Chapter 4 – Unwelcome Revelations
“How many more ways do you want me to tell the same
story?” Royce growled in anger.
“Please calm yourself, Mr. Herrick.” Said the fox
standing over him. “Losing your temper will not help the situation.”
“He’s right, Royce.” Said Boswell, placing a
reassuring hand on the tiger’s shoulder.
The three of them were in Boswell’s office. Royce had
immediately sought help after discovering Lily’s bloodied corpse in his
changing room, alerting the arena staff and Boswell. It hadn’t been long
before someone had been sent to fetch the City Watch, who handled all policing
matters throughout Pyre.
While the Watch dealt with the corpse, their captain, a fox
named Ryan, had taken Royce to Boswell’s office, in order to question him
about the body, Boswell joining Royce for moral support. The tiger hadn’t even
had time to change or clean himself up. He was still wearing his pit-fighter
outfit, a loincloth and metal studded wrist and ankle bands, and was still a
mess, fur matted with sweat and blood and grime.
The tiger was currently slouched in a chair while Boswell
stood behind him and the fox paced slowly back and forth. Ryan was tall and
slim, dressed in the dark green uniform of the Watch, with the gold rank
insignia adorning his shoulders.
“There’s only so many ways I can say the same thing.”
Royce said, reigning in his anger. “I left my changing room early and locked
it. After I trained some I went to my fights. After that I returned, unlocked my
room, and found Lily.”
“And you knew the victim beforehand?” Captain Ryan
“Yes.” Sadness crept into the tiger’s voice. “We
met last night at the Dragon’s Skull Inn. We hit it off and she spent the
night with me. We… had fun.”
“Yet you can’t say how things were left between you.”
“She ran out of my place before I could say goodbye to
her.” Royce explained. Again. “I don’t know why. After that, I didn’t
see her again until… until I found her.”
Throughout this, the fox captain had been scribbling down
notes on a worn pad with an old half-chewed pencil. He was apparently finished
now, slipping them both into a pocket of his uniform.
“Well, that should be all I need for now.” Said Ryan.
“I’ll be assigning a few officers to keep an eye on you until this matter is
resolved one way or another. And don’t even try leaving Pyre…”
There was a knock on the door and a moment later, one of
the Watch officers stepped in, a stocky panther in a uniform. “Sir, can I have
a quick word?”
A frown passed across the captain’s face. He approached
the panther and the two of them shared a quick whispered conversation. The
captain then glanced back at Royce and Boswell.
“Mr. Kincaid, can you come with me for a moment?” He
said. “Mr. Herrick, I’ll have to ask you to wait here for now.”
Boswell departed with Captain Ryan, leaving the panther
officer, who took up a position by the door.
“What’s happening?” Royce wanted to know.
“It’s not my place to say, sir.” Said the panther.
“Captain Ryan will be back shortly.”
Royce let it go. He knew that he was the main suspect in
this case. He suspected he was going to have to put up with being watched and
under suspicion until Ryan found whoever had killed Lily.
His thoughts drifted to Lily. He had really enjoyed their
time together and had hoped he’d get the chance to see her again. But not like
Royce was too tired and stressed out to even start thinking
properly about the how or why of what had happened to the tigress. How had Lily
got into his room when he’d left it locked and found it locked? Why would
anyone want to murder such a sweet and beautiful tigress?
He still could scarcely believe that Lily was actually
dead, that it had been her body he’d discovered.
The door opened and Captain Ryan entered. Boswell was not
with him, but he was not alone. Two officers, a lion and a black-furred wolf
accompanied him. They were armed, their swords drawn.
The fox captain turned to the stocky panther. “Go bring
the wagon around to the side entrance. We’ll be coming out shortly.” As the
panther left, Captain Ryan and his guards approached Royce. The tiger stood,
“What’s going on?” He demanded.
