Training Ends


Kasjari - lioness queen.
Mzohari - lion king.
Kikora - adolescent lioness.
Wingu - adolescent lion.
Badiliko - lion.

Despite the fact that the lion expected an outcome no different than the one that actually happened .. no amount of preparation for such a confrontation can ever really lessen the upset. Mzohari was absent from the Volcano from the time the sun went down last night .. and now, the rising of the sun finally finds him returning. His walk is more of a plod as he steps out of entrance cavern's dimness, and it's clear from the haggard look on his face that if he slept last night — it was little and filled with bad dreams. Half of his body is covered in some sort of sandy dust, clearly leftover from wherever he'd thumped down last night, and remaining due to a lack of interest in straightening up his appearance.

Laying near the edge of the overlook is a lightly, and discomforted sleeping Kasjari. Her ears turn toward the dragging paws of her mate and her head snaps up at the noise, looking about with blinking eyes she frowns, mostly at herself, as Mzo emerges from behind her, "You're back… I'm sorry I missed you returning," she says as she hefts herself unsteadily to her paws and pads toward the male, not even bothering to stretch, and her gait is a bit stiff as a result, "Where were you?" she asks worriedly.

Kikora is sprawled out next to Johari, one ear flicking lightly. She's in what might be considered a very light doze, but she doesn't miss Mzohari's approach — she lifts her head and blinks blearily out at the world, pupils adjusting to the light levels. "Mzo…?" She asks timidly, but then Kasjari begins speaking. She hangs back for now, wondering just what she missed when she went out to practice hunting last night.

Badiliko, unlike the others, is actually not on the Outcropping already. Rather, he's climbing up the incline with a rabbit in his mouth, already dead from the hunt, and unlike certain lionesses he doesn't bear the cuts and scrapes of falling or slamming into large objects. When his gaze wanders over to the Outcropping proper, though, he's surprised to spot Kikora, Kasjari, AND Mzohari all in the same spot. He does get a hint of a smile, though, and starts approaching the group.

Eyes that had been rather unfocused turn towards Kasjari and sharpen as he's drawn out of his thoughts, though his ears turn back into his bedraggled mane as he sees the worry that he caused. " .. I found Dakarai and Kunjufu's scents leading away from the Volcano, towards the Pridelands. Mixed up with the scent of that strange lioness who'd been lurking around. So I went after them." He sits down heavily — with no grace whatsoever, it's more like his back legs have simply decided they've had enough and rudely deposit his flanks on the ground. The pale green of his eyes diverts toward Kikora as she rouses and looks to him .. and then Badiliko is spotted as he's seen heading over. Well. No point in putting off the news. "Dakarai has made the choice to leave the pride. Kunjufu' is going to go along with him for a little while, but he's promised to return soon enough." His gaze falls then, staring down at the soil in front of his dirtied front paws — his expression becoming a wince, not only out of having to voice the news, but also as he expects some sort of outburst in response.

Kasjari looks his over quickly when he half collapses to sit, worried for a moment that he may be hurt, though she didn't scent any blood on him. She tilts her head curiously as he explains, frowning a little, "Well, if he'd attended more of the training I'd feel a bit better about it, but he is of age where that decision is his to make, Mzo," she explains gently, stepping closer and turning in a half circle to sit at her mate's side, rubbing her cheek to his bracingly. "Dak will likely not be the only farewell we will be saying in the coming moons," she says more softly, so only he can hear as she sees Badi returning with a kill.

Kikora's eyes flit briefly toward Badiliko as he arrives, though she barely registers that he comes with a rabbit in tow. Mzohari's words — specifically, Dakarai and Kunjufu's scents, outside of the Volcano — cause her to turn back to the King and she rolls her shoulders forward, peering at and listening to him intently. She remains silent until the news is broken that Dak' is leaving the pride … and then she wiggles, her expression a conflicted marriage of glee and worry. After her argument with the lion weeks ago, she's had a bitter taste in her mouth, but that doesn't eliminate all sisterly feelings she has for him, and as a result, her ears lower and she glances down at her paws. "That lioness is going to take care of them, right? Do you think Dak' will come back when he cools off?"

Badiliko looks to be in fairly cheerful spirits as he climbs up the incline and finally reaches the outcropping proper. Once he's closer to the lions he drops his rabbit and smiles at the lot of them. "Hi there…" Of course, though, he sees that something is wrong. "What's the matter? Did something bad happen?" Badiliko asks with a hint of worry

Something of a smile curls along Mzohari's muzzle as he hears Kasjari's words — but it's not one of amusement, it's wry and rather bitter. "I know," he murmurs to her, his low voice a bit ragged. "But I was kinda hoping that most of those good-byes wouldn't consist of a lot of shouting about how I'm the biggest liar of a pride filled with liars and that anyone who's stupid enough to be part of Kopje should be pitied." He leans his side against the lioness's, nestling his muzzle to her forehead for a moment until Kikora speaks up. "She gave me her word that she'd do her best to look after them," Mzo' answers. "And .. no, Kiko'. I honestly don't think Dak' is coming back. If you'd heard the things he said .. you'd understand why I think that. And maybe it's for the best that he doesn't. There's a poison in him that I thought he might conquer with age — but it seems to have gotten the better of him. My heart aches over his loss, but I don't want that poison to spread." Only a weary glance is given to Badiliko's questions, but he's silent — he leaves it to Kasjari to explain, not wanting to have to go through saying it a second time. Once was bad enough.

Kasjari frowns softly at the totality of the news, "Dakarai's failures are not of your making Mzohari. No more than Nabana's were created by Siombe. Do not take this burden on yourself. If Dakarai chooses to leave this place and blight all the earth in his wake, so that he has nowhere to return to, that is not your failure, it is his." She glances toward Badi, offering him a thin smile and hoping that was esplanation enough. She looks back to Mzo and sighs quietly, "Time on the trail has changed greater lions and lionesses than Dakarai. Perhaps new lands and new perspectives will purge this poison from him."

Kikora climbs to her paws, giving her legs short stretches before moving toward Mzohari and Kasjari, snuggling up between them as even teenagers are wont to do, touching her cheeks and chin against both — giving and seeking comfort. "If it was anything about how 'stupid' we all are, I heard it. Dak and I got into an argument a while back, but I didn't want to tell … I hoped that maybe he would open his eyes and appreciate how much we all care about him. I guess not." She buries her face into Mzohari's mane briefly, and it's clear that Dakarai's departure from the pride has affected her, but it's a complicated stew of emotions. "Maybe if he lives shoulder-to-shoulder with the rogues and the jackals he'll appreciate us more, but he might just have found his niche." She grimaces, remembering the jokes she and Kasjari shared about Dak' before this latest explosion of drama. "I love this pride, I couldn't have found better lions anywhere in the savannah," she says quietly, brown eyes cast up to both Mzo' and Kas'. "And better siblings." She offers Badiliko a smile, trying her best to clear her mind of the battle of excitement and sadness.

Badiliko's smile fades in acknowledgement of the facts concerning Dakarai's leaving, though he has not heard anything concerning Kunju. The white lion looked down at his kill, his face showing that his appetite had quite plainly left him. "I see," is all he says in response to the news. He sits down on the ground and listens, unsure of what to do or say in this situation that would be appropriate until he sees Kikora's smile, then he approaches her and maturely bumps his head into her shoulder. "I love you guys," he says, not necessarily wanting to bring up the thoughts and desires he's had for himself.

While Mzohari knows that Kasjari is right in his mind, his heart cannot quite be convinced — not yet, anyway. Nevertheless, his head dips in a few listless nods. "I guess we don't have much choice but to wait and see," he murmurs to her, the words mingled with a weighted sighing. But the lion then lets out a light grunting as Kikora slips forward and wriggles her way between himself and Kasjari, followed by Badiliko abandoning his rabbit to join in the huddle of felines .. though not even the affectionate gestures are enough to bring a true smile to Mzo's face. Oh, he does smile — but it's only half there, and still wrung with emotional exhaustion and strain. "I love you guys, too .. and I'm sorry I couldn't do enough for Dak' to make him happy here, and I'm sorry that you've lost part of your family. But at least we can take some comfort in knowing that Kunjufu' will come back. To be honest .. I think he made the choice to go along with Dakarai because he thinks he can help him somehow. I don't have a clue HOW — but Kunjufu's always been something of a mystery, so I guess we'll just have t'wait and see on that front, too."

Kasjari smiles softly, making room for Kiko, nuzzling her and Badi when he joins them as well. It honestly takes her a long moment before she recalls these two do not share her and Mzo's blood, and the thought is quickly disregarded as irrelevant. This is her family, and it is a few members lighter today than it was the night before, regardless of her personal opinion on Dakarai himself. "If he felt he was better off out there, more on his own than sheltered by the pride, then you did more for him than perhaps you realize dear. It is a…" she pauses, biting backa few choice words of her own, "…great decision to turn your back on a pride as large and plentiful as the one you've built Mzo. And if he feels he is better off gone from it, you've obviously instilled him with enough skills that he thinks he will survive out there."

Kikora wiggles against her family, ears still tipped back and eyes half-lidded — it's obvious that she takes great comfort in her current company, but her eyes do drift over to the sleeping Johari. "I hope Jo doesn't take it too hard. He is her brother…" she frowns, now realizing that neither Mwaliko nor Kiini have made the trip to the volcano. It seems like this is going to be more complicated than she originally thought. "You don't have to be sorry, Mzo'. I don't think anything -anyone- could have done would have stopped him, 'cept for breaking his paws. He might need something that none of us could give him?" She glances up to Mzo' and Kas' now, searching their faces for something…but even she isn't sure as to what. "Maybe he just needs to be on his own?"

Badiliko nuzzles his family for a little bit and purrs warmly while he does so. When the time comes, though, he breaks from it and sits down. "Whatever his reasons, Dakarai made his choice. Just remember that you care about him and forgive him for the hurtful things he's said. Whatever is to come will come—you did your best, at least."

From the darkness of the nearby cave, there is subtle and quiet movement. Wingu, who's pale color stands out in the shadows, steps free from the darkness and gives his already oversized mane a bit of a shake. While still not -quite- full grown, he's got nearly as much fluff surrounding his shoulders as his father. The young lion blinks a bit, ears catching bits and pieces of the conversation as he steps forward, white pawsteps easy-going on the stones. "Guess it's already starting, huh?" He asks softly, ears flattening back a little. "Figured a few of us wouldn't be coming back from this adventure." His tail flicks once, looking between friends and family for a moment.

His eyes move between his mate and the two adolescents, his tail shifting to curl up around his own haunches as he listens to what each of them have to say. In the end, Mzohari simply nods again — in truth, there isn't really much more that he can say on the matter. What's done is done .. and whatever will happen, will happen in its own time. But the lion's muzzle does part as he readies to speak on something else — but that's when Wingu emerges from the cavern and voices his own observations. "Yes .. already," he confirms. "And like I told your mother, I assumed that more than one of you guys would choose to start your own paths away from Kopje. I just didn't think it would happen quite as viciously as it did with Dakarai. But, well. It's over." He blinks a few times, slowly, and then, "I think it's time for us to head home. We've spent enough time here, and I think the trip has served its purpose."

