Author's Note: Hello, Readers!
Yggdrasilian Chronicles is back for its second book, and I'm kicking it off with a prologue that's rather important for one of the protagonist's.
For those who haven't read the first book yet, I suggest you do so in order to have a better understanding of the story as a whole.
With that out of the way, we can now start this chapter. I hope you enjoy it!
Shouts and clanging metal echoed throughout the South Plains as two blindfolded Cait Sith sparred with each other.
One was around sixteen, with shoulder length corn colored hair that would need to be straightened out. Her sword had a gold crossguard with a lion-like design, and an oversized blade made of black steel.
The other was older, in her mid-thirties. She had coal black hair that was very bushy, and it reached down to the small of her back. Her ornate Mythril sword was also quite a bit big for her.
Yet despite how mismatched their blades were for their petite frames, the Cait Sith swung them around with a surprising amount of agility and skill.
Their ears ticked, constantly listening for any movement they could make against each other.
The blonde leaped up, then charged her weapon and slammed it down on her opponent. The older Cait Sith raised her greatsword and intercepted the attack.
There was enough force behind it to cause a shockwave, and the ground beneath her cracked a quite bit. Yet she didn't buckle at all.
The blonde girl flipped back to the ground and was immediately assaulted. She gasped as she barely blocked a vertical slash, then flipped over a horizontal and tried to drop kick the other Cait Sith, who rolled under it and came back up for a back slash.
The younger quickly moved her greatsword so she could brace it against her back.
She just barely managed to block the attack.
Both combatants stayed still for a moment, panting from their exertions. Then they lowered their weapons and jumped away from each other.
They raised their hands, and shadows began to gather around them. They continued to merge, until two colossal fists were formed.
"ÉKLEIPSI!" The combatants chanted, swinging their hands down.
The fists were shot towards each other. They collided mid-way, ending up in a deadlock.
The earth trembled as the shadows struggled to overcome each other. It continued on for a handful of seconds.
Then the blonde Cait Sith's legs buckled, and her magic wavered.
Her opponent's attack broke through and slammed into her at great speed.
She screamed as she went flying far across the field. Then she hit the ground and tumbled even further, until she slid to a stop. Her sword came down and landed upright beside her, then disappeared in a streak of shadow.
The dark haired Cait Sith panted for a moment as the shadows around her faded away, then she walked over to the fallen girl.
"That was a good match." She said, sheathing her greatsword on her back. "You nearly had me. I wasn't even holding back this time."
"Gah..." The younger one groaned, shakily getting up. "That was...quite the experience..."
She ended up falling back down, breathing very heavily. The woman looked down at her in concern.
"Should I get the nurse?" She asked.
"N-no! Just...give me five...ow..."
Once she had gotten enough energy to move, she stood up a little unsteadily and looked around.
There were small cracks all over the place, a result from the sparring. But the most outrageous thing was the smoking crater where her opponent's magic had struck.
"Eh..." She sweatdropped. "I'm lucky to be alive..."
"I wouldn't have killed you with even a direct hit, Dear." The older Cait Sith said with a chuckle. "It would take a few more of that."
"Mother...that's not making me feel better."
"Heh...Well, regardless, you've nearly reached your full potential. You just need to work on your magic a bit more. And you can do that whille you are on your Pilgrimage."
The older Cait Sith removed her blindfold, revealing her bright gold eyes. She then gave her daughter a kind smile and petted her head.
"My dear Dawn, just relax until then. You've earned it."
Dawn took off her own blindfold, revealing her own gold eyes. She smiled at her mother, her tail waving happily.
"Mother, thank you." She said gratefully.
By noon, Dawn was still curled up on the mat in her tent, sleeping very peacefully. She giggled occasionally, apparently having a good dream.
Then someone entered the tent and nudged her, making her hiss in annoyance.
"Milady." The visitor called.
Dawn groaned and turned over, throwing the covers over her head.
"Quinn, go away..." She whined.
"Milady, get up or I will get Lady Bella!"
The blonde catgirl reluctantly sat up and drowsily looked at her retainer.
Quinn was only two years older, but looked more like someone in her mid-late twenties. Her short and uneven copper hair, combined with her rugged body, gave a much more adult look.
Such was the result of her family's training regime.
Dawn yawned and stretched her arms, then got to her feet. She gave Quinn an annoyed look.
"I just want to relax." She muttered. "Mother even said I could..."
Quinn huffed and crossed her arms. "That doesn't mean you can forgo your other responsibilities. Now go make sure everyone is packed up and ready to go."
