Enir and Serena both walked casually down the streets of Ryuna eating ice cream cones that Enir had bought for each of them and having conversation back and forth, learning more about each other. Both had talked for an hour straight before they stopped at the park and sat beneath the shade of the Willow tree that was at the center of the park.
"So where is your house exactly, Serena?" Enir asked as he licked away at his vanilla ice cream.
"I live about twenty minutes from this park," she answered, taking a n** at her bubblegum-coated ice cream, "In Tsai." she finished. Enir nodded and complimented her then took a n** of his cone.
"That's a nice place, Tsai." he said.
"How about you, where do you live?" she asked.
"I come from good old Yuso." he answered, biting down on his cone and eating half of it. Serena giggles as he finishes his mouthful and leaves some of the ice cream on his cheek.
"What?" he said, looking at her with a lost expression. "What'd I do that's so funny?" he asked. Serena keeps giggling then scoots closer to him and leans forward. She runs one finger down the side of his cheek, removing the ice cream, and sticks it in her mouth. Enir smiles and shakes his head.
"Should've known I had ice cream on my face." he laughed. Serena takes her finger out her mouth and continues eating her ice cream. The park seemed to have gotten quieter as they stared at one another.
"Enir, there's something I wanted to ask," Serena said, leaning back up against the tree.
"Like what?" he replied. She takes a deep breath then exhales.
"Enir, before I do ask, you must know about my family." she said to him, her knees starting to shake. Enir said nothing. "Enir, my family has a tradition that when the daughter comes of the age of seventeen, she must find a male suitable of being her husband," she told him, stopping so he could absorb what she had said.
"So wait, you mean to tell me that you are looking for a husband?" he asked her.
"Not willingly." she answered, "I, myself, would rather find a male on my own, not by tradition, but my father is really uptight about keeping tradition going." she added.
"I see. So I guess you want to ask me if I'd like to be your husband then."
"Not exactly." she told him, "There are two other people who are in the running." she informed.
"So three of us then? What are these other two like?"
"One is from the German Sheppard clan. His name is Rakishi. The other one is from my clan, a white wolf by the name of Kai,"
"Wait a minute," Enir interrupted, "Kai? As in Kai Calypso?" he asked.
"Oh boy, he’ll be a challenge." Enir sighed, "I've heard of him quite a bit."
"Enir, my father is going to ask you if you'd like to try for my hand." she warned him, "So before he does, will you?"
Enir closes his eyes and thinks about it for a few minutes. She just proposed to him to challenge Rakishi and Kai for her hand in marriage. He was shocked and was leaning toward saying yes, but he also thought about himself. He was only eighteen and had only just met Serena one night ago. He always told himself he wanted a family and to get married, but he wanted his wife to be someone he knew a lot about so he agreed with her when she had said that she wanted to pick whom she got married to, not her family tradition. Putting all of this into consideration, he made up his mind. He opened his eyes and looked at her sternly.
"I am sorry, Serena," he said, "But I cannot accept your offer. I do not want to be put into a competition for someone's hand, whether it is tradition or not, I do not believe it is honorable."
Serena nodded her head then stood up and smiled at him.
"Okay then. Thank you, Enir. That means a lot to me." she looked around and saw the sun hiding behind the clouds. "But I must be going now. I need to get home and tell my father that it will be only the two." she said. In her voice, Enir could hear the sadness. Serena turns around and begins to walk away while Enir just sits and watches. He felt bad for saying no, but knew that it was the right thing to do. He stands up and runs to catch up to her.
"Hey! Wait up!" he called out as he chased after Serena. He gets beside her and smiles. "I'll walk you home." he said. Serena just stared at him then looked away. She was hurt, yes, but only on the outside. On the inside, she was happy that he said no and explained why. His answer told her that he wanted a relationship before thinking ahead and she liked that. She liked having the knowledge that he had the same views as her. They walked in silence for a good ten minutes. Around the same time, the sky had gotten darker and rain clouds had moved in. Now it down poured and lightning raced through the clouds as thunder lit the up. They were running now for her house that was only five football fields away.
"C'mon!" Enir called out to Serena, who was starting to fall behind. He looks over his shoulder and sees her lying in the mud face first. He skids to a halt, turns around, and races back to her. He hits his knees and turns her over.
"Hey!" he yelled, "Serena! Serena, wake up!"