“Royce Herrick, I am hereby placing you under arrest for
murder.” Captain Ryan said, in a serious tone. “Please do not resist or we
will have to use force.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Royce
“We found the murder weapon.” Ryan told him. “A
custom-made long bladed knife that Mr. Kincaid, and several others, have
identified as belonging to you. It was apparently a gift from Mr. Kincaid last
He knew the knife the fox was talking about. He was sure
he’d left it at home, in his bedroom…
“Additionally,” Ryan went on, “there is the fact that
only you and Mr. Kincaid have keys to your changing room. And a companion of the
victim was found outside. She has told us that Lily confided in her that you
raped her last night.”
“What?” That was a real shock to Royce.
“According to this friend of the victim.” Ryan said,
“Lily said you were very vicious and cruel, claiming that the Watch would
never believe her over someone with your fame if she tried to tell. Lily also
told her friend some other details. Lily claimed that you threatened her, that
you’d hurt her if she didn’t come here to the arena tonight. Apparently, you
told Lily to wait at the side entrance until you arrived and then approach
shortly after you entered.”
Royce couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This was
“Lily’s friend accompanied her here.” Ryan was still
explaining. “To back her up in case something should happen. Together, they
saw you arrive and Lily’s friend saw her go inside. She waited, and when the
Watch turned up, came forward to tell what she knew.”
The muscular tiger was dumbstruck.
“All the evidence points to you, Mr. Herrick.” Said the
captain. “Now come along quietly.” He motioned for the two armed guards to
A combination of exhaustion and stress kicked in for Royce
and his temper snapped. “No!” The tiger snarled. He punched one of the
guards in anger, knocking him back.
Captain Ryan and the other guard jumped on him. Royce’s
fatigue worked against him and he wasn’t able to put up much of a fight.
Together, Ryan and the guards threw Royce against
Boswell’s desk, face down, pulling the tiger’s muscular arms up behind him.
“Get those manacles on him!” Ryan commanded.
Royce felt the cold metal as they tried to lock a pair of
thick steel cuffs around his wrists, keeping his arms behind his back. He
savagely attempted to struggle, throwing his last vestiges of strength into it,
but the Watch officers held him down, Ryan and the lion each grabbed an arm and
shoulder while the black wolf worked on the restraints.
“Stop resisting, Herrick!” Ryan growled, fighting to
keep Royce from breaking free before the manacles were on and locked.
“You’re only making things worse for yourself!”
A few seconds of struggling followed, the officers
wrestling to keep Royce under control. Then there was a click as the locks
clicked closed. But Royce didn’t stop fighting.
“Hold him!” Ryan barked.
The Watch officers threw themselves on top of the tiger,
pinning him to the desk and knocking the breath from him. Royce finally stopped
his struggles as he gasped to get his breath back.
“Guess we have to add ‘resisting arrest’ to the
charges.” Said the lion.
“Yeah.” Said Captain Ryan. “I thought you’d be
smarter than this, Mr. Herrick.”
“Hey, what’s that?” Said the black wolf. During the
struggle, he had thrown himself onto Royce’s back and had now noticed
something. “Just under the fur there. That’s a strange looking scar…”
The lion officer was holding the brawny tiger’s left
side. “Oh yeah…” Royce felt fingers examining his left shoulder blade.
The tiger’s blood suddenly ran cold. No!
“It’s a slave brand!” The lion said in shock.
Royce closed his eyes in despair. His secret was out…
He was bodily pulled from the desk and thrown backwards,
landing on his back, painfully trapping his hands beneath him.
Ryan and his guards were looking down on him in disgust.
“I’d never have believed it.” The fox captain muttered. “The great Royce
Herrick is a slave. This just got so much more complicated.” He spat on the
tiger before looking to the guards. “Get him out of here. We’ll deal with
him properly at the Watch house.”
Captain Ryan departed, leaving Royce in the care of the
guards. The black wolf immediately kicked him in the ribs.
“Damn fucking slave!” He growled. He turned to his lion
companion. “I don’t know how I’m going to my cubs about this. You know how
Max and Girard idolise him.”
The lion guard gave his comrade a sympathetic look. “You
know cubs. They’ll find someone else to idolise soon enough.”
