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Trouble's Turn: A Mystical Animal Allies Short Story

Trouble’s Turn

 

A Mystical Animal Allies Tale (Short Story)

 

By Ronda Del Boccio

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2010 by Ronda Del Boccio

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this manuscript may be copied or transmitted in any format, including physical or digital version, without expressed written permission of the author.

 

Cover design by Ronda Del Boccio using a royalty free photo by Laura Musikanski found on Morguefile.com

 

Ronda can speak to your book club or organization through the magic of technology. Call 575-737-8679 or email [email protected]

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

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Trouble’s Turn

 

About Ronda Del Boccio

 

Books by Ronda Del Boccio

 

BONUS: Excerpt from The Assassin and the Prince

 

More FREE Stories

 

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Get free stories, book excerpts, author interviews and more by award-winning and best-selling author Ronda Del Boccio, including the encounter she had in which a dying woman said she was an angel at WriteOnPurpose.com/read

 

 

Trouble’s Turn

By Ronda Del Boccio

© 2010 by Ronda Del Boccio WriteOnPurpose.com

 

 

From our Den far above the earth, I sit in the Place of Watching and gaze through the hazy veil to observe our Two-legged charges, who call themselves the People. There is a special window that allows us to see them. All the Allies have their way of watching. We Wolves have our Den, the Hummingbird Nation has a huge Flower that I would love to see, and the Buffalo Nation watches through a pool of water in the plains where they live. I only know this from hearing the older ones talk about their travels, and I can hardly wait to have those adventures myself.

Supposedly, I am too young to start watching The People, but I don’t know how I’m going to learn how to help them if I know nothing about them. That’s one of those things the adults never explain to my satisfaction. I’m not a pup anymore, after all. I’m almost adult, too mature to want to play with the whelps and not old enough or experienced enough or not whatever else enough to take on the responsibilities of being one of the Allies of the People. I get bored, and that always leads to me living up to the name they call me.

Life down on earth seems to be going along as usual, and it’s not all that interesting either just to watch. I see females tanning hides, drying meat, or mending clothes. Pups…boys…are chasing each other and playing warrior practice games. Bent males smoke a pipe or teach the young pups.

A warning whoop catches my attention as well of those in the village below. Warriors rush back to their pack with news, and now women leave tasks half done and call out for their young to come to their sides. Men take up weapons and the elders call the People to gather. They rush around, making sure all their clan is safe. A woman calls out, “Where is Runs From Snakes?” It must be his Mother, because I have heard that yelp of terror before. I can almost smell their fear from here.

“There you are, Trouble,” Mother says. I feel her eyes study me from eartips to tailtip. “You are taking an interest in those we guide and protect.” She stands beside me and nuzzles me between the ears. “Especially I see you gaze at one of the young pups, the one who is so swift of foot. I do not see him now.”

“Not only him.” I was watching when his grandfather named him. “The clan treats Runs From Snakes as a coward but he’s not.” He was just a whelp when he ran away from what turned out to be a harmless grass snake, but he didn’t know. He ran carrying his sister from what he thought was danger. I say he was brave. He still is, and still they treat him as a coward. “

“You curled your lip at his mother. That is no way for an Ally to behave.” She uses that disapproving tone that tells me I’m in trouble.

“She can’t see me.” Mother watches me intensely and I try not to twitch a whisker but I can’t sit still. I jump to my feet to face her. “Now he is nearly grown and he is always trying to prove himself worthy.” My hackles are up and I try to force them down. Now I am in BIG trouble. I wish I could keep lips and hackles down and mouth closed sometimes.

Mother, predictably, snaps at the air. “It is not for you to decide how others should act, especially since you so often live up to your name.”

“I’m young and I know nothing.” I have been trying to live down the name Trouble for as long as it takes a Two-legged pup to grow from whelp to grey-hair. “I do not understand many things about the Two-leggeds, but when you’re young, nobody respects you there or here.” I flop down with nose on paws to watch the People.

Mother lies down beside me. “You are as restless as I was at your age.” She sighs. “Mother always said she hoped I would bear a she-wolf just like me.”

“You used to be restless?” Something must have changed, because she has to be one of the most boring Wolves the Great Mystery ever created.

She moves her body alongside mine, snuggling. “I can tell this is hard for you to believe.” Now she yips laughter.

“Help me understand the People.”

“I am glad you show some interest, since it is our place in the Great Wheel of Life to guide them.”

When I take a mate, I will NEVER treat the pups I bear the way she treats me. Never! I wait before saying anything else so I don’t get in even more trouble today. Lips are down, hackles are down. Good. I am keeping my anger more to myself…at the moment, at least. “They start as pups, just as we do and they grow as we do, then they become bent and frail and their spirit goes…somewhere…wherever spirits of Two-leggeds go.”

“You see that our brethren the Elk and Hawks have different ways than we Wolves.”

“Yes.”

“It is the same for those we guide. But since they are creatures of the Earth, their place in the world differs as well.”

“Is that why they are so…” I never can figure out how to say the way they seem to me. “So thick?”

“They do seem thick. We are pure spirit, they have bodies of earth.”

“Is that why when Father goes to speak to their Spirit-Chief, I can see the trees through him?”

“Exactly. “

Down on Earth, the People are together in the big lodge. Pack leader warns his people about pale faced men who would take their land. “They come to take our home away from us. We must be like smoke. We must disappear into the mountains until they pass.”

“That is the coward’s way,” someone shouts.”

Chief stamps his foot. “Is it cowardly to defend our children and our freedom?”

“We fight!” one of the warriors jumps to his feet, hot-blooded, and all the young men join him, whooping, making strong gestures. “We fight to defend our land!”

The Spirit-Chief stands beside the Clan Chief. He has that look like Father gets when he’s mad and it has the same affect. “We must pray in earnest and ask our Allies to come to our aid. We must ask to know whether we should defend our land or scatter to come together after the storm.”

Prayers come to us Allies like whispers. When they smoke the pipe or sweat in the turtle den…the “sweat lodge”…the prayers are louder. The young Wolves carry the prayers in their mouths to Great Mystery. I have done this for a long time. Some Allies speak to the Two-leggeds’ when their eyes are closed. Some appear in waking.

“Can one of us have a solid body like them?”

Mother pulls back into herself. She is panting now and I don’t know why. “Yes, it can be done but only by one who knows the ways of the earthworld.”

I watch Father when he goes to aid his One. But he isn’t thick like the People. He never touches the Two-leggeds, never stays long, and never looks solid like a wolf of the earth would look.

“Mother, have you ever gone down to help the People?”

I feel her muscles stiffen. “I do not go to their world, but I do guide them.”

She never talks about how she guides her One from the Den between the worlds. I am supposedly not old enough to learn, and nobody tells me anything. The passage is well guarded because they all try to hide from us young ones, but I know where it is. I have even snuck into the Den a few times. I don’t think my parents know about that.

I don’t know how we each get our One or how to make the connection once we do. That’s another one of those things I’m too young and inexperienced to learn. I am not sure what happens or how, because to me it only looks like a bunch of Wolves sitting, ears straight, tails out, eyes soft, with all attention down on Earth. “How do you guide your Person?”

“Mostly through their dreams.”

“What are dreams?”

“Dreams are teaching messages that come to The People when they sleep, although mostly they do not remember.”

“Why not?” I remember teachings even though I do not always obey them.

“Living in the earth world can make it seem as if the People are separate from the Great Mystery.”

What happens to them during sleep is strange to me. We lay down to rest as the creatures of earth do, but we are still aware. No part of us leaves to go somewhere else. That is what happens for the People. “I wonder what it’s like to sleep.”

“It’s…I am not certain.”

Mother HAS been there and she knows exactly what it’s like, but she is not telling me. By her decisive yip, I know I had better not ask her about it anymore right now.

One thing that puzzles me more than dreaming is praying, but now maybe I understand. “The earth people do not realize they are one with Creator? That must be why they pray.”

“Yes, praying helps them experience their link with Great Mystery.”

What must it be like to feel alone like that? I cannot imagine what it would be like if I did not feel that I am one with Great Mystery. It must be very difficult for them.

Below, Runs from Snake’s mother is running among the People, panicked. “Have you seen him? Where is he?”

Spirit Chief takes her by the shoulders, stopping her. He looks into her eyes. “Be at peace. Trust Great Spirit to guard him.”

“He is so young.”

“He is nearly a man. He left this morning in secret to seek his Vision this morning.” She goes weak in the knees and he steadies her. “You must know he is trying to earn a man’s name.” She stomps off, sobbing. She and other women of the People heat water for the stones. The turtle den keepers gather the stones and make their preparations for the sacred ceremony. Upset though she is, she does the work that needs to be done. Women console her. “I know what is to fear for a son,” one of them tells her.

