So the inspiration of this came from Zimkitha, the November 2018 Hero of the Month, available as a bonus summon for the month of Nov. 2018, and perhaps in rotation for future Atlantis summons. One look at her art work just reminded me how much “relatable” she could be to Azlar, our resident 5* Fire Hero, who I do have as my first ever 5* hero straight from my TC20. I don’t have her in my roster and probably won’t try for her until Atlantis towards the end of the month. But a few posters, including @Paulon, who indicated her full card description is “Long Lost Daughter” and that’s when I thought that the connection seemed pretty solid and had been brainstorming ideas for the past couple of days. Without further ado, here is a short story, Little Butterfly, starring Azlar and Zimkitha.
[On a grassy field inside a peaceful mountain valley range, a little girl no more than 5 or 6 kept really still. She waited, and waited, then she leapt with all her strength at something…]
Girl: I have you now! Ah! Drats! You got away again!
Man: What are you doing, little one?
Girl: Oh… This strange looking creature that flatters its two fiery colored wings and always lands on pretty flowers. I tried to catch it, but it always gets away.
Man: Ho ho ho, that is a butterfly, you won’t catch them so easily.
Girl: It’s so pretty, I would like to have it as a pet. Do they have names?
Man: I am not sure, but I only know they are only seen here in our valley.
Girl: When I grow up, I want to able to dance in the wind so beautifully like this butterfly.
Man: Hmmm, how strange, all the other cubs in the valley all looked up to fierce or fast creatures, only you wanted to be a little butterfly.
Girl: I got you now! Awwouch! Oh… What’s happening!? I am feeling this strange burn all over me.
Man: Careful, girl. Delicate looking creatures they may be, this particular kind can produce a nasty sting. Here, let me put these herbs on you. There, is it better?
Girl: Yes! Whew~~ I am “not” doing that again!
Man: Now then, have you been practicing what to do for The Ceremony of Fire that your mother has taught you?
Girl: [smiled brightly] Yes, Papa! After that, I will be a valuable member of our tribe, then I will finally be able to earn my name, will I not?
Man: You already are a valuable member of the tribe. Remember, our forefathers fought hard for our way of life when they found this valley many generations ago. And although we may all live peacefully inside, we still have enemies outside that we must be ready for. You must never hesitate when you face your enemy.
Girl: Yes, Papa, I will remember.
Man: Now, come along, my Little Butterfly, there is a storm brewing on the horizon unlike anything I’ve seen before. Let’s just hope it doesn’t ruin your ceremony tomorrow.
[The storm was unlike anything the man had seen before. The thunderclap brought down mountains, creating a large hole inside the natural barrier it once created to the valley. Torrential rain that lasted for days, if not weeks caused massive floods rushed into the valley, and washed away everything that once resembled home for the tribal villagers. A drenched man running frantically through the crowd of crying villagers]
Man: Where is my daughter!? Where is my Little Butterfly!?
Soldier: My Lord Azlar, most of the villagers have already been washed away and our scouts report that they are coming.
Azlar: The Crocutans! Damned Hyenas! How!?
Soldier: They came as soon as the rain stopped, through the opening in the mountain.
Azlar: When it rains, it pours… How far?
Soldier: Half a day, at the most.
Azlar: Go! Get the others to safety through the underground passage, I shall stay and find my daughter!
Soldier: No! You mustn’t My Lord! I shouldn’t say this now, but I saw the young Princess out in the field when the barrier collapsed, I am afraid she might have been taken by the flood.
[Azlar closed his eyes and raised his head to the sky, gave a long sigh and opened his eyes again]
Azlar: That’s an order. Now Go! I entrust you with the safety of my family and of the other villagers.
Soldier: Yes, I understand, Lord. Please, be careful! [Bowed and hurries off]
[A few hours later, two figures standing near the ruins and debris of the a once lovely village]
Crocutan King: Hmmm, our long time enemies the Leors, who have evaded us for so long… After so many years, have finally met its end.
Crocutan Commander: My King, we’ve found the last of them and wiped them out.
Crocutan King: And what of Azlar?
Crocutan Commander: Probably already dead, Sire. Swept away by rain, perhaps?
Crocutan King: I won’t rest easy until I have his head on my walls, you hear?
Crocutan Commander: Ye, yes, my liege! We will double our efforts, if he is still out there, we’ll find him.
