Dawn had come, spilling light over the rolling savannah, the gentle rays of the morning sun waking the animals that lived there. As the animals began to wake, the Antelope grazed among the grass, Wildebeest and Zebra's gathered around the watering hole for a morning drink.
A rustling in the grass made the Antelope raise their heads in alert, their ears twitching to detect the sound of any predator that may be near. But seeing nothing returned to their grazing.
But hidden from view, a young lioness lay among the tall grass; her pale golden coat gleamed in the morning sun. Her chest rose and fell slowly; her eyes were closed as she cradled in her paws a young cub no older then four days. The cub resembled a small ball of fluff, completely white in colour with a splash of black upon her nose and ears.
Opening her eyes, the lioness lifted her head opening her mouth in a loud wide yawn, taking a moment to peer around her when she heard movement but did not detect any danger to her young cub or herself. Smiling, she turned her attention her to little angel at her nestled safely between her paws with soft eyes. The cub had fallen asleep during the long trek. When they had stumbled across this new land, she knew immediately that this land was ruled by another pride, but she had been too exhausted to turn back, and instead had lain down among the grass in hopes of getting some rest just on the edge of the lands borders in hopes of showing whoever ruled this land that she was no threat and that she would only be passing through. Staring at her cub brought joy and sadness to her. It was because of the cub's colours that her mate had scorned her, saying that the sub was not his, that he could never produce such an ugly cub. To him, her young Bora was a bastard cub. It was due to this as well that her own pride had chased her off when she had refused to let them kill her daughter.
Nuzzling her nose against her cub's head, she licked in between her ears, causing the cub to squirm and roll on its back in her mother's paws. Soft pair of icy blue eyes stared up at the Eshe; the cub seemed to smile as it batted her paws at her mother. "Morning my beloved Bora…how was your sleep?" Eshe chuckled as the cub looked at her confused, the cub was still too young to even speak.
The smile slipped from Eshe's lips when she noticed her stomach rumble. It had been days since her last meal; after she had given birth the other Lionesses of her pride had refused to share the hunt with her. She knew if she did not hunt soon, she would surely starve to death and without her milk her cub would shortly follow. If she were with her Pride the hunting party would bring her food before her cub was old enough to stay alone with the other pride members when she would once again take lead of the hunting party. But since she was now alone, she had no one to watch her cub, but she knew she had to hunt nonetheless. Picking Bora up in her mouth gently, she slowly got to her feet, hearing the Antelope grazing not to far away.
Looking around, she strolled over to a boulder and placed her daughter down in the crevasse of the rocks that were hidden by the tall grass that surrounded them both. "Stay here Bora and do no move, I'll be right back," she whispered, nuzzling her cub she turn and took off through the grass.
The young cub watched as her mother left her, curling up on the ground she stayed close to the boulder to await for her mother to come back.
Eshe crept quietly through the grass, making sure to keep her body low, when she had crossed the borders her nose caught the scent of the other pride much stronger then she had the night before. Lowering her body to the ground, she made sure to keep her self down wind, she knew if they found her it could possibly be the end of her cub's life, it wasn't often a pride took in stray lionesses much less one who was afraid with cub. Eshe circled the herd, when before long she had spotted a young baby, choosing that as her target she crept close before she launched her attack. It did not take her long but she had managed to bring it down as the rest of the herd fled.
Eshe ate her fill, and headed back to where she had hid her cub. When she returned she found Bora struggling to stand on her paws and pad her way toward her mother but only fall flat on her stomach again. Chuckling softly, she laid down where her cub had fallen and lifted her with a paw and held her close. She watched as the cub yawned tiredly and curled up against her, she smiled softly and began to bathe her.
