Fate and Revenge
Nellarella Oct 1st, 2018 131 Never
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- “I would have never thought that I would end up like this. If my mother could see me know, I am not sure that she would be proud of me. Then again, what do I care.” was the reoccuring monologue Leela had every morning on the balcony of the mansion. How she ended up here. Why. Why keep on going. She would go out into the wild, if she wouldn't have been given the guardianship to watch over Azizi. A sphinx babysitting and playing housekeeper for a dormouse. Never seen before and it should not even be so. But here she was. Skipping out on her duty was not in her nature. After all she was guarding something. And to be fair, Azizi is a complete mess without her.
- After a few more minutes of arguing with herself and pulling herself together, she went back inside to check up on Azizi. As usual, getting her to wake up in the morning was an almost impossible task. She would only get up for food and her most favorite tv series, which honestly was a complete shitshow. “Azizi, you gonna get up or what? Do I really have to come in there, into that mess, and drag you out?” Leela was not too excited to get into Azizi's room. Reminded her too much about the tomb, where she and Azizi barely escaped. But since there was no sound or sign from Azizi, she had to go in there. Opening the door, with it's typical squeek no matter how often you fixed the angles, with light ouring from behind Leela, the sillouette of a too small sarcophagus was visible. The top was slighty open on the side and a little and quiet “phniii....phniii” was to be heard. She was snoring, again. This could only mean one thing; midnight snack, tv series and way too much crying. “Ough....This is going to be one hell of a day.” Were Leela's last words before she pushed the sarcophagus lit fully to the side and took a look inside.
- Indeed, she was curled up into a little blue and pink fluff and plush ball, her golden hair falling over her red swollen eyes. Her chipped ears, god damn those bastards, flapping slightly with every “phnii”. Azizi was never able to fully lift her ears again, after those bastards broke them over and over again, for sports. But Leela never spoke of it, as it always brought back the haunted gaze which was never losing hold of Azizi.
- Leaving her rage and anger behind, Leela lifted Azizi out of the sarcophagus and carried her into the nearby living room like a 4 year old child, while she was 16 now. She opened her sleepy eyes, one red and one blue, and smiled at Leela. “Hungry. Please?” was all she said before she drifted off into another slight slumber. Sighing, Leela carried her into the kitchen and put her, curled up again in her little ball, in her blanket and pillow fortress near the stove.
- “So, little munchkin. I suppose the usual then?” which was more a rethorical question, but a little “ahuh” still came out of the pillow fortress as a reply.
- After 40 minutes of excessive cooking and baking, the whole table was covered in sweet and savory delight. Some lime and berry pie, the classical eggs and bacon, lots of fried cheese toast, fresh moonberry juice, a handful of pancakes and of course Azizi's favorite; marzipan-vanilla cupcakes with extra sweetberry frosting and sourgrapes drops on top.
- Getting the sourgrapes was one of the most difficult tasks in Leela's monthly routine. You could not buy them, as they were incredibly rare, and people were even killed for it. Extremely expensive, if you managed to get your hands on some of them. There was one familiy left who was still in the trade. Criminals. You could almost say they were mobsters, if you wouldn't be dead saying so. But Leela managed to find a secluded spot, near the great riverbank nudging the cliffside of Mount Lamgeed, which seemed to not belong to anyone. While the whole mountain itself was Lamgeed territory. Dangerous as it was, to not get caught by the “not-mobsters”, it was worth the pay-off.
- Leela didn't hear Azizi crawl out of her pillow fortress to sit down at the table an eat, while she was cleaning the mess of baking and cooking. When She turned around, which must have been only 20 minutes or so, Azizi was already halfway through her breakfast feast.
- “Been awake last night, huh?” Leela asked, while she sat down next to Azizi and grabbed her own plate, with fresh bacon and eggs. She was never a sweet tooth.
- “A bit. Watching tv. Dad gets married today..” was all Azizi said, and barely manage to stop a wave of sniffs and tears to come out.
- Of course Leela knew it, but she was not going to talk about it now. Today should have been special, her birthday. Today would have been the day where her father was going to invite suitors for Azizi to marry, but everything changed a few months ago. But she was going to make it special today, no matter the cost.
