Don't Look Back

Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » August 9th, 2014, 9:30 pm

The first thing that Chaltuu ever heard was a simple sentence, really, four words total. But she didn't know what it meant- it was all just blabber to her.
Pointless blabber.
"Red fur!" the voice screamed. "A curse!"
Chaltuu's ears weren't supposed to open at birth, they should have opened at four weeks old at most. But that ear-splitting howl of pure desperation did the job well. Being the tiny cub she was, literally less than two minutes old, she squirmed and gurgled, but not the gentle sort of baby coo; one filled with fear, and nothing but fear.
That small little grunt melted into a wail as Chaltuu was violently torn from her mother's belly. Suddenly everything was cold; she shivered and cried, not having her mother's soft, gentle warmth to surround her. Now everything felt like ice to her.
She felt herself being dropped onto the ground and her tail scrunched up from the cold bitterness. She shuddered and instinctively curled into a ball, trying to preserve heat. She whimpered quietly.
Craning her flat ears, Chaltuu heard indistinct chatter; not that she understood it.
"We'll find out what to do with her later, Kivuli. Just let her back in," a feminine voice said.
"No, Uangaze; red fur is a curse. The moment she dies, all bad luck and horror will be lifted from our shoulders," a deeper voice rebuked.
"Kivuli, stop!" the female, this "Uangaze" cried. "Just... stop."
Chaltuu heard a snort and felt teeth meet her scruff. In just moments she had been returned to the belly she recognized so well. She purred; not really a purr, but a low, nearly-inaudible rumble.
"Kivuli," Uangaze said, her voice serious and stern. "I share your beliefs." Chaltuu could feel a disgusted gaze resting on her back. "She will bring nothing but trouble. But we cannot kill her."
Kivuli snorted. "Whatever. Nurse the cub, Uangaze, and once that... thing... is weaned we'll put her up for adoption. One of the lionesses can take her."
"I'd rather we didn't," Uangaze said.
"Fine," the newborn heard Kivuli say. "But she will never be seen as our daughter."
The day Chaltuu opened her eyes was a day she'd never, ever forget.
It was still snowfall. The white flakes were falling to the ground, and soon the entire ground was covered in the cold whiteness.
Chaltuu, with her eyes still loosely shut, was pawing at the... strange stuff in wonder. "What's this?" she queried.
"It's snow," Uangaze grunted. Chaltuu's mother wasn't as bad as Kivuli; the lioness still looked out for Chaltuu, nursing her and grooming her- reluctantly. Uangaze neglected Chaltuu, threw her off to the side, treating her as if she was a burden instead of a daughter.
Chaltuu chuckled. "I guess it'll last for a while."
"It will," Uangaze replied. "Time for your nap, Chaltuu."
After a long, dreamless doze, Chaltuu woke up and blinked. She winced as light shone into er eyes, blinding her for a moment. "Ow!" she grumbled, squinting her eyes. She muttered inaudibly and covered her eyes with her paws for a brief moment. Slowly and surely, her eyes started to adjust.
"Mother!" Chaltuu yelped excitedly, prancing around. "Mother!"
A large, bubbly feeling rose inside her; finally, this was the moment! She could see.
She leaped towards her mother- and crashed straight into Kivuli.
"Watch it!" Kivuli snarled.
"S-sorry," Chaltuu stammered. "I-I... sorry, F-Father, I-"
Kivuli rolled his eyes and headed off. He flicked his tail to meet with a bunch of other lionesses, most likely to do something productive with his precious time, like organize a hunting party or a border watch.
Chaltuu's heart split. Her shoulders sagged and she sat down with a little thump. Why didn't Kivuli, her own father, love her? And why didn't Uangaze care about her?
Sitting down, Chaltuu glanced up at the bluish-grey sky, sighing again, inwardly.
"Why the long face?"
Chaltuu rolled her now-opened eyes and spun around to face her mother.
"Oh, you've opened your eyes!" Uangaze exclaimed, though she didn't sound all that enthusiastic.
Chaltuu's shoulders sagged even lower. Her ears flattened and she shuffled her paws awkwardly. Inside her heart was pounding, pressuring her to say something in response. But she didn't want to snap or spit an insult at her mother, or say something that she would regret later. She tended to do that. Then again, her parents didn't want her, so she didn't really know why she was so considerate of their feelings, if they didn't care about hers.
"You should tell your father," Uangaze said.
"And why is that?" Chaltuu responded coldly. "After all, Daddy is busy."
Without another word, Chaltuu turned and stormed away.

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More time went by. Slowly as a snail trying to win a race against a cheetah.
One night, while grooming her fur and picking little dirt and nits out of it- not that she actually was trying to clean herself, she was simply bored- Chaltuu rested her light green stare on the stars.
Chaltuu sighed inwardly. Her red fur was a curse; Kivuli said so himself.
And her green eyes were a curse. Green eyes in their pride was not uncommon, nor shunned, as Kivuli himself had green eyes. But pale green eyes with red fur was a curse. That's what she was told.
Chaltuu rasped her tongue along her paw once more, then gazed at the stars.
Stars. Why were they called stars, anyway?
Stars, stars, stars...
Chaltuu stood, growling to herself. Why did she even try to take the time to attempt, fruitlessly, to make her parents see that she wasn't just a hex? It wasn't like it mattered.
Each and every boring, long day, Chaltuu did the same thing over and over again:
Wake up, have Kivuli yelling for her to do her chores, sit in the back of the cave and do nothing but stare at the grey walls and pick at the dirt, eat a small portion of the day's catch, and go to sleep.
The same routine, every day of every moon.
Over the passing time, Chaltuu had grown to hate daytime. And not the common nocturnal-ness of a lion, where they will spend some time in the day but prefer nighttime, after she got an awful sunburn and had to wait for three dull, lengthy weeks for it to heal, she started to despise the sun and the day. She had grown out of watching the clouds pass through the sky- it was a pointless thing to do anyway.
The moon was like Chaltuu; ignored, detested, thrown to the side, nighttime dwellers. The only thing that they didn't have in common, the moon was a beautiful thing. Chaltuu wasn't. Her father told her each and every day, as if reminding her, that she was a hideous monster. And having nothing to oppose, Chaltuu was forced to believe him.
Chaltuu trotted away and gazed at all the stars. She wondered how they were made, why they were up there...
Her round cub eyes were curious and inquisitive. One day she would find out why they were there.
A few days went by. Chaltuu was being pestered and teased by Hamadou, a cub two moons older than her.
"Heeeyyy, Red!" Hamadou sang, prancing around her. "Red! Reddy! Oy, Re-ed!"
Chaltuu kneaded the soft earth with her sharp, blunt claws, imagining that the ground was Hamadou's back. She flicked her ears. "Ahem."
"Reddy! Reddyyy!" Hamadou chanted. "Reddyyy! Reddyyyyy!"
Chaltuu growled softly to herself. No matter how much of a complete idiot he's being, she reminded herself silently, he's just being what he is. An idiot.
The chanting continued and this time, multiple of the cubs joined in.
Chaltuu's temper was rising like the lakewater in a flood; quickly without ceasing or faltering. Her ears started to twitch irritably and her tail scrunched up. She rolled her pale green eyes and growled. "Hamadou."
Minutes went by and Chaltuu's temper boiled over. Snarling, she launched herself at Hamadou and sank her teeth into his shoulder.
Hamadou screamed and writhed under Chaltuu's paws. She bared her fangs and bristled, her claws digging into his chest.
"Chaltuu!" Kivuli roared. He stormed over and slapped Chaltuu across her muzzle. She failed her attempt to duck and felt her father's claws ripping across her face. She yelped and staggered clumsily to her paws.
Fortunately the scratches weren't deep. So there was no danger of scarring.
Chaltuu panted as a tiny bit of blood was drawn from the clawmarks. She wiped it away and glared at her father. Her eyes were narrowed to slits, her muzzle wrinkling, jaws parting slightly and showing her keen teeth. "I hate you!"

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Moons passed and Chaltuu grew and grew.
Many females thought she was a wreck. It took less than two minutes for Chaltuu to groom herself, and even that was rare. She grew stubborn and even ignorant of her parents, no longer caring for their opinions.
And she didn't want a mate. That concerned the females; nearly all the time, the lionesses, especially Chaltuu's age, were dying to have a mate. Chaltuu wanted nothing to do with males unless it was a sparring match.
Chaltuu grew competitive and strong-headed. She had a massive passion for fighting. If only her father would just let her become a guardian, or a border watcher...
It was just like her father to forbid her from reaching her dream. And it wasn't a stupid little fantasy. It was a goal that she had been aiming and working hard for. She practiced fighting moves every night, every moment of her spare time, every free minute she got.
Chaltuu sauntered past the group of young lionesses staring at her. She whirled around and glared fang and tooth at them. "Can I help you?"
"What's wrong with you?" the first lioness, Naima, asked angrily. "What's your problem? You're not like normal lionesses- you're not ladylike, you never talk about boys unless you talk about the recent claw-tooth-fighty-thing, you don't groom yourself frequently, you're way too stubborn for your own good..."
"Oh, for the love of the Spirits," Chaltuu groaned. "First off, girly, ladylike isn't my thing, a'right? I'm not about to go and try to straighten my whiskers for the sake of being pretty. Second, it's called a sparring match, stupid, and I have no interest in a mate. Third, why should I care about my fur? Please refer to my first answer to your first question. Stubborn? Yes, is there an issue with that?"
Naima rolled her eyes. "Whatever, claw-tooth-fighty-thing is the same thing as a 'sparring match'. And... you're not like the rest of the lionesses."
"And you think I'm going to change myself just so I can fit in?" Chaltuu demanded harshly.
"The least you could do is flatten that dirty fur and straighten those crooked whiskers!" the annoyance yelled.
"Why should I concern myself with that?" Chaltuu spat. "In case you haven't noticed, girly, I'm not about to go make myself pretty for the sake of impressing a ' future mate'."
"Chaltuu, you are pretty! You just don't have the guts to show it!" Naima shouted.
That hit her. Chaltuu's fur bristled. "Excuse me?"
"Y-yeah, you h-heard m-me! You don't have th-the guts!" Naima stuttered.
Chaltuu towered over Naima; she was at least a head taller than the other lioness. Her heart pounded and her tail lashed back and forth, ears slowly flattening against her head, lips drawing back to reveal her glinting teeth. Her eyes blazed aggressively and her claws slowly slid out.
"If I were in your paws I wouldn't be calling me a coward, not just because I am who I am, but simply because I am not the one cowering and stammering, calling the taller and stronger of the two of us gutless," Chaltuu hissed. "Also, I wouldn't call that statement blunt, arrogant, or conceited, but honest, because you and all the others know for a fact I could take you on in a fight and the result would most likely... not be a good one, let's just say that."
Chaltuu's lip curled slowly into a smirk.
"Never mind," Naima muttered. "Just straighten those whiskers!"
Chaltuu rolled her eyes and straightened her face as Naima stomped away, nose in the air. She tilted her head towards the cobalt sky, the dark grey clouds floating carelessly past. The glittering white stars that dotted the near-black sky twinkled, the pale half-crescent moon shining.
The night was gorgeous. With the midnight sky, the translucent clouds drifting through it, the beautiful stars winking down, the moon bright and clear through the dusky clouds.
Chaltuu looked around, and then clambered up onto the tallest stone in her pride's caves area. She gazed down at the elegant savanna. The long, tall grass swayed in the gentle breeze, the rocks in the distance reflecting the moonlight, the wind humming like the tiny, long-beaked birds that picked at the wildflowers all day long, while Chaltuu herself was sitting in her den.
She sneaked a short look behind her. Her father was settling himself down beside Uangaze. He didn't turn to look at her, he just snorted a few times and rested his head on Uangaze's neck.
Chaltuu hopped down the rocks. Her rough paw pads sent pebbles crumbling and clattering down the larger stones. She stumbled once, landing on her side with a thud.
"Be quiet!" Kivuli hollered. "Some of us are trying to sleep, Chaltuu, we're not all ugly night owls like yourself."
Chaltuu sighed exasperatedly. That was just her father; no "Are you okay?" or no "Do you need any help?". Not even a slightly concerned glance. As a matter of fact, it was surprising that he even spoke one word to her.
Picking herself up, Chaltuu trotted to her one lone cave; her father forbade her from so much as stepping one pawstep into the "leader's cave", the den that Uangaze and Kivuli rested in.
Nor was she allowed to go into any other den. She was limited to hers and hers only; a tiny, worthless hole. The only positive to it was the lack of sunlight that the cave allowed to seep through. Kivuli probably wanted that to be a bad thing, but due to Chaltuu's loathing of the daylight, it opposed his hopes.
Chaltuu curled up on the chilling cave floor. She kneaded her claws on a clump of grass she always kept in the corner- because of the minuscule size of the cavern, it wasn't like it was too far for her to reach.
The next thing she knew there was a pain in her flank as her father jabbed his claw into her side. "Get up!"
"Hmm?" she mumbled.
"Get up, stupid piece of-"
"Language, Daddy," Chaltuu sneered.
"Whatever," Kivuli said. He spat at her. "Go look after the cubs."
Chaltuu wiped his spit off of her nose and held back a sharp reply. She bared her teeth at him and shoved past Kivuli. The sun's rays of light beat down on her thick fur. Sitting under a stone ledge, she arched an eyebrow, watching the fluffballs play.
"You be the zebra!" Dafina, the youngest lioness cub, said.
"I was the zebra last time, Dafina, you be the zebra!" Mabruke yelled. His little tuft of fur atop his head that he enjoyed calling his "mane" bristled.
"No, I wasn't!" Dafina shouted.
"Oh, for the love of Spirits," Chaltuu moaned. She slammed a paw to her face. Cubs. Cubs, cubs, cubs. They were always the center of attention. Resting her head on her paws, she closed her green eyes.
The wind was not gentle like the breeze of the previous night. It howled and shrieked, to which Chaltuu compared to a dying screech owl.
Crows and ravens cawed. Black feathers dropped before her eyes, drifting in front of her nose. The eerie silence allowed Chaltuu's craning ears to hear wings flapping violently and spiders skittering across the wet, stony ground.
Chaltuu jumped as a fat grey rat scrambled across her paw. She curled her lip at that... thing. Her tail swished, ears twitching.
The landscape was damp and foggy. Mist dragged over the depressing treetop canopies. Water seeped through mixed piles of bones and jagged rocks.
The last thing Chaltuu ever saw was a colossal, pitch-black wave of water crashing over her. It was thick and forceful; it shoved her to the hard ground, pinning her to the stones and not letting her rise to her paws, not letting her try to force her way out of this mess she was helplessly trapped in, not letting her have another chance to inhale another breath of that dank air. The filth-ridden air that may have been her only possibility for her survival.


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[A/N: Okay, that was probably horrendous. Also, if it's against the rules to post fanfictions without canon characters in, please let me know, because I have people telling me that it isn't against the rules, and I took their word for it. XD
I'm going to do this sort of thing like what they do on Fanfiction.net. c; Like the A/N thing at the beginning or ending of a chapter. I'll most likely sort of mix it..
Anyways... I hope that wasn't too dramatic or too boring. If it was, uh, sorry?
But if it was boring, or if it was too stupid, I'll try to make it more interesting next time. Right now I'm just starting out.
And this is a massive work-in-progress, but I'll try to get a chapter out every day. I'm a human too. =P

Okay, sorry for the really long A/N. Hope you liked this chapter. It'll get way better in the next one, trust me. Hehe... c:<]
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Adimu » August 10th, 2014, 9:38 am

Horrendous!? HORRENDOUS!? Take that back, Iri! It's amazing! I love it! Poor Chaltuu. Wasn't too dramatic and is really interesting. :)
I'm clueless....
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » August 10th, 2014, 3:48 pm

Chaltuu jolted awake as she felt claws swipe across her face. She flinched and glared up at her father.
"Get up," Kivuli snarled. "And come with me."
Chaltuu's stomach lurched. She nodded and slowly followed her father.
Kivuli had an arrogant sneer plastered on his face as he sped up his pace, hoping to throw his daughter behind. That was, if he even considered her a daughter. He most likely didn't, from the way he treated her.
Every day Kivuli tossed Chaltuu aside like a finished bone. He sometimes even beat her if she made a mistake, which Chaltuu had to get used to early in her life. If she accidentally interrupted one of his important meetings, he'd swipe his claws over her shoulders. If she didn't treat the cubs "the right way", Chaltuu would earn a bunch of bruises and a long scratch down her flank.
Chaltuu never pitied herself. She hated the type that would go through things that she had to endure and just sit around feeling sorry for themselves all day. She was forced to listen to yelling and sometimes the physical punishment, but she had to promise never to feel self-pity.
Kivuli treated her like a servant rather than a daughter. He never showed any affection to her, he never let her do anything like solo hunting or border watching, and he made her do all the chores, like cleaning out the dens. That was the only time she ever got to step paw into any other den except her own.
"You see," Kivuli said, once they were circling around the waterhole, "you, my... abomination, my freak of nature... will never be heir to leadership. Ever. No lion or lioness wants a curse-pelted lioness as their leader."
"Do you think I care?" Chaltuu snapped.
Kivuli bared his long teeth at her and Chaltuu scowled. "Anyway," the male lion continued ignorantly, "due to my anger of your existence, your rank will be lowered to a kuandaa. You know what that is, right? Nah, considering your stupidity, I'm guessing not. It's basically a cleaner."
"What?!" Chaltuu shrieked. "No! Never!"
Kivuli glared at his daughter. Chaltuu shot him a stare that was just as cold and hate-filled. Though the two looked nothing alike, their tempers were the same; fiery and short-lived. They stood for a minute, their stony gazes locked together like tangled fur. Claws slowly unsheathed and they both peeled their lips back to reveal their keen teeth.
"You can't do this," Chaltuu hissed.
"I can and I will," Kivuli declared. "I am your father and your leader. You will do as I say without question." His lip curled and he whispered in her ear, his tone sharp, "And you will never become a border watcher, or a guardian, or whatever other stupid things you were fantasizing about."
He left soon after, his head high and tail waving. Chaltuu froze in place, her claws slowly sinking into the ground as thoughts whirled through her head. Bitter ones, at that. Full of rage and detestation.
She had to think of something to change her father's mind. She couldn't go off by herself and catch bunches of prey for the pride. Her father never allowed her to hunt alone. She had to be clever...
What if she were to ward off a horde of trespassers? Yes- that would work.
And that day was just the day to do so.
Sniffing the air, Chaltuu scented a group of lions- ones that were not from her pride. Just in time. She wondered if the Spirits were trying to help her.
No matter how rebellious she was, she still had great faith in the Spirits. That didn't mean she relied on them to fix her problems, but she still believed in them. She closed her eyes gently. "Thank you, Spirits," she whispered gratefully before heading off.
Her body low and only her shoulder blades sticking up, her tail flying behind her, she made her way over to the intruders. Her paws moved swiftly and her ears were swiveled back. She squinted to ward off any dirt and dust wanting to make its way into her eyes.
There were five strangers and only Hamadou and Naima were facing them. Chaltuu resisted the urge to laugh at their stupidity. She smirked to herself as she nestled herself in a patch of thick, tall grass to watch.
"Get out!" Naima yelled. "This is our territory!"
One lioness, a rather tall, willowy one like Chaltuu, only not as tall, arched one eyebrow. "Do you think we take orders from shorties?"
At least she was being honest- Naima was a rather petite lioness. "The least you can do is tell us your name," Naima protested.
"Pamoja," the leader of the five said.
"Well, Pamoja," Naima said angrily, "We don't take kindly to strangers."
"I don't think that it's easy to see you as our opponent," Pamoja said icily.
Chaltuu smirked at that. Pamoja was right- Naima had never been completely trained for battle. She knew how to dodge, swipe, kick, and bite- but that was about it. Hamadou was not much better than her.
But why did Pamoja look so familiar? Dark dusty-brown fur, underbelly only a few shades lighter, socks darker than her main pelt color, and sharp reddish-amber eyes. Pamoja looked a bit older than Chaltuu, but was not as tall. That was no big surprise- Chaltuu was one of the tallest females in the pride. She didn't really know why.
Three dark scars ran from Pamoja's left jaw to her shoulder and two slid from her right hind leg to the paw. Her smoky-black claws were long and keen.
After a long while of arguing, a real fight broke out. Pamoja lunged at Naima, and no matter how much Chaltuu disliked the short-legged lioness, she knew her conscience would kill her if she watched Naima die without at least trying to help.
Chaltuu hurled herself at Pamoja and swiped her off of Naima's small, cowering form, hate and anger burning in her pale green eyes.
"Who do you think you are?" Pamoja roared. "Cubs like you should learn not to interfere in the adults' fights."
"I'm an adolescent, thanks," Chaltuu responded coldly. She towered over Pamoja and looked down at her enemy through narrowed eyes.
"There's still only three of you," Pamoja said. "And five of us. Would you truly like to take all of us on?"
"It'd be a pleasure," Chaltuu smirked.
Chaltuu and Pamoja engaged in a long battle. One minute Pamoja could have Chaltuu in a headlock and the next Chaltuu would be slamming her into a tree trunk. Pamoja might rake her claws over Chaltuu's ears and the next minute Chaltuu could have her opponent pinned.
Chaltuu shrieked and writhed as Pamoja sank her teeth into her shoulder. Kicking and thrashing, she scored her claws down Pamoja's muzzle and managed to draw blood. She dug her back claws into Pamoja's stomach and threw her roughly against a rock.
Finally, both were on the ground, panting, exhausted, their pelts stained with each other's blood. Chaltuu's claws sank into the ground. "This isn't over yet," she hissed.
Pamoja stared at Chaltuu, her amber eyes emotionless and stoic. "This isn't the Chaltuu I remember."

