Mgambo clawed at the bark of a temporary resting place in the upper canopy he called "home". He had slept in unfortunately which would cost him precious foraging time and opportunity. It was frustrating but not deal breaking for the tree dwelling rodent. His eyes and ears turned to the seemingly dark world below him. The jungle seemed more active than usual, which was probably not a good sign in itself. It either meant more plant eaters were fighting, or a few more predatory members about.
It never stopped him before however and it wouldn't now. With care and precision, Mgambo navigated towards the darkened earth from his usual sanctuary of the high canopy. He would not leave the trees, not just yet anyway. Not until he could be sure of the situation. "Remember" he would mutter to himself, "Eyes and ears first, movement second, repeat. Every branch could be a snake, leopards could hide in the shade. Breathe easy, move swiftly". He would repeat this to himself ad nauseum as he approached the closest source of water, still refusing to leave the trees as his eyes scanned around vigilantly.
Harufu's ear twitched at the mysterious voice, and he heard a light rustling from the tree overhead. A squirrel of some sort. At first he thought the squirrel had spoken to him but no, the voice hadn't come from above, he didn't think. "Who's... there?" he said cautiously, stepping back from the water's edge just a little. If it was a crocodile, well. He really wasn't as fond of being eaten as he had made out earlier.
Mgambo was normally more stealthy about his movements, but he couldn't be perfect with all his movements. He knew he;d been spotted, or at least that his presence was known about. Such a revelation didn't worry him too much. He was still in a decent position, and it was much easier to see a Lion than it was for something to see him through the often thick canopy. Still, this complicated matters for his ordinary descents. He'd have to travel with a much greater caution than usual near the soft earth now, for after all, lions didn't tend to travel alone too often..
He wouldn't answer the calls back. The lion seemed confused somewhat, as if he'd heard another sound from some other direction. Maybe a crocodile in the distance? For now he'd bide his time, observing from within the brush above. It was all he could take from the moment. A hunter who failed his hunts after all could try again in most situations. The hunted however, sparingly had a chance to correct ANY of their mistakes...and he was not prepared to make any of his own in the realm of the act of the hunt. Perhaps he'd do his own tracking with this fellow and see if there was a small group nearby, but he had naught the interest in speaking as it stood.
The lioness emerges from behind. Hello She says sweetly as she circle around the male lion:swaying her gait seductively with a nice soft purr.I didn't mean to interrupt butcoukdn't help but overhear your problem with that other lioness.
She keeps her movements slow.Watching as the male lion is sucked into her gaze.
You know, I've been following all of you for some time and I gotta say, you'll never get going with her as long as there's that little gazelle inbetween you two.
A sense of truth rings in her voice as she finally stops in front of the lion. What's your name sweetheart?
As he expected, there was certainly more than one lion around these parts. However he did not expect to see rogues, given how uncommon they were. The pair didn't seem to know each other. The lives and affairs of lions and the like didn't normally interest Mgambo and eavesdropping was really not something he'd be doing in most circumstances. It became his business however with the specific mention of not only prey, but presumably youth.
"Little Gazelle" Mgambo would whisper to himself quietly as he continued to watch and listen. His ears flickering about to pick anymore sounds of interest. Another lioness seemed to be involved and from the sounds of it the relationship was friendly. All he knew was that this "little gazelle" seemed to be at the very least a nuisance for one of them and it didn't take the intuition of a genius for him to try and predict a solution. The youth chances of survival were low with one lion, let alone three. He'd have to get to that gazelle first, or at least try and lead it somewhere safely before the worst should happen. "Where is it..." he'd continue softly whispering to himself, "Where is the gazelle..tell her".
"Harufu?" Harufu said, by means of reply to this strange lioness. He had no idea why he made it sound like a question. The way she moved was mesmerising, like being startled by the midday sun. He both wanted Niani to come get him out of this and was embarassed she might see him like this, but a quick glance over his shoulder revealed she was out of direct line of sight. The squirrel, too, was staring at him a weirdly intensive way, and he had the uncomfortable feeling he was surrounded. He was going to have to deal with this himself, so he said, "Err, so, who are you, um... Cutie pie?" He winced. Here it came. "Not that you're cute mind you. Oh, but you are but not so cute as to interest me much I mean I just met this other lioness Niani and she seems really nice and so I'm gonna have to say no to your hip swaying and that sparkle in your eyes because really I'm a self respecting lion and Panthers only take one mate at a time and I was raised by panthers so... Yeah." He looked her in the eye. "You understand, right? Not that your not beautiful or anything, but beauty is only skin deep and I met Niani and she's nice and she's going to take me to meet her pride and so really I should see her out with this and I like her and she's beautiful too. You know." He grimaced, fighting back the urge to open his mouth and start again.
