alone in the forest, she felt especially safe. A cape of protection and
confidence settled around her shoulders as if it were developed specifically
to fit her. Her light, intricately designed moccasins kept pace faultlessly,
stepping through the woods noiselessly as she continued into the dense brush.
The forest air was deliciously cool and brought with it the fresh scent of
pine. Having journeyed a great way, she decided to rest. She chose a
comfortable spot among the trees near a softly rippling stream and settled
back to rest for a short while. Her long, flowing cape billowed about her,
providing a warmth and comfort in the solitude of the forest. Only the singing
of the slowly running stream brooked the silence. Wearied with the pressure
and length of the journey, she easily drifted off to sleep.
she awoke, the light of the forest had long since dimmed. Now, the friendship
and safety of the forest seemed to be replaced with feelings of danger and
helplessness. She walked quickly, eager to leave the forbidding blackness of
the forest. Then, pausing for an instant to regain her breath, she heard the
heart-rending cry of something in terrible pain. Her intelligence and
compassion forced her to venture in that direction, though she was troubled at
the prospect. Listening to the pitiful moans, she was eventually directed to
the site. What she saw there left her breathless with sorrow.
on its back in the dense underbrush was a jet-black panther. Its yellow eyes
gleamed warningly in her direction. She approached cautiously, all the while
fixing an intense look of concentration into the brightly shining eyes of the
wounded animal. At last she was near enough to touch the animal. Its head
slowly sank back against the ground. The woman placed her hands on the great
cat's side and made an enormous, concerted effort to heal the panther. Beneath
her hands she could feel the broken bones knitting, torn muscles mending, pain
subsiding. At length, satisfied with her work, she released the cat from her
power and stood back. The great cat slowly got up, testing his strength. Then
he came to sit by the woman. The cat, which she named Intrigue, strode by her
side, matching her pace, always there. And, so it was, as the pair exited the
forest, they were met by a guard, dressed in various hues of red.
| ||© 1985, ||K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft|