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Forgive and Forget

Palace life was amazing. We had the best food, the softest nests, an audience who always loved to watch us, and so many other things that I can’t remember. Even though the palace was full of wonderful things, I was discontent. Taggor had not made any hint to his father that he wanted me as a female of his.
“You have to tell him sometime soon about us,” I said to him one night after a grueling practice with Yeshii, Quatana, and Yuma. We were in a deserted corridor near Taggor’s royal chambers, and the light of the sole moon glittered off the polished floors and walls. In the moonlight, Taggor looked like Reshkii, the god of metals, whose pelt supposedly glittered like silver.
Taggor sighed. “I promise. I’ll ask him soon.” Taggor took a few steps forwards, but I blocked his way and stood nose to nose to him.
“I’m sick of waiting,” I growled. The fur on my neck rose, and my lips curled in a menacing way.
Taggor rolled his eyes. “Come on, Naya, it won’t be that long.”
I glared at him with a gaze like ice. “You’ve been saying that for the past few months. I’m sick of waiting and I want you now!” I knew I sounded like a pup, but it was true. I wanted Taggor in more ways than one.
“I knew you’d say that,” Taggor murmured. “You always get what you want, don’t you?” My threating pose relaxed, and I smiled. Taggor could bring me out of the worst moods.
“Most of the time,” I replied. I tilted my head to the side. “But you, Prince Taggor, are being very hard to get.”
Taggor chuckled. “You’ve got a sense of humor, girl.” Taggor glanced at the moon, and then at me. “I should probably go. The servants will gossip if they find us here.”
I sighed. “I don’t want to leave you, but I’ve seen how those servants gossip. It won’t ever stop.” They sounded like chattering birds when a new topic came around. It would ruin my career and reputation, and probably Taggor’s as well. And Taggor couldn’t afford to ruin his because he was the prince and all.
“Well, I’ll see you around sometime soon,” he murmured. I rubbed Taggor’s neck, and he rubbed mine. His scent—ginseng and deep forests—lingered in the air. He turned around and disappeared into his room. I was tempted to follow him, but my brain decided otherwise. What if one of his other females was in there?
I was lost in thought as I walked back to our rooms near the servants’ quarters. The moon glittered in a haughty way now, like it was gloating about my predicament. I took a few steps forwards and bumped into someone’s shoulder.
“Sorry,” I apologized quickly.
“Naya?” I looked up. It was Quatana. His black pelt melted into the shadows and his off-white eyes casted an eerie glow in the darkness of his face. I would call him handsome if it wasn’t for the fact that he was going to try to get me as a mate, no matter what the cost. And if he wasn’t going to fight his best friend for me I’d call him regal. But a segunii lifestyle is hard to turn back from, even when you’re not fighting.
“What do you want?” I growled. I was sick of him breathing down my neck.
“Where were you?”
My eyes glinted with malice. “Does it matter to you?” It seemed like he needed to know where I was, every minute of every day. In short, I hated it.
“Yes, it does.” The concern in his voice sounded real, but I knew that he didn’t care about my feelings. All he wanted was something that I wasn’t willing to give up without a fight.
“Gods, just get off my back, will you?” I glared one more time at the large black male. He stared and said nothing as I stormed off towards my nest. When I lay down, I wrapped my paws around my nose and tried to fall asleep.
I just wish that they didn’t see the tears falling down my face.

Three weeks passed, and there was still no advancement on Taggor and me becoming mates. The future fight between Yeshii and Quatana hung over our heads, and it made us all uneasy.
“I want them to stop,” I complained to Segu. Segu was a younger princess, and we became friends almost instantly when I first came to the palace. She wasn’t the usual snotty princess. While her sisters complained and fretted, Segu sat stone-like and didn’t ask for much.
“It doesn’t seem fair,” Segu said. She looked like her father, with a russet brown pelt and observant yellow eyes. If she was on your planet, humans, she would look like a regular wolf.
“Did you have males fighting for you?” I asked.
Segu shook her head. “No. Actually, most males looked over me. I was too soft they said. But when Keshtii came, the attraction was instant.” Keshtii was Segu’s mate, and they were one of the rare mates that mated because of love and not to gain power. I wished that Taggor and I would be like that someday.
