An Unforgettable Summer
Chapter 3: Looking For Lili
At dawn, a couple of hedgehogs are awakened by the sound of heavy pawsteps approaching their den. They walk out of the den and get quite scared when they see the bear Chamti.
“I hope they have my food there.” Chamti speaks in his frightening voice.
"W-We couldn't get much food." The female hedgehog speaks in a very scared tone.
"WHAT?!" Chamti yells, clearly upset.
“Please, Chamti.” The male hedgehog begs. "We also need food."
"I don't care! You'd better get me some food until tonight, otherwise you'll be the ones who will fill my belly. Understood?"
The hedgehogs nod in confirmation, now even more scared.
"Excellent. See you soon.” Chamti leaves, while the hedgehogs cry in fear of what the bear will do to them if they don't obey him.
The flyon family left the cave early this morning. Askaru and Tayarinne want to show their daughters the many different species of the forest and how these species live without magic, only with what nature gives them.
During the morning, they observe some animals preparing their lairs, cleaning and organizing them.
“Here in the forest, as there is no magic or machines, the animals create their own lairs with grass, sticks, mud…” Askaru explains to his daughters.
“They have to take advantage of what mother nature gives them in order to survive in the forest.” Tayarinne concludes.
“It looks complicated.” Taya II comments.
“It would be much easier for them if they learned to use magic.” Says Maine.
“Why don't you teach them, dad? You are amazing with magic.” Lili suggests, making fun of her father a bit.
"No, girls." Askaru answers. “That's not how the world works. Just as all magical creatures in CiArian have their own houses, these animals also have their own habitats. With or without magic, this is how these creatures live and we must not interfere.”
“How boring.” Says Maine, annoyed.
“And where do they cook?” Asks Lilikiki, curious, causing her parents to let out a light laugh.
“Come on, girls. It's time for you to learn how the food chain works in this forest.” Askaru starts walking again and his family follows him, his daughters curious to know what their father wants to show them.
The family walks through the forest, watching some animals gather food, such as fruits and plants, and other animals hunting. Askaru explains to his daughters how diverse food is in the forest, with predators at the top of the food chain.
“And some of these animals collect food so they can spend the winter sleeping in their dens. It's what they call hibernation.” Askaru concludes.
"Wow. That's a lot of work.” Comments Tayarinne II.
“Why does everything in the jungle have to be so complicated?” Questions Lilikiki. "I still think they should learn to use magic like we do."
"That's not how the circle of life works, Lili." Explains her mother. “We all have a place and a role to play in the circle of life. Everything has a natural order that must not be changed. Also, our magic shouldn't be shared with just anyone.”
Askaru continues: “If all the animals in the world had the same knowledge and the same magical abilities that we have, the world would be in chaos. Not all animals are worthy of using magic as we do.”
Tayarinne II and Maine look at their parents, amazed at what they've just heard. However, Lilikiki doesn't seem to have enjoyed the lesson.
"I still think they could live better if they knew magic." Lili speaks seriously.
"Lili. We are not going to teach them how to do magic.” Askaru speaks in an authoritative tone, trying to convince his daughter, who just keeps looking at him seriously.
After a few seconds of silence, the family hears someone yelling: “Leave me alone!”
They look back and see a squirrel running scared.
Behind him, the bear Chamti chases him furiously. “Come back here, you liar!”
The squirrel hides among the adult flyons. "Don't let him eat me."
The bear stops, looking angrily at the flyons. "You. Go away. That squirrel is mine.”
“What did this squirrel do to you?” Askaru asks seriously.
“He said he had a lot of food for me, but he lied. He has nothing.”
“I need to save food for myself. Go ask other animals.” The squirrel challenges the bear.
"Wait. You are Chamti, aren't you?” Askaru realizes who the bear is.
"Exactly. I am the most powerful animal in the forest and every animal must serve me.” The bear watches the flyon family closely. "Hey. I heard about you. You are the new visitors.” Now he smiles. "Perfect. While you are in my forest, you can help the other animals find food for me.”
"Excuse me?" Tayarinne is in disbelief.
