Chapter 30 - A New Mascot


The king hollered, spit flaking from his mouth, his voice echoing with glee. Alicia looked to both Cylor and Bea with indistinguishable emotion spread over her face.


“Now I’m really concerned about what is being discussed,” Halmont said.


The attendees bobbed their heads up and down as the king continued explaining something. Many gasps and awes echoed around the throng of humans. After the king finished speaking, the queen spoke. Then from oldest to youngest amongst the Royal Children. Dandren, Kai, and Ratho declared their words and their Zinnals reacted, but remained in silence. Alicia’s turn came next.


“These are my two entrants for Zalakar’s new mascot! Puffel the Bulnu and Sealon the Dhasum. I hope you come to the tournament to help support and cheer them on!”


Mascot? What was a mascot? Cylor had no idea. To be the country’s mascot too? That sounded important. Bea had the same puzzled expression.


“I’m so confused,” Halmont said. “A tournament? What are we competing in?”


“I have an idea, but you guys from the wild may not like it, personally though, I’m stoked if this is true,” the Zinnal that resembled a fish with legs seated underneath Dandren said. “Recently a lot of nations have come to peace with one another, but a lot of people still subconsciously want some kind of conflict to keep themselves from being bored.” Patches on the side of the Zinnal’s body glowed a bright green, sloshing around as if a liquid resided in those parts. “My last owner studied Social Sciences. He mumbled aloud a lot, and I feel I learned too much about these humans. Anyway, to alleviate boredom, they needed to come up with something that everyone could be invested in. That being Zinnal Fights. It’s a common sport in Belari, where I come from.”


“Great, forced to fight against my will again…” Halmont sighed.


“Humans enjoy watching that?” Cylor asked, but then remembered the tormenting laughter from the humans in the forest.


“I’d say the majority do,” the Belarian Zinnal said.


“Then what about the Zinnals living in this city?” Cylor asked. “Do you think they enjoy watching us being pit against each other?”


“A decent chunk I’d say do. In fact, I quite enjoy watching it myself. And It’s not like we’re in real danger. They can just zap us back into our Parti Tabs, plus the attention you get in the Upper Class Zinnal world from these fights is crazy!”


The crowd continued their cheers as they looked over every ZInnal on stage. The celebration grew louder as the Royal Children stood before their Zinnals, bowing and showing them off. Alicia turned back and looked at Cylor and Bea. “Everything will be just fine, I promise!” The humans took the next few minutes showing off the abilities of their Parti Tabs, returning all their Zinnals and releasing them back out onto the stage.


Cylor stared out at the mixed expressions on the attending Zinnals’ faces, then looked at the Royal Zinnals. It seemed only two of the Royals’ seemed excited for this kind of event. Halmont sank closer to the ground, biting down on his lip. Cylor wondered what kind of face he himself was putting on. It must have been similar to Halmont’s. Bea appeared indifferent. To her, it seemed this was just another day in paradise where nothing would go wrong, as if she hadn’t heard what was to take place.


After the clapping ended, the Royal Children took their seats behind the Zinnals. The king spoke again, and the crowd listened in silence, following his every word. Cylor leaned back against the cushion until the ceremony was over, lost in thought. Before he knew it, he dragged himself back into the cage and the guards transported the Zinnals back into the carriage. He stared out at the passing city. Everything seemed a blur. He didn’t have a single thing to say. Memories of being tormented flooded him, getting dragged into fights just because of his odd tail. And now it happened again, though this time it wasn’t because of hate, it was because of love?


The vehicle stopped 


Alicia walked to the backside of the carriage, patted her purple dress, and sat on the wooden floorboards. She looked at Cylor. “From your face I can tell you are somewhat confused. There really is nothing to worry about though.” She glanced at Bea. “Puffel, you don’t seem as worried as Sealon. Hopefully you can rub off on him.”


Bea shrugged.


“So, the reason we’re doing this is, well, our Zinnal—Zalakar’s mascot that we’ve had for the past eighty years—passed away recently. And now we need a new one. He was the face of the country.”


Cylor tilted his head.


“A mascot is… the face that brings our country hope. I’m not sure if you two noticed, but there are statues around the castle dedicated to our old friend, Taern. Perhaps you even noticed a few flags in the crowds that waved with his face on it. Anyway, whoever becomes the mascot through this competition will become the new shining hope for Zalakar. The winner will be treated with immense respect, as if they are a human of the Royal Family, perhaps even more important than us. They’ll be on our new flag. They’ll be what everyone thinks of when they think of Zalakar.”


A slap hit the floor of the cage as Cylor’s tail slapped, and eyes dilated. If he became just as important as the Royal Family, then he might have the resources to find his friends and somehow convey for them to be brought to Zalakar and receive the same treatment as him. What a wonderful life that would be.


“Before you get too excited, just know it’s going to be tough to win this tournament. We will need to train hard!” Alicia pumped her fist in the air. “You two will need to fight each other regularly to get practice in.”


Cylor looked at Bea. The immense excitement of a possible reunion already caused him to forget what the tournament consisted of. Fighting? He’d only ever been in fights that comprised a group bullying him, save for the one battle with Halmont, and he despised every moment of that. But if it was for finding his friends, he had to do it. How would he even explain to the humans which Zinnals were Tynun, Neyr, Sarby, and Guile in the first place? He shook that idea from his mind, when he got there he would figure it out.


“Eh, I’ll probably just give up. I’m not much of a fighter,” Bea said and slouched back against the cushion in her cage.


“Don’t look so down Puffel. You’ll be fine!” Alicia said. “Every single Royal Zinnal is a low level, each match will be an even fight! Plus, we have a whole month to train!” She pulled out a sheet of paper. “Hmm, let’s see. These are the tournament brackets. Let’s see which Zinnals you two will be up against.”