Kikora S Adventure


Balana - elder lioness, mother of Mzohari.
Kiini - lion, son of King Mzohari and Nyunya.
Kikora - juvenile lioness, adopted into the pride.
Korzar - juvenile lion, son of King Mzohari and Kasjari.
Vikali - lioness, mate of Kiini.

Featuring a special guest - spoofed savannah monitor!


Kopje Valley
You come down from the edge of the Valley into a large open plain. Small baobab trees dot the landscape. You can see the cliff edge looming above you, sending a shadow over your body. To the north you can see a large cliff with a waterfall flowing from it. To the west you see some beautiful plains, and there is a large and expansive savannah to the south.

[UP] to the edge of the valley [W]aterfall [C]liff
[L]ukesia's and [S]iombe's [P]lace [P]ath of rememberance
[Sh]aded [P]atch

You can also see a 'runoff stream'.
A fallen 'umbrella thorn' tree lies across the stream.

Kikora is dozing fitfully in a thick patch of grass, her ears twitching as she picks up the sounds of the valley. While everything is relatively quiet, there are a few noises that draw the girl up and out of sleep gradually — a strange and almost rhythmic rustling sound from nearby.

Though he'd still be considered a juvenile, the savannah monitor is roughly three feet long from the tip of his snout to the tip of his tail. He's scurrying through the grasses near the big cub, pausing every few minutes to balance on his hind feet and tail, taking in his surroundings. So far, so good — there doesn't appear to be anything after him, or anything threatening him in his immediate surroundings.

Ha! That's what the poor monitor thinks… Kikora peers at him from her prone position, brown eyes twinkling with curiosity and wonder. What could that thing be? She climbs to her paws as silently as she can, creeping ever closer to the lizard. When he starts moving again, Kiko' stalks him, her torso and head held low — she doesn't want to startle him before she can find out where's he going, after all.

The savannah monitor continues on, though he moves at a more hurried pace, cruising through the grasses with expertise and grace.

Path of Rememberance
The path is quiet, very peaceful and calm. It makes an unnerving calm come over you as you walk along. You feel an incredible peace and look 'fo'rward to the rest of the path stretching out ahead. Or, you can return 'b'ack to the Kopje Valley.

[B]ack to the Kopje Valley [Fo]rward along the path

Kikora follows after the monitor silently, now completely engrossed in finding out just what he is, and where he's off to. She places her paws as carefully as she can, but one rogue twig on the path harbors an urge to sabotage her! As she takes her next step, the twig snaps quite loudly!

The monitor stops dead in his tracks, turning his long neck until he spots the large cub. His pupils contract and he darts off, moving quickly and easily, as if he were swimming instead of running. Though he's not a hatchling, the monitor is still small enough to be preyed upon by larger beasts — including that lion that's following him now.

"Hey, wait!" Kikora calls out in the monitor's wake, her ears turning back in confusion and annoyance. How did that twig make so much noise? She starts off after him now, weaving along the path, pumping her legs with all she's got. She can't lose him now!

Path of Rememberance
Another part of the trail here lends you to a sadder feeling. A feeling of remorse somewhat. Without thinking, you suddenly begin feeling an incredible urge to 'r'emember some of the others in your life. Some of the others that have died in your lifetime..For some, this is a time to go 'b'ack.

[B]ack along the path [R]emember others in your life

The monitor is rather quick and is turning down a curve in the path just as the juvenile lioness comes into view. He doesn't bother darting into the grasses, for he knows that what's following him spends most of their time capturing their prey in them. He'd be safer up a tree, if he could find one.

Kikora's paws pound against the well-worn path in a determined cadence as she runs. She isn't tired yet, but will be soon if she doesn't catch that darn monitor!

Path of Rememberance
You come to the far edge of the valley and look off into the distance. There is a steep incline and in the wavy lines of heat you can make out a 's'teep incline marking the back edge of the valley. Perhaps you can decide to go 'b'ack as well.

[B]ack along the path [S]teep Incline

Just as the lioness is growing a bit tired of running, so is the monitor. He sees the steep incline up ahead and puts forth one last burst of speed and energy, moving off in that direction.

"Hey, c'mon! I just want to talk!" Kikora yells out, her voice rough and tired after all the running she's done. She's just about to give up when she notices the savannah monitor dart toward the steep incline, and her curiosity is renewed. It hasn't dawned on her yet just how far she is from the safety of the valley…or how she's just getting even more lost chasing after this unwilling reptile.

Steep Incline
Looking about you see a steep slope marking the edge of the Kopje Valley. It would seem that you could go no further however you notice an opening that resembles a 'c'ave. It is very dark and the idea of going in makes you think about going 'b'ack. Or has all that remembering made you brave?

[B]ack along the path Into a [C]ave {An} area of flat ground

The monitor has used up most of his energy by now. He glances around wildly, looking for any possible means of escape — a cave, in which he'd probably be cornered, or a wide expanse of flat ground. He heads off in that direction, his clawed toes kicking up little dust clouds as he moves.

Kikora's sides and chest heave as she breathes, a little frown wrinkling her nose and brow. "Hello?" She questions the seemingly empty incline, carefully picking her way up from the path below. "Where'd you go?" Her brown eyes search for any signs of the savannah monitor, finally catching a glimpse of his dusty trail down toward the flat area. "Waaaait!" She yells again, looking both determined and dejected. Why is he running? Is it something she said?

Flat grounds
You look about and shudder at the desolation of the land around you. The
earth is a deep brown color, the result of poor growth and soil. The
dreary landscape is terribly flat, so flat you are almost able to see
the horizons. Dead grass stretches like a harsh carpet. The only
feature that catches your eye, is an ancient volcano that has steadily
loomed in size as you approach it. This land feature is still a far
distance away and the depressing nature of these lands make you want
to get moving again.

You can move {on}ward to parched grounds [Over] to an incline
[G]reat [S]avannah Toward Pride Rock [S]

The monitor is panting now, his neck expanding as he breathes rapidly through his mouth. He's never had anything give chase like this before, and he is about to give up and let the cub catch up to him — that is, until he spots the great growth of savannah nearby. He darts into the thick grasses and disappears, hoping that the big cat following him will give up.

Kikora slows her pace now, glancing around with wide, brown eyes. The greenery she's become accustomed to has been burnt away long ago by something very large and cataclysmic…and after a few seconds, she sees the large and forboding volcano looming in the distance. The savannah monitor is instantly forgotten as she takes in the gigantic form that sits against the horizon, and the cub moves closer — almost as if drawn by some unseen force. Curiosity killed the cat, after all…

Parched Grasslands
As you enter, you step carefully upon the drab brown grass. The surronding
area is extensive and stretches as far as you can see. The normal plethora
of fauna graze freely among the plains. Their herds seem to be the only
raised things along this austerely flat ground. The volcano stil looms
as an imposing figure in the scene. It is the only raised part of the
landscape and draws your attention with its magnitude.

You can move {closer} to the volcano's slope
You can go back to the {Flat} grounds Nausica's Cheetah {Den}

Kikora creeps through the desolate flatlands, her ears turned back and eyes wide in awe and nervousness. She has no idea where she is, how far away she is from home, or what's lurking ahead. Her only consolation is that she'd be able to see something after her here, as the lands are unbearably flat — except for the volcano and a very distant herd of what appear to be zebra, the bane of her existence. "Wooow…" she says quietly, wishing that Wingu and Korzar were here with her to experience this. Almost as soon as she thinks of them, she hunkers down in the middle of the plains, wondering just how much trouble she'll be in if she ever makes it back to the valley.

Kikora stays in that position for quite a while, thinking about Kasjari and Mwaliko. What would they think of her little adventure, especially after hearing about the bad lion that attacked Gadi's mother? …and what about King Mzohari? Would he still want a trouble-making lioness cub in his pride? Kikora sighs, her sides heaving with the volume of air she pushes out of her lungs, brown eyes half-lidded against the bright sun overhead. Well…if she's going to get in trouble, she may as well make the trip worth it! She lifts herself up and trots forward toward the volcano, tail swishing at her hocks as she goes.

South Volcano Slope
Looking around the massive piece of earth ahead, you see the solid, sleek
walls of a volcano curving around in both directions. You strain your eyes
upward to the rocky lip that must be the high open top of the volcano.
The dark brown cliffs are cragged with rock and other stones. You wonder
if the volcano is still active.

{S}outh{E}ast Slope {S}outh{W}est Slope
You can go {away} from the volcano

Kikora picks her way through the volcanic boulder field, watching as much smaller lizards dart to-and-fro. She frowns at them, her little ears turned back against her head — it was a dumb lizard that got her in this much trouble to begin with! Ignoring them as best as she can, the big cub carefully climbs up the slope, heading toward the southeast.

SouthEast Volcano Slope
Looking around the massive piece of earth ahead, you see the solid, sleek
walls of a volcano curving around in both directions. You strain your eyes
upward to the rocky lip that must be the high open top of the volcano.
The dark brown cliffs are cragged with rock and other stones. You wonder
if the volcano is still active. You continue along silently. You look,
upward, hoping for rest and some solace from the long journey.

{E}ast Slope {S}outh Slope

Kikora dredges onward, picking her way along the sloped surface of the volcano as carefully as she can. She moves eastward, glancing around occasionally — is she up high enough to see the valley from here? The slope isn't so steep that she can't navigate it, but she focuses mainly on not tripping or coming up on some vicious volcano-dwelling guard or something equally as terrifying.

East Volcano Slope
Looking around you see the solid, sleek walls of the volcano curving around
in both directions. Looking up you strain your eyes until they focus on
the lip of the high open top of the volcano. The dark brown cliffs are
cragged with rock and other stones. You wonder if the volcano is still

{N}orth{E}ast Slope {S}outheast Slope

Kikora, walking in a large semi-circle along the outside of the volcano, continues in a northeastern direction. She's starting to consider turning back…but as she turns a small curve along the strange trail, something catches her eye. Ever-curious, the cub plods on, her determination renewed.

NorthEast Volcano Slope
You continue along silently. The structure makes you wonder if this volcano
has an opening or cave that might shelter you from impending rainclouds.
You continue to look, hoping for rest and some form of solace from the
tormenting weather.

{N}orth Slope {E}ast Slope

"Where am I…?" Kikora asks herself in a tiny voice, continuing to creep along the outer fringe of the gigantic volcano. The sun is still high overhead and it's beginning to burn her back — and from what she can see, respite from the heat is nowhere in sight.

North Volcano Slope
Looking around you see the solid, sleek walls of the volcano curving around
in both directions. Looking up you strain your eyes until they focus on the
high open top of the volcano. The dark brown cliffs are cragged with rock
and other stones. You wonder if the volcano is still active.
Taking another look, you seem to see that the rock on this side has been
worn a little. It looks almost strange to the eye, but a trail leads upward
along the steep slope in a switchbacked pattern. Following the pattern,
your eyes finally settle on what looks like a hole.

{N}orth{W}estern Slope {N}orth{E}astern Slope {D}ark {C}ave
{N}orth away from the volcano

The nearly sun-burnt cub glances up, squinting her eyes against the bright sky, to see that a section of the trail breaks off and continues in a switchbacked pattern up the side of the volcano — leading to what appears to be a dark hole. Shade! Kikora hauls herself up the path carefully, wary of getting too close to the edge. As a result, the cub keeps her side pressed up against the hot rock as she moves, thinking that maybe she'll be able to see the valley from the new higher vantage point.

Dark Cave
You come into a dark cave. The cavern is very deep and dry. The rock pattern
on the ground makes it seem like it was blasted out long ago. It is also
very warm, once in a while receiving a cool blast of air from the outside.
There is a comfy looking corner that appears to be safe. You look around,
somewhat nervous as you wonder how safe it is to sit in a volcano.

