Echoes||Syrokai: Part One
Evil beast of ages past
Corrupt the mind of naïve paws
Kill the good within the heart
Shred the soul with tooth and claw
“Permission to enter, your Lordship?”
The young yellow Lupe, who had been staring at the ceiling from his bed dazedly, slowly shifted his gaze to the doorway.
“I suppose.” His voice was an empty croak, as if he had not used it in a long time. His green tunic was wrinkled and his hair was unkempt. He looked as if he had not left his room in days.
A tall, cheerful looking fire Zafara poked his head around the door before entering. His bright red tunic contrasted sharply with the dull grey stone of the walls. He took one look at the trashed and unkempt interior of the room before striding over to the bed, an eyebrow raised.
“This place is a sty! What’s gotten into you, Roki? You never used to mope around in here for hours on end.” The Zafara shook his head in bewilderment.
The Lupe said nothing, but stared dolefully at the Zafara, who turned to leave.
“Well, I can see you’re not in much of a ‘let’s talk about it’ mood, so I guess I’ll leave you to wallow in your misery,” the Zafara called back over his shoulder.
“It’s my father,” the Lupe stated suddenly, causing the Zafara to reenter the room interestedly. “He’s retiring.”
“You’re kidding!” the Zafara exclaimed, clearly excited. “Well that’s great news, isn’t it? Nothing to sulk about, if you ask me. That’ll make you king of this Fyora-forsaken island. Maybe you can fix it up a bit, make it less of a trash heap. No offense, but your father’s been so busy spending all of our taxes on the army that there’s none left for anything else! And we’re not even at war. Now that I think about it, last war we had was what, five years ago? Doesn’t make much sense to me.”
“My father’s never been much for sense,” the Lupe agreed, sitting up. “Retiring is probably the most sensible thing he’s ever done, but that’s just the problem. I don’t want to rule. I want to leave here as quickly as possible, actually. I can’t stand this place anymore.”
“Well, I highly doubt your father is going to allow you to leave. You are his only child, after all, and plus, you’ve got his name. I don’t think he’s gonna let the name die out after who knows how many generations,” the Zafara replied.
“I know,” the Lupe sighed in defeat, hanging his head.
“Hey, cheer up, Prince Sulky Whiskers. Look at the bright side. When you rule this place you can do something great! I wish I had that kind of power!”
“Yeah, I guess...”
“Guess nothing! Now come on, let’s go down to the beach. That always cheers you up!”
“Alright. Tell you what, Kairo, when I’m king, I’ll do away with your wimpy squire title and make you my head knight!” the Lupe said, standing up to follow his friend.
“Hmm,” Kairo paused, considering. “Sir Kairo. Has a ring to it. I like!” The Zafara dropped into a sweeping bow at the Lupe’s feet. “Sir Kairo at your service, My Liege.”
The Lupe laughed before proclaiming in his loftiest voice “Announcing his Royal Majesty, King Syrokai the Seventh!”
The two boys giggled their way out of the castle into the warm sunshine beyond the cold walls.
The day was warm, with a light breeze that rippled their fur as they headed towards the small, private beach reserved for the use of residents of the palace. Grass quickly turned to sand underpaw, shifting relentlessly as they plodded along, the trail lined with tall hedges to keep the eyes of the public away. Before them the sea loomed, the waves rolling and crashing idly, silhouetting a fairly large figure already enjoying the pleasant weather and lovely scenery.
“Ah, my noble steed!” Kairo exclaimed, taking a flying leap onto the back of the unsuspecting island Uni who had been innocently gazing out at the waves beyond the beach.
“AGH! Get off of me, you great furball!” the Uni exclaimed, bucking the Zafara off into the sand.
“Aw, c’mon, Eelin, you’re no fun!” Kairo complained, standing up and dusting sand out of his fur.
“I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate a hundred pounds of flesh and hair lunging onto your back either!” Eelin shot back.
“Are you calling me fat?!”
Eelin ignored the fuming Zafara, her eyes finally landing on Syrokai. “Well, well, if it isn’t Princey himself. Long time no see, Roki. Where ya been?”
“He’s been sulking!” Kairo piped up, momentarily forgetting his anger.
