AN: Thanks for all your visits and support, especially forT5Tango, who left me a nice review, kate, AislinnTW and Moongaze14, who addressed me on my deviantart account. I will try to submit some BoB-related pictures there one day, although I don't promise anything.
T5Tango: Yes, cliffhanger! The Uru- Ahadi relations will be continued in the next chapter, as today there's some politics. And who on the evil side in my story? What do you think about it? How do you like the new characters in this chapter?
Here is a new chapter for you. Enjoy and remember about reviews ;)
Chapter 22 'Stratagem.'
'Cravings of the greatest world will always satisfy.
After all the diplomacy rules the every live.'
from Kaczmarski's 'Ambasadorowie ('Ambassadors'), translation by lew_leon
Mohatu woke up. He was having a strange nightmare and when he heard that roar he thought that it's that dream again. Especially when he saw that witch, Kikatili, in front of himself.
Then somebody screamed.
Kikatili winced and jumped on king Mohatu in a desperate attempt to complete her mission. To kill the king. But Wajjinga was in his place and covered the king. He shrieked loudly when the enemy's claws pointed his skin and thrusted deeply between the muscles. Kikatili jerked, pulling out her bloodstained paws. Her two followers were there to finish the mission, but in the same time the place crowded with furious hyenas and lions.
'Fall back!' Kikatili decided. She killed a one hyena to make an exit for her lionesses. They disappeared as fast as they emerged, like a nightmare. But no nightmares leave the dead victims….
Everybody was on guard now. The lines were formed and the army was setting out again. Terrified by a sudden attack, the lions and hyenas didn't think anymore about sleeping. Hilary looked with sorrow on his another dead battalion member. Next to him, shaman Babu was lying, strangled in the dream. He was unfortunate to sleep next to the king.
The same night
Razmyan spotted the beige lioness when she came to the camp. Kikatili bowed gently in front of him.
'We failed, Razmyan. They had luck again.' She said plainly.
'Maybe they would have less luck if you were better.' The prince scoffed.
'Maybe.' Kikatili answered. 'Or maybe your plan was bad.'
'Maybe God doesn't want us to destroy them utterly.' The third lion said softly. He was big and slim, with a sleek golden mane that came into a brownish colour on his neck. He was called Mkwezi and came from the Ushindi Pride.
'Ah, Mkwezi, I'm happy that I see you again. I'm your great debtor. You reconciled me with my brother, made up that great ambush plan and brought here those beautiful and ruthless warrior lionesses.' Razmyan smiled that moment to Kikatili. She answered with a shrug.
'Ah, that's nothing, really. You know that my lord, King Chafuko Kivete, can't look at others' misfortune. You don't have any debt, really. The king just asks you to be his faithful friend and help him whenever he will be in trouble.' Mkwezi said graciously. 'But I… personally would have two small requests…'
'Whatever you want, my friend.' Razmyan nodded.
'First, I'd like you to make my friend, Adna, your chancellor. She'll advice you as well as I did. And second, you'll make me your representative in the talks with Mohatu. It's just… I need a great success to show off to my king.' Mkwezi smiled.
'As you wish.'
'Thank you. You won't be disappointed.'
'I'm really thankful to you. I was worried… You know that old proverb: "Never ally with the stronger, or you'll became his vassal".'Razmyan said.
'You're a frank and good lion. I would be heartless if I deceived such person.' Mkwezi was serious.
'So let's celebrate. Brother, bring us some food!' Razmyan yelled to Bathya.
Then he strolled towards Kikatili and looked into her eyes. He had to admit that she was a beautiful lioness. Maybe she was a bit too slim and she had that spooky, silver, blind eye, but other features were outstanding – from her silk beige fur to her interesting brown marking starting on her head and prolonging to her blades.
He leaned towards her and gave her a small kiss. She looked at him strangely. But the Mwandamo Pride was a strange pride. It consisted only from the females, as the males were forbidden to belong to them. If they wanted to mate, they just kidnapped a lion and one after another they had sex with him. Then the relations were contradicting, as there were very few witnesses. In the most popular version, they killed the victim in a ceremony for their only goddess, Queen of the Moon. The offspring was trained from a very early age, getting used to killing, both herbivores and other lions. They also had a kind of a royal family, although they inherited all the titles in a female line. And all the males were killed.