“Look, I…” Royce tried to say something. He had been
struggling to get up, and had managed to get to his knees.
“You speak when you’ve got permission, slave!” The
wolf snarled. He kicked Royce in the chest, knocking the tiger down again.
“I think this worthless slab of meat has been posing as a
proper fur for so long,” the lion officer offered, “he’s forgotten how
he’s supposed to behave.”
“He’ll soon remember, even if we have to beat it into
him!” The wolf grinned, maliciously. “On your feet, slave! It’s time to
Royce was quickly pulled to his feet. His whole body was
aching horribly. Between his fights earlier and this rough treatment, he was not
in good shape.
The guards got him moving toward the door. At the last
moment, the wolf pulled him aside and slammed him face first into the wall
beside the door.
“Do you like that, slave?” The wolf growled at him.
“Screw you!” Royce spat back, defiantly.
The wolf guard slammed his head against the wall again.
“Wrong answer, scum! Do you like that?”
Exhausted and in pain, Royce thought it best that he went
along with things for now. “Yes.”
“You address your betters with respect, slave!” Royce
was thrown against the wall again. “Now, do you like that?”
The heavily built tiger sighed. “Yes, sir.”
“That’s better.” The wolf snarled. “The quicker you
remember that you’re just a slave, ‘Royce’, the better things will be for
“Come on,” said the lion, “the captain will be
waiting for us.”
The officers got him moving, roughly manoeuvring the
chained tiger out the door. They dragged and pushed Royce down through the
arena, past staff and slaves staring at them. He could make out snatches of
their whispered conversations as they passed.
“…just a slave…”
“…I never suspected…”
“…posing as a real fur…”
“…hope they hang the damn thing…”
Royce sighed. It was over. The arena staff knew. The rest
of the city wouldn’t be far behind. Everyone would know that the famed Royce
Herrick was only a slave. The life he’d worked so hard for was gone now,
crumbling before him. A part of him wanted to fall to his knees and grieve for
what he’d now lost.
But he couldn’t. His guards were pushing him onwards,
through to the side entrance of the arena and out. A crowd of curious onlookers
had gathered at the commotion. All were watching in shock and surprise as the
shackled Royce stepped out and was quickly forced into the back of the waiting
Sitting in the wagon as it trundled away from the arena,
Royce’s thoughts turned to the future, to what would become of him. He was a
slave who had been posing as a free fur and had apparently committed rape and
murder. There was only one fate waiting for someone like him. It would be
Royce sat there in the wagon, sadly wondering how everything had fallen apart so quickly.
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“What’s the word?” Tobias asked, sitting in the shade
the alleyway provided. The aging grey wolf had been waiting. From where he sat,
he could see the side entrance of the Stone Walls arena and the crowds of
onlookers gathered there.
“Not good, sir.” Said Armin. The young leopard had just
returned from finding out what was going on and crouched down beside Tobias.
“Best give me the bad news then.” Tobias sighed.
“I managed to get close enough to overhear some of the
Watch talking.” Armin explained. “Herrick has been arrested for rape and
murder. Also, it seems they discovered his slave brand.”
“Damn.” Tobias grumbled. “Rape and murder is bad
enough, but at least we’d have had time until a trial to try and do something.
But a slave won’t get a trial. All they’ve got to do is get a judge to pass
sentence and it’ll be over. Who’s the victim?”
“The tigress he spent last night with, Lily.” The young
leopard replied. “According to the officers at the arena, he raped her last
night and threatened to kill her unless she came here tonight.”
The old wolf frowned. “That’s wrong. We’ve been
observing Herrick for days. We saw the tigress leave his place happy and
smiling. We even saw her stealing that long knife from his home.”
“I know, sir.” Armin nodded.
“So we know he isn’t guilty.” Tobias mused. “But we
can’t really come forward and say we’ve been watching him. And I doubt
it’d make a difference anyway, now his slave origins are known. I know one
thing. There is far more going on here than we know.”
“What makes you say that, sir?” Armin asked.
