The Tale of the Three Tigers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Three tigers, each resembling a characteristic of humanity, happen upon a dragon's cave one day. The Dragon is a God of an Old world, and wishes to grant the three each a gift For their troubles.

Submitted: July 10, 2017

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Submitted: July 10, 2017

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Long ago, there was once a fearsome dragon, who possessed all the heavenly powers of what some would call a god . She had been alone; a fierce entity with rainbow colored scales that shone in the light of the cosmos. She made her home in a cave on the top of the highest mountain, and there she slept peacefully, watching over the earth as time went by. Now it came to pass that three tigers had come to visit her cave one day, each different from the other. There was a white tiger who had  thin black strips as though made by the brush of an artist and bright blue eyes the color of the clearest water. Then there was a red tiger, with a coat the color of the darkest flame with the sharpest teeth and claws. Lastly, there was a yellow tiger; a coat the color of sand. He had no distinguishable marks, only that he an aura of a liar. These three tigers came upon the dragon's cave in search of food and water, weary from their travels.

"Kindly, dragon" spoke the red tiger. "Woulds't though be so generous as to aid these poor creatures before you?"

"We have travelled far in this lonely world, and have not an ounce of energy." Said the white tiger. The yellow tiger merely nodded his head in conjunction with the other two. The wise dragon took in the words of the tigers and knew whom they were before anything was said. And thus, she allowed them to drink from the pond and feast off of the berries and food of plenty in her cave. After they had rested and acquired their strength, the dragon made an inquiry of them. 

"Stay here for three days. In three days, I will grant you whatever wish you may ask of me." The three tigers were delighted to hear this from the dragon and stayed the three day. Now the dragon, intuitive in nature, knew that these were the tigers of humanity, and tested them accordingly. On the first day, the white tiger had come across a golden stream that ran from the dragon's lair higher upon the mountain.

"This stream will give you immortality, friend. Please drink from it." Said the dragon. The white tiger looked at the sparkling water, quite thirsty upon looking at. But he refused.

"Good dragon, what is the difference between blue water and gold water? Or this immortal water, or the stream that will clench my thirst? I tell you this-nothing. Water, is merely water." At that moment, the gold stream returned to its normal color and the white tiger drank from it. Impressed by the white tiger's wisdom the dragon agreed. The white tiger had possession of humanity's ability to see the truth in it's purest form. So, the white tiger had passed the test. On the second day the red tiger happened upon very tall, thick trees in a dark Forrest where the dragon went for berries. 

"Look there, friend!" Cried the dragon who had used her breath to create misty figures in the darkness of the Forrest. "Enemies! We must kill them." The red tiger shook his head and refused. 

"See there , good dragon, how those figures are slow and sluggish? No enemy of yours would move so blatantly slow, knowing your fierceness. And we are outnumbered. To rush blindly into battle, is unwise. So I will cut these trees down and build you a wall so that you may protect yourself." And so, with his sharp teeth and sharper claws the red tiger cut down the trees and fashioned a wall. Yet again, the dragon was impressed. The red tiger possessed humanity's strength and perseverance, so the second test was complete. Finally, on the third day,  the dragon went to the yellow tiger and conversed with him.

"Dear, friend." Said the dragon upon finding the yellow tiger staring off into the distance. "How do you find your stay here?"

"I find it quite peaceful here, good dragon. Everything is in abundance and plentiful, who could ask for more?" Then, the dragon presented the tiger with the finest silk scarf, adorned in gold threading. 

"Please take this as a gift, friend. It was handcrafted eons ago, in the time of the gods. It is worth a fortune." The yellow tiger took the scarf. A greedy glint was hidden in his cheerful eyes.

"My, what a rare gift! Where did you craft such beauty good dragon." Asked he, admiring the richness of the transparent silk. 

"On the top of my mountain, where only I can step foot. But I've left some silk and gold behind near my cave where the scarf had brushed." 

"Ah, I see. You live in such good fortune, good dragon. what that any creature would dream to be you." With that, the dragon and the yellow tiger parted ways. When the dragon returned to her cave, she found the silk and gold from the scarf had been taken. With this, the third test was also successfully passed. The yellow tiger, possessed those subtle, raw characteristics of a human at its core. Namely greed and envy. The yellow tiger had many names in history, but most notably was that of the name Cain. And he, with his greedy glint gathered up the other two on the dawn of the fourth day.

"Listen, comrades." Said he, the scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. "How is it that we travelled through mud and hardship? We Starved and had to struggle to survive. While the dragon selfishly holed herself up in her cave, reaping the fruits of the earth? Should not we bear the sweetness of these fruits, too?" The white and red tigers were appalled by the words of their comrade, after all, the dragon was their generous host and would even grant them any wish they wanted. But the yellow tiger persisted.

"Look around you, comrade. She has all this land for the taking. She needs it not, for there is a nirvana past her cave." And this was the truth and a lie. For the dragon did have a sacred sanctuary past her cave, but the yellow tiger had not seen it. The dragon had only mentioned it. But the white tiger had not given it thought, for he was too busy listening to the yellow tiger, otherwise he would have caught this little detail. But his blue eyes were slightly clouded as the yellow tiger continued to talk.

"She hides the richest of silks and the finest of wines, away in that nirvana. I only ask comrades, is this fair? Why can we not share this wealth with others?" Then the red tiger spoke, who was still firm.

"There is only us, comrade! We have all that we need!"

"Except the means to protect ourselves." Said the yellow tiger, slyly. "What weapons do you think she has hidden away for an enemy? What if she were planning to kill us after granting our wishes, hm?" The yellow tiger indeed had the aura of a liar, and his false words were soon beginning to take affect on the other two tigers.

"What if the reason there are no others, is because she destroyed them all? Who would want to share all that is around us? Not I! This dragon is too powerful, and we are being fooled by her kindness. I say, brothers, we take this land for our own kind! Make it a land not just for gods but for man, too!" And thus the two tigers, were convinced by the words of a sly, liar. Who twisted the reality of the situation into his own favor. The three tigers then deliberated upon the matter of killing the dragon, and how it was to come about. The yellow tiger lifted his voice, yet again.

"We will wish for things that would kill the dragon!" Exclaimed the yellow tiger and the two nodded, already knowing what they would wish for. At this time, as dusk had come and it was time to leave the cave, the dragon summoned all three tigers together, to grant them their wish, fully aware of what had perspired between the three.

"As promised, three days have passed. Now it is time, I grant your wish. Now I ask into thee, white tiger, what would you wish for?"

And The white tiger answered this:

"Good dragon, I would have you bless me with a nightingale, so that I may listen to the sweet sound of music wherever I May wander." And so it was done. The most beautiful nightingale suddenly appeared and was singing a way joyfully. This seemed to distress the red and white tiger for a moment, for they truly wished no harm on the dragon, but there was no time before the dragon said to the red tiger,

"What would you wish for, friend?" And the red tiger answered this:

"Dear, dragon I would ask you make me a blade from the sharpest of your scales. So that I may protect my comrades even without my teeth and claws." And so it was done. A beautifully crafted katana sprung from the dragons back, the razor sharp blade was glistening with the flames of her rainbow colored scales. Then the dragon fixed her gaze upon the yellow tiger, whose eyes were blacker then deepest pit of hades and said,

"What would you ask of me?" And the yellow tiger said this,

"Most generous, friend" began he with a villainous smile, "I ask naught but a simple mask to hide my face. So that I may entertain my comrades from time to time." And so it was done. Upon the yellow tiger's face, arrived a simple blank mask with no elaborate design, no other purpose then just to hide its master's face. And with that the three tigers had their wishes granted, and the dragon bid them farewell and disappeared deeper into her mountain. Meanwhile, late that night, the three tigers met again, and devised the murder of the kind dragon. 

"Let me go first." Spoke the yellow tiger. "My mask will hide my face, so I shall go undetected , then suffocate her!" And so the yellow tiger went to the cave and found the dragon sleeping. The yellow tiger moved slowly but quickly, until the dragon stirred and awoke.

"Who enters my cave so quietly?" She asked searching but the yellow tiger's face was hidden so she could not see. "Show yourself." The yellow tiger fancied himself bold, and suddenly his mask changed shape and form into a dragon identical to the one herself and hid by the water. The dragon looked to the noisy brook and saw the reflection, which was not her own but the yellow tiger hidden as a dragon. Certain she had just heard the sounds of the cave, she lay her head back down and slept. The yellow tiger cackled, oh how he was clever! Soon he was upon the dragon, intent on ending her life until he saw a glimmer in the water. He looked closer and there he was, an image of himself surrounded by gold, women, wine and the finest crown adorned upon his head. He was so entranced by this image, he quite forgot about the dragon who stirred and caught him by the foot. 

"Come now, oh foolish sinner of humanity. Did you truly think you could hide your true face from me? Like that image you saw in the water, you are merely a lie. Who was it that gave you that mask? Twas not I. It was always there. I merely gave you an object to justify your falsehood. Begone!" And with her claws, she ripped from him his skin and face, leaving only the mask and cast him out. 

"There. Now only the mask will give you a true identity. You will never know who you truly are. You and your offspring will wander as faceless, nameless frauds. All that will be you will become that mask, which you can never take off." So was the fate of the yellow tiger. After some time the other two were certain that the yellow tiger had failed, for he did not return. So next went the red tiger. The glow from the red tiger's sword was vibrant, so he doused the blade in water to cool it's glow. When he entered the cave, he found the face and skin of his comrade by the stream. Shaken, he foolishly lunged and plunged the sword into the dragons underbelly where her heart was, but the sword was suddenly dull and barely left a mark before the dragon seized the red tiger with her tail.

"You are a fool, my friend. To be misguided by a braggart, but such is life. This sword has two conditions for it to cut: it needs the heat from firey scales to sharpen it, and it needs to be cooled in this pond only. Otherwise, it is useless." The red tiger cried out,

"Villain! You've killed my comrade! You cannot be spared! even with this useless sword, I still possess my teeth and claws!" And he bit into the tail of the dragon which dropped him, with the pain of the bite. But the dragon, with a fierce swipe of her claw, took from the red tiger his teeth and claws and cast him out.

