Autor's note: You must read The Chronicler's story- Simba's journey for this story to make any sense.

All TLK characters are the property of Walt Disney co. and are used with the utmost respect and gratitude.

Meric and Ansom are my property and are NOT to be used without permission.

 

Cast of Characters:

Pride-Landers:

Simba: King of the Pride Lands. Mate of Nala and father of Kiara. Now nearly as well built as Mufasa. Friend of Timon, Pumbaa and Meric

Nala: Queen of the Pride Lands. Mate of Simba and mother of Kiara. Dignified and regal. She is a lioness of few words, but when she does speak, her words often carry a hidden wisdom. Friend of Timon, Pumbaa, and Meric

Kiara: Daughter of Simba and Nala. Heir to the Pride Lands. Future mate of Kovu. Future friend of Meric.

Sarafina: Mother of Nala and former best friend of Serabi.(Plays a small role)

Rafiki: Mystical old mandrill. Shaman of the Pride Lands. Friend of Simba's family. Friend and future mentor of  Meric

Timon: Fast talking meerkat. Friend of Simba and his family. Best friend of Pumbaa, and can always be found riding on Pumbaa's back.

Pumbaa: Well padded warthog companion of Timon. still suffers from a flatulence problem. Friend of Simba and his Family.

Ansom: Friend of Meric.

Zazu: Simba's majordomo. Well meaning, if a bit scatter brained. Loyal friend of the pride.

Mufasa: Father of Simba and former king of the Pride Lands. Now only a vision. His voice can sometimes be heard in the wind. 

 

Outsiders:

Zira: Queen during Scar's short reign. Mother of Nuka, Vitani, and Kovu. Queen of the Out-Lands

Vitani: Daughter of Zira, and twin sister of Kovu. Half-sister of Nuka. Zira's most trusted ally. Future Pride-Lander

Nuka: Son of Zira and Scar. Half-brother of Kovu and Vitani. Best described as a geek with some disturbing leanings toward pyromania

Kovu: Son of Zira and twin brother of Vitani. Half-broth Nuka. Future mate of Kiara and King of the Pride Lands. Future friend of Meric.

 

Undecided:

Meric: still-mysterious lion. Though he has no intention of joining Zira, he has not yet found a home.

Friend of Simba and his family. Future pupil of Rafiki. Future friend of Kovu.

 

I. Introduction

Good morning young ones. I see you have come back to hear the rest of my story. Delightful! Get comfortable and I will begin. This next story is about the events following Simba's return to Pride Rock. This time, I personally spoke wit the villain, but you will find out more about her later. You will also learn of how I got my nick-name, Ameri-lander. Since I was not around for a time, I will use the testimony of Simba, though I will not quote him so that you are not confused. In fact, I've decided to not use any direct quotes, since you may have been confused by them in the last story.

II. Simba's Heir

Not all of the lionesses had fought with Simba during the "Great Battle," as it came to be known. A small group of them had chosen to follow Scar. Scar had one son, Nuka, but he did not choose him as his heir. Instead, Scar chose a cub who had not yet been born, and was not even his! I will never know why. The cub was born just before, because of the ever present threat from that group, Simba was forced to banish them to a place called, "The Out-Lands". However, Simba did not know anything about this cub. The rift between Simba's pride and the outlanders continued to grow, slowly. 

  Time passed slowly as I wandered, thinking of my friends back in the Pride Lands. For a while, I had found a home! I had gained friends and what's more, they seemed to consider me, as family, even though they had only known about me for a few days! I had even forgotten that I had no past, so what was there that I had to face?! I was saddened, and I regretted ever making the decision to leave. I was delighted when a message from Rafiki came to me by way of carrier pigeon. In it, he asked me to return to Pride Rock A.S.A.P. At first, I thought something was wrong, but why would he call ME if that were the case? I decided to go and see what was up. 

 I arrived in the Pride Lands a few days later, and a wonderful sight met my eyes. The land was even more beautiful than I remembered it being when I had first arrived all those ages ago. All the greenery had grown back, and was even fuller than before. It seemed like allot had changed, including me. As I looked into a pool of clear water, I noticed that streaks of gray were appearing, in my once snow-white mane, although the rest of me showed no signs of aging.  Once again there was a great procession of animals heading toward Pride Rock. I followed at the back as before, and who do you think I met again, but the same group of turtles, that I had walked with before. This time the group seemed larger. "Meric?" asked one of the turtles, "Is that you?" I recognized the voice right away. "Ansom?" I asked. "Yes, it is me!" he replied. "You've grown my friend!" I exclaimed. "Meric, I would like you to meet my wife, Trosia." he said. I smiled. "And these," he continued, "are my children." No wonder the group looked bigger! Walking behind their parents, were three turtles, who were about as big as their father had been. I told Ansom's entire family hello, and introduced myself. "How have things been in the Pride Lands lately?" I asked Ansom. "Wonderful, thanks to our new rulers." replied Ansom happily. "Why are we headed toward Pride Rock?" I asked, trying to learn as much as possible. "King Simba's heir is being presented today." he answered. Simba has an heir?! I couldn't believe it! I was excited. I could not wait to talk to him again! The walk seemed like it took hours, but we finally made it to Pride Rock. I walked to the front of the crowd and watched. Though this ceremony did not seem as big as Simba's had been, it was huge! Everyone I had met was there!  As I looked toward the sky, I thought that I could see Mufasa, looking down from the clouds and smiling approvingly. I looked toward Pride Rock, and there, sitting on the edge of what I call "throne ledge" were Simba and Nala, smiling. Throne ledge was the part of Pride Rock that stretched from it to the crowd. Both Simba and Nala had grown since I last saw them, especially Simba, who looked more like his father than ever. Standing near them, were Timon and Pumbaa. Zazu flew to Simba and bowed. Rafiki soon brought a cub and held it high, as he had done with Simba. He then made the special mark on it's head, using gourd juice. Once again, all the creatures went wild, and then all was silent, as they knelt before Simba and his heir.