“Instinct, young cub.” The wolf answered. “I’ve
been doing these things since the beginning of the Brotherhood. Believe me, you
develop an instinct for it. Plus, there are all the facts.”
The leopard frowned. “What do you mean, sir?”
“We know Herrick is innocent.” Tobias explained.
“Which means someone else murdered that tigress, and framed Herrick in the
process. Which in turn suggests that someone has it in for him.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that someone like that has
enemies.” Armin muttered.
The old grey wolf shot his companion a disapproving look
before continuing. “And there is Herrick’s file that we were given when we
were assigned this job. It was worryingly incomplete.”
Armin looked a little shocked. “How so?”
“Think about it, cub.” Tobias said. “The Brotherhood
is very careful about who it recruits, we always gather as much information on
them as possible. And one thing about the Brotherhood is that our intelligence
agents are very good. So how is it that there’s a five year gap in his file,
between him being sold by the merchant Calhoun Nomack and him turning up here in
Pyre as a pit-fighter? It doesn’t even say who Nomack sold him to.”
Armin was confused. He had no idea what to say.
“I see two possibilities.” Tobias concluded. “Either
our intelligence agents became suddenly inept at their job’s when they
investigated Herrick, or we were deliberately given an incomplete file, and
central doesn’t want us knowing what happened to Herrick during those five
“You believe central is suppressing the information?”
Armin said. “Why would they do that?”
“They may very well have their reasons.” Tobias
shrugged. “But if they are suppressing information, then it does not bode
well. If Acheron were still around, he would have been horrified by such a
“Suffice to say,” Said Tobias, “there is a lot about
matters regarding Royce Herrick that we are not aware of.”
Armin accepted his wisdom on the matter. “But what do we
do now, sir?”
“You read the message from central.” Said Tobias.
“For whatever reasons they may have, they are insistent that Herrick be
recruited. So that is what we will do. But the slow tactics we’ve been
employing so far are out of the question now. We’re going to have to break
Herrick out of jail in order to recruit him. And we’re going to have to pull
it off before he is executed.”
He shot his leopard companion a weak smile. “I always did
like a challenge. Come on, let’s go.”
The wolf jogged off along the alleyway, Armin following.
The young leopard really wasn’t sure Royce Herrick was
worth all the trouble they were going to. When he looked at the big tiger, he
saw an arrogant, muscle-bound, selfish fool.
But Central wanted him recruited for some reason, so maybe
there was something more to Herrick.
More importantly to Armin, Tobias saw something more than
he did when he looked at that tiger. The old wolf had been like a father to him
ever since they had first met, and Armin respected him more than anyone else in
the world. If Tobias believed there was something more to Herrick, then Armin
would do his best to see it too.
He was just wondering if he’d be able to manage it before
Herrick wound up dead.
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Royce’s cell was small and uncomfortably warm.
Outside, the sun had just started rising and already had
warmed the stones that made up the cells enough to make things unpleasant. Royce
suspected that as the day wore on, the cells would become hotter, making things
gradually more torturous for any prisoners. He also suspected that was the
The big tiger had been roughly shoved into the cell after
arriving at the Watch house. His hands were still manacled behind his back, but
now they had been attached by a short chain to a heavy iron ring set into the
back wall of the cell. The set up severely restricted his movement.
The guards had beaten him a few more times, forcing him to
bow to them and call them all ‘sir’ like a slave should. The whole
experience brought back too many memories of his early life spent in servitude.
Now he was sat with his back to the wall in his cell,
staring at the steel bars before him, wondering what he could possibly do now.
He knew he hadn’t killed Lily. That meant someone else
had. And whoever that someone was had most likely framed him for it.
But it was hopeless. Even if he could somehow miraculously
prove his innocence, his secret was out. Everyone knew he was a slave. A slave
was a slave for life, essentially a piece of property, that was the law. And he
had broken that law by running around posing as a free fur.
The penalty for that alone would be death.
