The Nomad And The Cyclops


Kikora - juvenile lioness, pride youth.
Mashaka - lion, brother of Balana.
Nabana - lion, son of Balana and Nyanya.
Tangaza - adolescent lion, son of Nabana and Nakomis.

Edge of the Kopje Valley
You have reached the edge of the Kopje Valley. The ground slopes gently down into the fertile valley. The lush green grass about you is a welcome sight that makes you want to rest there. One large Acacia tree stands not too far away from you. A smile crosses your face as you gaze upon the beauty of the distant valley. A disarming calm comes over you and a feeling of peace fills your body.

[W]est to the [B]order [K]opje [V]alley

Some (claw marks) on the trunk of the acacia tree.

Mashaka is moving up to the border to start his daily rounds. He lazily meanders through the grasses. Not much going on here, nope.

Kikora slowly makes her way up to the edge of the valley, her ears turned back and her steps unsure. When she finally crests the fringe of the sloping path, Kiko' seems hesitant — almost frightened. With the recent arrival of her sister, she doesn't seem to carry the same air of certainty … she now seems meek and worried. Her brown eyes search desperately for any familiar form and it doesn't take her long before she spots Mashaka, who is a considerable distance from her. "Heeey, wait!" She calls out to him, her ears still back, eyes wide.

Mashaka hears a distant voice and pauses, looking around. It takes a few moments, but he finally spots the younger lioness. He gives a quick scan around the border then sits down, waiting for the other to catch up and see what she wants.

Kikora quickens her pace, shoulders and hips working in a quick rhythm until she's near Mashaka. She huffs a bit, out of breath from the daunting climb up to the border, her brown eyes trained on her still-large paws. "I 'member you, you're Shaka! Whatcha doin' up here?" She asks, happy to have found -someone- awake up here. She seems a little distant, and her gaze keeps wandering westward, as if she's expecting someone to barrel through the grasses at her. "You goin' that way? Balana said I need to b'have or else she won't take me to the volcano … so if you go -that- way … I won't get in trouble, will I?" The last is said in a little high-pitched voice, and her eyes search the large lion's face for an answer. -Something- sure is bothering her, to say the least!

Mashaka gives a smile at the tired cub. "Yes, that's right, I'm Mashaka." but his brow furrows as he continues listening. He lays down so he can be more eye-level with Kikora. "Well, no, I'm not going that way. I was going to the border so I could walk along it. Since I'm a guard here, I have to walk around and make sure the borders are safe." he answers. "And if I did go that way you wouldn't get into trouble." he further answers to reassure the young one. "Because you'd be staying here. As long as you don't go further then this area, you'll be alright." He puts out his extra large paws, relaxing for the moment. "Now, do you want to tell me what's wrong?" he asks gently.

Kikora listens to Mashaka up until he says she wouldn't be accompanying him to the west — and at that point she starts to hop from paw to paw, making a little whine in her throat. "But … but … I -neeeeeed- to go see!" She says, and from the thin sound of her voice, it's obvious that she's almost in tears. "Kaidi said something about hyenas and, and, and I need to -see- … where Kosea an' Kota are." Kiko' frowns and falls back into a slumped sitting position, her watery — but not yet crying — eyes turned up toward Mashaka. "An' I can't see unless somebody takes me."

Mashaka looks a bit amused at the paw-hopping she's doing, until she brings on the cubbish waterworks. Or getting close to it. "How about you tell me who Kaidi, Kosea and Kota are, and why you need to see hyenas." he requests gently.

Kikora can't seem to get the words out fast enough now, her desperation causing her to become a bit tongue-tied. "Kaidi is my sister, and so is Kota, but Kosea is their mama, and when the bad lions came, they ran away too, an' now Kaidi is here and-and-and she saiiiid that they were eatin' an' something about hyenas and she started crying." She manages to get all of this out without crying — so far — and her pleading expression at Mashaka is hard to ignore. "I wanna know if Kaidi is lyin' to me again. I gotta know." She frowns now, stealing glances to the west. "Pleeeeeeeeease, Mashaka, pleeeease?"

