Just for the fun of it. I wanted to write a short story to my Lion kign AU series. A story I made with a brief explanation in chapter 18 of part two of the series, called 'His true destiny' this story story is centered around my OC lioness Zuri's, Father Kopa, who she and Simba [if you haven't read the story Zuri is Simba's mate in my series] named their first born cub after. I've mentioned how he died a few times throughout the series when I suddenly wanted to write this and been spending a few months on trying to piece it together.
Hope you enjoy
Clouded with worry, eyes that reflected the colour of the sky, darted toward that housed his mate and at the moment many of the Prides lionesses. Kopa had just been in the middle of his afternoon patrol of the west side of the prides territory, when he had gotten the word that his mate, Zakia, had just begun to go into labour. With that knowledge, the brown blonde mane lion had hurried on back to the Grove that the Rasheda's had called home for nearly fourteen generations.
Unfortunately upon his return he had found himself blocked from his and Zakia's cave by the prides lionesses' one of them being his mates very own sister, Leta, who told him firmly that he was no permitted to enter the cave. It did not matter the amount of protests he made on the issue, none of them were permitting him to pass not even when Leta herself had darted into the cave to check on her sister.
"Relax my friend, your mate has been through this already once before, and she has the others in there to help her. If Leta really thought her sister needed you, she would call you on into the cave. Now calm down and quit pacing like a nervous newborn calf, it's not like you are the one pushing those cubs out!" A deep rumbling chuckle came from behind the nervous lion carrying the reassuring words his long time friend and King was trying to portray to the golden mane lion.
Turning his head to gaze the large brownish-gold lion, whose mane had a grey sheen to it, that was coming up behind him. His face a stoic mask as it ever was, but Kopa who knew his friend better then anyone…well anyone other than the Kings mate and his mates sister, Leta that is. He knew despite the way Mansa carried himself, the King was not as cold as he led many to believe he was.
His eyes travelled to the small cub that trailed behind the King, the cub was four and a half months old and growing like a weed, or so he had heard his mate say on many occasions about their nephew. The cub much like his father was brownish-gold in colour, and atop his head a tuft of light brown mane was just starting to grow in. The cub was just growing out of his spots.
Sighing outwardly, the wary lion raised his gaze back toward his friend and King "This may not be the first time Zakia has given birth…but you clearly remember the last time she and I had tried to have cubs…"
"That was nearly two years ago…" Mansa furrowed his brow as he tried his best to reassure his friend. Though he knew deep down just how worried he truly was about his mate and the condition of his unborn cub or cubs. Kopa and Zakia had been mates long before he had taken Leta for his mate and Queen, and though the royal pair was successful on their first try to have an heir, he knew Zakia and Kopa had been trying for many years to have cubs.
When Zakia had become pregnant the first time, he could clearly remember how excited Kopa had been about the aspect of finally becoming a father. But it was two months into the pregnancy when something had gone wrong and Zakia had gone into labour earlier then she should have and though she had managed to successfully give birth to the cub…the cub sadly turned out to be stillborn…dead before it could even breathe its first breath of air.
The news of the stillborn cub had wrecked Kopa but it had been even more devastated upon the brown lions mate and much against her mates' constant reassurance Zakia had given up on trying to have another cub for two years. That was, until Kopa had convinced his mate to try one more time. With the promise that if something much like the last time happened again, that they would no longer try for a cub. Something that greatly upset the both of them, but not even Kopa knew just what toll it would take on them if their new cub turned out to be another stillborn.
The two counted their blessings when Zakia had managed to become pregnant after a few tries and over the course of the months many in the pride watched the lioness closely to the point that Leta would not allow her sister to even accompany them on the hunts. Wanting her to stay behind with the elderly lionesses just to be on the safe side that nothing would happen to this cub like the last.
As Zakia reached her last month of pregnancy many breathed a sigh of relief that she had made it through all four months without showing any signs of complications but it appeared that not even that was reassuring enough for his cub-hood friend.
"What does it matter if it was two years or six months ago…the matter of the fact is…it could happen again…and I should be in there with her!" Kopa ranted, his eyes darting back to the cave where he could pick up the slight sounds of his mate and many of the lionesses that were encouraging her and giving her comforting words.
With a roll of his eyes, Mansa came to stand beside his friend, his young son coming to stand at his paws. He was proud that his first born heir had been a son. He had worried that because he had waited so long into his life to take a mate that perhaps he wouldn't end up being successful in conceiving an heir. He had gone against his fathers wishes and had become King after the older lion's death but hadn't taken a Queen for some time even when his friend mated with the younger sister of his now Queen, he hadn't mated with Leta until he knew that he needed an heir for certain.
That and no one but Kopa knew that the King held feelings for Leta for many years but never expressed them for fear she seemed to have feelings for another lion in the pride. Mansa and Kopa hadn't been the only males to be born within their generations, there had been give more but many had eventually left the pride some taking younger lionesses with them to start new prides elsewhere while Kopa had stayed behind with Zakia to help Mansa protect the pride, their mates and their future cubs.
"Have faith my friend, she has lasted this long without complications and none of the lionesses have come out to tell you otherwise just yet." Mansa looked off toward the cave himself, he knew his mate was inside there with her sister, for she was not one of the many who now sat outside the cave watching the two lions with stern looks. He remembered much of the same scenario when Leta had given birth to their son, Jaali, he hadn't been permitted to enter their cave either much to his annoyance and demands as King that he should be allowed inside.
However none of the lionesses budged, many even got gutsy and dared him to even try and get past them and see what they would do to stop him. It had been Kopa who had calmed him down much like he was trying to do himself right now to calm the other lion from pulling his mane out with worry.
Sighing, Kopa slumped his shoulders and looked toward the cave his mate and he shared for years. Zakia was three years younger then him and though there were other lionesses that were competing for his attention, that was until they got their own mates and left the pride with those males that left, he had chosen the tanned lioness, the sister of the lioness he knew his friend pined for but never had the guts to mate with…although Kopa knew if he said that out loud Mansa would have his head, he thought with a small grin.
"Is Auntie having a cub?"
The brown blonde mane lion lowered his gaze to the cub that stood between him and Mansa. The cub stared up at him with bright green eyes that shined with curiosity, his paw resting upon his uncles. Forcing a grin, Kopa nodded his head and said "Yes Jaali, she is…" his words seemed to brighten the young Prince up for a large toothy smile spread across the cubs face. "You excited?"
"Yes!" The cub exclaimed happily, "I get a new friend!"
"That you will…" Kopa stated softly, laying his paw on the young cubs head ruffling his fur a bit. The two grown lions glanced at one another, ignoring the cubs excitement for a brief moment while they both seemed to be thinking the same thing. Both were wondering if the cub would live and though Mansa seemed more reassured then Kopa was he was still silently praying that the cub turned out to be healthy.
The two of them fell silent, with neither saying a single word to each other or the cub at their paws who appeared content to just chatter on about the many things he could do with the new cub, including all the things he could show the cub that Mansa had shown him. They finally glanced up when they caught the lionesses guarding the cave part from the corner of their eyes. When they saw Leta push her way through to make her way over to them, Kopa jumped to his paws meeting the lioness half way.
"Well…" he breathed out, eyeing the lioness' face that seemed to not show a shred of emotion and for a brief second he felt his hopes get crushed and his stomach twist as he thought that perhaps this cub had indeed turned out like the other when a smile spread across Leta's face.
