I ran around my parents as we walked to the Lion’s Den. It was my first day of working for the King, and I was very excited. Of course, as a young cub I wouldn’t know how much anguish this job brought to my family.
I couldn’t wait to serve my king, but when I entered the den… Chaos.
I saw several animals. From honey badgers and snakes to cheetahs and leopards.
I was very surprised by the sight. I had only seen a few of these animals around when I was playing with my twin sister, Uma, around the village.
My father was greeted by one of the staff before they got back to work. All the animals in the Lion’s Den that worked for the king admired my father. He had the most experience as a worker after all.
My twin and I were brought up to the Royal Advisor, a large lion. I had never seen a lion before. They usually stayed in the Lion’s den.
I looked on in awe at the flowing black mane and the icy blue eyes. His fur was a reddish-brown.
He spotted me staring at him at the corner of his eye, I grinned up at him happily. He grunted in disapproval before continuing his conversation with my father.
“These are my youngest cubs: Aren and Uma.” My father told the lion.
He looked down at us with a disgusted face.
“I’ll take them to the queen so she can decide what area they will work in.”
The lion’s voice was a deep, gravely sound. It scared me a bit since he was void of emotion as well.
My sister and I were led to a large cave where a small lioness lay grooming herself. Her fur was a sandy color and her brown eyes spoke of deep sorrow.
Once she noticed us she stopped and pulled herself into a confident sitting position. She looked down at us.
“Who is this?” Her voice was quiet, but stern.
“These are Chibale’s youngest cubs.” The advisor told her confidently and respectfully. She gave him a nod of her head and beckoned us over to her.
“Come here. Let me look at you.”
Uma and I didn’t hesitate to come to her, I was shaking in my paws with excitement. I wanted to run around and celebrate, but I knew if I did it would be a disgrace in my father’s name.
The queen inspected Uma first. She checked her fur, legs, eyes, jaws, and ears.
“She is losing sight in her right eye.” She observed.
Uma had started losing her sight in that eye from a very young age. No one in my family knew what had happened. It was a mystery.
“I cannot have her working in this cave. Get her out of my sight.” She commanded staring up at the advisor. He gave a bow and lifted Uma up by her scruff and carried her off. I looked on in confusion, feeling the urge to go after her.
I started taking steps out to follow, but was stopped by the sound of the queen’s voice.
“Stop. I haven’t inspected you.”
My fur stood up on the back of my neck. I didn’t want to be away from my sister. Where was that lion taking her?
“Is being taken care of.” She spoke behind him. “Now come here so I can do your inspection.”
I obeyed her, still looking on at where my sister had stood before being taken.
I was inspected by the queens the same as Uma had. She nodded in approval.
“I have a special job for you.” She told me.
I looked up at her in wonder.
“Follow me.” She told him standing up and walking quickly.
I followed suit, looking around the caves in awe as we passed by.
She stopped at one of the caves, I looked inside. There I saw a young male lion with dark russet fur, dark brown eyes, and a nearly full grown dark brown mane.
“Ekon.” The queen spoke in a cold, hard voice. The lion turned to look at her, sadness present in his eyes.
“This is your new servant, do what you will.” She turned away without another second glance and pounded away.
I stood in the gaze of the lion in the entryway of his cave. His eyes held sadness, but also disapproval.
“She appointed me a leopard? Typical mother.” He turned his back to me, frustrated twitches of his muscles were present.
“Just follow me around and I’ll tell you when I need something.” He told me as he turned back to face me. He walked towards me, but instead of stopping in front of me, he passed me and continued out of his cave. I gazed at him in confusion, standing a little too long since he had to call me.
“Hey, come on.” He called for me. I quickly got up and raced to his side, earning myself a glare of disapproval. Ekon stopped and faced me, I looked into his brown eyes.
“Always stay two paw steps behind me, and never look me in the eye. Understand?”
“Yes sir.” I said, looking down to the ground in front of me where his feet stood.
“It’s ‘yes, Prince Ekon’.” He corrected me.
“Yes, Prince Ekon.” I whispered so I could remember it in the future.
Prince Ekon guided me to a field behind the Lion’s Den. It was empty besides the three lions present.
The first lion was a sandy color, just a bit darker than the queens, he had dark green eyes and a large pale brown mane.
The second was more of a gray color with brown eyes and a black mane.
The third was the largest lion I had seen that day. Instead of regular colors of lion fur, he was white. My older brother, Kasim, said that these lions were very rare.
“Good morning, Prince Ekon.” The three bowed to the prince respectfully. Ekon nodded his head, signaling for them to lift themselves back up.
The first lion spotted me and turned his head to the prince.
“Your mother found another one. How do you feel about that? if you don’t mind me asking.”
“What my mother does in none of your concern. You are only here to teach me the ways that my father was taught before me.” Ekon’s voice was authoritative and stern, but I could see beyond that. His eyes showed great annoyance, but a great sadness as well.
The lion bowed respectfully with an apology behind it.
“Let us begin.” The second lion spoke up, his voice was much softer than the first.
It had taken most of the day for Ekon to finally finish his training. He had taken a break for lunch, but was back at it once he finished. I got bored watching him run around to raise stamina and taking quizzes on lion history and culture.
About midway through the second round, I stood up to walk over to the instructors. They turned me away and signalled for me to go back. I sighed in annoyance, tired of being in the same position for most of the day. My stomach growled, I hadn’t had any lunch.
When the prince was done, he led me back to his cave. I took the time to look around it better. In the corner was the skin of a wildebeest, another had a slow stream of water coming from the wall. It was very plain and boring for royalty if you asked me. I had always thought that the royal family would have extravagant jewels that most other animals didn’t have. My head was pulled out of my thoughts when Ekon spoke up.
“Don’t judge me.” he told me, as if he had read my mind.
“I-I wasn’t. Prince Ekon.” I stammered out my answer, his fur twitched.
“Whatever.” He growled lowly in his throat. I found it menacing. “You can leave now.” He told me.
I nodded and turned away to leave.
“You… You can run with me tomorrow if you want. You looked like you were bored.” Ekon spoke up, uncertainty in his shaky voice. I gazed at him in surprise. Prince Ekon had invited me to train with him.
“Thank you, Prince Ekon.” I spoke to his back and bowed. I left with a leap in my step, excited for the next day.