"There, friend. Now you have naught your strength nor your means to protect or nurture yourself. You will wander helpless in the world, dependent upon others for your basic needs. Begone!" Such was the fate of the red tiger. The red tiger ran back to the white tiger, his teeth and claws gone, and warned the white tiger of what happened to himself and the yellow tiger. But the white tiger, perhaps the wisest of the three, was cautious now. He bade the red tiger follow him with his sword in his tail, unable to hold it in his mouth with no teeth to bite. As they approached the cave, the white tiger sent in his nightingale which began to sing a soft lullaby. The dragon recognized the bird, but was so enticed by the sound of its song, that she quite forgot about it and drifted off into a deep slumber. With the dragon sleeping, the two tigers entered the cave. The white tiger instructed his comrade to place the sword underneath the skin of the yellow tiger, then instructed the nightingale to cease singing. In his best imitation voice, the white tiger called out to the dragon with the yellow tiger's voice.

"Generous, Dragon! I've come for my skin back!" The dragon suddenly reared up her head, rudely awakened from her slumber and slightly drowsy.

"Heathen, feline! Have you not tempted your fate once!?" And in her anger, she exhaled her fiery breath upon the skin of the yellow tiger, believing he had come back. then the nightingale sang once more and the raging dragon was lulled back to sleep instantaneously. The white tiger removed the skin, and underneath the sword had begun to blaze so fiercely a glow it nearly set alight the entire cave. However, the nightingales song was so enchanting, the dragon never stirred once. As the white tiger was about to dip the sword in the pond, he saw there an image of himself adorned in a crown. For a moment he was taken in by this image, but ultimately he saw the true reflection hidden past the image. A simple white tiger, with blue eyes. No grandeur king of any kind, and this was the true image. Not the lie presented to him. With a flick of his paw the image changed and it returned to his own. He quickly dipped the sword into the pond and it cooled with a sizzle, radiating a bit before cooling completely, sharper than it was when it was first forged. The red tiger took the sword in his tail again and awaited the right moment to strike, but was stopped by the white tiger who gestured to tie the dragon first. They bound her with a chain made from her own discarded scales as well so that her movement would be limited. At this time the lark's voice had begun to grow feint with exhaustion until it finally collapsed from singing and the dragon awoke immediately to the sight of the two tigers. She roared and lunged but was unable to move due to the chains. Frustrated she bereathed out red hot flames in every direction her upper body could move, but to no avail. When she caught the eye of the white tiger, he lunged and bit into her right eye while his claw stabbed the left.

"Do it now, comrade!" He screeched at the red tiger. Without hesitation, the red tiger leaped then plunged the sword, again, deep near the breast of the dragon. The white tiger released his grip and jumped to safety just as the dragon Unleashed an ear-splitting cry, then collapsed breathing in shallow breaths. The two tigers rejoiced, finally their task complete. But the dragon was not dead yet, for she shakily chuckled.

"Whatever you plan to do now, do it quickly." Said she to the white tiger. And the white tiger said this,

"Our brother told us of your crimes. We too believe that this land should be the people's land, so we are taking it back. In truth, dear dragon, you were a most gracious friend. Please forgive us in the next life." The red tiger nodded his head. The dragon smirked at this proposition.

"My crimes you say? What crimes are those? I've watched over this peaceful world for decades. Some may come and go, in the end I remain. But now, that you've taken your fate in your own hands, you must reap what you sow. No longer shall there be lush, green or pure water. Now begins the age of man. The age of dreams and darkness, the age of war and destruction. These are not of my doing. My only crimes, you tigers foolishly chose to believe, were allowing you to do as you please."

The white and red tigers were astounded. What had they done? Now the white tiger's blue eyes were unclouded, and before him, he could see clear as day, was the kind dragon who offered her small piece of home to them and treated them as guest without fail. Here she lay, slain, in her own blood, barely holding onto life. Oh, how they were fools! They had been tricked by the yellow tiger!

"How could we do this to our friend, the dragon? Who gave us water and gifts?" Said the red tiger beginning to cry. He tried to remove the sword from its place in the dragon, but it would not budge. The white tiger was silent, tears pouring from his blue eyes.

"This is humanity?" He asked, and the dragon nodded and said unto him,

"This is humanity. Striving for more. Your desires push you, your ignorance guides you. Your friend can become your foe just as easily as your enemy can become your ally. You have only yourself to blame for your negligence. You truly, white tiger, should feel the most shame." And he did, and he asked the dragon,

"Can there be no means of forgiveness?" Whimpered he. "I wished harm upon no one. Yet I could not see the truth. Is there nothing I can do to right my wrong?" Then the dragon said this,

"The only choice you have is this-" and with a shaky, swipe of her claw, using the last of her energy, took from the white tiger his eyes.

"It is done, dear friend. This is your punishment. You will no longer see the light of day, or the smile of your offspring, or gaze upon the beauty of this world. You will walk the rest of your existence shrouded in this world's darkness. Most importantly, you will no longer be able to see the truth. Justice to you will be a far-fetching word with no weight. No longer will you be able to discern what is right or wrong. No longer will you be able to see the good or bad, just the grey. And this friend, is the saddest punishment of all, for without you there can be no honesty." And the white tiger cried, and cried.

