Vikali - the Kupotea Pride
Balana - Nabana
It's nap time... and most of the pride is asleep. Save for a pair of males - one young, one older. It is, in fact, Nabana and Umivu. They're situated within earshot of the pride, most particularly the males, but far enough away that they're not easily seen. Nabana is finishing explaining things to Umivu. "... it's dangerous, but I'm not so sure I trust Njaa and your father to be able to guard the pride should another threat comes along. But I won't hurt you." He lifts his head to look in the direction of the pride, and then looks back down at Umivu. "Now. Start yelling at the top of your lungs, like you're in pain. And when I pick you up, go limp and stay that way, okay?"
This juvenile cub certainly feels like he could do with a good long sleep beside his mommy and not wake up for any reason but to eat. But instead, Umivu's out a relatively far distance from the pridal den and is going through this training with Nabana. Although he's tired, the golden furred individual nods his head obediently up at the king, before throwing his head back and unleashing a painful howl.
"Good, good... you can have an extra part of my my portion of the next kill for helping," Nabana promises as he turns to look off in the distance, keeping crouched low so his eyes are just above the grass. Sure enough, the pride's reacting, but it takes a few moments for them to get it together. It's not until he sees somebody coming in their direction that he quickly lowers his head. "Okay, someone's coming... now go limp and be quiet. If you're tired and can fall asleep, go ahead." He wraps his jaws around the young lion and picks him up, carrying him around the middle, putting a glare on his expression, and starting towards whoever's approaching.
That's not as easy as it sounds. Umivu does a credible job of flopping to the ground limply, feeling sleep calling him, but when Nabana's teeth descend around him and lift him up, he gives an involuntary twitch and wriggle at the uncomfortable way he is held, but otherwise stayed perfectly still. Moving a brisk trot towards the couple is the former queen of the valley, Bayana, her brow furrowed with concern at hearing her son's cries. "Umivu? Honey?" calls the lioness as she approaches the area where the cry had risen from, then spots Nabana as he straightens up all of a sudden. Putting on a small spurt of speed, she asks mid-trot, "Nabana, what-" before cutting herself off at the sight of the young prince, limp and unmoving, in the monarch's muzzle. Her trot ceases in a matter of steps as she stares in horror at the king, an expression of disbelief on her muzzle.
Once he's gotten someone's attention, Nabana lowers his head to place Umivu on the ground between his forepaws, attempting to place him in a more comfortable position without being caught doing it. He takes a slight step forward to stand over the cub, glaring Bayana down with a particularly fiery gaze. "Where is Njaa, the coward who was afraid to die and relinquished his throne in order to save his own life? And Msaada, the lion who merely stood by while Njaa welcomed a rogue into the midst of his pride and his family, only to end up betrayed? The two of them fools for allowing their cubs to run around unattended!" He says all of this in a raised tone, occasionally looking off on the horizon as if searching for the pair.
"You killed him..." breathes the mother, looking rather faint and swaying slightly on her legs. Her little Umivu... With a roar loud enough to alert the fallen kings near the river and send them hurrying over in her direction, Bayana then starts shouting. "You killed him! You... you bastard!" Another couple of roars are emitted, to summon the lionesses to her, then she takes up an offensive stance. "You little son of a... you'll be sorry you laid a paw on him, you- you-" What Nabana apparently is would send most lionesses blushing with embarrassment, but not this regal female, with angry tears leaking down her face.
Standing there with the same fiery gaze, Nabana considers for a moment letting Bayana in on what he's really done... but no. That would risk that someone else clues in on what's going on. To get an honest reaction, he needs them to believe it. "He carried the bloodline of the past, and prevented you from coming into estrus again. As are the other cubs. So I had to see to it that any energy spent here is spent raising my cubs. That any available wombs continue my bloodline, and mine alone on the male side." He takes another glance around. "Where are those so-called males of yours? Those who are charged with protecting your cubs?" The lion keeps glancing over his shoulder every so often as well, making sure nobody's coming up behind him.
