A female tiger was moving through the under wood of a bustling jungle. It was the jungle of the tigress and she was its queen. She breathed in the humid air and looked around with her golden eyes. There was a scent of prey, the scent of flowers, the scent of fertile earth and the scent of someone she knew not to cross. She could see the green of the jungle and the birds and hummingbirds swirling on the upper levels of her tropical forest, all the flowers and the orchids in their billion shapes of rainbow colours and the wet green, the dew dripping down from leaf to leaf. Her ears could make out every noise, from the distant shouting of the monkeys, the busy work of insects all around her and someone approaching. She knew who this was. The only one who could challenge her and end her reign of the jungle. But years ago both species struck a bargain not to cross each other’s paths. The tigress would rule the west of the jungle and the other the east. The jungle gave them both enough food and space to share. So why was this other being crossing into her territory? She could smell it now. It smelled similar like a lizard but larger, similar like smoke but more dangerous, similar like an old creature but more ancient. The tigress knew that this other being was older than her, wiser, its head filled with so much more knowledge.
The tigress approached a rivulet and waited. Here by the water she felt somehow safer, although she knew the other creature would not hurt her. It was too wise for that. The tigress waited. She could smell the creature before she could really see it but every time they had met the tigress was not certain if she had truly seen everything of the other. As if it would never completely reveal itself to her. And then there it stood. A green big creature with yellow eyes like the sun, dark green horns and claws and long folded leathery wings. It’s tail was so long that it was still hidden in the shade of the jungle.
“ Good morning tigress. “, said the green creature.
“ Good morning dragon. “, said the tigress. “ What brings you to me? “
The dragon looked at the young one with wonder. So powerful yet so fragile. So beautiful and so simple. So young and so experienced. She was a wonder to this world and over the years the dragon has grown fond of her. But he came to see her because he had something important to tell her.
“ I came here to warn you. “
“ To warn me? “, the tigress asked surprised.
She genuinely looked concerned now. The dragon knew she was a proud animal but she respected and trusted the dragon which made him think of her highly.
“ I have encountered something I do not know and have never seen before in my entire life. “
“ Go on. “, the tigress said.
“ Animals that walk on two legs with sharp objects in their hands. They look very vulnerable but at the same time there is a power and weakness within them I have not yet seen before. As if they would want something. Something more than the forest has to offer. I fear they are strangers to our way of life and want something different than we want. When I used my flames to hunt, they did not flee like all the other animals normally do but approached me. “
The tigress looked scared now, there was fear in her eyes. The dragon’s fire was lethal not even her father had ever dared coming too close to fire whether it was a dragon’s flame or natural.
“ Watch out for them. Kill them if they come too close. I think they might kill us otherwise. “
The tigress nodded and so did the dragon bow its big scaly head and disappeared into the green.
The young man was looking at the sleeping beast. In the light of the receding flames it looked almost peaceful. How its dark scales and its folded wings slowly rose to its breathing chest. It was the most dangerous creature the young man had ever encountered but he had to try. That beast was able to breath fire and fire was power his people needed. The young man knew exactly that if he would wake the beast there was no chance of survival. He and his people would never be stronger than the wild animals of the jungle. He approached the fire and lit his torch with it. The dragon growled in his sleep and he ran as fast as he could into the darkness, carrying the fire with him.
The tigress had difficulty sleeping that night. She felt the presence of the strangers in the distance and did not like it. Finally, she fell asleep but dreamed a horrible nightmare. Her beloved jungle had turned into wastelands, smoke and fires were rising high into the air, silver creatures harder and smoother than stones, bigger than the tigress had ever seen rolled over the once fertile soil and destroyed everything in their path. Strangers, as the dragon had described, were running around, chasing everything that would cross their path. The silver creatures, giant ones crushed the bones of animals that had once lived in the jungle. Elephants, antelopes, snakes, birds, lizards and most shockingly the tigress saw the skull of a tiger. Two dark holes stared at her with an empty expression where once had been beautiful golden or amber eyes. She could smell the poison of the smoke in the air. The burning of the very earth itself. Suddenly, she rose from her nightmare and roared into the night. Everything around her seemed quiet but she could see flames in the distance, still believing she was asleep, she stood up and realised she was not. Terrified, she roared a warning into the night, alarming all animals nearby that a fire has broken out. From the darkness the dragon appeared.
“ It was them. They stole my fire. “
The tigress nodded and together they rushed up the hill from where they could see all over the jungle and into the night sky. Smoke was now steadily rising into heaven hiding the stars and the moon. The dragon and the tigress could see a part of the forest burning. It was further down in the south. It looked like as if the strangers were controlling the fire to burn a specific area of the forest.
“ What are they doing? “, the tigress asked the dragon astounded.
“ They are using my fire to claim the forest for themselves. A part of it at least. “
The tigress was about to tell the dragon about her dream but she remained quiet. There were more important things to do tonight. Warning her relatives in the north and further west and coming up with a plan to strike back.
“ We must stop them. “, she said desperately.
“ They have my dragon fire now. “, the green one said sadly. “ It made them far more stronger. Maybe stronger than I am. Maybe stronger than all of us. We are not safe here anymore. We must go and regroup. “
The tigress nodded already thinking about her family and rushed into the dark jungle. There was still time to tell the dragon about her dream. But she did wonder, how much time exactly did they have left.