Crocutan King: Yes, see that you do. Now then, I got business to attend to.
[Azlar never did managed to find his youngest daughter, the one he called the Little Butterfly. He escaped by fighting off a few war parties of Crocutans and tried to find ways to re-unite with the rest of his tribe. It is unknown whether he have succeeded or not.]
[Twenty years have passed, and the Crocutan Kingdom have grown stronger by wiping out neighboring factions. One main reason is the Crocutan King’s new enforcer, a young, fierce feline warrioress calling herself Zimkitha, who wields a long axe with such ferocity that her enemies swore they often see a blinding, fiery light before it is too late.
The Crocutan King is pleased at the sight of his trembling enemies at the sound of his enforcer’s name. But one thing has been troubling on his mind all these years, is that they never did find Azlar, the last known Leor. Many search parties went out over the years, most of them disappeared without a trace, only a few returned, telling horrific stories of seeing others burnt alive.]
[It is not until one day, when a Crocutan advanced scout reported back that they have found someone resembling Azlar’s description. Hearing this, the King dispatched Zimkitha, his greatest weapon. A few days of tracking and chasing a cloaked figure, Zimkitha and her Crocutan underlings finally cornered him in a forest clearing with a mountain behind him.]
Zimkitha: Stop! Azlar, the Murdering Savage! This is the end of the road for you!
[The figure removed his cloak, revealing a tall, muscular, aging feline warrior with several weapons at his side. His greying mane flowed in the wind]
Azlar: So, the carrion breath has finally sent someone worthy of a challenge. I was getting bored killing his worthless dogs who he called his soldiers.
Zimkitha: You mock my king at your own peril! Surrender and come quietly!
Azlar: I have heard of you, Zimkitha of the Dawn. I guess I should be honored that the Crocutan King will send his best executioner after me.
Zimkitha: [to some of her underlings] Go back to tell our king that we have found our target!
[Several of her squad members backed away from the crowd, only to be impaled or mortally maimed by spikes or pitfall traps in the forest behind them]
Azlar: Leaving so soon? You didn’t think I planned for this? A shame that the traps didn’t take more of them.
[Zimkitha looked around her, only 15 Crocutan soldiers left with her]
Zimkitha: Clever, but don’t think this will stop us. Last chance, will you surrender?
Azlar: I am prepared to meet my fate. But you will not find Azlar, Last of the Leors easy prey!
Zimkitha: Very well, I will make sure that appears on your epitaph!
[The Crocutan soldiers moved in to surround Azlar, only to find their attacks being deflected left and right. Zimkitha looked on, noticing that her opponent isn’t really attacking, but only parrying his attackers, as if waiting for something. Suddenly, something inside her stirred, as if recognizing something and quickly called out to her minions to stand down, but it was too late.]
Azlar: Mighty God of Zalthu! Grant me the strength to smite my enemies! Volcanic Eruption!!
[The squad of Crocutan soldiers found themselves becoming engulfed in smoldering lava-like cinders which quickly burned all of them to the ground. Zimkitha also got caught by some of the fire spell, but was able to dissipate the flames before it causes any further damage, but something is troubling her, why do these flames feel oddly familiar to her?]
Azlar: Heh, only a fire user knows how to deal with them. But tell me, that long axe of yours, it’s not just for show is it? Can you even lift that thing?
Zimkitha: Hmph! Someone long ago told me that even the most delicate creature can pack a powerful sting.
Azlar: Well said, young one.
Zimkitha: No more talk! [She raised her axe and charged at Azlar]
[The Battle lasts for what seem like ages when neither of them seem to be getting the upper hand. Azlar, puzzled by his opponent in front of him, though young and under the command of his mortal enemy, seemed to give off an oddly familiar vibe about her as she was just dancing circles around him and getting fast and agile strikes in from odd angles that Azlar had to move quick to protect from and when he returns the strike, it either gets deflected or avoided like if they were striking thin air. Only the occasional fire spells he casted seemed to be of any effect, but they were soon extinguished by Zimkitha. Zimkitha too find strange that this Murderer of his own family, as her King would call him, isn’t really striking with hatred or rage, but rather she sensed pain and grief about him.]