"Was it I, friend?" He asked, "Was it I whom betrayed you, truly?" The dragon was still for a moment, then said,

"You have said it, have you not? For all three are you, and you are all three parts of humanity. So this I say unto you, whatever it is you plan to do, do it quickly. This world is no longer my responsibility, everything is yours. Build towns, streets and travel far. Obtain all the knowledge of this world. But I warn you, beware of the yellow tiger, now that his false skin had been ripped from him, his true form will be unrecognizable,  and he and his offspring will try to trick you. They are the sly talkers, thieves, killers of your world, and you will do well to avoid their contact." After she had said this, she lay her head down and rested as death slowly came upon her. Then finally, she took her last breath and left that world. The red and white tigers did not understand what the dragon meant, when she told them of the yellow tiger's true form, for they had not been aware that the yellow tiger was hiding his gruesome face behind his mask. Only that he had lied to them once. So they were unaware yet again, as they walked out of the cave after paying their respects to the dragon. When they reached outside, all the earth was different. No longer was there the cool breeze, no longer were the clouds a perfect white. The earth had lost its color, the water did not sparkle and the sun did not shine as brightly. The red tiger described this to the white tiger, for he could not see, and he felt a wave of sadness. But then, he could not see the real world in its true state so he said,

"Brother, is it not still beautiful? It is ours now, so we can make it more beautiful." And the red tiger agreed. But how? He with no eyes, and his comrade with no teeth or claws. How could they make a world similar to the dragon's? The two tigers walked, endlessly until they came upon a pond, dirtied with mud from a storm. When they stopped to drink, they both wretched.

"What taste is this? As if it were polluted, brother!" Said the red tiger. Having tasted it himself, the white tiger thought this taste horrible but could not accept that truth, for he knew naught what truth was and said,

"Does it not taste, just the same? Can we not make this water taste better though?" The red tiger was confused, but nodded all the same. When they had walked a little ways further, they found then, a group of tigers who were hunting, unsuccessfully. And the red tiger was surprised. 

"Comrade, there hunting, are members of our own kind! And there they hunt after deer! How has this happened? Were we not alone in this world?" The white tiger shook his head and answered his friend.

"No, brother. We were here always, and now we can build up our world." And the red tiger agreed to this, for with the death of the dragon came the death of all his memories of her. This was true of the white tiger as well, for he could not see truth, so he did not remember that the world he lived in was once protected by the dragon.  So they approached the tigers in a friendly manner. These were strong tigers, young and full of life with sharp claws and sharp teeth but no mind for hunting. When they saw the two tigers, they treated them with kindness and the red tiger inquired upon them.

"Careful, younglings! You scare away your dinner. If you do not hunt properly you will starve." So he told them to hide and then pounce. So they did, and the deer was caught. Happy, the young tigers offered their two older guests portions of their winnings, though the white tiger ate, the red tiger, who had grown quite skinny and lost most of his muscle, declined. 

"Look, young ones. See how I shake and tremble under my heavy body. I have weakened. My claws and teeth are missing as well." The young tigers protested and cried that there must be a way for him to eat. Then the tiger felt the sword he had carried burn with a passion, and he wielded it with his tail. When the next hunt came, the red tiger slashed his prey and cut it into small pieces so he could eat it. The young ones were fascinated by the weapon.

"Master, where did you get such a strong tooth?" Said they. "That tooth is surely magnificent than any of our teeth or claws." And the red tiger thought, for in truth he could not remember where this sword had come from so he answered,

"It has always been with me, young ones. It seems it will aid me in my life so I shall not be so helpless." And the white tiger agreed with this, and so did the young ones. For they had no idea that the dragon's corpse had disappeared leaving only the chain. The sword, as it was a gift to the red tiger, returned therein after to its rightful master without the red tiger noticing. When it came time to part ways, the red tiger said this to his comrade,

"You may be blind, but you can see with your other senses. I will stay with these young ones and teach them to hunt and fight, and to use their teeth and claws to build canals and structures. This is goodbye, old friend." And with tears in their eyes, the two tigers nuzzled each other affectionately then went their separate ways. Now the white tiger traveled extremely far from the lush of the earth, until he reached a place of complete cold. The white tiger had never before experienced such cold, and felt that death was not far from him. Suddenly, he heard the sweet song of a nightingale in the distance and desperately followed its sound. When he found the source of the sound, he came upon another group of tigers, young yet mature with bright eyes in a large den made from sticks and stones. They were all sitting in a circle, surrounding a beautiful nightingale and nodding their heads to its wonderful lullaby. But the white tiger could not see, so he called into the den,

"Do not be alarmed, friends! I am no enemy of yours. I am a poor, blind tiger lured by the sound of a nightingale to this place. May I enter?" And the young tigers took in the white tiger with open arms.

"Yes, do come in! We are tigers too! This nightingale told us you would be coming soon master, and has been singing to guide you here!" Then the nightingale flew to the white tiger's side and the white tiger said,

"I know not what kindness I had done upon you in the past life, but know that you are welcome to follow me as long as you please." And the nightingale was pleased, for she had not forgotten the white tiger from back when the dragon had lived and had been waiting patiently for him to return. The young tigers, were very much well mannered individuals and highly intelligent, but because of this they had frequent power battles between them. Which one would be leader? They would ask, and always they would say him or herself should be leader. And soon they turned to the white tiger to decide.