A monogamous lion was...certainly an interesting change of pace. Dare he say that it raised a small amount of respect for a Lion to be so committed. Yet there was still the matter of the gazelle which ultimately was put above such remedial gains in respect and interest. Mgambo had also noticed the lion still noticing him, or at least having a rough approximation of his location. It seemed to make him skittish and not behave as he usually would. This was problematic if it was allowed to continue.
Begrudgingly, Mgambo would retreat into thicker canopy at higher elevation. He would move the branches and such as he rose and scurried away. When he finally reached a spot he felt secluded in, his movements would begin to illustrate the illusion of him leaving the area in the hopes that the lion didn't feel so...surrounded. He was still nearby of course, just hidden behind thicker branches and denser foliage. His ears flicking on as the lion continued to ramble on. "Harufu" he'd think to himself as his paws drummed silently into the wood below him, awaiting to see any further mention of this gazelle.
The lioness moves in front of harufu and rubs against him. Her smell permeating onto his.She then purrs a low chord that not only hints about her feminine qualities but as it gets louder a more dominant purr sounds shakes harufu to the core.She looks at him with deep blue eyes.
"My name cutie is Kula."She says seductively. She moves closer to harufu's ear, her maw just inches away from it. "Every male says that line to themselves over and over again near me"her breath a cool breeze on harufu's ear. "Yet, they all soon realize that they belonged to me the moment they saw me..like mud inbetween my claws." Her moves are now more dominant and confidant towards harufu
"And just think about it, the most delicious meat is a young prey; and isn't your lady friend's favorite food gazelle?" "Just think about it--a romantic dinner just you and her with her favorite food.And you know as well as her that the younger they are, the more delicious they'll be and looking at that gazelle, he well be extremely delectible."
She grins menacingly showing her teeth in a wicked smile
"And all i want is a small favor in return, but first lets move to more private surroundings i smell a squirrel nearby and we don't want to have the suprise ruined now would we?" She motions for harufu to follow.
Mgambo was starting to become agitated. He was not usually this careless in his movements or positioning. Perhaps these lions were simply more skilled than they appeared to be, moreso than the average lion. It was frustrating even more so because they had confirmed their unique guest of interest and his identity. Mgambo's teeth were gritting quietly against each other as he looked on. Although in a seeming twist of everything he was expecting...she didn't seem to ask for the gazelle itself.
He's still not quiet sure whether he could truly care about Harufu, as he doubted the lion needed any sympathy from a rodent. This Kula creature however reeked of mal-intent. Her movements, tone of voice and her postures all screamed the signs of malevolence. His time to judge however was running short. "What am I even doing" he'd quietly think to himself. He couldn't follow them on the trees however, not forever. His only other option was to find that gazelle but with no point of reference it would be throwing away precious time.
Mgambo was no stranger to the world beneath him. It didn't make him any less fond of it. He would have to move carefully, quietly and with the wind in a way to no longer give himself away. The trees however could no longer provide him what he needed in this instance. As a tree squirrel, he still had some of the leading eyesight in the lands given his lifestyle of negotiating through foliage. He also had a decent sense of smell and above average hearing. Each could help him accomplish his self appointed goal in this instance.
He'd leave the two lions alone, physically leaving the area this time. The absence was short lived as he scurried along the grasses and took note of the directions of the wind. Leaves, sticks and other noise making hazards were identified quickly and avoided as his eyes kept him straight and his ears acted as a hopefully early warning system against surprises. Patience is all he had now. All that would work. Should he overplay his hand, this could go south very quickly. Thus, only after returning to the general area, his movements would slow by a multitude of factors. His body and tail lying almost flat against the ground beneath grasses to conceal himself. Secretly perhaps, de began to wonder whether he should wait for them to return or go back to find the gazelle despite rejecting such options earlier. Perhaps the decision wouldn't be left to him as far as he knew. He only hoped he wasn't making the wrong one, for both his sake and that of the gazelle.
