The Kingdoms and the Solerea I

<i>The great kingdoms of Duaarat had ruled the lands for many generations. The houses of Karakk, Vorrin, and Arassa have each ruled great parts of the continent, though there was one area that no kingdom could fully control.

The land that made up the center of the continent had for countless generations been outside the control of any of the kingdoms. This land was held by the tribes that called themselves the Seloréa, though the Three Kingdoms preferred to call them the Alimonia – the beast-people. Somewhere between human and animal, the Seloréa consist of four tribes that hold traits of four different animals. The Canuran tribe was as faithful and savage as the dogs and wolves; the Kemonoko tribe was as elegant and quick as the great and lesser cats; the Riisuleria tribe, as cunning as the serpents they resembled; and the Omatetan tribe, flitting in the sky as birds. Though the tribes would band together to battle the invading kingdoms, there was intense animosity between each of the four tribes, particularly among the Canuran and Kemonoko, and the Riisuleria and the Omatetan.

In recent years, a great change had occurred – the kingdom of Vorrin, who had not quarreled with the Seloréa for many years, had opened talks with the tribes to unite the kingdom and the tribes, and promise to never war with each other again. After much deliberation, it was decided that two of the Vorrin heirs, one son and one daughter, would wed the daughter of the Riisuleria chieftain and the son of the Kemonoko chieftain, respectively. Vorrin House and the Seloréa believed that this would help to unite the people of Duaarat.

However, soon after a decision was made, the other two kingdoms decided that they, too, wished to unite their kingdom with a Selaoréa tribe. The Arassa tribe made agreements with the Canuran tribe, and the Karakk made a deal with the Omatetan. Suspecting dark motives, Vorrin House asked the Riisuleria to gather information on the two houses. Vorrin House believed that Arassa and Karakk were only doing this to try and weaken Vorrin house. The Riisuleria found that this was true, and when they revealed the information under and Oath of Honesty, the Canuran backed out of the deal, as they did not want to be used for something that had nothing to do with peace. However, the Omatetan tribe, the proudest and most arrogant of the tribes, decided that they wished to remain with the Karakk.

So, Vorrin entered a tentative peace as they waited for each of their heirs to reach the age of marriage, so that they could truly unite with the Seloréa.</i>


A group of six figures stood in the audience chamber of a small castle. The walls were modestly decorated with only a few tapestries of the ruling family’s colors – a dark blue and gold. The dark grey stone was well-shaped, and there were no gaps between the stones. High, wide windows let in much of the late daylight, making the chamber pleasantly warm. At the back of the chamber stood a long table with five chairs, a shield and its herald above it. A gold dragon on a blue field was this family’s mark, the House of Vorrin.

The group standing before the empty table could be called “people”, but at the same time this was not true. Further, the group was divided into two smaller groups, each of three figures.

One of the smaller groups looked mostly human, but atop each of their heads were a pair of furry ears, the colors of fur varying between each figure. At the back of their wastes grew long, thin fur-covered tails. The backs of their hands and most of their forearms also sported a patch of fur, while their legs and feet were quite feline in appearance.

The other group was more bestial in appearance. They had human torsos and heads, but, at the waist, the human torso became the body of an enormous snake. Their scales were varying shades of green. Their arms bore patches of scales, particularly on the back of their three-fingered hands. Some scales climbed onto their human chests and cheeks. Long fangs rested against their lower lips.

These two groups were made up of members of the Kemonoko and Riisuleria, respectively, tribes of the Seloréa people, occasionally called the Alimonia, or "beast people".

The group of Riisuleria consisted of two females, who both wore a sash about their waists, just above a dyed skirt, and a wide strip of cloth wrapped around their breasts, and one male, who only wore the sash and skirt. All three wore golden bracelets and similar necklaces, though one of the females wore a slightly wide collar with gems embedded into it. Placed into this female's short hair were further gems, carefully placed so as to appear tasteful instead of gaudy and obnoxious.

The Kemonoko group had one female and two males to it; all three were dressed in a tight, high-hemmed shirt and tight, short pants, each bearing a design unique to that Kemonoko. Each wore the hair on their head fairly short, though the female’s was a tad longer, pulled back away from her face.