"The cub is healthy…congratulations Kopa…you have a daughter!" the words that came out of the Queens mouth seemed to floor the lion.
Paws planted firmly against the ground, Kopa suddenly found it hard to breathe for his throat seemed to close up as he stared wide eyed at the lioness in front of him. "A…a daughter…the…the cubs…a girl…she's healthy?" he asked just wanting to make sure he was hearing Leta correctly.
Smiling, Leta gave a nod of her head "Yes Kopa…it is a girl…and quite healthy…has a set of lungs on her too might I add…" it was then Kopa knew she was telling the truth for his ears could suddenly pick up the sound of mewing…a cubs mewing, coming from inside the cave. Without wasting another second, he hurried on around Leta passing the other lionesses who stepped side for him each with smiles on their faces as they congratulated the new father as he passed on by them. Behind him, he heard Jaali's excited cry as the royals followed him on into the cave to see the prides new cub.
His eyes landed on his beautiful mate who was laid out at the back of the cave, her body was curled protectively around the small brown fluff of fur that was curled against her stomach suckling. Brown…the cub had his fur…a large smile cracked across his face at the sight of his daughter…
Wow…he thought, I have a daughter.
Joy shot through him, making him hurry to his mate's side where he sat down, first greeting Zakia who smiled up at him. She looked wary from giving birth but seemed remarkably happy that she had successfully given birth to a healthy cub this time around. "How are you?" he asked nuzzling his mate, he licked her cheek and nipped her ear a little in affection wanting to show her how concerned he had been and how happy he was now for the both of them and that their worries had been laid to rest.
Zakia gazed up at her mate with warm brown eyes, the labour had been tiring for the whole time she had been worried to death about the outcome of the cub. She wasn't sure how she was going to take the news if the cub ended up being another stillborn. It had been a relief to make it through all the months of pregnancy without trouble like the last but that didn't make her any less wary. For years she had wanting nothing more then to have a cub with Kopa, and been disappointed each time had been unsuccessful. When the last time they had been able to finally conceive a cub, she had been extremely excited, she couldn't wait to see that sweet cub when it was born.
When she had gone into labour too soon…she prayed the entire time she was giving birth for the cubs well being. But when the cub had been stillborn, Leta had tried desperately to take the cub away from Zakia before she could see the cub but Zakia demanded the cub back wanting to see her cub, saying her sister didn't have the right to take the cub away, not yet realizing it was dead until she saw no movement was coming from the cub…her son. Her first born son had died before he could even get a chance to live.
She cried for days after, often times she refused to even eat, she felt like she was a failure as a mother that she could not even save her little cub who seemed just so tiny, whats worst was that she felt like she was a failure as a mate for she was unable to give the lion she loved a healthy cub. It had taken Kopa two years before he could finally convince her to try again, she almost didn't want to for she was afraid that the cub would turn out like the other. She would never admit it out loud but she had become extremely jealous of her sister when she mated with Mansa and had successfully become pregnant on the first time and had given birth to a healthy male cub.
She thought how could her own sister be able to successfully have a cub on her first try, even though Leta was years older then her, she had mated with Kopa long before Leta had become Mansa's mate and Queen. She thought how Leta could have a healthy cub on the first try and she…she who been trying for years could not get pregnant nor have a healthy cub…
But when Leta announced that this cub was alive and seemed to be healthy, Zakia wasn't sure if she should believe her or not at first. It wasn't until the cub's first mews that she knew that the cub was indeed alive. Her heart soared when she heard those tiny mews coming from the cub…her cub…her daughter…she had cried tears of joy when she found out she had given birth to a healthy female cub.
She didn't waste another minute when she took the cub from Leta and the others who had checked the little she-cub over, and brought the mewing cub into her paws where she began to bathe her with her tongue while she allowed the cub to grow accustomed to her. It was then, that she really took in the cubs colouring and she smiled happily when she saw the cub was brown in colour much like her mate.
It was only when she was finished bathing the cub did she pick her up and place her gently against her side so that the cub could get her first drink of her mothers milk while Leta hurried from the cave to tell Kopa of the good news.
Smiling, she returned her mates affection licking him gently on the muzzle. "I'm just fine…just a bit tired. Giving birth really is tiring even if it is to just one cub…" she turned her attention back to the cub who was still nursing from her. "Meet your daughter…" she looked back up at her mate to find he was already staring down at their daughter with joy and what also looked like pride shined in his eyes.
Kopa moved around his mate till he stood completely in front of her, lowering himself enough down onto his paws until he could lean his head down close to his daughter. Watching in amazement as the cub stopped nursing as soon as a new scent reaches her tiny pale tanned colour nose which twitched while she blindly squirmed around from her mother to face the new scent nearest to her.
Pride grew deep within him while he gazes upon his daughter…his daughter…that was all he could think of and each time he thought it the more the pride he felt swelled up inside him. To the point he thought it would all go to his head. He had created this beautiful little cub…beautiful…and that's when the name came to him and lifting his head he looked at his mate expectantly. "Have you named her yet?" he questioned, lowering his gaze back to the cub who crawled blindly toward him mewing wanting to know who this stranger was.
With a paw he reached out and pulled her onto his other paw, holding her there while she sniffed at the fur on him. Zakia watched all this with a teary smile, she felt like she was finally successful in giving her mate the cub she knew he wanted just as badly as she did. "No…I haven't named her yet…I was thinking of a few names…"
"I want to name her!"
Zakia stared at her mate when Kopa quickly cut her off when he announced that he wanted to be the one to name their cub. Not sure what to think she looked around Kopa to her sister who was making her way over with her mate and cub in toe behind her. She knew Leta had allowed Mansa to name their son because it was royal tradition in the Rasheda's that the King would name the first born heir. But she and Kopa were not royal and she knew she really wanted to be the one to name the cub but when she saw the excitement on her mates face she said with a smile "Well…" she teased as she watched him look at her with a pleading expression.
"Please…come on Zakia…it's a good name I swear it!"
The tanned lioness seemed too be thinking it over just to tease her mate then finally she smiled and nodded her head. "Fine…but it better be a good one as you say…" she teased again she returned her gaze to her little daughter who was sprawled out upon her fathers paw.
Grinning, Kopa looked down at his daughter, taking a moment to nuzzle her tiny body and run his tongue along her listening to her mews he spoke loud enough for the entire pride who was gathered to hear him. "Zuri…her name will be Zuri…" he looked up at his mate who smiled when she heard the name that her mate had chosen for their cub, he then looked around at the rest of those who were gathered and each of them had similar smiles and grins on their faces at having heard the name as well.
"What a lovely name!" The soft voice of an old lioness came to his right; he looked toward the lioness who was smiling at them.
"Thank you Fujo…" he thanked the lioness who only nodded her head to him. He looked back at his mate who was watching him with a teary smile "It is a lovely name…Zuri…our little Zuri…" she reached out and took the cub back cradling her in her paws while Kopa moved to stand behind her gazing proudly down upon his mate and cub while the royal family came to give their congratulations to the new parents.
Mansa grinned at his friend and nudged him with his paw "See, I told you everything would be alright…you should listen more often!" he stated matter-of-factly. Kopa only grinned and smacked his paw away "Hey, a lion can worry…" both lions laughed as they turned their attention to the young prince who had come to see the cub. Their laughter was soon joined by others in the cave as they watched both cubs greet one another as Jaali exclaimed with joy that he finally had a new friend to play with.
It was shortly after that, the older lionesses started shooing the younger ones from the cave to leave the new parents in peace and to allow both Zakia and the cub to rest. Kopa left his mates side for a moment while he went to collect what remained of a hunt from the day prior bringing it to Zakia for her to eat and regain the strength she had lost during the delivery.
As she was eating, Kopa settled himself down beside his mate so that their daughter was nestled safely in between them. Tiny Zuri was once again suckling from her mother. Once Zakia was finished her meal, she gave their daughter one last bath when she felt the tiredness from her labour finally taking its toll. "Rest!" she glanced at her mate when he told her she should rest and with a small nod she laid her head down on his paws and within minutes was fast asleep.
The brown blonde mane lion remained awake for some time after his mate and cub both had fallen asleep. Keeping silent vigil over the both of them watching them sleep soundly. Turning his head just enough he looked down upon his tiny daughter who was now pressed up against his own side asleep just like her mother was, the soft mewing snores coming from her little mouth made his heart melt.
He was a father…
Something he really was beginning to think would never happen.
But yet…here was this tiny little brown ball of fur…so tiny she barely looked to be the size of his paws…
This tiny thing…this little girl…was HIS little girl…his beautiful daughter…his Zuri…
A large grin cracked his face once more at the thought. "Yes…my Zuri…" he breathed whilst bending his head down to her. He licked her body listening to her mews of protest at being disturbed but quickly fell on back to sleep. "Nothing will ever hurt you…I'll protect you…my little Zuri…" giving the cub one last lick and a gentle nudge he laid his head down upon his mates closing his eyes.
He would keep that promise…he would not let this cub die…
He would protect his family at all cost, was his last remaining thought as he drifted off to sleep in the presence of his mate and daughter.
"Are you absolutely certain about this Jamine?"
A grey parrot, fluffed his feathers he perched himself upon an upturned root. The height allowing him to face his King directly as he delivered the news. The parrot had been in service to the King for many years and it was not often that he had to be the bearer of unsettling news. But it seemed that today would not be one of those days.
"Yes sire, I've spoken to many of the animals who have moved toward our territory. News from the Gorilla's is this rogue was seen the day before yesterday…they had managed to drive him off when he had come too close to killing one of their young. I have not heard word of his entry into the territory but Badu had requested I warn you!" Jamine recited the news he had come searching out his King in great haste for.
A low growl rumbled in Mansa's throat, it wasn't that they hadn't seen many male rogues in the past pass their way, but not many dared to enter the Rasheda territory not when they smelt that it was guarded by two males. Even if one wanted to take over a pride not many were foolish enough to go up against two males who would fight to the bitter end to protect what was theirs.
"Keep a close eye out Jamine. The moment you hear word of this rogue male entering our territory, report it immediately!" Kopa spoke up from beside the King. He had just run into Mansa to give his report on the borders he had just finished patrolling and was just about ready to head on back home when Jamine had come hurrying towards them screeching that he had important news. He was prepared to leave Jamine to Mansa, figuring it was nothing more then some report on the leopard brothers in the eastern borders which they had trouble with in the past or something else on the matter.
But the moment Jamine spoke that it was of a rogue lion that he come to report on hearing about, Kopa had instead decided to stayed to hear out the whole report along side the King. Rogue males not only concerned Mansa but Kopa as well. If it were a rogue lioness it would be handled with them and another lioness to see whether or not she would be suitable to join the pride. But a rogue male was another thing entirely…in the past both he and Mansa had fought off their share of rogue males, many whom ran off the moment they realized that neither of their opponents were truly alone. Not many were stupid enough to face the both of them…but there had been times in the past when more then a few got daring and close to the pride before anyone realized they were there.
These they either successfully managed to chase off or killed.
Kopa never liked killing another lion; it was instinct to want to have a pride of your own from time to time. But now that he had a cub…he wouldn't take the risk of a rogue getting to his daughter.
"Of course!" Jamine bowed low to the both of them. Though Kopa was no royal he was the Kings second in command so the parrot showed him as much respect as he showed the King.
Both lions watched the Majordomo take flight and disappear into the canopy tree tops above them. Neither said a word until the parrot was out of sight "What do you propose we do?" Kopa looked toward his friend who was staring off into the Jungle with a hardened gaze. "Mansa?"
"Do another sweep of the territory…I'll take the borders you just handled and you take the ones I just looked over. Once we meet up again we will make our way back to the grove to alert the pride of the situation and make sure that no lioness goes out alone and that the cubs are kept near the caves!" Mansa explained firmly looking toward the other lion who nodded his head at the plan. Splitting up the two headed toward the borders once more to give them a proper sweep over to see if they could catch the scent of this rogue to see whether or not he had crossed them.
When they met up once more where the territory borders connected, they saw that neither of them had found anything on this new rogue. Mansa stared out into the Jungles just passed their borders, many scents were reaching their noses but none of which belonged to any other lion but their own. "It's a good possibility that he may have headed off much deeper into the Jungle far from here…he could come across the Maua pride and leave ours well enough alone…"
"The Maua pride is a two months journey from here…"
"Which is why it would be best he head that way. Let the jungles between here and there take him. I haven't heard of a rogue who hasn't gotten lost in these parts without knowing the way. If he does reach the Maua then they can handle them!" Mansa growled low under his breath.
Kopa rolled this around in his mind; he was not sure how he felt about the Maua pride. They lived much deeper into the Jungle then they did, and were a two months journey, that was if you didn't get lost. The Maua Pride consisted of three male brothers who had left the Rasheda's decades ago and had started their own pride deeper in the Jungle where they claimed was safer then living near the deserts edges.
In their part of the jungle the Rasheda's were the only pride for miles in every direction. He had a feeling if this rogue caught ear or scent of them he would come their way, why bother with a difficult two month's journey to reach another's. Not many knew of the Rasheda and the Maua's for they dwelled in the jungles untouched by many other prides but Kopa was sure the Rasheda's were more known by the rogues that were sent running from their lands then the other pride was.
Grunting, the brown blonde mane lion turned and began making his way back toward the Grove where he was sure the hunting party should have returned by then with a new meal for them to feast upon. "Come; let us not dwell on it here. We should get back and warn the lionesses of this new rogue, we can't risk the hunting party going out too deep into the territory until we can be absolutely sure that the rogue male won't come this way!" Kopa called back over his shoulder.
He had more then one reason in wanting to return back to the pride and he wanted to get there quickly. He didn't look back to see whether or not Mansa was following him but he eventually saw the King come up along side him from his peripheral vision. Neither of them said a word to one another while they made their way back toward the grove scenting the air as they went that told them the hunting party had passed that way, it reassured them that the lionesses were now safely back home.
The cry rang out as soon as the two males parted through the brush into the opening Grove of the Rasheda's that had been the home of the Pride for nearly fourteen generations of lions. The Grove was a perfect sanctuary for them; the trees that encircled it gave them protection from the outer world and provided shade when needed. However it was the waterfall that fell from the high rocks that hosted many caverns of caves for the pride to sleep and raise their young in that really was the life source of the pride for the waterfall fell into the lagoon that trailed from the grove into the jungles.