{Out} of this place {D}eeper into the cavern

Vikali comes into the dark cave from the outside
Vikali has arrived.

Exhausted, Kikora climbs up the path and nearly collapses in the mouth of the dark cavern, managing to scoot herself in far enough to escape the cascading sunlight. She whimpers a bit, feeling foolish for ever chasing after that stupid monitor…look where it lead her! "I could'a turned around." She says this in a resolute voice, frowning at her own decision to keep moving toward this monstrocity. "I didn't hafta keep going!" She scolds herself, curling her forepaws up beneath her chin.

The first of Kikora's tears are met with resistance — she sniffles, lifting a paw to swipe at her eyes, biting her bottom lip a bit. She's too big to cry, especially since it's her own dumb fault for getting lost out here anyway. Nothing works, and the big cub starts to cry in earnest now, rubbing her face into the pads of her paws. "Dumb-dumb-dumb!" She blurts out in a teary voice, her ears folded back, shoulders hunched as she weeps out of fear, exhaustion and self-loathing. Who's going to notice that she's gone? She didn't see anyone else awake in the valley…and it could be -hours- before someone comes looking for her. Will her scent still be detectable then, or will some phantom aroma-robber steal it away from the path and the grasses?

She may not have to wait that long. Not long after the juvenile had disappeared off along the path of rememberance, an older female had come across a strain of familiar scent. Upon some further investigation, the lioness had found that the disturbingly fresh trail, that of a young leonine, led out of the valley. Naturally, as a motherly creature, she had started following the trail, all the way to the bottom of a volcano. Having never been to the place before, she had continued on warily. Steadily, the trail become fresher and fresher until she reaches a hole in the northern side of the volcano. Vikali takes a deep sniff of the cub's scent, then lets out a soft moan as she enters the cave.

With her eyes squinted shut and her paws plastered to her face, wet with salty tears, Kikora isn't at her best — she can't smell anything very well, and even if she were to open her eyes, they'd be blurry and sore from crying. When Vikali enters the cavern and emits the low sound, the big cub cringes visibly — oh great, it's that volcano-monster she just knew was going to get her! "Don't eat me, please! I'm just lost!" She says in a mournful tone, a spring of fresh tears glittering as they flow down her cheeks. After a few seconds, she blinks her eyes frantically, seeing only Vikali's shadow eclipsed against the bright opening of the cavern.

Vikali blinks a couple of times, hurrying her eyes into switching to night vision mode. She hears that little voice before she sees her, so turns her head in the appropriate direction and starts trying to focus in as soon as she can see well enough. Now if only she can only put a name to a face… It takes a few seconds, but…. "Kikora! What in the names of the Great Kings are you doing all the way out here?"

Though Kikora has only heard Vikali's voice a few times, she does a fairly good job at putting a name to a face. "Vikali! You found me!" She practically yells, her own voice echoing in the dark cavern. The cub sniffles a few more times, climbing to her paws to approach the older lioness, rubbing her side affectionately against Vik's foreleg. "I…I was chasing a stupid lizard, and ended up… here." Her ears fall flat again, and she peers up at Vikali with a guilty expression. "I didn't mean to get so far away…"

Vikali stays put as the cub approaches her, casting a quick glance about the dark cave before she leans down to offer the young female a tender nuzzle. "Shh, it's okay Kikora… I used to chase things about and get lost too. It's all right. I'm here to take you back." Crouching down to the juvenile's level, she offers her a few comforting licks across the nape, forehead, and muzzle. "You've got to be careful, you know… if I didn't happen to pick up your trail, you could have been here for a long time before anyone would have found you."

Now that she is safe under the watchful eye of Vikali, Kikora seems to grow a little more bold about the whole situation. "I think I could'a found my way back…" she trails off, taking the time to think: could she really? The path that the savannah monitor lead her down seemed to branch off back there, and then there was navigating the volcano's fringe. It's quite possible that she wouldn't have found her way back. "Thanks for finding me…" she says in a sheepish voice, brown eyes turning to investigate the cavern for the first time. "Hey, what's that back there?" It seem as though the cavern continues, and now that Vikali is here, Kikora is curious again.

Kikora's confidence is not mirrored in the look Vikali gives her. She offers a smile at the thanks, though it retreats slightly upon hearing the cub's curiosity. "Whatever it is back there will have to wait for a later date," the lioness replies with a certain firmness in her voice. "My priority is getting you back home before either of us is missed. I don't want to go exploring the a deep, dark cavern in the middle of strange lands and risk you getting hurt."

Kikora's energetic curiosity is dampened at Vikali's stern tone and her words. Reluctantly, the cub nods her head to the much larger lioness and moves a few paces to the cavern's mouth. "Okay. I won't chase anything like that 'nymore." Her voice is dejected, but a little bit of relief creeps into her words — after all, she didn't get hurt or so terribly lost that no one could find her. "Go home now?" She asks, peering up at Vikali shyly.

The cub's dejected words earn her a light, repremanding swat on the hind before the lioness rises up to her full height and turns about. "I didn't say you couldn't chase anything, honey… just not to chase them out of the lands." Her question poses a little more of a thinker for Vikali, whom gives the cavern about her a dubious look. "I…" she starts, before grunting. She could either make the cub happy and potentially get Mzohari on the warpath, or she could be firm, not make the cub happy, and keep Mzohari cheerful. A compromise is reached. "We can do a little exploring along the way back home, okay? You can either sit up on my back, I could carry you, or walk beside me."

Ack! Kikora hasn't been reprimanded like that in quite a while, and so it comes as quite a shock to her — something to remember, that's for sure. She peers at Vikali with wide brown eyes, unsure how to respond now that she's been lightly swatted. "Walk." …is all that comes from her now. She's tired from running after the reptile, from climbing this huge volcano in the sun and from her fear-induced crying session. What she'd really like to do is snuggle up against Kasjari, maybe tell Wingu and Korzar about her adventure… basically, she'd like to be anywhere but here at this very moment.

