Tearing his gaze away from the tiger, Yii looked around – and gasped.
To his right – a figure, tall, all in white; in fact very white. Whatever was this? People had talked of a heaven after death, or life as a different being – could this be a heaven? The tall white figure had a white crown on its head, and was carrying a long stick which had smoke drifting upward from the end. What sort of being was this? A heavenly being? Other figures nearby, two more of the tall white beings, with crowns. More people in different clothes, looking similar to Yii himself – slim, wiry figures, pale brown in colour.
Who were these? Were they safe? They seemed to have great power, for the tiger now lay dead. He watched them.
The tall white figure spoke to him. It seemed friendly, but Yii did not understand. Was this the language of a heaven? The white figure spoke to others. Some of the people who looked more like Yii came to the tiger. They had metal implements unlike anything Yii had ever seen, sharper than any of Yii’s stone tools. They set about taking the skin off the tiger. He was interested to see how they did it, while keeping an eye on the white figures to see what they would do.
The tall white figure spoke to the other white figures and they came closer to Yii. They spoke to him, seeming to be friendly, though he was ready, catlike, to leap away if the need arose.
However if this were a heaven, as it seemed to be, he was willing to wait and see what would happen. They came close and looked at him, studying his arms and legs. One of them lifted his arm, pointing out bite scars. What were they saying in that strange language?
Yii felt someone take his arm from behind. Startled, he growled; it was one of the people who looked more like him. The man leapt away, and the white figures seemed alarmed and spoke rapidly to one another. Two of them came to Yii and taking his arms gently, pointed the way forward to usher him along the path. Should he walk with them? They seemed to threaten no harm, and if this were indeed a heaven, he should co-operate.
The path was one he had never seen before – there were no paths in Yii’s jungle. Indeed, the whole jungle seemed to have changed; he could recognise none of it. Wary he kept looking around, trying to identify any familiar landmarks, and especially to remember the route in case he needed to find the way back. There were no recognisable landmarks. Why, if this were a heaven, did it not seem like a completely different land?
Many paces brought them to some magnificent structures such as Yii had never seen, or even dreamed of. He gazed around, admiring the solid, smooth walls, and above smooth sloping coverings. In the sides a remarkable substance that seemed to let the light through. Perhaps this really was a heaven, such tall and elegant structures, beautifully crafted, with fine, smooth wooden doors. He wanted to stop and admire them, but those leading him encouraged him to go on.
They walked past the fine structures, to Yii’s disappointment, and into an open space where there was a large cage. The white people opened the door and gently pushed Yii in. As he looked around at the bare cage, the door was shut behind him, and somehow fixed.