Lily Shieldpaw - Lore
The raw force of elemental mana and magic, machinations of the divine, or simply the vagaries of fortune have led to beasts of enhanced intelligence, some as smart (or smarter) than humans and capable of speech and magic.
These rare anomalies, known as awakened beasts, are oftentimes outcasts caught between worlds, fitting in with neither their bestial counterparts nor civilized society. Most lack experience with mundane concepts others take for granted, such as socialization, culture and courtesy, and morality. They wander the land, lost within it.
Myth and legend, however, speak of awakened beasts that have overcome their circumstances and carved a prominent mark in the annals of history. Some are commemorated as heroes, while others are anathematized in infamy.
Such is the tale of Lily Shieldpaw. A red panda born in the forests of Anumun, Lily was taught the ways of the world by the celestial Byzantine Kitty, as well as the ability to harness the elemental magic of dragons to hide the vulnerable and heal the wounded. Lily's best friends are the snow leopard cub Onegin (an orphan and master of camouflage) and the giant panda cub Yumbo (who draws strength from the harsh elements).
Together, they protect others against the forces of darkness and tyranny, serving as a beacon of hope that the people and creatures of Praetoria can triumph over the Chaos Legion and other threats.
“Whoa,” Captain Thelsa Waindel said, tightening her legs against the flanks of her warhorse and tugging at its reins. The steed nickered, slowed to a halt, and let out a snort. Thelsa held up a mailed fist, and behind her, her company and its column of wagons and mounted legionnaires ground to a halt.
Thelsa’s brow furrowed. She stared at the thing that sat in the middle of the dirt road not twenty meters away. She glanced toward either side of the caravan, where a bramble of undergrowth sprawled beneath a thick canopy of leaves. Anything could be lurking in there. A trickle of sweat rolled down her brow.
Her commander had tasked her company of legionnaires to transport prisoners—leaders of Feranon who sought to undermine the Legion—from Fort Gunderbok in the Northeast Coastal Steppes to New Sskah City, where they would face the mighty scythe of Executioner Kraan.
“Handful of serps getting restless down there,” he’d told her. “Need to give ‘em a sample of what happens to those who stir up trouble.”
The fastest route from Fort Gunderbok to New Sskah City was through the jungles of the Endless Valley. The Chaos Legion had cleared a path years ago, using it to transport troops and equipment between its garrisons in the Wild Northeast and the Great Lowlands.
First Sergeant Huwe Nordjak, the company’s senior noncommissioned officer, brought his horse alongside hers.
“What is it?” he asked, scanning the surrounding jungle.
She pointed at the road ahead of them.
First Sergeant Nordjak shifted in his saddle. He glanced at her. “It’s a giant panda.” He cleared his throat. “A giant panda cub.”
The giant panda cub stood and padded toward them on all fours. Thelsa tensed and dropped a hand to the hilt of her sword. Her horse snorted again. When the cub was about five meters away, it stopped and sat again. It stared at them with big, wide eyes.
“Aw,” Nordjak said. “Aren’t you just the cutest thing ever?”
“First Sergeant,” Thelsa said sharply, but Nordjak was already swinging a leg over his horse. He landed lightly on his feet, strode toward the cub, and dropped into a crouch.
“Hey there, little buddy.” He held his hand out, palm up.
The cub cocked its head and peered up at him with its wide eyes. “Purr,” it said.
Thelsa had to admit it was adorable.
Nordjak looked over his shoulder at her. “Suppose it would make a decent fur hat. Or we could keep it. Make it the company mascot.”
The underbrush to Thelsa’s left rustled, and a red panda strode from the foliage, walking on its hind legs. It had reddish-brown fur with darker legs, white-lined ears, a mostly white muzzle, and a ringed tail.
“I’ll be your furry friend,” it said in a voice that was high and playful. Impossible. Pandas couldn’t talk. She stared at it. It smiled and winked at her, its soulful eyes twinkling with intelligence.
From behind her, someone hollered, “The prisoners!” and a clamor went up among her legionnaires.
Thelsa twisted in her saddle. The barred doors of the horse-drawn cages stood open. All of the cells were empty. No sign of the prisoners.
A spotted cat with gray fur winked into existence atop one of the cages. It was a snow leopard cub. It leaped into the air and landed on Corporal Adam Lisbane’s armored head, leaped again, spinning and flipping and laughing as it bounded from legionnaire to legionnaire. The horses whinnied as they spun and reared, adding to the confusion.
“First Sergeant,” Thelsa said, turning back to Nordjak. “We need to—”
But the road was empty. Nordjak was gone, as were the pandas.
So cute! 😍
It looks very nice. Which everyone will like so nice, you have done very well
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