After the ceremony was over and everyone had gone home, I went to visit Simba. He and Nala saw me and came out of the den. "Congratulations Simba and Nala." I said. Simba smiled. "Its good to have you back with us Meric." he said happily. "Welcome." said Nala warmly. "Thank you." I replied, "I see that you two have become very wise, and used that wisdom to rule well." "Thank you." they replied together. I motioned in toward where the cub was sleeping. "That's a beautiful cub you have there." I said, "I'm sure you two will make fine parents." Simba and Nala smiled. "Thank you." said Simba, "She's our pride and joy." A girl?! I almost fainted! Nala laughed warmly when she realized it. "Timon and Pumbaa fainted too, when they found out that she was a girl." she said. "What is her name?" I asked. "Her name," replied Simba, "is Kiara." "Kiara," I replied, "What a beautiful name!" "Would you like to come in and meet her?" asked Nala. "Some time," I replied, "but for now, she needs her sleep." "How long have you been here?" asked Simba. "I just arrived today," I replied, "and I am glad that I did." About that time, Timon and Pumbaa came strolling up, and once again, they started to run after seeing me. "Guys, Why do you always run from me?" I asked, "I told you that I would not hurt you, because you are Simba's friends, and any friend of Simba's is a friend of mine!" Simba and Nala laughed. Timon stopped running and turned around. "Do you recognize the white mane?" I asked. Timon looked relieved, and as Pumbaa turned around, he did too. "You were the one who vanished a few days after the Great Battle weren't you!" said Timon. "Yes Timon," I replied, "but I am back, and this time, I intend to stay, for a while." "It's getting late Simba." said Nala, "We should probably head in for the night." Simba nodded. "Would you like to stay with us for a while?" he asked. "Thank you Simba, but for right now, I have a place to stay." I answered, "I was just going to talk to Rafiki, but I wanted to come congratulate you and Nala first." "Ok, I will talk to you later Meric." he said, "Good night." "Good night Simba, Nala." I replied. With that I began to walk to Rafiki's tree.

 I hoped that Rafiki would still be in the same tree as before, if it was still there. It was. "Rafiki!" I called. Rafiki leapt down from his tree. "Welcome Meric." he said, "I see you got my message." "Yes I did." I replied, "Why was it so urgent that I come?" "I discovered something about you that I thought you should know." Rafiki answered, "Besides, I thought you would like to see the ceremony today, which I assume you did." "Yes I did," I said, curious, "What was it that you found out?" "I believe that you are a mystic, like me." replied Rafiki happily, "I also believe that you were meant to be here today." That news made my head spin but it also explained why I did not seem to age as fast as the others. "How do you know this?" I asked. "I can't really explain it," replied Rafiki, "but someday, I think you will understand." To this day, I still don't understand. "Are you certain?" I asked. "I am almost positive." he answered. "I should probably head back to camp" I said, "Good night." Rafiki smiled. "Good night." he said, and leapt back up into his tree.

III. Duties resumed

   I went and stayed at the place where I had stayed to watch Simba when he was a cub.

Time passed, and Kiara grew from and infant into a cub. One day, at dawn she came out of the den and began to run off to play. "Whoa! Where do you think you're going?" asked Simba, who was suddenly behind her. He picked her up and sat her in his paws. "Daddy," laughed Kiara, "let go." "Now, I just want you to be careful." replied Simba. Kiara didn't hear, because she had become distracted by a small butterfly, and was now jumping at it. "Kiara, are you listening?" asked Simba., putting his paw on her tail to stop her from bouncing. Kiara looked up at him. "Accidents can happen." continued Simba, "You could easily get hurt..." "Or stepped on, or even get lost. " continued Kiara. She had heard this speech before.  "And remember," began Simba, "I want you to stay in sight of Pride Rock..." "At all times. I know," finished Kiara, "and if  I see any strangers, don't talk to them. Come straight home. Ok, ok, can I go now, please?" Simba chuckled. "Very funny." he said. Nala walked over and glanced at Simba. I was reminded of when she and Simba had pulled a very similar stunt as cubs. "Mind your father Kiara." she said. "Yes Mom." replied Kiara. "And stay away from the Out-Lands." added Simba. Zazu flew down to greet them. "Nothing there but a bunch of back-stabbing, murderous, outsiders." he said disdainfully. "Zazu's right." said Simba, "You can't turn your back on them." "Really, how come?" asked Kiara. "You'll understand someday." replied Simba. "But Daddy..." began Kiara. "Run along now." said Simba, as Kiara gave him a hug before leaving. She then ran off to play. Zazu flew off.  "And stay on the path I've marked for you!" Simba called after Kiara. Nala chuckled. "Who does she remind you of?" she asked Simba. Simba didn't appear to be listening. "What?" he asked, "Who?" "She's just like you were, when you were young." she replied, nuzzling him. "Exactly." replied Simba, "Do you realize the dangers we put ourselves in?" Nala smiled and pinned him to the ground. "You mean the dangers you put us in." she said, "She'll be fine." Nala walked back into the den. Timon and Pumbaa had been standing near by. "Hey! Timon, Pumbaa, come here." whispered Simba when Nala was out of earshot. Pumbaa walked over with Timon, as usual, riding on his back. "Good morning, mon Capitan." said Timon. "I want you to keep a close watch on Kiara." said Simba, "You know she's bound to run off." "No worries Simba." replied Timon, "We're on 'er like stink on a warthog." "Hey!" Pumbaa exclaimed. "It's the harsh truth Pumbaa." replied Timon, "Live with it." "Guys, I'm counting on you." said Simba, "Danger could be lurking behind every rock." After they left, I walked up to Simba. "I'm going to follow Kiara as well." I said, "I feel as though something is going to happen today, something that may change the Pride Lands, forever." "Understood." replied Simba, "Let me know what happens." "I will Simba." I replied, and with that, I started after Timon and Pumbaa.  It was time to resume my duties as "The Chronicler."