The Kupotea males aren't quite so cunning as to attempt a sneak-up attack, let alone a plain old walking up from behind Nabana. Thus when Njaa and Msaada come running along towards their king, Afnu and Ujinga in tow, they approach the ex-Kopje lion head on. "What have you done with the other cubs?" asks Bayana in a barely percievable hiss, her eyes sparkling with tears and rage as the coalition of males start to draw within speaking distance.
"Did you take note of their presence when you woke up a few moments ago?" the lion asks Bayana cryptically. "Of course, it's the males that I've no use for. The young lionesses, once they make it to their first heat, it might be worth keeping around in order to continue my bloodline." As the other males draw close, Nabana turns his attention towards them. "There's the coward now. The one who let the rogue join his pride, and who subsequently relinquished his position in favour of saving his own skin." Still standing over Umivu, the monarch now turns to face the approaching four lions. "And in doing that, he sacrificed the lives of the cubs of the Kupotea."
"You sick, little..." The former queen trails off with a pained expression and a heartfelt sigh, before flopping back onto her rump and hanging her head. Little Umivu, beneath the king, has indeed fallen asleep, though thankfully has remained silent so far. No sleep grunts or anything that would give the game away. Njaa and Msaada's pace slows to a walk when they draw within comfortable speaking distance, though the latter's eyes fall straight away on the seemingly dead cub beneath his king. A thick, heavy growl ripples out of the black-maned lion's throat, fixing Nabana with a deadly stare... then this new information is revealed to him, and the stare turns to a lost-looking Njaa now. The heavily-bodied lion turns to face his much lighter counterpart, then snarls, "You let this fiend take over the pride and kill MY cubs, just so you could save yourself?!" Ujinga and Afnu stand a little way back, watching the confrontation warily.
Nabana takes note of Njaa's expression. "You remember, Njaa. While I was in the process of choking the life out of you... 'I'll step down, just spare my life!' Afraid to die." He turns his amber gaze on Msaada. "The other two cubs live--for the moment. What say you, Msaada? I overcame four lions in order to take over. I could very well have killed every one of you. Would you be prepared to face me in order to possibly protect your cubs? If you step away, they die. If you die, they die. Which choice would you make? To fight and risk the opportunity that you might die and they end up dead anyway? Or to turn tail and leave them to a certain death, but sparing your own life in the process?"
Accusing eyes, including those of a few lionesses that had started to turn up, focus on the embarrassed-looking king. Within moments, Njaa starts to retreat, skulking away in shame and fear, with much hissing and growling from the females in his direction. Even Ujinga looks somewhat disgusted at his father. Msaada, however, stands tall and proud at the king's question. "I would sacrifice myself ten times over to save my cubs, so I have no qualms about besting you!" With that he assumes the position of a combatant and begins to circle the Kopje male, as is customary to do upon challenging a king.
"And what about cubs fathered by another male? Njaa's cubs?" Nabana glances briefly towards the lionesses, and then back at Msaada. "My cubs? If my attempts were successful, and I got Mahubi pregnant... and your sister. If there were another rogue that showed up and had a cub of the Kupotea that I had fathered in his jaws, despite me having killed your son, would you stand up for that cub as well?" As Msaada starts to circle, Nabana turns with him, and shifts to abandon his place where he stands over Umivu. He's got Msaada's attention, there's no need to continue guarding the cub. Now he just needs to not step on him. "Or since I took the life of your son, would you allow that innocent life to be snuffed out because of the sins of his father?"
Fairly far along their pregnancy, Mahubi and Kipazi exchange uneasy glances at the sight of the motionless cub, thinking of their own growing within them. Would the former king protect them from a rogue, if one passed by? During the break between Nabana's words, Msaada feints a lung at his side, his eyes boring into the king's. "I would stand up for the cub, like any compassionate lion, like any father would do!" he declares loudly, before making a daring leap at Nabana's side, hoping to sink his fangs into the male's flesh and even more so that his mane would stop any retaliations.
Nabana jumps back at Msaada's lunge, furthering the distance between himself and Umivu. "And would you ever again blindly trust a rogue to join your pride, without having proven himself and his loyalty?" The king can't manage to get out of the way of Msaada's lunge when the golden lion makes contact, knocking him off his feet and leaving a painful bite in his side. "One who may well carry out the very same deeds that I have done? Impregnating the lionesses of your pride, stealing away your kingship, and murdering cubs?" He tries to make a reach to get his claws into Msaada's shoulder in order to get a hold.
"NO!" Msaada bellows in time with the claws digging into his shoulder, drawing a snarl as he flicks his head to the right and starts attempting to make a few bites at Nabana's soft neck. Unlike Njaa, he seems to realise very soon that he can't quite make an effective bite there, so instead turns his attention to making pained lunges at the king's back, occasionally flinging up a paw to rake along his opponent's underside."
Nabana can't quite keep a hold of Msaada's shoulder, and ultimately ends up just trying to protect his back to buy himself another chance to speak, shouting up over the sound of the scuffle. "And would you be so quick and rash to take my life without anyone having inspected Umivu's body? Are you absolutely sure that he's dead, Msaada? Or are you going to kill me first and ask questions like that later?"
Msaada pulls back away from Nabana at this question, his gaze riddled with distrust and despicament. He soon makes up his mind with a snarl, then while keeping himself facing the king, makes his way backwards towards Umivu, careful to skirt around him lest a paw treads upon the body. He narrows his eyes at Nabana as he leans down to sniff the body, then flick his eyes down to examine it. He gives a few pushes and pokes with his muzzle, each of which elicite a sleepy grunt from the prince. A look of joy crosses his face, along with one of great anger as he steps over Umivu and prowls over towards the Kopje lion. "Why on EARTH would you play a trick like that, you sick piece of filth?!"
While Msaada steps away from him, Nabana takes the opportunity to get slowly to his paws, blood trickling down his side from the bite wound, and some coming to the surface from a few of the wounds on his underside. He makes no attempt to go after Msaada, but does meet his gaze. "My ways may not be popular, but they are effective," he says in a low tone. "I don't expect you to understand. Two of the pridal lionesses are pregnant with my cubs, but they will grow up without knowing my presence. So I have to see to their safety--and how can I do that if I leave here knowing that I was blindly welcomed in, and next time it could be a rogue who actually is out to take over, permamently, and who would wipe out every last one of the cubs here? I clearly couldn't trust Njaa for that protection at this point--but you, perhaps I can. A lion cannot properly defend his pride if he is afraid to die, a quality you possess in the way you fight." Here his gaze leaves the male and seeks out Afnu, standing some distance
away. "Your father fought that same way."
As Njaa attempts to leave the crowd entirely and to stroll off to somewhere else in the lands, the lionessess - much to his surprise and dismay - move together, in order to keep him from leaving. The two pregnant females make a few steps towards their king upon hearing this troubling news of him leaving and Afnu's jaw clenches at the mention of Nadhifu. He doesn't appear angry, however. He meets Nabana's gaze for a few moments before dropping his own to the ground. Still keeping a wary eye upon the king, Msaada gives a slow nod of his head before glancing at the rest of the pride. "So what happens with Njaa, then? While I have no troubles with him, bar his cowardice and potentially risking our cubs lives, he is not fit for patrols."
Msaada's response gets a surprised look from Nabana, ears perked slightly. Could it be that he possibly understood Nabana's reasoning? "No, he is not," Nabana agrees as he starts to take a step or two towards Njaa, but just as suddenly turns away. "We'll deal with him in a moment." He turns back to the two adolescent males, lifting his head and settling a likely uncomfortable gaze on them. "What of you two?" He approaches a few heavy steps to see how they react. "You're young yet, but your time approaches. Clearly, you both took on the fight against me in order to fight for the honour of the lionesses you care about. The heart is there. But you're inexperienced, Afnu a little more so than Ujinga. Would either of YOU let in another untested rogue?"
Ujinga and Afnu both gulp as King Nabana turn his imperious gaze upon them, though unlike Njaa, they don't slink off, nor look ashamed. "Never," replies the prince, "Not without a fight," adds his cousin. A little bit away, the cowardly lion remains quite distressed that on his sides and front he has lionesses, and to his back he has Nabana. He moves up to Mahubi and murmurs a soft, "Sis, please... let me through," but she only turns her head away from him, feeling horribly guilty at doing so. He then turns to the next of the lionesses, Kipazi, and asks a variation of the question, only this time he gets a swift clobber around the head by one of her paws.
"Alright then," he says as he looks between the two of them. "What you really need is some training and experience. Remember that you are lions, dammit. In an attack, you should be the FIRST one out, and the LAST one back. Learn to recognize the difference between fights you can talk your way out of, and true threats. Your ultimate goal should be to win. Not to live. You can't win if you're not prepared to die." Nabana turns from the pair, but is still speaking towards them. "Remember who you're protecting. Umivu. Chanua. Kipazi. Mahubi." He starts his way towards the others of the pride, but it's ultimately Bayana who he stops in front of, lowering his head and folding his ears. "Bayana," he says quietly.
The two adolescents dip their heads down respectfully once Nabana has dispensed his advice, feeling they have nothing that would do the king credit to inform him of while he moves off towards Bayana. The still crying mother, from relief now, has Umivu cuddled up towards her belly, still pretty much in the same position as when had left her. When she is addressed, the lioness asks a feeble and defeated, "Yes?"
"I'm sorry." The words are said gently as he lifts his gaze to try and meet hers. "I didn't hurt him. I explained why I was asking him to help me, and he agreed. I owe you one for that little stunt. If there's something, name it. Even if it's me submitting to you taking your frustrations out on me. Lionesses deserve more respect than I have shown you today." Nabana leans forward to offer her a slight nosing, turning away and starting to head over towards where Njaa is being detained. His turn.
Once Nabana has finished speaking, the former queen gives her head a soft nod and replies to his affection with a nuzzle of her own. A now scratched and slightly bleeding Njaa turns from lioness to lioness in hope of some sort of help from them, though their faces only vary from dismissal of his existance to glares. Upon hearing the king break away from the crying female, Njaa whirls around sharply and retreats towards the wall of cats, his ears slunk low and a reflexive grimace on his muzzle.
Nabana stops in front of Njaa, looking over the male. He watches the smaller feline for a while, but eventually just gives a shake of his head. "Get out. Take Epsi with you. I don't care if you go just beyond our border or further, but stay within a quarter moon's journey. If I see you around the pride I'll run you off. You may come back upon my invitation or my departure. Until that time, you go take care of yourself and stop mooching off of this pride. Epsi's to report back every third sun with your whereabouts, or in case of an emergency since the goal is for you to grow a spine and APPRECIATE what they do for you, not to die out there." He starts making his way around Njaa towards the lionesses, moving to cut him off. "With luck, you'll actually have to fight for your life once or twice."
In all honesty, Njaa doesn't appear to thrilled at this wonderful offer put to him by the monarch. Looking both scared and incredulous at the Lion King, he stutters out, "You... you can't send me out! I live here, I was born here, this is my home!" A few of the lionesses look uncomfortable now. "You can't just banish me!" Meanwhile, a fair distance away and over the Kupotea river, Epsi shivers, perched atop the ant hill that he and Nyoni are feasting from. Glancing to the female majordomo, he comments, "You know, I've just got this strange feeling that his majesty has managed screw up. Again."
"I can and I just did." Nabana takes a step forward, lifting a paw to shove at Njaa's chest. "You're not fit for patrol and the lionesses have control of the hunting. You thusly do nothing here but eat the pride's food." He shifts to put himself more between the lionesses and the fallen monarch. "You aren't old or disabled, so there's no reason for you not to be contributing. Get out of our sight." A brow quirks. "Or are you such a coward that you don't think you can even SURVIVE for half a moon without the pride?" Here he glances over to Ujinga to take note of the young lion's reaction.
A brow furrows. Njaa glances behind him at his son, who looks at him with disappointment, before the cresftallen king turns and raises a forepaw towards Nabana... only to lower it down again, appearing beaten. "You've dethroned me and taken over my pride. You've set my family against me. My mate will not help me. My son is disappointed in me. What more use have I got than carrion fodder?" he asks, looking up to the king. "Won't you at least set me to peace with a swift, painless death?"
