Till Death Do Us Part
By Kati ‘Kitani’ Warfield (Silent Twilight)
“For better or worse,
Till death do us part.”
--Traditional wedding vows
Yahoo! Ack! I hate it when I say that. Oh, well, it’s already been said so I’ll continue. Well this is my third and, in my opinion, my most emotional piece of writing yet, followed by TLK IV: Destiny Bound and then The Limits of Friendship. It may not be all that long, but you’ll get the meaning behind it. I’ve been wanting to do something with as much emotion as this and I think I pulled it off.
This piece means a lot to me and I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, though I cried all three hours it took to put this much emotion in it. Sniff. Oh, well, enjoy!
-Kati ‘Kitani’ Warfield
Adela’s eyes closed and her breath escaped her mouth for the last time. N’Tani stared questionably at Kalani. Kalani’s aqua eyes softened as she lifted her paw from Adela’s side. Having felt no life, Kalani shook her head regretfully. Queen Adela was dead. N’Tani’s head drooped and her glance fell to the floor. Rajua stepped forward and looked sorrowfully at the two cubs by Adela’s side, “Who’s going to tell him, tell him he’s lost his mate and one of his cubs?” A solitary tear fell down Rajua’s cheek as she stared down a the two cubs, one lying limp, its muscles lifeless and pliable and the other squabbling about, whimpering cries its mother could not respond to.
“I’ll go,” Nyesha sighed, “after all, I was Adela’s mother.” She slowly sauntered out of the cave. Kalani’s ears perked as sobs echoed toward them.
“Poor Nyesha, first Nchi, then Mohatu, now this. She must be losing it,” Nina whispered softly, her eyes focused on the entrance to the cave.
Nyesha’s head drooped as Nina’s comment reached her ears. It hurt her that the pride sisters thought that way about her. She broke into a run up the trail leading toward the promontory. As she went along she could hear Ahadi in deep prayer. She stopped in her tracks and took a moment to stop crying. She sighed, “I’ll have to do this sometime, and sooner is better than later.” Nyesha trotted up so she was standing a few feet away from the base of the promontory. “Ahadi!”
Ahadi turned around and seeing it was Nyesha walked very quickly over to her. Nyesha saw the hopeful look on his face and when he reached her she threw her paws around him and started sobbing into his mane. She could feel Ahadi tense under her grip. She pulled away and placed herself firmly between Ahadi and the promontory. “I’m so sorry,” she sobbed. “We lost Adela….”
Ahadi’s face drained of color. “No…. What about the cubs?”
Nyesha’s head fell. Ahadi looked at her, waiting for a verbal answer. “Your daughter is dead…” Ahadi broke down before she could finish.
“Oh, no, I’ve lost both my mate and my cub…” He started weeping like a cub, leaning against Nyesha.
She put a paw around him. “Hush… there is hope, Ahadi,” she paused and then continued, “your son survived.”
Ahadi looked up into Nyesha’s eyes. “My son?”
Nyesha nodded. “Yes, Mufasa.”
Uru leaned against her mate. They had been together for around six seasons, and now he was dying and she could not go with him. Her sons needed her, so she could not leave, yet. Uru purred softly, burying her face in her lover’s sweet mane. She pressed close to him and whispered softly, “Ahadi?”
“Hmm? Is that you, Uru?”
“Yes, asali, it’s me.”
“Is it almost over? I want to rest.”
Uru choked back a sob. “I know you do, Ahadi, but it’s not over yet. Rafiki hasn’t arrived.”
Ahadi pressed against Uru. “My love, don’t leave me.”
Uru laid her head under her mate’s, “I won’t penda, I won’t. Nakupenda, asali, nakupenda, my love.” Uru’s ears pricked as she heard a soft rattle from the entrance of the cave. She lifted her head and licked Ahadi’s cheek, “Rafiki is here, my love. I must leave now, Mufasa and Taka need me.”
Ahadi placed a paw around Uru and nuzzled her. “Then go to them.”
Uru stood and let Ahadi’s paw slip from her back. Her eyes teared up and she started to sob as she slowly walked from the cave. As she stepped into the sunset’s light she felt another body beside her. She recognized the scent and purred. “Nyesha….”
“Be strong my daughter, your sons need you, and so do I.” Nyesha sighed. “Follow me, Uru.”
Uru opened her eyes and followed the golden lioness up the trail that led to the summit of Pride Rock. When they reached the high plateau, Uru lie down next to Nyesha and put her head on her adopted mother’s paws. “Uru, remember when Ahadi took Mufasa up here to watch the sunrise?”