Mother’s ears prick. “I am called.” All of us feel it when the People reach out for help, and we carry their prayers, but when your One calls, it is different. Ears prick. Breath quickens. Whatever you are doing must stop. You must go to the Den between the Worlds and respond. It seems like everyone else but me has a person. Father has the Spirit Chief. My older brothers guide the warriors. My sisters are pups still. “Trouble, why don’t you go run your restless energy off with the whelps?” She leaves for the Den between the Worlds.

My hackles are way up, lip to my nose, and I can’t help it. Fortunately, she is gone and doesn’t see me. “I don’t want to go play with the pups. “I know exactly how Runs From Snakes feels. I wonder if I will ever have one of the People to guide. Or will I always be “Trouble”?

Nobody tells me anything even though I ask to learn. I am tired of watching and doing nothing except what even the younger pups do for the People. I find myself pacing in circles. That isn’t helpful, fun or interesting, so I trot off to find something else to do. The Pack are connecting with the one Two-legged they alone guide.

With all the People praying, the air is full of sound. It reminds me of a flock of geese when they’re standing on the shore, talking all at once.

Then I hear one voice coming to me loud and clear above the clamor. Great Spirit, humbly I ask you to show me my Spirit Guide. I live to serve the People. Show me the way.” I listen as he continues to pray and seek his Ally.

Could I be his Ally? I run around in circles, flustered, not knowing what to do or where to start. The Den between the worlds! I run as fast as I can along the passage and scramble to a halt at the feet of the guardian.

“What are you doing here, Trouble?”

“I am called.”

He snaps at me in warning. “Not possible. Run off and”

I stand as tall as I can, snarling, hackles up. “Do NOT tell me to go off and play. I am called.”

“You are showing aggression to a warrior, young whelp.”

I am NOT a whelp! But I had better not say that. “I know, but I am called. Every Ally who is called must answer. I will NOT leave my Two-legged alone. He has asked for help.” I know when this is all over I’m in the worst trouble ever, but I hold my ground. My big concession is to uncurl my lip and flatten my hackles. I look him straight in the eye, which is probably worse than raising hackles and snarling.

Young Runs From Snakes is deep in prayer, patient, expectant, waiting for his Ally. He asks humbly, without knowing who will come to him or when they will come, if at all.

The guard sits down and howls his laughter. “You pass the test. I see that you truly are called and not just trying to sneak through, as I know you have done before.”

Wasting no time, I woof a quick thanks as I jump over him and tear down the passage to the Den between the Worlds. I don’t know exactly what to do when I get there, but I will work that out. I wish my parents or the Elders would have taught me what to do when I asked.

Will he see me or only know I’m there? Will I appear like mist or solid? Am I worthy of being an ally? Can I truly help him?

Before reaching the Den I slow to a walk. It’s important for me to make a calm entrance, not bolt into the middle of everything. How nervous I am! All the Wolves are sitting quietly, uniting with their Two-legged on Earth. I find a place to sit. I am not sure what to do, but I open my heart to Runs From Snakes. After a bit, my uncertainty subsides in the midst of this deep communion.

He is praying, listening. He hears a drumbeat. “The People are in council. I feel his anxiety as he wonders if there is trouble. “It is a test. I must not break the circle.”

He has made a sacred hoop around him in which he stays as he seeks his guiding Vision. I know from stories others in the Pack have told me that the Two-leggeds sometimes see or hear things that are not there when they seek their vision. They believe it is a test to make sure they stay in the sacred circle, in prayer, seeking their vision, asking for their special Ally to reveal itself to them.

At this moment, I could use a little guidance myself, so I quiet my thoughts and wait. He must know that his Ally is with him. I imagine myself standing before him and so I am. He has grown stronger both in body and spirit since I last saw him from above. While I see him and the rocky mountainside behind,

What kind of person is he? What task is he alone gifted to do for his people? I gaze into his eyes to look into his spirit. He has compassion, the wisdom of an elder, gentle strength. I also see that he is stubborn and sometimes, unsure of himself, rash. He will be at the heart of trouble between The People and their enemies. “You are destined to save your people,” I tell him.

His eyes grow wider. ”You are speaking to me? I am…deeply honored. I live to serve my people.”

There are so many things I would like to say to him: how similar we are, how much I understand him, He deserves an Ally with more experience than I, because I can see his road will be difficult. He is uncertain of himself. I feel this from him. He does not know his true nature, perhaps because people so often overlook and underestimate him. He deserves a true name. He deserves to be treated with respect. He will be Spirit Chief of the People. I want to say all this to him but it is more important that I make certain he is safe.

