There was laughter.
Young female Kikera’s ran around the open plains of their large village. The sun stood proud above the center of the sky that many laid on the various rocks to bask in its warmth against the exposed golden spotted skins. It was their favorite pastime other than running through the tall grass.
The young cub who relaxed on the largest rock above all others that was his favorite place to lay. He would even take casual naps in this spot, facing up or down. His black spots and brown hair with round-tipped spotted ears and his tail was a feature of the little cub many knew was the Chief’s son. He was satisfied, resulting in slow peaceful breathing.
He had no worries. There were no troubles. It was peaceful.
Another presence clambers on the rock. A small cub leaped on his back and woke him up. His eyes widen when the smaller body pulls to tumble with him off the side of the boulder and drop on another one, rolling a second time over the second rock. It disturbed the rest of a larger comfortable Kikera’s on the boulders who watched them roll by and on the ground.
The youngest one laughed once she was on top and clenched her tiny hands on his tunic to pin him on the ground. She has the same features he had, the long curly brown hair and ears. Her spots that cover her was brown instead of black like this, blinking pure green feline eyes peers into his yellow-greenish ones. She giggles and lifted her shoulders proudly. “Ha-Ha! I pinned you, Caji! Stop taking so many naps and play with me.”
He lifts his head and shook it to get the dirt out. He smiles, “I like my naps. You can sleep beside me. I don’t mind sharing my rock.”
“Muma said to play with me,” she climbs off of him with her ears points high and she turns her head to see the area where the adults were speaking. “They said that we have to be inside when the sun comes down because the other tribe was coming. Father does not want us out by then to play.”
He saw the small toy that was attached to the side of her belt. The small stuffed Kikera like them that his mother made his sister many suns ago. His sister gave him a sad, begging look as she pleads for him to play with her again. His ears mimicked hers and his tail moved the same way. She saw it and instantly became annoyed and hopped to grab his ongoing moving tail.
He chuckled and pounced her. They rolled again, playfully pulling at each other’s tail and ears. He was never too rough with his her although she did occasionally get too rough with him when he pulls his ear too hard and even bit him. He was never angry about it. He found it fun. She never bit too hard.
They tossled amongst the older Kikera enjoying their day by crafting neat things and weaving. Some having a conversation and looked down to see the two and smiling. Especially the beautiful and exotic females that put their hands on their chest and coo over the two.
Caji was an adorable young cub. All the females would see him and dote over his innocent eyes and shiny, silky brown hair and his perfect cute face that a grandmother couldn't refuse to pinch. Everyone adored him.
They toppled a few more times before he topped him again and grabbed his shoulder and held him down again. She laughs, “I pinned you again.”
“Sana,” The female voice made each other cub’s head raise in sync with their ears. The two looked at the woman sitting on a log near the Chief’s hut with a comb by her side. She patted her lap with a smile, “You too, Caji. I will not have my cubs run around with dirt in their hair and ears.”
The two soon scurried to where their mother was. Sana jumps on her mother’s lap, but Caji just sat beside his mother’s legs and put his head on her knee. She pats his head and combs her fingers through his hair. Her gentle touch was always something that made him feel calm and cozy.
“Once I finish with her I will brush you next,” she moves her hand away to tend to his sister’s hair gently. “I wonder what you two were doing to have dirt in each of your hair? I am not sure that this small comb can fix this.”
“Try as much as you can, for now, I will take them to bathe later,” a tall male turned his head from the others when he heard his mates words. Caji perks up at him and blinks many times so his eyes could adjust to the light of the sun.
His parents were the perfect symbol of what the Chief and his mate should be. His mother was tall with hair cut elegantly short and even that brushed her shoulder. Her pure yellow eyes were always gentle and kind and rarely were filled with anger. Only if her cubs had done something that they weren’t supposed to. Her skin was darkly tanned and her spots were faded and small. She was once called Lina. She used the comb to move it through Sana’s hair as she occasionally looked up at the Chief with the soft eyes that made him smile.
It was that smile that the boy remembered vividly.
His father was a male he looks up to in size and awe. His spots were just like his and nobody else in the large tribe could say the same. Black much darker imprints on his skin, the black line down his spine, his father’s hair was black and his eyes were like his as well. Bright yellow with hints of green stretching out from the pupils. His stance alone shown power and dominance. His father was very dominant and even had hints of aggression.
Never to his family. He always greeted each of them with open arms and soft purrs none other would ever feel. That’s why Caji wasn’t intimidated when he jumped for his father and clutches his black animal fur vest and wanted to be lifted and held. He always liked to be held and soak in all the attention that he felt blessed to have. The Chief’s attention, his father.
And he gazes down at him and grins.
“Pick him up, Cajike,” Lina says as she brushes back her daughter’s hair to use the string to tie. She didn’t want any more filth to get into it today. “You know he likes you more than me.”
Caji turns his head so fast his father thought it might roll off his neck. “No!” His innocent yowl lifted her eyes. “He is not busy with his hands. Hold me,” he tugs at his tunic again with his small hands two more times before he finally snatched the cub under his arms and lifted him into his. Caji immediately fastens his arms around him and held him tightly, his head pressed against his and his young purr left him.
All cub’s purr was not profound as a much older one, but it didn’t stop the Chief from chuckling and smiling lowly while he hugs his young one.
