The Lion King 3: Scar’s Revenge

 

By Matthew Sorenson

 

Disclaimer

 

This work is based on Walt Disney’s film “The Lion King”, so, elements and characters taken from this movie are property of Walt Disney.  This fanfiction is best read with Wordpad, as it is in .doc format.

 

The first part of this is being pretty much copied from Rocio Orozco’s.  I’ve gotten to know her via e-mail, and she's a cool person.  Read her “Broken Legacy” sometime.

 

Obviously, I am a Scar fan.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this.  I have a site in Michael Ponce’s link page, and I can never fully repay him for including it.  I became a fan of Scar as soon as “The Lion King” was released, and I mastered my Jeremy Irons impression (I love “The Lion King”, not only for Scar, but also for Rafiki’s crazy wit).  However, over time my interest waned until I had forgotten our leonine hero. 

 

Then after a trip to Disney World in late 1998, I discovered I had gone Scar-mad.  I had searched for stuff in the Disney stores frantically, been angry to the point of cursing upon seeing Scar vanquished in “Fantasmic!” and was thrilled to own the “Scheming Scar” lithograph, which no Scar fan should be without.  My interest has increased, so that he is not only my favorite Disney character (beating out Donald Duck), but also he is my 2nd favorite film character, after James Bond.  I now have figures in my room, a lithograph, a small statue, more jpg’s and wav’s on my PC than you can imagine, a web site, and a Simba plush doll bound and blindfolded to the post of my bed.  I plan to hold him for ransom until somebody gets me the Scar plush.   Dang.   This is going on way too long. 

 

Anyway, this is my story of what happened after the first film.  Many people don’t know that the hyenas merely ravaged Scar, then brought him to the graveyard to finish him off, to avoid further confrontation with Simba.  This story is more violent than Rocio’s prequel.  The difference between my story and hers is the same as the difference between “Braveheart” and “Forrest Gump.”  Hers is a drama, while mine is more of a suspense-thriller.  To learn more about the violence, look at the warning a couple of paragraphs down.  Some of you may not like this story due to the violence, but I had to bring Scar back from the dead somehow.  I could have just had him survive and lead a normal life with his sister and nephew, but I think that there is a price to be paid.  This gets pretty psychological at times, and it may be a bit freaky.  It includes scenes from the first and the second film. 

 

If you have seen both movies, all of the characters will be familiar to you, with five exceptions.  Four of those are from Rocio’s story, including Thembi, Scar’s father. Ujono is a character of my own making (thus I have the copyright), and I think I have subconsciously modeled him after me.  He contains all the qualities I would want if I were a lion, save a goatee like Scar’s.  Anyone who wants to use Ujono in one of their fanfics must first ask me.  After all, he is mine, isn’t he?  One liberty I am taking is allowing Scar’s real name to be Taka (which I believe it to be, even if Michael doesn’t). Also, it is a much-debated question as to the father of Nala.  Is it Scar?  In my story, it is so as to make the story (say it with me) FLOW  well.  Altogether there are four chapters in the Lion King III saga.

 

            One final thing: I must warn you this is not a G-rated piece of work.  It contains certain aspects that might not be good for all audiences.  It is basically the same reason that Scar II’s Journal of Scar is so high rated, but with two differences:  much less graphic sex, much more graphic violence.  This work contains graphic violence galore, so if you are not a fan of that sort of thing, stop reading NOW.  There are many deaths and some of them are rather grisly.  That is why I cannot attempt to ask Disney to make this into a film.  It would have to be rated R at least.  It also contains a few swear words, but it is not that bad, because the words themselves are not on a very high level of vulgarity.  The original idea for the story did not include any sexual references, but as time went on and I used the Scar-the-father-of-Nala bit, it took a turn for the mature.  Sarafina and Scar’s conversations get rather risqué at times, and there is a scene after their conversation that is basically the reason that this can’t be a Disney film.  So, my story includes some sexual references, suggestive language, and a few roundabout references to sex scenes.  Also, realize that there is constant nudity, because lions have a tendency not to wear clothes.  Well, that takes care of everything.  I’m sorry you had to read that.

 

My work is dedicated to the classes of 1999 & 2000 at the South Carolina Governor’s School of Science and Mathematics for being the first people to put up with my Scarmania.  Especially thanks to James Donaldson, who, whether he thought I was serious or not, listened to my unusual plight and didn’t have me committed.  Thanks.

 

This work is also done in memory of the late Dr. Ronald Johnson, my cat Bogart, and both of my grandmothers.  May their souls rest in peace.

 

Now, to quote Jonathan Pryce:  “Let the mayhem begin!”

 

 

End Disclaimer


The Lion King 3: Scar’s Revenge

 

By Matthew Sorenson

 

            It was a time of reckoning.  The pridelands resembled a proverbial hell.  Lightning had produced flames that were all too eager to engulf the already parched grasses of the plains.  It was a time of political turmoil.  A battle on the north side of Pride Rock was coming to an end.  The hyenas and the lionesses had been engaged in fierce battle, but now an end seemed near.  The lionesses were winning.

            On the opposite of the landmark, however, the story was different.  The final confrontation had just begun.  Two male lions, an uncle and a nephew, were on the ledge of the rock.  The uncle was much older, emaciated, and normally had a look of great intelligence.  However, now his orange fur was splotched with his and his nephew's blood, his normally well kept black mane was tangled beyond comprehension, and his usually distinguished green eyes were glazed with pure terror.  The nephew, being the stronger of the two, had cornered his uncle.  The elder pleaded for mercy, and in doing so also accused the hyenas of being the true enemy.  The three most important hyenas in the clan overheard this, and welcomed the curse with sneers.  The nephew agreed to grant mercy on one condition:

            “Run.  Run away, Scar…and never return.”

            The former king’s words came back to haunt him.  He remembered when he had said that to Simba, when he had had the upper hand.  Now everything had been inverted.  His biggest mistake was his near-silent confession on the cliff.  He should have let Simba go to his grave not knowing the truth.  Let Simba die believing that he was responsible for his father’s death, instead of himself, who had been glad he did it from the day of the deed.

            “Y-yes,” Scar said, starting to leave both his home and his throne.  “Of course.”  Then he realized what he was leaving behind.  He knew he couldn’t live with the shame.  “As you wish, your MAJESTY!!” 

            At that instant, Scar kicked burning gravel into his nephew’s face, and while he was temporarily blinded, he struck.  From there a deadly struggle continued.  At first, no one could get a strike at the other.  Then Simba swept his mighty paw and cuffed Scar hard in the face.  Scar responded with claws, drawing blood, and then knocking Simba to another ledge.  As Simba lay prone, the scarred one leaped, claws outstretched, towards his foe. 

            The newly discovered king was ready.  When Scar pounced, he flipped him completely over the cliffside.  Scar tumbled down the rockface and landed in a motionless heap on the rock floor.  Luckily for him, the fall had been slowed down by his gradual fall.  He regained his composure, knowing he had lost, but also knowing that his hyena friends would welcome him nonetheless.

            Seeing them, he called out in a rasping voice, “Ahh!  My friends!”

            However, his heart shrank when he heard the female leader of the hyenas say “Friend??  I thought he said we were the enemy!”

            To this her brother responded “Yeah.  That’s what I heard.”  Then they both said in unison, “Ed?”, referring to their youngest brother.

            Ed, who usually had nothing more to say than a stupid laugh, answered with a devilish cackle that froze Scar to the bone, and helped him realize what a terrible demise he was to have.  It had been on the spur of the moment, that he had accused them.  He had been left without option.  However, that one second had sealed his fate.

            “No!  Let - let me explain!  You don’t understand!!  No!  No!!!!”  were the last words that the old lion was able to get out of his mouth before Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, and every other hyena in his army pounced on him and began ripping at his flesh.

           

After he was sure he had won, and with a little prodding from Rafiki, who was the wise old baboon, Simba perched himself on the ledge of Pride Rock and let out a triumphant roar.  The lionesses joined in right away.  The hyenas knew that they dare not stay for very long, lest Simba destroy them for their associations with Scar.  They carried the bloody and maimed carcass of their former leader back to the elephant graveyard for a meager feast. 

            Inside the cave at the front of Pride Rock, a golden lioness with golden eyes had been listening to the commotion outside in terror.  She knew what was happening, but she couldn't do anything about it.  She had to watch her young son, who was very eager to get out there and help his father.  Nuka was always very impetuous, but he was too young to make a difference.  He kept saying, "Mom, Dad needs me!"  She would console him and say, "He'll be all right."  However, she knew this was a lie.  He was a strong lion, but he could not possibly hold up against a strong opponent who was in his prime like Simba.  She knew what Scar’s plan would be:  he would escape the pridelands, and then she and her cubs would be banished to the Outlands, where Scar would reunite with them.  He was intelligent, and good at thinking things out, but she also knew he would never make it off Pride Rock alive.  To make matters worse, Zira was pregnant.  She would give birth in a few more months.  It saddened her to think that her child would grow up never knowing her father.  Then a large form appeared in the entrance to the lair.  The form was incredibly muscular with golden fur and a brown mane.  It was Simba, who had just taken over the throne.  His words were dark and somber, yet strangely sympathetic.  “Zira…your mate…Scar…is dead.”

            Although she had been expecting this news, the shock of actually hearing it hit her like a lightning bolt.  “D-dead?”, she said, choking through tears.  “My beloved is dead…”  Then her words turned to pure rage.  “You killed him!!”

            “I didn’t.  The hyenas did.  They betrayed him like he betrayed them and you.”

            “Liar!!”, shouted the tear-drenched lioness.

            “Stop this at once,” Simba commanded.  Then he continued with his statement.  “You may stay here with us on Pride Rock on only one condition…you must forget about him and never speak of him again.”

            “I can only stay if I forget my one true love?”, Zira asked in an angry tone.  “I won’t!  I’d rather slit your throat, you bastard!”  However, she was too tired and sad to make good on this threat.  The last statement had produced quite an effect on Simba, who now stood growling in the entrance.

            “That does it.  You had your chance, Zira and you tossed it into the dirt.  I am your king now, and I am forced to pass judgment on you.  There is only one way to deal with a traitor like you…”  Simba paused as if for effect.  Zira knew that there were two punishments for traitors.  The treacherous lion was either banished to the Outlands (a desolate place where no lions dared live) or they would be put to death by the claw of the king.  Nuka, who had been listening intently, also looked scared as Simba passed the sentence. 

            “EXILE!”

 

            Scar attempted to open his eyes, but he couldn’t.  They seemed to be sealed shut.  Was he dead yet?  He assumed so, since there was something carrying him.  Obviously some kind of supernatural soul deliverer, or something like that.  That got him to thinking.  “Where is my soul going?  Will it be put in the sky with the great kings of the past?”  He was a king, but he wasn’t sure as to what great is defined as.  “It means so many things.  It could mean strong, smart, courageous, or (gods-help-me) righteous.  Will I be left to float around with the common lions in wherever they go?”  He had never truly figured out exactly where the ordinary lions and other animals were supposed to go.  It was always “the kings go here” without “the mouse you just ate goes here.”  “Oh, gods.  What if I’m doomed to live in the underworld?  To live in hell!!??  Oh, what will I…”

            THUD!

            The feeling of himself being dropped suddenly interrupted the old lion's thoughts.  “Hmm…”, he pondered.  “I always thought that the spirits would be a little bit gentler.”  Then he felt the rocky ground beneath him.  He recognized the feel of it.  Scar was back in the elephant graveyard!  He quickly assessed the situation.  He was mauled by the hyenas but carried off here to be…finished off.  He had to get away, but how?  His eyes wouldn’t even open.  Putting all his strength into one quick movement, he was able to get both of his eyes open, but he almost vomited at what he saw.  Crimson.  Scarlet.  BLOOD.

 

            Simba, Nala, Sarabi (mother of Simba), and Sarafina all watched from the same part of Pride Rock as the expecting Zira and her young cub began the long journey to the Outlands, which was their new “home.”  From the first steps off of lower rocks until they were both out of sight, Zira didn’t look back once.  As she neared the edge of the pridelands, being still within shouting range, she screamed from the top of her lungs, “ALL HAIL THE GREATEST KING OF THEM ALL:   SCAR!!!”  In their anger, neither Simba nor Nala noticed that Sarafina, the mother of Nala, was crying.  Sarabi brought her to one side and asked her what was wrong.  “He’s dead, Sarabi.  I can’t believe he’s actually dead.”

            Sarabi knew exactly what Sarafina was talking about and tried to console her.  “You need to try to forget about him.  It was all in the past.  I know it’s hard.  Don’t forget that I’m a widow too.  Eventually you will forget about him, and he hasn’t loved you since he took Zira as his mate.”

            “No!  I still loved him and him me, and how can I forget him when the proof of our love walks among us?” she bawled, motioning towards Nala.  Then she dried her tears and said with a determined face, “I’m going to tell her.”

            “Sarafina, no!!  If you ever tell her, which I advise you to never do, don’t do it now.  It would be an incredible shock to her to find out that Scar is her father after he has just been killed.”

            Sarafina agreed.  “All right, but I have to tell Simba.  He must know.  Simba?”  She called the king to come to see her for a moment.  Sarabi walked back over and sat beside Nala, while Sarafina and Simba went into the cave for privacy.

            “What is this about, Sara?”

            “It’s about your mate, my daughter.  There is a secret that has been unknown to her but known to everyone else so as to protect her from it.  If everyone else knows it, they will know not to ever mention it to her.”

            Simba was rather confused by all this talk.  He scratched his head and said, “Let me get this straight.  There’s a secret about Nala that I need to hear, but I shouldn’t tell her.”

            Sarafina nodded.  “Yes.  Also, this secret may shock you as well.”

            “Well, what is it?”  The leader of the pride was now more intrigued then ever.

            His mate’s mother leaned in and whispered into his ear.  “Scar is her father.”

            “WHAT??”, roared Simba, in a very loud voice which, luckily, did not fall on Nala’s ears.  Quieting his voice he said again “What did you say?”

            “Scar is Nala’s father.  She is the result of our mating.”

            “Oh, by the gods…and she doesn’t know this?”

            “No, and I would prefer it stay that way.”

            Simba shook his head in disbelief and shock.  “This will be hard to keep secret, but I will try.”

            “Thank you, Simba.  Thank you so much.”

 

            Scar was soaked in blood from his head to his foot.  The sanguine fluid covered his body in an uncomfortable warmness.  He was hot, sticky, and sweaty.  He could see cuts all over his body.  They could heal, but only if he could survive.  Then he saw a couple of hyenas with their backs turned to him.  In the distance, the former king could hear many others laughing devilishly.  The three hyenas were the trio that he knew all too well: Banzai, Shenzi, and Ed.  Scar knew that his death would be horrible if he stayed where he was. 

He attempted to stand up, but his legs felt like small saplings that would snap if too much pressure were put on them.  Luckily, his arms felt sturdy, and so he incited all his strength into them.  He started to drag himself towards the part of the graveyard that was a boundary of the desert.  The ground was very rough and some of the stones were jagged.  They tore at his flesh making the red trail behind him get larger and broader.  However, Scar didn't care.  He would probably die outside of the graveyard, but he would definitely die here.  He pushed himself on, for what must have been many miles, until he had completely exited the elephant graveyard, and was lying in the middle of a dry desert plain.  His belly was now ripped into shreds, and he was still bleeding, a pool forming around his body.

As the heat finally started to take its toll, he passed into unconsciousness…

 

            "I think we should just eat him!"

            "No!  He was our leader.  The least we can do is show him some respect and give him a proper burial." 

A male spotted hyena was arguing with two others of his species: a male and a female.  He was very angry, and it could be seen in his eyes.  "I'm not showing that…traitor any respect!  We deserve a meal after the hell he put us through!  I hope he goes straight to hell!"

"Shut up!", screamed the female.  Her features were basically the same as her angry brother's, but more feminine (in a hyena way).  Her long ruff of hair hung down in her face.  "I am your leader and I say he gets a burial!"

"Oh, aren't we all high and mighty.  If you weren't matriarch I would rip you to shreds.  You're too emotional to be a leader…Let me guess…you had feelings for Scar."

"What?  No…I just…"

"I think you had affection for him…"

Ed, the crazy younger brother started to laugh crazily at this.  Even though he had a microscopic IQ, he knew what Banzai was getting at.

"Shut up, Banzai!"

Banzai just smiled a wicked grin and continued with his vile accusation.  "I think you may have enjoyed…a few good times together, eh, Shenzi?  A little bit of a relationship?  Did he ever take you…"

Shenzi was scared out of her mind by these accusations.  How could they say these things?  She yelled at the top of her lungs, "Shut up now!"

Ed immediately shut up and held completely still.  Banzai also silenced his curse, but chuckled to himself.  He had done what he had set out to do.  He had crushed Shenzi mentally.  He would get what he wanted.  He looked over towards his next meal.

“I don’t know where you get these ideas…” Shenzi started.

“Shenzi,” interrupted Banzai.  “Did we order this meal to go?”

Shenzi froze.  She had heard these words before.  Nervously she asked, “Why?”

“It’s gone…” Banzai sighed.  “Well, looks like you got what you wanted.  But you ain’t gonna have it long.  Let’s get him!!”

            The female hyena held him back.  “Let him go.  He’s as good as dead out there anyway.”

            Banzai’s eyes narrowed at this cliché.  “Oh, I’ve never heard THAT before!  Like hell I will!  I remember last time!” By this time, Ed was doing his extremely nervous laugh.  He was scared.  “You said that ‘bout Simba and he came back and kicked our…”

            “Think, brother,” said Shenzi.  “Two differences.  First of all, Simba was a cub.  Lion cubs have way more energy than anything else in the world.  You could throw a cub off Pride Rock and it would still skip back up to the top.  Scar is one of the oldest lions alive.  He would probably die soon, even if we hadn’t cut him up like we did - which brings up my second point:  Simba was in tip-top condition when we chased him away.  Scar isn’t in nearly as good condition.  What do you think that huge red streak is, berry juice?  Use your brain!”

            Ed, of course, was in his usual completely confused state, but Banzai was nodding in agreement.  “Good thinking, sis.  Maybe you can be a good leader yet.”  He started to walk off to his lair, but turned around after walking a slight distance.  He looked towards the spot where Scar escaped and said “Damn you, Scar.”  He turned back around and finished his walk to his lair, with Ed tagging along behind.

            Shenzi didn’t move.  She just kept looking out towards Scar’s escape route.  She hated to admit it, but Banzai had been so right.  She did care for Scar.  They had gone through so much together.  She remembered when her brothers and her took him in.  He needed a family and some kindness.  They needed a friend and someone to get food for them, now that their mother had been killed.  When they originally met him, he had been Taka, the mistreated cub.  When he was accepted into the pack, he was Scar, the independent lion.  He became so much a part of the pack, he was considered to be practically a hyena with a mane.  At one point, this similarity to the hyenas changed Shenzi’s life.  Banzai had been much more correct than he had known.  If she thought she hadn’t loved him, she would hate to think about it.  When they were both teenagers, they had been talking about their needs and wants.  They eventually got into talk on a certain subject and both were disappointed at their inexperience, and together they solved that problem.  She had truly loved him, and at the time, at least, he had truly loved her.  When she got older she felt a little sorry for that decision, and she knew that Scar did too.  She wondered if that could be what caused him to turn against her…

            “What am I thinking?  It’s over, and it’s his fault.  I have no reason to be sorry.  He betrayed us,” she asserted herself.  She tried to turn around to follow her brothers, but she couldn’t.  She felt frozen in place, as if an unknown presence was compelling her to stay.  Also, her face felt strange and moist.  Then she realized what was happening…she was crying.   She had never cried for anybody since her mother died.  She had cared for her mother, so did she also care for him?

            This thought, she broke down and fell to the ground crying the only words on her mind:  “Forgive me, Scar!!  Forgive me!!”

 

He lay now, half dead, in the middle of the desert.  He was unconscious, but his mind was still racing.  The deposed king just lay there, floating in his own fluids of life.  While his body was incapable of movement, Scar’s brain remembered his life, possibly as a preparation for his next.  He remembered his childhood:  how he was isolated from the pride, and how he got the namesake that now brazened his left eye.  The beautiful wildebeest stampede that had changed his life.  The stampede that stirred his animosity towards his brother, Mufasa, whom sent the fear-crazed animals charging in his direction.  A fight with his father, the great king Thembi, had sent him running off to the elephant graveyard to join his friends. 

Once he had joined the hyenas, they had catered to his every need.  He silently chuckled as he remembered how one need arose during his early years…Shenzi had taken care of that one so perfectly.  Eventually he returned to the Pridelands, where he mated with Sarafina.  Ahh…the golden crafter of lies.  She had managed to completely destroy him when she would not allow her relationship with him to be acknowledged.  Even worse, the fruit of their love never knew that he was halfway responsible for her.  Poor little naïve Nala.  He had hoped that one day he would have been able to tell her the truth, but now that he was about to die, there was no truth in sight.