“Ah,” I murmured. We sat in silence for a while. Segu was a quiet thing, and it felt good because it was blah this, blah that in the palace. It was almost fifteen minutes later when Segu finally spoke up.
“So, I’ve seen you with my brother lately,” she said. My heart sunk to my stomach. What would she say? It gave me a chilled feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“And?”
“And,” Segu said, “I’ve seen that you two are very close.”
“Is that bad?” The fear crept into my voice.
Segu shook her head. “No, no, not at all.” Segu sighed and glanced out at the horizon. “Taggor has been through so much, and it makes me glad that he’s happy for once.”
I cocked my head. “What do you mean?”
“You know, Olbwatuga isn’t the King’s first Queen.” Olbwatuga was the current Queen and the mother of most of the multitude of princes and princesses that roamed the palace.
“Oh?” I’d never heard this before.
“Yes, it’s quite shocking.” Segu’s eyes took on a wistful look, and I knew that she’d be telling me a story. “A long, long time ago, Giityu had a Queen named Nayakii.”
“‘She who creates allies,’” I muttered quietly to myself.
Segu nodded. “Yes. She who creates allies. And she lived up to that name. While Giityu was content to stay at the palace and have fun with his females, Nayakii was out creating treaties with the other packs. At that time our planet was divided into five separate ruling packs. With these treaties, Nayakii was able to combine these five packs into one. Nayakii was the real one with the power and Giityu was more of a . . . figurehead. It was then that Nayakii had her first litter of pups.”
“And Taggor was part of that litter?”
Segu nodded again. “He was. Actually, he was the only one that survived. His littermates died at a young age. And because of that, Nayakii treated him very well. Nothing mattered but Taggor. He was give the best food, shelter, et cetera. He pretty much got whatever he wanted. And then . . .” Segu suddenly choked up.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Segu sniffed. “I met Nayakii once. She was the most kind and considerate female I have ever met. I can see why Giityu chose her as Queen.”
“But what happened to her?” I pressed on. I needed to know what happened next.
“She was killed,” she replied. “By an old enemy of Giityu. He slit her throat with sharpened claws and Nayakii bled out quickly. Taggor saw the whole thing, and it scarred him for life. He still has nightmares to this day. If you hear howling in the middle of the night, it will most likely be Taggor.”
“I never knew that,” I murmured. My family problems seemed minuscule before Taggor’s. Watching as his mother bled out the precious blood that coursed through his veins . . . I knew that I wouldn’t have taken it as good as Taggor has.
“No one really knows,” Segu replied. “Taggor is a master of keeping his pain hidden.” I made a sudden promise to myself to talk to Taggor about it. Segu and I sat sitting and talking like this until the evening meal. There was no dance tonight, and I was glad about that. I was sore enough.
I was listless and fidgety during the whole meal. My appetite had faded, so I pushed the piece of meat around with my paws. Some people noticed my odd attitude, but most dismissed it. They kept muttering that it must be my moon cycle, and I wanted to roll my eyes. The people at the palace jumped to a lot of conclusions. After the meal was finally done, I walked up to Taggor.
“Oh, how are you, Naya?” he asked. Some of the higher ranking ottagu siviris glanced at me like I was crazy for approaching the prince so bluntly.
“Good,” I replied. Under my breath, I added, “I need to talk to you. Now.”
Taggor sighed quietly. He then turned towards the crowd next to him. “It seems like I’m needed somewhere else. It was nice meeting you all.” He nodded towards the group, and they flattened their ears and tucked their tails in subordination.
“Taggor, let’s go,” I hissed. My patience was wearing thin.
“Fine, fine. I’m coming.” We walked out of the hall and many whispered followed us. What was the heir doing with a lowly dancer? I stopped walking when I could no longer hear the crowd leaving the hall.
“What do you want to talk about?” Taggor asked. He didn’t sound accusing, just curious. Just like when he asked me about being a gypsii.
I sighed. “I was talking to Segu and . . .” I couldn’t find the words. I looked up at Taggor, and he knew instantly that I knew.
“She told you the story of Nayakii, didn’t she?” Taggor’s voice was bleak and full of pain.
I nodded. “She did. Taggor, I’m so sorry.”
Taggor closed his eyes. I could see little tears like diamonds form in his eyes. “Don’t be. The past is the past.”
“I know,” I murmured. I slowly looked up at Taggor’s sorrowful face, and it brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t want to see Taggor in pain.
“Are you crying?” Taggor asked after a moment.
I chuckled quietly. “I guess I am.” Taggor lifted my muzzle up with his, and his bright blue eyes sparkled with a new light. “You know, I’ve had a hole in my heart ever since my mother died. And now, with you, that hole is gone. I love you, Naya, and I want you to become my Queen.”
Fresh tears prickled my eyes. He finally said it. He finally said he loved me. “Thank you,” I whispered.
Taggor smiled. “You’re welcome, sweet Naya. I’ve been making you wait too long. And now your wait ends. Tomorrow, I’m going to ask my father if we can become mates.” He looked at my shocked expression with confusion. “Naya, are you alright?”
I shook my head. This was too much to take in for one day. “Yes, I’m fine. I’m just . . . shocked. Finally, we can be together.”
Taggor and I glanced out the window. The second sun was just about to set while the moon was just about to rise. It was a beautiful sight.
“Yes,” Taggor murmured. “Finally together.”

The news didn’t go down too well.
A lot of people cried in outrage. Why take a gypsii for a mate? And since it was the prince and future heir to the throne, it was a big deal. Now, when I walked down the halls, glares and stares followed me. I could hear the rude comments and snide remarks, but I ignored them. Why listen to them, anyways? They don’t know the truth.
The two that took it the hardest were Yeshii and Quatana. They came up to me, their ears pushed back in anger, the fur on their necks standing straight up in the air, and their tails swishing angrily.
“How could you?” Quatana growled. His voice was filled with malice and pain. Later, I realized that the pain was the pain of rejection.
I lifted my muzzle up. “I love Taggor.”
“But how do you know?” Yeshii asked. I had never seen him so aggravated. Yeshii was a docile being, and anger did not come easy to him.
“I just know,” I replied. Love is something that cannot be defined in words. I think you humans know that already, don’t you?
Quatana took a few ragged breaths. “You little lying, deceiving tequeshii!” I gasped. Did Quatana just call me a tequeshii? And, if you want to know, tequeshii means a very bad word that I don’t want to repeat. I think you can put two and two together.
Yeshii nodded in agreement. “Yeah. What Quatana said.” Yeshii was too chivalrous to say those words out loud. Especially in front of a female.
“I don’t care about what you think of me anymore,” I said, lifting my head up in a dominant position. The pose felt awkward to me, but I managed to keep it up. “You have no say in my choice of a mate anymore. I belong to Taggor and no one else.”
“Please, Naya, don’t do this to us,” Yeshii whined, his head bowing. He looked so sad. A sudden pang of regret hit my heart with ice-tipped claws, and I felt so ashamed of myself.
“I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean it,” I murmured.
Quatana took a step forwards, his eyes hard as stone. “No you’re not. You don’t care about us or our feelings.” Sudden rage boiled through me, and I snarled at the black male. He didn’t scare me.
“How dare you!” I growled.
“You should’ve chosen one of us! It would’ve saved us a lot heart-break.” I stared at Quatana defiantly, and realized that love and hate were so alike.
“I’m not going back on my word,” I said.
“Why choose a male that may forget about you when he sees another female? What will you do then?” I hadn’t thought of that. What would I do if Taggor lost interest in me and found another female for company? I didn’t know what to think about the thought. I looked at Quatana’s livid face, and fresh new rage rushed through my veins. I walked right up to him, and we were so close that I could feel his ragged breath on my face.
“How dare you!” I hissed. “You know nothing about me and Taggor.”
Quatana’s eyes narrowed. “I know enough.” I was so sick and tired of him commenting on something he barely knew about.
“Just because you can’t the right one doesn’t mean you have to drag us down as well,” I said, pointing out the fact that Quatana had been with countless females, and yet, he still hasn’t found one who truly loved him. The barb hit home, and for a moment, I saw the unending layers of hurt under his eyes. But that was only a moment, and his eyes hardened even more.
