The mother was loving and kind, cared for her children, and told them that their father was also loving and kind, but the children knew their father was a tiger, decorated with frightening stripes, equipped with killer claws and biting teeth. The children feared their tiger father as much as their mother loved him. She adored the way he looked after the children, pacing around them, fretting over them when they played, but the children kept as close a watch on their tiger father as the tiger father watched them. They knew he stalked them, waited for one of them to falter, to show signs of weakness, and then he would pounce, crushing the child under his massive paws, terrifying the child with his hot tiger breath. Mostly, while the children feared their tiger father and the rage he could bring, mostly they didn’t fear for themselves so much as they feared for their mother, a beautiful swan. Some day, the children knew, their tiger father would tire of his game of traumatizing his children, and that deep hunger in his eyes would drive him to turn on their swan mother, kill her in some vile way, and then consume her completely. If only, thought the children, there was a way to transform their swan mother into a phoenix, and that she could have the power of fire to drive the tiger father away. If only.