Prologue: In the Pridelands, all animals reign in an environment were each is as important as the next. Were each individual has a place within the grander Circle of Life. This balance of life is what makes the Pridelands so special, and what draws the vast array of species to it's glory.
However, beyond its borders lies a less perfect balance, were the rules are much different. Where only the strong survive and the weak /must/ die. It is here in the kingdom of Mwenge that such a world exists. A world that lives and dies by the everlasting Flame. A Flame that decides the fate of all who dare cross its borders, bringing life and death. It is here that Flame burns. . .in the heart of Firebrand.
How it all started: -A rogue stands before the Tree of Passing, aged and worn. Tired eyes look at the stricken tree, watching the breeze flake away the charred bark. The elder's mind wonders, remembering the past.-
'The previous night the sun had set on an old reign, and as the sun rose a new one would begin. A lion by the name of Malaki would assume the throne. A young and inexperience lion, who was determined to live in his father's paw prints. However, those paw prints weren't always the best to follow. And so while the dawn brought a new dynasty, it also meant the beginning of the end for all of Firebrand.
Malaki was certainly the image of his father, a brute and overly arrogant lion. Like his father, he believed that all 'inferior' predators should be met with genocide. Leopards and cheetahs were mere sparks compared to the greater Flame, and weren't worth having around and contribute to the dwindling herds on the hunting flats. So Malaki and his Pride showered the lands with their dark presence, extinguishing the Flames of those who dared oppose them. For certain their presence was known, in every shape and form.'
-The elder shrugs, glassy eyes glancing down at at red earth. Opening and closing very heavily, her eyes reflect her thoughts.-
'As soon as Malaki became King, the masses left. Many species had had enough with Firebrand and its traditions, and couldn't stand to survive another generation of Pridal prejudice. So they left. They herds moved slowly at first, but were shortly beyond Mwenge's border in their migratory travels (Still to this day, the herds are hesitant to return). The leopards fled to the Pridelands, learning of the kind and just Mufasa. Primates of the sorts would also learn of just Mufasa, and leave to live in the Prideland's groves of acacia and baobab. Many others would leave and live the better life, but one group would stay.
The cheetahs would stay. Firebrand was as much a part of them, as it was to the Pride. Being the second oldest residents of the region(next to the pride), the cheetahs weren't about to let their home be taken away. . .not by the Pride, not by anyone.
While under constant threat of the King and his Pride, the cheetahs kept to the farthest reaches of Mwenge. Back then the Outlands flourished and were officially a part of Mwenge and for now, it was the perfect sanctuary for the cheetahs. However, like all things in Mwenge. . .safety is only wishful thinking.
Word from the Pridelands was that King Mufasa and his heir were dead, and Scar was now King. Scar brought with him the hyenas, who made short work of the plentiful supply of food. In no time at all, the herds were gone and the water holes were dry. What were the other predators to do. . . face death in the Pridelands or Mwenge? Their chances were better off in Mwenge.
Back in Mwenge, the Pride continued to pose a life threat. Upon arriving, several animals fleeing the Pridelands were killed on the spot. If it weren't for their sheer numbers, the pride would have killed more. The cheetahs watched from the 'Outer Lands' fearing the worse for the arrivals and themselves. Within just a few short days, the survivors were neighboring the cheetahs in the 'Outlands'. There was scarcely enough room for the cheetahs, and now with the Pridelanders moving in. . .It was just one problem after the other.
So in an attempt to solve the problem and make a compromise with the Pride, a cheetah family confronted the Pride.'
-A cold quivering feeling crawls down the feline's back, making her claws clench the soil. Her eyes squeezed shut, head hung slow to her chest. She eases onto her haunches while the images race.-
'Lightning cracked across the sky, muffling the cries of the dying. Seized and released, their Flames were slowly and painfully brought to an end. Their blood would forever stain the grasses with a hue of red, that till this day has not washed away.
The following morning the cheetahs would come across the savaged remains of their friends, Flames ablaze with fear and vengeance. They would leave. . They must. '
-"They wouldn't. ." She whispers, her eyes rising to the clear night sky.-
'. . .let them leave. The Pride gone in the night to all the borderlands, but not to patrol. They were waiting for the cheetahs and whatever creature would attempt to escape their wrath. It was now or never; return to Mwenge and live in fear for the rest of their lives or face the pride and find a way through.
Again the storms loomed over head, crackling and threatening to strike the earth below. Then, alas, the first blow was stricken. The crisp grasses when up in flames and the cheetahs went paw to paw with the pride. The Pride had little to fear from the cheetahs, who's numbers had dwindled significantly in recent moons. Nevertheless, the cheetahs outnumbered them and some would find a way through.
-The elder lies down. Her tired and stiff legs fold underneath her, as her neck curls around her side.-
'Looking back across the Red Stream, the free cheetahs watched the lionesses break off their pursuit. They were free, but on the other side their friends and family were still fighting desperately against the Pride. It was certain that they would die, but their sacrifice would be the fuel for the cheetah Flame's survival.'
-Her eyes finally come to a close, the glassy orbs filled with tears. Her Flame flickers in the breeze, before it quietly passes away. -
Epilogue: Shortly after this incident, Malaki would be killed on the hunting flats. Prosperity would go to Malaki's head and on a failed hunt the king met "confrontation between raging hyenas and other angry predators -- and the King was dead(Prides Muck, Firebrand History)."
From then on Mwenge would always hold a certain aura of fear and hostility for the cheetahs, as even the Baraduma cheetah can vouch for. Yet, now, during a new reign in Firebrand. . Something has changed. The old Firebrand Flame is dying out. The old bloodline is running thin, more determined on keeping the Pride fed with secret hunts into the Pridelands. While their attention is focused on their current crisis, another old bloodline rises out of the shadows of Mwenge.
--Spots-- What was that? A cheetah? Return to Top