"Now, what do we have here? What a sweet little lion you are.. come closer, dear, I don't bite. Prehaps we can sit awhile and fall for each other as leaves slowly twist to the ground, as the seasons slowly change?"
she/her - homosexual
Gloom, toad. Been with her since birth- he's grumpy, self absorbed and loyal. Loves to sing heartbreakingly sad tunes and contemplate the lives of the flies he eats in depth. Lost his whole family to a gang of playful young zebras. He is Darling's familar or spirit companion.
Glum, froggy. Hangs around most of the time but not as dedicated as Gloom as he is not tied to Darling. Has had an easy lil life and loves nothing more then snacking on worms.
Fable: rat. eldest of the three. closet to Darling; has amazing sense of smell and piticular intelligence.
Myth: middle rat. can be a little slower then other two but so loyal and tries his best, bless. posesses an incredible ability to read emotion in other animals.
Legend: youngest of the rats. adores cuddles and a full stomach; has no special skills.
One dusty morning, on the banks of the Duo river, a young lioness birthed her first litter into mud and rain. First came a small, pure white male- then, an almost all white female. Hither and thiter, little blobs of creamy brown peaked out from her snowy fur. Her eyes where yet to open, but when they did, they enchanted all that looked within them. A swirling abyss of purple, blue and wisdom. Loving, the young mum, did not concern herself with romantic discriptions of her cubs. She groomed them and suckled them; flies and mozzies tried at every oppertunity to attack the family, but failed for the most part. They slept that night warm in the river gunk, watched over by the stars and a singular, lonely toad.
The next morning Loving realised she would have to get her cubs back to the caves. She had been out on a solo hunt when they came, meaning she was many miles from home. The two newborns rode on her broad back as she picked her way through the bog; soaked, filthy and contented they did thier level best to nap.
All was well, for a while. They had just reached the outskirts of the woodland that marked the start of the territory- Loving was exausted and feverish, barely putting one foot before the next. As luck would have it, a wild gang of teenaged hyenas spotted them. Seeing a chance to ease thier endless hunger, they attacked brutally. Loving put up a brave fight, but she could not face seven hyenas after her ordeal. She was dragged off, and the two cubs- too small for a meal- lay in the undergrowth. They quickly became hungry and cold. The toad, who had lost his own family not a week before, lay with them and sang a mornful song of greif.
"Is that.. newborn? It smells like newborns" Fool askes Rich.
"And Loving. I'd know her scent anywhere" Rich replies; they give each other a terrified glance and set off at full pelt. The king may only really care about his own offspring, and the beautiful, valuable girls in the so called Rubber Soul cave system, but those in Magical Mystery Tour bond deeply. It's the largest of all the caves: always cold and too bright. They have to hunt for themselves and can't have pets. They are always a little too thin and thier cubs hardly ever survive. It's a rough life, but together they find happiness. So when one of thier own is hurt, the whole cave feels it. The thought of the kind, gentle, meak Loving coming to any harm is unbearable- so, they run faster then they ever have and follow the scent like bloodhounds.
"It can't be!" wails Rich. They weap as they carefully gather the remains and two cubs to bring home. If only the king let them eat from the pride's catches- then Loving could have stayed home and had her cubs in peace. It was an injustice, but the anger only came after the loss. Loving was buried with the male cub, who was dubbed "Carnival Of Light", or Carn for short. The female was named "Oh! Darling" or simply Darling, and raised with Fly's litter. She grew to be taller then any before, and as gentle as her dear mother. The cave looked upon her with constant pride.
The young toad was of course taken into the hearts of the cave (though he had to be kept well hidden from Majesty) and when old enough Darling named him Gloom.
Dispite thier wishes to keep Darling from ever having to hunt, the cave knew she would have to pull her weight- or they would starve. Darling loves to hunt, but not as much as she loves to learn about natural remidies, curses, spells and signs. When out looking for dinner she can be heard muttering- "One spider in the dusk is a spirit warning, but three at night is a good charm.. take a little of the web and eat it for a good hunt that morning.. take too much and a cub will fall into an ant hill.." while often looking to Gloom for clarification.
On one of these adventures she found Glum, thin and scared, in a hollow tree. He had been brutally chased by young cheetahs and barely escaped with his life; after a few months of good eating he became endlessly loyal and the best of companions, most especially for Gloom who had missed the attentions of another frog.
Another fateful hunt yeilded a litter of rat pups: orphaned by a wildcat and left on the banks of a river by some well meaning creature prehaps hoping they could drink from it and on the verge of giving up they took quickly to the gentle giant Darling and the attentive Gloom and Glum. A little goat's milk and worms soon made them into slick and strong young rats. They hold thier loyalties to Darling even today and often go on missions to gain intelligence on migration patterns, other prides and so forth gaining great respect within the pride.
But she was meant for much more then a quiet life of predicting and nursing. Soon after she turnt one the maddened son of Latte and Alan, Majesty, became king. The day she turned two Old Eyes and his son were found slaughtered on the banks of Duo Waters, and Sour stormed in and usurped the throne of the west with the backing of the east's king.