At first, I do not know what is all around him since I have been so focused on him. Perhaps if I put more of myself in his world, I can move and look around. How do I do that? Perhaps by intent and thought, as all things are done in my world. Imagine being more connected with his world. More solid.

My ears twitch as I hear horses walking and men talking. Is he safe? I must know. “What sounds do you hear?”

“Before you came to me, I heard the drum calling a warning.”

“Your enemies approach. Do you hear the horses coming this way?”

“I only hear something faint in the distance.”

What is so clear to me is distant to him. I must ask Father about this.

Needing to see more, I focus on his world. He is on a rocky ledge with one tree near, just a little outside his circle. I need to look around him. Directly below, a trail winds along. I jump down to the trail, look up. Anyone passing by will be able to see him from here. I listen. Three horses and three men. A scouting party. If they do not look up, he may be safe. If he climbs into the tree, he may make noise and cause them to look up and see him.

Have the People decided to fight or scatter? I think of the Spirit Chief and am there with him. And with Father. Spirit Chief prays for his people to be unseen.

Back to Runs From Snakes. “Three pale men on horses come. They may see you. Do you climb quietly?

I will not leave the circle.”

“This place is exposed.”

“You are testing me. I have made my circle. If I am destined to save my people, then I will be safe within it.” He crosses his arms over his chest, resolute.

I consider nipping his heel just a little but I don’t know how to be fully present in his world. Probably a good thing. He always seemed so quiet whenever I observed him. That sounds exactly like something I would say, and now I have a little empathy for Mother and Father. And I admire his strength of faith. “Sit in your circle and imagine you are part of the rock. There is no you, only rock”

“I will.”

I sit in front of him and in my mind, he is not there. He is one with the rock. No sacred circle, only rock. No Two-legged. Nothing to see but the mountainside. Nothing.

Rustling below. Someone moves quietly by Two-legged standards. I go to the sound. It is his mother, not hiding herself but looking for her son. It may be that she does not hear the men. I try telling her to hide but she does not hear me. Wolf is not her guardian. She thinks only of her pup. It will be bad if the scouts find any of the people.

Back with Runs From Snakes, I take my place in front of him as before. Causing him worry will make it more likely that he is visible, so I say nothing of his mother.

“I hear them now.”

“Be Still. You are one with the mountain.”

His mother must hear them by now too. She takes a hiding place that is too near the trail. I must think what to do if the riders see Runs From Snakes or his mother.

The riders approach, talking among themselves and scanning the area in all directions, including up. The leader gestures, apparently indicating silence, because conversation ceases. They stop directly below us. Have they seen Runs From Snakes?

No, they have seen his mother. One of them points toward her hiding place. She crouches behind a boulder with trees beside it, but a piece of the covering she wears is visible. I jump down to the pale men in matching coverings. “It is only a chipmunk,” I tell him. Will they hear me? Will they believe me or discover that one of the People hides there.

One of the riders speaks softly to the others. “I’m going to have a look. I can’t tell if that’s just an old piece of hide or if there’s someone there.”

Think fast!…Horses are easily spooked…There are animals of the land all around and I think they will hear me and maybe help. I sing out, “Make the horses run!”

Another song calls out in answer. It is not a wolf and the message is “make running water.” It is Runs From Snakes who is calling with me. He did well for one who does not speak Wolf.

Squirrels and chipmunks dart from their hiding places and rush around. The horses flick their ears and stamp nervously. It is not enough to make them run. I sing out again and my One repeats the call..

The chips and squirrels make a line on either side of the horses and chitter. Runs From Snakes’ mother has moved so that no part of her is visible.

The baffled riders look all around and raise what must be weapons that look dark and deadly. If they see Runs From Snakes, he will not live to fulfill his destiny and he will not have time to get to safety. One of them looks right at where he sits in his circle. He points his weapon, making an arc in the area where my One sits. “Where’s that wolf?”

“Be Still and know they do not see you,” I say into the mind of my One.

I sing out again, “Spook the horses!” Lead rider swings his leg over his horse. A wolf of the earth, running from behind sings out a reply, “I come. I come!” Runs From Snakes sings out again. Squirrels and chips scatter in all directions. Earth wolf runs at the heels of the third horse. All three horses rear. Lead rider thuds to the ground. One of the other horses comes down on his chest with both front feet. He yells. Blood flies in all directions. The horses nay in alarm. Another rider dangles from the rope that goes through the horse’s mouth. The third points his weapon upward, toward Runs with Snakes

The two riders point their weapons wildly in all directions. All three horses buck and bolt. The second rider is trampled and the other makes a loud noise with his weapon then crashes head first into the mountainside. His head splits open. I see a black mark and a spray of ash on the rocks below Runs From Snakes. He has lost his stillness, which I easily understand. His eyes wide, mouth open.