“This forest is not yours.” Askaru says seriously. "And we won't give you any food."
"What?!" Chamti gets mad.
"Uh oh." The squirrel takes advantage of the moment to run away from the bear, climbing up a tall tree.
“I will forgive your attitude as you are just visitors.” Chamti tries to remain calm. "But you better get me some food or you're going to be in serious trouble."
"Never!" Lilikiki boldly responds.
"Lili. Calm down." Her mother asks.
“Listen to me, Chamti.” Askaru approaches the bear. “This forest doesn't belong to you. Every animal has a role to play, even you. Forcing other animals to do your job, like feeding you, is totally wrong. You are disrespecting the circle of life.”
Chamti starts laughing. "Hahaha. That's a good one." Then he speaks again in a serious and aggressive tone. “I'm in charge here! You'll give me what I want! Or you'll suffer the consequences.” Chamti looks at the three young flyonesses with an evil grin, causing Maine and Tayarinne II to cringe a little in fear. However, Lilikiki just looks at the bear with determination and courage.
“Okay, okay. We understand, Chamti.” Tayarinne tries to calm the heavy moment. "Now we have to go."
"I hope you guys bring me something tonight."
"Don't worry." Tayarinne tries to keep everyone calm, avoiding any kind of conflict. "Let's go, girls. Let's go, honey."
Tayarinne walks with her daughters away from the bear. Askaru looks seriously at Chamti for a while, before following his family out of there.
Once away from the bear, Askaru asks: “Taya, honey. What was that about?"
"I don't want anyone to get hurt."
“That bear is completely wrong. We should do something.”
"Exactly!" Lilikiki intrudes. "You should use your magic to manipulate his mind or send him somewhere else or..."
“No, Lili! We already talked about this. No magic.”
Lilikiki sighs in annoyance.
"Maybe I should talk to him tonight." Askaru suggests. He had already planned to go talk to Chamti today, but the bear showed up before he decided to do so.
"By yourself?" His queen is worried.
“Maybe if I go alone and show him that I don't intend to fight... Maybe if I can explain to him how forest life works..."
"So what if he doesn't want to listen to you?"
“Believe me, dear. He will listen.” Askaru smiles at Tayarinne, giving her some confidence.
“Alright, my king. I believe you." Tayarinne smiles back.
Tayarinne II and Maine seem a little confused by what's going on. Lilikiki nuzzles them, trying to make them feel better. “Don't worry, girls. Nothing bad will happen.” Lilikiki looks at her parents, then at the spot where they escaped the bear. The young flyoness has a serious, determined look on her face. She has something on her mind.
“Very well, girls. It’s time to put what you learned this morning into practice.” Says their mother. "Let's get food for our lunch."
"Lunch. Finally." Says Maine.
“As you wish.” Lilikiki is not very pleased. She preferred to cook something with her mother, as she often did in CiAr.
As it's still a little early for them to learn to hunt, Askaru and Tayarinne take their daughters to gather fruits. Without being able to use magic to fly or to make the fruits levitate, it's quite a challenge, but the three sisters manage to climb trees to collect enough fruits to eat.
At first, Maine and Taya II weren't happy about having to work so hard to get food, but in the end, they thought it was fun. “It was kinda fun.”
On the other hand, Lilikiki didn't like this at all. “Nothing better than having a pizza in our kitchen.”
After lunch, the flyon family decides to spend some time with the fox family. While their children play, the adults talk to each other.
“It's a very complicated situation.” Says Lisky.
“It's hard enough to find food for our family and now we have to find food for Chamti.” Liska explains, worried.
"You don't have to do this." Says Tayarinne, worried about them.
“Chamti is not the king of the forest. It's not that bear who decides your lives.” Askaru says.
"But if we don't give him what he wants, he could hurt us or our children."
“After tonight, Chamti will not threaten you again.”
“What do you mean, Askaru?” Now the couple is confused.
"Don't worry. I know what to do.”
For some time, the adults watch their children play with each other. They seem entertaining, not realizing what's going on. The little ones play tag, fight, hide and seek... However, something is not right.
