Morning at last entered the castle and cheered up anything that was gloomy last night.
A gray kat entered the main hall where three strange kats slept on the hard tile floor. Interested and confused, he tried to rouse one of them.
He stirred, opened his eyes, and pointed his glove-o-trix-ed fist at him.
“Who are you?” asked Razor.
“I live here, Who are you?”
Razor put his weapon down and sat up. “T-bone, Chris, wake-up. We have company.”
Groggily, the other two woke up.
“My name’s Razor. We’re on a quest that led here. We didn’t know if anyone lived here or not, and we had no other provisions to stay the night.”
“A quest, you say?! My, I haven’t heard of a good quest in ages! And right here, in our own castle too!” said the strange kat excitedly.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” asked Razor.
“I’m not sure. We travel a lot. But it’s unlikely. But then again, unlikely things do happen on a quest! Let me get you something to eat.”
The kat led them through toward the deeper interior of the castle, past old halls with portraits in them, to the main dining hall.
It also was small as, well you know, but it looked like it might have been larger at one time.
Too hungry to refuse, they accepted his generous offer of food. Shortly after, they were aware of soft quiet footsteps coming down the stairs.
They turned toward the corridor to find a beautiful girl, wearing asemi-formal dress entering the room. She had beautiful cinnamon colored fur with Tiger stripes. She was beautiful, graceful, and lithe in all her movements. Although she looked like she was perhaps 16 she was a fully grown kat.
“Sister, we have visitors,” explained the gray-colored kat.
“Yes I see. Who are these strangers, and how did they come by this place?”
“I think it better to ask them yourself.”
The girl sat down at the table aside of Razor.
“My name is Princess Katrina; I am the heir to this castle.”
T-bone and Razor jumped to their feet.
“Hey, I know you,” accused T-bone. “You’re that gypsy lady from the carnival that started this whole thing! You’re La Esmeralda!”
Both the lords of the castle were surprised, but familiar with the name.
“Uh, I don’t go by that name here. That is my stage name. We wander about due to the gypsy blood that runs in our family. This land is poor and forgotten, sometimes we travel about to earn a little extra bread money. How did you find me and this place? We pride ourselves in our privacy.”
“My name is Razor. This is my partner, T-bone, and my brother Christopher. We were led here, your Ladyship.”
“Led here? By whom? No one outside the castle knows of this place.”
“If you please, I think I’d rather explain that later.”
“Very well. Perhaps you might enlighten us with the reason of your visit.”
“It’s a long story, one that even we do not completely understand.”
“I love stories. Please continue.”
“Wait. What’s your hand in this? Why are we here?” asked Razor.
“I don’t know. How could I? The story isn’t over yet.”
“What do you mean? Why did the Tigress send us to find you?” asked Razor.
“The Tigress?” interjected the gray kat. “What do you know of the White Tigress? Have you been with her recently?”
The Swatkats looked at each other.
“You know of the Tigress?”
“This is the Castle of Tygreess,” answered the princess, slightly confused.
“I have a question. If he’s your brother, why isn’t he a prince? He’s older.”
“This castle was that of a matriarchal, rather than patriarchal. Due to our religion of the Tigress.”
“That means that females are more dominant than males.”
“Well that stinks.”
“In our culture, we believe in the legend of the Tigress. Not too far to the South, lies a castle of the Wolf, and this is the castle of the Tigress. She christened this land so that all females would be blessed with skill in magic near equal to her own.”
“You asked if we met the White Tigress recently. Have you?”
“No, not recently…” he trailed off.
“What’s the story here? What aren’t you telling us?”
“I’m fairly certain I can explain why you’re here better than you can yourselves. Come with me, all of you.”
They all got up and left the dining hall and followed the strange kat.
It was true he seemed to know the castle as well as the back of his paw.
They passed through a door which led to a hall Princess Katrina had never been to even though she had grown up in the castle for as long as she could remember. Finally, the young prince took off something around his neck.
“This is my token.”
He showed them a plain carved wooden slab. It was carved with the inscription of a Wolf, to be more precise, the figure of Shandor.
“So we have arrived. You are the one we are seeking?”
He suddenly looked reminiscent and a little sad. “No, it isn’t me you seek. All will be explained inside this room. Inside here, I have many things to present to you. Watch your step, you might say it’s a little impressive.”
From the token, he removed a small brass key and threw open wide the door. They stepped in, and each were filled with a wonderment and absolute awe. They had the most sincere feeling of humbleness and mortality that it was true, they each felt slightly weak in the knees. The room itself was a slight wonder.
The treasures in the walls alone were worth a king’s ransom, and a handful could make anyone rich beyond want. The were encrusted mounted jewels, rubies, sapphires, emeralds in the walls modestly decorating the room.
But that wasn’t what had the kat’s jaws hanging.
This was a room of statues, and the still nameless kat allowed them to soak up all the images before he even tried to start his tale. In the center of the room were the statues of the Wolf and the Tiger in dazzling whites and jeweled eyes.
Beside the Wolf, were figures of the Deer,the Stag, the Robin, the Bear, and the Rabbit.
Beside the Tiger were not one but several lions; The White Lion closest, The Golden Lion, The Silver Lion,The Black Lion, The Red Lion, The Yellow Lion, The Blue Lion, by far the most colorful part of the room.
Beside the Lions were the White Stag, much larger than the one near the Wolf, and the Unicorn.
Among them all were The Phoenix, the Roc, The Peacock, The Swan, The Ostrich, the Horse, the Tortoise, The Cheetah, The Red Dragon, The Gold Dragon, the White Dragon, and the Black Dragon.
But above them all lorded the Wolf and the Tigress.
They finally regained themselves and Razor commented on the placement of the statues.
“You see, The Wolf, the Deer, etc. and all those on the Wolf’s side belong to the Forest. They are all the representatives or Lords of the Forest. As for the others, the Lion and Tiger have ties in cultures and literature, and for that matter so do the Lion and the Stag do to the Unicorn.”
“You are observing the hierarchy of The Wolf Pack.”
“But I thought the Wolf Pack was just Wolves.”
“Shandor created the Wolf Pack to unite all creatures. These are all just the founding fathers, as you would say. This is sort of like your Mount Rushmore.” He continued. “You will find many tigers here for this is her castle, she is our patron goddess. But since your Wolf is her closest friend, many Wolves are here as well.”
“So let’s cut to the chase. This is very lovely sculpture here, but you were going to explain our quest.”
“Yes. It is a long story.”
He invited them to sit down.
He retrieved a small treasure chest from behind the statue of the Tiger.
“A long time ago,when I was just a child and a page for the court, a vision appeared to me. I saw before me The White Wolf and The White Tigress of legend, right before my eyes. I was astounded; I didn’t know what to do. The Tigress carried with her a basket in her mouth, and she pushed the bundle into my hands. I heard a kitten crying from inside the basket and pulling up the covers I confirmed my suspicions. Then the Wolf spoke to me, “Take this child to your King and Queen and have them raise it as their own. One day, a trio of adventurers will come for it. It is their destiny. When that day comes, you must give them this,” and he gave me a scroll and a package wrapped in cloth. Theygave me this token that they would know me when they came, and to signify that I was forever a Protector of the Pack. I carried the bundle to my parents, and at long last for the next twenty years or so,” he looked at Katrina, “we have had a princess on the throne.”
”You mean, I’m not really your sister?”
“Although you are not by blood my sister, I am closer to you than blood could ever bring us. No, you are something more than just a princess, Katrina. You are of the line of Sheba.”
“We’re supposed to find, her?”
“The Princess Katrina, is your sister.”
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.