“All is well,” I assure him.

His mother runs from her hiding place. “My son!” She looks as if she is trying to decide how to crawl straight up the mountainside to him.

He stands inside his sacred circle. “Wait there.” He appears uncertain. To me he asks, “Is it right for me to finish?”

“You have completed your Vision Quest,” I tell him. It is right, now, to give thanks and unmake your sacred circle.” Again, there is much I want to say to him. “They did not see you. For them, you were not there. I am proud of you.”

“The animals came to help us. I have never seen something like this happen.”

Earth wolf lies on the ground, eyes closed, unmoving

Runs From Snakes does not come down until he has sung his prayers and completed his sacred duty. It is good. He honors the ways of his People, the sacred path, even though he has been through his first test of courage. His sobbing mother wraps herself around him. He squirms in her arms. “You are smothering me,“ he protests. “I must give thanks to the wolf. “

He kneels near the earth wolf and sings a song of gratitude.

The earth wolf’s spirit is still with his body. There is a mark on his chest from where a hoof must have hit him, but there is no lifeblood spilling out. I lick his wound, wash his face. “Thank you, little brother, “I say to him. The wolf opens his eyes, gets to his feet with some difficulty and looks my One straight in his eyes. Then he trots off.

I am pulled back to my own world so suddenly I feel as if I need a moment to catch up with myself. I sit alone in the middle of a circle of Wolves. This is either very good or very bad. “My One called to me.”

Mother tackles me. “You are too young and untrained.”

I scramble out from under her. “I was called. And I have asked to know how to serve. Nobody would train ne.” No hackles, no lip, but I am upset and angry. She shames me in front of the elders for doing my sacred duty?

Pack Mother snaps at her, and she lowers herself in submission. “You cannot protect her from your past. She must fulfill her role, as we all must.” My mother slinks back to her place in the circle.

Pack Mother comes to me. I sit before her, eyes low, waiting. “You have had a big adventure today.”

“Yes.” I still don’t know if I’m in the biggest trouble of my life or what will happen next.

“You may have interfered too much.”

For once I manage to keep myself from saying what I want to say at the worst possible moment. I want to say that I have done no more than the Eagles and White Buffalo. “It is possible. I never can do anything right. But I came to my One and helped him stay safe.”

“Is that what you should have done? Perhaps you should have appeared to him and left.”

My heart is on the ground. She is showing neither anger nor aggression toward me, but I still don’t’ know if I’m in trouble. “When I asked inside myself for guidance, I felt I should help him. It is what seemed right.”

“It is good. “

“I did not know what to do next, but I kept asking inside, remembering what I had heard in stories, and doing what my inner guidance told me to do.”

“You followed your inner knowing. That is all any of us can do, whether Ally or Two-legged.” She nuzzles me affectionately. “You have long since outgrown your whelp’s name.”

My mouth drops. I look into her face but not her eyes. My heart comes up from the ground.

“Hear me, all of you. From now forward, this one who is so brave and inventive shall be called by the name she has earned. Welcome Asks Within as an Ally of the People.”

It is all I can do to sit still. The circle of Wolves all around me howls a joy song, and I sing in gratitude with them. I feel Great Mystery with me stronger than ever and I give thanks. My desire is to serve the People well.

Nobody, neither Wolf nor any other Nation, calls me Trouble anymore. They call me by my true name, Asks Within. Some of the Pack Elders and even Allies of other Nations ask me to tell the story of how I met and saved my One.

 

 

 

BONUS Novella Excerpt

The story Behind “The Assassin and the Prince”

 

The heroine of this story and almost all of the action literally came to me in a dream. I got up and wrote everything down as fast as I could, then wrote the story. You can read the full tail…uh…tale at Shakespir.com/profile/view/AuthorRonda

 

 

 

Bonus Excerpt from “The Assassin and the Prince”

As he read the computerized text of the ancient tale, Crispin imagined he was a knight of King Arthur’s round table fighting for honor and following the Code of Chivalry. He longed for a life of excitement and valor, not the endless meetings, audiences, and royal duties that filled his days. Hearing the chime, Crispin reluctantly set his e-book machine aside. He could hear the annoyance ringing through the tone.

