Roleplayed by TheLupineOne and EddieHaskell
Edited by TheLupineOne
Ever since Ralf acquired that enchanted collar, with its mysterious transformative powers, the wolf had started making friends with others with an interest in the field of transformation; those who studied the mysteries of metamorphosis, and those who just enjoyed the great range of adventures and experiences that transformation could provide. As his circle of friends expanded, so too did the range of powers exhibited by the collar. At first, the wearer could only be subject to basic species swap, but it wasn't long until new abilities were revealed: changes in bodily composition, gender, the clothes being worn. Thanks to a friendly coyote alchemist named Xilats, an new aspect was added to the collar in the form of a herbal paste that allowed for mental transformations. However, this was not to be the end of the collar's evolution...
The latest contact that Ralf had made was a husky who went by the name of "Luigio". In corrospondence, Luigio, or "Lui" as he liked being called, claimed to be a druid, a wielder of magic. At first Ralf was slightly doubtful, but when the day came when Lui arrived at Ralf's home for a visit, he was assured that Lui told the truth; from his majestic purple cape to the aura surrounding his paws, Ralf knew that Lui was not a liar. The two canines happily greeted each other, and shared some iced tea while conversing about their experiences with transformation. It seemed that Lui did indeed have transformative magic within his arsenal, though it had a tendency to rebound against him. When the conversation moved on to the collar that Ralf wore, Lui was certainly curious, and eager to try operating it. Its magic sounded a lot more reliable than his own.
"So, you just think of whatever form you'd like me to be, envision it in your head, the clearer the better", explained Ralf. "Keep thinking hard, rub the collar to take control of it, and snap your fingers..." The husky opposite rubbed his chin, pondering... what to do? Turtle? Maybe a lion? Building the idea in his head, he rubbed the collar, and, sure his concept was constructed, snapped his fingers. Immediately, the collar tightened around Ralf's neck.
"Eep!", exclaimed Ralf, causing Lui to worry with a look of concern. "Don't worry, it happens."
"That doesn't hurt, does it?"
"No, it's padded. That padding is where the mental modification herbs are; the lining is doused in a herbal paste. Inhaling it causes a mental transformation."
"That's pretty neat!", replied the husky, grinning. He could have some fun with that aspect... not just visualising a form for Ralf, but a mindset too. "Yes... I see... I had seen in my head, a powerful lion king. Tall and armored in crimson and gold plate. A powerful warrior and a stern ruler....a bit of vanity as well..." As Lui explained the formed he desired, Ralf started to grow, unnoticed by the husky, engrossed in focusing on the idea in his mind. The growing wolf nodded his head slowly.
"Sounds fun, Lui", he said in a slightly deeper voice, his body starting to thicken up. Lui finally took notice, hearing the voice and "meep"ing at the sight of his expanding friend.
"Hehe, oh wow. Yeah... I admit... this lion... he tends to find ways to increase his armies and his subjects."
"Grrrrm?" The wolf let out a slightly more feline growl than he was used to, as his fur started turning tan, his trousers straining and tearing.
"Y-yeah. He instills loyalty in his people. He's got hidden powers to change them. By a mere touch he infuses his magic into others to turn them into whatever he wants. It's kind of like your collar." The husky giggled, as the wolf gave a confused "Hrrrr", growing a proud mane. The concept of wearing a collar seemed a little alien to him all of a sudden. He continued to expand, feeling heavier yet not minding it.
"Eight feet, 500 pounds, mostly muscle... eep!" Lui stepped back from the giant hybrid that was overshadowing him, hearing him emit confused growls, unable to think as his mind shifted. He watched as heavy ornate plate armor of crimson and gold covered the thickening body, and a large ornate 2-handed sword sheathed itself on the back of the rather intimidating, yet heroic, lion.
"...and his name was Lord Tigran", said a voice that sounded a bit distant but getting closer.
"Hrrr... Grrrrm? Were you singing a song about me?" asked the lion, blinking his eyes, eyeing the husky in front of him.
"I-I uhh... well I'm no bard sir. We were just talking about the finer things?", said the husky, nervoursly rubbing his neck, staring back at the lion that once stood in Ralf's place.