The land was rocked by the harsh rule of Majesty. Starvation, fear and indignity melded into a constant uneasy atmosphere in the cave. Darling hated her younger brother with passion- did he not care for the freedoms and needs of his family?
The west suffered even more deeply then the east under Sour's thumb; where Majesty was rude and neglectful, she was sadisic and heartless. They lay thin and scarred in thier cramped caves longing for the release of death.
She continued to grow tall and strong- she kept her cave well fed and quietly planed a coup.
Long, glossy tusks of ivory grew over a knotted beard. Her stomach and hind were soon also laced with tangled locks- now two and a half she was wiser then any before and full of rightous anger. The death of the west's royalty has driven the lionesses over the left and they follow Darling into battle.
After three days of war the two dark rulers fall dead of mysterious illnesses. The gods have spoken.
Everybody agrees that the majestic Darling should care for both halves of the land until a dignified heir for the east is found; not only does she carry the true blood of the beloved Alan but she has freed them all. She names Gloom as the eastern king in name for the time being and falls in love with Sour's adoptive son, Julia, quickly.
On the day of thier wedding a friend of the family, a forgien king named JImmy, brings forth an heir; a tiny being of divine blood they dub Do.
Do rules with justice but remains above his subjects: he seeks no mate.
Darling can't understand why she can't love Julia in... both... senses. Frustrated and confused she is drawn in by the mysterious witch Zarabu who lives within the western law. They produce a son by dark forces and he inherits the name Rita- it is agreed that if he is named heir his heritage will remain unspoken.
Also under Darling's rule lives Sour's only surviving biological daughter, Love. She wants the crown for herself and her mate Every; should she suspect Darling is doing wrong by her brother there will be riot. The pride adores Julia and will quickly back Love if she says he has been scorned.
This threat alone should have made Darling buckle down and execpt her fate- but she lacks control and soon has many litters with her lionesses. Gloom can only laugh at the mess.
Rita and his loyal-to-the-bone younger brother Tiptoe are ready to usurp the crown from Love and continue thier mother's legacy when the time comes. A dozen or so of thier sisters, lead by and cared for by the eldest of them, Fix, wait and hide. Hungry for freedom. Hungry for justice. They inherit the long ivory tusks that spurt unnaturally from the queen's jowls; a mark of deep and pure magical ability. A singular sister, whom they call Bet, even spurts deep black horns from behind her ears.
Then Do fell dead.
As suddenly as Sour. As Majesty. As Strawberry.
The pride was heartbroken- silence, apart from the weeping, engulfed the lands.
Darling had to quickly prononce the East under her rule to prevent any interlopers digging in- the lionesses barely ate or slept. They had raised 'Do from a cub and crowned him in shared motherly pride and love. They had been happily waiting for him to take one of thier sons or daughters as a mate. And now he was just, gone.
After a long period of mourning Darling came clean about all her betrayals and many bastard cubs. Much of the pride had participated in the scandal, and those that had not knew what rejecting Darling as queen meant- Love and Every taking the crown and the end to all thier freedoms. With the entire kingdom deciding to forgive her for her ill treatment of Julia, the sweet little creature they had nursed and protected so much like Do, all power was taken from Love.
However a hatred for the bastard cubs persisted in many hearts; they continued to be segregated and Rita's mate was taken away from him in the night. They had been betrayed by Darling who put her duties above her children. She even came and took the infant Tiptoe from them to be raised as heir, throwing her promises to her first love Zarabu (who had long since been carted off to a faraway pride) aside.
Then, many months later, a beautiful and youthful lioness entered the territory claiming to be the reborn lost king. Slowly the pride realised it to be true and accepted her authority.
And even more slowly Darling fell for the newbie, who carried the name Love just like her odious sister-in-law.. she had always adored the free, caring, fluffy Do on a romantic level but just like her dear Julia she could not fully fall for a male. Now, they could be together and both be content.
Under this joint crown, free of self-interest, the lands are at last peaceful and happy. That is- aside from that dark cave deep in the woods, where the true victims of the scandal reside under the deft authority of thier eldest sister Fix. Darling still cannot settle, keeping many mistresses and continuing to shift the results off to Fix or other prides right under the blind noses of the rest of the pride. Tiptoe forgets his siblings and grows tall, strong and ready for the crown...
Even more quietly Love conducts her own affairs; of course she knows of Darling's betrayals. Her silent rebellions allow her to continue to love her. She discovers the same ability to sire cubs too late: two daughters are born to seperate mistresses. The first a child of a dark velvet red-and-black dapple, cut through by sharp white markings identical to Love's own. Then a tiny creature, never growing bigger then a newborn, of a soft baby pink- once more with that tell-tale piebald. From her mouth emerges a snake's tounge.. the two unnatural young are quickly given to the infuriated Fix and forgotten about. Their mother's bodies are buried at dusk by roaming lionesses bought in for the task and paid handsomely.
How long can a kingdom based on death and betrayal continue in peace?