"Wait...it's noon already?"
That got the blonde to hastily dress up in a yellow tunic and dash out of the tent.
Quinn stared at where her bare legs were, looking rather frustrated.
"And she forgot them again..." She said, shaking her head.
As if on cue, Dawn burst back into the tent, looking rather embarrassed.
"Er..." She picked a pair of pants. "Forgot these..."
Quinn just put a hand on her face and sighed.
After putting on her pants, Dawn went back out and began to wander around.
Cait Sith were a nomadic race. They went from place to place, never staying for long.
As usual for noontimes, several dozens of catgirls were packing up their tents and getting ready to set out. The elderly members were at the remains of the campfire, simply sitting down and talking about their youthful days.
Dawn saw her mother and her retainer, Lin, going over to each of them and asking about their conditions. So she went over to the others and checked if they needed help with packing.
"You alright Marissa?" She asked one girl.
"I'm fine, Princess." Marissa assured.
Then a second...
"How about you, Elaine?"
"Nah, I got it." The second girl waved her off.
The kitten buckled under the weight of the crate she was trying to carry.
"Please?" She squeaked.
And so it continued, until Dawn made sure everyone was packed up. Then they loaded everything onto horse-drawn wagons.
"Is that all?" Bella asked her tribe.
"Yes!" They all said in unison.
"Then let's get moving! Castle Town is only three days away!"
There was a lot of excited chatter as the Cait Sith resumed their travelling.
Dawn's ears ticked as she overheard a conversation behind her.
"We're entering Spring. Do you think you'll find a mate this time?"
"I hope so...I'm twenty now, I only have a year left to-"
She frowned and shut out the rest of it.
Two days later, Dawn woke up to a burning sensation that enveloped her entire body.
"Ugh..." She groaned, hugging herself tightly. "W-what the..."
Then the cramps came, making her mewl in pain. She pounded the floor over and over, until the agony went away. Then she shakily sat up, panting heavily.
"Dammit..." She muttered bitterly. "Guess it's that time..."
Dawn got dressed, then went over to her mother's tent.
Bella sat cross legged on her mat, drinking a small cup of tea. She gave her daughter a knowing look.
"So you're finally having your first heat?" She guessed.
Dawn blushed and looked down nervously.
"I know. It's not pleasant, and it's very embarassing. But it's a natural part of our lives, so you need to live with it. Now, come sit down."
Once her daughter was seated, Bella brought out her tea set and picked out a few different kinds of leaves. Then she lit a fire and set the teapot on it. While the water heated up, she ground the leaves together in a little bowl.
Dawn squirmed a bit as the heat returned to her body.
"Mother..." She groaned.
"Be patient." Bella chastised.
The teapot hissed as steam came out of it, and she carefully pulled it away from the fire. Then she opened the lid and poured the mix of leaves in the boiling water.
After stirring it for a minute, she shut the lid and got a small cup.
"Here." The dark haired woman said as she poured the tea. "Drink it."
"Thank you." Dawn muttered, politely grabbing it.
She blew on the tea a few times, then took a sip. Her eyes widened as an excrutiatingly bitter taste hit her tongue. It took all she had to drink the rest of the cup.
"Blegh." She spat, shaking her head. "What-"
Then the blonde felt her body suddenly cool down, much to her relief and confusion. She looked at the tea, then her mother.
Bella smirked at her, amused.
"That's a special tea we use to suppress the heat." She informed. "Here, take the rest."
Dawn gratefully took the teapot and bowed.
"Thank you, Mother." She said.
"You're welcome, Dear. And remember to take one cup a day until your two weeks are up."
The next day, the Cait Sith reached the walls of Arum Castle Town.
While the elder and middle-aged members set up the camp, youngest ones got to play around.
As for the youths, they excitedly entered the town in search of potential mates. Except for Dawn and Quinn, who were following their mothers to the castle.
"Remember to be on your best behavior." Bella strictly told her daughter. "King Randolph is an old friend, and I do not want to be humiliated."
"I know, Mother." Dawn said, rolling her eyes.
"Quinn, she's your responsibility." Lin informed her daughter. "Don't take your eyes off her until she leaves with the others."
"You have my word." Quinn assured, putting a fist over her heart. "Milady will be kept safe from any miscreants that dare to touch her."
Dawn just shook her head. Those two were so much alike...it gave her a headache.
She decided to look around to take her mind off things.
The town was as lively as ever. All around her, she could see people wandering around, and hear them talking about whatever was going on with their lives that day.
