Chapter 10: The Grand Council

“Khan Fayde, we are nearing the Sacred Grounds. The other tribes are already aware of our presence and will be waiting for us ahead. They have been informed of our tribe’s circumstance” One of the Fox-kin scouts was reporting back to me after having come in contact with Demi-humans from the Sacred Grounds.

The circumstances he mentioned were in reference to me. It wouldn’t do to have Demi-humans attack me on sight as we near the Sacred Grounds.

“Good, thank you. You can go back to your duties.” I was beginning to feel nervous, there was a lot riding on this.

It was not a nervousness out of fear, though. I was determined to win and nothing was going to get in my way. I was beginning to truly plan for the future and I had many things I wanted to achieve going forward. I wasn’t about to be stopped when I was so close to finally uniting the tribes.

“Fayde, remember, you must be dignified at all times. The other tribes are going to treat you with nothing but disdain since you are a human. It will be difficult for them to accept you but you must not get angry or let it bother you. Show them your strength and the strength of our tribe, that is all that is necessary.” Reia was busy fussing away at me but secretly she was enjoying all of this much more than I expected.

She was acting as the wife of a Khan should. We weren’t married just yet but she was fulfilling her role admirably ever since I became Khan of the Fox-kin. She was proving to be an amazingly talented and versatile woman. She had earned my respect and despite the fact that I had a wife and child back on Earth, my love. There were a lot of complicated emotions within me and ever since I came to this world I have been on an emotional rollercoaster without much time to really deal with it all.

That’s right, can’t forget my other fiancée. Allein was also present and fussing as well. She had an important role to fulfill too. With her at my side, the other Khans would not be able to deny me my rightful place at their side, and eventually above them. Everyone in the tribe was filled with anticipation, worry, hope, anxiety and other emotions.

“My Khan, please, you must wear these traditional robes. It is necessary for a Khan to wear these while entering the Sacred Grounds.” Fieral was forcing the traditional Khan robes on me but they weren’t exactly the most fashionable of clothing.

“Hurry up Fayde! Put them on or else I am going to bite you!” Allein was providing her own means of motivation. Ugh, I really don’t want to wear these, they are way too big and make me look stupid.

That appeared to be the way they were supposed to be so I just had to suck it up. I knew I was going to be laughed at. It was already bad enough that I was a human, but when they saw me like this, they would definitely laugh. It might save me from them trying to kill me at least.

“Alright, alright! Please, will everyone stop bugging me! I will put the robes on.” I gave up.

Fieral went to work putting the robes on me after stripping me of my clothing. She never got embarrassed about it no matter how many times she saw me naked. Allein turned the other way while I got undressed, though, guess she is still a kid after all. This is part of their duties I suppose but it is hard to get used to it despite the fact that they often dress me. I guess it is just the fact that there are way too many people watching me be stripped naked.

It wasn’t just Reia, Allein and Fieral in the tent. All of the Rej’gan were also present and they were all women and they would sometimes glance at me while I was stripping. I figured since I was their Khan and they were apparently my possessions, they were curious about my body. Not that I have any designs on any of them but I suppose they expect that one of their duties is to serve their Khan in any way he desires.

Their culture wasn’t really that much different from ancient ones from Earth. Not only did the leaders have multiple wives, but it was not uncommon for them to have concubines as well. It seemed that the Rej’gan would also serve that purpose if the Khan so desired which is why they were all young and beautiful women. It’s tough being me and surrounded constantly by beauties, I thought sarcastically.

Well, it sort of was for me since I used to be fat and wasn’t exactly the most confident about my body. Having the eyes of so many on me naked was a little bit unnerving, but at least I wasn’t fat anymore and was in pretty good shape. I didn’t need to feel ashamed. It isn’t always so easy to get over old quirks though. Just another thing I need to just accept and get used to, the list is way too long at this point.

It took some time to get me fully dressed in the traditional clothing of a Khan. I was expecting all of the women in my tent to be looking at me with eyes of ridicule but I was surprised to see that they only appeared to be looks of respect and pride. Maybe I didn’t look as stupid as I thought or maybe their fashion sense was just way off.

Reia walked up to me and smiled. She flattened out some of the wrinkles on my robe and took my face in both her hands. “You look just like a Khan should my love.” Yeah, that is something new.

