Copyright, Trampas Robinson 1997
One small isolated grove of sturdy trees stood in the middle of the flood plain. They had been there for as long as anyone could remember. Lightning had never scarred these trees, nor had any flood ever been able to loosen their roots. They were seen as a source of strength and wisdom, as were those who resided within their protective shelter. On that fateful day, however, even this mystic place looked mournful and sullen.
The ederly baboon laid resting on a bed of fresh leaves from the jungle. Not a single black hair appeared on his thin frame; the silver had taken over many years ago. Even though he appeared to be very sick, a small smile crept upon his face as he remembered times past. He could almost hear the voices of friends and family that had completed the Circle of Life long ago, and that were calling to him now...
"Jovan..... Jovan..... its time to come home..."
Jovan had led a long and prosperous life. He had seen the rise and fall of many Kings. He had seen times of great joy and great sorrow. And now he knew that it was time for him to go, but his son refused to give up. Though Jovan could no longer see, his hearing was fine, and now he heard his son approaching. He could smell the assorted herbs and roots that he was carrying.
"Father, I think I found the cure. If you eat this herb, you should begin to feel better."
Jovan turned to face the source of the voice. He easily imagined the worried look on the young baboon's face. "Rafiki, I am dying. I have completed the Circle of Life and it is time for me to move on."
"Don't talk like that, father. I... I don't want you to leave me."
Jovan sat up at Rafiki's words. "Is that what you're worried about; that I'll leave you? I will always be with you... right here," Jovan placed his hand over Rafiki's heart. "You, above all others, should know this. You are my son. And you will be the one to take my place as Mystic and Advisor to King Ekel."
"I know all of that, father. But you shouldn't just give up. Please, just try this." Rafiki said as he placed a gnarled but thoroughly cleansed root in his father's hand.
Jovan sighed and sniffed the root, then looked suprised. "This tree grows on the far side of the jungle. You went all that way... alone?"
Rafiki cringed. He knew there were some areas of the Lands that were still forbidden to him even though he was considered as an adult now. He had gone through such an area in order to retrieve the remedy; he would have a few scars for the rest of his life as a result. And on top of all of that, he knew now that he had been found out.
However, Jovan said nothing, slowly eating the root instead. Then he whispered in a voice so soft that Rafiki had to stoop low to hear: "I am deeply moved that you would endanger yourself for me, my son. I am not angry.. this is something I had forseen..."
Rafiki nodded. He knew all too well of his father's power to look upon that which is yet to be. Jovan rarely spoke of the gift; other than to say it was one of the reasons that his fur had turned silver before his time...
Recently, Rafiki had also began to see glimpses of minor things, which would come to pass a few days later. Upon learning of this, Jovan had asked Rafiki to use the Sight sparingly.. for the future is a devious thing.
And now Jovan asked something else of his son.. "The place where you found this root.. promise me now that you will never... never... go to that place again..."
Rafiki had never heard a trace of fear in his father's voice until that day. A cold shiver went through him as he whispered back "I promise, father. I will never go into Hyena Territory again."
It was a promise that Rafiki would indeed keep, for the rest of his life. Partly out of fear of the untold numbers of hyenas in that shadowy place bordering the Pride Lands. And partly out of respect for the last promise he made to his father. For when Rafiki went to check on Jovan the next morning, the ancient Mystic had at long last completed his Circle...
Every creature in the kingdom assembled that day to show their respect for Jovan.
King Ekel and Queen Tula stood atop Pride Rock, comforting Rafiki. "He knew that he had to move on," Ekel told Rafiki. "He had come full circle. I know now is not a good time, but, are you prepared to take his place?"
Rafiki brushed away his tears and nodded, saying "I would be honored to follow in his footsteps."
"So be it," said the king. He then approached the edge of Pride Rock and looked down on his kingdom. The sun shown brightly on his black mane, deepening the color of it and his brown fur. When the animals below saw him preparing to speak, they all fell silent.
