The two lions had been traveling over shallow hills that rolled down into a valley. Beyond the valley stood a range of mountains and cliffs. Small groups of trees dotted the landscape ahead, their shadows elongated by the setting sun behind the travelers.
Zoba stopped when he heard Kelas voice behind him. He smiled at her. Normally he would've liked to keep going at least a little longer but he supposed this was as good a place to stop as any. "Alright. Let's get to that tree just down there and we'll rest." He said, motioning towards a tree just between the hill they stood on and the next.
"Like I said, I'm not picky. Whatever you find should be fine." Zoba said. "Actually, I'll go with you. Let's see what we can find in that valley just ahead." He got up from the patch of grass he had been lying on.
As they walked into the grassy planes ahead, darkness began to settle. The moon was just a sliver in the sky. Not much light shown that night, but the stars were beautiful. Zobas ears twitched as he listened and kept his nose at the ready for any scents they might come across. He kept his head down, trying to stay out of sight but it was difficult with his size.
"We only need one." He said with a wink. "You go around the left. I'll go around to the right and I'll scare them off in your direction. My brother and I do this all the time."
Zoba crept around as best he could so that none of the antelope saw him until he wanted them to. Once he was in position, it was easy to make himself known to the herd. He simply stood up and trotted towards them all, letting out a deep, audible growl. With that, the whole group was headed in Kelas direction.
Following his instructions, Kela waits in the grass as the antelope began blindly running towards her. Just as one bounds next to her, she leaps up and encloses her jaws around its next, instantly crushing the windpipe as she drags it down, narrowly avoiding being ran over by the others as they kicked sand and dirt everywhere.
Once they were gone, and the dust settled, Kela drops the antelope and peaks over the grass with a large smile on her face. "Dinner?"
Zoba walked the rest of the distance to Kela, seeing her head poke up over the tall grass. He couldn't help but laugh. "Well that was easy." Zoba looked up at the sky once again, admiring the stars before digging into the dinner they had just caught. Several minutes later, Zoba had eaten his fill.
"We should get some sleep now." He said, dragging an arm across his muzzle, wiping some of the blood off.
Zoba was awoken slowly by the gentle voice of Kela and the soft vibration of her purring. Zoba opened his eyes to see the blue sky out of the corner of his eye and still wrapped in his large arms lay Kela. He half opened his eyes and smiled at her as he tightened his grip on her briefly with a long lick across the top of her head.
Good morn-... afternoon?" Zoba said and tried to correct himself as he noticed the height of the sun in the sky.
Zoba looked at Kela surprised. "Really? That's good then, I guess. That just means we won't get lost." Zoba began walking towards the green peaks in the distance. "Should we try to avoid any confrontation with your old pride?" Zoba asked.
"I don't see why we should. I may not have left on the best terms with some, but they're still my family." Kela sighs, still looking at the area.
"I would actually like to visit them. Let them know I'm alright and happy." She turns a smile to Zoba. "I know you don't want to settle in one place, and I respect that, but can we take a small detour? Please?" She begs, batting her lashes. "Just for a few days, at most?"
Zoba couldn't resist the eylashes. Something about her eyes themselves was nearly mind-controlling. "Oh, I know we don't plan on staying. I'm just worried about how they'll react to me. Especially your old boyfriend." Zoba walked a couple steps and stopped momentarily. "If he gives us any trouble..." Zoba couldn't find the right words to finish that thought.
Zoba smiled. He loved the fire she had in her. He was glad to have found someone who could defend him just as well as he could defend her. "Alright. I'll be close behind." He said as he began to follow her.
Slowly, but surely, the vegetation became more lush as they made their way towards the towering mountains ahead. Brown grass turned to green the closer they got. Before long, they could see various flowers here and there. As the mountains drew nearer, they came across a stream that ran in the opposite direction. "We could follow this. I'll bet it leads into the mountains." He said.
Zoba was used to the admiration the lionesses gave him from a distance. It was something that made his brother just the slightest bit jealous. He kept his eyes ahead, focused on Kela. They passed several caves and finally stopped at one.
After Kela had called out, three lions came out. At this point, Zoba glanced about, looking at the pride that now surrounded them. His posture was relaxed but he kept his wits about him. He then looked back at the three coming out of the cave. Two lions and a lioness. He made a guess at who they were. The older two of the three definitely held some similarities to Kela. As she introduced Zoba to them, his suspicions were confirmed. That left the third, whom Kela reffered to as Razu.
"This is Zoba. He's with me. Zoba, these are my parents, Tuuma, and Nyota. My family."
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Zoba said as he bowed his head respectfuly.
Tuuma give a nod of approval at Zoba's politeness. "Strong and well mannered. Welcome. Thank you for bringing my child home. You're welcome to stay, so long as you pull your own weight."
