"Uncle Ghaleon! Lookit what my mommy got me!"
The girl's shrill cry broke Ghaleon from his daily meditation. A young girl with raven-black hair and sparkling dark charged eagerly into the room, holding a small gray bundle in its arms. Ghaleon raised an eyebrow in mild surprise. In the seven years he had known Mia, he'd never seen her so energized. If she said more than a few audible words, it was a momentous occasion.
Mia ran up to him and shoved a rather surprised looking kitten almost in his face. "Uncle Ghaleon, look! Isn't he cute? Mommy got him for me when she was in Meribia!"
Ghaleon took the kitten from the girl and began to scratch it behind its ears. "Your mother has indeed given you a great gift, Mia. A lesson in responsibility."
"What do you mean?"
Ghaleon returned the kitten to the girl. "This small, helpless kitten will depend on you to provide for it and attend to its needs, and it will be your responsibility to do so. One day, it will be the people of Vane - maybe all of Lunar - who will depend on you. Human lives are fragile, and cannot endure without a guardian and protector, guiding them throughout their lives. You must understand that if you are to rule one day."
"But we have a protector, Uncle Ghaleon! We have Althena!"
Ghaleon's expression contorted into a scowl, but only momentarily. "Yes...of course. Now run along, Mia. I have work to attend to. And your kitten is probably hungry."
Mia nodded, and took the kitten back, holding it snugly as she walked out of Ghaleon's study. Ghaleon sighed as she left, wondering if he should have told the girl the truth - that Althena had abandoned her helpless followers to the whims of fate, and that it was to be his own responsibility to do the job that Althena could not. Soon enough, Mia would learn the truth about what it meant to be resposnsible for the well-being of others, regardless of the cost to honor, friendship...even family. It would be a bitter lesson for the girl indeed.
But that would be a lesson for another day.