At first because of spite for Sarafina, Scar became mates with Zira, a rogue lioness with a strange name.  However, soon he began to love Zira more than he had loved anyone else.  Zira.  Zira.  Zira.  The one he would miss more than anyone.  He would never see her again, either.  She was a good and righteous lioness, while he…was more than likely damned for all time.  Their love for each other had been so great, that it had reaped Nuka ( a strange name indeed), who looked almost exactly like his father.  Scar would never see his son again, or his beautiful mate’s unborn child.  Whether it would be a boy or a girl…he didn’t care; he just wished they would have the chance to see their dad.  Scar’s head was feeling very light, and he knew that death was near.  He started to hear close by, the footsteps of Death coming towards him…

 

In the middle of the desert, two golden forms could be seen, one smaller than the other.  The larger one was a lioness, and the smaller one was obviously her cub.  Her cub was a young male lion who had a tuft of black hair on his head that would, over time, grow into a mane.  The cub was very confused as to why they were both there.

“Mommy…”, said the cub, “Why did we have to leave our lair and walk around here?”

“Because Karanga is very sad right now, little one.  She needs some time by herself.  She just found out that the king died.”

“He died?  But how?”

The lioness shook her head and then looked out into the horizon.  “He was killed by the same hyenas that used to be his minions.”

Now the cub was really confused.  “Minions?  What are those?”

As the mother was about to answer, the cub shouted out “Hey!” and started running away from his mother.

The worried lioness called after her cub.  “Ujono!  Where are you going??”

“I see something!”  The mother followed her son and eventually, from a distance, saw him sitting next to what seemed to be the corpse of a lion.

“Good gods, Ujono!  Get away from that!”

“But Mom…he’s still alive!”

“What?”  She was absolutely stunned.  Anything that ever wandered into the desert that wasn’t up and walking was usually buzzard food.  She ran over to the body and got an even bigger shock.  “My word!  It’s…”

Ujono finished her phrase.  “King Scar!….Cool!…We have a king here!”

The lioness frantically looked around to see if somebody else was nearby to help.  “He’s more than that, my young cub.  Oh, look at all the blood…”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll explain later.   For now, help me carry him.”  The lioness hoisted the bleeding mass onto her back, while the cub supported his front right paw, and informed her if the lion started to fall.

“I hope we can help him”, said the young cub.

Eventually, the trio made it to the lioness’s lair in the plains. 

 

*The lions of the plains lived in a virtual limbo compared to the other two respective groups: The Pridelands and the Outlands.  The whole of the plains-dwellers were ostracized kings, childless lionesses too old to mate, and the runaways.  Scar’s saviors didn’t fit into any of the categories.*

 

The cave was one of the best in the entire kingdom, being spacious even by Prideland standards.  It was perfectly situated with a water hole right outside, and a tree in front that would provide shade to those who wanted to sit outside, but didn’t want the sun torturing them.  Once the lioness got home with her cub and their new “friend”, she called out “Karanga!” and laid the lion down on the floor.  She had Ujono fetch some water from the waterhole and once he returned, she splashed it in his face, reviving him.

His eyes opened partially, and he looked at his female rescuer.  “Who are you?”

“My name is Shada the lioness, good King Scar.”

“Shada…where have I heard that name before?”, he said as he started to come to his senses.

“I am your sister.”  At this, both Ujono and Scar looked straight at her with wide eyes.  Then Scar remembered.  “Ah, yes.  When I returned to the Pridelands, you were just a cub, and you had a twin sister…umm….”

“Tahali.”, she responded.  “Yes, she is my twin.  But I don’t know where she lives now.  I live here and have a cub of my own, who, I might add, is responsible for saving your life.  Say hello, Ujono.”

“Hello, Unca Scar.”, said the young lion, who now understood the lineage that was going on.

“Uncle….how wonderful that sounds…I wish I could have savored that sound from my other nephew…”  Then suddenly the sounds of another lioness interrupted his words.

“What is it?”, cried the voice, which must have been that of the aforementioned Karanga.  “Didn’t I tell you that I’m lamenting over…”  Her words stopped abruptly and Scar knew that she must have seen him.  Suddenly he heard crying.  It was not tears of sadness, but of happiness.  Who would be crying for him like that?  His questions were answered when the lioness came beside Scar so that he could see her.  She looked quite old, possibly the oldest lioness in the kingdom.  Karanga was truly crying and choking out the words “Oh, Taka…oh, I’ve missed you so much….”

Upon hearing his old name, the old lion was thunderstruck.  “Taka?  Nobody calls me Taka…no one has ever been allowed to call me that, except my…”  Then reality struck, and the tears of the lioness were joined by those of Scar.  He smiled and cried tears of joy.  Then he hugged the old lioness.  “….mother.  Mother.”

Karanga hugged him back and said consolingly, “Don’t cry, my son.  You’re home now.”

 

In a truly surprising short time, Scar fully recovered from his attack.  After his rescue, he thought he would be covered with thousands of scars, and while he had been indeed torn to ribbons, only one scar remained to add truth to his name.  That one was a very long gash down his right hind leg.  The only other physical damage that he maintained was a slight limp in that same leg that didn’t slow him down very much, but still made it much more comfortable for him to walk, other than run.  He felt that the lack of permanent damage was a sign that he was supposed to live, and that maybe this was the life he was supposed to live.

Their lair could also be called his lair now, and after he had recovered, he got to know his rescuers.  His first encounter with Shada during his life had been when he had returned to Pride Rock and seen her and her twin, Tahali.  Some of his most enjoyable moments during that time in his life consisted of sitting and talking to both of them about whatever little adventures they were embarking on.  After Scar became king, and once the Pridelands started to become a wasteland, he had sent the pregnant Shada and his mother Karanga off into the plains.  He feared for them, because he wasn’t sure of the fate of the land.

Scar felt like Ujono was the gods’ present to him.  Ujono had basically been responsible for finding him.  It gave Scar a great feeling every time Ujono called him “Uncle.”  He realized that it was obviously his sacred duty to be a good uncle…like he should have been.  Now he could do it, because he had no reason to be envious of this child.  Him and Ujono became like a father and a son.

However, while Ujono was responsible for saving Scar’s body, the deposed ruler would no doubt have died had it not been for the shock of seeing his mother.  Over time, and with the pressures of royalty, he had forgotten about her and had assumed that she had died.  The sheer shock of seeing the only creature who had always loved him…the one who had saved him from the wrath of his angry father on many an occasion…and the one who had adopted him when his mother died…she saved him.  He owed everything to her.  After his recovery, Scar was a cub again, listening to every word his mother said intently, and doing without question.

Scar was truly happy now, and he felt that the circle of life had been generous to him.

 

            It had been two days since the great victory, and for some reason, Simba still had to stay up and patrol.  “I come back and save the pridelands, and I’m already on guard duty,” Simba said to himself.  He chuckled at the prospect.  The usual time for patrol was almost over, and Simba decided to get a little bit of a head start.  “A few minutes won’t make a difference, and besides, I need my rest.”  Simba went into his lair and took his place by his mate, Nala.  He looked at her, and thought about how beautiful she truly was.  He also thought back to the night before his return…would he see the products of that soon?  As the king laid down next to his mate, the queen, perhaps knowingly, cuddled next to him.  He returned the favor, closed his eyes, and drifted off to sleep…

 

            Simba knew he was dreaming.  He was reliving the night of his victory.  The dream started after he had flung Scar from the cliff, and right now he sat and saw the hyenas attack him.  He relived his climb up Pride Rock, and everything was as it was then.

            Then time skipped to the next morning, during which he started a new ritual of going to the waterhole in the morning before everyone else to bathe.  The walk to the waterhole was just as it was the day before, except the sky was even more beautiful.  Simba realized that this dream would probably be a recreation his day, with all things better.  The water at the hole was clearer and cleaner then it had ever been before, and as he walked into the shallow water at the edge of the hole and sat down , he wondered when Nala would show up and beg for his love. 

However, his thoughts were interrupted when he felt the water start to get suddenly cold.  An icy, freezing cold…he had never known such frigidity.  He tried to get out of the water and back onto the bank so he could warm up, but he couldn’t.  For some reason, he was stuck.  Then he saw it.  A little ring of water around him had turned to the darkest black, and the black water now held him down.  Suddenly the black liquid started to crawl up his sides, and it slowly coated his flanks.  It slowly climbed up his body, and every part that the goop covered, that part would be frozen in place.  As it reached his neck, Simba flung his head back in a futile attempt to fling off the “creature.”  His head froze in a back position.  As the fluid covered his eyes and blocked out his vision, the king let out a roar for help.  This proved to be a mistake, as the blackness proceeded to enter his open mouth and coat the insides of his throat.  Then it went down his throat and windpipe, and he could feel the cold coating his insides.  He could still hear everything that went on outside of him, but he could not see or talk. 

Suddenly, the icy black liquid stopped moving.  Simba soon began to doubt whether he could see or not, for in front of him, in otherwise darkness were two distinct pairs of eyes.  Both obviously belonged to lions.  The first set was unknown to him.  They were a piercing blue, and he could tell that these belonged to a young male lion in his prime.  The eyes reflected hate and contempt, yet appeared to be wise.  As Simba looked over towards the second pair, he gasped.  He knew this pair all too well.  The color of the eyes was green, with yellow pupils, a trait only found in the royal family.  Even there, it was a rarity.  The second to last possessor of this trait was his grandfather, the great king Thembi.  These eyes obviously belonged to the last owner of this most noble feature, for the left eye was graced by a long, thin mark.  A gash - a cut - a scar.

As soon as he realized this, a sound broke the silence.  Laughter starting echoing from the same place that the eyes were.  The laughter must have belonged to the first lion, for it was foreign to his ears.  It started out as a small chuckle, then gained speed and pitch, and became a loud cackle.  A sound of madness, one can be sure.  More laughter came, and it also seemed unfamiliar to Simba, until he realized that he had never heard his uncle laugh.  When Scar was with him, he had always been bitter and resentful, never carefree or happy, unless hatching a diabolical plan.  This was certainly the laughter of the great mad king, for it was a sound of greed, of hatred, and of evil.  As the laughter of his dead uncle blended with that of the unknown lion, Simba felt the black creature pull him down to the bottom of the waterhole.  He attempted to scream, but no roar left his lips, and no one could save him as he was pulled under…

 

Simba awoke in a bath of his own sweat.  While he gasped for breath, he looked around at his surroundings.  He was in his own lair, with his sleeping mate by his side.  It had just been a nightmare.  An awful nightmare.  But, what did it mean?  Simba thought about this for a little while as he was trying to get back to sleep, but eventually it left his mind, and he passed off into a dreamless slumber.

 

Time did its horrible dance, and things continued.  Scar got more accustomed to living with this new found family, Ujono grew up a little, Shada continued to search for mates near the border, and a cub was born to Simba and Nala.  On the day of the presentation of young Kiara, Shada went off with Karanga to go see it, for Ujono had no interest in it, and Scar could have thought of nothing less enjoyable.  Upon asking Scar to baby-sit Ujono, Shada saw a look of anxiety on Scar’s face.  “I can’t do it…I’ve never taken care of a child by myself…”

“You can handle this, Scar…”

Scar didn’t answer.  He just sat there in the lair pouting.

Shada answered impatiently, “Well, come on!  I’m not proposing marriage!  I’m asking you to take care of one cub, spend a few hours watching over him in a perfectly luxurious lair.  Now you don’t have to think about that, just nod.”

Rather taken aback by Shada’s sudden outburst, Scar could only nod in agreement.

“That’s good.  We’ll be back later.”

            After the ceremony ended, the two returned to find Ujono asleep and Scar standing watch in front of the lair. 

            “Was he any problem?”

            “No problem at all…I never realized it could be so…fun…to watch a cub.”

            “You’ll learn, Scar.  You’ll learn.”

 

            At night, near the border of the plains, a lone scraggly hyena wandered.  She was young, but malnourished.  Her coat, which was once soft and beautiful (by hyena standards) had become rough and tattered.  She was still strong, and her load was light, as her body had obviously been starved.  She blew the long ruff of hair out of her face so she could see what was ahead, a lair.  Whether it belonged to a meerkat or a lion, she didn’t care.  She would take down anything that she could get, or die trying.  It would have to be less painful than starving to death.  She walked up to the lair and peered inside.  Inside she saw a little lion cub.  “Hello, little morsel,” she whispered to herself, as she prepared to jump.

            Suddenly she heard a loud growl behind her.  Had the cub’s father come to protect him?  A deep, sharp voice scowled at her.  “You picked the wrong lair to come nosing around, hyena.  Get out of here before I feast on your flesh.”

            “I don’t plan to leave, and after I have killed you, I shall proceed to the child.”  She still didn’t look behind her; she had a strategy if he attacked her first.  As she planned her next move, the lion suddenly softly called her name.

            “Shenzi?  Is that you?”

            “What if it is?” she said, turning around.  As soon as the black mane and orange pelt fell on her eyes, she screamed in joy.  “Scar!”

            “It really is you, Shenzi!”  And the two embraced as best as two of their kind can.  “What are you doing here, Shenzi, and what happened to you?” said Scar as he looked at the emaciated body of his hyena friend.

            “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?  You’re dead!”

            He grinned, “I got lucky.”

            “I’ll say you did, not a scar on you.”

            “Well, actually there’s one on my leg…but, other than that, I’m pretty much back to my usual charming self.”

            She laughed.  “So, not only did you survive, but you got out here and obviously mated…”

            Scar sighed.  “No, that’s not my son.  That’s my nephew.  The GOOD nephew.  But you still haven’t answered my question.”

            Shenzi looked upon her former leader with sadness in her eyes.  “The pack is moving on.  You were our ticket to food for so many years, that many of us don’t know how to hunt.  We have to leave.  I was just out trying to rustle up a little bit of nourishment for me and the pack.  The pressures of politics…”

            “How are the boys?”

            “They’re OK.  The pack is really split up about your death.  A few still despise you, some think it was terrible what we did, and most don’t give a care either way.  As for my brothers, Banzai is still convinced that you were the most treacherous thing ever to step into the elephant graveyard.  I think he really is sorry he did it, though.”

            “And Ed?”

            The hyena looked to the side and then sighed.  “Poor Ed…he never was really stable, and your death didn’t help.  He still wanders the graveyard most of the day, expecting to find you.  We’ve tried to tell him, but he just doesn’t understand.  He’s also been sick lately, and frankly it’s the worst I’ve ever seen him.  I don’t think he’s gonna live to the move.”  The two sat down outside the lair. 

            “What is going on out here?”, exclaimed Karanga as she walked out of the lair.  Upon seeing the hyena, Karanga gasped and froze in her tracks.  “Taka, there’s a hyena here.”

            “Yeah, mom.  Mom, this is Shenzi.”  He motioned towards his childhood friend.  “She was one of my hyena friends when I was a cub.”  Shenzi nodded towards the mother of two kings. 

            Upon hearing this, Karanga’s thoughts went back to Taka’s childhood.  She nodded back at Shenzi, saying afterwards: “I’d like to thank you, Shenzi.”

            “What for?”

            “For being a friend to my son when he needed it the most.  Although…I’m not sure if you needed to be THAT good of a friend…”  Karanga grinned at the two, and then went back into her lair.  The lion and hyena stared puzzled at each other…How did she know?

            Then the hyena stood up to leave.  “Well,” she said, “I’d better get back.  Good luck on your new life.”

            “Shenzi, wouldn’t you like some food?  We have some left over from dinner.”

            “Oh, would you?  That would be so helpful!”

            “Anything for a friend.”

            So Scar gave Shenzi a going-away present of a half-eaten antelope, said good-bye, and watched her leave, never to be seen by anyone in that region ever again.  After he saw her disappear over to the horizon, Scar went into the lair and went to sleep.

            As Scar’s dreams were filled with his memories with Shenzi, Karanga passed away quietly in the middle of the night.

 

            When the sun was in the highest point in the sky, the usually cheerful lair was one of sadness.  Laughter had been replaced by sobbing.  Shada sat by the dead body of her mother and cried, while Ujono just stood by her in a state of shock.  He felt like he had no emotions…his grandmother was dead, and he had loved her, so why didn’t he cry?  The only thing he felt was a weird feeling.  The feeling that someone who had been around all his life would never be seen again.

            Scar, however, was not in nearly as good of a condition.  He was weeping uncontrollably, his arms around his mother and his head laid on top of her stomach, as tears poured down his face.  He realized why she had died.  She had not been sick, but she had been without a doubt the oldest lioness in the savanna.  At least it had been peaceful, but that was not the problem.  While he did understand why she died, he could not condone it.  This was the greatest lioness ever to be born.  She was the first creature to ever show him love, and (of course) she was his mother.

           

*Communication was not a priority in the kingdom.  Various regions didn’t communicate with the others.   The Outlanders always kept to themselves about anything that happened, and the Pridelanders only informed other parts of the kingdom when an important event, such as a coronation, was about to be held.  The few plains lions were rarely heeded, but a death with as high a magnitude as Karanga’s would not have been able to go untold.*

 

Long after Shada and Ujono went into the Pridelands to tell the sad truth about the death of the grandmother of the king, all the way into the time when the moon is at its peak, Scar stayed with his deceased matriarch and cried.

 

            The funeral was the most elaborate one held in the Pridelands since Mufasa’s.  Everybody came - all the animals, relatives near, and relatives far.  Tahali was practically a guest of honor, as she had not been seen for some time.

            First, the eulogy was read.  The body of the dead was placed on a level rock at the base of pride rock.  Directly in the center and in front of the body sat Simba and Nala.  To their left sat Sarafina and Sarabi.  To the right of the king and queen were Tahali, who was keeping an eye on Ujono.  Behind this front row were the lions who were not related to Karanga.  Behind them were all the other animals, come to see the last rites of a former queen.  And all the way in the back, behind a bush and cleverly hidden, sat one who would have done the rites for this funeral, one who read the eulogy the last time.  He could not cry anymore, for he had been dried out from his day of sorrow.  He just sat there and watched as his mother was put to rest. 

At a funeral, the king was usually the speaker, unless someone else’s ties were closer to the deceased.  Simba barely knew his departed grandmother, so the task went to the closest relative who was, in this case, her biological daughter.  The speaker stood behind the rock with the body, and faced the crowd.  Shada’s eulogy was truly beautiful, covering Karanga’s life and importance.  She jokingly referred to the fact that Karanga had been the mother to three separate pairs of twins:  Scar and Mufasa, Sarabi and Sarafina, and Shada and Tahali. 

 

*Scar and Mufasa were the children of the great king Thembi, whose mate produced Mufasa and then died while giving birth to Scar.  The King’s unfounded anger at Scar led to his younger son’s unbridled cynicism.  Later, Thembi and his new bride Karanga adopted the twins Sarabi and Sarafina, whose mother had been killed by a pack of hyenas.  Eventually, Sarabi and Mufasa became a pair, as did Scar and Sarafina in a more clandestine manner.

Over time, however, Karanga desired to have cubs of her own, and her cry was answered.  She gave birth to twin girls, Tahali and Shada.  These had been the only children whom Karanga herself had truly birthed.*

 

After the service was over, they took her into the great expanses of the plains, and buried her in the ritual burial place, next to her husband.  After all the lions had headed back to Pride Rock for the ritual feast, Scar stayed behind, stood next to the grave of his beloved mother, and then went to the family’s lair in the plains to sleep.

            The feast, a ritual since before most lions could remember, was always a joyous occasion.  The lions ate, danced, talked, and generally socialized.  Most of the family members would stay together and discuss the services.  The food was already gotten in advance to the service, and the beverages were either water or a strange drink made of berries and left out in the sun.  This concoction was usually put into big troughs for the guests to drink, and more than a few lions would get a little tipsy.  Simba basically drifted around and talked with everybody, and Nala stayed in one place, watching over their newly introduced princess Kiara.  Tahali, Shada, Sarabi, and Sarafina were talking as Ujono played with the other cubs. 

            “It really was a beautiful service,” said Sarafina.

            Sarabi agreed, “I think everybody loved it.”

            “Thanks, sisters,” said Shada, slightly embarrassed.  “But I was just doing the basic run-of-the-mill eulogy.”

            “Basic!  Ha!” exclaimed Tahali, “That was incredible!  Absolutely the best service I have ever seen.”  Of course, this really wasn’t saying much, considering the only other service she had seen was Mufasa’s, and his service was rather rudely interrupted by hyenas. 

Plus there had been no feast.

            Referring to her speech, Sarabi said “Enjoyed by four out of six twins!”  Everyone laughed at this statement.

            Shada went so far as to say “Come now, Sarabi.  It was better than that.  I’m sure Mufasa was enjoying it much with the other great kings!”  The laughing continued.

            “And I’m sure Scar is enjoying it from hell!” Tahali said while laughing.  At that moment, a paw with claws outstretched struck Tahali in the muzzle.  The young lioness fell to the ground and clutched her nose, which was now bleeding.  “AHH!  Sarafina!  What the hell was that for?”, she screamed.  The attention of much of the crowd was focused on the scene, and all was silent to wait for the queen mother’s answer.

            “How dare you talk about your brother that way!  No matter what he may have done, he is still your brother, and mine, and you shall treat his name with respect!”  The words of the golden lioness came with great power and anger, and Tahali heard them, and understood.  She nodded in assent.  All the other lions just went back to their business; they understood why she had said this.

            However, Nala just stared at her mother assessing the words in her mind, until Kiara’s playfulness caught her attention.  By the end of the day, she had forgotten all about it.

 

            The march of time continued, and after a period of time had passed, the world saw Ujono, now starting into adolescence, approaching his uncle in their lair near the Pridelands.  Ujono’s mane was now definitely apparent.  It was black, like his uncle’s and his grandfather’s.  The hair graced the sides of his head, and while he was not the most beautiful lion in the world, he could certainly be considered attractive enough.

            “Ummm….Scar?”

            Scar turned and looked at his nephew, who had a puzzled look on his face, as if a question had been bothering him.  “Yes, what is it?”

            “I need to ask you something…lion to lion.”

            “Yes?”

            “Recently, I was walking near the waterhole, and I saw this lioness.  She was much older than me, of course, and she was very strange looking.  She looked like a cross of some sort between a cheetah and a lion.  Is that possible?”

            “Yes, it is…but I know that’s not the reason you called me aside.”

            Ujono chuckled.  “No, it isn’t.  Well, the point is…I saw her, and she was possibly the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.  And I felt…strange…down there.”, and he pointed to a certain area on his body.  “What’s going on?”

            Scar bit his lip.  “Hmm…Ujono, I can’t pretend I have a lot of knowledge in this area, for I was kind of isolated when I was the same age as you.  I never saw any beautiful lionesses, but I think I can help a little.”  Scar proceeded to explain the basics of adolescence and many of the changes he would go through, such as his mane growing, and…other things.  Some of the things rather disgusted Ujono, while others delighted him.  “Well, did that discussion help at all?”

            “I think so, Uncle Scar.  But does this mean I should go out looking for lionesses to mate with?” Ujono asked anxiously.

            “By the heavens, no!” Scar declared.  “Just wait…you’ll know when it’s your time.  When your mane is fully grown out down to your shoulders and past, then you can go looking.”

            “It’d better grow fast!” Ujono said, and then he ran off scouting his future mates.

            “Hmmm…so impetuous…” thought Scar.  “I wish I’d had his childhood.  I didn’t see a beautiful lioness and know what to do until I came back to Pride Rock…”  Scar sighed.  It looked like another boring day looking for things to do out in the regions outside the Pridelands.  He’d already explored his new plains home to his heart’s content.  He had also explored the Elephant Graveyard more than he could bear.  It was old and the memories were too harsh.  Now that the hyenas were gone, he could explore it all he wanted, but that got rather dull after a while.  He recently had come across a new land, separated from the plains by only a river which, while it carved a canyon at its most treacherous point, was a simple getting-across-a-log job at a point closer to his home.  He made the walk over to the arboreal bridge and crossed it into the Outlands.

            The Outlands were the most treacherous stretches of land ever imaginable.  In scarcity and lack, it exceeded even the Elephant Graveyard.  This was the home of the banished lions, the traitors to the cause - where he surely would have been sent if he had been captured.  The sun was too hot, the prey was too few, and any poor creature that survived here would have the look of malnutrition and paucity on it.

            Suddenly, a noise got Scar’s attention, and he ran back up the bridge and hid in the tall grass near the plains, while keeping a close eye on the bank of the wasteland, to find out what creature could have made the sound.

            It was a lion cub.  The cub walked out of the shadows, and just sat near the log, cleaning himself with his tongue.  Scar was immediately struck by the appearance of this child, for there was something familiar about him.  The cub’s fur was darker than his own, but the face was too similar to his to be ignored.  The cub had the same sagging fur on the sides of his face, the same beginnings of a “beard”, and the same little scrap of black hair that would eventually be a mane.  on the top of his head.  Even the demeanor, a ticked-off-at-the-world frown, and the fact that the cub was obviously not extremely well fed matched those of the former king when he was a child.  Could this possibly be the child he had left behind?  He had forgotten about Zira…tried to forget about her.  He worried that if he returned, he would become his old self, and that was something he wanted to avoid.  If he could just see the cub’s eyes…

Then, his attention was caught again, as he heard the sound of two voices arguing in the opposite direction of the cub, in the plains.  Scar made up his mind to leave this fledgling behind and see what this other commotion was.  Besides, the cub looked as if he would be there for some time.

            Moving quietly through the tall grass, Scar eventually came near a clearing where a little lion cub, a meerkat, and a warthog were standing in front of a log.  The “walking rat” (as Scar liked to call them) was arguing with the pig over, of all things, the tastiest kind of bug.  Scar would have left right away if the cub had not also become bored and started to walk towards the place where Scar was.  He quickly ran down towards the border, for he did not want to be seen, and he was able to secure a good hiding place once he got there.  Scar saw that the male cub was still there, now just standing still trying to pick up any sort of commotion.  The female cub, however, followed the sound of movement down to the gorge that bordered the Outlands.  Unable to find anybody (for she had not noticed the little male cub), she proceeded to do what any normal child would do: explore the Outlands.

            She walked across the log, looking this way and that, and walking with a spring in her step.  Eventually this unusual gait took its toll, as at the end of the log, she tripped, fell, and rolled along the ground of the Outlands for a very short distance, at which point she crashed into the other cub, knocking him to the ground.

            The male cub quickly got up and faced the female, snarling.  “Who are you, Pridelander?” he said as he advanced.

            The female, obviously very frightened, backed up, but refused to back too far down from this stranger.  She jumped around from position to position, always keeping the male directly in front of her.

            The male gave her a puzzled look.  “What are you doing?”

            The female quickly retorted.  “My father says to never turn your back on an outsider,” she said seriously.

            The statement wasn’t taken nearly so seriously by the male.  “You always do what daddy says?”

            “No!” yelled the little lioness.

            Scar chuckled and whispered to himself.  “Bet she does…”

            “Betcha do!  Bet your daddy’s little girl!”  At this point, the female felt depressed, but the little lion just chuckled and jumped onto a large rock in the middle of the river.  “An outsider doesn’t need anybody.  I take care of myself.”  He was followed by the now interested female.

            “Really?  Cool!”  Suddenly, the male cub screamed as the rock revealed itself as a hungry, hell-bent crocodile!  She screamed too, and they both went running across what turned out to be the backs of other crocodiles in an attempt to escape.  Every time they thought they were safe, there was just one more of the vicious crocodilians to escape.  Scar was only able to watch helpless from the bank of the river.  He wanted to help, but with his age and physical capability, anything he tried would merely be filling the animals’ stomachs a little bit more.  He sat terrified for the two, especially him who bared his resemblence.

             Complications arose and were fixed.  Lion cub saved lioness cub.  And eventually, both made it to the highly elevated bank (Scar had hidden himself in some grasses nearby).  Taking a look back on what they had just braved, the two cubs looked down the slope to the water and saw over twenty crocodiles growling in frustration.

            “I did it,” the little lioness said quietly to herself, thinking about what she had just done.  “I DID IT!”  She yelled in joy and stuck out her tongue in a raspberry directed towards the angry reptiles.  The male just laughed and walked away from the edge of the cliff after his new companion.  Scar just kept watching from the grasses, while listening intently to their conversation.  The girl started talking.  “Whoa, man, did you see the size of those teeth, they were like grawr…grawr…”

            --As Scar heard the girl describing their near-death experience he would have sworn that he sensed another presence nearby him in the grass…--

            “We make a good team!  And you…”the lioness paused.  “…You were really brave!”

            “Yeah?  You were pretty brave too.”  The little cub then introduced himself:  “My name’s Kovu.”  Kovu?  Kovu?  He suddenly realized the true meaning of that name and was stunned.

            Little Kovu’s friend also gave her name.  “I’m Kiara…” she said in a near-seductive manner.  This unusual action of a cub caught Kovu off guard, as he shrinked away at the sight of his new friend slinking towards him in a near-shadow of how grown lionesses introduce themselves to “interesting” males.

            Once again, the name was familiar.  Scar had heard the name Kiara used a lot as of late, and he was dying to know where…Scar’s thoughts were then interrupted by the sound of the presence, which was obviously there somewhere growling, apparently at the site of the near-intimacy growing between the two cubs.

            Kiara saw the disturbed look on her friend’s face and decided to start a game.  “Tag!  You’re it!” she shouted as she touched his leg with her paw and hopped back.  Kovu paid her back with a confused look and even went so far as to pull his leg back in disgust the next time Kiara tagged him.  Kiara laughed for a while in expectation, but then approached him.  “Hello?  You run, I tag.  Get it?”

            The former king sat in the bushes chuckling to himself.  Scar just validated Kovu’s clueless expression.  “I don’t think he gets it,” he mumbled in an inaudible joke, still laughing inaudibly.

            “What’s the matter, don’t you know how to play?”  Kiara could hardly understand why a cub would not know how to play “tag.”  However, the more she thought about it, the more she realized, “this cub is from the Outlands…he probably doesn’t know how to have fun…oh well, back to basics…”  Thus, she shifted to the simplest of cubs’ games and the least complicated:  fighting.  She started hopping around, low to the ground, growling at Kovu.  Kovu mirrored her by doing the same.

            Suddenly, a huge golden blur appeared in front of Kiara.  It roared at little Kovu, but was almost immediately shadowed by another streak of gold, which stood in front of the scared brown cub.  Another roar resounded among the four.

            Each adult scowled the name of the other.  The father of one growled the title of the mother of the other, and it was likewise done.  Neither needed no introduction for Scar.  The male was none other than Simba, king of the Pridelands.  His nephew, his king, his bane.  He had not changed, and now he was guarding Kiara; Kiara was the princess.  But at the time, Scar was not paying attention to that.

            The mother’s presence had him captivated.  The golden fur, the shape of her body…only a few things had changed.  Her eyes, though they were still reminiscent of gold had become a near red (a strange change indeed).  The most unusual addition was her right ear, which now had a large hole in it.  Her own trademark.

            When he had first met her, her name seemed like the strangest thing possible.  Even she was unclear as to why she was given that name.  She believed that her parents merely liked the word, however it seemed clear now.  By the fire in her eyes, and the clenching of her teeth, it could be found that she truly was the personification of hate.  Zira had become what she had always been and not known, and she was alive.

 

Part II: Witness to Treachery

 

            “Zira...”  Scar choked on the words.  “She’s actually alive.”

            “These lands belonged to Scar!”  The tan lioness who had once been his mate stood in front of his greatest rival, declaring all lands the property of her supposed dead lover.  She had not abandoned him, even when he was dead.

            The mighty king Simba retorted, “I banished you from the Pride Lands! Now you and your young cub...get out!”  Scar couldn’t remember whether or not he had known about her exile.  His old life was a blur.  Still, this was his greatest enemy talking to his greatest love...or at least he thought she was.  No was not the time to sort things out.  It’s all confusion in this sort of situation.

            Zira went on to introduce her young son to the mob of angry lionesses supporting their king like the harem that they were.  “Kovu was the last born before you exiled us to the Outlands...”  These words struck Scar immediately.  Was this the cub he never got to meet?  Kovu certainly looked like his, but he remembered how both him and Zira had prayed to the gods for a girl.

            “Like the gods would listen to me...or even Zira, if they knew that this is what she’d become.  They’re in the Outlands, hmm?  No one knows them better than I.  I have to see this for myself.”

            And with that thought, the former king, the deposed leader, the royal disgrace, the orphaned son, the protective brother, the proud uncle, and the prospective father started to slowly creep out of the Borderlands, taking a small land bridge into the Outlands, where he started to look for the settlements, where he’d usually find the dying rogue, waiting for his death-blow.  Now he was searching for a different kind of quarry: his children.  After a short time of searching, he spied a scraggly lion, a shell of his own self, mumbling to himself and hobbling around, scratching and conversing with another younger lion whose name he determined to be Vitani.  Where had he heard that name before?  This couldn’t be the unborn child...Kovu was last born, she said it herself...

            But while Vitani, who appeared to be a tomboyish girl cub, was a mystery, there was no mistaking the tattered companion.  This was the cub he had once held in his paws, the one who had called him dad, and who had been such a precocious little child...this was Nuka.  As he stared at the terrible things that time does to its minions, he felt a warm tear slide down his cheek.  He watched it fall, hit the ground, and evaporate on impact with the parched ground.  And as the small cloud of dust rose, Scar took cover behind a large rock, as he saw Zira coming towards the two with Kovu in her mouth.

            “You were supposed to be WATCHING him!”  She yelled at Nuka after she had put down her younger son.  They yelled and quarreled for a short period of time.  “Friends?  You thought you'd get to the daughter. And Simba would welcome you with open arms? What an idea!”  Suddenly, a horrifying glimmer appeared in his late mate’s eyes.  “What an idea.”

            For the next few hours, Scar bore witness to some horrifying displays, as all the lionesses in the Outlands conversed with Zira in a shocking display as to a plan to get back at Simba for destroying someone who many of them didn’t know.  Kovu was to be raised for the sole purpose of revenge:  to seduce Kiara and to use her to get accepted into the pride, and then...to kill Simba.  While Scar was no great fan of Simba, he knew that what Zira was proposing was wrong.  He wanted to jump out, say “Here I am, this fight is meaningless”, and he easily could have.

            But he was slowly gaining wind of what Zira was now....and he didn’t want anything to do with it.  As soon as the Outlanders dispersed from his place of hiding, Scar followed Zira to her lair.  She slept alone, for years not having had a mate who didn’t either try to betray her or meet a cruel end at her hands.  She was so different, yet so many things were the same...how daintily she had to clean her fur just before bed, the ritual rubbing her shoulder against the wall.  He amusingly remembered how weird he had found it when they had been a royal couple.  There was a new custom, though.  On top of a large leaf in her lair lay some strands of black hair...his hair.  She had kept a token.  She leaned her head down and daintily kissed the strands, being careful not to separate them from each other.  While she was thus occupied, her former mate made a quick decision and stepped into the lair.  Zira froze.

            “Nuka, I thought I told you to leave me alone after I’ve finished my bed rituals.  I’m ready for bed now, and I’m not going to break the cycle, so if you could just go away.”  She realized that the form wasn’t leaving and turned around to growl at him.  Upon seeing Scar, she started for a second, but her look of shock was quickly turned to a coy smile.  “I haven’t seen you in a while.  And here I thought I was finally sane.  Last time I saw you it was just after I had adopted Kovu.  You’ll be pleased with him, Scar.  He’s going to avenge you and get our lands back.”

            “That’s just it, Zira.  I don’t want to be avenged.  I’m happy with the way my life is, and I regret many of my old choices.  I don’t want you to renew this stupidity.”

            “I’m positive, Scar.  Who’s making you say that?  Mufasa?  Your mom?”  Zira chuckled with the last words, and it took most of Scar’s willpower not to lash out at her.

            “It’s me.  This is your former mate and I’m speaking for myself.  I’m standing here right in front of you, telling you what I want.”  Looking down, he continued speaking.  “Maybe...if you give this insanity a rest, we can be together again.”

            Zira laughed even louder, almost menacingly.  “Scar.  Let’s get one thing straight.  I love you with all my heart, and I will never love anyone as much as I love you.  But I’m sane enough to know you’re just a figment of my desperate imagination.  I haven’t mated since you died, and every season I have, I suffer through with only emotional pain and self-gratification.  All this desperation has renewed you as a vision in my mind, and I can’t place my fate at risk for a figment of my imagination.”  She walked around in a circle, and lay down in the middle of her lair.  “You’re dead, Scar.  I’ll see you when the gods take me up to be by your side.”

            A figment?  He was nothing more than a figment?  “What if I can convince you that I am real?”  And with that, he walked up to her, outstretched his tongue and left a long lick down the left side of her face.  As he did so, her eyes closed and she tilted her head to the side and sighed happily.  “Do you believe me now?”

            She smiled pleasantly and said “I’m sorry, Scar.  But the dead don’t come back to life.  Go away and let me sleep.  I am a sane lioness.”

            As Scar walked away from her, he felt emptier than he had since Karanga’s death.  His own mate...she wouldn’t believe him.

            Thus, on a dark evening in the Outlands, a dead husband walked away from his long-suffering widow.  And if the wind that blows through every lair in the kingdom could speak, it would tell you it heard these words from the failed mate: “But you aren’t, Zira.  You were...but not anymore.”

 

            Time continued on, as it eternally will.  Ujono grew up, and became a healthy full grown lion, with a full black mane, piercing blue eyes, and a beard which was only slightly shorter than Scar’s.  According to his uncle, Ujono looked exactly like his grandfather, the great king Thembi, only more malnourished.  In many ways, this was gratifying to the old neglected, deposed king.  To feel that he could, in a way, become friends with his father, ignoring the times before when his father cast him aside, and blamed him for his original wife’s death.  Of Ujono’s traits, Scar noticed some odd ones.  He wasn’t particularly interested in sex, for one.  He had mated with a lioness once, but he was more concerned about finding a mate where the act would mean something, and, possibly because of his isolation, his mind was diverted from the usual thoughts of full-grown lions of that age. 

            He took a strange interest in the shamanic arts, and eventually hunted down one who would know.

 

            In the middle of the pridelands, there stood a giant, knarled tree.  Inside, a dark furred baboon sat both drinking and writing from a gourd.

            “Hmm...the weather, it looks like it will be hot for a long time, eh?”  He looked up towards the heavens and yelled “Do you have a problem with rain?  It’s been almost a full moon’s cycle since the last one!  I could use a drink of water!”  He shook his rattling stick at the sky, as a plea.  Rafiki was answered with a crash of thunder, and a near immediate pouring rain.  Rafiki, still outstretched towards the sky, looked around with his fur getting soaked to his very bones, and with water drenching his face, gave the heavens a look of exasperation and sighed.  “Thanks for your promptness.”  And when his tree started to rattle, he shouted out again, “Hey!  No earthquakes!  Don’t make me come up there!”

            He laughed, sat down, and said “It won’t be long, eh?”  And when the tree started to shake again, he let out an exasperated sigh and jumped down to the ground.  “Who is making this racket?”

            “It’s me, Rafiki.” said a golden lion with a wet black mane sticking to the sides of his head and neck.  The statement was just met with a quizzical look.

            “First of all, say ‘I’.  Secondly, who is ‘I’?”

            “I is Ujono.  I don’t know if you remember me.”

            “Ujono!  It is...I see...wow...I...you’re quite the big one now!  I remember when you were just a little fellow.  I don’t know if I ever saw you, to be honest.  Your mother didn’t get very involved in much of the prideland activities.  I do remember seeing her at the funeral.  She didn’t bring you, but she talked about you, and I must say, you are Thembi’s twin!”  Rafiki stood back and took a good look at him, trodding through the mud and wet grass.  “You need to eat more, boy.”  He poked Ujono in the couple of visible ribs he had.

            “I call it nutrition.”  They both laughed, but soon after, Ujono got to the point.  “I’d love to stay here and chat, but it’s starting to get really uncomfortable out here in the rain, and I came to ask you for something.”

            Impressed by the lion’s determination, Rafiki continued the dialogue.  “What do you want from me?”

            Ujono took a deep breath, and continued.  “I want you to teach me the shamanistic arts.”  Rafiki’s face was one of thoughtfulness.

            “Why exactly do you want to learn these?”

            “Well, we’re rather isolated out where we live, and we’re happy there, but my mom’s getting older, and since she used to be the one who’d obtain all the remedies to our illnesses, we all think that it would be good for me to learn to do some of it myself.”  Suddenly, Ujono realized what he had said.

            “We all?  What do you mean by that?”

            “Ummm...”

            “Does your mom have a fellow?”

            Ujono gave an inaudible sigh of relief.  “Yeah, but don’t tell anyone, we don’t want to stir any rumors.”  Rafiki raised his hand.

            “I completely understand.  Now, as for you being my student, I’ll do it.”  A little bit more thought from Rafiki.  “Besides, I’m getting older every day, and it’s getting harder for me to go to people.  If you get enough training, you could go in my place during some of the less important cases.”

            And the rain soaked lion smiled.

 

            And that rain soaked lion learned.  And learned.  And when he was done, he learned more.  Scar found Ujono disappearing rather often to tend to lions throughout the kingdom.  Whenever some creature had a mild ailment, Ujono was the one to contact.  So as time went on, and while Kovu was training for his deception of Simba, Ujono was gaining a reputation as a healer, and was gaining, in addition, some respect.

            However, at home, he broke a rule set by Rafiki quite often.  Whenever his nephew wasn’t performing his health duties on others, Scar noticed that Ujono would experiment on himself.  He had already taken to fermenting berries in a number of troughs in his room.  One time, Scar walked into Ujono’s den to ask him a question.  Not long after his installment as Rafiki’s right-hand, Ujono started pulling a large rock in front of the opening to his room.  Scar pushed it aside, and a huge cloud of gray smoke flushed out of the room, all of it stemming from a coconut half sitting in the middle of the room.  Ujono was lying flat on his back next to it, chuckling to himself, swinging his mane, and drawing symbols in the air with an outstretched claw.  Scar coughed, and the prostrate lion glanced over, laughed, and said “I believe I’ve discovered the secret of the gods.”

            The old lion’s head was starting to hurt from the smoke.  He had heard of some plants being able to have this effect, but he’d never seen it in action.  When he had been younger, it had been told to him by the hyenas that in the old times, after a great hunt, the Great Hyena would summon fire, put it to a mixture of plants, and then the entire tribe would gather around the burning embers and engage in something called “clinging to the tails of the gods.”  It was a festival where supposedly the hyenas’ spirits would be inhabited by the gods, and they would speak the wisdom, which would run their pack.  Of course, that was just a legend.  Ujono lying on the floor acting like an idiot...that was real.  Still, it wasn’t his concern.  As long as he was steering from dark powers, his stupid little rituals would only bring temporary damage to himself.  And he was still a wonderful nephew, and Scar’s best friend in the world.

            Shada’s time was spent less recklessly and with consideration of her age.  She was hardly ancient, but she was getting older by the day, and on the day that Scar found Zira again, she had not mated in ages.  Her season, at first a terrible burden to bear, was so often unsatisfied that she became used to the pain.  For more time after that fateful day, she was without mate.  There are those who have said that she engaged in the act with her aged stepbrother, who would certainly have been a convenience, but these statements are unfounded and come from unreliable mouths.  What is true, is that as Ujono grew and grew in his shamanic abilities, the daughter of Karanga went out for a walk through the plains, and came across a young rogue lion who captured her heart.  They spent entire days together, doing whatever lovers do when they agree on their futures.  There was many a night during those times where Ujono and Scar would be waken from their sleep by the sound of Shada arriving, giggling, and making far too much noise for an animal at that hour, before finally going to sleep with a large smile on her face.

            And one night, she came home especially late.  While the two males in her lair looked on with one eye open, she took everything that meant something to her, wrapped it in a small pelt, and tied it into one small bundle, about the size of a large gourd.  She then went over to Scar and kissed him on the forehead, and did the same to Ujono.  She then took the bundle into her mouth, walked to the exit, and as she walked out into the night, she issued a muffled “goodbye.”

            And Shada was never seen in the Pridelands again.  The few creatures who have gone out of range of the Pridelands and the Outlands have claimed the existence of a massive pride, supposedly founded by a lioness of Prideland royal blood.  As to whether this is Shada or Tahali (or even both), no answer is known.

 

            By this time, Scar had almost completely put the incidents with Kovu and Zira out of his mind.  He vaguely remembered Zira’s plan to raise Kovu to destroy Simba, but he had stopped spying on the Outlands for updates.  It had started getting dull long ago.  Scar knew that if something important was happening it would somehow get back to the lair in the plains, and by this time, he often spent entire days without once thinking about what sort of plans his former mate might have in store to overthrow the kingdom.  The only news that ever happened was either good news or random accidents.

            So when an unexplained fire swept part of the savannah, nearly claiming the life of the princess Kiara, the news struck Scar as interesting, but not particularly shocking.  That is, until he found out who served as Kiara’s savior: a young lion with a striking resemblance to a dead king, and one who, by a strange coincidence, had a name that meant the same as the nickname of the same king. 

            But the part about Kovu’s reemergence that bothered Scar the most wasn’t his presence; it was the nagging in the back of his mind that forced him to question the motives behind Kiara’s rescue.  He had always hoped that either Zira, or Kovu, or both, would realize that what they were doing was wrong and attempt to make amends with the Pridelanders.  He also knew that the main agenda of the scheme consisted of Kovu falling into the confidence of Simba, and using that trust against him, to deliver him into his final conflict.  On the day the knowledge of the rescue became public, the deposed king took up his old spying activities once again, this time assisted by his shaman-in-training nephew, who had taken an active interest, and perhaps a perverse delight, in what would happen next.  Scar and Ujono already knew that a party consisting of Simba, Nala, Kiara, and Kovu was slowly walking its way back to Pride Rock.  Since the group was already nearing their lair, and as evening was setting in, the pair would have to hurry if they wanted to catch a glimpse of the caravan before they retired for the night.  They immediately set off, running as fast as they possibly could, until they finally reached their destination with their legs burning.  Simba and his company had just arrived, and Ujono and Scar took shelter in a hidden position and watched the proceedings.

            As the other lionesses slowly filed into the lair behind the ledge of Pride Rock, Kovu began to slowly follow them, only to be growled away by Simba, who motioned for his daughter's rescuer to sleep outside of the lair.  As Kovu curled up next to a protruding rock, Kiara went to him and thanked him for saving her.  They bickered and argued about the lioness's hunting skills, and then Kiara dared Kovu to train her properly in the morning.  And while Ujono's eyes ran up and down the form of the princess, Scar was looking into the distance, past the ledge, at two almost invisible figures in the distance.  Zira and Nuka were standing on a log, spying just like him, except with a clear motive.

            After Kiara had gone into the lair, and it was clear that Kovu was asleep.  Scar motioned for his nephew to follow him.  He slowly ascended the staircase like rock, staying as low to the ground as he possibly could.  However, once he reached the top, he walked along the side ledge of the main rock.  After a decent distance, he stopped in front of a lair whose entrance was covered in cobwebs and whose floor was enveloped in dust.  As he stepped through the webs, into the lair, clouds of dust circled and billowed around his paws.  Ignoring the near-choking dust, he walked in a circle before lying down in the dirt, neck stretched out and eyes closed.  Ujono stopped in front of the entrance.

            "What is this place?"  He coughed as the huge cloud of dust built up from Scar's settling slowly floated out of the lair.  Scar just yawned and fell asleep almost immediately.  He had spent years of his life sleeping in that lair, and it felt wonderful to be back there again.

 

            For many nights on end, Simba had been having lovely dreams about clear streams and romps with his lioness in the moonlight.  When he went to sleep that night, he expected nothing different.  Once again, his dreams took him into the savanna, and this time, he heard his father calling out to him.  However, the tone of Mufasa's voice was desperate, and a strange force seemed to be pulling him towards the canyon.  When he reached the edge, he looked down to see his father clinging desperately to the sidewall, begging for help while hanging over the memorable wildebeast stampede of his youth.  Suddenly, he heard an evil laugh which he hadn't heard since another dream, when Kiara was just a cub.  It was Scar, cackling evilly to see both Mufasa and Simba in so dire a predicament.  As Simba stretched out towards his father, he was pulled back by his uncle, and his father slid down the canyon and disappeared beneath the hooves of the stampede.  Turning his eyes on Scar, the cackling visage changed into Kovu, complete with a scar over his left eye.  As soon as Simba made the connection, he was released and hurled down to the same fate as his father...

            Simba awoke with a start, gasping and panting.  It had been ages since he'd had a real nightmare, and this time, Kovu was involved.  He decided that the second pair of eyes he had seen must have belonged to Kovu, and Simba went back to sleep, purposely ignoring the fact that Kovu's eyes are green, and the second pair was blue.

 

            Scar and Ujono awoke just before the sun came over the horizon.  They had to make plans as to how to keep aware of current events.  After much debating, they decided that they would take a huge risk and live in the southern side of Pride Rock, in Scar's old lair.  From the amount of dust, and the cobwebs covering the entire entrance, it was easy to assume that no creature had been back there for some time.  No one would know where they were staying, as if any one in the kingdom particularly cared.  After the situation with Kovu and Zira was reconciled, they would be able to move back their usual lair in the plains.

            In the meantime, tasks needed to be assigned.  Since Ujono was much younger and in top physical condition, aside from his slight malnutrition, he would follow Kovu and Kiara in their expeditions, provided he stayed out of sight and did not interfere.  Scar agreed that he would keep a good eye and ear on Simba, to make sure nothing would happen to him.  They would meet back at the lair at sunset to share their findings with each other and possibly put together any possible happenings.  Food was the responsibility of the individual, and if one did not feed himself, it was not the other's duty to feed him.

            However, their first assignments saw them staying very close.  Simba went through his usual routine of getting up, stretching, and walking down to the waterhole for a morning drink.  Kovu followed his routine, and stalked quietly near him, and when the king stopped to lap up water, Kovu prepared to attack.  And though Scar and Kovu expected their preparation to be for nothing, Kiara innocently stepped in front of Kovu, distracting him from his mission, and allowing Simba to slip away under his nose.  The two walked away together, and this served as the cue for Scar and Ujono to go their separate ways.  "I'll see you tonight, Scar.  I'm expecting this to be a lot of fun", smiled Ujono as he stalked after the couple.

            Scar grinned.  "Lucky you."

 

            By the time Ujono got back to the lair, Scar was already half asleep, propped up against a wall, with his eyes only half open.  Some of the bones from a picked-over elephant lay on the lair.  His uncle had managed to scrounge up enough food for himself, and the extra antelope which he had brought wasn't needed.  Scar chuckled.  "I'm not quite that helpless, Ujono, but thanks for the concern.  You can take it with you tomorrow."

            "No, I got it for you.  You eat it."

            "Trust me, Ujono.  I need to at least scrounge for myself.  I'm old, and if I let you start bringing my food, I'll get old and fat.  I'm gonna get my own food until all my legs are broken, and when that happens, just kill me."  Both laughed.  "But enough small talk.  What happened today?"

            "Well, it was pretty exciting for a while.  They chased birds, got attacked by a heard of rhinos, and then they got all romantic for what seemed like forever.  By nighttime, they were looking into the stars and talking about stuff.  Then Kovu started to talk about you."

            "What?"

            "Yeah.  Kiara was talking about the great kings of the past being up there in the stars, and Kovu asked 'Do you think my father's up there?'"  Scar just sighed and shook his head.

            "I honestly don't know.  Sometimes I really wonder myself, but I keep hoping I'll be judged for what I've been doing, and not what I've done.  If I get judged eternally for my past, I wouldn't want to be with an unfair judge like that for all history."  He just looked at the ground and shuffled his feet.  "What else happened?"

            "Well, after that, they started nuzzling each other.  Really cute couple."  He bore his claws and started swiping them in the air as if swatting at something.

            Scar nodded.  "Actually, I saw that.  Simba was right above them, looking for guidance from the same kings.  Nala wanted Simba to get to know Kovu better.  Then they came back here, and I've been standing here, half asleep, waiting for your slow self to get back."

            Ujono had gotten hold of one of the smaller elephant bones and was gnawing it ruthlessly.  "Not my fault, really", he mouthed between bites.  "It really looked like they were going to leave soon until Rafiki found them and sang some stupid song about love.  I swear it was the longest, most annoying, stupidest thing I've ever seen.  But those two loved it, and they're a lovely couple, and now I want a lioness."  He snapped the bone in half with his teeth while Scar laughed.  "Then they both get back here and Simba actually lets Kovu go into the lair."

            "Are you serious?"

            "You'd know that if you had been paying attention.  He's been accepted, at least, to some degree."

            The former king nodded.  "I got to admit, I'm pretty surprised.  Didn't think that would be happening at all.  And as for me not paying attention, I had to come back here.  Simba was about to mate with Nala, and I'd rather not see my own daughter violated by that creature, thank you very much."  Scar plopped himself down on the floor of the cave.  "I don't know about you, but I'm going to sleep, and hopefully there'll be another breakthrough tomorrow."  With that, Scar closed his eyes and went to sleep.  Ujono was soon to follow his example, and he closed his eyes fantasizing about heroically getting rid of Kovu and taking his place by Kiara's side.

 

            "Wake up, Ujono!"  The young lion woke up to his uncle shaking him hard and pointing towards the wall of the cave.  He was frantic about something.

            Ujono yawned.  "What is it, Scar?  Are Kiara and Kovu going at it?"

            "Shut up and put your ear to the wall, right there."  He pointed to a specific point on the wall.  "They just left together."

            "They?  You mean Kovu and Kiara?"  But as Ujono pressed his ear to the cold rock wall, the only voice he could hear was that of Kiara. 

 

            "It's amazing.  I can't believe that Dad wants to talk to Kovu.  I know he has a questionable past, but I'm sure if Dad gets to know him, they'll love each other."

 

            He pulled immediately away from the wall and started to run out of the lair.  "Hurry, Scar!  We got to catch up to them!  This might be it!"

            Since Kovu and Simba had already gotten a head start, Scar and Ujono had to run, and as their quarries went to the site where the savanna fire had been, the cover was scarce, and they were forced to take refuge far out of earshot.  They arrived in time to see Simba talking to Kovu while looking at something in the burnt soil.  Everything seemed to be going fine between the two of them. 

            Suddenly, a pack of lionesses surrounded them.  Leading them was Zira.  And as a dust cloud moved over the pack, Scar and Ujono were able to move closer and hear what was being said.  Zira smiled evilly and congratulated her son.  “Well done, Kovu.  Just like we always planned.”  Simba turned on Kovu in that instant, but while he tried to refute the charges, Zira gave the order to attack.  Simba was forced to fight off lioness after lioness before a leap from Nuka knocked him down into the river gorge and onto his side.  Zira stood over the chasm proudly and proclaimed “We’ve got him!”  The two lions couldn’t help but notice how well trained Zira’s troops were, and they chased towards a large wall of stones and broken wood, hoping to corner him.  As he attempted to climb, Kovu was told to knock him down, from a place high atop the gorge, but when he ignored his mother, Nuka proudly stepped in.

            “I’ll do it...for you, mother!”  He leapt on to the wall, begging his mother to watch him, desperate for her attention.  As Simba neared the top, Nuka caught his hind leg and proclaimed “This is my moment of glory!”  However, Simba scrambled, and knocked down the log upon which Nuka was standing, sending him down the rock slide, and wedging him between two heavy logs.  The final steps by Simba sent down an even heavier log, which came hurtling down upon Nuka at mind-boggling speed, not even giving him enough time to scream.  As Simba crawled to safety, Kovu descended and started digging through the rubbish to find his brother, before being knocked away by his desperate mother.  She dug until she could find him, and when she found him, he apologized to her.  “I’m sorry, mother.  I tried....”  And as Zira cradled his face in her paw, Nuka’s head fell limp, and both her and Vitani stood over him, heads hung low.

            Ujono could only stare, in a fit of shock.  In a manner of seconds, he had watched a lion die.  He had never seen death like that before.  Of course, he had killed antelopes, but they were food.  He wasn’t awake when grandmother Karanga passed away.  This life had been alive one moment, jumping and eager to please its mother, and now, he was dead.  Ujono had never known Nuka, but the feeling of seeing a fellow lion die made him feel horribly uncomfortable.  He looked over his shoulder to see how Scar was taking it.  He couldn’t see him, at first glance.  Scar was lying on the ground, in a fetal position with his eyes closed tight.  He was crying uncontrollably, and murmuring to himself.

            There is no word to describe the pain that Scar felt.  He remembered the day his young son was born, and he remembered how his son went from a cute little baby to an anxious, slightly hyperactive cub who wanted to be exactly like his father.  Scar hadn’t even seen Nuka since the day he saw the new Zira for the first time.  Now, his firstborn, possibly his only son, was dead.  One of the only creatures he had loved in the world was lying in a river gorge, crushed between logs, logs sent down hurtling by the enemy who had stolen his own life.  It was Simba’s fault again.  Then a thought came to his mind.  “Kovu was right at the top of that wall.  If Kovu had obeyed Zira, Nuka would still be alive.”  That Kovu was the problem.  He was the reason for Scar’s grief.  Any disobedient creature like Kovu could not be his son, and looking upon the scene, he came to the realization that Vitani was his daughter.  She was the unborn child, and through the sadness he felt over the loss of Nuka, he vowed that he would not lose this daughter, not to Simba, and definitely not to Kovu.

            Apparently Zira felt the same way.  In one motion, she stepped away from Nuka’s grave, pulled back her claws and hit Kovu, full in the left side of the face.  When he looked back, he had received a slice that perfectly resembled Scar’s famous namesake.  Zira accused Kovu of betraying the pride, and betraying Scar.  And when Kovu replied “I want nothing more to do with him!”, Scar couldn’t help but snarl, distracting Ujono for a moment. 

            “Nuka is dead because of you!”  Zira backed Kovu into a corner as she confronted him with his crime.

            Kovu could barely get out a “no.”

            “You’ve killed your own brother!”  And with that, Kovu started to run.  Neither of the males opted to follow him, as they wanted to find out what plans Zira had in store.  She quickly gathered the other Outland lionesses around her and told them her scheme.  “Listen to me” she cooed.  “Simba is injured and weak.  Now is the time to attack!”  She slammed her paw down in a fit of rage.  “We will take his entire kingdom by force!”  And although Scar had to force away his smile, he was worried what was going to happen now.  It looked like the past playing all over again.

 

            Neither Scar nor Ujono opted to return to Pride Rock before the Outlanders made their move.  If they had, they might have been pleased to watch both Kovu’s exile and the seeds of rebellion that were growing within Kiara against her own father.  The incident with Kovu had taken a protective father and turned him into a paranoid ruler, not allowing his daughter to venture out past Pride Rock, much less find Kovu.  Eventually, she was forced to sneak out secretly through some loose rocks in the side of the main lair.  Openly defying her father, she wandered throughout the entire night, looking for him.  Just when she was giving up hope, she looked up, and saw him looking back at her.  They played together like cubs, talked together like friends, and kissed like lovers.  And while Kovu was all for the two of them running away and forming their own pride, Kiara decided that something needed to be done. 

            At the same time Kiara and Kovu sat by a watering hole and talked of love, Ujono and Scar were stalking through a cold, shallow river, secretly following Zira and her army towards Pride Rock.

            At the same time Zira and Vitani made their way towards their enemies, Simba told Zazu to assemble the lionesses for battle.

            They all met in between, on an empty stretch of dry savanna near the river gorge.  It was raining, and as the ranks moved closer and closer to each other, Zira ascended onto a monolith which has since become known as Tyrant’s Rock.  Mud dripping from her maw, Zira bared her teeth and delivered her challenge.  “It’s over, Simba.  I have dreamed of nothing else for years!”

            “Last chance, Zira.”  Simba’s voice came loud and clear, in a tone that Zira had heard years before.  “Go home.”

            “I am home.”  She smiled at Simba, and as the lightning crashed, and light reflected from her eyes and teeth, she perfectly resembled a demon.  Then she raised her head to the sky and yelled out.  “Attack!”  The prides walked, then trotted, than ran towards each other, before finally lunging at each other’s throats and attacking each other relentlessly.  Eventually, the outlanders, who had been trained at an unforgiving rate, beat down the Pridelanders, and Simba became the target of an ambush.  Six lionesses attacked him at once, and as he shook the last one off, he felt a mighty thump as he was cuffed by Zira.  When he arose, the two rivals circled each other, waiting for just the right moment.  They growled, unsheathed their claws, and prepared to lunge.

            Suddenly, Kovu and Kiara leaped into the center of the circle, blocking the fray.  As each parent told the child to move, the progeny held their ground.  “Daddy, this has to stop,” pleaded Kiara.  Zira was not making Kovu’s task an easier one.

            “You’re even weaker than I thought!  Get out of the way!”  Kovu refused to back down, and when Simba demanded the same, Kiara begged for his attention.

            “A wise king once told me, ‘We are one.’  I didn’t understand him then.  Now I do.”  She sighed and continued, drawing his attention to the collection of lionesses from both prides, who in the fray, had gotten mixed together.  “Look at them.  They are us.  What differences do you see?”  For a long time, all anyone could do was look at each other, and everything was peaceful.  The sun slowly started to come out as well, as if responding to the burden which seemed to slowly be disappearing.  Even Vitani, when ordered by her mother to attack, refused.

            “No, mother.  Kiara’s right.”  She walked over to Simba’s side, and took a place among the other lionesses.  “Enough.”  The other lionesses were soon to follow, paying no heed to Zira’s threats.  They placed themselves throughout the Prideland’s ranks, realizing the futility of the conflict.  Zira, on the other hand, would not let it go.

            Announcing that she would never let the past go, she growled to herself “This is for you, Scar”, and lunged at Simba.  Kiara jumped in the way, and together they rolled down the gorge, hitting rock after rock on the way down the incredibly steep slope.  Kiara managed to grab her claws onto a low angled ledge.  Zira caught the ledge lower, on a sheer slope, and clutched desperately onto her life.  In the meantime, Scar had all but fallen down the cliff, so caught up in a mental torment that he was physically inept.  He didn’t want to reveal himself to Simba, but he couldn’t just let Zira die...As he approached a part of the cliff a little further down from Zira, with Ujono chasing wildly after him, trying to stop him, he tripped, fell a distance, and hit his head on a stone, losing consciousness.  Ujono slid into a place right next to him, and stood by his limp body as he watched the scene unfolding over the river.  Although Kiara did her best to reach out to Zira, her paw was forced to avoid swipes and slices from a Zira too overcome with her own hate to let herself be saved.  Instead, she fell backwards into the flash flood that was rampaging through, and disappeared beneath the waves before the rest of the water disappeared further down the gorge.

            When Kiara came back onto the plain, she was reunited with everyone from both the prides, as they congratulated her for her effort and for her bravery.  Soon, the newly formed pride formed a caravan that went back to Pride Rock, where Kovu and Kiara were declared as both heirs to the throne and official mates.  As they ascended Pride Rock with Simba and Nala, they glanced over the edge and surveyed what would one day be their kingdom.  With both Scar, Zira, and their pride gone, nothing but peace seemed to be in store for the kingdom.

