Hello! This is my very first story that I've shared with complete strangers and to be honest I'm both exited and nervous at the same time to share my work. However, I've decided that I will tie up my nervousness and toss it into my closet and give you my work. I've thought about writing a twelve book series based on the Chinese Zodiac, starting with the Tiger.

So, please enjoy Irisa: Tiger's Eye and don't hesitate to leave me your opinions, whether they are positive or negative.

"If you build the guts to do something, anything, then you better save enough to face the consequences."

Criss Jami

Chapter 1: To Be Free

The Kingdom of Abadda –

A cool wind blew over the desert kingdom, casting dust though the empty streets, dawn was still quite dark and there were a few stars shining along the black sky. Standing upon the roof of her 'home' dressed in black attire Irisa looked over the distance between her and the kingdom's front gates, taking in the obstacles that lay ahead. The city was completely dark, save a few torches from guards patrolling the streets. Her white hair tied in a long braid that cascaded down her back and her face hidden behind a black veil, only her fiery amethyst eyes were exposed.

The king, still steaming from an assassination attempt that took place not too long ago, issued in a curfew for the citizens to be behind locked doors by twilight. This was the perfect time for Irisa to make her move. The only thing that she had to worry about were a few palace guards who roamed the streets. However, they never thought to look above, so tonight was perfect for Irisa to make her move at the front gates of the city.

After adjusting her veil she was off with great confidence swelled up inside as she swiftly ran across the rooftops, none of the guards patrolling the streets noticed her existence. She finally reached the gates, however she realized that there were lot more men on duty than there were patrolling the streets.

Now this might be a problem. One, two, three, four, five...fifteen men pulse two more in the watchtowers. I will have to make this quick. Irisa thought to herself, and then reaching inside a small pouch tied around her hips, she pulled out a black cobra.

"Alright, Suii, it's time to get to work." His scales felt warm and smoother when he slithered out of her hand and made his way toward one of the watchtowers. He scaled up and disappeared into the nest. Five minutes passed and nothing happened until the guards suddenly tumbled from their post and hit the ground with a loud thud. All the guards rushed toward their fallen comrade with horror spread across their faces.

"By God, what happened?" shouted one of the men. "They're foaming from the mouth, what should we do?"

"Somebody call for Captain Jander, hurry!" Three of the guards ran off, passing Irisa and into the city to look for help. Just when they left the guards from the other tower fell from their nest.

Panic was overcoming the guards as they argued about what they should do. Irisa stayed in the shadows, being very careful not to give herself away just yet.

Nice work, Suii! While nobody was looking, she quietly and quickly walked closer and closer to the men. One of them got down on the ground and searched the guard's body for any wound made by a weapon.

Before she could make her next move, a hand from the darkness grabbed her arm and forced her to turn around. Irisa was face to face with a tall muscular man with a long face, brown eyes and orange hair, carrying a large sword strapped behind his back and a long scimitar hanging from his belt. Standing behind him were the three guards who left earlier. "Hey, who are you and what are you doing at this hour?" He asked his eyes alight with a strong sense of pride and talent with the sword he looked at Irisa pondering if this woman could be the assassin he was looking for.

Irisa did not answer him but glared at him. Damn and everything was going so smoothly. She cursed. In the corner of her eye, she saw the other guards still tending to the fallen men until one of them spots their leader.

"Captain Jander!" Two guards took the fallen men into the nearest building while the rest came running toward them. "Captain Jander, who is she?" The Captain shoved Irisa out of her hiding place and the men began to circled her.

"I was on my way here when I saw her skulking around this ally. Woman, are you responsible for the attack on my watchmen?"

He could not see it but Irisa gave the Captain a mocking smile behind her vile. "How could I? From that height, it's impossible."

"Then what are you doing here?" Captain Jander asked.

"...flying away," Before any of the men could react, Irisa took out a whip and lashed at the captain.

"Stop that woman!" he shouted as he unsheathed his scimitar but using her whip Irisa swiped it from his hand. As fast as lightning, she cut her way through the guards that surrounded her with ease, her feet dancing swiftly and fast. In a short amount of time, Irisa defeated every man until it was Captain Jander himself left standing.

He stared at her wide-eyed amazed from her swordplay. "W...what are you?" he whispered.

Irisa chuckled. "Just a bird, who wants nothing more than freedom from her cage,"

She was about to charge after the Captain but from out of the dark multiple arrow zipped through the air. Irisa was not quick enough and one arrow embedded itself right in the shoulder. Behind her, more guards rushed to aid their leader. Cursing under her breath she reached for the arrow quickly pulled it out ignoring the pain and prepared for any attack from the wave of guards.

Feeling very confident in the numbers Captain Jander shouted, "Give it up, there is no hope of escaping, now. You may have some skills I'll admit, but not enough to fight us all."