Serena was unconscious. He soon realizes she was breathing heavily. His first thought was that she did have a few broken ribs, but he threw that thought out quickly when he remembered that the doctors had not found any broken bones other than her arm. His next thought was that she had a few internal bruises that could have occurred from when he hit her. Not wasting any more time, Enir picks Serena up into his arms and takes off quickly for the house.
"Hang in there, Serena. We're almost there." he whispered as he began to feel his lungs tighten and burn. He makes it to the house and stops before the giant black steel gates, which were guarded by two white wolves dressed in black robes like him. These wolves both had long silvery hair that was braided on the left side and had a tribal sun on their shoulder.
"Please! She's unconscious," he huffed as he stood before the guards, "She overexerted herself."
The guards look at him and nod. They turn around and open the gates. He smiles and nods his head to the both of them then begins running again. The house, now, was only a few minutes away. After another five minutes, Enir made it to the house and stood before the front door. "Hello?" he called, "Hello?"
The door opens and in the doorway stood a female white wolf with a darker tint of blue hair like Serena's and a little longer. She stood easily at 5' 10'' like he and looked to be in her late twenties, early thirties. She dressed in dark red jeans with a dark red V-neck. She had a blue X on her right cheek. "Oh! Come in, come in." the girl ushered. Enir steps inside and removes his shoes on the rug that was beneath his feet.
"I see she overexerted herself. Hmhmhm. That's my daughter Serena alright." the woman giggled as she walked into the kitchen. "Keep up." she told him as she led him through the hardwood-walled, aquamarine-tiled kitchen with grey marbled countertops and a stove, dishwasher, and sink all in the right corner from where he had walked in. The woman leads him up a flight of blue-carpeted stairs and down a white-walled hallway--lavished with wall rugs and pictures of what were probably relatives or ancestors of theirs--to a dead end. To her left she opened a door and walked inside. Enir followed her into the room and saw that he was standing inside Serena's room. He looked around and admired the cleanliness of the room, how it seemed cluttered with many things like several posters of different rock bands, all human rock bands, and some renowned martial artists that were Furries. Symbols of rock bands and cage fighters, and plaques from earlier in her martial arts life, two shelves; both filled with many books and movies, and a desk in the corner to the right with a PC on it, cluttered with notebooks, school books, and binders. What he didn't like was that there was not a single window in the room so it seemed dark unless a light was on.
"Lay her down in her bed." the woman spoke as she pulled back the red comforter and white sheets. Enir walks over to the queen-sized bed and lies the unconscious Serena down in it, her head resting gently on the red-cased pillow. The woman pulls the covers over Serena then walks over towards the door.
"If you don't mind, please come with me." the woman said to Enir. Enir nods and walks out of the room, following the woman back down the hallway then the stairs and through a sliding glass door that he had noticed only quickly as he was rushed through the kitchen. The room was dark or at least it seemed that way because of the dark hardwood walls and dark blue carpet. In this room was a 64-inch HDTV mounted to the wall directly in front of him, playing a movie, a long black couch that could fit five people seven-feet before the TV. To the far left was a small office space complete with a hardwood corner desk with a PC and office chair and to the far right of the room was a bar, complete with a neon sign that was off, but Enir could read that it said YUKI'S PUB AND SPIRITS. The movie suddenly freezes and a silhouette rises from the center of the couch. The room then lights up with dim lights, making it easier for Enir to see who he was looking at. The figure turns around and smiles.
"Ah! Welcome to the Yuki residence, my boy!" the figure greeted. He was a black wolf in his mid-forties with midnight black fur and crimson hair, which was long on the sides, short in the front, and back. Enir made note of the scars he had on his face; he had on his right cheek and the other was over his right eye. He made note also of the small chunk of ear missing from his left ear. Enir quickly figured that the man had been in a war or fight. Respectfully, Enir bows before the man and introduces himself. "Greetings, sir, my name is Enir Emeri and I," the man's passive voice tells him to stop in midsentence and listen.
"A pleasure to meet you, Enir, I am Rasha Yuki, Serena's father." the black wolf introduced, "And the lovely lady who let you in is my wife and Serena's mother, Acaia Yuki." he added, "I would like to thank you personally for taking my daughter to the hospital and looking over her as well." he finished. Acaia smiled and walked over to Rasha, who wrapped his right arm around her waist.
"Yes. Thank you for helping her." Acaia spoke, "Speaking of which, Rasha, dear, Serena has a bit of bruising. I suspect diaphragm bruising and lung bruising from when she sustained a blow to the stomach." she finished. Enir was amazed at Acaia's medical knowledge and how she so easily and meticulously deduced the same thought he had about why Serena had suddenly passed out. Rasha chuckled lightly when he saw Enir's face, confused and awe-stricken.