Mashaka gives a light sigh as he continues listening. "I see. Well.." he says, thinking about a couple things, "First tell me about these bad lions and.. when did you run away?" he asks gently, trying not to let that sad expression get him into a bad decision.

"Back b'fore mama brought me here," Kikora says, realizing that Mashaka didn't get the 'low-down' on the 'new kid'. "Bad lions came to my pride an' killed my — our — daddy. My mama got kicked by a z'bra out in the grasses," she motions with her head out toward the direction of the waterfall, indicating the grasses that lie just beyond the valley's other border. "… and then I followed Kasjari an' 'Goo and met Kor' and King and Kiini …" she says, running out of breath now. "Pleeeease, Mashaka? I really wanna go to the volcano! … but I really wanna know 'bout Kota, too." She resumes frowning.

Kikora sneaks off …


_( The Pride Lands )___
(PL) The Northern Border
Suddenly you notice that the bright and grassy ground has turned gray and
ashen. You look up and notice that you have stumbled right to the edge of
the Elephant Graveyard— there are bones all around you, little gas vents
dotting the earth where the gas pressure has built up because of the
decompsing carcasses, and as you look to you right, you see a huge, bare
elephant skull resting on the edge of a steep cliff.

The morning sky is mostly cloudy, with calm winds.

[ENE] Elephant Graveyard [SE] Eastern Border [S] Water Hole
[SW] West of the Water Hole

Nabana is out along the edge of the elephant graveyard, scenting around and apparently looking for someone. After a while of searching, he seems to pick up the scent, and glances off towards the southeast… must've gone back to Kopje. Maybe to find Mzohari? Either way, the lion seems to decide he's not up for going any further, and starts to trek back in the direction of the interior of the graveyard.

Kikora knows she's going to be a heap of trouble if word gets out that she escaped the safety of the valley … but the determined look on her young face seems to indicate that some things are more important. She slinks through the grasses as best as she can, keeping low, but making all sorts of noises — rustling, the occasional whisper of 'ow!' when she encounters something sharp on the ground and general cub racket. It's apparent she's not old enough to appreciate the silent prowess of a hunter just yet.

Tangaza was idly lying on the ground, doing that thing again where he stared vacantly out into space, into that world that no one else could see but him. He couldn't sleep anymore, he had gotten as much as rest as he could in this ashen place. Something about the area really put the young lion in a strange mood.

The rustling not too far off gets Nabana's attention, and he's quick to turn about, form tensing as he lets out a couple of soft grunts in case Tanga is within earshot of him. After all, one never knows what might be lurking around in places like this. It doesn't take him long to recognize the sounds of a cub, though, and he relaxes slightly, starting to pad in Kikora's direction. His steps, on the other paw, are nearly silent.

The new smells of this foreign land start to work on Kikora's nerve and she's considering abandoning ship when Nabana's grunts reach her ears. Uhhh … what to do, what to do? The cub stops moving, practically freezing in place with wide brown eyes and bristled fur. She gulps, now feeling foolish for sneaking past Mashaka to investigate the 'supposed' death of her half-sister. The thick aroma of hyenas is quite detectable, and Kikora now wonders if she's mere seconds from death via hyena jaws. Oh, no!

Tangaza's ears perked up at the sound of the grunts in the distance, trying to pull his attention away from his vacant staring. It seemed the battle between audio and visual in his mind were at a stalemate, but his ears stayed perked for one more little sound that could pull him back to reality.

That grunt is the only one uttered by the lion—but soon enough he's speaking out to the small form he can't see. "Alright, whoever you are… you may as well show yourself. I'd be willing to guess you belong to one of these prides around here, and kings aren't exactly kind to finding their cubs have wandered into dangerous territory." Nabana keeps heading in Kikora's direction, but not close enough to see her just yet.