Irisa glared at him with fiery purple eyes. No, I am so close to freedom I can taste it...I cannot stop now! Irisa gripped the scimitar tightly her knuckles turning white. "Forgive me, Captain. But I have waited a long time for the one chance to start a new life, away from this city," Raising the scimitar, she charged at Captain Jander. "And I won't let you, or your dogs, get in my way!"

Captain Jander reached for his large sword and stopped Irisa's attack. A hint of surprise flashed across his face from the strength of the small woman in front of him but as captain of the palace guard, he refused to show mercy to anybody, not even a woman. "Woman, whoever you are you will not best me so easily!" Captain Jander promised.

Irisa did not reply, instead threw every ounce of her strength in her attacks as she tried to pin him into a corner. Her feet danced along the ground as the captain struggled to keep up with her swings. The tip of the blade grazed the captain's cheek, but his broad sword gave him a better advantage. Raising his large sword, he slammed it down on the scimitar, shattering the blade.

Irisa jumped back, toss the broken blade to the side, she grabbed her whip and snapped it at Captain Jander. He dogged it easily but Irisa pulled it back and caught his ankle, giving it a good yank Captain Jander tripped and fell to the ground.

Quickly grabbing a fallen soldier's sword Irisa lunged for the captain in attempt to stab his shoulder but Captain Jander rolled out of the way so the sword was stuck in the ground. The captain took this opportunity to land a mighty blow to Irisa's stomach then he moved behind her and hit her neck, she fell to the ground knocked out.

Panting, Captain Jander stared at the girl in wonder. This woman came close to taking my own head! How could someone like her fight like a master swordsman? It is unreal!

"What should we do with her, Captain?" one of his soldiers asked.

As much as he wanted to dispose of her, he was against harming women in such a way. "I'll bring her to the palace. Her sudden appearance is anything but ordinary. We will let the King decide her fate. For now, double the guard here and keep a sharp eye for anything else odd in this area."

"Aye, Sir!" his men shouted and then they hurried off to their posts. Grabbing the unconscious Irisa Captain Jander tossed her over his shoulder and headed back to the palace, along with five of his personal guards trailing behind him.

When Irisa finally opened her eyes she realized she was lying alone in a hot stone cell when she tried to sit up she felt a jolt of pain in her shoulder, her wound on her shoulder cleaned while she was unconscious. Trying to soothe her aching shoulder the best she could while she looked around her cell some more. On the far right wall, she saw a small-barred window where the sun light was shining through. In the sunray's dust, particles were slowly falling to the stone floor and a few flies buzzed in and out of the rays. Outside her cell, she could hear the cries of other prisoners begging for freedom from their cells or calling the guards names, others were whistling at Irisa asking for her name.

Ha, ha, ha! Well, you got this fine mess yourself into, Irisa. I guess security is more serious around there than I thought. Irisa smiled to herself. Now if he finds me guilty they will behead…that is one way to freedom. Irisa thought. Normally, if people found themselves in a predicament such as this they would panic. However, Irisa started laughing at herself.

After three hours of just sitting there, watching the flies there was some commotion from down the hall. All of the other prisoners started shouting and crying, but they were not cries of agony or sadness but of hatred.

"Enough of your pathetic cries, I'm not here for any of you vermin!" It was the Captain and when he appeared before Irisa, she just sat there continuing to watch the flies.

"On your feet, His Highness will see you now," he said.

Irisa finally turned to look at him and smiled. "Oh, is that so? I was hoping to rest here a little while longer. After that beating you and your men gave me last night."

Frustrated, he opened the cell door and grabbed her arm forcing her to stand. "Do not tempt me to cut off that mouth of yours." he growled and started tying her hands behind her back. When he was done, he shoved her out into the hall where two other guards were waiting to escort them to see the King.

When they finally reached the throne room, it the first time Irisa was inside the palace, the sight of the grand room completely blew her away. Every marble wall had gold vines twisting and turning along the wall's surface and within the gold were other colors, like blue, red, emerald green, yellow and many others accenting the golden designs perfectly. Right ahead of them sat a golden throne with a mosaic of a majestic peacock at its feet, its jade colored feathers stretched to the far end to the throne room at the doors Irisa came in.

However, with the glorious throne room, it was missing something, and that is when Irisa realized that the throne was empty. In fact there was nobody important present, only a few other guards. "Where is His Highness?" Captain Jander asked.

"He will be a bit late. What do you expect, after last night's commotion? His Majesty is trying to convince his allies that it will never happen again. But I'm sure that things will calm down when His Majesty passes a heavy punishment on the assassin."

Irisa glared at the guard. "Who said I was an assassin?" she snapped coldly at him.