- “We are going on our trip today Azizi. I know it will be tough for you, since you havn't slept well enough during the night. However, your friends are waiting and I bet they got plenty of surprises and amazing gifts for you ready at the lodge.” Finishing the last of her breakfast quick, Leela picked up Azizi on piggyback and went to get her dressed for the occasion. Since it was quite troublesome to get her properly dressed, while she was sleeping again, it took Leela about 30 minutes to get her ready. Meanwhile the other servants in the house finished backing a little picnic package from the breakfast leftovers and a bit more moonberry juice as well as two dozen marzipanvanilla cupcakes. Intended for the guests of the party. But they all knew that the chances that the cupcakes would actually make it to the party, and not being eaten by Azizi, were rather small. With a bag full of food and Azizi still on piggyback Leela headed out into the morning sun and headed towards the treeline.
- The forest itself was part of the lands Azizi's family owned. However it was open as a hunting ground for the village which was nearby and also used by the woodcutters. The miners and masons however always had to buy a permission, which expired after 7 days or any day the Lamgeed family decided so, to mine stone and ores on the mountainside which was connected to the forest. Azizi's family, the Harstan family, was part of an ancient royal bood line. Some traditions everyone uphold originated in her blood line and many villages were founded by generations of dormouse princesses and queens. This however also meant a lot of bloodshed and jealousy. Wars were fought over lands and permits. Whole generations or branches of the family were hunted down, executed or worse, tortured beyond recognition and driven insane. Azizi's father always kept her branch of the family safe, since all the surrounding villages were guarded by his forces, still. Unfortunately it was not enough to stop the horrors which changed everyones live 6 months ago, and the price it cost them all.
- The land was still peaceful and no war was raging on any border. But on the other hand, almost noone knew the high price which was paid to keep it so. The loss they all suffered, but noone knew yet. Except Azizi and Leela and their household. They all made a vow to keep it up as long as possible, in hope to fix everything before it was too late. Easier said than done, Leela still started pulling string and setting up secret meetings to get things going. Today was not only the birthday celebration, but also a partial meeting to discuss further involvement of friends who could turn the tide on things, if they agreed to help. But this also meant that more and more people would have to be involved, people who could get hurt on Leela's and Azizi's behalf. Everything just to stop Morana.
- Today would change things, either for better or worse. Azizi would have to tell them. Everything. “I don't know on how much I can protect you. I will do my best to never let you down. No matter what you decide today.” Azizi just hugged her back more fiercly.
- The walk to the lodge was more or less short. It only took Leela about an hour to get there. They still had plenty of time to set everything up for the party. Well, honestly, Leela still had enough time to set everything up. Azizi was asleep and would not wake up so easily at this time of the day. She was most active at midday to afternoon and of course during the night. The first friends would arrive in an hour, earliest, so setting up the living room and kitchen was the most important for now. No servants were around the lodge, this time of the year. They only lived at the cabin during the 2 winter months, since it was the most beautiful sight in the winter and way too hot in the summer. The closest lake to the lodge was on Lamgeed territory, so no way of cooling down. Unfortunately also no way of ice skating in the winter. For that they always had to visit their friends, who owned a huge manor next to the Saran lake, on the other side of the country.
- The last hour flew by while Leela set everything up and just finished setting plates when someone knocked on the front door. Leela went to the front door and checked who it was through a sidewindow, which could not be seen from the outside. It was Pushinka, Azizi's best friend. She was the yeti that once rescued Azizi from a horrible cold death, when Azizi got lost in the forest on the mountainside when she was just 7 years old. Pushinka found her curled up into a tiny ball, ice cold and crying. She lifted Azizi into her arms and carried her through the snowstorm, that was by then raging outside, safe to the lodge. When Azizi woke up, she saw that Pushinka was talking to Leela and the gratefulness which Leela exclaimed over and over again. Since then, Pushinka was the only other person Leela would ever entrust Azizi. Azizi's love for Pushinka resembled the love for Leela just the same. So this was her patchwork family.
- Seeing Pushinka being the first, lifted Leela's mood by a lot, because she would give another courage boost to Azizi to actually for through with the plan freeing her father.
- Once Leela opened the door, she was just squished into Pushinka's arms and for once enjoyed having someone to rely on, if even for a few seconds. To not be the always strong and unbreakable Sphinx that she tried to be.
