"That's not the way I meant it, but alright." He said quietly to himself. Zoba leaped down back onto the ground. He thought about running in after Kela, then considered staying in the open. It might be smarter to stay away from terrain that would give him a disadvantage. But he was getting better at navigating the thick jungle... Challenge accepted, then. Zoba thought as he rushed into the jungle, this time with an intense concentration. His eyes scanned every bit of movement and his ears flicked around, searching for the slightest sound. He knew Kela's scent well but there were so many smells in this dense foliage, it might be difficult to find her scent in the cacophony of scents.
Watching from the trees, Kela smiles at Zoba's form. With near silent footsteps, she carefully stalks towards Zoba. Once close enough, she leaps out of the trees and tackles him the the jungle floor.
Burying her face in his mane, she takes a deep breath. "You got me." She says. "I'm sorry for running off but this is the first time I ever felt to scared and angry. I hate this jungle, so I'll gladly drop the it. However, you won the challenge." Kela laughs quietly. "So you still have me. You always have me."
Crawling off of him, Kela smiles at Zoba. "Thank you, Zoba."
Zoba smiled back. "There's not much to say, really. The only family I've ever known were my parents and my brother. After mom and dad died, it was just me and Uriah. Our parents never mentioned any siblings they had. It'd be nice to find a long lost aunt or uncle but if they existed, you'd think they'd be worth mentioning. I never thought about it much." Zoba inhaled deeply, lifting Kela a couple inches higher until he exhaled, bringing her back down. "Mom was the most attentive lioness ever. No matter how often Uriah and I tried to sneak off, she always knew where we were." He laughed. "One time, when we were cubs, we thought it'd be fun to try to track a gazelle. So when mom and dad were asleep, we snuck away and found some hoof prints. We followed them for only a couple minutes before we heard mom's voice right behind us. The look on Uriah's face! He was so surprised." He smiled, reminiscing the adventures he had with Uriah. "Dad always encouraged our curiosity. He wanted us to explore but he never let us do it alone until we were much older. He took us to all his favorite places and introduced us to all his old friends." He paused, remembering the stories his father told him.
"Dad was part of a pride, like you. He was one of the guards of the pride. It was a big pride. But that meant there wasn't much to eat. Divide a cape buffalo among nearly thirty pride members and nobody gets much to eat. He decided that it was in the pride's best interest, as well as his, to go off on his own. He hoped more would do the same. That's when he met my mother. She was a loner like me. She was an orphan so she had to learn how to survive on her own. She taught my dad about living without the help of a pride. They fell in love and had me and Uriah."
"Now, Uriah." Zoba's grin widened into a big smile. "You'd like him. He's the one who got us into trouble about 90 percent of the time. Tracking the gazelle was his idea. Taking shortcuts ahead of mom and dad, stealing food from wild dogs, making friends with crocodiles, and riding elephants were also among his ideas. He was good at talking himself out of certain situations, though. He's a witty one. Sarcasm is like a second language to him. Imagine if Razu was pleasant and happy all the time. That's Uriah. He's a joker and a prankster. He was never really able to go anywhere without mom finding him but it honed his skills as a hunter immensely. He's nearly invisible when he wants to be. I'm the only one who can find him when he's hiding just because I know him so well. I know the kinds of places he likes to hide and the paths he takes when stalking prey." Zoba laid his head back down on the ground and sighed again. "I'm sure you'll meet him soon. We always seem to run into each other. We travel together and then part ways, and the cycle always repeats."
"I wish I was born free, like you." Kela sighs. "Instead, I got a tyrant for a father, and a mother who hardly does a thing, except try to calm things down."
"Your parents' story actually sounds a lot like ours. One left their pride, and another never had one to begin with. Like you said, it seems the cycle has been repeated. We already fell in love, so all that's left is a pair of troublemaking cubs, and it'll be set in stone." She giggles and licks his cheek.
