Chapter 1

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3 years later...

Twisting and twirling, leaping and lunging, with the occasional roar, the tiger put on a fearsome show. A show hindered by the staged act, so it appeared tame. The feral roars could not disguise the handler directing the tame kitty cat. Fire enhanced the act, adding to the drama. Would the tiger jump? Or would fire, an instinctual fear, scare it off? Would instinct make the tiger turn on its tamer? The audience could not help but wonder. Never giving them a moment to rest, the tiger had no hesitation. Flames are no problem for this tiger. An unnatural hunger for the fire seemed present in its eyes. A metal  collar glinted in the firelight, proof of nature being overwhelmed by man, tamed by man. Both fire and tiger under man's control. With a final, bone rattling roar the tiger was finished.

"That's all for now folks! Come again next time!" The Ringmaster bellowed, as tamer and tiger retreated to the safety of the camp.  This circus was the apple of the Ringmaster's eye, his money making baby. So much revenue came in from the tiger act alone, so many customers paying to purely watch the tiger work. Felis Fuego was a dynamite act. One that, truthfully, required little work to perform. Two tigers, taking it in turns to work. For some reason, the intelligent tigers had no fear of the flames, the crowd, or the tamer. They appeared to be fearless. This spread to the crowd, creating a suspence. What, just what, will they dare to do next? Is there any limit at all for the tigers? Ringmaster could also acknowledge that it was the tigers intelligence, and not the Tamer's skill, that made the act so amazing. They were just a beauty to teach. By this, I mean they required no teaching at all. The Tamer was purely there for the audience. To reassure, and to give an illusion of control. For in reality, the show was dictated by the tigers themselves. The Tamer had to follow hints as to what would happen, so as to trick the audience into thinking they acted on his command.

Despite their success, and their skill, they had a downside. The Ringmaster could not stand their fatal flaw. A lack of commitment, a lack of control, that is the fatal flaw for this pair. They needed no food, no enclosure, no transport. Somehow they vanished from their enclosure after each act, only to return to it just in time for the next act. Despite many attempts, no way had been found to keep them secure or to discover how they managed to escape with ease. The main myth was that they were really ghosts, and slipped into another realm when not needed. While it may seem unreasonable to believe this, it had been well thought out. The lack of tracks, the lack of scent, and most of all, no human could remember ever touching one of the tigers. Not even the Tamer. Everything about them remained a mystery to all involved, including how they came across the circus, and how they came to possess metal collars. The mystery of the tigers remains a closely guarded secret, somehow never reaching the public.

Once again, as soon as the tiger was escorted to the cage, she melted into shadows. No trace remaining to lock into the enclosure. Gone on the wind, as silent as the grave.

Slipping quietly from the tent, Flame did what she did best. She vanished with her brother. Each and every day, the same old routine. Perform as tigers, and vanish, only to later return as humans. We, meaning myself Flame and my brother, constantly live in fear. We fear that our dual lives will be discovered. For many years this farce has continued, but it slowly grows old. Every time the fear only grows greater, not weaker, making me long for a new life. One with our people, wherever they may be. If they would even accept us into their lives.

The dragons that saved our lives all those years ago were not very forthcoming with information, you see. if anything, they were hostile. We learnt that they had been hiding onboard, serving their own agenda. By saving us, they abandoned their mission. Whatever their mission was, they despised their consciences forcing them to save us. It was only the guilt at leaving us to be slaughtered that caused their interference. They simply dropped us off on the nearest piece of land, and flew off without another word. This brief introduction to our true world was terrifying, even more so than the men with guns. Which was worse? A life living in fear of discovery from humans, or a life surrounded by mystical beings that appeared to show no regard for our life? Both may wish to see us dead. If only our parents had explained more to us, but we were too young to understand at the time. Growing up on the boat, isolated from other supernatural beings, in fear of discovery, we knew nothing of the real world.

The human authorities placed us in orphanage after orphanage growing up. Each called us "problem children" and passed us along to the next. We were forever finding freedom, escaping outside, and disregarding orders. Despite the ship from before being military based, we were given as much freedom as we could wish for. So strict rules did not sit well with us. Damien and I, we roamed, always on the run. Perhaps, in hindsight, it would have been better to stay in a home. There, we could have hidden in plain sight. Instead, we drew more attention upon ourselves through our misdeeds. The lure of freedom was too great, and worth the risk.

We came across the circus by complete accident one day.

It felt like a haven, the perfect place. Travel, hide, and flee detection. The roaming nature of a circus meant that if anyone became suspicious, we would be long gone within a day or so. We had tried going it alone, but we needed the comfort of a large group, and the feeling of safety it provides. So we came up with this idea:

Travel the world with the circus

Sneak out to do an act as tigers to help out

Sneak back in to be a part of things.

So far no one seemed to care where we went, as tigers or as humans, and hopefully that will never change. We were not naive though. As our fame grew, so would our value to the circus. Soon we would have to leave, or risk eternal imprisonment.

So here we were, carrying out act after act then sneaking out. After we had both turned back to human, we returned to camp, ready to pretend to be normal again.

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