Childhood should be a time of fun, peace and security. Not one like his own spent in fear, pain and the near loss of life. Maybe too the gazelle knew of these, but that was pondering for another time.
"Yeah, sure," Harufu said as the lion gestured for him to follow, but at the last moment he turned and bolted, away from the river and back towards Niani. "Nianii," he called. "There's some weird lioness trying to lure me into the woods with her seductive walking. I think she may want to eat... Me. Niani?" He stopped and looked around, but couldn't see neither Niani nor the antellope cub. "Err, guys?" Did he just go to the wrong spot?
Mgambo, needless to say was not too far away from settling down when he heard the lion bolt off. He could only presume it was the one with the gazelle and followed with zero hesitation. The running was far more than a simple bolt for Mgambo, given his short legs however. "Niani" he'd repeat to himself as he panted, still observing from a safe distance but this time hidden beneath the grasses and relying mostly on his vision. Yet, even with such the gazelle cub remained almost invisible if it was there. Had this "Niani" already claimed the cub for herself? No, he tried not to think of such outcomes, though he didn't have high hopes.
He was going to have to talk to this lion it seemed, sooner or later. When he did however it would absolutely not be on the ground. It was basically asking for the worst case scenario. The question of course was should he talk now and hope for the best? Or should hope be eschewed and this "Harufu" fellow kept in the dark so as to not endanger the young gazelle?
"Aww is the poor kitty lost? There there, ill take care of you"she says sweetly as she closes the distance. "And eating you would be like eating mud! No, I want something extremely important.That gazelle of yours is special in more ways than you can imagine.All i want is to feast on his heart, to do that eill make me the most powerful lioness.." She says with a dreamy smile. "We both know you can't protect him, there are others that want him dead for the same reason as I.Soon the night will be upon you and thats when they'll stir, to hunt him to death.Is he worth more than your happiness?Your lives?"
Her words bear heavy fruit on harufu's thoughts "Do you wish to see your this Niani die in front of your eyes?To know that you could have saved her if you just surrendered the gazelle to me, do you wish to feel that pain for the rest of your life?
She pauses to let harufu Soak up her words
"If you change your mind, come find me.Look for a pack of hyenas near the redrock spire, tell them the hawk has clutched the mouse and they"ll point you towards my den.I'll be waiting there for you.Remember, I am being generous here; the others might not be as..forgiving." She plants a lick on hatufu's face as she walks away from his view.
On the ground looks like an image of a lion and gazelle with an arrow pointed down.
So this...Kula DID indeed want the gazelle, or at least part of him. She no longer seemed to be playing the innocent card either. He'd listen without so much as a quip or movement. As far as he was concerned, the last thing he wanted to do was alert a hungry lioness to a potential meal out of it's ordinary element. If Mgambo had any reservations left about speaking to Harufu, they were all but cleared. he'd just need to wait for Kula to leave.
As she would leave view, Mgambo quickly ascended any one of the nearby trees, not being too quiet about it this time. He'd seen the sign on the ground and was content enough to follow it. This would at least be the case unless Harufu himself marked for a different direction. "You aren't giving her that gazelle" he'd speak from the treetops. "You can't be so naive as to assume she'll simply leave you be after she gets what she wants" he'd add, "Power is never sated."
"Niani have you seen harufu? He's been hiding and i can't find him" The young gazelle turns his nose to a trodden path near the lioness. "He went that way but his tracks disappear, do you think you can find him? I've been practicing my roar and pouncing and I wasna see his face when i pounce on him"
Usuki gets low to the ground hiding beneath the crisp golden grass and jumps out a few seconds later with a better but still unscary roar
The female lioness finds the pack of hyenas, enjoying their freshly caught meal."ahem" she speaks to make her presence known. The hyenas stop eating and look to her;ready for their next kill.
"There is a gazelle I want that's being guarded by a panther named harufu.I want you lot to make him surrender that gazelle to me; no, even better is to make him beg me to do it!" I want you to make their travels a difficult one; chase away all the nearby prey, alert all nearby hyenas to their presence.Soon, they will turn on each other and at the moment where everything is about to crumble; I want you to find tgis Niani thats travelling with harufu and trap her somewhere. He'll do anything to save her. And once i have the gazelle, ill send a messenger to let you know to dispose of her and him"
She laughs maniacally and the hyenas laugh happily with her plan.
The hyenas soon spread out to set her wonderful plan in motion