"Wise, white tiger! Who shall lead us? for each is intelligent, but each equally lies about their strengths. So who will lead us in earnest?" And the white tiger who, could not see truth, said this unto them,

"You should all lead. For if you all possess these qualities, then should you not all work in harmony together?" And the young ones were amazed, for this was what they truly believed. If they were equal in fabricated qualities, and true qualities then why should they not all share equal power? And so they did, and they did much deliberation together, and problem solving together with the aid of the white tiger to help them. Soon when the time came to part ways, the white tiger said this unto them,

"Dear, young ones. I have enjoyed your hospitality thoroughly and am proud of how you govern yourselves. If it is of no trouble to you, I would ask to stay here so that I may teach you diplomacy and honesty. As well as how to make music, paint and read and write. Together, we shall build a self-governing society." And the young ones, who were very thrilled to hear such an inquiry, happily accepted the white tiger's proposition. Now it came to pass that the two tiger's and their respective groups were doing well. The white tiger had successfully guided his young ones into a self-governing society where responsibility was shared equally. they had also become quite, eloquently literate and trained in the arts and sciences. The red tiger's group grew stronger and more tactful, coming up with more efficient strategies to capture food and protect themselves. They had also learned to build solid structures, forts and useful traps and weapons while also being learned men of geography and mathematics. All was good in the land of man. One day the white and red tigers decided it was time to introduce their groups to each other and decided to meet in a large part of the world that was equally good for hunting and building as well as teaching and  governing. When the two met again, they greeted each other with warmth and called each other brothers. The younger ones, on both sides, were slightly apprehensive toward each other.

"They look like us, only bigger." Said the white tiger's group. "They have earth about their claws, and weapons too. They look quite Brutish." And the red tiger's group as well, whispered and spoke amongst themselves.

"Look! Look how tiny and petite they are! Where do they come from? Can they hunt for themselves? Look how they stand! Are they not quite haughty looking?" The two older tigers heard these whispers and chided their young ones sternly.

"Fie, good youth! Have you no shame? These brutish looking tigers are your own blood and brothers! wouldst thou cast judgement before you have met them? Remember what I've taught you about earnest and acceptance."said the white tiger.

"And you, young masters of the hunt. Wouldst you turn away your own comrades because they seem weak? Remember what I taught you of the strength of brotherhood." And the young ones were at once convinced, and went to each other with open arms and friendly greetings. And this marked the beginning of the flourishing of man. More time had passed and the two groups were well off as one. The white tiger's group distributed the duties equally among the red and white young ones, taking lead in the governing, while the red young ones built more houses and taught the white ones to hunt. In time, there's became a solid clan of tigers. Some young ones went to travel farther to find more land as the society grew, and discovered different races and types of animals. The white young ones made sure to diplomatically extend friendship to these animals, sometimes to the dismay of the red ones, who at times, simply enjoyed a society of tigers. But, it was good . Children of the white and red were born, inheriting both qualities of their parents and promising a bright future with the strength of their new genes. More animals came to the developed tiger society to barter, and sometimes to live, because the ebb and flow of life was so fortunate. Large houses made by the red tigers were beautiful and strong, and the white tigers opened schools and sent travelers all over the world to meet new races and tell them of the abundant tiger society. Yes, all was as it should have been. The two tiger's who had founded the single tiger society were hailed as legends as they grew older, and respected and cherished as mentors. But something bothered the two as life flourished without fail.

"Was there not some eminent danger in this world?" Asked the red tiger of the white, "one we should be wary of?" The white tiger thought on it, but because he could not see truth, he failed to see any danger.

"What danger, friend? And if it comes will we not vanquish it?" And the red tiger agreed with him, putting the thought to rest. However, one harsh winter threatened the lives of the tiger society and caused bitter tensions to arise. There was a food shortage first, and fights amongst rations. Then when the winter ended, there were fights about land and property. Then finally, the society began to turn on one another. The founding red and white tiger's were at a loss as to how their society had become so hateful, but they persisted. Speaking to the white and red young ones who had children now, pleading them to cooperate on behalf of peace and order undertaking most tasks so that everyone could feel at peace. And for a time it worked, and life slowly began to return to normal but not without consequence. The society retained much of its old tensions though it was not as blatantly obvious. It was subtly in the air and the actions of the tigers towards other animals and toward each other. Thus, the red and white tiger's met each other in private to speak of the situation.

"This complication was quite unprecedented, don't you agree?" Asked the white tiger, and the red agreed.

"If this continues the way it has, there could be a violent outbreak." Said the red tiger, and the white one agreed also. "So how can we heal, this wound?" The white tiger thought, but could not for some ill fated reason think of a good solution, until he heard a sound.

"Who's there!?" Called he to the dark, for he could not see. "Show yourself!" And the red tiger took up his sword, ready to fight. Until a familiar voice, stayed them both.

"Gentle, comrades. Do you not recognize your third companion?" And before them was a skinless tiger wearing a blank mask, a silk scarf with gold threads draped about his neck. This was the evil in the world that had come upon them. The traitorous, greedy yellow tiger who tricked them into slaying the dragon. But to them, because they had forgotten the dragon's
Words, he appeared as an old friend. And because the white tiger could not see truth, he was tricked a second time.

