her face was tear-streaked. She took shelter in a deserted and dilapidated cottage on the very edge of the village next to the woods, which she made her home.

      What followed were years of depression and loneliness, living her life with the gaping void of friends and family permanently lingering on her mind. Though she had plenty to keep her occupied with patching up the cottage, there was nothing there to fill the space where her brother, sister and father used to be. Nothing.

     But not anymore, thought Riyita the next morning, tenderly placing down a bowl of water which Guanya eagerly lapped up. I've got Guanya. I won't be lonely anymore.

     She was startled out of her thoughts as Guanya pressed his paw down on the side of the bowl, sending water spraying all over her. She blinked and wiped her face off as he looked up at her with sparkling eyes, almost laughing at her.

     "Guanya!" she moaned, scooping him up. "You're a strong one, aren't you? And cheeky!" Guanya kicked his legs about, so hard that Riyita was forced to let him go. He leapt from her arms and scuttled across the floor before bounding up the stairs. Riyita frowned as his striped tail disappeared from view. She still didn't know where he had come from, and why he had been left, discarded in a bush like a piece of rubbish. Perhaps he hadn't--perhaps he had run away, and his real mother was out looking for him, crying and wishing he could come back? Riyita dispelled the thought from her head. He needed me, and I needed him. I'm not letting him go, ever, she decided stubbornly. I'm not going to lose another person close to me.

     As Guanya grew older, more signs of his strength seemed to show, and he grew bigger very rapidly. He would go off into the woods nearby and climb trees, leaping from branch to branch and chasing the birds that flitted through the canopy of leaves. He would overturn huge rocks with his paws, hunting for bugs underneath, prodding at them with wide-eyed fascination. He came to spend most of his time adventuring in the woods, and Riyita would only see him when the alluring scent of her elaborate meals escaped into the nearby woods and hunger drew him back to the cosy cottage kitchen. As he got older, he became almost completely independent. But he was strong and responsible, and Riyita knew he would not do anything foolish.

      They had few arguments, but when they did Guanya was always the winner. His eyes were an unfathomable shade of brown, and he had a piercing gaze that Riyita could never meet. He was a joker, but when he felt passionately about something, he got serious. Riyita was always worried that one day this would get him into trouble. And she was always worried that her past, and her unofficial adoption of Guanya, would one day get her into trouble too.

     These two knots tied together in a way she never could have possibly imagined.

      ***

    "Hey, Riy, I think someone's following me," Guanya chuckled over breakfast that morning, as if it were a casual conversation starter. Riyita dropped her spoon and widened her eyes at him.

     "Are you serious?" she asked, her jaw dropping open. Immediately Guanya wished he hadn't said anything, and looked down at his feet.

     "Well, when I go to the woods, I hear... rustling. And sometimes I see people darting by," he replied with a shrug.

     "Since when has this been happening?" asked Riyita in a stern voice. Because of her past, she had very a cautious and suspicious nature. She couldn't help it. She leant forward, her brow furrowed in worry.

     "Calm down, Riy. You know I can defend myself," he replied, looking uncomfortable as he stirred his breakfast around with his spoon. Riyita leant back in her chair, trying to calm down.

     "I know. I just don't want anything to happen to you..." she replied, closing her eyes and remembering how she used to sit at the table alone, wrapped in silence save the quiet ticking of her clock. She couldn't bear to go through that again.

     "I understand..." said Guanya, his voice dwindling away. An awkward silence arose.

     Eventually, the Kougra scraped his chair back and stood up, stretching his legs and his long tail.

     "I'm going out," he announced. Riyita stood up too.

     "I'm coming," she said abruptly.

     "Riy!" Guanya rolled his eyes. "You don't need to protect me! How are you going to protect me? Nothing's going to happen to me, anyway!" he said, a note of annoyance in his voice. Riyita simply pursed her lips.

     "I just want a walk. Why not go now?" she said slowly, her stubborn stare not waning.

     Huffing, Guanya strode out of the room and into the hall, where he flung a cape around his shoulders. He unlatched the front door, flung it open and stepped out, closely followed by Riyita who shuffled along behind him. Just past the old wooden gate was the path that meandered its way deep into the nearby forest.

      It was a blustery day; a few patches of weak, mottled sunlight fell on the path and a light wind teased the sea of crisp, golden leaves that had fallen on the path. They crunched and rustled as Guanya paced down the path, his paws behind his back, his head down and an expression of embarrassment plastered across his face. Riyita struggled to keep up with him, and knew he was doing it on purpose.

     "Slow down!" called the unfit yellow Aisha, her long ears sailing on the wind behind her as she dashed clumsily through the leaves.

     "Hurry up!" called Guanya, not looking back. He disappeared behind a group of gnarled trees, their branches entwined together to make an eerie archway, and into the wood. Panting and trying her best not to stumble and fall over, Riyita followed, though she had fallen quite behind.