[A/N: I do not want any questions about what a kuandaa is. A kuandaa is basically a maid.
To add to that, no, Chaltuu is not an adult yet. She's still a young adolescent.
This is a short chapter. Like a really short chapter. Sorry about that. XD
Also, I just remembered MLK won't let me post every day on my story.. sorry about that.
In Reply to Adimu: Thank you! That really meant a lot. And I have not yet made her suffer enough... Hehe... Okay, I'll stop. :p]
Last edited by Iri on September 29th, 2014, 2:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » August 30th, 2014, 8:02 am

[Beforehand A/N: I can't believe I've gone eighteen days without writing another chapter.]

Chaltuu snarled. "What?!"
Pamoja took a long, shuddering breath. "When you were just a cub, I was an adolescent."
"Cool."
"I took care of you, Chaltuu," Pamoja said. "I brought you feathers and pebbles to play around with. Since you had no siblings, and your parents refused to play with you, you often got bored. The other cubs didn't want to play with you, and-"
"Oh, because I didn't know that," Chaltuu said sarcastically.
"... So I brought you things like sticks and reeds and feathers and stones-"
"Yeah, don't think just because you brought be a chew toy means I'm in some long-term commitment with you, sweetheart," Chaltuu smirked.
Pamoja sighed. "Let me finish, Chaltuu. When you were a cub, you were lonely. You often said so yourself. You always said things like, 'I wish I had a friend', or 'I wish Mother would teach me how to wrestle'. You never complained or whined, Chaltuu, because you were forced into maturity at a young age. You never allowed yourself to even say 'hello' to your own parents, Chaltuu."
"Oh, pfft. I got used to it." Chaltuu rolled her pale green eyes.
"No child should have to get used to their parents not loving them, Chalty."
Chaltuu's claws tore at the ground. "Don't call me that," she grunted as Naima and Hamadou snickered.
"Fine," Pamoja sighed. "But, I really think you should leave your pride. And before you get all defensive," she said, waving her tail slightly, "and say that you're loyal to your birth pride... Chaltuu, your pride isn't loyal to you. They don't care about your emotions and feelings and they make fun of you or call you cursed because of your fur color, and they don't care whether you live or die! You call that loyalty?"
"Excuse me, sweetheart," Chaltuu sneered, "you told me you cared for me when I was a cub, and you left me. Meaning, you're no better than any of them. You lost your loyalty ages ago."
Growling impatiently, Pamoja's ears flattened. "Let me finish, Chaltuu." She inhaled another deep breath, then continued. "Your father and I hated each other. I hated him for treating you like dirt, and he hated me for treating you like you should have been treated. I was exiled later, when your eyes opened."
Chaltuu's mind flashed back to a moment when she was locked in her dank hole of a den, her eyes still taking in her surroundings and her father yowling dramatically.
"Exile!" Kivuli had bellowed at the top of his lungs. "Anyone who so much glances at her stepping on paw over our territory is to kill her on sight!"
Chaltuu shook her head. "Pbbbt."
Pamoja twitched an ear, as if flicking away a bothersome gnat. "I found these four," she went on, "and we decided to travel together."
"So," Chaltuu said, not sparing a glance towards anyone but Pamoja, "you're here to fight my pride members, despite the fact that I must admit I do despise them, fight me, suddenly break the news that I'm 'not the Chaltuu you remember', tell me your sob story, and request for me to come with you?"
"To put it simply... yes." Pamoja's amber gaze was pleading. "Please, Chaltuu, please, it'll be better for you."
Chaltuu lifted an eyebrow and laughed mirthlessly. "I'd have to ask Kivuli." As she had grown, she refused to call him "Father" any longer, and only when referring to him did she call him "Kivuli" or "my father".
"No! He would never let you leave, Chaltuu. Just leave! It's not like these two idiots would care, and Kivuli would only be upset because he didn't have his slave to work for him!" Pamoja protested.
Chaltuu sighed heavily. "Give me time," she said gruffly. "I'll think about it. In the meantime, don't cause any trouble." She whirled around to face Naima and Hamadou. "And you two get back to our territory and don't you say a word, or I'll shred you both until no one will even know where your remains are!"
She smirked, watching as Naima forced back an objection and ran off.
"You stay out." She spat out the words at Pamoja. "And don't you dare try to make some stupid move, like interrupting a hunt to talk to me, or just jumping me when I'm walking."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu pondered thoughtfully more than she usually did... Three days had passed since her encounter with Pamoja and her annoying goons, but after a lot of thinking, she realized the amber-eyed lioness was right. Kivuli treated her like a worthless pile of bones that could be tossed to the dumps, for that was all she was to him. Uangaze didn't support or comfort her daughter in any way. It made Chaltuu sick to her thin stomach. Her parents really hated her just for her russet pelt? It hurt to feel like a freak, just because of her fur's red hue! She was a lion and she had feelings that, no matter how hard she tried to hide it, could be crushed just as easily as any other lion's!
It was pointless to think "What makes me any different?"
She knew what made her different.
Perhaps everything would have been better if her pelt was a pretty golden-tawny shade, or even a simple, dull brown.
No matter how arrogant and cruel Chaltuu sometimes acted, how she refused to cry or show her emotions that didn't exist to Kivuli or Uangaze, how she made snide remarks about everyone in their faces, it was simply caused by the lack of love she had received her whole life. No one showed any sympathy or care for her. Why should she feel pity for others?
But would she ever be seen as an individual who actually had feelings and sometimes just wanted a shoulder to cry on?
No. It would never happen.
"Don't get your hopes up," Chaltuu muttered bitterly, casting a rather sour glare towards her father and mother. "It won't happen. Don't dream for something that'll never come."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Night crept up on Chaltuu. The moon itself seemed dull and the stars only blinked a few times, as if they were fireflies slowly dimming.
Chaltuu opened her eyes. She wished she had never gone outside three days back. It was a stupid idea and she had gotten a sunburn on her muzzle and shoulders. Since she had almost never gotten one before, it hurt every time a leaf so much as brushed by it.
Groaning, she lifted herself to her paws. Her claws clicked against the hard, cold stones as she scrambled up to her tall boulder, her one perch.
"Ahhh," she sighed contently, the frigid winds feeling rather soothing against her stinging sunburns.
The waterfall roared faintly. Its crashing waters were like music to Chaltuu's ears. She closed her eyes and hummed softly.
This was what Chaltuu did at night. She would lock her stare on the midnight sky, then pass her pale green gaze over to the lands, the waving grass and the bristling trees.
"What's the meaning of life?" she wondered aloud. "Why do I exist? For some great purpose? Or to just be thrown aside like trash?" She glared at the sky.
Seconds crept into minutes as Chaltuu tapped her paw impatiently. "Talk to me!" she growled angrily. "I need to know!"
"No, you don't," a small voice whispered.
"What?"
"You'll find out soon, Chaltuu. But your fate is clutched by the paws of dread," the voice murmured in her ear.
"Oh! Oh, oh, yeah! That really helps my self-esteem, you stupid sky, you know that?" Chaltuu spat out. "Yeah, really helpful to know that I'm probably going to die the most painful way possible, huh?" Her eyes blazed like green fire.
Silence filled the air and Chaltuu scored her claws against the cold stone angrily. "Fine then! I'll find out on my own!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu's fur bristled and her claws unsheathed. They were longer but rather chipped and grimy. Her thick fur was only protecting her slightly from the bitter cold. That wasn't a huge deal; she loved gelid weather. The wind screamed around her, yelling and howling and whipping her fur in front of her face violently. It hurled rocks at her, large pebbles that scraped at her paws and her legs. Every now and then a few stones would come flying towards her face and she would end up with a bleeding nose or a fresh cut across her muzzle or chin.
The mountains were icy, covered in fresh white snow whirling around. Shivering, Chaltuu huddled under a short rock ledge, tucking her sore, aching paws under her chest and lowering her head onto the snow, having no other choice. At least the snow numbed her stinging muzzle.
Slowly Chaltuu rose, seeing dawn's light spill over the horizon. It had been a difficult slumber for her- the fact that a cut on her foreleg refused to stop bleeding, and just the discomfort of being squashed under a stone bothered her.
Chaltuu craned her ears around, hearing a very loud bird's chirping and hooting echo throughout the mountains and cliffs.

