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The King of the Forest

by Hongping Liu

Part I: Ball, Bell and Bole

1. Three Cubs Are Born

At the foot of Tibetan highland lies the Yun Jiang Forest, which is as beautiful as a painting. Here rivers flow down among gorges, and one of the deepest and longest in the world is Tiger Gorge. When spring comes, all kinds of flowers such as roses, azaleas, and crocuses bloom in the sunshine. Trees like oak, ash and pine form canopies of green in the forest.

On a spring evening, three cubs of tiger King Wida came into the world. Tiger Wida asked the wizard of the forest, Fox Spirit, to tell the fortunes of the three little cubs.

Shaking his head and wagging his tail, Fox Spirit said, “Prince Ball will be strong enough to match anyone in the forest. Bell, the second prince, will be very clever.”

Hearing what Fox Spirit had said, tiger Wida looked very happy.

Then Fox Spirit looked at the youngest prince and said carelessly, “To tell the truth, Bole, the youngest one, is of an evil spirit and will be the cause of disaster in your territory.”

part 1
Wida looked at Bole and his smile disappeared.

After the fortune-telling ceremony, the Queen began suckling her three cubs. Wida told his wife impatiently, “Don’t feed Bole any more.”

The Queen shook her head and said, “Don’t believe Fox Spirit. And Bole is my son.”

As night fell, the quietness of the forest was broken by a heavy rain. Crying came from a crevice in a huge rock in which little Bole tiger had been abandoned by his papa.

2. In the Field of Contest

Time flies like an arrow. It had been two years since tiger Wida’s sons were born. As Fox Spirit had foretold, tiger Ball became a very strong creature in this territory. One day, birds flew everywhere to spread a piece of exciting news: “Crown Prince Ball will meet the chief wolf in combat tomorrow.”

part 2
The next day, on the contest ground, the chief wolf was knocked down at once by Prince Ball. A great cheer went up from the crowd. While Ball was looking up proudly, the chief wolf seized a chance to escape.

Ball hurried to chase him. Suddenly the chief wolf turned back and jumped with a howl. Ball drew back, crashed his head against a big tree trunk and felt dizzy.

Under the attack of the chief wolf, Ball leaped up but fell to the ground heavily. The chief wolf attacked Ball more violently. Under fierce blows, Ball had no power to fight back and soon died.

Many animals were shocked, for they had never imagined that Prince Ball might be so easily beaten by the chief wolf.

At the news, King Wida ran to the ground. He glared at the chief wolf angrily. Red fox Rex shouted, “Kill the chief wolf! Avenge the Crown Prince’s death!” At once, all the animals rushed at the chief wolf and tore him to pieces.

3. After the Death of Crown Prince Ball

Later in the palace, red fox Rex and leopard Tola were alone with King Wida. Rex asked, “Will Your Majesty be ready to make Prince Bell our crown prince?”

Wida sighed. “Since Crown Prince Ball’s death is still a mystery, I’m not eager to make another crown prince.”

Tola also sighed. “At one moment we saw Prince Ball had nearly won. We all wondered why he suddenly failed."

It was quite noisy outside. Squirrel Kaka had been stopped at the gate of the palace. Kaka cried, “I have something urgent to tell the King."

The door keeper, bear Dudu said, “By the order of Rex, nobody is allowed to see our king for the king is not very well now.”

part 3
King Wida told Rex, “Go and see what’s happening outside.”

Rex went to the gate and shouted, “Who dare make noise here?”

Kaka hurried to Rex and said, “I’m not a troublemaker. I really have something urgent to tell the King; it has something to do with Prince Ball’s death.”

Rex was shocked. “It's not a minor matter. You can’t talk nonsense.”

Kaka said, “How dare I? Before Doctor Monkey Tar died, he told me something...”

Rex hurried to pull Kaka aside and murmured, “Please tell me first.”

So Kaka told Rex everything he had heard from the doctor. One day, one of Kaka’s feet was sprained. He went to the doctor’s clinic but saw the doctor was dying.

The doctor said weakly, “If you hadn’t come here, I would have died without closing my eyes.”

The secret was that before Crown Prince Ball fought the chief wolf, he had taken some drink spiked with a deadly poison used by chimpanzee Sam. The poison would cause death gradually. Prince Bell had conspired to administer it. Threatened by Prince Bell, the doctor didn’t dare tell the truth when he was asked to check Prince Ball’s body.

Several days later, Prince Bell ordered Sam to do the same to the doctor in order to keep the secret.