"Ah! It is our long lost comrade the yellow tiger, back from some long journey no doubt!" Exclaimed the red tiger gleefully, unaware he was seeing only what the yellow tiger wished him to see. 

"I hear, your great society is in some trouble? Allow me to be of some small aid. I can convince them to work in harmony yet again, if it so pleases you?" Asked the yellow tiger, and the other two were grateful as they accepted. But there was one condition he had.
"You must stay away from the tiger society for six years. In six years, I will have fixed the situation. You must also leave behind your sword and nightingale." And still the other two foolishly agreed to his conditions. And if the white tiger could see the truth, he would have seen the wickedly, hideous smirk in his eyes that was hidden behind the yellow creatures mask. So the two tiger's informed the society that they would be leaving and would return in three years time. But a wise child possessing the intelligence of the white and strength of the red said,

"Is this stranger trustworthy? Look upon his face? A mask that hides his face? Can we really trust him, oh wise founders?" And the founders were puzzled for they trusted their comrade completely, and because of this, they answered,

"He will do you , no harm. He will lead you into prosperity in our absence." And with that, they left. Now the yellow tiger, with the other two gone and their gifts left behind, had free reign to act out his devious plans. He appeared, first, in the form of a white tiger. then he persuaded the white tiger's that the red where foolish creatures with high nationality and wanted to go back to being a single, red tiger society. Then he impersonated a red tiger, and convinced the red ones that the white would soon take over the entire society. Sharing profits with other animals but excluding the red. And this caused an internal turmoil between the tigers. They fought with each other day and night until finally the red tigers declared war upon the white and the others in their society by the end of the first year. Towards the second year, the yellow tiger watched as the red tigers dominated the battlefront with their advanced weapons, but the white tiger's were skilled in espionage as they had also the ability to skillfully lie and cheat, though because their mentor could not see truth, he did not notice this. And they managed to turn some red tigers on their own, and stole means to build weapons. It was a bloody, and brutal battle. Now the yellow tiger had not been idle in this war, oh no. He wove a pattern of distrust and villainy through the society. He also managed to breed some offspring oh his own and created children who need not wear masks, but were frauds at their cores, difficult to discern between good or bad. Some of the children born to the red and white escaped, thanks duly to the aid of the nightingale who stole the red tiger's weapon and fled. Children of the red and white, innocent animals and defectors of the war alike were lured to safe grounds by the glow of the dragon's rainbow scales and the sweet song of the nightingale. Meanwhile, in the tiger society, both sides had exhausted their numbers and came only to a cease fire when pleaded by the yellow tiger.

"Fellow, comrades!" Said he, "let us fight no more! See how your paradise lie in ruin! Look how your children cry! Come, let us rebuild this once great society, where all were equal! For in truth, we are truly all brothers in this world!" And the red and white tiger's were enchanted by the charm of these words and lay down their weapons. By the third year, the society had rebuilt again, but this time it was only just the tigers. The yellow tiger had forced out the other animals by convincing the tigers there were plenty of other resources elsewhere. Why should they share their own precious resources? And the yellow tiger's brood grew and bred with the red and white, and soon outnumbered them. With the traits of all three, they were treacherously intelligent, powerful and absolutely evil. The yellow tiger had introduced gold to the society and promised more to the tiger's, though he said the other animals took it. Thus, he had convinced them to raid nearby society's for their resources, adding to their strength. By the fourth year, all the other society's resources were stolen and depleted, and the tiger society had grew tenfold into a brutish army of tacticians, thieves, killers and corrupted scholars. A militant society led by a dictatorial yellow tiger.  In the fifth year, The nightingale saw this and was greatly distressed. So she took up the red tiger's sword and began to travel back to the dragon's old cave. However, she was caught by one of the yellow tiger's offspring and brought to him. The yellow tiger told his brood to summon some of the remaining pure red and white tigers. When they arrived, the tigers were appalled to see the nightingale dead in its master's -the white tiger's- grip, with the sword at his feet.

"Master! Why have you done this?" Cried the white tigers. But it was not the white tiger they were truly seeing, but the yellow tiger in disguise. The white tiger said nothing, merely dropped the bird and fled. The yellow tiger cackled as he returned to his true form with the sword in his mouth. Then he raced back to the safe haven where the nightingale had hidden most of the defectors, and attacked them. He had killed off many, and those that escaped did so with terrible wounds that they would probably die from. When he finished he took some of the bodies and one of the white and red children's bodies back to the society. Where he laid them in a pile and stood over them. When the red and white tigers returned, they were appalled to see the bodies and the appearance of the red tiger with the blood coated sword in his tail.

"Master! What is the meaning of this?" Cried the red tigers. Though all of the rest of the society, which consisted of the yellow tiger's offspring,  could see that the tiger before them was the yellow one personifying the red. Without a word, the red tiger fled then returned not as the red but as his true form the yellow tiger. 

"Comrades!" He said in urgency " I have heard from my informants that your founders, the red and white tiger's, have betrayed you!" And there came an outcry like none heard before from the tigers. "Your founders have left you to pursue riches and wealth and have left you to fend for yourself. Did they even try to help you during the war? When your brethren were being slaughtered where were they? Well, brothers, I say it is time to pay them back for their crimes, and claim this society for ourselves!" The yellow tiger said this with passion and charm that spilled over the society and brainwashed them completely. Thus, was the beginning of the fall of man. Now far away from the society, on the last day of the sixth year, the red and white tiger's, to whom had grown significantly older, were preparing to return to their beloved home.

