“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
This had been her purpose from the moment she had been conceived. Ibsie’tu knew that, he knew damn well he was never supposed to love the bastard cub born in the temple to a widowed female. The moment the high priest had set off to follow the Pathway of Stars to the clan that lie beside the sea of Panthalassa, he was guided by only the will of Nikos, never his emotion. He had taken Amaiyou from her tribe back to the Northern Temple and there she died giving birth to Ceiris. From then on, he was only supposed to instruct the newborn cub until the Fall of Pangea. Then, he would let her go.
Now, he walked hurriedly behind her through the corridor of the temple, watching her golden locks sway behind her as she was ushered along by the other high priests. The residents of the temple rushed by, but Ceiris, Ibsie’tu and the priests pushed against the frantic crowds of shouting, caterwauling Jabberwockies. He almost paid no mind to the crumbling ceilings, stone descending and shattering against the opal stone floors. His ears rang, his amber gaze widening as Ceiris looked over her shoulder at him, speaking but he could not hear a thing. How beautiful she had turned out, what a waste. Nikos should never have chosen this perfect creature to bear this burden. She should’ve been given the life she deserved; now her fate was to untangle the lies the priests had spun right before her eyes. Alone. In a world that may never claim her as its own. How scared she must be, how unprepared, how-
Ibsie’tu whirled around right as the ground behind him dropped, cracking and splitting into a jagged crag, Jabberwockies caught in its maw and colliding with the sharp rocks, their bodies pierced through their hearts. One had attempted to shift, a bulky male Mars, but his wingspan caught on the rocks, tearing through the soft flesh. His true form was no assistance. “Hurry! Get her to sanctity!” A priest shouted, and Ibsie’tu rested his hand on the small of her back to push her along towards the giant corridor, along with the other priests following along.
“Ibsie’tu, I am scar-” “Silence, Ceiris!” He didn’t want to utter the words, but it was necessary as a pillar came crashing to the floor, crushing through two more priests beneath its weight, right as the doors were slammed behind them. “Slow down! Please!” Ceiris cried, royal blue eyes wide with fear, but it was no use as they lead her down the winding staircase, tremors shaking their every step. The room was circular, intricate blue patterns etched in obsidian stone pulsed light to illuminate it. In the center, a round table arose.
“Ceiris-” “Ibsie’tu, I’m not ready. I-I need more time, please!” She cried as she was hauled up onto the table, the priests frantically gathering sinews to bind her wrists and ankles. Tears stung Ibsietu’s eyes as he saw her own rolling down her cheeks, eyes bloodshot. Never would be forget the royal blue, fit for a Queen herself, the blue of the young Jabberwocky he had raised from cub to woman. She was only nineteen winters old. She was never going to be ready for this.
He hurried around the table as she was bound, nearly tripping over his long orange robes adorning his chocolate brown skin. Her sobs echoed throughout the room, almost as loud as the quakes and shatters as the Temple, and all of Pangea was torn apart. Ibsie’tu placed his hands on her cheeks, looking down at her, unable to contain his tears. “It’s going to be ok, Ceiris.” His voice shook, his gaze darting from his dear little one to the serrated blades the priests were gathering. “You will save our kind. You are our hope. You will awaken in the new world, rebuild our clan, receive a true name and Nikos will smile upon you.” Tears poured down her cheeks as she sniffled, hyperventilating, her chest heaving with every labored breath. “You promise?” Ceiris murmured, as Ibsie’tu watched the cold blades placed upon her beautiful olive skin, one on each knee, one on each him, her elbows, her shoulders, her waist. Nikos, deliver him from this hell.
Then they began, the screams, the shrieks and cries of sheer agony. He could only watch as the priests sawed and sawed away, crimson metallic-smelling liquid spurting into the air like white water beneath falls. She could not help but fight against the bones that bound her, her jaw out stretched unnaturally with screams of pain that no living being should ever experience. His own sobs were escaping him, clutching her cheeks to look at her, despite the sting that almost blinded him. “It’s going to be fine, little cub, it’s going to be fine.” He murmured, saliva slurring his words, his face distorted with pain. None like what she experienced however.
The golden surface of her bone was visible through the thick meat of her flesh, bloody trails streaming down onto the floor that pooled around the priests feet. She was coughing. Coughing up blood that fell from the side of her mouth. “Promise me, Ibsie’tu!” She shouted, agony creating a roar. “Promise me!”
“I promise little cub, I promise.”
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
Europa Justine lie curled atop the lonesome bed in the New York apartment, her dense tawny fur brushing against Nikolas’ sleeping form. Her chatoyant, massive eyes blinked open as she caught ear of the sound of the streets outside, yelling, the honking of horns and sirens. She raised her feline head, her elk antlers nearly touching the ceiling, her large paws tucked beneath her, her black-tipped tail coiling around Nik’s leg unbeknownst to him. Slowly, her muscles contracted until the form of a human girl was left, her rose budded antlers still remaining. Europa’s royal blue gaze landed on Nik as he slept just a mere foot away, her lips parted. Sliding off of the bed, she pounced over to the window in a smooth, cat like leap, peering outside.
They were out there somewhere. Somewhere they waited to be found.
And she would.
Her hair tickled her shoulders as she glanced to the bird sleeping in its cage idly. A grin threatened the corners of her lips but she remained silent as she clambered back into bed, the same distance from Nikolas as she had been before. He had trouble sleeping. He had since the night he took refuge with her in the cave. He stirred, as if his slumber was disturbed by her movement. She flinched, quickly reaching up to pluck a white rose from her antlers. Holding the flower over him, the petals would dissipate into golden light, a lovely sweet smell cascading over him. He stayed asleep, more peaceful than before, leaving only one white petal in Europa’s palm. Her smile finally broke through. “I will find them one day, Nikolas my friend, but until then,” She placed the white rose on top of his head, careful not to disturb him. “You are my Clan.”
She settled back down, hugging her knees to her chest, letting the warm arms of sleep embrace her for another cold New York night.