"Finer things?", asked the lion now known as Tigran, curious about the new arrival in his kingdom.
"Yes, your strength, your ability to lead others, your impressive kingdom and...well plenty of monuments and songs in your honor." Hmm... maybe this husky, this dog visiting his feline kingdom, may have been bluffing. Either way, Tigran was pleased to be flattered, and grinned and laughed. Yes, this kingdom he ruled over was impressive, the kingdom coming into view, the room that some wolf whom Tigran had no knowledge of called home shifting away to a more regal setting.
"So, what are you doing in my palace anyway?", inquired Tigran, viewing the mysterious visitor.
"O-oh! Umm..I was just visiting? Seeing the king and his land and all?" The husky was starting to panic a bit, seeing the felines mill about the palace, the sole dog in this kingdom. Tigran just blushed, flattered as always when a visitor came from afar to visit his domain. He himself had welcomed many travellers from all over, and had done so with pride. "You've made quite the name for yourself, Lord Tigran." Yes, he had to agree.
"Why thank you, er..."
"Oh! The name is Luigio. My friends call me Lui for short" Lui? What sort of name was that?
"Lui? I can't say this is a name from nearby. Just how far did you travel, Lui?", asked Tigran inquisitively.
"I have traveled many miles, sir. I am merely a traveller of the lands from the western kingdoms. Word of your vast lands and powers have reached my ears, even more often the closer I came to your palace. I heard those who you have waged war with have quickly absorbed into your realm, often in a matter of weeks."
Tigran nodded; yes, those stories were true. He smiled; it was good to hear how much his influence and power had spread, the knowledge of his supremacy.
"Well... It's very nice of you to come. But... I hunger for a battle."
Lui grinned. "That holds true to the stories I've heard. Indeed, it's no wonder how you succeed in battle with such a hunger."
Tigran sensed something about Lui as he stared at the husky. "You seem strong... Just not the strength my Kingdom is used to. Would you pleasure me in a friendly fight?", asked the lord politely. Lui stepped back in surprise, "M-me? Oh uhh...are you certain? I'm no warrior or blademaster..."
"Sometimes, I hear vague rumours about the magic of the far lands. You seem knowledgeable in that field. Your clothing, your aura... can you show me what you are capable of?"
Lui nodded. "I won't lie... I've studied in a few fields of magic. It's favored over melee combat in my realm. In fact it is a wonder to see such lands without magic. It would be very interesting to see your style of combat. And, if you truly wish to spar, then who am I to refuse an order of a king?"
Tigran nodded once, briskly. "Then, it is settled. A duel, one against one. Do you wish to duel here, or elsewhere in my palace?"
Lui scanned his surroundings, the glimmering statues and shining jewelled decorations. "The throne room seems a bit fragile. Do you care if we took the fight outside?" Tigran nodded once more, concurring, and beckoned Lui to follow him. The husky stepped forward gingerly, making sure not to do anything to upset the massive lord. His palace certainly was large and impressive. He saw bright stone walls with gold decor and many instances of the kingdom's seal throughout the rooms and halls. Tigran pushed open great oaken doors with just his brute force, leading his guest to a large outdoor courtyard.
"This shall be our arena. Take your place, Lui." The husky responded to the lord's command, hurrying to a corner of the courtyard, eyeing the large blade on the lion's back. He twirled his staff, steadying himself, readying for battle.
"Bring me all you've got..."
Lui's paw glowed with a red light, and with a thrust of his palm a swift ball of fire erupted from it, channeled by his staff. Tigran rapidly unsheathed his gigantic sword and thrust it into the ground in front of him, completely blocking the conflagration. Surprised at such a rapid block, Lui cast a spell to bring roots from the stone underneath, twisting their way around the blade in an attempt to trap it. But with his immense strength, Tigran freed the sword from its bounds and hacked away at the roots.
"You are skilled, Lui." The husky was in shock, taken aback.
"I-impossible! My roots should have kept that sword immobile! No one has ever been able to break those free."
"You underestimated my strength? Surely you should know the power I hold within me."