Zoba laughed with her. "I don't know how my parents stayed sane raising Uriah and I, but..." He looked into Kela's eyes and smiled. "I accept your challenge." He licked her cheek and held his forehead to hers. "When we're ready." He said simply.
Zoba only thought for a moment. The answer was obvious. "It was a place the children called 'Happy Valley,' though it was known to most as 'Eden.' It was the longest my family ever stayed in one place. For about a month, it felt like we were our own little pride while we stayed there." Zoba thought back to those days. He remembered Eden fondly. "The savannahs were always green and the trees bore the most fruit I had ever seen in a single area. The river that ran through it was so clear and the water was so refreshing." Zoba smiled, remembering one friend he made there so long ago. "There was this old baboon who used to sit by the river every day to catch fish. He used to tell my brother and I stories of far away places. Uriah and I always wanted to go to those places. And we did. When we were on our own, we traveled to many of the places that old baboon told us about." Zoba furrowed his eyebrows in concentrated thought. "I don't think he ever told us his name."
When dawn came, Kela is awoken by an annoying nudge to her neck. "Go away." She mumbles, snuggling deeper into Zoba's body.
"Not a chance. As nauseatingly sweet as this scene is, it's time for you to get up." The aggravatingly familiar voice says. "We need to talk."
Opening her eyes, Kela lifts her head and glares at Razu. "What do you want?"
Razu looks around the trees, then back at Kela. "For you and Zoba to leave as soon as the battle is over. I heard your father talking. He's not gonna let you leave a second time, and he's probably gonna try and force us in a relationship again."
"He can't do that. I'm with Zoba and I do plan on leaving." She retorts.
"Well, he hates your boyfriend. And you know how he likes to keep the strength within the pride. You're the strongest lioness and while Zoba may also be strong, he knows you'd follow if he tried to leave. Only, he doesn't plan on letting Zoba stay." Razu explains. "Your father has no right on the throne any longer. He may have been a good king once before, but now, he's not. Once you're out of here, I can take the throne. You getting in the middle would be bad."
Looking back down at Zoba's sleeping face, she sighs. "I don't like running."
"I don't like the idea of you getting hurt, either. And I think Zoba would agree with me."
"I'll talk to him about it. If it comes down to it, you better take care of my family." Kela warns.
"Of course I would." He smirks and walks away. "I'll catch you later."
"Later." She says, then lays her head back down on Zoba. Not in any mood to go back to sleep, she decides to just lay there until Zoba awakens.
"Morning." Kela responds, then lifts her head, looking into Zoba's eyes. "Listen. We have to talk."
"Razu was here earlier and he said that Father doesn't plan to let me leave again. Nor does he plan to keep you around. Razu said he could take over the pride in my father's place, while we disappear after the battle. I don't want to run, but..." She explains them sighs. "I don't want to stay either. I mean, I trust Razu well enough, despite his attitude, I just don't want to abandon them again."
Zoba held Kela with his arms and leaned over her with her head rested on his paw.
"This pride is strong. They'll be fine, no matter what happens. I think your father is the only one who expects you to stay. But know this, Kela. The future you reach for is your choice. Not that of anyone else." With his right arm laid across her and is paw under her head, he rested his chin on her chest. "And no matter what happens, I'll be by your side."
Zoba nodded in agreement with Kela and took a position behind her. The rest of the lionesses and gorillas followed behind. The journey took them between tree-covered mountains and through streams and rivers of various widths and intensities. Through cooperation, the group was able to get most of the way through the terrain without incident.
"We are almost there." Dadan pointed out as he caught up to the front of the group.
"Then we should be careful. Jaguars are masters of stealth. They could be anywhere from here on out." Zoba said as he took a moment to take in the surroundings. There weren't any scents that alerted him of jaguar presence yet, but he wasn't about to let his guard down. He looked to Kela, who was still ahead of the group and noticeably alert as well.