He sagged against his restraints. His life was over, plain
and simple. There was nothing he could do. In a way, it would be welcome. The
disgust he felt at being forced into bowing and being respectful to the officers
was a sign of how much he didn’t want to go back to a life of slavery. At
least death would put an end to things.
Royce looked up to find someone standing at the bars of his
cell. It was the old grey wolf who had been bothering him. Tobias.
“What do you want?” He sneered.
“Look, Royce,” Said Tobias, seriously, “I’d really
like to stand here and bandy words with you, but as you may have noticed, your
situation has become deadly serious and you don’t have much time. Suffice to
say, Armin and I are going to do what we can to help.”
Royce almost laughed. “Help? What can you and that
leopard of yours possibly do? And how did you get in here? I thought I wasn’t
“You’re not.” The wolf nodded. “But you’d be
surprised what I am capable of. Right now I have a document identifying me as a
highly esteemed and high-ranking Watch colonel from the city of Solace. When
you’ve got something like that, and some acting skills, getting in to see a
supposedly off-limits prisoner is no trouble.”
“And you just happened to have falsified
identification?” Royce was suspicious.
“Actually yes.” Tobias said. “In my line of work, it
always helps to have a way to get around local law enforcement.”
“Your line of work?” Said Royce. “You mean bothering
furs who are currently awaiting execution?”
“I’m going to level with you, Mr. Herrick.” Said
Tobias. “Because you are short on time. My companion and I are members of the
Brotherhood. You won’t have heard of us. We’re a secret organisation that is
dedicated to improving the world, whether the world wants to improve or not. And
we are here in Pyre because we have been assigned to recruit you to our
Royce burst out with a brief laugh. “Well, I must thank
you, for giving this doomed fur a moment of hilarity with such a ridiculous
“It’s not a story.” The wolf said. “I wish I had
time to explain the Brotherhood in greater detail, but I don’t. Even with my
identification, I was only allowed a short time to speak to you. But believe me,
the Brotherhood is real. We have resources. And we will be doing what we can to
get you out of this. There is still hope. Don’t forget that. But I have to go,
my time is up. Remember! There is hope!”
Royce watched him go.
The restrained tiger was left alone once again. He had no
idea what had just happened. This story of the wolf, about this
‘Brotherhood’, it was a ridiculous notion.
But Tobias had managed to get in here. The sort of
falsified documents that would require would not be easy to get. But that
didn’t really prove anything.
He was having trouble thinking straight, extreme exhaustion
was catching up with him. He’d gone straight from his fights to this whole
mess without any rest whatsoever.
He glanced down at himself. He was a mess, bloodied from
his pit-fights and bruised from his beatings at the hands of the guards. He was
still dressed in only the loincloth of his pit-fighter outfit.
Royce settled back against the wall, trying to get as
comfortable as he could. He closed his eyes.
As he drifted off into sleep, the thought passed through
his mind that maybe he’d wake up and this would all turn out to have been some
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Royce looked up at the tall, powerful white tiger standing
over him. “No, sir. I am waiting for instructions.”
The white tiger frowned down at the kneeling slave. “Did
you finish your training exercises?”
“Yes, sir.” Royce nodded.
“Then what are doing kneeling here?” Royce’s master
wanted to know. “I told you that when you were done, the rest of the day is
yours, to do whatever you want.”
“But, sir,” Royce pleaded, “I am a slave. What I want
is irrelevant. I must wait for more instructions from you, sir.”
“I thought we’d got past this.” The white furred
tiger sighed. He sat himself down in front of Royce, cross-legged. “But
“How long have you been with me now?” The white tiger
“Three months, sir.”
“And do you remember what I told you when I first bought
Royce nodded. “You told me that I was not a slave. That
you were going to free me.”
The white tiger looked thoughtful. “And do you want to be
free? To be able to give up your life of servitude? And remember that you are
able to speak freely with me at all times.”
“No, sir.” Said Royce, sadly. He knew that wasn’t the
answer his master would have liked, but he also couldn’t lie to him.
“The skills of those slave traders.” Royce’s master
muttered unhappily. “Breeding slaves that don’t want freedom.”
