The boy woke when the sun was low. His stomach growled in hunger, so he wrapped a soft skin around his waist and set off into the trees. The crisp morning air softly nipped at his tanned torso, but he was too preoccupied with picking berries to notice much.
He stopped beneath a large nut tree and started climbing. It was best to get as many heart-nuts as he could before they fell off the tree. They might not be ripe for the animals, but they were perfect for him. He had not thought to bring his pouch, so he settled for storing a few in the folds of his fur.
Before he leaped down from his perch, the boy struck one nut against another, startling a small squirrel from its home in a knoll.
Small cracks appeared in the shells and he carefully widened them with his sturdy nails. Eventually, he managed to pry them open and ate the nut inside. His hunger was by no means satisfied, but the nuts and berries would tide him over until the sun was high.
He felt the familiar bright chakra signature of The King and headed towards him.
Keeping his eyes closed, he visualized the way with his mind and felt with his feet. He knew it by heart.
The King was his father of sorts. He had gifted the boy to the pack of wolves and cared for the forest. He had shown him The People so the boy could learn. His father was so kind he would never even set foot on the grass for fear of harming the delicate blades.
That was why the boy was heading towards the river. Feeling for the gentle slope of the ground caused by water runoff, the moisture in the ground that never quite leaves completely, the vibrations of water fiercely battling against the land.
He first heard a trickle, gradually loudening to a dull roar as he came closer. Suddenly he was clear of the forest and on the bank of the wide river.
Small animals dotted the stretch of land, bathing in the light of the sun and the warmth of The King's chakra.
There was no competition over territories or food supply. This was The King's domain, where all was in safe harmony.
On the water lay The King, as if he were settled in a meadow rather than turbulent water frothing about. He had shaggy blue hair and brilliant scales that reflected the sun in beautiful green patterns atop the water. His two ridged horns pointed behind him towards his long reptilian tail and a thin mustache trailed behind him in the wind.
He was a creature like no other.
The boy carefully stepped onto the glassy surface of the shallows, then gradually moved towards The King
He could not walk on water as well as his father.
His father, who had been assessing him as he went, seemed to gaze amusedly at the boy. He slowly nodded towards his scaled back, and the boy gratefully took the offering. Walking on water was more taxing on the mind than the body, so he was (understandably) mentally exhausted.
He then proceeded to ungracefully flop on The King, hearing an exasperated snort in response. His skin tingled where it touched the scales, but he wasn't alarmed.
A soft nudge came from within his mind and he opened up to it with practiced ease. A powerful weight settled in his mind, careful not to overwhelm him.
'Hello again, child,' came the first thought.
'Father,' he acknowledged respectfully.
'Would you like to hear another story?' his father asked kindly. Excitement welled up inside him! It wasn't often when the king decided to share one of the many stories he had to tell.
'Please!' His father chuckled at his childish enthusiasm.
'Alright then. I will tell you a new story: The story of how I came to be.' And so he began weaving his tale.
'Long ago, there was a newborn fawn, only hours old and unknowing of fear. He had a mother to guide and care for him, and a father to protect him and the others. But while they were grazing, the fawn went off on his own and came upon a tree. This tree was said to bear the fruit of the gods, and granted mortals power beyond the imagination. But the fawn knew nothing of this new world.' He trailed off sadly, remembering his own foolishness. He gave a slight pause before resuming his story once more.
'This foolish fawn ate from the bark and root of the tree. The power killed him. However, he was reborn centuries later as what The People call a Kirin. I am immortal and will live to see the end of time, but I never saw my birth mother for more than those few hours.'
They sat in heavy silence, sadness radiating from the both of them. Finally, the king continued.
'I told you of this today as a warning. Ignorance will surely kill you. Power can sometimes be more of a curse than a blessing, but you must always look for the silver lining.'
The boy was... shocked, to say the least. He hadn't thought much on why the king looked so different compared to the other animals. Neither a reptile nor a deer, but forever stuck somewhere in the in-between. It seemed like an awful prospect to the boy, and he suddenly realized that that was what he was as well. Neither a human nor animal, but lost in the in-between.
He grew angry at having something like that pointed out to him so blatantly, making him insecure; but he calmed when he realized that his father was merely protecting him. Warning him that if things didn't change, it could mean the end.
After a long moment, he spoke up. 'So... You say I should meet with The People?'
The king chuckled at his hesitance. 'If you are ready,' he said, deliberately ruffling the boy's feathers a bit. The boy's temper rose and the glint of determination sparked in his eyes.
'I'll do it. I'll show you! I'll go down to The People tomorrow, believe it!' The King gave a small huff of laughter at his exclamation.
'I'm sure you will,' came the fond reply.
Thanks for coming back!
Let me explain Naruto's "father." What I was trying to describe was a Japanese Kirin/Qilin. They're said to be omens of good luck, the coming of a sage (hint hint), and things such as fertility and goodness.
The picture does not belong to me, and the link is here: