03/17/10 - Unwanted Answer

The Players:
Badiliko - White Lion from Kopje Valley
Elimnyama - Rogue Black Lion, Mystic, and Chief Witness
Itumele - Juvenile Lion and Son of Balana
Johari - Badiliko's Mate and Kopje Valley Lioness
Kahini - Rogue Lioness and Kumalo Guide
Miiba - Wandering Hedgehog-Turned-Guide
Sanlina - Rogue Lioness and Guide

The party had just come into the cavern that had been described as underground beauty (save the giant slab of black rock). The giant rhinoceros even introduced it as the last vestige of Jahusi domionion, despite the lack of native lions present. "I will summon the matriarch," he states. "Please, rest here in the meantime." And with many stomps he heads down another tunnel, leaving the party in the cavernous garden.

Johari sits down next to her mate, looking rather uncomfortable as she gazes around. She's lost for words on the view before her. Just what did she get herself into?

Rhinos, caves, and untrustworthy hedgehogs. Kahini's world just keeps getting more interesting by the day. "I think he meant that your egg can rest, too, Lion Itumele." Truth be told, she's ready to see the thing crushed and eaten by now, just to be done with it.

Badiliko would not call the hedgehog untrustworthy. Quite the contrary, he thought Miiba did an excellent job bringing the party where he was directed to bring them. Of course, this meant that not everybody was happy, but on the other side there weren't any guarantees. Badiliko, for better or worse, has enough trust in the rhino's words that he finds a patch of fauna and slumps down into it, looking worn from the travel in the shadow corridor.

Miiba himself thought that he was a good guide, too! "This used to be the nursery," he comments idly. "Why would it be the last of Jahusi territory…?"

Itumele puts his egg down in a random bunch of fern-like foliage, gives Kahini a glare, and then eyes the hedgehog. "Because everywhere else is DEAD, stupid!" he practically hollers at the small creature.

Johari smiles weakly to Itumele's remark, but ends up settling down next to Badiliko. Her eyes continue to search the place for something, anything… But there doesn't seem to be much of anything around.

Kahini ultimately ends up strolling over towards the others now, "There was little more than rumor of this pride back in my time with the Kumalo, Lion Badiliko. Perhaps there is a reason they are considered only rumors to the Kumalo."

Badiliko tiredly looks up to Kahini, face being neutral. "Maybe, except that my mother was Jahusi. Unless I'm told by the rhino or whoever he's getting…I won't believe otherwise." And that is that from him.

Miiba was doing well to keep quiet. He had a semblence of the facts in him, but given that half the party didn't trust him (and possibly wanted him dead) he just sat in a corner all by his lonesome.

Thankfully nobody hollered at Itumele for hollering… might make him even more grumpy than he already is. As it is, he settles himself down near the egg and starts licking at the shell. Okay… so just how does one go about eating an egg?

Sanlina currently is inspecting the cave, moving around it silently, glancing at the tunnels that lead to/away from this place, and sniffing the air at each tunnel.

Johari ends up resting her head on Badiliko's back after she finishes her once over of the place. Of course, seeing her mate eyeing up Kahini, she just gives him a lick along the back of his neck in his mane.

Kahini doesn't say anything more to Badiliko though. She looks off and notices Sanlina searching the area, and ultimately decides to head off and join her to see what else this place has to offer.

Badiliko, with his own neck being licked, is put at incredible ease on top of his current fatigue. "Thanks, Jo," he replies as he yawns some. Now would be the best time to catch some shut-eye, right?

Wrong. Just as he's about to fall asleep, Badiliko's rest (and everybody else) is interrupted by the thunderous steps of a returning creature. Oddly enough, there's TWO sets of steps, not just one, and the second is even larger than the rhino's. First the rhinoceros comes through, and then behind him is an even larger creature, sizable and ancient: a female elephant, which is a matriarch by the judge of things. How she fits through the caverns is a question in and of itself.

Even by the time the pair return, Itumele's still not figured out a good way to get a hole in his egg. He could drop it off something, of course, but then it would just run all over… And it seems too fragile to bite in to.

Sanlina glances over to Kahini and is about to give her greeting, when the sounds of two others come thromping through the cavern. She perks one ear forward and the other back as the elephant comes stomping in. "Where does an elephant like that find enough food and water around here.." she muses quietly to Kahini.

Johari picks her head up off of her mate's back, staring ahead at the two approaching creatures. Suddenly, lionesses don't seem to be all that big of creatures..

Kahini hardly gets to Sanlina when the scouting ends. "I don't know how she even gets around, let alone the food and water." The scout has seen many things, but never something like this.

The white lion looks at the sight and initially is just as awestruck. He rises and is about to speak when the elephant takes his wind by feeling him with her trunk. "Hello, Mrithi. It has been too long since you have been here, yet you have returned." Her voice is gravely soft, hinting that her days are numbered. "You and your companions are welcome in the ruins of the Jahusi lands…such as they are. Miiba!"

Miiba scitters over to the elephant, looking terribly meek. "Yes, Matriarch?" The elephant responds, "You have found that which is most precious to us. May the Earth Mother be with you always for this boon." The hedgehog sighs in relief and then, in a rare move of boldness, scitters over to the rhino and climbs up onto him, sitting on his head as if he were a hat to be worn.

Itumele pauses from his attempts to break into the egg to look up at the pair of large herbivores, turning an ear vaguely in their direction, but apparently deciding he's too tired to go on working at it. Besides, being grumpy at Miiba when there's something big enough to step on him there doesn't seem like the best of ideas. He plops himself down, and then flops over onto a large mossy spot nearby.

Sanlina mentions softly to Kahini, "They're expecting lions, but what we get is an elephant. Are there no lions left here?" The last question was raised and focused more on the elephant then to Kahini.

Johari rises to her paws now as the elephant starts to speak. Overhearing Sanlina's remark, she chimes in with a little of her own. "Yes, isn't there a Jahusi pride here? That's what we've come all this way for!"

Kahini, meanwhile, goes silent, since the other lionesses have imposed questions on the elephant already. Her eyes watch the hedgehog scoot up on the rhino, but then go back to the elephant now with the expectant answer.

The elephant is the first to answer. "Mrithi, you and your friends have found the Jahusi. You also have not found what you have sought. Come; follow me and I will answer." Before she turns, the elephant looks at the party. "All of you, come," she commands in an ancient authority. Yes, this includes Itumele, too. Following this, Badiliko gives a nod and slowly rises, prompting the armored herbivores to begin leading the party once again. Massive thunder from the ground, those two are.

An annoyed raspberry sound comes from the young lion as he sticks out his tongue at the huge herbivore. Forgetting his egg in the ferns, Itumele irritatedly gets back to his feet and sulkily trudges after.

Sanlina catches Kahini's gaze to Miiba. "Miiba certainally seems rather comfortable with the rhino currently." she mentions softly to Kahini. "Will our new knowledge be of curiosity, of calamity, or of danger?" she mentions to the other lioness, keeping her voice low.

Johari doesn't make any objection. If anything, she's one of the first to follow behind the large tusk beast. Her eyes start to show some curiousity again, getting past her fear.

Kahini nods her head to Sanlina, though makes no further comment on it. The scout keeps a safe distance, but in the end goes along with the rest of the group.

The elephant responds, "My eyes might be failing, but my hearing is not." That prompts Badiliko to ask, "Matriarch…what roll do you play here? Why do you speak for the Jahusi?" With a sigh as she walks, the matriarch answers Badiliko's question. "My clan has always been allied with the Jahusi, since they first came to be. The matriarch is called to serve as the counsel to the King, though the last several generations of them have been…foolish. The rest of my clan fled before the earth shook in wrath, but I am bound by the Earth Mother to counsel the Kings in the great Circle, even if it means death or lonliness. I remain even to this day."

To which Miiba follows up: "She's older than any of you could probably guess. The Jahusi never had a better advisor…or wasted a greater opportunity, you know."

"So are all the lions dead, or what?" Itumele asks in a tone that's only slightly more curious than it is rude. "We came all the way from south of here across that stupid desert, and if nobody's left, then we came all this way and didn't even get to see anything cool but a big pit." His questions aren't particularly directed at anybody, but spoken louder than if he were just muttering to himself.

Sanlina moves along with Kahini quietly, though momentarily glances over to Itumele as he asks the answered question.

Johari keeps pace with her mate, keeping in tune with his conversation with the female elephant. When Itumele speaks up, it triggers a question that has also been on her mind as well. Just where /are/ they?

Kahini is half tempted to swat the young lion, but thinks better of it. She can't help but wonder if any Kumalo has ever set paw in this place before. Nothing like this was ever told in the tales of old in the Kumalo.

"Itumele! That's enough," Badiliko says with what strength he can spare for speaking. He's just about ready to kill the cub and say he wandered off and it was too late, with the attitude that's being given to him.

The remainder of the small trip is silent until they see a light at the end of the tunnel. "Out here is the beginning of the answer you've sought, Mrithi," the matriarch replies. The light leads to an exit and the exit feeds onto a promenade of sorts by which the land beneath can be seen. When everybody can get a good look, though, the sight is horrible. On the ground, almost as far as the eye can see (there are boundaries, just several hundred feet of it) are bones all laid out across dead lands. Even a cub could tell they were the bones of lions and lionesses, even a few cubs in the mix of it. "Behold, the Pride of Jahusi, whose near end was wrought six moons ago."

"/Bite me/," Itumele spits in Badi's general direction, though he is quiet for the rest of the trek. When they get in sight of the bones, however, his ears fold back against his skull. /Seeing/ all the lions dead is much different than just speaking of it.

Sanlina tilts her ears back at the sight of all the bones, and she studies it, her expression turning from a concerned sadness to concerned suspicion. "There's .. something wrong here." she decides, out loud. Then she realizes what it is. "All of them.. here? In one place? Why haven't we seen any bones anywhere else? Even if they had fell sick, we shouldn't find them all in one location. It's as if.. they were rounded up and ended here." she notes, looking about the area.

Johari drops her mouth open at what she sees. This is FAR different than seeing the dead cub from her own pride those moons ago. There was fur, there was a resemblance of them. This? This is horrible! She'd say more but Sanlina's remark draws an instant concern.

Kahini starts to frown after getting a close look, and her eyes start to look about for a cause. The scout starts to get that sensation in her not felt in a long time. To the death itself? With as much as Kahini has seen (and caused) the bones themselves do not bother her.

Badiliko…well, he's seen nothing this disturbing in a long time. Ever, in fact. "What happened here?" he asks with some shock. "The Pride of Jahusi became divided and fought amongst themselves. Family against family, down to the last cub. They are all dead of their own wrath, and the Earth Mother's wrath is kindled here for it. Only two escaped the carnage, Mrithi, and you were one of them."

~End Part 6~

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