The two lions watched the young Prince come running towards them with his mother not far behind. Mansa gazed down at his son raising his paw to lay it on the cubs head as young Jaali smiled up at him with a mouth full of pearly whites. "Were you successful?" the King asked looking toward the Queen who came to stand in front them.
Leta nodded her head to confirm that they had indeed been successful in the hunt that afternoon. "Yes, we managed to catch a Zebra that was too close to the desert borders of our lands."
This caught the attention of the two lions, it wasn't often that they ate Zebra's for they never ventured into the Jungles but they were often seen in the desert for them to catch from time to time. Mansa cleared his throat, "Good…that should last us a couple of days…and good timing too…" he looked at the Queen who was now watching them with a cautious look.
"A male rogue was just caught sight of..." Kopa started and quickly added as he watched the Queen suddenly reach out to pull her son close to her and stood protectively above him staring off at the jungles edge with wide cautious eyes. "Don't worry for now Leta, we patrolled each border twice and there hasn't been any trace of this rogue in or even near our borders for the time being."
"However, I want the lionesses to stay within the Grove for now and the cubs to remain near the caves at all times!" Mansa's eyes lowered toward his son who started to whine at the thought of having to be confined near the caves and opened his mouth to protest when he saw the stern look his father was giving him. Ears pressed back against his head he stepped further behind his mothers legs hide from his fathers stare.
Leaving the King to the matters at hand, Kopa bowed his head excusing himself from the royals and made his way to the cave he and Zakia shared nodding his head to a lioness that was just leaving the cave. By the scent of it, the lioness had just brought Zakia a share of the kill that day for the lioness to eat.
Zakia stood at the edge of the cave where she was eating her meal when she caught sight of Kopa returning. Smiling at her mate Zakia greeted him with a gentle nudge of her nose against his muzzle, it was then she noticed the worried look in his eyes "What's the matter my love?"
It wasn't often she saw this kind of look in her mates eyes, Kopa was always a highly spirited lion. To see him so worried about something was a bit unsettling for her.
Kopa brushed some of his mane from his face with his paw grunting in frustration. "Jamine reported that a rogue lion had previously attacked Badu's gorilla troop, they managed to drive him away when they saw him trying to get one of the young ones but they had Jamine warn us. We patrolled the borders twice just to be safe but never caught even a whiff of scent from this rogue. The possibility is he turned in another direction and went but Mansa is having the pride stay within the confines of the grove for now until we can be absolutely sure…" seeing the scared look that came over his mates face at the mention of the rogue he wrapped his paw around her and drew her near him till he could lay his head atop of hers.
"Don't worry…I'm not going to let anything happen to you or our little girl. That I promise!" licking the top of her head, he tugged at her ear then stepped away from her to escort her back into the cave where they both could hear the mewing sounds of their daughter as Zuri was calling out for her mother to tell her she was hungry.
Lowering herself to the ground Zakia pulled her daughter up against her side giving her a quick bath while the cub latched onto her for her own afternoon meal of milk. Kopa took advantage of this time to get his share of the Zebra meat that been brought to the cave, making sure to leave some left over for his mate. He knew she needed it more then he did in order to provide enough milk for their daughter. Licking his chops, he turned toward his love and cub grinning he watched Zuri pull away from her mother once she was done feeding and blindly start to crawl in his direction.
It had been just a week since the cub came into the world, and every day she seemed healthier much to the relief and joy of her parents. But the cub's eyes had yet to open, much to Kopa's impatience and Zakia's own amusement knowing her mate really wanted to see what colour eyes their cub had but had yet to see.
"Hello my little beauty!" Lowering himself down to the ground he laid his head low watching as Zuri bumped head first into his nose when she got close to him. He chuckled at her startled squeak and reached out with his paw wrapping it around her body drawing her closer to him until her little body was half way up his nose and onto the top of his muzzle where he held her perfectly still with his paw so she wouldn't fall.
Little Zuri squeaked and mewed happily, her tiny claws gripping her fathers fur but the lion paid no heed to it. Her tiny claws could do no real damage to him at this point in her development. He laughed as she blindly pulled her tiny body up until she was on the very top of his head where from there she nestled herself down into his mane. Listening as she let out a tiny yawn and curled up to sleep right there in his mane. Having used too much energy for her tiny body to take to get there, she now wanted a nap and that's exactly where she settled for one right on top of her fathers head protected by his mane for warmth.
"I guess that climb took a lot out of her!" the proud father joked his eyes going to his mate who was watching the two of them with a face that glowed with the joy she felt from seeing the two of them. This was all she ever wanted…to have a cub with Kopa and to watch the cub grow. But seeing the two together…it brought great joy and happiness to her heart for she knew just how much Kopa already loved their daughter.
She couldn't imagine what she would do if something happened and took this away from her…
The tone in his mates voice made him look at her with concern to see the joyful look she had moments before was now replaced with worry. "What's the matter?"
"What if that rogue comes here…what if he manages to get ahold of Zuri?"
Furrowing his brow, Kopa stood carefully so that the cub would not slip down from his head and made his way to his mates side where he lowered himself down allowing Zakia to lift their daughter from the top of his head and down into her paws where she cradled Zuri close. "Zakia, I gave you my word…nothing and I mean NOTHING will ever happen to Zuri or you. I'll protect you with everything I got…we've tried so hard for so long…I'm not about to let all our efforts go to waste…" his sky blue eyes lowered to the cub who now nestled herself into the soft fur of her mothers chest and protective embrace.
Nodding her head, Zakia could only sigh and lay her head down along side her cub. She knew her mate was correct and that she was just worrying for nothing. Rogues had come to the pride before and each time they been chased off or killed and it was only just one rogue. She doubted one rogue could really do anything to them.
With those thoughts she closed her eyes to sleep off the large meal she had just eaten willing herself not to let the thoughts bother her. They were safe and that's all that mattered for the time being.
Kopa remained awake as he always did when his mate and cub slept, he would never fully fall asleep quickly. He loved watching them sleep, to gaze upon the angel that he and his mate had both created. Bending his head till he could nudge the cub without waking his mate he whispered "Don't worry my little beauty. No harm will ever come to you. Not as long as I am breathing will any harm ever come to you!"
He grinned as the cub squeaked, and he felt as if she knew what he was trying to tell her. He watched with a grin as she crawled from the embrace of her mother and into his arms instead laying herself just beneath his chin where she gave another squeak and a yawn whilst the proud father watched his daughters tiny tongue flicker for a brief moment until her mouth closed once more.
Pulling her close to him, he laid his head atop of her as she nuzzled herself into his mane. It wasn't until moments like this that he really understood what he'd been missing out on when he didn't have cubs before but now that he could have these moments with such a tiny being that he helped create…he never wanted to let it go.
It was just before dawn when Kopa felt something nudge against the side of his head, for a brief moment he thought perhaps it was Zuri. Since the cub had successfully managed to crawl her way onto his head two days prior the cub had tried each and every time she could to see if she could be successful again and though she seemed to yet to even open her eyes over the last two days she had been able to be as successful as a closed eyed cub could be.
But when the nudging started to get rougher, he knew for certain that it wasn't his daughter this time.
