Tiger Kingdom and the Book of Destiny
Suzie dreams of tigers rushing past on the streets outside her bedroom. Her twin brother Jack tells her it was only a dream, but was it?
Suzie dreams of tigers rushing past on the streets outside her bedroom. Her twin brother Jack tells her it was only a dream, but was it?
The following story is a sample of the chapter book Tiger Kingdom and the Book of Destiny. You can read the first three chapters below.
If you like it, you can find out more about the rest of the story here. We hope you enjoy!
“You will need this.” The boy reached out to the girl, handing her a knife. She turned the hilt around clumsily in her delicate hands. The great white beast at her side lifted his paw to her fingers.
“She does not need this weapon of man,” the beast said with a voice that was smooth like silk. His sharp blue eyes pierced the boys with their power. “She has the power to fight within.” He took the blade from her, and he could see streaks of fire within the tiger’s icy blue eyes as he held the weapon up to them. But the boy persisted.
“She will have no power against the spirits!” He spoke passionately. “To fight, she must be armed. And she must have help, she can’t go alone. I’m going with her, try and stop me!” He lunged forward at the beast, going for the knife—but the beast moved, and he swiped only air. The girl shivered at the violence of it and shrank back into the shadows.
“I shall go wherever you bid me.” Her voice rang out like crystal into the darkness, clear and also wispy, like the qualities of air and water mixed to create a fine tapestry of sky. The boy jumped back, surprised. This was not the voice of the girl he knew, the girl from his world. “I will not have you with me, because it would only endanger you. And I will not carry a piece of violence. But I will fight, when I need to.”
“Yes, you have the light with you always.” The beast nodded, opening his paws toward her. “We have given it to you to keep, to guide and protect you. You are one of us now; you are part of the Kingdom, forever.” She stepped toward him, and he enfolded her into his coat of fur, her slim figure lost within his great one.
The boy could only stand and stare in disbelief. He had lost her to this strange Kingdom. He was alone. And he knew it was up to him to find a way back to his world, a way back home.
I could hear the paws of the tigers
pounding the pavement, the heaving sound
of their hot breath against
the chilly Autumn air.
I could see their golden eyes,
striped coats glinting
in the night shadows
as they ran.
I climbed into bed, freeing the sheet
from underneath Jack’s iron grasp.
I tried to press my eyes closed tight
yet lay there for hours,
eyes opening to the streets below,
still seeing tiger stripes blazing
in the light of the street lamp,
still hearing the sounds of leaves rustling
as they rushed past in the night,
the wind moving steadily through the trees.
The wailing of the sirens woke me. “Jack, Jack!” I cried. “Wake up!” Beside me, my brother groaned and stirred from his sleep.
“Hmph.” He grunted and turned over, putting his pillow over his head. “I’m sleepin’, Suz. What is it?”
“Don’t you hear the sirens?” I pulled the pillow away from him and whispered excitedly in his ear. “I saw them. In the street!”
Jack sat up abruptly, flipping on the lamp, his eyes wide, as if his senses were suddenly aware of the sirens blaring around them. “Saw who?” he questioned me, getting up from his bed and looking out the porch screen to the street beyond. “Who’s in the street?”
“The tigers! I saw them running past the house just minutes ago. I thought I was dreaming…but then…”
“Tigers? You mean those big, ferocious beasts that live in the jungle?” Jack snorted. “You were dreaming, sis. It’s probably just a policeman chasing a speeder. Go back to bed.” And with that, he fell back into bed and resumed his previous position. “Hey, where’s my pillow?”
“I’m not giving it back until you go talk to Mama and Daddy with me. They’ll want to know about the tigers.” I stubbornly held his pillow to my chest.
“Wake them up over a dream you had?” He rolled his eyes at me. “It was just a dream! And you’re just scared of sirens! Now give it back and go back to sleep.” He reached out his long arms and grabbed for the pillow, catching its corner and swiftly releasing it from my hands. “Goodnight.” He winked at me in his victory, turned over on his side and flipped off the lamp.
I stood in the dark, frowning at my brother’s obvious lack of faith in his twin sister, not to mention in his sense of adventure. The tigers had been real, I was sure of it. Where were they now?
Only a few hours later, the sun streamed through the tiny holes in the screen, bathing the porch in bright light. I rolled over, grabbing my pillow from underneath my head, to cover my eyes. Then, a switch seemed to go off in my brain, a flash of stripes moving across my mind. “The tigers!” I called out loud, sitting up and flinging the pillow away. “Jack—” I started, turning to the empty space next to me, surprised to see that my brother had already woken and gone.
Pulling the sheet and quilt over our bed, I hastily threw on my robe and house slippers and ran down the hallway. The grandfather clock stood ominously over my head at its end. It was 7:00. I only had twenty minutes to get to the bus stop.
Rushing into the kitchen, I bumped into Jack. He was already dressed and eating a bowl of Cheerios at the breakfast table. “Running from the tigers?” he teased. He dodged by me and slipped out the front door before I could hit him. Why did he have to be so annoying sometimes?
“Suzie! You’re not even dressed yet. Here, take this and go on—hurry!” Mama held out a banana and cup of juice toward me, scooting me back down the hallway. “Oh!” Mama suddenly slipped, and the cup fell to the ground, splattering juice across the white tile floor, staining it orange.
As I reached for paper towels on the counter, my hand brushed Daddy’s newspaper. I looked down at it; the front-page headlines blazed in large black ink. But what caught my eye wasn’t this page, it was a small corner of another peeking out from underneath it. Pulling it free, I stared at the tiny print, nearly hidden in the bottom left corner.
“Greatest Show on Earth To Entrance Audiences,” it read. Mama was still shooing me down the hallway. “Go on now. I can take care of this.” Taking the newspaper with me, I obeyed.
Ten minutes later and with little time to spare, I slung my backpack over my shoulder and ran toward the bus stop. The large yellow school bus was already there, and it looked nearly full.
“Hi, Suz!” My best friend Emily stuck her hand out and waved from a window near the front of the bus. “Come on, I saved you a seat!” I waved back, stepping up into the bus and making my way as quickly as possible to the free seat beside her.
“Thanks, Em,” I said breathlessly, rummaging into my backpack as she spoke. I pulled out the newspaper page and smoothed it out in my lap.
“What’s that?” Emily leaned over my shoulder, reading the newspaper headline aloud.
“Greatest Show on Earth to Entrance Audiences”…the circus is coming to town? Cool! You want to ask our folks if we can go together?” Her eyes widened in excitement. “I’d love to see the acrobats! And the tigers—it says there will be tigers!” She pointed to the center of the article. I sucked in my breath, not answering right away. I could still see the tigers rushing past in the night, their stripes blazing in the light of the street lamps. I was right, it hadn’t been a dream!
“What is it?” Emily turned to me, taking in my wide-eyed look.
“The tigers!” I blurted out fast. “They’re here—I mean, I saw them last night! Jack told me it was a dream, but I knew. I knew it was real!” Emily furrowed her brows in confusion. “They must have escaped from the circus!”
“Alright, everyone off in single file, please! Watch your step!” came the shout of the driver from the front, and a wave of students came plunging forward from behind us, their bags hitting the seats. I quickly folded the newspaper article, zipping it into my backpack. The bus had come to a stop in front of South Middle School.
“See you at lunch!” I waved goodbye to Emily as we stepped through the big double doors of the school and into the main hallway.
“Save me a seat!” she replied, turning left toward her fifth-grade homeroom while I turned right toward mine, smiling. She knew I always saved her the same seat every day, at the table next to the long lunchroom windows— “our” table—but she always reminded me anyway.
Everyone was chatting excitedly when I entered the classroom. Mrs. Drake sat at her desk sipping her coffee through pursed lips. She frowned. “Margo, could you please tell us what all the commotion is about?” She turned to the shy girl with shaggy brown hair who had the unfortunate seat nearest hers.
“Um…” Margo stammered, looking up slowly at the students around her. “We…we were just talking about…about…” She looked around helplessly.
“About the exam coming up,” Michael offered from the back. Mrs. Drake stood up and walked over to him.
“Mmm.” She lifted her mug to her lips again, sipping slowly. “Well, then, Michael, I hardly think an exam is worth so much noise.” She walked back toward her desk, setting down her mug and picking up a piece of paper from her desk. Then she walked over to the message board next to the homeroom door and pinned it up. “Greatest Show on Earth To Entrance Audiences,” read the headline. Smiling wide, my heart beating faster, I nearly jumped out of my seat in wild excitement. My usual shyness vanished for the moment, and I was ready to tell everyone about the tigers. But I held myself back, as I knew talking during morning announcements was a bad idea.
“Now this may be worth some noise!” Mrs. Drake’s face broke out into an uncharacteristic smile. “In celebration of the circus coming to town, I’d like you all to use this week’s writing time to expound upon it. Write about what you think you’ll see there, creating a story about it. Remember, the beauty is in the details. And, as always, pay careful attention to grammar and punctuation. But creativity and originality will be rewarded! I’ll collect them at the end of the week, and the most creative and original story will win a free ticket to the show—courtesy of the generous family who owns the circus!” She gave a small clap. “Now, get out your writing journals, pencils, and begin!”
As Mrs. Drake spoke, I felt my excitement waning, then plunging down deep into the pit of my stomach, turning to dread. There’s nothing I hate more than a writing assignment. It isn’t that I don’t have ideas—they swirl in my head so fast that my pencil can never keep up! At the end, I’m left with a jumble of letters that often make no sense to anyone but me. I sat with my journal opened to a fresh, clean lined page. I stared into it, willing my pencil to begin the words. Instead, I began to draw. I drew the tigers, their bold stripes bending along their backs, their paws held up in mid-flight, flying across the page. With each line, my pencil moved faster, my heart beat stronger, and I felt the familiar rush of creating something.
Around me, everything seemed still, the classroom silent except for the scratching of pencils on paper. I didn’t look up from my drawing, though, wanting to add the details of my dream. As I began drawing the streetlamp in the background, something seemed to glimmer on the page. I raised it up from the desk, shaking it as if to shake away dust. But now the paper seemed to be glowing, right in my hand. I stared, my pencil suspended in the air in disbelief. In the shadow of the streetlamp I had drawn was an outline of something. I put the paper right up to my eye. It was a key. I dropped my pencil, head jerking up to look around the classroom.
But I wasn’t in the classroom any more. I was outside, standing in the darkness. A streetlamp glowed near me. It was as if I had closed my eyes and stepped into my drawing—into my dream where the tigers had been. How is this possible? I gaped.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by a thundering, a pounding so loud it vibrated the ground below me. The tigers! As if in response, my own feet spun into action and I ran, the cold wind biting my skin as I rushed forward. But I heard another sound on the wind, this one a high-pitched melody. It seemed to twinkle and echo, repeating over and over, pulling me in the other direction, away from the road. I turned toward it, running straight into the thorny brambles of a rosebush.
“Arrrrgh! Owww!” I cried as I fell sideways into the thorns. I had never been an athlete, and in fact was something of a klutz. I cursed myself for my two left feet, feeling the pain of fresh scrapes on my legs. I rolled away from the bush, peering down to see if there was any blood, hoping I wouldn’t have to test my nursing skills too. Something was glowing in the grass next to me.
It was the key. It shone as bright as gold, with a beautiful blue stone at its center. Around the stone were three animal shapes: a tiger, a bear, and a bird. And there were symbols on it, too, which looked like ancient hieroglyphic script. I stared at it, transfixed. The music I had heard seemed to be louder now—as if coming from the key itself. Enchanted by its power, and with the pain of my legs forgotten, I reached out my hand and picked it up.
If you enjoyed reading this sample of Tiger Kingdom and the Book of Destiny, click below to read more about the series and author Stacie here.
Tiger Kingdom & The Book of Destiny
Volume 1 of The Dream Chronicles
by Stacie Eirich
Illustrations by Suzanne Hunt
Copyright @ Stacie Eirich 2016
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