It didn't take long for me to catch up with Timon and Pumbaa, but I stayed behind them to keep them from seeing me and being frightened, again. When we caught up with Kiara, she had found the same butterfly and was still pouncing after it. It flew until it landed on a rock. "The mighty hunter has cornered her unsuspecting prey." Kiara said quietly, narrating her actions. She lunged at the butterfly, but it flew off. Kiara stood on the rock and looked into the distance. "Whoa!" she exclaimed, "The Out-Lands! I wonder what's out there." She heard rustling in the grass, so she turned around. Timon's head popped up and she screamed, causing Timon and Pumbaa to do the same. Kiara backed up and fell into a small pond that was below. Timon and Pumbaa ran up onto the rock, but could not see her. "Ohh... Don't worry Kiara!" shouted the warthog, "Uncle Pumbaa's coming!" He dove into the water. Timon was horrified. "Uh, gee Simba," he recited, "the good news is we found your daughter. The bad news is, we dropped a warthog on her. Is... there a problem with that?" "Kiara?" called Pumbaa, still sitting in the pond, "Kiara?" "Pumbaa!" yelled Timon, "Let me define, "BABY SITTING!" Pumbaa got the message and got up. Kiara came out from under the water, coughing, but still breathing. Timon and Pumbaa were relieved, and so was I. Kiara walked on to the shore. "Sorry. Now Princess Kiara," said Pumbaa, "as Simba's daughter, you know better than to go off all alone. You cold have been hurt." Timon jumped down from the rock. "Hurt! Oh, Simba would kill us," he said, as he began checking her over franticly, "You didn't slip a disk did you?" "But..." Kiara began. "Catch a fever? Get a hangnail?" continued the frantic meerkat, checking her paw. "Timon..." Kiara began again, pulling her paw away. "I had one once." continued Timon, beginning to calm down. "Very painful." said Pumbaa. "Excruciating." corrected Timon. He got a leaf and put it over kiara's head to give her some shade. "Darling,with your complexion, you should stay out of the sun." he said, smiling. Kiara swatted the leaf away. "What?" asked Timon, "Do ya' want a wrinkle?" He turned away to do something, but I could not see what. "Would somebody just please, listen to me?" asked Kiara. Timon turned back around. "I'm sorry. I wasn't listening." he said, "Did you say something Princess?" "I'm not JUST a princess you know." said Kiara, "That's only half of who I am." "Oh. Uhh... Who's the other half?" asked Pumbaa.  "Well, I, uhh..." began Kiara. "Well, while you're figuring that out," said Timon, walking over  to a log and snapping his fingers, "let's eat. Pumbaa lifted up the log, which was slimy underneath, with his tusks. "Grubs!" said Timon. Timon gathered a bunch and Pumbaa set the log down. "The other white meat." said Pumbaa. "And so high in protein." finished Timon, presenting the large leaf that was covered with bugs to Kiara. "EWW!" shrieked Kiara. "Gross!" "No?" said Timon. I was surprised that Timon did not tell her that her father had grown up eating bugs, just like they were now. He turned to Pumbaa. "How about you, big boy?" Timon asked. Pumbaa took a deep whiff. "Ahh." he said, "Love grubs." "Not like." said Timon. "Love." Timon and Pumbaa finished together. Pumbaa put one in his mouth and took a bite, but a moment later he spit it back out, all covered with drool. "OHH!" exclaimed Timon angrily, "You always do that! You take a bite out of every one, and then put it back! It drives me crazy!" "But you can't tell from the outside, which are the real slimy ones." Pumbaa explained. Timon laughed. "Pumbaa, my corpulent compadre," he said, "It's the crunchy ones that make the meal." He picked up a bug and ate it. Timon and Pumbaa began to argue which was better. Seeing her opportunity, Kiara snuck off toward the great brown spot in the distance, the Out-Lands. She had no idea that I was following her.