“Okay, maybe I can’t find “the one.” Maybe I’m doomed to die alone. I don’t know. But what I do know is that you found your mate for life. And I want to give you a gift.” Quick as a bolt of lightning, Quatana’s paw came towards my unguarded face. I knew what he was planning to do, so I sidestepped, expertly dodging the attack. Even though Quatana had been in hundreds of fights, he didn’t train under the most prestigious warrior on the planet, Maka. But I gladly was able to train with Maka, and it showed.
“I have to admit you’re good,” Quatana said. “But not as good as the best segunii on the planet!” The thick muscles rippled under his skin, and I braced for attack. With a powerful burst of energy, Quatana lunged.
When he finally hit me, we fell in a mass of snapping jaws, flailing limbs, and untamed aggression. Our standoff had attracted a crowd, and they watched in anticipation and fear. For some reason, the suggestion of fighting got the blood boiling and they cheered and barked. I could hear them betting on who would win. For some reason, their enjoyment sickened me.
The battle was bloody. Both Quatana and I received multiple wounds that oozed blood. The crowd watching gasped and cheered whenever they heard the sound of ripping skin and breaking bone. As the fight continued on, I wanted to tell the crowd to go away, but I knew they wouldn’t.
“Is that all you got?” Quatana taunted. We circled each other, waiting for the other to make a move.
“Barely,” I replied, blood trickling down my chin.
“I hate to say this, but you’re not going to win this fight.” Quatana’s haughty gaze made me want to rip his throat out. And I was tempted to.
“Don’t be so sure about that,” I said. I pounced and took Quatana by surprise. We exchanged a few blows, teeth and claws meeting with malice and hate. At one point, I was able to pin Quatana to the floor. I knew I should stop there, but the blood-rage was already upon me. Quatana needed to pay.
A sudden, primordial urge told me to bite his neck, and I listened to it without hesitation. I bent my head and my jaws closed around his throat.
Quatana’s eyes widened. He tried to say something, but his windpipe was blocked by my jaws. He made a choking noise, and the crowd gasped. They weren’t used to this level of violence, and I swore I heard a few whimpers from the audience.
I tightened my jaws just a bit tighter, and something in Quatana’s neck snapped. Hot blood flooded my mouth, and I pulled away. Sick realization jolted through me. What have I just done? I had just severed Quatana’s jugular!
I looked up at the crowd. They stared back in shock. I felt so ashamed of myself and stifled a sob. What have I done? I had just mortally injured Quatana!
I looked down at him. A pool of blood had formed around his head. And as his blood slowly leaked out, so did his life.
“I’m so sorry, Quatana,” I whispered. Tears welled in my eyes and spilled over. The salty tears burned as they hit a bite on my muzzle. The pain didn’t feel as bad the guilt. How could Quatana die . . . by my hand? The thought horrified me.
“No, it’s fine,” Quatana replied, his voice weak.
“It isn’t,” I insisted.
Quatana shook his head. It was such a small movement that I could barely see it. “Naya, don’t beat yourself up about this. We all die eventually, don’t we? Well, now’s my time.” He glanced up and sighed peacefully. “At least I die like a true segunii . . .” His voice slowly faded away and Quatana sipped his last breath. I choked back another sob. Quatana was dead.
The hall went completely silent. No one dared to move or say anything. The silence lasted until Yeshii cried out, “Naya, how could you?!”
I couldn’t bear to meet his eyes. The shame and grief was overwhelming. Instead of looking at Yeshii, I met Yuma’s eyes. Her gaze was devoid of emotion. I had no idea what she thought of me now. And I didn’t want to know.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I needed to get out of there, away from the crowd and away from Quatana’s cold body. I ran past people, not caring about the gazes that followed me. I ran, ran away from my fear and regret. The pain from my injuries seemed nothing compared to this cloud of unending guilt. I was now a cocharii, a murderer. How could I have done this? It sickened me to the core.
I ran without knowing where I was going, and I got lost after a while. I stopped in my tracks and looked around in confusion. I had no idea where I was. A flash of memory showed me Quatana’s limp body, and I closed my eyes against it.
