Gottfried Stiefelknecht was on his way back home to feed the tiger as was his duty every afternoon after watering the plantation. Ever since he entered the service of the queen did he perform this task. Over the years he had grown fond of the tiger. Sometimes even believing to understand the beast, just to be reminded of the opposite the next moment. But he liked it, the tiger had it’s own mind, ferocious and wild, like his wife, Esmeralda from the southern islands.
Gottfried entered the huge golden cage through the golden gate which gave way to a lush tropical landscape, magnificent and breath-taking, even though one could make out a few rusty pipes on the ceiling.
Right away the tiger who lurked in the undergrowth came jumping through a flowering rhododendron bush and ran for Gottfried. The beast went low next to him, arching it’s back, letting off some meowing sounds and rubbed itself from head to tail along Gottfried’s wooden peg leg, the tiger had bitten off the real one when it was still younger, after mistaking it for an attacking werelion’s paw, it only tried to protect Gottfried and now felt guilty for being so clumsy, hoped nobody had noticed, especially not Gottfried, it’s best friend in the whole golden cage.
Gottfried did his duty and combed the furry back of his favorite tiger in the world, not that he knew any other. He had to be careful at the sides, he knew the tiger was sensitive there, even more so on the belly, it took him two winters to find out how it liked to get combed, if Gottfried did it wrong the tiger would gently bite his hand but usually not enough to severe it, that happened sometimes nevertheless and Gottfried looked like a patchwork of sewn together body parts after all those years in the queen’s service.
Just that moment when Gottfried scratched its favorite spot, screams echoed in the castle, a roar, the tiger jumped back and growled, it knew that noise, this time it was sure, the werelion was here. The tiger roared in return, silencing the screams that had just filled the air and stepped in front of Gottfried, proud and ready, facing the golden gate.