[A/N: Chaltuu is very strongly inspired and based off of Elphaba from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.]
Last edited by Iri on October 12th, 2014, 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » September 21st, 2014, 9:57 pm

[A/N: I... Am sorry. I haven't updated this for literally nearly a month. I'll be quicker next time.]

Anger and bitterness surged up in Chaltuu's chest. Her claws kneaded at the snow as the thick, unkempt tuft of hair slapped her face harshly.
She closed her green orbs, her eyelids scratched and bleeding from the violent snow and wind. She crouched low. Despite her adoration for cold weather and climate, it was the snow and hail that was bothering her. It scraped her fur, marking tiny cuts in her shoulders and flanks. She shut her eyes and tightly nestled herself in a deep dent in the ground lined with softer, powdery snow, the frigid air coiling around her body.
"Chaltuu?" a strained voice grunted.
Chaltuu spun around. "Pamoja."
Pamoja's dark fur against the white snow was like a sycamore on a bare mountain. Her usually sparking red eyes were blank.
"Why'd you run away from home?"
Chaltuu jerked. How did Pamoja know? Chaltuu could be exploring or travelling, or for all Pamoja knew, just taking a break from her pride.
"Are you searching for something?" Pamoja inquired.
"Not your happy face," Chaltuu said sharply.
Pamoja recoiled. "Okay," she said, though her voice sounded a bit hurt.
Rolling her eyes, Chaltuu clawed at the snow, leaving little marks in it. The flesh where rocks and stones had struck was raw and sore.
"Where did your life go, Chaltuu?" Pamoja said softly.
"Never had one." Chaltuu scuffed at the ground with her numb paws.
Pamoja tilted her head sympathetically. "Chaltuu... Please..."
"Shut up, amber-eyes," Chaltuu said angrily, turning on her heel.
She could sense Pamoja's damaged gaze resting on her back. She didn't care. Pamoja may have been there for her when she was a cub, but where was Pamoja now? Nothing mattered to her anymore. The world had been nothing but cruel to her, so Chaltuu may as well return the favour. Her father was violent and harsh, her mother was ignorant and negligent, her "pride-mates" treated her like a pile of trash, and the cubs always looked at her like she had just sprouted feathers from her nose.
Hatred bubbled up inside of Chaltuu's belly. She was leaving her pride forever! She didn't need them, and they definitely didn't want her there. For all they cared, she could be lying on the ground with a broken leg. For all Kivuli cared, she might have been ravaged by a pack of hyenas and bitten by a venomous-fanged viper- not that she was weak and cowardly enough to let that happen, of course. For all Uangaze cared, she might have fallen off the edge of the savanna and lost existence forever.
"If you feel that Kivuli and Uangaze don't love you, you must leave them," Pamoja said quietly. "Otherwise you'll make yourself miserable."
"I'm not listening to you," Chaltuu hissed. "I can do what I want with my life, and you aren't going to tell me what to do!"
"I'm not trying to tell you what to do." Pamoja sighed. "I'm trying to make your life better. Easier. Happier."
"By telling me what to do."
Pamoja turned around. "I can't convince you to leave. But-"
"I never said I wasn't leaving them." Chaltuu's voice was hard as stone. "I am. I'm not going back. They don't need me and I don't need them. That doesn't mean I'm coming with you."
"Why can't you?"
"Why can't you just leave me alone?" Chaltuu responded.
"At least come and stay for just a few hours, Chaltuu, it's warm and comfortable where I live," Pamoja begged.
"No thank you, I rather prefer the cold," Chaltuu said.
"You're bleeding because of the cold. Chaltuu, I'm begging you-"
"And Pamoja, I'm saying no," Chaltuu replied icily, mockingly imitating Pamoja's pleading voice.
Growling, Pamoja stalked off, muttering under her breath. Chaltuu caught the words "stubborn girl".
That was right. Chaltuu was stubborn and hard-headed, obstinate and firm. Sure, that caused her to lash out to the ones she loved- the ones she used to love- but they had never in their lives treated her the right way. Why not she do the same? She was on her own and she certainly didn't need, or want, any help, not even from some beggar who brought her a stick when she was a cub. Pamoja was now a stranger- and that was Pamoja's fault, not Chaltuu's. The amber-eyed lioness had left Chaltuu, had gotten herself exiled. Pamoja had decided to take care of Chaltuu, and both lionesses had suffered heartache because of her.
Now Chaltuu's future was in her own paws. She would lead her own path. Destiny and fate didn't exist, not to her, and no dusty-furred shorty was going to change her beliefs, nor her life.
Had Chaltuu been a weakling when she was a cub? Of course she had been. She had complained about having no one there. She should have been grateful she didn't have a burden to look after- or to look after her. Anyone who tried to take care of her was weak, cowardly, and stupid... That meant Pamoja.
There was no "exception" in Chaltuu's mind. And that meant Pamoja was no different.
"Yeah, I'm stubborn," Chaltuu called after Pamoja, glowering. "Got a problem with that?"
"As a matter of fact, yes!" Pamoja said with a hint of resentment.
"Please continue your glorious insults, I'd love to hear them," Chaltuu growled.
Pamoja shook her head groggily. "Chaltuu... Please. I'm begging you! Will you please, please come with me?"
"What part of 'no' do you not understand!" Chaltuu snarled.
"It's a rather foreign phrase for me, actually," Pamoja responded coldly, brushing snow off of her paw casually.
"That much is obvious," Chaltuu retorted.
Pamoja and Chaltuu's furious gazes were intertwined like vines or chains. Their eyes were narrowed, their claws unsheathed, teeth bared viciously. It was obvious to anyone, if they were around, that a fight would probably break out.
"I thought you were better than this," Pamoja said quietly, her angry glare suddenly forming into a gentle, motherly one.
"I never was anything!" Chaltuu said. "Obviously not to Kivuli!"
"Who cares what that old dirt-face says?" Pamoja protested.
"I'm not a cub!" Chaltuu said. "I'm not going to suddenly get all better when you say that his opinions shouldn't matter to me."
Pamoja sighed heavily, creating a small, warm cloud right in front of her nose in the gelid weather. "Chaltuu, you have to listen to me-"
"I'm angry, not stupid!" Chaltuu snapped.
Pamoja's eyes widened. She seemed lost at words, like she didn't know exactly how to respond. Her facial expression clearly stated that her feelings were hurt. That didn't matter to Chaltuu. No one cared about her feelings! Why should she offer sympathy to anyone else? Especially some beggar like Pamoja?
Chaltuu, though of course she'd never say it aloud, was in a flurry of emotions. Her life seemed so... so complicated. Why couldn't she just be normal? Why couldn't she have been born to a non-superstitious family? There was no turning back now, she supposed, so she may as well just live with it, no matter how much she loathed doing so.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Where is that stupid daughter of mine?!" Kivuli bellowed at the top of his lungs.
"S-sir, I think... She left," Naima said.
"Is that so?" Kivuli roared.
"I- I'm sorry, s-sir, uh, she..."
"Ran away!" Kivuli spat. "I'm going to destroy her when she gets back, I swear... I'll make sure she never leaves here again."
A smaller lioness chimed in. "Sir, if you don't like her at all, why do you want her to stay?" she queried, tilting her head curiously. She, like everyone else, didn't like Chaltuu for the red lioness' rebellious behaviour and impulsive nature, but she still wondered nonetheless. It wasn't like she wanted Chaltuu there in the pride with them anyways.
"She watches after the cubs when their mothers are away," Kivuli explained. "And she brings food for us. Other than that... She's a worthless burden."
"Agreed," Naima said, huffing.
Kivuli nodded, though subtly. "I'll find that prick of a daughter..."
Naima immediately seemed to bounce up in excitement. "I'll come with you!"
Chaltuu's father didn't seem to really care who came along, even if it was the hollow-headed lioness who had no fighting skills whatsoever. Naima could come along, as could Hamadou and perhaps a few others. If he could get his... obscenity... of a daughter back, he'd never let her leave, or the consequences would be extremely severe.