"I..I had heard only tales. I have never witnessed such strength before!"
"I promise you, even the strongest attack you can muster will be pitiful against me."
"Perhaps though... even that can be countered..." said the husky under his breath, scheming to overcome this titan.
"Just try", said Tigran with a mild laugh.
The devious druid raised his fist in the air, channeling an unknown power. Tigran suddenly felt odd, simultaneously feeling as if something had been taken from him and given to him. A fiery heat empowered his body... suddenly, the husky charged forward with his staff, grasping it as if it were a sword. Tigran swung his blade at the staff, wishing to cleave it... but the staff held strong, despite being made of a much weaker material. Taking advantage of Tigran's confusion, Lui kicked him in the abdomen, causing him to stumble back. The husky then made a leap upwards, staff in both hands, attempting to strike overhead.
"No... no!" Tigran thrust upwards, the intense fiery energy felt before manifesting as his sword burst into flames to augment the attack. The blade thrust through the robes and through the husky as well, abruptly ending his attack. The staff dropped from his hands as he slumped in defeat, barely clinging to consciousness.
Tigran mocked his fallen opponent. "Has the fire within melted your spirit? Hahaha..."
"Urgh... it was a risky spell... but I had attempted to counter your strength by borrowing it..." explained Lui. "...but in order to take a power of yours, I was forced to give you a power of mine...which was my fire"
"Well, you can't take something without paying the cost." Tigran smirked as Lui gripped the bloody wound in his stomach. A green glow shone from his hand as he attempted to heal the wound.
"Symbiosis..." Lui coughed. "As I had said...a risky move. To swap an ability with friend or foe. You claimed my attacks could be countered. So I had thought to take one of yours. Guess even that wasn't enough."
"I have boundless strength. You could never take it and make a difference." Lui coughed up a bit on the ground as Tigran boasted, blood dripping through his hand as he continued to heal himself.
"Hmm... I may call for one of the kingdom's medics... unless you are confident you can heal yourself." At this point, Lui couldn't help but start to smile.
"Then... the stories of your strength were true. I'm honored... my healing powers should be en...ough...." The gash sealed, but drained of strength, he collapsed to the ground, still wearing that smile. Tigran picked up the injured husky.
"I'm glad you are." The lord lifted the unconcious druid, taking him to the palace guestrooms. He looked like he'll make it, though it'd be a bit before his full recoverery. As he dropped the husky onto a bed, a lioness nurse approached Tigran, showing concern at the bloodied body.
"Is someone injured, m'lord? What has happened to him?"
"He dared to battle me. He was foolhardy."
"Goodness, foolhardy indeed! None can best you, m'lord! But what shall we do with him in the meantime, sir?"
"Let him rest. I have plans for him..." Tigran sat down, starting to contemplate, recalling the battle... thinking of the exhilaration Lui felt when commanding his fire.
"As you wish, m'lord. I'll bandage him up then" said the bowing nurse.
"No, there's no need. He can heal innately."
"I-if you say so, m'lord", said the nurse with a tinge of curiosity, bowing and departing. Tigran kept watching the husky heal in his slumber, thinking... what to do... what to do... Lui snoozed on the bed, breathing a bit raggedly, but the would looking better already. The green glow he held seemed to be healing his wounds slowly over time. Imprssive magic indeed. He would awaken some hours later, groaning and clutching his stomach.
"Urk... grah... yowch! Ugh...that doesn't feel good..nope not at all" said the stirring husky through gritted teeth.
"Ah, hello... And congratulations", greeted Tigran. Lui turned his head around stiffly to face him.
"H-huh? Congratulations? For wh-yowch...-for what?"
"Well... You may have been beaten but your magic impressed me so much. Of course, it was only when it was combined with my strength when it truly was strong."
"I'm... not sure if you're praising me or if that was mocking my magic."
"My friend... What would you say to an alliance between our kingdoms?"
"An alliance?" said Lui, taken aback, eyes wide. "You must be mistaken, lord. I'm no ambassador to my lands."
"Just think. You've felt it... you've seen what happens when might and magic combine."
