By Ci-Quang Juani

My friends please gather round, for I have a story to tell you all. This was first told to me by one I once loved, and sadly haven't seen in many cycles.

Before the Kitin over-ran this land, the Mektoub Breeder, Zhai-Fo Quan and his family lived in the old Zorai homelands.

He was a Homin rich in dappers but poor in love and understandings, yet the only thing he worried about was his daughter, Lio. Unfortunately, to his everlasting anger and bitterness Lio was badly injured by a scared Messab when she was very young. Her leg was broken several times and it never fully healed again. Due to her injuries she was never able to play and run like the other children, and therefore she spent a lot of her time with the Mektoubs of her father.

However, one day when she walked to the feeding place, she realized that a tiny white mektoub, shivering and covered with blood, was standing all alone in the middle of the herd. When Lio walked towards it, it tried to run but didn't get far as it was limping badly. The girl walked home as quickly as she could to tell her father about this odd gain for the herd, and he took her back to the feeding grounds.

There it was, a small distance away from the other Mektoubs, still shivering. Quan ran to it and caught it with a rope to have a better look at it.

"It's badly hurt; I don't think it will survive. We should put it out of its misery," he mumbled to himself.

Lio however heard this and stumbled to her father begging him not to kill it. "Look at me, father, I can't run like the others and yet I may live. Please don't kill it, let me keep it and take care of it. It will need someone that understands its pain and I do!" she cried.

Zhai-Fo, whose heart could only be touched by his daughter finally agreed, and he handed his daughter the rope that the tiny white Mektoub was tied to.

"I will call you Xia-Lu Xuangi and I shall take care of you my little friend," she whispered happily into its ear.

From this day on Lio was never seen without Xia-Lu Xuangi and was never unhappy.

Her father was never really reconciled to caring for this little Mektoub, as it was eating as much as the others but was unable to do any work. However, he kept it to make his daughter happy, and when he saw her one day riding the little Xia-Lu Xuangi he couldn't help but smile.

Unfortunately, those days didn't last forever, and soon came the message of a great and unknown threat. Giant insects that would kill Homins and animals alike, never showing any mercy. Many people from around fled to the bigger cities but Zhai-Fo Quan did not want to believe in the danger, because he would have to give up everything he owned, so he stayed on, and with him remained his family.

The day soon arrived, however, the day that screaming and blood-covered Homins passed their home, hysterically crying about great Insects slaughtering everyone!

In shock, they packed the most essential things on several mektoubs and prepared some mounts. When Quan saw his daughter preparing Xia-Lu Xuangi with a saddle, he snapped at her, "You will not take that crippled Mektoub! It won't be fast enough and we need to flee now!" Lio cried and screamed that she didn't want to leave her best friend behind, but her father replied even more angrily that she wasn't to worry about a simple Mektoub.

Quan grabbed Lio and pulled her on his mount after he checked on his wife and his two sons. With much protest from the girl, they rode with a fast pace towards the nearest bigger city, hoping to find peace. Lio couldn't but cry and finally she managed to loosen the grip of her father and look back.

In a cloud of dust, with a determined face, she saw Xia-Lu Xuangi running as fast as she had ever seen him running after them. He was a bit behind but he could almost keep up and the girl did not know if she was supposed to cry or laugh.

At one point the road was blocked by a fallen log, and they all had to dismount from the Mektoubs and lead them over the log. Lio used this situation to run back and meet with her little white Mektoub. She cried and hugged it, petting it and telling it how sorry she was for leaving it behind. At this moment however, an immense insect came out from behind the trees only several yards away from Xia-Lu Xuangi and Lio. All screamed out in horror and backed away from it, except Lio who hadn't seen the creature yet. But the little white Mektoub sensed the danger and with a quick and strong move, it pushed the little girl towards her family. Quan used this moment, pulling his daughter away from the monster and moving back, step by step.

His daughter was not crying, but rigid with shock, as the last thing she saw before the branches of the log blocked her way was her little white Mektoub rearing up, ready to fight the Kitin and yet looking at her with tears in its eyes.

From this day on, Quan was poor in dappers but rich in love, for he had seen what love and friendship can accomplish.


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