[A/N: First it's late, then it's short. What's wrong with me? ;A;]
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » September 27th, 2014, 3:34 am

[A/N: It's not late, so ha! You can't chase me with a pitchfork! Also, happy late birthday to two of my dear friends. <3]

Two long days had passed. Chaltuu was lying in the snow, relishing the cold, icy feel of the heavy snow against her thick russet pelt. The flurry of wind had died down, but flakes of frost still sprinkled along her reddish fur, dotting it white. Her eyes were closed contently and her claws were kneading rhythmically at the snow beneath her, creating little dents in the pure whiteness. For the first time, in a long time, she felt at peace- like she was supposed to be; solitary, alone, without anyone to look after, or worse- anyone to have to look after her. She didn't need anyone up in the mountains.
She hadn't seen Pamoja the pest over the passing time- that wasn't a bad thing either. She had grown tired of the lioness' pleading, and was rather pleased that she was gone.
A few hours ticked by and the sun rose- Chaltuu discovered that in the mountains, daylight did indeed appear. It wasn't always night, like she had heard. But that wasn't a huge deal; even when the sun soared high into the shadowy cobalt sky, it always remained dark- the sun only produced a faint, pale glow.
Yawning and stretching, Chaltuu stood, her limbs slightly numb from resting on the ice for so long. She flexed her paws, her claws still unsheathed protectively. Although it was comfortable and safe up in the mountains, she still wanted to make sure she had defense in case some annoyance from her old pride came to attempt to convince her to return. On the other paw, she doubted that would happen- just like Kivuli, every lion in the pride viewed her as a filthy, freakish little piece of trash.
Chaltuu sprawled out on a broad, large stone, her paws flopping over either side and her chin lying on the frigid, ice-laced boulder. Her eyes closed again.
Despite feeling at home in the mountains, she still felt extremely tense, on edge. She was wary of attackers- but that didn't mean she was afraid or anything. She could handle any intruder that stepped in her territory. Her main concern was a pride who would attempt to drive her out of her home.
Shaking her head, she shoved away those thoughts and decided to hunt. Her stomach rumbled and growled, as if bossily demanding her for food.
Chaltuu rose to her paws. Her damp red pelt clung to her skin, and she didn't mind. Considering how wet her fur was, it would possibly hide her scent from prey. She wondered what types of animals inhabited the mountains. Well, she supposed she'd find out sooner or later.
Chaltuu's paws thumped the rocks as she padded along- soon the quiet thudding faded into crunching as her splayed paws made contact with the stiff, hardened snow.
A shadow seemed to collapse upon Chaltuu as she crept slowly under a stone ledge, narrowing her pale green eyes. A mountain goat was perched upon what looked to be a fallen log. Chaltuu's ears twitched as it bleated, its round clouded eyes staring into the space.
With her tail lashing, Chaltuu raced towards the mountain goat, her claws extended and her teeth glinting. Her paws sailed beneath her; her lengthy tail seemed to coil as she leaped up into the air and clumsily landed on the goat's back.
The creature's eyes widened; it flailed and kicked, snorting and braying in terror. Its cries echoed throughout the ravines and cliffs.
Chaltuu's claws dug into the goat's flanks, and her teeth were buried violently in its back. She hissed at it as it frantically tried to buck her off, a low growl escaping her throat. The goat's hind hooves kicked and struck her chest. She grimaced painfully, but nonetheless continued the attack. Her claws ripped at the animal's sides and shoulders and her teeth were tearing at the goat's upper back and neck.
A herd of other mountain goats gathered on a rock, watching sorrowfully as their fellow herd member was being taken down. Chaltuu felt no mercy or sympathy for this creature.
The two scuffled for a good few more minutes before the goat let out its last desperate gasp of air, falling limp to Chaltuu's paws.
Finally!
Chaltuu stretched, glaring at the herd of scattered goats, as if saying with her cold gaze, Back off or you're next!
Seizing a chunk from her kill, Chaltuu yelped lowly as a blow landed on her shoulders. She staggered and coughed, feeling as if she was suffocating on her prey. She glanced up, a pair of glowing eyes glaring down at her.
The massive paw rose to strike her again.
Kivuli!
Chaltuu grunted as she was slammed into the ground, her father's talons digging into her shoulder. Now at least she knew who she inherited her long, hooked claws from. She narrowed her eyes at her father, drawing her lips back, baring her teeth.
Kivuli dipped his head down and sank his fangs in her neck. A searing pain slashed through her throat as she attempted to free herself from her father's brutal grasp.
But she could see nothing. The anguish closed up around her throat like a strangling vine, and her eyesight blurred, finally waning as she collapsed in a world of dark, eerie silence.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu jolted awake when she felt her father spit at her.
"Wake up, you no-good, lazy, Spirit-forsaken curse!" he said angrily, cuffing her over the head once more.
Grumbling and muttering, Chaltuu expected to be in a chilled, snow-covered cave- that wasn't the case here. She could only see a dry savanna and distant mountains. She growled in frustration. Why exactly did her father need her so much?
Chaltuu rose to her paws. "I swear, I am one day going to kill you, you filthy piece of-"
"Control your anger, dearie," Kivuli rumbled with a sneer. He spoke the word "dearie" as if he was resisting the urge to spit at her again.
Sitting down again, Chaltuu made a difficult effort to ignore the throbbing pain in her temples and the mordant discomfort in her throat. She slowly shifted to a lying down position, her forelegs crossed over one another, and her hind paws splayed out behind her slightly. Her ears were perked warily as she sneaked a glimpse around the territory. Many of the lions were staring at her with disgust blazing in their eyes. She glared back at them, her gaze smoldering with rage and detestation.
"There is no use escaping now," Kivuli smirked.
"Really? I hadn't noticed," Chaltuu said sarcastically.
Naima strutted past. "Hi, Chaltuu," she said, grinning. "How's life?"
"With you in it, positively horrendous," Chaltuu retorted sharply. "I assume this is why this pride is in absolute turmoil?"
Kivuli cuffed her over the side of her head, making her ears ring. "Watch yourself," he warned. "Because I will allow Naima to rip your tail off. She helped me find you anyways."
"That's a shocker. I didn't assume that she'd be able to scent me. After all, she spends so much time perfecting her fur that I was positive that her nose would be plugged with it," Chaltuu sneered.
Naima growled. "Shut up, snob!"
"Like you should talk.".
Uangaze padded towards Chaltuu- and as anyone would guess, her eyes were as blank as ever, her emotions unreadable. Her mother stood before her, but just at that moment, disappointment shone in her cerulean eyes.
"Why don't you just say it already?" Chaltuu yelled. "Why don't you just tell me I'm a failure of a daughter, an aberration not meant to exist in the first place? Why don't you just tell me that I'm a worthless freak who doesn't belong here? Why don't you just say that I should have died years ago? Either that, or just leave me alone!"
Uangaze didn't even flinch. She just kept staring at Chaltuu, before turning on her heel and trotting away.
Fury seemed to radiate through Chaltuu's pelt. She lashed her tail angrily.
"Let me out of here! Why do you want me anyways?" she demanded.
"As much as I hate to admit, you're one of our pride's best hunters," Kivuli said grudgingly. "And you provide us with food. Other than that, you're a useless lump."
"Gee," Chaltuu snorted. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Kivuli replied with a sneer.
Over the next few days, Chaltuu went through the same routines- hunting, bringing back something to eat for her pride, then sitting around being bored. It wasn't like her father was hitting or throwing her around constantly, but he did occasionally smack her if she did something wrong or argued with one of the pride lions.
Even worse than any kind of torture, Chaltuu was forced to hunt in the daytime. She often kept awake at night still, trying to sleep as much as she could while the sun's bright, terrorizing rays still beat down on her, as if setting her ablaze and burning her alive. Kivuli made her get used to hunting in the fiery eyes of the sun.
One cold night, Chaltuu strolled to where she had always sat when she used to be a true member of the pride. Chaltuu saw the same things- monkeys scampering swiftly across the savanna, baboons swinging in their trees with their long arms, and a small group of rhinos slowly but surely making their way across the plains. A herd of elephants, led by one old matriarch, were resting by a large waterhole. Minuscule "clans" of hyenas were scattered around the savanna like stars in the sky.
The distant river gurgled and rolled past, its waters crashing against large boulders and dams. Grass continued to swish around as the chilled night breeze murmured and whispered to the swaying saplings and trees. Stars were still littering the night sky. Chaltuu's eyes narrowed, and she lifted her muzzle towards the sky.
Though Chaltuu would rather be slapped than admit it, she felt surreal. Kivuli couldn't possibly want her there other than for hunting purposes. But even then, couldn't he just have replaced her with someone else?
Still full of rage and hatred, Chaltuu flung a small stone in a patch of nearby grass. It was all so senseless- if Kivuli despised her so much, why didn't he just leave her alone, in the mountains, where she belonged?
Frustrated and irritated, Chaltuu sneaked a swift glance to the sky, silently imploring the Spirits to give her an answer to her desperation.
As she expected, there was no response.

[A/N: Before you're like, "Wow, Iri, Naima's such a stereotypical character" or "you're so mean, that's so cliched and exaggerated" let me tell you that this is something going on in school right now with all the "fashion" and "makeup" garbage. So, Naima isn't really an exaggerated character. She's sort of based off of a person in my school who is completely obsessed with looking just absolutely perfect.]
Last edited by Iri on September 28th, 2014, 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » September 28th, 2014, 7:29 am

