Chapter 28 - Outside the Castle Walls


“And just like that, it seems we’ll be making our departure outside of this castle soon,” Bea said.


Cylor leaned against the window, staring down at the commotions of the city, wondering just what she and Halmont had meant earlier. A picturesque vision bared itself before him. How could there be anything wrong in such a beautiful place? “How do you know we’re leaving soon? I’ve seen Alicia every time you have, she hasn’t said anything about taking us out.”


The Bulnu itched her face. “I saw cages lined against the wall when we came back from the pool.”


“Cages? Why would be need to be locked up to leave? I wasn’t even put in a cage when I arrived.”


Bea shook her head. “We are rare Zinnals, plus we belong to the Royal Family. Do you understand how many people would capture us and demand a ransom for us to be returned, or just murder us to get back at the king and queen?”


“Why would they do that to people who rule over them? They’ve created this wonderful place for everyone.” Cylor scoffed. “Plus, if it’s that dangerous then why don’t they send us back into our Parti Tabs?”


“Royalty is all about being ostentatious. If you are rich and can’t show off, what’s the point? You need to be able to parade around with your luxuries on full display. At least that’s how I understand these types to be. They’re extremely petty and awful creatures, but, not going to lie, I’m obviously thrilled to be owned by these particular ones.” Bea strode over to the corner where their desserts lay. She chomped down on the treats and melted into a peaceful bliss.


Cylor rolled his eyes. “Where do you think they’ll take us?” He looked outside, observing as carriages pulled by large Zinnals dashed over pathways, seeming to know their way around every single turn of the streets. Humans smiled at one another in passing. Smaller humans ran across walkways, grabbing onto one another. Zinnals accompanied some as if they were the parents of the tiny humans. Though there weren’t any Zinnals freely doing their own activities. Each one he saw was in close proximity to another human. They all looked happy, so perhaps Bea and Halmont were wrong? Nothing looked out of place.


He still couldn’t believe the luck he landed in. In Jalla, it was such a struggle to get by. Finding food, treating injuries, building homes. It all took an extraordinary amount of effort to live, and here every Zinnal seemed to not have to worry about a thing. The humans granted them everything they could ever need to survive.


“I think they’ll just take us around on their tours of the city and introduce us to the world.” Bea practiced waving her ribbons dramatically as if a majestic wind ripped through the air.


“Bea, why do you know so much about this place?”


“I told you, the Zinnals I grew up around are familiar with this place. I’ve heard many stories.”


Cylor studied her carefully. “Did you know someone who was captured? Is that how rumor got around to your village?”


“No… just rumors that have passed down from elders born before I was.” She stretched her limbs. “It’ll be nice to go on that tour, even if we are in cages. We’ll be worshipped just like the rulers are, by most, anyway.”


“I don’t care about being worshipped. Though I do want to check everything out for myself.”


The door opened and Alicia walked in. Two guards followed behind her carrying a set of large cages.


“I know you two probably don’t want to get in here,” Alicia said. “But since our family got the Parti Tabs, each of my siblings including me got two Zinnals. Our father and mother want to make it known to Zalakar that we aren’t behind on the times. So, we are going to show off the Parti Tab features to everyone. Previously we only had one royal Zinnal that roamed the castle.” Alicia choked up. “He passed on… But Father wanted us to have many now. To start a new tradition involving the whole family. Because of that, each member of us Royal Children have to show off our important Zinnals to the kingdom. I can’t wait to see the faces of everyone when they see how cute you two are!” The guards opened up both cages and stood beside the metallic structures.


Bea dashed straight into one, while Cylor took his time entering the portable prison. Despite the inhumane look of the cages, the floors had blankets and bowls of food and water set in place. He positioned himself in the cage’s corner, and looked out through the steel bars at Bea, who was already laying down, eyes closed.


“We’ll only be out for a fourth of the day. After that, you both can return here.” Alicia bent down and looked both Zinnals in the eyes. The guards shut the cages and locked them. The enclosures swung as the guards lifted the creatures into the air and transported them down the hall and out to the entrance of the castle.


Cylor hadn’t breathed a breath of outdoor air in quite some time, and the fresh scent, though different from home, filled him with a bit of nostalgia for his village. That quickly faded as he bit into fresh meat that lay beside him. He still had no idea what Lesser-animal it was, but he knew that after tasting it, he’d never be able to live without it.


A row of humans dressed in deep purple-colored clothing entered the carriage ahead of the guards. The king, queen, and their four children: Alicia, Ratho, Kai, and Dandren. Large Zinnals with scales for skin sat at the side of the vehicle, while furry ones rested at the front, attached to reins. Cylor had only ever seen these species from his window, previously. The guards dropped off the cages of the Royal Zinnals to their accompanying owners on the carriage and retreated to the front and rear of the vehicle.


Seeing both species of the escorting Zinnals up close put perspective to just how high up the room Cylor was staying in was. He thought they were closer to the size of a human, but they were two times taller than the average human walking around. Their four legs even rivaled the strength of the merchants that would travel to sell goods to Jalla. Cylor knew the reptilian Zinnals were Scanthers and the ones pulling the vehicles were Honnars, as Alicia would mention her trips around the city frequently when she left the castle.


After lengthy chatter between all the humans died down, the Honnars started their trek. The Scanthers trailed beside them, casting menacing glances to everyone surrounding their path. Cylor felt fear as he made eye contact with one. Despite the magnificent look of the vehicles, the carriage shook more than he would have expected, though he wasn’t sure what to expect as this was his first time riding on anything, unless you count hopping on Tynun’s back.


Cylor propelled himself up with his tail just high enough to see over the Scanther’s body. Humans passed by. He couldn’t even discern the Zinnals that some humans held or had follow them while being tied to a string. They weren’t free to do as they pleased? Cylor winced as he watched a human pull the string when a Zinnal took too long staring off into space as their human continued to walk. The Zinnal cried out in pain.


“How do you like the view up close?” Bea asked, seated in the cage beside Cylor.