"My wife wants a kid..." One young man said nervously. "Like, you know how hard it is to have one...I don't want to disappoint her."
"I hear ya." His friend said with sympathy. "Honestly, I'm surprised my wife and I conceived ours on the first go. But hey, if that can happen, why not at least try a couple of times a day?"
"I suppose so...man, those royals sure are lucky."
Dawn frowned and turned to another conversation. This one happened to be between a rather lusty Cait Sith and a very nervous young man.
"Hello, Tiger." The girl greeted. "I couldn't help but notice that you aren't with anybody."
"Well..." The man tried to back away. "Yeah..."
"Well, I'm looking for the town's inn." She stroked his chest. "Could you maybe...take me there?"
He made a break for it, and she chased after him.
"Hey! I promise you'll have a lot of fun!"
Dawn shook her head and sighed in disbelief.
"How desperate can someone get?" She wondered.
"Can you blame them?" Bella said with a frown. "You only have so long to mate with someone. Two heats each year, for five years."
"After that, you won't be able to have children anymore." Quinn finished. "I'm eighteen, so I don't have much to worry about. But I need to actively search for a mate once I reach twenty, if I haven't gotten one by then. Or else I won't be able to continue my family line."
Lin nodded in agreement. "You are lucky to even be so fertile. So if you find a suitable mate, you better not pass him up."
She gave Dawn a pointed look.
"So after your Pilgrimage is over, you better not slack off on finding a mate. You're a royal, so you need to bear a child more than anybody else."
"i know." Dawn muttered. "But...don't you feel...kinda...guilty? For leaving a man behind?"
"Well, it's not like we stay long enough to form meaningful attachments." Quinn pointed out. "Although...there have been a few cases where a man chose to follow us."
"Though those..." Bella looked away. "never ended well..."
Her daughter gave her a look of concern, and put a hand on her shoulder.
"You alright, Mother?" She asked quietly.
"I am...I just regret not being able to protect your father..."
A sad silence hung over the group as they continued their walk to the castle.
After the guards confirmed their business, the Cait Sith stepped inside.
It was there that they encountered an Elven youth, who wore a jade tunic and white tights. He smiled at Dawn and bowed.
"Hello." He said politely. "It's been a while, Dawn."
"Nice to see you again, Lief." She greeted back. "Let me guess, you got here first?"
"Just two days ago. By the way, you need to try the royal baths. They are simply splendid."
As if to emphasize it, Lief flipped one of the golden wolftails that hung from the sides of his head. Dawn just shook her head and sighed.
"Honestly, you really haven't changed in the...what, five years since I met you?"
"Why, thank you! Oh, and I have great news! I got married two years ago, and I had a kid last year!"
"W-what!?" Dawn exclaimed in shock. "B-but...are you sure you didn't rush into things!?"
"I already had my mind made up!" Lief boasted, flourishing one hand and putting the other over his heart. "I was planning to marry my childhood friend since I was twelve years old! Now we have a beautiful daughter named Lorica!"
"Gods and goddesses...Well, congrats anyway. Have the others arrived yet?"
"Coraline arrived this morning. She was pretty tired when she got here..."
"Oh..." Dawn became concerned. "Is she alright?"
"She is. Right now, she's just soaking in the royal baths. And she has some news to share with everyone once we've all arrived."
"I wonder...Well, moving on. What about Stratos and Ava?"
"They arrived with me, actually. You know, they also had a child last year. A little boy named Reinhardt."
"You're kidding..." Dawn said in disbelief, ears drooping. "Oh, I guess Stephan got himself a wife and kid too?"
"Huh, you're wrong, actually." Lief said curiously. "Kinda strange...but then again, he's not really the passionate type. A shame, really."
(Well...at least I'm not the only one who's single...) "Anyway, Hearthstone?"
"Not here yet. You know, he actually had a kid three years ago. Named him Cid."
"Well..." Dawn sweatdropped. "he is the oldest one...should have figured."
"Of course." Lief smiled innocently. "Oh, I don't need to ask about your life, do I?"
She felt a twinge of anger upon hearing that. If he wasn't her comrade...he probably would have been scratched right across his pompous face.
"No..." She said with a strained smile. "You don't need to ask..."
Quinn gave Lief a glare. "Boy...I suggest you be a little more considerate to milady."
"And other people as well." Bella added, also narrowing her eyes.
The Elf shrank under their gazes and nodded hastily.
"Y-yes! You have my apologies!"