"Jovan was a kind and gentle soul. I have known him ever since I was a cub, and I could never have asked for a better friend and Advisor. In accordance with ancient tradition, his eldest son, Rafiki, will take his place. And so I now present to you, Rafiki the Mystic."
The king motioned for Rafiki to step forward. As he stepped into the sunlight, the kingdom bowed to the new Mystic.
Life was good in the Pride Lands. King Ekel was a just and wise ruler and the land flourished under his reign. Then, about four months after Jovan's death, Ekel summoned Rafiki to Pride Rock. When Rafiki arrived, the king talked with him for a few moments and then told him why he had sent for him.
"Queen Tula will soon have cubs. I want you to use your herbs and medicenes to make sure the cubs are born healthy and that the queen feels as little pain as possible."
Rafiki nodded and went to attend the queen. He appeared confident but inside he was scared to death. The king had made him responsible for the health and safety of his queen and his children!
Rafiki did fine though, and the King & Queen were the proud parents of two healthy male cubs.
However, now it was time for the king to make a decision. He knew his reign couldn't last forever; there would have to be a new king someday. Ekel approached Tula and the cubs and he thought his heart would burst when he saw the little ones. They were lying between their mother's paws and they looked so cute and helpless. One of the cubs had the dark fur and green eyes of his father. The other had inherited his mother's golden fur and eyes. After seeing the cubs, Ekel made his decision.
King Ekel turned to Rafiki and said "The dark male cub is...Jovan. He will one day be king." Rafiki was too startled to speak. He could only bow to the king and weep tears of joy. Then the king turned to Tula and said "And I name the lighter cub after your father...Mufasa." The queen smiled and nuzzled him. Ekel then stepped back to allow Rafiki to bless the cubs.
Rafiki approached the cubs nervously. He had witnessed the ceremony several times and had even assisted with it, but this would be the first time he ever performed it himself.
He broke open a gourd and smeared some of the fruit on both the cubs' heads. He then sprinkled dust on them and mumbled a blessing. He said to Jovan "Busa ngo xolo," (which means "Rule with peace"). And he said to Mufasa "Liqhakazise baba" (which means "Brighten our future"). Rafiki then lifted both cubs and carried them to the edge of Pride Rock. The entire kingdom was waiting below to see the future king and his brother. Rafiki first lifted Jovan high over his head. Every creature bowed to the future king.
And at that instant, one stray cloud covered the sun, darkening the land for a brief moment. A shiver went up Rafiki's spine. This may be a bad omen, he thought. But he quickly put that idea out of his mind. Next, he raised Mufasa high into the air. The cloud then broke up and the Pride Lands were bathed in sunlight once more...
Time flew by. Soon, both Jovan and Mufasa were exploring Pride Rock and the surrounding lands. And wherever Ekel went, the cubs were not far behind. There were also times when Ekel would take only Jovan out to show him the Pride Lands and speak to him of the day when he would become King. It was then that Mufasa spent a lot of time with Rafiki. He liked to listen to Rafiki's stories about Ekel's battles with the neighboring Hyenas and Jackels. And Rafiki enjoyed the company.
Rafiki also tried to spend time with Jovan, but the prince didn't like him and he insulted him and Mufasa whenever Ekel wasn't nearby. Though Jovan was the chosen Prince, he felt threatened by Mufasa's superior size and the fact that his brother seemed to make friends much easier than he did. Mufasa's friendship with the respected Mystic was just something more for the Prince to be jealous and envious about.
The final straw came one day when Rafiki, in an attempt to start a friendly conversation, told Jovan where his name had come from.
The Prince was outraged, saying "You're lying! I was not named after some stinking baboon!"
Rafiki did not hesitate a moment, despite Jovan's status. He quickly grabbed the Prince by the scruff of his neck. "I've had just about enough of your mouthing off, Your Majesty. Its time that you learned that being royalty doesn't mean you can do anything you want!"
"Get your paws off of me!" Jovan shrieked. Rafiki ignored him and placed the squirming cub over his knee. He was about to bring his hand down quickly on the cub's upturned rump when a powerful voice called out "Rafiki?! What in the world are you doing??"