After hearing it, squirrel Kaka asked eagerly, “What can I do for you?”

Monkey Tar said, “I will die soon. I beg you to report it to the King.”

After hearing the story, Rex said, “Don’t tell others. I’ll report it to His Majesty at once. You just go home without breathing a word of it to anyone.”

Tiger Wida asked Rex, “You’ve been outside for a long time. What’s happened?”

Rex smiled. “Kaka had a fight with his wife and came to ask Your Majesty to make a judgement.”

Tiger Wida said angrily, “What nonsense!”

4. The Plan of Prince Bell

In a ghostly grotto, a dinner party was being held. Prince Bell asked chimpanzee Sam to go out and find out why Rex still hadn’t come.

As Sam was getting up, Rex came in. Rex smiled. “Aha! You’ve begun before the hero has arrived.”

part 4
All the beasts ran to him to punish him with drinks. After drinking a cup of wine, Rex murmured to Prince Bell, “Monkey Tar told squirrel Kaka the secret. And Kaka came to the palace today.”

Bell was taken aback. “Is the doctor still alive?”

Rex grinned. “As his last-ditch struggle!" He continued: “Take it easy. Kaka didn’t see His Majesty. I’ve already solved the problem. That’s why I’m late today.”

Prince Bell himself handed Rex a cup of wine and announced, “I’d like to propose a toast to our hero.”

A big dinner party began in the grotto. Everyone ate and drank and danced to celebrate their first victory.

5. Bole Grows Up

More than two years earlier, Mandrill Agu and his wife had come a long way with their only cub to this territory to make their living. Unfortunately, their cub died of dysentery soon after they arrived.

part 5
After Agu had buried their son and was on his way to their cave, he heard someone crying. Looking in the direction of the sound, Agu found another cub crying with his eyes closed. He was lying in a crevice in a huge rock.

Agu held the cub in his arms and took him home instead of eating him. When they got home, Agu let his wife feed the cub.

This cub was well cared for. As he got older, he was very naughty and liked playing very much. His foster father also often played in trees, played sports and played fighting with him.

At the age of two, he was very fast, agile, energetic and often went out hunting with his foster father Agu. Several times he got in danger while chasing prey and was rescued by his foster father.

As Agu was becoming used to living in this territory, he heard that the King, called Wida, had given up his youngest cub Prince Bole according to Fox Spirit’s prophecy.

Agu thought it over and then judged that this tiger he had adopted and raised must be Prince Bole. Agu then taught Bole a variety of techniques such as climbing, jumping, boxing and hunting.

As Bole got older, one day Agu told him all about his life. After hearing it, Bole was very excited and wanted to ask King Wida at once.

Agu said, “You’d better wait until my wounds heal. And then I’ll go with you in case something else happens.”

Bole shook his head: “I'm old enough to deal with this matter and I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

6. Bole’s Revenge

On one autumn day, the forest was reddened by setting sun. King Wida knew that he was old enough to step down. So he called a meeting in his territory. All the animals gathered in front of the palace. Prince Bell stood beside his father.

As King Wida began to speak: “Today I'll declare that the King in this territory will be...” Suddenly a flying tiger jumped before King Wida.

The flying tiger sneered: “Today is both the day of your celebration and your death."

King Wida said, “We don’t know each other. Where are you from and what do you want here?”

The flying tiger answered, “I am the devil you deserted more than two years ago.”

At that moment, the forest was awakened. King Wida shivered and said, “You are...”

Leopard Tola said to Wida, “He must be the third prince, Bole. Your Majesty, we shouldn't forget what our Queen said before she died.”

Prince Bell shouted, “He is the disaster of our kingdom. Please come and kill him.”

Leopard Tola shouted, “Don’t do anything without King Wida’s order.”

King Wida closed his eyes and sighed. “More than two years ago, I made an unforgivable mistake, for I believed in Fox Spirit. Today you may end my life but I have one request."

Bole said, “Please speak out!”

King Wida said, “You may kill me, but you must leave here forever, for your elder brother Bell will become the King in this kingdom.”

part 6
At that moment, Prince Bell winked at chimpanzee Sam and three wolf brothers, and then they pounced on Bole at once.

Bole responded like lightning. He jumped high in the air, leaving the beasts in chaos below. Then Bole shouted a cry and attacked Bell directly. Bell had to back away from his opponent.

Rex hurried to them, and said to Bole, “If you really want to compete with your brother, let's choose a day and let all the beasts come here to watch the contest. If you win, all of us will let you be the King of the kingdom.”