Before he could open his mouth to admit his guest, the chime sounded again and his mother entered with a soft whoosh of satin. She frowned as she scanned his suite, and he knew she was going to launch into one of her speeches about responsibility or how he must prepare to take the yoke of rule upon his shoulders.

“Why is there an unsheathed sword on your bed?”

Crispin jumped to his feet. “Hello…”

She scanned the room with laser-sharp green eyes, targeted the scabbard, snatched it up, whisked the sword into it and tossed it to him in less time than it took him to greet her.

“…Mother.” He traced with his finger the elaborate dragon shooting pewter fire from its toothy mouth with its talons poised to strike.

“Put that ridiculous toy away and come to the audience chamber. Your father and I want to see you.”

Ridiculous toy? Why did she always treat me like a lazy idiot? There was a bowl of fruit on the table next to his mother. He slid the sword from its sheath and sliced an apple perfectly in half.

“Very cute. Now come along.” Her skirt swirled around her long legs as she walked in small quick steps to the door.

Crispin tossed an apple half in the air and caught it in his teeth as he followed in her wake.

 

Seeing a castle in a picture or hologram did not compare to standing at the thick iron gate between two stalwart stone pillars. Aree’s long silver whiskers twitched as she took in the strange building. Was this supposed to keep people out? Aree could climb over it easily if she needed to. Claws and agility were wonderful things. But then, this was a human construction. Ridan was a small but significant planet.

Aree stood before the sensor that would relay her image to the gatekeeper. She knew her appearance might be startling to the humans on sheltered little Ridan. A five-foot-tall, brown striped Feline wearing a strappy leather bodysuit might cause a stir. But maybe that is just what the inhabitants of this imposing stone building needed.

A flat male voice came through the speaker. “State your full name and your business.”

“I am AreeLaradi-prr-Kyree. I am here to apply for the bodyguard position advertised in Warriors, Assassins and Renegades Weekly.” Aree scolded herself. Even though she spoke Common, the language that allowed the diverse species of the galaxy to communicate reasonably well, she spoke with a strong Feline accent. These were isolated humans. She had not spent much time among humans, who spoke Common with a distinctly human accent.

Aree waited. A laugh. “Say your name again, please. More slowly.”

Aree cringed. He was laughing at her name. She hated to be laughed at. Didn’t that human realize his name would sound just as strange to her? She tried not to repeat her name through gritted teeth.

“Oh—my apology. You are expected.” The gate opened.

Aree kept her long striped tail close to her body as she walked through the heavy gate. The space between the gate and the immense stone castle was large enough to park a four-hundred-passenger shuttle. The path had decorative stones featuring human faces interspersed among plain ones. The faces probably belonged to past rulers.

Pristinely manicured flower gardens lined the path. These humans must like their world orderly and planned. The entrance was designed to either impress or intimidate, but Aree was neither. She walked with purpose but not with haste to the wide wooden castle doors. The man awaiting her studied her from head to foot with a critical eye. His lips formed a tight straight line. The smell of him made Aree’s stomach turn. She had forgotten how awful humans smelled, but she knew she would get used to it after awhile.

“Here are my credentials and the pass I was told to present.” Aree stood in front of the man and held his gaze with her gold eyes. His shoulders slumped slightly and he took a step back.

The man blinked. “Oh… yes, thank you.” He inserted the small triangular chip that the King had sent her into a matching hole on a console and swiped the sensor of the square identity chip that showed her credentials. “You’re applying for the special assignment?”

“Yes. You sound surprised.”

The man averted his eyes and shuffled. “I suppose I shouldn’t be, but… you’re a cat!”

Aree raised her chin. “The job announcement said nothing about human applicants only. Why shouldn’t I apply?”

“Because you would be protecting—I will let them tell you. It is not for me to decide.”

Aree’s tail started to twitch of its own accord. How dare he judge her because she was feline, not human. “Yes, that would be wise. Where do I go?”

He looked her up and down and frowned. “I am not certain they will admit you. You may recall the instructions you received told you to dress for a royal audience.”

Aree wore little clothing. Being feline and thus covered in fur made garments unnecessary, except to compensate for extreme weather conditions or keep out rain. She wore an ornamental leather body suit with diamond-shaped cutouts. Aree’s tail twitched more vigorously, but after a moment, she forced it to stop. “Oh yes, Ridan is very conservative. But I am, as you see, showing no skin, as I have fur, and my—what is the human euphemism—private parts are covered by the leather.”