Cracking his eyes open slowly, the lion allowed his vision to clear from the fogginess of sleep and blinked his eyes in surprise when he found it was Mansa who stood there poking him. "Mansa…" he yawned and stretched his body as he climbed to his paws carefully so not to disturb his sleeping mate and cub. "What is it?" he asked looking at the King to the cave entrance where he could see the sun was yet to even rise telling him just how early it truly was. He knew it had to be something important for the King to come and wake him this early in the morning, neither of them would never even start their own patrols until the sun was at least over the tops of the trees.
"Word from Jamine…the rogue has just been spotted passing the borders!"
This caught Kopa's attention right away, over the last two days since they had first heard word of the rogue lion the two of them made sure to patrol the borders as much as they could. As was orders known of the pride but the two lions ventured from the Grove and the cubs were kept near the caves for their own protection just to be on the safe side. It was the day before that Kopa himself had caught the scent of the male near the borders but he knew he hadn't crossed it just yet.
"How far into the territory?" asked Kopa while the two made their way from the cave both in a hurry to find this rogue and direct him away from the pride. If the rogue got too close to the caves the lionesses would join the fight in order to protect one another and the cubs but neither of the two males wanted to get the females involved not wanting to risk a life unless they had too.
"Not very…Jamine says he came in from the south but he could be anywhere by now…we need to split to cover all ground. Jamine is already scanning from the treetops. When either one of us catches the trespasser, give a roar to signal the location and either one of us will come to backup the other!"
Kopa wasn't sure how he felt about splitting up, but it was what the King wanted and it would be best to cover all grounds and they couldn't do that if they stuck together. "Right, one roar…I'll take the south, you take the east!" the two didn't say another word to each other as they took off in opposite directions. The golden dark lion felt a little guilty for not waking his mate to tell her of the situation before he ran off but he was sure she would understand when he got back and told her that the problem with the rogue had been dealt with.
Following his nose, Kopa caught the scent of the rogue and followed it to where it came from the border. He eyed the exact spot the rogue had crossed and studied around him to see what direction the rogue could have gone in. He could still smell him but the scent wasn't fresh he had at least crossed these borders some time ago in the night.
Looking in every direction he spotted a part of the underbrush that was trampled that hadn't been the day prior when he had scouted these borders. Approaching it, he eyed the thorn brush that had a piece of golden fur snagged on it as well as some blood where the rogue much has not realized had been there when he went through.
Knowing for sure that this had been the way the rogue had gone, he leapt up and over the thorn bush and headed on into the jungle off the beaten trail as he followed the signs of the rogue. A low growl rumbled from deep within him when he saw the way the rogue had been heading was toward the grove and quickening his pace he followed the trail but the further he went he could not see any sign of the rogue other than a trampled part of underbrush.
This didn't make any sense to him at all, the scent on the trail was fresh he knew he should have caught up with the rogue by then. He knew he should signal Mansa but he didn't quite want to just yet until he found the rogue, he didn't want to have Mansa come and they have the rogue slip on by them.
Was he making a false trail?
The thought worried him because if it was a false trail just to confuse them then that meant he could be anywhere in the territory by then. He listened intently for any roar from Mansa to signal he found anything but the jungle was deafly quiet that morning not even the birds seemed to be chirping. The silence unnerved him.
Animals never went quiet unless there was a predator in their midst. But many knew the pride that lingered nearby and he had never heard the jungle so quiet in his life.
His ears flickered when he suddenly caught the sound of something moving and he looked ahead of him and began making his way forward but it wasn't until the last possible second that he realized the sound wasn't coming from in front of him but behind him. His body stilled when he heard the movement increasing, for a brief moment he thought it was the jungle coming back to life but this sound was from something too big to be anything that normally scoured the ground at this time of night.
With his body still, his claws unsheathed he listened to what was approaching him from behind. He just had time to duck and dodge to the left as a large golden lion came lunging at him from the bushes behind him. Kopa cursed as he knew he been correct the trail had been a false trail for the only fresh scent had been the rogue doubling back in the underbrush too target him from behind. Opening his mouth he let out a long lasting roar to signal to Mansa of the situation.
He knew he been heard for Mansa's own responding roar soon echoed throughout the jungles moments later to signal that he was on his way to help.
Kopa didn't have time to reflect much on what he had to do, the rogue lion he took note of was much larger in size then he was but he had fought large opponents before but never alone but he knew he had to keep this rogue from getting away from him until Mansa arrived to help drive the rogue off and away from the pride.
Claws extended, teeth bared the golden dark lion lunged at his opponent the moment the rogue male collected himself and lunged back at him. The two met each other half way, claws and teeth tearing at one another skins. Kopa kept on trying to dodge the rogue while inflicting his own wounds upon the lion but nothing seemed to be stopping the rogue who just kept on coming and coming at him. Raising his paw, Kopa caught the rogue across the face making the lion yowl in pain but also made the rogue fight harder much to Kopa's disadvantage for the sheer size and strength of the rogue was it's advantage over Kopa.
When the rogue lunged at Kopa he swiped with his paw which the golden dark lion quickly dodged but it was too late when he realized that had been the rogues plan all along as the rogue's jaws clamped tightly over his throat and pinned him to the ground. Kopa felt his air supply growing thin. He gasped and kicked upward clawing the other lion's stomach and legs in an attempt to get him off.
That was when he caught movement coming toward them; he felt a moment of relief when he saw it was Mansa coming to his rescue. Kopa watched as Mansa's own hulking form collided with the rogue who in a moment of shock at the sudden contact released Kopa from his hold. Taking advantage of seeing the rogue had released his friend, Mansa grabbed the rogue with his paws and tore him away from Kopa whose body collapsed down upon the ground where in no time a large pool of blood started to form from his wound.
Eyes half lidded, Kopa attempted to push himself back onto his paws but found he did not have the strength to get up to help his friend fight off the rogue.
But it appeared that he hadn't been needed, for the fight between Mansa and the rogue only appeared to last several more minutes until the blood loss from the wounds Kopa had been able to inflict upon him slowed the rogue down just enough for Mansa to raise his paw and strike the rogue in the head. The lion went flying to the ground with enough force that when it struck the rock Mansa had been aiming to send the trespassers head there was a sick resounding crack as the skull cracked upon the rock at the seer force it hit it with.
Mansa stood where he was watching the rogue's body for any sign of movement, but after a minute he knew the lion hadn't lived through his wound. Grunting, he remembered the problem at hand and hurried to his friend's side. When he had heard the signal from Kopa that he had found the rogue, he had hurried as quickly as he could to get to his aid. But when he arrived to see the situation, he had been blinded with rage as he collided with the rogue with enough force to make him let go of Kopa.
Approaching his life long friend, he circled him taking in the sight of the wounds Kopa had received from the attack but more important where his throat was torn open. There was so much blood that Mansa really couldn't tell the exact damage done and bent his head to try and nudge Kopa onto his paws. But when Kopa wouldn't move to get up, the King growled angrily "Get up! Get up, damn you! As your King I order you to get up onto your paws!"
Sky blue eyes looked up at him reflecting so much pain, Mansa stopped trying to get his friend to move. "Come on, you have to get up! What will Zakia think if you don't come back?" Mansa knew for anyone Kopa would do anything for Zakia but not even that seemed to be able to make the other lion move from his place upon the ground.