Reia had been much more reserved about expressing her feelings in public towards me but ever since we were nearing the Sacred Grounds, she had been much more open about her feelings.

I looked down at her smile and my heart almost melted. She seemed much more beautiful than the first time I laid eyes on her. She had leaves sticking out of her hair and she was covered in dirt and blood from head to toe when we first met. She was still beautiful even then, but I much preferred the cleaner version of Reia.

“Oww!! Allein, don’t kick me!” Reia cried out after receiving a well placed kick in the leg.

“Hmph! You are way too close!” A look of jealousy was written all over Allein’s face as she pushed Reia out of the way.

“Allein, Reia is my fiancee too, you have to show respect. You know very well I am not yours alone. If you want to be treated as an adult than you need to act like one.” I was doing my best not to be condescending to her but this kind of behavior was not acceptable.

She started pouting, “I know….”

“Good, then don’t forget it. You already spend all your time with me so there is no need for you to be jealous.” I gave her a kiss on her forehead without realizing it and she started blushing uncontrollably.

Reia just watched with a smile on her face, she seemed happy despite being kicked.

Fieral interrupted our playful banter, “It is time my Khan. The warriors are all waiting for you.” I nodded in response, “Let’s go.”

We all left the tent, my two future wives and the Rej’gan following behind me. We walked through the caravan as the Fox-kin went to work packing all the tents up and loading the wagons for the final stretch of our voyage.

The warriors of the tribe were line up in formation awaiting final inspection by their Khan. Their discipline and strength was something to be admired. They had come a long way these past couple of months from what they were. They were no longer just warriors, but a true professional army with proper equipment.

I walked among their ranks and all their eyes were on me. There was not even one look of scorn or any of the former disdain they had for me. I had earned their full trust which filled me with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

As part of tradition, I would need to walk the remainder of the way with my warriors and attendants at my side. It was still a bit of a walk, but it was necessary to do this, otherwise the other Khan’s would not allow us entry.

After the tribe had finished gathering their things and loading up the wagons, we made our way to the Sacred Grounds. I was at the forefront of the tribe and I would be the first person that the other tribes saw as they welcomed us. I wonder how they will receive me? I had an idea of course but it was still nerve wracking.

After a considerable amount of walking, our procession finally arrived at the outskirts of the Sacred Grounds. I was pretty amazed by what I saw because stretching out before me, as far as the eyes could see, were a multitude of colored tents. I had never seen anything like it in my life. There was an estimated 100,000 Demi-humans on the Plains, and they would all now be here in this location. What a sight!

I didn’t even want to imagine how much food a hundred thousand Demi-humans ate. Each tribe was required to bring sufficient food for their own purposes throughout their stay at the Sacred Grounds but hunting parties would still be sent out every day to hunt as a contingency in case something were to go amiss. That is, at least until the Grand Council competition began.

Stretched out before the entrance to the Sacred Grounds were several hundred Demi-humans awaiting our procession. Once they realized that a human was walking before them, they began to shout in anger. They knew the Fox-kin tribe had arrived but they didn’t know a human would be at the forefront since only the Khans had been informed. I was getting somewhat nervous but I was expecting this so I kept my outward calm.

Despite their angry shouts which could be heard from far away, they didn’t stop the procession and let us past. They were pointing and hurling all manner of obscenities at me in their native language. I only understood because of the ring of communication I had in my possession. Maybe I should have taken the ring off.

The Fox-kin behind me remained quiet, they were all aware this would happen and had been given instructions to say nothing. Quite a few of them were practically biting their tongues in anger though. Knowing how my own tribe felt for me helped me move on without faltering.

Having heard the commotion, many Demi-humans of all tribes came to see what was going on. Some of them looked on with curiosity, some with anger or fear. There was almost as many reactions as there were Demi-humans but none of them approached us or attacked, they allowed us to continue down the path. Our destination was the Grand Council tent which was an enormous tent made to house the Khans, chieftains, and their wives, of all the tribes.