Kela steps in her father's line of sight. "Actually, we're not staying long. We plan on traveling and never really settling in one place."
"How long do you plan to stay?" Nyota asks.
"A few days."
"Then make yourself useful while you're here." Tuuma states, a bit coldly. Not to Kela's surprise. "You and Razu. Take the lionesses out for a hunt."
"What?!" They both yell, then snarl at eachother.
Tuuma growls at both of them. "You both will work together. I swear, you both have good teamwork when you actually act civil."
"Maybe we'd get along if you didn't try to force marriage down our throats from the moment we met." Kela snaps, then turns to the lionesses without waiting for a response. "You girls know the drill. Nuella!"
An lioness steps forward with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. "Yes?"
"Please keep the others away from Zoba. He's mine."
Nuella walks forward and sits next to Zoba. "Don't worry. I got him."
"Good." Kela smiles and walks back to Zoba, rubbing against him. "Sorry. I'll be back soon. Nuella will keep you busy for a little bit." She says before taking off into the forest beside Razu, followed by the lionesses.
With all the friction going on, Zoba decided not to get involved. He thought it best to only speak when spoken to for the time being. Instead, he focused on Razu. He studied him closely, trying to figure out his mannerisms, anything he could learn from simply watching him. Kela's voice snapped him out of the concentration when she called for a lioness named Nuella.
"Please keep the others away from Zoba. He's mine." Zoba blinked at that. I'm not THAT handsome, am I? He thought to himself.
"Don't worry. I got him." Nuella responded as she sat next to him. Zoba sat there with an inquisitive look on his face, cracking a slight smile.
"Good. Sorry. I'll be back soon. Nuella will keep you busy for a little bit." Zoba nuzzled her as she rubbed past him. At the same time, he tried to catch a glance at Razu out of the corner of his eye. He wanted to know what his reaction would be to seeing he and Kela like this. Even the slightest facial expression would tell him a lot.
"Alright. Stay safe. I'll see you around later." He watched her walk off with Razu and the lionesses, then turned to Nuella, still looking down at her due to his size. "I've been here for ten minutes and I already get a bodyguard?" He joked.
Nuella laughs. "She trained with those lionesses. She knows how they do when a knew lion comes through. It's also for their protection. She's a tad possessive over what she considers as 'hers'. Not in a bad or crazy way, mind you." She clarifies. "She just would do everything she can to make sure nothing happens to you.
"And that's where I, her most loyal and trusted friend, come in. She knows I won't try to take you from her. Now, you ready for a tour? Or do you have any questions. Don't be shy, I'll answer anything you wanna know." Nuella smiles welcomingly.
"She just would do everything she can to make sure nothing happens to you. And that's where I, her most loyal and trusted friend, come in. She knows I won't try to take you from her."
Zoba's expression changed to a more serious one. "Hm." He had to admit, he was very protective of her too. But at the same time, he trusted her to take care of herself. Did she not trust him? The thought troubled him a little. Kela and I may need to talk later. These thoughts took only a moment to flash through his mind before he looked back up at Nuella.
"Now, you ready for a tour? Or do you have any questions. Don't be shy, I'll answer anything you wanna know."
"You know, I always envied how powerful Kela is. She could probably lead this pride all on her own if she desired."
Zoba agreed. Kela could have been a great leader of this pride. But like him, she was a drifter at heart. But that made him wonder about the future of the pride. But for now, Zoba tucked the thought into the back of his mind as Kela came back with a freshly killed boar.
"You can eat. I don't have much of an appetite."
"Are you sure? I'm not that hungry either but I'll take whatever will fill me." As he spoke, he kept Razu in his peripherals. That lion spent an awful lot of time looking at Zoba. Then again, Zoba was a new male in the area. Even if he was with Kela, could he really blame Razu for being careful?
Kela is admittedly tired, but she can still sense the tension between the young lions. Opening her eyes, she looks up to Zoba. "Ignore him. Whatever he does is barely worth your retaliation."
"Shouldn't I be saying that about you?" Razu asks, walking a bit closer. "I almost question what your motives are. You build a wall to keep me out, leave, then drag back this stranger who has barely spoken since he got here." He snarls, cutting a direct glare at Zoba. "And worse, you act like you didn't even leave and leave your new toy in the care of another lioness."
Kela snarls, yet remains where she lays. "Zoba is no toy. Just I felt nothing for you, doesn't mean I feel nothing for him."
"I wonder." He rolls his eyes. "Tell me, Zoba, what makes you so much better than me in her eyes? It can't be strength, she strong enough for her own. She can hunt alone, lead alone, fight alone. Why would she need you?"
At that, Kela stands and steps between them. "If you say one more thing out of line, I'll claw your tongue out." She snarls. "Your choice." By then, the whole pride was watching in interest at the standoff.