Current Residence: Warsaw|
Favourite cartoon character: Bunji of Bionic Six, Ed and Al Elric of FMA, Neji and Itachi of Naruto, Ito and Makoto of W Juliet
Personal Quote: If it's all about ideas, then I'm gonna defeat Harry Potter
Tayari – son to Tayari, Zahra
Born: 187 AD
Tayari – rarely referred to as anything other than “Tayari Junior” – is the love child of the royal prince Tayari of the Open Plains and Commander Zahra of the Cursed Guard. He is also the chosen heir and successor to the imperial princess and governess of the Shadowlands – Olubayo. As far as Tayari Junior is concerned, Olubayo is as much a mother to him as Zahra – he even calls both lionesses “mom”. There is “Commander Mom” and “Lady Mom”, and none is more “mom” than the other.
Growing up, Tayari Junior receives an extended education. He learns of the empires as well as all the official kingdoms. He travels with his parents and meets all sorts of animals. He also spends a great deal of time exploring the underground caves of his home province, playing hide-and-seek with other cubs and catching fish with grandma Eniola. In fact, looking for such dark, magical places is his favorite activity while visiting the surface provinces. What is hidden is more interesting than what is obvious to see.
This attitude result in the forming of an inquisitive, deeply perceptive lion. A lion with a talent for picking out the most isolated, troubled individuals, and offering them some basic kindness.
Among other things, Tayari Junior can be attributed with conducting the therapy of the young Master Tendaji of the Shrublands (at the tender age of 10). It was Tayari Junior who first convinced Tendaji that there were ways of protecting his mother that didn’t require him to suffer. It was with Tayari Junior’s support that Tendaji developed the confidence to speak of his feelings openly, and the courage to face the world. Tendaji wanted to be strong, so that his mother would never have to worry about him getting hurt again. He vowed to become as dependable a son as Tayari Junior. The boys’ friendship lasted all throughout their lives.
There are things Tayari Junior cannot change, although he wishes for it hard. He knows that his father’s brother – king Taonga of the Open Plains – was overthrown and exiled, along with his eldest son Nishati. Tayari Senior had pleaded to the empress Adaeza for an intervention, whereupon she sent a scouting squad to determine the whereabouts of the prince’s family and the condition of the kingdom. They managed to find out that the new rulers were proving to be very efficient, and rather reasonable for Wild lions. The new queen had even accepted the exiled king’s mate as an advisor. Moreover, Taonga’s youngest son was betrothed to the new queen’s eldest daughter, which meant the two dynasties would merge. The daughter is question was said to be of extremely pale coloration, a clear sign of the Great Spirit’s blessing for the union. Faced with such findings, the empress decided to let the new dynasty be. Prince Tayari accepted, comforted somewhat by the fact that most of his cousins were safe, and the kingdom managed wisely. Nonetheless, he did ask whoever he could to search for his exiled brother and his eldest son – hoping to be reunited with them one day. Tayari Junior wished for nothing more than for his father’s wish to come true.
Another issue Tayari wishes to solve, but knows he most likely won’t, is that of his uncle Kokayi. Kokayi used to be a member of the Cursed Guard, but his status was changed to that of a convict after he supposedly drugged and raped the betrothed of prince Shahan. Tayari Junior’s moms refused to believe their comrade capable of such deeds, and still treated him like a part of the family. The lion later fathered the daughter borne by Olubayo – Tayari Junior’s little sister Silifêra. Meanwhile, the fruit of Kokayi’s illicit affair – Jira – lived in the Capital with the imperial family. Being a male and female in one, she was erected to the position of a holy symbol by the prophet Gumumoya, the empire’s spiritual leader. Tayari Junior knew this holy creature was his sister’s half-sibling, but was forbidden from mentioning either to the other. The imperial family could never find out that Kokayi had fathered another child, otherwise who knows what they might do. And Silifêra should not have to carry the burden of knowledge she is too young to process.
Alas, the truth cannot be avoided forever.
Alala – daughter to Fumu, Imara; sister to Nuru, Anga, Huruma; mate to Shahaab; mother to Taonga “Tanglemane”, Tayari
Affiliation: Open Plains
Born: 130 AD
Alala is Fumu’s beloved daughter and the pupil of his eye. The king dots on his child and likes to have her close. If he cannot be near her, he has somebody keep an eye on her.
Alala herself enjoys her father’s stories and finds satisfaction in making him proud. However, she sometimes feels he doesn’t really trust her. She is to be queen, and as queen has to be strong as well as smart. Knowledge alone is just not enough.
“But darling, you don’t have to be strong” Fumu tells her. “You’ll have your guards to defend you”
Nonetheless, Alala insists on learning basic self defense. Who’d respect a queen who hides behind her subjects?
Fortunately, the girl’s mother is much more reasonable in this regard. She arranges for the princess to spend time with the border guards – and makes sure the king is far enough not to freak out. For this, Alala is grateful. Even more so that she is starting to find males attractive, so every chance to admire them without supervision is welcome.
Alala ends up having a little too much fun with a border guard of her choosing, and finds herself pregnant not long after her first successful solo hunt. Despite it being an accident, she loves her baby and doesn’t mind marrying the father. After all, it feels good to have a family.
Shahaab – mate to Alala; father to Taonga “Tanglemane”, Tayari
Affiliation: rogue (birth), Open Plains (adoption)
Born: 127 AD
Shahaab’s parents were a pair of rogues. They very much enjoyed their life in the wild, without troublesome pride-members or rules, cherishing the ultimate freedom and each other.
But then a pregnancy happened and suddenly it was no longer a life of no responsibilities.
To be fair, Shahaab’s parents did try to look after him. The problem is, they have long since forgotten that cubs are not micro-adults. A young child, who only wakes up to suck milk, did not bother them all that much. But a walking child, a child that chewed on their tails, a child that make all sorts of weird noises – now, that was nuisance.
Fortunately for all parties involved, Shahaab’s father happened to catch the eye of a wandering female. She was looking for a handsome, healthy male to have cubs with. At first, the lion was confused – the female was, after all, a Wild Female. To his confusion she explained that she had Wild blood, but was in fact a border guard in the kingdom of Open Plains. The local dynasty was known for having Wild blood, apparently (rogues don’t really care about such things). Since the lioness – named Utulivu – seemed normal enough, and wanted to have cubs, Shahaab’s father decided to give her exactly what she asked for – his son. To her bewilderment he and his mate explained that they don’t know a thing about raising children and the poor child deserved a better family. To their relief, Utulivu did let herself be convinced to take their son and raise him as her own. She did want a son, since she already had a daughter, so maybe this was the Great Spirit’s plan for her.
And so Shahaab was adopted by the foster sister of king Fumu of the Open Plains. Utulivu raised him alongside her own daughter Hawa. Gentle by nature, Shahaab grew up to be a law-abiding individual, who saw goodness in everybody and everything.
Tayari – son to Alala, Shahaab; brother to Taonga „Tanglemane”; mate to Zahra; father to Tayari
Affiliation: Open Plains (birth), Shadowlands (marriage)
Born: 159 AD
Born as the second son, a whole decade after his brother Taonga, Tayari has always felt that nobody takes him seriously. It was fun being mom's little boy when he was little, but at some point it became annoying.
Whenever Tayari talked about his plans for the future, his parents looked at him as though he was adorable. When he attended training sessions for future border guards, he clearly was given more allowance than others. The commander wouldn't task him with anything important, even after Tayari has developed some skills. Worse yet, other members of the pride adopted a similar attitude, and appeared to believe they had to keep an eye on their little prince, so he wouldn't hurt himself on his quest to become productive. This was seriously annoying.
