Five children were taken today. They were grazing peacefully in the herd when suddenly, Chaleya let out a wail and started the formation, the others soon ensued. All her children had made it safely except one; her youngest one, Kiltok. He must have been gobsmacked by such chaos, not knowing what to do, the lionesses must’ve seen his amateurish weakness as their feasting opportunity.
She sat under the tree, weeping silently. Her children did not know what had just happened, they were too traumatised to blurt out even a single word, and found solace in the cave instead, containing their nerve-wrecking fear. It was not the best place to be in, considering the number of predators around but there really were no other options, this was the highest they could climb to have a slighter edge over those barbarians.
Those monsters had ruthlessly murdered 50 of their kind in this month, mostly children and babies and there was no stopping to this anarchy. A graze for them meant a picking of the feeble ones from the herd. They were a herd of 800 strong, left with 750 now, God knew how many more would be slain by the start of next month. She could not just see her species being bludgeoned like this. She had to do something. She had tried in vain attempts to explain the herd members, but they were too conservative and would not let her ideas trap into their colluded minds. She had to find a way, and soon.
“Heard about your baby, sorry to hear he didn’t make it, may God give them hell for that deed.”
“Till hell is summoned onto those assailants, our species will be wiped out,” Jusceya retorted with gritted teeth as Chaleya joined her.
“As a chief, you should know better than me the numbers of our herd as you worry about only the food, moving every five days and getting your herd members slaughtered for their sole crime of being born as a peace-loving animal.”
“Got any better plans, child?” Chaleya retorted back at her.
“Yes, plenty. But for starters, an opposition alliance against the Greadouans and the formation of an army. How does that sound, chief?” Jusceya stated plainly, her tears had now slowed down as her anger had stepped in towards her chief.
“The last time we called the elephants, they grazed our area clean and we had to move out of there as they ended up liking it instead. Remember the Giraffes, almost killed our children with their out of control kicks. And the Rhinos, their Chief Dacero almost killed me when I didn’t agree with a point of hers,” Chaleya whimpered in disgust.
“Not to forget those annoying hooting owls, they were always shaking their head calling all of us stooges. Now, you expect me to call them again? Not happening until I’m alive!”
“Which you won’t be as your herd shrinks and some male fights you for a switch, the last time you had that Cortan challenge you, it was almost a win from his side if Cabina, the referee had not sympathised with you and declared it a draw. You are getting old, Chaleya! Admit it, it’s time you use your maturity for some good than be a simple cow –” “Enough! Foolish child,” bellowed Chaleya. “Always stubborn and in reverie of a world that is not possible, just like your imprudent fa–”
“You say one letter after that and I will kill you before those lions and tigers do. It is my father you’re talking about, chief. He died a death of honour, the greatest amongst the chiefs of our kind; one you cannot even dream of. As for me being a foolish child, at least I’m not someone who has given up and is counting days till death slashes my throat and scrapes my flesh off my bones.”
“You dare to talk like that with me? Don’t forget I’m still the chief round here,” Chaleya’s eyes had become bright-red as his anger channelled to his horns, making them darker.
“Yes, I do because you are not God, Chief Chaleya and neither are those Greadouans, whose lions, tigers and other predators are taking the lives of innocent animals. At least I can see the wrong being done here and critique the chaos while you are completely oblivious.”
“So, you’re saying I am not good enough to lead the herd?” “First, learn to lead yourself, chief,” scoffed Jusceya. Silence – Chaleya was flummoxed by the last statement.
He could face all the criticism in the world but being told that he was not a good leader was a border line that Jusceya had crossed, a borderline that had challenged Chaleya’s reputation and image.
“You are to leave my herd, Jusceya. ASAP! I cannot keep the likes of you to spread fear and create segments within my herd. Your children will be safe with me, Zolent will be a good father to them. I will make sure they aren’t anything like their rebellious mother. You are free from now, Jusceya, join a herd where the chief knows how to lead himself and the herd properly,” Chaleya stood up, lifting his front hooves in the air and thumping them hard on the grass again, peeling some of it away in the process as the ground revealed its dark brown mud.
The dust too had now joined in their heated argument. Jusceya’s tears had started their fall again, this time not in sorrow but in defeat. A defeat against the authoritative chief of her herd, the hooves being hit on the grass was a magistrate verdict from the chief and it could not be taken back; it was like a death sentence written, a punishment given, and a treason issued. She sat unmoved, the chief had dissipated back into the cave again, maybe to tell the herd of his newly-arrived decision or just to sleep until the next grazing time (feasting for the Greadouans).
Finally, she raised herself and went back to the cave.
As she strolled past the grassy and rocky terrain, her herd
members averted their eyes from meeting her gaze. In their
eyes, she was a rebel now. She trudged on to her children,
who were still in the cave, where she had left them. It was
time for a final goodbye. A goodbye which wouldn’t be there
in the first place if she had just controlled her emotions and
the outburst, but there was no going back now and apologising.