Pride Lands Online
Tales at Sunset

A short Pridelands story by Chris Boyce.
25th November 1996.

________"The rains had come and gone twice more since the momentous days of Nyala and Simba's journey beyond the desert. Life on the Pridelands had settled back into the routine so familiar to all established lion prides of sleeping, hunting and eating with the occasional spell of mating to break the rhythm of daily life. The pride had prospered under Mufasa and Simba and the new cubs, the next generation of Priderock lion, grew rapidly to give the pride new vigour and power. They learned all they needed from their mothers, aunts and cousins ensuring that the knowledge, hard earned over the years, was passed down to give the untamed vigour of their youth the benefit of the unwritten lessons of experience. Most of these lessons were taught by the oldest and most experienced lionesses in the pride, Sarafina and myself. Now it was our turn to lie back whilst others stalked, ran, chased and pulled down the prey that sustained the pride. Nala now, as the mate of Simba, lead most hunts. Occasionally Sarafina and I would join in 'for old times sake'. We had lost none of our skills and such was the esteem in which we were held that when we hunted there were scuffles amongst the younger lionesses as to who would partner each of us. The larger youngsters such as Khyala and her sister Shimi always wanted to go with their mother, Sarafina. Whilst others such as the beautiful and headstrong Shalaka, who at 18 months was almost as big as her mother Sala, would do anything to run at my side. Tana's first cubs, barely a year old, were shaping up fast and had acquitted themselves well at the game of 'Chase the Pig', although they had soon learned not to name it so in the presence of Pumbaa as they then found it was the pig who did all the chasing. The young males meanwhile had formed a loose alliance centred around Thembi. This would soon be broken as Thembi, now approaching three, would soon have to leave the Pridelands to try his luck alone. His growing mane had started looking much his father's but had darkened rapidly as he drank from his maternal grandfather's gene pool. He was a handsome, strong, thoughtful and considerate lion. So much so that some, Sarafina included, wished that he had taken a bigger drink from that pool; just a little more assertiveness would take him a long way.
________Mufasa and Simba shared the duties that were expected of kings, in one notable case even when it came to the lionesses special needs. It was never firmly established just which of them fathered each of Tana's cubs, not even Tana knew for certain. She had finally got her kings and in the end no one really cared much either way. Mufasa had, on the third day with Tana, finally admitted defeat and Simba had taken over. The following day, now rested and partially recovered, Mufasa had had to politely but firmly reassert his position and finish the job he had started. Tana was understandably pleased with the turn of events but never told anyone of how tenderly Simba had licked her face on the evening of that third day. The other duties they shared included a daily wander, 'patrol' would be too strong a word for the haphazard and convoluted routes that they took, around much of the Pridelands. This generally took place after one or the other of them had taken the morning report from Zazu. Though Simba was no longer 'Sire' to the ever formal Zazu he was treated with respect as befitted the son of the King. An unexpected result of this was that Zazu tended to tell Simba about more of the little pieces of gossip and whispers amongst the grasses. Zazu would only tell Mufasa hard facts, Simba often got to hear of things days before his father. He had been told this fine morning just after dawn that Zazu had heard, just heard mind, that eland had been seen amongst the herds on the edges of the Pridelands. Simba's thoughts immediately turned to Sarafina. Was it really true that she had taken one down on her own? Maybe the pride would soon find out.
________ Sarafina and I were, as was our custom on most fine and quiet days such as this, lying at the summit of a knoll, shaded by an ancient tree. This was the spot where Simba had lain watching over his cubs at play in the days before he had rejoined his father. There were no cubs this day and no meerkat would come to take them off their father's gentle paws. Timon had only recently gone to wherever it was that meerkats went (Simba never did find out). He had disappeared one night, no one knew where. He had complained to Pumbaa about feeling rather tired that day and that was the last anyone on the Pridelands ever heard of him. His body was never found and Zazu never heard even the slightest of rumours about him. Even Shenzi, when cornered by her nemesis Mufasa, could shed no light on Timon's disappearance. It soon became obvious to anyone who cared enough to search that Timon could never return and had left them to find his own place, possibly even in the stars: 'Hey, Jez, this place is crawling with lions! Simba, boy were you ever right!'.