“Wait.” Lisky notices something. “You had three daughters, right?”
“Uh... yes.” Tayarinne responds, confused by her friend's question. Then she looks at her daughters more closely and notices something. "Oh no."
"Love? What is it?" Askaru is worried now.
“It's Lili. She's not here."
"What?" Askaru watches their daughters and notices that the eldest has disappeared. “Where did she go?”
"Girls! Do you know where your sister is?”
Maine and Taya II look around. "She was playing with us." Taya II responds.
"We don't know where she is." Says one of the little foxes.
“We have to go look for her!” Tayarinne is very worried about her missing daughter, especially with that bear threatening all animals.
“We can help you.” Says Lisky.
"Yeah. We foxes are very good at detecting smells.” Explains Liska. "We can detect your daughter's scent so we can find her."
“Thank you so much, friends.” Askaru thanks them.
“We can also help look for Lili.” Maine offers.
“No way, girls.” Tayarinne refuses. “You will stay here.”
“You too, boys.” Liska warns his pups.
"Actually, honey..." Askaru suggests to Tayarinne. “I think it would be nice if they came with us.”
“Won't it be too dangerous? We don't know where Lili is."
"Exactly. They can help us look for their sister as they learn to make better use of her sense of smell.”
Tayarinne thinks for a while before deciding. "Ok. Girls, you're coming with us.”
"Yay!" Maine and Taya II celebrate.
“But you have to promise us that you'll be very careful and not stray too far from us.”
"Yes, mom." They promise.
"So let's go?" Asks one of the foxes.
“You'll stay here with me.” Their mother responds.
"What? That's not fair!" The other puppy complains.
“Obey your mother, boys.” Says their father.
“And you be careful, honey.”
"I'll be." Liska and Lisky nuzzle each other.
“Mom? Dad? Is Lili in danger?” Maine asks. She and Taya II are clearly worried about their older sister.
“Don't worry, girls. I'm sure Lili is fine.” Their mother tries to calm them down, even though she's also worried about Lilikiki.
“Your mother is right, girls.” Askaru helps his queen calm down their daughters. “Lilikiki is very smart and brave. You don't have to worry.”
"She's fine, dad." Maine and Taya II smile.
"Let's go?" Tayarinne asks, not wanting to waste any more time.
"Yes, dear. Let's go."
The flyon family, along with Liska, sets off in search of Lilikiki.
Liska starts sniffing the air, looking around, trying to detect the scent of his friends' daughter. Askaru and Tayarinne also do the same. They learned many years ago the importance of using their sense of smell to detect other animals and/or food. Of course, this is something they have to teach their daughters.
"I'm smelling something, but it's different from Lili's smell." Says Taya II.
"It's not easy, Taya." Tayarinne explains to her daughter. “You have to focus your mind on your sister. Focus on her scent.”
Everyone continues sniffing the air and the ground. It doesn't take long before someone detects something.
"Mom! Dad! I think I smell Lili!” Says Taya II excitedly.
Askaru and Tayarinne go to her daughter and start sniffing in the same place she smelled. Both recognize the smell and smile at their daughter. “Good job, Taya.”
Taya II smiles with pride that she was able to help.
“She went in that direction. Let's go." Askaru guides the others, following his eldest daughter's scent, which leads them to a couple of deers. “Oh. Sorry...” Askaru speaks to the couple.
“Hello, Askaru.” The male smiles.
“Jelen!” Askaru smiles, recognizing the male deer.
“Hello, Krásná.” Tayarinne greets the female deer.
“Hello, Tayarinne.” Krásná smiles at her friend.
Askaru and Tayarinne met these deer when they were in the Forest of Peace in the past. The four were still young, especially the deers. Jelen and Krásná were in love with each other, but neither of them had the courage to take “the step”. So Askaru and Tayarinne helped them face their fears and declare their love to each other. Askaru even helped Jelen train for the male deer show of strength contest, a ritual in which the male must show the female that he's worthy of her love.
Now, after so many years, the couples meet again.
"It's been a while..." Askaru says. “How are things going?”
