So, I started following a fellow blogger and writer (because he likes to use the word fuck and so do I, and dammit, if that isn’t a reason to follow someone then what is?) recently and today he posted this writing challenge:
Make me sympathize with a man who killed his own brother
I probably took it a little different way than intended, but I really enjoyed writing this and kick started me into being excited about getting back into editing my book, because the good sandal footed Lord above knows I needed a kick in the ass.
So I present to you:
His Brother, His King
The wind stirred a new scent into the air. Abioye lifted his head to take it in. He knew, even crouched beneath the cover of the grass, they would find them. His amber eyes scanned the flat land around him. They were just as camouflaged as he was, maybe even more so. They used the advantage of technology to hide, and Abioye knew it was only a matter of time before they would take his brother down. He watched the old Dayo in the shade of the tree across from him. Dayo had expressed to his younger brother his lack of care in how he died.
“Let them have my head,” he had growled loudly, causing the others to question the safety of the group. Abioye tried to quiet his brother. He not only refused to listen to the depressed ramblings of a former king, but he also knew that the hunters listened for signs of a nearby pride.
Now keeping cover in the tall grass, Abioye contemplated his options. His body tensing quickly, his usually keen senses missed Lerato’s approach from behind. She did not lay beside him, but rather stayed crouched low, her eyes following his gaze.
“You have to do it, Abioye,” she spoke quietly into the light evening wind. “Dayo killed three yesterday, and he will kill more.”
He grunted and rested his jaw on the top of his paws. The hunters killed the kings for sport, as an act of ‘bravery’ and Abioye knew they had Dayo in their sights. Being hunted, skinned, and beheaded was no way for any animal to die, let alone a king of the savanna. But Abioye also knew that the only reason he had the chance to lay here and decide the way his brother would die was because of Dayo’s choice to let him live so many years ago.
If it had been any other pride, any other king, Abioye would have been ousted and dead in his second year of life. He was born three litters behind Dayo, and in other prides would have been seen as a threat to Dayo’s reign. But instead of having him sent away or worse, Dayo decided to let Abioye live and eventually become his successor. And now that the exchange of leadership in the pride had been completed, Dayo was on an instinctual rampage. Hours after Abioye had taken over the tenure as king of this pride, Dayo ruthlessly murdered Lerato’s only male cub. And try as he might, the new king was unable to stop the recent stealthy deaths of three more possible successors. Now it was time for Abioye to decide how his former king, his brother…his one-time protector was to die.
“They are closer, the hunters.” Abioye rolled on his side and looked up to Lerato. She was still on all fours, glancing between his eyes and keeping a close watch on her sisters.
“They are.” She chuffed matter-of-factly. She finally settled own beside Abioye, rubbing the top of her head across his paws.
“I know this is not something you wanted to do,” her eyes closed in a brief moment of rest. “But if the hunters come, and they kill Dayo…who is to say they won’t kill you also, or any of us?”
The setting evening sun had given way to a purple hued early night sky. Around them the herds of daylight animals began to retreat to the places they felt safest and the nocturnal creatures began stirring into the African plain; then all at once stopped. Abioye and Lerato lifted their heads in unison, alert and watching. Around them, the air stopped just short of panic. Abioye caught sight of Dayo, the glint of a close light in his eyes. Lerato dared to take a quick breath, the low growl rumbling in the bottom of her throat.
All at once, the herd of gazelle jumped and raced away from the area while Lerato dashed quickly to her sisters and the cubs. Abioye darted across the tall grass to the empty area of trees where Dayo was still laying, a safari jeep full of human men skidding to a stop several yards away from them.
“Run, Dayo!” Abioye roared, standing between him and the tiny red dot that was searching for its target.
The old king stood up and stood still as stone. The red dot found its mark in Dayo’s thick chest. Abioye reared on his hind legs, forcefully slapping Dayo to the ground with a huge clawed swipe before ducking the missed shot of the hunter. He growled and roared loudly in the hunter’s direction, the roar echoed by the females in the distance. Each roar was distinct and he heard Lerato’s frightened roar calling for him to finish Dayo.
Dayo slapped a large paw back at Abioye, leaving a deep cut below his eye.
“I said to let them have my head.” He roared in Abioye’s face.
Abioye crunched his canines into Dayo’s leg, crushing the bone and crippling Dayo instantly. He held his jaws tight around the wound, his head thrashing back and forth by Dayo’s wild and pained attempts to get free. Keeping his hold, he stood up and above Dayo’s body. He was no longer scared for his own life, the red dot moving in wild circles in an attempt to recapture its mark. Abioye knew that while the death and prize hunting of an old lion was frowned upon, the death of a young king could be punishable by death in the human world. His only concern now was to make sure Dayo did not die from a hunter’s bullet, but by the way it was meant to be. This moment had been written in the stars the moment Dayo made the choice to keep Abioye in his pride.
He finally released his hold of Dayo’s leg, panting hard. His mouth was sticky with Dayo’s life force dripping from his teeth.
“You are my brother,” Abioye growled between pants.
“I was your king,” Dayo coughed out.
Abioye looked down into Dayo’s dimming eyes. “And you shall die a king’s death.”
With no more hesitation, Abioye jumped teeth first into Dayo’s throat, piercing the skin into the jugular. The warm blood spurted into Abioye’s mouth as he closed his jaws tighter forcing the pumping to move faster. The world fell away as Dayo’s life quickly faded into Abioye’s mouth. He could hear the hunter’s shouting angrily at the scene of their lost prize and the rest of the pride surrounding their vehicle in order to scare them off. Abioye groaned into the slower flow of blood, Dayo almost gone. He whined sadly, Dayo finally limp and dead in his mouth.
Releasing his jaws from Dayo’s throat, the world came flooding back to Abioye and the impact of the moment hit him hard. His paws were pooled by his brother’s blood, staining the grass he stood in. He looked into the group of females that had formed a small semi-circle around the tree and found Lerato’s sorrowful amber eyes giving him permission to grieve. The females were successful in their attempt to scare away the hunters, he had no worries. Abioye laid beside Dayo’s body, resting his head on the bloody mane of the once majestic lion, and for hours made noises that could only be likened to a human wail.
The stories of the savanna would end with the telling of a pride of lions that stood watch for days to protect Abioye while he grieved for his king, but instead it would be the king that grieved for his brother.
I hope whomever reads this enjoys it as much as I did writing it.