"It will have been six years by tomorrow. I am sure our comrade has already grown our society to amazing heights!" Said the red tiger who slowly walked beside the white tiger, trembling with every step. The white tiger, merely nodded his heavy head. 

"Yes, yes. I do so miss our young ones. Their children and their children's children must surely live in peace by now." Said the white tiger with a voice filled with rust. As the walked they spoke of the old days, and dreamed of the new days and wondered how their young ones were and wished the day would be over already. However their thoughts were interrupted when suddenly, the white tiger stopped and lifted his head. The red tiger took notice of this and inquired upon his old friend.

"What ails you, friend? Is there some trouble?" But the white tiger did not answer. He merely walked forward, feebly but with purpose, for he thought he heard the Breeze suddenly whisper. As they walked, the red tiger began to notice how the grass seemed greener and how the water began to sparkle. A very peculiar thing. Then the red tiger remembered this was where they first came from.

"Brother, this-"

"Cave." Interrupted the white tiger. And the red tiger saw that it was true, they ha happened upon a cave. It was damp, and cold but the two entered all the same. As they walked they noticed that a large chain of scales lay discarded. Near the running stream, there was also the skin of a yellow tiger. 

"My, my. Visitors." Came a voice from within the cave. It echoed off the walls and frightened the two tiger's accordingly. The voice noticed this and laughed heartily.

"Worry not, friends. You are in the company of an old friend." And all in a flash, descended a vibrantly glowing gold dragon down upon the chains. The red tiger jumped and the white tiger, feeling the warmth of the glow, fled back to where his comrade was. The dragon's gold glow suddenly dimmed, leaving a beautiful rainbow colored shine on her scales. All in an instant The red and white tiger remembered all that had happened in the cave. The gifts, the murder and especially the deceit of their third comrade the yellow tiger.

"Good, dragon!" They cried as they ran to the dragon to nuzzle her warm body. The dragon merely laughed heartily as she let the two calm themselves. 

"You were dead, dear dragon. We saw you die." Said the white tiger first, and the red tiger agreed. But the dragon slyly smiled.

"Was it I that died? Or was it the version of me that lived in this world, who died?" The tiger's look perplexed and the dragon continued. "I explained to you back then, did I not? this world was no longer mine. There is no room for what you call, gods and deities, in the world of man. Therefore, there was no reason for me to stay, and I ascended to my sanctuary atop the highest mountain peak. And there, I have stayed." Now the tiger's understood, but the dragon still had more to say.

"I have been watching you, still. For many, many years now. You have done well with humanity, each one overcoming the disadvantage I bestowed upon you. However, you did not heed my words, yet again. And you let the fraudulent yellow tiger lead the society you benevolently raised on your own." The two tiger's were horrified, and now wished desperately to see their young ones. 

"Good, dragon! You've been watching over us? Please let us see our society!" Cried the red and white tiger. The dragon heaved a great, troubled sigh and  pointed to the stream.

"Go. Look." She instructed. The red tiger went and stared down. Soon his body shook violently in terrible spasms, and his eyes bugged out of their sockets. He jumped back and recanted the horrors of what he had saw to the white tiger, but the white tiger could still not see the truth and he asked.

"Is this not the way they are? Can they not be changed." The dragon then stooped low and blew a gush of wind into the white tiger's face. He covered his face with one paw and then felt something. They were tears. Suddenly he opened his eyes, and the truth of the world hit him full force. He wailed a fierce wail with his comrade, and cursed himself for being so blind.

"This is the way it is." Said the dragon, "this is how humanity simply is. Without your eyes, you could not see and blindly overlooked the obvious details. Without your strength, you could not keep the sword from falling into the hands of the yellow one. Now your young ones and their young ones have suffered unjustly, all due to your foolishness. And what of the nightingale? She sacrificed her life to try and save them." The white tiger roared fiercely in anguish at this news. Surely he would kill the yellow tiger when he saw him. And the red tiger fumed to know how his sword had cut down innocents, from when he stared into the stream. 

"There is naught I can do for you, my friends. For I can no longer interfere with this world. I can only wish you God speed before the yellow tiger tracks you here." However, the dragon closed her eyes a moment, then re-opened them again.

"Unfortunately, it is already too late." And the red and white tiger's heard shouts from a distance. They left the cave and could see the yellow tiger holding the dragon's blade in his mouth, an army of tigers behind him. 

"I knew I would find you here...comrades." He sneered delightfully. The white tiger, whose eyes were back to normal, could now see the form of the yellow tiger. He was an ugly, skinless thing with a mask for a face. Truly a pitiful sight to see. And as he looked around, he also noted how this world had turned grey over the years. How the sky was a grayish blue, how the grass seemed dry and brown, and how the water did not sparkle. Yes, he was truly blind to it all. 

"Stay, beast." He growled with bared fangs. And the yellow tiger hesitated, noticing that the white tiger had his eyesight back.

