Heart to Heart


Mzohari - lion king.
Wingu - adolescent lion.

It's the crack of dawn, or at least it would be if the sun would actually get a move on and make this ridiculously early hour seem a little less ridiculous. Among the various Kopje youngsters occupying various parts of the volcano, the only one who seems up at this insane hour is Wingu. The boy, with his nearly filled-in mane, still seems a bit underweight compared to some of the others. Likely enough, it's some lingering after-effect of the illness that nearly claimed his life as a child. Still, he sits a bit away from the slumbering forms of a few of his relatives, tail curled around his haunches as the first rays of sunlight catch in the paler strands of his mane. Slowly, his mouth curls back into a yawn, greeting the sun with his idea of a proper salute. Then, licking at his muzzle, the boy rolls his shoulders, leaning over to scratch at a particularly annoying itch.

He knew better than to expect everyone to get along — but still, the sudden argument that sprouted up last night managed to dampen Mzohari's spirits a little. During his usual evening walk around the Volcano, at least. But a thorough night's sleep in grasses, whose stalks aren't dry and poking his belly, proved to be more than restful — and already, he is awake. The sun has barely begun to show its face yet, much of the night still dominating — but there's still enough light to outline Mzo's body as he lumbers up one of the slops, heading for the outcropping.

Wingu is oblivious to whatever argument may be upsetting his father, he's missed that particular tidbit. Like in many things since his cubhood days, the boy's timing really isn't the greatest. Still, as the dark form of the older lion is highlighted by the morning light, he rises to his feet, stretching his back paws and back out behind him. With a small grunt, 'goo's pale paws step forward a few paces before he calls out a greeting chuff. There's still a bit of distance between the two, but he starts to walk in the direction of his father, tail swaying behind him quietly.

A small, albeit rather sharp, lifting of Mzohari's head can be seen as he hears the sounds of greeting from the outcropping — and as his face comes clearly into view, surprise is written on it. Evidently, the lion didn't expect anyone else to be awake so early. Nevertheless, the fact seems to bring him some gladness — even moreso when he sees just who it is ambling towards him. "Wingu!" The name of his son is said with clear delight, and Mzo's own paces pick up until the distance between them is closed. The adolescent is greeted with an affectionate nudging of Mzo's muzzle to his shoulder. "What are you doing awake? Shouldn't you be sleeping like the rest of your lazy cousins?" He chuckles, lightly teasing.

There is a moment of hesitation from the young lion. He's been wrestling with figuring out just what all of these changes, and just what this little expedition means. Still, the tone of the lion's voice causes the boy's ears to perk forward within the fringe of his mane. "Hey pa." He greets, the smallest of smiles lighting his white muzzle. He even offers a small purr and a bump of his own muzzle sociably against his father's side. "Couldn't sleep. I've slept enough for one lifetime." He jokes, laughing without humor even as he looks down towards the sleeping forms of his cousins. Wingu shrugs once, and then lets his eyes drift over their surroundings. "Everything sounds different here. Makes it hard to sleep."

A grin curls briefly across Mzohari's muzzle as his son mentions having had more than his fair share of sleep — though his latter remarks pull his pale eyes away from Wingu, towards the view afforded of the rest of the Volcano. Leaning his weight back, the lion eases his weight onto his haunches, sitting himself down with a softened rumbling that sounds from the depths of his chest. " .. No waterfall," he replies with a nod. "Is that what you've noticed the most? I know it's been unsettling me since we all got here — I'm so used to hearing it in the background that to not hear it now, well, it's a little on the eerie side."

If nothing else, Wingu always seems to joke about his illness rather than taking it too seriously. It's probably the one saving grace that keeps him from becoming one of those self-pitying sort of lions who blame their misfortunes on some early trauma. For the most part, he's still as good-natured as ever. Glancing through the fringe of his bangs, Wingu nods just once. "Yeah. I'm so used to the sound of water that it's a little unsettling." He gives a sideways glance towards the others, and then back to his father. "It's more than that, though. I'm so used to the rest of the pride being around. There's a bunch of us, sure… but it's like we're missing part of the family, you know? And I can't help but think that… well… if lions were meant to settle here, they would have. Was there ever a pride that lived here, pa?"

His ears tip forward to better hear his son — though as Wingu's question is presented, a smile slowly works its way across Mzohari's face. "Oh, there was a pride that lived here, alright," he answers. "Your grandfather, Siombe, used to make his home here, and ruled over a fair-sized pride. But that was a long, long time ago, though Siombe has always said that he hoped the Volcano would be reborn someday — y'know, that lions would start living here again." Mzo's tongue runs thoughtfully over his whiskers, before he adds, "Our pride is getting big enough by this point, that I'm wondering if some of your cousins might move over to the Volcano when they're old enough — it's prime territory, and almost next-door to Kopje."

"Grandpa?" Wingu's expression is confused as he tries to piece together his fleeting memories of the few times he's seen his sometimes aloof grandfather and the image of the volcano set out before him. "Wow…" He comments, seeming more than a little impressed. "So grandpa's pride moved out of the volcano and into Kopje?" He's trying to fit the pieces of the history together. "Why did they leave to begin with?" So many questions to ask, and he hesitates a little, not wanting to sound like some child playing twenty-questions. "There sure are a lot of us, though. Guys, I mean. Probably too many lions for any one pride, I guess." His tone starts to sound a little somber.

"To be completely honest, Wingu .. I'm not sure I have the story straight on why your grandfather lived where he did and went where he did, and why. I'm not sure I'll EVER have it straight. I can only listen to what Balana's told me about Siombe's life, and go by her stories. But from what she told me, Siombe ruled here while the Kopje lands were ruled by his adoptive brother — until his adoptive brother decided to move his Kopje pride down into Utatu. A lot of time passed after that, during which Siombe's pride here in the Volcano diminished. Then the Kumalo came, and .. " Mzohari chuckles, and shakes his head. "It's quite a long story. But to sum it all up, yes, Siombe eventually brought his family back to the Valley. And now, we're starting to outgrow it." A shade of seriousness also touches his features. "But that's ."

It takes quite a bit of effort to follow even the bits and pieces of the Kopje's history that he's being given, and the confusion that shows is evidence enough that the past isn't something that 'goo is quite able to grasp just from his father's words. "Maybe I'll ask grandma…" He chuckles a little, and lifts a paw to brush down some of his mane sheepishly. "Sounds like one heck of a story, though." Slowly, he settles down to his haunches, curling his tail about his feet so it makes a stark contrast of dark tail-tip against pale paws. "Is that what this is all about, pa?" He finally asks the question that's been on his mind. "I mean… this whole adventure thing? It's about some of us leaving, isn't it?"

"Asking Balana is probably the smartest idea," he concurs with a subtle grin, though the expression doesn't last long in the face of Wingu's question. Mzohari's head tilts slightly as he considers the best way to answer his son, the length of his tail gradually curling around his haunches. "Yes .. and no," he finally replies. "I'm doing this because I want all of you to be fully capable adults. I never gave the second generation of Kopje — like Nonceba and Kiini and that whole age group — any sort of formal training. And in retrospect, I think that was a mistake. I want to teach you all I can about how to take care of yourselves, and your family. How each of you winds up using that knowledge is a personal decision — whether you choose to apply it here in Kopje, or if you choose to try striking out on your own."

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