“I’ve displeased you, master.” Royce bowed his head
in shame. “I’m sorry, sir.”
“No, you have nothing to apologise for.” The white
tiger was firm. “The fault lies with me for being so arrogant as to assume
setting you free would be easy, just a matter of buying you, telling you
you’re free, and setting you up with a few interests for you to work on beyond
He climbed to his feet, mumbling to himself. “You’d
think I’d have learned by now that arrogance never gets me anywhere.”
Once the white tiger was standing, he looked down at Royce.
“I realise now that this is going to be no easy task. And I think we’ll
begin with you dropping the ‘sir’ or ‘master’ every time you talk to
He crouched in front of Royce. “I want you to address me
by my name. Acheron.” He said. “It’s time to wake up and taste the
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Royce awoke to find himself being slapped across the face.
For a few moments, he had no idea what was going on or where he was. Then it all
came flooding back.
He was still in his cell. He was still chained and
manacled. While he’d slept, his prison had grown hotter; sweat was now
dripping from him.
There was a guard standing over him, a short doberman, the
shirt of his uniform hanging open to keep him cool. The cell door was open
“You’ve got a visitor, slave.” The guard sneered.
The chained tiger was still shaking off the last vestiges
of sleep, so this took a moment to sink in.
“I thought I wasn’t allowed visitors?” He said,
through a yawn.
Before he knew what was happening, Royce was slammed back
against the wall by the guard, his restrained arms pinned painfully between his
back and the warm stones of the wall.
“Is that any way for a slave to address a superior?”
The canine growled. He had a foot placed against the crouched tiger’s chest,
holding him down.
For a brief instant, Royce considered struggling, throwing
the guard off. But he knew it would be useless. He was still chained and, due to
not having had too long to sleep and rest, was still weak. Besides, the dog
would have back up. There would be more guards not too far away.
“No sir, of course not. I’m sorry, sir.” Royce said,
bowing his head in respect.
The guard stood back. “Just remember your place,
slave.” He spat. “And be respectful to your visitor. I hear otherwise, and
you’ll have me to beat some respect into you. Understand?”
Royce bowed his head again. “Yes, sir.”
The doberman wandered out, off to fetch his visitor. Royce
had no idea who it could be. And the guard hadn’t mentioned how he was able to
have a visitor.
He didn’t let it occupy his thoughts though. They were
already occupied with the dream he’d had. The memory. He wondered what his
erstwhile mentor would have to say if he could see Royce now.
In a way this was all Acheron’s fault. Royce could have
lived his whole life as a simple slave, content and happy, never once even
bothered by even the concept of ‘freedom’, if that white tiger had decided
to free him.
Royce quickly discarded that thought, putting it down to
the frustration of this whole situation. He knew full well that it was down to
Acheron that he’d been freed from the notion that he was just a slave an
nothing more, which, thanks to the way the slave breeders had trained him, he
had believed for most of his life. He owed Acheron everything…
“Let me know when you’re done.” The voice of the
doberman guard drew his attention.
Then there were footsteps approaching his open cell. But
there was something strange about the sound. As if whoever it was were
A moment later, Royce’s visitor entered the cell.
“Killian.” Royce growled, recognising him.
The lion limped a few steps closer, half-dragging his
twisted left leg. He was grinning broadly as he looked down at the big chained
“Yes, it’s me.” Killian smiled. “I just couldn’t
resist the opportunity to see you like this, Herrick.”
“How are you able to get in here?” Royce demanded.
The crippled lion frowned. “I’d watch your tone if I
were you. A bad report from me and you get a beating from the guards.”
“They’ll beat me anyway over something.” Royce
snarled. “They’ll invent a reason.”
Killian laughed. “That’s true. Just a shame I won’t
be able to watch.”
Royce unleashed a simple growl from the back of his throat.
“Anyway,” Killian went on. “To answer your question,
it’s possible to see any prisoner, provided you know who to bribe, and how
“So you thought you’d just drop by and gloat?” The
imprisoned tiger spat.