________Sarafina got up and stretched, her eyes closed as she blocked out the aches from her hindquarters. She rose fully and opened her eyes, noticing that I was almost fully awake. She turned tightly in a half circle and settled down to lie at my side. For a moment she wondered, in a half-hearted way, about going back to sleep when I spoke:
________"It gets worse with age."
________"What does Sarabi?"
________"The aches and pains."
________"Oh, those. Hey, what's all this about age? I'm not old."
________"No? We're certainly not young anymore."
________"Speak for yourself, Sarabi. I might not be young but I'm not OLD. I can remember when I was a cub as if it were yesterday."
________"Sarafina, yesterday you couldn't remember when you were a cub."
________"I was once, and not so very long ago. Anyway you can't even remember your first time."
________"first time of what?"
________"There, told you!"
________"Hmmm, I'm not too old not to get even with you for that. May be later. Can you remember your first time?"
________"Like it was..."
________"Yesterday? Ok, so tell me what was Scar like? You know? ALONE?" I raised my eye ridges suggestively.
________"Scar? He was, now, how can I say this delicately? Ah yes, one word describes him perfectly."
________Now Sarafina, tell me, what's 'the word'?"
________Quick!" We burst out laughing like a couple of five month old cubs, and for a moment that's how we felt until Sarafina aged us by a few years.
________But he wasn't the first." As you can imagine I was taken aback by this, for years I had assumed that Sarafina had mated for the first time with Scar, now it appeared that this assumption had been false. What else that I thought I knew about my best friend was false? How well did I really know Sarafina? How well did I really know any lion or lioness? I had not even asked Mufasa much about his wilderness years. May be he too had untold secrets.
________NO?" I was astonished, "Tell me. Who was?"
________Well, it was a little before I came to the Pridelands. I was a young; now don't laugh; a young lioness, barely old enough to mate when my pride lion took a fancy to me. He was strong and not bad to look at but he and I hardly knew each other. He was the type of lion who believed in leaving the cubs to the lionesses. He may well have been my father. He told me one evening that he was going to make me the happiest lioness alive."
________What? How dreadful! They can be so cruel, AND he was your father."
________Well, he may have been, that was all a bit complicated. Anyway he was as good as his word."
________Sarafina! Did you just say what I THOUGHT you said?"
________Why? Are you SO surprised? Can't a lioness like it too?"
________By the stars you're as bad as ever Tana was."
________Oh no, not THAT bad! Sarabi, you can be SO cruel at times!" Sarafina looked directly at me with a gleam in her eyes. I knew her well enough to know not to take any offence. "Later his son tried much the same. His sense of timing was rather off, either that or his sense of smell. I had to send him away with a bloody cheek for his efforts, I thought his father would understand - but no, he said his son had every right to take what ever lioness he liked whenever he liked so I had to leave the pride just to avoid being taken whenever either of them fancied."
________...Then you came to Priderock. I never knew, I'm sorry."
________I never told." Sarafina sighed deeply, she had held on to the secret of her arrival at Priderock for many years, it had eaten into her and she felt good that it had finally been told. "Pity though. He was good."
________Saffi!" I shouted in undisguised amazement.
________Come on, you know I always wanted cubs. It was easy with Scar, all I had to do was to think of that first time over and over and it was done. Nala was better than the best cub I could ever have wished for. Scar may have had his faults but as he sired Nala he can't have been all THAT bad."
________Lets forget least I try to. There are much better things to remember."
________Like what Sarabi?"
________What about the time we needed your tree climbing abilities?"
________Oh, with Nyala you mean? Oh she can't have been much older than - now...oh, four or five months old. Oh yes, she'll not forget that in a while or two. Do you remember how she clung on to that branch like a three week old? Mewing piteously she was, for hours. No one could say how or why she got up there but there was no way she was coming down on her own."
________Yes, there was Simba shouting at her: 'Come down at once do you hear?!', he had no idea had he. Well I know he's my son but..."
________Yeah, everybody was crowding round, Rafiki stood and waved his stick at her and everything. But nothing happened. Sarabi, How long was it that she stayed up there?"
________Oh, must have been all morning. Oh yes, at least that and then along you came, took one look and up you went without a word and bit her!"
________Yeah, she came down quick after that! She did have a soft landing!"
________Your daughter will never forgive you for that. I think I'd call her 'soft' too! The look on her face when Nyala fell on her was wonderful though."
________She forgave me years ago for that, it was the time I rescued Pumbaa that she'll never forgive me for."
________Pumbaa?" I tried to remember, but it had clearly slipped my mind. "You rescued Pumbaa?"
________Well, almost, from the mud hole. You know..." For a moment I felt sure I did not know then it all came back to me, I was running along the track to the water hole in pouring rain, Sarafina ran at my side as from up ahead we heard the squeals and shouts of a pig in panic. "Come on." Sarafina said insistently, "You remember." I did remember now, I saw myself arriving at the edge of the pool, full with more water than I had ever seen before, to our left was a distraught Timon, jumping up and down frantically shouting:
________Somebody DO something. Help Pumbaa, HELP HIM PLEASE!". I remembered that it was not very often that Timon said please. There was no one else there, Sarafina and I had been the first to arrive.
________Yes, Pumbaa stood up to his middle in thick mud, he couldn't move, he was totally stuck. 'That'll teach him to wallow' I thought to myself. He looked close to giving up and was slowly sinking deeper and deeper. Then you looked up and you saw Zazu and shouted to him. I remember thinking 'what use do you think he'll be?' but you shouted just the same:"
________Go get Rafiki. Tell him there's an urgent ceremony he has to perform and be quick about it."
________Yes, that was it and I said: 'What are you doing, what use is Rafiki now? He can't raise a pig from this mud: he's not strong enough.' But you simply said:"
________But I am."
________Yes, yes. Then you ran up to Pumbaa, now with mud almost covering his back and looked at him for a moment before turning round and dropping down to lie with your tail tip at his snout. 'Madam,' he said indignantly, 'we hardly know each other.'"
________Bite me."
________'But madam, we're not even the same species!' So I shouted to him too: 'Bite her tail you idiot!'. 'Ooh! I see!'"
________Yeah, he bit me all right. Those jaws of his are far stronger than they look."
________The way you threw your head up and roared in pain, I was surprised you didn't deafen him, and then, even as you roared you pulled yourself up and forwards, straining every fibre, every sinew, putting every pound of your flesh into pulling him out of the mud. I felt that standing there with you, I felt every stab of pain you went through."
________And it didn't work. I nearly tore my tail off."
________He did come up a little, you saved him from being sucked under there and then. I kept on thinking if you couldn't do it who could? We stayed there for what seemed like forever. I couldn't help wondering why you called for Rafiki to perform a ceremony at a time like this. I didn't know that there was such a thing as 'the last rites' for warthogs."
________Is there? I never knew that, you must tell me about them."
________No Sarafina, there isn't! But Rafiki turned up in the end, all the while you lay there with Pumbaa holding fast to your tail, your blood all around those tusks of his. As soon as he showed up you shouted: 'Hey, grab his stick!', I didn't understand what you meant."
________Throw it over here! NOW!"
________'Ok, Ok, Ok!' So I ran over to Rafiki and grabbed it in my mouth. He shouted at me: 'No, NO! You're just like your son!' and tried to pull it from me but I held tight. I still didn't know why you wanted it, neither did Rafiki."
________Come on you two, throw it here. NOW!"
________The look on your face was terrifying, pain and panic and determination and power. Rafiki let go suddenly and I rolled over, his stick flew through the air towards you, and you leapt up and caught it between your teeth. I don't know how but Pumbaa let go just in time." Sarafina turned her head back as she raised her tail and swung it round over me. She held the tip at an awkward angle, the fur before it was rough and hairless, quite unlike the smoothly haired bulk of the rest of her tail.
