~~~
The Chosen, by Loa
Chapter 1 - Iím Happy, Iím Happy, And Iíll Punch The Guy Who Says Iím Not...
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This fanfic has some really spooky elements in it.

If I owned The Lion King, do you really think Iíd be sitting at my dodgy computer writing fanfics? I have tried to keep to technical terms, using Ďdogí instead of Ďmale hyenaí and Ďbitchí rather than Ďfemale hyenaí.

~~~
Prologue

Banzai awoke with a start to the sound of someone screaming. The first thing he did was turn to look at Shenzi. She was sitting bolt upright and staring at nothing, shrieking out her lungs. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her roughly, "Shenzi!" he shouted, "Shenzi, wake up! Itís just a nightmare!" After a few seconds of this, Shenzi snapped awake, then screamed again.

"Banzai," she gasped, and began crying, "The dream - It happened again!"

Banzai grabbed Shenzi and held her to him. She was freezing cold and her heart was racing, "Shenzi, Shenzi..."

"It happened again..." sobbed Shenzi, "A thingÖ itÖ" She gasped some more air, "I know it will come true..."

Banzai shook his head, "Nightmares donít come true, Shenzi," He started to rock Shenzi back and forth as if she were a little pup, "They seem real," he whispered, "But theyíre still just nightmares. Now Iíll hold you tight, and this bad dream will go away." He continued to rock Shenzi back and forth. He felt her body heat return, and her pulse calmed down again, "I wonít let anything hurt you." And safe in Banzaiís arms, Shenzi believed him.

But even though he had succeeded in comforting Shenzi, Banzai could not comfort himself. Shenzi had been having the exact same nightmare for nine nights in a row now. He had taken to sleeping next to her, to wake her when the nightmare came. After a while, Shenzi fell asleep in Banzaiís embrace. He stayed awake much longer.

~~~
Chapter 1

One month laterÖ

The clouds over the Elephant Graveyard seemed darker than ever. Sure, this place was known for being settled by hyenas. But now it seemed that the clouds themselves were in sorrow, just like the three hyenas who sat side by side in the middle of the graveyard. Around them were dozens of hyenas of every age and sex. Every one of them had a sad look on their face, as if they had lost someone beloved to them. Which was the exact reason. The three hyenas in the middle were sitting in front of the body of a dog hyena their age. Even though he was dead, he still had a stupid look on his face. The smaller bitch leaned forward and closed his eyes, while the larger bitch started to cry. The dog hyena who sat beside her tried to cheer her up, but nothing worked.

"Heís dead, Banzai. I canít believe it," said the larger bitch. Normally her face had a rather arrogant, proud look. But now she hung her head, almost as if she was ashamed that she couldnít have done more to prevent the tragedy.

Banzai nodded, and looked at the body of the dead hyena. "He just wasnít strong enough to handle all these changes, Shenzi. First Scar appears and we get plenty of food, then we have to leave it all behind and go wandering all over the place, then we go back to the Graveyard again. His mind just couldnít take it," he said. Though he was smaller than Shenzi, he was thicker set, with a permanent sullen expression on his face.

"Maybe," Shenzi whispered. She lifted her head and looked over all the hyenas who were standing there to accompany her, Banzai and the smaller bitch in their sorrow. Banzai spoke aloud.

"May our gods protect Ed, he was a good soul, and the only one of us to only talk to non-hyenas in the old tongue, so that they couldnít understand him. We will miss him." There was nothing more to say. Shenzi started to cry again. Banzai hated it when she cried, "Please donít cry, Shenzi," he begged her. He licked her cheek tenderly and turned to the second bitch.

The second bitch was Shenziís sister, but they were far from alike. Her build was more like that of a brown than a spotted hyena, though her fur was spotted. She was considerably smaller than Shenzi, and even Banzai, despite having reached adulthood. As well as this, she was badly scarred - three claw marks down her left and right shoulders and a scrap of skin that had once been her right ear. But she had the high cheekbones and slanted eyes that were a sure sign of Malign blood, "Ed," she said, dully, "Oh, Ed..." She absentmindedly scratched her scarred ear.

"Just remember, Askari, heís in a better place now." Banzai stroked her back in a futile effort to comfort her, but she just buried her face in her paws. The hyenas around them started to mumble something. Banzai nodded at them and gave a heavy sigh. "Sure, he was kind of crazy. Sure, he had the IQ of a rotten turnip," Even Askari nodded, "But if Ed hadnít used the old tongue when lions were around, weíd never have gotten into the Pride Lands at all."

"It might have been better that way," Askari whispered. Only Shenzi and Banzai heard her. She didnít cry, for she had once been a mercenary, and if mercenaries cried at death, theyíd never stop. But the tears sparkled like diamonds in the corners of her eyes.

One by one the hyenas started to disperse. Soon they were all gone, and only Shenzi, Banzai and Askari were left, standing around the body of Ed, the weird hyena who had only spoken to any non-hyena in a crazy laugh. Even though Askari had taught him to speak again, he had still sometimes started to laugh without any reason for real. Just a few hours ago heíd had another outburst, and in horror Shenzi, Banzai and Askari had watched as he froze in the middle of it and collapsed to the hard rock floor of the Graveyard.

"Címon guys, weíd better bury him now," Banzai said in a quiet voice.

After a few more minutes, they stood in front of a barrow. Edís barrow. On a stone, Banzai had carved with his bare claws a memorial to his dead brother in hyanic.

HERE LIES ED, OF THE GNAW FAMILY
A GREAT BROTHER
A GREAT BUDDY
AND A GREAT HYENA

The only flora that grew in the graveyard were the black flowered plants, which only grew in the dark. No hyena had any idea as to how anything could grow without sunlight. Despite this, Askari picked some of them in her mouth and laid them on the barrow. The three hyenas stood silent for few moments, then walked away.

~~~
Later that nightÖ

The full moon shone upon Edís grave. Suddenly a strong wind started to howl, and something dark and shadowy started to approach it. It surrounded the burrow and slowly started to sink down into it. The wind became still as the sound of someone digging - up - started. Out of the burrow sprang Ed. Or was it Ed? His eyes were an amber colour, but there were no pupils. He didnít drool like he had once done; his mouth was shut. Only an evil grin was on his face as he started to look over the elephant graveyard.

"My new home..." hissed a voice from Edís throat. But the voice wasnít Edís.

~~~
Chapter 2

When Shenzi emerged from her cave the next morning, there were dark circles under her eyes, as if she had been crying all night. She hadnít gotten much sleep either. She looked up as Banzai approached her.

"Címon Shenzi, letís go catch some lunch," Banzai said with a forced smile. He hadnít had much sleep either.

"Iím not hungry," said Shenzi, dully.

"Youíve got to eat something."

"Iím not hungry," repeated Shenzi, "Now go away and leave me alone." She turned around and re-entered her cave. Banzai followed her in.

"Look, I know youíre sad about Ed dying," said Banzai, "but youíve got to remember that life goes on."

"His life doesnít," said Shenzi, sadly.

"But our lives do," said Banzai, softly.

"How can you talk like that, Banzai?" asked Shenzi, growing angry and moving away from him, "How can you just forget about Ed like that? As if he died ten years ago? He died just yesterday!" She flopped down onto the rock floor of the cave.

"I canít forget about Ed, Shenzi," said Banzai, "None of us can. But whatís past is past." Shenzi sniffed and rubbed her cheek against Banzaiís.

"I guess youíre right," she said, "Whatís past is past..." Shenzi suddenly looked up at Banzai, "Will you promise me something, Banzai?" Banzai raised an eyebrow, "That youíll never desert me."

"Shenzi, as long as I had a choice, I could never leave you."

Shenzi sighed, "Letís go and catch us some lunch."

The pair of them left Shenziís cave to go and poach in the Pride Lands.

~~~

The thing that had been Ed wandered through the graveyard. It felt hungry, but not for meat.

"Hungry..." it hissed, "Ssoulss..."

It looked around and saw a bitch on her way to the Pride Lands to catch her lunch. It jumped over to her and blocked her way. She looked at it.

"Who are you?" she asked, "Get out of my way!" Then she looked again, "Ed? But youíre-"

The thing that had been Ed jumped at her, and in a matter of seconds had crushed her windpipe and killed her. As it watched, a little wisp of light came from her terror filled, wide-open eyes. It breathed the light in and licked its lips. The bitchís body had only been dead for a few seconds, but it was already starting to rot.

"Niccce..." The thing that had been Ed stood up. Now it was stronger again. But it knew that the purer the soul, the better the meal. Hyenas were not particularly good people, and their souls were Ďstaleí as a result. But lionsÖ It licked its lips again, this time in anticipation. It knew where it had to go to regain its strength, "The Pride Landss," it hissed. Then it loped off.

~~~
Chapter 3

It was Noon in the Pride Lands, and Nala was racing to find Simba. When she found him, she was out of breath, and her face would have been white if sheíd had no fur covering it.

"Simba," she gasped, "We wereÖ out huntingÖ We found..." she took a deep breath, "YouÖ come with us."

Simba followed her to where she led him. When she showed him what she had found, he nearly vomited. A young lioness was lying on the grass. Her windpipe had been ripped out and her eyes were wide open. Not a scrap of meat had been taken from her body. She was already starting to rot.

Simba bent down, "I smell a hyena. But not quite a hyena. Thereís something else there."

"She wandered away from us for twenty minutes. The next thing we knew, sheís dead! I donít get it. Thereís nothing elseís blood, just hers! And nothing has been eaten! How could one hyena take down a healthy lioness?"

"I donít know," said Simba, "But I know a way to find out." He set his jaw and turned to face the Graveyard.

Hidden by grass, downwind of the party, lay the thing that had been Ed. He, if that was the right word for a being fuelled by souls and made of pure evil, licked his lips. The lionessí soul had been pure and barely tainted. But now that he no longer hungered, he thirsted. Thirsted for the one he had been sent to findÖ

~~~

"Shenzi! Banzai! Come quick!"

Shenzi and Banzai heard the screaming halfway across the Graveyard. They quickly tracked Askariís screams to Edís barrow. Out of breath, Banzai gasped out, "What? What is it?!"

Askari screamed, "Look! Look!" She pointed frantically at Edís empty barrow, and the corpse that was lying close to it. The bitch could only have been dead a few hours, but she was already rotting.

"Oh my gods..." whispered Shenzi. Askari was still screaming, and had started to hyperventilate. Shenzi turned and slapped Askariís face sharply, "There has to be a logical explanation," she hissed.

"Iím waiting to hear it!" Askari snarled. Suddenly, someone punched her over, then knocked Banzai to the ground as well, then finally Shenzi. The three hyenas were now cowering on the floor, under a snarling lion. They screamed simultaneously.

"What have you shitbags been doing to my people?!" Simba roared.

Shenzi struggled under him, "What in Malignís name are you talking about?!"

"One of your people killed a lioness from my Pride! She was in full health and there was nothing eaten! I know I smelt a hyena!"

"One hyena?" she looked at the dog, "Banzai, could it be..."

"No. Itís impossible," said Banzai.

"But the barrowís open, and that femaleís dead!"

"I donít believe in that crap!" Banzai growled.

"What are you talking about, idiot?" Simba snarled at Banzai.

"Get off of us and weíll tell you, lion!" Askari yelped.

Simba growled, got up off the three hyenas and said, "You tell me your side of the story and Iíll tell you mine."

Askari looked around nervously. Then she padded over to the bitchesí corpse. The stench was disgusting, but then again, hyenas were used to bad smells, "Hey, you guys! Come and smell this!" Banzai and Shenzi sniffed at the corpse, cautiously, "Canít you smell it?" she asked them.

"What are you doing?" Simba asked, suspiciously. The hyenas totally ignored him.

"It canít be," said Banzai to Shenzi. Then he smelt it again, "It smells of Ed - but not quite Ed."

Simba came forward and smelled the corpse, "Gods, this thing stinks! It must have been dead for days!"

"No. Only a few hours," said Shenzi.

"What makes you think that?" asked Simba.

"We only buried Ed yesterday."

"What?!" Simba roared.

"And the corpse canít have been dragged here. No drag marks, see?" Banzai added, hurriedly.

"But - but that canít be! Itís exactly the same smell that was on the lioness!" Simba shouted, then calmed down a little, "Hyena - but not all hyena."

"Youíre right there," hissed a voice behind them. The four of them turned, "Not all hyena - And not all Ed."