More time passed, and Chaltuu still grew more and more bored by the day. She had nothing to do, no friends to talk to. She was fortunately allowed to attend a Leader's Council with Kivuli, but she had to prove her strength to go- fight one of the lions in the pride and win the spar. She had mistakenly underestimated her opponent and had received many cuts and bruises, and nearly lost, but otherwise it was worth it. The Leader's Council had actually turned out rather interesting- discussions among the leaders- or "kings"- were filled with news of recent border clashes and battles with rogues. At the very mention of rogues, Kivuli had shot a glare at his daughter, as if blaming her for the existence of them.
One morning, as Chaltuu settled down in one of the caves, Hamadou trotted towards her and poked her shoulder with an extended claw. The russet lioness shifted a little, lashing her tail irritably. "Re-ddy," he said in a sing-song tone.
"What is it?" Chaltuu said, grumbling.
"Just wanted to see your reaction coming from your pretty little face," Hamadou smirked. Although, he didn't sound very sincere.
"Hah," Chaltuu snorted. "Me? Pretty? You're hilarious." She laughed mirthlessly.
Hamadou raised his head. "Humph. Your attitude isn't very pretty."
"Wow, I didn't know that!" Chaltuu said with false surprise. "Who would have thought of that?"
"Only a pure genius!" Hamadou grinned.
The chestnut-red lioness huffed. "Only a pure moron with a head full of idiocy," Chaltuu responded sharply. "Or a nuisance who hasn't the faintest trace of intelligence."
"I think my theory is likelier."
Chaltuu rolled her eyes and harrumphed in annoyance. "Why don't you just leave me alone?" She stretched, flexing her paws and arching her back.
Why was Hamadou even there, anyways? She looked down and sneered as she eyed the small scars that lined his front paw. Hadn't he held a grudge against her for all that time? Hadn't his mother forbidden him from talking with her? It wasn't like Chaltuu had many others else to converse with, but she'd rather be smacked over the side of her head than speak with Hamadou. After all, wasn't she, the freak, the one who had scarred him?
Hamadou curled his lip at her. "Because I don't feel like it. Got an issue with that?"
"I have an issue with your very existence," Chaltuu said.
"Really? That makes two of us, then."
"If that's the case, then why don't you simply steer yourself out of here?" Chaltuu suggested with an innocent shrug. "I guess your brain's too small to process that."
"Chaltuu!"
The red lioness' perpetually unkempt fur bristled in frustration as she watched her father approach with anger practically written on his face.
"Why can't you say anything polite to anyone in this pride?" Kivuli demanded.
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid you raised me differently than that," Chaltuu said.
Sighing, Kivuli turned and ushered Hamadou out of the cave. When he faced his daughter again, he drew his lips back, baring his teeth. "You are a worthless, pitiful excuse for a daughter!"
"Well, that makes two of us," Chaltuu replied pointedly.
"Don't try to sass your way out of this! You have no idea how disappointing you are to this entire family!" Kivuli yelled.
"Actually, I do, considering you feel the need to remind me about every day," Chaltuu sneered.
"Well, the thought seems to gets lost in that thick head of yours!"
"My thick head? Who had to chase after their daughter because his own hunting skills were worth garbage?" Chaltuu retorted. "I don't recall myself doing that."
Instead of saying anything back, Kivuli's temper collapsed. He slashed his hawk-like talons across Chaltuu's muzzle and shoulder, before lunging at her and ripping at her ear with his teeth.
Staggering and gasping for air, she stumbled out of the cave, being hit by the blinding rays of sunlight. Her ears flattened against her head and she tried to heave a few breaths.
Chaltuu grimaced painfully as blood welled from the scratches on her shoulder and muzzle and the rip in her ear.
It was Kivuli who had done that to Chaltuu. Her own father! And Uangaze had done nothing to stop it. Hurt stung her heart.
But it wasn't just hurt. It was anger, boiling hot, smoldering hate. Detestation for her own parents burned, fiery hot in her heaving chest. Fury, loathing, as many words as she could muster.
Chaltuu felt no remorse for hating her own parents. They had never shown love to her, why should she show love to them?
Those first scars stung. And it wasn't just the scars on her face.
Kivuli watched her with contempt clear in his gaze. He turned on his heel and padded out of the cave casually, as if nothing had happened.
Chaltuu just glared after him- what else was she supposed to do? As she went to wipe blood from her wounds, she whirled around on her heel. She wanted to leave and never return, but that wasn't possible now.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The scratches and wounds that adorned Chaltuu's pelt now were scars. Neither of the scars she received- physical and emotional- ever truly healed.
"I'm attending another Leader's Council tomorrow," Kivuli announced. "There are serious issues going on around this time, and the leaders must discuss it as soon as possible. Naima, Hamadou, Wangera, you will come with me."
"What about me?" Chaltuu asked, narrowing her eyes. "May I attend?"
"Not unless you can win a sparring match against me," Kivuli answered, coldness gleaming in his eyes.
"Sounds like a plan," Chaltuu hissed.
"You're not going to win against your father, you know," Naima whispered.
"You can shut up."
Kivuli gestured with his tail for his pride to spread out and give them some room. Uangaze sat in the front- instead of an emotionless stare, she looked rather excited for the match. Kivuli and Chaltuu circled each other, growling and clawing up some of the soft earth. Dirt clouded up around their paws.
A roar escaped Chaltuu's jaws as she leaped at Kivuli- by their tradition, in a spar, the younger opponent struck first. Her talons raked across his snout, but before she could aim any real blows, Kivuli had already grabbed her scruff and tossed her to the earthen ground. She hit the dirt with a loud, noticeable thud. She lashed out with her forepaws, clawing at his sides and shoulders. Her pale green eyes were like slits.
Kivuli caught her hind paw between his teeth and yanked it, slamming her into a large boulder with a painful force. She could almost hear her ears ringing. Naima and Hamadou were yelling for her to stop being such a coward and get up, but their words seemed distorted. Most of the lions were jeering and shouting insults at her, and others were cheering for Kivuli.
Chaltuu slowly staggered to her paws. She wouldn't be taken down as easily as he had assumed. Despite her dizziness and blurred vision, she was determined to fight and not be defeated- especially not by her father.
Thrusting her muzzle at him, she held her head high in a display of aggression and dominance. She circled him, keeping her cold, steady gaze resting on him. Finally she hurled herself at him from behind and dug her claws into his shoulders, pummeling his back with her hind paws.
Kivuli bucked around like a snagged zebra, thrashing under Chaltuu's firm grasp. He bellowed, his roars echoing through the savanna.
"Let go!" he snarled.
"I'll stick with 'no'," Chaltuu growled into his ear.
Kivuli practically had to throw himself at the ground, effectively crushing Chaltuu beneath his back. Gasping for air, he rose to his paws, but still kept his paw poised on Chaltuu's throat.
Chaltuu writhed around as Kivuli kept her held down, his pelt bristling with anger. She struggled to get to her feet, but her father was stronger than she had thought.
"Just finish her off!" a lion in the crowd shouted.
"No," Kivuli rumbled. "She may become of use to us in the future."
Chaltuu's chest was heaving. She fought to breathe- it was as if her father was attempting to cut off her air supply.
Kivuli lifted his paw from Chaltuu's neck, spitting in disgust at her. His lip curled as he watched her trudge to her cave. His tail lashed as he eyed his daughter. "Well, well, well, seems as if you haven't beat me in the spar. Too bad for you..."
Chaltuu fumed as the pride started to laugh and jeer at her, shouting taunts and yelling mocking remarks. She knew what to do anyways.
No matter what her father said, she'd go to the Leader's Council anyhow.
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » October 4th, 2014, 11:32 pm

Chaltuu hissed. The sky was a depressing grey color and dark clouds skimmed across the surface.
"Well, well, well," she sneered. "You have no worries in this world."
Her perpetually unkempt fur ruffled up around her face, a rather harsh breeze striking her like Kivuli's curved talons. She gritted her teeth, making her way up the steep ledge. Her legs ached and her paws felt cramped and sore. Never in her life had she thought that climbing up a precipitous slope like this would be that difficult.
A brutal flurry of wind minuscule chunks of rock scattered across the slanted stones, creating small tapping sounds as they collided with the enormous hill. Her tail lashed as she dug her claws between the cracks of the boulders.
Her face stung bitterly as small pebbles blasted towards her like a hurricane, poking at her eyes and scraping across her snout.
The wind still whirling around her paws and pieces of sand and gravel flying straight into her pale green eyes, she staggered, trying to regain her footing.
A harsh, loud cackle echoed through the hills. "Hee hee hee!"
Whirling around and baring her teeth, Chaltuu lowered her head and snorted like a charging buffalo. She pawed at the ground, dirt clouding up around her feet and tail tuft. Her hackles rose and bristled.
A pack of hyenas slowly crept forward, their lips drawn back. "Well, well, well, look what the lion dragged in," a male laughed. "Herself!"
Chaltuu growled, thrusting her muzzle at the hyenas. Hostility blazed in her eyes- though she had been caught off guard, and if she were to fight a whole clan of hyenas she'd probably be thrown over a cliff, her obstinate nature wouldn't allow herself to be taken down without a good, decent fight.
"Look-ie," a female hyena snickered. "Little cubbie's trying to be brave!" She nipped at Chaltuu's flank, her claws raking across the red lioness' side.
Impulsively, Chaltuu lashed out, striking the hyena's chest with her claws. Not in panic, but in compulsion and anger.
The hyena gasped, her chest bleeding slightly. "Attack!" she howled.
Barking viciously, the entire clan of hyenas lunged at Chaltuu, bombarding her like a flock of greedy vultures pecking at a carcass. The russet lioness struggled and writhed under the pack of aggressors, roaring with outrage. Her muzzle wrinkled in a growl as she felt a hyena's teeth meet her paw.
Pain slashed through her body, the hyenas ripping and tearing at her flesh with their sharp fangs. She bellowed, still thrashing beneath the massive clan.
Chaltuu managed to land a few blows on the hyenas every now and then, but they yanked her paws and tripped her, making her fall onto the boulders painfully. She gasped in shock as she was shoved forcefully over the ledge, her claws burying between the creases of the stones. She slipped, her hind paws scrabbling at the smooth, flat stones underneath the cliff's end. The female hyena matriarch strode forward, sneering.
"Well, well, well... This is really the worst way to die," the female smirked.
Chaltuu parted her jaws in a bellow. "Back off, you flea-infested coward," she snarled. She dangled from the cliff's slippery ledge helplessly.
Without another word, the hyena matriarch simply knocked her over the precipice's margin, causing her to topple over and crash to the ground.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu awoke with a jolt. Her eyes slowly drifted open as she blinked rapidly, trying to gather where she was.
She shook her head and rose to her paws- and collapsed. She drew her breath in with a sharp hiss as her standing position sent a slicing pain through her legs. She shrugged. "Humph," she muttered. "Better than a snapped neck or broken spine."
Shaking the stab of mordancy from her limbs, she forced herself to stand. Chaltuu winced, looking around to make sure no one had spotted her. If there was one thing she couldn't stand, it was being weak, even if nobody else was around.
Stumbling and tripping through the rain, she growled as she heard rustling in the grass.
"Whoa, jeez," a lioness rumbled, stepping from the moor.
Chaltuu narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing the lioness. She had a dark, dusty greyish-brown pelt and deep crimson irises. She had more of a muscular build, similarly to Chaltuu's, instead of a smaller, thinner shape.
"What is it?" she spat.
"Calm down," the stranger snorted. "I'm just passing through. Is it impossible for me to walk without getting my head ripped off?"
Chaltuu rolled her eyes. "Shut up."
"Nice to meet you, too." The lioness sat down casually and rasped her tongue over her paw. "Anyways, name's Muuaji. What's yours?"
Chaltuu faintly remembered the meaning of the name. Killer. Rather confusing, it was. Who would name her that? Unless the lioness named herself, of course. But even so, why would someone call themselves killer?
"Chaltuu," the russet lioness said grudgingly.
"Cool." Muuaji coughed. "Anyhow..."
"What?"
Chuckling humourlessly, Muuaji flicked her ear. "You're strange."
"An aberration," Chaltuu corrected her irritably.
"Really, now? Well, join the club."
Despite Chaltuu's intense frustration with this stranger, Muuaji acted like she and Chaltuu were similar with personality and past. Although the two were undeniably unalike in appearance, Muuaji had the same sharp tongue and a bitter scowl plastered on her face.
Muuaji stood, inspecting Chaltuu's slightly twisted hind leg. "Painful, hmm?" She snorted. "Well, for the record, it doesn't look like it'll cause any permanent damage." She chuckled mirthlessly.
Chaltuu glared at Muuaji. "You probably wouldn't be saying that if it was your leg," she retorted, growling slightly.
"You make a good point..."
Chaltuu's annoyance grew. Her fur bristled. What was wrong with Muuaji?
"I watched you," Muuaji mused. "The hyenas."
"Glad you didn't help," Chaltuu said. Instead of acidic sarcasm, her voice was rather genuine; she was fine with nobody rushing to rescue her every time she was in danger. She was an independent rogue at heart, not a damsel in distress.
"Happy to oblige." Muuaji smirked, her lip curled.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At last, Chaltuu managed to limp home- then she realized: Why should she have to return? Her father was still at his stupid meeting. She could leave.
She closed her eyes slightly, thinking it over. If she stayed, Kivuli would just continue to treat her like dirt, like she didn't have feelings. She did- although she'd never admit it.
Thoughts clouded around her mind. Would Kivuli ever sire another child? In her own opinion, he was a terrible father figure, but what if he and Uangaze made the decision to have more sons or daughters? At the same time, she had heard most cubs were born with siblings. She herself was the only daughter Uangaze had so far.
Shoving her pondering away, she decided that she would stay for a little while longer, though the obstinate part of her mind disagreed strongly.
Sighing heavily, Chaltuu curled up by the border, the rain still drizzling and pattering the rocks that surrounded the territory. The sky had darkened even more, shadows streaking across the plains.
After her conversation with Muuaji, the greyish-brown lioness left as if she would never be seen again.
Muuaji had said that she herself was a rogue, not wanting to join in any pride, as she fared better by herself. She had apparently been a loner her whole life, never once considering becoming a member of some stupid pride. She stated she had been on her own from her cubhood, but never explained what she meant by that, which Chaltuu found rather intriguing. She had spoken about having issues with prides due to her status.
Despite being a rogue, she didn't live in a rogue's clan or attack prides for no reason. She kept to herself. Though she was neutral, she would act hostile if it was needed for her own self-defense- but she claimed she would never be protective towards anyone else.
Though Muuaji never talked about her past, it was obvious that she had been treated similarly like Chaltuu had been- like an aberration, an obscenity, one to blame for all the troubles in the world.
When she had left the hills, she had turned and padded away, silently like the shadows cast upon the savanna. And she had stated her final words to Chaltuu like a mysterious, ominous farewell:
"I hope whatever fate comes your way will enlighten your path."