     "Guanya!" she yelled. She turned to walk through the archway, and came to a complete stop.

     Guanya was frozen rigid in the middle of the path. He was face-to-face with a huge Kougra who was standing roughly a meter away. This Kougra was old, yet he looked so full of power and strength as he stood, head raised proudly in the air. His tenacious stare seemed to be fixed on Guanya's face, and as they gazed at each other it was almost as if they knew each other; as if they shared some dark secret and were communicating merely by their serious, sombre looks. Neither was scared--that was obvious.

      The bulky Kougra stepped forward quickly as if to advance towards Guanya, starting to bare his teeth, but when his eyes fell onto Riyita a look of surprise flashed over his face and he stopped. It only lasted a second, but she saw it. The Kougra started to walk forward again, this time at a slower pace, as if he were only going to calmly stroll past Guanya all along. He nodded at Guanya, who responded with a suspicious glare, turning his body so it faced the Kougra at all times with his arm held out defensively.

     "Nice morning, isn't it?" the Kougra said in a raspy voice, almost sardonically, as he moved out of the archway. He had a smug look on his scarred face. Before he disappeared around the corner, he shot Riyita a look, and it felt as if her heart had suddenly stopped. She went pale, drawing in a sharp intake of breath. Once she was sure he was gone, her knees buckled underneath her and she collapsed to the floor.

     "Riyita!" Guanya yelled, running over to her and kneeling by her side. "What's wrong?"

     "It's the Kougra..." Riyita gasped. He was older and slightly more scarred, but she had still recognized him perfectly; the Kougra who had come up behind her that night, the Kougra who her father had valiantly fought off. Exactly the same Kougra. And she knew he had recognized her, too.

     "Which Kougra?" Guanya asked worriedly, leaning over Riyita.

     "From the village..."

     "What village, Riy?" Guanya said in a concerned voice, propping her up against his knee.

     "Guanya, there are some things about my past I haven't told you..." Riyita sighed, closing her eyes. "But the main thing is, we're not safe here anymore."

     It had suddenly all come to her. She remembered the little Kougra in the village, torn away from her mother and stuffed into a sack; and she remembered her brother, that brave expression on his face as he was jostled away. She didn't know who this gang of Kougras were, or what their intentions were, but what they wanted had become obvious: they wanted more Kougras. And perhaps Guanya was one of the ones they wanted.

     "You're scaring me, Riy," said Guanya, a hint of true fear in his voice for the first time in years, as he leant over Riyita and stared into her eyes, trying to find answers to all the questions that had suddenly sprung into his mind.

     "Guanya, what do you remember about when you were very little?" Riyita asked in a quiet voice.

     Guanya knew he was not related to Riyita; he vaguely remembered the day when he was lifted from the bush by her and taken back to the cottage. They had lived their lives on a "Don't ask, don't tell" basis--they did not want to complicate their lives with memories from the past. They just knew that the world had somehow brought them together, and that was a good thing. Guanya had never thought about where he had really come from.

     "Why?" he asked.

     "It doesn't matter; please, just tell me. I need to know," Riyita said, forcing herself to sit up a little more. She looked all around her, checking that they were still alone. Guanya thought for a minute, and then spoke.

     "I remember I was travelling somewhere. A long journey, but there were lots of other Kougras to play with. I wandered off somewhere, and the next thing I knew I was cold and alone in the middle of the forest," he said, looking slightly confused.

     "You mean... you weren't abandoned?" Riyita whimpered.

     "I don't think so..." Guanya said with a frown. "I was with all these other Kougras. We were like a huge family. But I don't remember much about them..."

     Riyita groaned and buried her head in her hands, stifled sobs escaping from her mouth.

     "I thought no one wanted you... so I took you... and now these, these Kougras... they want you back, Guanya! They're going to take you away!" she cried, though Guanya could hardly make out the words between the deep sobs. It was all too much for him to take in. He stood up, and took a few slow paces back, his eyes fixed on the trembling Riyita.

     "I don't know anything about your past, and I don't know what's happening... but I can promise you, Riy, no one's going to get me," he said. Riyita sniffed and looked up at him.

     "Do you promise me, Guanya?" she said quietly.

     "I promise, no one's going to get me," he said in a reassuring voice. The he threw his head up towards the sky, bellowing, as if wherever these Kougras were, they were listening. "You hear that? You're not going to get me!"

     Riyita smiled as he helped her up, and arm in arm they walked back towards the cottage, contemplating what they were going to do next. The wind was getting stronger and colder, and they were eager to get back into the warmth of the kitchen, where they would be safe from any kidnappers who were watching them. They may have found the village, thought Riyita, but they don't know where we live. At least, not yet. She smiled a weak smile. Perhaps things would be okay.

     When they got back to the house, it was apparent that it had been broken into.

To be continued...

 
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» The Kougra Klan: Part One
» The Kougra Klan



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