The three men followed the tiger deep into the wilds of Kashmir, Kirk Bill riding tall on his black stallion, Sergeant Major General slightly less tall on his chestnut gelding and the pandit somewhat shorter again on a piebald mare, in strict accordance to the tried-and-true customs of adventure stories.
They followed the ferocious feline past brooks a-babbling, through jungles dark, over some rather steep hills and deep into the mountains and valleys of Kashmir.
Finally they found themselves in a narrow valley, steeply bordered by rocky cliffs, all covered in vines and monkeys and aerial anteaters. A magnificent waterfall plunged over the rocky precipice above into an azure pool.
Into this pool the fearsome kitty plunged! The three men had no choice but to follow.
Leaving their horses behind, they too plunged into the pool and through the curtain of water — into a dark cave-tunnel, lit by flaming torches.
“Good God!” whispered Sergeant Major General. “Look, Bill – the torches!” For the torches burned in the eyes of tigers sculpted in the very stone of the cave-tunnel. “We’re on the right track!”
The three men walked onwards, down into the mountain, following the tigers, the tigers burning bright! At one point, Kirk Bill stopped, kneeling down on the cool stone floor to put his ear to the ground.
“Drums” he said. “We’re getting closer”.
Suddenly there was a shuddering, a scraping and shrieking of stone, and the ground beneath their feet crumbled and shook as it opened up to reveal a dark emptiness beneath!
“Hold onto the tigers!” Kirk Bill cried, throwing himself to the walls of the cave-tunnel. Sergeant Major General did likewise, grabbing hold of the nostrils of a snarling stone tiger, just as the floor of the cave beneath him gave way.
The pandit was not so fleet-footed. “AIEEEE!!” he cried, and he was gone, disappeared into the void below.
“I say,” breathed Sergeant Major General rather heavily. “Close shave, wot?”
“Indeed,” said Kirk Bill, and even this fine gentleman had a thin sheen of sweat across his brow.
The two men managed to climb across the rock wall, seeking and finding the slightest of handholds and the shallowest of footholes, until they reached firm ground again on the other side of the hole.
“A booby trap,” said Kirk Bill. “We must be alert for others”.
“Pity about that pandit chappie,” said Sergeant Major General, “he could make a nice cup of tea.”
The two men continued to navigate the devious twists and turns of the cave-tunnel, narrowly avoiding being speared by spears ejected from the mouths of the carved tigers, burned by flaming flames ejected from the mouths of the carved tigers and also being eaten by a swarm of black man-eating beetles, which were also ejected from the mouths of the carved tigers, though not ejected as much as vomited out in a stream of clicking mandibles and waving antennae. Kirk Bill and Sergeant Major General speared them with spears and burned them with flaming flames, which Kirk Bill had resourcefully seized from the previous booby traps.
All this time, the sound of the drums became louder, until finally they could feel the ground beneath them vibrate with the beat. Finally, the cave-tunnel widened into a cave-proper. A vast cave, filled with carved columns leading up to giant steps, on top of which sat a giant throne of stone. The throne sat in the mouth of an enormous carved stone tiger, and in its eyes burned leaping flames, each eye as large as the largest fireplace in a grand castle! The throne itself was carved from ebony, inlaid with strips of gold.
In the throne sat a woman, in robes spun also of gold, a golden circlet upon her brow, set with a metamorphic rock with a reddish-gold silky lustre, striped with black haematite. At her feet lay their furry friend.
This was the High Priestess. The High Priestess of the TEMPLE OF THE TIGER!
TO BE CONTINUED