"Ahahaha! Enir, ma boy, my wife was once a doctor at the hospital you admitted Serena to. She's also one of the best in Tsai." he said, kissing Acaia on the muzzle. Acaia returned the passionate kiss then motioned for Enir to join her and Rasha as they sat down on the couch. Enir saw a second couch, the same size as the one they now sat on, placed vertically toward the TV on the right side of the first couch. He walks over to that couch and sits down.
"So tell us, Enir," Rasha spoke, "What made you decide to give up the number one contender medal?"
"I felt sorry, sir." Enir answered, cupping his paws between his legs.
"Sorry?" Acaia chimed. Enir nodded.
"Yes. I felt sorry because I had thought that I had hurt Serena far more severely than what she really was." he told them as his and Serena's fight played in his head. "Even though I knew from the get-go that she had been trained specifically to fight me, when I noticed that she was coughing up blood I thought I had destroyed something inside of her to cause the bleeding. Heck, I thought for sure I paralyzed her for life, but I didn't."
"But sorry? Enir, you are number one in all of Tsai, Yuso, and Trifalga," Acaia pointed out, "There must have been something else. Something much more than pity."
Enir smiled as he looked down at the carpet.
"It was honor, ma'am. It was honor." he said to them, looking up at them once more. "Your daughter, Serena, held her own against me for two hours. That is the longest any fighter has every lasted when they went up against me and so when I saw she was immobilized, I knew right away what I had to do." he inhaled softly and then exhaled. "I knew that she was number one so I made her dream come true. I gave up that medal because she deserved it more than I did."
"That, Enir, is a very gallant thing to do. I respect you for that." Rasha spoke, holding Acaia in his lap.
"Thank you, sir. I am grateful for your words." Enir replied, bowing his head again.
"So tell me, Enir, do you know our tradition?" Rasha asked. Enir looked at him blankly and nodded.
"Yes, sir, I do. Serena told me about it earlier today." he answered. Rasha nodded slightly then laid his tail across Acaia's lap.
"Then, Enir, will you compete for our daughter's hand?"
"No, sir." Enir spoke quickly, "I will not compete for Serena's hand in marriage. In my opinion, sir, competing for marriage is wrong. There is no honor in it. I was raised to marry somebody whom I chose, not chosen by a tradition." he explained his reasoning behind his decision. "I apologize if I have offended you."
"Do not worry, Enir, you have not offended me in any way. I understand your point of view." Rasha assured. "Tell me, do you like my daughter?"
"I like her, sir. She is a good person and a brave one." Enir replied.
"Enir," Acaia broke in, "What he means by 'do you like our daughter,' is do you like her enough to date her." she explained. Enir flinched and let silence envelope the room. Thoughts began running through his head about their time together and how they each took a liking to one another. Rasha and Acaia both smiled when they saw he was deep in thought.
"Yes, ma'am?" Enir responded with a shake of his head.
"Would you like to date our daughter?" Acaia asks.
"For you, Enir, because of all the gallant things you have done, I will personally give you my blessing and disregard this tradition, if you wish to date her." Rasha added in. Enir smiled and nodded his head.
"You would do that for me, sir?" he asked, not fathoming what Rasha had just said to him. Rasha nodded assuringly.
"Yes." he answered, "For you only though, Enir."
"Again, I am very grateful, sir. I would love to date your daughter, but now I just have one thing to ask,"
"What is it, Enir?" Acaia spoke.
"What about the two who also want to date Serena?"
"I will tell them that she is courting someone already and to wait." Rasha answered, "Personally, that Rakishi mutt only wants her for the vast wealth she has."
"Wait... Vast wealth? You mean that she is going to inherit your fortune?"
"Why yes, Enir, boy you catch on quick. You see, once Serena does get married, she will not only have her reputation, but also the money that I and her mother have saved up and locked down." Rasha reveals.
"And Rakishi, from what I have gathered, is the type who will squander the fortune and turn her into an inferior person." Acaia said. "Our daughter deserves better than that, so really, it will only come down to Kai and you, Enir." she finished.
"What is it that you do not like about Kai?" he asks, "Besides the fact that he is already rich like you."
