Learning The Language


Hali - lioness cub, daughter of Kiini and Mwaliko.
Kasjari - lioness, mate of King Mzohari.
Kikora - juvenile lioness, pride youth.
Kunjufu'bisi - lion cub, son of Kesonam and Mzuhali.
Mzohari - son of Balana and Chiboa, King of Kopje Valley.

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.

From the promontory of the large cliff comes little Kikora, carefully hopping and climbing her way back down to the base of the towering rock. She looks rather sleepy, trying her hardest not to yawn … but it simply can't be stopped. With one final semi-leap, Kiko's paws hit the ground with a dull thud, tired eyes raising to observe just who's awake and who isn't.

He's not awake .. but he's not asleep, either. Mzohari is in that vague state in-between, sprawled out on his side just along the shore of the lake. Evidently, the lion had been fiddling around with dabbing the toes of a forepaw in the small waves of the wide pool, just as his doze stole over him. Perhaps starting some sort of dream, Mzo's broad paw still twitches and stretches spastically — and a short, wheezing grunt can be heard now and then. D'aww.

Kikora gives herself a quick shake, trotting over toward Kasjari with a sleepy grin on her face. "Yup, I showed Kor this really -cool- place up in the caves, an' we played too late." To prove her point, the cub issues another -looooud- yawn, her tongue lolling out between her teeth before she snaps her maw shut. "He's still sleepin'!" She sprawls out in front of Kasjari, little ears turned forward … and she giggles, hearing Mzohari's sleeping noises. "He sleeps like King does!"

Mreh! Noises, thumps, grunts again! A pair of deep sapphire eyes flit open quickly a few times to adjust to the light of the afternoon sun. A little Hali-cat is curled up tight inside her mother's paws once again and wedged in amongst her sleeping siblings. Those eyes of her's come to spot that larger cub she was cornered by the other day and she narrows them as her ears flatten against her head.

Kasjari giggles softly and smiles, hugging Kikora between her forepaws, "Korzar was up earlier and showed me your play place, then he played a bit more and went back to sleep."

Not enough noise yet to yank him out of his half-sleep, apparently. Despite the talk between Kasjari and Kikora, and the stirring of yet another cubling — Mzohari makes no further motion than he was making before. The intermittent twitchings and rumblings continue, punctured by a random thump of his tail-tuft upon the soil.

Kikora isn't aware of Hali's stirrings quite yet, her attention held captive by the adult lion and lioness. "Really? Cool! I sure hope he wasn't grumpy today like he was last night!" Of course, that might have been all -her- fault, shouting his name to wake him up, but of course … well, she was only playin'! She purrs thinly as Kasjari cuddles her, letting her bright brown eyes close just a bit in comfort. "How you wake up King? He's bigger than Kor and 'Goo …" she contemplates, peering around the tawny lioness toward the gigantic, maned cat.

What was that? Something dark suddenly rises and falls with a noticable sounds not too far away. Something long and fuzzy…like that long thing on the end of her mother—on the end of her! Whoa! Suddenly Hali comes to the realization that something is attached to the end of her form and she flips over from within her mother's sleeping paws at attack her own tail with a squealing growl.

Kasjari chuckles softly at Kikora and looks over toward Mzo, "Why was Korzar grumpy?" she asks as she snakes her tail tuft over, tickling at the big King's nosepad playfully.

Kunjufu'bisi pads in here from the valley, looking to relax.
Kunjufu'bisi has arrived.

It's a combination of things that does the trick at last. The young nature to Hali's growling rouses that primitive paternal instinct — growling cub must mean that something is wrong, says the programming. And so Mzohari is on his way to regaining consciousness even as Kasjari's tail comes snaking over. But it's the tuft of said tail wriggling on his nose that really launches him into motion. Simultaneously, that paw that Mzo' had been wriggling in the water snaps up to swat away the tickling assailant — just as he's sneezing. The end result is Mzo's muzzle bashing down into his mud-splattered forepaw due to the force of his sneeze, smearing dirt up one side of his face.

Kikora's rapt attention on Mzohari seems to pay off — his hilarious display of sneezing and wiping mud on half of his face causes Kikora to start giggling … which soon turn into full-blown laughs, her ears turning back, eyes squinted shut, sides, chest and back heaving as she's overcome with the funnies. "Haaaha, look at King! He's a big mud monster now!" She finally calms down, grinning cubbishly up at Kas' and Mzo', though Hali's antics don't go unignored — just momentarily forgotten after the Kopje King's blunder. "Silly King, just like Kor and 'Goo!"

Just as soon as the little cub has found a new and wonderful plaything, it is lost. That sudden jerk of moment and rush of sound from that dark and giant mass a short distance off causes Hali to let out another squeal. This time the little lioness wriggles her way under her mother's neck and forearms, only peering out overtop of a furry fortress after a few careful moments. The little one's heart beats a mile a minute in her ears and she does her best to remain motionless.

Kasjari blinks a bit and quickly coils her tail back against her haunch as she sees the rather… over-reaction of her mate. She looks over and tilts her head at Mzo, "Strange dreams Mzo?" she asks, innocent as can be.

Still dazed and not quite entirely awake, Mzohari can only blink in a not-quite-comprehending way as he hears Kikora's hearty laughter — followed by Hali's squealing outburst. Dur? Closing his eyes and then slowly reopening them, he finally becomes aware of his own forepaw squished against his face .. and lifts up his head to eyeball his dirtied foot. Oh. Now it makes sense. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and shooting Kasjari a knowing grin that says 'You Only Wish I Was That Stupid', he quite pointedly lifts up his soiled forepaw — and uses it to draw another streak of mud across his other cheek with a melodramatic flare. There, now he matches!

Kikora wiggles a bit closer to Kasjari, peering at Mzohari from just beyond the lioness's forearm and shoulder, her little ears turned back in amusement. "Muddy King needs a baaaath," she says in a sing-songy voice, punctuating it with another short little giggle. Hali's sudden fearful display draws the bigger cub's attention and Kiko' blinks at her, shrinking back a bit to bump her cheek against Kasjari's chest. "Why's that one so scared? She dinna' wanna play the other day."

From somewhere probably not too far away, Kunjufu'bisi comes wandering into the area of the cliff upon hearing the noises. Somebody's awake! Finding others much more interesting than just scenery, he trots in, and pads over to sit down next to one of Mzohari's forelegs without a single vocalization. Once there, he simply sits and stares up at his grandfather, blinking owlishly.

Hali keeps her spot, deciding it best not to move too much more for now. All this excitement so suddenly…perhaps another nap is in order. :S

Kasjari glances over at Hali, tilting her head curiously, not entirely sure of the answer herself. She smiles and nuzzles Kiko softly, "Maybe she'll play with you once she's a little bigger," she says softly, looking backt o Mzo just in time to catch the accusatory glare sent toward her as he applies his warpaint, "You really are awake dear, no need to make a mess of yourself just because you think you're still dreaming."

"I'm not making a mess of myself," Mzohari says slowly, and with great certainty. "I'm starting a fad." With a backwards toss of his head that fluffs up his dark, heavy mane, the lion scoots himself an extra foot or so away from the water's edge — before flopping over onto his side, his head bopping up against Kasjari's shoulder. After a curious and somewhat concerned look towards the withdrawn Hali, Mzo's pale eyes are then drawn to Kunjufu' as he moves over and plops himself down right beside one of his forelimbs. Recognizing one of Mzuhali's brood, a welcome smile is given to his grandson. "Well hi, kiddo," he says. "You and your brothers and sister are up and moving already, eh?"

In response to his grandfather, Kunjufu says not a thing. However, when Mzohari's gaze is turned upon him, he first gives the king a bright grin, and then tilts his head. A paw lifts to imitate the motion he saw Mzohari do a few moments ago in placing mud on his cheek, except without the mud. He then points up at the king.