In both of these groups, one of the Seloréa looked younger than the others – one of the Kemonoko males and the Riisuleria female with the adorned hair. These young Seloréa were children of each of their individual tribes’ chieftains; each was to marry the heirs of Vorrin House.

A few months prior to this, members of Vorrin House had come to the Seloréa asking for peace, instead of the short, but violent, wars that would occur between the Seloréa and one of the Three Kingdoms, either House Vorrin, Arassa, or Karakk. After a massive meeting with the four tribes, it was decided that a Kemonoko and Riisuleria child would be wed to Vorrin House. This had caused a short argument, as Vorrin had only wanted to wed one child to the Seloréa, but they quickly conceded.

So, the Kemonoko child was to wed a female heir, and the Riisuleria child a male heir.

A door along one wall in the chamber was thrown open, causing those of the Kemonoko to turn around quickly, the older two taking hold of the small curved blades at their hips. They relaxed when a portly man walked into the chamber. He was a hand shorter than most men, though he was a fair bit wider at the belly. He sported a thick, brown beard, though his hair was touched with strands of grey. His eyes were a brown as well, bright above his red cheeks. His clothes were simple but well made, a dark brown, loose vest over a deep green shirt. He clapped his hands together, smiling warmly.

“Welcome, welcome!” the man said in a rich baritone, his voice easily filling the room. “It is a pleasure to have you all here.” He gave each group a slight bow, then continued. “I’m Arako Vorrin, and I am the head of House Vorrin. And who might you be?”

He had directed the question at the Riisuleria, his eyes on the younger female. Under his gaze, she shrank back a little and blushed. The male Riisuleria slithered forward and rested a hand on her shoulder. “Forgive her, my lord, but she is quite shy,” he said. “She is Anaseliia, one of our chieftain’s daughters.”

Arako nodded and smiled softly at her. “I understand. My wife is very shy as well, else she would be here to greet you as well.” He then turned to his attention to the male. “And you, good sir?”

The male balled his free, clawed hand into a fist and placed it on his chest and answered, “I am Kurinsiika. I believe I might be called an advisor in your tongue.” He nodded to the other female Riisuleria, who bowed at the waist. “She is Luniira. She will remain here to aid Anaseliia in her new life here at House Vorrin.”

Arako’s warm smile returned. “A pleasure to meet you both.” A final smile to each of them, and he turned to the Kemonoko, taking a few steps forward so he would be closer to them. “And you are the Kemonoko, if I’m not mistaken?”

The younger male strode forward and firmly grasped Arako’s hand, shaking it enthusiastically. “Of course, my lord. I’m Kakuran, and my father’s the chieftain. Wonderful to meet you.”

“Kakuran!” the Kemonoko female snapped. “You can’t just try and shake his arm off!”

Arako chuckled and said, “It’s quite alright, miss. It’s nice to meet someone this excited to see me.” He shook the hand for a moment, then freed himself from Kakuran. He smiled at the other two Kemonoko.

The older male nodded. “I am Shinkaru, and I was simply asked to escort Kakuran here.”

The female smiled at Arako, though it had a hint of a smirk to it. “I’m Ayakura, one of our tribes’ best warriors. I’m to keep Kakuran company while he’s here.”

Arako’s smile, somehow, got bigger. “Splendid, splendid!” He gestured at the room around him – a long table and chairs stood where none had been before. “Would you care for some refreshments until my son and daughter arrive?”

After recovering from their initial surprise, the group nodded. The Kemonoko took seats on one side of the table, but the Riisuleria seemed to be having trouble with the chairs.

“My lord,” the older female, Luniira, began. “I…don’t mean to seem rude, but…”

“Nonsense, it’s very difficult to be rude to me,” he said, then laughed loudly at his own joke. “What is the problem?”

“The chairs, my lord,” Kurinsiika replied. “Our people are not built for them. We may lay a mat on the floor, but most often we rest on our own tails.”

“How silly of me,” Arako mumbled. He pulled a blue stone from an area near his waist and whispered into it for a few moments, the returned it to his waist. “I’m afraid I may have been the rude one here. I confess, we have rarely hosted any of your tribe, so I did not know what should be done. Ah, here we are.”

