There was no more than a couple seconds between the ‘no’ and the pout that brought down Alarn’s hopeful expression. It wasn’t just the permission of his parents that he needed to keep a pet, but that of the rest group. The sanctuary was meant to be just that and pets were a liability to their safety more often than not.
And a Hydra was more than a liability, it was a threat.
“He’s just a baby! I can train him!” Alarn argued, clutching the little creature tighter against his chest. Clueless to the fact that it was being argued over, the hydra let out a little squeak and nuzzled all three of its heads under Alarn’s chin. “Look! He’s harmless!”
He had found the tiny creature in a hollow while out training with his father. It had been crying for a mother that had either died or was long gone. Despite his father telling him to leave it be, that it had wandered from its nest, Alarn had crawled down into the hollow.
It was no bigger than some of the fish that swam in their stretch of river. The hydra had been scared at first but the longer Alarn sat there, the closer it got. Eventually, it crawled into his lap and made a chirping noise. He’d decided then and there that he wanted to keep it.
For the rest of the afternoon he spent his time convincing his father to give him the chance and catching fish for the baby. Once he washed away the grime that was coating the soft baby scales, the little thing was so much happier that it was crawling all over Alarn, licking his face and nuzzling him. Even the iron hearted Rilo couldn’t tell his son no after that.
His mother had given in in the instant she saw the hydra curled up in Alarn’s arms. She was quick to bestow equal attention on all three of the tiny heads until the giant green eyes had closed in happiness.
But his parents weren’t the problem. It was everyone else and so far, no one wanted anything to do with the creature. Both Rilo and Syllis tried to help where they could but even they couldn’t sway everyone because their son wanted the pet.
“It will grow beyond your control, Alarn. A hydra is not a pet, it’s a beast.” Alarn’s expression fell more and more as the older nymph went on. His fingers ran over the dark scales while he was forced to listen to all the reasons why he wasn’t going to keep it. “He’s harmless now but he will be dangerous to us all as he grows.”
Alarn’s eyes pricked with unshed tears when he finally lifted his head. He was glad that his unhappy glare surprised the older woman; she was being mean to a helpless baby.
“I will be dangerous as I grow; does that mean you are going to throw me out on my own?” He was reminded every day that he had to control his power. That it was to be used for the protection of their sanctuary. The more he had listened, the more he found his and the baby hydra’s predicament similar except that he had a use and that’s why they kept him around.
“How dare you!” Alarn cradled the hydra protectively against his chest as the female raised her hand to smack him. He had expected the anger but not an actual hit. When there was no sharp pain, he opened his eyes to peek through his hair.
He had been saved but his father didn’t look any happier than the woman did. If it was because of his disrespect or because the female hadn’t reacted as an adult should, he wasn’t sure. But he was sure that he hadn’t seen his father look so angry before.
“That is enough.” Rilo’s stare was enough to make the woman back down but not without a comment that Alarn needed a lesson in manners. Syllis had made her way over as well to scoop up Alarn and his hydra to keep them from any more acts of violence.
“He still can’t keep the beast. You might as well kill it.”
“No!” The tears were gone but Alarn’s glare only darkened as his grip tightened around his would be pet. They couldn’t make him kill it and he wasn’t going to let anyone else kill it. As dangerous as it could potentially be, the little thing didn’t deserve that. Wiggling out of his mother’s arms, he backed away from all three adults unhappily. The hydra squeaks of protest were all that got him to loosen his grip.
“No,” Rilo’s voice echoed Alarn’s and it had a relaxing effect on him. He gazed hopefully up at his father only for it to fall again. “I will take him to release it to its own kind.”
“That is absurd! Their territory is in the West and neither of you are supposed to leave the sanctuary except to train him.” The nymph argued though was silenced by glares from both of Alarn’s parents before she could go on.
“Then we will train. Alarn will need to know where all the territories are to properly defend us. He will learn.”
“You let your love for him cloud your judgment, Rilo. He will be rebellious to our ways if you keep this up.” Alarn stuck his tongue out at the woman and rubbed the scales of his hydra. It wasn’t what he wanted but it was better to give the baby back to his own kind than to leave it out in the wilderness alone or kill it. He was barely listening to the woman after hearing that he was going out again but he couldn’t ignore the disapproving looks from his parents.
“You cannot say such things, Alarn.” Syllis scolded gently, ruffling his hair. He nodded quietly and put up with the affection despite how he itched to swat her hand away.
When he and his father finally got away from her and were off to set his hydra free, Alarn was feeling depressed all over again. He didn’t get to keep his pet, was scolded by the other nymphs and his mother, and now he was just waiting for the scolding now that his father was done explaining why it would be better to let it go than to hide it in his room.
“Don’t look so scared, I’m not angry with you.” Alarn was surprised enough that he nearly dropped the little hydra. The scratches he earned as a result were well worth it. “You spoke the truth and held your ground despite what consequences would follow. Bravery is a part of being a warrior though; I suppose you could learn some tact.”
As if in agreement, the hydra clawed its way up on his shoulder and chirped loudly, baring it’s tiny baby fangs.
Sooooo, my lovely co-blogger requested more of Alarn (specifically younger Alarn) so I gave in and wrote this. I wanted it to be easily related to for those who brought home a little lost dog or cat and whose parents made them give it up. Besides, even creatures with a past like Nymphs can have moments we would consider ‘normal’.
Next Creature: Chimera