[A/N: My excuse: I've been a bit busy. So... At least it isn't a month late, right?
Uh, yes, I know a lot of you might be thinking, "Wow, just make Chaltuu have some happiness in her life".
Uh, that'll come. Later. But right now she's not going to be that one character every other character sympathizes with..
Also, if you're thinking, "That's too violent, the hyena pushing Chaltuu over the cliff was going to far in the violence field", must we be reminded how Mufasa died??]
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
Iri
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » October 5th, 2014, 3:33 pm

[Beforehand A/N: The past few chapters have been poorly written.
Please kick me.]


The words rang through her ears like thunder.
"Chaltuu will not be recognized as my daughter anymore," Kivuli growled. "She is a disobedient fool, and I am tired of her shaming me and my family." Apparently he had heard of her attempts to follow him to the Leader's Council, and he was undeniably not pleased.
Although she sort of knew it was coming- it was only a matter of time before he disowned her- it still struck her like a boulder crashing down on her. Shock was practically written all over her face and she struggled to process what her father- no, her leader- had just announced.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A week had passed. Chaltuu, being the aberrant mistake of nature she was, had learned to accept what Kivuli had declared. Though it stung, she refused to show it. In silence, she decided it was better not to express her emotions. After all, her pride didn't even believe she had feelings- but she did. And like anyone else, they could feel raw and torn- as they did now.
A pale beam of illumination fell at Chaltuu's paws, landing softly on her face. She opened her eyes, her lip curling and her acidic glare turning up towards the bright half-crescent moon.
"A fat lot of good you are," she snarled with fury so clear in her voice it seemed to echo in her small den. The week before, Chaltuu had finally given up all hope she had with the precious, oh-so wonderful Spirits. She used to have faith in them, now all she felt towards them was bitter resentment, and remorse- for believing in them in the first place. She had been a fool to think that "Spirits" would help her.
They were nothing to her, and the feeling was mutual, apparently.
Ignoring her feelings, which was a difficult task, Chaltuu forced herself to simply listen to the distant cascading waterfalls, with thick water rolling and tumbling down the canyon sides. She thought of it with a pang, remembering the dreaded cliff that had nearly claimed her life. A bittersweet smirk crept up on her face.
Memories, they were. Reminisces that enlightened her mood, living nightmares that haunted and plagued her, and simple ones that had no meaning to her, no purpose in her very existence.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu strode down to the waterhole, accompanied by Hamadou and Naima. She rolled her eyes, angry at their presence.
"Leave me alone!"
Naima stood her ground- Chaltuu was shocked at how bold the smaller lioness was. Despite Naima's liking to have a pleasant smile and a sweet face, she had a harsh stare that surprised Chaltuu with its iciness.
Chaltuu only returned the favour by giving Naima a severe glare and a disparaging sneer, as if to tell Naima silently that she wasn't intimidated.
Deciding that the two wouldn't leave her alone even if she smacked them, she'd let them follow her, so long as they didn't annoy her.
Chaltuu bent her head down and lapped up some of the water, the cool, fresh liquid sliding down her throat quickly. Her black nose brushed the transparent water slightly, creating slight ripples that ringed around her muzzle.
She lifted her head from the waterhole, turning and padding away. She kept her head lifted high, her tail oscillating. Her gaze shifted from different animals scattered among the savanna- ungulates and lagomorphs, massive elephants in their herds roaming around.
Chaltuu narrowed her eyes, her usual energetic trot more of a shuffle. She craned her head slightly around, glancing at Naima, who was leaning slightly against Hamadou, letting his shoulder support her weight against him.
"Well, come on," she grunted brusquely. "Let's get moving."
Naima shrugged, still snuggling up against Hamadou's mane.
"Would you quit?" Chaltuu snapped. "Spirit's sake, you're driving me insane! You're acting like a child!" She spat out the words like a grit in her teeth and sprinted off. "Not that you never act like a child in the first place," she muttered when the two were out of earshot.
Hesitantly, Chaltuu sneaked a glimpse over her shoulder and was relieved to see the two leaving the waterhole. She stopped, finally skidding to a halt. Her ears flicked as she listened to the sounds of crickets and birds. What a peaceful sound for a tranquil day.
And she loathed it.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu's elongated snout pointed towards the sky, feeling the moon's light shine into her pelt and the chilly breeze trickle through her fur.
She leaped down from the rocks she perched on, her paws thudding the ground as she raced towards the savanna.
She sucked her breath in with a sharp hiss as she crashed into someone. She writhed around, growling and clawing at whomever she had run into. "Get out of here!"
"Whoa! Chaltuu, take it easy!" the stranger grunted, rolling and tumbling away from the chestnut-red lioness.
Chaltuu inhaled and exhaled raggedly, eyeing the lioness who sat before her:
Muuaji.
"I'm being literal, you gave me a heart attack," Chaltuu panted. "Thanks a lot, Muuaji."
"My pleasure," Muuaji smirked. "Great to see you, too."
Chaltuu rolled her eyes, but frowned. "What brings you here?"
"What brings me here? Nothing. I brought myself here," Muuaji said.
"Very funny," Chaltuu said. "At least it states your independence, so well done."
Muuaji huffed indignantly, but nodded. "Anyways, is there an issue with my presence?"
"I suppose not," Chaltuu admitted. "But my leader isn't welcoming to rogues. Loners, but not rogues." Her voice was laced with disgust.
"That's stupid."
"Tell me about it." Chaltuu cast her eyes heavenwards.
Muuaji snorted. "I almost feel sorry for you. You've got to live with the idiot."
Chaltuu opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by Naima. "What are you doing?!" she screeched. "Are you trying to get yourself in trouble with Kivuli?!"
"You could say that," Chaltuu said, shrugging innocently.
Muuaji laughed mirthlessly. "I feel sorry for you, Chaltuu," she said, loudly enough for Naima to catch, "you've got to live with those two." She gestured carelessly towards Naima and Hamadou. Her face was filled with mock sympathy.
"Hah," Chaltuu said dryly. "I've learned to get used to their... 'antics'."
"Hey!" Naima protested. "Shut up, Chaltuu!"
Chaltuu curled her lip, shooting Naima a lukewarm glower. "I would, but I don't take orders from spoiled little lionesses," she answered stiffly.
"Fun-ny," Naima retorted. "Come on, Chaltuu, let's go before your dad rips your head off."
"He's not my father. Not anymore," Chaltuu snarled. "You know that just as well as I do."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu sighed heavily. Muuaji had been driven out by Kivuli, and told that she'd be killed on sight if she returned. Now, she had nobody to converse with, she had nobody who understood her. Had she been a weak-minded fool? Of course she had been- she was a loner deep down, not someone who needed condolences and sympathy constantly.
Her front paw tapped the ground, creating a quiet echo through her tiny den. Her tail was coiled around her hindquarters, and her cheek rested against the chilly cave's floor. Her pale green eyes were bleak and dull.
Her desolate eyes closed and her paws slowly tucked beneath her chest.
A bright beam of sunlight spread across the front part of her den. Chaltuu frowned and grunted, shifting until she was comfortable again.
Over the past few days, she had overheard Uangaze and Kivuli speaking about having more cubs. Her ears craned back and flattened against her head.
She almost pitied their future cubs already. After all, she was out of the picture now, and they needed someone to replace her, didn't they? Perhaps she had been disowned so their progeny didn't have to be forced to call her their "sister".
Chaltuu rose to her paws and turned her head from the sun's blinding rays, finally settling herself down again.
Her claws scraped the chilled ground, huffing and grumbling. What place did she have in the pride? Shouldn't she just flee, run away from Kivuli and not return?
If she could, what was holding her back? What was making it so difficult?