“Naya?” a voice asked behind me.
“Go away,” I said weakly. I could sense whoever had just said my name was right in front of me, so I opened my eyes. Taggor’s concerned face was all I could see.
“Are you alright?” he asked. He then noticed the blood on my pelt. “What happened? Were you in a fight?”
I sobbed. Taggor came close and I relaxed in his embrace. “Yes, I was.”
“And who were you fighting?” Taggor asked. I think he knew, but wanted to confirm it before jumping to conclusions.
“Quatana,” I said, fresh tears running down my face.
“And who won?” Taggor’s voice was barely a whisper. He knew. He knew who won.
“I . . . did . . .” I barely managed to choke those two words out. Oh, gods, this pain was terrible! Why couldn’t I have been the one that died? It would’ve saved me a lot of heart break.
“Oh, Naya,” Taggor murmured, stroking my head with his muzzle.
“He’s dead,” I sobbed. “And I killed him.”

I dreaded the punishment for my crimes, but nothing of the sort came. I had a nagging feeling that Taggor had pulled some strings and pardoned me, but he wouldn’t tell me.
I was a shell of my former self. I barely talked and my eyes darted around everywhere as if I was worried that Quatana’s ghost would find me. People avoided me, even Yuma and Yeshii, who had been my good friends before Quatana’s death.
“Today’s the day,” Taggor said to me one morning. He had started up a habit of sleeping next to me, and it helped because we could both mourn in peace without people staring at us. Even so, the palace gossiped about the two of us, and a lot of Taggor’s females were not happy with him.
“What do you mean?” I asked, my voice hoarse from disuse.
Taggor smiled. “We’re going to become mates today.”
My eyes widened. “What?!” We hadn’t talked about becoming mates ever since I had killed Quatana. I had been too grief-stricken.
“I decided now was the time. Now get up; we don’t have much time.” He nudged my shoulder playfully.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming,” I grumbled. I glared at Taggor, and he suddenly burst out laughing. I soon followed suit. Grief had brought us closer together, and the bond between us was stronger than ever.
An hour later, I was being prepped by a pair of four females in an empty chamber. They flirted around me like little birds, making me beautiful for the mating ceremony.
“Can you tell us anything?” one of the females asked as she put something powdery under my eyes with her paws.
“No,” I replied.
“Please? Just a little bit?” she whined.
I glared at her. “No. It’s not your business.”
“Yewshii, stop harassing her,” the older female snapped. I glanced at her, and she winked at me, her eyes saying you’re welcome. It suddenly reminded me of Yuma, and I yearned for her company.
“Yes, Tyii,” the nosy female murmured, her ears folding down.
After that, we didn’t say anything until I was finished. As I stared at my reflection in the polish bronze mirror, I couldn’t help but gasp. The usual circles under my eyes were no longer visible. My pelt glittered instead of being the dull gold it usually was. The ceremonial scarf, called a shanaii, covered up my scrawny body, and I could barely see my ribs. In short, I looked beautiful.
“Come, let’s go,” the older female said, guiding me off the chair. “We don’t want to be late, do we?”
I chuckled. “No, definitely not.” I was led towards the throne room, whose doors were firmly shut. I stopped in front of them and took a deep breath. Whatever stood behind those doors would change my life.
“You’ll be a good mate,” the old female whispered in my ear. “I know you will.”
I smiled gratefully at her. “Thank you.”
She smiled back. “You’re welcome. And I have a message from Yeshii and Yuma. They won’t be there, but they wish you the best.”
My mood deflated a bit. “Oh.”
“But they’ll be there in spirit.” That brightened me up a bit. The door soon opened, and I stepped into the throne room. My life was about to change for the better, and it excited me.
Okay, I know by now you readers are practically jumping in your seats to find out what happens next. But the truth is . . . I can’t remember the ceremony itself. To me, the only thing that mattered was that Taggor and I could finally be together. If I try to remember it, all I can get is a few fuzzy memories of swirling colors and howling voices. The next memory I can remember vividly is a few moments after the ceremony.
“Finally!” Taggor cried over the crowd of cheering ottagu siviris. “We’re together.”
