The White Stranger


Badiliko - lion cub, lost and alone.
Balana - lioness, Kopje Valley's Queen Mother.
Kikora - juvenile lioness, pride youth.
Olaniyi - lanner falcon, acquaintance of the Kopje lions.
Usafidi - lioness, daughter of Nabana and Nakomis.
Uzo - lioness cub, Balana and Siombe's daughter.

Celestial Lake:East Shore
The very center of the valley crator of the Celestial Volcano is also it's
crowning jewel. You stand on the shore of a rather large crator lake. The
pool is so clear and reflective that you swear that you can see the bottom,
and at the same time, every detail of your own reflection. When the sun
shines over the crator, the soft, lulling waves sparkle like a thousand
diamonds in the cool water. On this side of the shore there is a rock
formation that is perfect for sunbathing and relaxing on. One tree
shades a part of the formation to keep those who wish out of the sun.

Move on {t}o the Gardens {S}outh {S}hore {N}orth {S}hore

Alright, that's well enough… Balana keeps on getting closer as there doesn't seem to be any smell of sickness to him, until she's more or less standing over him. The boy gets a couple of close sniffs before she reaches over to poke at him with a paw. She's got her back to Uzo at the moment, not quite noticing her daughter awakening.

Something stuff over there.. not sure what's going on, but definately movement.. not all that interesting, for whatever the reason, for the little female, but colorful plants in a different direction, that's a worthy exploration! Up, over, and onward, the quiet explorer goes, wriggling her way away from her siblings and towards her latest facination.

Kikora lifts her head slowly from her paws, issuing a wiiiide yawn — her tongue lolls out between her lower eyeteeth, ears turned back and eyes squinted. Awake! She isn't terribly enthusiastic and doesn't bounce to her paws immediately, instead scoping out the surrounding area; there's no way she's going to startle one of Balana's new cubs and get whooped for it, no sir! What she -does- see is a strikingly white little cub, and the large lioness hulking over him. …Huh? -That- isn't one of the new babies … So, Kiko' watches from her spot, neck craning and ears pitched forward. Curiosity killed the cat, after all.

Being nudged seems to do the trick as the little lion cub's eyes slowly open up, looking up at the lioness elder. Not entirely sure what's going on, the cub looks slightly scared, but is otherwise just tired and out of it. "…M…mama…?" it breathes out in that tired little voice of a cub that would just love to fall asleep. Or eat a healthy portion of dinner. Or both (at the same time).

It's alive! "No, I'm not your mother," Balana says in response to the cub. She lifts her head as she hears Kikora's yawn, glancing back over to the cubs. There's Kikora, and—uh-oh. There goes one of the younger cubs off to see who knows what. Considering her half-distracted state, she'd just as soon stop any wandering cubs before they get far. Abruptly stepping away from Badiliko, she pads after Uzo and makes a move to pluck up the cub in her jaws.

And, like more than once before, the sought after colorful thing suddenly disappears as the ground falls from beneith her. Mrreep! Quite the little disapproving squeak this one makes, having considerably strong lungs for one that doesn't make much use of them yet. A bit of twitching is done, but mother's grasp wins out and Uzo falls still, enthralled by the higher vantage point and unpredictable movement.

Kikora keeps a sharp, almost eagle-like watch on the new little cub. His fur is most likely what draws her to him — she's never -seen- that kind of pallid color before. Sure, some of the crows have the white chests, and some of her adopted family's paws, chests and throats mimic that same alabaster, but … not -all- of them. She doesn't move for fear of running the cub off, quietly recounting a story her mother once told her about the great Minshasha.

Badiliko is most assuredly not going to be run off. Kikora could sooner or later see that the little white cub was on his side, looking like he was half-alseep. There was not much he could do, really, and that was that. But as noted, even under the dust and dirt and small bloodstains on his paws he bore white fur like none other. It seemed to be nodding off as is.

