There was a slight chill in the air as dry leaves rustled in the breeze. It had been some time since the leader of Fire Empire had managed to get away from camp, and today was quite lovely. Though the air was cool the sun was shining. It was the kind of day that is best spent with a special someone. Nakita’s bright orange pelt blended almost perfectly with the colors of the fallen leaves as her mate gazed at her. The two had decided to take the day for each other and were out on a leisurely stroll through the Empire’s territory.
“Quite lovely isn’t it?” Nakita mused aloud, “I always did like this time of year. The colors are most spectacular.” She glanced back at Montecore who was no more than a pace behind her.
“Not more lovely than you.” The lion replied, paying his mate a cheesy compliment. “The human cubs were often fond of this time of year too, frolicking through the leaves.” He paused briefly as he recalled his time with the humans in their circus. “I only wish our little Echo could see it.”
The pair let out a collective sigh as the little lion cub back home entered their minds. “I’m sure she’ll find her place in the Empire.” Nakita said reassuringly as she rubbed her head against her mate’s shoulder.
Together they padded along like this, speaking softly together as they made their way along the border to Savage Dog territory.
Zaira was in a foul mood today, having been sent out on gathering detail. The one thing that soothed her temper was that she’d been partnered with her mate at least. She would much rather be guarding the borders than foraging for materials.
“Zaira?” Syme inquired, a little annoyed at her lack of attention, “Are you even listening?”
The she-wolf snapped back to reality as her mate called to her, “Huh? Oh sorry.” She replied sheepishly, “I was lost in thought. What were you saying?”
“Geez and I thought I was spacey.” He teased her lovingly, “We need to go closer to the border. I can’t find what I’m looking for here, but a recent patrol said they might have found some stones off that way.”
After a while of walking along Zaira again became lost in thought, and before she knew it she was at the border with Syme scouring the ground nearby. A bright spot of color caught her attention from the corner of her eye. There, on the other side of the border, was her nemesis. Though the blame lied entirely with herself she still harbored an immense hatred of the tigress before her for scarring her shoulder some time ago.
A low growl escaped her throat as she nudged her mate to grab his attention. He took a quick look in the direction of her death glare. “Isn’t that the leader of Fire Empire?” Syme inquired, but his question went unanswered as Zaira started to pad stealthily towards her target, melding into the shadows for camouflage. “You can’t be serious.” Syme muttered as he followed after her.
Nakita let out a soft laugh as she gazed lovingly at her mate. The two had been thoroughly enjoying themselves as they walked together. Today was turning out to be the perfect day. That is until Montecore spotted a shadow moving unnaturally just on the other side of his mate. He let out a ferocious roar as he leapt over her to intercept the shadow as a stoutly built wolf emerged from it.
Zaira snarled as the lion got in the way, but still she pressed onward, biting at his shoulder as she charged headlong. Montecore moved slightly, just enough for the wolf’s teeth to snap shut on the air where he’d been, and swiped at her with a massive paw that sent her rolling across the ground. Realizing what was happening Nakita went after the she-wolf she’d defeated long ago. Roaring she lunged for Zaira, who had already melded into the shadows once more.
Growling the felines braced themselves for another attack, searching the nearby trees for any signs of movement. Suddenly two wolves emerged from the shadows, lunging and snapping at Nakita and Montecore. They tried to fight back, but the wolves were gone as soon as they emerged from the shadows. The battle went on like this for some time before Nakita got fed up and used a flame blast to light the area, exposing the wolves. Before Zaira could recover from the heat of the blast Nakita was on top of her. The tigress hesitated giving the wolf the opportunity to flee back to her territory.
Syme leapt to the defense of his mate, but was intercepted by the lion, who slashed at him causing massive damage along his side and sent him crashing to the ground. Zaira took the opportunity to sink her fangs deep into Nakita’s leg rather than retreating. Her rage blinded her to the dangers of continuing the battle.
Nakita roared in pain, and shook the wolf off. She would not tolerate this intrusion any longer. The tigress flexed her claws, trying to ignite them which failed. Zaira was already back on her paws so Nakita took a swing at her, which sailed harmlessly over the wolf’s head as she dodged the attack and lunged again. The tigress ducked down under the lunge, head-butted her attacker and quickly followed up with a flaming slash to the wolf’s throat.
The white wolf staggered to his paws. He checked his side that was now bleeding profusely from the gaping wounds. He stared up at the lion, now looming over him, in horror as he heard Nakita roar. He turned just in time to see Zaira drop to the ground. He knew right away she was dead, and he began to slowly back away.
Montecore let out a fierce roar that sent the blacksmith staggering back to his own territory with his tail between his legs. He wouldn’t soon forget this battle, not for long as he would live anyway. Syme some now managed to stumble his way back to his home territory, but his wounds were too severe.
He collapsed on the ground and was shortly discovered by a patrol. They tried to figure out what happened, but the white wolf was nearly incoherent. All he said was “She’s dead. Zaira’s dead.” Soon he was sobbing uncontrollably as the weight of the loss overtook him. He no longer had the will to fight the exhaustion that washed over him and he slowly slipped away. The blacksmith was dead before the patrol could even get him back home.
Nakita panted as she watched the white wolf stagger away, and glanced back at her slain assailant. She let out a sigh. She hated that it had come to this, but she couldn’t let outsiders attack freely in her Empire. She only hoped that this wouldn’t lead to further violence, but she knew she had to prepare the Empire just in case.
“Let’s get back.” Montecore spoke softly as he approached his mate, “You need to get that looked at.”
She’d forgotten the bite she’d received during the fight. Upon closer inspection nothing major seemed to be damaged. “We have to prepare the Empire for the worst.” Was all she said as she padded back to the camp, limping slightly as she walked.