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The Lion Guard
It was mid-afternoon, the perfect time for a robbery, in Kyle’s opinion. Everyone expected thieves to come at night, not whilst the sun was at its brightest. But after years of daylight robbery, Kyle knew better. He wore normal clothes; checkered shirt and jeans. To the world, he was a boring antique dealer. So boring that no one would ever pause to wonder where he sourced his treasures.
Kyle casually approached the property so that anyone driving by would think he was a visitor. And, if statistics were on his side, the residents would either be out, or inside and not paying attention to the front of the house.
The house in question was an old, stone-brick cottage. It was beautifully kept, with freshly painted cream windows and a red roof. The front garden boasted lush, green trees, and a white picket fence paraded around its perimeter. The driveway, though, was enclosed by a tall, iron gate with spikes. It didn’t belong with the property. It looked like it had been plucked from a haunted mansion. On either side of the gate was a life-size lion statue. The creatures sat boldly, guarding the house.
They couldn’t guard it against Kyle, though. He didn’t exactly know what he was going to steal, but he’d heard the most marvelous and mysterious stories about the people who lived inside the house. They sounded exactly like the sort who would own foreign, expensive antiques. His plan was to break into the front room, take whatever was there, and then leave right away with his loot. No one would suspect a thing.
As Kyle neared the iron gates and eyed the house for movement, he reached a hand towards the closest lion, intending to pat its pale stone head. But, as his hand made contact with the creature, he felt warmth. He felt fur. Kyle jumped back in surprise and found himself looking at a fully grown, very much alive, African lion. Its beautiful golden mane swayed in the breeze and its muzzle shook slightly as the big cat sniffed the air. Its big blue eyes found Kyle’s and the creature pushed up on its hind legs so it was no longer sitting, but standing.
Kyle’s heart raced. The lion was almost as tall as he was, and far more intimidating! He heard a deep growl emit from the animal’s throat and its tail whipped the air. The thief stepped backwards, but his arm brushed against more fur... the other lion! It was pacing back and forth behind him. Together, the pair had Kyle trapped. Beads of sweat began dripping from the tip of his nose, and the lions licked their lips, delighted by the fresh human scent, anticipating their next meal.
The first lion tilted its head menacingly to the side, then raised its jaw and opened its hulking mouth. The lion’s sharp teeth made Kyle whimper with fear, and he staggered on the spot as a thunderous, bellowing roar filled his ears. The earth seemed to shake as the king of the jungle spoke. Kyle froze, feeling the second lion brush past him. It stood by its partner, creating a crescendo as it opened its own massive jaws.
“Sleep, my children!” The world stopped and the lions’ roars died as Kyle heard the shout of a stranger. A man was standing beyond the iron gates, wearing a cult-like brown robe with ancient runes stitched on its hem. His beard was long and grey, and he spoke with an otherworldly power. Kyle looked back at the frightening creatures. They were stone. Blood no longer coarsed through the lions. They had returned to their original state. Kyle found himself wondering if they had ever been real; had he imagined it all? But no- the sweat on his brow was real, and the rapid beat of his heart was no illusion.
“You came here with ill intentions.” The bearded man looked directly at Kyle and his golden eyes burned a warning right into his soul. “You will leave in peace, and never return.”
Kyle took one last look at the statues, those powerful beasts, and imagined their sharp fangs piercing his flesh. Kyle heeded the man’s words. If he had to pick between going to an antique auction empty-handed or handless, he’d choose the former.
Not wasting a second, Kyle swung on his heels and ran down the road. The tall iron gates disappeared from his view, never to return.