“As I said, I couldn’t resist.” Killian smiled. “I
mean, you’re nothing but a simple slave. You may have crippled me, but I’m
still better than you. Because I am a fur, and you are just a lowly slave who
got delusions of grandeur. You have no idea how happy it made me when I found
out that you were just a slave. I was barely able to keep it a secret.”
“No point in keeping it a secret.” Royce snarled.
“Everyone knows now.”
“They know now, yes.” Killian said. “But they
didn’t a few weeks ago when I found out.”
That took Royce by surprise. He knew weeks ago? But why…
“Why didn’t I say anything?” Said Killian, voicing
Royce’s next question for him. “Simple. I was getting paid a lot of money to
keep quiet about it. And I was assured it would come out when the time was
right. Of course, it was meant to be by an anonymous tip off after your arrest.
The Watch discovering it on their own was simply a happy accident.”
“What are you talking about?” Royce wanted to know.
“What do take me for, you misbegotten slave?” Said
Killian, offended. “Some badly written character in some story for cubs? You
think I’m suddenly going to blurt out everything that’s been going on right
under your nose? Think again. If thinking is something that you are even capable
Royce was incredibly confused. He’d come to think of
Killian as annoying, but harmless. He had no idea what the crippled lion was
trying to get at here.
As the tiger was thinking, Killian pulled a transparent
container of water from his belt. “It really is hot in here, isn’t it?” he
said, pulling out the cork and sipping from it. “Even with just the loincloth,
you must be very hot and thirsty.”
Although there was no way Royce was going to admit it,
Killian was right. His throat was really dry, and watching the lion take a nice
cool drink didn’t help matters.
“Tell you what.” Killian said, his tone suddenly
pleasant. “I’ll let you have a sip of this. Provided, of course, that you
get down on the floor and beg for it like a proper slave should.”
Royce stared fiercely at the lion, giving him a dark look.
“I’d rather die than beg you for anything.” He said, meaning every word.
Killian merely smiled and took one last sip before
returning the flask to his belt. “Tell me, was Lily any good in bed?”
“What?” Royce growled.
“Well, you fucked her.” Killian said. “I was just
wondering if it would have been worth my money doing the same before I sent her
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Royce demanded.
“Of course.” The lion sighed. “You didn’t know Lily
was a prostitute I found and paid to sleep with you. And to steal a weapon
belonging to you.”
The chained tiger felt like he’d been slapped in the
face. She had been a prostitute? She had been paid by Killian…
“You did this!” Royce snarled as he realised. “You
framed me! You killed Lily!”
“So you finally figured out what’s right in
front of your face.” Killian mocked. “Aren’t you quick?”
“You did all this for revenge on me?” Royce said.
“Hey, this wasn’t my plan.” Killian said, innocently.
“I just got involved to pull it off when I was offered a large amount of money
to do so. Talk about a dream job! Wreck your life and get paid for it…”
“Whose plan is this then?” Royce wanted to know.
“Who’s done this to me?”
“You’ll find out.” Killian grinned. “You see, you
think you’re going to die, but my employer has other plans, and the money and
influence to carry them out. He is far from finished with you, slave.”
At that moment, all Royce wanted to do was rip the grinning
lion’s head from his shoulders.
“You didn’t answer my question.” Killian went on.
“Was Lily good? I considered fucking her there in your changing room before I
killed her, but that would have taken time. She thought she was there to help
discredit you. You should have seen the look on her face when I plunged that
knife into her…”
“And how did you get into my changing room?” Royce
still had no idea how the crippled lion had managed that.
Killian laughed out loud. “You know, for some reason, I
had expected you to have at least figured that much out. Don’t know why I
expected a pathetic piece of slave crap like you to have any brains in your
head. Think about it, there only exists two keys to your room at the arena, one
in your possession, the other…”
“No…” The realisation crashed down on Royce.
