Liontaur Tale

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On Liontaur Isle, there are holy days devoted to Domi, who some liontaurs name Tomi (Pronounced TOE – my), and to whom almost all are devoted. On these days there are great contests, bouts, and celebrations, as liontaurs gather from all over their small island to revel and compete.

Once upon a time, at one of these holy festivals, two young liontaurs met who were very different from each other. One was from the coast, the scion of a merchant family, and he wore a silk vest and a gold chain. The other, from the interior, kept to the traditional ways -- his wide buckskin belt was all he wore, aside from the clan and pride beads braided into his hair. And yet they had some things in common, as they quickly discovered.

"Excuse me, friend," the coastal liontaur said to the inland liontaur, pointing to the beads woven intio his mane, "but I see that you belong to the Siheow Pride of the Ayow Clan. My name is Alfred, but friends call me Alfie."

The other liontaur just stopped and stared, silently amazed at the other's rudeness. Pointing at one's beads! How insulting! And what kind of a name was "Alfred"? Truly the coastal ones had lost their way!

In the face of the other's silence, the liontaur in silk and gold blushed an angry red. "I do not know why you ignore me! I only mention it because my father's mother came of your tribe!"

The inland liontaur's ears pricked up at this, and he spoke, "Well, I will forgive your rudeness, since you may be kin, but do not point again! We point only at prey -- and to point at a hunter's beads is a deep challenge!"

"Well, let me ask your forgiveness," Alfie said, "since you are the first inland dweller I have met, I am ignorant of your ways, friend and kinsman."

"Well, if 'friend and kinsman' you name me, so must it be!" the inland liontaur said. "I am Sowsal, truly of the Siheow Pride of the Ayow Clan, as you deduced. What pride and clan do you claim, 'Alfred'?"

"None and none! I am of the Hethult trading family, so you can call me Alfie Hethult. I'm afraid my folk don't much hold to the old-fashioned ways," he said.

"You don't hold to the true ways, Alfred Hethult?" Sowsal said, "Then all you have left are the false ways!" and he laughed to defang the sharpness of his words. "I do not understand you! How can you turn away from the life we were meant to lead? The hunting life! The prairie life! The scent of prey ahead and meat falling under paw! Do you not feel lost, my cousin?"

Alfie laughed along. "How sad you are, my cousin, as you cling to the past. Maybe in generations gone by, in other lands, hunting was a noble challenge. In song we faced rhino and ostrich and elephant -- noble prey indeed, if that is true! Now you hunt rabbits and turkeys, and count it coup if you take a deer. In this tiny land, your dreams of the hunt are also tiny! Too tiny!"

The coastal liontaur continued, passionate in his conviction. "We traders stalk the most challenging prey -- those with brains and hands! We beat them at their games of coin and barter, and we take their goods to our warehouses, trophies of the successful hunt! Centaur, human, minotaur, elf -- these are the antelopes we track, and we bring gold -- their lifeblood -- away from them. Sly and careful we stalk them. Fast and furious we pounce! Deep we rip into their veins, and drink their blood of coins!"

Sowsal could only gape for a bit. Then he said simply, "Minotaurs and centaurs are worthy prey, but stealing from them isn’t the same as killing. As for weak humans and elves -- I spit on them ! They are not worthy! Yes, we are constrained in this tiny land. But here we dwell in exile until we have atoned. Some day we will be restored to the vast plains of our heritage, and then we liontaurs, greatest of all races, will once again roam as kings, and the other Taur will bow before us, as it should be!"

"But let us not be at odds, my cousin," Sowsal continued, "for on this holy day, it heartens me to understand that all liontaurs yet think of themselves as hunters!" He held out his hand.

Alfie smiled and embraced his cousin. "Hunters indeed! The best hunters in the Wold!"