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The Dragon and the Tiger

The Dragon and the Tiger

Postby Darthar » Tue May 03, 2011 7:28 pm

Just a short story I wrote up for the Relic Hunter's position. Didn't get accepted, so I figured might as well post it here. Nothing special, just a quick two page short story taking place at unspecified time in the underworld's history. The names are obvious enough for allusions. Short, sweet, just another story. Enjoy.

The Dragon and the Tiger

Sparks flashed in the darkness of the cavern. Hit after hit, their fists grinded and repelled each other. They matched one another pound for pound, blow for blow. It was a dance only seen once a hundred years. Somewhere on a forgotten battlefield, two survivors desperately fought for victory. Their clans had long since faded, forgotten or devoured by the underworld’s sprawling history. Their faces were like masks, they could have been mighty generals or the lowliest of grunts. This was the way of the forsaken children of the dark elves. They knew no peace or happiness. Only strife greeted them every step of their journeys. How tragic it seems, for one would live and one would die.

The lithe black haired tiger slid along the ground, riding the ice she drew from a nearby pool. Her body traversed and flowed with the grace and fluidity of her element. A seering flame soared high above and cut the woman’s path off. She ducked to the side while the fiery kick melted her pathway. The two stared each other down. They waited in silence, only the drip drops of spring water echoed throughout the cavern. Heavy, shallow breaths escaped their lips. A drop of sweat fell from the dragon. They roared towards each other with their battle cries proclaiming victory for each of their clans.

Like fading comets, their fire and ice carved the earthen carven around them. Boiling and cooling the rock around them, they collided with one another. The tiger launched the dragon into the air, and twisted her fingers like a puppet master. The she-dragon flew back several feet. The tiger pulled her body with invisible strings. Her stomach churned while the water inside of her rippled inside. The power of the two was formidable. Perhaps their age was greater. Perhaps they were veterans of long seasons. War was the way of many Chelians, and these two were no different.

Fire and ice exploded against one another. Only their sparks and violet eyes were visible in the darkness. For a caravan passing through, they would think nothing of it. Just the lights or trick of the eye, they’d say. Must be going mad from inhaling too much dust in the caverns lately. Their dance brought them to a bottomless precipice. The dragon stumbled back towards the edge. Her eyes bulged as the situation dawned upon her. The tiger raised her claws and struck with three fast swipes. Each one connected, pounding into her ribs and cracking one after the other. The dragon spit up saliva and keeled to the ground. She shivered at the touch of the tiger. There was no mercy, no hesitance in her eyes. The dragon’s begging face reflected in the tiger. She gripped her by her neck, clenching her fingers into the dragon’s thin neck.

The preying tiger caught the dragon and clipped her wings. She tossed her over the ledge and listened to her scream into the abyss. Only her howling curse traveled along the wind. The tiger fell to her knees and stared upon the broken bodies of her comrades. Her bloodstain helmet fell from her head. The ragged mane of the tiger was coated in the blood of dragons. She huffed and clutched at her heart. One would live and carry on the burden of duty, the other would fade from history. For her clan, for her people, for her Val.

The tiger lowered her head and prayed to Sharess to shepard their souls to her. Where the old ways were slowly fading, she still clung to them. She was neither stubborn nor traditional. It was simply the legacy of her parents and their parents before them. You were born into the clan, raised above the peasantry, served the clan, and ultimately died for the clan. There was no other purpose for her life.

Water slid down a spire, looping down it in spiral fashion. The tiger gazed at the insignificant droplet. In her eyes, water was both gentle and destructive. They say the flame burns and consumes, but the drop can devour and rupture too. She opened her eyes and listened in the darkness. A scratching sound rang from behind her. The distinct light of hatred flared behind her. The dragon roared with its second wind. No, it was no longer a clipped lizard, now she soared as the phoenix. Her bloody eyes gazed at her prey with renewed vigor. Gone was the timid whelp, in her place stood a monster whose breath spewed fire.

Possession. The word left a bitter taste in the tiger’s mouth. She stood up and deflected the dragon’s fire with a sheet of ice. It melted into a puddle, but it was all the time she needed. The pool to the side of her provided the strength to continue. Water was life, and water was death. It was a perfect harmony between the two elements. She gestured dramatically with her hands and goaded the dragon. Sparks flashed in the cavern once again. The phoenix and the tiger clashed with one another.

The dragon burned the tiger’s mane. The tiger groaned in agony as her fine mane left her head naked. She ran to the pool and dunked her head to sooth the burnt nerves; and the wheel of fate favored another. The phoenix swooped behind the unsuspecting tiger. She gripped her hands around the tiger’s neck and suffocated the life out of her. The tiger flailed about, trying to freeze the water. The phoenix spewed fire into the water, boiling into unimaginable temperatures. A littler tiger bubbled under the pool. She screamed and shrieked as the water turned against her.

She flew through the air and coughed from the lack of air. Dazed and her vision blurry, she swiped at the phoenix. Her eyes saw shadows and two different creatures. She saw the face of her sister and smiled knowing the outcome. One would live and one would die. The dragon stalked behind her and gripped her neck. The tiger did not struggle and welcomed her eternal sleep. There were no words between them, their panting and bruises confirmed the outcome. The phoenix twisted the tiger’s neck and snapped the bone clean. A beautiful beast fell to a mightier predator.

The phoenix did not revel in her victory. She gazed upon the battlefield and picked up her gear. She prayed to Sharess to take her comrades souls to wherever she might reside. With her talons retracted and her fangs dulled, she folded her fists together and bowed to her opponent. Walking away from the forgotten battlefield, the dragon’s long black tail swooped behind her. She turned one last time and wondered when the day they would be free. When would the day come the tiger could roam the earth and the dragon could once again soar through the skies?

In the underworld, there is no peace. There is no hope. There are only the games of fools and their pawns. Such is the tale of the dragon and the tiger, the tiger and the spider, and the dragon and the wolf. Each searching for a utopia they cannot find. They are all prisoners of the underworld.
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