Dwain eagerly leapt to the occasion: "Nobody knows where exactly she comes from. Some say she came from the forgotten Nasaite islands. Others say she is an inca—inca—incar-nar-ration—yeah—of the Goddess, Mother Azna, herself!"
"Ooh. Impressive," Astral muttered patiently.
"It's true!" Regina piped in.
"Shht, Reggie, I'mma tellin' it!" Dwain waved her off excitedly, now leaning over a quickly forgotten meal "–As I was saying, then – ah – Alexia the Sage came to these lands, declarin' freedom for all, from He Who Walks With Dogs – as Da' liked to call him. Alexia the Sage will come and lead us all to the Mountains in the South – and there, she will wash truth and justice across all of Vidian soil with the blood of our canine enemies, and the vile wheda who anchor with 'em."
"I'm – I'm sorry, Dwain, my boy. I'm terribly confused." Astral shook his head. "Who, pray tell, is this dog-walking fellow? You don't mean—"
"The Zuut," Dwain scowled.
"The Zuut?" Astral blinked. "Why, but, the Zuut governs Vida's New World Order. He means us no harm. All he has ever proclaimed is peace and unification all mammalkind."
Darkness clouded Dwain's eyes like a hatred no child should have ever known. The look even sent a chill down Regina's spine, though in her soul, his words were true: "No great leader lets canines walk beside him, and the Zuut took 'em all in like they were his own."
Astral balked at this. "Lad, unification of all mammalkind means just that. The Zuut pardoned all canines from their exile in the Zeephite Icelands, but the canines alive today are not the canines who ruled us centuries ago."
"You don't know this."
"What are you – what? What?! Oh, bother! Seventy-one years old, I know more than you! The canines who attacked AltusVillage are a rotten minority – be they bandits, or be them hired killers! But anyone who thinks no wheda is capable of evil hasn't gone outside their home much!"
Astral paused to take a deep breath before the anger in his tone could claw further up his throat. He took a long puff off his duskroot pipe, exhaled thick-smelling smoke, like his big wet nostrils were pluming chimney stacks, into the air above the kitchen table. A sheen of calmness drew over him, and he continued.
"Most canines these days desire nothing but to be left alone, to peacefully reintegrate wherever world will allow them. So long as war persists, no canines live in Galhiest. No one in our province would accept their presence."
"You're wrong, Mister Ages," Dwain said. "It was canines that caused Altus to burn. The world is corrupt and must be purified. Goddess in my heart sings it true. Alexia the Sage swore to bring us freedom from such a tyranny. You're wrong. Genocide is what they want. Control is what they desire. To rule again, that's all any of them ever dreams of. To say otherwise must mean you a canine collaborator."
At this, Astral burst out laughing. "Dwain Spikeclaw, do you even hear yourself?! These are not the words of a twelve-year-old boy! Nonsense! Fear-laden nonsense! All of it! We are in the midst of a true civil war over such a debate, and you, a mere child, accuse me of something so preposterous!" He look at Regina, baffled. "Were you raised to know such hateful things, as well?"
Regina stroked the fur of her tail to still the trembles of sorrow in her heart. She looked up into Astral's eyes and nodded.
"By the Goddess!" Astral exclaimed. "Madness! Racial madness, for the sake of needless bloodshed! Who taught you both such terrible things?! There is no difference between canine and wheda! We are all mammals! All of us! As far as I can tell, your sage Alexia is a simple legend bred from ignorance and fear for change, and nothing more. Wartime propaganda, at best!"
YOU ARE READING
The Book of Wind (The Quest for the Crystals #1) - (Sampler)Adventure
The World of Vida is war-torn between the forces of the messianic Zuut, and the Retainers who oppose his global rule. Enter Regina Lepue, a skunk left orphaned after canine bandits destroyed her village. Regina has grown up believing that all canine...