Prologue: Origins

Book One of The Cheetara Chronicles.

Author's note: Some creative writing exercises I did turned into these story ideas. This origin story is the backdrop to a few tales I've written from the cheetah cleric's POV. This one is written in a bit of a formal style because the cast of characters are the high nobility of Thundera. The stories are explicitly not about shipping. The Chronicles follow the relationships established in the show, but as the stories unfold, I think there will eventually be nice moments between all the characters. Based on 2011 TCs. I don't own anything but the OCs and ideas here.

There are some spoilers for Into the Astral Plane, Native Son, and Survival of the Fittest at the end.

Thanks for reading.

Prologue: Origins

The royal throne chamber blazed with light from the afternoon sun, and the warmth of summer pressed through the towering chamber windows. King Claudus folded his arms and clenched his jaw as the sun lavished its heat upon his mane and shoulders. The King scowled and wished he were walking beneath oak trees that were swaying against the sky, and not detained in the throne chamber, behind its massive stone pillars. A day like today should not have been wasted indoors, he thought. Summer in Thundera brought gleaming white sunshine and expanses of crisp, green country, ripe for hunting with Lynx-O, or for swordplay with Panthro and Grune. In his youth, a day like this would have been filled with adventures in the oak forest, not squandered away watching an endless examination. But, today was a day to look to the future and to ensure that his son would be secure in it. Hunting in the oak forest would have to wait until he had settled the matter at hand.

Claudus lifted his chin, crinkled his brow, and glanced over at the Lady's pregnant belly. He stood silently, faking interest in the Lady as best he could. He was at the back of the throne chamber, and he kept two paces of distance between himself and Lord Lior, whose knobby elbows and sharp claws threatened to strike him at any moment. Lior was crouching and shifting, lurching forward and backward, rocking to and fro over the Queen's shoulders, as if all of his activity could possibly hasten Jaga's careful examination.

The Queen stood behind Jaga with her eyes fixed on the Lady. The Queen held the fluffy little tiger prince close to her breast and bounced him softly. Claudus looked at the Queen's shoulders. Her breathing seemed unusually shallow and still, but otherwise, she appeared fairly calm. Now Jaga squatted on the marble-tiled floor of the chamber and leaned against his wooden staff, his head and neck stretched out rather like a tortoise's. The old cleric trained his gray eyes on the Lady's abdomen and inspected her without speaking a single word. The silence in the chamber was only broken by the click...tick...click of the cleric's claws against his staff.

Claudus gritted his teeth and looked at the Lady. I'll grant it, she does have a singular beauty, he admitted. The Lady was a tall, lithe and sturdy-looking woman with lush yellow hair, golden fur and dark brown spots. Delicate lilac and powder blue silks adorned her shoulders and arms, complementing her brilliant blue eyes and tan facial markings. Her bright purple gown, decorated with golden trim, swept around her growing waist and tapered just above her ankles. Alternating blue sapphire and white diamond stones swirled around her ankles and secured purple silk spats around her feet. A fine golden necklace encrusted with royal blue sapphires and diamonds outlined her long neck, and the precious stones cast resplendent bursts of light against the chamber walls. The Lady stood erect as Jaga examined her. She ignored the old cleric, and looked off into the distance without comment or expression.

Claudus glanced toward the Queen and his mood softened. He did not blame her. Guilt and desperation over their failure to birth their own cub haunted her, despite the baby tiger's fortunate arrival. She had been frantic to establish the tiger prince as the legitimate heir to the crown. Of course she was right that securing the future queen for their son was a critical step. The young prince had to be betrothed quickly, but the Queen insisted on finding a match that would resolve agonizingly difficult considerations.

Their adopted tiger prince's lineage was not known, and they agreed they must marry the tiger to a descendant of Leo. If they did not, they would break the continuity of the lions' royal line, and more than one Thunderan King had lost his claw, and his head, for lesser crimes. The Queen had warned that joining the House of Claudus with any of the prominent Thunderan families carried political risks. As the Queen knew well, ambitious noblemen swarmed around Thundera like flies on the carcass of a gazelle. Raising any one of them to the status of royalty would practically invite a challenge to the tiger, or worse, to Claudus. To neutralize the threat, she searched for families outside of Thundera whose ancestry from Leo flowed through the wife,rather than the nobleman, and whose sons, even if lions, would have no greater right to the crown and the Sword of Omens than the tiger.

Claudus considered this entire process unnecessary. With the Sword he could defend against any threat and protect his son against any attack until the tiger was old enough to wield the Sword himself. And if his son could not muster the power to wield the Sword, well, political maneuvers could not shield him from the consequences. But Claudus supported the Queen in the process, if only to ease her conscience. And the Queen had chosen well. In the family she selected, the lion nobleman did not descend from Leo, and his wife was an elegant woman of fine heritage and a dear friend to the Queen.

Jaga touched the Lady's belly for the last time, and stood to deliver his conclusions.