The Caravan of Lionguide would travel westward across the Wingfeline Fields, beginning trek with the first monarch. At the end of midsummer, the great butterflies would commence their migration to the rainforest beyond, and so too would the Lionguide. The Blue Caravan, as it was called, swathed the rolling country side; a mighty river trudging dutifully along throughout the prairie highland, their destination naught but a valley, small and uninspiring, but sacred as all one could imagine, and so the Blue Road was long, winding, and untreacherous.
Ameli sat nested comfortably upon the coach, the wild flowers passing as departing streams beneath her dangling feet. Now was a time of contemplation, of rest, and reflection before the Hallow Rite, but her heart sat heavier, in discord, for reasons she did not quite comprehend. She could look out and see the mighty Blue Caravan ribboning backward like her mother’s shawl in a steady warm wind, the horses shining in the coated venue of the sifting sun, just sinking, blushing all in pink rose. Yet, all beauty eluded her thoughts, all peace ran as darting voles into tunnels, burrowing in anxiety and discontent. When Ameli was young, the caravan was her dream; to come of age and attend the Hallow Rite. Here though, headed for that dream, doubts and meandering thoughts sprung within her.
“Tightness of ones heart is a cycle,” her mother had once said to her, “Break the cycle, and release the heart.” Ameli knew this, understood, but yet could not break the cycle, and every turn of the wagon wheel rolling wide beside her, the tightness would clutch tighter. She wondered of her worthiness, of her strength; she wondered of the unknown and what unknown thing would befall her if she were deemed unworthy. They, her Elders, had always spoke of the steady drum; that it be the stoic ones the great Serpents favored, giving their high blessings to those of the strong and unwavering—anything less than the great depth and foundation of the undying sea would receive none, and depart the Hallow Rite, ashamed, and unfulfilled. So here and now her soul scattered empty, her heart fluttered, and her mind despaired with every worry that crept upon her as darkling beetles. How was one to stop feeling uncertain, when the thing condemned was uncertainty? With a groan she dropped her head backward, her largely rimmed hat flopping upon her face. Never, would she amount to anything but a tireless nomad.
“You seem of sadness child!”
The deep fatherly voice came from above, and lifting the hat from her eyes Ameli saw an Avlionian swoop down from the sky, and land ever so gracefully in four-legged prance, the King Lion’s paws thumping quietly as his vast wings folded inward and down. Sitting up, Ameli swung her feet into the wagon, kneeling forward off the wagon as the Avlionian walked patiently in step behind, his stride massive and kempt. The sight of his mane and strength of his golden breast brought warmth to her heart.
“I am of sadness, I suppose.” she said, her eyes cast downward, feeling embarrassed, knowing that now was the least of occasions for being sad.
“Mm. We all get sad, it is in the intelligent’s nature.” the great Avlionian purred gently, his nonjudgment soothing.
Ameli knelt silently for a time, as the Avlionian walked in patience, only the sounds of the rolling Blue Caravan to be heard. The people of the Lionguide had been tied at souls with the Avlionians since the era of Metamorphose, their celestial likenesses linked in the stars; neither needed reassurance of their bonds, or of their great caring of each other.
“…The valley is but a few more moons away,” Ameli said quietly, “and there is a frightful thorn in my heart.”
“Dark thoughts can invade even the purist of minds and bravest of souls,” the Avlionian rumbled soft, “There is no shame in having fear, child. There is no shame in any emotion that beats from within. For are you not still longing for the hills to bend, and the sudden embankment of mighty oaks to rise into view, your sacred land there waiting?” The corners of Ameli’s lips curled soft in light smile. “You see? Any fear you may feel is frailed by the pining love you hold for what is to come. Let that be what leads you. All else may trail behind.”
Ameli rubbed her hands together, still clearly not entirely at ease, though her shoulders released from bound muscles. “Lion, what if what I fear…is true?”
“Will that stop you?” he asked.
She paused, fingers entwined in her lap, thinking in knitted brow. The question came quick and unexpectedly. But it was wisdom; this she knew.
“No…I suppose it would not.” she at last whispered, “To travel the Blue Road, to stand within the valley has been my dream. Even if it might be true, it is not enough for me to turn back.”
The lion seemed to smile, his black maw widening in approval, and he leaned his massive head towards her, their noses nearly touching. “You see? It is not the heart that holds no doubt, it is the heart that persists in the face of it. That, dear child, is the fortitude of a soon to be Blessed Soul.”
Ameli long last broke into a broad smile, and the Avlionian chuckled as they rubbed cheeks, his fur as plush silk against her skin. A deep purr he emitted, and with kind eyes she reached and stroked his mane before setting herself back comfortably upon the wagon, feet swinging, dangling over the side.
The Avlionian ruffled his wings, his step with the coach undeterred, and said, “I shall walk with you until the valley is in sight.”
For five moons the Blue Caravan crossed the plains, the wild grasses and flowers whistling from breezes and the squeaking of worn, dependable wheels making music in the slow, silent procession; the King Lion followed dutifully, unfazed from his word. Upon the sixth sun, the hills arched in joyous green color, and the oaks towered into view as all the wild pigments of the prairie fell into a lush, emerald green land, and with the shadow of a magnificent wing cast across the sky the young Lionguide girl bid farewell to the great Avlionian.
And so, Ameli held true to her heart, and proceeded down into the Valley of the Serpent Queens, full of fear, and yearning. She emerged, as nothing less than a lionheart. She emerged a queen that would lead her people well into the turn of a new era. And when she and the Avlionian would meet again many years later, both grayed and ripened from the many wisdoms of life, he would bow.
And she would smile.