“Yes, but…”

“What I am wearing is formal by feline standards.” Aree forced her claws to remain sheathed, but with effort. “Please direct me to whoever is conducting the interview, if you please. Sir.”

Finally, and with obvious reluctance, he called another uniformed guard to escort her through a seemingly endless series of passages to the door of the Royal Audience Chamber. The armed guard at the heavy wooden door must have been of higher rank, because his uniform was red instead of gray and it had tassels hanging from the jacket collar.

Aree handed the triangular chip and credentials to the decorated door attendant, who repeated the same procedure she had already gone through. He, at least, was a lot more animated than the gray-clad gate guardian was.

“Let me save you some trouble,” she told him. “Just present me as Aree.”

A red-faced woman wearing a long green dress burst through the door and stomped down the corridor, muttering as she hastened to wherever her next destination might be. “That miserable louse was practically undressing me with his eyes. Some nerve!”

“Probably because her flesh is spilling over the top of her dress,” Aree remarked. “How could a male human not stare?”

The guard, who had been holding his breath in an obvious effort not to laugh, lost control and laughed.

An authoritative female voice called, “Has our next candidate arrived?”

“That was Her Majesty.” The man sobered with effort and extended a crooked right arm toward Aree.

She looked at the bent arm. “What are you doing?”

“Extending my arm to escort you to Their Majesties.”

“I have not encountered this unusual custom among the other humans I know. What am I supposed to do with it?”

He blushed. “Put your left …front leg … through it and walk with me to the dais at the other end of the room.”

“Since we walk upright, we call them arms, as you humans do.” She held her tail straight up with the tip curved, as she would to show respect among her own kind.

Before leading her, he whispered, “I think the Queen is… not in the best of moods, so it would be best for you to remain silent until someone asks you a question.”

Like everything else on this planetoid that she had seen so far, this large room was designed to impress and intimidate. They walked on a plush red carpet. There were a few people, all human, in seats facing the front of the room. A dais raised the royalty above everyone else. The King, Queen, and young man who must be their offspring, wore ornate garments with gold metallic trim and sat in thick-cushioned chairs. Attendants stood nearby, but behind them. A burly security officer with numerous metal insignias on his uniform stood beside the queen scowling, with his feet wide apart and his thick arms folded over his chest.

Aree was not convinced this situation would work. Maybe things would have gone more smoothly if this were a less backward colony. She would probably be asked to leave immediately, but she was not going to give up without trying. These were strange people, but maybe the assignment would be interesting.

“I present before Your Majesties Aree, applicant for the special security assignment.”

The younger, curly-haired noble stared at Aree with wide green eyes and gaping mouth.

“Manners, Crispin,” the Queen demanded.

Aree’s fur fluffed and she returned the gaze. This yellow-haired youngster had issued a challenge. It took Aree a moment to remember that humans had an annoying tendency to stare, and it did not mean the same thing as it did among Felines. She forced her coat to smooth but stared at him until he yielded and looked away.

Her escort released her arm and whispered, “Bow to them.”

I should have reviewed royalty names in Common Tongue, Aree thought. She did not bow but said, “Greetings King Geoffrey, Queen Eleanor and…” she struggled to remember the proper term. “…Princess Crispin.”

“Hey, I’m not a girl. It’s Prince!”

Several people laughed out loud. The King smirked.

Humans had an irritating need to be coddled. “I beg your pardon, Prince Crispin. There is only one other planet in this sector with royalty, and they have no offspring.”

“And you’re supposed to bow to us,” he added indignantly.

The tip of Aree’s tail twitched, and she could not make it stop. “Prince Crispin, I bow to no one of any race. No Feline does.”

The King ran his fingers through his long black beard. “Diplomacy is not your strong point, but perhaps that is not important.”

Aree replied, “I know I am a terrible diplomat. But according to your job announcement, you are looking for a bodyguard, not an ambassador.”

 

END of excerpt. You can read the rest instantly on your favorite device! Just go to my author page at www.Shakespir.com/profile/view/AuthorRonda and download The Assassin and the Prince. Thanks in advance!

 

 

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About Ronda Del Boccio

 

 

 

Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve told stories. I made up skits and plays while playing with my stuffed animals, all with no involvement from my parents. I could entertain myself for hours! At that young age, I wanted to have a way to catch those stories and keep them in a treasure box.

As a “legally blind” child (meaning a girl with very poor eyesight), I received daily torturous bullying, because I had to hold books up to my eye in order to read (still do), because I was fat, and because I saw the world so very differently from other children.

