The land beyond the winter portal lived up to its name. The terrain thrived under a pure blanket of white snow. Even the wind had a chilling ability to pierce any cloth left exposed on their skin. The deep green evergreen trees were laced with white drifts that didn't make it to the floor. Small furry white creature foxes, rabbits, and even white speckled cats could be sensed near the portal. It was refreshing compared to their home land, which though it did do winter, never truly embraced the frigid temperatures that the season called for in other parts of the world.
The winter portal opened into the center of a small city. It was the centerpiece piece of a beautiful fountain that was made of a spiral stair that went from the portal door and lazily wound its way to the ground as part of a long tail. The portal itself had a large marble cat sitting on its arch. It looked like a white and black leopard watching its back from on top of this statue. It was delicately crafted and absolutely beautiful screaming of power and influence.
"Kyera, why does the leopard watch behind it?" Clovis asked having never really paid attention to the northland's crest. Now, being here wandering among the wooden log cabins and large wooden structures made by the same interlocking method he was curious. Many of the people watched them and seemed weary as they stood at the base of the stairs with their protectors.
"At one time, the proud Snow Leopard faced the world coming at it in its prowling dominance. However when the First Queen Sorana was betrayed by the other nations, she changed the leopard to always be watching her back so her people would never forget." Kyera replied as she looked up at the artfully chiselled cat. The emotion in its face was angry to the untrained eye. However, being a cat herself Kyera could see the pain captured in that expression. A pain she herself was very very familiar with, a pain left by betrayal.
"I see, so am I to understand they will be distrusting of us?" he asked seeing as most the town had gathered around the portal now. Their expressions answered his question long before she even answered.
"Yes, they will be. Stay in the center of the guard please." Kyera spoke softly though confidently. She pulled herself to full height and evened herself out. Suddenly his quiet,obedient human wife looked like a domineering queen oozing confidence and elegance, dressed in her furrs.
Three men approached from the crowd. Two were obviously guards, dressed in uniforms and heavy fur cloaks. However the center man had a lady on his arm. She was fair skinned and fair haired, with dark eyes that bore into Kyera's heart and swept over the group behind her. However the man to her left wore jet black hair and two distinctly different eyes one dark and one pale. Both of them however wore formal wear in soft blues, whites, and silvers that shimmered in the snow.
"Who be you who arrive by the sleeping portal?" The woman asked, her icy gaze disapproving as she looked them over. Kyera bowed and as she did, her body morphed to become the white tiger before them. Clovis was mesmerised by her as she shifted to tigress. The lady and her escorts all raised their brow seeing the snow white tigress standing before them.
"It be I, Kyera Mei Shade of the Moon, Princess of the Forest Knights and Lady of the Key." Kyera introduced herself with her full title. The woman's eyes lit with surprise but then narrowed as she looked to him.
"Change form, so we may know your true colors." Her partner demanded of Clovis who looked slightly surprised. The hair on his neck prickled as it stood on end.
"I do not…" he began but Kyera roared.
"I will not he disrespected, nor will my mate be acknowledged in such a manner. I was unaware your queen treated such old friends in this way." Kyera snarled in anger. Her tone striking concern into the fair woman's face. The woman took a step back and shifted form. A young snow leopardess stood before the white tigress.
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