All of the Demi-humans wore clothed in their tribe’s colors and style. There seemed to be as much variety in fashion between the tribes as there were number of tribes. Some wore robes, others furs or cloth. Most of the women were something similar to a dress, all of which were embroidered with colors and flower patterns. The Demi-humans themselves varied in appearance but there was really little difference between them and humans. The onlly differences would be in their animal like ears and the tails protruding from their backsides. Their ears and tails were different depending on the race of Demi-human and their colors were also diverse.

When we finally arrived outside the Grand Council tent, there were guards from all tribes situated outside. One of them attempted to lay his hands on me but he was immediately slapped away by Reia who stood at my side.

“How dare you attempt to deny entry to the Khan of our tribe!” She said that while putting her hand on the pommel of her sword. The Fox-kin warriors, who had suffered through the humiliation as they marched through the throngs of people, were equally as angered. Every one of them readied their weapons and murderous intent poured out of them. The guards were all taken aback, not expecting such a reaction.

One of the guards stepped forward and bowed his head slightly, “my apologies for the disrespect. My friend was just surprised by the strangeness of the situation. Seeing a…. Human leading a tribe of Demi-humans isn’t something we normally see.”

This particular guard appeared much more level headed than the rest and they calmed down at his words. “My name Erikkar and I am in charge of these warriors. It is our duty to guard the Grand Council tent. You may of course enter and please, again, accept my apologies for this disrespect to the honorable Khan of the Fox-kin tribe.”

Erikkar, who belonged to the Wolf-kin tribe, was sincere in his words and it left an impression on Fayde. His appearance was dignified and he looked to be young and athletic. He had ears similar to a wolf and a bushy wolf tail. He also had facial hair which made him look even more wolf-like. He looks very strong and his eyes are honest. I will have to remember him for the future. He looks to be a good man.

“No need to apologize Erikkar. Your subordinate was only ignorant and meant no offense I am sure. This isn’t exactly normal so I can’t possibly hold it against you.” The Wolf-kin warrior accepted my words graciously and beckoned me to enter the tent.

I entered the tent alongside Reia, Allein, Nes and all the chieftains of the Fox-kin tribe. The inside of the tent was enormous, much bigger than my tent. There were hundreds of Demi-humans inside and they all stopped their conversation and turned to look at us as we entered. There were no looks of surprise, they had already been informed of our presence within the Sacred Grounds and were awaiting our arrival. Most of them did not look pleased.

“So, you have finally found your way here.” The voice of a member of the Tiger-kin tribe called out to me. It was not said in an inviting manner and he didn’t seem very pleased to see me.

He was a large man with tiger ears and a striped tiger tail. He bore an air of leadership and condescension. The Demi-humans put much stock in strength and it was clear he didn’t think much of mine. He had painted on his face whiskers, I guess he was trying to look more like a feline although it looked a little ridiculous to me. It seemed that the Demi-humans would find ways to make themselves look more like the animals for which they bore their names.

Wolf-kin grew facial hair to make themselves look more wolf-like and Tiger-kin painted whiskers on their faces. I hadn’t really thought much of it before since I had only ever been surrounded by Fox-kin, but it seemed that Fox-kin enjoyed wearing fur caps. Other tribes would have different ways of expressing themselves, some with tattoos, some with accessories like bracelets or necklaces made of bones. There were even sometimes differences in how males and females of the same tribe expressed themselves. 

“You wear the traditional robe of a Khan and the Fox-kin claim you are their Khan, but all I see is a filthy human. I thought it a joke when I heard that a human was at the head of the Fox-kin tribe, but now I see it with my own eyes. This is ridiculous! You should be dead, not parading yourself through our Sacred Grounds!” I had just about had enough and was going to say something when Allein stepped forward unexpectedly, removing the hood that she had used to hide the fact that she was a Dragon-kin.

All of the Demi-humans present gasped as they stared at Allein in astonishment. No one here had ever seen a member of the Dragon-kin, but all here knew the features that would define a member of the Dragon-kin tribe. Even the Tiger-kin who had expressed his extreme displeasure towards Fayde quieted in surprise, almost biting his own tongue.

“You would dare deny my future husband’s place among you? The Khan of not only the Fox-kin tribe, but also that of the Dragon-kin!” Her words sent ripples through the crowd of Demi-humans within the tent who couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

An old Wolf-kin man stepped out from the crowd, “that was never our intention at all. Some of us are just a little….. Overzealous than they should be.” He looked towards the large Tiger-kin man who had spoke earlier with a look of annoyance.