IV. Kiara's forbidden Venture

As I followed Kiara, she wandered further and further from Pride Rock, and closer and closer to the Out-Lands, which were strictly off limits. Acting as the border between the Pride Lands and the Out-Lands was a river. At this time, there was a log that had fallen across, like a bridge. Kiara crossed it. As she neared the opposite shore, she stumbled and rolled off the log, directly into another cub. He had a shaggy brown coat, and black tufts of hair on the top of his head and his tail. Not only this, but he also had a menacing glare in his eyes. I assumed this was one of the outsiders that I had heard about. I stayed in hiding, because the outsiders didn't know about me and, for now, I wanted to keep it that way. If I thought that Kiara was in any immediate danger, however, I would not hesitate to defend her. "What are you doing here, pride-lander?" snarled the cub. Kiara didn't answer, but kept her gaze fixed on him. The other cub continued to growl threateningly, but Kiara continued to watch, never turning her back for a moment. "What are you doing?" asked the cub, curiosity finally getting the better of him. "My father says to never turn your back on an outsider." Kiara answered firmly. "Do you always do what "Daddy" says?" asked the other cub, laughing. "No!" answered Kiara. The other cub laughed again. "Bet you do." he said, "Bet you're "Daddy's little girl." He began to walk out onto a log that was laying in the river. "An outsider doesn't need anybody." he continued, "I take care of myself!" "Really?" replied Kiara in awe, now walking out onto the same log, "Cool!" Suddenly the back end of the log began to rise out of the water! It wasn't a log at all! It was a crocodile! The other cub noticed first and began trying to warn Kiara, but was paralyzed with fear. Kiara got the message just in time and leapt out of the way of the crock's jaws. She and the other cub leapt from log to log, but each one was another crocodile! Finally she and the other cub jumped onto two "unmoving rocks." The cubs believed they were safe."That was a close one" giggled the other cub. "Yeah." Kiara agreed. Suddenly the rocks that they were resting on began to rise out of the water. MORE CROCODILES! Kiara was able to leap up onto a tree branch that was just out of the crock's reach. "Hey! What about me?!" she called when the other cub ran past, jumping from crock to crock. "I'll distract them!" he answered, "Run!" He continued jumping from crocodile to crocodile. Just as he jumped on one, it's tail rose out of the water, which would not have been so bad, except that he was on it. The other cub fell into the water, and began to swim for shore. When he looked back, a crock's gaping jaws were coming for him. He froze, paralyzed with fear. Just as was about to be devoured, Kiara jumped onto the jaws, snapping them shut! "Move it!" she yelled. The two cubs jumped onto a branch that was by the shore and climbed up, out of the river, onto the shore, and out of reach of the crocodiles.  I had run around the shore line watching, and so I was there now as well, keeping out of sight. We were now back in the Pride Lands. Kiara looked down at where the crocodiles were trying to climb up the steep embankment, but not having much luck, and were angry about having been cheated of their lunch. "I did it!" she yelled, amazed. She gave the crocodiles what humans would call "The raspberries". The other cub just sat there, looking confused, as Kiara celebrated. She turned to him. "You were really brave." she said. Something happened that I did not expect. The evil glare that had been in the cub's eyes disappeared! "Yeah?" he answered, "You were pretty brave too. My name's Kovu." He sat there proudly. "I'm Kiara." giggled Kiara. From somewhere near by, I heard a low growl. We were not alone. Kiara tapped her new friend, Kovu. "Tag! You're it!" she yelled happily. Kovu once again just sat there, looking confused. Kiara tried again "Tag! You're it! You're it!" she shouted, tapping him again. Kovu still did not move. "Hello?" said Kiara, "You run, I tag?" Kovu looked more confused than ever. "What's the matter?" asked Kiara, "Don't you know how to play?" Kiara seemed to get an idea. She gave a playful growl. Kovu got the idea and gave a mock-growl. Suddenly he found himself growling at a leg, and a mighty roar echoed off of the water and embankment. It was Simba! He must have been looking for Kiara. A lioness ran out from hiding and roared back. "That must have been who was growling earlier." I thought. The lioness was even more shaggy looking than Kovu. She had an extremely pale golden coat and a scar on her left ear. Her eyes contained an even more evil glare than I had seen in Kovu's. "Zira." growled Simba. "Simba?" Zira sneered. She got ready to pounce, but then noticed that standing behind Simba, were not only all the lionesses from his pride, including Nala, but Timon and Pumbaa as well. "Nala." Zira sneered. "Zira." growled Nala. I stood up. "Timon, Pumbaa." said Timon, "Great, now that we all know each other, GET OUTTA OUR PRIDE LANDS!" "Your Pride Lands?!" growled Zira. She growled threateningly at them, and Timon dove behind Pumbaa's head for cover. "These lands belong to Scar!" she continued. Even now, when someone mentions Scar, I get angry, but I was forced to remain calm. "I banished you from the Pride Lands!" Simba answered sternly, "Now you and your young cub, get out!" "OH! Haven't you met my son, Kovu?" asked Zira, "He was hand chosen by Scar, to follow in his paw prints, and become king!" Simba gave a low growl at Kovu, who shook with fear. "PHH! That's not a king!" laughed Timon, "That's a fuzzy maraca!" "Kovu, was the last born before YOU exiled us to the Out-Lands," Zira told Simba, "where we have, little food, less water." "You know the penalty for returning to the Pride Lands." replied Simba angrily. "But the child does not!" said Zira, "However, if you need your pound of flesh, here." She pushed a trembling Kovu forward, daring Simba to show either ruthlessness, or cowardice. I was disgusted! Simba looked at the cub, not believing what Zira had just done. "Take him and get out." He said,  as he turned to pick up Kiara. "We're finished here." He picked her up. Zira walked over and looked down at Kiara. "Oh no Simba." she sneered, "We have barely begun." With an evil laugh, she went over and picked up Kovu, though not so gently as Simba had picked up Kiara. As Simba and the others headed back toward Pride Rock, and Zira took Kovu back to their home, the two cubs stared at each other. "Bye." whispered Kiara. "Bye." whispered Kovu. I would have briefed Simba in the way back, but I think that he had a pretty good idea of what had happened.

