Two hundred years, he’d served loyally, a faithful playmate to the Miyuzaki children as they grew, a confidant worthy of their prepubescent daydreams and, later, their adolescent fears about a world too large and cruel to keep them innocent.
He never allowed himself to favor one more than the others, but Saeko was different. From the moment the midwife cut her from her dying mother and placed her tiny body in Ilikan’s careful hands for safekeeping, she looked up at him for the first time with dark eyes full of life and wisdom. He knew she was the beginning of his ending.
Whatever she asked of him, whatever dangers he must face to keep her safe–he would shield her body from all harm with his own if such sacrifices would keep her safe so she might claim her destiny.