Uru nodded. “I remember.”
“Well this is what he told Mufasa: Look, every thing the light touches is our kingdom. One day the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.” Nyesha leaned over and nuzzled Uru. “I just wanted to tell you that that sunset is now.”
Sarabi fell over. It was too much; she had lost almost everything in the world that mattered to her in one day. The only thing she had left was what was next to her, her daughter, Uzema, her best friend Sarafina and her twin daughters, Nala and Azema. Her life had been shattered like a thin sheet of ice on the water. She had not only lost her mate, but her own son as well. Sarabi stood and walked over to Sarafina and nudged her with her nose. “Hey, Saffy.”
Sarafina turned around to look at Sarabi, her cheeks tearstained and eyes red from crying. She sniffed. “Hey, Sabby.”
Sarabi smiled warmly and nodded towards Uzema, Azema, and Nala. “Want to pretend we’re cubs again?”
Sarafina smiled and patted the ground beside her. “Sure. It’d be nice to relive old times at a time like this.” Sarabi lay down next to Sarafina who put her paw under the Queen’s head, her head on the Queen’s shoulder, and draped the other paw over Sarabi’s side. Sarafina smiled and whispered into Sarabi’s ear, purring softly. “We’ll get through this. We got through it back when we were milk sisters and Maajaliwa was killed, and I’m sure we’ll find a way through this.”
Sarabi purred in response, but wasn’t so sure that Sarafina was right. She was in a pit of darkness, but maybe she would see the light that Sarafina saw. Maybe, someday, this would all end and turn out to be a dream, and that Simba and Mufasa would still be alive, but that was impossible….
… or was it?
“Kovu!” Kiara ran after her mate with all the speed she could muster; yet it wasn’t enough. She watched helplessly as Kovu jumped the river the marked the boundary of the Pridelands. “Kovu! Kovu. Kovu… Kovu….” Kiara fell to the ground, sobbing like a cub. She didn’t know what to do, she and Kovu had had another argument, and Kiara unthinkingly said something ill about his mother and brother. It had been the last straw for Kovu and he took it into his own paws to decide it was time to leave. Kiara heard a soft rustle of grass behind her and growled. “Go away Vitani.”
“Oh so I sound like Vitani now, do I?” Nala nudged her daughter. “Where’s Kovu? Did he run away to get away from the pride again? If he did I’m sure he’ll come back.”
Kiara looked away from her mother. “He’s not coming back. He left for good. I hope I’ll see him again, but I probably won’t.”
“Don’t say that, Kiara. He always comes back, what’s so different about this time?” Nala looked deep into Kiara’s amber eyes with her own aqua eyes. “Listen to me, Kiara. He will come back.”
“How can you be so sure, you don’t know what I said to him! I regretted it as soon as it left my lips, but he wouldn’t listen when I said sorry to him!” She turned her head to show Nala the for clean swipe marks on her left cheek. “See what he did to me this time?”
Nala shook her head. “Kiara, if he comes back it is going to be very hard to talk your father out of killing him for hurting you. How can you love him if he abuses you? He was only using you, Kiara! It was all an act to get to the throne, but when he found out how hard it was to be king, he took his frustration out on you! Are you so blind to that fact, daughter? Couldn’t… can’t you see it?”
“I can now, I just didn’t until now…” Kiara wrapped a paw around her mother and sobbed on her strong shoulder. “Will you help me take care of Sutu and Jaha? I can’t do it alone.”
“Shhhhh. Of course I will, honey. So will Vitani, you know that.” Nala licked her daughter’s cheek.
Kiara didn’t pull away from her mother. “I wish Kia was here, Kopa too. They would have seen through Kovu and protected me from him.”
“We all wish they were still here, but we cannot undo that that has been done. Things happen and we can’t change the past, what happens is usually meant to happen unless someone takes it into their own paws to change destiny, and that is what Scar did. Kopa and Kia would still be around and Kovu wouldn’t be abusive, but we can’t undo it, the past is past…”
“Mom, I love you….”
“I love you too.”
Nala watched Vitani closely, waiting for her signal to split from the group. She breathed slow and heavily as she quietly crept towards the small herd of springbok. There it was, Vitani’s ears flicked twice. Nala continued the signal to Jade and Kula on her right, she knew her daughter would be forwarding Vitani’s message to Amber and Shetu on the other side of Vitani. Nala moved in an arch around the springbok, leaving Vitani, Irahna, Jaga, and Aiesi behind her in the grass. She slowly but surely placed her paws on the ground, not snapping any twig or disturbing any pebble. She knew what it took to make a catch, and that was stealth and silence.