“Sulking?” Eelin asked, “What about?”
“Doesn’t wanna be king!” Kairo tossed in yet again. Syrokai glared at him.
“I can speak for myself, you know.”
“Yeah, but I’m honest,” Kairo retorted. The Zafara looked around and, spotting a shell lying not far from them, took another flying leap in that direction, rolling through the sand a bit and emerging holding the shell aloft triumphantly. “I know what’ll take the sulk right out of ya, Princey! How about some Roki-ball?”
Syrokai smiled, remembering the shell-centered game they had invented the previous summer.
“Sounds good to me!” Syrokai replied, grinning, “But I must warn you, I am a champion Roki-baller and I will not hesitate to use every move in my arsenal against you!”
“Bring it on, Princey! I can take you and your wimpy little moves too!” Kairo taunted, brandishing the shell threateningly.
“What are you two going on about?” Eelin, whom had turned again to watch the waves, asked, attempting to hide the interest in her voice.
“Only the greatest sport to ever hit the shores of this lovely island of Syrokia!” Kairo said in his best official-sounding voice, “Roki-ball!”
“Oh, is that the game I’ve seen you two idiots out here playing where you throw the shell and nearly kill each other to catch it again?”
“The one and only!” replied the ever cheery Zafara with a smile.
“I think I’ll join you then. How do you play?” Eelin’s statement caused much surprise on the part of her two friends.
“Well, basically,” Syrokai began, “the players start out side by side. Then whoever scored last takes the shell, like that one Kai’s holding, and flings it down the beach. All the players chase it, and whoever gets it back to the starting point gets a point. I’ll warn you, though, this is a full contact sport, and you can do just about anything you can think of to steal the shell from an opponent. Oh, and if you catch the shell in midair you can get style points too.”
“So who goes first?” questioned Eelin when this speech was over.
“We normally start alphabetically by whatever category we feel like!” Kairo answered excitedly. “I think we should go by color today, Roki, since we did species last week.”
Syrokai nodded. “So that’s you first, then Kairo. You didn’t rig it, did you?”
“’Course not,” Kairo responded, taking his place in line and waiting for the others to follow. When they were all set, Kairo readied the shell and threw it with all his might down the beach.
The three set off at a gallop, Kairo in the lead, using his large feet to propel himself forward. Eelin was next, but her mane was being whipped about so wildly that she was unable to see and was forced to slow until she had been lost far behind the sprinting Zafara and Lupe.
Syrokai was catching Kairo now, and both were gaining on the still flying shell, but he knew he would never be able to overtake the Zafara with the lead he already had. Bracing his back paws firmly against the ground, he readied himself to perform his favorite move. Syrokai leapt, the force of the jump propelling him beyond the outstretched arm of his friend. He clamped his jaws tightly around the shell, growling triumphantly. The indignant cry of Kairo greeted his ears.
Victory seemed his, but all too soon did the young prince realize that he had overshot his wanted destination. Kairo had thrown the shell with such force that it had sailed nearly the entire length of the beach before it was caught. He attempted to brake in midair, but it was too late. His front paws hit the sand and he was flung head over tail into the hedgerow that bordered the beach.
The Lupe plowed through the hedges easily, coming to rest with a thump a bit beyond them. After the shock of the crash had left him, Syrokai righted himself with some effort, shaking sand out of his ears and fur.
“Roki? Roki, you alright?” Kairo’s voice could be heard from the other side of the hedge, and was soon joined by Eelin’s, who had finally caught up.
“What happened, Kai?” Eelin was saying.
“He overshot it and went flying into the hedge,” Kairo replied.
Syrokai took a moment to look around. He had fallen into a sort of hollow in the hedge. Above him stretched a thin cover of branches and all around him there was nothing but green. There was a large gap in one section where he had fallen through.
Below him, Syrokai could feel more sand, and for a fleeting moment wondered how any plant life this thick could grow in sandy soil, but was disrupted from his thoughts by a sharp pain in his left forepaw, causing him to yelp and Kairo to panic on the other side of the hedges.
“Roki?! Roki, what’s wrong, man? Come out of there!”
