Fire: Book One: Spark
The leopard quivered under her pelt as her opponent was released. A tiger stared menacingly at her. Cheers broke out across the clearing from the guards and royal family, while the slaves gazed mournfully at their fighter. But they knew if she wanted freedom, she had to do it. Her amber eyes widened as the tiger unsheathed his claws. Her fellow slaves held their breath as she flexed her own claws. Then, the tiger leaped.
It wasn’t pretty. The tiger pinned the leopard, baring its long fangs at her face. He slowly raked his claws along her belly, and she yowled in agony as he sped up, tearing fur from her underbelly. When he stopped, he bit down on her ear and tore it in half. The leopard whimpered as he bit down on her tail and pulled, failing at tearing it. She leaped to her paws at her release and began running for the fence. She was almost over it when two tigers blocked her path. She raked her claws against the largest tiger’s eyes, blinding him, and pinned him, using its belly as a launching pad. She landed halfway across the clearing, then took off across the stone floor, toward the plains. “Get her!” howled Gerax, scrambling to his paws and taking off across the field. His tiger guards took off after him, but they had no chance at catching the leopard, who was rapidly increasing her speed. The leopard was heading toward the Kingdom of the Thistle. Gerax paused, grumbling to himself, and whipped around. “Everyone, be on high alert! At least five guards must block the prisons!” His eyes blazed irefully.
The fighting tiger let out a roar, demanding another opponent. Gerax declined, and snarled, “You better go find the leopard! You can kill her, if you want to!”
The she-leopard’s brother whimpered, ducking his head. His mate pressed against him and licked his ear gently, a soothing gesture. Gerax padded over to the brother. “Problem, Jakra?” he asked coldly. Jakra wrenched his head up to look Gerax in the eye.
“Yes,” he snarled. “You won’t kill my sister. Won’t.” His tail flicked angrily. Every slave knew that he was going to be murdered. They all took off for the prison, and the guards stalked after them. The mate stayed, however, because she was cornered by five tigers. Gerax’s cold blue eyes blazed.
“Soshak?” he asked, turning his head to look at the fighter tiger. Soshak glared at him. Gerax smiled crookedly and, turning to the cornered mate, let out two, lowly muttered words: “Position her!” One tiger instantly held down her leg, while the others subdued the others. One of the tigers stood by her head.
“For your mate’s treachery,” Gerax barked, “he will be fought. Then, you will be forced to carry Soshak’s cubs, and give birth to them. Your cubs will be freed. You will be freed, provided Soshak wins. Soshak, fight!”
Soshak leaped, easily pinning Jakra and started to bite down on his throat. Jakra closed his eyes, not even fighting back, and within a few seconds, Soshak leaped off his body and over the fence to Jakra’s old mate. He whispered softly to her, “Come on, Nubia.” Nubia didn’t move a muscle.
Soshak buried his fangs into her scruff and dragged her into his den, where two tigers guarded it. Gerax glared coldly at Jakra’s body, then crouched low over it. He sniffed it. “Jakra, you were a good worker. You will be grieved for.” Gerax let out a low, sorrowful howl, then leaped off as the tigers buried Jakra, and the last speck of golden on his pelt was covered by sand.