[A/N: I willingly accept criticism. Constructive criticism, mind you. Not, "This is terrible, you should quit being a writer because it's so horrible" and stuff...
Things like dialogue issues, things I could improve on, etc, will be accepted. Like I said, please none of that "Your writing is awful, you're a bad writer" and anything like that. I'm working on my writing, so no flaming.]
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
Iri
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Re: Don't Look Back

Postby Iri » October 6th, 2014, 2:58 am

[Beforehand A/N: Yay! So many chapters!
Uh...
Just a note:
I HAVE TIMESKIPPED TWO YEARS IN THIS STORY.]


Two prolonged, desolate years slowly strolled past. Time obviously had no wish to speed up. Over those two years, Chaltuu kicked herself every day, asked herself why she hadn't just left.
She never figured out why.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu glanced down at the cub nestled by Uangaze. The pathetic little ball of fur whimpered and gurgled, its tiny paws kneading Uangaze's belly.
"What's her name?" Chaltuu queried.
"Kapuki."
Chaltuu huffed. The meaning of that name was "first born daughter"- so did her own. But of course, she wasn't part of the family anymore.
Uangaze and Kivuli had apparently agreed on a decision to have cubs, for little Kapuki had been born.
"You're not to touch her," Kivuli snarled. "I'm serious, Chaltuu."
Chaltuu rolled her eyes. "Whatever..." Turning away, she cast one glimpse towards the cub.
Kapuki inherited Uangaze's tawny fur, though hers was a bit lighter. Her pale ear rims, muzzle, and underbelly were a pale sandy colour. Her front left paw and hind right paw were the same hue as the rest of her pelt markings. She had a tail tuft that was a few shades darker than her main fur colour.
"Did you see your sister?" Naima squealed as Chaltuu exited the cave. "Is she cute? I mean, Kivuli told us the cub is a girl. Anyway, is she cute?"
"Go and find out for yourself," Chaltuu spat bitterly.
Naima jerked a little, obviously caught off guard, but nodded. "Okay! Hamadou, c'mon!" she called. "Let's go see Uangaze's baby girl!" She bounced towards the den, trailed by a more hesitant-looking Hamadou.
Chaltuu poked her head inside the den again. Her young sister was still squirming and trying to get comfortable as she nursed.
"She's beautiful!" Naima squeaked. "Uangaze, Kivuli, what colour do you think her eyes'll be?"
"Well, I, for one, am seriously hoping that it isn't red," Chaltuu quipped snidely as she padded into the cave.
The cub fidgeted, twitching her small pink nose and flattening her small, rounded ears against her head.
"What are you doing in here?" Kivuli snarled.
"Well," Chaltuu began, "I do believe that I should at least be allowed to see Kapuki, if I don't touch her, of course."
"Fine," Kivuli muttered. He cast her a glare.
"Yeah, I get it," Chaltuu said, casting her gaze heavenwards. "'If I lay a single claw on her'," she squeaked in an irritatingly high-pitched voice, "'I'll be dead.'" Without another word, she whirled around and left the cave.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu watched Kapuki blindly stumble around. The cub grunted and huffed. Chaltuu wondered if Kapuki would have the same stubborn attitude that she had.
Even though Chaltuu couldn't predict her sister's personality, Kapuki bore a striking resemblance to Chaltuu herself. The tawny cub had a furrowed brow and a scowl, the corners of her mouth turned downwards. She was a bit of a larger cub, a bit more muscular and bulky rather than lithe and thin. Her eyes, though not opened yet, appeared narrower.
Rising to her paws, Chaltuu gently seized Kapuki's scruff and strode to her usual spot; the clump of rocks. The sun had fallen, the sky dark cobalt and the stars blinking down at them. She set her sister down on the rock nearest to the edge.
She watched as Kapuki lifted her head, almost in a defiant manner. Her short, stubby legs wobbled slightly and she shivered in the cold wind, but she looked almost happy to be up on the rocks. Her chin was held up high.
Chaltuu sat down on the stone, watching Kapuki carefully.
It wasn't like she felt affection for the cub or something. But she did want her sister to have what she needed- a break from Kivuli.
Kapuki wasn't necessarily a bouncy, cheerful cub. She seemed to have inherited her fierce, independent attitude from Chaltuu. Often, when someone tried to nudge her towards Uangaze's belly for her to nurse, she would swat the lion's paw away obstinately- and to Kivuli's disapproval, Chaltuu found it amusing.
"It is not funny," he had said angrily. "She'll grow up not ever wanting assistance! She's our future leader!"
"Well, it's nice to know that your heir at least can have a sense of dignity, instead of relying on everyone else," Chaltuu had responded icily.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kapuki's eyes were still closed, but she had learned small, simple words in the "mother tongue".
"Mama," she said. "Milk."
Chaltuu snorted.
"Mama!" Kapuki repeated. "Mama!"
Uangaze sighed. "Yes, dear?"
"Milk."
Nodding, Uangaze coiled her tail around Kapuki's shoulders and led her towards her belly to nurse. "All right, dear."
Chaltuu rolled her eyes as she watched Kapuki ravenously feed, her tail curling around her hindquarters. Though Kapuki was hungry a lot, she was actually quite the low-maintenance cub. Other than nursing, she usually just enjoyed sleeping. She did want attention from time to time, but- though Chaltuu didn't really like it- she seemed to be able to preoccupy herself for long periods of time.
Kapuki finally stood, her paws tapping the cave floor. "Chalty?" she said.
"Hmm? What is it?" Chaltuu mumbled. Kapuki had given her an absurd nickname- "Chalty". As if that had much difference from her real name.
"Is Dad nice to you?" Kapuki said quietly.
Uangaze swiftly broke into the short-lived conversation, sending her youngest daughter an admonishing look. "Let's not discuss this at the moment, shall we? Let's move on," she interrupted as she lifted her paw.
"She asked me a question! I ought to answer it!" Chaltuu snapped. "And I'm not going to embellish or lie to make Kivuli seem like some hero, especially not after how he's treated me! If she's going to ask, I'm going to answer, and I'm going to answer with honesty!"
Kapuki shuddered. Though she couldn't see Chaltuu and Uangaze's expressions, the russet lioness' angry tone scared her to no end.
"I'd rather you didn't ill-speak about Kivuli in front of her," Uangaze replied, looking as if her temper was rising.
"Oh, so I can't be honest to her even after the fact that Kivuli has treated me like a pile of garbage?!" Chaltuu shouted.
"Keep your voice down!" Uangaze hissed.
Kapuki whimpered. "Mom-"
"What kind of mother are you?" Chaltuu yelled, not lowering her voice. "You ignore me and throw me to the side my entire life, and I'm pretty sure the minute Kapuki opens her eyes she'll get the same thing!"
Uangaze growled. "I can't believe your behaviour!"
"No! I can't believe your behaviour!" Chaltuu snarled. "I don't even know how you and Kivuli are parents!"
With a huff, she fled from the cave, ignoring Kapuki's distant, frightened wail.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chaltuu ran until her burning lungs and aching legs forced her to skid to a halt. She panted, inhaling and exhaling unsteadily.
She reached the border finally, stepping over it. She needed some air.
She wondered- not that she truly cared- what Kapuki thought of her. Did she see Chaltuu as a monster now? It didn't matter anyhow. In Kivuli's eyes, she was nothing but utter garbage, Uangaze didn't realize she existed until Chaltuu herself actually reminded her. So why wouldn't Kapuki's opinion be any different from theirs?
Her eyes stung as she glared up at the clouds. The sun was slowly descending up the horizon, and the sky was a pinkish-orange colour for the morning.
Lying down with a huff, she crossed her forepaws and rested her chin on them, her bitter, angry glower still pasted onto her face as she closed her eyes, and her breathing slowed.
Slowly she awoke, her pale green eyes blinking rapidly. The sky was a dark shade of cobalt instead of the dawn's peach colour.
She picked herself up and strode over the border again, slowly strolling towards Kivuli's territory. As she entered the base, she headed towards her den.
Chaltuu watched Kapuki toy around with a stick, batting it around and growling playfully, as if she was wrestling with another cub. Only issue was, there were no other cubs beside Kapuki. She had no siblings- except Chaltuu, of course- and she was the lone cub. She had nobody to play with, and their parents hardly found any time to spend with her.
Kapuki kicked the broken tree limb away from her, where it clattered to the soft earthen ground beneath the stone base.
Chaltuu eyed her sister as the cub forlornly padded into the den with Kivuli and Uangaze, plopping down with a heavy sigh.

[A/N: Chaltuu's not going to push Kapuki over any cliffs, don't worry.]
"I'm pretty, but tough like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown."
- Titus Andromedon

"Titus, cherish this time. One day you'll wake up and you'll say, 'Who's that old woman in the mirror?' And then she'll punch you, and you'll say, 'That's not a mirror, that's an open window'."
- Lillian
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Matthews

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