Rafiki turned to see who had spoken, loosening his grip on Jovan in the process. The cub pulled free and ran to the glowering lioness, crying "Mommy, mommy, mommy!"
Queen Tula stared at Rafiki as if she had never seen him before, while purring softly to Jovan in order to calm him.
Rafiki stood and bowed to the Queen. "Your Highness.. I couldn't help but notice that Jovan here needed was in bad need of some disclipine, so I thought--"
"No matter what Jovan may have did, it certainly could not have warranted a beating.." Tula said, lowly. "The next time you notice my son misbehaving, I suggest that you come see me or the King, and let us handle it.. is that understood?"
This was not the first time that Jovan had done something that would normally merit punishment. Then, as now, Tula sheltered and protected him. In her eyes, he could do no wrong.
Rafiki sighed. "Yes, Your Highness.. I understand completely."
A few years later, Jovan did something that opened everyones' eyes to his true nature.
Both he & Mufasa were starting to grow manes & they went out exploring a lot on their own.
Mufasa had noticed that, more often than not, when Jovan went off by himself, he headed toward Hyena Territory. So one day Mufasa followed him.
He followed Jovan to the edge of Hyena Territory. Mufasa then climbed a nearby ridge from where he could see most of the area.
Jovan meeting with a group of young hyenas. Mufasa listened carefully and was able to overhear most of what they were saying. It sounded to him like they were arguing.
"Shenzi!" exclaimed Jovan. "You said you could convince your mother to help me overthrow Ekel and take the Pride Lands. And once the Hyenas and Lions are under my command, we could rule the entire Serengeti! Tigers, Jackels, Leopards; we could conquer them all!"
Shenzi laughed. "You sure are an ambitious one, Jovan. Why don't you just wait until your father croaks? Then you would be king for certain."
"I don't want to wait that long!" snarled Jovan. "My father is weak and ignorant. He doesn't know how to use the power he has. So, it is about time someone takes the power and uses it properly."
Mufasa had heard more than enough. He turned to go and stepped on an old elephant rib. The bone snapped loudly. The Hyenas and Jovan looked up and spotted Mufasa on the ridge. Jovan bared his teeth and said, "Brother, you have just made a fatal mistake..."
Mufasa turned and ran as fast as he could with Jovan and the Hyenas right behind him. He had almost made it to the edge of the Pride Lands when Jovan tackled him. The mongrels were about to rip Mufasa apart when a large paw smacked Jovan in the face so hard that he was knocked twenty feet away.
A stick came down on the back of Shenzi's head, causing her to yelp and run for Hyena Territory. The other Hyenas were not far behind her.
Mufasa looked up into the eyes of his father and Rafiki.
"If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it," said Ekel, his voice full of barely contained fury. Mufasa told Ekel all that he had seen and heard.
Tula arrived just as Mufasa was finishing. She gently cleaned his wounds from where Jovan and the Hyenas had attacked him. Then she noticed Jovan getting to his feet and moved to help him.
"No," growled Ekel, "Let him be."
"But if his wound is not tended, it will leave a scar," said Tula.
It was as if the King had not heard her at all. Ekel's eyes were full of pain and anger as he said to Jovan, "You are not my son. You are full of greed and evil."
The king looked back to Mufasa as he got shakily to his feet. "I am sorry I have overlooked you all these years, Mufasa. You will take my place when the time comes."
"Father, NO!" pleaded Jovan.
Sanrling, Ekel turned back to face him. "You are banished from the pride! I never want to see your face again!" He noticed that Jovan was bleeding badly from where he had struck him.
"Your face will be scarred for the rest of your life; just as you have scarred my heart. So that will be your name from this day forward....Scar. Jovan is dead."
Tears flowed freely from Tula's eyes. She felt trapped in a turmoil of mixed emotions. She looked once more at her wayward son... then bowed her head and sobbed.
The newly named Scar got to his feet and gave everyone a cold, calculating stare. Finally, he turned and walked away. He was last seen that night wandering toward Hyena Territory...
In just a few months, strands of silver began to appear in Ekel's black mane.
Queen Tula's health had declined rapidly after Scar was banished. Finally, one night she went to sleep and never woke up again..
Ekel was sitting atop Pride Rock late the next night when Rafiki climbed up and sat next to him. He rubbed at his back, saying "This oversized boulder gets harder to climb every year."
The King just continued to stare out into space. After several moments, he finally spoke.
"Rafiki, why did she give up? She had so many years left..."
The Mystic placed his hand on the King's shoulder and asked slowly "Do you really want to know, my friend?"
Blinking back tears, Rafiki said "Your Majesty, she died from a broken heart."
Less than a week after Tula's death, Ekel sent for Mufasa and Rafiki. When they arrived he looked them both in the eye and said, "It is time for a new king."
"But father, I'm not ready yet. I haven't learned everything I need to know," said Mufasa.
"You have learned enough," replied Ekel, "The rest will come with experience." The king would hear no arguements and, deep down inside, both Mufasa and Rafiki knew that he was right.
The next day, the kingdom assembled below while King Ekel, Rafiki, and Mufasa stood on top Pride Rock.
When everyone below became silent, Rafiki sprinkled dust on Mufasa and said "Busa ngo thando" (which means "Rule with love").
Mufasa stepped forward and stood beside his father. He roared loudly and the animals below answered him each with their distinctive calls. Ekel then stepped back into the shadows.
And so began the reign of King Mufasa.
The first thing the new king did was motion for one of the lionesses below to join him at the edge of Pride Rock.
Sarabi was at the top in a flash and she nuzzled Mufasa warmly.
Rafiki smiled and nodded. Sarabi had been betrothed to Mufasa when they were both only a few days old. And now she was his Queen.
Rafiki turned to Ekel and asked "What will you do now, old friend?"
Ekel answered "I will stand by my son and support him any way I can, if he will have me. If not, then I will leave Pride Rock."
King Mufasa heard Ekel's words. He walked up to him, looked him in the eye, and said "Of course you will stay. I...I love you, father."
No one had ever seen Ekel cry until that day.
Late that night, Ekel and Mufasa were walking along the border of the Pride Lands.
"You must learn every tree, every rock, every creature in your territory," said Ekel. "And you must walk around the edge of your area like this at least twice a week. This way, you may notice any unusual changes around the borders that might mean trouble. Also, the animals in your kingdom will see that you are not afraid of them and that you respect them enough to care for their safety."
Mufasa said "There is so much I still have to learn, isn't there? I am glad you will always be nearby to help me."
At his son's words, Ekel stopped walking. Mufasa stopped also and turned to look at him questioningly. "Mufasa," said Ekel, "let me tell you something; something my father once told me, just as his father told him... "Look at the stars, my son."
Mufasa looked up and nearly gasped at the sight. Never before had he seen a night sky so clear and full of diamond-like stars.
"The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars," said Ekel in a respectful voice.
"I want you to always remember that, whenever you feel alone, they will always be there to guide you...and so will I....."
The new king was young but he ruled honestly and wisely. He learned to respect the Circle of Life was as much as his father.
For the next twenty years, the Pride Lands flourished under King Mufasa's reign.
By this time Rafiki had some grey hair, but he still possessed the same playful and wise spirit he always had.
However, Ekel's mane had turned completely silver and now, his mind began to fail him. Somedays, he didn't even know who Mufasa was.
Then, one fateful night, Ekel's mind briefly returned. He remembered who he was and who he had been. He knew that this moment of clearness was only temporary and he knew what had to be done.
Ekel climbed to the top of Pride Rock and looked over the land one last time. Then he stepped over the edge...
The kingdom was assembled at the bottom of Pride Rock the next morning to grieve for the loss of Ekel. Mufasa, Sarabi, and Rafiki stood atop Pride Rock and shed silent tears for a once great king.
Rafiki was staring out at the assembled animals and thinking about Ekel when he saw what he thought for sure was a ghost standing near the foot of the Rock. He blinked his eyes and shook his head. "It can't be," he mumbled to himself. Then Rafiki looked at him closely and realized who it was. The scar over his left eye was all that was needed for Rafiki to recognize him...