Banzai looked at his Ďbrother,í "Ed!" he shouted joyfully. But before he could jump forward to hug him, Shenzi grabbed him by his mane and pulled him back.

"Look at his eyes!" she hissed.

Banzai stopped and looked at Edís eyes. They glowed bright yellow, "Mother of all..." he whispered hoarsely.

"What the hell are you?" Askari asked, "What do you want?" She was terrified of this thing that stood in front of her, baring its yellow teeth in an evil grin, pretending to be Ed, but she stood her ground.

"I am Afriti," hissed the thing that had been Ed, "And I have come for the matriarch."

"Then you can go to hell!" Banzai screamed at Afriti, jumping between him and Shenzi. Askari did not do the same, but remained where she was. Banzai turned to look at Shenzi. She was staring at what had been Ed, and shivering as if she was freezing cold, her eyes wide open with fear.

"Why do you want her?" Askari asked, through gritted teeth.

"Oh, surely you know?" hissed Afriti.

"Know what?" asked Banzai and Askari, simultaneously.

"You mean you didnít tell them?" Afriti asked Shenzi, in mock surprise. Banzai opened his mouth, "I would have expected you to have told them by now! Oh how dishonest of you, Shenzi!" Afriti was clearly enjoying himself.

"Told me what? What is he talking about, Shenzi?" Banzai looked at Shenzi, "Is there something you havenít been telling me?" he asked her suspiciously.

Shenzi hung her head, "I didnít want you to find out this way, Banzai. I didnít want you to find out at all."

"Find out what, Shenzi? Find out what?"

Shenzi swallowed and shuffled her paws, "When we hyenas were defeated at Pride Rock, we ran away. Soon after that, I got depressed. Remember how we all went out for a binge with some other hyenas? Banzai, you threw up, Askari, you passed out, and I got totally inebriated. And the next morning, I woke up in my cave with a pounding hangover and the horrible realisation that Iíd had sex with Ed."

Banzai looked at Shenzi, tears coming to his eyes, "Youíre lying. Please, tell me youíre lying, Shenzi," Shenzi hung her head in shame, and Banzai realised with a sick feeling in his stomach that she was not, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US?!?!?" he screamed.

"It was an accident, Banzai! It meant nothing to me! Iím sorry!"

"If it meant nothing to you, why are you sorry?!"

Afriti interrupted them calmly, "You see, it must be Shenzi because she is the matriarch of the Graveyard."

"Oh, shit," said Shenzi, quietly. More to herself, she muttered, "If I hadíve known..."

"Even if you had known this would happen, you were destined to rule this Graveyard, Shenzi. One way or another," Afriti continued smoothly to Shenzi, "Itís you."

"Then take it," snarled Banzai, emphasising the last word. He moved aside to allow Afriti past.

"Oh, I canít just take her," hissed Afriti, "She has to give herself to me. Of her own free will. Otherwise it won't work."

"And if I refuse?" asked Shenzi, backing away slightly.

"Then I will have to force you to give yourself to me. Of your own free will." Afriti chuckled cruelly.

"And what about us?" asked Simba.

"Oh yes, thankyou for reminding me, your majesty. I hate loose ends. Sorry about this, but I am going to have to kill you. All of you."

"Bugger this for a game of soldiers," said Banzai, "Iím not going to be killed by a demon whoís possessed my technically dead brother!" He paused and bent down to Askari, "Weíre going to die, arenít we?" he whispered.

"No, we are not," said Askari calmly, "For I have a Cunning Plan."

"What?" asked Simba and Banzai simultaneously.

"RUN FOR IT!!!" Within seconds, Askari was a disappearing cloud of dust. The others watched her leave.

Shenzi looked at Banzai. "Banzai?" He looked at her with eyes as cold as ice, "Please?" Banzai bit his lip so hard that a small bead of red blood formed. He took a deep, shaky breath, then turned away from Shenzi, not looking back.

Suddenly, Shenzi ran for it too, in the opposite direction that Askari and Banzai had taken. Afriti and Simba watched her run. "This is going to be even more fun than I thought," hissed Afriti, following her retreating body with his eyes. Then he took off after her. Simba watched them both go. Then he turned and ran out of the Graveyard.

~~~
Go to Chapter 2 - Of Course Iím Sane, My Psychiatrist Says So...



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