Sun, sun, sun
Burn, burn, burn
Moon, moon, moon
I will get you soon…soon…soon!
I am the Lizard King
I can do anything
More Than One Moon Tribe
“I am Cleo of the Shakya clan. I close my eyes to hear the stars whisper in my ear, though nothing is revealed. What am I suppose to be? Lion. Human. Cursed. Blessed. Torn between a past I don’t understand and a present I can’t escape. How do I clean the slate when I don’t understand what it is I have done? Shakya clan, once defenders of justice, now the spiller of innocent blood, though I don’t know why.”
***Taken from Cleo’s Journal***
Her body naked under the night sky, Cleo knelt down to kiss the ground. Part of her was glad to kneel down so she could feel some sort of cover on her bare skin. A brisk breeze caused goose bumps to form all over her. With all she had, Cleo tried not to shiver and shake because of the cool weather. She was already nervous about the ceremony she was about to go through. A huge part of her longed for her parents to be proud of her while the rest of her just wanted to run away. She didn’t want the curse or anything related to it.
Fire filled the sky above her, taking the form of a dragon. The dragon snaked around the sky and circled her. Her skin heated up while she waited to see if the ancestors were going to accept her as one of the Shakya Clan. The fire dragon’s circle grew so fast she could feel a breeze flow around her. She closed her eyes and waited. Every cell in her body tingled. Her hands grew to paws with long sharp nails. The golden fur of the lioness covered every inch of her body. Her lion eyes saw more than she ever thought possible. She could feel the new fangs in her mouth from the change.
The fire dragon disappeared into the sky. Cleo opened her eyes to see the world in a new fashion. She felt like she was looking through infrared glasses. The beings with the most body heat gave off a red color. The ground was a blue color while the trees remained green with a sort of white light around them. The water looked almost silver and the sky above was black. What an odd sensation it was to see everything through her lioness eyes. Still, her heart was unsure about why the Shakya clan was given such a curse. She only knew that not all of the clan would change, only those who were chosen. Though, she didn’t understand the reasoning behind it was. She only knew she was expected to go through the ceremony. She had hoped with all her heart she wouldn’t be one of the chosen few. She only wanted to be normal.
She stood up and roared at the top of her lungs. The sound that escaped her mouth scared her enough to close her mouth tight on her tongue. The pain shot through her head. “Ouch!” she said. Her body jumped at the sound that came from her mouth once again.
Three others were also chosen by the ancestors. Chang, Ah-lam and Tu were all chosen by the fire dragons to become part of the Shakya clan. She was happy to know it was the three of them. All four of them had been close friends since birth. It seemed natural that she would be with her friends.
She glanced over at Joy, who still knelt naked on the ground. She knew joy wanted this more than she did and didn’t know why she was chosen over her. It didn’t matter though, what’s done is done. There is no taking back that which the ancestors had given. Joy’s parents walked over to her and caned her where she laid for bringing shame to their name. She was the first in their ancestral line that had not been chosen to become a lioness. Cleo stood up and roared at the top of her lungs. Joy’s parents stopped the caning. His hand shook a little while he still held the cane in the air. Cleo watched him swallow. He started to bring the cane down on her again. Cleo jumped up and pinned Joy’s father to the ground.
Her father tried to bring the cane down on Cleo for being disrespectful. With a single swoop of her new paw, she tore a hole in his stomach. Joy’s father bled. Cleo looked back at Joy with fear and sadness for what she had done. She didn’t think about how strong she was or even what would happen if she took the life of another. All she knew was she had done it. She had killed a man. She defended her friend, but still, it was a matter between the parents and child.
Cleo raced off into the night as fast and hard as she could. She didn’t know if she had shamed her own parents and sacrificed her own life or if it was just a matter of her defending her friend in the face of an injustice. Wasn’t that what the Shakya were about? She didn’t know. She just raced against the wind, unsure of everything now. Would her life be lived with her family now, or would she be hunted down for killing a member of the clan?
Her mind full of pain and anger from what she just did, was ramped with too many thoughts to think anything through. She knew she was heading towards the train station, when it dawned on her; she was still in lioness form. She had taken a life- that much echoed in her head.
She stopped running when she reached the train station. Crouching in the bushes, she watched all the people going about their normal everyday lives without a care in the world. She longed for the normalcy of the everyday. Still, she didn’t understand why the Shakya clan was chosen to turn into lions. She knew all the stories from the past. They were tales of evil empires and rulers who would enslave their people. Frightened and alone, she stayed hidden behind the bushes. When she fell asleep, her dreams were about the last Chinese New Year and all the joy she felt.