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. Gold eyes spotted him, and
it paused, ears flattening back atop an ebony head as
wide as his body.
Its mouth opened wide to clear front fangs the size of
daggers. Its purr became a low roar, and it bunched its
massive body, long tail twitching. Then it charged...
two long bounds and a leap, front paws reaching for its
In the last instant, he released his hold and dropped. A
heavy paw the span of his own hand brushed his head.
Needle-sharp claws cut shallow furrows from his hair to
his brow. Then he was below it, and he heard the heavy
thump as the cat wedged itself into the slanting cut where
he had been.
He fell, rolled away, scrambled upright, and caught its
writhing tail in both hands, pulling himself upward. Feet
braced against stone, he climbed and swung himself to its
rump, dodging its thrashing hind claws. Hands full of
black fur, he pulled himself forward. The cat's roar be-
came a howl of rage. Its head came up and turned, great
teeth glinting as he grabbed the cat's head and threw him-
self over its shoulder, clinging for life. The cat shrieked.
He heard the snapping of bone.
For an instant he dangled between clawed paws that
had ceased to move, and felt the hot breath of the beast
on his face as its lungs emptied themselves