Mother never liked talking about my father.
That was fine. She was all I needed. Her soft words, pretty smiles, gentle caresses. They were all I needed. She would praise me when I did something good and give me disappointed frowns when I did something wrong.
She shared secrets with me, the history of a world so different from now, an era lost to time and newfound gods. She taught me languages spoken from long ago, read me fairy tales of wonders and magic that may or may not have once happened.
“I might be the only one who still remembers, but as long as you’re here, my sweet Lycan, I won’t be alone.”
Mother would stroke my ears, kiss my forehead and tell me how much she loved me.
She would hug me and sing me songs in languages I was still learning. She taught me about kindness and justice, and how the world sought to eradicate those who were kind and just.
I wasn’t human, not like mother was, but she treated me like a treasure – her most beloved child.
Mother always held my hand when we walked from village to village.
She would talk to some people who would offer us food and a warm place to live in.
“All living beings are full of sin.” Mother said once. “Remember that, and remember the kindness of the ones who overcame their base desires.”
I didn’t understand, but I remembered her words. I remembered how she would sit on the beds of our hosts, pat their heads and watched over them as they slumbered like children.
“To give them sweet dreams.” Mother said when I asked. “Because I refuse to give anyone my body ever again.”
Mother met a woman.
She wore a veil that covered her face, but even though I couldn’t see her eyes, she was still pretty—not prettier than mother though.
They talked in one of the dead languages that mother taught me, so quickly that I could barely understand their conversation.
“Lycan. This is…” Mother held my hand and gestured at the woman, her voice trailing off as though waiting for the woman to continue her words for her.
“…I am… your aunt Amani. It’s nice to meet you, Lycan.” The woman smiled and bent down to look at me.
I looked up at her and thought that she had a pretty smile.
…I still liked mother’s smiles better.
Mother was having bad dreams again.
I patted her arm. She woke up and hugged me tight. I liked her hugs. Mother’s hugs always felt safe and warm.
“Lycan.” Mother whispered. I could feel her tears on my ears, drenching my fur. “Lycan… My baby… My precious child…”
I felt her hand on my head, stroking my ears. I closed my eyes and pressed my face to her tummy—the place I came from, and I fell asleep.
I met a boy called Amon, but he wasn’t really a boy. Just an angel that looked like a human child.
I didn’t like him.
He called me names, pulled on my tail and once, he stole my ears away.
I didn’t like playing with him, but no one else wanted to play, and mother was always busy when she was talking to the Lord that Created Everything.
I told mother that that name was too long and she had laughed.
…Mother had a nice laugh. I wanted to make her laugh more.
But then she had to go somewhere, and left me alone with stupid Amon and his nice big brother Adam.
I liked Adam. It wasn’t fair Amon got such a nice brother when he was so mean.
Mother took me to visit Aunt Amani again.
I liked Aunt Amani. Mother never had bad dreams when we visited her, and she would cuddle me more and sing me happy songs.
Aunt Amani was nice. She smelled like flowers and fed me snacks.
Mother was always happy to see her, so I decided that Aunt Amani was my second favourite person in the world.
Amon came over to play again.
I tried to ignore him – until he told me about an ancient ruin left behind.
An ancient ruin… Was it like the buildings that Mother and Aunt Amani spoke of?
Amon smirked at me and I realized that my tail was wagging. I scowled at him and grabbed hold of my tail to stop it from moving.
“Mama! I’m going exploring with Amon!” I called out.
Footsteps sounded as Mother walked out from our temporary house. “You are? Be careful now.” Mother said. She then hugged me, stroked my ears and kissed my cheeks.
“Where will the two of you be going? It’s not dangerous is it?” Mother asked. She reached for Amon to pat his head too. When Mother touched him, Amon flinched slightly for a second but recovered quickly enough.
What was that supposed to mean, huh? My mother’s the best!
Amon looked away and said that it would be on the outskirts of a village, which meant that there shouldn’t be too many monsters around.
“I see. Be careful Lycan. You too, Amon. I’ll make dinner for the both of you, so don’t stay out too late.”
By the time we reached the ruins, I had an army of marionettes following me, while Amon was surrounded by the animals and monsters he had parasitized.
The ruins looked like they had been made of stone, with most of the building materials having been worn down into sand and dust.
I made one of my marionettes pick up a loose piece of stone. It crumbled in its hands.
“This place is safe.” I mumbled, throwing the carved, polished stone Mother had made for me. “It’s safe.” I said.
One of Amon’s parasites walked into the ruins. I made a marionette follow after it. Once we were sure there were no traps, the two of us walked in.
There was dust and sand everywhere. Amon caught sight of a faint reddish hue on one of the crumbled stones.
He bent down to look at it. I poked my head out from under his arm, flattening my ears so that they wouldn’t be jostled, and peered at the stone.
“A mural?” I asked.
“If it is, the paint’s mostly gone.” Amon said.
A quick divination confirmed that the stone was once part of a mural.
I tried another divination, to check if the mural was dangerous. Negative.
I made an attempt to divine what the mural once looked like, but failed.
“It’s from a time too far back.” I said.
Amon seemed to lose interest at that, casting his gaze to a greenish-blue object that looked rough to the touch. Amon touched it. When it didn’t seem to show signs of breaking immediately at the slightest contact, he picked it up.
“Looks like a handle.” Amon said.
I glanced around and found another object similar to it. It had been rusted over and flattened, but the shape of a beast’s eyes and mouth biting down on a handle was still somewhat visible.
“A door?” I mused. If there had been a door, it must have been broken into pieces. I squinted at the object some more, and thought that I could see some carvings right next to the beast, but they were undecipherable with the rust and how badly the metal had been mangled.
I tried to check for a wall where the door could have been attached to, but there was nothing – must have been reduced to dust.
I made a marionette walk around, looking for any other relics that had somehow managed to survive.
All of a sudden, Amon called me over.
“What?” I asked, heading over.
I blinked at the object he held. It had been flattened and parts of it had been chipped off, but it was still, undeniably, a silver cross.
I fell silent, as did Amon.
The cross was a symbol of the Creator – Amon’s father.
“…How old is your father again?” I asked.
Amon didn’t reply, staring at the cross, stunned.
At that moment, my marionette stepped on a part of the floor covered in dust and sand, which collapsed under its weight. There was a small ‘crack’ then a ‘thump’ as my marionette fell through the floor.
I tore my gaze away from the cross and checked on my marionette. There was a room underneath the ruins, one that had been invaded by a mass of sand and rubble that supported the floor that Amon and I were standing on.
The cross vanished as Amon ‘stole’ it.
One of his parasites jumped down the hole to examine the room.
I tilted my head as I looked through my marionette.
A basement layered in dust, dust and more dust.
“Can you sense anything?” I asked Amon, making my marionette pick up a crumbling piece of stone to perform some divination with.
Amon nodded. His parasite led the way as it scurried over to a large rock buried peeking out from where it had been buried underneath the sand.
“There’s something inside.” Amon said, frowning slightly.
He reached out with a hand and grabbed at the air. The rock vanished.
A second later, the rock was returned to the much more stable ground where we were.
Amon and I stared at the rock.
I did a quick divination as Amon grabbed at the rock. The outer layer vanished, leaving behind a blob of tarnished metal.
Amon grabbed at it again and the metal vanished, leaving behind a thick, heavy-looking box I had never seen before.
There was some sort of wheel on it, with faded numbers carved into the metal.
“There’s something inside, but the box is just as valuable as the contents…?” Amon muttered.
“Oh. It’s a safe. I didn’t think there would still be one preserved so well.” Mother said. “Quite a sturdy one too. It’s amazing that the lock still works.”
She moved the wheel according to the numbers I had divined for her.
The box opened. Inside were books, and another silver cross.
“How nostalgic.” Mother said, picking up the cross. “I didn’t think that there would be remnants of these left.”
Mother put the cross down and picked up one of the books, flipping it open with a gentle hand.
I blinked when I realized that it was written in one of the dead languages Mother had taught me.
“In the beginning, God created- hey!” I scowled when my ability to read was stolen away by Amon.
Mother laughed and closed the book.
“I think your father would like these.” She said to Amon. “For nostalgia’s sake if nothing else.”
I grumbled. But I helped find those!
Mother stroked my ears and I felt my anger fade as I leaned into her touch.
“My father is the best.” Amon said.
“No, mama’s the best!” I retorted.
I heard Adam sigh as he got up to leave.
“Mama’s really smart and she knows loads of things!”
“My father is the omnipotent and omniscient god!”
“Well, my mama gives me hugs and kisses!”
“My father gave me a Sequence 1 characteristic and a Uniqueness!”
“Ngh… w-well, my mama’s the best and that’s that!” I crossed my arms and huffed.