Kopa tried to speak, but found that he couldn't even get a single word out, the wound had damaged his vocal cords and the blood pooling into his airway was making it impossible to talk much less breathe. He knew he wasn't going to make it; there would be no chance for him to come back from these wounds. When his mates name left his friends lips, he suddenly felt himself just wracked with guilt.
Zakia…what was she going to think if he didn't return home?
It was possible that the pride must have heard their roars but as ordered had stayed where the King had commanded them to stay.
He had been in such a hurry when Mansa had come with the news from Jamine, that he hadn't stopped to wake his mate…he never got the chance to say goodbye…and now he knew he never would. For he was going to die right there on the jungle floor, Kopa knew he would never make it back to the pride.
Tears came to his eyes and poured down his face when his mind drifted to his daughter. His little Zuri…how long he had waited to become a father and he finally gotten the chance to be one and to a beautiful she-cub. What cruel fate was this that the joy of fatherhood was to be taken from him just a week after his little girl had been born?
He thought of the things he been hoping to do with her, like teach her to walk, and teach her how to speak. Teach her how to pounce and how to defend herself. Teach her all the things about the way of life of a Rasheda and raise her to adulthood where she would one day take a mate of her own. Well not if he had a say in anyways for he figured no lion would ever be good enough for his little beauty.
But now…he would never get that chance…he wanted to cry openly on the fact that he would never even be able to be there when her eyes opened for the first time. Something he been waiting for, for he really wanted to be the first thing she ever saw. Her proud father standing over her, to show her that he would always be there to protect her. He would never get that chance now.
His friends commanding words made him look back up at him, suddenly knowing Mansa would be the only male besides his son in the pride. He could be there for his mate and cub where he could not be. Weakly he reached out and touched his paw against Mansa's as best he could and stared up at his friend who by this time was shedding his own tears.
Kopa could not remember the last time he seen Mansa cry. For the only first time he seen the lion cry was when the former Queen, Mansa's mother, had died. Not even had Mansa shed tears at his fathers passing but only at his mothers and yet here he was…shedding tears for his own death.
The King stared down at his friend; taking in the tears that lined Kopa's fur much like his own was lining his at the moment. He knew his friend was not going to make it, but he didn't want to bring himself to believe that. He wanted Kopa to live not to die here in the jungle. This was not the death Kopa was meant to have. He watched Kopa stare up at him and move his mouth as if he was trying to ask something of him and deep down Mansa knew exactly what his friend was asking him with his eyes even though he could not speak a word.
"Don't worry…I'll protect them…nothing will happen to them my friend…I promise…" the words were almost hard to say for he knew saying those words really meant his friend wasn't coming back to the pride with him…alive that is.
Kopa took the words as comfort…
Comfort in knowing his mate and cub would be well taken care of in his passing. He knew Mansa would keep his word, he knew his friend wouldn't let anything come to Zakia and Zuri. New tears poured from his eyes as he felt himself slipping from the word with each passing second.
His last thoughts went to his beautiful daughter…who would have to be raised without a father…would never be taught by him…would never have him to protect her…to guide her…but least he hoped she would know what he did to keep her alive…
Those had been his passing thoughts as he felt the last of his life leave him.
But where his eyes closed taking in the sight of his long time friend crying over his body, he opened his eyes to the world once more to find himself staring at a completely new yet familiar scene before him. He was not sure how this was happening…but he was standing off just to the side of Mansa and weirdly his own body.
He could only stand there and watched transfixed as Mansa laid himself down upon his dead broken body and weep for the loss of his friend. "Mansa…" he tried to say reaching out he wanted to comfort his friend but he watched with wide eyes as his paw just simply passed on through the King's body. It was then he took notice that his own…'body' was transparent.
Am I ghost?
Taking a look at himself, it had to be the only explanation. How else would he be able to be standing there…staring at his friend AND his own dead body.
But how was this possible? He thought.
He stood silent as his friend pulled away from his dead body, and watched Mansa circle his body before grabbing the top of his neck and pulled his body up and hook it over his back. By the look in his friend's eyes, he knew Mansa wasn't just going to let his body stay there and rot not in the same area as the one who had caused his death.
The King seemed to struggle for a moment to get the body onto his back, and seemed to pay no heed to the blood that transferred from his dead friend and onto him. Once the King was certain the body would not fall he began making his journey back to the grove, with a heavy heart not sure of what he was going to tell his friends mate. How does one tell someone that their mate had died and he been too late to save him.
The King was completely unaware that the spirit of the friend he was now carrying on home dead was following behind him every step of the way. Kopa felt the need to be there for his friend, growing up Mansa didn't have any friends and didn't mingle with the other young lions in the pride all but Kopa that is. But that was only because Kopa had been the persistent in befriending the young prince. When the other males left the pride, Kopa had remained behind not only because he had mated Zakia who did not want to leave the Rasheda's or her sister behind but also because he was anointed Mansa's second in command the moment Mansa took the throne.
It was a duty he held with honour and pride at having been chosen by his good friend to stand along side him and protect the pride and the lionesses they both loved.
Both of them had expected to live long into old age with their mates by their sides and watch their cubs grow and protect their pride together until the last of their days. But now they would never get that chance for only Mansa would grow old now where Kopa wouldn't. For who could grow old in death?
He took notice that they were arriving at the Grove and in quick bound he overtook his friend and arrived first. Breaking through the trees he took in the sight of the pride in front of him. As he had suspected the lionesses had indeed heard the roars of their prides two males and had gathered together. He took in the sight of his mate who was standing near her sister, their cub lying on Zakia's paws playfully sniffing at the world she still could not see.
He wanted to run to her, wanting to embrace both his mate and cub but he knew he could not.
Kopa watched as the pride tensed when they heard someone approaching and positioned themselves in front of Jaali and Zuri to protect the cubs in fear that who was coming through the brush was the rogue who would not hesitate to kill off other lion's cubs. But the lionesses all seemed to relax when they saw it was only Mansa returning and Leta went to greet him to ask him what had happened with the rogue when they all noticed of what Mansa was carrying on his back.
He watched the shock and horror that came over the face of each lioness at the sight of his bloody torn body hanging over the King's back. What he was not prepared for was the heart wrenching sound that was the cry that tore from his mate's mouth the moment she realized the body that Mansa was carrying was indeed his.
Zakia tore herself away from her fellow pride sisters and darted forward passed the lionesses that were unable to stop her from running to the fallen body of her mate. As soon as Mansa carefully laid the body down on the ground stepping back he watched with hardened sad eyes while Zakia threw herself over her mate's body his blood now transferring to her tanned pelt.
If Kopa's heart was still beating he knew it would have broke at the cries coming from his beloved and though he was dead he felt it tear through him as if he had been struck with lightning. He stood silent and off to the side as each lioness came forth to see his dead body each had tears pouring down their faces at the sight of a dead member of their pride.
From behind the pride the cubs remained near the rocks, Jaali standing near Zuri watching the older members of the pride with confusion wandering what was going on. At this time of age, Jaali was much too young to really know the meaning of death and though curious the cub did not leave his cousin's side.
It was heart wrenching to watch his mate weep over his body, and cling to it as Leta and another lioness, Aida, came forward to try and pull Zakia away from the body. But Zakia seemed determined not to let it go, crying and begging for her mate to come back to her. It took some effort but the two lionesses finally managed to drag the distraught lioness away from the dead body of Kopa which was lifted off the ground once more by Mansa who began taking it to the place in the jungle where much of their dead were always laid to rest.