In immediate response to Njaa's request, Nabana lifts a forepaw and cuffs him hard across the face. "If they've turned against you with as rotten of a guest as I've been, it's your own damn fault! What I SHOULD do is beat you into the ground, let you heal, and repeat the process over and over until you're either dead or willing to stand up for yourself. Or leave you here alone and set out with the lionesses to take them back to Kopje where they can see how a REAL king functions." He eyes Njaa for a moment, before he seems to actually contemplate that, turning to look at the lionesses. "Kopje could do with some fresh blood. I have a brother, you know. And sons. And Vikali's there."
Oddly enough, the elders, Ngulozi, and the other two cubs are not present, but between the present lionesses, one or two look thoroughly disgusted at the king, Jaburu sad, and Mahubi sympathetic. But all their expressions change when Njaa turns to them. This Kopje Valley they've heard about... Nabana's brother? Someone as strong, and as tender, and as loving as him? And sons, who could help them greatly and be available for mates... The last three words really do get the lionesses murmuring, or at least Mahubi and Jaburu. They still remember their niece as a tiny little cub... it would be interesting to see how much she has grown up. Njaa's face now resembles the expression 'oh crap'.
"The pride was fairly sizable when I left... and worst case scenario, I know there are neighboring lands. Vikali would still be nearby... and I could raise my cubs myself." He focuses on the two pregnant lionesses. "See that they have proper defenses." Nabana's tail gives a few twitches. "And somebody to assist in seeing that Afnu and Ujinga over there get taught to be real lions by somebody less cowardly than Njaa and less crass than me." The king's tail flicks. "I have an uncle there too. A cousin, a nephew... a couple daughters and nieces who reaching adulthood. It's really a nice place to live. Epsi's seen it, ask him what he thought of the territory. Of course, the neighbors are idiots, but you're pretty much used to isolation anyway."
"But... but..." The former king looks from face to face once more. All he sees are hopeful looks of a new life in or by the Kopje Valley or- wait. That's not good. Two of the lionesses on the edge of the semi-circle, Kimajo and Kipazi, are slowly walking towards the golden lion in stances indicating they don't want a friendly nuzzle. He starts to backtrack as the two lioness continue to creep closer in his direction, a hint of fear in his eyes. "Nabana!" he exclaims sharply, "Call them off!"
As Njaa takes notice of the lionesses stepping forward, Nabana quirks a brow at him. "You make it sound as if I'm a dictator who orders his lionesses what to do. They are adults, and smart enough to make their own decisions." Nonetheless, he immediately moves to cut off the pair of lionesses, giving them a brief warning look before turning to face Njaa again. "But defense of the pride is not the job of the females." He narrows his pupils, lowers his head, and flexes his paws to make his claws extend. "You have your instructions--if you get into trouble, send Epsi back. He is to report in every quarter moon with your whereabouts, and you are not to go more than a quarter moon's journey in any direction outside the Kupotea. I don't care if you go to the far edge of that limit or linger just outside the border. Your trespass upon the border will mean death. You receiving food from anyone in the pride will result in your death. Failure to report in or coming when called will result in you being hunted down in a painful death, because the intention is that at some point, you will return to the pride--as a guard. Now..." His tail gives a flick. "You have until the count of one to get out of my territory and away from my lionesses."
The two lionesses halt as Nabana moves in the way, though they do bare their teeth and issue low growls as they try to see behind their king. Despite feeling a little safer, Njaa still bares the look of a lion who doesn't know what to think or feel. Betrayed by his family, fearfull of Msaada's- well, Nabana's lionesses now... but one thing that remains strong is his loathing for this foul, arrogant king that has effectively ruined his life. Straightening up, he spits out at the monarch, "If you had any guts, you would have the decency to throw yourself off a cliff, you unsurping maggot!" And with that, Njaa turns tail and starts running, eastwards. Their growls rising, Kimajo and Kipazi press forward a little, eager to chase that lion out of their lands.