Kasjari smiles gently at Mzo's words and hefts herself to her paws, finally giving the long stretch she's denied herself since she woke. She kisses Mzo's bowed head between the ears, "We'll speak more later," she promises softly, nuzzling Badi and Kiko before stepping over toward Wingu, smiling ruefully and shaking her head at his immense mane. She nuzzles her son warmly in greeting, "Good to see you up and about dear," she commetns to him. And since she's finally found her paws she nods to Mzo's last words, "I'll go start letting folks know and rounding them up," she offers, starting down the slope, figuring some time surrounded by the cubs he's done right by may be the best remedy for now.

Kikora leans into Mzohari once more, offering what she considers her father another reassuring nuzzle — one that's filled with the love of a child who hates, more than anything, to see a parent anything but cheerful. "I learned a lot here in the Volcano, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the valley. Thank you for bringing us here, Mzo." She says quietly, noting the absence of Kasjari at her side. Turning her head to follow the lioness's progress, Kiko' is rewarded with a pale fluffy sight: Wingu! "'Goo!" She says, unable to hide the happiness in her voice. While Dakarai's venon-filled departure (one that she can only imagine) has made her feel apprehensive, Wingu's arrival causes her to break out into a goofy, toothy grin. She moves toward him and bumps her forehead against his own, ears tickling at the growing lion's mane. "How're you, 'Goo?"

Badiliko takes Mzohari's announcement in stride, not terribly happy about it but not earth-shatteringly disappointed either. He gives a nod as Kasjari heads off to spread the word, which leaves Badiliko into his own thoughts for a brief second. He then rises up properly and turns to the incline. "I better go help Kasjari," he offers whilst taking the first step or two, still in a position to be held up if called upon. When he sees Wingu he offers a bright and welcoming smile, since he's already heard the news and everything.

A thoughtful look passes over Wingu's features, causing the spot on his nose to twitch just once as he breathes. It's no new news that the young lion has considered the option of leaving, himself. However, thoughts of that don't linger too long as the boy returns the nuzzle to his mother. "Hey mom." He says softly, and then looks at the others a bit more sheepishly. The sudden bump to his forehead causes 'goo to laugh a little. "Hey Kiko, I'm good." He says cheerfully enough, letting her infectious mood seep in a little bit. He lightly reaches out to mouth at her ear, trying to tug at it once with an almost cubbish playfulness. However, his father's words about leaving cause him to look up over the girl at the older lion. "Don't let it get you down too much, Pa. You've still got us, right?" His head tilts a little, looking from the lion towards Badiliko. He gives a small nod to the other adolescent, then settles down to his haunches.

"No need to thank me," he says to Kikora with that same subdued smile as he looks after Kasjari and Badiliko, who slip off to inform the hoards of adolescents that it's time to start relocating back to the Valley. A measure of relief, despite all the upset, can be seen on Mzohari's face — since he's glad to be getting home, especially after the disastrous events the previous evening. "Tell them that they don't need to wait to go as a group!" he calls after both of them. "As soon as they hear, their paws can start moving!" His tongue swipes out across his muzzle absently, though his attention soon moves back to Wingu. "That's right, I still have you guys — crazy as you all are." It's his attempt at a joke, both to lighten their moods and his own .. but it comes out rather flat, and his try at levity is soon abandoned. "Well .. I guess maybe I should head back to the Valley myself, check in with Khairi and try to get updated before everyone's back."

Kikora dips her head lightly as Wingu speaks to Mzohari, turning her bright eyes toward the older lion with a more genuine grin spreading across her maw. "Crazy, huh? What's that old saying? 'The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree', y'know." She tips her ears forward, whiskers fanning out slightly, hoping that her own joke has been delivered intact — she'd rather not have Mzohari think that she's -insulting- him after all the turmoil of losing Dakarai. "I'll go find Korz' and wake him up…we should be back b'fore the sun sets." She turns back to Wingu and smiles, lifting a paw to bat gently at his foreleg, "Wanna come with us? Unless you wanna hang around…?"

Badiliko stops and looks back to Mzohari, having listened to everything he said. "Alright Mzohari! I'll tell them!" He turns back to the path in front of him and proceeds onward down the incline. "I'll see you back at the Valley!"

