Chapter 27. The Old Lion

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The forest was filled with twin roars, one containing rabid rage while the other expressed both fear and pain.

Surine closed her eyes and turned her head away as her son burst into flames.

In those horrible moments she recalled those joyful occasions she shared with her cub. The day she birthed her little Ramau, nursing him, feeding him. Those memories would never leave her and never would this.

T’Chull grinned in victory as he twirled the fire spear in his claws and pressed the hidden switch.

A geyser of flame burst from the tip of the spear and Surine grimaced as her brave and foolish son screamed again as he was engulfed in orange fire.

The young Cali prince dropped to his knees, his once golden hair consumed in the spear’s unnatural fire. His eyes burning holes. His mouth open.

Ramau was dead before his body hit the ashen ground.

The harem of lionesses were equally assaulted with a mixture of relief, disgust, and sadness. Their champion once again defeated a young rival, and once again T’Chull killed another of their sons.

Ramau dropped into a burnt pile, but still the mystical fire of the spear clung to his blackened body and would continue to do so until there was not enough of him for the worms or flies to consume.

T’Chull let out a snarl, he was disappointed in the whelp. His angry yellow eyes glowering at the stinking corpse that he had sired.

The proud king spat at the ground and turned his back on the thing that had ounce been his son. He did not look in the faces of his women, the sluts will not be spreading their legs for the weakling. They were and will always be, his.

T’Chull tightened his grip of the fire spear. It was his.

As he passed Surine, T’Chull gave his order “Clean that up.” his voice rumbled with barely controlled anger.

Surine didn’t move, she stared at the ring of ash that had claimed so many sons and would-be kings.

Young Cali who thought themselves fast enough, strong enough, or smart enough to best the old king. Too late did they realise that it was not the old Cali they should have feared, but the spear.

When it appeared as if the elder huntress would not move, the younger daughters took up the role.

Surine watched as her little prince was smothered in ash, ash that had been the flesh of his brothers.

As the loser, her son would be given no ritual or pray, after the fire finely finishes its foul job, what was left of her dear son would be dumped in some hole.

The old mother reminded herself that this was an unforgiving world. That the weak deserved to be eaten or discarded to their fate, but no matter how hard she told herself this Surine could only see her little boy dying in senseless torment.

For five minutes Surine stood there, staring at the ring of ash.

A roar came from the main tent and Surine turned and strolled to her mate, the bastard was trying to enjoy his victory prize.

Long Ago T’Chull had been a great king of the Cali. Even before the praise of the Gods he and his brothers were strong, but when he came back with the great treasures he had turned his gaze to conquest and defeated many tribes.

Surine, had been there beside him the whole time. With each ruined village that was left burning her king would ravish her for hours, but those times seemed so far away now.

Through T’Chull’s power, the pride had grown fat and absorbed the women of other prides till no longer was T’Chull the pack leader of an insignificant tribe of Cali, but a true king of an entire region.

Never had a pride consisted of such a number and never had their food sources been as exhausted as it was now. With so many Cali in one place the prey had left, in their place the slaves took up the mantle of food.

Surine watched as the father of her children attempted to mate with one of the younger females. She didn’t show her disgust as the fat, old male sweated fiercely as he tried to hump the young Cali, who picked her teeth and appeared ultimately board as the old fart tried to impregnate her with a hopeful heir.

Surine’s silence disturbed T’Chull’s concentration. “Surine disappointed she didn’t sleep with weakling son?” The older male joked.

It took everything Surine had to keep her claws sheathed. It was not uncommon for the Cali king to discipline his wives for any show of challenge, T’Chull loved power over the well being of his own kin, and more importantly he loved holding onto that spear.

Surine’s old, sharp eyes locked onto the long spear which never lay far from T’Chull’s reach.

Its sleek shaft was the colour of fresh blood, and though it contained a simple pointed stake, Surine could see that the tip of the weapon glowed like a firefly in the dark.

