Nine Lives, Ten Deaths? part three
The spiritual realm was one of many dimensions. It was not always known where exactly one would find them-selves when passing through the delicate walls that separated Earth’s world from the realm. Entering through the same field was the best way to assure that one would at least arrive in the same proximity as those who went before them. Though the world, at first glance may appear the same, the realm normally took a new path once entered. Alexander slowed the swing to a halt as he surveyed his surroundings. The huge tree was nearly the same, as was the house, save for the fact that everything around him was dark. The house was aged and battered as if it had weathered many terrible storms. The tree that held the swing was bare of its bark and leaves, appearing naked and ancient. A trail, lined with trees, illuminated partially by an unseen light, stood where the sandbox had been.
Alexander moved away from the swing, glancing down at the spot he had last seen Sebastian. The place was void of anything except for dirt. He looked up in to the bare tree and found it empty. He had expected to see Samantha where he had last seen her. The ground shook under his feet as his anger fought to gain control of his senses. Alexander pushed the emotion away as he walked towards the darkened forest. A sound from behind him made him spin around. He stepped back, uncertainty more than fear causing him to seek protection. He listened as the voice echoed in his ear.
“You have no need to fear me, Alexander. I mean no harm to come to you.”
Alexander stood, staring into the eyes of the most beautiful white tigress he had ever seen. Twice the size of any tiger he had ever seen, Alexander watched it as it came closer to him.
“Who are you? How do you know who I am?”
“Here, in the realm of cats, you are known by your companion. Sebastian has been here many times to regain his strength. Your essence comes with him each time he visits. I will be your guide while he recovers again.”
“Is he alive? I saw his body under the tree after that witch tossed him out. He looked quite dead to me.”
“He will be fine, though I must warn you, he has few lives left. When his lives are done, he will return here for a final time. From that moment, he will belong to this realm until time ends and the great battle begins.”
“I am here to find someone. I have been here before and have not found who I am looking for. She is my love and I intend to bring her home with me.”
“I know who you are here for. Alisha is safe but getting her away from those that hold her will not be an easy task. Her captors are greedy and cruel. They will not let her go without a fight.”
“Where did you come from? Why haven’t I seen you when I have been here before?”
“You had no need for me then. As for where I came from, I have always been here. Walk with me and I shall tell you a story.”
“What about Sebastian and where did Samantha go? I know damn well she entered this realm with me.”
“Sebastian will live to see another battle. Samantha is here but she is well hidden by her followers here. We will watch for her so she does not ambush us.”
Alexander walked into the darkened forest with the Tigress. “What do they call you here?”
“I am known as Bastet and I am queen in this realm. I dwell in the ruins of my home called Bubastis.”
“Bubastis? That is an ancient mansion made of red granite. It’s fabled to have been the home of Bast, the God of cats. I thought it was just a myth.”
“The sacred grove that grows in its midst is no fable, Alexander. It is a safe place for all cats and a resting place for those such as your Sebastian. We once lived there in peace, coming out into your jungles and forests to feed and mate. We require no food while we are here but our bodies grow weaker as we age. We discovered millenniums ago that we could replenish our selves by feeding in your world. There were sometimes changes to our appearance once fed there. I became what you see today, losing my human part and the lioness became a tigress. It seems I needed the added strength and size of a tiger to fight the enemies. We also found that if we mated in your world, our cubs could not enter this realm ever. Some of them adapted to your world by making themselves smaller. Your house cat, as you refer to them, is a descendant of what we once were. Sebastian’s father was a saber-toothed tiger. That is what enables Sebastian to change when angered or threatened.”
As they walked further in to the forest, claws reached out from the trees. Talons as long as Alexander’s arm clawed the air beside the two. Alexander pulled away and walked in the very center of the path. Roars, as loud as a freight train echoed throughout the forest. The claws stretched as far as they could, trying to hook Alexander as they walked.
“I just want to find Alisha and bring her home. How can they hide her so well that I cannot see her? It makes no sense to me at all. Why can’t you just kill the bad guys?”
