Snow Leopard Kingdom

Finalist in the 'Summer Holidays Writing Competition' competition

The sun rose over the highest mountain, a great ball of fire behind a dark peak. Everything glittered like glass, sparkling dew reflecting the rays that shot through the morning sky. This is my home, the place high above civilization, higher than most dare to go, but where they care to dream.
So who am I? I stare at the puddles of overnight rain, which cradle the very picture of my physical appearance. There, there is where I see my elegant ears, my well-balanced tail, my thickly insulated coat, everything that makes me who I am. I walk on, my feet splashing through the puddles, sending ripples that break the outline of the lone figure, striding into the light.
A shadow appears through the trees. A young bharal, a male in his prime, strides proudly through the copse. Several young females follow behind. I almost spring out of my hiding place. A feast! A feast, all for me. A shot sounds out, then another and another. Birds take to the skies. Panic runs through me as I slink towards the direction of safety.
They were back. Nothing would stop them this time. I found a small pocket in the surrounding stone cliffs. The ones who never came back were taken by Those Who Do Not Have Names. Some were last seen being dragged, beautiful coats undistinguishable through mud, by shadows who walked on only two paws. Others were not seen, only heard, as they yowled their anguish for the freedom they had lost. I shuddered. The best thing to do was to lie down, unmoving, so they could not find me.
They would never find me. Not now. Not ever. I stretched, my stiff joints screaming to be worked. I padded out of the stone pocket and jumped onto the boulder outside. Looking down on the Himalayas, my beautiful mountains, I felt strong again. This was my country, Snow Leopard country, forever and always. They may catch me, but I will always be here in spirit.
As the shadow on the rock outside disappeared, the two hunters stood, gazing in awe at the wild beauty of the mountains. As if both thinking the same thought, they set off down the mountainside, never again to disturb the grandeur of the Himalayas, or its master, the Snow Leopard.

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