________He didn't."
________You threw yourself round to face Pumbaa and held the stick out towards him in your mouth. Timon jumped up on top of your head and shouted: 'Hey, buddy, I told you we'd save you!'"
________You know, meerkats put their claws out when they're excited?"
________Ooow!" I called out as I flinched, "Pumbaa crunched on the stick and you shouted back to me to help you and didn't we pull hard?"
________You did great, Sarabi. I couldn't have done it by myself. Yeah, we got him out but did Nala thank us? Hey, I think that daughter of mine would have preferred it if we'd have left him to get sucked under."
________Yes, and Rafiki sat there for ages muttering about how you'd ruined his stick."
________Come on, he still uses it, it can't have been THAT bad. Ok, it's a little shorter and he had to get new gourds..."
________But that was a great day: your finest hour Sarafina. Pity there was hardly anyone there to see it."
________Ah yes, those WERE the days, we were young then. Well, younger then. Talking of the water hole, what about when my Nala and your Simba ran off together to the water hole?"
________'What's so great about the water hole?'" Sarafina laughed gently at my almost perfect impression of a very young Nala. "Did you really think they were going to the water hole?"
________Yes, why? Your Simba corrupted my daughter you know."
________Hey, wait a moment. It was Nala who dreamt up that little stunt to loose Zazu."
________No it wasn't that was all Simba's idea."
________What? NO, come now, my Simba was never that bright."
________And I suppose you are going to say Nala is?" Sarafina paused for a moment. I waited quietly for her to continue. "I guess you're right Sarabi. What a mess they got into that day. How did Mufasa ever find them?"
________That's easy, You can see a bright bird like Zazu miles away. I told Mufasa he was looking after them. It was pretty obvious Zazu was in a pretty big flap about something so off he went. Good thing too, those hyenas could have got really nasty."
________They did, remember it was only a few days later that Mufasa was killed...I'm sorry, I can never quite get it out of my mind. Some how I can't get used to the idea that Mufasa could ever have survived that."
________I've got two well grown sons to prove he survived. You've got a couple of daughters as well. I bet you KNEW he was alive then."
________Yes, true, he was 'alive' all right! And he kept on being alive. Oh Mufasa!" Us two lionesses laughed conspiratorially as we remembered the many times alone with Mufasa, the father of most of our cubs.
________Is he anything like? You know."
________Now then Sarabi that'd be telling.... Hmm-mmm." Sarafina smiled at me broadly.
________I see. Like that is it?"
________Might be." said Sarafina coyly. "Might be. I don't mind being hunted by him."
________Not that my Mufasa was ever a good hunter. Not as good as us two."
________Well he's not at all bad these days, but hey we're just as good as we ever were. We can still take 'em down real slick."
________Yes. You know, I've ALWAYS believed you but did you really pull down that eland on your own?"
________Hey Sarabi, there are some things a lioness never tells, but as it's you asking: yep, I confess."
________You're not likely to get a chance to do it again. I would have loved to have seen that."
________Sarabi, if you'd have been there to see it you would have been there to take it down too. It wouldn't have been quite the same. Anyway it was just a lucky break, I was kinda in the right place at the right time. You know, it just walked over to where I was lying and... That was all there was to it." I knew full well that that was not 'all there was to it'. Eland can weigh well over 1500 pounds and pack a kick that can break the back of even a lion as strong as my Mufasa was. As a kill they can provide even a large pride with meat for several days. Whilst it is not at all unknown for solitary lioness to kill eland, it must be considered a great feat of bravery and strength. On the Pridelands these greatest of all antelopes are a rarity and their presence is considered noteworthy. Just such a note was at this time being passed along the chain of lion and lioness and would soon arrive at us two lying on the knoll.
________I see." I said tactfully "Do you think any of the cubs would ever try anything like that?"
________They're good, not great like us, but they're good all right. After all we taught them almost everything they know. If any eland come here again they can try if they like, but I don't think I'll be there to help. It's too much like work. I like being the elder lioness, and anyway my teeth aren't what they used to be either."