"Yes, the amount of strength borrowed from you did surprise me. Perhaps an alliance would be beneficial, though forgive me if I seem wary. I've heard of the kingdoms that yours has conquered. Taken by force and war, I hear... though your presence and attitude seems to defy any idea of being a conqueror."
Tigran embraced the husky gently, causing him to go wide eyed again, letting out a surprised noise. "You liked having some of my strength within you, didn't you?"
"Y-yes, I'll admit. It felt empowering to have such power beyond magic..." Lui slumped again... it felt as if his will was slowly being drained from his body.
"How would you like this power instilled within you permanently?" questioned Tigran.
"Permanently...? How can that be done?" gasped Lui.
"Well... I'm not a warlord. You said so. I'm kind. I share. I don't steal."
"But your people seem devoid of magic How can power be shared? Physical strength like that is individual..."
"Individual, yes, but shared..." said Tigran, with an air of mystery.
"I'm not sure I follow, lord." Tigran stroked the confused husky's head, calming the mind as his black hair started to lengthen and pale.
"All the strength within the kingdom blossoms from me."
"As I said, and as you experienced, my strength is infinite and overflowing, and I feel compelled to share it throughout the kingdom."
"I...I'm not sure what to say... how can I get this power?" said Lui, starting to become more convinced to agree in this sharing.
"Just relax... It overflows so much, all that is needed is a royal touch..." At his command, Lui's body loosened. Tigran put a paw over his slackened jaws, the muzzle shortening a little as the lion motioned. "Be calm, friend."
"Yes... friend." Lui closed his glazed eyes, responding to the lord, his head swaying in his rest as his body's form started to shift, the fur's tone moving from grey to tan. With one hand, Tigran continued to pet the head, hair lengthening and flowing, Lui feeling the sensations... he... liked what he could feel. Simultaneously, Tigran released his other paw from Lui's shortened feline muzzle and rubbed at his robes, which flickered and wavered, the bloodied cloth changing, starting to shift to fit the morphing body. Something felt off to the being which was starting to look less and less like a husky. He raised his paws to try and feel his face. "Mmmuhh? What's happening?"
"Just relax. Everything will be fine."
Lui felt his cloak, the purple and grey cloth starting to dye as crimson as the blood. "Everything...will be fine?" said the changing beast in a wavering voice, its pitch increasing. "Uhhh... Something feels different..."
"No... I'm sure that things aren't different" said Tigran gently, relaxing the sleeping beast with soft paws.
"Are you sure...? Maybe you're right..." replied Lui, blinking with bleary eyes as his tail thinned and lengthened, shaking and snaking. A yawn emerged from the feline muzzle, sharper teeth being revealed in Lui's mouth. Parts of his clothing started to harden into glistening garnet plates. "Mmm... I'm starting to feel better..." muttered the changing being, tail flicking, it too changing colour.
"Yes, you've recovered so well." Lui grew more oblivious to his surroundings, relaxing once more. Gold detailing twisted around the cloak and boots, his new clothes starting to bear familiar crests. Tigran continued to caress the lying body, its form continuing to alter at Tigran's touch.
"Such close contact, m'lord..." said Lui weakly, the similarity between his current and former clothing diminishing little by little.
"Sorry, my lady", apologised Tigran politely. Huh? "My... lady"? Those words, those thoughts, echoed in Lui's mind. Why did that sound wrong... yet correct? Tigran stroked the body again, feminine breasts filling into his... her... cloak, which continued to become carmine. Lady... the changed creature shook the unusual question from her head. Of course "my lady" was correct. She blinked her reforming eyes as her formerly leather gauntlets hardened into tough, yet ornate, brass and gold. She could hear a voice... a voice that was becoming more familiar to her recovering mind...
"Zala, how do you feel?"
"I am recovering, Lord Tigran", replied the lioness, feeling the spot where she had been injured. As her vision refocused, she observed her attire... yes... this was definitely how it was when she passed out from injury...
"Good to know. We'll have you fighting fit in no time", said Tigran, nodding gently at what was formerly Lui, but was now a completely different female.