V. My visit to the Out-Lands

When we were about half-way back to Pride Rock, I walked over to Simba, who was still carrying Kiara. "I'm going to head to the Out-Lands for a few hours." I informed him. He looked at me with unsure eyes. I got the message. "Don't worry about me." I said, "Even though I am sure that Zira saw me, I do not think that she realizes that I am on your side yet. What happened today may be important, more important than we realize." He still looked unsure. "I have no intention of joining them, but there is, something about that cub that I just can't shake." I continued. Simba seemed to understand and nodded. When we came to a rock, Nala, who had been walking ahead with the other lionesses, looked back because Simba had stopped. "Simba?" she asked curiously. He cleared his throat. Nala got the message and continued on. Simba sat Kiara down. "Go ahead and go," he told me, "but be careful." "I will Simba," I laughed, "Hakuna Matata." He got the joke and let out a hearty laugh. "I need to have a talk with Kiara alone anyway." he said, "I'll see you when you get back."
I started back toward the Out-Lands. Because Zira had been walking so slowly, I was able to catch up quickly. For now, I decided to go ahead of her, and meet her at her home. It was obvious when I got to the Out-Lands, because everything there was dead! I noticed that near a rock that looked like a castle, was a lioness cub, pulling on a tree root with her teeth. I assumed that she was Zira's cub, because the two looked almost exactly alike. A shaggy coated, orange lion with a black half mane, who reminded me, painfully, of Scar walked up. "Kovu, Kovu, Kovu." the lion mumbled, "Scar wasn't even his father. We just took 'im in." He stopped, watching the cub, who was struggling to break the root.  "Oh, Hey 'Tani, where's little termite Kovu, "the chosen one?" he asked. He touched the root with his claw. It  snapped and sent 'Tani sprawling backwards. The lion gafawed. It wasn't until later that I learned the cub's full name, Vitani. "Nuka, where's Kovu?" asked Vitani, "Did you leave him out there on his own again?" Nuka began scratching his head. "Hey, its every lion for himself out here." replied Nuka, "That little termite's gotta learn to be on his own." "Mother's gonna be mad." warned Vitani, "She told you to watch him!" Nuka continued scratching, this time on his shoulder. "Oh, who cares?" asked Nuka, "I shoulda been the the chosen one." He began scratching his back against a dead tree. "I'm the oldest. I'm the strongest. I'm the smartest," said Nuka, "And Ohhg, these termites!" Apparently the termites had moved from the root onto him. He scratched himself evey place that he could reach, while Vitani looked on, amused and self-satisfied at Nuka's condition. "I, could be, a leader, if she'd just give me, a chance!" Nuka continued, scooting along the ground toward Vitani. "Oh yeah?" laughed Vitani, "Why don't you tell that to her?" "Don't think I won't!" replied Nuka. Vitani laughed again. "Oh yeah?" she said, "Here comes your chance." "Huh?" said a clueless Nuka   Zira came stalking up with Kovu in her mouth, and Nuka bounced up to her. "Mother! Mother! HI!" he exclaimed. Zira just ignored him and kept walking. "Mother, I caught some field mice for your dinner." continued Nuka, "I left them by the... by the... Oh, ok." Zira dropped Kovu near Vitani. "Hey Kovu." Vitani said, "Wanna fight?" Kovu and Vitani began to play fight. "You were supposed to be WATCHING HIM!!!" Zira yelled at Nuka. Kovu walked over to defend Nuka. "Its not his fault mother." explained Kovu, "I ran off on my own!" "What were you doing?" asked Ziara angrily, now yelling at Kovu. "Nothing." replied Kovu. "Who has made us outsiders?!" asked Zira. "Simba." replied kovu, now sitting on the back. "Who killed Scar?" asked Zira. "Simba." replied the frightened cub. I let out a growl in spite of myself. Zira looked up. I think she knew that someone was there, but was more concerned with disciplining her son. "What have I told you, about THEM?!" asked Zira, now yelling. "I'm sorry mother." replied Kovu in a weak voice, "She... she didn't seem so bad. I thought we could be..." "Friends?!" interrupted Zira, circling Kovu, "You thought you would get to the daughter, and Simba would welcome you with open arms? What an idea!" She paused, seeming to reconsider. "What an idea!" she exclaimed finally, "You brilliant child! I'm so proud of you!" She picked him up off the ground. "You have the same conniving mind that made Scar so, powerful." she continued, running her partially extended claws through his fur. "Oh, yech!" mumbled Nuka. Zira glared at him and gave an angry half roar. Nuka slunk back. I walked out of hiding. "Hello Zira." I said calmly. She growled and rushed toward me. "Who are you?!" she asked angrily. I decided not to tell her about my "Chronicler" title, but use Ansom's name for me. "My name is Meric." I replied. "You are not welcome here, pride lander!" Zira growled. I laughed. "What is so funny?!" she sneered. Vitani and Nuka rushed to her side. "I'm not from the Pride Lands." I replied, "As a matter of fact, I was only wandering through them, a short time ago. I am a nomad." "Really?" Zira asked, "Then why did I see you with Simba and his group, when I went to find Kovu." "You saw what you wanted Zira," I replied, "but I was not on one side or the other. I was between you and Simba's group." "Where did you come from originally?" asked Vitani, now curious. "I was born on a land called America, in a zoo." I replied "What's a zoo?" asked Vitani. "It is a place where humans keep animals that are in danger of having their entire species die off, or  cannot live in a land that is crowded with humans." I replied. I said more, but I'll stop here to explain. My journey away form Pride Rock that first time was not as fruitful as I had hoped, but I did discover a few things about my past. As I said, I was born in a zoo, but just after I was born, my mother and I were released in Africa. She died shortly after, and I was forced to live on my own, wandering in search of food, and answers. It was those wanderings that led me to Pride Rock, that very first time. I'll continue on now. "So, you're a Ameri-lander?" Nuka surmised. "I guess so." I replied. I had no idea how well that name would stick. Kovu had just been sitting there, listening. "Why are you here?" he asked, curious. I could not smile outwardly, so I did so inside. "I am here to watch you, Kovu." I replied. "What do you want with my son?!" growled Zira. "Take it easy Zira." I replied, "I am simply here to watch him as he grows." "Why?" Zira growled. "Yeah!" said Nuka, "Why not watch me?" Zira glared at him and he laughed nervously. "I believe you are right, Zira." I said, "I believe that Kovu will someday be king of the Pride Lands." "How do you know that?" asked Zira. "I don't know how to explain." I replied, "There's just, something about Kovu, that tells me that he will." I had decided not to tell Zira about what I had seen in Kovu's eyes. "Fine, You are free to come and go." Zira replied walking over to Kovu, "but tell no one of what you see here." I agreed. Something just told me that this was the way things were supposed to be. Zira picked Kovu up and took him into "Castle Rock." As I followed, Nuka just sat, mumbling. "Ugh," he mumbled, "Chosen one." After putting Kovu to bed, Zira explained her plan to the rest of the outsiders. I was amazed. Simba told me that the group he had banished was very small, but this group was almost as large as Simba's Pride! "Some must be from other prides" I thought. The outsiders roared in agreement with Zira. I roared too, but it was out of anger toward Zira's vengeful heart. I returned to the Pride Lands later that night, when everyone was asleep. You might be wondering why I chose to let Kovu know about my watching him, and not tell Kiara that I was watching her. As with Simba before her, I did not want decisions that Kiara made as a cub to be effected by knowing about my watching, and although she knew that I was a friend of her father's, she had no idea that I was watching her. However, Zira was pounding ideas into Kovu's head so much, and in such a way, that even if I had tried, I would not have been able to change any of the decisions that he made.

VI. The Fire

Over the next couple of years, I did allot of traveling between the Pride Lands and the Out-Lands, keeping my eyes on both Kiara and Kovu. In fact, I did so much, that I had to find a new place to stay, about halfway between them. Simba and Nala did a good job of raising Kiara, but I think the trauma that he had suffered as a cub, made Simba a little, overprotective.  Each time I visited Kovu however, he seemed more and more dark and distant. In other words, it was like the good was literally being drained from him, but there was always a small bit of that glimmer which had appeared the day that he and Kiara met.

I became very worried. The rift between Simba's Pride and the outsiders was deepening. One night, as I was pondering the situation, I realized that I needed someone to talk to. Having nowhere else to turn, I decided to head to Rafiki's tree and talk to him. I arrived at Rafiki's tree later that night. "Rafiki!" I called. Rafiki leapt down from his tree. He had a tired look in his eyes. "Oh dear." I said, "I hope I didn't wake you." "You didn't Meric." yawned Rafiki, "What can I do for you?" "Rafiki, I am worried about the growing tension between the outsiders and Simba's Pride." I said, "If things continue to go the way they have, war can't be to far off." "Do not be so anxious about the future." Rafiki replied, "Everything will turn out fine." "But, there must be something that I can do to help." I said. Rafiki put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. "Just continue to do what you have always done." he said, "I know things that I can't tell you, but when the time comes, you must be ready to make a decision." I looked at him, confused. "I know that you think you know who you are, and indeed you do know much more about yourself than you did when we first met," he continued, "but you are still too concerned about your past. Don't dwell on the family that you have lost. Think about the family that you've gained." "I don't understand." I replied. "When the time comes," said Rafiki, you will. He gave a friendly wave, and then leapt back up into his tree. I walked back to my camp. I felt more confused now than ever. The wind swirled around me as I headed back. I thought that I could hear Mufasa's voice. "Remember who you are." he said, "This is where you belong."