The two lionesses managed to get Zakia back to her cave while another had picked up Zuri and carried to cub inside the den placing her down beside Zakia who quickly wrapped her cub in her arms and cried openly above her cub. Holding onto the last thing she had of her fallen mate.
Kopa approached the two of them taking his normal spot near his mate even though she and no one else seemed to be able to see him. He watched to reach out to wipe her tears away but he could do nothing and it made him hate himself that he had done this to his mate. He been too weak to keep himself alive and his mate was paying the price for his stupidity by experiencing his death and being left alone to raise their cub.
Standing there, Kopa came to realize why he was still there even in the form of a ghost. He was getting his wish…he would be there for his mate and daughter even if it wasn't in a physical form like he wanted it to be. He just wished so badly he could touch them and tell them how much he loved the both of them.
And with each passing day since his death he found himself wishing more and more that he could reach out to his mate. Whom he watched everyday refuse to eat everything that was brought to her, every piece of food was pushed away and left to rot until it wasn't even edible to eat. This began to worry him for he noticed his daughter was also starting to become hungry for in her grief and stress Zakia appeared to stop producing milk and didn't even seem to realize it as she spent the majority of her days staring at the cave wall. He began to fear that his mate would die of starvation taking their cub with her.
It was luckily Leta, who had finally managed to convince Zakia to eat. Reminding his mate that not only did her life hang in the balance but as did Zuri's and if she allowed herself and the cub to die she would be putting Kopa's sacrifice in vain. If he could he would have hugged Leta then and there for her words seemed to reach Zakia who finally seemed to come to realize just what her grief may cause her to loose next to her mate.
It had been around that same time when Zuri first began to open her eyes. It was Kopa who first realized it when Zakia and Leta were speaking with a few other lionesses in the front of the cave. Kopa paid no mind to them much like he did in life; the gossip of lionesses never was anything he thought was important enough to listen in on. Kopa had not once left the cave since he returned to the pride, though he could not be there in life in death he refused to leave his mate and cub and stayed by their side where he figured he was needed in some way or form he was needed. Something deep inside him told him that much.
He caught movement from the corner of his eye, turning his head he watched as Zuri was waking from her nap. Her soft mews mixed with her yawn but it wasn't the movement that was really catching his attention…it was the slight opening of her eyes which had remained closed for so long. Longer then he knew many other cubs to keep their eyes closed but he remembered one of the old lionesses joking while he was still alive that cubs were stubborn they all did things at their own pace and that Zuri would open her eyes when she was ready too.
Hurrying toward his daughter he knelt down in front of her so that his face was right before hers. Behind him none of the lionesses seemed to notice that the cub was doing something, for Zuri always made Zakia know when she wanted something. "Hello my little beauty…come on, show me those beautiful eyes…" he spoke even though he knew the cub could not hear him. But the cub seemed to obey nonetheless for every passing second her eyelids slid open further until Kopa found himself staring transfixed into a beautiful pair of sapphire eyes…his eyes…
Much darker yes…but still blue.
Pride shot through him that his beautiful daughter not only had his fur but his eyes as well. He never felt this much pride since the day she was born and yet here the very day he been waiting for he felt even more pride at staring into those beautiful sapphire blue eyes that stared back at him even though the cub could not truly see him Kopa felt like she really was staring at him.
"My little beauty…" like he always done since he died, Kopa reached out in hopes at touching his daughter and was shocked that for the first time his paw did not seem to go through her but instead rested upon her tiny body. What surprised him even more was that the cub seemed to be able to feel him for the moment his paw touched her she jerked a little in surprise and looked around wide eyed at the new world around her that she could finally see.
But the cub could not see anything but she could feel the paw of her father resting upon her stroking her back. He watched and listened as he picked up the soft purrs of his cub who responded to his soothing touch. Kopa wanted to cry for he was amazed he could finally touch his cub, and that not even death took that from him. He kept his paw there not really sure how long this could take him to do but he was taking as much time to be able to touch his daughter as he could and he would try and do this whenever he could.
And that's exactly what he practiced on doing over the course of the next month since his death. Whenever his mate and cub was near he would try and reach out to touch them. He practiced though on his mate when she was asleep, with Zuri it was easy to touch the cub for with her innocence she really didn't know that she shouldn't be able to feel something that wasn't there. He wanted desperately to speak with them, for them to see him, but for now he would settle for being able to just touch them when he wanted too. If he willed it too he could touch them but any other time he would just go through them.
It was through this that he had gotten another wish to help his daughter walk. It had been while Zakia was napping in the sun that shined down in front of the cave that he walked along side his daughter. His paw nudging her up onto her paws and he would catch her to make sure she didn't hit the ground too hard when she got to wobbly. But in the end he sat back and watched proudly as his daughter stomped around the cave mewing happily that she had been able to learn to walk on her own…well what she thought was on her own.
When she spoke, her little voice had raised his spirits that he often just sat listening to her talk to her mother. What made his heart soar was the many times Zuri always asked Zakia about her father and what happened to him in which Zakia would tell the cub that he had died while trying to keep them safe and that his sacrifice was the very reason that no harm had come to the cub. From that time on the favourite stories the cub loved to hear about were stories that Zakia had about her father.
He was sitting at the very edge of the cave, watching the pride as well as his mate who sat near the front of the cave just enough in the sun to warm her and Zuri while she had the cub in her paws bathing her from how dirty the cub had gotten from playing with her cousin that very morning. Over the course of the month, Kopa hadn't stayed in just the cave he figured that staying there was a waste of this opportunity. The golden dark lion had anointed himself as guardian of the Rasheda's. He would watch over the entire pride as much as he would watch over his mate and daughter.
He noticed much of a change in the Pride since his death, but more so in his old friend. Mansa seemed to become more stoic then he was before Kopa had died, he was cold in the way he would speak but Kopa knew his friend well enough to know this was an act. Mansa cared deeply for the pride and it was only the self-hatred he felt at unable to being to help his friend and keep him alive that had hardened him more so then Mansa had ever been before. That harden new way of his even washed over to the way Mansa addressed his son and Kopa felt if he could he would slap his friend for his foolishness but he knew Mansa was only hurting and was doing everything he could for the protection of the pride.
The lion lifted his head, his golden mane falling into his face when he heard someone approach and blinked his eyes when he saw it was Leta but it wasn't her that he was really looking at. It was the brownish-gold cub she was carrying…a brownish-gold cub that wasn't her own son…
Like always not seeing him, she passed on by him as she headed for the cave setting the cub down at her paws so that she could speak. "Zakia?"
Kopa watched whilst Zakia raised her head from where she been bathing Zuri to smile at her sister, though that smile was never quite the same one he remembered seeing on her face when he was alive it was a smile nonetheless something he always loved seeing on her face. "Hello Leta how was today's hunt?" she asked slowly getting to her paws while the young she-cub ran toward her aunt.
The spirit lion chuckled as he watched that the first thing his daughter did was go to have a look at the strange new cub at her aunts paws. A cub that was leaving Kopa wondering what exactly was going on and who it was. "Sadly we lost the warthogs we were following, but we came across…" Leta began to explain when little Zuri cut her off.
"Auntie who's this?"
