"Hurry up, we don't have time to waste," I hiss as my Beta, Andres, and I run inside the office.
"Leon?" Andres whispers as he heads for the bookshelf. "Do we even know what we're looking for?"
"A piece of paper?" I suggest as I tear apart the first desk drawer. "Or an envelope? Trust me, you'll know when you see it."
"I have a really bad feeling about this." Andres pulls out book after book and quickly checks between the pages. "Can't you hear them? They're coming, faster than before."
"Don't tell me you're scared of a couple of kittens." I chuckle as a faint growl sounds from the forest. It's much closer than it was last time, but still far enough away to give us time.
"Twenty saber tooth tigers aren't a couple of kittens, Leon," Andres snaps. "And I'm not scared, I'm being smart."
"So am I," I tell him as I rummage through the desk drawer. I check random papers, but they're all bills and receipts and other useless crap. "If we don't find it, you know we're as good as dead."
"If we get caught, we are dead," Andres counters. "Those Tiger women are vicious. I heard they like to play with their victims... make the torture last."
"So the kittens have claws." I chuckle, trying to put my Beta at ease even as my stomach churns. I know I'm putting our lives at risk, but I didn't make this decision lightly. If my pack is to have a chance at survival, we have to find it. "It's here somewhere, Andres. Keep searching."
"What if it isn't?" Andres argues, taking out another book, this time a thin green tome. "What if we did all this for nothing and..." he trails off as a single slip of paper floats down to the carpeted floor.
"Is that..." I whisper reverently, abandoning the desk drawer as Andres carefully picks up the paper.
"It is." Andres breaks into a grin. "And you were right, Alpha. The pack house is ours."
"I knew it." I take the piece of paper and smile at the familiar looking signature at the bottom. I grab another book from the shelf, a red one this time, and slip the paper inside. "Andres, we did it!"
"We did." Andres slaps me on the back. "But can we please get out of here? This place reeks of cat."
"Oh, really?" I raise an eyebrow.
"I don't mean you, Alpha, of course I don't mean you."
"Good." I nod. "But yes, let's go."
We run out of the office, taking the same route we did when we came in. The house is quiet and the stairs creak how they had when it was ours. Now, it will be ours again. Soon. Very soon.
We burst out the front door just as a roar sounds from the forest, followed by another, and another. The twenty voices merge together, sounding only feet away, and I know we don't have much time.
"Shift, Andres," I order. "Now."
My beta obeys, transforming into his large black wolf. His black t-shirt, jeans and boxers all split at the seams, tearing to shreds. The sound continues to echo long after Andres shakes off his clothes and turns to face me.
"Take this back to the pack," I tell him, holding out the red volume with the spine down so the will won't fall out. "I'll hold them off."
Alpha, please, Andres begs over the link.
I'm relying on you, Beta. For the pack.
For the pack, Andres echoes, digging his canines into the hardcover. With one last glance in my direction, he breaks into a run, heading toward the caves where our pack has been exiled for the past month.
I listen to his footsteps get fainter and turn to face the tigers, and my fate. They exit the forest, one by one, and I shift and let out a loud roar in greeting.
The tigers instantly skid to a stop. I've gotten the same reaction from every wolf I've ever met, and these cats are no different.
What is he? one of them cries, her panic evident. I remember Andres asking the same question when we first met, and it makes me smile. Maybe the tiger women aren't so different after all.
It's a monster, Alpha, another cries, again echoing things my own pack had said when we first met.
Head of a lion, a third woman whispers, body of a wolf.
With each cry, another second passes, and the head start Andres has on the tiger women grows. If I can distract them long enough, Andres can escape. But maybe, just maybe, if they're willing to listen, I can get out of here alive too.
What do we do, Alpha? the woman who called me a monster cries.
There's a pause, and then the most beautiful tiger I've ever seen steps out through their ranks. Her body is lean, her yellow spotted fur glistening in the sun. Her eyes are an ephemeral blue, and when I look into them, I know.
Mate, my creature cries. I call it a creature because I don't know what it is, any more than I know what I am. Half wolf, half lion. Half canine, half feline. A combination that shouldn't exist but does.
The tigress gasps. I wait for her to acknowledge our bond, but she starts shouts an order instead. Charge!
Then, all hell breaks loose.
I wrote this short story as part of the Amino Thursday #promptclub challenge. Cover by Booksandmorereading
◉ Did you like this story?
◈ Should I keep writing this?
◉ I'm thinking of naming the female Alpha tiger Kairne or Kierne. Haven't really decided on the spelling. Is that weird?
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The Dragon's Hoard : One ShotsShort Story
This is a collection of one shots. If any of them become really popular, I may consider turning them into novels. For now, they're in this dragon's hoard for you to enjoy.