The three lion cubs lay on their backs in the dry grass, flanks heaving after a wild game of chase. One, the male, was a dark brown with the beginnings of a glossy black mane sprouting between his ears. The girl idly playing with his tail was a startlingly pretty young lioness with a golden coat. The third cub had a scruffy fringe that hung over her dark-circled eyes. She was watching the other two with an expression of mild contempt.
Kovu half-sat and twisted his neck to look at his adventurous sister. "Hey Vitani, what shall we play next?"
Vitani jumped up, narrowing her eyes. "Fighting!" She pounced on her brother, pushing him back down to the ground. Kiara, their friend, backed away.
"I don't want to fight," she said in a low voice. Vitani jumped off Kovu's chest and looked her up and down scornfully.
"You're such a pussy, Princess!" she sneered.
"Don't call my friend a pussy!" growled Kovu, scrambling up. Vitani stood her ground.
"Well, you're one too Kovu! Kiara, you're gonna be a Queen when you grow up, right? And Kovu's going to be King."
Kiara looked impressed. "You're gonna be a King, Kovu? Of the Outlands?"
Kovu looked uncomfortable. "Um, yeah. Something like that." He shot a dirty look at Vitani, who ignored it.
"So you got to be brave! Right now neither of you's fit to rule a termite mound!"
"I'll show you who's fit to rule!" Kovu yelled, rushing at Vitani. Kiara shuffled her paws uncomfortably. Maybe her father had been right when he said Outlanders were fierce, quarrelsome animals. Her two friends, and their big brother Nuka, always seemed to be fighting about something.
There was a flurry of snaps and snarls, and a cloud of dust rose around the fighting cubs. When it cleared Vitani had pinned her brother to the ground.
"Ha!" she said triumphantly, flicking her tail. Kovu pouted; he always wanted to appear his best in front of Kiara, and now he was dirty and beaten. Vitani craned over to look at him upside-down.
"If you two want to prove you can lead a pride, I dare you to spend the night in the Elephant Graveyard!"