She stopped suddenly, she had reached her destination. She could see Vitani and waited for her to spring. She could see Kiara not too far away and she knew everyone was in place. Her muscles coiled, ready to spring after the sickly male they had singled out.
Vitani sprang. She was closely followed by Irahna who was flanked by Jaga and Aiesi. Nala waited. Just a little farther… a little bit more… now! She flicked her ears and knew her daughter was mirroring her. Kula sprang, Jade sprang, then she sprang. The whole hunting party was in perfect synchronization in this dance of death. Vitani glanced at Nala for a split second and nodded. Nala knew what she was saying. The springbok was about to run right past her and no one else but her was in any position to grab it. Nala leaned backwards like she was stretching and then just as the springbok was about to pass her, she sprang. But just as she felt her paws grab on to the fleeing animal, it bucked them off. She could fell the hunt sisters staring in horror as the inevitable was about to happen. Her eyes widened as she realized it. She had made a mistake, and she was going to pay with her life for it.
As Shetu watched what was happening, the world slowed down. It was like her past was coming back to haunt her. She stared desperately at Nala but suddenly it wasn’t Nala. It was Sarabi’s sister, Leilia. She shut her eyes and screamed. She ran straight at Nala, trying to prevent her death. “Nala!”
Nala felt Shetu hit her, she also felt the springbok’s hooves hit her jaw, instead of their intended target, her windpipe. Both lionesses hit the ground and Nala heard a moan from on top of her. She looked up into Shetu’s green eyes. Shetu smiled. “Hehe. At least you didn’t die like your mother’s friend, Leilia. I gave you a chance to live,” she paused, stood, and walked away from the former queen. “But it was at a terrible price….”
For a second, Nala didn’t know what Shetu meant, until she saw the large rip from her cheek down her chest to end somewhere along the end of her ribcage. Amber stared in horror at her mother. Nala looked over at Kiara who was sobbing. Vitani stood shocked for a moment but then she turned to Jade. “Get Rafiki,” she whispered. “Tell him we have two lionesses that must be put to rest tonight.”
Nala could see the tears in Jades eyes. She watched as Jade ran as fast as possible to the baobab that wasn’t all too far away. Nala’s eyes turned to Vitani who walked over to her. She leaned over to Nala’s ear and whispered softly, “Nala, you jaw is broken, you’ll never be able to eat again, which means you will surely die. I want to make your suffering easier, so I’m going to have Rafiki give you something that will end it. I refuse to take you back to Simba. I don’t want him to remember you like this, but neither do the rest of us. Nala, Shetu gave up her life so that we could say our goodbyes to you. Be thankful for that.” Nala could see tears welling up in her daughter-in-law’s eyes. She placed a paw on the sandy lionesses cheek and nodded, telling Vitani it was all right for her to cry and that she knew it was her time.
The soft sound of footsteps were heard and Nala could see Rafiki approaching. Vitani walked over to Rafiki. She hugged him and looked deeply into his dark eyes. “They’re ready. I cannot stay, it would hurt too much, the rest of the lionesses will say their goodbyes, and we will depart.”
Rafiki nodded gravely. He watched as the huntresses came and went between Nala and Shetu. But he noticed one hanging back, Kiara. He walked over and hugged her. “Be strong my dear, they are going to a better place, they have live good lives and Nala live to see her granddaughters. That was her dream as a cub. And she fulfilled it. Now, go say goodbye to you mother and the lioness that gave you a chance to say a goodbye to her while she was still alive.” Kiara nodded and walked to her mother.
She looked down into her mother’s green eyes with her amber ones. “You were there to comfort me when Kovu left, now I am her to comfort you when you leave this world behind. Remember me and save me a star next to my Kovu, I know he loved me deep down, he just let greed corrupt him. I will remember you always, we all will.” She licked her mother on the cheek and bumped noses with her, purring softly. Kiara looked down at her mother for one last time and a single tear fell onto her mother’s creamy pelt. She turned and walked over to Shetu, her head hanging as low as it could.
When she reached Shetu she whispered meekly. “Thank you, for everything you’ve every done for me. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much that was.” She nuzzled the lioness that resembled her grand mother so much. Dark tan pelt, black edges on ears, muscular build. The only difference was their eyes. Sarabi’s had been amber, but Shetu’s were bright green like the grass around them. Kiara turned to walk away but Shetu’s voice stopped her.
“Kiara, come here, I want to tell you something.”
Kiara turned back to Shetu. She looked at her curiously.
“Kiara, do you know who you remind me of?”