Vikali peers back down at Kikora with her emerald orbs, then nods once before setting off towards the way out of the cave, keeping at a speed slow enough for a cub to comfortably keep up with. "If your legs start to get tired, just say so and I'll carry you," the lioness adds as she slips outside. "It's been quite a walk, here."

"Okay," the cub says in a quiet voice, having had quite enough of this day in particular. First no one was awake, then she was led astray by a very speedy monitor, and now she's probably in a huge heap of trouble — an amount that probably rivals the volcano itself. She pads alongside the lioness with her head hung low, watching her paws instead of the barren surroundings.

Move, move, move…

The two females walk in silence as they circle around from the northern slope of the volcano towards the southern, towards where they came from. All the while, Vikali has her eyes flicking about the terrain, looking for any signs of potential danger and looking back to the cub every now and then to check she's doing all right. After a few more minutes of wordless walking, the adult decides to break their silence. "So… what sort of lizard were you chasing?"

"Mama always called them savannah monitors," Kikora pipes up, keeping up with Vikali's easy-going pace fairly well. She's certainly tired from her long journey out of the valley, but her muscles have had enough exercise in the recent past to be up to the challenge. "She said that they're not as mean as the water monitors. I was just gonna ask him about bein' a lizard…" she laments, shaking her head a little as they walk on. "I met the serval at the other border…and she was nice. I don't know why the lizard ran away from me."

Vikali's gaze falls to Kikora more as they continue on down the southern slope, wanting to show the cub that she is listening and not just making idle chatter. "I've never seen a monitor," she comments in an interested voice, "Though now you mention them, they do sound intreging. And by the sounds of it, you ran into Royathi. She's a lovely cat; so affectionate, so friendly. I keep on trying to persuade her down into the valley, but I get a feeling Mzohari doesn't like…" The lioness coughs, not wanting to reveal any of her suspicions lest they are passed on, then starts anew. "The lizard probably ran away because you were bigger than it. Don't forget, when you're all grown up, there's very few things that will try to prey on you. But other things, like the lizard you were after, probably is preyed upon by a great many things. Think of it as a lioness approaching a zebra."

Kikora tries to envision this, but the only thing that springs to her mind is the moment that the zebra mare her mother was stalking kicked her in the ribs. The cub's face adopts a rather downtrodden expression, her little ears turned back against her head. "I didn't mean to scare him…" she says in a near-whisper, trying to push the thoughts of her mother's death out of her mind. "Maybe I'll see him 'gain. He ran into the big grasses down by the flat lands." Of course, the two of them haven't made it that far yet — and maybe one day, Kikora will be big enough to roam on her own without any repercussions. "I don't think grasses are part of the valley, though."

The lioness' head dips down to offer Kikora a lick across the scruff once more, unknowing of what's going through the poor cub's mind. "I bet you'll see him again one day," she says in a comforting voice as they reach the base of the volcanic slope and start moving across the level ground once more. "If we see him on the way back, we can stop and talk to him, okay?" Vikali smiles, speaking in a soothing voice having caught a glimpse of the cub's expression.

Kikora simply nods, plodding along right alongside the lioness. She remains quiet for a long stretch of time, glancing around a bit now that they've left the fringe of the volcano and are now in the parched grasslands. "Are we close?" She asks, glancing up to Vikali with a questioning look, her face free of any sadness that once plagued her features.

"To the valley?" Vikali replies distractedly, turning her gaze about the landscape as she feels a familiar rumble of hunger deep inside her belly. She looks down to Kikora once she's got an idea of the prey about here, then shakes her head. "It's a bit more of a trek from here. You really did come quite far all by yourself, little one."

"It didn't seem so far when I was chasin' that stupid lizard…." Kikora says in a tired little voice, and it appears as though she's getting antsy. She just wants to go home. "I miss 'Goo and Kor'."

The lioness stops, places a paw upon Kikora's back to stop her too, then crouches down to the ground. "If you want to get back home faster, climb on my back and grab hold of my scruff. I can get us there much faster than if we continue walking at this speed."

"Okay," Kikora says easily enough, crouching a bit before springing up on the lioness's back. The cub wraps her forearms around the lioness's neck and gently takes some of Vikali's scruff in her mouth, being extremely careful not to bite down too hard. She doesn't want to puncture her!

Vikali waits until the cub is settled down on her back, then casts her head back and advises her, "Bite as hard as you can. It won't hurt me, will improve your jaw strength, and keep you from flying off. Get ready… here we go!" And with that, the lioness goes launching forward at full speed, paws thudding heavily against the ground of the grasslands as she speeds southwards.

Move, move, move…

Kopje Valley - Bottom of the Waterfall Cliff
You come to the bottom of a large cliff. Just above you is a massive promontory jutting out of the side, it sends a shadow across the waterfall. A large torrent of water comes down, creating a large 'lake' at the bottom of the cliff. Many sweet grasses grow on the edge perfect for grazing animals. As you look up the cliff face, you see a small path leading to the promontory and then stretches further along the cliff.

To the [K]opje [V]alley [Climb] up to the Promontory
[E]dge of the [S]avannah

A sparkling and cool lake
You can see the 'end of' a runoff stream.

Roughly an hour of running, trotting, walking, and gasping for breath later, a tired lioness nears her beloved Waterfall Cliff, paws dragging slightly along the ground. Thankfully, Kikora had opted to hop off her and start walking alongside once they reached the valley. And a good thing too, for the second Vikali reaches the shore, she's going to flop down into the shallows and not move an inch.

Balana is laying a little further up on the cliff, head leaned up against a rock as she just… gazes off into the distance, mind apparently in another place and time.

Kikora pads in a few lengths behind Vikali, looking scruffy, dirty, disheveled and, most of all, glad to be home. The bright-eyed cub catches sight of Kasjari and, with one last little burst of energy, she lopes toward the sleeping lioness's form, lowering herself to her stomach next to her. She tries to stifle a yawn but fails, her tongue lolling out of her mouth comically, eyes squinted shut.