Cubs are best at being retrieved! Balana's not about to just let little ones go wandering all over creation if she can help it. Figuring that putting Uzo back where she was would only result in the cub trying to wander off again, the lioness starts to pad back towards where she was. It's about that time that she catches sight of Kikora, and pads over to put Uzo down next to her. "Stop staring, please," is said in one of those quick, half-distracted tones adults use. Padding back over to Badiliko, she once again nudges the cub with a paw. "Now don't go to sleep on me just yet."

Oof! Now where is she? The smell of the reall good thing fades off as the new thing takes it's place. The new thing isn't much larger than herself, making it easy for Uzo to explore. Sniff sniff… sniff sniff. Good and distracted for the moment.

Kikora flattens her ears as Balana speaks to her, and she wrinkles her nose some behind the lioness's back. Bah, staring never hurt nobody … but, if it's not polite, she won't do it (at least while Balana is around). Uzo is deposited near her and the juvenile flicks an ear half-forward, resting her shining brown eyes on the grey fuzzball. What to do? She gingerly sticks a paw out in Uzo's direction, resting it pads-down on the grass. "Hi there, I'm Kikora!" She says in a friendly, but quiet voice. Her youthful high-volume may be fine for Korzar, Wingu and Gadi, but probably not this new little baby. "Didja know that the Gods took you outta Balana and stuck you next to her in her sleep?" She wiggles a bit, bringing up that sore issues … how cubs -really- come into existence.

The little white guy made its stirring noises as it looked back up in that half-glad, half-scared state, especially now that sounds started to visibly filter into his ears and their meanings become clear. "…Mama…where is she?" He sounds sad, as well, and would probably cry if he didn't look parched as it was.

The boy's tone causes Balana's ears to fold back. "I don't know, dearheart. I don't know who your mother is." She glances briefly to Kikora, who seems to have started to occupy herself with Uzo, and then looks back to the boy cub. "Do you eat meat yet?"

There's no hint of interest in the older youth's mouth flapping and sound effects in little Uzo, rather busying herself with sniffing over as much of the jeuvenile's exterior as she can reach, crawling around a bit, as well. Oh, her ears are perfectly functional and soaking in the verbal comunication, there's just no comprehension nor effort to obtain it yet. Lots of sniffing, though!

Kikora can't help but giggle some as Uzo sticks her underdeveloped muzzle in her semi-dusty pelt, wiggling some. "You tickle! Whatcha smellin'?" Kiko' turns her head to watch Uzo as best as she can, ears now fully alert and pushed forward. "I betcha I smell like the Valley. That's where we live! Your mama will take you back there when you're big 'nough." So what if Uzo doesn't get what she's saying? It gives the bigger cub something to do instead of -staaaaare- at Badiliko. "Then, when you grow up a little, we can all play together." She grins toothily, giving her tail a few lazy, looping swishes against the ground.

Badiliko gives a weak nod as it tries to say "yes." The tyke is just as easily starved and could probably eat a whole zebra, especially with that wonderful set of teeth it has in its mouth. He shivers a little bit, whether from fear or cold is unknown exactly.

She is unsure whether or not her presence has been noticed by now. At some point, the lanner falcon maneuvered herself into one of the highest branches of the lone tree that marks this side of the lake. And there, she nestled herself in for some rest after her fly from Kopje. Now that there is activity below and now that she is rested to her satisfaction, Olaniyi begins hopping down from one bough to another .. going lower and lower, her wings half unfurled, talons digging trenches into the bark with each drop in elevation.

In some ways that makes it easier. Feeding this kid wouldn't involve taking away anything from any of Balana's own cubs. It is another mouth to feed… but he's pretty small. She looks over at Badiliko for several moments more before she turns to look back towards Kikora. "Kiko, is there any… well, anything edible left?" She hasn't noticed the falcon as of yet.

Uzo does grasp the upbeat tone of the other's voice, even if the meaning of the words are a mystery note yet explored. Oh, she'll explore it eventually, perhaps once she's out of new smells to immerse her nose in. On that note, it doesn't take very long for her to circumnaviate the older youth, learning much enroute, but ultimately running out of things to find. More input, please! Head and ears swivel about as her ghostly eyes cast about, unfocused, till a particularily non-typical stick jutting from the ground proves large enough for her eyes to lock onto, and it is towards that which the greyish cub starts to trundle off towards.