 

            Ujono was coughing.  In fact, he was coughing so hard, he had coughed up at least one wad of blood.  He was trying to balance waking up Scar with convincing himself he hadn’t seen what he thought he had.  He hadn’t really seen Zira disappear like that, had he?  He hadn’t seen two deaths in one day?  “Come on, Scar...wake up...please...”  As he shook his head, getting ever more frustrated, he looked down into the gorge and saw what looked like a bloody piece of fur.  He focused all his attention on the object and came to a reasonable conclusion.  Quickly he hoisted his mentor onto his back and started descending into the gorge.  The mound of fur was wedge in between two rocks and was letting more and more blood seep into the river as time went on.  As Ujono neared the patch, he knew it was Zira.  He stopped right next to her, lifted her face up, and rested it on the rock.  She was bleeding from the head and from the side of her belly, but he could tell she was still alive, so he tried talking to her.  “Zira?  Zira?  Are you okay?”

            Her eyelids fluttered slowly and she opened her eyes halfway and looked up at Ujono.  “Ah...so this is what the devil looks like.  Much more attractive than I thought he’d be.”  As she started to laugh, she suddenly groaned and attempted to shift her weight.  “If I’m dead, this shouldn’t still hurt.”

            “Zira...I have someone here who wants to see you.  He misses you more than you could ever know.”  He pulled Scar over to the rock so that she was looking straight into the closed eyes of her unconscious lover.  “He was knocked out trying to get to you, trying to save you.  He’s been alive this whole time, but he didn’t know how to approach you.”

            Zira just stared at Scar’s face, and soon the blood staining the stone mixed with her tears.  “Scar really was alive...why couldn’t he come to me?  I needed him.”

            “I think he was just frightened, of what you seemed to be.  Of what you had become.”  Ujono shook Scar hard.  “Wake up, Scar.  Zira’s alive and she’s right here.”

            The dying lioness pulled a bloody arm out from between the rocks.  It was so maimed and coated with blood that Ujono could hardly stand to look at it, but Zira took her paw and caressed the side of Scar’s face.  “My dearest, dearest Taka.  I’m sorry this had to happen, my love.  Please forgive me.”  She craned her neck, fighting the horrible pain, draining her remaining energy, and softly, yet passionately, kissed her mate on the mouth.  Ujono suddenly realized that his eyes were welling up with tears, to see the bloody, dying lioness kissing the only creature that had meant anything to her.

            “Scar....Scar!  Please!  PLEASE WAKE UP!!  PLEASE WAKE UP!!!”  He started to cry uncontrollably as he tried his best to wake up Scar in time.  It was all in vain, however, and as Zira broke the kiss, she caressed his face again (leaving the left side of his face stained with her blood), and rolled her head backwards, coughing up blood one last time, and then went motionless.  Cold.  Dead.  Ujono was left lying on the ground with his face in his arms, crying uncontrollably.  He didn’t hear Scar start to move.

            “What....what?  Where am I?”  He looked around in all directions, but when he stared straight foreward, his gaze remained fixed.  Zira was there, bleeding and dead.  “....Ujono......”

            “Yes, Scar?”

            “What happened?”

            “She was still alive, Scar.  I brought you down here you could talk one last time.  She kissed you and asked you to forgive her, but you were unconscious.  I couldn’t wake you up.”  Scar’s eyes also began to fill up.  “There’s one more thing.”  They made eye contact, each staring into the other’s sadness-filled eyes.  “She called you her dearest.  Her dearest Taka.”

            Any other lion would have immediately started crying in this situation.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for the bump he had received, Scar probably would have done the same.  Somehow, however, the tears dried up.  The sadness was gone, and it was all replaced with anger.  A desire for vengeance swelled where the tears should have been.  And before he had time to convince himself that he was choosing the wrong path...something snapped in his mind.  His mind was changing, shifting, distorting his every view.  In his brain, he saw a field of waste.  Corpses, skeletons, dead plants, hot dirt, and vultures everywhere.  At the end of the field, there stood a large elephant skull, and standing on top of it was a ravenous beast with huge, razor-sharp teeth, and giant claws.  It laughed maniacally as it gazed down at Scar and Scar found himself compelled to hate this thing.  Suddenly, the shadows covering the monster shifted, and he saw who it was.  It was Simba.

            As Ujono wiped his eyes, he could see that Scar was standing perfectly still with an empty gaze on his face.  His eyes were completely dead, as if he was obsessed with something.  For Scar, it was his nemesis.  Simba had taken so much from him: his pride, his lands, his friends, his son, his daughter, and now his mate.  When he had stood idly by, he had watched his family be taken from him, and he had not even been conscious to kiss his love goodbye, all because of Simba!  Any of Scar’s pains came from him.  No...they weren’t Scar’s pains.  They were Taka’s pains.  Scar was a corrupt individual who went from being a ruthless tyrant to a sniveling coward, hiding behind bushes and rocks, spying.  It was time...

            “Scar....what’s wrong with you?”

            The sound of the old lion’s voice came out icy and cold, in a harsh monotone.  “Scar is dead.  I have destroyed him.” 

            Ujono was completely confused.  “Destroyed?  Who...what...what are you talking about?”

            “Taka is now in control.  Taka will do what Scar was always afraid to do.  There are many debts to be repaid.”  As his uncle looked deep into the distance, Ujono could only stare at him and be shocked at what he was saying.  He knew that he had gone through a lot, but what Scar was speaking...it was becoming far too clear.  Scar had gone mad.  “If you do not help me, it is not of my concern, but I will seek my revenge, and my name will be remembered...

forever.”

 

-------------------------------------

“And you will shed tears of scarlet.”

-------------------------------------

 

Part III: The Madness of King Taka

 

            “I don’t understand anything you’re saying, Scar.”  Ujono was pacing back and forth, stepping on rocks in the river gorge.  His black mane fluttered wildly with the fierce wind that seemed to come from nowhere.  Anyone who chanced to look down into the gorge at that time would have seen three figures: the young and distraught Ujono, the corpse of a golden lioness, and a solitary old lion, sitting still as stone.

            Unlike his nephew, whose mane waved in the wind, the midnight mane of the grizzled lion barely fluttered.  His eyes were devoid of life, and it was clear that his mind was on something more important than the wind.  The body at his feet was that of his mate, Zira.  He had all but watched her die and he still had blood from her paw on his cheek.  He responded to Ujono’s statement without any sign of recognition.  “I’ve already told you once, my name is Taka.  I shall not tell you again.  If you don’t want to be a part of my plan, I understand, but do not get in my way.  I care deeply for you, but if you interfere with my scheme, your life won’t be worth the rocks you walk on.”  He rose to all four legs and began to climb out of the canyon.  Ujono called after him.

            “Look, I don’t know what psycho escapade you’re planning, but whatever it is, I want in on it.  If you’re planning anything resembling what I think you are, you’re going to need my help.”  He growled the last words to help get the point across to Taka, who was already halfway up the canyon.

            He was answered with a slight turn of the head from his uncle.  “In that case, speed up.  We have plans to make.”

 

            It had only been a few days since the grand coup between the Outlanders and the Pridelanders, but since then, a lot had been changed.  The Outlanders were permitted to rejoin themselves with the pride from which many of them had been ousted.  A number of the younger ones had never known the lushness of the pridelands, and they were ecstatic to learn how much their situation had improved.  Most notable among the new initiates were the daughter of Scar, Vitani, and Kiara's new mate Kovu, who seemed as if he would be the heir to the throne, upon Simba's passing.  The old Scar-infected line of thinking passed on with the death of his mate, and though he was glad it was over, Simba couldn't help but feel slightly bored.  After spending your childhood trying to survive wildebeest stampedes, hyena attacks, and living with Timon and Pumbaa before reclaiming the throne and then having to protect against a crazed lioness...policies of state were ungodly dull.  He wanted something to do.

            "Hey, Simba?  You want to do something?"

            The voice was that of Timon.  He was with Pumbaa, as always.  Simba responded.  "As always, Timon, your timing is absolutely perfect.  I'm about to die of boredom."

            Timon simply shrugged.  "Well, I'm not promising anything exciting, but me and Pumbaa are just gonna go hunt for some good bugs, and since it's been a while since we've done that as a trio, I was wondering if you'd like to tag along.  I'm sure you still remember how to pick good ones."

            The king lion stretched and smiled.  "Of course I still can.  To be honest, it sounds like it'll be a lot of fun.  Lead the way."  He began to follow the meerkat and warthog off of Pride Rock.  Suddenly, a blue hornbill suddenly flapped into Simba's face.

            "Sire, I'm afraid I have pressing business that you must attend to.  You'll have to put your little bug hunt off."

            Simba sighed.  "...sorry, guys.  Zazu, what exactly is so pressing that I can't even enjoy myself for a little while?"

            "You still haven't addressed the fires."

            "What is there to address?  I can't control nature.  I'm a king, not a god." 

            For the past few days, fires had bring springing up throughout both the plains and the pridelands.  The average brush fire was typically shrugged off as nothing, as they would occassionally spring up due to the heat.  However, this recent wave of fires was constant and rhythmical.  Whenever one fire went out, another would start, typically a long distance away, but still within Simba's kingdom.  The reason Simba needed to address the issue is because a good deal of suspicion was growing as to the cause of these fires.  Those who didn't want to be bothered with it, blamed the heat.  The superstitious blamed the ghost of Zira or Scar.  The destructive opinions, however, were a small group of lions who had formed a theory that the royal family was trying to flush the rest of the pridelands out so they could have the entire kingdom to themselves.  Of course, this was a bold-faced lie, but it needed to be addressed.  Simba felt that he couldn't address it, because he himself had no idea what was causing the fires.  His theory was that some of the hyenas had returned and were causing trouble, but he didn't want to sound like he was running a cover-up.  Zazu decided it was essental that the address be issued today, so he sat down with Simba and began helping him to plan out his speech.  While this was going on, Timon and Pumbaa had gotten bored, and had walked off into the grasses to attain their meals.

 

            "Geez, I'm telling you, Pumbaa...I was so right about the situation.  Our trio's down to two."

            "When did you say that, Timon?"

            "Well, technically, I didn't SAY it.  I...sang it."  Timon bit his lower lip and looked sheepishly at Pumbaa.  "You remember, right?  When Nala and Simba met again?"

            Pumbaa shrugged, then looked around.  "You think we're far enough away from Pride Rock to get any good grubs?"  His friend looked around and nodded approvingly.

            "This is perfect.  We won't have to worry about them making too much noise and scaring away our food."

            Had the two ceased talking, they would have heard the tall grass slowly rustling on a windless day.  They would have been able to hear not only the rustling, but they would have realized that the rustling was slowly, pace by pace, heading towards where they stood.

            The warthog sat down on the dusty ground.  He was a combination of bored and tired, resulting from a lack of sleep the night before.  If it was a little darker, he would probably have just laid down there and taken a nap.  "Gee, Timon...I wish it wasn't so bright out."  Upon uttering this, Pumbaa suddenly found himself in a large shadow, that stretched across his whole body and eclipsed Timon who was standing with his back to him a few steps in front of him, looking out into the grasses.  After a brief moment of silent panic, the corpulent animal slowly began to turn around to face the presence.  He kept his eyes lowered to the ground, scared of what would be waiting for him when he lifted them up to the face of whatever it was.  When he was fully facing the creature, he knew it was a lion by the golden paws with long and horribly sharp black claws tapping slowly and methodically on the ground.  As his eyes slowly rose up the form, he saw the golden fur of the chest, a black mane hanging loose and rather scraggly, until his face met the face of a lion with piercing blue eyes.  The two creatures stared at each other for what would have seemed like an eternity to the bystander.

            "Oh, hi, Ujono."  Pumbaa let out a sigh of relief.  "For a few seconds, I was scared terribly."  Ujono chuckled and Timon turned around to see them both.

            "How you liking the Pridelands, buddy?", Timon inquired.

            Ujono grinned.  "It's really not that different from home."  He looked around.  " What exactly are you guys doing?  Hunting for bugs?  Because if you are, yesterday I saw a rotten fruit in the grasses over in that direction."  He pointed his claw.  "There were tons of bugs all over it, just sitting and eating.  I can only assume that Rafiki left it there, or something.  I thought it was disgusting, but knowing you guys, you'll love it."

            He was answered with a yawn from Pumbaa.  "Hey, Timon...why don't you check it out?  I'm really tired, and I don't feel up to a whole bunch of searching.  If you find it, come back and let me know how it looks."

            Timon stood at attention, clicked his heels, and saluted.  "Will do, old buddy."  And with that, he was off, running through the grasses in search of the stray bug cafeteria, leaving the lion and the warthog to each other's conversations.

            As Pumbaa desperately racked his brain for something of interest to talk about with Ujono, the conversation was initiated from the other end.  "Pumbaa...I have a dilemma.  It's about my past.  I want to know what you think of guys like me, you know, who have...questionable......pasts."

            Recalling his interaction with Simba, it didn't take long for Pumbaa to answer.  "Well, as both me and my good buddy Timon always say, you gotta put your behind in your past."  Ujono began laughing hysterically.  After a minute or so, he wiped his eyes and resumed talking.

            "So, if I've done something wrong, you'd forgive me, wouldn't you?"

            "Oh, yeah.  Definitely."

            "Well, then..."  Ujono's face went suddenly blank of emotion, and he turned sideways to Pumbaa for a moment before glancing in his direction.  "Will you forgive me?"  Pumbaa nodded.  "Thank you very much, Pumbaa.  You've no idea how important this is to me."  He stood up and began to slowly walk away, his tail swishing back and forth slowly.  Pumbaa, confused, stood up.

            "Wait a second, Ujono.  What did you do?" 

            He only stood a foot or two away from Ujono, but he couldn't quite decipher the sound that was being made in response.  At first, the warthog assumed that the lion was crying, reflecting on what he had done.  However, as the volume increased, he pieced together that he was laughing.  "Trust me.  You'll know soon."  Then there was a fast gold and black blur as the shape in front of him turned around and rushed at him.  Before he had the chance to move away, there was a black, shining flash, and he suddenly felt numb all over, and extremely tired.  His face felt warm, his eyes became clouded with red, and the entire world faded into darkness, but not before he felt a tingle in his back and a sound like that of one of his tusks ripping through a log...

 

            "Rotten fruit, my tail," Timon grumbled.  "I can't stand these wild goose chases.  Ujono's gonna get such a tongue lashing when I see him."  He was stomping through the grass, annoyed and frustrated, both at Ujono's misdirections and the dearth of nourishment in his stomach.  When he neared the locale where he had left the lion with his best friend, he pushed the grasses apart to see Ujono crash to the ground, blood pouring from his maw.

            Timon immediately ran to him, running through small pools of blood, leaving a tiny straight line of red tracks.  He instinctively placed his paws on Ujono's nose, but pulled them back in horror and disgust.  "What happened?"  The lion merely motioned with his sanguine face towards a figure looming over them both.  Once the meerkat turned his head, it only took him a second to realize who it was.

            "Scar."

            The gaunt figure replied, "My name is Taka.  And as long as we're introducing each other, from what I've heard, you're the famous Timon that helped Simba survive his childhood.  While this bleeding lump of flesh is, from what I've heard, Ujono.  I swear, the second you have the lionesses hunting for you in the Pridelands, you turn into goo.  You could be my grandson, for god's sake!"  Taka bared his claws, dug them into the dirt, and tossed a pawful into his nephew's face.  The recipient began coughing violently, and spit up blood before going limp.

            "You killed him, you monster!"

            "He's just unconscious, you...you...meerrat!"  Taka began laughing maniacally at his pathetic insult.  The laughter seemed to persist for ages, but without any warning, the evil smile on the lion's face dissolved into a look of seriousness and he began to stare relentlessly at Timon.  "You do realize that you've seen far more than you were supposed to see.  I should have to kill you now."

            "What have you done with Pumbaa?"

            "I've taken him as a sort of hostage. I have a demand of you.  Now that you've seen me, you must not tell Simba that I am alive.  It is essential to my cause that he remain completely uninformed until the ending that I have composed.  If you can keep your mouth shut, no harm shall come to him.  If you tell them who I am, you and your best friend will be found dead, and horribly so.  If you keep your promise, I'll release Pumbaa tonight, and he'll show up at Pride Rock in the dark hours.  If you don't, you take your own fate into your hands."

            "Wha-what if Ujono talks?"

            A smile curled on the old lion's lip.  "I KNOW he won't talk.  You're only in one piece now because I worked out my emotions on this traitor."  He then grabbed Ujono's ankles and began dragging him into the taller grasses.  "In fact, I feel another bout coming on.  Do yourself a favor and scamper off to safety.  I'd hate to see you traumatized further than I see fit."  And with that, Timon was left alone in the savanna, standing ankle-deep in a pool of blood.  He looked around for a few moments, stunned by the situation he had been placed in.  Then he shut his eyes tightly, tensed his muscles, and screamed.

 

            When Timon returned to Pride Rock, he escaped glances, questions, and inquisitive eyes, all wondering about Pumbaa.  Instead, he sat in the section of the lair which Simba had prepared for him a while back, a little alcove near a bigger alcove, that of his best friend.  He rocked back and forth clutching his knees, wanting to scream the name of the killer who had returned to wreak havoc on one of his closest friends, but instead he found himself torn between the life of a friend and his king to the life of his best friend, and probably himself.  He rolled the choices back and forth in his mind, but he couldn't come up with an answer that would solve his problems.

            Though he was immersed deeply in his own thoughts, Timon couldn't help but hear the murmurs of shock and the gasps that united outside of the lair.  It was obvious what was happening.  Ujono was back.  Timon hopped to his feet, feeling a necessity to comfort a soul who had to suffer physically what he undertook in his mind.  But when he actually saw Ujono, he joined the crowd's noise with a gasp.

            Ujono was in shreds.  Barely an inch of fur on his body was not covered in blood.  He was hobbling, on three of his legs, while his back left leg dragged across the ground.  After every five or so steps, he coughed up a dollop of blood, often landing on the pelt of a lioness.  Once he ascended to a level point on Pride Rock, he stopped, wobbled for a few moments, then fell on his side and finishing with a roll onto his back.  The entire pride loomed over him.

            "Are you okay?"

            "What happened?"

            "Who did this to you?"

            "Tell us who did it."

            "Tell us."

            "Tell us!"

            In response, the lion coughed, wheezed, and whispered, "I fell."

            "Fell?  Off of what?  A mountain?"

            "I fell onto some jagged rocks, and I got cut up.  All I need to do is soak for a while."  His eyes wandered in a circle around the lionesses over him.  "Could someone provide me with a little help in getting there?"

            Kiara pushed forward and volunteered her services.  "I'll help you, Ujono.  Just put one arm over my back."

            Ujono smiled.  "I'd be most honored, my princess.  But I would really hate to burden you with someone of my weight."

            "You overestimate yourself, Uji.  You're a big lion, but you're not a terrible weight to bear.  You're more slender, lithe...whatever the right word is."

            "And you flatter me, princess.  It makes me feel a little better to have someone as beautiful and regal as you give me such compliments."  By this time, the crowd had begun to disperse, as many of them were feeling ill at the dialogue being exchanged.  Kovu, on the other hand, was very interested, staring at the prostrate lion with hate in his eyes.  "In any situation, however, I simply won't have it.  You're royalty, and I'm a beaten brute of a lion.  I'd feel much better to take another."  Kiara nodded and backed away, where she was immediately whisked away by Kovu.

            Ujono extended a claw and pointed it a lioness who was walking away.  "You," he called after her, "help me, please."

            Vitani made a face before turning towards him, smiling falsely.  "Okay, then.  Put an arm over my back, and I'll help you out."  Ujono complied, and she began helping the wounded lion make the long trek to the water hole.

 

            "Simba?"

            "Timon, is this important?"  Simba was in his lair, stressing his brain over what to do about Ujono.  Obviously something had happened to him, but he was unwilling to say.  What puts that sort of fear in a lion?  "I'm a bit busy with the issue at hand."

            The small rodent stuttered a little.  "A-actually, it would...it would solve the entire...issue."

            Simba turned his head with a start.  "Do you know something Timon?"

            He nodded.  "I've known for a while now, but I've been to scared to tell you.  I'm worried that he might hurt me."

            "Who, Timon?  Who might hurt you?  Who attacked Ujono?"

            Timon gulped, cleared his throat, and shut his eyes tight.  "It was Scar!  I saw him, and he's still alive!"

            Simba stood in front of Timon with his mouth and eyes wide open.  For the longest time, there was nothing but silence, until a noise came from behind Timon.  It was Kiara, and she was holding back laughter. 

            Timon turned to Simba with pleading eyes.  "Simba!  You gotta understand!"

            "Timon, please.  I'll give you that it was probably a rogue lion, but I won't believe that my uncle has come back from the grave.  Scar is dead, and I sincerely hope this is just a misunderstanding and not a joke, because it isn't funny in the least."

            "But Simba..."

            "Here's what I'll do.  I'll send out a search party to look for any rogues.  They'll do a basic sweep of the area, and if they don't find anything, they'll come back to Pride Rock.  More than likely this attacker is gone, and knowing Ujono's abilities, at least some of that blood belongs to his assailant.  I can't have my pride searching forever for one creature.  As for Pumbaa, I really don't know what to say.  Hopefully he just got himself lost, or fell asleep somewhere.  Don't worry yourself over things you have no control over."  Simba looked around the room at the shadows and the darkness.  "It's getting late, Timon.  It's been a messed up day, and I think we all need some sleep, you especially."

            Timon was quivering subtlely, and he was biting down on his lower lip pretty hard, but he still managed to get out a "thank you", before he shuffled off to his alcove, where he sat awake for what seemed to be ages.

 

            Vitani's job had gotten infinitely harder for her, as Ujono had seemed to have passed out or fallen asleep midway through the journey.  It wasn't that he was hard to drag along.  To the contrary, Ujono had more tone than bulk, and he seemed to always be malnourished to some degree.  However, Vitani would much rather have been either giving herself a bath, preparing for bed, or doing anything than taking care of her wounded cousin, one she'd never even met before he joined the pride.  "Oh, I'd be so honored, but I'd hate to get blood on your fur," she said, mocking the limp lion.  "I'd much rather take the scraggly one over there, make her do the grunt work.  Stupid, lousy..."

            "You know, you're beautiful when you're making fun of me."  Upon hearing him speak up, Vitani immediately dropped him with a thud.  "Not particularly graceful, but beautiful.  Do you want me to walk?"

            Vitani stood in front of Ujono with her mouth and eyes wide open.  For the longest time, there was nothing but silence, until Vitani spoke up again.  "You were listening?"  Then she thought harder, looked even more shocked and posed another query.  "Beautiful?  What are you talking about?"  She began walking beside him towards the water hole.

            "I really don't want to creep you out, but I've been watching you for a long time."

            "Watching me?  What do you mean?"

            "Well, while you were living in the Outlands, I was living in the plains, and while they are infinitely more fertile, there's really no other lions living there.  Decent lairs are near impossible to find, and when my mom left, I really had no other option than to find ways to keep myself amused.  My prime activity?  Watching the outlanders.  I know everything that's happened to you since you were..."

            "Hey, it's okay."

            Ujono shook his head.  "I didn't mean that.  I was just thinking about Zira, your mother."

            "Oh."  Vitani's head drooped a little as she walked.  "It's alright, I guess.  Like her name, you know?  Full of hate to the very core.  It's what killed her.  I just....I just wish she had..."  Though she tried with all her might to force them away, tears pushed their way out of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.  As the two came to the watering hole, they both just walked out into the center, Ujono watching Vitani, and Vitani fighting off her tears.

            "That she had lived to be a part of all this..."  Ujono carefully wiped away one of her tears, and flicked it off into the water.  "I'm so sorry, Vitani.  I didn't mean to bring it all back..."  He was interrupted as Vitani suddenly pushed her face forward and licked the side of Ujono's face.

            He started, craned his neck back a little, looked at the tear-stained face of Vitani, and smiled at her.  Then he leaned forward and returned her kiss.  As he licked her neck, and she his ear, she whispered to him, "Thank you, Uji."

            "You're welcome," he whispered, and nuzzled her lovingly.

            Suddenly, they heard a cough, and they simultaneously turned their heads toward the edge of the hole, and saw Kiara looking very nervous.  Vitani immediately scampered out of the pool towards her princess.  "It's not what you think," she said.

            Kiara replied, "It doesn't really matter what I think.  I'm only here to have a word with Ujono."  Vitani nodded nervously and ran back to Pride Rock, still scared about her princess's thoughts.

            "She was being honest.  I was just comforting her."

            "I'm not questioning her integrity, Ujono.  But to humor you, I can tell there was a little bit more than that," she said.  "But that's beside the point."

            "What is the point, my princess?"

            "It's Kiara, Ujono.  Well, with the recent death of Rafiki, a void was left in my father's staff.  His most trusted advisor and his shaman are gone..."

            "And you heard about my shamanic abilities and wanted me to take the job?"

            "Well, yes."

            "I only have one problem with the issue."

            She flashed him a quizzical look.  "What is it?"

            "The fact that you're lying to me."  He smirked.  "Right?"

            Kiara's face spread into a wide grin.  "Yes, I'm afraid I am to a degree.  The truth is I know nothing about your past, your abilities or anything...but I was impressed by your lightheartedness when afflicted with the wounds you received.  The wounds, which...frankly, I can't find now.  I guess you really are a great shaman."

            "Well, I'm not as good as Rafiki by any means, but I can fix a couple of scrapes here and there."  When he went to laugh, he was met with a serious look on Kiara's face.

            "Tell me the truth, Ujono.  Did you really get hurt, or was this some kind of act to meet Vitani?"

            Once she had finished her query, Ujono loosened up his joints and held the two prime claws of his front right paw in front of Kiara.  Then, he slowly pushed both the tips of both claws into an invisible slit in his side.  As she watched with curious eyes, he parted his fingers a little, showing the sheer depth of his gash.  "Do you see the white at the bottom?"  Kiara nodded.  "Do I have to tell you what that is?"  He pulled out his fingers quickly, and the gap sealed with a quiet, yet sickening noise.

            Kiara looked a little green.  "Okay, okay...I believe you now." 

            "But does this little visit of yours have anything to do with Kovu taking you aside?"

            "You saw that, then?"  She let out a tired sigh.  "He thought that you were being far too friendly with me and that I was returning the sentiment.  I told him that it was common courtesy, and if he didn't want to believe it it really wasn't my problem.  It shut him up pretty good, but I'd like to show him that he's being an idiot.  I want you to be my father's tactical advisor and shaman and my own personal bodyguard."

            Ujono thought for a moment before replying.  "I'll take the first two, but the last one I'm going to avoid.  I dunno how much Kovu dislikes me, and I don't want to stir him up too much.  As for our conversation, you're right about it, and Kovu has nothing to worry about."

            "Good, because if I'm wrong about you, and you turn out to be one of those kind of lions, I have no problems with running you out of here myself."  She turned around and began to walk back to Pride Rock.

            "Agreed."  He called after her.  "Anything else, Kiara?"

            "Ah, yes, there is one thing."  She turned around to face him again.  "None of us believe that you fell and the mere impact ripped those kind of gashes into you.  The pride was trying to come up with various theories, and Timon offered up the funniest answer.  I'm assuming he saw a rogue and had a bit of a hallucination, you know?"

            "No, I don't know...what did he say?"

            "He said that Scar was behind it all."  Ujono coughed loudly.

            "Scar?"

            "Yeah, you were really young when he was killed, and I wasn't even born yet, but he took the throne from my father after killing Mufasa.  Died a long time ago, though, and it's not like he would've survived out there.  No one would've taken him in after all that."  As Kiara turned to leave for a second time, she called to Ujono.  "You coming back?"

            He just shrugged.  "I need to work some more on these wounds, and the stuff I need is back in my old lair, but I'll get there when I can.  You go on ahead."  And with that, he dashed off to his old home in the plains.

 

            By the time Kiara returned to Pride Rock, the sun had gone down, and the sky had begun to get rather dark, so she made her way into the main lair and curled up with Kovu, who was lying alone.  Upon feeling her warm body pressed against his, he wrapped his arms around her, curled up tight with her, and kissed her on the top of her head before falling asleep, almost simultaneously with his mate.

            Since the recent acquisition of Zira's pride, Simba's pride had grown tremendously, and thus, the lair was full.  Everyone had their places.  Simba slept with Nala and Kiara with Kovu.  Sarabi and Sarafina, being the two elder lionesses, had honorary places.  Original members of the pride also slept in the lair.  Though the Outlanders were permitted to sleep in the main lair, many of them opted for sleep on the ledge, as they were more used to sleeping underneath the night sky, then in a comfortable nook.  Vitani typically slept on the ledge, but Ujono was, unusually, never found asleep.  The only other real option, aside from a small ledge on the top of Pride Rock called Suicide Peak (as a king ages ago, swamped with territorial disputes, disagreeable lionesses, and murderous children had thrown himself from the very top when his stress culminated in no other way out), was the lair behind the main one.  However, this lair had become an unspoken taboo, as its most famous resident had been the Pridelands most infamous character.  During these days, it was a common dare among cubs for one to go back to the lair, use his claw to carve his name on a rock, and run back.  However, when Scar had actually returned there to spy on Kovu and Kiara during the Outlander-Pridelander conflicts, the walls remained untouched.  The only non-lions allowed in this lair were those affiliated with the royal family.  Rafiki had always been permitted to stay there, but he had always declined.  Zazu had a nest near the ceiling of the lair.  And of course, there were the alcoves of Timon and Pumbaa.

            Timon was the only one in the lair not sleeping at the time.  His thoughts kept flipping between Scar's words, Ujono's anguish, Simba's denial, Kiara's laughter, and memories of his best buddy.  He tried to justify himself by telling himself that he did the right thing, but he couldn't help feeling bad, like he'd killed his best friend...

            "This isn't helping at all.  I'm just depressing myself."  Timon straightened himself, hopped off of his alcove, and walked out of the cave into the night air.  He rubbed the fur on his arms with both hands, trying to keep himself a little warm.  "Man, I need to stop dwelling on this.  This is totally out of my hands.  He said Pumbaa would be returned tonight if I did right, and I just need to give it time.  The night's barely begun."

            "Timon?"

            Upon hearing his name from below him, the meerkat immediately peered over the edge of the rocks.  He looked into the darkness beneath the ledge, and so as not to wake the outlanders, he called clearly but quietly, "Pumbaa?"

            The voice wheezed out equally quietly.  "I'm hurt, Timon.  Can you help me?"

            Timon could barely contain his excitement.  "I'm coming, buddy!", he called out, a little bit louder than before.  He immediately started bounding down the rocks towards his friend, who was in the grasses below.  As Timon descended further, Pumbaa continued to talk to him, leading him into the tall grass some distance away from the actual monolith.  When Timon finally caught up to his buddy, he was lying on his belly, looking extremely listless, and covered with wounds.  He caught sight of a few drips of blood coming from a seam in his side.  "Pumbaa?  What did they do to you?"

            Suddenly, Timon felt the ground shift, and herd the sound of nails dragging through the ground.  Pumbaa slowly began to stand up, but after standing up, he kept rising, up on a cloud of darkness until he was towering over Timon, and looking down at him diminuitively.  A pair of claws reached into the warthog's nostril, and peeled the cleanly skinned pig carcass from the creature's skull, immediately causing two green eyes to glint in the moonlight, a glimmer quickly followed by that of white teeth below.  "The question," the creature posed, "is what did you do to him?"

            "Why did you tell Simba, Timon?"  Ujono walked up from behind Timon and faced the grinning, glowing animal whose mane fluttered in the wind.  "Was it worth it?  Was the pain you're feeling now worth Simba's safety?"

            Timon was in a haze of tears.  It was bad enough for him to know about the disappearance of Pumbaa, and worse still to know of his death, but to see his corpse, know who committed the act, and be unable to do anything about it, that was the ultimate injustice.  "Ujono," he squeezed out, "I wish I could help you.  I'd love to wreak my own revenge on this ancient murderer, but you know I can't.  When you're killing him, please...don't hold back any pain.  He's made me suffer more than I ever could."

            "Timon..."  Ujono paused and sat down.  "How could I kill him?  After all, ancient murderer or no, he is my uncle."  When Timon turned to face him with a look of disbelief, he was met with the  same glinting eyes (only a shade of blue) and another set of glimmering white jaws, all looking down upon him.  He looked back and forth between Scar and Ujono, between old and new generations, and the more he looked the less he could tell them apart.  The same midnight mane, the same beard, the same physique, Ujono just needed the mark.  Timon picked up a nearby stone and hurled it at Ujono's left eye.  With a twist of his head, the lion knocked it out of midair with his maw.

            "Then what was that huge show you put on for the pride back there?  Your wounds, your blood...was any of that real?"

            "Some of it was mine...but most of it belonged to your friend."

            "But...why us?"

            Scar answered.  "Why not you, Timon?  You two were the main reasons that Simba survived his time in the wilderness.  If not for you, he wouldn't have come back, I wouldn't have been deposed, and my family wouldn't be dead now."  Timon's pupils disappeared into his eyes.  He understood what it was all about.

            The meerkat clenched his fists at both sides of his body and looked down at the ground.  He knew there was no escaping his fate.  "Just go ahead, you demons.  I hope you choke."

            As Scar laughed, Ujono carefully wrapped his paw around Timon, hoisted him up, and tossed him into the air, so that for a few moments, he was parallel to the ground.  During this moment, both lions chomped their jaws onto his midsection, bit down, and pulled.  With an unusually loud snapping noise, the animal was split in two, and then devoured by both, almost without any chewing.

            A couple moments later, Ujono was sitting, staring down at a sliver of blood-soaked bone, one of Timon's vertebrae.  Looking at it, he could almost see what he had just done.  The feel of his flesh in his mouth, the sound of the snap, and worst of all, the kicking of his feet as they went down his throat...they were haunting him.  Timon had, by nature, been a cowardly creature, but in death he had been at his most brave.  It made Ujono feel like a coward himself.

            Meanwhile, Taka was busy licking the last drops of meerkat from his lips.  He didn't want to miss a single drop, and the sight of it was more than Ujono could take.  And to make matters worse, his side was really beginning to hurt now...there was only one way to handle this.  "Oh, Taka..."

            "Yes, Ujo..."  The old lion was cut short as he was cuffed hard in the face by the younger.  Caught completely off guard, Taka rolled a good distance and ended up on his back.  Ujono approached him cautiously.

            "Are you absolutely insane?  First of all, I'm absolutely disgusted by what we just did.  That was a repugnant way to kill a creature, no matter how you feel about them."  Ujono stood above his uncle's body and yelled in his face.  "Secondly, were you really trying to kill me earlier?  You cut me to the bone, Scar!  To the bone!  Do you know how much this hurts?"

            Taka's eyes suddenly snapped open.  "Yes, I do."  He immediately sprung an arm out and grabbed Ujono by the throat.  The strength of his uncle's grip caught him by surprise and he found himself flailing like a toad as his captor kept speaking.  "The answer to your first question is yes.  I am wholly mad.  I don't doubt my madness for a second, but it is this same madness that has increased my strength, my will, and mostly, my awareness.  I admit that I got caught up in the adrenaline of the moment when dispatching Timon, but I didn't see you struggling to stop me."

            Ujono hissed as he tried to pry Taka's paws from his throat.  "Why, you..."

            "And as for your wounds," Taka continued, "the same idea applies.  Just getting caught up in the moment.  But these sort of discussions trouble me.  I wonder if you're strong or smart enough to keep up with me.  If your mind is so weak, that'll you give up and run to Simba, crying for help, abandoning us like your mother did."  The scarred lion grinned evilly.

            Upon hearing this remark, Ujono ceased the effort to release himself and placed both paws firmly on the sides of Taka's head.  He then bared the longest claw on each paw, and pointed them into Taka's temples.  "My mind isn't so weak that I can't take you down.  If you squeeze any tighter, I'll push my claws together until they touch, and not even a cockroach like you could survive that.  I don't want to die, and I don't want to kill you, but if you continue to push towards the former, I'll be more than happy to oblige."

            His threat was met with a laugh.  "Go ahead!  Kill me!  Then you can take full responsiblity for killing those two!  Unlike you, I don't fear death.  But for the sake of my memory, I'm ready to leave you with a nice souvenir."

            "I'll kill you first."

            "Kill you?  I'm not planning on killing you!  There's so many more fun things you can do.  Maybe before you proceed with your plan, you should look for my other claws."  Ujono darted his eyes from side to side and all around, until he looked down and figured out what Taka was talking about.

            "You wouldn't..."

            "You should know better than anyone, Ujono.  Yes, I would!  It'd be lovely!  You could shave off your mane and your tail tuft, and you could be known as lioness Ujono.  You could go hunting, take care of the cubs, share gossip...who knows?  Maybe Simba would take you on as a mate!"  Taka began laughing hysterically.  So much so, in fact, that he was completely caught off guard when Ujono kicked him in the chin.

            As Ujono broke free of the grip and massaged his cramping neck, Taka clutched his head, screaming in agony.  "First rule of fighting, Scar.  Never lower your guard," snapped Ujono.  Immediately, however, he noticed that Taka was also laughing.

            "Perfect!  You were absolutely perfect!  I knew that you were the right one for this job!  I had my doubts, but now, I'm absolutely sure that I made the right choice!"

            "What are you saying?  Are you saying that all that was..."

            "A test!  Yes, it was!  And you passed with flying colors, Ujono!  I admit, I saw the claws to the brain coming, but that kick....that was so impressively done!"  Taka continued to laugh for a short period of time, before he was able to relax enough to talk seriously.  "Back to business, Ujono.  We have more work to do."

            Ujono scowled as Taka walked away.  "You piece of..."

 

            "I'm sorry, you guys", said Ujono as he walked up to Pride Rock where all the lions and lionesses were gathered in a circle, talking.  "I didn't mean to worry you."

            Simba snarled at him.  "Where have you been?"

            Taking two steps back, the young lion replied, "I went back to my lair to get some herbal remedies for my wounds.  When I got back there, I realized how comfortable it was, and I decided I might as well spend the night.  I'm really sorry if you were worried."

            "Why should we believe you?"

            "Why shouldn't you?  What's going on?"

            "Timon's disappeared," interjected Nala, pushing past Simba so she was face to face with the black-maned lion.  "Please tell us you had nothing to do with it."

            "I had nothing to do with it!  Do you think that I would have anything to gain by hurting Timon?"

            "I don't know if you did, Ujono.  But I'm having a hard time trusting your excuse."

            "I'm not a liar, old man."

            "What did you just say to me?"

            "Stop this!"  Kiara ran in between the two quarreling lions and switched gazes between both.  "This fighting isn't going to accomplish anything.  What we need to do is do our utmost to find him.  There's probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, and fighting isn't going to help him show up."

            "I think we should split up.  We each take a different area," said Ujono.

            Kovu came forward.  "You'd like that, wouldn't you, Ujono?  Who else you gonna kill?"

            Next, it was Vitani's turn.  "Geez, Kovu.  Just shut up.  It's a good idea."

            "I have to agree with you, Vitani."  Then Simba pointed to Ujono.  "But if Timon turns up dead, we're going to have a little talk."  Ujono nodded.  "All right, everyone...here's the plan..."

 

            So the spots were chosen, one by one, Ujono laying claim to the area where Timon was last standing before he was bifurcated.  He kept careful track of the other regions, and helped sort them out.  The region to the west was being investigated by Vitani, the region to the east by Kovu.  Now Ujono knew the plan that Scar had in store, but he was getting slightly excited about it, especially after being subjected to Kovu's little outburst.

            Thus, after the split, and after a short period of time, Ujono made his way to the east.

 

            Vitani was getting tired.  She had searched her section as much as she could imagine possible.  Unless Timon was running around, he certainly wasn't anywhere near her.  She had tried to amuse herself for a few moments by throwing rocks around, pretending she was hitting cheetahs in the head, but the novelty of it all was short-lived.  What she needed was some company.  So, remembering the way regions were assigned, she began to walk towards the east.

 

            Kovu knew he had something.  He didn't know what it was, but it was definitely something.  He was standing next to a large monolith, taller than his head, and running down the center was a slightly dry stream of blood.  He couldn't quite place the animal by the scent of the blood, but he refused to give up.  Standing on his hind legs, he put his forepaws on the monolith, and put his nose to the stone, sniffing hard.  He was so engrossed in his investigation that he didn't hear the footsteps coming up from behind him.  In fact, he didn't realize anything until a paw grabbed his skull, and before he could comprehend what to do, slammed his head into the rock, knocking him unconscious.

 

            Ujono was nowhere in sight.  Vitani knew that he had probably gone back to his lair, for food, or more sleep, or anything that didn't resemble work.  She shook her head.  "That is the most irresponsible lion I have ever known."  She smiled as she opened her eyes slowly, remembering how he had nuzzled her.  Then she saw a glint of white on the ground.  It was a piece of bone, too small to be on anything bigger than a cub, and the blood wasn't old.  This was a meerkat bone.

 

            Kovu could feel an itch on his shoulder when he woke up, and as he instinctively reached to scratch it, he found that he couldn't move.  The spot behind his head was warm and damp.  As his eyes opened, and his mind came to, he discovered that he had been tied to the monolith with vines and creepers.  He was extremely tightly bound in all places but his neck.  Craning it as much as he could, he followed the length of the vine to his left side, where Ujono stood smiling, the vine at his feet.

            "I knew it was you."

            "Why do you think you're here, Kovu?"  Ujono started to chuckle.

            "Oh, so now you're going to kill me because I know your dirty secret?"

            "Annoyingly, no, I'm not.  That job falls to someone with a much stronger grudge against you."

            "What are you talking about?"  Ujono raised a paw, upturned it, and pointed up.  Kovu, humoring this sick member of his pride, looked up.

            "Boo!"  Scar's face twisted into a horrible grin, as he laid on the top of the monolith, his eyes staring directly into Kovu's.  Though he acted like he wasn't caught off guard, Scar could see in his heir's eyes that his little prank had had the needed effect.  He slid off the back of the rock, and rounded the front of it, so that he could face Kovu.  "Do you have any idea who I am?"

            "If you're who I think you are, then I'm seeing ghosts.  You're supposed to be dead."

            "I'm also supposed to be sane.  But that's not currently the case."

            Kovu, the fear in his eyes increasing, began to plead.  "Look, I'm sorry.  I fell in love with Kiara.  I couldn't kill Simba when I knew how much it would hurt her."

