About Tigers’ Tales
Author: Sean Michael and Julia Talbot
Word Count: 10291
Page Count (pdf): 48
ISBN: : 978-1-942831-32-7
Series: Tigers Tales
Date Published: 10/2016
Publisher: Turtlehat Creatives
File Types available: Pdf, epub, mobi
In this prequel to In the Hearts of Tigers, Malik has been wandering a long time. He’s not even sure there are other weretigers left until he meets Rishi, and then he knows he’s found his mate.
Rishi has never met another like him since the one who bore him passed away. All he has is his rock, which overlooks the world, and he loves the butterflies who keep him company. Rishi may be innocent of the ways of the world, but he’s eager to learn, and Malik fascinates him. Can Malik keep Rishi safe in their shrinking world, or will man intrude and ruin their budding love?
Note: This story was previously published in the Shifting series.
Malik was tired. Tired in his bones. How long he had walked he did not know, but he knew the distance was more than he had ever walked before.
The time passed as a blur to him, for he rarely felt the effects of it unless he lived among men, but he knew this time was different, and the terrain was markedly different from where he had lived the whole of his life.
There were no more like him where he came from, and precious few tigers as well, the men hunting and hunting until it was not safe to be among them. Not safe to be a man either, for sooner or later the rest of the men would become wrinkled and old while he did not, and they would drive him away.
So finally Malik left. He went in search of others like him, or failing that, more tigers. Searching for somewhere he could rest, and have a place to swim and to sleep and not worry about the men.
He thought perhaps he had found his place. He hoped so, for he was truly tired, and his paw hurt from a cut he’d gotten while hunting a prickly little animal, and this place had a green and blue lagoon, and rocks, and trees to shade him.
This was a good place. As soon as he woke from his nap, Malik would mark it as his own. He was tired of looking and hoping and waiting. He would stay here, and rest.
Someone was sleeping on the Rock that had belonged to Malani, the One who Nursed Him, the One who Bore him.
Someone very big.
Someone very big and very loud and snory.
Still. That was not Someone Very Big’s Rock. That was Malani’s Rock.
Even though she had gone away down the water. Even though her roars no longer sounded here.
So Rishi gathered up all his courage — and he was a Very Brave and Big Rishi — and he Roared, telling the Someone Very Big to move.
Then he ran and hid in the grasses, just in case.
The Someone stood very fast, taking up the whole rock, and roared back at him, and the roar was Very Big too.
Oh. Oh. Oh.
He shook a little in the grass and then bared his teeth and Roared again. His Home. His.
This is Rishi’s Home!
The Very Big One roared again, too, and jumped down to stalk the grass around the Rock.
Rishi stayed far away from those claws and teeth, but he would not give up his Rock. His. Rock.
Not Someone’s. His.
A Very Big Someone. Very Big. But quiet. The grass stopped moving and Rishi could not even hear the Big one breathing.
Rishi crouched down as small as he could, closing his eyes so the Someone could not see him.
Which was when the Someone sprang, knocking him down and landing squarely on top of him.
Rishi snarled and hissed and made himself Very Big, trying to startle the Someone away.
The Someone did not go away. Instead the Someone Growled very loud and pushed him until his belly and neck were up, sitting on top of him and making his breath go out hard.
Oh. Oh, that was No Fair!
Still. The Someone was Big and Strong and HEAVY and Not Scared at all. So Rishi did what he could.
He relaxed into the grasses and waited for the Someone to Bite or Move.
Someone bit, Very Gently, just like Malani would have when he was a cub, to teach him when he had done something wrong, and make him be Good again.
Rishi took a deep, deep Deep breath. Oh. Good. Yes. Not Hard biting was Good and he was Sorry — except he wasn’t really sure why…
The Very Large Someone stayed there, biting him, for a long time. A long twitchy time, making sure he did not move, that he was very Good.
Rishi finally mewled, asking to be up, asking nicely and oh, it was so Not Fair that he was going to lose his Rock because the other Someone was Big. One day he would be Big and he would have any Rock he wanted.
The One who was Big now backed away, letting him up, letting him see. The Large Someone was a tiger, like him, only huge, and pale, with bright eyes like the sky.
He backed away, tail swishing, licking his paws, rumbling and watching. Those eyes were new. Pretty like the butteryflies that got caught between his teeth.
Still, the Someone was Much bigger than the butteryflies.
The Someone rumbled, coming close, making him worry, but the Big one only rubbed cheeks with him, scenting him.
He was Very Brave and did not run.
That was very hard, but he was a So Brave and Strong Rishi. He had even almost Hunted a Long-Eared Bouncer.
The Other rubbed along his neck and back, spreading the Big One’s scent on him, claiming him as family.
His purr wanted to come out, wanted to so much because he had been lonely and… not scared, because he was Brave, but worried and nervous and wanting another to come and play and purr and groom and nuzzle and pounce and roar.
The very tips of their noses touched, finally, and the Big One rumbled again, licking him lightly. Those sky eyes stared at him, testing him, reading him.
He nuzzled, just a little, his purr too big to be quiet now because the Big One smelled Good and Not Mean and those eyes were… Very Much.
Oh, that got him a nuzzle in return, full on purrs coming out of the Big One, telling him he was Good and Brave and that the Big One was happy.
Those purrs made his belly hot and rumbly and made his claws rolls into the soft dirt.
Sky eyes blinked, looking deep into his, and a low rumble took the shape of the Big One’s name. Malik. The Very Big Someone’s name was Malik. How he knew Rishi did not know, but it was True.
Malik. Malik. M-m-m-m-m-m-malik.
It was a good name.
A Strong name.
If Rishi knew the Very Big Someone was a Malik, then Malik must know he was Rishi.
Which was another very good name.
Malik must have thought Rishi was a fine name, because his whiskers got groomed and his cheeks rubbed, and Malik nudged him toward the Rock, letting him crawl up before climbing up and nudging him down, tail curling with his.
Oh. Oh. His Rock. Their Rock. He Purred as hard as he could, belly rubbing down into the warmth, eyes blinking slow-slow.
Meeting new Someones?
Good, but Tiring.