“Oh, yes.” Killian smiled. “Boswell let me in. He
“He wouldn’t!” Royce snarled in defiance, refusing to
“Can you be so sure?” The lion said, firmly. “You
know how dangerously in debt his son is. Can you honestly believe that when
given the choice between his son and his friend, he’d choose you?”
Royce didn’t reply. He knew the answer.
“My employer stepped in,” Killian added, “and offered
to buy a share of the Stone Walls arena from Boswell for a very inflated price,
giving him the money he needed to save his son. In return, all he had to do was
betray his good friend.”
That was enough for Royce. He let out a primal growl as he
unleashed his temper. He threw himself forward at the lion. But he reached the
end of his restraints with a healthy distance still between him and Killian. He
pulled on his manacles with as much strength as he could muster, but to no
“I must be going.” Killian said, smiling at Royce’s
futile efforts to attack him. “I have a new job to get to. You see, my
employer now owns a controlling interest in the Stone Walls Arena, and he has
appointed me as the new manager. You won’t be seeing me again, so before I
The lion stepped forward and, with his one good arm,
punched the snarling tiger across the face. Royce stumbled back a little, blood
streaming from his nose.
“Now that was satisfying!” Killian chuckled.
Royce wanted to attack him, wanted to break free and rip
into Killian like there was no tomorrow.
But there was quite simply nothing he could do. Killian and
whoever he was working for had accomplished their goals. His life, the one
he’d put so much effort into, was gone. He would forever be remembered not as
a great pit-fighter, but as a fraud, as a slave who had posed as a free fur and
had committed rape and murder.
He sagged back, the rage and anger draining away, replaced
by despair and depression.
And worse of all was Boswell. He had been betrayed by
Boswell. His closest friend had sold him out. Yes, it had been to save his son,
but it was still betrayal. There must have been something else Boswell could
have done, there must have been.
But he’d chosen betrayal…
And now his life was over. All that lay ahead of him was
either execution or whatever Killian’s mysterious employer might have in store
for him. His whole life was a mess and a failure and his fate was now in the
hands of others.
Killian stood there for a moment watching the tiger sink
into his depression. Then he strolled to the cell door and called out.
A moment later, the doberman guard reappeared. “Yes?”
“I’m done here, now.” Killian told him. “But this
slave hasn’t been showing me any respect at all.” He pulled some gold coins
from his pocket and handed them to the guard. “Teach him some respect and
obedience, won’t you?”
“My pleasure.” The canine pocketed the coins and
cracked his knuckles.
Killian stayed for a moment to watch as the guard went to
work, beating Royce to the floor and kicking him several times in the ribs. He
took special notice of how the tiger was not resisting in the slightest, sadness
and despair written across the tiger’s features.
“Come on!” The doberman was saying. “What are you?”
“A slave, sir.” Royce replied, meekly, accepting the
“Finally getting that through your skull, are you?” The
guard kicked him again.
Killian smiled and left the guard to it, making his way
Outside waiting for him was an extravagant lizard-drawn
coach. The lion climbed inside.
“Well?” Asked the fur who had been sitting there
waiting for him. “How is he?”
“Physically, he’s a mess.” Killian answered.
“Especially with the treatment he’s getting from the guards.”
“And what of his mental state?”
“I played it just like you wanted me to.” Killian
explained. “I told him everything, letting it come out a piece at a time, even
his friend’s betrayal. It hit him hard, to say the least. He was sinking into
despair as I left.”
“Excellent.” The fur sitting opposite grinned. “Just
as I want him. I’ll have to wait until his sentencing before the next stage of
my plan is put into effect. But it doesn’t matter. I have business to attend
He reached up and banged on the roof of the coach.
“Driver!” He called. “Stone Walls Arena!”
There was a slight shake, as the coach got moving.
“Time to check on my investment.” He smiled. “And to
put that pathetic bear Boswell Kincaid in his place.”
The fur opposite Killian sat back. “Everything is going
just as I want it to…”
To Be Continued…
Read Chapter 5...
Raging Tiger/Kuman the Barbarian/Mitchell and Michael/Going Under/Beware the Transformer/Servus Inc./Farewell to Free Will
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