“I am Khan Rhaegnar, leader of the Wolf-kin tribe and we welcome you Khan Fayde of the Fox-kin and Dragon-kin tribes. You have been recognized by them as their leader and who are we to say anything otherwise.” He said that while glaring at all those within the tent to make his words clear.

Khan Rhaegnar was an impressive looking Wolf-kin man standing at a little over 6 feet tall and despite his age, he was quite physically fit. He wore thick furs and a bone necklace which was barely visible as he stroked his long and thick white beard, reminiscent of a mane. It was easy for anyone to see how well respected he was from the way others were reacting to his words. 

His eyes then settled on the Tiger-kin man, “Rajal Khan sometimes forgets that he is not a king. Who are we to speak out against whom other tribes decide is their Khan.”

“Tch.” Rajal Khan was visibly angry but said nothing more. They had all accepted the words of Khan Rhaegnar and no longer voiced their displeasure.

Khan Rhaegnar was strongwilled and a stickler for tradition and none would dare speak out against the traditions of which the Khan of the Wolf-kin was the most familiar, having lived the longest among them.

While the Demi-humans continued to observe from the sidelines, Khan Rhaegnar slowly approached Allein. There was no sense of danger from the old Khan and so I didn’t feel the need to step in front of her. He walked right up to her and placed his right hand on her head and smiled at her, it was a warm smile.

“Welcome young one. In all my years, I never thought to lay my eyes on one of the Dragon-kin but here you are.” The old Khan began to choke up, as if he would break into tears any moment.

Allein allowed him to touch her and didn’t remove his hand as she replied, “It has been a long journey, but yes, I am here and not just me, but my brother too.”

His eyes lit up when he heard her words and he looked around emphatically and his eyes rested on Nes who had revealed himself.

“Not one, but two? How can this be? Where you have you two been all this time?” He was shaken at this realization. Many of the other Demi-humans within the tent were also moved by this and some of them even visibly teared up.

“That is a story for another time Khan Rhaegnar, this is not the place for such a tale.” Allein’s words were quite dignified in her response and the old Khan nodded.

“It is a story I wish to hear, but not now. Please, Khan Fayde and the esteemed chieftains of the Fox-kin, take your place among us. No one will object, you are all welcome here!” Khan Rhaegnar laughed a booming and jovial laugh as he clapped me on the shoulder and hugged me as one Khan would do to another.

At that point I was greeted by the other Khans with a similar hug of greeting although some of them did it begrudgingly. Things had finally seemed to calm down and I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief but there was another sudden commotion from the entrance of the tent.

An extremely immense, almost herculean, Demi-human stomped into the Grand Council tent howling in anger. I had never seen such a large Demi-human before and I couldn’t tell what tribe he might belong to only that he had large horns protruding from his head, similar to that of a bull.

“WHAT IS THIS I HEAR OF A HUMAN!!!” Oh god….

I really wanted to fade away into some distant corner but I stood my ground. His eyes soon rested on me and he came storming towards me, his gargantuan halberd at the ready. He quickly closed the distance and would have struck me if not for Nes standing in his path. The abnormally large Demi-human was so filled with rage he barely even noticed who was blocking his path and he growled with murderous intent.

He would have attacked Nes if not for a sudden slender and tender hand placed on his shoulder, “brother, you are making a fool of yourself.”

The Demi-human almost turned his anger upon the young and alluring woman at his side, but recognizing who she was, stopped himself, “but Laila, he is a human!”

Laila arched one eyebrow towards her brother, shutting him up immediately. “A human he may be, but he has already been accepted as a Khan. Do you wish to make yourself an enemy of all here and make a fool of yourself brother?”

He glanced around the tent, snorted violently, and then stormed out as aggressively as he had entered. His sister remained and I could feel her eyes upon me for a brief moment before she followed her brother out of the tent.

With the drama now finally over, I walked over to Nes with a mischievous grin on my face, “brother-in-law!! I never knew you cared about my well being!” I laughed and slapped him on the back.

He glared at me, “I should have let him kill you.”

That only made me laugh harder, “Now I know how you really feel about me!”

“Just die.”

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