Author's note: I love Ferrio. ^_^ Not as much as Caras or the other charater that I can't talk about yet. He's cool... He has an axe. Loads of fun all around. This was a short one...

Chapter 5: Tiger in the Dark
It was very dark that night. The moon was just a curved sliver of white light. A cold breeze swept over and the campfire flickered. 'I hate the cold,' Teishi thought to himself, 'I'd much rather be in a bed... But I'm stuck with a human... Maybe we'll be attacked by a wild chakra and it'll eat him... He rubbed his paws together fiendishly. That's just wishful thinking...

A twig snapped in the distance. The wind changed and with it came a feline scent. He crouched down and on his paws, extinguished the flame behind him.

"Friend or foe?" He called out into the night. For the first time in his life he was scared. He had never strayed so far away from the Nexus without the Archsage. He liked it; the adrenaline and the mana surging through his body, the bristling of his fur, the silence. It was invigorating. But he didn't show it. "Friend or foe?" He repeated more powerfully.

"Friend," said a deep male voice, "I thought I smelled human."

"You did now go."

A tiger stepped out from behind a nearby tree. Even in the limited, grey light, the stripes played vividly against the rest of his fur, which could be no other color than white. He was very strong looking. On his shoulder was huge axe. The blade was easily as big as his thick chest and might have weighed more than the panther did. "Can't I see for myself?" He asked. "It's rare to see a human so far away his homeland."

"I'm entrusted with his life," he spat on the ground like the words were poison, "so I can't let you near him."

"How about this?" He lifted he axe and tossed it to the side, the blade lodging itself in the dirt with a quiet thud.

"I still don't trust you."

"Good. It would be foolish to trust somebody you don't you can trust... But it's just as foolish to distrust someone you don't know you can't trust. Besides, you have the advantage. Magic over claws any day."

Teishi sat back and light the fire again. "I'm keeping track of you."

The tiger walked over very slowly and Teishi lit the fire again. The striped one sniffed Uther's red hair curiously. "He looks like a noble."

"He is a noble."

"You say that like it's a bad thing."

"I'm serving him. It's appalling."

"If you say so."

"He's so much... weaker than me."

"Elitist, are we?"

"Only when it come to humans."

"You're funny."

"Really?" The more he talked to the tiger, the enthralling he became.

"Yeah, you hate him but you're afraid of me and yet you could kill either of us by waving your little, black paw around."

"But if I couldn't use my magic you would rip me to ribbons."

"The human has armor and weapons. Why couldn't he do the same thing?"

Teishi glared at him and the tiger looked back with a cheery grin. "What's your name?"

"Ferrio. Yours?"

"Teishi."

"I like it." He sat down cross-legged by the fire.

"Your odd."

"Okay, funny. I'm odd. What's he?"

"Stupid."

Ferrio laughed and Teishi turned so he was facing the south.

"What's wrong?" The big one asked.

"Who says there's anything wrong. I turned. That doesn't mean anything, does it?"

"Only if you turn east to south. What's that way... a female?"

"Don't be absurd."

"What does that mean?"

"I'm on a quest. I have no time for that."

"Oh," he said, chuckling, "What's her name."

The panther hesitated. "Myara. She's awaiting her Inclusion... into the Sage Order I mean."

"So she's your age?"

"Yeah. But I'm not going to be Included."

"This year?"

"Ever. I never took an oath t become an acolyte."

"Then how do you know her? I thought that the Nexus was a very exclusive place."

"It is. I was serving the Archsage. He taught me some tricks. I'm not really the magician you thought I was." He knew that Ferrio wasn't buying it.

"If you say so." They paused and a silence crept over them. "You should sleep. You look tired."

"I don't think--"

"I was defending him earlier. I won't let him come to harm. Why shouldn't you trust me?"

After that Teishi stopped caring and went to sleep