Kikora, though distracted by Uzo's antics, curves an ear in Balana's general direction as she inquires about the impala. "Ummm," she says loudly, her brown eyes searching the grass until they fall on the remains of the unfortunate herbivore. "I -think- there's some, but …" she trails off, lifting her eyes toward the tree and gulping quite audibly, "that vulture's here! Oh no!" She says with -such- drama, it's almost hilarious. She isn't familiar with Olaniyi and, at her young age, can't quite tell the difference between a falcon and a vulture — they both have sharp talons and sharp beaks. Eek!

Uh-oh. Once Kikora calls out the word "vulture" the little cub starts to shiver some more and does its best to try and curl up, its only and quite measly defensive posture. Something tragic happened to this little lad. Something that perhaps he'll be stronger for in future years, but nonetheless tragic.

Hop. Hop. Hop. Soon enough, she is on one of the lowest limbs in the tree .. and also towards its trunk where the leaves are thin and where the dark gray-blue and white of her plumage is quite visible. Her inky eyes dart over each leonine present .. and the falcon is unsurprised by what she sees. Mzohari has not yet sent her off on a fruitless quest and this time will apparently not be the first. She recognizes the elder lioness, but out of the ones moving she is the only one. But it is Kikora's exclaimation that gets her attention first .. in its usual huffy and self important way. Feathers fluffing indignantly, she says, "I am certainly NOT a vulture! Perhaps you should get an education before waggling your tongue in such a way!" She snaps her hooked beak once, and after ignoring Badiliko's try at self preservation, Olaniyi looks squarely at Balana. "Both the retired and present kings of Kopje requested that I confirm your presence here. As it seems I have done that .. I shall now go report the news." Rather abrupt, no?

Frowning, Balana sniffs again at Badiliko, before giving him a single lick as he curls up. Upon hearing the bird's voice, she looks back up at the falcon and smirks. "Glad to see they noticed we were gone. But yes, tell them I'm here with Kikora and Korzar. And that if Mzohari gets a chance, I'd appreciate a chance to talk to him."

Nothing the sky as far as Uzo's concerned! off to the big stick while everyone else is distracted! Sniff sniff, sniff sniff… what's this thing?

Sleep has done well to clear Usafidi's mind—for the time being. Separating herself from that other lioness, she has been resting comfortably among the fertile grasses blanketing the caldera of this ancient monolith. As she wakes the diminished scent of an impala kill tickles her nose and her tongue sneaks out to lick hungrily at her lips.

Kikora's ears immediately fold back and she frowns sharply at the tree-lurking falcon. "Then what -are- you?" She rolls her shoulders forward and sets them, almost glowering at Olaniyi. Her aggitation at the bird causes her to lose sight of Uzo for the moment, but when the grey-furred cub toddles closer to the 'big stick', it catches Kikora's eye and she rises, almost unwillingly, to corral Balana's cub back to safety. That means getting closer to … -the bird-, and the juvenile casts a wary glance up at her the entire time.

Badiliko is highly set at ease with the lick from Balana. His quaking slows considerably and soon stops, and while his curl is still there it's loosened up. His breathing returns to normal, his look of fear diminishes, and his eyes, while not entirely open, are not clenched shut either. He's going to be okay, that much is certain.

"Very well." A single curt nod is given to Balana at her words and subsequent requests. They are not surprising. Mzohari had made mention of two cubs likely being with the elder .. as well as her newborns of course. With everything arranged as needed, the wide sprawl of her wings unfurls and she is just about to launch herself into the air .. when Kikora speaks up. Flexing her talons into the bark of the limb she rests upon, she says to the juvenile, "I am a falcon. Vultures are brown, bald .. and repulsive. And I am none of those things." There is a mild gentling of her posturing and jet-black eyes and she then adds, "I am called Olaniyi and I am a messenger of Kopje. So long as you are associated with the pride that resides in that valley then I am no threat to you." That said, she completes her jump from the tree .. and with a few mighty beats of her wings she is rising skyward again.