Kikora, from her comfortable spot between Kasjari's forearms, giggles and withdraws a bit as Mzohari's extremely large and poofy head comes to rest on the lioness's shoulder. "King silly." She comments again, though with all the affection she can muster. The arrival of the corn-colored cub finds Kiko' both surprised and excited, eyes gleaming as she regards him. "Kunju! Where's your biiiiig, scary daddy?" Though she's learned not to expect a response, she does lift a paw hesitantly toward him, so he knows that she's talking to him.

"What, you want some?" This is said in response to the mimicking motions made by his grandson — and Mzohari merrily obliges. Just as he makes trouble for Kasjari sometimes, he's going to make trouble for Mzuhali. Bwaha. Using only a single toe on his forepaw now, and what's left of the mud on it — the Kopje lion steadily, but gently, traces two lines of dark dirt across each of the boy's cheeks. "There," he murmurs, head lowering as he inspects his work .. before nodding in satisfaction.

Er, wait! That's not what he was expecting! Kunjufu doesn't move as Mzohari paints the mud on his cheeks… but when his grandfather's done, he tries to tilt his head to see it. Nothing, woe is him! A paw lifts to pat curiously at it, which of course leaves his toes dirty. When Kikora calls, he looks towards her, and then holds his now-muddied paw out for her to see. What is /that/?

Kikora grins toothily, scooting a bit out of Kasjari's cuddling grasp on her to nose at Kunjufu's mucky paw. "Mud! Mud is dirt and water mixed t'gether! It's fun, too." Almost to emphasize her point, the lanky cub removes herself completely from the sleeping lioness and dips a paw in the nearby water, placing it firmly in a grassless spot to coat it in a layer of dirt. As the dirt becomes moist, it -magically- turns into mud. "See? Mud is -cooool-." She lifts her own paw and smears it across her nosebridge and beneath both eyes, giggling quietly. "Kunju, Kiko and King mud-monstaaahs!"

Gaze wanders to Kikora as she goes about things, but it's the water that catches his attention. What's that? He rather forgets the mud, and even Kikora for a moment, and wanders over to look at this water thing. Of course, as soon as he sticks his head out over it, he catches sight of his reflection, which causes him to startle slightly and duck. There's cubs in the ground!

Oooh, seems like little Kunjufu has found his reflection! Kikora scoots a little closer to him and smiles gently, wondering how to explain -this- to the silent cub. "That's you! See?" She leans over the edge of the water and sticks her tongue out playfully. Sure enough, her pale, slightly rippled image does the same! "Watch this." She sticks her muddy paw back toward the water and sloshes it through her reflection, effectively destroying the 'aquatic-mirror' for a few moments — at least until the water settles.

It takes a few moments before Kunjufu gets up the courage to look again, and by that time Kikora's at the lakeside. He looks to her, and then down to her reflection, where he first ducks again, and then slowly leans closer, curious. It's doing everything she does! He glances between Kikora and her reflection a few times. After she's sloshed up the water, he almost immediately thrusts his head down to look for it. In doing so, he gets just a little too much momentum and topples over, forequarters landing in the water as a somewhat shocked expression covers his face.

Kikora gets a little look of alarm on her face, quickly taking her forepaw and pushing the cub back gently on his chest, trying to steer him away from the water. "Water's fun, but you gotta know how t'swim first!" She says, not sure if Kunjufu can understand her … and even if he can't, it's the only way she knows how to communicate with him. She hasn't learned all of Kunjufu's motions, but she's trying! "Sloooow around the water, so you don't fall in." She grins at him, her teeth shiny and white, not yet faded or dulled.

All the cub really knows now is that he's… well, wet. After his initial shock, the cub scrambles to his paws and back up on the bank. Thankfully he didn't go completely in, just enough to wet his forelegs and chest. Forepaws are alternately shook to try and get some of the water off, owlishly blinking at Kikora again.