Syrokai ignored him for the time being, instead studying the sand beneath his paw, now dotted with specks of red from where whatever it was had stabbed him. Lying half submerged in sand lay a long, black object. The Lupe set to digging, his curiosity getting the better of him. Soon the object had been uncovered completely and lay glistening on the sand beside him.
It was some sort of claw. Ancient and weather worn, it still retained an almost unnatural shine. The claw was pitch black and nearly a foot long, as if it had come from some enormous, long gone creature. Intrigued, Syrokai stowed it away under his tunic, now ripped in a few places. He would show it to his father later. Perhaps he would know what it had come from.
Syrokai climbed back through the hedge to the awaiting and anxious faces of Eelin and Kairo.
“Ugh, you look a mess, Roki,” Eelin said, wincing, “Your face is cut to tatters. Thankfully they’re shallow. They probably won’t scar.”
“Yeah,” Kairo agreed, “You must’ve hit the ground hard too. I think you’ve got the makings of a black eye!”
“My father won’t be very happy about this...” Syrokai stated apprehensively, knowing that the king would explode if he knew his son had been injured. He was very overprotective. Nearly to the point of obsession, Syrokai often thought.
“We’d better get back to the castle, huh?” Kairo suggested nervously, shifting from foot to foot. He was the son of a very important knight within the king’s inner circle. However, as his father and the king had had many heated disputes about the unnecessary spending of taxes on the army within the past months, his position was no longer as solid as it had once been. Kairo feared that being a contributing factor to the prince’s injuries would not be beneficial to his father’s already shaky position.
“Don’t worry Kai,” Syrokai said reassuringly, sensing Kairo’s fear. “It wasn’t your fault. They can’t blame you for it. Now c’mon, let’s get back to the castle. It’s nearly time for dinner anyway. Coming, Eelin?”
The Uni hesitated for a moment before nodding. “Yeah, I’m coming.”
The three made their way back to the castle in silence.
A week had passed since the Roki-ball incident, and the unfortunate prince had been confined to his room on his furious father’s orders. The days passed torturously slowly. If it weren’t for the meal bringers occasionally staying long enough to hold a conversation, he may have gone insane. He hadn’t been allowed to see either Kairo or Eelin at all during his confinement, and he was nearly desperate for any news of them. His father tended to overreact, and he hoped that he hadn’t blamed them for Syrokai’s slight injuries.
The claw he had found that day had helped him to while away the hours as well. Each day he had attempted to make a hole near the base of it. At last he had bored through the thick material and he had passed a thin chain through it to form a necklace which he wore under his clothing. All thought of showing it to his father had left him long ago.
Tonight he lay on his back, staring at the ceiling in an attempt to fall asleep, as he had done for the past week. The claw lay pressed against the fur of his chest. It felt... warm, as if heat were being emitted from it. The young Lupe failed to question this, his mind nearly lost to the realm of sleep, too weary to acknowledge the unusual nature of this heat.
Syrokai’s eyes flickered closed at last, and as they did so, a soft, gentle voice filled his ears.
“Little prince, once again I am awakened, thanks to you.”
“Who said that?” Syrokai mumbled sleepily, not really caring. The voice was soothing to his troubled mind.
“No one and nothing... yet. I am trapped, my prince. I require your assistance to once again be free.”
“Who are you?”
“I am an ancient being, much revered by those who know of me, and also much feared by those too weak to understand my power. I can help you, my prince, nay, my king. With my aid you can become unstoppable, invincible. You can overthrow your pathetic father and take this island. You can make it your own. I see into your mind, I know you desire to undo the wrongs of your father.”
The Lupe nodded in his sleep.
“Then trust in me. With my help you can be great. You can take this island as your own, you can mold it into your own utopia, and then the world will follow. I only ask you one thing.”
“I must be resurrected. Ages ago the weak feared me, and so they set out to destroy me. With their dishonorable tactics and forbidden magic they succeeded. I need you to bring me back to my former glory. Only then can you truly wield my power. Countless moons will come and pass before the requirements of my rebirth can be fully achieved. Until that time comes I will aid you. Now sleep, my king. Tonight we take this kingdom. Tomorrow I will tell you all.”
With this the heat receded from the claw about the young Lupe’s neck, and he settled into a peaceful, dreamless sleep.
To be continued...