Vikali lazily tilts her head to one side, watching Kikora run off to Kasjari, while she herself continues her slow, plodding way up to the waterfall's pool. Upon reaching the edge, she simply collapses into the more shallow water, rising her muzzle above the surface to let out a relieved sigh. Home. Cubs. Oy.

As one cub joins Kasjari's side, looking just about ready for sleep, another wakes next to his mother after a looong midday nap that has stretched into the early evening. Korzar is shaken awake by Kikora settling down beside him, and he blinks his eyes open just as she begins to close hers. "Hi, Kiiiko," he yawns, but then clamps his mouth shut after he realizes that she looks like she's about to go to sleep. But, hey, maybe she'll stay awake now that she's got a playmate up too?

It's not for a while that Balana realizes some of the others are here and moving about. Her gaze shifts down towards the others for a moment, before she returns to squinting off towards the border.

After Kikora's impressive yawn, she does close her eyes, dropping off into an almost immediate daze, one borne from exhaustion and the comfort of being home again. As Korzar speaks, Kikora's ears shift forward and her brown eyes pop open, a surprised look crossing her features. "Kor! You slept aaaalll day!" She gives the other cub a goofy grin, shifting a bit to get more comfortable. Her paws and limbs are sore from her long journey, but she's more at ease now that she's back in the valley. "You missed it," she says in a low whisper, hoping that nobody but the boy can hear her.

Border patrols are done yet again! Thank goodness. Kiini is just returning after being out for the afternoon, taking his round inbetween Mzohari and Kori's border runs. He chuffs from a distance as he comes in sight of everyone else.

Lying fairly still in the water, Vikali is quite dead to the world - and what bliss that is. Just lying there, in the cool water, fur floating about in the water, with only two meters walk required for her to take a kip on the bank. Somewhere in the space outside of the lioness' considerably dense skull, her ears twitch upon picking up a familiar greeting. In response to Kiini, she raises her head up, emits a low moan, then flops down into the water again with a splash. Lazy kitty.

Korzar pushes himself up into a sitting position, stretching out his forelegs in front of him with a little grunt. He giggles as Kikora complains a bit. "Sorrrry, tired. Anything fun?" When she lowers her voice secretively, he leans in closer, ears perking up to catch her words. Ooo, looks like she *had* been up to something. "What?" he asks, eyeing her curiously.

Another glance is given down when Kiini makes his greeting… but Balana soon takes notice of the two cubs whispering to one another. Ears perk, and the elder shifts to subtly move down the side of the kopje, ears perked to try and hear just what the cubs are whispering about. Sometimes excited cubs can speak a little louder than they intend…

Kikora lowers her head a little, scooting closer to Korzar — if it's possible, at least. "I saw what my mama always called a savannah monitor, so I followed him down this path…" she pauses, not unable to shake the feeling that someone is eavesdropping. Oh well — it's probably going to be a matter of public record fairly soon anyhow. "I ran and ran and the path stopped, and then the ground was flat and parched and there was a volcano!" She says this a bit louder than she realizes, her voice growing in pitch with her renewed excitement. "I climbed up and up and walked around it forever until I found a cave. Then Vikali found me." She conveniently leaves out the part where she started bawling like a
newborn, instead grinning like a fool at Kor. "…and there was moooore in the cave, but I didn't get a chance to see."

"I miss anything?" Kiini asks Balana, who is as usual cub sitting. He has half a mind to ask if any of his own cubs have been getting into trouble. He spots Vik though, and detours over towards her first, bumping her shoulder with his nose. "Hey sleepy." Not that he seems to be expecting much of a reaction in return.

Vikali grunts at her mate's nose to her shoulder, seeming quite asleep… until she cranks an eye wide open, whips out a forepaw, and drags Kiini down into the shallows with her with a predictably large splash. The foreleg then retreats and the lioness oh-so-casually replies, "Hey honey. Had a patrol trip?"

Korzar's ears flick as he listens to Kikora's adventure of the day, but the first thing she says confuses him. "Whassa savannnnah moniter?" he asks, nose scrunching up questioningly. But as she continues, he gets more animated. "A volcano!" he exclaims, not bothering to keep his voice down in his excitement. He's definitely heard about volcanoes before. After his exclamation, he lowers his voice again. "Coooool. Go there after a moon?" It sounds like the kind of place where a *great* adventure could occur, even if an adult had to be there to accompany the cubs.

The first bit about the savannah monitor is missed… but it only takes the one word for Balana to catch on to what's being talked about. After all, there's only one volcano in the immediate area. A glance is given to Kiini at his question, and she gives her head a slight shake. She's got it all under control! Gaze goes back down to Kikora and Korzar. And Korzar's words confirm her thoughts. She misses his speaking of going there… but it wouldn't be hard to guess that either. Well, she'll just have to get their attention. Balana moves down the kopje until she's just a little higher up than the cubs, leaning her head down towards them. "I'll have you know that is the Celestial Volcano," she says in a tone that suggests she knows aaaaaaaaaall about it.

Kikora, still whispering a bit, responds first to Korzar's question, her ears perked forward and eyes bright again, lacking any sign of sleepiness that once nestled there. "Savannah monitor is a big lizard, but this one was not-so-big. My mama told me that if it's bigger than you not to get too close." She nods in an authorative manner, but her ears swivel when Balana's voice drifts down, suggesting she's on to what the cubs were talking about…oops! "Sell…sell-esh-teal? Celestial? You know about the volcano?" Kikora says, her sentence starting out unsure, but working up to a childlike frenzy of 'oh my god!'. "What's it like! Who lives there? Is there more than the cave?"

Kiini doesn't get to make a comment to anyone, because the second that he looks back up towards Balana Vikali's quick motion is enough cause the lion to slip on the moist shoreline and half tumble into the cold water with a head first with a huge KERSPLASH! It takes like… oh, say, two seconds for Kiini to get back out again. His face is drenched, and he looks like a drowned rat now. "Hey you!" He playfully challenges, "What'd I deserve that for?"

"Oh, you didn't," comments the lioness as she rises up out of the water, stretches in a rather feline manner, then casually walks up onto the shore. "I just thought it would be rather amusing. That, and unlike if I did that to Balana, I won't get my hind tanned." Vikali flashes the adult male a wink, then gives him a lick on the cheek. "Besides, you like water." That said, she is careful to shift herself from between Kiini and the pool.

Oh! "A lissard!" Korzar knows what one of those things are. But his attention is diverted as Grandma Bal interrupts. Kikora asks most of the questions, so Korzar only asks one before he flicks his ears, awaiting the answers. "How you know bout volcaaano?"

Balana blinks slightly as Kiini goes tumbling into the water, gaze shifting towards him to see who it was. When she sees it's Vik and Kiini horsing around, her attention returns to the pair of cubs. "Right now? No one, as far as I know. But once upon a time, it was the home of…" Here the lioness pauses, ears perking. "I have one condition before I'll tell you this story… you have to promise that you'll remember it, even if you have to ask me to tell it to you again and again, and tell it to future generations of Kopje. Okay?"

Kikora's whole body seems to perk up — she pushes her forequarters up with her sturdy paws, head tilted and ears almost straining forward to hear Balana's words. "I promise! Promise-promise-promise," she says in a litany, hoping that the elder lioness understands just how badly she wants to know what lurks beyond that mysterious dark cavern. She glances sidelong to Korzar and feels a pang of guilt; he didn't get to actually see it like she did, but he will soon! She peers back up at Balana and gives her a confused, childish smile. "What's generations?" Her tail twitches behind her, occasionally thwapping against Kor'.

Kiini smirks outright at Vik and shakes his coat out, which only creates a puffy faced lion out of the whole deal. Yuck! "Since when did I say I like water that much?" Kiini asks with a smirk now as he watches Vik clamber up out of the water and get a little further on shore. "I hope you realize you're gonna have to clean my whole coat now…"

Vikali mocks a grimace and gives a shiver of her own coat, splattering more droplets about and leaving her with a distinctly fuzzy look. "You mean I have to spend lots of time sitting down with you, gossiping, talking, and so forth whilst I groom your mane? Oh, what a /terrible/ thought. My knees are knocking." The lioness glances over towards Balana and the enraptured cubs, then adds in a quieter tone to Kiini, "Reckon we should stick around here, or move a bit off?"

Storytime! "Ok! Promise," Korzar agrees instantly. He has no idea what generations are either, but he'd agree to just about anything in order to hear a good story, curious cub that he is. Especially if it's about a place he can actually go to. He inches forward and nonchalantly flops onto his belly on top of one of Balana's paws. Might as well get comfy if he's about to hear a story, right? He motions Kikora to come join him on grandma's other paw. Maybe with the combined power of two cubs, Gramma Bal will lie down and snuggle up nice and close as she tells her story!

Settling to her stomach, Balana settles into storytelling mode, cuddling the pair of cubs closer. "Generations are just… different ages. I'm one generation, my son Mzohari is the next generation, and his sons Wingu and Korzar are another generation. Someday, you'll grow up, and some of you will have your own cubs. Remember this story, and tell it to them. Now… the story of the volcano starts right here, actually. The first king and queen of Kopje were named Kwasi and Nalia. They had an adopted son by the name of Siombe." She pauses, gesturing towards Korzar. "Siombe is my adoptive father, and your great-grandfather." The lioness looks back to Kikora. "Kwasi died when Siombe was an adolescent. They didn't have as many lions as we have here now, and since he was the oldest lion left, he became the new king. All of his brothers were only about your age." Of course, there's a bunch of other stories that go off of that one… but with cubs this age, she's got to focus on certain details!

Kikora pursues Korzar as he moves toward the older lioness, snuggling up against her — the girl does likewise, feeling quite at ease with the grandmotherly female, one who exudes a sense of peace, love and knowledge. She wriggles up against Korzar until she's comfortable, staring intently at Balana as she begins the story. In a little voice, Kikora whispers these names and commits them to memory: "Kwah-see. Na-leea. Si-ommbee." Once this is finished, she falls silent, already engrossed in the story of the Celestial Volcano.

"I think we should let the cubs have story time." Kiini remarks to Vik, padding away from the water a bit more. "See you a little later, Grandma." Kiini calls out to the elder, before heading off towards the grasslands.

Vikali nods at the male's answer, then as they start to make their way away from the water, she calls over gently, "See you soon, Bal." A smile is flash to the elder and the cubs, after which the lioness starts trotting off towards the more open grasslands of the valley.

Korzar leans against Balana as as she starts her story, looking up at her and listening intently to every word. He remains silent for now, but it takes a bit of an effort, and he wriggles slightly, trying to hold back his questions. He doesn't even glance in Kiini and Vikali's direction as they depart, totally engrossed in the story. Tough to keep this cub still, but a Bal story seems to be one of the few things that can do it.

"Siombe wasn't sure if he could do it at first, and a lot of the lionesses left him. There were a few lionesses who stayed to help him, though." Balana glances up to give Kiini and Vikali a nod as they depart, before she glances back to the cubs. "Anyway, in time Siombe grew up into a strong lion, though being a king was hard. The pride stayed small, mostly cubs and a few lionesses. One of his first big acts was to rescue a cub from hyenas. The story spread across the Pride Lands, and soon everyone knew about King Siombe of the Kopje Valley, the hero. Other lionesses came to join him, and the pride grew. Now, it wasn't long after this that Siombe's queen, Zalima, became pregnant. That means she and Siombe were going to have cubs," Balana explains in a small sidenote.

Kikora's ears twitch with each of Balana's inflections, peering up at her with wide eyes and thirsty ears. "Zaleema…" she murmurs, giving a sidelong glance toward Korzar every one in a while, only to find him staring up at the elder lioness. She looks as if she's about to say something about 'pregnancy' and 'cubs' — like, perhaps, where they come from, but she holds her tongue. This story is getting way too cool to disrupt it now. It has Kings and Queens and hyenas!

Being a king was hard? It didn't seem like dad had to do much, and he was king. Korzar continues to remain silent, just listening. Oooo, hyenas, too? Korzar's never actually met one, but they sound like baaaad news. Hmmmmmm… but meeting one could be interesting, and definitely an adventure. Anyways, probably fortunately for Balana, Korzar too remains silent, choosing not to interrupt to ask the famous 'cubs question'.

Balana takes a moment to lean down and lick over the heads of the two cubs. "While Zalima was pregnant, Siombe started having problems with a lion named Kumalo. His name is one you should remember, but it's a story for another day." She doesn't really want to give the ending of that one away, so she does the best she can to evade it. "Siombe had to leave the valley temporarily to go deal with Kumalo. When he came back, he couldn't find Zalima anywhere. Not here, not in the Pride Lands, not anywhere. Eventually, while he was searching around a very parched looking area near the base of a large mountain, he heard the roars of his mate. It sounded like she was in trouble. After looking all over the outside, he decided that it had to be coming from the mountain. So even though he was tired, Siombe turned and started running towards the mountain…"

The kid is actually being a trooper about this whole 'sit and listen' thing! Kikora is almost tempted to start batting at Korzar's tail, but stifles the urge until it passes — Kor's tail will -always- be around, but this story is important. She'll pass it along to her cubs one day, if she ever figures out how to go about obtaining some. "Koomaloh? Was he… bad lion?" She asks, unable to contain her question. "Was Zalima okay?! Did Kumalo get her?" Uh oh, the questions start pouring out…and she was doing so good, too!

You set one off, the other will quickly follow. Bal had actually been keeping Korzar silent, but when Kikora starts the questioning, Korzar can't restrain himself either. "Wha happened to Coomalo? How Siiiombe stop him?" he asks, frowning and tilting his head slightly. He seems to have already decided that Kumalo was a 'bad lion', like the ones dad had told him about. He wants to know how to stop bad lions, 'cuz that seems like a thing that'd be good to know!

And here come the questions. "Kumalo was a bad lion, yes. I promise I'll tell you all about Kumalo next time, okay? I don't want to ruin how that story ends…" Balana says softly, leaning to lick at Korzar again. "Siombe ran closer to the sound of the roar, and eventually it led him up the side of the mountain and into a cave on the side. Inside the cave was Zalima, but it wasn't Kumalo who Siombe found with her… it was their five cubs." It's probably easier to just say the cubs were already there rather than trying to describe that she was in labor. "Siombe stayed with her in the cave for many days, until his mother Nalia came looking for him. Nalia tried to remind him that his place was back here, with his pride. Siombe responded with the fact that Kopje was Kwasi's dream, not his, and that the real king of the valley should be Siombe's brother Mohatu." A smile curls over the elder's muzzle. "When Nalia asked him if he just planned to live in this cave for the rest of his life, Siombe asked her to follow him, and started to walk deeper into the cave…"

Kikora, keeping up with the story, is now introduced to five cubs, and one of Siombe's brothers. "Mo-haaa-tu?" She questions, locking this information away in her mind. "I was in that cave!" She blurts out suddenly, feeling awed and humbled by this — she was in the very same cave where King Siombe's cubs had been born. Her skin shudders lightly, almost as if being touched by phantom cobwebs — as a result, Kiko' nuzzles closer to both Balana and Korzar, blinking her bright, brown eyes. She falls silent as the story moves on to the part that seems to interest her the most — where the cavern leads.

Okay, she's skirting around the issue way too much. For the third time, the question flickers across Korzar's mind, and now that the questions have started flowing anyway, he curiously asks it. "Where the cubs come from?" It seems to have become a rather important part of the story. When Balana talks about the cave, and Kikora follows soon after, he grows excited. "Ooo! That the cave you were in?" he exclaims incredulously. This cave that Kiko has visited is becoming more and more intriguing. It has become a place that he can't wait to visit… after his grounding ends, that is.

Her grandson is given a light nuzzle. "The cubs grew inside of Zalima's belly until they were ready to be born… but the whole story is one for another day too." The elder was wondering just how long it would take Kikora to catch on to the location of the story. A paw curls around the young lioness, and she leans down to nuzzle the girl. "Yes you were, dearheart. And that cave… it's more like a tunnel. After you go around the corner, the back end of the cave opens up into a sort of outcropping… and if you go down to the bottom, there's a lake, and some meadows, and some more caves. And here, young ones… this became Siombe's dream. His younger brother Mohatu became king of the Kopje Valley here, and Siombe moved to become the first, and so far only, king of the Celestial Volcano."

Kikora wrinkles her nose some when Balana makes mention of 'cubs growing inside of bellies'. She glances wary down to her own stomach and scootches a bit closer to Balana as she's nuzzled, still pondering how the cubs got into Zalima's belly in the first place. She holds her tongue for now, but the look on her face speaks pretty loudly — she will be quizzing Bal', or any other adult, on this conundrum later. "I wanted to go deeper in the cave, but Vikali said no, and then she swatted my tail." She says this with as much despair as she can muster, the same little frown creased on her features.

Korzar hates to be holding up the story, but this whole cub explanation is too… weird for him to ignore. "In belly?" he frowns, puzzled. "She… ate cubs? Until they was rrready?" Eeeewww. He shudders a little. This is all interesting, but it's also gross. Luckily, he's not so absorbed with this that he misses the end of the story, but he continues to ponder it. "Wwwwooooww," he murmers softly as the story finishes, despite the cub question still buzzing around in his head.

Balana laughs softly at Korzar's question. "No, dearheart. I promise I or someone else will tell you soon. Along with the story of Kumalo." She looks up at the roars, but since they just seem to be noise and nothing critical, she smiles to Kikora. "Don't worry, dearheart. The volcano is… a very special place, and a very large part of our history here. Especially Siombe's story." The elder looks between the two cubs. "I'll make sure you get to go there too, to see it."

Kikora wrinkles her nose and sticks her tongue out at Korzar's words — "Ate them?!" She cringes and gives her head a thorough shake, ears flopping about comically as she does so. "That means our mamas ate us? And then… then what? Did they get sick, and that's how we're here?" She looks as if her eyes are about to fall right out of her face. The thought of being eaten, and then vomited back up … "Blech!" She interjects once more, her ears now folded neatly against her skull. "…but if our mamas ate us, where did we come from before then?" Oops. Too much to think about! Kikora falls silent, contemplating her very existence, but seems to perk up when Balana says that they'll get to see the volcano. "Cool! Can we go soon as Kor' is ungrounded?" She grins brightly at the lioness, clenching her still-white teeth together almost painfully — excitement!

Korzar's features fall further towards disgust as Kikora elaborates on his original thought. His nose scrunches up, his ears and tail droop, and he shakes his head slightly, like he's trying to get rid of a particularly pesky fly. "Yyyuck!" he agrees, sharing a dismayed look with Kikora, before flat out covering his eyes with his paws. Definitely too gross, confusing, and complicated to even think about! When Grandma Bal reassures him that this is not where cubs come from, he tentatively moves his paws from his eyes, but he remains doubtful when she doesn't explain any further. However, he brightens at the prospect of going to the volcano. "Yeah! Then we both can seeeee it! Aaand Kiko can show meee the lissard cave too!" Mean Vikali won't be there to stop Kikora from fully exploring, either. What's wrong with some of these big lions and lionesses, anyways? Always messin' up the fun.

"Around then — and if there are no more little 'incidents' between now and then. Like little lionesses going outside the border," Balana says as she gives a stern look at Kikora. "If you're fair with me, I'll be fair with you. If you do as I ask, then I'll be able to trust you and you'll get to do more fun things. If you can't behave yourselves, though, then you could put everyone in danger and I can't risk taking you anywhere. Okay? Of course, Mzohari and Kasjari have to agree… and we'll have to get Mashaka or Jabali or Kiini or somebody to go with us, which I think one of them would." The elder lets out a light yawn, stretching her forelimbs as she settles her head down on her paw. "Think about it, and tell some of the older cubs. Mwaliko and Mzuhali's cubs might be a little small for the trip just yet. For now, I need to sleep. You two can stay with me, or go play—as long as you stay where you're supposed to. I have big ears, and I'll find out if you've been naughty. But if Korzar keeps behaving… maybe we can have a few more stories during the time he's grounded."

Kikora crouches down a bit, keeping her ears flattened — here it is, the 'punishment'. "I didn't meeeean to…" she starts, but realizes that it doesn't matter if she meant to or not, it happened regardless. "I'm sorry. I won't chase any more lizards, or birds, or an'thing else outta the valley." She gives Balana her best 'serious' look, wiggling a bit against her chest and forearms. "I should'a paid attention to where I was goin'."

Alright! Stories were fun, even despite Korzar's inclination to be moving around, playing or wrestling. "We be good," Korzar promises, casting a sidelong look at Kikora. At least, they'll try, but these two seem to be the most adventurous cubbies in the valley at the moment. And there's no doubt Wingu will get prodded and dragged right along when they get in trouble, too. But they can stay out of trouble for just a couple of weeks, right? Especially if Bal keeps them occupied with more of these stories, and with the trip to the volcano to look forward to.

Perhaps a little motivation of a pending trip to the volcano will help… and her telling them some stories. "Mmm-hmm. I'll believe that you two will be good when you believe that I'm a bird and I'm gonna fly away. But if you can be good until Korzar's grounding is finished, then we'll go. And if the trip to the volcano happens with no problems, we might even get to go further away…" Balana lets out a yawn, and closes her eyes, loosening her paw around the cubs a little just in case they want to move off a little bit, but still keeping it mostly around them. "Night you two."

Kikora's eyes almost glaze over in a strange combination of excitement and sudden sleepiness. She was exhausted from her trip to and from the volcano today, only given an energetic boost when Korzar woke up — that's all catching up to her now. "I promise to be good. Promise-promise-promise!" She repeats this, and sure enough, she does promise to be good — just as she promises to reproduce one day with magic (as it still hasn't been explained yet) and tell the Tale of the Celestial Volcano. She yawns and nuzzles down next to Korzar, resting her head against Balana comfortably.

Everyone else looks like they're going to sleep, so Korzar decides he might as well settle down too, even though he's still a little amped up from a bunch of different things. Cubs gettin' swallowed and thrown up again… yuck, the very good story Grandma Bal had just told, and now, the volcano trip which has just been promised! He is tired, though… that's what you get for lying down in one place for a long time. Before he really begins to drop off though, he wants to ask Kikora a question. "Was it…" Big yawn here. "Fuuuun? Was the lissards and volcano and caaave cool?" If he couldn't have been there to actually experience it, he wants to at least here about it! He hadn't gotten much of a chance to get details before Bal's story started, and again, he's picking a bad time as everyone is starting to fall asleep.

Kikora is close to dropping off into dreamland, where she hopes she won't dream about cubs. That's just way too creepy for her to handle, and she's determined to get that story straightened out — first thing tomorrow! She blinks sleepily at Korzar and gives him a toothy grin, perking one ear up as he questions her about her trip. "Lotsa fun! It was kind'a hot though, and the volcano was big and covered in lotsa rocks an' smaller lizards. The cave was cool! It was biiiig, just like the volcano! But then Vikali showed up, and when I tried to get her to go s'ploring with me, she swatted me." She frowns, her little ears now clamped down in response. "I don't wanna be swatted."

"Wow!" Korzar says simply. "Can't waaait to seeee volcano." He is starting to get legitimately sleeply, now. "Mmmeeean swatty Vik," he mutters, then giggles. Hey, give him a break! It's the best insult he can think of with his sleep-deprived cubby mind right now. Soon, he's asleep, snuggled up tight to Kikora and Gramma Bal.

Kikora issues a thin, thready purr as she falls into a deep and well-deserved sleep, feeling quite comfortable and at home next to her best friend and the elder lioness.

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