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Ancient Jamaa: A Nation United

   The foxes pushed them into a line and forced them up a hidden stair of polished wood. Up they went, higher and higher until they reached the tree village. It was a beautiful sight; lanterns glowing with fireflies, houses built into the trees with leafy roofs open walls. Foxes stared at them oddly as they walked by.
   They walked along the paths and bridges connecting the thick branches into a large room covered with huge leaves. And in the center of the room sat the other tigers, all with their hands tied behind their backs.
   "We found more!" said the one of the foxes that brought them. They were pushed down onto the soft floor of pine needles in front of a powerful looking fox sitting in a carved wooden throne. "Kastar sent you I don't doubt," he said with a frown, "I should have never trusted that deceitful tiger. Spies!" 
   "We know no one named Kastar," Captain Melville said with frustration, "And we are not spies, we were simply hunting to feed our colony!"
   "I know of no colony of tigers. Even if you are not the servants of Kastar," he replied, "You have trespassed in the realm of Celebar, and for that you must pay."
   "Please, we were just looking for food." said another tiger, "We meant no harm."
   He sat staring at the captain, thinking. "I am a just king," he said at last, "you will lead me to your colony. If what you say is true, you will be free to go. Until then you will all be my prisoners." With that they were all satisfied.

   Soon Captain Melville left with four fox guards and the fox king following behind. He reluctantly led them to the caves, thinking they would somehow be tricking him. As they entered the cavern, he was not greeted by his colony. To his horror, they were all gone. Nothing was there except a few ruined beds.
   "The were here!" the captain said angrily, "Someone's taken them! The guards forced him back out of the tunnels. "Do you take me for a fool?" the king said in fury, "You will be doubly punished for trying to trick the King of Celebar! Back to the prisons!"
   Quickly they marched back to the forest, pushing the captain forward. When they came to Celebar, he was brought to a dark corner of the huge village, where no one lived. There were small cages lined along the trees with bars of a strong dark metal. The other hunters were at first happy to see him, thinking they would soon be freed. But as he was put in his own cage, they were confused and angry.
   "What happened?" they kept asking him, and "Didn't they see the colony?" He was frustrated, and confused himself, so it was long before he was willing to explain. They all despaired, thinking they were all captured and their colony captives to some other enemy.

   But they did not know everything. When the foxes captured them as they hunted, a certain two young tigers hid in a nearby shrub. Their names were Kanna, a girl, and Konna, a boy. The twins were being taught to hunt by their parents.
   Instead they stood in bewilderment watching their parents and friends taken up the Stairs. Before Captain Melville brought the King to the cavern, they had already ran there to warn the others. They too, had found them gone. Then they went up and hid in the bushes at the top of the cliff, not knowing what to do.
   Night fell, and they made themselves a small bed. Finally they fell asleep from pure exhaustion. When they woke up, they were filled with a new ambition to find their parents. They wandered around the caves, searching for a sign. It seemed the colony was rushed out somehow. Then they walked back to the cliff, and standing in the sunlight, was an old koala.
   They jumped in surprise, and their first reaction was to run, until they realized they were bigger than him. "Were bigger than you, don't come too close!" growled Konna trying to sound threatening.
   The old koala learned on his staff, laughing, "I won't hurt you. But what are two young tigers doing here, this isn't tiger territory."
   "We're looking for our family, they were kidnapped with the rest of our colony. Are you here to kidnap us too?" replied Kanna suspiciously.
   "No, no. I'm just an old wandering koala. If you tell me your story, I will do what I can to help."
   He seemed kind enough, and definitely harmless, so they agreed to go to his home and tell him everything. It was a single huge tree in the middle of the field that they could easily see. "So, who are you?" Konna asked as they walked, "Why don't you live in a forest like other koalas?"
   He looked down, as if he was remembering something sad. "Well," he said at last, "The koalas are always fighting with those foxes, they never stop. I am Serundae, my family is last of the line of the kings of old. It seems the wisdom of the koalas is dying with my line. I was banished for trying to bring peace, though I would have probably left anyway."
   Soon they arrived at the tree. It towered high above the other trees nearby. They sat in the shade of it's long branches.
   "Okay," Serundae said when they were settled, "I've told you my story, now you tell me yours."
   Konna told him most of the story, with Kanna adding and occasional part. "I do not think the foxes captured your colony," he said when they were done, "If you ask me, it sounds like the mischief of the monkeys in the south. But as for the foxes who took your family, they probably thought you were spies sent by Kastar. He is an evil tiger, and he rules a large territory directly north of the mountains. The King of Celebar is wise, but is not kind to foreigners. If you want my advice, seek the council of my older brother, Serepae. He lives in the forest west of the foxes. I will write you a note, and they will not harm you. I am banished, but they will still listen to me."
   With that he pulled a thin slab of wood and a stone pen out of his pocket, and etched something in a mysterious language. "Here," he said, "I will bring you to a small path, forgotten by the foxes. It will lead you to the koala village. My brother will know what to do."
   He gave them each a water canteen and a pack containing herbs for healing, hunger, and many other things. Then they left, guided by Serundae, for the path.

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