Monday, November 26, 2012
The blog I was planning to write all weekend didn’t want to get written, so here’s another one. I just finished a book and I’m floundering around trying to pick out the next one. One of the contenders is Rick and Nilambari’s story. This scene takes place shortly after Bari unexpectedly ducks out on her meeting with her promised husband, Ravi.
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Ravi stalked the halls of his father’s mansion in a white-hot fury. Only minutes before he’d stood at the window to watch the delivery of his intended bride. A comely young woman, just out of her teens, older than he normally preferred. Still, he’d been assured she was virgin, and he’d been looking forward to schooling her in how to properly serve her new lord and master.
And what had she done? The stupid bint had run away. Those incompetent excuses for an escort hadn’t even gotten her to the door. She’d shifted to her tiger form and run away. From him.
Heads would be ripped from necks for this. Beginning with hers, when he caught her.
A figure loomed out at him from an office as he passed. Ravi whirled with a snarl that would have made anyone else recoil in well-deserved fear for their lives. Anyone, that is, other than his older brother Tasman.
“What’s all the ruckus outside?” Tasman asked. “Has your bride arrived? Congratulations.”
Ravi swallowed the murderous growl that threatened to burst from his throat. Here stood the ultimate cause of all his woes. He could fight, he could demonstrate his ruthlessness, he could prove his worth as an heir to Shere Khan’s empire over and over again, yet he would never overcome the insurmountable obstacle of his birth order. Second son. Second born. Always and forever second to Tasman.
He’d often thought of removing his brother, yet even that would never raise him in the estimation of their sire. Your brother would never have made that decision. Tasman would have done things differently.
Ravi twisted his lips into something that almost looked like a smile. “Thank you. Yes, she’s just arrived. I’m going down to meet her now.”
“Excellent. A wife will be good for you, brother. Work off all that excess energy, eh?” Tasman clapped his brother on the shoulder and returned to his office.
Ravi’s snarl reappeared the instant the door clicked shut. He pounded down the stairs.
The remnants of his vanished bride’s escort milled about in the foyer. Though tigers all, they cowered before his wrath like dogs. As well they should, for their carelessness.
“Convince me,” he said, with teeth fully bared, “why I should not slaughter you all right now, right here.”
“She surprised us,” a guard quavered. “We weren’t expecting it. She’d been perfectly well-behaved the whole trip.”
“Surprised you,” Ravi ripped out. “A woman surprised you. You, the flower of my father’s Yakuza. Vishnu save the house of Khan from the likes of you.”
“We’ll get her back,” the guard promised. “She doesn’t know the woods. Two of our finest pursue her even now.”
“Picture my relief. I want her back within the hour. You will have her brought to me, unharmed.” He’d dole out her punishment personally once he had her in his grasp. Teaching a new wife her proper place was the responsibility of her husband. “Well? Are you just going to sit around while others clean up your mess?”
“No, lord,” the guard said. He bellowed to his fellows. As one, they shed their clothes. Within minutes a troupe of five tigers sped into the forest to join the search for his runaway bride.
Ravi left the clothing where it lay. Servants would collect it, after Ravi exited the room.
Nothing now to do but wait. His entire life, it seemed, was one unending wait for a reward that would never arrive. A race in which he was doomed from birth to finish in second place. When he entered Heaven, no doubt Tasman would have gotten there ahead of him.
A hunt would not assuage his rage. He needed to dominate something. He headed for the stables.
The dozen horses retreated to the backs of their stalls when they scented Ravi. Brainless, unpredictable, grass-eating beasts. But occasionally useful, in their own stupid way. Much like a woman. He selected a large gray stallion and thrust himself into its stall.
The horse met him with bared teeth and flying hooves. This same animal fawned all over his younger brother Sanjay and followed him around like a puppy. That was unnatural. Tigers and horses weren’t intended by nature to get along. It often led Ravi to speculate on Sanjay’s dubious ancestry.
Clearly the horse wasn’t about to submit to any bits or saddling. That suited Ravi and his frustration fine. He was quite in the mood for a battle. No stupid brute would get the best of him. Any tiger who couldn’t win a fight with an herbivore deserved the subsequent trampling.
He dodged a vicious kick and caught a handful of the awful creature’s mane. The horse made a near-successful attempt at a bite. Ravi bit it back, on the neck, hard. The stallion squealed in pain. Ravi took advantage and flung himself onto the horse’s back. It bucked at once, even in the confines of the stall. Ravi dug in and hung on until the stallion tired itself out. It quivered beneath him sullenly, unbeaten but resigned.
Good enough. When it got its breath back it would fight him again, and he would best it again. Perhaps today he would finally kill it and eat it. Better still, he could present its bloody slain corpse to his bride as the wedding feast. But first, both must learn once and for all who was master here.
He slammed his heels into the horse’s sides. The startled beast squealed again and bolted out of the stall. Ravi steered it into the forest with savage jerks on its mane. Perhaps he could ride it hard enough to make it break a leg. It was worth a try. Horse and rider, both boiling over with violence, plunged into the trees.