 There was one day that I had agreed stay at Pride Rock, so I'll have to use information which Vitani gave me later. This was the day that Zira put her plan into action.

   At Pride Rock that day, a great celebration was taking place. Kiara had now grown up into a beautiful young lioness, whose fur was as golden as her father's. Nala first descended from Pride Rock and walked toward Simba, who sat with a bit of sadness and concern in his eyes. There were groups of lionesses sitting on both sides of the path, congratulating her. One of them was her mother, Sarafina. I had been told that Serabi had died of depression, shortly after Simba's return to Pride Rock. After Nala had walked over to Simba, Kiara descended from Pride Rock. The lionesses congratulated her as well. Timon and Pumbaa stood near by. They embraced goofily. Rafiki also stood near by. When Kiara paused, he put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Kiara..." he said, smiling. Kiara walked to her mother. "You'll do just fine." Nala reassured her. Kiara hugged her mother, and looked over at Simba. "Daddy, You have to promise to let me do this on my own." she told him, "Promise?" Simba looked unsure, until Nala looked over at him. "All right," he said finally, "I promise." Kiara ran over and hugged him, as Timon and Pumbaa broke into tears. I had, a couple of years ago, told Simba that I would be watching Kiara, and recording what happened to her, the way I had done when he was a cub. The only difference was that Kiara knew that I was there, although she had no idea that I had been following and watching her. I stood, watching everything from under an over-hang. This was after all, a celebration for Simba and his family, not me, although Simba had invited me to sit, and celebrate with them. Kiara looked back, smiling, and then ran off to start her first hunt. Simba turned quietly to Timon and Pumbaa. "Make sure she doesn't get hurt." he said quietly. Timon and Pumbaa whistled nonchalantly, and when they were sure that nobody would notice, they followed off after Kiara. I told you Simba was a little overprotective, didn't I? I also followed, making sure not to be seen.

 Meanwhile, in the Out-Lands, Zira inspected Kovu. He was now fully grown. He was brown and had a black mane and a menacing glare in his eyes. Only a sliver of light remained in them. "You, are ready." said a satisfied Zira, as she circled him, "Nice. Very, nice. You have the same blackness in your soul that Scar had. What is your destiny?" "I will avenge Scar," replied Kovu, "and take his place in the Pride Lands." "Yes. What have I taught you?" asked Zira. "Simba is the enemy." replied Kovu. "And what, must, you, do?!" asked Zira enthusiastically. Kovu's eyes narrowed. "I must KILL him!" He replied. The other outsiders roared their approval.

Only two outsiders were not present. Nuka and the now fully grown Vitani had gone to the elephant grave-yard, which had been abandoned by the hyenas. Vitani did look very much like her mother, but was a good deal more feminine. She held two sticks in her mouth. Nuka shivered. "Yechh... This place is even creepier since the hyenas ran off." he said, as they stood on a ledge, overlooking it. "Chicken." Vitani replied through clenched teeth, rolling her eyes, and jumping down. There were still some active "fire geysers" here."I'm not scared, ok." said Nuka. A fire geyser erupted, and he jumped down near Vitani, in fright. Vitani set her sticks down on the edge of one of the fire geysers "I just don't know why we have to be here, that's all." continued Nuka, "If Kovu is so special, why does he need us?" A geyser erupted near by, causing Nuka to look over in fright. "I NEVER HAD A CHANCE!" he shouted. Little did he know that his back end was right at the edge of a fire geyser. It erupted, burning him.

He ran over to Vitani, who rolled her eyes. The geyser on which her sticks were resting erupted, lighting one end on fire. "That's it!" said Vitani, picking up one of the burning sticks, "Now come on. Kiara has started her hunt! We have to move quickly!" Nuka picked one up and looked over the edge of the geyser. It erupted again, making Nuka's face look as black as his heart. "OWW! FIRE!" he shouted, and he bounced off, laughing crazily as he followed Vitani.

   Meanwhile, Kiara's hunt was not going so well, but she had no idea that Timon and Pumbaa were following. Of course Timon and Pumbaa did not know that I was following her too. Timon and Pumbaa took their assignment very seriously. As they followed, they found ways to hide behind trees that I thought would be too small. All the while they kept saying, "Hup. Hup. Hup."  Kiara was following a grazing herd of antelope. She slunk through the tall grass, but just as she got close to the herd, she stepped on a stick, snapping it and sending the herd running. Kiara jumped out of hiding and tried to follow, but the herd was too fast, and she was soon out-distanced. She soon caught up when the herd, seeming to feel that if was safe, stopped and began to graze again. This time Kiara hid behind a rock. Meanwhile, Timon and Pumbaa hid by a hollow log. "Tango Charlie Alpha, What's your position?" Timon asked, "Over." "Uhh.. Upright, head turned slightly to the left," said the clueless warthog, "tail erect." "Why do I bother?" asked Timon, thinking out loud. He searched the horizon until he spotted Kiara. The ground on which she walked, was full of stones and pebbles. Seeing a large stone, Kaira was able to step over it with her front paws, but one of her back legs hit it, making just enough noise to send the antelope herd running again, directly toward  Timon and Pumbaa's hiding place! Timon and Pumbaa saw the antelope just in time to duck down into the tall grass. "This must be where the dear and the antelope play!" shouted Timon. When Timon and Pumbaa got up, Kiara was standing over them, breathing heavily. They screamed in surprise. "Oh, this ought to be interesting." I thought.  "Timon, what are you doing here?" Kiara asked sternly. Timon thought quickly. "Uhh... Shopping." he replied, Pumbaa nodding in the background, "We thought a nice pelt for the den, some throw pillows, a little potpourri..." "My father sent you," Kiara interrupted, "after promising to let me do this on my own! He lied!" "No." replied Timon sympathetically, "He, just doesn't want you to get hurt." I still, to this day, do not believe that Simba meant to break his promise. "I should have known he'd never give me a real chance!" said Kiara sadly, walking past them "I'll do this on my own, away from the Pride Lands!" With that, she started toward the Out-Lands once again. Timon and Pumbaa tried to follow, but Kiara out-distanced them. "Somebody's gotta get a beeper for this kid!" exclaimed Timon. I however, had no trouble keeping up with Kiara, and followed her to the edge of the Out-Lands. There was still life there. I ran ahead, being careful not to be seen by her or the antelope. Even from a distance I could see Nuka and Vitani with the burning sticks in their mouths. I walked up near to them, but either they didn't see me or they did not care. "Let's, light, fire!" shouted Nuka. Vitani ran in a straight line, dragging her stick through the tall grass, which at this time was very dry, igniting a fire. A short distance away Nuka did the same, with one slight variation. He lit his fire in a circle. "Roasty toasty princess! Roasty toasty princess!" he laughed to himself. He threw his stick away. "Hey, is it hot in here, or is that just me?" he asked to nobody in particular. He looked around. The circle of flames which Nuka had lighted surrounded him! "OWW! FIRE!" he yelled, and he jumped out of it.

