It took a few minutes, but she managed to track down Razu. As soon as they make eye contact, Razu all but rushes to her side.
"You okay? You're bleeding." He points out. Kela looks at the claw marks on her shoulder that just might scar. "Where's Zoba at? Figured he'd be glued to your side."
"I'm fine. Had a run in with some jaguars on our way to the mountain and they were easy enough to handle, but we'd need reinforcements if we want to take the mountain back. Plus, we were checking in. Ya'll okay."
Razu smirks and licks a bit of half dried blood off his paw. "Nothing to be worried about."
Kela rolls her eyes. "Of course. Where's Father?" Razu looks around sharply and sighs, shaking his head. She sighs as well, the turns to the lionesses. "Some of you, come with me. We're going to meet with Zoba at the mountain." Then she turns and whispers to Zoba. "Try and find my father, okay?"
Zoba lead the group with Nuella to find Dadan. The more eyes they had watching the trees, the better. At any moment, they could find themselves in the middle of another surprise attack.
As the group came up to a thick wall of foliage, they could hear rustling noises coming from the other side. Before Zoba could part the tall grass to see what was happening, the body of a jaguar burst through and landed motionless behind the group. With one look at Nuella and the other lionesses, Zoba jumped through the leaves and into the fray. Before the group was a fight between Dadan with his family of gorillas and a large group of jaguars. The lion and lionesses sprung into the fray, pulling jaguars off the gorillas. The gorillas acted as the main attackers while the lions protected them from any jaguars that might try to attack from above. Zoba backed up next to Dadan who had just launched a spotted ball of fur and claws into a tree trunk.
"Where's Kela!" Dadan shouted over the noise of the battle.
"She's getting reinforcements! She'll be here soon!"I hope.
Kela and her group was on their way to the mountain, when she hears the sounds of fighting. Nodding at the others, they quickly make their way towards the sounds, only to stop at the edge of the clearing, where a battle was taking place.
"Princess?" One of the lionesses ask, clearly eager to join the fray.
Without a verbal answer, Kela runs into the clearing, tackling a jaguar to the ground that was getting too close to both Dadan's and Zoba's blindsides. After killing it, she turns towards the pair. "Ya'll good?"
"You're late." Dadan huffs, slamming another spotted cat into the ground.
"I'm still here. A promise is a promise." She remarks, smirking at Zoba before running off to join the offensive.
The sight of Kela bursting through the bushes was such a relief, Zoba nearly forgot he was in the middle of a battle. But seeing her gave him a new found strength and he pushed on. They were now beginning to gain a foothold on the jaguars.
Suddenly, as fast as they had arrived, the jaguars disappeared. Zoba looked back and forth, claws extended and teeth bared, waiting for the slightest movement, but nothing came. The sudden silence was startling.
"Everyone stay together!" Zoba shouted at the group. "Is everyone alright?"
"Everyone is accounted for!" Kela says, siding up beside Zoba. She's pretty tired and has jaguar blood caked on her fur and claws. "Are you okay?" She asks, keeping an eye on the trees. "I have a bad feeling..."
With a nod, Kela turns back towards Dadan. "I suggest we try to take the mountain back. Once that's done, the jaguars should scatter." She says. "Are you up for another round? Or would you like a few minutes to collect yourselves?"
The gorilla scoffs. "You're humorous. We can keep going, if we must."
Kela laughs a bit, shaking her head. "Of course." She says, the turns to Nuella and the other lionesses. "You guys alright?"
"Yeah. Where's Razu? Thought you'd bring him back, too."
"I asked him to continue ahead. He should be fine." She says, then turns to Zoba. "Ready?"
"I'm ready." He replied. With that, he joined Kela back at the front of the group and they made their way towards the mountain. The closer they got to the mountain, the thinner the foliage was, though it was still dense enough that it was an unmistakably jungle terrain. The trees, bushes and vines grew around large, moss-covered boulders and streams trickled down in various spots along the slope that lead into the peaks.
"Let me take the lead." Dadan's voice came from behind as he approached the front of the group. "This is my home. I can navigate us through it better." Zoba nodded in agreement as the gorilla passed him and Kela.
"He definitely has a point. Even I don't know this place very well." Kela says as Dadan begins leading through the territory. Kela has been there before, but it looks worse for wear now. Skulls, claw marks, obvious signs of pass battles.
"Personally, I can't stand this place." Razu states, finally joining the group. "And guess who went straight to the center."
Kela groans, already knowing the answer. "Is he in danger?"
Snarling under her breath, Kela trudge behind Dadan and onto the mountain.
"We should think about this." Zoba said, trying to inject some caution into the situation. Kela seemed a little on edge. He didn't want her to rush into things in a huff. "Things could get bad fast and we should have a plan."
"I know, but I'm waiting for Dadan. I don't know this mountain, remember?" Kela reminds him, then looks to the gorilla. "Did you have a plan?"