"He has an ego, Enir." Rasha answered this time. "His ego is bigger than anyone I have ever met. He is number one in all of Ryuna and thinks that he deserves whatever he cries for and I believe he only wants Serena because," Rasha stops when he hears a quiet girl's voice inside the room.
"He only wants me for his play-thing." the voice finished. She walks into the room, around the couch, and stands between her parents and Enir. It was Serena. She was dressed in a pair of black cargo jeans and a red zip-up hoodie, that was zipped up to her bust. Enir could see the outline of her red bra.
"How long have you been awake, sweety?" Acaia asked her daughter.
"He told me himself, mother." she went on, "When I had met him in the park two weeks ago. He told me that he would win my hand over, crushing any other competition, and then I would be his to do whatever he wanted." she sits down next to Enir and not just next to him as in two-feet away from him, no she sits close. Her leg was touching his. He didn't mind this, he was use to girls doing things like that, but what she did next made him smile inside and his face flush. She wrapped her arm around his then laid her head on his shoulder. Rasha and Acaia smiled at the sight of their daughter holding onto Enir, the wolf she only met a day ago.
"I would much rather date Enir, than Kai or Rakishi." she said, "But I want to date him on my own terms, not the terms of the tradition."
"We understand, Serena," her father told her, "That is why I am breaking the tradition."
"Thank you, father." Serena said sweetly, stil holding onto Enir's arm.
"You do know that once they find out you are dating Enir Emeri, they are going to stir up trouble." Acaia warned.
"So let them, mother." Serena quickly spat. "I have no doubt that Enir can take them."
The room is once more silent. The pitter-patter of the rain echoed throughout the house. From the density of the noise, Enir gathered it was downpouring hard.
"Enir, this storm isn't going to let up anytime soon so, if you like, you are welcome to stay the night." Acaia offered graciously with a sweet smile. Her smile reminded Enir of the smile Serena had on her face when he had told her that she had taken first place: a warm smile that could cheer up even the most apathetic person. Her smile seemed to hold all the good things in the world.
"Thank you, ma'am, I gladly accept your offer." he spoke, bowing his head slightly.
"Serena, will you show him to his room for the night, please." Rasha said as he and Acaia stood up.
"While you do that, your father and I will start prepping dinner." Acaia concurred. Her and Rasha walk out of the room and pull the sliding glass door shut, leaving only Enir and Serena in the dimly lit room. Both sat in total silence, listening as the rain beat against the roof and gutters. Little by little, they looked away from each other, their faces flushed with red, but still held one another close. After what seemed like hours, Serena finally broke the silence when she stood up, her fingers entangled with his, and smiled. "Come on, Enir, I'll show you to your room." she said softly, her voice gentle and caring, yet hinted with something more. Enir rose to his feet and let Serena lead the way. He opens the sliding glass door fro her then follows her through it and closes it behind him. The kitchen was alive with the sound of water boiling, metal clacking against metal, and drawers being opened and slammed shut. The room was filled with many different aromas. A few of which were Plana, which was a kind of fish that was found only in the Tsav Sea on the boarder of the coastal city called Yuso, and Gekkinoki, a forest dweller that was an omnivore. Enir takes a big woft of the smells and exhales happily.
"It smells good, ma'am." he said looking at the Plana, which was chopped into five-inch slices with its bloody entrails in a bowl. Plana was four-feet in length and one-foot wide; the size of a small child, and was a deep blue exterior and grey underbelly with two eyes and four fins with its gills located on its underbelly.
The Gekkinoki was a lizard-like creature the size of a television set that was fifty-inches. It had four legs, the front legs had three seven-inch-long claws extending from the scaled skin and the hind legs had three four-inch-long claws. When alive, this creature could easily scare many people, Furry or human, for it was capable of eating either one in one bite. Aside from that, it was also very poisonous. It's venom was equal to that of a Black Widow spider. Enir snickered thinking about it. The lizard was nothing more than chop suey now: it's head and claws in a bag, that hung from the edge of the counter, and its entrails on a pan while the meat was being breaded by Rasha.
"I can't wait to taste it." Enir says as Serena pulls him away, laughing.
"Thank you!" Enir heard Acaia and Rasha yell out as Serena pulls him up the stairs. She leads him down the hallway to the end and stops in front of a door on the right.
"This is your room." Serena said, opening the door. Inside, Enir looked around. The walls were a royal red, there were two windows, a queen-size bed with an elogantly furnished frame, covered with a black comforter and red pillows, and a bookshelf in the corner, next to the window in the right corner, across from the bed, that laid vertically beneath the window in the left corner.