A small group of servants had entered the chamber from unseen doors. Two set about taking away the three chairs, two others laying down a leather mat where the chairs had been. When they had finished, they bowed to Arako, then the Riisuleria and Kemonoko, and left. While the Riisuleria settled themselves on the mats, a new set of servants brought forth trays bearing pitchers and cups, a bowl of fruit, and a platter of bread and sliced meats and cheeses. While the Seloréa tried to decide what they wanted, Arako poured himself something to drink. “While I’m pouring,” he began. “Would any of you care for some ale?”

“If you don’t mind, my lord,” Ayakura replied, though she first had to glare at Kakuran, who had opened his mouth to respond as well. She accepted the cup with a slight smile.

“Do you have fruit juice, my lord?” Luniira asked. Arako nodded, but let Luniira pour it, per her insistence. Each Riisuleria got a cup of juice, as well as the other two Kemonoko, once they had asked.

After a moment, Ayakura asked, “My lord?”

Arako finished his mouthful of cheese, then, “Yes?”

“I’m not going to pretend I know everything about human practices, but…” She paused a moment to collect her thoughts, then went on. “You said that you’re the head of House Vorrin, but I thought Ormik was the head.”

While the others turned to hear his answer, for they had been wondering this as well, Arako nodded. “You are correct, but at the same time not.” He had a short chuckle. “I am the true head of House Vorrin, but Ormik looks the part better than I do. So, we decided it would be better if everyone thought he was the head.”

Ayakura nodded. “We have a similar practice in war. We have many warriors wear a chieftain’s mark, but disguise the shieftain as a normal Kemonoko. Our enemies spend so much time trying to find the real chieftain that they barely have time to notice they’ve lost.”

Arako chuckled softly. “It’s a good thing we’re trying to bring peace, then, else that would be a nice bit of information to have.”

Sipping her ale, Ayakura added, “I wouldn’t have said anything, otherwise.”

A silence fell over the table, but it was broken barely a moment later by a few knocks at some new door. Grinning from ear to ear, Arako called, “Come in, please!”

A door opened, and two people stepped into the chamber. The first was a young woman wearing a dark blue tunic with a long, black skirt beneath it. She wore two separate necklaces about her neck; black curls tumbled about her shoulders, framing a round face with bright blue eyes and full, red-colored lips.

Her companion was a young man. He wore a loose, light blue tunic over a black shirt. His hair was short and messy, atop a kind face with a small goatee. He wore a short, gold chain about his neck. And where the woman stepped into the chamber with a slow, smooth grace, the man strode in, shoulders back and a smile on his face.

Arako rose from his seat and went to embrace the two, then, still smiling, presented them to the table. “These are two of my children, my second oldest daughter Ilina and my oldest son Aran.”

Ilina nodded gracefully, eyeing Kakuran. Aran bowed slightly and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”

Arako led Ilina to the Kemonoko side of the table, nodding to Kakuran. “Ilina, this is Kakuran. He is to be your groom, if all goes well.”

A slight smile slid onto her lips as Ilina offered her hand. She said airily, “If I had known you were this handsome, I’d have sped the negotiations up a tad.”

Kakuran kissed her hand and replied, “And if I had known of your beauty, I wouldn’t have waited for an escort.”

As Ilina took a seat next to Kakuran, Arako presented Aran to the Riisuleria. “Aran, this is Anaseliia. I hope for you to get along quite well.”

Aran smiled warmly at her, and bowed. “It is wonderful to meet you, Miss Anaseliia.”

Anaseliia looked at him for a moment, then blushed. Her eyes dropped to look at her hands folded under the table. Luniira smiled at Aran. “Forgive her, Master Aran,” she began. “But my lady is quite shy.”

“Ah,” he said. “I understand.” He smiled at Luniira. “And your name, if I may?”

Luniira bowed slightly, the table stopping her. “I am Luniira, my lord. I will be caring for Anaseliia while she is here.”

Aran nodded, then looked to the third Riisuleria.

He nodded. “I am Kurinsiika. I merely acted as an escort for Luniira and Anaseliia. I will be leaving before long, so you do not have to trouble yourself with me.”

