Chapter Two: Kenobi
As dusk turned into night, the games became more intense. Dafini’s blue gaze watched the cubs with amusement while her sister, Tanari came to her side.
“It’s almost dark,” Tanari whispered, not wanting to spoil the moment for Dafini. “Are you almost ready?” Her crimson, spiky locks of hair flopped over her sand-colored neck and protruded over her eyes. It bobbed up and down as Tanari looked at Dafini and then back at the cubs.
Dafini slowly nodded her sand-colored head. Her thick eyebrows slanted as she looked over the horizon. “Yes, it is about that time, isn’t it?” Dafini reluctantly got to her feet. The strong lioness looked at her sister. “Tanari, I want you to send Lumina out ahead. Tell her to give me a signal when she finds a good herd.”
“Any particular animal in mind?” Tanari asked
“Gazelle. Tell her to look for gazelle.”
Tanari nodded and walked off to find Lumina, the scout.
Tanari turned to the very familiar voice, her hair flopping back and forth over her blue eyes.
“Aunt Dafini! Mom!” Manzi bounded into view and skidded to a stop, raising a small cloud of dust. “You’ll never believe what we—” Manzi paused and sneezed, then continued excitedly. “Shani and me found!”
Dafini looked past Manzi to see a small lion cub walking toward them. Manzi followed Dafini’s gaze, turned back to smile at her, and then ran to the cub, encouraging him to come forward.
“Come on, Garoe!” Manzi urged. “Don’t be scared. This is my Aunt Dafini. And that’s my mom, Tanari.”
Garoe looked shyly up at Dafini, instinctively knowing that she was the dominate lioness. He gave her a small smile, the first Manzi had seen from him.
Dafini smiled back, her blue eyes shining. She knew Garoe had nowhere to go. She gently put a paw on Garoe and pulled him a little closer, but not too close. She looked at Manzi. “Of course we’ll take him in.” She looked at Garoe. “I’m sure my mate, Antonio, will feel the same way.”
Manzi whooped with joy and did a back flip. She thanked Dafini heartily before she nuzzled Tanari and ran down the hill to join the other cubs. She felt Garoe running behind her for a moment, but he stopped as they neared the bottom.
Even if Manzi were to the pride, it would be obvious to her who the “ring leader” was among the cubs. Kenobi.
Kenobi’s golden coat glistened with a copper sheen as the last rays of sun disappeared. He enjoyed his high status among the other cubs, even though he wasn’t the oldest. The others respected him for his attitude, his intelligence, and his charisma. They always agreed with him; playing his games by his rules. Now, as he rested after an intense game of tag, Kenobi looked over his friends. Unlike the other cubs in the pride, he was not related to any of them.
Kenobi was the son of the pride leader’s half-sister Naomi. Kenobi didn’t know who his father was. Naomi wouldn’t tell him. Though he suspected that was whom he inherited his black nose and thick black mane from, seeing how Naomi didn’t have a black hair on her copper body. Kenobi’s black “mane,” which was really a large tuft of hair between his ears, was so thick; he wore some of it in a braid behind his right ear.
Naturally, Kenobi was proud of his mane, as the other male cubs were of theirs. It protruded over his green eyes, but didn’t cover them. As far as he was concerned, he had the best mane and the best of everything in Antonio’s Savanna pride. At least among the cubs.
“Hey guys!” Manzi called as she ran toward the exhausted cubs.
Kenobi smiled and stretched, getting to his feet. “What’s up Manzi?”
“The most amazing thing has happened!” Manzi beamed.
Ruka, Antonio and Dafini’s first son and the oldest cub, raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?” he asked. He was Manzi’s cousin, and directly inherited Antonio’s golden pelt, copper mane, and green eyes.
Mifi, Ruka’s plump little brother, perked up from his usual lounging position. “Did you find food?” he asked hopefully, his blue eyes curious. He too had his father’s golden pelt and a copper tuft of mane.
Manzi laughed and shook her head. “Sorry, Mifi. Not this time! The Mom and the other huntresses are responsible for that. Guess again!”
“Shani finally decided to call off the truce and let us eat him.” Kenobi’s green eyes twinkled with mischief.
“No!” Manzi said almost before Kenobi finished.
“I’m stumped,” Taiche said, sitting down and throwing his paws in the air. He was Lumina’s oldest son and Ruka’s half-brother.
“Okay,” Manzi said, giving in. “Since Tibali and my finicky sister, Neona are off somewhere it seems I’m out of candidates for guesses.”
“Cut out the politics and spit it out!” Kenobi said with a smile.
“Okay, okay! Here it comes. I found an abandoned cub after the rainstorm and Aunt Dafini’s gonna let him stay!”
Kenobi choked. “What?”
“Yeah! You should come meet him.”
“Whoa, whoa!” Taiche held up a yellow paw. All his paws had a similar yellow sock. The rest of his body was light brown. He turned his head to one side and then looked back at Manzi, his cream colored hair tuft flopping. “Aunt Dafini’s letting him stay? What about Dad? He won’t be back until at least tomorrow afternoon.”
Ruka answered before Manzi could. “I’m sure Dad will be fine with the newcomer. In fact, I’m certain.”
“Wait a minute!” Kenobi broke in, stepping into the middle of the cubs. “Where’s the logic in this? We haven’t even met Manzi’s stray yet.”
“It’s not too late,” Manzi said. A smile returned to her brown muzzle. “Come on!” She started to lead the cubs to Garoe when she remembered something. “Oh, he’s very shy. Try not to frighten him.”
“Sure,” the cubs complied almost in unison… except for Kenobi.