The Plains

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


The story is a about a pride of lions in conflict with a neighboring pride. As one leader challenges the other... things begin to get dire for the opposed pride.

Submitted: August 31, 2017

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Submitted: August 31, 2017

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Chapter 1: The Beginning

Stories are often told of the Lion God Khyva and his wisdom, usually in teaching young cubs about the history of their ancestry, heritage, and just for knowledge purposes. Khyva is the symbol of strength and courage, not to be mistaken for foolhardyness.

It is believed Khyva had a large mane resembling the same shade of brown and yellow that coated his large, muscular form. He is known as a caring and compassionate leader, once at the head of a pride of one hundred lions, claiming his position as king through battle as is the custom for leadership in a pride. He overpowered his opponent, known as Cormac who seeked revenge upon failure.

Cormac threatened Khyva while in private, stating, "You won't be king for long. Watch your back."

Through Khyva's strong heart did he let Cormac walk away after such a threat. Cormac never did challenge him again but there are stories explaining how Cormac plotted and conspired, trying to gain followers to attack Khyva, but the attack never got carried out. Many don't believe this sub-story of Cormac.

Hundreds of years later, maybe even thousands, no one is sure of the days of Khyva's reign... But here is the story of a pride, in the lands which Khyva once lead; a pride of twenty lions, consisting of two males and eighteen females.

The once large pride has split up overtime with the birth of males going their own separate way in search of a mate and to start their own pride. The widespread land which is known to be the home of sixteen prides is called Khyva's Pride, the land which all lions were once united under one ruler. 

There are five large notable prides which all hold a truce with each other as there has been much conflict over the years of who gets the best hunting territory, water holes and shaded areas. As of late, two of those large prides have been at verbal conflict, threatening one of the other of invasion for food and water has been growing scarce.

It all starts at the beginning...

"Alkosh, wake up." Yazmine, the mother of Alkosh nuzzed into his small head, giving him a long lick on his face before giggling a little afterwards. Yazmine is a beautiful lioness, mate to the current pride leader, Vazari. Her golden fur and bright yellow eyes made her stand out over all the other lionesses in the pride, which originally caught the eyes of Vazari, who was lucky enough to win her over the other interested male lions from other prides.

Most other prides contain only around five to ten lions. Any more than fifteen is considered a large pride. Vazari earned his leadership of the pride of females through his father's leadership that he inherited once he passed away. Vazari wasn't the biggest lion, but he was fast and agile and his looks were also much noticable to searching females.

"Mmm. Come on, mom. That's embarrassing!" Alkosh rolled onto his other side away from his mother, trying to avoid her licks while others were around.  

Being so small compared to his mother, it wasn't too hard for her to grab him and pull her against her belly which he nuzzled and purred against after he realized there was no escape.

"You are so handsome, Alkosh. Khyva blessed us with you." She continued to hold him close to her, smiling down to her son who she was so proud of. "You're father wishes to see you Alkosh. He should be around the big tree where you normally play with your friends." She let him go and gave him a nudge with her nose.

"All right, mom. Love you!" Alkosh ran off out of the little cave his pride lives in and went to the big tree which he was sent to.

The cave they lived in was not very impressive. It was a cave dug into the side of a mountain which was man-made years ago before the lions occupied it. Vazari's Pride was the westernmost pride of Khyva's Pridelands, making the mountains the border. Being so close to the mountains, there wasn't the widest range of prey for the lions, but they manged and rationed what they could and got lots of shade on the hottest of days.

"Good morning, son." Vazari greeted his son with his softer voice, matching his smaller and more slender body than the usual male.

"Good morning, dad." Alkosh pranced forward and nuzzles into his mane before taking a step back and sitting down, giving his father is undivided attention.

"Look out there, Alkosh. Take a look around you. Inhale the air, observe the pride and all the creatures within and tell me what you think." Vazari looked down his son after observing the pride himself to show Alkosh what he meant.

Alkosh strugged with the answer but took his time to review his surroundings to determine an answer. "I see... a quiet but well collected pride living happily and resting out under the trees and what shade we have."

"That is a good observation, especially for your age son. To lead a pride, you need to observe and pay attention all day and all night. It is your duty to protect those around you and maintain our territory." He stopped a moment and sighed. "Son?"

"Yes father?" Alkosh turned his head back to Vazari and noticed he had a troubled look about him which set Alkosh on edge a bit.

"You may have noticed how food around here has gone a little more scarce than usual?" Alkosh nodded and let his father continue. "I will not lie son... I have failed my pride. Our opposing brothers and sisters have entered our territory and are hunting our antelope. By doing this, the antelope have left and are now far away. Right now, our pride is hunting stragglers and what prey we can find ourselves. You and your friends-- you are priority and get first meal."

"Why are you telling me this?" Alkosh asked with a worried look, wondering why his father has opened up like this so suddenly.

"Because son. One day, you are going to be walking in my footsteps and you will be leading this pride. You already know this son but now I think is the time for you to know what is going on at all times, to prepare you for the future. This is a good thing, Alkosh. My father didn't do the same with me. He trained me well how to be a leader and what to do and when to do it as well as great teachings about our god, Khyva but the one mistake he made, was that he never told me anything that was happening with the pride and left me with unknown responsibilities. Even with everything I knew. Everything I had at my disposal, it wasn't enough and I was a poor leader for a long time. Only until a few ago did I become a good leader and lead this pride well. And now, I want to make you what I could never be." Vazari smiled down to he son, giving him a gentle push with his right paw, almost knocking his son over.

"Hey!" Alkosh growled and and threw his paw, trying to hit his father's. Playfully of course.

"Haha!" Vazari laughed and nudged his son with his head, actually knocking him over this time. "I thought you were strong, Alkosh?" He winked, taunting his son in a playful manner.

Alkosh pounced at him, hitting his chest with his head and only managing to fall back down to the ground. He shook his head and grinned back to his father. "Just wait till I am bigger!"

"Oh, I know Alkosh! What will ever do with such a brave and strong son! I won't be able to wrestle him and win like now!" Vazari laughed and ruffled the tiny mane on his head with his paw. "You go along and play with your friends now, Alkosh. I'll see you at dinner, all right?"

"Yes father! Thank-you!." Alkosh smiled and his father walked off, doing his rounds and daily routine while his son ran off in the other direction to find Kaisha, his female friend of the same age who share a lot of common and is his best friend.

While looking around for Kaisha, Alkosh couldn't help but really think about what his father was telling him. He may be still young but he understands that there are resonsibilities and he will not fail his pride. He stood tall, puffing his chest, allowing a determined look to fill his expression. His thoughts eventually switched over to Ehyva and all his teachings of the lion god. He was facinated with such stories and often used them to motivate him to do what is right and to take his training seriously.

Off a little distance, a young lioness around the age of Alkosh sat in the grass, watching Alkosh strut on by with his chest out, looking tough. She couldn't help but giggle how Alkosh never noticed her, obviously lost in his own train-of-thought.

"Not even going to say hi?" The young lioness said as Alkosh passed on by, his head raised high till he heard the familiar voice of a lioness he is very fond of.

"Kaisha! I was just... I was..." He blushed and lowered his head a bit, realizing how rediculous he must have looked just then.

"Just showing off?" She smiled and walked up to him, nuzzling into his shoulder and up to his head.

"Showing off what?" He smiled back, giving her forehead a little lick.

"That strong chest of yours and that walk that definitely looks like it has been rehearsed." She looked into his eyes, trying to get him lost in them.

He shook his head and snapped out of it. "Hey! Don't do that! And that wasn't rehearsed. It was just..." Alkosh was at a loss for words, unable to keep up with Kaisha's forwardness. In one way, he liked Kaisha for this but he always feels like she is challenging him.

"I am just teasing, Alkosh. You need to loosen up a little. "She swiped him with his tail, walking ahead of him. "So Alkosh... was your father giving you more lessons?"

"Yes. I will admit though, being leader eventually makes me a little nervous." He said, opening up to his female companion.

"We are still young, Alkosh. I understand how you feel and it is all right. You still have a long time before you have worry about that. Loosen up and have fun!" She jumped and started running. Alkosh listened and smiled, chasing her as she ran, gaining up on her and wanting to go for the pounce.

Kaisha was a pretty, young lioness, well maintained and the smartest cub of the four in the pride, including Alkosh. As for Alkosh, he was indeed very intellectual but often lacked sense in some situations, finding it difficult to determine solutions when put on the spot. Kaisha was very logical and can deal with situations better than Alkosh can. She is considered the smarter of two and many adults of the pride see the two becoming mates when they come of age. 

"I got'cha!" He grinned and pounced at her. She noticed this and jumped out of the way, resulting in Alkosh falling to the ground with Kaisha turning around and pouncing onto him.

"Oh my. You still have lots of training before you can pounce correctly." She had him held down and he struggled to get her off, eventually succeeding and pinning her onto her back.

"And you still haven't learned your lesson from being complacent!" Alkosh grinned, feeling accomplished for being able to pin her.

"I will go easy on you and let you win this time since it is really cute to watch you feel so powerful after winning something, including the simplist non-challenging things." She winked, loving to embarrass Alkosh whenever given the chance.

They continued to mingle for the afternoon, walking back and forth to the water hole and the big tree where they met up with the other cubs. Alkosh got his mind off of his father's earlier talk and replaced it with fun which every cub needs at the younger months. Alkosh was only four months old, as well as one other cub. Kaisha was five months and the other was three months. They kept close to each other always under the protection of the pride. One lioness volunteered to always keep an eye on the cubs, making sure they don't get into much mischief and to keep them safe. Her name was Kazri, she was a young lioness, a little over a year old. She often joined her fellow lioness on hunting parties, learning and more and more each time they went for a hunt. She was very much trusted for keeping an eye on the cubs and was very respected among the others for taking such a big responsibility-- being in charge of four young cubs can be quite the responsibility.

The fun and games lasted a long while for the cubs until evening came. That's when it was time for the pride to gather for dinner. Everyone gathered at the normal feasting spot, save for the five lionesses that went on the hunt.

Vazari sat at the head of pride, waiting for their meal. He often didn't go on hunts unless he was needed. Alkosh kept close and nuzzled into his mane, purring softly with his mother on the other side, waiting paitently along with the many others.

"Vazari!" A lioness yelled from the distance, coming to the group of lions waiting patiently.

Vazari stood and immediately stopped. "What's wrong, Mhasha?" Vazari asked in a worried but serious tone.

"It's Jakk'al. A few of his hunters are in our territory and are trying to take our kill. I left the others to come and tell you." The lioness panted, her legs shaking and her voice obviously terrified.

"Yazmine, Reanda, Rasha and Sansre, you all come with me. Kazri, take the cubs back to the den." Vazari gave his orders and left with five lionesses in haste.

 

Chapter 2: Trespassers

 

"Cubs, come with me. The others will deal with the trespassers. For now, we need to keep you safe, just in case." Kazri said, eager to get the cubs back to the den.

"I should be helping them." Alkosh said, almost ready to chase after his father and the others.

Kazri quickly ran over and bit into the scruff of his neck, carrying him away with the other cubs, racing back to the den with two other lionesses to protect the cubs if needed.

The pride's feeding place was a little ways from the den so it took a little while to get back. Alkosh couldn't help but feel it was part of his responsibility to care of matters such as this one. But there he was, helpless and in the care of three adult lionesses. It was not leader-like to be forced away like that.

Vazari and the others ran, making their way to the hunting grounds. The area in which Vazari's pride resided in was quite large, stretching up seven square kilometers. The hunting grounds were towards the outskirts of the territory for prey have left from the close proximity to the lions.

As the five approached which seemed to be ten lions; four on one side of the kill and six on the other side, it seemed as though no violent confict has taken place yet, this calmed down Vazari greatly.

The six lions from the opposing territory backed up and cowed now that they were outnumbered. The lions from Vazari's side formed a half circle around them, threatening them with their quick formation.

Vazari took a step forward, being the only male, he was easy to distinguish from all the others. He observed them and did not underestimate. "Why are you here?" Vazari stood tall, his authority striking a little fear into the trespassers.

Neither of the six lions said anything, instead they held their ground, one keeping a close eye on Vazari.

Vazari took another step closer. "Last chance. Why are you here?"

"You think you can threaten us." One of the opposing lionesses finally said, seeming to be the leader of them.

"I haven't threatened you, but I will have to if I am not given an answer." He stretched his neck and bared his fangs, raising his voice with the next statement. "Why... are you here?"  He used emphasis on the why, his angry and undaunted expression causing one of the trespassers to step back.

"Jakk'al is not going to appreciate this interference." The leader of the bunch took a step forward causing the lionesses surrounding them to growl and roar.

"Interference? By crossing our borders and attempting to confiscate our food, you have broken the truce and pact our prides have made. You are interfering with us and now that you are within my jurisdiction, it is my responsibility to perform justice on those found guilty." Vazari spoke in a high, authority-like tone, not flinching to the lioness' step towards him.

"That would be a bad move, Vazari. Jakk'al would not stand for it and you would be putting your own pride in danger. Is it worth it, Vazari? Our Pride outnumbers yours and the neighboring prides won't interfere since they honor the truce..." She was immediately cut off by Vazari's roar.

"Don't you tell me about honor! You broke that by entering our territory. You think you can threaten me with numbers? My bloodline has lead this pride for generations and I plan to let that continue..." Vazari was then cut off her, but he let her speak.

"If that is what you plan, darling, you better let us go and give us this kill." She grinned, feeling sure of herself.

"Vazari, let them go. They didn't harm anyone and it isn't worth the conflict." Yazmine said to her love, thinking about the best of her pride.

Vazari exhaled deeply and looked back down the group, the cowardly one lying down as if terrified of what might happen.

"My Yazmine has convinced me. Leave now, if you come back... I can't say what will happen. And this kill is ours." Vazari growled and they all started running back to their own territory.

"I am not sure about this. I think they are going to come back. We just showed them how easy we are." Rasha said, thinking that letting them go was the wrong move.

"I know Jakk'al. He's not a push over and does not take threats lightly. He has the second largest pride here. If they were to continue causing problems, we can always request Ranyon's pride's assistance. They are the strongest and have the biggest numbers." Vazari reassured the others, though he knew that just by standing up to those four hunters that Jakk'al will have a problem with it.

"Reesa, Leki, Fall, Mhasha, Landra. Can you bring the kill back to the den. It'll be safer for everyone and the cubs to eat there." Yazmine asked the hunters.

"Of course. You can all go ahead. We'll be fine. Thank-you again for coming to our aide." Reesa thanked them and the hunters began to work on getting their kill back to the den.

Back at the den, Kazri had all the cubs nestled up in the corner, telling them stories of Khyva and the history of their pride to try to keep their minds off the current situation. It worked effectively but Alkosh always had the thought in the back of his head of how he wasn't able to help or do anything.

"Just know that Khyva is always watching over us and as long as you believe in it and him, you will have his blessing." Kazri, smiled down the cubs, finishing her story.

"What about the others from Jakk'al's pride? Do they believe in Khyva?" One of the cubs asked. Kazri was very unsure how to answer this.

"Maybe they do. I am not certain and I cannot answer that very accurately. If they do believe in Khyva and do seek is blessing..." She didn't know how to continue.

"By breaking a truce created by all prides of Khyva's pride, they are now frowned down upon for doing something like that. Khyva would never break any truce or pact, especially for selfish and ridiculous reasons. If they believe in Khyva, they obviously don't care much about his blessing." Fanesti, one of the lionesses who went with Kazri said, saving Kazri for she would have something just to assure the cubs.

"But Khyva cares for all lions, whether they are good or bad." Kaisha stood up, questioning Fanesti for her quick and harsh words.

"Once you have grown up, cubs. You will understand the stories and our reasons much better. It's hard to go into too much detail while you are all so young. Just keep your heads and remember Khyva." Kazri said, nudging Kaisha to sit down again.

"Hey. Looks like they returned." Sara, the lioness guarding the den entry said aloud, informing all the others.

When hearing that, cubs quickly scrambled over to the entry by Sara, Kazri quickly following them. They all looked over the dusk colored plains, Vazari and the other lionesses behind him, the hunters behind them even further with the kill. Kazri sighed of relief, thankful that everyone was fine and thanking Khyva under her breath.

"Good job you three. You kept the cubs safe and that is what matters most." Vazari smiled to the three lionesses who stayed behind. "We dealt with the trespassers and sent them back to their pride. Hopefully they won't cause anymore problems, but remember: The cubs are of upmost importance, keep them safe above all else if something were to happen." 

"Of course, Vazari. These cubs are my life." Kazri dipped her head to her leader, Vazari smiled and raised his paw to touch her shoulder.

"Tonight we eat and put this behind us. You hungry cubs?" Yazmine approached the cubs and gave her son a long lick on the face, embarrassing him in front of his friends. He blushed and shook his head angrily while the other shouted, "Yes!" in response to her.

As the sun began to set, the pride feasted upon their kill, starting with the cubs, the lionesses and lastly Vazari who always believed that the leader of the pride should be the last eat for his pride always come first. Immediately after having his share, Vazari walked out a bit on his own, sitting down in the tall grass and watching the very last bit of the sun set on the horizon, stars beginning to appear in the sky as it darkened.

"Oh Khyva. Watch over my pride... my mate, and my son. Leave us with your blessing. Allow us to remain a peaceful pride. I knew Jakk'al was going to do this eventually, he once told me. How am I going to tell the others? I have kept this secret from them for so long and now... I feel lost, like I have hit the end. Yazmine... oh my Yazmine, she would never forgive me and my son, what would he think of me. I know what Jakk'al is doing, he is testing me. He sent them here purposely to see what I would do. And I let them go, I showed him that I just submitted to him. But I had no choice. If I took matters into my own paws and resisted..." Vazari stopped and was a little started after hearing  a twig snap behind, quickly turning to see it is his son, Alkosh.

"You snuck up on me pretty good there son, I see your stalking is improving." Vazari said, hoping Alkosh didn't hear anything.

"What are you doing out here, dad? I saw you leave after you ate." Alkosh walked up, nuzzling into his father's mane.

"I was asking Khyva for his blessing. I make it a habit and you should too." He put a paw on his son's side, pulling him closer to his mane.

"Kazri was telling me stories again about Khyva while you were out, dealing with the trespassers." Alkosh closed his eyes, purring softly as he took much comfort in being close to his father. "What did she tell you, son?" He asked, looking down his son.

"She told me a new one. About how Khyva always took consideration of the cubs first and did whatever it took to keep them safe... though it wasn't protection from the lions, it was about protecting them from hyenas and other sneaky predators out there that preyed on cubs. Every night, Khyva stayed out while the others slept, patrolling the borders and leaving no opening for anyone to enter. That one reminded me a lot of you..." Alkosh looked up to his father, Vazari forming a large smile after his son said that.

"Well son, that is one of the more simpler stories of Khyva to remind pride leaders of their many duties. You... and even the others are my priority. There is nothing I wouldn't do to keep you away from harm." Vazari flinched after saying that, his mind flipping back to his earlier discussion with the stars. He then stood up and walked a few feet from Alkosh, his head dipped down.

"Father?" Alkosh frowned in concern, approaching his father carefully.

"Alkosh, it is getting a little late now. This is the time of night where I should go and patrol the borders. Your mother is probably waiting for you." Vazari didn't face his son while saying that, feeling complete shame for himself.

"Let me come with you. You always go alone..." Alkosh took another step forward.

"No son. Go back to the den. Soon, when you are a little older, I promise." Vazari stood and turned back to give his son a nuzzle before walking away and towards the borders and hunting grounds.

"Oh... All right." Alkosh lowered his head and walked back over towards the den where his mother and Sara sat at the entry.

Before returning, he sat down in the grass, looking up to the stars and observing the different patterns. He sat there for a while, his find full of questions but no answers to them. He also thought of his father and how depressed he looked before he left him. Yazmine saw Alkosh sitting in the grass outside the den and approached, taking a seat beside him and looking up into the stars.

"Beautiful isn't it?" Yazmine said, smiling lightly towards the sky. Alkosh remained silent and kept looking.

