April 22, 2011
The drought was creeping upon the kingdom like frost upon a glass, lithe and unforgiving. The rabbit ran to warn the others, but failed to reach her destination. Unaware of her purpose, the robin simply discovered the white form hidden under the berry bushes. "The rabbit is dead...the rabbit is dead..." The news spread amongst the animals. Everyone knew that the berries were poisonous. Unnerve spread throughout the kingdom, caused not by the drought no one knew was coming, but by the realization that there was a killer in their midst.

Confronted by death, the animals began to doubt each other. Cliques were developed, as everyone felt safer huddled amongst friends of their own size. The lion watched in despair as the harmonious kingdom his forefathers had created crumpled before his eyes. He stood on his cliff and gazed sadly upon the land he called “home”. There, he saw a lone figure sitting below the Big Tree. It was then that he thought he had found a way to save his kingdom.

Although the wolf had always been kind, the others were aware of his ferocious appearance. He has the looks of a killer... Murmurs started to pass through the crowd wherever the wolf ventured. He became isolated, and was soon called to trial. He was sentenced to death by the jury. The wolf struggled to comprehend his indictment, for he had done nothing wrong. "A life for a life... a life for a life..." The crowd cheered for the death of the rabbit's killer, and for their noble king. As the wolf was escorted to the temporary holding cell his once-dear friends had built for him, he saw the small, apologetic smile on the lion's face. That night, he ran for his life.

Peace had again returned to the animal kingdom. Days have passed since the trial and the lion was pleasantly surprised by the success of his plan. He had told a white lie, and the kingdom had recovered. The wolf even survived. The lion had personally overseen the completion of gates around the community to ensure his citizens' safety, though he secretly knew the wolf was never a danger. He chuckled quietly to himself as he trotted down the path to the forest. But directly blocking his path, a crowd had formed. Another body had been found.

"The squirrel is dead... the squirrel is dead..." "The king is a liar! ...A liar? ...A killer!" It was the lion's time to run. Unfortunately, the animals have learned from their mistakes. He was to be executed immediately. His citizens bound him to the Big Tree, for burning him was the only method they possessed to defeat their powerful king. But the king was not a fool. In fact, he was inordinately good at making plans. As the carrier of the fire closed in on him, his latest plan was put to the test.

"My dear citizens, when I am gone...who will be your leader?" The animals fell silent. This was a problem that had never occurred to them. The lion knew that most of his followers did not posses the brightest of minds, and he had always been a persuasive speaker. "I was only trying to maintain the peace of our beautiful kingdom. If I am gone, who will protect you?" He could tell that the animals had begun to question their decision. It was then that the lion received the surprise of his life. And he was too shocked to even come up with any more brilliant plans as the torch flew closer and closer, at last landing at his feet, setting his coat ablaze.

Satisfied, the bobcat trotted in front of the burning lion. "We do not need a liar and killer for a leader, my friends. I shall lead you to prosperity!" The fox stepped in.

"If we want a pretentious kitten for a leader, we shall select you as king." The fox snickered. "As everyone is aware, I am the most intelligent animal. If civilization is what you seek, there is no better choice." But the elephant was not pleased.

"The fox is a liar and cheat, and bobcat is nothing more than an impulsive child who overestimate his abilities. Of the animal kingdom, there is no one more mature and sincere than me." The elephant turned in time to see the bobcat lunge at him. He moved to the side, allowing the zebra to die in his place. At the sight of blood spilled, the remaining animals broke into chaos. The horse and the kangaroo, both good friends of the zebra, trampled over the bobcat. The fox led the coyote in an attempt to overtake the elephant, only to be crushed by his giant feet. The gorilla tried to move away, but caught on fire and grabbed onto the monkey, who in turn jumped on top of the gazelle for help. The lion was not yet dead, and through the flames that blurred his vision, he witnessed the destruction of his beloved kingdom. Through the same flames, he saw a small smile bloom in the midst of the chaos. And he knew that the smile was meant for him. The drought had yet to come, but the animals were already dead.

The wolf had outlived the drought. After months on his own, he had learned the tricks of discovering even the tiniest trickles of a stream. He rejoiced at the first rainfall of the year, and let his feet guide him to wherever they desired. To his surprise, he arrived at what appeared to be his old home. He could hardly recognize the kingdom without the presence of his friends. Bones were scattered across where the Big Tree once stood, and a single figure sat there, seemingly unaware of her surroundings, munching happily on the newly-grown grass. She appeared neither famished nor dehydrated. The lamb turned and gave the wolf a small smile, revealing a neat row of small white teeth. "I was worried it wouldn't work... Turns out, I didn't have to say a thing." She had been the better wolf all along.

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