Raonal sighed to himself as he watched the common every day boring, tedious, banal activities go on around him. Despite his recent return to the Sunlits, he still felt the canker on his soul from the recent sojourn to the darker Realms where tedious was exciting, and pranks were dangerous to think about. Muttering to himself, he turned to go, and saw the small group of children gathered nearby, staring with unabashed curiosity at him. Always one to play the crowd, the pukah smiled at them and opened his arms wide.
“It’s said there’s no place like home. But, I don’t have any ruby slippers, and I have no idea where home is. At least, I don’t know where I can count as home. I’ve lived with alpha now for five lunar cycles, and so far we have to stay anywhere longer than just a few days. Not sure how the Strange Lady does it. Not sure if the Pretty Lady isn’t regretting coming along. I’m not even sure I even want to belong to this strange pack. The Mistwalkers were mean, but at least they didn’t roam creation as their territory.” he decried, hoping this time to scare them off before the canker in his soul blighted theirs as well.
None of the children left. In fact more gathered, their high giggles washed across him, providing a soothing balm to the open sores he still carried in his mind. Though he wished to be alone, he decided not to leave this oasis of healing. He pointed to the forest’s edge closest to town and continued, “Maybe their territory is home. That would be nice. I could be around young Bowyer, and be at least accepted for who I am. They accepted me once, perhaps they’d accept me again?”
When the children giggled again, he pretended to be shocked to notice them for the first time, “Oh, forgive me. I didn’t realize I was talking to an audience. I’m not like Wildfoot Horsetail, though some would argue otherwise. I like being in one place and love being in front of an audience. So, please, gather ’round.”
The children gathered close to him, some sitting right in the middle of the dusty street where he stood. He waved them to scrunch in closer, “Even closer. Let’s make this a nice little story circle.”
When no more children appeared, he relaunched into his story telling mode, “There you go. What I speak of no one believes, even though I tell the Sphinx’ own truth. For some reason, just because I grew up in the Neseil Courts, everyone thinks I am full of nothing but tall tales. That is further from the truth than the stars are from the sky.
“I met my alpha one evening just as the laughing ring moon was rising. He had been out to scout for new pack members. I don’t know how I impressed him as much as I did. He was traveling with an Imuti for his beta. But, he decided I had to join his pack. See this scar here on my neck? That was given to me as a reward for my acceptance. We traveled far and wide those first few months, and I had never been so tired in all my life.
“We traveled all over the world in search for perfect members to join our pack, but the alpha kept saying no. Some he said were too mean, others not mean enough. Now, he says he is going to take us some place called the Arena so he can look there. Where ever this place is, it sure does have the sound of somewhere I do not want to go. I just want to go home. But I don’t have any ruby slippers to clack together to make it happen.
“Perhaps, if I show him the Courts he will decide to stay there. Perhaps these sparkly boots I found today – made of some sort of strange leather like none I’ve ever seen before – will take him, and convince him to stay. The courts aren’t my home, but at least they are a home. Do you want to come with me?”
The children howled their universal “No” to his question, then scattered, as if afraid he would kidnap them and turn them into changelings, like their parents always threatened. With a sigh of remorse, Raonal made his way back to the inn where his companions continued to wait patiently for the alpha to return from where ever he’d gone. Now, it was up to Raonal to figure out what he wanted to do – he just wanted to home, and he didn’t have one.
Raonal is one of the characters in my debut series Followers of Torments. He makes his entrance at the end of Remember the Shadows, and continues to travel with Nameless while the rest of the cast is introduced. You can find the series on Smashwords and on Amazon.