"I can only hope, sire. It pains me to be away from my duty", replied Zala, running a hand through her hair as she gathered her thoughts, finally recovering from that painful injury. Her lord handed her her staff. It was certainly not the staff that Lui used, but yet she welcomed it with familiarity. "Thank you m'lord", said Zala, observing the staff with a pleased look on her face, the sharp ruby at the end glowing.
"It senses your recovering strength", said Tigran sagely. Zala twirled it like she had in a former life that was growing more distant, yet her movements carried a passion known only to lion kind. Knowledge of stances and techniques passed down by feline weapon masters flooded her mind. The ruby glowed ever more brightly. "Do you feel up to some practice sessions to rehabilitate your skills?"
"Yes, sire. If I am to be fit for service to you I must be in top form. I do not wish to disappoint you again, my lord", replied Zala firmly, memories of that injury still fresh in her mind.
"You won't", chuckled Tigran, the lordly lion offering a paw to the lioness. Zala took it with grace and strength, standing to her feet. Her boots clacked against the stone floor, the sensation beneath the strong armoured feet feeling exhilarating. Her full armor made that noise too. Hearing it, she was immediately filled with a sense of honour, duty, and eagerness to battle. She looked to her king and got down on her knee.
"My life for the King!", proclaimed Zala to her lord, who smiled at her new subject. Only he knew that Zala's history was but a fabrication, and that she was completely unaware of that fact.
"Let's go and train, shall we?"
Zala stood tall and punched her chest armor, shouting "Yes Sir!" As the armour clanked and echoed, Zala filled with a desire to train and fight in the name of her king. Tigran beckoned and led the way to the armoury. Every feline they passed greeted Zala, happy to see her again, and so too was Zala pleased to see them, familiar with everyone she met, them just as familiar with her, as if she had been part of the kingdom since she was born. Yes... yes, she was, she had been always. Zala of house Firemane, part of a long line of soldiers serving the kings. Her talents with magic in an otherwise weapons-focused land got her noticed quickly. She and the other subjects of Tigran continued to exchange pleasant greetings, oblivious to the insertion of her history into that of the kingdom's, treating it like something that always had been... but it was true, it was all so true now...
Meanwhile, in the magic lands to the west, the name and identity of a traveling druid named Lui had faded. Instead, tales of the lion kingdom's grand reign echoed through the region. Tigran's power had not just altered the body and identity of the husky, but the history of the kingdom, and the state of affairs within and beyond.
"Zala, your gifts have been of great benefit to us, so we are very pleased you have reawakened", said Tigran, conversing as the duo made their way through the palace's halls.
"I thank you, Lord Tigran, for reawakening me. What would you have me do in your great name?", asked Zala, reacquainting herself with her king.
"We wish to continue to expand our kingdom's influence. Your gifts shall assist us now, as they have always done."
"As you wish, my lord. All shall bow to your grand presence. We will battle, or we shall fall with honor!"
"Although, your skills must be reconditioned and strengthened. Many times has the sun passed during your absence."
With the palm of a paw, Tigran pushed upon a tall wooden door, opening the way to the palace's armoury and training hall. Zala perused the aisles of weaponry and armour, the variety a testament to Tigran's empire. Tigran saw her smile at the sight of the armoury's contents.
"I trust your familiarity with the armoury has not been dented."
"As you said, m'lord, many suns have passed in my time away, yet this place looks and feels the same as ever."
"Of course, as much variety can be found here, nothing compares to your unique staff." Tigran viewed the ruby-tipped staff in Zala's paws, the lioness gripping it as she smiled at her king.
"No offense, m'lord, but magic is far and few between our people." She gestured towards a rack of daggers and swords. "These steel blades serve us well, but I am glad to have this staff."
"Your rare gift has been a boon since the day you joined our Kingdom."
Zala bowed. "Thank you, sir. I am pleased to be ready to serve once more. Where shall I begin?"
"Well... Why not remind us just what can be done with that staff?"