How grateful I am for all these experiences—yes, the blindness and the bullying too—because they gifted me compassion, perseverance, and boundless creativity. Since I have to adapt everything I do compared with how a fully sighted person would do it, my ability to “think on my feet” and be innovative is amazing.

Books and stories became my best friends. I became a voracious reader and an avid writer of stories. I wrote articles and then became the editor of our school paper in 8th grade. At my high school, I started writing Doctor Who fan fiction, poems and fantasy stories.

A few of my poems and stories made it into journals, newspapers and magazines. Then for quite a while, I didn’t write much of anything.

Ah, the soul of the storyteller is my nature, and writing is how I follow my bliss. So I decided to dedicate many enjoyable hours to writing and bringing my creations into the world,

Now I laugh every day, because the “you’re so weird” qualities about which kids teased me during those 12 years of torture known as school are now my livelihood. Oh how I LOVE my 1-minute commute past the coffee pot (to make a latte).

More Free Stories

 

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Ronda’s Books

Shakespir Author Page

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Nonfiction

 

Mindset Masters: Achieve Anything, Anytime, Anywhere

I am one of 16 authors; each of us teaches our best mindset secrets.

 

Trust Your Heart: Building Relationships that Build Your Business

These chapters by successful entrepreneurs each share relational selling secrets.

 

The Impact Factor: How Small Actions Change the World

This book by Ken McArthur and me relates what big difference small actions make.

 

The Peace Seed: Personal and Global Transformation through storytelling

Within YOU is an innate seed of greatness. Just as the mightiest tree grows from the smallest seed, big changes begin with one tiny seed – YOU!

 

The Instant VIP: Insider Secrets to Fame, Freedom and Fulfillment as an Expert Author

This book reveals the steps to write a book AND build your empire around it.

 

I’ll Push You Steer: The Definitive Guide to Stumbling Through Life with Blinders On, co-author Bonnie Tesh

This book of inspirational stories will make you laugh, cry, and get off your pity pot!

 

“Stop the Time Bandit: Time Management Techniques for Life Mastery” (Kindle only)

Time Management tips & techniques minibook

 

Fiction

 

A Tasty Morsel – a Humorous Paranormal Romance Novella

This humorous novella is the first in a series. You’ll meet a ghoul who’s a nurse for the most unusual hospital you’re ever likely to see, a ban-shee having a bad day, a vampire who hasn’t had a meal in a couple of centuries, and a “regular” (or maybe not?) human woman who gets pulled into a strange new world.

 

When Assassins and Allies Conspire: Visionary Tales, Volume 1

Some allies come in unexpected disguises. Each of the 4 tales in this book brings you into the hearts and minds of people (most of whom are NOT human) encountering unseen perils, ancient secrets, prejudice and fear.

 

DVD / CD

 

Story Power: Connect with Anyone through the Power of Storytelling (85 minute storytelling techniques training DVD)

This is an in-depth storytelling training that teaches you to tap into the power of your own story in a way that magnetizes people to you. It includes the handouts and resources the live participants received.

 

Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Storytelling (CD)

This is a lively discussion of 7 common storytelling mistakes that turn people away from you & how to avoid them.

 

THANK YOU in advance for reading!

 

 

 

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Trouble's Turn: A Mystical Animal Allies Short Story

The rest of the pack call her Trouble, but how can this teenage White Wolf become an Ally of the People if she doesn't stick her nose in their business? The Native American spiritual traditions are rich with stories of the animal Allies (often called Power Animals or Animal Spirit Guides), who guide humans following the Good Red Road. Many stories focus on the human. But how do these guardian spirits learn how to serve their life purpose How do they come into their power so they can best guide the humans under their care to discover their Path and live their life in a good way? This coming of age story is about a young Wolf Ally who, like any teenage or young adult human, is trying to discover who she is and find her way in life. Her overbearing mother and critical Pack leaders try to make her follow their rules, but she defies their authority. Trouble risks everything to be true to herself, but what will it cost her? Find out in this mystical short story inspired by Native American spirituality. Author's Note:i have dreamed stories on numerous occasions. A dream inspired this story, though it doesn't resemble the original at all. It is my pleasure to give you this mystical tale while I write more Ally tales to compile a short story collection. I hope you will reach out to me and connect!

  • Author: Ronda Del Boccio
  • Published: 2016-04-05 20:05:07
  • Words: 7602
Trouble's Turn: A Mystical Animal Allies Short Story Trouble's Turn: A Mystical Animal Allies Short Story