Owlclaw the lemur leaped over the great, gaping canyon, landing swiftly among the wide leaves of a banana tree. Halting amidst the layers of green fans, she observed a spotted blue poison dart frog resting in a small pool of rainwater. Gazing around, she realized that this small pool was the only water above the ground for many tree-lengths.
“Troubles, friend?” she asked the frog kindly, knowing full well that the beautiful blue black creature wouldn’t reply. A tiny croak sounded up from the amphibian. Waiting patiently for the frog to continue, Lemur stretched luxuriously on the smooth brown limb. However, the frog would say no more and she jumped up branch by branch, on the lookout for the rich, yellow bananas hanging down from the branches. Placing one paw on a huge leaf, she bounced toward a huge clump of yellow fruit. She reached her paw out, plucking the luscious fruit off the branch and scoring her claws through the bitter peel. Just as she was about to chomp off a piece, an earsplitting crack boomed up from the base of the tree, toppling Lemur off the branch and forcing her to plummet down to the unforgiving ground where cheetahs, leopards and tigers dwelled. Her claws scrabbling desperately at the smooth, sparsely branched trunk, she managed to hook a claw on the lowest branch, her tail dangling through the layer of green. Gasping in relief, she swung her tail and hind legs up on the branch, perching on top of it like a crested cockatoo. What could that have been? Sliding down along the trunk to get a better look, Lemur was completely unprepared for another equally loud and damaging crack, this time sending the tree tipping down towards the forest floor, gathering speed as it went. Pulling out all her energy in a blink of an eye, she sprang without thinking up into the dense leaves of the next tree, her claws only scraping the bark. A crack from this tree dislodged her, and, squeaking in fright, she plummeted down again, scraping of curls of bark to slow her fall. Now completely exposed, she could see the towering humans in their metal monsters, chomping down the great trees as though they were mere earthworms. Frightened of being discovered, Lemur raced away at top speed through the arch made by two cut-down trees, sprinting toward her main tribe. A wet splotch landed coldly in her back fur as the soft pattering of raindrops covered the humid forest, but Lemur simply kept pelting away from the humans destroying her home.
Red and blue macaws fluttered up, their royal plumage dancing in teasing as the tiny specks of the humans below shook their fists at them, having been annoyed by them in the redwood trees below. Panting, the humans paused in an irritated manner as another human, presumably their boss, yelled at them, giving the parrots time to dive down and vanish amidst the layers and layers of leaves and branches. Once in the shelter of the leaves, the parrots separated and charged toward their clans, eager to break out the news. Cockatoo, who had been unnoticed between the screechy caws of the other birds, was surprised to see the pale gray back of Lemur streaking among the undergrowth. Could she have witnessed the event too?
Lemur dived headfirst down a hollow in the trunk of an ancient elm tree, eagerly entering the safety of her tribe’s den and be the carrier of such important news.
“Why are you in such a hurry, good Owlclaw?”
“King Eagletalon,” she panted breathlessly, “the humans are destroying the forest!”
The young lemurs were excited, bouncing around the hollow until Mother Ravenwing silenced them; many of the older ones, however, were quite skeptical about Owlclaw’s words.
“Yes, you did indeed.” one quipped unbelievingly, nodding his brown head.
“Yes,” Owlclaw agreed exasperatedly.
“Oh yeah?” Jaggedclaw sneered. “Why should we believe you, you ignorant little thing?”
Owlclaw hissed distastefully at her tribe mate, resisting the almost uncontrollable urge to score her sharp claws into his leg.
“What makes you think you’re so smart?” she couldn’t resist growling.
Her paw flashed out threateningly, but before her claws had touched a hair on Jaggedclaw’s pelt, a thudding, chopping sound erupted above their heads, startling them all greatly. Owlclaw’s paw froze giving Jaggedclaw time to back away. Once at a safe distance, he joined the other lemurs as they stared up apprehensively, silently waiting for another disturbance but wishing that they had imagined it. When nothing came, sighs of relief sounded across the hollow and murmurs arose too.
“Really?” an old lemur named Greatowl questioned.
“I believe so,” his ancient mother declared abruptly and both feebly and boldly. “Why would she lie? After all, she is one-”
A second chop sliced through the air, cutting the whole piece of tree trunk above their heads and devouring it, leaving open sky and sending them leaping out and scurrying to the relative safety of the trees. The young ones – Hawktail, Falconeye, Kestrelclaw, and Ospreyfur scattered, but the rest stayed in a cluster, hidden by huge masses of leaves. As they waited for night to fall and the danger to pass, Moonclaw Cockatoo, flanked by two macaws, swooped down and perched beside them.
“Ca-caw! Ca-caw, the humans had come to destroy the forest!” he called down in his loud squawk. How birds actually understood this was a mystery to the lemurs, as they could only understand a few words, only enough to give them an idea of what Cockatoo was saying, but they agreed completely. A human yelled in the distance and a piece of greasy wood-made something fell before them, the woody smell almost completely masked by the disgusting grease that made the animals grimace. The birds quickly shuffled into the leaves in a rather undignified manner.
“Where’s Owlpaw?” Owlpaw’s mother, Nightowl, whispered urgently, to no particular lemur.
“Probably over there,” Owlclaw piped up, gesturing to the left with her tail. Nightowl tried to lunge out, sending a rainstorm of leaves fluttering down to the ground (a bit like a drier, calmer version of the storm that had just passed), but Owlclaw catapulted herself in front of her before she could fall down the gap that she did not know of, though Owlclaw had discovered it many sun-ups ago.
“Look,” she reasoned, “I’ll go.” Owlclaw scampered out to the next tree, avoiding the leaves so the humans didn’t see the rustling. After escaping safely from Nightowl’s sight, she sat upon a branch, nibbling at a small mango. There’s no point looking now, she figured. So she simply perched up there, watching the sun inch slowly down the mountaintops.