As the sun rose to the highest peek in the sky, the day began to grow warmer and warmer. Eshe had tried to stay lower to the ground in the grass as much as possible to keep her and her young cub cool. Lifting her head that just barely scanned over the top of the grass, she stared off into the distance at a large rock formation. Now that it was morning and she could see it, it told her exactly where she was and what that was. Though she never been there, she had heard tales of Pride Rock the home of the pride that ruled the Pridelands. King Simba and his Queen, Nala ruled the Pride. Many of the surrounding Prides knew of the Pridelands and their struggles through the reign of Scar. She had been a young cub herself at that time but she had heard it from the lionesses and her mother. It had taken her time to consider what pride had roamed these lands but she now knew that her own cub might not be judged if what she heard of them taking in lionesses and a lion from the Outlanders. The young lion himself was now the mate to be to the Pridelands Princess.
Looking down at her cub she sighed and licked her head, "My Sweet cub…perhaps I've found you a home" she whispered laying her head down closing her eyes to nap, the hunt, meal and the heat had tuckered her out. When she had her complete strength back, she would see if she could possibly speak with this pride…a rogue's life was not one for her, nor did she wish that upon her cub. Bora needed a safe place to live…and she prayed she had found that.
At Pride rock, a young brownish cub bounded out of the den. He was just over three months old and already was active and adventurous which often worried his father and mother. Kovu had followed his son out of the cave; he watched the cub run about disturbing many of the lionesses that were laying about bathing in the warm rays of the sun. Many of them grumbled and shot a look at Kovu who cheekily smile as he snatched up his son in his paw and took him away from the lionesses and placed him down again. "Huru what has your mother told you about bugging the other lionesses nevertheless leave the den?" he raised an eyebrow.
Huru lowered his head, the cub was brownish in colour like his father but his underbelly was golden as well as a tuft of golden fur on each of his ears. A tuff of black mane just beginning to show was atop his head. Chuckling Kovu nicked his son on the chin and grabbed him and ruffled the tuff of fur on the cub's head.
"Dad!" whining, Huru squirmed out of his Fathers hold and fell to the ground with a small "Oaf!". Huru jumped back to his paws just as a large yellow red mane Lion approached them both, grinning, Simba placed his paw on his grandson's head.
The young cub groaned as he fixed his fur and stepped away from both his Father and Grandfather.
"Zazu has reported that the Hunting Party has had a success hunt and are returning," Simba announced. He barely had time to side step as Huru shot on past him and down the steps to greet his Mother and Grandmother who were returning from the hunt with many of the other lionesses.
Kiara at the sight of her son, hurried her pace, Huru ran the rest of the way to her and weaved among her legs rubbing his head against them in greeting. Smiling she picked him up in her mouth and carried him back to the top where the rest of the pride was gathering for the meal. The hunting party had brought two grown antelope for the entire pride to feast on and last for a good number of days if they were spared it along.
Nala approached her mate and rubbed her head against his mane. "How did the hunt go?" Simba asked.
"We discovered something out in the grasslands. We found the body of a baby antelope dead and its body torn apart with claws and teeth. We also noticed the scent of another lioness…a rogue for sure." Nala explained pointing a paw off in the direction of where the hunting party had been.
Simba scrunched his brow and followed his mate's paw. "Rally some lionesses and search the area for this lioness. See if she is friend or foe. If she's just passing through, let her be" he said turning and went toward where the others were eating into the kill.
Nala watched him go then turned and went to find her daughter who was sitting with her mate and son, Huru was hanging onto his aunt, Vitani who was resisting a twitch. "Kiara, Vitani we are to go and investigate that mysterious lioness we smelt"
Kiara turned her head toward her mate, nodding she explained what they had found and smelt out on the hunt.
"Mama can I go with you?" Huru asked placing his paws on his mothers and looking up toward her with a large toothy smile.
Kiara smiled and shook her head, "No Huru it's too dangerous for you to leave Pride rock yet…whomever we may find could be dangerous as well. And I don't want you getting hurt, plus you're too young to leave Pride rock just yet."
"Mind your mother Huru!" Kovu stated lazily where he laid with his head resting on his paws.
