The old cat’s gaze darted trough the crowd in the hall. Everyone is shouting, howling, roaring and spewing insults towards him. He cringed when he heard ‘pussy’ amidst all the usual maligns like ‘human lover’ and ‘human master’s pet.’
Razor sharp claws extended from his paws. The famous black tail of his, well known for providing him balance and agility in combat, puffed and angled downward. It’s because of his magical tail that BlackStar could still retain all of his nine lives. Not only have the others harbored resentment towards his kind because of the gift, but the fact that the human practically worshipped these cunning felines exacerbates things.
Both feline and canine families suffer the same prejudice and judgmental treatments from the rest of the kingdom.
General Rhino, one of the most aggressive assets in His majesty’s army, short-tempered and overzealous, lurched forward. He grabbed BlackStar’s chest plate and pulled him closer to his snout.
‘You want to save your precious human masters, Pussy?!’ Rhino stressed the word ‘precious’ and ‘pussy’. He wanted to humiliate BlackStar in front of everyone, especially in front of His Majesty.
‘How dare you defy the King’s order?’
‘Get your dirty hooves off my armor you one horned oaf!’ BlackStar hissed, revealing his pearly white fangs. Both of his paws snatched Rhino’s rock hard fist and buried his claws into the thick grey skin.
‘Let go. Or I’ll shred your skin.’ His whiskers glinted in the lights, looking as sharp as his fangs and claws.
‘Go on then.’
BlackStar was about to unleash his fury on Rhino’s fist when a thunderous bellow shook the hall.
‘Stop this at once!’ A towering bull, clad in steel and leather armor broke them off. His mighty hooves grabbed the young generals by the neck and pulled them away from each other.
‘We don’t butcher innocent lives, Rhino. It’s against the law!’ His voice boomed again, making every mammal, amphibians, reptiles, birds and even insects shrunk inside.
BlackStar struggled free and walked away, and so did Rhino. But he changed his mind midway and made a quick turn.
‘We shouldn’t show mercy to these vermins! You, of all the generals in this room should’ve known better. They’ve been slaughtering your kind by the billions and you still want to give them a chance?’ Rhino gathered some momentum and courage before lashing out another blow, a critical one.
‘No wonder they use your kind as a symbol of stupidity.’ The war room gasped and an awkward silence followed.
Every soul in that brightly lit chamber could not believe somebody insulted one of the oldest generals in the kingdom. Not just any insult, Rhino called General Torr stupid in front of His Majesty. The bullet has been waiting in the chamber for a very long time. Some of them laughed silently, to themselves, agreeing with Rhino.
He felt something fluttered in his belly. Then it turned into a hot sensation, rising from the centre of his torso and rushed to his head. Rhino is ready for battle. It felt like as if a big boulder had been knocked off his back.
The old bull turned his head to the mighty and wise lion, King Cecil, who has been awfully quiet since the beginning of the meeting. His majesty was slumped down in his golden throne with one elbow leaning on the armrest and his chin lazily resting on top of his palm. His gaze wandered far outside the balcony, reaching the sea of pines and firs, beyond the great lake and into the infinite horizon.
Torr turned his head back to Rhino.
He raised his battle hammer over his head, over his curved horns. Rhino bent his knees and put up both his hooves; ready to parry the attack.
‘Torr!’ The Earth-Shaker, Torr’s legendary war hammer, stopped almost halfway down. Deep down, Rhino was glad somebody stopped Torr before it could get worse. He knew Torr’s blow will not kill him; merely just to teach him a lesson, but he couldn’t face the humiliation. And besides, Rhino was afraid of the Earth-Shaker. Torr didn’t name his hammer Earth-Shaker for nothing.
An owl flapped its wings on top of a giant slab of rock served as dining table. He was one of the court’s most brightest and brilliant advisors to King Cecil. A Tasmanian Masked Owl known as Willowspeak. His black eyes, as black as onyx, soulless and piercing anyone’s soul who brave enough to gaze into them. Willowspeak gestured his tiny beak towards the throne.
The mighty lion had one paw up, demanding his generals who had been bickering like younglings to stop and focus on the matter at hand. His gaze was still lost in the horizon. After contemplating for a while, the king stood up and walked down his throne. Just like a recently victorious gladiator, King Cecil strode with solemn steps towards the silent crowd. Every council member bowed his heads.
He summoned General BlackStar and General Duke, of the canine family, to come closer. BlackStar already arrange the right words to say to His Majesty in his head before he joined King Cecil and General Duke.
‘Forgive me Your Highness, I didn’t mean to stir things up, but we need more time to save the innocent ones. I only asked for a postpone of the invasion, not voting against it, Your Highness.’ Between BlackStar and Duke, the fuzzy black cat is the most outspoken one and often got his and sometimes Duke’s tail as well, into trouble.
King Cecil leaned closer and with a silvery voice, he spoke. ‘Time is not a luxury we can afford. You can’t save all of them.’
The rest of the council looked on, anxious to know the heart of the matter that was being discussed privately between the three of them.
‘Go. Save as many as you can. You know what to do.’
BlackStar closed his eyes and sighed. His heart felt cold, like some invisible hand had clutched it and the insides of his belly churned; he felt helpless. He knew what is coming. He knew His Majesty has made his decision. General Duke put his paw on BlackStar’s shoulder. ‘Let’s do this, brother.’ His heavy heart felt as despondent as BlackStar.
BlackStar sighed for the last time before turning to King Cecil. He put his paw on his left chest and bowed. Duke did the same thing, almost in unison with his old friend. “Long lives The Kingdom. Long live King Cecil.’
The King responded the salute. ‘Long lives The Kingdom.’ He watched on as his two generals plodded from the chamber.
Finally he turned around to greet his anxious subjects. Everyone is gripping his weapons tightly. Besides their own claws, talons and hooves, they brought swords, axes and war hammers. Their hunger for battle couldn’t be contained much longer. Every human they can find will pay for all the atrocities committed against the kingdom. A long time ago, they made a pact with one of the ancient human kings, King Solomon. The humans broke the truce first when they started killing citizens of the kingdom for fun, not for food.
‘Any news from the sky kingdom?’ He inquired Willowspeak.
‘His Majesty King Garuda is waiting for your word. Their army is at full force and ready to deploy.’ The wise owl reported with confidence in his jubilant voice.
‘And our neighbors in the waters?’
‘Lord Kraken has placed his armies at various key positions and ready to land. His Killer Whales division has encircled various enemy sea fleets across the globe and ready to move in.’
With the last information digested, King Cecil nodded and his gaze wandered back into woods beyond the balcony. He closed his eyes and inhaled a lungful of air, trying to clear his head and thinks about the oncoming battles ahead.
He looked at his own horde, eager and ready.
‘Assemble the army.’
Thunderous roars, bellows, grunt, howls, and screeches echoed through the chamber. Sharp and shiny metal weapons clattered above their heads. Some stood on their hind legs, others flapped their wings frantically.
Everyone chanted the one word they have been waiting to scream out loud since the first crime was committed against them – war.