________Speak for yourself, mine are as perfect as the day I bore Simba."
________Oh yes? You're pulling my tail again, don't lie to me Sarabi, there's no point to it. There isn't on your canines either!"
________Watch it, young Sarafina, don't forget who's the most senior here."
________You mean oldest, Don't you?" Sarafina made no move and clearly expected none from me. For a moment I obliged her but then I growled loudly, opening my mouth widely exposing all these deadly teeth, apart from the tips of my canines they were still in perfect condition, the result of good diet and plenty of regular exercise. Both of which meant plenty of wldebeest and zebra. Fourteen was not particularly old for a lioness, but as both a mother and a grandmother those years were beginning to matter, Sarafina and I were now not expected to sustain the pride; Nala saw to it that we did not have to. Nevertheless our special skills however were occasionally found to be of value. This day was one of those times and as we talked on a barely fully grown lioness, still in the first flush of adulthood, padded quietly and purposefully towards the knoll. Her rich golden brown, mottled coat with light underfur and distinctively marked ears showing that she was a close relative of at least one of us. She stopped a little way from the foot of the knoll and watched me, the darker lioness as I growled toothily at my lighter coloured friend. Then the slightest of sound caught her dark tipped ears and she turned toward it for a moment before turning back the ascend the gentle slope to where we lay.
________Hello you two. Are you enjoying the day? Watching the world go by from up here?" said the newcomer in a slightly mischievous manner.
________We were until you got here."
________Oh now Sarafina, is that any way to talk to our granddaughter?" I said as I turned my head towards the young lioness.
________How are you, have you been up any trees lately?" asked Sarafina.
________Trees?" asked the newcomer, tilting her head questioningly. Sarafina opened her mouth and exposed her teeth, which were in a somewhat less satisfactory condition that mine, she shut it again with a loud snap leaving only a broad grin.
________Hmmm, Saffi, trees. I see, very funny." said the newcomer without a trace of laughter.
________Oh Nyala, you can be so serious these days. What ever happened to the 'take it all in your stride' Nyala we used to know?" Nyala laughed gently at herself, us two grandmothers laughed with her.
________She's in here somewhere." Nyala looked about herself, "I'm sure of that. Now where did I leave her? Back on Priderock may be, who knows?"
________Well Yali, you go and find her later. Meanwhile, what brings you out to see us on a day like today? You want to talk about old times perhaps?" I said only half seriously.
________Well now, in a way I did. You see we need Sarafina's, and your 'special' skills." Sarafina's interest was awoken, what did Nyala, now a very capable and particularly clever hunt strategist in her own right, want from a lioness ten or more years her senior? Sarafina probed deeper:
________My skills? What in particular did you have in mind? There's not many tricks of mine that you haven't already improved on."
________It's not tricks we're after." This made Sarafina slightly ill at ease. Nyala then was individually brilliant but her teamwork was not her strong point. For her to say 'we' when asking for help showed that there was something different about this request.
________What exactly ARE you after then?"
________Well, Mum said that she wants us to get some experience with eland. There's a group just entered the Pridelands from over the river."
________Oh, eland eh? You think I can help?"
________We thought you could, you know, as you know so much about them."
________I could but you know more about them than I have forgotten. I think you'll have to hunt them alone and leave us to our rest."
________Sarafina, is that how you treat your grandcubs?" I felt that Sarafina could have been just a little more co-operative, after all she was renowned for her exploits with the massive antelope.
________Hey! That was a long time ago. It was just one animal. We've hunted many others since. They're just big, nothing more. There are only three animals to worry about: Elephant because they're real big, Rhino because they're real tough and bull buffalo because they're real mean. Eland are just big, they can weigh as much as four of us. they won't rush you and those twisted horns are just for show. They can sure move though, you don't want to be hit by one when they're up and running. It's time for my daughter to get her paws out and stop running to us every time something new and different and 'scary' comes along."
________Sarafina! Will you come and help us?" I said sharply as I rose to my paws as easily as a lioness half my age. "Because I'm going to help even if you're not. Come on, get up and lets get the old partnership running on the plains again."