They cherished family. It was everything that they strived for. Cajike already knew that his oldest was the precise image of him, spots and all, he couldn't have asked Serane for a better gift. Everything was falling into place the more his son grew.
He knew potential when he saw it. He knew that his tribe would be in great hands after him.
“I am going to show you something, my little Warrior,” he made sure to have his eyes on his before continuing. “I know you will like it. It will be another small lesson for you today other than you sleeping on that rock you like so much. What do you think?”
He nods frantically.
He looked at his mate, “I am going to take him to the tall grass.”
“All of the cubs are playing there along with Shinto and his daughter,” she hums. “I am sure it will be calmer if you took him to the other patch of grass where it is more silent. You know how easily his attention wanders.”
“I will be back,” he purrs to Caji as he rolls his back to the two and walked through the village. He was heading for the tall grass was long easy steps that seemed impossible to his young eyes. From his father’s shoulder, he had the best view of the lively village. More young females ran past them with colorful strings that looked all grey and light grey to his eyes. Young male cubs were hurrying around.
One was running so fast that he ran into Cajike’s hip and fell on the ground. The Chief stopped and looked at the cub with an estranged look, but in the end, smiles as his passive nature towards the young ones in the village. And laughed. “Watch out where you run, Nuru. You don’t want to break your tail.”
Nuru jumped up and grabbed his tail, “It doesn’t hurt so I don’t think I broke it. What happens if I do?”
“I was told that you won’t be able to walk,” he starts on his way again. “Try to be more careful.”
Nuru watched him walk a little further and his eyes locked with Caji looking over his shoulder. The little boy ran off when his friends invited him. He went back to playing his games.
They were walking through the tall grass now. The grass lived up to its name when it reaches up to his hip and when he finally walked into the center of it the sound of the village dimmed. The wind that dragged over the talk grass made a soft melody that Caji looked around to see. His hand was on his father’s chest as he watched how he could see the wind form on the surface, moving and gliding effortlessly.
It was peace.
They lower into the grass and his father sits on the ground, submerging themselves in the sea of grass. Caji blinked as he looked at the scene. “What are we doing?”
Caji pouts when the Chief lifts him off of his lap and in front of him. He left enough space between them so there was a mixture of flattened grass and soil separating them. “We need to talk, your mother felt that we needed to do this for you now. Cubs your age don’t think about it as much. It is when you are older that I do want to speak to you about this. She feels that telling you now will prepare you for when you are older.”
“Can we just play?” He gave him sad look. “I like playing. Or we can sleep on my rock. I like my rock.”
“As fun as that sounds we can do that another time,” he found the little things he would say heart-melting. His cub was adorable. “This is a serious matter that I want to get over with now until you grow older. Every male goes through this.”
He placed two of his fingers over the black spots on his arm, “Even us?”
Cajike mirrored his cub’s action and placed his index and middle finger on his spot, their spots were the same pattern. Each in the same place and the same form. “Even us. This has happened to me and this will happen to you, my little Warrior. What I speak about is a gift that was given to us. The same relationship your mother and I have. You will have that yourself. When you are grown.”
“Why does mother want me to know that?” He put his hand on the ground and played with the pieces of grass sticking out from the ground. “I am happy.”
The Chief sat in his spot for a moment and watched his son play with the grass below him, pulling it out and wrapping it around his fingers. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Yes, you are. I will just tell her that you are simply too young to care for this kind of discussion now. Would you rather play together in the grass until I have to go speak with Shinto?”
That snatches his attention quickly and he looked up excitedly with his tail moving rapidly. “I want to play with you. Can you teach me how to wrestle so I can be big and strong? Sana pins me too much.”
“Then that is what we will practice on,” he stood up into a crouch position and his hands touched the ground. His playful growl always managed to make Caji shiver in intimidation but always knew it was nothing serious. He likes the shivers. His father could become a fearsome Warrior into a playful cub in a second. Caji jumped back in the grass and smiled and hearing Cajike’s next words. “I will teach you to pin down any Warrior that crosses your path.”
The boy attempts the most threatening growl he could manage from his small throat and chest and mimicked the way he was positioned. When he jumps forwards the cub bounced backward and tripped. He tried to regain his stance to try to impress him. It was always any cub’s goal to impress their dads. “Any Warrior?”
“Yes,” he crawled forward and pushed the grass out of his way. From above anyone could see the rustling of the grass to know where they were. “I will teach you to become the best, my son. The strongest. The fastest.”
“The bravest!” he boldly jumped forward and his father fell backward purposely. He always allowed his son to get the upper hand at the beginning of their wrestling. They rolled in the grass. Caji even ended up on top this time with his hands on his chest.
“A leader,” he encouraged. “You come from the strongest line of the Kikera’s. To be the strongest is in your blood. Every Kikera must kneel to you the same as they do me, we are all connected. We are the same kind. All family,” he sat up and pressed his forehead against his. “You will become everything we said.”
“I want to be like you,” his ears flatten. “You’re so amazing. Everyone talks about you all the time.”
“You will become me,” he purrs the same way that he liked. How calm and safe it made him feel. “You are me. You will become me and so much more. I know it.”
His tail slides over his father’s leg and he felt his love in his words. He was his hero, the strongest and most powerful male he knew. He always felt safe with him around. Especially now. It felt like nothing could shatter this moment.
Except for the thundering roar of the beast.