“She is here, hidden at the end of this forest. The creatures we must battle are like none you have seen before. Why we cannot simply kill those who threaten us is a fault of your world and your kind. As I told you, we came to your world for food and to mate. Your kind wanted our skins and our meat. They trapped my kind and caged them our killed them. They display us in cages you people call zoos and weaken us by not allowing access back to our world. Because they trap us in your world, we are forced to live by your laws. We can age there and die and your kind care nothing of us. One day, we will no longer exist in your world. The protection we were sent to give to mankind will end and you will be exposed and vulnerable to the evil that is inside this realm. Those that are gifted such as yourself and Alisha are our only hope of surviving. We can only enter your world nine times. On the tenth entrance, we must stay there and we will die.”
“Let’s find Alisha so that we can leave this place. My gifts are strongest when the sun is at its hottest in my world. Six times I have come here to find her and six times I have left without her. I too have limits, though my strength is best while here. The portal to this realm only opens in our summertime. I have a limited amount of time to stay here.”
The trees in front of them had begun to close in on the path. As the path narrowed, the claws grew closer to Alexander and Bastet. Roars pierced the forest walls and Alexander found himself covering his ears to lessen the sound. The light that had shone through the trees was almost gone. A greenish darkness filled the path and only the flickering of the light on sharpened talons could be seen now.
“Do not show fear, Alexander or they will kill you. The creatures of the night feed on that fear and grow stronger with every bite of it.”
“I am scared, Bastet… for the first time ever in this realm, I am frightened. We have to find…”
Alexander’s words were cut short by the appearance of a huge lion, standing in the exit of the trees. His size was that of a Bengal tiger and his eyes shattered the darkness. Alexander watched as Bastet grew to the size of an elephant. Her hair rose from head to toe as she pressed her paws into the path. Talons coming out and her teeth glistened in the little light that was left for them; she stepped in front of Alexander.
“Prepare to do battle, Alexander for this one does not wish for us to leave the forest.”
Alexander closed his eyes for just a moment. Suddenly, armor, plated with gold and silver covered his body. A helmet made of thick steel adorned his head. He took from his bag a sword that had been forged long before he was born of the souls that had given their lives to protect people. He stepped forward and found himself face to face with another man. He too was covered in armor and wielded a sword that looked to be as well made as Alexander’s.
“If you want your mate, boy, come and get her. If you die here, she will be mine for eternity. Do you have what you need to kill me?”
“I don’t know who you are or where you come from but I do know I am going to kill you. Alisha is mine and I am hers!”
“So says you, Alexander! Come and prove it!”
Alexander and Bastet lunged forward at the same instant. Teeth and swords mashed together, sending out sparks of red and blue. It appeared as if the fourth of July had come to the realm. Fire burst from Alexander’s sword as it slid up and down his enemy’s sword. Tiger fought Lion and blood spewed out of the gashes left by both opponents. A quick move by the man left a slice in Alexander’s arm. Blood covered his arm and the forest floor as he lifted his arm and brought his sword down. A scream that could be heard across the realm came out of his opponent’s mouth. His sword had found its mark and sliced through the man’s neck and shoulder. He fell to his knees as Alexander readied himself to deliver the final blow. A pain shot through his side, causing him to drop his sword. He looked down and saw the knife protruding from his side. Blood flowed from the wound on to the forest floor.
Bastet swiped out with her huge paw, delivering a powerful hit to the lion. His skin peeled away from his face, exposing his entire jawbone. The cats that had roared so loudly in the forest suddenly went silent. Bastet struck the lion once more, this time slicing his throat open. The mighty beast fell to the ground, dead. She turned her attention to Alexander, who was nearly lying on the ground. She watched as he picked his sword up and drove it into the man’s heart. Falling to the ground, blood oozing from his wounds, Alexander looked up and saw Samantha dragging the body of the Lion away from the exit. Light shone through again and all was silent in the forest. She stopped only long enough to look at Alexander. The last thing he saw before giving way to the darkness that swept over him was Bastet standing over him. Blooding flowing freely from his body, Alexander’s world went dark.