“Yes, finally together,” I said, my tail wagging rapidly. We then headed towards Taggor’s chambers for a night or two alone. I think you can make assumptions on what we did in there.
During the silent part of the night, Taggor and I lay next to each other in Taggor’s lavish nest. I was horribly sore, and I think Taggor was as well.
“Hey, can I tell you something?” Taggor asked.
“What?” I turned towards him and glanced at him. He met my gaze, and I saw that the usual guarded layer totally gone. There was no trace of it in his sapphire blue eyes.
“I know you’re very observant, and I’ve been keeping things from you,” Taggor said.
“What kind of things?”
Taggor sighed. “It’s about Quatana’s death.”
My good mood plummeted. “And what about Quatana’s death?”
“You were supposed to be sentenced,” Taggor replied. “And it was a very severe sentence.”
“Death, you mean,” I said, confirming my suspicions.
“Yes, death. And death by tyegunzhii.” Death by tyegunzhii is having all the bones in your body meticulously broken. Most people who were executed this way were alive until the last bone is broken, which is always the spine. It’s a horrible, painful way of dying, and I had dodged a very big bullet.
“My gods,” I whispered.
“You’re lucky to be alive, Naya,” Taggor said as a small smile reached his lips. “You broke over three major laws, and your death was guaranteed. I was able to grant you a full pardon, and at a very high price.”
“What kind of price?” For some odd reason, I didn’t want to know.
“Two hundred thousand jiimana and . . .” His sentenced faded away.
“And what?” I insisted.
“The person who deals with executing is Pelii, and she is a very stern female,” Taggor said. “So she asked me a favor. And that favor was to spend the night with her.”
My eyes widened. “My gods.” No ottagu siviris would ever stoop so low to be sold like that; it was against our nature. It astounded me that Taggor would do that . . . for me.
“I did it all for you, Naya,” Taggor said. I glanced at him and the warm glow in his eyes made me wag my tail very fast. “And I’m so glad to have such a beautiful mate in you.”
“Thank you,” I said, nuzzling Taggor’s face. After a while, a little later in the night, I had a dream where Quatana came down from the heavens and forgave me. I was shocked that he would do that, and I asked him why. He replied that he had not been a good person in his life, and that the gods had told him that he would pay for his crimes with the ultimate sacrifice, his life. When I finally woke, I felt as if I had finally forgiven myself for killing Quatana.
“Taggor,” I hissed to his sleeping figure. “Wake up.”
“What?” he asked, still groggy.
I smiled. “I had a dream, and I finally was able to forgive myself for killing Quatana.”
Taggor smiled as wide as me. “That’s great. And I also had a dream in which my mother said it was time to stop mourning her.”
“Finally, this craziness is over,” I said. We never talked about it ever again.

When King Giityu finally left this earth to reign with the gods, Taggor was made King. And he chose me, the cocharii gypsii, as his Queen. I expected much outrage at his choice, but mostly everyone agreed. There were a few people who did not agree with Taggor’s choice, but those were few.
Our coronation was held on the night of the first full moon of the year, an auspicious day. I can remember the coronation better than when I was mated to Taggor. It was a lavish ceremony, with much tradition and regality. The ceremonial crowns were placed on top of our heads and we sat in the thrones reserved for the King and Queen. As I surveyed my new subjects, I saw Yeshii and Yuma among the crowd. Both looked pleased, and I somehow knew that the rift between the three of us was finally over.
My parents were also in attendance, and I was able to finally forgive them for choosing a mate without my consent. That rift was also filled in, and I could not be happier.
Taggor’s reign was a very peaceful one. No war broke out, although there were the occasional skirmishes here and there. Our species advanced technologically, and we were able to create advanced machines by the tenth year of our reign. We were even able to hear our first sketchy notes from a stray radio wave from Earth. It was a big accomplishment, and our race made an unspoken pledge to visit the humans someday.
Taggor, even though he had at least five other females, always loved me. Nothing could ever place me out of his favor. He was so excited when I found out I was going to have my first litter of pups. When they finally came, there was only one, and he was quite the fighter. He was also a deep ebony black, so I named him Quatana, after my fallen friend.
Although I will always regret my actions, it made who I am today.



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