Balana looks unimpressed with Olaniyi's display… but so she has most of the times she's seen the bird. Useful enough, but could probably use an attitude adjustment. She glances back down at Badiliko and gives him another lick. "You're safe enough with us…" Another glance around. Kikora… and where did Uzo go? Mutter. Usafidi is missed for the moment.

Uzo is checking out the big stick, of course! Yes, lots of smells here.. little things, big things, plant things.. whoo! Sniff sniff, sniff sniff. The ghostly cub scrambles around the stick to check it at all angles then takes a tentative bite out of it's side.. oooh.. chewy! Chomp chomp.

Usafidi raises her nose to the air to take in the scent of the kill more easily. By the faint aroma it is clear that there isn't much left. Hmm, that lioness must've killed something…and that means she's still here. At this Usafidi's expression darkens and her tail lashes at her side as a result. Well, pesky cats all over this place apparently.

Kikora continues to eye Olaniyi warily as she draws closer to the kid with wanderlust, letting out a relieved sigh as the falcon takes off. Sure, it means her inevitable punishment once Mzohari and Balana talk, but she misses the Valley! The Volcano is certainly -awesome-, but being trapped and a good cuffing and a grounding looming on the horizon just spoil the experience for her. She circles after Uzo, looking alarmed when the cub decides to gum-gnaw at the tree, "Heeey!" She says and taps at Uzo's side gently, trying to lure her away from it. There could be … -germs-. "Not for you!" Her attentions are taken up by Balana's daughter and so she misses Usafidi completely — but probably not for long!

The little white cub eases more and almost seems relaxed in its half-conscious state. Tough as nails as this little guy will be for surviving as well and long as he did, he may not be up for much longer.

Oh, there she is. Since Kikora's trailing Uzo, Balana leans down to pick up Badiliko in her jaws. May as well move him nearer, after all. As she looks about, she catches sight of Usafidi not too far off. Uh-oh… this isn't necessarily a good situation.

The tiniest of growls emerges from the ghostly cub as determination kicks in and jaws bite down quite securely on the stick while her side gets nudged at, one pale green eye peering aside at the one poking her.. not yours!

Kikora gives up her prodding and resigns to just watch Uzo, falling back on her haunches nonchalantly. She figures that the tree couldn't be -too- bad for the cub, so she gives in. B'sides, Kiko' doesn't particularly want a little grey-furred monster attached to her paw or anything! She lifts her gaze toward Balana as the lioness carries the white-furred little cub, her natural curiosity kicking in again. "What's his name?" She asks innocently enough, still unaware of Usafidi lurking ominously in the grasses. Her senses haven't developed much in the way of wariness of her own kind, but that … might change soon enough.

With a cublike sniffle Badiliko's eyes close and his body visibly slacks, though his body's motions indicates that he is still alive. Sleep finally got to him, after all of his physical worries have stripped his strength there's just the snoozing little cub. Who'd have thunk he would fall asleep in transit?

It's probably not at all uncommon for cubs. Being toted around must get boring, after all. Balana keeps looking at Usafidi for a few moments before she once again just turns and heads over to where the other newborn cubs are, setting Badiliko down. Poor kid looks like he could use some sleep. And probably a bath. The elder looks at Kikora as she speaks up again, turning to move closer with a shrug. "I don't know. All I got from him was that he can eat meat and didn't know where his mother was."

Chew chew chew… a nice variety from sniffing everything! Must be the teething stage, or something like that… chew chew chew… bark bits going everywhere, or, at least, over every part of the paler cub's fur, including areas it doesn't make rational sence that it shoulder… chew chew chew.. good times.

Usafidi's eyes catch onto Balana's glance and the young lioness stiffens, a little growl tightening in her throat. She's spotted some of the cubs now as they have wandered off, but she really has no interest in them. No, Usafidi's keen on making sure she gets rid of this pesky lioness.