He just sat there, laughing crazily, until Vitani came and pulled him away.

Meanwhile, Kiara continued her hunt. She crouched down in the tall grass and got ready to pounce.

I guess there was not enough cover there, because one of the antelope saw her, and alerted the entire herd.

They ran, and Kiara chased after, but a short distance later, she stopped. I, by this time, had run down and gone slightly past her. Looking toward the horizon, Kiara saw a faint light, but soon, as many animals came running over the hill, she saw that the light was actually a fire! She started to run back toward the Pride Lands. I ran as well, hopping against hope, that I would not need to rescue her. I did however have one advantage over Kiara. I knew that this was part of Zira's plan, and that she had no intention of killing her, with fire anyway. Kiara ran until she came to a low cliff. I had already gotten up there. She would not have been able to run around it, and with the fire closing in around her, Kiara had no choice, but to try jumping to the top of the cliff. She gave a great leap, but was just barely able to catch hold with her front claws. She struggled to climb up for a moment. Finally, calling upon all her strength, she was able to leap up onto the ledge. Exhausted from running, and nearly overwhelmed by the smoke, Kiara fell to the ground.

VII. Kiara's Rescue

The shadowy figure of a lion emerged from the smoke. I recognized it right away. Kovu! Kiara looked up at him. Kovu gave a low growl and she fainted again. Kovu walked over and made sure that she was still breathing. He then picked her up and sat her on his back. Braving the smoke and flames, Kovu rushed toward the river that separated the Out-Lands from the Pride Lands. I ran just ahead, making sure that the path was clear. If there was a wall of flame, or worse, in the way, I would need to run back and inform Kovu, no matter what. Please keep in mind though, that I was not part of Zira's plans. I simply wanted to keep Kiara safe. Kovu carried Kiara until he came to a ledge, at the bottom of which was the river which separated the Out-Lands from the Pride Lands. Having no other choice, he jumped and rolled down the ledge. As Kovu was rolling, Kiara fell of of his back and into the river. Kovu fell in with a splash near her. As Kiara started to sink, Kovu swam to her and dragged her to the opposite shore. As he was, I happened to look up and see Zazu flying over head. Simba must have been looking for Kiara and sent Zazu ahead to find her. At last, Kovu managed to drag Kiara to shore, where she came to her senses. It was now dusk.

"Where am I?" Kiara asked weakly. "You're safe," replied Kovu, "In the Pride Lands." Keep in mind, that because Kiara had not seen Kovu since they were cubs, she did not recognize him. The fire continued to burn, in the distance, and I watched from the tall grass. "The Pride Lands?!" exclaimed Kiara, "No!" She stood up and looked angrily at her rescuer. "Why did you bring me here?!" She asked him, "Who do you think you are?!" Kovu was astonished, I think. "I think, I'm the one who just saved your life!" he replied. "Look," Kiara said angrily, "I had everything under control." "Not from where I'm standing." replied Kovu, smiling smugly. "Then move downwind." said Kiara. She started off, and Kovu moved to block her. Kiara tried going around him another way, but he blocked her again. Finally, frustrated, Kiara turned around to face the other lion. He was after all, an outsider, and her father had said that you cannot turn your back on them. "What are you doing?" asked Kovu. I smiled. Kovu sounded like his old self, the one that Kiara had met as a cub. That question was all it took for Kiara to recognize him. "Kovu?" she asked, now smiling. Kovu smiled. When he had first appeared from the smoke, I had looked at his eyes. I could see then that his heart was filled with darkness and hate, but now, it was as though he had put a mask on and covered what was really in his heart. "Kiara!" a voice called. It was Simba! He came running up. He was not the only one. Nala, Timon, Pumbaa, and even Zazu were with him. I stood up so that it looked like I had come with them. "Kiara!" Nala exclaimed, running up to her daughter, "You're alright!" Kiara nuzzled her mother for a moment. "Daddy, how could you break your promise?" she asked finally. "It's a good thing I did." replied Simba, completely ignoring Kovu, probably because he did not recognize him, "I almost lost you. No more hunts for you, not ever!" "But I was doing just fine," Kiara protested, "even before Kovu..." "Kovu!" Simba exclaimed angrily, finally recognizing the other lion. Simba ran up to him and roared angrily. Kovu responded by roaring back. "Simba!" exclaimed Nala, shocked by this display. "Hey, you!" shouted the familiar voice of Rafiki, "How dare you save the king's daughter!" I looked over quickly. Rafiki was standing on a near by rock. Simba stopped roaring. "You saved her?" he said curiously, "Why?" "I humbly ask to join your pride." replied Kovu. "No!" Simba said sharply, "You were banished with the other outsiders." "I have left the outsiders." replied Kovu, "I am a rogue. Judge me now, for who I am, or am I to be blamed for a crime I didn't commit?" Simba growled and paced back and forth, trying to decide what to do. "Simba, you owe him your daughter's life." Nala reminded him. "Hmm... Yes sire." agreed Zazu, "Clearly we are in his debt, and royal protocol demands that all debts be paid, though in this case you might want to make an exception." Simba stopped pacing and looked at Kovu, smiling. "My father's law will prevail." he said, "For

now, I reserve judgment. We'll see who you really are." As Simba started back home, I looked over at Kovu, who gave a satisfied smile. "Hmpph... Rif-raf." said Zazu, and he flew off after Simba. I looked over at Nala and Kiara. Nala smiled warmly and Kiara looked excited. We all started back toward Pride Rock.

