“It’s just like I said there is something different about you.” He looks surprised to see her standing there and even glad for it and she can’t help but return her own playful look at his. She’s just glad to see him smiling. The young lion is often alone and wandering about to indulge in his own world and even when together with his small patriarch family he seems greatly separate. He’s…strange. So bright and optimist, a peculiarity amongst warriors who were hardened realists and she respects him all the more for it. “Is that why you keep following me?” he teases his blue eyes sparkling. “Maybe…” she humors. And she springs away dropping gracefully down to the city wall ready to retire for the night after making one more stop. She inhales through her nose and sure enough she hadn’t been imagining it, she knows his scent well. Tygra had passed through the street shortly. He had disappeared so quickly after the street fight she hadn’t had the chance to make sure the eldest prince was unharmed as well. The cheetah had no doubt he could take care of himself, she’s seen him fight and he’d always managed to land on his feet in whatever kind of trouble he got into and it didn’t happen a fraction as often as she’d guess it should. The tiger prince’s tongue was as smooth as it was sharp, often able to avoid trouble with a few choice words. Still the spotted cat finds herself tracking his scent as his tracks are non-existent even in the dirt paths. He’d always been a stealthy cat with or without his invisibility and she usually grateful for the challenge of hide and seek to break the monotony of guard duty. But not tonight, it was far too late for that game tonight. She’d be expected back at the temple before long. She stands at the palace wall that leads to the garden, the light night breeze confirming Tygra had just passed through, already within the safety of the palace. There really isn’t any need for her to go any further. Still… She crouches before she springs, catching the corner of an unlit torch block before swinging herself feet first up and over onto a low hanging garden wall before slinking down into a thicket of tea roses. She waits. His shadow falls over her and passed her in moments. He walks, no, more like stalks around the garden fountain in clear agitation, whip still clenched tightly in his hand. He’s built himself a cage of frustration and irritability and once again he is a prisoner of it. She sees him like this too often. Restless and wild. His whip lashes out slicing through the night air before cracking against the stone path. The tiger smoothly draws back the weapon in a long high arc before rounding it forward once more this time to an apple tree. A large red fruit falls lanced neatly in half. The prince pays it no mind before striking again and again. She isn’t sure how many apples suffer Tygra’s frustrations before she decides she’s coming out from her hiding place. “A shame to let all of our fruit be wasted on your whip practice.” The cleric snaps her eyes up to the massive lion approaching his son, who is clearly as caught off guard as Cheetara. She ducks into her hiding place even lower berating herself for being so oblivious to the king’s heavy footfalls. It wouldn’t do for her king to see her sneaking about the garden; she suspected all sorts of questions would arise with the added equation of the very late evening. She’s trusted and thought of highly by Jaga and Prince Tygra by their Lord Claudus but though neither ruler have said a word she senses Jaga has not missed her interest in the oldest Prince. She wonders if Jaga would think her interest a distraction and perhaps feel her not capable of separating her emotions from her duties. She’s not brave enough to find out. Tygra is quick to straighten and give a respectful bow at the approaching ruler. “Father.” King Claudis simply places a hand on Tygra’s shoulder and a small measure of tension seems to leave him. “You’re frustrations may be better worked out within the war room.” She can almost feel the tiger’s embarrassment at having been caught in such a wild state, though he’s far from cowed by it. But the king does not seem angry merely suggesting. “My apologizes Father, it will not happen again,” Tygra vows once he finds his voice. The cat moves to slink past the king but Lord Claudius has not released him. In the moonlight even from the distance she sees Tygra’s eyes glitter gold and hard with some inner storm of emotions he seems to be doing his best to conceal and failing. “They are only trees but you are my son and I do not believe I have ever seen you this troubled before.” “It’s nothing.” She feels like an intruder suddenly watching both father and son, Tygra no small cat positively dwarfed by the massive king. “Speak your mind.” The king’s simple words are patient but firm “It’s just those lizards and letting them go seems like a mistake.” King Claudius makes no reply but his own stern blue eyes give way to his concurrence. Tygra squares his jaw and continues seeing that his words have the desired effect. “Our forgiveness and mercy will not stay the hand of any lizard from slaughtering any cat ever. Likely hasten it if anything. If he spent more time defending our city and less time daydreaming he’d know they can’t be trusted or granted mercy ever.” He’s practically spitting in anger now. “He’d outstretch a claw to them before one of our own.” King Claudius make a word of agreement to Tygra’s fears and he doesn’t have to she can feel his own unease at the decision. Such a small thing that would not have been much of a concern some months ago but things were changing. The lizards had grown bolder and bolder, each assault on their gates larger than previous ones and more daring. The clerics themselves were having some difficulty keeping up with the number of attacks on the city. Protecting the tiger prince, the heir and king first and foremost was difficult enough in a massive attack when a swarm could cause a scatter of the royal family, keeping the casualties of cats down was also a priority that the clerics excelled in. Battles however timelessly won were not completely without their casualties. And she too had to wonder if such actions as tonight’s would damn them in the future. No good deed goes unpunished… “He made a judgment he thought best for the future of our kingdom. A judgment he wasn’t swayed in an opinion on.” Tygra means to quiet with the simple answer. Even behind the disapproval of the decision Tygra can detect some small measure of pride in his father’s tone. “Is it a good one though?” Tygra finds himself asking. “Wise or not the fate of every Thunderian may someday rest in Lion-O’s sole convictions he must be powerful in, whether in agreement or not this we must honor Tygra.” The king is walking away with only this before Tygra’s next words cause him to stop. “The 8th and 14th brigade you sent scouting the cliffs, their absence has created a widening hole in our defenses that would be all too obvious to even simpletons from the viewpoint of the city square.” King Claudus turns slowly, curiously with a raised brow. Both the king and the cleric were suddenly aware of Tygra’s grave insight without the tiger needing to say another word. Her stomach knots in recalling the reptile’s recent invasion only a month ago. The lizards’ attack had failed as usual, but the most unusual thing of it was how well the lizards seemed prepared for the cat’s defensive maneuvers and even exploited the small window of weaknesses in every move, wounding many. A very large, very confident lizard army attack had required her and the other clerics to do damage control. As she battled the cleric had the fleeting thought of the lizards being much more prepared this time, in fact too prepared. It was like they knew every tactic thrown at them, inside and out, not to mention the unexplained disappearance of several cats and no sign of defeat or capture. Drawing the lizards a blueprint of the city’s defenses would accomplish the same thing as releasing the prisoners should they talk to the right lizards if the two didn’t honor the heir’s compassion. Her spotted coat got a sudden chill that had nothing to do with the balmy weather. “Then let us go over new maneuvers for the remaining brigades. I’m sure I can count on you for some ideas.” The king had an expectant glint in his eyes for his ever prepared son. It was exactly what the striped prince had wanted to hear from the way he straightened and boldly followed after the king leaving Cheetara concealed amongst the foliage. The lithe she-cat slipped from the brush after a good ten minutes stepping past browning apple halves and into the grove of oranges. She’d take the northside wall out; it would allow her to get to her quarters more quickly. She makes the leap onto the garden wall ledge soundlessly, pausing to watch the lion and tiger disappear into the palace. Tygra pauses in mid step, sensing a pair of eyes on him but finds the garden and all of its walls empty. Whether he's imagining it or not he doesn't know but he could swear he faintly smells sweetgrass and— But she isn't there and he knows he's simply imagining. The striped cat sighs following Claudus inside.