Huru pouted, his ears flattened against his head. Kiara smiled and licked the top of his head laughing softly as her son fixed his fur, Huru was too proud that he was already growing a tiny mane that he didn't like it when someone messed with it. Standing, Kiara followed Nala; Vitani nudged her nephew when she passed him, "Behave squirt!" she teased taking off after the other two the small group leaving Pride rock.
"Nala what do we do if we find this rogue?" Vitani called to the Queen.
"We don't attack if that is what you are asking Vitani, we do not attack unless she attacks us first"
"She is in our Pridelands. Hunting our food"
"There could always be an explanation Vitani," Nala stated coming to a halt. Raising her head she caught the scent of the wondering lioness…but it wasn't the only scent she caught, she caught the scent of another female though it was much younger. Though by scent alone she could not tell exactly how old the other was, but the smell did tell her the other was much other then the first scent she caught, and told her that the younger one wasn't even close to her prime.
"Vitani, Kiara spre…" she was cut off by a startled roar behind her. Turning around she was shocked to see Vitani wrestling on the ground with a pale golden lioness both were tearing at each other with tooth and claw.
Kiara was staring at them both with wide eyes and moved to help Vitani when she heard strange noise off to her right and crept slowly toward it careful for she thought perhaps this lioness was not alone. But just as she got closer to the noise, she was suddenly pushed aside by the lioness that had jumped away from Vitani the moment she saw Kiara getting to close to where she had hidden her precious cargo. "Don't go near my cub!" Eshe growled lowly standing her ground protectively in front her cub. Though she knew the stories of the Pridelanders she was not going to take her chances.
Nala's went to stand beside her daughter when the lioness had pushed at her prepared to defend her daughter when her eyes widened when the lioness' words struck home. Cub? Yes, that must have been the other scent she smelt. Which would be the reason why the lioness attacked the antelope and just attacked Vitani they must been close to where the cub is hiding.
"Vitani stand down!" she ordered when she noticed the lioness getting to her paws growling at the unknown lioness before them wanting nothing more then to rough the lioness up for attacking her.
Stepping forth, Nala remained unfazed as the lioness growled at her and ordered once more for them to stay away, "We are not here to cause harm to you or your cub….My name is Nala I'm…"
"Queen of the Pridelands, yes I know who you are," Eshe stated as she bowed her head low in respect, "Forgive me for my suddenly attack. I did not know whether you would harm my cub or not. My name is Eshe I am…was a member of the Sumali Pride…I was exiled shortly after my cub was born"
"Why?" Kiara asked suddenly looking at Vitani remembering when she listened to her tale of what happened after she was exiled before she was born.
"MY mate had called our cub a bastard cub…saying it was not his for her colours…" Eshe whispered, she was hesitant for a moment considering whether or not to allow them to see her cub. But given they were no longer attacking her and she had been hoping to see the rulers of the pride sooner or later anyways, sooner was better then later if the Queen of the Pridelands were already there speaking with her. She turned and padded over to where she had hidden Bora who was huddled up against the rock. Bending her head down, she licked her cub to calm her then picked her up and carried her over to where the other three stood.
Gasps were heard from each of the Pridelander lionesses. The cub before them was like they never seen before, none of them had ever seen cub of her colours before. Nala examined the cub with her eyes, she saw how young it was only a few days old, the cub already looked thin which she noticed she hadn't been fed enough which she figured as the reason of Eshe not getting the food she needed lately.
Placing her cub down gently, Eshe watched as Bora stayed close to her mother's paws. She watched as each lioness before her studied her cub, each were shocked at the cubs colour's. Nala stepped closer and out of instinct Eshe tensed.
"Relax…I meant what I said…we mean no harm to you or your young cub" Nala promised as she stepped even closer and looked down at the small cub. A smile was on her face, "She's a pretty young thing."
Eshe was shocked, her cub was only ever called pretty by her, and to everybody else she was ugly. "Thank you…" she whispered as she smiled down at her cub that gave a wide yawn and laid herself out on her mothers paw closing her eyes.