Still, Tayari was not this much of an idiot to search for independence and acknowledgement in the Freelands. He was a quite average lion, by no means a match for experienced rogues. He liked the safety and stability of a pride. He just wished there was something he could do to contribute to this wonderful community.
Since he prayed, his wish was granted – princess Raziya of the neighboring Riverlands was scheduled to marry the crown prince of the Spiritlands. Tayari figured he could come along with the princess's entourage. The empress just might be willing to make political ties with the Open Plains and obtain a quality husband for one of her sisters. If Tayari married a princess of the Spiritlands, his home kingdom would benefit greatly. He'd get to live in a pride and cherish his royal status while simultaneously gaining the independence he so longed for. It was perfect.
The young lion’s parents are initially reluctant to let him go, but he manages to convince them he’s old enough to make his own choices. Thus, princess Raziya’s entourage leaves, he joins in, full of hope.
In Spiritlands, the empress is surprised to be offered an extra royal offspring, but does not send Tayari home. After some considerations she introduces the prince to her youngest sister Olubayo, the overseer of a province called Shadowlands. She, in turn, introduces Tayari to her friend Zahra, commander of the so called Cursed Guard. As they explain, a part of Shadowlands has been adapted into Cursed Lands, the place where the criminals from all over the Spiritlands are sent to - the empire's alternative to regular exile. The two lionesses ask Tayari if he’d be interested in joining the Cursed Guard. He very much is. To become a noble, brave guard, protecting the empire from the bad guys, this was exactly the job he’s always dreamed of. Moreover, if he proves himself, princess Olubayo might decide he's a good candidate for a husband. That would be something!
Tayari comes to regret his decision soon enough. Shadowlands are almost completely barren. There is virtually no game – local lions catch fish in underground rivers. In fact, they spend most of their time underground. The rightful citizens of the empire live in just as harsh conditions as the criminals do. On top of that, they are give off such a strange aura that gives Tayari the creeps. Just what exactly did he get himself into?
Just as he had hoped, nobody gives a damn about his royal status. He is at the very bottom of the Cursed Guard hierarchy, unable to keep up with the rest. These officers are Shadowlanders or partial Shadowlanders, used to eating fish and living in darkness. Also, they seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to detecting danger. Not to mention they climb rocks with little to no effort. Tayari cannot keep up with them to save his life.
Much to the lion's irritation, princess Olubayo seems to enjoy watching him struggle. She looks down on him, teases him, and any sort of help she offers is delivered with a great deal of patronizing undertone. Tayari comes to believe she had no intention of marrying him ever and merely wanted to amuse herself at his expense.
Commander Zahra is a different story. The dark red lioness actually listens to what Tayari has to say. She is sympathetic about his situation. She admires his dedication and encourages him to keep on doing his best. Those who work hard are always rewarded, she says. Even if Tayari feels inadequate now, he will become a great asset to the Cursed Guard in the future. Since he struggles so much, he will be able to understand the convicts and help them see the errors of their ways. Her words cheer the young lion up. He decides not to give up. To wipe the confident smirk off Olubayo's face. And to see Zahra smile.
The beginnings are hard, but it gets bearable. Like all officers, Tayari spends 3 weeks on duty, and 1 week off – he uses this time to go to the Capital and remind himself what fresh grass looks like. Fish don’t satisfy his hunger, but Zahra brings him goat from the mountains, for which he is grateful. All in all, he misses his home and family, but ambitions make him stay. He won't go back to being a momma's boy. He has the motivation to become a proper lion.
He has since given up on wooing Olubayo. The lioness is okay once you earn her respect, but by no means a candidate for a mate. The one Tayari feels genuine connection with is Zahra. A commander of the Cursed Guard is not quite the same as royalty, but high ranking enough for the second prince of a small kingdom. Besides, Tayari’s family want him to be happy, so he shall chose a mate based on this criterion.
But then Zahra reveals to him a terrible secret. Two, in fact.
Firstly, she is, in fact, the twin sister of Olubayo, a daughter of the emperor.
