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The Tale of Horjin

The tiger was born.

He was the runt of the litter, and was therefore shunned and outcast byhis family. That is simply the way things are done.

So the tiger was forced to learn to feed himself, a task he learned quickly. It seemed that, despite his small size (or perhaps because of it), he was an excellent hunter. He learned which types of prey were easiest to catch, and which would sustain him longest.

Strangely, the tiger did not stay small, as most runts do. He began to grow, and he found he needed to begin feeding on bigger game. His growth continued until he was fully twice the size of a normal tiger. In addition, he had developed a semblance of intelligence. Creatures that risked his territory faced an array of simple traps, in addition to the tiger himself.

Then the wolf came.

The tiger was feeding on an especially large pegasus he had managed to take down (a rare delicacy, to say the least), when the wolf came into the clearing. The tiger raised his head, sensing the wolf's presence and the wolf's unspoken challenge. He growled.

And soundlessly, the wolf pounced.

The two beasts fought over the carcass for hours. Never before had the tiger found an adversary that fought so furiously, or was able to match his strength.

However, the tiger knew what the wolf did not: there were traps scattered around the clearing, and all the tiger needed to do was force the wolf into one of them. The process was a great deal of effort, but the tiger was able to trick the wolf into a pit trap. Having done so, the tiger tried to sense the life of the wolf, and failed. He left the wolf for dead and went back to his den to nurse his wounds.

Several weeks later, the tiger was stalking his territory once again. He had survived the time by living on a few carcasses he had stashed near his den.

But he had not had fresh meat in a long time, and he hungered for it. That day, he took down a unicorn, a pegasus, a small dragon, and a chimaera. He feasted on all four that night, but he was unable to finish all of what he had brought down. He left it for tomorrow and retired to his den.

Unknown to him, the wolf had survived and had been stalking him, biding his time for the right moment. He, too, partook in the feast, and slunk away to fight the tiger another day.

When the tiger awoke, he realized immediately that he felt different. Then, thinking about it, he recognized that, overnight, he had become intelligent and capable of speech.

He left his den and found the wolf waiting for him outside. The tiger sensed the intelligence in him as well, and realized what had happened.

And soundlessly, the wolf pounced.

The two fought for hours, hurling insult at each other with their newfound verbal skills. The tiger knew that traps would not save him this time, so he relied upon his superior strength to defeat the wolf. But the wolf matched him, pound for pound. Their blood intermingled, and they both subsided for a time.

Having watched this, and impressed with their vigor, the goddess Viviantia came down to the combatants and blessed them with the eternal life of godhood. The tiger became the God of the Hunt, and the wolf became the Goddess of Beasts. Then she spirited the wolf away to another island to prevent a battle of epic proportions.

The tiger roamed his island, hunting greater and greater prey with each passing day. Until one day, the man arrived.

The man fought valiantly against many creatures, succeeding in his hunting time and time again. The tiger watched the man, impressed.

Then the tiger became the target of the man's hunt.

Again, the tiger and the man fought for hours, until the man realized that he could not win, and gave up.

Not until then did the tiger speak. He watched the astonishment spread over the mans' face as he learned that he had just survived a combat with a god. The tiger blessed the man, telling him that he would be the tiger's first priest. "What is your name?" the tiger asked.

"My name is Sagittarius, my god." He paused. "Who do we hunt, my god?"

"We hunt the Goddess of Beasts."

"Does she have a name?"

"No. Would you name her?"

"I name her Nelig." He paused again. "What is your name, my god?"

"I do not have one. Would you name me?"

Sagittarius pondered this for a moment, then smiled. "Your name is Horjin."