Cato was very proud of his armor. He’d cobbled it together out of leather scraps himself, even going so far as to learn how to stitch it together. Sure, it wasn’t _metal_ like his mother Eury wore, but none of the blacksmiths had been willing to help.

He was also very proud of his dagger. It was very sharp and had a handle wrapped with pretty red leather and he loved it. He was saving up to get another one.

This is why he was at Heather’s market stall right before dinner–she’d pay him some coppers to run and get her food. Cato like Heather. She sold pretty, colorful lanterns, hand dipped candles her sister made, and little jars of honey. And she was always nice, and always giving him honey to take home because sometimes he just liked to sit there and eat it even though it made his fur sticky.

So Cato had no idea why someone else–a large human male, with short dark head-hair and red face-hair and grubby leather armor about as well constructed as Cato’s (which was to say, not very)–would come and give her trouble.

“Give me your coins.”

Heather folded her hands on her counter. “No.”

Cato was sitting right under the counter, able to see both Heather’s boots and the stranger’s.

“Look, I need them more than you do, so you’re going to give them to me–” And the man reached across to grab the front of Heather’s shirt and yank her close.

Cato slipped out from under the counter, right next to the man–and jammed his dagger into the meaty part of his thigh. “She said no.”

The man screamed–and honestly, so did Cato. At least he kept a good grip on the weapon, and it was still clutched in his paw when the man jerked free and ran away.

Heather smoothed her shirt, then leaned over to blink at Cato. “Was that something you did?”

“Uh, yeah,” the cub replied, brandishing his bloody dagger. “He was being mean so I figured he deserved it. Right? It’s what the Lionguard would do!”

Wasn’t it? They stopped the bad guys, right? And that’s what he’d done? Right!

Heather pursed her lips, then quietly handed him a jar of honey. “Thank you, sweetheart. You should probably stay away from here for awhile though, yeah? Go back and see Eurydice.”

Come to think of it, he was kind of hungry. Mom was probably having something good for lunch. “Okay!”

—–(Later, at home….)—-

…as if speaking his name conjured him, Cato blew into the kitchen like a fuzzy little whirlwind. “I STABBED someone!” he announced proudly, brandishing a very respectable dagger. He was clad in some cobbled together, kids idea of what he thought armor was (leather, because a little blacksmith he was not). If he was ever going to get his mother’s bulk, he showed no signs of it yet. Lean and chocolate brown with barely visible spotting, he looked like he was quick…and a lot of trouble.

Eury just. Rested her elbow on the table, and then her shin on her fist. “Cato.”

“What, momma?” he turned cute, wide little cub eyes on her, but she was unphased.

“You didn’t even clean your dagger after. No, don’t try to hide it, I saw the blood still on the blade. I taught you better than that. Go lean it up and then get the hell out of here for several more hours.”

Cato hunched his shoulders sheepishly, but this didn’t stop him from eyeing Mary. “Okay!” He casually snatched half of her remaining fish and darted back out the door.

“You know,” Eury said, contemplating her remaining dinner, “this is why there are fahrars, I imagine.” She took a long drink of her beer and chuckled. “…so. Cato. You know, I’m not even going to ask who he stabbed or why? I’m sure I’ll find out later.”

“Hopefully he chose someone who deserved it. That’s really all anyone can ask.” The big male watches him go, amused – “I like him. I remember being that excited about my first sword. I tried to keep track of my kits for a while – hard to do. It’s not exactly a thing the legions encourage.” He mirrors her posture, resting his heavy head on his claws, and smiling at her. “I’ll share mine.” He offers a forkful, mischievous. “And he looks like he’d be fun to have along. Need to get him some proper armor in any case.”

Author Ambrosine
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