There were stories in the lesser Cali tribes that the spear belonged to Orb, the sun god who personally handed the superior weapon to T’Chull and philosophised that he would be the true ruler of the world.

Surine didn’t know what to believe about the thing, just that T’Chull would not speak about how he came across it and that the old king would be dead a hundred times over if it weren’t for that evil thing.

T’Chull snarled and pushed the young Cali female away, as if his inability to have a hard-on was due to her. He picked up the spear and didn’t bother to cloth himself as he went to rest.

Surine knew her king slept with the thing like a child did a stuffed doll. His entire existence was tied to the spear, without it a cub straight from its mother’s tit could defeat him.

Go, drink.” Surine told the disgruntled Cali woman who was adjusting her loin cloth.

Angry mumblings came from the bitter girl. Once, Surine would have flogged the brat publicly for daring such a thing in her presence, but that was before her second son had died years ago at his father’s hand.

What had happened with the young Cali was not rare. In two seasons not a single club had been born under T’Chull seemingly endless reign. Surine did not want to think of the outcome, but if this continued for any longer the Cali as a whole would suffer.

Surine could still smell the stench of her son in the foul air and she looked around at her so-called kingdom.

The encampment lay at the heart of the Cali territory which had consumed the lands of numerous neighbouring tribes and forced those like the Gapachu back.

Maverick would have seen the place as a bunch of tents and primitive dwellings. A class of primary school students could have possibly have done better, but to the Cali it was the hight of their empire.

T’Chull was the last of his brothers, well almost but none spoke of what happened to Tabore.

Though the treasures were held ceremonial worth it was the spear that proved to be T’Chull’s greatest weapon and only love.

The snores that came from T’Chull’s seemed to rock the tent.

***

Cool and fresh water seemed to burn as it flowed down the Cali’s throat. That old son of an omtwy had dismissed her so casually.

If Ramau had not lost she was sure he would pick her as his first mate and their rutting would shake the very jungle. Just thinking about the experience caused the female’s crotch to become hot.

But T’Chull had killed the boy and so the Cali village was most likely to be dead soon and she and the other Cali would be forced to search for either another male or have themselves bond to an alien tribe. None of these options sound the least entertaining.

Against her nature but desperate to cleanse herself of T’Chull’s filthy hands the Cali female filled a bucket with water from the well and dowsed herself with cool water.

She had to admit, though the old bastard had a habit of killing his sons and having the sex drive of a stone, he had come up with several ideas during his reign. One of which had been to have the Damu-Sarmi dig out this well.

The Cali civilisation, (as rudimentary as it was) was built upon the backs of it slaves. Under T’Chull’s rule the Cali had turned the Cali from a simple threat to Bracëo’s first real super power.

It was perhaps too bad that nobody had told the Cali that the buildings might have gotten built faster if they stopped eating their slaves. The best they could ever accomplice was a well.

The sexually frustrated Cali let out a shuddering gasp as the biting cold water saturated her fur.

Having shaken the excessive water from her fur the Cali dropped the bucket into the dark reaches of the well where she heard a splash. She then cursed as the bucket had snagged onto something.

A smile crossed her feline face. Occasionally a small fish from the underground lake would find its way into the bucket. Judging from the weight the Cali guessed that she must have bonked a big one on the head.

The lioness leaned over to get a better look at her catch, but the claustrophobic darkness of the hole hid its secrets well.

Stupid bucket.” The Cali groaned as she puled the defying bucket up. Forget fish, from the weight it felt as if she were pulling an omtwy up by its horn.

After a few more feet of rope the strained Cali leaned over to observe what she had caught in her bucket.

At seeing her catch of the day, the Cali drew in a deep breath to scream. She was interrupted when a three taloned hand shot out of the well and closed around her head.

There was a burst of unspeakable pain as each claw drilled its way into the Cali’s skull, then there was nothing.

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