Dadan looks in the cave entrance and nods. "Inside, there are openings that break off from the main one. Some of you can split off and launch a surprise attack." Kela nods and relays the information to the other lionesses.
"How many caves?" Zoba asked worriedly. "We don't want to get lost."
Dadan furrowed his brow in thought for just a moment. "At least one gorilla will accompany each group. We all know the way."
Zoba found this answer satisfying. It was a good plan. The gorillas split off into groups and the lionesses followed their leading gorilla into the caves. The idea was for each group to protect its navigator should they be attacked. At each branch, a group broke off from the main group and followed the smaller tunnel. They were to wait for the signal from the central group which consisted of Dadan and two other gorillas, Zoba, Kela, and two other lionesses.
As they traveled further inward, the sound of hushed voices could be heard. They were getting near the back of the cave. Finally, the tunnel opened up into a larger room. The ceiling reached up several dozen feet and clinging to it, were stalactites of varying sizes. Most of the floor of the cave was flat and smooth. Scattered around were big, twisting, gnarled rock formations as well as patches of stalagmites that reached upward. Pools of brightly colored, mineral-rich water rested like mirrors on the floor. Every so often, the 'plink' of water droplets could be heard. Every sound was amplified and easily heard inside. Each word from the jaguars was easily discernable.
"They'll be uppon us any minute now." One voice said.
"No matter." Came another voice. "They don't know the caves and their numbers will be thinned in these tight spaces. Just do not allow them into the main chamber." The voice was deep and authoritative.
A large boulder resting against the portal into the large chamber provided concealment for Dadan, Zoba, and Kela. From where they were, they could see small openings on the same level, as well as above. These were surely where the other tunnels lead. Zoba's suspicions were confirmed as he noticed the flashing of lioness eyes peering out of several of them.
Zoba ducked as the silhouette of a jaguar came near. It didn't seem to notice. It was a guard, patrolling the area. Quietly, Zoba tackled the jaguar to the ground, covering its muzzle with a paw as he clamped down on its throat. Only a murmur came out as it suffocated but it was apparently audible enough.
"What was that?" Came the deeper voice.
"Where did it come from?" Came another.
Across the chamber, Zoba spotted Nuha, who peeked out from behind a large stalagmite. Just around it, stood a jaguar, out of Nuhas vision. Zoba locked eyes with her and pointed out that there was one just around the corner. She nodded. With some quick thinking, Nuha tossed a pebble, causing the jaguar to shift its attention and get closer to Nuha. Quickly, Nuha grabbed the spotted cat and dealt with it in the same way Zoba did. The other groups seemed to catch on. Unfortunately, so did the Jaguars.
"Jonga?" One of the jaguars whispered from a dark corner. A dark figure lowered itself down from the ceiling. It was a gorilla grasping the ceiling with his hand-like feet, hanging upside down. Silently, it grabbed the jaguar. Both figures disappeared into the shadows. There was a muffled shriek and then silence again.
"Cheva. What's going on over there?" The deeper voice said, almost shouting.
Zoba turned to Kela and whispered into her ear "Lets go. Stay out of sight and stay quiet. Try to thin their numbers before they figure out what's going on."
Kela nods and slinks into the shadows of the cave, her darker fur helping her blend in.
Along the path she took, she spies a black jaguar pacing anxiously as though he could feel that something is amiss, yet can't figure out what.
Almost quietly, she crouch lowly and scratches her claws along the ground, making a sound similar to a digging rodent. When the jaguar approaches to investigate, she waits until he's practically touching her, before she bats her tail at a small stone.
His head snaps to the side, leaving his entire neck exposed to her. Kela clamps on his neck, any sound he could make dying along with him.
No longer catching sight nor sound of any other jaguars, Kela backtracks and hides near Zoba. "I think a majority of them are in the main area." She whispers to him.
Zoba blinked. "I thought this was the main area." He shrugged. Apparently, this went deeper than he thought.
"These caves run deep into the mountain." Zoba was shocked to see Dadan's upside-down face right next to him. He was hanging from the ceiling by his feet. Silently, he righted himself onto the ground as he continued. "None have ever been to the deepest parts but there are those who believe the heart of the mountain lies within."
Light reached into the hidden den from behind the waterfall. The calm was accompanied by a feeling of peace. Real peace. The jaguars had been driven out and the gorillas home returned to them. Relationships were in the process of being mended but for the first time in days, Zoba and Kela could relax.
Zoba took a nice breath in, exhaled that breath and allowed himself to relax more and more. The nicest thing about mornings like this was that wonderful feeling of physical and mental relaxation that could now spread throughout his entire body. From this moment in time, there was nothing, nothing of importance for him to do except relax.
Finally, he opened his eyes to see Kela next to him. As much as he wanted to stay there, he couldn't stave off the dryness in his throat this morning. Zoba lifted himself from the ground slowly and nuzzled Kela's neck gently. With a contented sashay, he padded over to the fresh water that perpetually pooled at the far end of the cave to quench his thirst.
