15 July, 2012 by katelaity
“This way,” a voice hissed as an arm grabbed Maggiormente’s and drew him away from the angry workmen and their tools. He stumbled through the smoke and hoped that Eduardo followed behind him.
The alchemist couldn’t be sure who it was that led them from the scene—and presumably caused the effusion of smoke. As the air cleared around them he saw a surprising figure in robes of bright colours flying before him.
“Eduardo, are you there?” He cocked his head to listen even as he hurried forward.
“I can’t see anything,” the lion grumbled but his voice came from near by. His words were followed by a sneeze.
“Just along here and we’ll be safe,” their new friend beckoned on.
Maggiormente realised they had gone into the Japanese exhibit’s buildings he had been admiring. With wonder he looked around him, but from the inside the buildings did not look so very different. He squashed his initial sense of disappointment in hopes of new discoveries.
The first was their rescuer. Clad in colourful silk clothing and a tall conical headdress, she made quite a striking if diminutive figure. “Hello, I am Maggiormente the Alchemist.”
“I am Myojo the Magician.” She released a small brightly coloured bird from her sleeve, which flew up to the ceiling and perched on a paper lantern.
“Is that to eat?” Eduardo sat down and contemplated the little bird who began to sing a sprightly tune.
“This is Eduardo. He seldom thinks of anything that is not food. You must not eat her bird, my friend. It may be her familiar.” The alchemist did not want to pry but his curiosity had been aroused. Was a magician the same thing in Japan as it was in Italy? Or was she only a conjurer of tricks?
“Oh, you must not eat my little friend,” Myojo held out her hand and the tiny bird flew over to perch on her finger. It continued to sing a lively air, the waterfall of notes falling trippingly through the air. “This is Seito,” the magician said, smiling at her little friend.
“Hello, Seito,” Maggiormente said, looking curiously at the little bird. It had bluish-black legs and a long black beak, and around its red eyes a black mask, but its other feathers ranged from tawny yellow to almost green and then blue. He had never seen anything quite like it. Its lively song cheered him immensely. “What a lovely little creature!”
“Your friend here is rather impressive as well,” the magician said with admiration. “He is no mere lion, is he? Although I have not seen lions except in books, he appears to be a different creature altogether.”
Eduardo drew himself up to his full height and stretched his wings out for better show. Of course he tried to make it appear as if he were merely stretching, but as one could tell within moments of meeting him, the lion had quite a high opinion of his own beauty. “I am a Venetian lion. We are quite rare. In fact I do not know that there are any other in the entire world. Or at least Europe.”
“He is so modest,” Maggiormente said with a laugh.
“There must have been some other Venetian lions,” Myojo said with a roguish smile.
Eduardo frowned. “I don’t know. Perhaps I am unique.”
“Did you not have parents?”
Eduardo pondered this. “I am fairly certain that I did.”
“Then there must have been others at least then, yes? Unless your parents were an African lion and a chicken perhaps.”
Maggiormente howled. Eduardo looked confused. “I am not certain. I was very small then. I am afraid I do not remember.” His wings drooped a little as he considered his parentage, a vague memory to the lion who had lived with the alchemist since he was very young.
“We have rather magnificent chickens in Japan. I am certain you would not find them at all disgraceful as relatives. The emperor himself has a special chicken of which he is quite fond.”
“Really?” Eduardo began to rethink his impression of chickens.
“Yes,” the magician said, trying to cover a smile. “It is quite delicious.”
Maggiormente laughed until the tears rolled down his cheek while Eduardo stared at him, flaring his nostrils.
“I am not a chicken.”
“No, you rascal, you are not,” Maggiormente said at last, wiping the tears from his eyes. “And I hope things never get bad enough that we have to try to eat you!”