Tomorbaatar was back.
Sort of dismal, really.
The Shadow Guard did not often linger long in the camps, tending to prefer being out and about in the wide world, spying and sneaking and gathering information on possible targets - following the whim of Graos Oma. But for now he was back, upholding his marriage to Mchawi by ensuring that his claim to her was made clear to any who might think to challenge him. Thankfully, so far, there had been nothing - which came as somewhat a relief.
Slinking down across the uneven ground, he moved gracefully across the ridges of cracked earth down to where the sludgy waterhole lay stagnant beneath three twisted trees. There were some other lions there, too, but Tomorbaatar was not much one for idle banter. Besides, he wasn't sure he recognised them - or not well enough, anyway.
This place was... Interesting. In the journey to have Ramla meet his family and see his birth pride, even with Kidondo had done to it, they had found the Nergui... Or Horde. Sometimes he didn't know what to call them, other than interesting. Their ways fascinated him, and while they kept slaves for a very different reason than what the Firekin had once done, the notion had appealed to him. The Tuait were far too peaceful, but this... This made his blood dance like the fire in his name.
He just had to get past that water... Face a grimace, Ngoma reached out and swatted it just a bit. How could anybody drink it? And yet he swore he'd seen some lions doing so. He'd been spoiled, he knew, by the river running through the Tuait lands and even the rivers in the grasslands, but he just couldn't get past how it LOOKED. His attention diverted from it as another lion approached, though he didn't truly recognize the blue lion. He did, of course, recognize some of the markings as the ones on Kaar Oma Mchawi's children... But that was it, so he could only stare and watch.
He had reached the water's edge by now and, with a soft breath, lowered his head to drink, paying no mind to how it looked. The mud sucked noisily at his paws as he finished up and took a step back. Eventually the clods would bake hard to his fur under the sun, but the lion seemed not to care. The Nergui, generally speaking, were not a vain people - not where appearance was concerned. Tomorbaatar was proud, but only of his abilities and achievements. He was still just as proud covered in mud and leaves.
He shook one paw, splatting mud into the water and backed up onto dry ground again, only then looking up to notice the other male; their eyes meeting.
An easy smile stretched across the Shuko's face and he spoke in the garbled Nergui tongue: "Mae reputation vracadak me, I see. Guud to dmuv that I have mus been kursussam. But I do mus recognise aeui." He tilted his head. "Yuir name omd rank?"
His grasp of the garbled language of the Nergui was lacking, but Ngoma tended to grasp at least the meanings of the words. He was relieved, at least, to find other lions in the pride who spoke the Common tongue, so life was a bit easier. His tail curled at what the iron blue lion had said, processing his words and mentally translating them for a moment. It was somewhat fast work. "Ngoma'mwale... Braak." He tilted his head. "I don't think I've met you... But you have the air of someone respected... Looked to..." Was this one of the Worrurd, or even the Worrurd Hesr? Others seemed to watch him with respect in their eyes, some with confusion... At least two with fear. He had to be somebody very important, in Ngoma's mind.
"Ah, newly joined." Tomorbaatar switched to the common tongue with ease, even dropping the thick 'northern' accent that twisted even the 'common' words into something they were not. He could not be a good spy if he was not able to adjust to his surroundings. "I am Shuko." He replied, giving his paw another shake and regarding the water for a moment.
"Just Shuko. I could be something more. Something greater. But I like my freedom. The moment you are put in charge of a group, your freedom is limited. That is not my way. I like to roam and I will be roaming again soon."
As soon as he had ensured that Mchawi remained his. He'd put another litter in her belly and be on his way once more.
"How long have you been here?" He asked politely.
Well, that made things easier... But Ngoma'd need to work on his Northern if he wanted to be able to talk to EVERYBODY in the pride. "One's personal freedom is a good thing to have..." Going far and wide, one learned many things. Like that small lions could still be powerful and knock down a big lion a few pegs... But he'd also learned to survive in a few different kinds of environments, from two different deserts to grassland to even some jungle and forest. The northern lands were different, yes, but not unwelcomely so. "It's nice to have others answer to you, yes, but... At the price of having to manage so many things at once..."
He inclined his head at the question. "Not long... Long enough to learn how to process what others are saying in the mix of words, at least, though." That in itself he considered a pretty good accomplishment. "Have you been in the pride long yourself?" As far as he could figure, the other lion had likely been born and raised in the pride. There were some that had, and others like him who had joined. It was just a matter of knowing which was which... Which wasn't easy.
"It's enough to have their respect without having to make decisions for them." He gave a short shrug and though he said it casually enough it was perhaps a controversial thing for a Nergui male to say. Most members tended to be fiercely competitive and for him to choose to go against that instinct would be considered an oddity by most home-grown Nergui. Perhaps even a weakness.
He nodded. "I am Nav blood. Born and raised in these lands. My father was a fierce warrior who lost his life during one of the early raids. He was a good warrior but too eager to get ahead of his comrades. His haste was his downfall - a lesson my mother taught me often enough." He smiled as if amused, not at all affected by the loss of his father or his mother's concern for her son. "Still, he lived a good old age. Perhaps we should hope for nothing more than that? Leaping to our deaths in a blaze of glory, the fur in our mane grey with the sign of our years."
He blinked. "Still, you were not brought here by chance. You look strong, worthy of being a Braak. No doubt you will win yourself some scars and perhaps find a high ranking female to take as your bride." He smiled, thinking of his own 'wife'.
That certainly explained a bit, being of old blood. Ngoma couldn't help but smile a bit. "Perhaps that makes you more respectable to them... You command it without telling them to, you simply walk into a crowd and they show it. You have a power without demanding it..." If he asked a lion to jump, they probably wouldn't even question it and just do it... Even if it meant off a cliff or into a thorn patch.
The white lion took a seat, his fire-orange hair falling a bit into his face. He paused long enough to shake it out of his eyes, then sat up a bit straighter. "I came in with a bride. Have you seen that copper-colored lioness with the silver eyes...?" The grin that lit up his face was genuine and filled with a mix of pride and joy. "Ramla's my dear heart..." He gave a chuckle. "She kicked my tail when we met... Made me go out of my way to find a vulture for her... She never specified that it had to be either alive or real, though, so I made one out of rocks, sticks, leaves, and an old skull. It worked!" He was still grinning, clearly proud of it. "Raised one litter together already... Then the pride we were in began to fall apart, so we left... Found the Nergui before we reached the Motoujamii desert."
The male gave a dismissive wave of his paw. He had no brave and brilliant lineage. Not like the Founders. But being amongst the Nergui for his whole life certainly made him feel as if he did, sometimes. Besides that, he'd also fathered cubs to the Kaar Oma. That was certainly nothing to be sniffed at. Perhaps the heightened respect came not because of him but because of her.
Not that he'd ever admit that, of course.
"I have not seen your bride." He replied, arching a brow. "And you have a strange way of wedding women where you come from. Here we fight for our females, keep that in mind, will you, Ngoma'mwale? There may come a day when you have to defend her from Nergui admirers."
He smiled, though it might not have been such a kindly expression as it appeared on the surface. "And have no fear, the Crovrems Rurda will not fail as your previous home. We have the strength and wisdom of Graos Oma and he speaks for Tra Ord Omak." He patted the earth to draw attention to the latter. "Our path is glorious and true. What could possibly sever that?"
He took another few steps back up and away from the water. "I hope you are ready to fight for Tra Ord Omak, my friend. It will not be easy but the rewards we shall reap will be great."