Lee-ul watched. She watched and waited and stared as she sat.
The weave of the young, the dread of the trapped old Renvarr, and the parental pride as their cubs tore the monster’s bloodied skins away. Knowing one day she would do this; scratch at its face dress herself in its bloody fur and collectively taunt it before watching it die, she licked her paws clean and closed her eyes, imagining that she was waiting, to take life away from the creature.
When it was her turn three years later the elation excited her breathing, her heart, and dried her mouth once more. Leeul stood without garment but with a make-shift spear in her hand. Her strong legs were fixed in a stance. She began to circle the creature, tied down as it was. Her friends each in turn started to run at it, yelling, moving deftly, and stabbing its rough skin. Lee-ul relishing the moment couldn’t help but go for its eye. She used all her strength to gouge at its right vision and de-wedge her piece of flint.
After that she was expected to retract and let her peers stab at it next. She did not. Bloodthirstily she assailed its mouth and peeled away the first fraction of skin to be had. As she did this everything stopped. The crowd was silent and the mutilated Renvarr seemed to be laughing at her.
Two strong Shemai grabbed her from behind. Lee-ul was then twisted around to face them, helpless. With a grunt Dahil released her and watched her body fall to the ground. Lee-ul howled as she felt the bones in her arms and legs crack. Lee-ul’s peers rushed to grab her and pulled her broken body towards the post where the injured Renvarr was tied. Lee-ul began to scream, to yel,l to beg:
“I’m sorry!” she shouted. “Please” she entreated her captors who apathetically carried on tying her next to the Renvarr.
She had never been this frightened but at the same time felt the same excitement as when she had first seen a Renvarr killed. She moved to wet her mouth, blocking out the pain in her arm and legs and began to struggle free.
“Stay right here” Aniis held her fast as she was firmly tied next to Renvarr and the other cubs stepped back panting, ready and desperate to rush in. Her old friends ran towards her. Lee-uls death was in their eyes. She cowardly shut hers and tried not to listen to the beat of her comrades’ feet pounding the ground as they charged towards her.
They shouted insults at her as flint started to graze and pierce her young skin. She felt the wounds and scratches to be deep and mostly on her lower torso and legs but she did not open her eyes. “Open them!” She heard Dahil’s voice say. Even as she felt rough claws try to pry her eyes open she dared not to look.
She moaned and shook from the pain of the repeating assaults wondering which of her school-friends had caused each wound. She cried out and felt tears at the thought of her people hurting her so.
But then, the insults and yelling were suddenly not there. No new grazes or cuts on Lee-uls skin. No sound at all, so she opened her eyes.
First she saw Aniis who seemed to be frozen in time his face still contorted, his eyes still fiery, his breathing still hurried.. Then his face softened and Lee-ul turned to look around seeing her friends staring at the ground, shoulders slumped. No-one in the crowd could meet her gaze but guiltily averted her curious stare.
Then Lee-ul saw her benefactor, the woman who had stopped it all just in walking by. She looked tall and graceful; she walked towards Lee-il, her skirts and robes sauntering around her lithe body. She bent and stroked Lee-ils face, stood up and turned:
“I think perhaps… you have overreacted Dahil”
Her voice was quiet as she tilted her head and smiled with all her teeth. Dahil knelt at her elegant blue skirt and Eniis did the same. Dahil whispered:
“but we thought… she… should be punished.”
Aniis nodded and almost inquisitively chimed
“She should be made example of?”
“Indeed?" The lady replied "And who will make an example of you? And who decides how far they take their punishment?”
The lady said as she played with the tops of their manes:
“You should not be frightened of me” She directed herself towards the Renvarr and grabbed one of its arms, swiping it at Lee-ul who yelped in fear and shame. When the Renvarr pulled its arm back everyone could see a mark on one side of Lee-uls cub-like face. She had been wounded by the captured Renvarr’s talons and an imprint of its claw was now across her jaw mouth and nostril. The pain was more than her broken limbs and flint wounds put together.
“There is your example! It needs no parade. Do continue.”
She smiled again with her teeth untying Lee-ul and carried her away from the town square. Lee-ul lay in the lady's arms breathing like the wild animal that was still tied to the post. The agony and the resentment started to fuse together. ‘Lee-ul’ she thought, ‘the claw-marked Shemai who had never killed a Renvarr’ . For her, it was shame and punishment enough.