Backstory of 'Gladiator and tiger'

human child and tiger cub

* This is a backstory of Kamirtad and Rayis, the characters of "Gladiator and tiger".

Kamirtad was born in the same land as were Wolferlagen and his brother Wellinbrock, as was the warrior-poetess Mildegard. It’s a far mountain region of the North covered with ancient pine forests where trees are so tall their needles scrape the skies. In this land, have long names made of two short ones: one soft and one rough. Which one will become the man’s true name, depends on him alone. Will he be Wolf or Lagen, Wellin or Brock, Milde or Gard? Yes, in this gods-forgotten land, Mildegard is a male name.

Local female names are melodious, sing-song: Velena, Ilara, Orlona… They don’t split into halves, they embrace gentleness, strength, and pride as a whole. Those women know how to fight and have their share of adventures and journeys before settling down, just like men do.

In this land, you get a battle staff at the age of eight and a sword at the age of fifteen. Also, every weapon there is special.

Kamirtad was a fourth child in a tight-knit family. Like most kids in his land, he’d been dreaming of having adventures even before he learned to talk. His daydreams and hopes were full of ghost ships, wild mountains, uncharted lands, and great deeds. When his family gave shelter to a tired traveller, each story the stranger told at the table inspired the boy even more. His eyes shone as he listened, his heart longed for a wonderful journey of his own; a journey to some faraway land where people pray to their gods for a hero that will save them…

By the time he turned eight, no one had called him Kamir, the soft name no longer suit the boy. His character changed, so for everyone, he became Tad.

Eight years is the time when a child gets her or his first weapon: a battle staff. Tad was no exception to the rule. When his father led him to the grove where battle staves grew, the boy was in for a surprise: his staff was not straight, it must have been broken when being still a green sprout so it grew up crooked. It didn’t matter; Tad was still happy to have it and mastered the unusual fighting technique in a couple of years. He named his staff Margin and was very fond of it.

Tad’s parents thought the unusual weapon to be a sign from above marking their son as someone special, a future legendary hero, so they had high hopes for the lad. The lad, though, didn’t live up to the high hopes. When he turned fifteen, he received a very ordinary adult weapon: the unremarkable long sword he named Visk. In time, Tad became a good swordsman; good but not extraordinary.

Most of Tad’s fellow northerners spent their youth in journeys and adventures, he was no different. The day he had turned twenty, he sailed away from his home island on the ship that was heading to the island of Ilsenoy, the gate to the Lands of Sorrow where he hoped to find adventures and become a hero.

Tad got stuck in Barimzo city for a while along with the other young adventure-seekers but he got lucky soon: a group of seasoned warriors had noticed the bright lad and offered him to join them. They were no mere mercenaries, they had ideals and principles of their own and, while they didn’t refuse being paid for their services, their primary goal had always been fighting evil and helping people.

Kamirtad became one of them and travelled with the heroic group for a year. He got scarred, body and soul, he came to regret many of his choices, he got homesick… but he hadn’t flinch from his path, not even once. He was Tad, after all, not a soft-hearted Kamir…

His group never reached their goal. Most of them fell in battle under the Crimson Peak at the border of Arid Lands, several warriors, including Tad, were taken prisoner.

Tad woke up in a cell, with a swollen hand and a fresh tattoo marking him as a gladiator. His last battle happened in an hour after that.


Rayis the tiger was born in the Lands of Sorrow. His little tribe lived at the very border of Arid Lands, close to an even smaller human tribe. The Tigers had a very peculiar view on what a “human” is. Aridian weren’t “human” to them, just like regular striped cat, the unintelligent tigers, weren’t their equals.

Having such evil neighbors as Arid Lands and Crimson Peak didn’t prevent Rayis from having a happy childhood. As a kitten, he had a brother - Raynir, who he was best friends with. Hard times came and passed, leaving place for many good things. The brothers roamed the local forests together and enjoyed hanging out in the ancient ruins there: huge cities, abandoned and forgotten by the big world. Rayis and Rayinr liked to imagine those were Tiger cities. Their parents nodded: maybe.

The Tigers had a long childhood, just like humans, and matured only by the time they were around twenty years old. They also didn’t stop growing until then, so no wonder they were huge. At fifteen, both Rayis’s and Raynir’s withers reached an average human warrior’s shoulder and they hadn’t fully grown up by then!

The Tiger tribe had never hunted humans; they avoided hunting Aridians as well, just because those creatures resembled humans a lot. All the local human tribes were the Tigers’ friends. Simple people lived there, known not for heroic deeds but for kind hearts, shining smiles, and wonderful stories.

The Tigers respected their human neighbours’ intelligence and kindness yet felt sorry for them for being so small and for having blunt teeth. When human hunters were out of luck, Rayis and Raynir often shared their catch with them so the little humans wouldn’t go hungry. No wonder the human tribes loved the Tigers so much!

Rayis and Raynir were welcome in every human village. They could visit them any time they wanted, play with the kids, share some hunting stories with the hunters, taste the treats the women cooked in the common kitchen (local sweet-juice candy was their favourite), and get lots of pets and scratches from everyone. Rayis had even posed for portraits once when a local artist decided to cover all the Fang Cliff with tiger paintings…

It was a beautiful and happy time, an unforgettable eternity in a nutshell. Yet everything ends. Soon after Rayis and Raynir had celebrated their coming of age, the Aridians came, burning and killing everything in their way. The Tigers tried to protect their human friends from the dark tide but what could they do against so many?

The Aridians didn’t rely on mastery, they preferred sheer numbers. And magic. Dark, deadly, alien magic. Both the Tigers and their humans knew the magic of life, water, and fire, but their enemies’ magic was the magic of death…

Behind the enemy armies, the dark mages followed. They were necromancers, the nastiest type at that: the ones who stepped away from the truth, from the ancient rule telling that any magic, death magic included, must serve good and only good.

Rayis was the sole survivor in that horrible war. He got captured, healed, and turned into a gladiator.

For a long time, he was the best of the best on the arena, until a young northern warrior defeated him, having paid for the victory with his own life.

Short stories linked to the names and places mentioned above:
Evergreen (story about the land where Kamirtad was from and the unusual weapons people wield there)
Walking the sea and In death and in sleep (stories about Arid and the war here)
Stone guardian (story that mentions the island of Ilsenoy)

Jump to another story:

English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.