[Azlar, beginning to show exhaustion and oddly enough begin to admire this youthful opponent in front of him. With a slight lowering of his guards, Zimkitha saw her opening and moved in for a killer strike, which shattered Azlar’s broadsword and his protective chest plate, sending the aging feline warrior in the air and onto his back. Zimkitha saw her chance and raised her axe and about to bring it swiftly down. Sensing the end, Azlar lets go of his other weapon, closed his eyes and muttered…]
Azlar: Good Bye. My Little Butterfly…
Zimkitha: What!? What did you say? [Her raised axe stopped midair]
Azlar: Why do you hesitate? Go on and finish it! You should never hesitate when you face your enemy!
[Zimkitha staggered back, with one hand holding her forehead, grimaced and cried as if in serious pain. Azlar was confused by what has transpired in front of him and can only stare in disbelief. Finally, she opened back up her eyes to stare at her downed opponent.]
Zimkitha: P… Papa?
Azlar: [Slowly getting up] W… What is this…? Is that you, my Little Butterfly?
[Zimkitha, as if driven by something that seemed to be sapped from her long ago, dropped her axe to her side. Knelt down on both knees and with her hands covering her forehead palms forward, bowed three times before Azlar]
Azlar: [tear running down his face and rushed forward]. You… You remembered the Ceremony of Fire. You “are” my Little Butterfly!
[Time seemed to stop as a Father and his Daughter who he had thought long lost embraced in a tearful reunion until they finally let go]
Azlar: My my, look at how beautiful you’ve become~
Zimkitha: Papa, you’ve gotten shorter, and look at how old you’ve become!
Azlar: Ha! Still talking like a little girl! Silly girl… You’ve grown taller and your father has gotten older and weaker! But I still have trouble figuring out how this was possible. They told me you were swept away in the flood waters.
Zimkitha: I remembered disobeying you and mother to take shelter and went out to look at the rain. I slipped and fell into the water and got washed away. When I woke, I found the Crocutan King next to me, telling me that they saved me from the water but my head had hit a rock. The Shaman has been healing me by giving me their herbal medicine and some strange steam they have me inhale.
Azlar: The Crocutan mental conditioning, no doubt.
Zimkitha: They have me trained in all forms of combat, including magic spells. I found that there are some things I can do that they couldn’t even if they try. It is strange that no Crocutans practiced Fire magic, and I found myself strangely drawn to it. I think I now know why they seem to be scared of me, even if I was fighting for them.
[A brief moment of silence washed over them]
Azlar: How did you get your name? We never finished the Ceremony of Fire when you were little.
Zimkitha: I had been nameless for a long time. You know the butterflies from our valley that I had wanted to catch? I found them outside the valley! Some must have survived! Any way, I found out one day that they were called ‘Zimmer Kithairon’. So I just put the two words together and got Zimkitha out of it.
Azlar: Ha, brilliant! I doubt the filthy Crocutans would’ve been smart enough to come up with something enlightened like that.
Zimkitha: It’s very strange how I was able to retain some memories of my youth, but when it comes to memories of you, you’ve always been casted as a shadowy figure and a murderer of innocents, including your own family.
Azlar: Hmph! Mental conditioning again.
Zimkitha: So, what became of mother and my sisters?
Azlar: [shook his head] That day, I went to look for you and sent your mother and sisters along with the rest of the tribe to the underground passage. The Crocutans have set an ambush for them at the exit. They were all dead when I found them. I have been living in shame for not being able to protect my family to this day.
[Zimkitha closed her eyes. Her fists clenched as her heart felt with sorrowful rage and unclenched them to look at her palms, as if the blood of the innocent lives she took still stained her hands. Azlar studied his daughter’s expression and had guessed what was on her mind.]
Azlar: Now then, there will be plenty of time to atone for our mistakes and make amends. I believe we both have some unfinished business to attend to with the Crocutan King, wouldn’t you say?
Zimkitha: Yes, we do, Father. Yes we do!
Alright, this went longer than what I originally thought it would be. They say hind sight is 20-20. So there was really no “mystery” of how this story was going to go from the beginning and some may even find it clichéd. The hardest part is trying to reproduce the emotional dialogues, which I still find using the dialogue form of story telling and with the reader reading the lines as if speaking as the characters is the best and most effective way to provide the imagery of the story.
It might have gotten slightly long towards the end, but I suppose Azlar and Zimkitha has a lot of catching up to do for lost times.
Btw. In case you are wondering where I got the name Crocutan from. Crocuta crocuta is the scientific name of Hyenas.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it.