“Can hugs and kisses beat an angel?” Amon scoffed.
“Then why don’t you say that to my mama’s face?” I scowled. It wasn’t fair that Mother wasted her hugs on Amon when he didn’t even enjoy them!
“Don’t wanna. Being near her is exhausting.” Amon said flippantly.
What? How dare he!
Amon yelped, flailing and trying to shake me off. I dug my teeth in deeper to hold onto him.
“Lycan! What are you doing?” Mother snapped, entering the room, Adam following behind her a few steps away. She sounded angry. Guiltily, I unclenched my jaw and slunk over to hide behind Mother’s legs.
“He bit me!” Amon accused.
“You started it!” I snapped back.
“Lycan, you’re not supposed to bite your friends.” Mother scolded, scooping me up into her arms.
“He’s not my friend!” I cried.
Aunt Amani gave me moonflowers.
They smelled nice. I wondered if they would taste nice too.
When Mother wasn’t looking, I stuck the tip of one flower into my mouth.
When Mother turned back to look at me, she grew pale and snatched the flower away.
“Lycan! Don’t eat it!” She snapped.
I pouted as I was made to spit out the nectar of the flower. But it was sweet… and if it was dangerous, my spiritual intuition would have warned me.
…A child? There was another child!
I scampered up to the white-haired boy.
“Hey! Hey! What’s your name?” I asked.
The boy looked up at me and pointed at himself as if asking if I was talking to him.
“Yeah! You! I’m Lycan! What’s your name?”
The boy seemed to freeze, then softly, he said, “Ouroboros.”
Eh? Ouroboros… That name sounded familiar.
“Oh! That sounds like the name of one of the angels following the Creator God! Are you ‘His’ kid?”
“Ahh, that doesn’t matter. You know my name and I know yours, so we’re now friends! Let’s play!”
“I don’t have to play with you anymore. I already have a new friend!” I said, grabbing Ouroboros’ arm.
Amon blinked, looking stunned.
Ha! Serves him right!
Then, he scowled. “Fine! It’s not like I liked playing with you anyways! You’re such a weak crybaby that it was never fun having to hold back so much!”
I bristled. “You’re just a big bully! I don’t like playing with you either!”
“Fine!” Amon scoffed and stormed off. “Go play with your new friend then!”
“I will!” I shouted at his back and angrily sat down on the floor.
…I didn’t feel like playing anymore.
Ouroboros looked at me, then at where Amon had stormed off to, and seemed to sigh.
He picked up a stick, sat down next to me, and started drawing pictures in the dirt.
“Did you get into a fight with Amon again?” Mother asked, picking me up.
I nodded sulkily.
“Weren’t you playing with Ouroboros?”
I nodded again and buried my face in her shoulder.
Pat. Pat. Pat.
“Why don’t you apologize? I’m sure an argument isn’t worth losing a friend over.”
“He’s not my friend!” I whined.
“Your playmate then.” Mother said.
“I already have another playmate.” I mumbled.
Mother kissed the tip of my ear. “Lycan.” She said, tapping my nose.
I made a face. “I don’t like Amon. He bullies me.”
“You like playing with him, don’t you?” Mother asked.
I pouted. “No…”
Mother smiled and continued stroking my back.
“…Maybe I like playing with Amon… But only a little!”
Mother laughed. “Oh Lycan. Go apologize then.”
“Don’t wanna. Amon will make fun of me.”
Mother hummed. After a while, she said, “why don’t we make some cookies then?”
I blinked and lit up. Baking with Mother!
“Yes!” I cheered excitedly.
“Amon! There you are! Lycan made some cookies for you as an apology.” Mother said.
Mother! Don’t tell him that!
I hugged Mother’s legs, trying to stop her from walking over to Amon.
Amon took the basket from Mother and opened it. He picked up a cookie and gave it a dubious look.
Hey! I spent time on that! If you don’t want it, give it back!
He bit into it and blinked.
Ha! It’s nice, right? Right?
…Hey. Aren’t you taking too long to chew on a single bite of cookie?
Amon looked at the basket, then at me. He seemed to want to say something, but glanced at Mother before looking back at me.
“I accept your apology.” Amon said.
What did you originally want to say, huh? Go on, say it while Mother’s here!
Mother patted me on the head. Then she reached over to pat Amon’s head too.
Amon tensed as she touched him before slowly relaxing.
“Be good friends now.” Mother said.
Mother! How many times do I have to say this? Amon isn’t my friend!