Secondly, the dark red coat of hers is the result of applying red dust to her fur. Beneath this cover there is nothing but blackness.
Which is why her relationship with the ruling family is strictly confidential.
Tayari is so shocked he is completely out of words. He has always thought that black lions were a legend. That leopards could be black, but not lions. If a black leopard crossed your path, it was a bad omen. A black lion was a sign of a tragedy approaching. This was how the Great Spirit communicated his will – white lions prophesized prosperity, black lions disasters.
But this black lioness was supposed to be a daughter of the white-born emperor. Could it be that this whole empire is doomed? That the ruling family has angered the Great Spirit somehow?
Tayari’s first impulse is to run away. He turns tail and runs all the way to the Capital, whereupon he faints.
Upon waking he tries to convince himself it all had been a nightmare. Zahra is not really black. They did not have this conversation.
But then, he somehow woke up in the Capital. In the company of the former emperor Theluji.
The old lion is very well aware of the confession Zahra had made to Tayari. He calmly tells the young lion of the night he first met his twin daughters. Yes, Zahra is indeed his child. Yes, he was terrified when he first saw her. Yes, he did assume that she was a sign of the Great Spirit's disappointment with him – since he took advantage of the Shadowlanders to expand his empire – and had since done his best to be a model ruler. Yes, he was afraid of losing his privileged position because of Zahra. Yes, he did find it hard to love this daughter like he did her sisters.
NONETHELESS, he insisted that Zahra was just as normal as any other lioness. She had a brain, a heart, and all organs typical of lion. Only that they were wrapped in a coat of black.
The old emperor made it clear he would protect Zahra from prejudiced masses. As her father, he owed her at least this much. If Tayari wishes to harm the black lioness, or expose her secret, he will be executed. And his dynasty wiped from the surface of Earth, if it’s the last thing Theluji does. However, the old lion hopes that Tayari would see past Zahra’s color and accept her the way she is. If she chose to reveal her secret to him, surely he must be somebody special.
Tayari is conflicted. He understands no good could come out of him revealing the truth to the general population. The empire could fall apart. Besides, the old emperor seems to have taken the measures necessary to appease the Great Spirit. Zahra has served her purpose in reminding the old lion of his obligations as a ruler. It was a good thing. Right?
This was what she was. A tool of the Great Spirit. A reminder of truth. The message was for Theluji himself. And he accepted the "scolding". He could have killed Zahra, but he acknowledged that she was innocent. And refused to punish her for his wrongs.
Tayari respects the old emperor for his decision. And begins to think that maybe the Great Spirit wanted to tell him something as well. But what could it be?
After much consideration, the lion decides he lacks the brains to figure this out. Thus he returns to the Cursed Lands and reassumes his duties. He apologizes to Zahra for running off, but cannot help being awkward around her afterwards. She is sad, but understanding. And willing to give him the space and time he needs, which he appreciates.
Zahra confesses that there was a plan. She was not supposed to tell Tayari about her blackness until after she's given birth of his child. Olubayo had hoped a white child could be born out of their union, which would prove that Zahra was not cursed. But Zahra had come to like Tayari, and could bring herself to use him. And she felt she was right in telling him the truth. He did return. This was the first step.
Tayari understands why the sisters came up with such a scheme. He also understands why Olubayo is looking down on him. Who could blame her for wanting her sister to be happy? Tayari could not.
In the end, is he really that much different from the twins? He had chosen to leave his home because he was tired of being treated like a child. He wanted to be seen for who he was, not for what he was. To be Tayari, not Royal Baby. Just like Zahra wanted to be Zahra and not a black lioness.
This was the Great Spirit’s message to him – our parents give us our physical form. Our souls we shape ourselves.
To watch over the convicts has become Tayari's mission, something he intended to devote his life to. Alongside Zahra. True love cannot be ignored forever.
The two marry in a quiet ceremony at the Shadowlands’ border. They are later blessed with a normally colored son.