The males trotted closer to the kopje until they were upon it, where Tiva could see the alpha male of her pride—who was also her father—slowly getting closer to them. By his side was her uncle Kwame, the two of them looking fierce in the glow of the moon. Usually, the sight of the two males of her pride gave her a sense of safety, but looking at the new lions, all she felt was a sense of dread.
Tiva turned to look at her mother, whose eyes remained closed. She was tired, and Tiva couldn’t blame her. However, she was in no condition to fight for the lives of her cubs who would likely be killed if the takeover was successful. Tiva may have failed to bring prey home again, but she would not fail to keep her siblings alive. As they curled up to her mother to suckle, she moved to the mouth of the den, watching the confrontation from a distance.
She could hear her father and uncle’s roars booming through the night, but the young males wouldn’t back down. She could see that they were fit and strong; while her father and uncle had always been a fearsome sight, she could tell these new lions packed a lot in their bite. It was still for a moment, nobody moving. Suddenly, the lion in the middle leaped for her uncle, teeth bared and claws out. Kwame didn’t react fast enough, and the lions’ claws sliced him in the face. He roared in anger, but in a flash of golden fur, Kwame suddenly had two lions on him. They tackled him to the ground, biting and scratching him as Tiva watched in horror.
The remaining lion, the biggest of the two, ran at her father, the two of them engaging in a series of slices at each other with their claws. Their roars were loud and jarring, one so much so that her mother abruptly rose from her nap. Tiva glanced back at her, seeing her mother’s tired expression and the cubs that had snuggled up against her, scared.
She had to help, she had to do something. She wasn’t just going to let her pride be taken over so easily. Tiva pawed the ground, anger building in her. With a sudden burst of energy, she bounded from the den, roaring and jumping at the lion who had been attacking her father. “Get away from him!” she bellowed as she slashed at the lion’s face. The lion sneered, assessing her with a single glance and seeming to find no threat.
“Little girl, go back home. This is for the adults,” he said, his voice taut with determination. Her father pushed her back with his feet, tossing her a glare that made her feel chastised. “Go home Tiva. This isn’t your fight.”
She growled, throwing her father a sharp gaze. She jumped at the lion, balancing on two paws and she used her front paws to battle with the lion. He suddenly sliced at her face, and she fell, wounded. The lion scoffed as her dad let out a roar so loud she felt the ground quake beneath her, a roar full of rage. He raced at the lion with newfound vigour, and the lion dedicated his full attention to dealing with Tiva’s father. Tiva, on the ground, rolled her head and saw her uncle also on the ground, being bit over and over again by one of the lions. Despite all the bites, Kwame didn’t move.
Tears sprung to her eyes, but she didn’t dwell on her uncle’s death—there was no time to. She needed to save her pride. Where is that other lion? She furtively looked around, scanning the landscape until she finally saw the gold tuft of a tail slipping into the den—her den.
She leaped to her feet, racing into the den where her family resided. Inside the den, her mother was on her paws, weakly roaring at the intruder as two of the cubs cowered behind her. Tiva noted that these two cubs were Asha and Lulu, the two females, which meant Dakari was… where? Her eyes shot to the lion, and the golden body of fur in his jaws. The lion turned slightly upon hearing her entry, and that confirmed it. In his mouth, limp, was Dakari, her brother.