The sun arose once more over the savannah sunrise. Its grand, golden aura bustling across the valleys and grasslands of the Pridelands, from the succulent zebra grazing grounds of Mbali Fields to the creeping canyon near Flat Ridge rock. As it arose, flocks of birds, mainly egrets, finches and flamingos, fluttered into the warming, eastern breeze.
It was from this direction, right at the edges of the Pridelands, that two figures gleamed through morning's rays. One stood, of a more muscular, feline build; the other of a dexterous, mischievous primate one. They sat on a rocky overlook, staring into the natural wonders of the land below.
"Everything the light touches is part of their kingdom: the Pridelands." The taller of the two spoke, his whiskers slightly flickering, seemingly searching for any recognisable scents. Only that of his smaller, primate friend graced his nostrils. "We need to be careful."
"Careful? But I thought they were nice around these parts?" The primate queried. He held onto an uneven branch, letting his body weight rest upon it. It had been a long journey. Both had travelled far and wide to arrive. Maybe now, they could rest.
"Maybe so." The lion swayed his tail through the dried, dusty dirt, flinging up a miniature dust storm into the air with his matured, fur-coated tail. "But I don't want to start a fight with them, especially if they are here."
His monkey friend, coughing slightly at the small dust storm scattered from the lion's tail, wafted his hand, clearing the air of choking particles. He turned to his feline friend, spreading his arms out as he rolled his eyes. "Well, you are family to them, 'Royal Mlinzi'."
"Don't use that name, Kwaheri!" The lion snapped at his feet, just barely scraping them with his short incisor teeth. His once auburn brown eyes now shot with a darkness of days past.
Kwaheri, utterly shocked by his leader's swift use of aggressive force, backed away, leading him to sit at the edge of the ridge. His tail dug into the dirty, sun-dried ground, barely moving an inch.
"Okay! Okay! No need to get your tail in a twist." He waved his index finger at the lion in a rhythmic, sideways motion.
A sharp, breathful sigh escaped the lion's mouth as his head lowered to the lands beyond him.
"Sorry, Kwaheri." His head raised, staring at the large, prominent rock formation at the centre of the Pridelands. "It's just... I don't know if she'll even recognise me."
"Why wouldn't she?" A wrinkle of confusion burrowed across the monkey's face. "She's your auntie after all."
The lion's stare remained unbroken, instead focusing on any sign of movement from the many caves and caverns etched into the rock formation. "It's been a long time since we lived here, Kwaheri. We were so young, so... unaware..." A single, salty tear brushed down the lion's fur, only stopping as it tried to navigate his medium-length, bright brown mane. He shook his head, trying to focus on the task at hand. "Doesn't matter. If the princess was around here, they would know."
"So, what are we waiting for bro?!" The lion watched as his monkey friend pounced from rock to rock, clambering down from the cliff edge with ease. A sudden, uncontrollable smile erupted across his face as if this was something that, many years ago, he would have enjoyed.
"Hey, wait up!" Instead of choosing to clamber down the edge, the lion found a small, sturdy dirt path leading down into the grasslands below. A small patch of dirt kicked into the air as he pounced down the hillside, caught onto the chilly northern breeze. His heart raced as he continued to clamber down. He was so close, so close to being reunited with his love, his mate. He still couldn't sense her, but that was okay. She would be here. She had to be.
Change was coming to the Pridelands. The Royal Mlinzi was about to return...
But something much fouler was brewing. Something that would change the world... forever...