Robert stared hard at the tiny creature mewling in the cage. Looking, for all appearances, like a lion cub but with a very real cobra coming out where there was supposed to be a tail. The cobra was nearly already grown and protecting the weaker part of its own body. Without controlling the tail-cobra, there was no way anyone was going to get near the baby creature.
This was one of the most foolish ideas that the council had come up with. The artifacts needed a guardian, yes, but a chimera? Chimeras were just as likely to attack those with whom it was familiar as it was to attack enemies. The council of elders didn’t care; they were spawn of the gods in their eyes and were worthy of guarding artifacts of the great heros.
The only benefit that he saw in the cub was the fine golden fur that would sell for a high price. A chimera hide was well worth the danger of getting anywhere near one the damned creatures and here was one, sitting helplessly in a cage crying for a mother that it’d never see again. But the council wouldn’t even listen to that idea.
Apparently too many of the warriors had died to bring the cub in for its new purpose.
“If they had asked us before sending out those fools, not so many would have died,” He grumbled angrily, bringing the attention of the cub towards him. Unable to look at the chimera anymore, he pulled out a slab of meat and tossed it between the bars of the cage before moving on. There were other animals and creatures to care for, he’d figure out what to do with the Chimera in the morning.
Unfortunately, he was faced with the same dilemma in the morning. Robert found himself sitting in a chair, watching the chimera devour its food with gusto. The warriors who had brought in the cub were at least smart enough to grab one that didn’t need mother’s milk to survive anymore. But it also meant that it was past the imprinting stage.
Wouldn’t matter how hard he tried, the cub would know that he wasn’t its parent. A provider of food but it wouldn’t form such a close attachment as it would have if they had gotten one that was younger.
“Papa! Papa! Leanne took my doll again!” Down the narrow walkway between cages came his daughter Pearl. No matter how many times he had forbidden her from coming to the barn where he kept the unusual creatures, she always managed to sneak in.
“You know you aren’t supposed to be in here, what if one of the animals attacked you?” He sighed, setting her on his lap. Since she hadn’t come in when he wasn’t there, he allowed her to indulge her curiosity a little and watched her tears dry up as they landed on the chimera cub that was treating his breakfast as a toy.
“They like me. Miri even let me pet her!” Her black curls bounced as she turned to face him with a big smile. Nothing seemed to faze his little girl and it honestly scared him. She, like the council, did not seem to realize the dangers of these creatures.
“Miri?” His brow furrowed in confusion as it dawned on him that she had been naming the very creatures that he had forbidden her from going near. The rest of his children obeyed just fine but not her.
In answer, Pearl bounced off of his lap and skipped down the row of cages. His alarm skyrocketed when she stopped in front of one of the larger cages and stuck her hand through the bars without a care in the world. “This is Miri; she’s a sweetheart if you scratch her right here.”
His daughter; his oblivious little girl had not only decided to name, but she was scratching a hellhound as if it was one of the neighbors puppies. It had taken much time and energy into capturing a hellhound for the next auction and he hadn’t been able to do more than feed the damn thing since it had gotten there.
“Pearl,” He warned, quickly moving to pull his daughter away from the hellhound just to give his sanity a reprieve. Just as her fingers cleared the cage, the creature snarled and lunged at him. If it was because it still hated him or was angry that Pearl stopped scratching it, he didn’t know but at the moment he didn’t care.
The thing didn’t calm down until he tossed a bone between the bars. In the time it took him to do so, Pearl had disappeared again. Glancing around, his heart raced and he promised himself to buy more chains to lock up the barn more securely so that she couldn’t get in.
“You’re new,” the sweet coo stopped his heart in his chest and he dashed back towards the chimera’s cage. As if petting a hellhound wasn’t bad enough, she was holding out her hand to the chimera.
“Pearl! Get away from there!” He wanted to rush in and pull her away like he had with the hellhound but it just wasn’t fangs that he had to worry about. The cobra tail was poised to attack and Robert feared that any sudden movements would be the death of his daughter.
“Papa, he’s just a baby.” Pearl argued, only sparing him a short glance before focusing back on the chimera. She was muttering under her breath, speaking far too low for him to hear but whatever it was seemed to have a soothing effect on the cub. “Mama says that babies need a gentle touch, it’s why she won’t let Leanna or Michael play with Junior.”
“Those are human babies, Pearl. Please come over here.” He didn’t trust the Chimera for an instant, not when the cobra was still raised in an offensive position. Even if the cobra didn’t strike, there was still the fire breathing and sharp lion’s teeth.
Much to his dismay, the chimera crept forward on its stomach towards Pearl’s fingers. The cage wasn’t very big since the creature was still a baby and so it wasn’t long until tiny fingers were well within reach of more than just a poisonous strike.
“Pearl Liza! Get away from that cub!” He hissed, trying to inch towards his far too innocent little girl. With every move he made, the snake seemed to rise higher and hiss more at him. Raising his voice wasn’t even a good idea in a barn full of deadly creatures.
“He’s so cute Papa!” When it was finally within reach, Pearl didn’t hesitate moving her fingers through the tuft of gold fur on its head. If anything, the cub was just as surprised as he was but it hadn’t struck yet while Robert was having a panic attack. “I think I’ll call you…”
“Do not name it!” She’d get attached if she named the damn thing.
“Zaire.” She continued on as if she hadn’t heard him and he was tempted to let the damn hellhound, Miri, bite his head just to escape the insanity. Pearl had to get her damned curiosity from his wife.
“Papa? Can I help you with Zaire?”
Gods have mercy, a baby faced nine year old wanted to help him train a chimera. Pearl wouldn’t listen to him about anything, not even to come away from the cub. Which meant he’d have to send her to the ultimate authority; the only person who seemed to have any control over the children.
“Go ask your mother.”
The victorious light that glinted in Pearl’s eyes sent a worried shiver down his back. If this slip of a girl could do what her siblings never could, maybe she needed to be training dangerous creatures.
Ugh, I just keep getting more and more behind. My 100 Day challenge may go past the date it was supposed to end but it will be done!
Next Creature: Basilisk