The locals of the Luangwa Valley of Zambia told stories of a lioness that survived a drought by digging up and eating corpses at the local cemetery. She gave birth to a cub with a bright red mane. The villagers tracked and killed the lioness, but her red-maned offspring continued to terrorize them. It killed sleeping men and dragged people into the bush. They called it Dabu Gor, or "Red Lion" in the Bemba language. A number of professional hunters tracked the lion but it continued to kill people for years, until it presumably died of old age.

Some time before the events of Relic, Special Agent Pendergast and his wife were vacationing in Zambia when they got word of a huge, red-maned lion that had killed a tourist. As one of the terms of his hunting license, Pendergast was summoned to Kingazu Camp to track and kill the lion.

At Kingazu Camp, the camp manager Gordon Wisley welcomed the Pendergasts and gave them the details of the attack. That night they set out into the bush with a tracker and a gun bearer to hunt the lion. They tracked the lion into a stand of fever trees. It attacked Pendergast first, knocking him down and injuring his shoulder. Helen fired at the lion and apparently missed, and it attacked the tracker next, leaving him severely wounded. While Helen was bent down trying to help the tracker, the lion returned. The last thing Pendergast saw before he passed out from blood loss was the lion dragging her into the bush by her arm.

Years later, while visiting Penumbra Plantation where he and Helen and lived during their marriage, Aloysius Pendergast decided to examine her old hunting rifle. He found that the barrel that she had fired during the lion hunt was badly fouled, as if it had been loaded with a blank cartridge. On a hunch, he investigated some hairs from the lion's mane that had been recovered from Helen's corpse and discovered they had been dyed with henna.

Pendergast, enlisting the help of Vincent D'Agosta, travelled back to Zambia and tracked down the camp administrator Wisley. Under duress, Wisley admitted that Helen's death had been orchestrated by two men, an American and a German. They supplied a trained lion and paid off all the camp staff.

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