Kikora turns an ear toward Balana, alternating her gaze between chewy-Uzo and the elder lioness. She stretches her forepaws out, extending her pale claws and dragging shallow ruts through the soil, her back sloping inwards some and then arching out. She'd claw at the tree-trunk if it wasn't already claimed by the smaller lioness. When Usafidi's growl reaches her, however, she crouches down immediately … that -wasn't- the voice of anyone -she- knows, and the fur along her spine bristles instinctively. Uh oh …

Gratefully for Balana, the little one isn't stirring from the growling caused elsewhere. No sir. Let Badiliko sleep, please and thank you, and maybe give him a little food later on, but sleep is the number one priority, and it's got a superb grip on him.

At the growl, Balana looks over her shoulder and hisses back at Usafidi. She's not in the mood for little displays like that. It only gets a brief acknowledgement, though, and the elder pads over to Kikora and Uzo. "Chewing on things already… what are you doing over here, kid?" she says as she looks at Uzo, shaking her head and looking back at Kikora. "I think that lioness is actually part of Kopje. One of Nabana's daughters… but I'm not completely sure."

Chew chew and more chew.. and some more ch-.. oh! Good smell! You're back! A curious little pose is held with the mutilated stick in her maw as those gleaming dull green eyes gaze up at mother's face for a couple seconds followed by a quick shuffle and one heck of a belted mewl.. Good thing! Come here!

Kikora remains hunkered down, although Usafidi never quite surfaces completely from the grasses … phew, crisis narrowly averted. "… Bana?" Kiko' says, a little unsure of herself. What she remembers from him — and his cycloptic son — is nothing that would suggest that he had a family once upon a time. She peers suspiciously in Usafidi's direction, though she feels much safer with Balana drawing close. "Why she not in the Valleeey?" Good question! The juvenile looks a little confused at this whole Nabana's-daughter thing, thinking of the rough way he carried her back to the Kopje's territory, and his hatred of that Pride Land King.

Pft. Badiliko cares nothing for politics or hatreds. Well, he probably does in that "please don't hurt me" sense, but right now…he's just gonna sleep.

"Don't know," Balana says as she settles down since Usa seems to have wandered off for now. She gives a bit of a smile to Uzo. "Yeah…" Her daughter gets a light nosing, and she looks back to Kikora. "I'm not sure who that kid is. But tomorrow maybe he'll be a little more talkative, and hungry. I have a feeling he's been on his own for a while."

After the loud call that yields a big nose poking her side, all Uzo can do is plop over onto her side to swing a paw up at it. Woop! it moved away.. get back up… woop, no, I can reach it! Fall over, swing… awe, miss.. get back up.. hey wait! Plop, swing… no. Okay, sniff sniff sniff.

Kikora's attention is split between Balana, Uzo and the little white cub with no name. It seems that Badiliko is snoozing peacefully near the other newborns, and with the elder lioness around, Kiko' isn't too worried about something getting to him. She casts him a pitied glance and frowns a bit, remembering the day that her own mother was struck down by the zebra, and how she followed Kasjari into that strange, cold forest. "I think he'll like it with us. But, why is he so pale?" She casts her brown eyes up to Balana's own, her ears half-swiveled back. This seems to bother her a bit, not in a 'bad' way, but in an astonished way.

"I don't know, kiddo… some lions are just like that. Two of my kids were, but their father's whole family was." A yawn follows the statement, and Balana stretches out on her stomach. "But for now, I need to get some sleep. Hopefully we'll get some help over the next couple of days so things can lighten up a little bit."

Maybe there's just some sorta synergy between mother and offspring, but Uzo seems to be zonking as well, laying out and rather still suddenly, though still breathing plenty enough for it to be obvious she's still lively, just worn out just now. Mangling random branches is hard work, y'know!

Kikora lowers herself into a cubbish, flopped-out position at the base of the now-gnawed on tree. Though her usual spot is next to Korzar, he's too far away and she's too tired to drag herself over to her friend. She rests her head near Balana's paws, though doesn't quite touch — she isn't sure how the lioness would react, especially now that she's got four — or five? — cubs to tend to. Kiko' seems to take this as a life lesson … she's growing up, but at a healthy pace. Her little eyes close and she lets out a soft, even sigh, signifying her cross into the threshold of sleep.

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