When night had fallen, Cockatoo had called, “Meeting! Meeting today, everyone go there now!” The lemur tribe, some of the fastest animals in the forest swung through the trees toward the designated place. Owlclaw brought back the young ones; they scampered around her in circles, excited about the gathering of the animals. More and more arrived, some, such as the eagles, were shocked about this sudden meeting, but still arrived, trusting Cockatoo’s words. Once all the animals were here, the kings were gathered on the rock in the middle and waited for the king of them all, Tigerfang the lion. King Hookclaw Leopard was gazing hungrily at the trees, but he dared not break Tigerfang’s truce among the animals. Once everyone was ready, the King of the Forest leapt on the rock.
Summing up the attention of all the animals with a roar, Tigerfang declared, “A conflict has risen upon us. We must fight!”
King Goldenpaw Mouse questioned, “How do we do that?”
“We could dig traps,” King Sunclaw Sloth suggested.
“An excellent idea,” Tigerfang agreed, and murmurs of agreement sounded at the lion’s approval. “Okay,” he yowled, “the moles and rabbits shall dig, rodents, birds, and cats shall get branches, and the rest shall cover the traps.”With that he bounded away, leaving the animals to do their assigned tasks. Lemur was surprised that he put the cats and rodents together, but she supposed they would work together. She herself remained hidden in the trees, lost in a wave of apprehensive thoughts about the humans. When enough holes had been dug, her tribe mates descended with some other creatures to lay the covers on the holes. Owlclaw stayed where she was, knowing that even at night, humans could come. She narrowed her eyes to slits, appearing to almost doze in the angle of the branch. Eagletalon glared disapprovingly at her, but did not object.
A flicker caught her attention, and she looked closely. She couldn’t disregard it, but it hardly looked like anything. Even if it was, it could simply be Tigerfang, examining their work, though she’d never known the lion to be so clumsy.
When a hand shot out, she stared at the bushes and cried, “Get out, quick!”
The animals turned to her in surprise and glanced all around, but saw nothing. The bush had concealed the hand again, and the animals all looked quizzically at Owlclaw, their expression soon turning to hot glares.
“How dare you frighten us when nothing has happened?!” King Razorclaw Macaw bellowed accusingly at Owlclaw.
She remained silent, submitting meekly, but she was planning an idea in her mind. The animals sat down again, scattered around the pits. It must feel strange to work together again, she reflected, climbing to the top of the tree, watching and waiting for the human to emerge.
The animals were resting, talking in a friendly manner to each other when the human barged out, swinging its long arms boldly at the animals, trying to scare them, with a wicked grin plastered on its shiny face. The mice squeaked, the birds squawked, and the monkeys screeched as every animal on the ground scattered, and the human laughed a cruel laugh as he chased Eagletalon across the clearing. Then, the unsuspecting human tumbled headfirst into a pit, yowling in pain.
Before the animals could think of anything to do, Tigerfang leaped out of nowhere, stretching his long, golden body across the pit, trapping the human, who withered under the gleam of his clean fangs. Owlclaw picked her way down the tree slowly, avoiding the gaze of others. Springing out a claw, she sunk it into the lion’s paw. Blood spurted out, spraying the lion in his amber eyes and blinding him temporarily. Tigerfang yowled, sat up and covered his gleaming eyes, more vermillion than ever, with his massive golden paw as Owlclaw hurriedly slid a branch down the pit to let the human free. The branch toppled down, nearly falling in the pit before Owlclaw stuck a paw out, catching the stick when it was on the brink of falling. Should she help him? Luckily, this decision was made for her in an instant when the human clung upon the branch, climbing the bridge to freedom. Owlclaw seriously doubted that she should have helped him, but, as much as she disliked humans and their unnatural ways, she didn’t want one to be eaten. Neither creature wasted time and the human leaped up, clambering up among the branches and leaves to the safety of the clearing where the rest of his kind dwelled while Owlclaw scampered in the opposite direction, toward the trunks of some mango trees. Tigerfang bounded after Owlclaw, his huge paws skimming the ground and his hooked claws scoring a furrow in the dusty ground, but the lemur had leaped up the tall mango tree, and he couldn’t follow. She sat eating a mango, the orange juice staining her paws as she glanced around, watching Tigerfang carefully. Tigerfang bared his teeth at the lemur, attempting to claw his way up the trunk. Owlclaw jumped up as he leaped up, his claws scraping thin air. Tigerfang hooked all of his claws into the bark, but his weight was too much for the thin, smooth bark and shavings of brown peeled off into his paws. Hissing menacingly at Owlclaw, he circled the base of the tree restlessly, waiting for the lemur to descend. After what seemed like an eternity of staring at the pointed ovals of jade above him, he fell back on his huge, golden haunches, under the anxious eyes of the other animals. Silently, Owlclaw padded onto the branches of another tree, easily eluding Tigerfang as she searched for fruit. Growling softly at the lemur, he turned and leaped at the lemur tribe while the other animals dismissed themselves as quickly. Eagletalon hastily led his tribe up the mango trees, away from the lion’s fury. He glared at the leaves, but couldn’t seek out Owlclaw. Eventually, Owlclaw reunited with her tribe and they welcomed her, though not particularly warmly. However, now they had acquired a natural enemy and kept their eyes wide open, so they became huge, watchful disks as they adapted quickly to the presence of the now-bloodthirsty lions whom they shared the forest with.
Even now, the lion still has taste for lemurs, though perhaps they are not the easiest prey for them. Later, their new food source expanded to include many other creatures, and the other wild cats joined in with them, and soon they lost their taste for plants completely, and dined only on meat.