Zala paced towards a large clearing in the armoury, facing a burlap dummy. She channeled her powers in her staff, the ruby on top glowing brightly as a fiery aura surrounded her. With a few swings, fireballs erupted from the tip, several more from her free palm. Torching the target, she then spun the staff above her head, causing a pillar of flame to erupt from the ground underneath the target. With swift speed, she dashed for the target and swung her staff hard, knocking the burlap head of the target clean off. Tigran could only watch in awe, and congratulated Zala as she panted from exertion.
"Your power, strength and suppleness silence me as always."
Zala saluted. "You honor me, m'lord. I feel ready. It was a bit taxing on my body, but I can repeat this against our enemies."
"You still have much warming up to do. Stoke the flames burning within your body!"
"My flames shall burn and the power of nature shall heal our people! I will train again and again until I am needed, Lord Tigran..."
Tigran bowed. "The entire armoury and training hall are free for you to use, Zala."
"Thank you, sir, but if I may ask, the halls seem empty now. Where are our other warriors?", replied Zala, happy but a bit worried.
"Across the lands, they are fighting brave battles. Our Kingdom wishes to expand its reach," explained the lordly lion. "We have warriors, scouts, surveyors..."
"Such a noble cause. Much progress must have been made since I was downed. Is war upon us?"
"When war does come, a large Kingdom will be beneficial. For now, we will remain prepared and vigilant."
Zala smiled, knowing what would happen to kingdoms obtained by Tigran's realm. "I ache to battle once more, my lord. It has been too long." She gave a salute, knowing that challenging times awaited, and continued to explore the armoury. Meanwhile, Tigran watched, something nagging on his mind. He to recall Zala's past self and the far realm he came from, but the memories of that existence were starting to fade. Where was that place? How far? How prepared would they be? Soon all that remained were merely the mention of lands versed in magic. Whispers and rumors in the wind... to this day, none had visited from that land. All that was known was that Zala commanded magic, something so curious in this Kingdom, and yet she could easily combine it with the strength of the lion she was. She turned, looking curiously at her lord's perplexed face.
"Lord Tigran? Is there something on your mind?"
"No... Nothing. Just... contemplating the next chapter of our kingdom's expansion."
"Is there a target in mind?"
"Possibly. It is... probably going to take a long time to reach it. Its distance from us and the direction we must travel are unknown."
Zala tilted her head. "Hmmm? How do we know this kingdom even exists?"
"Seeing you in action for the first time in a while reminded me about your curious origins. Being the only magic user in our elite forces makes you a very special individual."
"I admit... my origins remain an unusual mystery to me as well. Do you believe there is a land filled with magic like mine?"
"It... is possible. Although for every minute that our scouts operate, the possibility diminishes." Tigran hung his head.
"I would be very curious to see a land where magic is used by all. Forgive me, but it's hard to explain magic to those with... thicker heads."
Tigran patted her back. "Zala, you remain unique. All in this Kingdom are born within our boundaries. Everyone inherits the strength of the lion, yet you alone combine it with magic. How does it feel to be unique? How do your comrades feel?"
Zala bowed her head. "I've seen and felt many things in my time... confusion, awe, jealousy, contempt... my powers have been a boon, but I fear that others are wary of what I am capable of."
"Do not worry. I believe in you. Combine magic with strength, and combine that combination with the force of your allies! Domination will be ours!"
"As you wish, m'lord!" Zala smiled, beaming with a look of determination, inspired by Tigran's words.
"Ah, we must return to training. Do you wish to have a spar with your lord?"
"You honour me, sire. I would gladly spar with the greatest warrior."
The two proceeded to a wide training hall. Tigran unsheathed his sword, and planted it to the floor. Zala took her spot in the room and tapped her staff to the ground, creating a glowing aura around her.
"Let us begin, sire!" Zala gripped her staff and twirled it, firing fireballs from the ruby tip. Tigran swung his giant sword deftly, deflecting the fireballs back at their sender. Thrusting the staff upwards, his opponent threw up a magic barrier, absorbing most of the blast. With quick movements she dashed to a vantage point, illuminated by the sunlight shining through a skylight in the roof. Empowered by the sun, she intensified that sunbeam and sent the solar scorcher shooting at Tigran, who jumped backwards from the massive beam burning down from above.