________Sarabi, cubs must learn to grow up into lions one day."
________Nala is no cub, nor is Nyala here. What if one of them gets hurt because you're not there? Well, what then?"
________Cubs can be replaced, we can always have more cubs."
________What! Now see..." I stopped mid sentence as I reconsidered. "Ahh, stay here then if that's what you want. I can't force you to come. Come on Nyala, let's go and find your mother." Nyala looked hard at Sarafina for a few moments as Sarafina turned her head away from Nyala and I and started to wash a fore paw. We turned away, I shook my head in dismay. As soon as we were out of ear shot I turned to Nyala as we walked past a peaceful group of grazing impala, "Don't worry about her, she didn't mean it. Sarafina's just felling a little old today."
________Yeah, but it's Sarafina we really need right now, isn't it?" I stopped for a moment and looked back, Sarafina was now hard at work on her hind legs.
________Yes, we could do with a little of her magic. Are you really serious about going after eland?" I said cautiously.
________Well, we know there are some about. We might meet some, you know, kinda by accident."
________Oh well, we'll just have to see what we can do without 'young Saffi' there, won't we?"
________Most of the day was to pass before we found and closed on the eland. A group of no more than fifteen were making their way in slow single file across the southern corner of the Pridelands. The twists in their two horns springing straight from the top of their heads catching the low sunlight. Some way beyond and behind stretched a large and steadily moving group of buffalo, with many calves amongst their number. Nala felt strangely ill at ease as if something were worrying her but she could not quite put her paw on what it was. Our hunting party was quite mixed as this was really only meant to be a training exercise. There was Nala and myself of course, then there was Sala with her Shalaka, and Khyala, Sarafina's daughter, with Nyala. We split up into pairs as we often did, you all know the pair is the best hunting group. Three or four is too many to work together properly as you can't speak and call out to each other, it all has to be done by looks and movements. The best pairs are the most experienced pairs, that's why Sarafina and I worked so well together. Anyway, there were the right number to make pairs as we were, if Sarafina had come as well we'd have had to have a very odd 'pair' of one sort or another. One thing I did know was that whilst eland are docile and quiet they are also wary and can hear very well. They can't see too well though; so provided we kept quiet we could get close quite easily. They were headed for the great rocks along the southern border and looked as if they intended to skirt them to the west and head out of the Pridelands. We had crossed the track to the river long ago and for some of the youngsters this was new territory, known only from tales such as this at sunset. Apart from understandable jitters all went smoothly enough. We did not intend to make a kill, unless an easy opportunity presented itself, so we settled for stalking, watching and waiting in cover. All the while we were concentrating on the eland the buffalo got closer and closer until they almost surrounded both the eland and us, the rocks blocked the only way we had of avoiding them. I suddenly realised that we had allowed ourselves to be caught out. Provided we all kept our heads down we'd be Ok and for quite a while all went well until one of the eland strayed almost on top of Shalaka. With temptation like that what could she do? She rose in a moment and went for the eland. It turned and ran as fast as it could with Shalaka and Sala running after it. The three sped across the ground, Shalaka had a lot of her mother's speed and agility with a streak of Simba's power but she never knew when to stop. The eland soon closed on the main body of the now trotting group where the bull had broken from the head of the file to protect the stragglers. She should have broken off and settled for the experience of the chase but no, she kept on, scattering the file left and right. Sala knew she had to follow and back up her daughter, no matter where it lead. She ran and roared after her, calling:
________Stop, stop, you won't catch it now!" when the bull smashed into her from the side, sending her flying a good many lengths across the grass. She soon got up but the eland herd had closed the gap and stood between her and Shalaka. They were not going to let her pass and Sala, as much as she might have wanted to would never be able to mount an effective lone attack on such great animals. The buffalo came into the gap between us and Sala; Nala, Nyala, Khyala and I would have to go round the herd to rescue the stranded Shalaka. Sala would simply have to fend for herself. We had only gone a little way when we saw, through the legs of the herds, Shalaka facing up