Ohhh, she's in for it now. Kikora drops into a huddle, practically shaking with fear — what in Aiheu's name was she -thinking-? She supposes her act of bravery and determination wasn't very planned, and so she clenches her teeth and utters a shaky little sigh. This is just like when she followed that -dumb- lizard out into those parched lands, but at least Vikali came to get her. Resigning to a fate unknown, she inches forward in the grasses, wide eyes skyward in hopes of catching a glimpse of whoever is speaking to her. In her concentration, Kikora basically bumps into the lounging form of Tangaza and issues a high-pitched yelp. Ack!

Tangaza "oof"s when something collides into his soft side, finally snapping back into reality, trying to turn around enough so that his left eye could see what just ran into him. "Nya?" The startled adolescent blurted out when he saw the form of a young leonine. "What's wrong?" he quickly asked after that, shifting to a slightly more defensive position next to the girl, still not realizing what exactly was going on. Thankfully the cub ran into his left side, so from this angle she wouldn't be able to see the right side of his face…

Ears perk at the yelp, and Nabana finally focuses in on the location of the girl, as well as his son. He starts to move closer, hearing Tanga's confused questioning. "It's not Nya," he says, not entirely sure if Tangaza's fully aware of what's going on in this world or if he's still in some place of his own. "So just who are you?" Nabana asks of Kikora, tail flicking as he looks her over. "You look too well-fed to be a rogue… must be from Tsavo or Kopje, perhaps?"

It takes a few moments for Kikora to realize that she didn't just walk right into a hyena — but another lion, one that's as unfamiliar to her as the voice that spoke to her through the grasses. She stares at Tangaza wordlessly, her brown eyes wide and frightened, and as Nabana speaks, she swings them in his direction, mouth agape. "I-I-I … Kopje, but-but-but …" she starts, hopping to all four paws and standing as tall as she can, defensively. "Tryin' to f-f-f-find my sis-s-ster." She stutters, trying to keep an eye on both Tangaza and Nabana at the same time. Ugh, too much!

Tangaza was ready to pounce the approaching mass that was apparently chasing after the cub. When he realized it was his father though, and those words hit him like a bat to the muzzle. Tan had to do a double take as he finally refocused back on the real world, realizing now that the cub wasn't who he thought she was. He could have swore it was.. the same size.. the same spots… Tan had to shake his head to clear his mind. "sshhhh" The lion finally said, trying to hush and calm the girl, or trying to silence the screaming protests in his mind. Perhaps both.

Trying to find her sister… uh-oh. "I don't suppose that's Kiokota is it?" Of course, the eaten cub is the first thing that comes to mind when she mentions looking for her sister, and being from Kopje. "You shouldn't be out here. It's dangerous, and not just because of who might be lurking." Nabana lowers to his haunches near Tangaza, quirking a brow slightly as he looks aside at his son.

Kikora wrinkles her brows when Nabana mentions a name — one that's similar to her sister's. "Keeokota?" She gives a quick shake of her head, all the while taking tiny little steps backward and away from the two lions. "No, no, no — she's just Kota. And her mama, Kosea." She frowns a bit, her ears turned back completely against her head. "Kaidi said hyenas … somethin' about hyenas." Her brown eyes rest on Nabana, with a few glances toward Tangaza — just to make sure he isn't advancing on her — and they hold sadness and fear in them. This sooooo wasn't a good idea.

Tangaza frowns as he sees the cub backing away fearful of him, putting his head down on the ground and covering his good eye with a paw, shaking slightly and rubbing the ashen dirt into his chin in the process. Meanwhile, letting Nabana and the cub talk about Kopje things that he had been disconnected from for far too long.

"Nonetheless, you shouldn't be out here," Nabana says with a scowl. "I don't know who Kaidi is, but you have NO business being beyond the Kopje border." An ear folds at Tangaza's behavior, and he gives a nod aside at him while looking at Kikora in a 'Now look what you've done' sort of fashion. "At any rate, I haven't seen any hyenas lingering over here."

"Oh …" Kikora says in a dumbfounded voice, still steadily back up in the direction of the valley. She gives Tangaza and Nabana one final wide-eyed look before she dares to turn around, darting back through the grasses toward the southeast, tail flailing along behind her. It seems she finally worked up the nerve to run, and doesn't spare a look over her shoulder for fear that she'll lose her footing.

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