“Oh!” Judith said, as the creature rose out of the brown stalks of grass to loom over them. “Hello, there!”
“Oh, Judi!” Maribelle said. “He’s hurt! Look!”
Maribelle saw the blood, the jagged wounds, the pieces of skin hanging in tatters, the exposed red and white of muscle and tendon.
“Those look like claw marks!” Judith said. ‘He’s been in a fight, I would say.”
“He’s all torn up!”
The creature’s eyes rolled back in their sockets. Maribelle gasped as the creature collapsed into the grass. He fell in a heap, shuddered, then lay still.
“Oh, no!” Maribelle said. “Is he dead?!” she asked as Judith hurried over.
“No, just unconscious. From the loss of blood, I would imagine. These are some nasty wounds.”
“What happened to him, do you think?”
“From the looks of it, I’d say it was a lion. Or more than one.”
“But why would a lion attack him?”
“You mean because he is part lion?”
“Half lion, right?”
“Perhaps, but that only marks him even more as something alien. A pride of lions would never accept him.”
“And humans would never accept him,” Maribelle said.
“That’s the greatest transgression the Natarajans committeed,” Judith said. “They created a being that is neither man nor beast, that does not belong in either world. And, if we don’t do something to arrest the bleeding, he may not remain in this one much longer!”