“Nonsense,” Aran assured him. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Kurinsiika.” He took the empty seat next to Anaseliia while Arako returned to his seat, and turned his gaze to the Kemonoko. “Kakuran, was it?”

Kakuran did not reply; he was deep in whispered conversation with Ilina. Ayakura drew Aran’s attention by saying, “Don’t mind him, he gets like that sometimes. I’m Ayakura, though.” She jerked her head towards the third Kemonoko and added, “You honestly don’t need to be worrying about him, he actually has to leave right now.” She spoke to the male in a rapid, lilting tongue, and he rose, nodding to each person before briskly leaving the chamber through the main door. After he had left, Ayakura said, “Forgive him. He’s worse in social situations than most Kemonoko.”

“Well of course,” Kurinsiika drawled. “Your people are best at mating or taking naps, after all.”

Ayakura leapt up from her seat, hand flying to her waist, grabbing the handle of her blade. Her mouth opened to shout something, but was cut off by the clatter of Arako knocking his cup over. The table looked to him as he fussed over a soaked shirtsleeve.

“Dear me,” he muttered. “I’m terribly sorry, I just wasn’t paying attention.” He chuckled softly. “It reminds me of my father, actually.” His gaze fell on Ayakura, surprisingly firm after being jovial for so long. He continued, “He would often get angry over such minor, pointless things. And we’re sure that that is what killed him, gods rest his soul.”

Ayakura met Arako’s gaze for many moments, then let her arm fall back to her side. She took her seat again, after nearly upending the chair, and leveled a glare at Kurinsiika. A servant arrived to mop up the spilled ale. As he did so, Arako glanced at Kurinsiika, adding, “Of course, my brothers and I were wise enough to avoid purposefully angering him.”

Kurinsiika looked down at the table, chided. Ayakura looked conflicted, unsure if she should continue glaring or smirk at the Riisuleria.

Aran cleared his throat audibly. “Father, may I say something?”

Arako turned to his son, the warmth returning to his face. “Of course, Aran. What is it?”

“I was thinking,” Aran began. “Perhaps, could we have a big dinner tonight? I mean, it might be a good idea to introduce our guests to everyone within the castle before everyone without.”

Arako waited for his son to finish, then nodded, grinning. “That is a splendid idea, my boy!” he declared. “I shall propose it to our cooks, but only if our guests feel they are well enough for it.” He rose from his seat, smiling to everyone warmly. “I would love to stay and chat until late hours, but there was some paperwork I escaped to come greet you all, and I’m afraid I must return to it.” He paused as they all chuckled, then went on, “So please, have a good evening, and please tell me within the hour if you are well enough for a big dinner, so I know what to tell the cooks.” He bowed slightly to the table, then left.

Ilina rose from her seat almost immediately, Kakuran in tow. They left quickly, leaving Ayakura to look at their backs in irritation. She turned to Aran and admitted, “Didn’t think they’d stick around for long.” She stood up. “Could you show me where I might go for a run? I didn’t get to this morning, and I don’t want to fall out of habit.”

Aran shook his head as he rose. “I can’t, but I’m sure one of our servants could.” In an instant, a woman wearing a simple dress and apron was at Aran’s elbow. He told her, “Please show Miss Ayakura to the curtain wall, would you?”

She bowed. “Of course, sir.” As the servant girl led Ayakura away, the Kemonoko waved her hand lazily in thanks.

Kurinsiika crept away from the table, then bowed slightly to Aran. “I should take my leave as well, Master Aran. My mate gets angry when I’m away for too long.”

Aran chuckled as he said, “I understand.” With a slight bow he added, “It was a pleasure to meet you.”

Kurinsiika nodded, then slithered through the main door to the chamber.

At last, Aran turned his attention to Luniira and Anaseliia. “If you don’t mind, I’ll show you to your rooms now.”

Luniira nodded. “Of course, my lord.” She backed away from the table, nudging Anaseliia, who did the same. Aran offered his arm to the young Riisuleria, which she took after another nudge from Luniira. He took them through a door and down a number of halls, pointing out doors and places he thought might be important, though they were quickly lost with each new door. A set of stairs held them up for a moment, due to the Riisuleria’s builds, then more halls. At last, he came to a stop before a door marked with a collection of runes.

