Written by Prarthana Nandwani
The lion scraped the sand in front of him with a long, razor-sharp nail. The sheer weight of his paw could have left a permanent etch in the ground’s base. As he raised his great head to meet the gaze of the gaggle of creatures staring up at him, his tousled mane ruffled gently in the breeze.
The call for the gathering reached the ears of those existing even many leagues away, as well as those that dwelled within the lion’s own internal kingdom. In the years preceding the lion had grown intrinsic; a tad more private. He took more interest in strategy than spontaneity, valuing skills over strength. As the many noble animals in the vicinity looked on, they noted with approval a stillness in the lion’s passionate eyes that measured it’s subjects with a quiet intelligence. “During my journeys across our lands, I sighted and sensed a type of creatures that do not look, act, or smell like us. They were not mildly different from us, as the external kingdom is from the internal, but completely unrecognizable. The creatures are not of much interest to me, however, as much as is the land they dwell in.
I had been hunting in the Grey Lands when I caught a whiff of a foreign scent. It had been faint, but at the same time caused my hairs to prick.”
The lion paused, his quiet eyes turned steely, recalling with a surge of passion the sweet feeling. Just a whiff of the mysterious scent had filled him with the most amazing ecstatic sensation that jolted through him like a shock of lightning.
“The smell, there was and is nothing like it – it changed my insides.”
A prickly alertness came over the Felidae observing their King. Their eyes seemed brighter, their noses more sensitive. Wherever this land was, they were going to find it.
Sheena stood tall and tried not to stare at the Lion. She was closer in proximity to him than the other muscular, brawny cats around. Over the years of surveying and plunder, the lion had acquired quite an entourage. “The Brawns”, as she privately named them, watched over the Lion’s cave as he slept. A leader of his stature needs his rest, Sheena mused.
Sheena’s white gold fur and lithe physique often stood in contrast to the lion’s bronzed, muscular frame. Their eyes met for a split second: the lion’s, a blood orange encircled with an icy blue, Sheena’s curious honeysuckle-brown. She turned suddenly and with the slow sensual movements that remain unique to felines, started towards the fair outlay of the inner circle caves. Back and forth – the lionesses’ shoulders prowled in rhythm with her derriere.
A thunderous BOOM resounded throughout the wide expanse reverberating within the Felidae’s hearts. The Lion’s paw had come down like a hammer, signaling an adjournment of gathering. He had the Felidae’s support to invade. He could see it in their besotted eyes. He could feel it from the yearning in their chests. They wanted to get closer to this land, this feeling that he so well described had creeped up on them as well. He needed it, and now so did they.
The Lion stalked off towards the impressive rock formation known as the inner circle caves. The deep blue backdrop of the sky served as the perfect canvas for highlighting the sharp crevices of the caves. It was as if someone had intently studied the sparkling dolomite, surveyed the mountain, and carved out hollow cavities ideal for shelter. Lions and lionesses dotted in and out of the crevices, pounced over and under rocks – like flashes of gold dotting around. Others simply lounged on the exposed flat surfaces leading up to their caves, their watchful eyes alight like fireflies. Sheena was nowhere to be seen.
A low rumble seemed to fill the caverns as the lion approached. Though the rumble closely echoed a young storm, his ears perked in anticipation. His pride had crowded around and had strategically placed themselves at the hollowest parts of the rock. The scene that befell him left the lion spellbound every time: His pride – the apex of all cat species – beating their inner paws against the stones in rhythmic unison. The sound slowly grew from an undercurrent to a steady thudding. The boom reverberated in the lion’s chest: he felt more awake, the blue of his irises narrowing into slits as the blood orange pupils expanded into them.
Thud, thud thud, thudding, thudding, THUDDING
The lions beat deeper into the rocks, growing into a faster rhythm. Back muscles flexing as they raised their great paws and let them fall now causing a dramatic BOOM. The lion closed his eyes as the experience overtook him. There was nothing to see anymore when his insides were exploding in adrenaline and pleasure. The beat filled him with an interminable energy, a vibe that he had felt only when living his deepest pleasures. He felt fluid. Seamless. His mind shut down, thoughts faded away. All the ideas and plans that usually spawn like drops of dew at this time of evening evaporated into nothingness, replaced with a keen focus on the sights and sounds of the night. He watched as the lions beat on, their paws sparking a magnificent blue fume turning dust into ash.
As dust filled the tepid air a new pair of eyes appeared like specks of gold flashing the darkness. Feminine feline, yet familiar. The lion grew warm, triangular ears piqued in interest. As the dust faded the sensation multiplied: Sheena. His heart thudded as her eyes locked onto his, arresting his breath. The lion had never registered her sensuality as he did now, always blocking out the animal in him when it came to her.
They stood like this for some time, until the dawn threatened to break the embers of the night.