"As much as I missed this place, I really want to get out of here again. There's so much of the world for us to see." Kela says and moves towards the opening and crawls out, then sits and looks at the lush jungle as she waits for Zoba to come out.
Zoba took one last look at the cave before heading out to join Kela. "Hey..." the big lion cooed as they walked. "Are you going to be alright?" Kela had recently lost her father and Zoba hoped she was okay. The loss of a loved family member was always a mournful experience.
Kela frowns and nods. "I will be. I mean, even though I couldn't stand him half of the time, he was still my father and not all of our times together were that problematic." She says and licks his cheek. "I'll miss my father, but I'll be alright. Thank you for being here for me."
Zoba didn't say anything but nudged her shoulder affectionately. As they neared the main 'courtyard' of the pride, the two could hear the bickering between Razu and Nuella as she explained the lionesses hunting patterns to him. As king he needed to know where there was food and where there wasn't, as reported by the hunters of the pride. Zoba didn't catch much but he seemed to be convinced that they should divide the kingdom into a grid and hunt each coordinate one by one while Nuella tried to explain that there was more to it than that. Zoba didn't want to get involved so he lead Kela past them and on to Nyota, Kela's mother.
"There you are two are." she said quietly with a smile. It was obvious she was so emotionally drained from the events of the last few days, but she held herself high, making an effort to move on. This was a new chapter for the pride and they needed strong leadership. Razu would learn in time but for now, experience was needed. "I take it you two had a restful night?"
Zoba bowed his head respectfully. "Yes, very much so." Zoba said as he looked at Kela briefly.
"And you two are heading off soon if I remember correctly?"
"Yes. Today, as a matter of fact. We came to say our goodbyes before going again. We already have a destination in mind." Kela explains and nuzzles her mother gently, a simple act to provide them both some comfort.
"Of course. I always known you had an adventurous spirit. I wish I did more to encourage your father to accept your drive for freedom. Doesn't matter now. I'm sure Zoba would happily quench your thirst for adventure." Nyota gives Zoba a sad, yet encouraging smile.
"It's an unquenchable thirst." He replied with a smile.
With that, the two made the rounds and said their goodbyes to each and every pride member. Razu seemed somewhat pleased to see Zoba go but saddened to say goodbye to Kela. Nuella was excited for her old friend.
"Hey." She eyed Zoba wryly. "Take good care of her. If I hear she gets so much as a hangnail, I'll come after you, Zoba." She joked. Zoba replied with a hearty laugh as she punched his shoulder.
Soon, they were on their way and Zoba's head was filled with excited thoughts and memories of Eden.
While a bit sad to leave again, Kela was happy to be traveling again. Looking up at the pleased expression on Zoba's face, she grins and lightly bumps his shoulder. "You look excited. How far away is Eden?"
This Land: Spot on ! xD Yeah, my re-do loop was insane....then after a while realized I was making it worse , so tapped "undo" a few times
Jan 15, 2021 14:13:00 GMT
mrcrazypants: That is usually how it goes for me too xD , it's as if one gets... sketch-blinded? or perhaps mane-blinded? haha! Glad you solved it eventually tho! I'm looking forward to see it
Jan 15, 2021 15:45:44 GMT
This Land: That must be thing, well its a thing now xD Plus I'm sure only having one fully functioning eye doesn't help either with drawing x3. Here is a sneak peak at my W.I.P sta.sh/04b2chb38kq
Jan 15, 2021 16:57:47 GMT
mrcrazypants: Ohh I love the WIP so far! 😍 And with a falling pose like that I totally get why it was challenging to draw the mane xD
Jan 16, 2021 20:03:19 GMT
mrcrazypants: When you say one fully functioning eye, is the other one "just" lower in eyesight or is it completely blind? Let me know if It's too personal! Sometimes I tend to be a bit too curious haha ^^'
Jan 16, 2021 20:06:33 GMT
This Land: I'ts fine xD It's just a lot lower in eyesight. Its not blurred, been to several opticians and glasses do nothing,its like only half the image goes to my brain like choppy vision. So I have little or no depth perception. No 3D films for me
Jan 16, 2021 21:29:46 GMT
This Land: And thanks ^^, you keep me going !I've been practicing a new mane colouring technique & keep fixing the eyes, and keep changing the body as i've never drew this pose (again XP).This picture is another massive learning curve, been on and off it all day
Jan 16, 2021 21:36:19 GMT
mrcrazypants: Oh wow I've never heard of anything like that before O.O But tbh, you're not missing much with 3D movies if you ask me, I always chose regular xD
Jan 17, 2021 10:03:56 GMT
mrcrazypants: I'm glad to hear! I think it's great to have someone to play ball with in art (if that makes sense haha) That sounds cool tho, are you filming the progress on this one too? I'm curious to see if you got anymore art tricks I can steal xD
Jan 17, 2021 10:07:57 GMT
This Land: Makes sense yeah and totally agree ^_^. I'm recording this one too, About 80% done
Jan 17, 2021 13:38:38 GMT