VIII. The Darkness Disappears

My goal was to keep an eye an both Kiara and Kovu, and since they would both be staying in the Pride Lands, for a time, I decided to move back to my old camp. It was night by the time we reached Pride Rock. Kiara and Kovu were walking along in back of the group. I was up front, telling Simba what I had seen that day, and how if it were not for Kovu, Kiara might now be lost. I also told him that, even though I was not a father, and could not tell him what to do, I thought not letting Kiara go on any more hunts, ever, was a little extreme. He seemed to understand and agreed that he had been a little overprotective. He also said that he would let her, if she chose to, go on another hunt. Timon and Pumbaa had gone home by this time. You might be wondering why I could talk to Simba the way I did, without him getting angry. First of all, to me, Simba was more than the king. He was a good friend. In fact, he was almost like a little brother, though I did not realize it at the time. Second, I was not telling him what to do or how to do it. I was simply stating my opinion. Finally, he knew that I understood why he had acted the way he had, and that I was only trying to help him. I did see what happened to him as a cub, after all.

When we reached Pride Rock, Nala and the rest of the pride headed in. Simba was talking to me. When he saw Kovu going in, he ran up and blocked him, letting him know that he was not yet fully welcome. At this time, that was a wise move. As Kovu walked to a nearby rock and laid down by it, Simba continued in. I did not realize that Kiara had not yet gone into the den with the others, until she came walking up from below. She walked over to Kovu, who looked up at her. "Uhh... Thanks for saving me today." said Kiara. Kovu stood up. "What kind of hunter are you anyway, Princess?" asked Kovu, "You almost got yourself killed today." "What?" replied Kiara. "You wouldn't last three days on your own."said Kovu "Oh, and I suppose you, could teach me?" replied Kiara. Kovu seemed to accept the challenge. "Heh... Yeah." he said. "Kiara!" shouted Simba, from the den. "Coming!" called Kiara. She turned to Kovu. "All right," she said, "Impress me. We start at dawn." She then walked in to the den. "I look forward to it." Kovu said quietly, giving an almost evil smile. That night, I could not sleep. Images of what I had seen and heard that day kept flashing through my mind. I decided to take a walk to the top of Pride Rock, and sleep there for the night. As I reached Throne Ledge, I happened to hear Simba, yelling. I looked into the den to see what was wrong. There was nothing unusual happening, but I noticed that Simba was tossing and turning. "Father!" he shouted after a moment. "Scar!" he said, a moment later. Then I heard him say "Kovu?" and then shout "NOOOOO!!!!!" Simba awoke suddenly, in a deep sweat. "Simba," I whispered, "Are you alright?" He walked out of the den. "Yes, I'm fine." he replied, although I could see that he was shaken. "What's wrong?" I asked. "I, dreamed of another stampede, like the one that occurred when I was a cub." he said. I listened intently. I had no idea that the stampede had left such a deep impression. "My father was calling for help, slipping from the cliff." he continued, almost crying, "I tried to reach him, grab his paw, but he was just out of reach." I nodded. I won't go into any more detail, but let's just say that, as far as  Simba was concerned, Kovu was just as capable of murder as Scar had been, and I have to agree that this was true at the time. Kovu was sleeping deeply, so he didn't hear us. After a few minutes, Simba headed back in, and went back to sleep. I walked up to the top of Pride Rock, and slept until shortly before dawn.

         Shortly after I woke up, I noticed Simba leaving the den. I guessed that he was taking a walk to clear his head, and I decided to walk with him. As I was descending from the top of Pride Rock, I noticed Kovu following Simba, at a distance so as not to be seen. He was no longer masking his intentions. I realized that he intended to kill Simba, that very day! I had to follow and make sure that he did not do this! It was now dawn, and Simba headed for the water hole. None of the other animals were awake yet. Kovu hid behind a large rock, and got ready to strike, while Simba got a drink. I walked over to where Simba was and began getting a drink, ready to defend him if I needed to. I never took my eyes off Kovu for a second. "G'morning!" said Kiara, suddenly standing in front of Kovu, "I'm ready for my first lesson." What a relief! With Kiara there, Kovu would not try to kill Simba. Simba headed back to Pride Rock. When Kiara had bounced up, Kovu had become distracted. By the time he looked back to where Simba and I had been standing, we were gone. Of course, I was still nearby, watching. "Surprised ya' huh?" asked Kiara, bouncing up and down, "C'mon. Let's go." Kovu glanced one last time at his lost opportunity, and then followed off after Kiara. I followed, relieved. Perhaps, this would be the last time that I had to worry about Simba's safety.

 A short time later, Kiara snuck through the tall grass, while Kovu laid on a rock, awaiting her pounce. I must admit, she was not doing very well. "Three, two, one." said Kovu quietly to himself. Just after saying "One," he ducked. Kiara sprang out of the grass, and then fell over backwards in front of Kovu. I couldn't believe it! Kovu had timed her pounce perfectly, and dodged it! Kovu walked over to Kiara. "You could hear me, huh?" she asked, slightly embarrassed. "Only, allot." replied kovu, sighing heavily, "You're still breathing to hard." He unfurled his claws and ran them through the dirt. "Relax." he said, "Feel the earth under your paws, so it doesn't shift and make noise." Kiara imitated Kovu and ran her claws over the ground. We looked up and noticed a great flock of pelican-like birds, landing on a nearby hill. Kovu turned to Kiara. "Watch the master," he whispered, "and learn." He walked stealthily through the grass until he came to the foot of the hill. Then, with a great roar, he pounced. Kiara and I had been following. I got up the hill just in time to hear a scream. Timon! I looked over to where Kovu was standing. Timon was between his legs. "Don't eat me, