Sarabi watched over the moonlight, scarred land, a land she once called her kingdom. The thunderous downpour soaked her fur as she stared out at her old kingdom, a flicker of jagged, hyena-shaped shadow giggling off in the distance, scaring off more of the herds from this once sacred land.
She couldn’t help but sigh, knowing all too well she couldn’t do anything, at least not yet. Scar had full control here. Even now, he had a loyal following of lionesses and hyenas guarding Pride Rock, making sure that the pride stayed contained throughout the night.
Luckily for Sarabi, the hyenas were stupid.
As she easily broke free of her containment, sanding on a hull not far from Pride Rock, far enough away for her to remain hidden. After all, if she were to be found the biarcy would fall into a dictatorship.
As she watched the hyena hunting party catch their kill, the sound of footsteps muffled behind her, glancing around with all the ferocity of a huntress, the Prideland’s queen was met with a familiar face.
“Oh, sorry Sarabi.” The cream furred lioness smiled nervously as she approached her dear friend. “Didn’t mean to jump on you like that.” She chuckled gently, joining Sarabi in looking out at the land beyond.
“It’s ok Sarafina.” As the creamy lioness sat beside her, Sarabi nuzzled her, humming gently as both of them exchanged a few affectionate moments together. They had been through so much together, so much pain and sorrow.
“I wasn’t expecting you to be out here.” Sarafina surprisingly gleamed as she snuggled away from her sister’s body. “What with Scar and everything.” She turned her head back to the horizon, watching as the moonlight moved in on a cave at the very far end of the Prideland’s old borders.
“Scar can try to contain me as much as he wants.” Sarabi replied, a shallowed, authoritative tone rumbling in her throat. “But this is a matter of the Pride.” She raised her head mockingly. “Something beyond his petty concern.”
Both lionesses chuckled at this, glancing as the moonlight hit the cave.
“Well, it seems to be about time.” Sarafina arose, taking a few steps forward before turning back to her queen. “Shall we?” With an affirming nod, Sarabi started to trot forward too, both lionesses quickly started to speed up, going from a comfortable trot to a fairly balanced sprint. Maintaining their stamina as they rushed through the grassland.
“Heard anything from Zazu about her?” Sarabi flicked her eyesight to her right, catching sight of Sarafina beside her as they kept their pace.
“Only that she’d had them a few weeks back.” The creamy lioness panted through her words, the sheer volume of their nocturnal exercise paying its toll. It had been months she had to the opportunity to hunt. “Other than that…”
Up ahead, a series of manic cackles echoed across the land. Both lionesses shot to the ground, slowly creeping through a patch of thickened grass. They halted at its edge, watching as a small pack of hyenas nibbled on the bones of a long-deceased gazelle.
“Wait for them to move on.” Sarafina whispered, laying down beside Sarabi. The queen kept her focus on the foul creatures ahead, knowing all too well their destructive desires were destroying her kingdom. Sarafina glanced behind them, glancing up at the towering monolith of Pride Rock. She couldn’t help but think of her young daughter and son, hopefully nestled deep within the ancient monument.
Finishing their cadaver meal, the hyenas moved on, slowly scurrying away into the dusty, dry, dead land beyond. Exhaling softly, Sarabi arose, stepping out cover. “It’s clear, let’s go.” As Sarabi continued to trot towards the cave, Sarafina arose from the grass, quickly catching up with her sister as they both trotted to the nearby cave. Its vine coated entrance kept it hidden for the most part, away from the prying eyes of Scar’s hyenas and lionesses.
The perfect place to bring the pride’s future rulers into the world…
Peeling back the dried vines with their paws, Sarabi and Sarafina entered the old, hidden lair. The narrow, claustrophobic entrance opened up to reveal a large, expansive cave, illuminated by a single stream of moonlight cascading from a crack in the ceiling. Sarabi and Sarafina crept through the shadows, their eyes scanned the cave for any sign of fellow newly maternal lioness.
But they were not alone…
A pair of brown, focused eyes watched as they entered, A strong, young male remained in the darkest shadows, watching as the two lionesses begun to search. At first, his posture remained defensive, until he heard Sarafina’s gentle voice.
“Hmm, maybe we found the wrong cave?” it was only at this moment that a shallow grumble rumbled from the very depths of the lair, in a well-insulated corner filled with leaves and fur. Tye approached slowly, halting when they both noticed a flash in the moonlight beside them.
“Sarabi! Sarafina!” The male trotted up from behind them, smiling gently as he did so. His thin, brown mane hung around his less than an averagely sized body, His slightly tanned creamed fur glistened ever so slightly in the moonlight, especially around a parallel set of tree scars adorning his shoulder. “It’s so nice to see you again!”
“Ni!” Sarafina lunged towards the male, nuzzling into his shortened mane lovingly. “It’s so nice to see you too.” Sarabi simply watched this interaction, gleefully smiling as Ni turned to face her.
“I hope you’ve kept hidden here?” The queen lowered her tone with her head, raising her eyebrows as she spoke. Ni couldn’t help but hum, feeling Sarafina’s muzzle rub under his chin.
“Well, we’ve had no trouble really, apart from the occasional hyena outside.” As Sarafina halted her nuzzling, looking up at the young male as he glanced down at her. “I’d better wake Tuli up, let her know you’re here.” He started to stroll off to the well-padded corner, leaving the two older lionesses to wait, sitting in the midst of the open, shallowly lit cave.
“Well, they seem safe here at least.” Sarafina hummed, cheerfully analysing the cave surrounding them. Sarabi flicked her head back at the cave’s entrance, her ears twitching upward as the far distant chuckling of hyenas echoed across the horizon.
“I sure hope so…”
After a few moments, I returned, a smile spread across his muzzle as he stood proudly before the lionesses. “She’s awake, you can come in.”
With ecstatic smiles all around, Sarabi and Sarafina approached, their ears flicking up as they heard the sweet, adorable sound of a cub wiggling, humming lovingly against its mother’s fur. Sarafina’s heartbeat intensified.
It was time…
As Ni lead them deeper into the comfortable, leaf-padded corner, Sarafina’s body fluttered with pride. Before them, laying on a pile of leaves, was her eldest daughter Tuli, huddled up to two little fur balls. A stream of beautiful, overjoyed tears started to roll down her cheek as she laid eyes on her first grandcubs.
“Mum?” Tuli raised her head, squinting as they focussed on her mother. Her tail swayed up and down as she quickly brought her head up, watching as both Sarabi and Sarafina glanced down at the two furballs nestled in her loving, warm fur. Sarabi stepped forward, a hint of confusion across her face as Sarafina strolled up to her daughter, nuzzling her head as she softly, lovingly wept.
As Sarabi approached, her confusion only grew. “Is this the only one?” She pointed her muzzle towards the first furry lump, lovingly snuggled up to Tuli’s fur. Glancing over at them, her eyes widened. “And why is this… monkey here?”
Tuli glanced down at Sarabi as her mother continued to nuzzle her chest and neck. “He strolled in not long after I gave birth to the cubs.” Her voice softened, mumbling under her breath as she spoke. “Didn’t even notice until after a few days that he wasn’t a lion.” She glanced back up at her mother, who stared lovingly down at her. “But I couldn’t just leave him to die so… here we are.”
“That’s my girl.” Sarafina lent back down to her daughter’s head, giving her an affectionate lick as Sarabi joined Ni, sitting beside his mate. The young male couldn’t hide the sheer joy in his heart as he stared down at his son.
“They are adorable.” Sarabi approved, watching as the tiny lion cub started to wiggle around, slowly awakening from his slumber. His adopted primate brother spread out, waving his hand back and forth as he did. The Prideland’s queen noticed Ni chuckle gently as the young monkey did so. “What have you names them?
As Sarafina rested beside her daughter, Tuli turned her attention to her mate and queen, flicking her eyes between them and her cub, who was now snuggling up to her pelvis, ready to feed. Her adopted primate son continued to wave his hand side to side, staring up at the gathered lions before him. “Well, we’ve called him Kwaheri, and as for the cub…”
“We’ve called him Kopa.” Ni proudly announced, arising to step towards his mate. “For he is a heart of chance, for both our prides.” He smiled down at the cub from above Tuli’s head, giving his mate an affectionate lick before returning his attention to his mother-in-law.
“Indeed.” Sarafina agreed, watching lovingly as Ni and Tuli exchanged a quick affectionate snuggle. Tuli licked his mane-coated neck as Sarabi placed a paw towards Ni.
“I hope you stay Ni, after all of this.” She glanced away, hearing the pitter-patter of rain against the bare rock. “We need a new king.”
“I will.” He stood up again, approaching the prideland’s queen before resting his paw on her shoulder. He glanced over at his cub and then back at her. “This is why we named him so.” He stepped away, looking out at the moonlit, precipitating before glancing back at the current queen. “You wanted a reason to fight, a symbol to fight for.” He strolled back to the gathered lionesses, lowering his muzzle to his son. “This is your symbol. The very heart of your resistance.”
Sarabi brought her attention to the cub once more, her heart warmed by his adorable, squirming form. To think that this little bundle of fur would inspire so many to rebel against their tyrant of a king. If only they knew the sheer number of animals this little, innocent cub would inspire. If only they knew the mark he would leave on their world.
As the moonlight strobed into the covered corner, Ni moved out the way, back to Tuli’s side. She noticed the cubs wiggling, especially around his eyes. She inhaled sharply, as did Sarafina.
“Wait… is he?” The moonlight glistened over his barely aged spotted fur, intensifying on him as his eyes started to part for the first time. A hint of blueish-grey peeped from his optic slits, widening as he gave his first glimpses into a strange new world.
“Aww, he’s adorable!” Sarafina cooed as Kopa wiggle his eyes over to her, widening them as he was met with a series of unfamiliar faces. He snuggled into his mother’s fur, trying to hide away as best he could.
“Aww, he’s a bit shy!” Tuli chuckled gently, tears rolling down from her cheek. She couldn’t believe her son had opened his eyes whilst before his grandmother and the queen. She couldn’t help but be proud of him, to take his first little paw steps into the much greater, dangerous world before him.
“Well, he’s not the only good looking male around here.” Ni chuckled, raising his head as he stuck his chest fur out Tuli chuckled at this, craning her neck up to give her mate a loving lick.
As his parents flirted. Kopa glanced over at the other furry lump beside him. Kwaheri, who up until now had gently napped against his adopted mother’s fur, Seeing the lion cub’s eyes opened he smiled up, raising his hand out to the cub’s paw. Surprisingly, Kopa moved his paw towards the monkey, resting it on his hand as he smiled, giving off a cute, innocent giggle.
From out of nowhere, a crackle of lightning illuminated the cave, followed closely by a rumble of thunder. Sarabi glanced over at Sarafina, who quickly shot her attention back. They both nodded gently before Sarafina lowered herself to Kopa’s height. “We’d better go before the storm gets worse…”
“Stay strong little cub, we’ll see you again.” Sarafina gently liked the cub’s forehead, causing him to giggle once more. Tuli and Ni hummed lovingly, watching on as the two older lionesses turned to them. “And take care of yourselves too.”
“We’ll need you both for the battle ahead.” Sarabi smiled as Ni slowly bowed his head. Tuli, who still rested alongside her young, smiled up at the queen, who simply bowed her head at her.
“You take care too.” Tuli replied as Sarabi left the padded part of the lair. As Sarafina tried to leave, her daughter called out. “And mother… Take care of Mheetu.” She lowed her muzzle, moving it slightly away. “he may be Scar’s son, but that doesn’t make him the enemy…”
“I know…” Sarafina lowered her head as she left, only raising it as she caught up with Sarabi. As the two lionesses left the lair. Ni flopped down beside Tuli, letting his tail rest at the youngling’s grasps as he faced away from her.
“That went well.” He grinned, stretching his legs out as he felt the tiny monkey and lion begin to play with his tail’s fluffy tip.”
“Let's just hope things go smoothly.” Tuli raised a paw and placed it around her mate’s belly, pulling him in as she laid her head back down. She always felt safe when his body was pressed against hers. His warm, muscular form providing her and their young with just the right amount of comfort. I love you Ni.”
“Love you too Tuli.”
With this, the pair dozed off along with their young, unaware of the events they had set in motion. Kopa would be a beacon in which the entire Pridelands would one day burn and the entire savannah would follow.
He was the heart of the Pride, its future and, strangely, its past.
He was Kopa… Son of Ni and Tuli
And Scar’s eventual downfall…