It was a very somber afternoon. Rayne hadn't expected his long time friend and mentor to pass away so suddenly. The tall man of shimmering long hair walked along a stretch of road thinking. Rayne often remembered as a child running across the fields to a ranch filled with Kukuri pups and doves. Now as an adult, he walked along the road and the bordering ranch fence, looking over the fields and seeing nothing. No Kukuri dotted the area. He suspected they were all boarded up in the barn, but even then there should be quite a few running the feilds. Due to the lack thereof, Rayne began to worry what had become of the old man’s Kukuri. The old man never boarded them. He loved seeing them run free and always walked the grounds greeting each of them. He trained under the old man as part time breeder and learned a lot alongside the old man’s children whom he had come to know as relatively close friends. As Rayne approached the main gates of the ranch, he noticed there was a funeral preceding. He saw the old man's family and decided to wait until it finished. He leaned against the fence and sighed deeply. Rather than intrude, he waited patiently. It wasn't long before he saw the casket being lowered into the ground and the family leaving to the main house. Rayne let himself in the gates and walked up to the house himself. There he was greeted by the old man’s daughter Julie, still wiping tears from her eyes.
"Rayne. I see you also heard about father's passing as well. Its good to see you."
"I'm sorry for your loss Julie. Your father really was an amazing man." he brought the woman into his arms and gave her a reassuring hug. She held him for only a brief moment before a disgruntled grunt sounded. Both Julie and Rayne looked up to find Julie's brother, Armel standing in a nearby doorway.
"I see you got my message."
"Yeah. Although I'm a bit confused by it. I just came to pay my respects to your father's passing."
" Yeah... Come out to the barn." Armel turned, "Lets talk business." Rayne looked to Julie and sighed as he pulled away from her and smiled apologetically. He kissed her hand and laid a amdall reassuring hand before leaving her to mourn with the rest of the family. He followed Armel out the back door. Armel seemed more moody than usual as he stopped his way towards the lane barn. Rayne suspected it was because of his father's passing and tried to offer solace.
"Armel. You're going to do great taking over the business."
"I'm not taking over the business. I dont have time for that. I've already sold the majority of my father's Kukuri and I only have one left."
"One left!? Your father had hundreds of Doves and Rooks. You’re telling me you sold them all?"
"This business ran him into the ground. He wasted his time on these filthy animals. He didn't even sell them, he gave them away. For heaven sake, we could have been living a nice life instead of a poor mans life on a ranch with no future." Rayne's eyes lit up with a moment of frustration but instead of acting on it, he shook his head and sighed.
"Your father loved those Kukuri."
"Well I don't and that's why I am either selling the last one to you or I'm cutting her loose. We finally have money to clean up this place and every bit helps the cause." Rayne couldn't fathom the barn being so barren. When the huge doors slid open, he was sad to not hear the trills of Kukuri hidden within. He looked around. The stalls were empty, the remains of used hay and the boards of each Kukuri's name listed on each stall.
Rayne's eyes scanned the barn until a curious chirp sounded from the very end of the barn. Rayne made his way to the noise and looked into the stall finding a beautiful smoked pearl within. He glanced at her name card: Caledonia. She had large green eyes and an intriguing inquisitive gaze. There was no obvious problem that he could see, leaving Rayne to look at Armel with a supsicious glare,
"Whats wrong with her?"
"Damn loyal to the ranch and my father. She's escaped two owners... She's costed me, Rayne and I don’t want or need her. I’ve already told Julie I’m not keeping her and she has no business taking care of a beast."
"...And you assume I can handle her?"
"I'm not admitting anything... but father did say you had a way with Kukuri like he did." Armel grunted and crossed his arms over his chest, "So do you want her or not?"
"Armel.... You can't be serious. She's all that's left of your father's.His whole life was this breeding business. This Ranch and all the Kukuri.”
"Rayne. I told you...I don't want her." He looked away with a very sad and angry look in his eyes. Rayne pat his shoulder and sighed deeply.
"Fine. I'll take her then. For your father’s sake and memory."
Armed gritted his teeth and shook his head.
“Honorable or stupid. I don’t care as long as I’m paid.” Rayne rolled his eyes and fished out his wallet.
“How’s the wife, Armel?”
“What wife? Just shut up and pay me.”
After payments were made and the Kukuri was bridled, Rayne led her out of the stall to which she immediately began to pull away. She was a bouncy girl. Hopping up and looking around excited. She sniffed Rayne and then moved to sniff Armel. She gurgled a happy with noise and Armel swiped a hand in an attempt to smack her away. Caledonia was quick to dodge him and bobbed her head with a toothy smile. Rayne pet her neck and side and again she sniffed him with a small trill.
"She hasn't figured it out has she...."