"This room is nice, Serena."
"Thank you, Enir. This use to be my sister's room." she said. Enir turns around and looks at her.
"You have a sister?"
"Had," she corrected, "A sister."
"She ran away two years ago," Serena told him, now looking down at the red-carpeted floor. Enir sensed the change in her voice and quickly took her into his arms. In his arms, Serena felt something inside of her light up. This feeling--this sensation-- made her face flush, her heart miss several beats, and her legs quiver ever so slightly. She let her arms wrap around his back and her head rest against his chest.
"She--she ran away two years ago, Enir, and she," Serena felt tears well up in her eyes the more she reminisced back to that day...
...It was a breezy summer day in Ryuna, the landlocked metropolis, home to the clan of Furries called Nekos. Nekos were humanoid beings that took on feline-like characteristics: such as their ears and tails, their ability to extend and retract their claws at will, and the ability to keep their balance on nearly anything they could tiptoe on or around.
Two she-wolves, the age of fifteen, walk through the desolate, dirt road back alleys as they head for their favorite seafood restaurant. One wolf was white with glacier-blue hair, that was long in the back, reaching down the middle of her back and braided down the right side. She wore long blue jeans and a red tank top. Her name was Serena and the girl next to her was her sister, Saria. Saria, though, was not white-furred like her counterpart. She had black fur, the same tone as their father's, and she was three-inches shorter than Serena, standing at 5' 3'' while Serena stood at 5' 6'' and a half. Saria's hair was a crimson red that she wore long in the back and short in the front. She wore baggy black jeans with chains around the waist, connecting to the lower leg pockets and the belt loop in the back. Her shirt was a skin-tight tanktop that had a skull of a Furry on it. On her arms, she wore a black lace-up glove that went all the way up to her elbow on her right arm and a knuckle-cut leather glove on her left hand. Around her neck was a black collar.
"I can't wait until tomorrow!" Serena yipped excitedly as she jumped around in a prance while she walked next to Saria. Saria just rolled her eyes and sighed.
"I bet you can't, Serena, I bet you can't." said Saria with apathy in her voice. Serena, still prancing around and not paying attention to her sister's apathy, she looks up at the sky and smiles.
"Tomorrow I get to fight Lev for title of Champion in the minors." she continued, acting like she was talking to somebody who cared. Saria just crossed her arms and kept to herself.
"Yip...ee." Saria said in a monotone voice.
"You're just mad that I beat you this year." Serena scoffs, "And that Lev won't notice you."
"Shut up." Saria snapped at Serena. Serena is taken aback at her sister's voice, but quickly brushes it off.
"Oh I get it now. You have a crush on him."
Saria stops walking and stares at her sister. Serena turns and faces Saria: looking into her sister's dark apricot eyes with her light glacier-blue ones. Saria stares back, baring her fangs with anger and hostility. She no longer thought of this charade as a joke. She now took it as an undermining.
"You know nothing about me and Lev." Saria snapped.
"I was only joking, Saria. Geez, take a joke."
"You don't get it, do you?" Saria questioned, anger rising in her voice, "I love Lev, and there is nothing that can stop me from winning him over."
"Whoa! TMI, Saria!" Serena joked around, trying to make her sister smile and calm down. "I was only kidding."
"Serena, I love him and I know he loves me. That is why tonight I am going to meet him and give in."
"Saria," Serena whined.
"No, I've said too much. I need to go. Talk to you later, Serena. Tell mom and dad that I'm off sparring or something." Saria said with her back towards her sister, "We'll meet again some day, Serena, but when that day comes, I'll be a mother and Lev will be a father."
Serena lets her sister's words sink in as she watches her walk away. Everything had happened so fast that it knocked Serena off her feet and destroyed her happy, cheerful attitude. Serena sinks down to her knees and covers her mouth with one hand. Her sister keeps walking and does not look back.
"Saria," Serena whispered, tears welling up in her eyes then raining over onto her short, thin fur. "Saria!"
"What happened to her, Serena?" Enir asked while he held her in his arms, letting her cry on his shoulder, as they sat on his bed with the door closed. Serena sniffles, coughs, and wipes tears away from her eyes.
"She," she sniffles again as she decides what to do: tell him the truth or lie. She takes a few moments to contemplate her decision then finally makes up her mind.
"She died, Enir." Serena answered him. "She died in a fire."
END: CHAPTER TWO
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