This seemed to draw the attention of his mate for Zakia finally seemed to take notice of the cub laying there. "Leta?" she gasped turning her attention back to her sister as if demanding an explanation.
"This is who we found out in the desert Zakia. I have come to ask if you may look after him." Leta asked, "Mansa will not allow me to and you're the only other lioness with a cub at the moment to keep this one company."
The lion furrowed his brow, that didn't seem like Mansa at all but looking at the male cub laying at the lionesses paws whom his daughter seemed to enjoy poking with her own paw much to his amusement. Perhaps Mansa feared this cub would one day be a threat but Kopa could not see how he would be. He was a cub after all.
He turned his attention back to his mate who seemed to be watching the cub with a look of uncertainty as she tried to think of whether or not she should…"Leta, I don't…"
"Please Mama? He can be my new friend!"
Zakia looked down at their cub who only stared back up at her mother with wide teary eyes. Kopa snorted, a chip off the old block, for the cub seemed to inherit a lot of traits from him something he knew Zakia would probably tell him off for if he was still alive. Not that it stopped her from complaining not realising that her dead mate really could hear her.
"Pleeeeease!" Zuri whined, "I never have anyone to play with!"
That was a lie, Zuri did have her cousin to play with but cubs were cubs. The more friends a cub had the better life was or so that's how he saw it. He stared at the cub then at his mate wondering what she would do, this cub didn't seem to have any parents and would need to be taken care of or he would certainly die. Something he was sure his mate wouldn't allow even if the cub wasn't really hers she had too much love in her not to let an innocent cub die.
And it appeared the look his daughter inherited from him seemed to work for Zakia sighed and smiled down at their daughter, "I can never win with you can I Zuri?" she nuzzled her cub making her giggle then turned her attention to her sister. "Alright Leta, I shall look after him."
That seemed to be what Leta had been hoping to hear for she sighed in relief and said "Thank you, sister!" rubbing her head against Zakia's when Mansa could be heard calling for her and with a promise to come and see the cub when he woke she turned and made her way to the main den behind the waterfall where the royals resided.
Turning his attention from Leta's retreating form he looked toward his mate who had picked up the young male cub and carried him into the back of the cave with their daughter following. There the tanned lioness seemed content on trying to clean the cub's matted and dirty fur.
Who was this cub? Where did he come from?
There were so many questions. At first thought, he thought perhaps this cub was from the Maua pride but that wouldn't make sense, Leta said they found him in the desert. Perhaps he came from a desert pride or somewhere further away or perhaps his parents had been rogues. Taking in the colour of the cub's fur he suddenly had a sinking feeling thinking perhaps this cub had been the cub of the rogue male that had killed him? But then again what happened to this cub's mother?
From the corner of his eyes, he suddenly caught movement and turned his body a growl coming from his throat when he spotted something he hadn't expected to see. A large brown-gold red mane lion stood not far from him staring into the cave and then at him when Kopa had caught his attention. He thought for a moment this lion was a rogue male that had used the cub as a trap to have the cub play sick and when the lionesses brought him back to their safety he followed.
But that thought was quickly washed aside when he took note that this stranger was looking right at him as though he could see him and that's when Kopa took note that this stranger as see through as he was. This stumped the golden dark lion who relaxed his stance this had been the first time since his death that he had come across another spirit much like himself.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
The red mane lion stared at him closely then nodded his head in greeting, "I am called Mufasa…I was once King of a place called the Pridelands…until some short days ago when I was killed by my younger brother while trying to rescue my son from a stampede. May I ask stranger, who you are?" this lion was polite despite how Kopa had greeted him and this for some reason made the golden dark lion relax further.
"I am Kopa. Guardian of the Rasheda's. I died a short month ago when a rogue got into our territory and killed me while I was trying my best to protect my mate and newborn daughter."
The lion who called himself Mufasa smiled and nodded his head in understanding, "Then it appeared that you and I have that in common my friend, we both died protecting what we loved above all else."
"It appears that way…but you see far from home 'my friend' tell me why has your soul ventured this far…the Pridelands must be a place far from here for I have never heard of them before." Kopa pressed he was not sure what to think of this Mufasa. This being the first soul he seen from his death he was wary of what to think.
"To watch over my son…and be rested assured he is in good capable paws…"
This caught Kopa's attention that turned to gaze at the male cub that was now sleeping along side his mate and daughter now that he was freshly clean. "That is your cub?" he asked turning back to the red mane lion who nodded his head with a sad look on his face.
"When my son found me dead, my brother, his uncle told him to run…to run away and never return…Simba listened for he believed he was the cause of my death…and did not want to face his mother, my mate. My brother, Scar, has told my pride that both I and Simba are dead…and for now that is the best thing they should believe in. I fear if Simba returns he will truly be killed…but out here all alone I worried that he may not survive anyways that is until your pride came upon them…for now I hope my son is in good hands!" listening to this lions explanation Kopa grinned.
"He will be. My mate is a wonderful mother and till care for the cub…"
"Then that is something I will take in great relief for I cannot watch him always. I must see to the other world and as well as see to my old Kingdom…for my mate grieves for me as I am sure yours grieves for you still."
This caught Kopa by surprise and he stepped toward Mufasa asking "Other world…there is a place for us souls and more of us? Since till now you are the only one I've seen!"
Mufasa furrowed his brow but nodded "Yes, we are not alone. The after life is like our world but we drift from one part in the skies to down to earth. When I woke to this life I was greeted by the souls of my mother and father. Who told me everything of this new way of existence, we are not alone…you are not alone."
Kopa was not sure what to think of this, he wanted to know more about this…after life. Why hadn't he seen the souls of his own parents…so many questions all that needed answered but for now he knew where his place was. "You speak that your place is in watching over your pride…your mate…as is mine…but your son…"
"I will watch over him as much as I can. In this form I cannot guide him as much as I wish. He will have much he needs to learn before the time comes that he must return home to take his rightful place as King. But until then…"
"I will watch over him Mufasa. You have my word," Kopa offered before the Pridelander King could say another word. He knew as a father what the red mane lion wanted. Though Kopa wanted to know much of this other world and the souls of others he would settle in knowing this stranger before him first while he set upon himself the goal he had from the moment he died and woke to this new life.
And that was to watch over his pride. The Pridelander King nodded his head and began to turn knowing his cub was safe at last he wanted to see to what was becoming of his old home. He glanced back at Kopa, "If you wish for your questions to be answered…you only have to seek me out and all will be." It was with that that the red mane lion seemed to disappear from sight as he walked off into thin air.
"Will do Mufasa…" Kopa stared at the spot he was last seen then made his way into the cave where he sat beside his family and its new addition. He watched with a grin as his daughter had climbed over the new cub until she had fallen asleep across his back. Reaching out he laid his paw on her head and smiled, "Take care of this one little beauty…he will need your friendship…" with those final words Kopa turned and left the cave deciding for once that he didn't need to always look after his family and pride but for now he would seek out the questions he needed knowing he could come back and see his family whenever he desired.
For now he would see his questions…
His sacrifice has been complete. His daughter was safe…for now he would seek out the souls of those he had not seen in years whilst his family slept.
Thank you for reading. Make sure to review.
Been wanting this story off my head since I started it months ago and finally finished it. Now onto continuing His True Destiny the next chapter should be posted shortly.