“Very good, thank you.” Jelen answers. "Our love has been growing since you joined us."
“Actually, now we share our love with someone else.” Krásná smiles in pure happiness.
"Someone else?" Tayarinne asks, confused.
The deers move away to show their friends a fawn playing not far from them.
“Krásná. Did you...?"
“Did we have a child? Yes. His name is Askar.”
“A-Askar?” Askaru is surprised to hear that name.
"Yes. We decided to name our son after one of the animals that brought us together.” Jelen explains.
Tayarinne and Askaru blush a little at this surprise, feeling quite happy and proud.
“We are very honored.” Askaru says with a big smile.
“Ahem.” Liska tries to get her friends' attention. After all, they have yet to find Lilikiki.
"Oh right." Askaru remembers and asks the couple. “Did you see a young white lioness passing here recently?”
“A young white lioness?” Krásná remembers. "Yes. She was here. In fact, she came to talk to us.”
“What did she say?” Tayarinne asks, worried about her daughter.
"It was weird." Jelen explains. “As you may know, all the animals are trying to hide from the bear Chamti. But this lioness came to ask us where she could find him.”
"Oh no." Askaru and Tayarinne look at each other, their concern growing a lot.
"Is everything okay?" Asks Jelen. “Who is this lioness?”
"It's Lilikiki, our oldest daughter." Tayarinne answers. "You have to tell us where she went."
"Of course." Now the deers are worried too. Jelen explains: “You must follow that path. He will lead you to a tall, dark cave. It's Chamti's lair. You better hurry up.”
"Sure. Thank you so much, friends.” Askaru thanks them.
"You're welcome. Be very careful.” Says Krásná.
“We will.” Tayarinne smiles.
Askaru, Tayarinne and Liska follow the path that leads to Chamti's cave. Before following the adults, Maine and Taya II look at the deers with a cute smile. "Thank you."
The deers watch the two little girls with a smile. “How cute.” Says Krásná.
The group continues to walk on the path the deers mentioned, clearly worried about Lilikiki, especially her family.
"Mom! Dad! Look!” Maine points to some visible pawprints ahead of them, where the ground feels softer.
Askaru watches the pawprints carefully. “These are Lili’s pawprints.”
“Good job, Maine.” Tayarinne nuzzles Maine, who smiles proudly.
“Looks like we're close. If she really is in Chamti's cave...” Liska says.
“Tayarinne. Liska. I… I need you to stay here with the girls.”
"What?!" Everyone is surprised by Askaru's request.
"But why?" Tayarinne asks.
“We wanna help.” Taya II adds.
"It's too dangerous and I don't want any of you to get hurt."
"Well. We don't want you to get hurt either." Says Tayarinne, clearly worried about her king.
"My queen. You know me." Askaru nuzzles Tayarinne, trying to calm her down. "You know I'm going to be fine and I'm going back with our daughter."
Tayarinne nuzzles him back. “You promise?”
"I promise." The two are nuzzling and purring for a while.
“Don't worry, Askaru. Your family is safe with me.”
“Thank you so much, Liska. You are a good friend.”
“Please be very careful, my love.”
"I will, my queen." Askaru licks Tayarinne's cheek and then nuzzles his daughters. “And you girls take care of the adults, okay?”
“Hehe. Okay, dad.” Maine and Taya II nuzzle their father.
This is not a "goodbye", it's a "see you later". But the farewell is heavy, especially for Tayarinne who is very worried about her king Askaru and her daughter Lilikiki. If only they could use their magic...
As her family searches for her, Lilikiki makes her way to Chamti's cave. As soon as she reaches the entrance, she stops and starts to wonder if what she's doing is right. Well... Maybe not the smartest, but it's certainly the most correct thing to do. That bear cannot continue to threaten the animals of the forest. Her parents don't seem to care too much about it, as they haven't done anything to stop this bear yet. Also, in a situation like this, how is it possible that her father, the most powerful flyon she knows, refuses to use magic? Yes, facing Chamti alone seems crazy, but there is no other way.
With a sigh of courage, Lili finally decides to enter the cave.