"Everyone who passed from this world... being lions, zebras, even the smallest meerkat. They all leave this world and enter the stars. Each star you see up there is someone who was once part of this world. Each day when I look up into the stars, I am reminded of my mother who I loved so much. You never got a chance to meet her before see passed but she would have adored you, Alkosh. You are so smart and so responsible. It is difficult to find that in a cub. I guess that means you father and I have done something right." Yazmine leaned down and kissed the top of his head.

"Mother, why is dad depressed?" Alkosh turned his gaze to his mother and the question took her by surprise.

"Your father... he is just stressed from today. He cares about his pride so much that the smallest things can worry him. Don't worry about it too much, hun. I know your father... he has a heart of gold. You just got to give him time. Why don't we go back to the den. It is getting cold, and you need your rest." Yazmine stood up and smiled to her son, letting him lead the way back.

 

 

Six lions made their way to their pride, all exhausted from their run. the leader of them growled and kicked rocks out of the way as they arrived. The other five stopped and laid down in the grass while the leader kept making her way back to the den which was an area of four small trees sheltering a small area. The den belonged to the leader of the pride and his mate. 

"Jakk'al" The female approached and stopped before her mate who was lying down in the sunset, the area darkening around them.

"Sandra. Tell me, how did it go?" Jakk'al looked towards his mate, lying down and not overly excited.

"We encountered five hunters who made their kill. We confronted them and one them fled the area quickly, we them outnumbered but didn't attack as were your orders." Sandra explianed to her mate.

"Good. What happened next?" Jakk'al stood and stretched out, letting her continue.

"Not too long later after exchanging verbal threats with each other, the fleeing hunter came back with Vazari and reinforcements. Then, they surrounded us, Vazari taking the first step towards me. He was clearly trying to intimidate us and it worked on Asha. She cowered and was clearly terrified." She stopped as Jakk'al opened his maw.

"Asha showed weakness to Vazari. That is not acceptable. Go on." Jakk'al shook his head, frustrated.

"Vazari then began to attempt justice on us for breaking the truce, stepping closer and trying even harder to intimidate us. I stood up to him and it worked. He backed down after Yazmine convinced him to let us go but threatened us as we left. Vazari is trying to create an image that he is strong but failed miserably." She finished.

"Vazari is a fool. He couldn't even show strength to six hunters. He is afraid of us and he knows exactly why he should be. I have him exactly where I want him. His pride doesn't even know his little secret. This is going to be fun." Jakk'al laughed and walked out amongst the other lions.

"What is our next step?" Sandra followed him, the other lions gathering around with them, Jakk'al at the head. He turned and faced his large pride of twenty-seven lions. He stood tall with a strong and muscular body, easily beating Vazari in size and strength. His mane was large and in a darker shade of yellow-brown. He spoke up loud, the sun setting behind him.

"We are going to force him to make the first move."

 

Chapter 3: Half-Truths

 

It has been one week since the invaders from Jakk'al's pride were chased out and in that week, things were improving in the pride. A small herd of antelope have been spotted not too far out into the west, giving Vazari's pride much more food if needed. As for Vazari, he has been struggling to maintain his composure, avoiding contact with the pride most of the time and scouting the borders much more often than usual. He had his regular morning lessons with his son but was quick to end them. 

Recently, all this avoiding the pride made Yazmine suspicious, making her question him regularly when he had the chance.

"Vazari, I need to speak to you." Yazmine said, sitting at the mouth of the cave as Vazari walked by.

"Of course, love." He stepped in close, listening to what she needs to say.

"I want you to tell me what is going on. Ever since last week, you have been acting strange and it is worrying myself and your son too." Yazmine said with a frown covering her beautiful features.

"I have just... been more cautious and nervous. I am doing this to protect you." Vazari only partially lied.

"I have known you since we were cubs, Vazari, and I know when you aren't telling me everything." She stepped closer and nuzzled into his mane. "Tell me what's on your mind, hun. I am here for you."

 "I guess I am just stressed out. Maybe some time with you can help me." He purred and nuzzled her back, his tail patting the ground while he sat.

"Then I will give you what you wish, love... tonight. But for now, spend some time with your son. "She smiled and stepped back, giving him a bit of space.

"All right. All right." Vazari said and smiled back to his mate before standing to find his son. "And... thank-you, Yazmine."

 

 

It was late in the afternoon. Alkosh and Kaisha were playing over in the fields to the east, a very flat and grassy area with it's revealing spots. The two cubs normally came here when they wanted to spend time alone which is what Alkosh and Kaisha have been doing a lot lately. Alkosh followed her everywhere, completely distracted by her every move. Even at a young age, he took an interest in her though still he believes it as just a friendship.

Vazari was normally uncomfortable with the cubs going so far away from the pride but being so occupied with himself, his thoughts have mostly been somewhere else other than the pride.

Kaisha ran in the tall gross, Alkosh on her tail. They often chased each other for fun. A little game of "Catch The Tail" was very popular among the cubs and was Alkosh and Kaisha's favorite game to play. It doesn't take too long to get tired this way as the game consists of constant running and pouncing.

Alkosh leaped, throwing all of his weight in front of him, his eyes fixed on her tail. Having played the game for quite some time, Kaisha got used to the patterns Alkosh used while playing and rolled to the side when she felt that Alkosh was about to get her, making Alkosh tumble to the ground.

"Hahaha!" Kaisha lied on her back, laughing at Alkosh's failed attempt to catch her.

"Hey, that hurt." He stood up and shook his head, shaking the dirt out of his fur.

"You are too predictable, Alkosh! You need to work on that." She stuck her tongue at him which made him growl and run up to her, jumping on top of her.

"I got you now!" He grinned and faked a kill bite to her neck.

"You vicious hunter. Lucky for you that I didn't put up any fight there. Though I didn't want to embarrass you again." She grinned back to him, using her cleverness to push him back into submission again.

"We're all alone. You can't embarrass me here." He licked her cheek, putting the ball back in his court.

"You wanna bet?" She shot her hind feet upwards, kicking Alkosh up and over her onto his back then stood up, showing her dominace over him. "Oh Alkosh... All the things I could teach you." 

He stumbled back onto his feet, growling a little to her, debating in his head whether he should continue fighting her or let her win.

"Hey... do you smell that?" Kaisha looked around then got low, Alkosh repeating her actions. "I smell someone, and not someone I know. Be quiet and don't move Alkosh. We are too far away from the pride and I don't think Kazri is near?"

"What?" Alkosh whispered, forgetting how they abandoned the others to get on with their own shenanigans. "Oh no... I will take a look, Kaisha. Maybe there isn't anyone there." He slowly stood up and looked over the tall grass, being tall enough see over it.

"The nose doesn't lie, Alkosh. What do you see?" Kaisha asked, keeping her head low.

"There you are!" The voice of Kazri shouted from nearby, running closer to Alkosh as she seen him in the grass. "Why did you two leave? Do you realize how dangerous it is being out this far without an adult? You father is going to kill me if he finds out I let you out this..." She lowered and started whispering. "Cubs, keep low and close to me. There are two lions from Jakk'al's pride over there and they saw me. They have entered our pridelands again... This is not good. Stay down and don't show yourself." Kazri stood up, revealing herself to the trespassers.

"You two, don't come any closer." Kazri stood and ordered the other two, holding her ground.

"Good evening, dear." One of lionesses approached, the other right behind her.

"I said don't come any closer!" She yelled to the two, not making a move.

"What is your name, dear? I didn't see you last time." She stopped, ten feet in front of Kazri. "You are quite young. What are you doing out here... with two cubs?"

Kazri shook in anxiety, ready to react at any moment if they were to present danger to the cubs, keeping silent and waiting for what seems like a lifetime. She knew she couldn't run and knew she couldn't fight them.

"You look nervous dear. I bet you're wondering why we're here. Aren't you going to ask? Vazari was so much more threatening." She took another step forward, resulting in a roar from Kazri, unsheathing her claws, prepared from what seems inevitable.

"Now that is what a like to see. A little ferocity. You are one of those who would do anything for the cubs right? Admirable, but why risk your own life? It seems so pointless to me." She grinned to Kazri.

"You risk your life by coming here." Alkosh stood up, standing beside Kazri rather than behind her.

Kazri gasped. "Alkosh!" She yelled to him, preparing herself for a fight.

"Oh my. This cub has more guts than you." She raised her paw, claws unsheathed. That was enough for Kazri to pounce at her in defense of the cubs. Roars came from both sides as they fought, Kazri having the upper hand for a short few seconds before the other lioness retaliated, cuffing Kazri in the face and stunning her. Jumping down on her, not interested in the kill yet due to Jakk'al's wishes. She continued to throw her paws down Kazri, leaving scratches all over her body.

Alkosh came on him behind the opposing lioness, biting down on her hind leg, causing her to scream in pain as he bit down hard, obviously trying to break her leg. The second lioness jumped in to her defense, swatting Alkosh with one hard hit, sending him flying in the other direction, knocking him out cold. Kaisha lied terrified in the same place she was behind Kazri, watching the madness take place. Kazri took the opportunity Alkosh created in distracting her to cuff her hard, knocking her off of her.

Kazri stood in place, shaking and bleeding hard from multiple cuts throughout her body. The other lioness made another jump at her, easily knocking Kazri once again, attacking her as hard as she was before, bringing Kazri to the thought she was going to die. Kazri was put into survival mode and even though she was exhausted, she put it aside and fought back, biting down on her as she made a swipe for Kazri's face, biting down on the paw and easily crushing the bones inside. She jumped off and screamed in agony unable to stand on her now disabled paw. The other lioness with full energy took her place, cuffing Kazri as hard as she could, sending her down to the ground hard. Kazri at this point was completely out of energy, unable to fight back.

Only just then, from a miracle, Vazari jumped in and used his head to offer a devastating blow to the lioness attacking Kazri, knocking her off and throwing her to the ground with extreme force. He pounced on top of her before she had a chance to react, giving her a strong cuff to the face, breaking her jaw easily and incapaciting her, unable to make another move on Vazari. Through the midst of his rage, he lauched his teeth down on her neck, biting down hard, killing her almost instantly. Before she could completely bleed out, Vazari jumped off and threw himself into the other lioness trying to escape, knocking her to the ground, standing overtop of her.

"Mercy! Mercy!" She begged, already with a broken paw and injured leg.

"Just like you showed Kazri mercy?" He growled, his teeth dripping with blood.

"We weren't going to kill her! I beg of you!" She cried, her life flashing before her eyes.

"I don't believe you. Khyva forgive me." He dropped his head, biting into her neck, a gasp coming from the lioness, her body falling limp after a few seconds, death grasping her.

 

 

"Is this what you wanted?" Sandra asked her mate, sitting a distance away, witnessing Vazari's acts from afar with Jakk'al.

"It gone better than expected. But I am not finished yet." Jakk'al smiled, not too phased about the death of two of his lionesses.

"What do you plan to do?" Sandra asked, her eyes on her ruthless mate.

"Well now that Vazari is a witnessed killer, in front of two cubs none-the-less. Now is the time to act. We will make the next more and Vazari will be brought to harsh justice under the eyes of Khyva and I will see him hurt just like he as hurt me. But first, I want to reveal his secret in front of his whole pride." Jakk'al stood and walked away, Sandra following behind him.

 

 

"We need care for Kazri and Alkosh right away, her condition is critical and he may be hurt!" Vazari yelled, still covered in blood. 

"You... you did this." Yazmine looked around in horror to the two dead lionesses.

"They were going to kill Kazri and they attacked the cubs. I had no choice." Vazari stood, feeling a little ashamed that we went so far and harsh on the others.

"I just can't believe it... I am speechless, Vazari." Yazmine shook, almost about to burst into tears after looking at Kazri and her still unconscious son. 

"Everything will be fine, love. I had to protect the cubs. It was the cubs or them and I chose the cubs." Vazari stood there, trying to assure his mate we wasn't just a savage killer.

"I understand, Vazari. You are right. the cubs are priority and now Jakk'al has gone too far... but so have we... Oh Vazari, what are we going to do?" Yazmine cried, Vazari stepping closer to try to comfort her.

"We killed two lionesses of his pride. We are just going to have to wait for a response. I doubt he will be happy about this but it is now clear he sent those two here. He sent them here to harm our cubs." Vazari once again told only a half-truth.

"Jakk'al isn't going to get away with this. He hurt my Alkosh and if he gets within biting distance, I am going to take that chance." Yazmine's heart filled with rage, unknowing of how it all started.

"Right now, we need to worry about Kazri. Alkosh will be fine. He was knocked out but Kazri is in serious condition. She may not survive." Vazari nose-bumped her cheek.

"Vazari, we are ready to take her back. We got everything prepped. What do you want done with the bodies?" Reesa, one of the hunters asked, also one of the lions bringing Kazri back.

"Leave them to the scavengers. We have our own to deal with." Vazari ordered and they went back to the den, far away from where they could find anymore harm.

Back at the den, things were bloody. Kazri was continuing to lose blood but was losing less than before. She was conscious but too weak to talk or move. Alkosh was awake and sitting in the corner, completely shocked about how everything that happened was his fault. He was about to burst into tears after being told about the lionesses' death and Kazri's critcal condition. Kaisha avoid him and refused to be anywhere near him the whole night. Alkosh felt heartbroken, knowing his father would never forgive him when he found out.

"I have to tell him. I have to take responsibility. This was my fault." He stood and walked towards his father who was looking over Kazri and the treatment she was getting from the other lionesses.

"Father... I need to speak to you. Alone." Alkosh was unable to look into his eyes.

"Of course son." Vazari stood and lead him outside where they couldn't be heard. "All right, Alkosh. Talk to me."

"Dad... This was all my fault. Everything that happened. It was me." Alkosh said, still unable to make eye contact with his father.

"What do you mean, son? Tell me everything. "Vazari stood, keeping a curious glance on Alkosh.

"Kaisha and I... we abandoned Kazri and went off on our own to play without her looking. We have done it before but we never went out that far and it was never difficult to Kazri to find us until now. When she found us, she spotted the two of them and told us to keep down and quiet. She defended us while they approached and that is when they started talking... the others were trying to scare Kazri and I thought it was my duty to step in... so I threatened them." Vazari opened his maw in shock after heaing this. "The other lion raised her paw and that's when Kazri attacked..."

"I have heard enough, Alkosh." Vazari said in a rather angry tone. "I am very disappointed in you. You should have listened to Kazri and stayed down. You provoked them and Kazri attacked before they had a chance to hurt you. And now... Kazri might die tonight."

"Dad... no. She can't! I didn't mean for this all to happen." Alkosh cried and ran past his father and into the den, running till he was by Kazri's side.

"Kazri please. I am so sorry! I should have listened to you! Please don't die. I care for you so much and should have shown it more." Alkosh cried as he looked at the small puddle of blood Kazri was laying upon, her eyes opening a little to look at Alkosh.

"Shh, Alkosh. It's ok. You are still a cub and have lots to learn. Stay strong for me Alkosh. Come closer." Kazri said weakly, Alkosh doing what she said and came closer.

Kazri planted a soft kiss on his face, smiling to him. "I will try my hardest for you, Alkosh. But if I don't make it, promise me you will smarten up." 

"I will. I promise." He licked her cheek, giving her a soft nuzzle which hurt her but she didn't show it.

A small crowd gathered around the two, including Kaisha, Vazari, and Yazmine. They all watched as Kazri and Alkosh spoke to each other.

The night seemed to last forever, everyone in the den, watching Kazri's progress and hoping so hard for a miracle. Eventually though, with all the hard work of the hunters to heal her, just before sunrise, Kazri passed onto the stars, Alkosh still standing by her side, with her every step of the way. The hunters comfirmed her passing and Alkosh stood strong, tears leaving his eyes and he gave her once last kiss before stepping away for the hunters to remove her from the den. Vazari followed the hunters, leaving Yazmine, Alkosh and all the others behind.

Kazri was now with Khyva in the heavens.

 

Chapter 4: Repercussions
 

 

It has been a week since Kazri's passing and things have been pretty quiet within the pride. Things seemed to be going back to normal after they had the mourning ceremony, just as surprising is that Jakk'al hasn't made an appearance since the death of his own lionesses. Every day, Alkosh was looked on with shame since the event with it being common knowledge that Kazri's death was his fault and it hurt him very much.


Vazari spent a great deal of time scouting the borders, often taking a lioness or two with him in case Jakk'al tried to do something else. Vazari knew that he would want blood for his loss and it frightened him. His pride has been put in great danger and even worse, Vazari didn't know how to defend the ones he loved. His mind was thrown into multiple different directions: Training Alkosh while at the same time being much harder on his son for what happened to Kazri. The other being Yazmine and the other lionesses who look up to him.


"Vazari?" Mhasha spoke up to break the silence. It was just her and Vazari scouting at this time. Things were quiet, a little too quiet and it was making her uncomfortable.


"Hmm?" Vazari turned his head to the huntress who joined him for the day.


"Something just doesn't seem right. Jakk'al hasn't made a single move since last week. The others and I were talking about it. After what happened... I highly doubt he is just going to let that go. He is planning something... and I know it and all this waiting around for it to happen is going to be our downfall in the next conflict." She sounded a bit nervous, opening up to Vazari about what the others in the pride were discussing.


"You are probably right. But what are we supposed to do? I am left at a crossroads here. We can either prepare a defense or try to parlay with him and I know that Jakk'al will not parlay... not after what happened." He said, sounding sure of himself and raising suspicion in Mhasha.


"Why do you speak like you know Jakk'al so well? How would you know what he would do in certain situations. it almost seems like you have been in this sort of situation with him before, does it not?" Mhasha challenged him, expecting an answer.


"Listen Mhasha. These are difficult times and in times like these we need to expect the worst. Never jump into a life-or-death situation with confidence." Vazari shrugged as they kept walking but it only made Mhasha more curious.


"How would you know this is a life-or-death..." She was cut off.


"Because of Kazri! That alone should at the very least make you cautious. Both sides have blood on their paws." He stopped to face her, his calm voice turning into a yell.


"I do not have blood on my paws Vazari. I understand why you killed them being the heat of the moment... but I don't know... I just think things could have went a little differently." She sighed and stepped back, noticing Vazari's anger. Before all of this, Vazari was someone you would never expect to yell at a lioness, he was always soft and sweet but anything that has to do with Jakk'al brings out the anger and emotion in him, nothing that the pride has seen before in their leader.


"When you have a cub Mhasha, you will understand. When I saw her hit Alkosh and witness him being tossed, it brought out the rage in me. I had to defend my son. Even Kazri, all she was doing was defending Alkosh... She knew that she would not survive a fight with two adult lionesses but she did it anyway, she even said that she would defend the cubs with her life." Vazari turned his head down, the death of Kazri being very hard amongst the pride as she was a favorite and one of the most loved lionesses.


"Kazri will be remembered. No one will ever forget what she did for the cubs... gave her life to protect them. She got mercy with Khyva." Mhasha dipped her head and rose up again, giving Vazari a little whack of her tail as she stepped by. "Come on Vazari, still have a few more laps to go before we switch off for the night." 


Vazari nodded and they continued to walk along the borders of the pride, staying vigilant of any threat that may pop from the shadows.

 

 

Throughout the day, Alkosh spent much of his time just outside the cave, trying to catch mice and other little critters as there wasn't too much to do after Kaisha was avoiding him since last week. She watched him as he put Kazri in danger and again as his own actions got him and others hurt. She was smart enough to know what happened and did not forgive Alkosh for it. Maybe in time she would but for now, she figured Alkosh deserved a little lonliness.


"Hey sweetie." Yazmine walked up to her son and sat down, using her paw to pull him in against her belly, using soft purrs to help comfort him. "How have you been doing Alkosh? You have been so quiet."


"I am old enough to know that things aren't going well here mom. No one is happy... and it is all my fault." He growled to himself, not nuzzling into his mother like he normally would. Instead he was using his tail to swipe a rock but it barely budged.


"Hush sweetie. Nothing here is your fault. It is Jakk'al and your father is doing his best." She hushed him up up, gently stroking his back with her claws.


"What is he even doing?" He asked.


"Well he saved your life, Alkosh. And right now, he is protecting our entire pride. You need to be easy on him Alkosh. He has been very stressed out and he has every reason to be. What he did last week... he has never had to do that before and he may have to do it again." Yazmine said, knowing that she needed to be a little harder on Alkosh to show him how harsh and cruel the world can be. Not everything is easy and cubs normally don't have to learn this until they mature but circumstances have changed that and the other cubs are learning as well.


"Why would he have to do it again?" Alkosh tilted his head up, looking to his mother.
 

"Because sweetie... whenever you... myself, or anyone else's life is in danger, your father will do whatever it takes to keep us safe and Alkosh... you will need to know for when you are older. When you lead the pride, you will have to do the same." Yazmine looked forward, teaching Alkosh the tough responsibilites of dire situations.


"But mom... I will have to... kill?" Alkosh gave a worried look to his mother.


"Not nessecarily sweetie. You will learn more in time... for now just know that defending your pride... and your cubs will be your biggest priority. Of course, finding a rational solution is always something you should consider first but..." she sighed and scoffed to herself for using big words on a cub. "Eh. In time Alkosh. Your father will train you well and I know you will be a good leader. Just know that every leader makes mistakes and making one doesn't make you a bad leader. Ok?" She stepped back and dipped her head down so she was level with Alkosh, giving his face a slurp of her raspy tongue, lifting his little fur up and making him look silly.


"Ok mom." Alkosh stood up and leaned himself in to nuzzle at her face making Yazmine smile down to her son before walking back into the cave and joining the other lioness: Fanesti, Sansre, and Rasha.


"Is he holding up well?" Rasha asked Yazmine as she approached the three relaxing lionesses, Rasha lying down with her head rested on her paws.


"He is hurt, I can see it in him. He blames himself for Kazri's death." She came along and lied herself down with others, yawning as she gets herself comfortable.


"I wouldn't blame him... a cub is never to blame for something like that. How could he have known? It is like saying that my cub is at fault for being such a pain during pregnancy." Sansre said but she did have a point, a point that made the others softly chuckle.


Yazmire knew it wasn't quite the same but she understood was Sansre was trying to say. 


"And how painful was that exactly?" Fanesti rolled onto her back, looking at Sansre from an upside down point of view.


"Words could not explain darling. Maybe you should see for yourself." Sansre smiled and Fanesti did as well.


"What about you, Yazmine... you definitely have the lion of a lady's dreams." Sansre grinned to her knowing that Vazari was definitely one of the most attractive males around.


"And what would you like to know? The pregnancy or before..." Yazmine grinned, feeling that a change in topic for once to something more happier was a very nice change and definitely improved the atmosphere.


"Before sounds like a much more... appealing subject." Rasha purred to herself, hoping Yazmine would fill her in on some details.


Yazmine looked around to make sure that no cubs were around and definitely to make sure that Vazari was not around. "All right girls but keep this quiet..."

 

 

A couple hours went by and the sky got dark. Billions of stars coated the blanket of black and blue above them and cool air entered the cave, cool air that the lions greatly needed being the middle of summer. Over the night more and more lionesses gathered into the cave as they were getting ready for their nights' rest.


"... And was he good? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes." Sansre laughed after all this time, they were still talking about their past 'experiences'. "But Yazmine... you still by far have had the best of all of us." She grinned and all the other lioness partaking nodded.


"Well... what can I say? Was in the right place at the right time." She grinned and purred, stretching her legs out and at the same time, Vazari and Mhasha joined the others after their rounds.


"Oh welcome back. You two were gone for quite some time." Rasha welcomed the two back in and Mhasha immediately plopped down onto her side, ready to fall asleep at any moment.


"Ok. Anyone want to volunteer for a night shift? I would but I have been out all day long and really need a rest. Will need a pair as I would prefer it for two of you to be together." Vazari definitely looked tired giving his little speech, looking like he could fall over from exhaustion at any second.


Reanda yawned and stood up. "I can do it. I just had a nice nap." She stretched about as Vazari waited for the next volunteer.


"Yeah, I can do it." Leki stood up to join Reanda, not looking tired at all.


"Thank you, you two. Very much. It is greatly appreciated." Vazari bowed his head to the two lionesses who then walked towards the exit of the cave, the night cool and windless, letting the two know that it won't really be a bad night.


Vazari lazily plopped himself down beside Yazmine, yawning tiredly and nuzzling his mane into her head, giving her cheek a weak lick.


"Get some sleep hun. I will cover your rounds for you tomorrow. You deserve a break okay?" Yazmine smiled as he licked her, making her lick him back in return.


"Thank-you Yaz..." After one long yawn he finally passed out without being able to finish saying her name. He spent fourteen hours scouting that day, Mhasha joining him after he was alone for six hours.


It was a peaceful night, the first one since the events of the week before and things seemed to be slightly improving amongst the pride... but how long would that last? Throughout the night, Vazari was shaking and rolling, inside his head were nightmares, all nightmares connected to things of his past. His conversation with Mhasha confirmed that the lionesses were fairly suspicious of him and it left him uneasy. Unending nightmares of Jakk'al attacking and others of his pride banishing him. Unable to take it anymore, hours into the nightmares, he gasped for breath and lifted his head off the ground. He looked down to his son and to his side to Yazmine. After a sigh of relief he put his head back down on his paws and attempted to sleep again.


Early in the morning, the sun rose above the horizon and shined bright light into the cave. The pride always got the heat of the sun early in the morning and only later in the afternoon did the mountains and cave work as a shade for them. During the daytime, the lionesses would often leave and go to a shaded tree to keep themselves cool. The unrelenting sun didn't leave many creatures of the savannah prancing around in the open for too long. Vazari was an exception as his rounds in the afternoons made him almost immune to the heat as he has gotten so used to it.


Loud and lazy sounding yawns came from the cave as the tired cats began to wake from the sun so suddenly shining in their faces. Yazmine growled and shifted her head so that Vazari's mane blocked the sun from her eyes. Vazari himself rolled over so his back was to the sun much to Yazmine's displeasure. She squinted her eyes and growled again, using her paws to grab Vazari and pull him back to her only to have him move back again moments later.
 

"Will you stop moving!" Yazmine said, digging her head into his mane.
 

Vazari chuckled, being fully conscious the whole time and just messing with Yazmine. He rolled back, but this time on top of her, making her grunt as a response. "Is the sun bothering you?"
 

"What do you think big boy?" She said with a more breathless tone, having the heavy lion on top of her.


"I think you said you were going to cover my rounds." He grinned and licked her cheek, feeling strangley happier than he did the previous day. Maybe it was just that he loves to tease Yazmine.


She tossed her head back and groaned. "Didn't think that you would remember that."


"I remember everything." He winked and got back off to let her get up.


"Sure you do." She sat up and yawned tiredly, stretching out her legs and unsheathing her claws to scratch the ground. "All right. I will head out now. Have fun with Alkosh." She walked out of the cave, going off to find the night shift scouting party.


Some of the other lionesses from the pride were awake already, just rolling around and being lazy as usual before they would drag themselves out. Vazari sat up nice and tall, his sleeping son right below him.


"Alkosh." Vazari said a little quietly, using his paw to gently tap his shoulder. "Wake up."


The little cub just rolled and groaned, clearly not wanting to wake up just yet. This was a common ritual for both him and Yazmine. Yazmine's tactic to wake him was to just pick him up and start bathing, instantly causing the cub to struggle and try to break free.


"Alkosh." Vazari said again in a louder tone, the cub still doing nothing. A couple of the lionesses around the room noticed and chuckled a bit at Vazari's failed attempts at grabbing a cub's attention. Vazari growled and lowered his head, giving Alkosh a gentle bite on the ear.


"Hey!" Alkosh jumped and growled, not satisfied with being woke up this way.


"It's better than what your mother does to you every morning." Vazari said, giving his son a neutral look kind of telling him that he deserved it in his expression.


"Where is mom?" Alkosh asked taking a little tour of the cave to find his mother.


"She went out. She decided that she wanted to do your father's job today. That will give me some time to spend with you." Vazari walked out to the entry of the cave and sat down, breathing in the fresh morning air.


"Mom has never done that before though." Alkosh was curious as he sat down beside his father.
 

"Before you were born, she used to wander around with me quite a bit, it is the reason we fell in love." He smiled, thinking back to the times that him and Yazmine were first together. They were inseperable, always with each other and always being flirty and touchy.


"Well Alkosh, I feel like we haven't been spending enough time together. In fact I don't feel... I know we haven't and it is my fault. I just want you to know that what happened was not your fault. Things have just been dangerous lately and that is the life of a lion. There is danger around every corner and that is what I need to start training you on. First I will give you verbal lessons and then in a year or when you start to grow a mane, I will start to physically teach you what it means to defend yourself. Before you learn how to defend the pride, you first have to learn to defend yourself." Vazari looked down to his son, giving him a determined smile. "I see a lot in you Alkosh. I see a brave lion beside me, growing up to be a fearsome leader. Unopposed."


"Do you really think so?" Alkosh looked up to his father, striking words of confidence into the little lion.


"I know so son. I will stop being so harsh on you and try a different approach. I realize your training hasn't been very fair towards you and I am sorry. Over the past few days, I have had a lot to think about and you are my son, I will treat you no less than a son. Kazri would have wanted all of us to move on and for you to become the handsome lion she knew you were going to be." Vazari reached down, ruffling the little tuft on his head."


"Kazri said that?" Alkosh smiled and his thoughts went to Kazri and all the times he actually liked being around her. Before all it seemed is that Kazri was trying to stop Alkosh from having fun and barring him. Now he realized how thankful he was and how much he loved her for she loved him and even the other cubs just the same.


Vazari nodded. "Yes she did. Despite all the times she got mad at you for wandering off and trying to get yourself in danger, she loved you and with discipline... she managed to train you in ways that are harder for me."


"What do you mean?" Alkosh tilted his head.


"Simple discipline, Alkosh. That sort of thing is a very important lesson to learn and she did a good job of it." Vazari stood up and stepped forward, walking out into the open grounds. "Come Alkosh, lets get a drink and get started."

 

 

After a couple hours of wandering around the grasslands and scouting the borders of their territory, Yazmine could not find the others that went for the night shift. She stopped and scoffed to herself. "Could they have hid somewhere and fell asleep?". She shook her head in disbelief knowing that wouldn't have done something like that. Deciding to give Leki and Reanda the benefit of the doubt before continuing on to the do the morning rounds while looking for the other two lionesses.

 

 

"My paw..." Leki whimpered in pain as she lay on a rocky ground, bleeding from her paw and a bit on her side. A short tear left her eye as she was in a lot of pain, not anything life-endangering... yet.


"Where are we?" Reanda panted through words, a chunk of her ear was missing and she had a cut on their tail. The looks of both the bodies made them seem like they got jumped. Reanda was still able to walk if she tried while Leki couldn't move as she couldn't step on her paw.


"Come on ladies. Trying to say I am not being hospitable? I am trying my best. I truly am. Look on the bright side, you may not have to worry about the pain for 'too' much longer." Jakk'al stood above, chuckling in a creepishly average like way.


Leki and Reanda lied on the ground, surrounded by sixteen lions. Fourteen females and two males. One being Jakk'al and his son Tamir. An hour into their scouting last night, they were jumped, attacked and forced into Jakk'al's territory. They were spared their lives for it was a short and unavoidable fight. They were ambushed by ten lions in the night, leaving them no chance of survival if they decided to fight back. Leki and Reanda surrendured almost immediately after the intial pounce and claws. Leki got the worst of it by getting a vicious bite on the paw, shattering the bones and leaving her mostly immobile.


Tamir was a younger lion, reaching a year and four months. His body was nearly the size of Vazari's even at his age making him look like quite the intimidating lion. He had a short but notible growing of fur around his head. Not enough to call a mane but enough to know that he was maturing. He was a handsome lion and was taught in the ways of killing and brutality by Jakk'al recently as he was growing to full size. Tamir greatly question his father's acts but never spoke of them and stayed loyal for the sake of his own life.


"This is not a good move, Jakk'al. The other prides are going to take notice of what is going on around here." Leki stated, staring Jakk'al into the eyes as if trying to threaten him.


"You are in no place to throw threats around. The other prides don't need to know and they won't..." He was cut off.


"It would take a day's walk to get to Ranyon..." Leki growled back to him but was surprised with a strong cuff to her face, knocking her to her side and making her roar to him with four new claw scars to her head.


"You wanna start walking now?" He stepped back after hurting her, going over to his son who he grinned to. "Oh. You have not met my son have you. Introduce yourself!" He nudged Tamir, pushing him forward. He was the quieter type, trying to avoid talking when can.


"I am Tamir. Son of Jakk'al and heir." He stood up, introducing himself. He had a smooth voice, enough to calm anyone if used in the appropriate situations. A calm voice in a situation like this only made it more menacing to the incapacitated lionesses.


Reanda stayed quiet, knowing that Leki's talking will get them killed if she continues. Only keeping her mouth shut at this time will protect her now. Being surrounded by so many lions, she couldn't do anything. She was helpless, forced to lay there and listen to the words of a mad lion.


Leki gasped after listening to Tamir speak, the words only putting fright into her injured body as now there were two males... two of Jakk'al. She gulped, realizing how dire things really were. "Why did I volunteer? Damn you Vazari!" She whispered to herself, lowering her head into her clean paw to cry.


"Poor girl." Asha, one of the lionesses in the back looked over to Leki, feeling a bit sorry for her as she also didn't agree with Jakk'al's tactics but did understand why he was doing this.


"Sandra!" Jakk'al called over to the group of lionesses talking amongest each other. His mate walked out from the group to approach him.


"Yes love?" Sandra dipped her head, showing him respect that she did indeed have for him though it was a different kind of respect that is hard to explian. She respected him for doing this as it was revenge for the deaths of their hunters despite the fact that she would have done it differently though she didn't question him.


"I want you to take two others and go over to the borders. They will definitely have someone on watch to notice you. Approach them with peace and welcome them into the territory. Tell them to come if they want to see their two missing lionesses. Tell them to bring no more than five. Any more than five and these two will be killed immediately."


"All right. You two!" Sandra yelled out to the pair in the back being Asha and one other. Asha relunctantly stepped forward, getting a closer look at Leki and her paw while doing do. 
Sandra noticed this. "You feel bad for her?"

 

"What? No!" Asha said.


"Good. Lets go." Sandra took charge and the three lionesses ran off in the direction of the mountains.


Tamir frowned and looked down to the two lionesses on the ground. One being bloody with newly formed scars on her face and the other just staying quiet and keeping to herself. He truly did feel bad for them but there was nothing that he could do for he was fiercely loyal to his family and his pride. He knew that one day he would be leading and he is waiting for that day to make changes; to give his pride a better reputation and a better future. With how Jakk'al was leading, sooner or later, he is going to start a war and no truce is going to stop the other prides from ending it.


Jakk'al had been picking fights with the smaller unnamed prides containing of ten or less lions. Tamir had been involved with the conflicts as this was part of his training. Jakk'al was teaching him to be on the offense at all times. Tamir's opinion of his father got even worse when he forced his son to kill a lion of the same age who was much smaller than Tamir. Reluctantly, he obeyed but he prolonged the fight, giving the opposing lion a chance to escape but failed. Tamir had no choice but to kill the lion who had no chance from the start. Tamir walked away from it fully unscaved and got his title in the pride for achieving his first kill.


Events like this were completely overlooked by neighboring prides such as Ranyon's for no one cared about the smaller prides. They were considered lone wolves, small groups formed from the births of males who had no choice but to start their own pride. Being part of these smaller prides do have their advantages and disadvantages. Food is more abundant as there are less mouths to feed and they are often family only. A great disadvantage though is that they are completely vulnerable to attacks. All of the other larger prides leave the smaller prides alone for the sake of respect. Those unfortunate enough to reside near Jakk'al have to put up with their kills being repeatedly stolen and of course have to deal with the murders that he gets away with without the blink of an eye.


In the past, small prides have been known to temporarily join forces to overthrow another threatening pride who poses a mutual problem. Only with the fear of the truce do the smaller prides tend to go about their business without ever engaging with other prides. In the past, they could use the conflicts between prides to their advantage and join the favored side. At this point it is common knowledge to the surrounding areas, the problems Jakk'al and Vazari have been having with hunts but that is the extent of outside knowledge. If word were to spread of the recent killings between both of them, the other larger prides may try to interfere for the truce is about keeping the peace. There can't be peace if there is killing going on.


Ranyon's pride is by far the far the largest and is the most respected pride but they are also considered the most peaceful and are also the creators of the truce. Eight years prior to today, Ranyon was three years old and had a great idea about peace amongst all the larger prides. He had just recently taken leadership at this time and being a young leader at the head of a large pride, he knew that he had more power than all the other leaders. In the first few months of his leadership, he personally with ten others travelled to every major pride in Khyva's land to announce a proposal to all the leaders. At this time, Vazari was not quite yet the leader so his father attended the meet.


All of the leaders and their most trusted allies met at a neutral zone in the center of all the prides which is now home to Ranyon's pride as he claimed ownership of the land after the meet. There they dicussed the idea and purpose of the truce. Basically forming a pact with each other agreeing to never cause conflict with one other, to never hunt in another pride's territory or steal kills and to always respect the borders and to only cross when invited. This truce left all of the smaller and insignificant prides vulnerable even more as they were not a part of the truce and were considered fair game to each pride if one decided to start problems.


At this time now, Ranyon has reached his twelvth year and was getting noticibly old. Vazari was now just past his nineth year, being the youngest leader of all the prides and still managing to look young and good for all the females despite his older age. Jakk'al is the same age as Vazari and broke the truce when invading Vazari's land, the other prides are oblivious to the violent activity.


Jakk'al took leadership of the the current pride not by starting the pride but by killing his way through. If one male challenges another for leadership, it is decided by a fight to the death. At this time, Jakk'al was pretty young but was already strong and angered. The opposition who was there for the truce was barely a fight for Jakk'al for the current leader was at his fourteenth year and had no sons. The fight only lasted a few minutes before Jakk'al's opponent lied dead. Many members of the pride have no love for Jakk'al but they follow tradition and accept him as their rightful leader.

 

 

Yazmine was still scouting around and was getting ready to switch off. She almost completely forgot about Leki and Reanda and walking around doing nothing for hours left her completely lost in her own thoughts. She was only surprised as Vazari walked up to her after noticing how long that she was actually out for. 


"Yazmine." Vazari approached. He was completely unnoticed till she heard his voice.


"Oh. Vazari. Has it been that long?" She shook herself out of it, looking up to the sky and by the position of the sun did she know what time it was.


"Indeed. Hey. I never saw Leki or Reanda return so I thought they might have stayed out with you as crazy as that may be." Vazari sat down and Yazmine joined him, being completely exhausted after being out in the sun for so long.


"No, I did not. I kind of thought they would have returned by now and maybe I missed them but they were not here or anywhere to be seen when I started." Yazmine sighed and shook her head, expecting things to not be well.


"This is bad. They couldn't have just vanished." Vazari stood back up and yelled. "Leki! Reanda!"
 

Yazmine had the thought in her head but she thought it was too unreal to be true. "What if it was Jakk'al?"
 

"Jakk'al? You mean..." Vazari looked over in the direction of Jakk'al's pride, keeping silent.


"I hate to say it but I have been out here for hours. There is no where in the territory that I have not been. And since you haven't seen them that leads me to one conclusion..." Yazmine hated to say but she couldn't think of anything else.


"We'll need to form a search party. We need to be absolutely sure before jumping to something like that." Vazari paced about, he didn't want to believe it but he knew that Yazmine had a point. This could be Jakk'al getting back at them for the killings of his own pride. Jakk'al did not know that Kazri died so he must think that they got away with two murders.


"Vazari." Yazmine lifted her head, breathing in the air. He turned his head back to her for her response. "I smell something."


Vazari focused and sniffed the air with her. "I do too. We are not alone." He stepped forward and looked once again towards Jakk'al's territory, able to see three figures off in the distance. "Looks like hunters."


Yazmine walked over beside her mate, her tail lashing at the sight of three lions approaching. "I don't like this. I just want this all to stop Vazari." She frowned and nuzzled into his mane, thinking back to the times before all this conflict.


"Keep your guard up until we know their intentions okay?" He looked over to her, making sure to be prepared for anything. 


Vazari and Yazmine both held their ground, standing with theis backs straight and trying to look as intimidating as possible as the three grew nearer and nearer till they were with in parlaying distance. 


"Vazari. We are not here to fight, hunt, or cause trouble. We have come for one thing only." Sandra took the head and the two others stood behind. Asha on her right being the same one from the first encounter who cowed in fear and a different lioness to her left who kept a neutral glance. "We will stay peaceful if you promise to do the same. Deal?"


"What do you want?" Vazari asked with a growl in his voice.


"We invite you and four others of your choosing into Jakk'al's territory. We are not going to lie to you Vazari. We have two of your lionesses and if you come with any more than four others with you, we will kill them immediately. This is entirely related to last week's killings and Jakk'al feels it is only fair for the situation to be mutual. I cannot promise anything more than this Vazari, if you do as we say and respect our terms, you will return home unharmed." Sandra stopped, giving Vazari a chance to talk.


"I don't know about this Vazari. Leki and Reandra's lives are on the line but we risk our own if we go." Yazmine whispered to Vazari, showing obvious nervousness.


"We will be heading back. Meet us at the graben by the rocks tonight. I hope to see you there." Sandra turned and the two others with her, going back to their territory.


"We have to go Yazmine. They are going to kill them if we don't, I just know it. This is another one of Jakk'al's ridiculous tricks." Vazari growled in frustration. "Okay... we will go back and grab our best hunters and will go by Jakk'al's rules. We'll head into their territory when the sun goes down."


Yazmine just nodded in agreement and the two of them made haste back to the pride. Luckily enough for them, everyone just happened to be by the shaded tree area all having little coversations with each other. Vazari felt bad that he would need to interrupt as the pride just started to get back to normal. 

 


"Reesa! Fall! Mhasha!" Vazari panted as he and Yazmine got back, both a little worn out from the running. Everyone stopped their conversations and turned their attention over to the leader, a clear to see worried expression upon his face.


"Yes? Did something happen?" Reesa was the first one to stand as she was the one called upon.


"Yes. Everyone. We have a bit of a problem." He paused for a moment, able to hear a couple whispers between the lionesses having suspcions of what could be the problem. "Now do not panic but you must have noticed that Leki and Reanda have not returned from last night's rounds. We were told that Jakk'al has them. We are not sure if it a hostage, ransom, or what their intentions are but this is in direct relation to what happened next week so I am worried about what will happen. But we were told to come into their territory will no more than five. I wouldn't trust Jakk'al or anyone in his pride but these are our family's lives we are talking about so I am asking our best hunters to join Yazmine and I as we go. If we have a chance to save Leki and Reanda then we need to take that chance."


Fall stood and approached Vazari. "I will go with you though I do suspect that things aren't going to go well. But Leki and Reanda are family..." She nodded her head and got behind him and Yazmine. 


Reesa did the same. "I agree with Fall but you are right... family over all."


"I will always stand beside you Vazari." Mhasha followed behind Reesa and the five of them stood there ready to go off.


"Father wait!" Before they managed to turn and leave, Alkosh ran from Fanesti and to his father, nuzzling into his mane. 


"Son! What is it?" Vazari looked down to his son, a soft purr leaving him as his son dug his head into Vazari's large mane.


"Please be safe father..." He frowned, keeping his head in his father's mane, truly worried about what will happen.


"We will son. Watch after the pride while I am gone all right. We will be back very soon okay?" Vazari leaned his head down and gave his son and big nudge, pushing him back a bit.
"Yes father. Like you trained me." Alkosh stood proud before his father and the other hunters looking to him.


"That's my son." Vazari chuckled and turned around, walking off into the slowly setting sun. It will be dark by the time they reached the graben and if they were lucky, they might be able to return with their full pride. Vazari wasn't about to go make some foolhardy mistakes. He knew now at this point not to underestimate his enemies: A little something that his own father always said.


"All right. We should work on getting the cubs fed for the night." Landra stood up being the next strongest hunter and the current strongest while the others were away. "And just to be safe, after their meal, Fanesti will keep the cubs together in the cave. I will be at the cave mouth while you two will go scouting the borders."


Alkosh frowned a bit as Landra instantly took charge after what his father said but decided to stay obedient knowing well of the situation and the consequences if things were to go awry.

 

 

The sun had just gone down and the group of five reached the borders of their territory. It was a chilly and windless light, leaving the atmosphere very calm and relaxing for their journey. Vazazi stopped as they reached their border, sighing in anticipation before he and the others crossed it. Yazmine stopped and turned her head back to him where he nodded to her and then they contuined onward. There was a sense of trust in Sandra's words from earlier which seemed a little off. Jakk'al himself is someone who you could never believe a word that comes from his mouth but Sandra was an opposite from Jakk'al, she got straight to the point and left little room for disbelief.


Mhasha felt unsafe after crossing into unknown territory as she has never entered the land before. Being completely in the open and no mountains to block a small breeze, she instantly felt cooler and a strange sense of unknowing came upon her, making her extremely nervous. Jakk'al's land was quite similar to theirs but was more flat and more grassy compared the mountainside pride she was so familiar with. There was one rocky layout in the area and that was where the five were to meet Jakk'al.


The further they got, there more they realized just how far into Jakk'al's territory they actually were. They were treading deep on enemy land and it made them feel unsafe. Yazmine herself began having thoughts like they were going to be ambushed. Maybe they requested five of them for a reason? Multiple thoughts were going through her head the further they went in. Yazmine looked behind, the night completely leaving the mountains out of view. They were far from home.


"I don't like this." Yazmine spoke up, a soft growl able to be heard in her voice.


"I don't either." Mhasha joined in, considering that this might have been a bad idea and this may be a trap.


"None of us like this but we have to keep going. We are getting close." Vazari was at the head, constantly keeping his guard up, listening in to all directions, repeatedly looking to his sides to make sure they were alone.


"His pridelands are huge... He must have an endless supply of food here." Fall stated, the size of the land easily tripling their own if not more.


"That leads me to the question as to why they needed to steal our kill when have such vast amounts here." Reesa pointed out, remembering back to the day when they first clashed.


"Because Jakk'al is picking fights. In fact I doubt we are the only pride he has been butting heads with. One thing that surprises me is that Ranyon doesn't know what has been going on." Vazari said knowing that even Ranyon must not like Jakk'al.


"In order to get to Ranyon, we would need to cross Jakk'al's territory... It would be almost impossible." Fall said, moving up closer to beside Vazari.


"Maybe. Maybe not." Vazari said, trying to limit his words now as all this talking will make him lose his focus and ultimately drop his guard.


They were getting close, able to see a graben and rocky landscape ahead.


"That must be it." Yazmine observed letting out a sigh as they made it there safely, now only hoping that the encounter will be as peaceful.


Over in the distance at the rocky area Tamir was able to smell them coming. He walked over to the top of graben, noticing the five clearly and approaching softly.


"Father." Tamir called out and Jakk'al went up to join his son up on the top.


"How obedient Vazari is. I must admit, that is pretty impressive. I thought he would come thinking that he had the upper hand but he is smarter than I thought. When you play these types of games son, you need to follow the rules." Jakk'al chuckled and walked back to the rocks where the sixteen others from his pride were waiting, then ten remaining of his pride back at the den where they stayed behind.


Vazari and the four others climbed the short slope of the graben where they met Tamir, a second male that Vazari did not know. Vazari stayed silent as he approached, not knowing how to start.


"You must be Vazari yes?" Tamir stayed sitting down on the hill as the five stood before him.


"Yes. I would like to see Leki and Reanda." Vazari kept to his feet, moving a bit close as to intimidate Tamir. Tamir did feel intimidated but Jakk'al trained him not to show it and to hold his composure which Tamir was very good at doing.


"This way." Tamir rose to his feet and lead the way down the opposite side of the graben. Vazari could feel his heart jumping a beat, being completely taken back by this young lion's confidence to turn his back to Vazari so willingly.


"Vazari! It has been so long! So good to see you!" Jakk'al laughed and ran up to Vazari giving him a confident nuzzle which made him growl very deeply. 


"Whoa Vazari! Is that how you always treat family? Shame on you! I welcome you to my home even allow you to bring some friends and this is how you repay me? I am truly disappointed!" Jakk'al did a circle around Vazari and walked over to his front. The view of Leki and Reanda was blocked by all the lionesses gathered behind Jakk'al, Tamir by his side.


The four lionesses all questioned in their heads why Jakk'al referred to Vazari as family.


"Enough Jakk'al. I want to see Leki and Reanda. Where are they?" Vazari stood his ground, an soft but angrered look on his face.


"Well get out of the way! Do what the big guy wants!" Jakk'al stepped to the side, jokingly scolding his own pride and mocking Vazari for being his size.


All the others listened and began spliting up, going to two different sides and making what seemed like  a hallway to where at the end Leki and Reanda were both lying. Reanda had some cuts but otherwise seemed to be in fair condition. When he turned his head to Leki, she was laying on her side with massive claw marks on her head with a completely red paw fur dried in his own blood.


"No!" Vazari charged in through the walkway they made, running up to the two lions who appeared to be either sleeping or dead. He first approached Leki who was in much worse condition, leaning down and using his paw to lift her chin. "Leki wake up!"


Leki opened her eyes but she was squinting, clearly able to see that she was in great pain. "Vazari... is that you?" 


"Yes it is me. You are going to be fine." He looked down into her eyes, his body filling with rage as he looked down to her, the sight reminding him of what happened with Kazri.


"Reanda is alive Vazari... She wasn't hurt as badly as me." She said weakly, Reanda appearing to still be sleeping but really she was awake and just ignoring the whole situation, expecting what she thought was going to eventually happen.


"What did you do to them?" Vazari let go of her and stood, showing his fangs as he turned his head to face Jakk'al who was on the side of the corridor of lions.


"Do you really need me to tell you?" Jakk'al smiled over to Vazari, only making Vazari that much angrier.


"Enough with your games Jakk'al!" Vazari roared over to him.


"Take a look around you Vazari. I know what you are thinking but do you really think that things would go well for you? Just looking out for you bro..." Vazari cut Jakk'al off.


"Do not say it!" Vazari roared again, knowing exactly what Jakk'al was trying to do.


"Ah, I get it Vazari." Jakk'al chuckled again and walked over to Yazmine and the other lionesses. "They don't know do they?" He grinned, standing next to Vazari's lover.


"What are you talking about? Vazari, what is he talking about?" Yazmine took a step away from Jakk'al, having no idea what Jakk'al was trying to say.


"Haha! Isn't this marvellous! I have been waiting for this for so very long!" Jakk'al cheered allowed, the other lionesses getting a mix of confusion and worry.


"Is this why you brought me here?" Vazari said, his stance a little low, making it look like he was ready to attack. Jakk'al's lionesses took notice and growled at him, preparing to jump if he does anything.


"Well, it is one reason. I will admit! I didn't expect you to play by the rules! Now, shall I explain the game?" Jakk'al stretched his arms, standing besides Vazari's pride while he stood alongside Jakk'al leaving him massively outnumbered.


"What game Jakk'al? I am here for one reason only." Vazari voice grew softer, his fear definitely beginning to show.


"Now! As of last week, I lost two hunters. If I recall, one of your lionesses attacked two of mine! It was quite the beautiful fight. I have never seen someone so young and determined! She definitely fought well but out of nowhere you came in and brutally murdered them. Two of my lionesses! Murdured! Now look behind you! I am here to return the favor!" Jakk'al's playful like voice turned into a growl, instantly going from joking to menacing.


Vazari looked behind him Leki and Reanda, Reanda having turned her head to face them but keeping quiet. Leki was fearing for her life.


"Jakk'al. After the fight ended, one of our lionesses died. She was only a year old. How do..." Jakk'al cut him off with a laugh.


"So what are you saying? You still owe me one lion? Oh Vazari. But lets look at our options here!" Jakk'al hummed to himself and walked around in circles. The others looked at him questioningly, some of the lionesses that were in the corridor having gone behind Yazmine and the others, trapping them in.


"I got it! Tell you what Vazari, I will give you a chance! But you have to play my game and by the rules. Deal?" Jakk'al brought the smile back to his face, only proving his madness.
"What is your game Jakk'al?" Vazari took in a deep breath, seeing that the only way to go was forward.


"That's the sport! So this is how it will go. All you have to do Vazari is confess your little secret and in exchange you can choose which of these two lovely lionesses get to return with you. Now now, don't call me unfair! I decided to take your word for it that the one on your side died. Now, do this for me and we will be even ok?" Jakk'al chuckled as this was now his chance for Vazari's pride to finally know.


Everyone stopped and turned their gaze from Jakk'al to Vazari, putting him directly on the spot. Reanda began to lose her calm as she knew now that one of them were going to die one way or the other. She looked over to Leki who was already in pain and unable to walk and might not be able to walk for a long time if ever.


"And Vazari... if you don't confess, I will do it for you and they both will die." Jakk'al kept his gaze on Vazari, knowing that his brother would have to give in for this.


"Vazari..." Yazmine said from behind Jakk'al, her mouth open, completely in shock from what is going on. The others were aswell, huddled up to each other.


Vazari stood there speechless for a moment. He knew what to say but he was afraid cause the whole truth may not seem that bad but he knows how Jakk'al feels on the subject.


"I... am." Vazari's heart beat almost too fast for him to handle. Shivers went down his spine and his breathing was inconsistant. "Jakk'al... is my brother." Vazari dipped his head down.


"What?" Yazmine whispered to herself, unable to believe that he would have hidden something like that from her for so long. Mhasha just shook her head, knowing that Vazari did have a secret and that maybe all of this conflict could have been prevented if everyone would have known in the first place.


"That is good! That is really good Vazari! But that is not it!" Jakk'al said, revealing that there was more that Vazari was hiding.


"Look Jakk'al... I am very sorry." Vazari frowned knowing exactly where Jakk'al was going.


"You killed her Vazari! You killed her!" Jakk'al Yelled over the crowd, the words making Yazmine and the others gasp, unknowing of what Vazari did.


"Jakk'al... we were cubs and we were all immature and being unsafe. Any one of us could have died there." Vazari tried defending himself.


"No no no no! You pushed her! You pushed her into the river knowing damn well how fast the current was! That would not have happened to any one of us! That happened cause you were being stupid! I loved her Vazari! And you know I did!" Jakk'al's emotions just kept on changing but at this point it almost seemed understandable now.


"I loved her too Jakk'al but we were cubs..." Vazari looked down, feeling completely ashamed for he knew as well that if he wasn't so stupid that day that she would have lived.


"Excuses Vazari. She was our sister. She died too early. She was the best of us." Jakk'al looked down but rose his head immediately after catching himself, not going to show weakness to his pride.


"Is killing really the best way to get back at me Jakk'al? I realized what I did when I was a cub was wrong but that was many many years ago. Why are you trying to get revenge on me now? All it has done is kill those who weren't involved." Vazari tried to reason with Jakk'al to end this madness.


understand Vazari. Maybe if you were to lose someone close to you..." Jakk'al stopped. Thinking to himself but nodding his head and getting back on track. "Anyway, you have confessed Vazari. You have played the game by the rules. I will get revenge for our sister Vazari, but today is not the day. Choose who you are taking home with you... for you still owe me one lioness."


Vazari flinched and turned his head where he met the gazes of Leki and Reanda. Leki reamined in fear and was shaking horribly. Reanda had an obvious worried look on her face but wasn't in shock quite as badly as Leki was.


"Vazari! Please... I don't want to die!" Leki pleaded, shaking horribly and in a bad state. "I can still walk... I promise." She looked to him, knowing in the back of her head that choosing Reanda would be better for the pride in the long term for even she knew that through her lie that she couldn't walk.


He turned his eyes to Reanda who remained silent but in very good condition compared to Leki and can still prove usefulness whereas Leki would probably have no choice but stay in the cave back home and have food brought to her.


Yazmine and the others watched in horror and awe as they witnessed Vazari exchanging glances with the two... everything got so quiet and the only thing that could be heard were Leki's pleads and cries.


Vazari let out a long sigh and couldn't bare to look as he made his choice. He looked down to his feet, barely able to hold back tears from his eyes as this was the hardest decision of his life, left with choosing between the lives of his pride. He would be returning with one less, leaving his pride even smaller.


He lifted his gaze once again and looked forward to between the two before turning his eyes to Reanda. "Reanda stand. You will be returning with us."


Yazmine gasped and exhaled deeply as Vazari made the choice, forcing Leki to live her worst nightmare. The others began to cry as Reanda stood, approaching Vazari.


"No! Vazari please! I beg you! Please Vazari please! "Leki screamed and cried as she tried to get up, screaming again but in pain as she put weight on her bad paw, causing her fall over. Tears poured out of her eyes and some of the lions on both sides began to drip tears as the poor lionesses cried for her life. Asha couldn't bare to look and turned around to face away.


Vazari's eyes dripped tears as he looked over to Leki who was helpless on the ground, not even able to defend herself. Reesa, Fall, and Mhasha all cried together, their eyes closed and facing each other. Vazari turned around and walked down the lion corrider with Reanda who couldn't bare to take another look to Leki.


"Jakk'al..." Vazari stopped when he got to his brother's side. "Please give her a quick death." And then he continued forth till he met with Yazmine and the others. Yazmine burst out in tears and buried her head into Vazari's mane, the cries and screams coming from Leki too unbearable to listen to.


"Shh... it will be ok. It will be ok." He said to Yazmine, all of them huddling close together, using each other for comfort.


"Tamir." Jakk'al called to his son who instantly went back over to his side.


"Yes father?" Tamir asked, the sound of Leki's cries also doing a toll on him.


"I want you to do the honors." He gave Tamir a serious look. Tamir grew cold as his father asked this of him, his expression changing completely. Sandra looked at them from the corridor, shaking her head as she knew what Jakk'al was asking him to do.


"Yes father." He stepped back and gave him a nod before slowly walking down the corridor to the crying and injured lioness who looked like she has been through hell.


Leki raised her head, looking in terror to the young lion above her who she only guessed was going to be her executioner. "Khyva... please have mercy on me." She closed her eyes, her body shaking and her fur soaked from the cries. Tamir reached his paw to Leki's chin, lifting her head and exposing her neck. Leki finally gave up as fighting back would not do anything to help her. All she did was try to calm down her cries and breathing so she could have the most peaceful death possible. 


Tamir lowered his head down to her neck but gave her a soft whisper so that she could only hear it. "I am sorry." And with that and a loud growl he sank his teeth into her neck, a scream that quickly ended came from Leki as he ended her. She died almost instantly for she had been through enough and at the very least deserved a fast death.


"Oh Vazari..." Yazmine said to him as she heard that final scream come from Leki. "She didn't deserve that."


Jakk'al grinned and let out a soft chuckle as it was over, feeling proud of his son for what he has done. Tamir got up and looked down to Leki's lifeless body. He knew that she didn't deserve this and that it wasn't right... but there was nothing he could do.


Reanda looked down and let out a deep exhale after hearing that scream, it was enough to draw tears out of her eyes but Reanda did what she had to survive. Leki begged where Reanda stayed quiet.


"So I will see you again soon brother?" Jakk'al stepped forwarded to Vazari and the others who were all comforting each other. Vazari wanted so bad to just jump back and to tear the life out of Jakk'al.


"No Jakk'al. Come on, let's go." Vazari whispered to the five lionesses around him. They all turned around and started to walk away. The others from Jakk'al's pride got out of the way for them, feeling sympathy for the five.


Vazari didn't look back. He took lead and him and the lionesses slowly walked back to their own territory, leaving the treacherous place behind them.


"That went well." Jakk'al said to himself as Vazari was now out of sight, blocked by the darkness of the night.


"Is this the end Jakk'al?" Sandra approached him, not sure how to take everything that just happened. She herself was also threatening and hostile toward Vazari but she knew when enough is enough.


"I'll give him some time. But this is not the end Sandra."


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