The Mwandamo lionesses often submitted to a mercenary work, sometimes changing the fate of the world during the battles.
Razmyan smiled. How he could not fall in love with such a strong and decisive lioness. He could tame her… Then he would have that beautiful army just for him.
'Do you remember what I promised you… You wanted to have strong cubs…' he whispered into her ear. She flickered her ears.
'Good, so do what you have to.' she said plainly. He could feel that she's tightened. Did she fear him?
Razmyan leaned towards her and started massaging her shoulders.
'What are you doing?' she asked.
'It doesn't have to be a harsh obligation…'
Two lionesses walked slowly through the scrub. The war was won, so the prince gave everybody a moment of rest. Those two decided to go on a small stroll.
'That was fun! We fooled that dumb, fat hyena. He looked around like a complete dimwit.'
'Maybe he had the fat instead of his brain. I heard that hyena can live a few minutes without its head.'
'No, dear, it's a chicken.' The only answer was a quiet rattle. The second lioness turned around and two hyenas jumped at her, biting her throat. Krura Yena, the daughter of Hillary, was one of them.
'Well, well.' She said when she finished her enemy. 'Here comes your angel of the death. The one which doesn't like bastards laughing from his father. Come on, guys. Let's find that silver-eyed witch now.'
After two days king's Mohatu army arrived to the border. They claimed positions at the slope and waited for the enemy. Prince Razmyan's party arrived after a few hours.
'So what, you want to continue this?' The prince yelled.
'Why not? I'll come back with a bigger army. And this time I'll win!' Mohatu shouted back.
'You have no reason to attack us like that! All prides will be against you. Numerous warriors will come here to support me!'
'So what do you want?'
'Negotiations. Let's meet in the halfway of this slope and talk face to face. Only you and two of your followers.'
'Good! But don't try such tricks like last time or I'll tear you to shreds!' Mohatu warned him.
They met after a few minutes. Hillary Yena and Colonel Mengiste were on Mohatu's side. On Razmyan's side there was Mkwezi and Kikatili.
'Hi, fat 'yena.' The cruel queen scoffed.
'Hi, you ugly, shaved male. I may make you a nice mane from the furballs I coughed up .' Hillary answered.
'We almost got your useless daughter. Next time she won't have so much luck.' Kikatili growled. On her trunk a few marks of the hyena's claws could be seen. Hillary growled in response.
'It's our conditions of the peace.' Mkwezi started. 'You will recognize prince Razmyan as only ruler of the Northern Pride. The capturers of the both sides will be returned. The fiefdom of the dead prince Vizuri will be divided. You will get a small waterhole that we can see from this place. There is an important buffalos' migrating track, so you should be satisfied. Queen Kikatili will get a waterhole between your lands and Northern Pride.'
'I will win this war with a support of my whole pride. ' Mohatu said harshly. 'So I have to think on my own if it suits me.'
Mkwezi show his claws and draw a circle in the sand around Mohatu.
'You will answer me in this circle. Now. If you leave it, I'll mean war with the Ushindi Pride, whose representative I am.' He growled angrily.
Mohatu looked into his eyes, completely surprised.
'Okay, so let it be a peace.' He answered after a moment of hesitation…
Ushindi Pride. – the Eastern Lands.
'I don't understand why we're talking about that "Pridelande". It's a damn backwater!' The old lion shouted. He had a black mane with silver strips around his muzzle. His coat was sandy and grizzled.
'Really, Ghadhabu, I thought that you're cleverer.' somebody answered him. It was a middle aged, slim lion with a golden coat and a beautiful mane in the same colour. He was called Chafuko and had a sobriquet 'Kivete' (Lame) for his lame leg. He was the current ruler of the Principality of Ushindi Pride – one of the biggest and oldest kingdoms in the lion world.
