AAAHH! Screams of pain ring out in the little shack. The villagers whisper amongst themselves as a crowd looks upon the outside of the shack.
A few look up to see if dawn has broken yet.
It hasn't. Word has gotten to the castle about the awful commotion coming from the village. The king has sent two of his castle guards to the village to asses the current situation. The screams are coming so much more frequently now that nobody seems to notice. “You there!” a booming voice shouts. “Explain the situation!” A frail gelada monkey in a ragged old robe turns to face the voice only to find himself staring at a big furry black tree trunk. He backs up, positions both hands on the top of his cane to look up at the guards. Standing before the small monkey are two large muscular black lions with tiny white wings clad in the traditional black & silver loincloths of the kings officers. Their bright green eyes almost glow in the moonlight.
If not for that & the moon glistening off the tips of their spears they'd have been nearly invisible in the darkness of the night. The monkey smacks his toothless lips together & speaks.
“Lady in there,” he motions to the screaming shack with his graying head, “been two days now, doc says any minute now.” The identical lions exchange a puzzled glance. The old monkey's eyes lit up with joy as a smile spread on his lips. “Gonna be one helluva baby, eh?” He starts to laugh which quickly turns into an uncontrollable cough. A girl in a purple flowered dress who looked to be a cross between a Burmese python & a xiphactinus audax whisked him away. “Come on, Grampa, it'ssssssssss time for your medicine.” The guards exchanged yet another glance, shook their heads, turned, & walked out of the crowd, away from the village. A few feet away from where they were they walked to a nearby house where they had tied up two savage looking red eyed 4 legged black panthers with huge black feathered wings extending from their shoulder blades. The creatures were already saddled & bridled.
The lions secured their spears on their own backs so they rested nicely between their wings. They then untied the beasts, mounted them, & with a running start, took to the air back toward the castle. There were three main parts to the kingdom. The first of which was where the guards were headed. Inside the castle walls was where the purebreds lived. They generally worked in the castle itself & lived in nice houses just outside of it, surrounded by a stone wall. No one came in or out of this wall without first stating their business at the gate unless you belonged there. You couldn't even get to the market unless you spoke to the guards at the gate.
Not that many outsiders came to the market or many insiders wished to leave.
Neither happened much. Outside of the castle walls was the second part of the kingdom. It was where the poor lived. They had a market of their own based on barter. The village was larger than that inside the castle walls. Not many others entered the village nor did many leave. Being so isolated, crossbreeding & inbreeding was rampant & a widely acceptable lifestyle. That accommodated for the numbers. Some of the poor were so mixed up it was near impossible to tell what species they were.
Which in turn led to many not leaving due to non acceptance everywhere else, which in turn led to isolation. Thus the circle has continued on since the beginning of time.
The final part of the kingdom couldn't even really be considered the kingdom. On the outskirts of the village, through the forest & the swamp was where the humans lived. Humans & anthros didn't associate much.
After all, why would a human need to associate with an animal? However, the “leader” of the humans had made an arrangement with a past king. The animals out of human society, & humans will stay out of anthro society. That was how it had been for centuries. Back at the shack a zebra woman lies on a rickety old bed, legs spread, feet propped up on the posts of the foot-board. A thin sheet covers her lower half. Beside her holding her hand is her grandson who appears to be a normal Caucasian human boy, one of the few humans in this way of life. Very few are born “normal” & even fewer who are stay. Dressed in jeans , no shirt. He wipes the sweat from his brow with his free hand.
His gaze shifts from his zebra grandmother to a man seated on a chair against the wall.
The man is a burly man, part human, part orangutan. The man wears dirty old overalls, no shirt, work boots.
His eyes are fixed on his mother laying on the bed, not his son. Holding his father's hand in the seat next to him, the boy turns his attention to his mother – his father's niece. A cross between a human & zone-tailed pigeon, she sits in a plain blue dress,still wearing her bonnet, eyes fixed upon the zebra on the bed.
The young man's eyes wander to the man by the foot of the bed. The doctor, an ivory-billed woodpecker, coaches the zebra to push, he can see the crown. The young man turns his attention back to the soon mother of his child.
The doctor, who lives within the walls, does pro Bono work for the poor was the best doctor around. Actually, he was the only doctor. Sure, the young man could've went to the human village & got a doctor from there, but then say what?
That his grandmother was having his baby?
That although his appearance was strictly human, his parents were anything but? No, this doctor would do just fine. Best doctor there was. The face of the clock read 12:26am.
Barely visible in the candlelight.
No one inside was aware of the crowd. No one in this house knew of the kings guards speaking with an old monkey. No one saw them leave not even a second before the baby arrived. A little girl. The cord was cut but the mother was still pushing.
Doctor says no, second baby. Twins. As the mother pushes, the boy lets go of her hand for the first time since the whole ordeal started. He takes his daughter to the kitchen, followed by his mother & father. As his daughter's mother labors in the next room he gently cleans up his crying baby girl. As he looks down into her lavender eyes he can't help but see himself in this tiny creature.
His last name.
Before the mother can protest about being unwed, he must make sure she has his last name. But what of her first name? With the witness of his also unwed parents he utters, “Venetia.” The tiny baby coos, yawns, then goes to sleep in her father's arms. “Venetia Salmon Maponos....”
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