"I'm sorry. I forget sometimes the extent of your powers."
"I can always hold back my power if you wish, m'lord" replied the lioness with a smirk.
"Never! I wouldn't want you to hold back in a real battle!"
"If you wish..." Zala raised her hand again, as thick roots wrapped around Tigran's boots, the lioness attempting to immobilize him.
"Very good. Weaker foes can never escape a grip that firm", panted Tigran, struggling against the roots, using all his strength to break through their grasp.
"And those who do will find it's too late", said Zala through a grin, readying another firey beam from the sky. But Tigran's eye caught her movements, and the king was able to back away from the beam's strike, avoiding the incandescent attack.
"Ha! You'll have to work harder to outwit me, Zala."
"You'll also have to work harder if you ever wish to approach me to strike with your sword", mocked the warrior.
"Who said I need to strike you with a sword?" Tigran stomped the ground, causing the whole chamber to shake. Zala's laughter came to a halt as she lost her balance, struggling from the shaking, slamming her staff into the ground to regain balance from the quake that had caused a few weapons to fall from their racks and roll into the hall.
"I forgot you held such power!" cried Zala.
"Never underestimate anyone, not at least me!" shouted Tigran, picking up a crossbow and full quiver. Zala responded by taking a few daggers, a sword, and small buckler.
"I did not take you for an archer, sire."
"As I said, it'd be foolish to underestimate your lord."
"How are you with these?" Zala backflipped and tossed the daggers with perfect aim, Tigran catching them by the hilt with one of his great paws.
"I admit, it is a bit unwieldly to hold such small weapons in my big hands. How are you with crossbows?" Tigran threw Zala the bow and bolts, the lioness catching them and holstering the quiver on her back. She was far too used to the near weightless properties of magic fire and nature's power, and the weight of the crossbow and quiver was awkward. Nonetheless, she readied the bow, recalling her training.
"Focus, and make your move!", commanded Tigran. Zala leaped back and took aim for the chest, letting loose the bolt. It travelled 2 metres before it hit the floor, not even close to making contact with Tigran's armour.
"Pitiful", mocked Tigran, tossing the daggers with great force as Zala fired another bolt in a high arc, with a lot more speed. Watching the arc, Tigran spun out of harm's way, and tumbled to the floor, shaking Zala's footing.
"Oh no...", panicked Zala. "Are you alright, m'lord?"
"Just dizzied.. this is why we never fight alone." Tigran rubbed his head, and picked himself up. "Why don't we call it a day?"
"As you wish, sir." She stowed her staff, and started racking up the scattered weapons. "Thank you for the opportunity to spar."
"You're welcome, and thank you too", said Tigran, sheathing his blade. Once all was arranged as it were, the two felines departed to the palace grounds to take in the sunset. Tigran returned to boasting of his ambitions.
"All the kingdoms of the world under one banner... it's such a wonderful dream. I would follow you to the ends of the earth and back to make it come true, my lord. We all would." Zala smiled at the thought of her perfect king ruling every kingdom... the perfect empire. Tigran lead his warrior back indoors, as guards and servants continued to salute them.
"Do you want to rest? Or eat dinner? We can prepare a special feast to honour your return", asked Tigran.
"After my first training in a while, I would rather rest", replied Zala. Tigran concurred, and decided to rest too. They ascended a staircase, all the way to the highest floors of the palace. Tigran headed to his grand bedroom at the pinnacle of the palace, as the lioness entered her own, one floor below. That floor was home to the elites. When the sun rose, thar floor was a bit smaller, but no one could recall any changes in size, or any new bedrooms just appearing. It was as if Zala's room has always been there... and in this rewritten history, it had. She disrobed and gathered her night clothes from her large armoire. Looking out from her window as she changed, she saw the sprawling city below her. The homes of all those she had sworn to protect. She smiled to herself as she sat at that window, gazing for some time at her home, as Tigran did the same from his window. What a beautiful city, what a beautiful empire. Oh how they shall grow... how good it would be to have all the world under his control. The king of the empire removed his armour, changed into his bedrooms, and rested in his grand bed. For the exhausted duo, sleep came quickly.