"Crazy huh?" Wingu replies, looking at his father with one raised eyebrow. Then, he laughs as his sentiments are echoed nearly in time with Kikora's. "See you soon, Badi." The lion offers sociably, and then is distracted by the batting at his foreleg. "Hrm?" He blinks a little, "Sure, I'll come back with you guys. Nothing really for me out here." His tail flicks, and that thoughtful look flickers on his features again. It only lasts a split second, though. "Heard you and Kor are getting… you know… close 'n all. Wouldn't want to be a bother if you two want to go back by yourselves." Yeah, this is 'goo's not so subtle way of inquiring about the relationship between his brother and childhood friend.

His only reply to Kikora's observation is a mild smirk accompanied by the raising of an eyebrow. Though as the discussion between Kikora and his son turns to more .. sensitive subjects, Mzohari promptly decides that he'd rather not have to deal with another round of teenage antics within a 24 hour period. Even though Mzo' is quite sure that the most severe reactions would be the smirking of Wingu and the blushing of Kikora. But still. He's tired. So with a final nod to Badiliko as the pale-colored lion slips down the incline, the Kopje lion excuses himself from the remaining adolescents with a lowering of his head.

Kikora's easy-going expression is all but shattered when Wingu casually brings up her relationship with Korzar — her ears turn back and her eyes widen, blood rushing to her cheeks. Luckily, her fur is considerably darker than Wingu's, and this doesn't seem to show, but that doesn't save her by much. She rubs her forepaw against the ground nervously and looks as if she's about to say something, but she pauses. "Um, yeah, well…" she starts, looking at everything -but- Wingu, just about. "That doesn't mean you can't come along, nothing at all is changing, errr," she stumbles. She's never been very easy-going when it comes to mushy-lovey stuff, and she certainly isn't going to get out of this unscathed. "I want you t'come, you and Korzar have always been my best friends. You wouldn't be in the way -at all-." She nods now, hoping that her clumsy explanation is sufficient. Agh, emotions.

Wingu's eyes close a little bit, as if he's carefully training his features to show just what he wants to. When they open again, there is nothing but kindness in his eyes. "It's alright. I missed my chance a long time ago." There is a momentary breath of air that slips out after saying this, but he quickly steels back to the painted on smile. "Just don't want to get in the way, is all." He reaches a paw out and companionably nudges at her shoulder. "Don't get so flustered, Kiko. Your my best friend and Kor is my brother. I'm happy for you guys. You'll make adorable little fluffballs some day, I'm sure." He's teasing now, and the wry sort of expression returns to his features. "If you guys don't mind me along, I'll come. Just feel free to tell me to get lost if you want me to. Won't take offense or anything."

"Oh…" Kikora says quietly in response to Wingu's first statement — something that takes her off guard and causes her to feel a pang of guilt. Her morphing relationship with Korzar from friendship to love was much like her growth from cubhood to near-adulthood; something that was never noticed, but happened regardless. "You know, there was a pretty lioness hanging around the valley before we left, named Kweu…" she says quietly, but leaves the rest up to 'Goo. She might have moved off during the pride's absence, for all Kiko knows. "Still, there's no way we're gonna tell you to get lost. I wouldn't do that, neither would Kor. It's just a walk back to the valley." She grins, tail ticking nervously at her hocks.

"You sure she's not some distant relative I don't know about?" Wingu replies with a joking, easy-going tone to his voice. "Besides, we've been gone for a while. Even if there was a lioness, I'm sure one of my brothers has that well under paw already." His eyes roll a little bit. "I'm doomed to be an eternal bachelor. But that's okay with me. I can just live vicariously through my friends." He bats a paw out towards her tail, offering a laugh that seems to show that he's not -too- upset about the wholet hing. "So why don't we go wake up stripey-butt then. We should get on our way before we end up with a caravan of cousins following behind us."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License