- “You needed that just as much as I did, I guess. I am happy to see you too.” Was Leela's muffled reply to Pushinka's embrace. “Is she already awake or do we have a minute?” Suddenly Pushinka's face turned dead serious. “We need to talk. Something happened. It could change everything.” A little bit worried Leela guided Pushinka into the kitchen, since Azizi was sleeping in the living room on the plush sofa. “What is it? Is she in danger?” Aware of the circumstances it could only mean that it was about Azizi. “Yes. No. I don't know. It is more than that.” Fumbling with her hands and not looking into Leela's eyes made Leela uncomfortable. “Spill it out, god damn it.”
- “Someone from the Lamgeed family visited me a month ago. Now before you say anything and go on a rampage, let me tell you the whole story.” Crossing her arms in front of her Leela sat down and listened to Pushinka's story, while listening into the living room to make sure Azizi would not wake up.
- “It was one of her sons. The youngest, Marces. He visited me in the cave. I didn't even know that he knew where to find me, or to even find ME. He told me her story. Oh Leela I didn't know. Why didn't you tell us?” Leela's short reply “It wasn't mine to tell. Go on.” A bit irritated by Leela's short and a bit angry reply she continued. “He said that he wants to stop the wedding from happening. That his mothers plan is to conquer all the kingdoms. He even told me that she had her former husband killed. You know, the actual Lamgeed heir. She only married into that name. Marces and a few guards are already in on it. At least he says so. If Morana marries her father, she would own this kingdom as well. And god knows what will happen to Azizi then. Did you know that the bandits who took Azizi were hired by Morana?” Leela jumped up and knocked down her stool while screaming “WHAT??” Pushinka got up and walked slowly to the living room since ruffling sounds were to be heard. “Yes. All to get to her father. You know that he would have done anything for her. She is the last he has of Lilliana.” Those being the last words they both exchanged with each other about this topic, because Azizi jumped into Pushinka's arms and cried out of joy to see her.
- Pushinka was holding Azizi in her arms and let her ruffle her fur and cuddle until all the other guests arrived. Azizi fortunately did not realize Leela's tense mood and worried face. It could be a trap or the perfect opportunity to get her father back. As it appeared, her father didn't know that Azizi was safe already. That she was already rescued by Leela, who had lost her powers because of loosing Azizi in the first place.
- Once all her friends were seated, the hardest part of today would start. Hopefully Azizi was prepared and willing to tell her story. Otherwise the whole endeavor could not even take place.
- But they all came. Anjina, Marcella, Inaha, Otilly, Raima, Eiko and Una. They sat and ate the delicious food. Eiko even brought her own version of the marzipan-vanilla cupcakes. Everyone was cheerful and Azizi opened her gifts and was delighted to see more food being brought. Lots of chatting and laughing until Leela tipped her glass to get attention. “Thanks to all of you for coming. You know how much it means to Azizi. But it also means a lot to me. As you might remember, I mentioned a serious discussion in the birthday invitation. However, if we should come to that depends on Azizi now and her decision.” Having said that, Leela turned to Azizi, again embrace in Pushinka's arms. “Are you ready?” With a huge concern on her face Leela sat down and waited.
- Sitting up straight, but not leaving Pushinka's arms Azizi started to talk.
- “Many of you do not even know it, but I was kidnapped 6 months ago.” While a gasp was going through the round of friends she continued. “As it turned out just a few hours ago, the bandits were hired by Morana.” The knowing look on Azizi's face deeply troubled Leela and Pushinka, since it meant that she heard the whole conversation. Never underestimate a dormouse. They always forget about her abilities because they always seem helpless and fragile.
- “During my time with the bandits they tortured me, as far as it is possible without killing me. They gave me some kind of juice to reduce my powers to a mere wiff of charming. It never really has recovered since then. 6 months of this juice. Even my sleep is not as good as it used to be. Please don't look at me like that Leela. You know why I have not told you that.” With a sad smile on her face, Azizi stood up from Pushinka's arms. “They might have tried to break me. But it only made me stronger. With you, my friends, I want to rescue my father. They took already too much and I am not willing to give him up as well. I am not sure if we will succeed, but the youngest son Marces, offered to help. Unfortunately it is the wedding day today, so we do not have much time to prepare or to decide. The time is critical and we would have to move in the next hour to get there in time. So, what say you?”