            Scar, enraged, grabbed the vine and pulled it tight against Kovu's throat, momentarily cutting off his breath as the old lion hissed into the face of his captive.  "It has nothing to do with that, you idiot.  Do you know what you did to me?"

            Kovu choked on every word.  "You killed Nuka!  You killed my only son!"

            "I thought I...was your son."

            "My son wouldn't have turned out like you."

            "Your son was an idiot.  He was unfit for the throne."

            Scar's words flew into Kovu's face with spittle for punctuation.  "At least he died nobly.  He died while trying to pursue a foe.  You're going to die bound and scared.  Help me out, Ujono."

            "Gladly."  Ujono climbed to the top of the rock, and held Kovu's head in place, facing forward.  "I hope you realize how much this is going to hurt."

            "Please.....don't...."

            "Hey, I couldn't stop him I wanted to.  He's completely insane at this point.  If he wants you to die, you're going to die.  And such is the case this time.  Scar?"

            "It's Taka, damn you."

            "Fine, Taka....time for some exercise."

            Scar nodded and began walking around the rock.  At first, the rope was loosely draped across Kovu's neck, but as Scar's pace picked up, so did the tension in the rope.  By the time he had rounded the rock twice, the lion was running, and Kovu was struggling for air.  He desperately tried to release his paws, but his claws were facing the rock, and only made screeching noises that would have offended his ears if he weren't in so much pain.  He began to twitch violently, and his screams were shut out by the tightness of the vines.  As Kovu spasmed on the rock, Scar made his rounds, and Ujono no longer needed to hold Kovu's head.  He began experimenting by making small cuts on Kovu's upper body, which, with the added pressure, began to bleed profusely.  In a matter of seconds, Kovu had passed out, and in a few more seconds, there came an unusual noise from Kovu's body...the sound of his throat being crushed.

 

            As Ujono walked back towards his predesignated search area, he had about a hundred things running through his head.  What was Scar's plan?  Was he planning to dethrone Simba?  Were all these deaths really necessary?  What would he eat for dinner?  Would a gazelle be easier to catch than a wildebeest at this time in the day?  What would he tell the pride that he saw?  What would he tell Kiara?  What would he tell Simba?  What would he tell...

            "Where have you been?"

            He recognized the voice.  "Vitani, I could easily ask you the same question."

            "Yes, you could, but at least I don't have blood on me."  Ujono looked down at his paws.  Vitani shook her head.  "It's on your face, Ujono."

            He frantically rubbed his cheek from where he assumed blood had sprayed from Kovu's gashes.  Sure enough, there was indeed a little bit of blood on his fur.  "It's mine," he made up.

            "Stop lying, Ujono.  I know it was you."  She reached down with two prime claws on her right paw and picked up a tiny sliver of bone lying on the ground.  "You and I have a lot in common.  We're both related to Scar, we're in the same pride, and neither one of us is stupid."  She held out the meerkat's vertebra where Ujono could see it.  "This is your sector, and I know you're too intelligent to have missed this, and I know where it came from.  I just want to know if you killed Pumbaa, too."

            "It....it wasn't my idea."

            "W-wasn't your idea??"  She furiously through the tiny bone at Ujono's face, and though it was too small to provide much of an impact, the wound to his pride still remained.  "Who cares if it's your idea?  You killed Timon and Pumbaa, and lied about it to the whole pride.  Besides that, you have new blood on you.  That's not meerkat blood, either...who else have you killed?"  Vitani's eyes were no wide with anger, and her breathing was labored.  She looked ready to pounce.

            Ujono paused for a moment before proceeding rather timidly.  "....Kovu...."

            "WHAT??"

            "Kovu..."

            "YOU KILLED KOVU???"  She all but shouted these words, so Ujono motioned for Vitani to keep it down, and though she took her volume down, her anger remained.  "What in the hell is wrong with you?  Someone gets on your nerves, and you just slaughter them?"

            "It's not that simple..."

            "Why should I believe you?  You've been lying to me the whole time!  That whole thing back at the waterhole was probably just for show...showing off for Kiara to prove that you're not the psycho that you obviously are!"  She approached him with a certain haste to her walk that made Ujono back up slowly.  "I thought you actually cared about me, you bastard!"  Her last phrase was punctuated with a cuff that caught the lion very off guard.  He stumbled more than he usually would have, and felt more pain than he would have expected from such a hit.

            "It wasn't my idea, Vitani," he said, while rubbing the sore spot on his face.  "I was just following orders."

            "Should that matter?  You're still killing things for no good reason."

            "It does matter.  You don't understand, because you're not in my place.  I owe him so much."

            "What do you owe him?"

            "I owe him this legacy that he's come up with.  I don't particularly agree with him, but it's the least I can do...think about it."  Ujono waved his paws as he gestured frantically, trying to explain himself and his uncle.  "What are they gonna say about him?  What are they gonna say?  That he was a kind lion?  That he was a wise lion?  That he had plans?  That he had wisdom?  They won't.  They'll just remember the history that went before.  You know what it's like.  You've had to live with a legend over your head, and be discriminated because of it.  I'm helping out him and myself."

            A puzzled look was all the answer Vitani could provide other than "Who are you talking about?"

            Ujono took a long sigh, and looked straight at her.  "Your father."

            "That's not funny, Ujono."

            "It's not a joke."

            "You're right, it's not.  It's sick.  I never got to see my father before he died, and you know that.  And I don't really appreciate you making light of that."

            "Daughter?"  A voice called out from behind Vitani.  When she turned around she came face to face with her father, who had snuck up during Ujono and Vitani's quarrel.  For the longest time, all she could do was stare at something which she was almost sure was a ghost.  Finally, after what seemed like ages, she embraced Taka, who took her into his arms.

            "I've never seen you before, dad."

            "I know.  I'm glad to see the way you grew up.  You're a beautiful young lioness.  Zira and I had been hoping for a girl."  He stroked her back in a paternal way, one which he had never gotten to experience before.

            She released him from her grasp, and stood back a little bit, and looked at him with her eyes slightly moist.  "Scar..."

            "Taka, please."

            "Taka...please stop this."

            The old lion laughed.  "Stop what?"

            "This vendetta...this unquenchable desire for revenge.  I understand it, I really do...but it won't go anywhere, and all it does is rip apart lives."

            He smiled at her.  "You just said it right.  All I want is to destroy the lives of those who helped to destroy me and my family.  And I won't stop until I've got my revenge on all of them.  You should understand.  They killed Zira...your mother, for goodness' sake!"

            Vitani closed her eyes to hold back tears and began yelling at her father.  "I never claimed that I didn't understand!  I just don't think it's right!  I think you're wrong, and what's worse, I think you've gone insane!  I think you've lost your mind, and you're dragging Ujono down with you!  I hate to yell at you like this, but I never wanted to believe that my father was a murderer, and when I see you now, I see that in reality, he's..."  When Vitani opened her eyes to face him, she found that he was gone.  "...gone."  While looking at the ground where he had stood, the tears finally welled up beyond her capacity to hold them back, and tears rolled down her cheeks.  Ujono, who had just been standing by, walked up to her and placed his hand on her back.

            "You know, I think you're right.  But he won't accomplish what he wants."  He softly rubbed the fur on Vitani's back.  "He's old, weak, and he doesn't have enough wits left to complete anything.  He's gotten by at this point by almost nothing but luck, and my support, and after we take care of one more, I'm quitting."  Vitani turned and looked at him, with a look of mixed hatred and grief.

            "I know I can't stop you from doing your 'duty', but I just want you to promise...no more lions, please?  If you can promise me that, I'll even vouch for your earlier deeds, to keep you from getting caught."

            "I promise."

            "Oh, Ujono...one more thing."

            "Yes?"

            "Don't get caught, please?  I can't explain falling in love with a psycho."

            If Vitani hadn't been pressed into Uji's shoulder, looking at the ground, she would have seen a genuine smile slowly curl up his lip.  He leaned down a little, and licked her forehead.  "If it ever comes to that, and I have to escape...will you come with me?"

            "Yes...I will."

 

            So it was, that at the point and time of rendezvous designated by Simba, Ujono and Vitani both came running together, saying that they needed to talk to the king personally, and without the audience of others.  The other lionesses saw them whispering to the king, and tried to judge the shocked reaction they saw on the king after they finished talking, but they found it impossible to understand what could possibly have given Simba such a start.  However, soon after, Simba called a select few lionesses, including Kiara, to come with him to a place which Vitani would lead them to.  Ujono was chosen to guard the lair.  Kiara protested.

            "I think Ujono should come with us.  He's my appointed bodyguard.  Kovu can guard the lair.  Give him another couple of moments.  He shouldn't be too long."

            Simba took a deep sigh, and talked to his daughter.  "Please, Kiara...I know what I'm doing.  We're doing the right thing."  He tried to fight back his emotions long enough for Kiara to actually see her former mate before she would have to be told about it, something which would surely make her hysterical.  "Besides, Zazu's here, right?  Zazu!  Come out here."

            Having just woken up from a nap due to the hubbub outside, Zazu lazily flew outside and landed next to Ujono.  He looked up at Simba and smacked his lips sleepily.  "What would you have of me, my lord?"

            "I want you to help Ujono keep an eye on Pride Rock.  If anything happens, you fly until you find me, and we'll get there as quick as we can."

            "I'm sure that between the two of us, we'll be safe, but I thank you for this honor, sire."  Zazu gave a quick bow while Simba and the lionesses walked away from Pride Rock, with Vitani leading the way to Kovu.  Once they were out of sight, Ujono turned to Zazu.

            "First, we should check to make sure there's no one here."

            "Agreed."

            "I'll go check in Scar's old lair real quick.  That would be a really good place to hide, after all."  As he began to walk towards the back section of the rock, he called out to the hornbill.  "Hey, Zazu?"

            Zazu jumped into the air and fluttered in mid-air.  "What is it, Ujono?"

            "Be careful, okay?"

            Several minutes after Ujono had gone back towards Scar's old lair, Zazu still thought nothing of it.  However, as the time began to increase, so did the bird's apprehension.  More than likely, Ujono, who was not known as the most responsible lion in the world (why was he put in charge of Pride Rock?) had just fallen asleep back there.

            However, there was another possibility.  It was quite possible that the creature that was terrorizing the inhabitants of Pride Rock had been running his operations from that old lair.  It would be a prime location for someone who did not want to be found.  No one ever went back there, for fear of legend and superstition.  If there was a rogue lion, or something somehow worse back there, it could have easily gotten the drop of Ujono.  Ujono might be dead already.  Lying on the floor of that cold empty lair, a huge gash in his side, lying in a pool of his own blood...cripes, if Ujono couldn't survive this creature, how could Zazu possibly escape it?

            He quickly shook his head.  He was letting his imagination run away with itself.  There was probably nothing.  He quickly, yet hesitatingly, began his little waddle around the rock, pausing by the entrance, before finally going in.

            Nothing.  There was absolutely nothing.  No rogue, no monster, no blood, heck, no Ujono.  Where was he?  All it was was a large dusty lair.  Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a beetle crawling across the rocks on the floor.  He quickly flew over to it, and landed behind it.  "Hello, morsel.  Come to Zazu."  So saying, he picked it up with his beak, flipped it into his mouth, chewed momentarily and swallowed.

            "Didn't your mother tell you not to play with your food?"

            Zazu nearly gagged.  It had been years since he had heard that voice.  He slowly started to turn around toward the entrance, where the sound had come from.  A thin, dark silhouette blocked the entrance.

            "Hello, Zazu."

            The hornbill gulped the last bit of beetle.  "H-hello, Scar."

            "Taka."

            "Okay, Taka."  Zazu just hoped that the shaking he felt was only internal.  He didn't want to look too scared.  "You're alive."

            "More or less."  Taka began to slowly approach him, creeping on the pads of his paws.  "Do you know what I'm here for?"

            "I'm pretty sure I do.  Any reason you would choose me?"  His tormenter just shrugged.  "You know, I could probably escape from you pretty easily.  When lions get older, they have trouble jumping.  I can fly just as easily as ever.  You're only one to evade."

            Taka let a smile show on his face.  "You're actually slightly mistaken, Zazu."  And the lion pointed at the entrance to the lair, where Ujono could be seen standing.

            "Please don't take it personally, Zazu," said Ujono.  "It's only business."

            Through his fear, Zazu smiled.  "I should have guessed.  Oh well."  With that, he turned around to face down his executioner, only to find that he was nowhere to be seen.  He looked around quickly, but to no avail.  So, he turned to ask Ujono, but Ujono had also disappeared.  "What in the world is going on?"  He began to walk out of the lair, but as he neared the exit, he felt something grab his tail, and he was pulled back inside, where he began screaming.

 

            "Oh good god..."  Vitani had known, in concept, what to expect.  However, she never expected anything like this.

            Kovu's corpse was bound to a monolith, with blood from cuts all over Kovu's head and shoulders soaking the base of the rock and the crimson mud at the bottom.  His neck and throat were crushed, and his tongue was hanging out of his head, like a panting hyena.  His eyes had glazed over in the open position, so that he seemed to be looking at everyone with the accusatory look he must have given to Taka and Ujono.  Kiara was impossible to talk to, too far gone.  She was past the point of tears, and she could only choke on every word that tried to get out of her throat.  Simba wanted to comfort his daughter, but he was also taken aback by the shear vulgarity of this crime.  Nala vomited.  While she was doubled over, sick at the sight of the brutalized lion, Vitani approached her.  She put her mouth in Nala's ear and whispered to her.  Nala sat back up and gave her a quizzical look, but Vitani simply replied, "Trust me.  It'll be very worth it."  Then she walked away.

 

            Once Kiara had gained what composure she could, her and Simba and most of the other lionesses made their way back to Pride Rock.  Nala, however, had asked that she be allowed to walk with Vitani, so they could talk about recent occurences without further upsetting the new widow.  As they walked along, no one said anything.  Vitani kept silent, and Nala had no idea what she was supposed to be saying.  She was confused as to why she was even there, and her confusion wasn't helped when Ujono came out of nowhere and joined them.

            "Aren't you supposed to be guarding Pride Rock?," Nala asked.

            Ujono pulled up next to Vitani and kept pace with the two lionesses.  "I felt it was more important that I be here for this little discussion.''

            Vitani licked his face. "I'm glad you're here, Uji."

            "What the hell is all this?" In protest, Nala stopped keeping up with the two, and sat down where she had stopped walking.  "Ujono is supposed to be keeping Pride Rock safe, and instead, he's here, kissing you while you lead me to who knows where!  I refuse to move further until you tell me what you called me here for!"

            Ujono and Vitani stopped walking and faced her.  Ujono was the first one to talk.  "It's about your father."

            "Your mother never really told you who he was, did you?" 

            "Wait a minute...is this some kind of a joke?"

            Vitani grinned.  "No joke.  We just think that you ought to know."

            "Absolutely...it's unfair for you to live your whole life without knowing."

            "They all know...they've just never told you."

            "What are you talking about?  Who knows?"

            "Everyone knows, Nala.  They all know, but they didn't want to tell you."

            "Tell me what??"

            "Your father was more than a rogue, Nala."

            "He was so much more."

            Unable to stand it any longer, Nala dug her claws into the ground and ripped them out in anger, sending small clouds of dust cascading across the dirt near her hind legs.  "Stop tormenting me!  Stop playing your stupid head games!  Stop delighting in my pain, and if you really know, tell me who my father is!"

 

            Simba was unapproachable.  He had pent himself up in his lair, and refused to talk to anyone, because he felt like an idiot.  Zazu was dead, nothing left but a pair of blood-soaked wings, and Ujono was gone.  And Nala was out there, with only Ujono and Vitani to keep her company.  She was with the killers, and there was nothing he could do anymore.  He felt like he had lost all control.  He called over the first lioness who passed near him.  "What do you wish from me, Simba?"

            "Just..."  He stumbled over the words.  "What has happened to this pride?  When did I lose control?"

            The lioness's face twisted into a cruel, yet horribly familiar grin.  "The moment you let me die."  The face was Zira's.  In that moment, Simba automatically responded with a roar in the face of his tormenter, who after falling down, had the frightened face of the original lioness.  "What....what did...I say?"

            For a moment, Simba could just stare dumbstruck at the scared female.  He tried his best to regain his composure.  "What did you say?"

            "I just said that you've trusted the wrong people....and you roared right at me...are you okay?  Did I say something?"  Simba sighed.

            "No.  YOU didn't say anything."

            He turned to leave, but was stopped by the sounds of "mother" coming from the fields below Pride Rock.  He suddenly felt a huge burden lifted from his shoulders as he realized that the voice belonged to his darling mate Nala.  He ran to meet her at the base of the rock, but she just ran past him as if he had never even been there.  She ran all the way to the top with what seemed like only three steps, beating all speed records.  Simba saw her go into the main lair, still calling for Sarafina, apparently to corner her in the lair.  Once she made it up there, the commotion began.

            "Why didn't you tell me!?"

            "I didn't think it would be good for you to know."

            "Good for me to know??  I have to find out from a murderer instead of my mom?"

            "I was hoping that..."

            "Although, you're at least the mate of a murderer!"

            "You keep your mouth shut about that!"

            "Why should I?  You've been lying to me for years!"

            "Whatever he may have done, he's still your father!!"  Simba was getting really uncomfortable.  It was bad enough that everyone was dying like flies.  Now Nala knew that Scar was her father.  Today was not shaping up to be a good day.  "You keep your voice down, daughter!  You're creating a scene!"

            "You know what?  You know what??"  For a second, there was no sound at all coming from the cave, except for a faint scraping noise.  The crowd gathered at the entrance, with their ears perked up, listening for anything they could pick up from the debacle.  They almost didn't notice as Nala came out of the cave with a paw full of rocks and flung them into the crowd with all of her might.  Many of the lionesses immediately brought their claws to their ears, trying to dig out the pebbles which had lodged into the sides of their heads.  Within a couple of seconds, a few of them had blood on their claws from accidentally slicing themselves in an attempt to dislodge the painful obstructions.  Even Simba was forced to pull out gravel from the sides of his eyes.  His eyes watering, he looked to Nala for some explanation, but the look in her eyes negated the need for speech.  "Don't look at me like that, Simba.  I love you madly, but I feel more betrayed than I ever have before.  You all need to leave so I can talk to my mother.  And if you don't leave, I will do worse to each and every one of you."

 

            "I wish I knew what I was doing here."  The sun was going down, and a cold wind was blowing into Ujono's lair, chilling Sarafina.  Upon Nala's request, and against hers and Simba's better judgment, she now found herself in the lair of the suspected murderer, shivering and worrying that she would be next.  What she did know is that Nala would never trust her again.  Possibly anyone.  Vitani had told her about Scar, and Vitani and Ujono were an inseparable pair now, so the odds were not in her favor.  At least she would have the satisfaction of bleeding all over the floor of Ujono's home, although she wasn't exactly thrilled to breathe her last breath in such a repugnant environment.  The air was a stew of different scents that betrayed a sordid past: hallucinogenic herbs, the smell of dried blood, medicinal salves (the result of an extensive shamanic knowledge combined with an inability to keep his claws sheathed), and the lingering smells of carnal pleasures, like an old fish, hanging in the air since the middle of the day.  In the midst of it all, was an evergrowing familiar scent, one which Sarafina had become associated with many years ago.  "I have no idea how you did it, Taka.  But you never cease to amaze me."

            "I was kind of hoping for a better entrance than you gave me."  The old lion emerged from the shadows behind Sarafina and began to encircle her.  "But I am glad to see you, Sarafina."

            "Well, that makes one of us.  Maybe in a normal situation, I'd be pleased to see you."

            Taka let his tail stroke the base of Sarafina's chin as he walked around her.  "But it's been such a long time?  Surely you haven't forgotten about everything that we had.  It was beautiful, wasn't it?  Days, weeks, ages spent together in each other's arms, whispering loving words to each other.  Me calling you Sara, you calling me Taka, in our secret little love.  And then Nala...easily the greatest thing you ever gave me, whether I could call her mine publicly or not.  My darling little girl..."

            "What the hell are you talking about, Scar??"

            Scar was taken aback for a second and backed up before regaining his composure.  "My name is..."

            "Yes, Scar, I know what you say your name is.  But it's become obvious that the Taka I fell in love with has long since died.  I felt awful the day Nala was born.  I wanted to tell people that it was your child.  But I was too stupid, too immature, too obsessed with myself.  And I regret it.  But that gives you no right to suddenly emerge out of the ashes and act like you truly cared about her.  Ignoring the time you almost got her KILLED..."

            "I had no idea that she would have been there!"

            "You should've taken it into account!  In any situation, whether you loved us or not didn't seem to matter to you.  I felt bad about treating you the way I did, so I never mated again.  You went out and found another lover as if it meant nothing to you at all!"

            "Don't you tell me how to live my life.  Zira loved me!"

            "I know she did!  But did you love her?  She had two of your children, and watched over everything that you were too busy to watch, but did you ever really show her the appreciation that she deserved?  She was hopelessly devoted to you, and she died trying to defend the honor of a lion who didn't deserve her!"

            Before Sarafina could open her mouth to make another accusation, Scar's paw flew out and struck her hard across the face.  Caught off guard, she fell backwards and rolled head over heals before she stopped, coughing and gasping for breath.  Scar, who was as taken aback as her, stood where he had been for the past few moments, mouth hung open in shock.  "I....I'm sorry...I..."  He didn't get to finish his apology, as Sarafina rolled over and lunged at Scar, pinning him to the ground in a matter of moments.  Once pinned, he stared back at his snarling former mate with eyes wide.

            "Don't apologize to me, Scar!  Everything that you've done is unforgiveable!  You've betrayed me and Zira!  You've killed Mufasa!  And I know that you're behind every death that Pride Rock has been subject to so far, so stop playing dumb!"  Every sentence was punctuated by Sarafina, who, gripping Scar's shoulders, slammed his back into the rock floor with every emphasis.  Despite this, however, he was eventually able to develop enough momentum to roll to the side, leaving Sarafina on his back, and himself in the dominant position.

            "Yes!  Yes.  I killed them.  But Scar has done nothing.  I am Taka, and I am avenging my life that was stolen from me.  I loved Zira, and I loved you, but you have no right to tell me how I did or didn't feel about her!  Who do you think you are?"  With this, Sarafina rolled head over heels, returning to the original position, leaving Scar looking into her eyes from the bottom of the lair.

            "I know because she told me that you didn't fully appreciate her, TAKA.  She was madly in love with you, and it broke my heart to see her forcing herself to be blind.  I know you loved her, but you didn't pay enough attention to her, and she was loving enough to put all that behind her and focus on how much she cared about you.  I know that at some point, you used to be wonderful, and you just changed so much..."  She looked down to confirm that he was in fact, listening.  He was crying.  He reached a paw up and stroked the side of her face.

            "I'm sorry."

            "I'm sorry, too, Taka."  Taka couldn't help but think, maybe this is my chance to redeem myself.  Maybe I can prove that I can be better than I used to be.  That I'm in control of my emotions.  Maybe things will be different  He licked her nose.

            She swiped him across the nose with her claws, sending three small spurts of blood into a wall already stained with splashes of blood from a much younger lion.

 

            As she walked away from Ujono's lair and Scar, back to Pride Rock, Sarafina's bruises stopped hurting.  In a rage after her clawing, he had flung her bodily into the wall, using his long orange body as the catapult.  Her feelings were swaying from side to side.  On one hand, she felt like she had been too hard on him.  He might have wanted redemption.  Or maybe he just wanted Zira back, and wanted to close his eyes and enjoy some more physicality.  Sarafina smiled.  "If you can't trust a murderous usurper of the throne, who can you trust?" 

            She sighed, and laid down next to a rock.  "Anybody else."

 

            Scar was crying.  Not from the pain in his nose, which had just stopped bleeding, but from the pain that was bouncing around in his brain.  Sarafina was right, but he had refused to see it.  Self-absorbed in his ill-gotten reign as king, attempting to keep his paw iron, proving that he wasn't the little runt that had nearly been killed in a wildebeest stampede when he was a child...he had overlooked the important things: those who actually cared about him.  In his life, he had mated with three individuals.  He betrayed Shenzi.  He overlooked Zira.  He ignored Sarafina.  And he cried his eyes out in that dirty little lair.  "What's wrong with me?"

            And as he sobbed, he could feel his emotions sweep over him in waves.  The wave of sadness, the wave of anxiety, the wave of fear, and as his eyes began to dry, leaving dark trails down his cheeks, a wave of calm passed over him.  Suddenly, all of his anger, all of his pent-up angst seemed to be gone.  There was no unnecessary fear, no unnecessary guilt, and no unnecessary anger...just a desire to make things right.  He was Scar, and would always be.  There was no changing that.  Taka was indeed dead.  But as for this newly cleansed being...what of him?  Maybe he could get....another....chance?  Scar ran faster than he ever had before.

 

            After spending what seemed like ages lying next to the rock, turning things over in her mind, Sarafina rose to get up, and heard someone frantically shouting for her to stop.  Turning her head, she rolled her eyes upon seeing who it was.  "What do you want?" she shot back as he came closer to her.  "I think we've said all there is to be said."

            He swallowed and began.  "You have...but I haven't said nearly enough....you were right."

            "Don't feed me this crap."

            "I'm serious, Sara.  You were right.  I've been so busy dealing with my power struggles, that I've ignored the only things that really matter.  This all ends today.  All this madness, all these struggles to achieve something, it all stops now.  I just can't keep living that way if every mate I'll ever have has to deal with my ignoring them for some reason or another."

            "Well, then...why are you talking to me, then?"

            "Because one left ages ago.  Another is dead.  You're the only one that I can apologize to.  And I'm deeply sorry for everything that I've done to you."

            "Well, I did some bad things myself."

            "Maybe...but it amazes me how well you raised Nala without me.  I don't think my presence would have helped.  I think it worked better for her to have her father not even there instead of there and ignoring her."

            "What do you really think of her, Taka?"

            "Despite my problems with the lineage?  She's my first child.  And I love her, and the lioness who birthed her."

            Sarafina couldn't help but grin a little.  "I love you too, Taka."  She licked the side of his face.

            "Sara?"

            "Yes?"

            "Please....call me Scar."  He rubbed his head against hers, as she purred the best that an aging lioness can.  Throughout the night, the reunited lovers nuzzled and kissed, and before the night was old, they had made love to each other for the first time since before Nala was born, and fell asleep together underneath the stars.

 

            "I don't know what you're talking about!!"

            "You were the last one to see him alive!"

            "But that doesn't make me a murderer!"

            Ujono was on the edge of Pride Rock, facing a traditional pride questioning.  Some lionesses stood underneath the rock, unseen in the darkness, in case he might try to jump to safety and run.  His main route was blocked by more and by Simba himself, who was enraged.  Vitani, whose looks of concern didn't escape Ujono's sideways glance, was being guarded by two more.  Her turn would come.  "All the circumstances point to it, Ujono!  You were the only one not present during all four murders!  And to make matters worse, you drag Vitani into all of this!"  He turned to face her, scowling.  "You're just a murderer like everyone in your family.  I should have known better than to trust the daughter of Scar and Zira."

            "Leave her alone."  Simba turned around to look at the young lion.  "She never did any of it.  Vitani just stumbled into it all."

            "Ujono, no..." pleaded Vitani.  "I'd rather be dead than live without you."

            "You don't mean that, lover.  You could survive without me."  He turned to face Simba again.  "I'm the one you want."

            Simba grinned, pleased that he had won.  His white teeth glinted in black of the night.  "Thank you, Ujono.  It is now my duty to pass judgment.  With everything that's happened in the past few days, you deserve death.  You have earned nothing less than a very public, humiliating execution."  Simba began to slowly approach the sentenced, backing him into a barrierless corner.  "But I'm not like you, Ujono.  I don't thrive on bloodshed.  I want you to leave this place forever, and if you want, you can take Vitani with you.  However, if I, or any member of this pride sees you within a day's distance of Pride Rock after the sun rises and sets three times, they will have strictest orders to kill you."  At this, he stood on his hind legs and motioned so that all could see him in the dark.  "I want you to see this pathetic animal, this murderous beast, and hear his sentence.  Tonight he has become the most hated creature in our history!"

            "Ujono, you thief!  Trying to steal my glory?"

            From behind the pack of lionesses on the ground, a shout came from the slowly fading darkness.  As the pride strained their eyes to see the individual, they saw two figures.  One, a golden lioness with dark eyes, familiar to all the pride.  The second, a dark, limping lion with a dishelved black mane, whose green eyes practically illuminated what was left of the darkness on their own.  His identity was even more familiar.  For the longest period of time, there was no sound to be heard, just an auditory emptiness, until, almost all at once, all the creatures around and on the monument began stirring.  Simba, the loudest.

            "What....what are you doing here, Scar?"

            "Confessing, Simba."

            "What do you mean?"

            As Scar began ascending towards the outlook, the other lionesses followed close behind Sarafina, who flanked her love as best as she could.  "Simba...Simba...I don't believe that I really have to expalin what I mean."

            "You mean...all of them?"

            "Let Ujono go."

            "NO.  He's a murderer."

            "I'm a murderer.  Ujono's confused.  He didn't want to help me, but I practically forced him to do it!"

            "But why, Scar?  Haven't you caused enough pain?"

            "You killed Zira, Simba!  Kovu killed Nuka!  My life was destroyed because of you and your family!  What else did I have to turn to but my own insanity??  I missed the last words of the one female who had completely forgiven me for the terrible creature that I was!  And I blamed you!  And Timon!  And Pumbaa!  And Kovu!  And Zazu!  You were all responsible, and I wanted you all dead!"  As his eyes switched back and forth, he saw the snarls from all the members of the pride except for Kiara.  "I'm so sorry, Kiara.  If I could take back what I've done, I would.  I'm sorry, and I don't expect you to forgive me."  Tears began to roll down Kiara's face, and she found herself unable to be strong in front of her father, so she ran into the lair, sobbing.

            As the sound of Kiara's crying subsided, a paw stepped foot outside of the lair.  Nala looked at Scar with her sea-blue eyes, becoming brighter as the sun began to rise.  Their eyes met, and it wasn't long before Scar himself was choking back tears.  All he could manage was to mouth "I love you," a statement which was received with a sideways grin, while a pair of moist eyes signaled its mutuality. 

            "I love you too," she mouthed, adding a final word which brought Scar and Sarafina both to tears..."daddy."  As Simba watched his lover walk back into the cave without any word for anyone but his hated uncle, he could scarcely contain his disdain.  He was suddenly the bad guy, and he hated the feeling of being the bad guy when compared to a deposed king responsible for the deaths of a minimum of five of his friends.  The challenge lied in being forceful with someone he was unwilling to trust, no matter the promises, but while maintaining basic civility.

            "Scar...I thank you...for caring about Nala, for watching over Sarafina, and for this apology...but that hardly makes up for what you've done."  Thinking quickly, he added, "I hope you're well aware of that."

            "I was...just sort of hoping that I could start over."

            "How is that in my power, Scar?"

            "You're the king now."  

            "But I have the responsibility to uphold justice.  You need to be punished."

            Scar balked, then started laughing.  "Punishment?  What more punishment could I have?"

            "You have not received your punishment for these recent crimes."

            "YES, I HAVE, SIMBA!  YES, I HAVE!"

            "Don't yell at me, Scar."

            "I have served my time in hell, Simba!  I watched my son die!  I watched my mate die!  I lost my mother!  I lost my friends!  I lost Nala!  I lost everything that I ever attained during my lifetime, and I don't want to lose anything else!  I have nothing anymore!!  What can you possibly take from me that I haven't already lost a hundred times over??"

            Then the sun rose, and the light fell onto Simba, bathing him in an almost golden aura, and making his shadow stretch forever.  "You owe it to the pride you betrayed."

            Staring into the image of this golden, imposing creature, Scar found himself shaking, and visibly so.  The authority, the image...it was as if Mufasa had returned from the dead.  In between gasps of breath, he choked out the words he wanted to say.  "I...only have...one thing left to surrender..."  He began to back himself against the rocky face of the monument, baring his claws behind his back as he was forced to rise to his hind legs against the cold surface.

            "Scar, what do you mean?" implored Simba.

            "Just let me finish it...please!  I must be atoned!"  And with that, he leaped into the air...and turned himself around in the air so that he was clinging by his claws to the Pride Rock's slope.  Before anybody could say anything, he was climbing it with all of his abilities, wearing his claws down on the slick face.  Halfway through the ascension, over all the gasps and pleas for him to come down, he heard a snap from his front right paw and back left almost simultaneously, as two of his claws broke off in tight crevices, sending horrible pains through his entire body.  Despite it all, he continued to climb, fighting against the acid running through his veins, cramping his entire body, and against the blood dripping from his limbs, covering the surface with a repugnant sticky feeling.  Eventually, he reached the ledge called Suicide Peak, with intentions to recreate the event that gave it its name.

            However, it seemed that despite his general unpopularity, no one wanted it to end this way for him.  Sarafina called down from below him.  "Please, Scar...no...not like this!", she pleaded, hoping that somehow her words would have an effect on the self-destructive lion.

            Simba, against his own better judgment, followed Scar's path, and leaped onto the rock, a path which was slightly easier for him, as his claws were stronger, and the scratching of his uncle's claws had created more traction upon which Simba could hold.  "Don't do anything, Scar.  I mean it.  Don't let it end like this!"

            As Simba climbed, Scar looked down on him from the small plateau.  "Why shouldn't I, Simba?  Do you honestly believe that I could survive out there alone again?  I haven't been on my own since before you were born, and I know I couldn't handle that now!"

            "We could take you back into the pride!  You could return to your old lair with Sarafina..."  As Simba encountered the blood and sweat near the top, he found it more difficult to climb than he had expected.

            "And exist as a hated relic?  A testament to failures and misery?  I'm not an exhibit, Simba!!  This is the best solution for all of us, and you know it!"

            "Why do you always...."  As Simba attempted to climb the final steps required to be at the same level as the suicidal old lion, his rear claws lost their grip, and in a matter of seconds, his hind legs were dangling behind him, and his massive body was supported only by the grip in his two front limbs.  There would be no way to climb the rest of the way without Scar's help.  He looked up at Scar, who stared back with a shocked look on his face.

            Once again, Scar was being confronted with an option.  Many years ago, he had put his brother in this same situation.  Now on accident, the son who had caused him all his misery hung there, clinging for his life.  The first time he ever saw Simba like this, he had confessed everything to him, and it had cost him everything.  Now he had the chance to finally seek his revenge for everything that had happened.  Simba was the first one to speak.

            "Scar...let me help you.  Help me up."

            The deposed lion king needed only moments to think about it, before his paws shot out towards Simba.

           

Part IV: Atonement

 

            In his head, he visualized digging his claws into Simba's paws.  He pictured the look of horror in his eyes as he whispered to him "Long live the king," and he could hear his screams as he flew down to the rocks at the base of Pride Rock, falling in the middle of a circle of lionesses, who would all begin screaming at the same time. 

            But he had done that before.  And he was tired of being a villain.  So Scar reached out his paws, grabbed the wrists of his nephew and helped him climb the last few remaining steps on to Suicide Peak.  When Simba was safe at the top, he panted, getting over his fear, before looking through his hanging golden mane, at Scar, who had a small, sideways smile on his face.

            "Why did you save me, Scar?"  The smile on the face of the questioned spread across his whole face.

            "It's about time I began making the right choices, nephew.  I'm sorry I was never there for you when you were a cub."

            Scar's smile and smugness spread to Simba.  "You know, uncle.  I've never really understood you.  I don't think we've ever agreed about anything.  But I hope you'll agree with me on this one...you're really weird."

            A chuckle came out of the old lion.  "You have no idea."  Both lions laughed for a little bit, as shouting came up from the lionesses below.  Reminded of the situation, Simba became serious.

            "Do I have any hope of stopping you?"

            Scar just shook his head slowly.  "Do me one favor, though."

            "What?"

            He tapped his claw on the surface of the plateau for a moment, before getting the courage to say something he had wanted to say for a while.  "Take care of Nala for me."

            Simba nodded.  "I'll try."

            The old lion stretched his body.  "I bet you will.  I bet you will."  Then, turning his back on Simba, he began to slowly make his way towards the rear of the Peak, which overlooked his old lair.  As he looked down, he could see where he spent his entire childhood, and a good distance beneath that ledge, the round rocks which punctuated the dark green grass.  Where his life began, it would be ended.  And he leapt from the plateau.

            As he fell down towards earth, spinning without any heed for where or how he would land, his mind was filled with the images of his life.  Karanga cradling his head in her paws, as a cub and as an adult.  The stampede that gave him his scar.  The stampede that killed his brother.  The moment the hyenas nearly killed him.  The moment he and Shenzi discovered the meaning of physical love.  The look in Nala's eyes when she was born, and when she first found out that he was her father.  The words of love and nights of passion that him and Sarafina had shared together.  Simba trying to talk to his uncle.  Ujono loving his uncle.  Watching Nuka die, watching Nuka be born, watching Zira get plump with Vitani, watching Vitani walk away with Ujono.  And above all, there was Zira.  Standing by his side.  Watching from the side.  Always supporting, always forgiving, and always loving him.  And seconds before his life was snuffed by the rocks below, he felt Zira's paws on his face, beckoning his spirit away.

 

            Taka, also known as the untrue King Scar, uncle of King Simba, brother of King Mufasa, and son of King Thembi, was given a modest burial at the base of Pride Rock, beneath the lair where he had lived most of his life.  All the lions in the pride attended the funeral except for Vitani, who along with Ujono, was nowhere to be found once the commotion began to pass.  Their whereabouts are unknown, though within a few years, the word was that a new pride called the Children of the Mark was being formed in a distant land.

            Kiara mourned for the longest time over the loss of Kovu, but her wounds eventually healed to an extent, and she found love again.  Her new mate was an even stronger leader, and he eventually took the throne of King of the Pridelands.  Him and Kiara had twins, a boy cub and a girl cub, both of whom grew up to be strong and intelligent.

            Sarafina attempted to live her life as she used to, but she found it impossible.  She had brought back the Scar she had loved, only to lose him in the same day.  No one knows the exact state of mind that she was in during her last days, but after disappearing for many days, she was discovered in the back of Scar's old lair, curled up in a ball, not breathing.  There was a smile on her face.  Her sister, Sarabi, died out of grief a few days later. 

            Nala never completely recovered.  Though her reaction was not as drastic as her mother's, the effect of having the truth withheld from her for most of her life caused her to become reclusive, not attending events which the queen was typically expected to attend.  The only times she ever came out of the lair were to attend the presentations of Kiara's two children.  The only one she would ever talk to was Simba, who would speak for his mate at occassions that required his input.  They talked about having another child, but it simply never happened.

            As for Simba, he sat back and watched the deterioration of his pride without any control.  Normally, he would have been angry, or depressed, but the events of his life had now taught him that nothing is made to last.  Their dynasty had been long, prosperous, and successful, but the time was coming to move on.  Once Simba had established Kiara's new mate as a good, trustworthy leader, he acquiesced the throne, and retired to spend the rest of his days with Nala.  The new king was one of the greatest leaders that the kingdom had ever seen.  Unfortunately, by this time, the numbers of the pride were negligible, and when Kiara's two children went their separate ways, it was obvious that the pride was done.  Some lionesses had cubs by rogues, but they inevitably went their own ways when their progeny were old enough to travel.  Eventually, a new, stronger pride came to Pride Rock, and they took in the four aging lions who were left, asking the eldest male, obviously the former king, what happened to their pride.  And Simba told them everything.

 

the end of the lion king iii

 

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AUTHOR'S NOTES:

 

            I began writing this fanfiction at the end of 1998, under the pseudonym of Matthew Sorenson.  I finished my fanfiction today, on May 30 of 2003.  Almost five years later.  It was hardly four and a half years of consistant writing, but year long writer's block periods punctuated with bursts of energy.  The entire section after Zazu's death was written during the last two months of my writing.  The reason I'm writing these notes is to address the ending.

            My original idea for the story was a full homage to my favorite character, Scar.  Scar would survive the hyenas, seek revenge for his life on Simba's friends, and then ultimately kill Simba and become the new king of the pride.  This idea was, aside from being significantly more gory (threats were written to Simba in Zazu's blood, and Timon only had his bottom half eaten while the top squirmed and spasmed in a pool of gore), extremely unrealistic (even for a TLK fanfic).  The idea that Scar could randomly murder the king in front of everyone, and the pride would accept it just didn't work.  A nice cynical satire on politics in the modern world, if done right...but I don't think I could've done it that well.

            The second idea was for Scar to come down with Simba, and live happily with Sarafina in the pride, but be forever resented.  Maybe it makes for a good image, but its very anti-climactic, and, let's face it, just downright dull.  Thus, the third ending.

            As much as I hated killing off Scar, I thought it was the best chance he would have to redeem himself, as this was something that he truly wanted in the end.  However, to add an extra touch, and perhaps to feed my own sick intentions, I penned out the futures for the rest of the pride, in a very depressing "Stand by Me" ending, picturing the downward spirals of all involved, as an event in the nature of a mass killing is likely to affect all people who were a part of it. 

            I enjoyed writing this fanfic, generally.  It got frustrating at times, because it sometimes seemed like the one thing standing between me and the writing I actually want to work on (screenplays, stories, etc.), but as a whole, I liked further shaping the modern mythology that is "The Lion King."  I'm proudest of my introduction of the character Ujono, who is very much based on myself.  He's a loser who stays a loser, even in his best moments, but he eventually finds love despite his deviance from the norm that he is expected to follow.  As for having Scar as a father figure...well, that's just my own sick desire.  I'm happy with this work.  I am a little depressed that it took me so long to right, causing me to permanently put aside my ideas for other fanfics, including movie adaptations of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Dead Ringers" (substituting TLK characters for the film actors), and a satire on Hollywood I had planned which focused on the fictional interview between a reporter and Scar, an out of work actor well paid by Disney to keep his mouth shut after a messy scandal involving a fight with a paparazzi.  I am also rather depressed that the audience of my last  work will be so small (as I believe it has become too edgy to post on either of the fanfic pages I used to frequent), but my ambitions were not extremely high for this fanfic.

 

Well, not my realistic ambitions anyway.  But then again, "Life's not fair, is it?"  Thanks for reading.

 

 - Matthew Sorenson

May 30, 2003

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