"Swimmin' is fun too, but it takes some practice! I'm sure your daddy would yell my ears off if I tried to teach you." Kikora says with a lopsided grin, her brown eyes idly searching the region for Kesonam, a bit nervously. "But if you can't swiiim, you go under the water, an' then you can't breathe! So it's import'nt that you stay away 'til then." She nods now, hoping that it adds to the seriousness of her little 'public service announcement'. After all, isn't it her job to teach Kunju fun stuff, like Kesonam said? "I wonder why you don't say anythin'. Can you do this?" She glances back to her reflection and issues a series of cubbish growls, the hair on the nape of her neck raising up just a bit in mock-defense.

If he can, he doesn't really understand what she's doing, or trying to get him to do. Instead, Kunjufu takes more interested in his reflection, peering at it, head tilting. He then looks back at Kikora and her reflection. They're doing the same thing… He leans down again, more cearefully this time, to sniff at it… and gets no scent of lioness cub! He more or less ignores Kikora's little display, paw reaching out to her to get her attention.

Huuuh? Kikora's playful growling ceases when she sees Kunjufu's bright paw reaching out for her. She turns her head to look expectantly at the quiet little cub, a patient smile now residing on her maw. She doesn't say anything for the time being, waiting to see what 'Jufu is up to.

And here start the gestures. Kunjufu first points down at Kikora's reflection with a paw. Next he points up at her, and his head tilts.

Kikora nods her head gently, still trying to feel out Kunjufu's unique way of communicating. "Yep, that's me! But my reflection isn't reeeeal, I am." She similarly lifts a paw and points to Kunjufu's reflection, and then back to him. "And that's you!"

Head tilts slightly at Kikora's nod, but then Kunju repeats the gesture, slowly. He follows her paw pointing at his reflection and then himself, and goes to look at his reflection again. His paw lifts and pats again at the mud on his cheek. He then goes through a few other blinking and paw-wiggling gestures, before he looks back at Kikora, and touches his forepaw to his chest.

Kikora tries to follow along with Kunjufu's little wiggling, paw-patting, reflection-gazing dance but ends up losing track of some of his gestures. Instead, she tries something new … and lifts a forepaw to her face, echoing Mzohari's earlier actions, and then points to him. "King." She then blinks twice, remembering Kunjufu's display a few days before, though she doesn't point. "Gadi!" She says with a grin, and then points to her reflection, ending the gesture by placing her forepaw on her chest. "Kikora." …and then, one more time, she points toward Kunjufu's reflection, and then back to him. "Kunjufu!" Gah, she hopes she's making -some- sense to the smaller cub!

Unfortunately for Kikora, she's completely lost him after the mud-across-the-cheek gesture. As soon as she does that, the cub turns around and cub-runs away with a slight bobbing motion in his step! Thankfully, he doesn't go far, but rather goes and sits down next to the now sleeping Mzohari. Once there, he turns to look back at Kikora, and repeats the first gesture she made.

Kikora thinks she's getting the hang of it, but she's still a long way off … she wishes she could just crawl inside the cub's head to see what he's thinking, but since that isn't an option, she suffices with what she -does- understand. Padding over toward Mzohari, Kikora repeats the muddy-cheek gesture, pointing toward Mzohari. So far, that's the only thing she knows other than Gadi's two-blink symbol — she can't very well point at her reflection now that she's away from the lake's shore, so she sits and looks at Kunjufu curiously.

And she repeats his gesture! Hooray! Kunjufu practically beams at Kikora after that, but sadly it's interrupted by a yawn. Whatever else he may have to gesture, it'll have to wait until later! He's tired!

Kikora can't help but mimic Kunjufu's yawn, feeling quite tired herself! She flops down on the ground near 'Jufu and Mzohari, resting her head on her paws, letting her eyes lid. "Sleepy. G'night, Kunjie! You can teach me more t'morrow." She closes her eyes completely now, falling asleep shortly after.

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