Looking suspiciously around the trees and landscape, Kela knew they were being watched. Possibly from several directions.
"What is it?" Razu asks.
"Take a portion and take though the trail. Nuella, take the rest and circle around. Dadan will do as he pleases with the Tribe. Zoba and I will fall back and take a different route up there." She looks up at the mountain, speaking so only the group can hear. "If there are no questions, then do as you're told. Let nothing surprise you."
After that, the group split off into different directions. Looking back at Zoba, Kela nods toward a smaller route. "Think you can make it?"
"I'm getting more used to the terrain." He said in a hushed tone, still keeping his attention on the trees. He was getting better at traversing the lush terrain but the amount of foliage in his vision and the short distance he could see was taking its toll. He wasn't sure if his mind was playing tricks on him or not. Every so often, Zoba caught a glimpse of something moving in his peripheral vision, but when he looked, there wasn't anything there. Zoba moved in closer to Kela's side.
"I don't like this, Zoba. It's too quiet." Kela says as they walk.
"It is, isn't it." A voice sounds above them. Kela looks up and snarls at a jaguar lounging on a tree branch. Paying no heed to the hostility, the jaguar smirks condescendingly. "Oh, little princess. Always looking to the heavens, when you should be watching the earth."
"What?" Before Kela could get an answer, a pair of jaguars leap from the foliage and tackles her to the ground.
"That was a mistake." Zoba growled at the two jaguars. With a roar, he launched his full weight into the two that had pinned Kela and swiped at each of them. They were fast. Neither of Zoba's strikes found purchase on the jaguars as they leaped and ducked out of the way. Fortunately, it caused them to lose their position on top of Kela, giving her an opportunity to get up.
He turned to the Jaguars, keeping himself between them and Kela. Just then, sudden jolt came from above and the weight of another jaguar was on top of him. It caused Zoba to lose his footing for a moment, but his enormous strength allowed him to keep himself on his feet. As he shook and turned, trying to grab hold of the jaguar on his back, he felt claws dig into his skin. The jaguars grip was immense. He felt teeth begin to grab at his shoulder. Zoba had an idea, but he would have to trust Kela to protect him for a moment. Zoba found a rocky spot on the ground and threw himself at it, attempting to crush the jaguar on the ground. The howl of the jaguar indicated success. Unfortunately, this meant that Zoba was exposed, lying on his back.
As soon as one of the leopards tried to make for Zoba's exposed underside, Kela leaps at him and uses the surprise attack to her advantage as she rips out his throat. When the last one leaps at her, she pins him to the ground and presses her paws against his throat, enough to crush it.
Letting out a breath, Kela turns to Zoba. "Well, that was fun." She smirks.
"We still have to get to the mountain." Kela says. "But, we can check on the others first. I say we split up. I'll go to the pride, and you check on Dadan and his tribe. Then, we meet at the mountain with some reinforcements. Who knows how many there are." She looks around, then walks up to Zoba and licks his cheek.
"I know I promised to stay by your side, but this is only temporary and to cover more ground. We'll see eachother again really soon."
"We still have to get to the mountain." Kela says. "But, we can check on the others first. I say we split up. I'll go to the pride, and you check on Dadan and his tribe. Then, we meet at the mountain with some reinforcements. Who knows how many there are."
Zoba's worries instantly multiplied. He didn't want to leave Kela alone. "Kela, I don't-" He was cut off by a lick to the cheek.
"I know I promised to stay by your side, but this is only temporary and to cover more ground. We'll see eachother again really soon."
Zoba looked away and sighed. His mind raced through scenarios where Kela didn't come back. He'd never forgive himself for not sticking with her if that ever happened. He looked back at her and his eyes seemed to beg her to stay. You'd trust Uriah to take care of himself alone. Why not Kela? He heard the voice in the back of his head say.
Zoba pulled Kela in for a hug. "Be safe." He said as he rubbed his cheek against the top of her head.
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