"You both must be tired…and I cannot leave a mother and such a young cub out in the cold of the night." Nala stated, "I would like to offer a chance to come back with us. Simba will understand"
"No…I can't…" Eshe whispered afraid for her daughter.
Kiara smiled and stepped up next to her mother, "My mother is right you should come. I have a young cub of my own…he's three months old but I'm sure when your little cub gets bigger she'll have a friend to play with." Giving a wide smile she stepped up to Eshe, looking down at Bora she smiled. "Mom is right she is a pretty cub!"
Eshe looked at both Queen and Princess, she then looked at Vitani who was still scowling at her for when she attacked. She looked at her cub and sighed, "I guess…I could come," she said lifting her cub into her mouth. Nala smiled and turned with Kiara on her heel, Kiara nodded her head for Eshe to follow, who followed slowly behind her. Vitani took up the rear of the group.
Back at Pride Rock, Huru who was sitting at the edge of the steps leading down from the top of the den, staring off into the distance. He was waiting for his mother, grandmother and aunts return. A wide cracked across his face when he finally spotted them in the distance, but was confused as to who the new member of the party returning was. "They're back! They're back!" Huru hollered running down to greet them.
Simba and Kovu who had been talking not to far away heard him and took off after the young cub.
When they caught up with the cub, Huru was already rubbing against his mother's legs welcoming her back once more. It was then Simba noticed the fourth member of the party, "Who is this Nala?" Simba asked eyeing Eshe.
"This is the lioness that we had gone out to seek…her name is Eshe and her cub is…" Nala had suddenly remembered she never got the cub's name.
Eshe gently placed Bora down and bowed her head, "It's an honour to meet you King Simba, your fair ruling has even reached the ears of my old pride. My name is Eshe and this here is my cub Bora…we were exiled from our pride for…reasons of misunderstanding…"
Simba stared at the cub, Nala who walked over and sat beside him leaned in, "Her mate called her cub a bastard cub"
Simba nodded in understanding, he noticed how thin the cub was. He then noticed the colours of the cub; listening to what his mate had explained and scowled it made furious to know a father would disown his own cub for her colours alone. Looking up at Eshe he could see the look of uncertainty on her face, he could tell she was afraid for her cub, afraid that he would turn them away or cause harm to the cub. He offered her a gentle smile for reassurance that, that wasn't the case here "I did it before…but I will not do it again, I will not let a cub live out in the cruel world…I will not make the same mistake twice" his eyes moved to Vitani and Kovu, then back to Eshe and Bora.
"Welcome!" he smiled turning and heading back up toward Pride Rock. "Come, meet the rest of the pride"
Huru who was examining Bora nudged her with his paw, "She has funny fur!" he said looking up at Eshe.
Kiara grabbed her son, "Huru that's not nice!" she shot Eshe an apologetic look for her sons behaviour.
Eshe chuckled, " Do not worry. He's just a cub, he doesn't mean anything by it and yes she has different fur colour young prince" she smiled down at the young prince who grinned back at her with a large toothy smile.
Huru managed to slip out of his mothers hold and walked back over to Bora and nudged her again making the cub mew in protest. "Is she going to be my new friend? There isn't any other cubs in the pride right now" he looked at Eshe with big wide eyes and a toothy grin that made Eshe think if he smiled any bigger that his face would crack.
Eshe couldn't help but smile, "Yes young prince she will be a new friend for you but she still is rather small, you might have to wait for her to get a little bigger before you can run around with her. But yes, I see no reason for her not to be your friend" plus it was what Eshe was hoping for. A pride with a cub that Bora would not only be safe in but be able to grow up in with a friend to grow up along side of.
A cheer was heard as Huru jumped around excited that he finally had a new friend to play with other then the older lions. The lionesses laughed at the young cubs antics. Quietly the group headed to Pride Rock to introduce Eshe and Bora to the Pride.