"Accepted. Now, would please move out of the way? We have a meeting with King Randolph."
"Of course! Good day, fair maidens!"
Lief bowed and stepped away, and the Cait Sith walked past him.
Dawn sighed in relief, glad to be able to take her mind off her life problems.
The group stepped into the War Room, where they were happily greeted by the middle-aged King Randolph XIII, whose brown hair and beard were quite curly.
"Ah, Chieftess Bella! Welcome back."
"It's good to see you, Randolph." Bella replied, tail waving as she smiled. "Please, no need to be formal."
They hugged each other for a moment, then withdrew.
"So," Randolph looked at Dawn. "how is your daughter doing with her training?"
"Quite well." Bella said proudly. "She's nearly reached her full potential. She should reach it during her Pilgrimage."
"Splendid! Do you think she can beat you?"
"Not quite. But maybe that will change when she gets back."
Dawn became rather sheepish. "Well, I don't know...you are pretty tough."
"Of course I am. But you have the potential to at least be equal with me. So don't slack off during your journey, alright?"
Bella smiled at her daughter and petted her head, much to her delight.
"Why don't you go wander around?" The older woman suggested. "I'm sure Coraline would like to speak with you."
"I would like to." Dawn said with nod.
"Then go on. I'll just be talking with my friends."
Dawn proceeded to skip out of the room, with Quinn right behind her. Bella chuckled a little before turning back to Randolph.
"What an innocent girl." He remarked, cupping his chin.
"She's my pride and joy." Bella said wistfully. "She reminds me so much of her father..."
"Still miss him?"
"Of course...He was my true mate. My only love."
"At least your mate got to see his child before he died." Randolph looked down sadly. "My wife...never got that blessing."
Bella put a comforting hand on his arm. They stood there in complete silence for a while, remembering their happiest days.
"Baths..." Dawn said as she walked through the halls. "Baths...Baths..."
Upon remembering Lief's suggestion, she ditched Quinn and started looking for the royal baths. If only to see how good they really were.
"They can't be as good as a hot spring...right?"
Eventually, she encountered a guard, who proceeded to point her in the right direction.
The blonde catgirl had just found the baths when a girl came walking out of them. They collided with each other, and fell to the floor.
"Ow!" Dawn shrieked, rubbing her forehead. "Watch it!"
"Sorrry!" The girl moaned.
Dawn looked to see a gorgeous Nymph around her age, with long icy blue hair that matched her eyes.
"Wait a minute..." She blinked, recognizing her. "Coraline?"
"Huh?" Coraline blinked as well. and tilted her head. "Dawn?"
A moment of silence passed between them.
Then the Nymph squealed and jumped on Dawn, making her mewl in shock.
"It's really you!" Coraline said excitedly, hugging her tightly. "I missed you!"
"G-get off-mmph!" The Cait Sith struggled to talk through a sizable bust.
She managed to shove Coraline away, and that's when she noticed the Nymph was only wearing a towel.
"W-what..." Dawn blushed heavily. "G-get some clothes on!"
"But they're in my room." The Nymph said innocently.
After Coraline put on a simple white dress, she and Dawn proceeded to catch up with each other.
"So have you been well?" She asked.
"Yeah." Dawn replied. "I've been working hard to reach my full potential. Hopefully I complete my training during the Pilgrimage."
"I still need to work with Varòskjoldr...I don't like being a voluntary punching bag..."
There was a creepy look in Coraline's eyes as she went on.
"I'd muuuuch rather be cutting things up, you know? Seeing an enemy cower beneath your feet is just soooo exciting!"
Dawn shivered in fear and edged away from her. She tried to change the subject.
"Anyway...Um, Lief said you had some news to share?"
"Well... " The Nymph bit her lip, unsure. "I'd rather wait for everyone...but..."
She beamed and jumped up.
"I had a baby two months ago!"
Dawn froze up as she processed that.
"Huh?" Coraline became concerned. "Dawn?"
Then the blonde took off, tears forming in her eyes.
(Everyone is going on with their lives.) She thought bitterly. (Getting married...having children...) She scowled. (But unlike me...they can choose who to spend their lives with. They can choose when to have a baby without any worries. Me? I only have so much time...can I really find a mate in five years?)
She thought about her father, and how he was only around for a short time.
(Even if I do find a mate...will it just be a one time thing? If he does go with me...can he even survive long enough to live to an old age with me?)
She continued to run through the halls, startling a few guards that she passed.