Then Mufasa saw him too.
"Is that...?" He left the question unfinished but Rafiki answered anyway. "No, but he sure looks like him, doesn't he? Well, he looks the way Ekel did when he was that age. That is Scar. Your..." Rafiki had to force himself to say the word "...brother."
Mufasa descended from Pride Rock, his face unreadable as he approached Scar.
"You were dubbed a coward for your actions so many years ago, Scar. However, since you have dared to show your face here," Mufasa's hidden rage began to show as he snarled "Perhaps you're not a coward after all!"
Scar hunkered down and, after tripping over the words several times, he finally managed to squeek "Brother, please...please...forgive me. I was young and ambitious. Believe me when I say, I have learned my lesson... I am only sorry that I will get a chance to make amends with mother and father. But, you do forgive me, don't you brother?"
Mufasa's expression softened slightly. Other than the scar over his right eye, the lion before him looked remarkably like Ekel. Instead of answering Scar, Mufasa asked "Why did you wait so long to return? Why didn't you come back when mother died? Or when I became King? Just where have you been?"
Mufasa took a step closer with each question, until he was nearly standing over Scar and glowering down at him.
"Your Majesty," croaked Scar, "I swear, I will answer all your questions. But, it has been a very long journey. May I pay my last respects to father first?"
Mufasa was silent for a moment, considering things. Finally, he said "Stand then! The least you can do is make yourself presentable. Rest assured, if father were here, he would be the last sight that you ever beheld!"
Scar got to his feet slowly, thanking Mufasa profusely.
As Mufasa and Scar passed by him, Rafiki looked Scar in the eye and said, "You shouldn't be too tired, Scar. Hyena Territory isn't that far away."
Scar, more confident now, only smiled and replied "You always were a clever one, Rafiki. Don't worry, I'll explain everything later. You will see that I am not a spy or a traitor."
Then Scar placed his paw on Rafiki's shoulder and smiled even wider when Rafiki winced.
"Oh, I am so sorry," he said. "I forgot to retract my claws, didn't I?" Scar lowered his paw and walked on past Rafiki.
The King then walked up to Rafiki and whispered lowly "Don't let him out of your sight."
Rafiki turned to Mufasa. "Why didn't you send him away again? Or better yet, why don't you just-"
"No, Rafiki," said Mufasa. "Scar may have changed for the better. I have to at least give him a chance. And if he is still the same, I would rather have him nearby where I can see what he is up to."
Rafiki still had serious doubts about letting Scar stay at Pride Rock, but he would not argue with his king. He only nodded and turned to follow Scar.
For nearly a year, Rafiki watched Scar's every move. And he had to admit, Scar was on his best behavior. But he felt that it was only a matter of time before he showed his true colors again.
Scar had explained that after he was banished, he had wandered into Hyena Territory and found a small cave that the hyenas didn't know was there. He had made the cave his den and had survived all these years on whatever scraps the hyenas left behind and on anything else he could find. He said he had never returned to the Pride Lands because he was afraid Ekel would have surely killed him.
Rafiki didn't believe a word of it.
And he knew that, in his heart, Mufasa didn't either. But he also knew that Mufasa wanted to make peace with his brother and so gave him the benefit of the doubt. He only hoped that Mufasa would not come to regret that decision...
Rafiki was thinking about all of this and was not watching where he was going. He was walking along the edge of a small hill when he stepped into a rabbit hole and fell down. He felt a searing pain on his arm and looked down to see an asp curled around him where he had fallen on it. Their bite was deadly poisonous!
Rafiki flung the creature away but he was already starting to feel dizzy and weak.
"I saw what happened," he suddenly heard a voice above him saying. "Don't worry. I know a plant that will stop the centipede poison. I'll be right back."
A few minutes later, Rafiki heard a fluttering of wings and the sound of something landing in the grass behind him. He managed to turn over and get his first look at his would-be rescuer.