"Who said you weren't?" Captain Jander glared at her. "You show up in the middle of the night, attack my men and me at a time where our king's life was almost taken from us. You must be the assassin we've been looking for!"

Irisa glared back at him, her eyes blazed with anger and frustration. "Well I'm not, and if I was you wouldn't have captured me so easily," she said rolling her eyes.

"You lie, no women in this Kingdom could have great fighting skill like yourself and only a fool would go up against fifteen men on their own," He then smiled, "Maybe you wanted seduce His Majesty so you decided to get all this attention by sneaking out."

She rolled her eyes again. What is wrong with these men? Why is it when a woman does something that surprises them they relate it to sleeping with them? Irisa thought. "Just kill me, spare me from staring at your ugly face any longer."

He frowned and struck her across the face. "Maybe I should have killed you at the gates!"

The doors behind them opened and two more men walked in. The first man had long black hair that he kept in a ponytail, his face was long but handsome and clean with high cheekbones. He had blue eyes filled with strength and a passionate charm. He was dressed in white and gold and he carried a long scimitar in a black sheath tied to his belt.

The second man accompanying the first was just as handsome, his face was not long like his companion but he had high cheekbones and green eyes with the charm of a wild cat ready to pounce at the first sight of harm against his companion. His brown hair was short hanging right above his shoulders, framing his face perfectly. Covered in red and gold robes, he also had with him a scimitar encased in a black sheath strapped to his belt.

"That is enough, whether she is a spy or not, I will not tolerate you shedding a woman's blood in this palace. Do you understand me, Captain?" The man in gold and white robes said, his eyes flashing Captain Jander a stern warning.

Captain Jander and the other guards bowed towered the man with to ponytail. "Your Majesty Conall, forgive me, I won't do it again." The Captain promised.

King Conall sat down and stared at Irisa with intense blue eyes. "My men believe that you are a spy from the rebel Kingdom, I too believe them but now, I want to hear your claim." He said.

"Do I look like one?" She said trying to keep a cool head. The look that the king gave her was nerve-racking sending chills down her back.

King Conall laughed. "With that attitude, and temper you're trying to hide you might be an assassin instead." He said.

For a second just she saw her father's face when he left flash in front of her eyes, turning her head she mumbled, "Why would I want to live the life of a shameless cold murderer, you end up dead in the end."

The cold remark surprised him at first, and then a look of curiosity and amusement spread across his face. "So answer me this: if you are not an assassin or a spy then why did you want to open the gates?" the King asked.

She looked back at him and said bluntly, "The details of my past should be private. So, I'll just say that my childhood was dark, bleak, and painful and I want to start over."

King Conall chuckled a bit. "And what of your family, what do you think they will do when they see your head on a chopping block?" he asked

Irisa shrugged her shoulders. "I have no family." She said.

King Conall continued to stare at Irisa with deep thought. The nature of the woman was unlike anything he encountered before, facing all of those men alone and even proved a challenge for the Captain. Looking at her closely her tan skin looked so clean, no scars or moles and her hair was as white as a clean sheet. White hair and purple eyes...a rare sight in a woman. Her lips were round and looked very soft. She is a living 'diamond in the rough.'

With a rare beauty like her, I wonder if another man has claimed her yet. Irisa felt a bit uneasy with the way the King was staring at her. Nevertheless, with her rare beauty there was a lot of strength, independence and passion shown that the King saw.

Then the other man who walked in with King Conall said, "You shouldn't have to deal with a woman like her, let me pass judgment on her and you continue to rest for later today."

The King waved his hand. "No, no, it is fine. I have more important things to deal with at the moment, so for now, lock her back up." Captain Jander bowed and dragged Irisa out of the throne room and returned to her cell.

Then King Conall and his friend left the throne room as well and head back to his study. "Hastos were any of your men able to get some information about this woman?" the King asked.

"Just that her name is Irisa, but she was telling the truth about her family. No siblings or a mother and father. Apparently, she was known as an incredible herbalist, but some call her a witch or demon because she has purple eyes." Hastos said.

"Irisa, I see. She has such great skills, but I wonder why she wants to leave the Kingdom so badly...I wouldn't mind letting an energetic woman like her live a bit longer." The edges of his lips twitched into a small smile.

Hastos raised an eyebrow. "What are you scheming this time, Conall?"

"Hastos, how long has it been since the Swan Harem was used…I think it's time to re-open those doors for our new guest." Conall said his smile widened.

Frowning Hastos asked. "But why not let me pass judgment on her? She could be dangerous if kept alive."

Conall shook his head. "There is something in this world that she will not easily leave behind, weather it is a lover or revenge is on her mind its worth keeping her alive."

Chapter 1!

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Please leave me a review and continue to read.

Updated 10/5/13: Man, this chapter has gone though so many editing sessions that I feel so stupid for not catching the many errors and areas that needed to be re-written.