"How kindly of the dragon, to whom you so unkindly forgot." He jeered, waving the sword. " ultimately, it matters not. For these comrades behind me, have seen your crimes. They were once your students, now they seek your death."  Suddenly one lunged for the white tiger, but the. Red tiger pounced with new found strength and pinned the brute to the ground. There was a startled help from the pinned creature, then a bloodcurdling scream. The red tiger removed himself from the corpse, his extraordinarily sharp teeth and claws were back and soaked in blood. He bared them at the cowering tigers in warning. 

"Any tiger who wishes to brave his life against my teeth and claws, let him come forward!" The tigers who had never seen their master' ire, did not step forward. Then the white tiger stepped forward.

"Who of you were once our students?" He asked. The tiger's seemed to lower their heads in shame and did not meet their mentor's gaze. "Let me say this. You are not any students of ours. Nor are you our brothers. For the crimes you have committed, are far worse than the crimes we have committed. Though, this is because a yellow, snake whispered sweet nothings into your ear." And the yellow tiger cackled at this.

"Don't blame them for believing me. It was in their nature. They were angry, greedy and dissatisfied at their cores. I merely amplified those emotions." The red and white tigers were suddenly coming to their senses and backing off, but the yellow tiger's offspring kept them at bay.  

"You see, this will soon be my world, now that the dragon is dead. And I will watch my work live on through my children until I have died. Therefore begone!" And the yellow tiger lunged and swung the sword, which sliced the air with a whoosh. The red tiger attempted to go for the yellow one's throat, but he brought the sword dangerously close to his face and nearly had his ear cut off. In the back, the red and white tigers had begun fighting with the yellow's offspring. Finally beginning to show signs of their old selves. The white tiger leapt away as the yellow violently swung the sword and almost managed to cut his paw off. With the sword in his possession, the yellow tiger knew he was unstoppable. And the other two, knew it as well. So they both retreated back into the cave, which from a tactical stance, left little room for maneuvering.

"Ha! You've cornered yourselves. Now, pray to god for you will see him soon!" And the yellow tiger lunged but the white had grabbed the discarded skin by the stream and threw it at him. Surprised, the yellow tiger slashed through the coat but was blindsided as the white tiger leaped from the front, and the red bit into his hind legs, sending all three tumbling backwards. The red tiger grabbed the sword that had fallen and with it, slashed away the yellow tiger's mask. With a scream, the yellow tiger frantically search for his mask.

"MY FACE! MY FACE!" He hollered, blood spilling from where the cut had left its mark. Now the the tigers stopped and saw a gruesome sight. A horrid looking, skinless tiger with no face, who was bleeding terribly. He screamed and kicked in searching for his mask as the other two tiger's looked down at him in pity. The yellow tiger's offspring cringed  at the pitiful state their father was in, and fled the scene before they too. ended up like that. the red and white tigers chased after them dutifully. Meanwhile, the yellow tiger had tears down his eyes.

"I am nothing...nothing! I have no face! No identity! My face! MY MASK!" The red tiger fetched the discarded skin and through it at the yellow tiger. 

"Here. This is the old mask you used to wear. Now everyone can see you once again. Be gone, pitiful creature!" And the yellow tiger vanished, never to be seen again. Another year had come to pass, and the wounds that were left upon the tiger society were still fresh. Some decided to move north, others decided south would be better. Many wished to find the lost survivors of the yellow massacre incident as it had so infamously became known as. And others stayed, trying to rebuild the glory that once was, yet again. All wished for the founders to stay but the red and white tiger's had become too old. After they had buried the rest of their kin, the two left the tiger society forever to travel back to the cave of the dragon, where the white tiger buried his companion the nightingale. And the red tiger submerged his sword in the stream, where it sank into the depths never to be used by humanity again. When this was done, the two tiger's spent their days patiently waiting for death in the cave. Until one day, the dragon descended once again. 

"My, goodness. What glum spirits you two are in." She joked. But the tiger's did not respond. Their eyelids flickered tiredly, and the bones from their bodies rattled as they breathed. Still, the dragon spoke.

"Come, I know what will bring you into better spirits. There is a beautiful view of the world in my sanctuary, atop the highest mountain peak. Would you like to come visit it?" Suddenly the white and red tiger's bodies had color, and their eyes grew brighter, and they grew younger, until they were exactly as they were when they had first met the dragon.

"What about this world?" Inquired the white tiger.

"And what of our young ones?" Said the red tiger. The dragon smiled and said this unto them,

"Fear not, my friends. For humanity is strong. There are those who possess your eyes of truth  white tiger, and those who have your superior strength red tiger. And there are most certainly the those who mirror the greed of the yellow tiger. But this should worry you not, for life is but a mere circle that spins round and round. Yours was the story of yesterday, and now theirs is the story of today and tomorrow. But enough of that." the dragon ended as she ascended upwards through the tunnel leading to her sanctuary. The light was shining ever so brightly, and was the most welcoming sight the two tiger's had ever seen. 

"You'll love the beauty of this place. The yellow tiger once called it 'Nirvana' I believe. That is an accurate description." The red and white tiger's looked down for a moment, and there they saw their lifeless bodies resting in peaceful eternal sleep. They looked at each other, nodded heads, then followed after the dragon. For a moment, the sound of a nightingale seemed to echo beautifully from the cave.
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