Kiara shook her head. “No, who?”
“Your grandmother. You look so much like her… you also look like you great-great-grandmother, Nyesha. She lost her mother this way, too. Gods, you look just like her. She was also a queen of the pride lands. She was the mate of Mohatu. You got her coat color… her gentle disposition, her love of life… when you became queen, it was almost as though Nyesha had come back from the dead. Do you know how special that was for me?”
“I can imagine it was very special.”
“I’m glad the gods let me live to see it.” She smiled at Kiara. “Your mother will not be going to the stars alone tonight, I be right with her, watching over her. You may go now, Kiara, I think it is time for Nala and I to rest.”
Kiara nodded and nuzzled Shetu. “Goodbye, and thank you again.”
Kiara backed away and then trotted over to Vitani. Vitani nuzzled her. “Ready to go, sis?”
Kiara gulped. “Yes, let’s go home.”
As the lionesses reached the pridal den, the rest of the pride could tell something was wrong. Simba spotted Kiara and saw she was crying. He walked up to her and nuzzled her gently, purring warmly. He pulled away and looked her in the eyes. “Kiara, what’s wrong? Miss the kill?”
Kiara choked back a sob as she replied. “Father, count us and see who’s missing.”
Sutu grabbed her granddaughter by the scruff and ran as fast as she could away from their pursuers. She looked over her shoulder for a second but quickly returned her gaze to the ground ahead of her. There was going to be a great battle today and she, her uncle, who was somewhere ahead of her, and her granddaughter were going to be the first casualties is they didn’t reach Pride Rock before their assailants caught up with them.
Sutu saw her uncle up ahead. He had found Kira and the other cub. Kiara relaxed as she saw Sutu with her daughter but tensed and bolted as she saw what was following her mother-in-law. Sutu sighed. Now her other granddaughter and her daughter-in-law were threatened as well. The orange lioness put on an extra burst of speed and caught up with her Uncle Adami and Kira. She signaled them to stop and they complied. Sutu dropped her granddaughter at Adami’s paws and ran back towards the four lionesses that were chasing them. Adami gasped. “Sutu! No, come back!”
She looked back at her uncle. “Remember, Adami, I’m older than both of you so I have the authority here. I say you should get the hell out of here. This is the end of the line for me if I die, if it’s not, I’ll come back to Pride Rock as soon as I can!”
Adami and Kira nodded. Her uncle picked up the princess and ran as fast as he could towards the figure of Pride Rock. Sutu watched them for a second, then faced her opponents, her green eyes ablaze with rage. The lionesses pause for a moment scared by the show of emotion in her eyes. Sutu growled. “You come into my home, threaten my son, kill my grandson, try and kill my mother, set fire to my lands, and you add insult to injury by thinking for a split second that I’m too old to fight. Well, bring it on and you’ll regret it, I’ll kill all of you, even if it means killing my sister’s traitorous daughter, who I still love but will kill to protect what is my pride’s and my family.”
One of the lionesses turned tail and ran. Sutu had been right, Suri was among them. “Anyone else too scared to fight? How about you, Kasami? Or you Tsangi? Yes I know you, too, Saluki. It would be a shame to have to kill any of you… I’ve known you all since you were cubs and I was the ruler of these lands. You can come to our side, no one will hurt you. And so you know, Tsangi, your mother is already among our ranks, she was not killed or harmed.”
Tsangi ran to Sutu. She beckoned to Kasami and Saluki, but neither would come. Tsangi sighed, “This lioness has shown my mother kindness, I cannot fight her, but if you will, I must fight alongside her.”
“Hmm. A lion and two lionesses against two lionesses hardly seems fair, perhaps I should leave.”
Sutu purred. “No, I’m glad you showed up, Mazi. You may not realize it, but this is the end of the line for us.” She turned to Tsangi. “Zani, run. Don’t look back. Run straight to Pride Rock and tell, Kira, Kelese, and Adami that Mazi and I are sorry, but it was time.”
Tsangi nodded and sprinted away, she didn’t get too far before the sounds of the massacre behind her reach her ears. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she wished that she could have done something, anything, so that she could fight beside Sutu and Mazi when the great battle between their prides came. But that was hopeless now. She would fight beside the relatives the former king and queen were leaving behind. Those at Pride Rock are the only hope now, Tsangi thought as she bolted up the trail that would lead her to the base of Pride Rocks promontory. But hope was thinning by the moment, unlike the storm clouds that were slowly gathering to cover the Pride Lands in a shadow, the shadow of hate and impending doom…
END TILL DEATH DO US PART