Bole shouted, “Who on earth can make noise here?"

Prince Bell took the chance to take a breath and also said, “Okay, let's choose a day to have a contest. The winner will be the King of this territory. The loser will leave this kingdom forever.”

Bole said, “Okay! That's a deal!” Then he flew away.

King Wida sighed, “Bell, in my views, you are no match for him at fighting. Why don’t you agree to let him leave here in exchange for my life?”

Rex said, “The newcomer will not take his fate lying down. However, we'll surely find a way to deal with him.”

7. The Trap for Bole

Some days later, the sky was clear and blue and the forest was vast as the open sea. On the contest ground, the two tiger brothers stared at each other ferociously. After a sound, they jumped to attack each other. After a while, with a snap, Bole fell into a trap that had been set by Bell and his followers earlier.

Bell looked and laughed at Bole in the trap: “You've never tasted the ability of your elder brother.” And then Bell winked at his gang: “Throw stones at the devil!"

part 7
“No!” King Wida came forward and said, “Without my order, no one shall hurt Bole."

Meanwhile, leopard Tola, bear Dudu and some other animals were pulling Bole out.

Bell cried out, “Father, don’t you know that Bole is the devil according to our Fox Spirit? Why not kill him now ?”

Tola answered, “Prince Bell, you completely forget what your mother said before she died. Don’t hurt your brother any more!”

By this time, Bole had been rescued. He looked at his father silently and bowed and then left.

8. Paradox

Having returned to the cave, old mandrill Agu asked, “Aren't you going to take your revenge on them?”

Bole answered, “I want to leave here forever. I wonder if you would go with me."

part 8
Agu said, “You can’t give up so easily.” He continued, “No, the King in this kingdom should be you, not your brother. Your brother has done a lot of bad things behind your father’s back, and most of the beasts couldn’t stand him any more...”

At that moment, two shadows were moving towards Agu and Bole.

Agu said, “I smell something strange...” As Agu turned around, a poisoned arrow was shot directly at them. Agu cried, “Look out!” And he hurried to shelter Bole from the arrow.

As Bole was also turning around, he saw Sam and one wolf preparing another arrow. Bole leapt squarely upon them. Using his forelimbs to hold onto Sam, Bole bit the back of Sam's neck and Sam died at once.

As Bole hurried back to Agu, Agu was dying. Bole cried, “I’m the one who brought the disaster to you!”

Agu opened his eyes and said, “My child, you must avenge me!” then Agu died.

After crying for a while, Bole went out, and saw Bell and his followers coming. At Bell’s order, all of them began to leap on Bole. Bole had to tackle the attackers alone.

9. Bole Enthroned

At that time Leopard Tola was coming with Elephant Gada and some other animals. Tola said, “As I expected, Bell wants to put Bole to death. Let’s stop them!”

Since Crown Prince Ball was killed, Tola had been looking for the clue to Ball’s death. And he had found something that might have links to Bell and his gang. Tola guessed that Bell would do the same to Bole and had been watching Bell all the time.

As both sides were assailing each other, King Wida staggered up with bear Dudu. King Wida tried to stop them from fighting but in vain. King Wida saw his sons attacking each other as enemies, but he had no way to stop them. King Wida was so angry that he collapsed.

As the clashes continued, more and more animals fell. Thinking of his foster father Agu, Bole fought with increasing bravery. Bole knocked Bell off balance, and Bell couldn’t bear the blows of Bole’s claws. He cried, “Brother, spare your elder brother’s life! It was Rex’s idea to make us fight. I want to leave this territory forever.”

part 9
When Bole hesitated, Bell jumped up and escaped. Bell tried to take a flying leap over Tiger Gorge, but he fell and was swallowed up in the roaring water below.

As King Wida opened his eyes, Rex saw that his dream was gone. He came to King Wida and confessed all the sins he and Bell had committed. Rex blamed all the crimes on Prince Bell.

King Wida knew he was too old and weak to govern his kingdom. Now that the whirlwind clash was over, King Wida had to declare, “From now on, the King in this kingdom is Prince Bole. It is the will of fate.”

With cheering and waving, Prince Bole succeeded to the throne, but he knew he would have much to learn in the future, and he asked Tola and Dudu and their friends to continue working for both him and the kingdom.

Rex and the three wolf brothers came forward and confessed. King Bole declared, “Rex and the three wolf brothers shall be sentenced to life at hard labor, for they have done many bad things.” Upon hearing that, all the beasts jumped and danced with joy.

Copyright © 2011 by Hongping Liu

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