Uh Oh


Balana - lioness, Kopje Valley's Queen Mother.
Kikora - juvenile lioness, pride youth.
Korzar - juvenile lion, son of King Mzohari and Kasjari.

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

Kikora has snuggled up even closer to Korzar in her sleep — caused out of fear and the strange presence of the caracal who knew her name. She's now flopped out on her side, back firmly nudged against her friend, paws all splayed on the relatively cool ground. It's definitely not cold in this cavern, and only the occasional breeze from outside offers any kind of relief. After a while Kiko' opens her eyes and looks around blearily.

Snoooore. Korzar is still out like a light. It had been a long trek to get this far yesterday, and even though he hated to pause this near to their goal, cubs gotta replenish their energy somewhere. And loooong naps were the way to do that.

Kikora doesn't need to look at her friend to know that he's still fast asleep — the pleasant and rhythmic rise and fall of his sides tells her that much. Now that there is sunlight filtering into the odd cavern, Kiko' glances around in earnest for the first time and spots the sleeping form of Hajima. So it -wasn't- a dream … and this realization causes her to nudge Korzar with her forearm and elbow some. "Kor, wake up …" she says in a hoarse whisper, trying to be loud 'nough for the other cub to hear her, but not so loud as to wake up the caracal. She wants to get a move on, especially because Hajima threatened to tell Mzohari about their whereabouts, ack! Plus, she's thirsty and hungry to boot.

Ughhh. It's never easy to wake up after being out for so long. "Wha?" Korzar mutters, rolling over onto his other side and placing his paws over his eyes. Just let me sleep! But when the nudging continues, he begrudgingly opens his eyes. "What is it?" he blearily asks, before it suddenly hits him. Oh, yeah! The volcano! He looks around and pushes into a seated position with renewed vigor. He's all for declaring that they should move on towards the middle of the volcano, when his eyes come to rest on the caracal. "Who's that?" he wonders aloud. She definitely hadn't been in the cave when he'd fallen asleep!

With Korzar dutifully awake and eager to go (or so it seems), Kikora is already headed toward the back of the cave. It's dim and murky, almost like swimming in a deep lake of oxygen. "He saaaid he was Ha-jee-mah, an' that he'd go tell on us. We better go!" The urgency in her voice is pretty blatant, and the twitching of her tail tells it all. "C'mon, Kor! 'Fore your daddy finds out we're gone!" She offers him a mild grin, though all she wants to do is get a move on!

Yikes! Then it was absolutely time to go. "Ok, less' go," he whispers, eyeing the caracal warily. He tiptoes out of the cave, trying to not let his pawpads even touch the floor. Getting caught would be bad! It'd probably mean another grounding, and the juvenile definitely doesn't want that.

Edge of the Celestial Volcano
As you go around the corner, the cavern widens. You squint a little at the
amount of light that suddenly fills your eyes. When they adjust you stare
out in awe at the sight before you. Looking out of the cavern you can see
a large expanse of fertile land. All inside the volcano!

You decide to go {b}ack thinking you are seeing things
You can {wa}lk forward onto a circular outcropping

With Korzar in tow, the two cubs are quick on their feet and manage to wriggle their way out of the dense rock caverns. When Kikora exits the last winding cave, sunlight spills across her body and momentarily causes her to squint her eyes. When she's sure she won't go blind, she opens them and sees … WOW! The inside of the volcano is a tropical paradise, filled with grasses, trees, and even a -lake-! "Kor! Look, look!" She says loudly, though she never takes her eyes off of the gorgeous spread of land before them. She never dreamed that it would be so pretty here in this strange caldera. "Wooooow …" she whispers.

Wooooow is right. Korzar blinks, unable to see anything for a moment, until his eyes adjust and he can clearly see where the light is coming from. "Whoa." Korzar freezes, awed by the amazing sight in front of him. This was unexpected… he thought that the inside of a volcano was filled with lava, not *this*. "C'mon! Gotta check this out!" he exclaims, suddenly animated again. Now that the initial shock has worn out, he wants to get closer! He bounds forward excitedly, nudging Kikora gently as he passes. Let's go!

Circular Outcropping
You walk out of the safety of the cave and look around in awe. The lands are
more beautiful than you ever imagined. An incredible view catches your eye
and has you turning your head for a moment. Looking straight ahead, the
outcropping extends into a slender raised path that creates a divide
between the two parts of the inside volcano. It seems to terminate at
the center of the volcano directly under the large circular opening.

To your right and left are gentle spiraling slopes that go down into
the two halves of the inner land. On the right, there is a large open
area of bright green that takes up the most of the view. On the left
there are higher plants that look like grasses and a rough path.
The volcano makes a natural cone as it's sides slope inward to
reach for the wide upper opening.

You can go down the gradual slope to the {right}
You can walk forward onto the slender division in the {middle}
Or you can go {back} to the inner cave
You can go down the gradual slope to the {left}

Kikora's giggles are probably heard before she's even seen — she races forward, paws thumping against the ground with reckless abandon. "Can't-catch-me!" She calls out to Korzar, returning back to the playful game that was interrupted yesterday. After all, this place seems less hot, there's more cover and, well, there's water somewhere nearby, too!

The sudden sound in what was previously absolute silence startles Balana out of a sound sleep. What was that? Not necessarily unfriendly, but it didn't sound like it belongs here. The elder has been predominantly resting since the litter was born, but now she's on her paws in an instant, in paranoid-mother mode, taking a defensive stance over the litter as she glares towards the opening of the volcano.

Korzar snickers, bounding after Kikora. This place was awesome! Somehow, after walking across arid savannah and dark, empty caves, he and Kikora had ended up here. It was amazing. He's even forgotten about why the two juveniles had come this way in the first place… to find Balana. Kikora *had* been doing most of the tracking, but even if Korzar had been paying attention to it, it would have undoubtedly been driven from his mind. This place was sweet! With his eyes focused on Kikora as he tries to catch her, the cub doesn't notice the suddenly-standing *other* nearby form.

Kikora isn't too keen on spotting Balana either, although yesterday she had been on pins and needles investigating her scent trail. For now, she doesn't seem to be paying much attention to where she's placing her rapidly growing and quite gangly paws. This earns her a quick trip, and she goes tumbling head-over-paws, tail flagging behind her. Oops! She comes to a stop on her back, hindpaws pointed up at the sky, forepaws resting on her chest. Phew! That was a close one. "I'm okay!" She calls out before Korzar can express any concern, and from this position she -certainly- wouldn't be able to see a certain freaked-out mother lioness …

It doesn't take too long for Balana to identify the pair of forms that come bounding out onto the outcropping. At first, she's too flustered at their appearance to really be able to come up with something comprehensible to say. She's still not back to full strength after the birth, which is probably the reason she doesn't walk over and start laying into the pair of them. Eventually, she does manage to express her displeasure. "Get over here!" The tone is somewhat exasperated, and certainly sharp.

"You fell," Korzar giggles, amuzed at Kikora's little trip, before padding over and nudging her lightly with his nose. Unfortunately, his amusement is short-lived. Well, at least they've now found Gramma Bal… but it doesn't seem she's taking the juveniles appearance as well as he'd hoped. "Uh oh," he mutters, before slouching over towards his grandmother, tail drooping. At least not all is lost… he's been thinking of a 'defense' just in case Balana got mad. And there's the cubs! Korzar peers curiously around and behind Bal as he gets closer… he wants to see 'em!

Kikora reacts a bit differently to Balana's stern words than Korzar does — she winces, flattening her ears and rolling over to her belly expertly. She stays belly-low to the ground, creeping across the ground like a wounded puppy, tail dragging along behind her. She doesn't make a sound, but instead looks to Korzar for any kind of lead. When she spots him trying to look at the cubs, she giggles just a little bit. That was -why- they came out here to begin with!

It's hard to tell if the main reason she's so upset is because they're here unsupervised, or because she's in typical overprotective mother mode. "What — you — did you come out here by yourselves?" the elder finally manages, before casting a glance to the cavern's opening. Ultimately, she wouldn't necessarily put it past somebody to use them to test the waters before venturing in themselves, but she also wouldn't put it past them to have come out alone. A sharp look is given to Korzar when she sees him trying to look past her, and a firm cuffing is aimed at his shoulder. It's probably not enough to even knock him off balance, more to just get his attention than anything.

Kikora cringes down even further now, squishing herself against the ground and wishing that it would just open up and eat her, and be done with it! "Umm … umm … it was my idea," Kikora starts out in a shaky voice, her ears flattened against her head, eyes downcast. "Jus' wanted to see where cubs come from …" she says quietly, falling completely silent now. Balana's wrath is pretty darn terrifying!

Where were those cubs? Korzar cranes his neck, trying to spot them… Whoa! He stumbles a step sideways as Balana knocks him off balance, but he manages to stay on his feet. With his attention back on Gramma Bal, Korzar tilts his head as innocently as he can with Balana glaring down at him… but then Kikora speaks. "Shhh!" he mutters, batting her firmly with one of his paws, before looking back to Bal, repressing a shudder. "Wh-What?" he asks, doing his best not to tremble. Korzar's normally not scared of anything… but there's something about Balana when she gets angry. "Came here with y-you." Korzar stares down at his paws. Would Gramma bite… or would she not even know what he was talking about? Either of those would be preferable to her staying mad, though.

Sometimes she'd fall for the cuteness of the cubs and let it go at that… but now is a very different situation. There's not getting out of this for them. "Do you realize just what you've done?" she asks the pair of them in a sharp tone. "There is no one here but you two, the cubs, and I. Out of the seven of us, how many know how to hunt?"

"I … I can catch the fat-rats that live by the tree …" Kikora says dejectedly, knowing that Balana has a point. What were they going to do, muscle their way in on Balana's milk? She peers unsurely at Korzar and grits her teeth, trying to fight back the tears that she knows are quick-coming. "But… but why you so far away from the Valleeey?" She considers asking Balana if her hip was -really- broken, like she overheard Mzohari saying, but she figures that if the lioness is up and at 'em the way she is now, there's no -way- she's broken -anything-, except for maybe her patience barrier.

Oh, great. No, no, no, no! He was not gettin' grounded again! With that thought foremost in his mind, Korzar ignores Balana's question and speaks again, his frustration giving him confidence. "You said we go the volcano. We at the volcano. With you," he implores, not *quite* begging, but well on his way. He ventures a look up to Balana. Pleeeaase!

Balana gives a sharp look at Kikora at her question. She doesn't answer it, and it's pretty clear from the look that it's not a question she's going to answer. "Yes, we are at the volcano, Korzar. But by coming now, and by yourselves, all you've done is become a liability." They may not know what that word means, but who cares? "I was going to have somebody else come with us. Maybe a couple of the lionesses. Or Mashaka. But now, I am the only one to look after you. I can't take you back to the valley, because that would leave my cubs unguarded and without food for too long. I can't just send you back by yourselves, because you might end up lost or get attacked on the way. I can't even send word back to the valley that you're here with me!"

Well, perhaps there is something -good- about that caracal last night. "But … but Bal … Ha-jee-mah knows that we're here." She inches herself up off the ground little-by-little, keeping her ears still firmly folded down. "He said he was gonna go tell on us." She nods firmly now, remembering last night a little blurrily, but well enough. The caracal -did- say he was going to go tell Mzohari on them, and Kikora was horrified at the prospect. "It okay! Someone'll come from Valley!" A little hope glitters in her eyes now, and she looks furtively, sidelong, at Korzar.

[Korzar had to flee!]

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