"Figured out what?"
"That he's gone."
"She's a dumb animal. Why would she care?" Armel grumbled in annoyance.
Rayne sighed and after collecting her paperwork and certificates,Rayne lead her away. He said only brief goodbyes and asked his regards be srpared upon Julie. Caledonia followed willingly and only stopped when she found some folded cloth on a hanger by the barn doors. She sniffed it and bobbed her head with a bit of a bounce. Rayne grabbed the cloth and sniffed it, finding it had a familiar scent to the old man. He suspected she knew this was his. He waved the cloth and coaxed her out.
"Caledonia... Cale... Come along." He lead her out to the field where the funeral had taken place. The hole was already covered but he somehow had to make her understand where her former owner was. He showed her the cloth and she sniffed and then began sniffing the ground. She chirped confused, "Cale... He's gone. He's gone away from here." He watched her head bobs slow to a tilt to the side. She sniffed the ground and began to scratch the soft dirt. Rayne made a correctional "Tch" Sound at her and she flinched. When she tried again, he repeated the sound. Caledonia stamped her feet and made a shrill weaving her head, looking around almost panicked. Rayne stepped forward holding her lead securely. After a few moments, Caledonia snuffed the ground and he ears began to droop.
"He's gone Cale... No more." He watched her turn in a circle and sit on the grave. She seemed to finally understand and fell quiet. Her chirps were small and subtle. He knew she was sad despite attempting to console her, she moved her head away and curled into a tighter ball. Rayne cooed her softly and laid the cloth next to her. She niffed the cloth and brought it closer to herself and laid her head on it. Rayne stayed kneeling beside her and waiting. He knew Kukuri could understand life just as much as death. All of the other Kukuri the old man had were his precious treasures. The only ones he ever gave away were the many buns his prized Doves and Rooks had. Rayne pet Caledonia’s head and sighed, “It’s alright girl. I know you’ll miss him but he’s always with you.” He inched his hand forward and touched the cloth. Caledonia chirped and nuzzled the cloth, nudging his hand away. He rubbed her face and whispered soft coos, “Yes I know. I know. It’s time to say goodbye Cale.” He rubbed her head with his right hand and snuck the cloth away from her with his left. When she had noticed, she tempted to sap at him to retrieve it he corrected her with a “tch” sound again. Her small ears flattened briefly before she gave a small trill and laid her head down sadly on the grave below her. For a brief moment, Rayne could feel the hurt he saw within her and his eyes watered to such a sad bittersweet moment. Saying goodbye is always hard for anyone. Even for a beast who may understand little or understand more than the their handlers. Rayne waited another fifteen minutes before realizing Caledonia had been staring at him intently. Her chirps and growl like noises becoming a little more wary as she stared at the cloth in his hand. Rayne folded the cloth and shoved it in a pocket for the time being. Caledonia watched him, bobbing her head curiously and watching. Rayne reaches out a hand and Caledonia moves her head away from his touch and he smiled thoughtfully.
“It’s alright... we’ll work on that... together.”
Rayne eventually stood up and pulled lightly on her lead. Caledonia didn’t want to budge from her spot and resisted him. Again he pulled and made a clicking to coax her to her feet. She uncurled herself, rising her head and shuffled her body so her weight was lifted by her strong legs. Her long tail whipped one side to another and she looked to the sky. The gloomy day was beginning to clear. The sun peaked though the clouds and Rayne could almost swear a Ray was shining down on the Kukuri. Little ears swiveled one way to the other before she shook her body of loose dirt and stepped forward. She turned a last look on the grave site of her master and gave a gurgling grumble throat sound that was almost what Rayne assumed a Kukuri gave as a sign of acceptance. Rayne clicked her way and she turned her gaze upon him.
He gently tugged on her lead.
“Come one Caledonia. You’re coming home with me.” She pulled against the lead and chirped indignant, “you can’t stay here. Armel’s already in a mood. I don’t want him to hurt you, girl. Come on, your owner was a good friend of mine and taught me all there is to know. You’ll be safe with me.” He offered a small smile, “you’ll have a nice bed every night, good food and I’ll even brush your coat. How’s that sound?” Weather it was byhis words or voice, Caledonia did seemed to be eased and reached forward to sniff him again. Although hesitant to leave; Caledonia did finally stay away from the grave sight. She followed Rayne as he lead her away from the pasture area and out the front gates. Rayne kept a good grip on the lead assuming she would show the most resistance upon leaving the main ranch gates but she complied and continued to move with him. He knew she would be pained for awhile but at least in this time, she was learning to accept what cannot be chanced. She was young and had many years ahead of her. Rayne hopes her future with him is bright and that she will be back to a bubbly Kukuri in no time. For now.. more training would be required.