"And if you had any guts, you would've stood and fought for your family!" the king says. Then, hollering after Njaa as he keeps going. "ONE!" He doesn't, however, give chase. He'll follow the lion's scent later to make sure he left. What he does do is turn sharply back to the pair of lionesses. "Just what do you think you're doing? Defense of the pride is the job of myself, Msaada, Ujinga and Afnu. Especially when you are pregnant," he says as he pokes Kimajo in the chest with a paw. "You'd be wise not to get involved into a scuffle with an adult lion. When he's through with you, it'd be nothing compared to what I'd do if you did something foolish like that which resulted in the death of my offspring." He gives his tail another lash before he turns from them and starts towards Ujinga and Afnu.
The two angry females turn their eyes back to the decent king, then slowly lower their hackles. As Kimajo is reminded of her pregnancy and what she could have risked, she lower her head respectfully and murmurs an apology, before the two lioness return to the semi-circle so they can continue their mutterings about this land that's being described to them. Afnu and Ujinga, meanwhile, straighten up as Nabana turns their way, still a little frightened of getting on his bad side.
Nabana stops a few steps in front of the pair of adolescents. "You and you. If you see him on this side of the Kupotea border, you chase him out. If you see him on the other side of the border, you are free to converse or interact or whatever if you so desire, so long as you are giving him no survival aid. The only exception to this is if he has life-threatening injuries, or is on the verge of starving to death. In either of those circumstances, give aid and come find me immediately." He glances over towards Msaada, then back to them. "Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," replies Afnu quickly, eager to show how grown up he can be and that he can rise to the situation. Msaada, while not in quite such an erect and alert stance as the adolescents, nods his head in agreement. "Duly noted." Ujinga, however... he looks rather uncomfortable about the whole situation. He bites his lip, looks over towards his mother, then explains to Nabana in a clearly distressed tone, "Nab- sir, I... please... he's my father... I- I'm not sure I can."
Ears twitching, Nabana now turns his attention squarely on Ujinga. "He's your father. But you have seen what kind of a lion he is. A coward. Unsuitable for kingship. He allowed me to join the pride--he who has then taken over and mated with a large portion of the pride. What has he ever done for you that would make you stand by such a pathetic excuse for a lion?"
His ears wilting, the troubled prince looks up at Nabana as his shoulders shrink back, unconsciously trying to make himself look smaller, then his lowers, eyes averted. "I- I'm sorry. If I see Njaa on our side of the border, I'll chase him out. I won't offer him help unless he really really needs it."
A solid cuff is given to Ujinga's shoulder. "I see his cowardace has been passed on to his son. I asked you a /question/, damn it. So answer it. What has he ever done for you that would make you stand by such a pathetic excuse for a lion? Hmm?" It seems Nabana's truly interested in the prince's answer.
Ujinga lets out a reflexive snarl as Nabana lashes out at him, his muzzle quickly swinging up so he can look at the king properly. Much as the lionessess' had earlier, his own hackles are raising, though his growing mane hides it for the most part. "He- he- he's been my dad, and looked after me since I was a cub! Wouldn't you stand up for your dad?" he blurts out, looking a tad defiant.
"My father died before I reached adulthood," Nabana says simply before turning away. "But I hope my son would be so loyal. You, and you alone may help him--IF you encounter him outside Kupotea territory. If you don't have any compassion, you'll turn out to be quite the monster. Take it from personal experience." The lion makes his way back over towards the lionesses. "You all, on the other paw, are not even to speak to Njaa. To do so will mean Njaa's castration so I ensure that he's not mating with any of you. Is that clear?"
Oops. His ears now slick against his skull, Ujinga's expression changes to one of nearing happiness at being told he can look after his father off the pridal lands... but it's there for a second. He's quick to replace it with something more formal, which he then bows his head with. "Thank you." Then the rest of the lionesses receive their instructions, and the two felines that had moved up to shoo Njaa away start talking between them once more. Jaburu catches this, then calls over at them, "And no tricking Njaa into talking to you!"
Nabana eyes the pair of lionesses as well after Jaburu calls out, and then looks back to Ujinga. "Inform your father of this. I won't take kindly to any lionesses causing problems, either," the male says as he strides up to Kimajo and Kipazi, eyeing them both. He then looks the pride over, and finally turns from them. "For now, I'd best make sure he got out. And took Epsi wth him." Turning away, Nabana starts to slink off after the trail Njaa left, looking purposeful.