First, it was the dragon. Of course, the dragon didn’t know that, being a typical dragon and all. His spiky head was always a little lost in the clouds, real and imaginary; and his strange blood magic was apparent to everyone he met but himself. The dragon had been taking off the tower every now and then for as long as he could remember. Gradually, his flight spans widened. With each passing day, his orbit grew a little wider than yesterday, till one day he spotted the meadows beyond the mist around the castle on the lonely mountain cliff.
The dragon brought the visions of his flight back to the shaggy lion in the iron cage on the tower, and quietly watched his orange eyes flicker back to life with a forgotten flame. Over the years, the lion had grown fat and comfortable, and old, or so he thought. But he had already been waking for some time.
The fat shaggy lion woke up a little from the clutches of his sleep every time he heard the roar of his brother in the jungle along the slope of the mountain. His brother, the fierce and restless panther, has been roaring tales of freedom for a while now as he jumped from tree to tree and sometimes even into the garden inside the castle when noone was keeping guard.
The grizzly had been wearing his sleep out, hibernating in his cave, burning up his fat, dreaming of the hunting days up ahead. Soon, he would wake up, lanky as a wolf and hungry as a, well, beer. The grizzly knew the ancient magic of heart, and smiles, and dreams. After all, dreaming is what he did when he hibernated half the year. He knew dreams better than the other three. And he was young, don’t forget that. Never forget that.
The fat lion circled in the cage, roaring and raging at the Black King and his fat Vizier, mustering up his fire, one burning spark at a time. Then one day he leapt. For a while, it seemed like he would fly, just like the dragon. But the lion’s magic was not the same as the dragon’s. It was more earthy, more animal. The lion landed heavily on his padded claws outside the castle wall, where brothers panther and grizzly were already waiting. The dragon swooshed and circled over their heads, his blue green eyes still chasing some distant vision further away.
And the three walked down the mountain of the Black King without looking back as the fourth flew above, already free of earth and its petty shackles.
It is then, they say, that the tale began.