I know this is a sketch, but I'm adding this short story because I will probably forget it later. And also in case life refuses to let me clean this up. So, I'm adding this to completed works, sorry....
Here you go, a bit of a revision of Matkiau's story:
Matkiau licked the pick pad of his paw, the last of his wounds remaining. He knew the others would not have healed as fast or as clean without the help of Zakiya and her family, as the slashes and bite marks were deep enough to surely leave scars. Releasing a breath through his nose with his last lick, he raised his head to peer at the grass walls of the small hut built just for him. Never in his life would he have imagined himself here, surrounded by the very two legs that he dedicated his life to completely eradicating off of this earth. Now, he was a welcomed guest and, dare he say, a member of Zakiya's own family.
He lifted himself up from his bed of straw and moved to stare at the antelope skins tied neatly to the walls, some painted in so many colors with depictions of his own ancestor's origins. They were guardians of these people and many others who had first been born to the first tribe who painted lions from the sky. He knew these stories, but never imagined that these two-legs still lived by the old tales, waiting eagerly for their lost friends to return home.
A sudden scrape of dirt upon bare feet and the rattle of stone beads made him glance to the hut entrance, his red eyes nearly melting in adoration of the young girl in his own doorway. "Matkiau," she smiled, dimples imprinted deep in her cheeks with her toothy smile.
He huffed in response, the only way he could speak to her. She did not know his language, and attempting to teach his own name was a challenge in itself; however, the village elder was a very big help. If she never understood a single word he said, he at least wanted her to learn his name that his own mother gave him. He met her halfway, lowering his nose for her to pat, as she always did.
"Brother has left with the others for food; he promised he'd bring you back something special," she giggled, hopping back away from him on one foot like the silly thing she always was. She raised her arms as far out as they would reach and ran around the perimeter of the hut, her imaginary wings helping her soar. " I bet he comes back with a giant eagle, with antlers like a gazelle and a claws like a crocodile," she giggled, whispering gusts of breath from her lips for effect to make her sound like she was zooming through the clouds.
Matkiau lifted the wrist of his paw to his lips and chuckled, her imagination reminding him so much of his younger sister Zentina. As he stared at the lively toddler, his own thoughts drifted to her brother and her parents. They were so like his own one time, which was how he ended up here. He pulled his gaze to the ground, black memories quickly clouding his mind. He had seen them; they were travelling together, just the four of them. Before then, it was always full grown humans; never once in his hunting did he ever think about how they got to be that size. They started so small, so frail and vulnerable. He could not bare to watch a family torn apart by his own claws or by anyone else's, even if his own mother was taken by two-legs long ago.
He put himself out in front of his small, rebel pride that removed themselves from their family. What they were doing was a disgrace to the elders of his family pride; as they too followed the traditions of never harming humans, no matter what the cause. They were not vengeful, but back then he couldn't dare to think of more of his own being captured or killed by them.
He had killed so many. So many families where destroyed because of him.
His legs nearly gave out as he fell into the dirt floor, pain and realization sinking into him at once. He hear the patter of feet stop for a second and pick up once again towards him. Zakiya touched his nose again, stroking the fur along the bridge of his snout. "What's wrong, are you hurting again?"
Matkiau shivered as that night flooded back into his mind. He gave her family time to run and hide from the few he was hunting with. He had jumped into their camp and snorted, looking behind him and back again to say that others were coming. He had watched the father's eyes grow wide in a silent understanding as he gathered his family to disappear into the brush. He had attacked his own two friends to prevent them when they wouldn't listen. 'There are young ones,' he told them, 'they are not dangerous.' But they didn't care. They did as they were told, as they were all told and what they all believed. That humans should be wiped out.
Her father found him first, badly beaten and broken from rescuing his own enemy, although, he hadn't known. He called his wife to help build a carrier of large leafs and vines that the four of them used to carry him the rest of the way to the village they set out for. He was hastily taken care of, his heroic deeds stretched across the acres to ear from mouth to ear again. They called him a hero; a guardian returned home. But they hadn't known why he was there to begin with.
Zakiya kneeled down and sat on her feet, head resting against Matkiau and she cooed calming words to him. "I'll call a healer; we can make you better. I promise. Please don't cry."
He hadn't even known that water was already flowing from his eyes, soaking his cheeks and dripping into his nostrils. He pulled the small child closer to him with a paw around her side, hiccuping as regret poured out of him. "I've done such bad things, Zakiya. Such bad things...," he sobbed, knowing she would never understand the darkness that once consumed him.
Image and Characters © Me