to a large bull buffalo that had decided that she was too close for comfort. It had no fear of a young, not quite fully grown lioness, and certainly had no concerns about attacking one on her own, cut off from her family and friends. We could only stand and watch as she desperately ran and turned every way to escape but the bull was everywhere. It seemed like hours before he charged her, she turned and ran but he charged her down, scooping her up with his horns and tossing her in the air. She landed heavily and moved no more. We all thought she was gone. The herds rallied round to protect themselves but through it all we could just about see Sala creeping closer to the bull, she looked different somehow as if the determination needed to protect her Shalaka had aged her and given her strength, she had got within a few lengths when we saw Shalaka move, she raised her head and looked up. She could have had no idea where she was, we didn't know if she were injured or not, we couldn't tell as there were simply too many buffalo and eland between us and them. She tried to rise, but before she could get to her paws the buffalo charged at her again. Sala flung herself in the path of the bull who crashed over her and fell on her. She couldn't have survived that, we all knew she had given her life to save her daughter who was just coming to. Shalaka managed to leap upon the fallen buffalo's neck and killed it in the hope of saving her mother. But it was too late, Sala had gone to the stars. All five of us watched until the buffalo stopped thrashing and lay still over the inert body of Sala. I turned my head away and looked up to the sky and said quietly:
________My friend gave her life today, remember her as I did." and Sala said quietly as she stood by me:
________We will remember her, all of us, for ever.". I thanked Sala for her heartfelt display of sorrow. What? Sala? she was alive! We all roared with relief, Sala was alive and well. While the others frightened off the nearest buffalo by their growls and roars I wondered who Shalaka's protector could have been. It could only have been a skilled huntress who could remain hidden and watch as we had stalked the eland, one who had the courage to face a buffalo bull, one who had the heart to give her life for others, one who knew what we were facing and one who wasn't meant to be here at all. It could only have been Sarafina... I now knew that my words, traditional as they were, were rather more appropriate than ever - MY friend HAD given her life. I will always remember her.
________Later we got to the buffalo, with Shalaka still lying by Sarafina's side watching over her to keep the scavengers from closing in. Together we dragged the buffalo from Sarafina. She looked as if she had simply fallen and had gone to sleep, but we all knew she would never get up and that this buffalo would be the last kill she would ever claim. When the others had moved away for a moment I went and stood by her:
________There now Saffi, you'll not need to worry about getting any older now."."
________Sarabi sat quite still as the story of her great friend sank deep into her audience. She had grown into quite an accomplished storyteller since the death of Sarafina. Most of her stories, so eagerly heard by the young cubs such as those who sat before her, concerned those few short and dramatic years that had shaped the Pridelands. She had lived through it all and now felt that her life had new meaning as she told each new generation about the times when she was Queen of The Pridelands.
________Tell us some more grandma Sassi."
________Yes, yes, come on, what about when Simba fought Scar?"
________Come on now Lyaka, time to get some rest, for me if not for you."
________Please. Tell us another one. 'Pumbaa and the beetle'. Please, please, please, please!" pleaded a young lion cub.
________Now then Talami, you'll not grow up into a handsome lion like your grandfather Simba was. Off you go, me and grandma Nala have got to get some sleep ourselves." The cubs, mostly barely five months old fell silent and shuffled off subdued. They knew that Sarabi was the oldest lioness that many had ever known or even heard of and was to be respected, however that did not stop Talami, his chestnut brown ear rims standing out in the final light of sunset, from trying one last time:
________Hey grandma Sassi, what did Sarafina mean by Scar being quick?"
________That's enough you, get along now. I'm sure your mother will tell you all about it when you're older."
________Yeah right, I'll ask Zeni!"
________She's 'Mother' to you." Said Nala abruptly.
________Ok Nala. Whatever you say!" and he bounded away to join the others.
________Wherever does he get it from?" Asked Nala quietly to her old friend.
________Oh, it just gets passed on down the line from mother to daughter...."

Text Version
{Submitted by Carl}
{HTML by Thumper}
{Graphic by Carl}

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