'Mkuu, I'm sorry, but I really don't understand. They're obnoxious barbarians. Have you ever heard about a philosopher, poet, bard or even a shaman from that "country".'
'We aren't going to praise them in any way, poor Ghadhabu.' The third lion answered merrily. It was Mkwezi. 'But they grew dangerous. And it's an opulent, neighboring country with many prides that could help us in the next war. It's much better to have allies than the enemies.'
'Thank you, Mkwezi.' Chafuko said graciously. He loved his acquiescing lickspittles, as long as they had enough of sophisticated smartness.
'We don't have to ally with the barbarians to win wars. Our army is the greatest and our art of war is unprecedented. And our diplomacy gives us peace.' Ghadhabu disagreed.
'My dear friend, look at our surroundings. Look at that stupid monkey slaves that are fanning us with palm leaves. Look at those three lionesses that are waiting for my sign to come here and bring us meat or "play" with us. Look through the edge of the plateau we're sitting at to see the next obedient lionesses hunting for us. Look far away to see our vassal prides waiting for my one word to march to the battle. And you know what? It's a dust. And we're waiting for a strong wind that will scatter it away.
Yesterday I was on the vassals' meeting. They threatened me with a civil war if I won't give them more privileges. Cunctatory can have a positive effect for a short turn, but the great empires more often disappear through suicide that through murder. The point is that to avoid a suicide and murder the enemies.' The prince said.
'The speech worth the Crowned Prince.' Mkwezi praised him. 'Your majesty, maybe we should attack this month to surprise them. At least the ringleaders.'
'Good idea, Mkwezi. I'll see how my leg will feel in the following days. It's hurting me today. The Pridelanders are strong and ambitious. They won't get subjugated easily. They almost conquered the Eastern Pride. Only the quick reaction from Mkwezi saved our friends from a defeat and protected the whole region from the occupation. '
'You mean sending them those amazons from Nyekundu Pride? A smart idea. They settled near the Pridelands and they won't bother us anymore. They were so onerous.' Ghadhabu said.
'Indeed. They also keep an eye on stupid ideas of king Razmyan or king Mohatu that could disturb the balance in the region. And the Razmyan's chancellor is our spy, she is informing us regularly.' Chafuko stopped for a moment to take a sip of water. 'May I present you officer Bure. He's my spy that stayed in the Pridelands for some time. He knows that country more than any of us. Bure!'
The lion came to the prince.
'Greetings to you, My Prince, and to the noble Lords.' He said courteously, smiling merrily.
'Bure, could you tell us something about the Pridelands?'
Firstly, Bure told a bit about the prides that belong to king Mohatu's domain. Then he focused on the king himself.
'He's a ruthless, very ambitious ruler. He doesn't have any friends or allies, just enemies or subjects. Could I suggest something, sir?'
'Go ahead.' Chafuko let him speak.
'I think that killing Mohatu and raising somebody else on his throne is a key to subjugating that pride. I know that it isn't easy, but it's possible. The king has a strong opposition. With a small help and encouragement they might get rid of their ruler on their own.'
'Do we have any candidate for the throne?'Ghadhabu asked.
'No, but the king has two daughters. The younger one, called Uru, will get married with one of our people.' Mkwezi answered. 'It's simple as that.'
'Good. Bure, you have my full support. Today you'll set off to the Pridelands with two birds. Send them when you'll need something. You're dismissed.' Chafuko said.
'Thank you sir. Goodbye.'
'Ah, Bure!' Ghadhabu exclaimed. 'Have you seen any art in that "Pridelande"?'
The spy smirked.
'The younger daughter of the King, Uru, was thinking up some song lyrics. But that was amateurish. Even the hyenas are more cultured than those folks.' He taunted.
AN: Mkwezi did the same that gesture as roman diplomat Popilius Lenas, who "encircled" the Syrian king, Antioch IV. Do you think that it's an interesting plot twist? How do you like the new characters in this chapter? Now the real action begins, so watch carefully for a next update of Friday. And don't forget about the reviews :D