- Everyone was still in a bit of shock by the time Azizi finished. Even though Azizi did not go into detail, they could only imagine the horrors she had to live through in 6 months. They all looked at Leela, who was visibly devastated by guilt and was close to breaking down. Before anyone could say or do anything, Leela fell to her knees and cried. A cry for loss, pain, failure and guilt. Azizi just walked over to her and huged her like never before. She knew why Leela was crying. And she understood. Even though Leela never talked about it, Azizi heard it the night she was taken. Morana's oldest son, Suran, was with Leela during that night. He bested her and god knows what he did so Leela could not do anything. She still remembered Leela's cry of pain. She never asked what kind of pain it actually was.
- “I know Leela. But it is okay. We are going to get revenge. Not only for me but also for you.” Still crying Leela asked “How long have you known? You are still just a child.” But she already knew and burrowed her face in Azizi's small arms. The whole scene was disrupted by a knock on the door. Leela almost knocked Azizi of her feet when she shot up, alarmed. “Noone else was invited.” Saying that, she stalked silently to the front door and looked through the sidewindow. “It is a man. And I can see guards in the distance. Have they come to take Azizi?” Ready to fight she was about to open the door and jump at the man, claws out. Pushinka barely made it in time to the front door and stopped a disaster from happening. “Stop! I think it is Marces.” Was her shoutout, at the same time Leela opened the door.
- Not backing down Marces looked at the Sphinx, claws out, in front of him and the Yeti he already knew. Pushinka. He had to remind himself why he was here. He could not jeopardize this now, because he was afraid, which he was. He could not show it. He had to get to her. No matter what.
- “Uhm...Hello. I was told to find you here today. And I am in need of your help. Urgently. So if I could come in?” Hissing at him, claws still out Leela said. “You are not welcome here. Whatever you have to do and need, you can look for it elsewhere. You are not worthy of speaking to her.” Still wondering why he did not back down, she stopped in front of him, claws showing and growling.
- “I think that it is up to me to decide if he is worthy or not. Don't you think?” Hearing Azizi's voice behind her made her back down and retract her claws.
- “You have to be careful. He might be dangerous. It is most likely a trap. You can't trust him. He is a human.” Holding Azizi back and protecting her was all she got now and she would not fail at it again.
- “The thing is, Leela. I do trust him. Because we know each other already.” Squeezing through, between Pushinka and Leela, both blocking the door and trying to protect her at all cost, she stood in front of Marces. With a laugh they have not heard before she almost ran him over with the fiercest of hugs.
- “I thought you would never come. Damn. You are late.” Still laughing she let loose of him. “Well. You do make it quite difficult to get to you, you know. I mean. All these fierce fluffballs. So cute.” Hearing that, Leela immediately got out her claws again and growled. “Not much on the humorous side, I see.” Laughing, he turned to Azizi and took her in as she was. The chipped and broken ears meant nothing to him. Her golden hair, her cute smile and these wonderful eyes. They get him every time. She needn't any kind of powers to get him. He was hers. No matter what. They only had to get through today and all may be good after all. Even though he might never call her his, as she seemed to not be interested in him that way, but just a friend.
- As if she read his mind, Azizi said. “We only have to get through today. But no matter what happens. We will still have each other. I am glad that I found you, you are my dearest friend. Well dearest human friend.” said Azizi, before she took his hand and went inside the lodge, for him to meet the rest of her friends. Or rather now to be said, small army. She at least felt as strong as she had a whole army, now that Marces was here with her. If he knew what she felt for him, would he be different? She was a dormouse and he was a human. Would he even be able to love her?
- But she could not show, not now, no weakness. The betrayed and hurt face Leela and Pushinka both had, was enough. She had to fix that first before she would go anywhere with Marces and her feelings. But how do you fix something when you don't tell them everything. When you left them in the dark about one of the worst months of your life and how you made it through?
- She would have to tell them, that Marces was the reason she even survived those 6 months. She hadn't told Leela about it. She didn't even know why. It was like it was her secret and that it would stop to exist if she told someone. That it was not real after all. But now, that Marces was here, gave her new strength. Maybe strength to overcome it all. Being in her thought she squeezed Marces hand and thought she felt him squeeze back.
- The moment they went into the living room, she felt her adventure begin. Here. With her friends and her loved one. A fresh start to something new with something old to safe.
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