(I hate this...I hate my biology. The other races are so lucky. Even if the odds are low, they can still have a child whenever they want. They can easily live to an old age together.)
She shoved the castle doors open and continued to sprint into the town.
(I just want to feel like a normal girl, dammit! Is that really wrong!?)
Finally, Dawn slowed down as she reached the plaza. She panted heavily, sweat dripping down her face.
She stumbled over to the water fountain and dipped her head in it, cooling herself off. Then she sat down on a bench and moped for awhile.
After that, she started looking around.
There were people happily walking about. Some kids could be seen playing and laughing together, while others were with their parents, holding hands and smiling joyfully.
Dawn also noticed other Cait Sith going around, creeping up to presumably single men and trying to seduce them. Half of them were successful, while the the rest just gave up and walked away dejectedly.
"Would I really get that desperate?" Dawn wondered.
The mere thought of that made her more miserable. She lowered her head and sighed.
Then she saw someone step up to her, and she looked up. Her eyes immediately widened at who she was seeing.
"Oh, excuse me." The young man said.
He was around twenty years of age, and was kinda cute in a dorky way.
His maroon hair was very unkempt, and his baggy clothes looked like they had seen better days. His bronze frame glasses were just barely hanging on his face, and his scarlet eyes had shadows underneath them.
This man wasn't even presenting himself well, but Dawn couldn't help but feel...some kind of fluttering in her chest.
"Uh..." The redhead shifted awkwardly. "Miss?"
"O-oh!" Dawn straightened up, blushing slightly. "S-sorry! Um...what do you need?"
"Well, I noticed you sitting here...and you kinda looked like you needed some company."
The young man's face reddened, and he looked away shyly.
"That is...do you need it? I wouldn't want to bother you."
"Uh..." Dawn squirmed in her seat, her ears turning sideways.
He might have looked like some beggar, but he was being rather nice and considerate...and he was a little cute...
Well, it wouldn't hurt for him to sit beside her...
"S-sure!" The Cait Sith admitted, scooting over a bit.
The young man seemed surprised for a moment, but he quickly recovered and beamed at her.
"Thank you." He said gratefully.
He sat down next to her, being careful not to touch her. Then he reached into his coat and pulled out a handkerchief.
"You're kinda wet, so...here."
Dawn gulped, feeling her heart beat rapidly. She took the cloth and rubbed it against her face, taking in a bit of its scent...
She quickly gave it back before she could make a fool of herself.
"Th-thank you..." She smiled at him awkwardly. "So...my name is Dawn. Um...what's yours?"
"Oh!" He rubbed the back of his head. "My name Montague Python. You can just call me Python. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Heh...It's nice to meet you as well, Python."
The blonde Cait Sith started to relax a bit, feeling a sense of comfort from Python's presence. This man...he was special.
"Milady!" Quinn shouted frantically.
Dawn turned to see her sprinting over, looking scared out of her mind. She stopped and began her scolding.
"I can't believe you would do that! I'm your retainer for God's sake! If you don't explain yourself right now, I will-"
"Excuse me." Python interrupted nervously.
Quinn looked at him in surprise as she just noticed his presence. Then she looked at him warily.
"Just who the hell are you?"
"My name is Python...ma'am. Your friend here was just uh...talking to me. Sorry for the inconvenience."
"He's a friend." Dawn insisted, clasping her hands together. "Could I just talk with him for a bit longer?"
Her muscular retainer crossed her arms, then gave them both skeptical looks. After a moment of silence, she finally let out a huff.
"Just be back at camp by nightfall." She said begrudgingly as she walked away.
Dawn waited until she was out of sight, then sighed in relief. She gave Python a small smile.
"Thanks." She said. "I really needed to be away from her."
"I could tell." He remarked, smiling in amusement. "Have your travels been hard?"
"Something like that..."
"I'm an adventurer myself, so I can understand just how hard it is on the body. Even the toughest of us can get worn by a long time on the road."
The redhead stood up and stretched, then offered Dawn his hand.
"How about we walk around together? I was thinking of checking out some old books from the library. It's a good way to relax."
She stared at him with wide eyes for a moment.
He was being so kind to her. It seemed like he at least cared about her, even if he was a little awkward...
He was even a traveller with a fondness for reading. Maybe he had some good stories to tell...
Dawn smiled shyly, then took Python's hand.
"I would love to." She said, blushing a bit.
He blushed a little himself, and she found it cute how his entire head now had a shade of red on it.
"Then let us walk, milady." He said politely.
And so they wandered about the town, with Dawn enjoying his company immensely.