Rafiki saw a little hornbill approaching him with a beak full of moss.
The bird dabbed some of the moss on Rafiki's arm and said "There. Let that soak into the bites and you will feel better in a few moments."
"Thank you, er..."
"The name is Zazu," said the hornbill. "And I am only too happy to be of service." With that said, Zazu prepared to take off.
"Wait!" said Rafiki. "How did you know about this moss?"
"Oh, it is simple really," replied Zazu. "The monkeys discovered it and told the hippos, who told the meerkats, who told the warthogs, who told the hornbills."
"It sounds to me like you really know your way around the Pride Lands," Rafiki said. "I know someone who might need somebody just like you..."
Rafiki led Zazu to Pride Rock and told Mufasa how the hornbill had saved him and what he had in mind.
"Of course!" said Mufasa. "Its the least I can do since he saved your life." King Mufasa turned to the little hornbill. "Zazu, I hereby appoint you Major-domo to the King."
For the first time in his life, Zazu was speechless.
Mufasa continued, "It will be an easy task for you. All you will have to do is fly over the Pride Lands twice a day and report anything unusual to me. And since you seem to know nearly every creature in the kingdom, I am sure you will be the first to know if anything happens, even if you don't see it yourself."
The shock finally wore off of Zazu.
"Your Majesty, I would be honored to serve you any way that I can. I know several of the gophers well; I believe they would make excellent scouts. Then there are the cheetahs, the monkeys, the..."
Zazu took off into the sky, still chattering about his new position.
Two years passed and life was good throughout the Pride Lands. Early one morning just before dawn, Rafiki was sitting near a pool of still water, meditating. A grin slowly spread across his face and he said "Come on out, Mufasa."
Mufasa laughed and strolled out from behind a clump of bushes. "I didn't make a single noise! How did you know I was there?"
"I just knew," replied Rafiki. "What brings you out here so early?"
The king sat down next to his old friend and grew serious. "I knew you were out here every morning at this time and I wanted to ask you something."
"Name it," said Rafiki "You know that you can ask me anything."
The King took a deep breath and said, "These are uncertain times, my friend. The Hyenas seem to be getting braver every day. I'm still not certain that I can trust Scar. And now the flood season is approaching."
Rafiki nodded as he listened, but then he froze as Mufasa asked "Father once told me that Jovan had the Sight; he could see into the future. He also told me that he suspected you had the power as well, but you refused to use it. Why?"
Rafiki turned to the king slowly and said "Because the future is a devious thing, my friend. And I know that if I were to see something that I didn't like, there would be nothing that I could do about it... If you try to change the future, you will end up playing right into its hands anyway. You might as well be trying to change the past."
"I'm not asking you to change anything," said Mufasa. "Its not my future I'm worried about, anyway. Its the future of the Pride as a whole..."
The King stared at Rafiki with nearly pleading eyes.
"Alright, alright!" said Rafiki. "I'll do it. But just a glimpse, mind you! And I want you to promise me that you will never ask me to do this again!"
"You have my word as King,"
Rafiki nodded and turned to stare into the water. His eyes grew blank and he said "Sarabi will soon have a cub...a son..."
And then suddenly, in a flash, Rafiki saw it all. He tried not to look, but it was too late. Tears came to his eyes as the vision faded away.
Mufasa, however, was too thrilled to notice. "A son!" he exclaimed. "We are going to have a son!"
Rafiki almost told him. But he knew it would have done no good. Fate would only have found another way...
"A name!" Mufasa continued. "What will I name him? Wait, I know! I will name him after Ekel's father...Simba. And he will be the greatest king in the history of the Pride Lands! Thank you Rafiki, thank you very much!"
King Mufasa then bounded off toward Pride Rock, his muscles rippling under his fur and his golden mane nearly glowing as the sun rose in the east.
Rafiki sat at the water for nearly an hour, wishing that he could forget what he had seen.
But then he slowly smiled. He remembered that not all of what he saw had been bad. And he knew that Mufasa was right.
His son would be the greatest king in the history of the Pride Lands.......