“We put your name here for the servants to know where your rooms are,” he told Anaseliia. “I don’t know if you had writing in the Riisuleria, but if you wish to learn how to write in our tongue, we can have someone teach you.” He pulled the door open so the Riisuleria could enter. He added, “If you need anything at all, you should be able to catch a servant in the hall, and if they can’t help you, they’ll be able to get someone who can.” He entered the room with them – a few trunks lay on the floor, with a fairly large bed taking up most of the room, a dresser and desk taking up some of the remaining space. Three doors stood on each wall. Aran pointed to one, saying, “That is the…washroom. I’m sure you can guess what happens in there.” The next door. “Luniira, that door leads to your room. I believe it is the same as this one, save the desk.” He pointed to the final door. “That one connects to my room. If you could, please tell me as soon as you can whether you’ll wish to attend dinner tonight.”

Luniira smiled at him as Anaseliia gazed at their luggage. “Very well, sir,” she said with a slight bow.

Aran bowed in return, then smiled at Anaseliia, though she did not see it. He left, closing the door behind him.

Luniira turned her attention to unpacking one of the trunks, and spoke in the harsh, lilting tongue of the Riisuleria, saying, “You’ll have to rid yourself of this shyness soon, Anaseliia.”

The young Riisuleria looked up, frustration in her eyes. “I don’t see why I should,” she snapped in the same tongue. It’s not as if I wished to come here.” She reached behind her neck and unclasped her jeweled collar, setting it on the nearby bed. “We have over twenty chieftains,” she muttered with a frown. “Why was my father chosen…”

“Because,” Luniira began, as if she had answered this question many times already. “You were the closest female to maturity who was not already mature.”

Anaseliia continued to remove the jewelry from her body, the frown set on her face. “I still don’t think I was the best choice…”

Luniira sighed softly as Anaseliia laid the jeweled web from her hair on the bed. Anaseliia then asked, “Where is my jewelry case?”

“It’s in this trunk. I’m nearly there.” The odler Riisuleria continued to unpack things from the trunk, at last holding up a highly polished, dark green box about as big as a head. Anaseliia took it and set it on the bed, lifting the lid off of it. Inside, a felt lined box held a few rings, which were soon joined by the rings and bracelets Anaseliia had taken off. She lifted this box out to reveal a second box, empty save for a thin piece of fabric; she carefully placed her collar and gold web in this one, laying the fabric between the two for protection. She replaced the first box, then settled the lid back onto the top.

“Anaseliia,” Luniira began, drawing the girl’s attention. “Do you wish to attend the dinner this evening? I should know, to get an outfit ready for you.”

Anaseliia stared at her jewelry box for a few moments, then muttered, “I’m not going to the dinner.”

Luniira stifled another sigh, then said, “Very well.” She slithered over to the door that connected this room to Aran’s. She tapped on the wood with a scaled knuckle and waited. It wasn’t long before the door opened out into Aran’s room, and Aran stood there, having changed into a loose white shirt. He smiled at Luniira. “Hello,” he said. “Did you need something?”

Luniira nodded to him, smiling as well – she had come to enjoy talking with the young man. She told him, in his tongue, “Pardon me, my lord, but Anaseliia is too tired to attend the dinner this evening.” Aran nodded, but Luniira continued, “She is unaccustomed to traveling such distances, and I don’t believe she’s been getting enough rest.”

“Of course, of course,” Aran agreed, though he whispered this time, as if Anaseliia were already asleep. “If it’s between her rest and parading her before the servants, I’d much rather have the former.” He smiled warmly to Luniira. “Give her my best, and good evening to you.”

They bowed to each other, and Aran closed the door. Luniira slithered towards her Anaseliia and the bed, switching back to their tongue to say, “If you are so against wedding him, I think I might take him for myself.”

Anaseliia clambered into her bed, muttering, “Fine, and you’re welcome to him.” She struggled with the blanket for a moment, then managed to wrap it about her torso. “I’m going to bed. Good night.”

A soft sigh left Luniira’s lips as she slithered towards the door to her room. “Good night, my lady.”





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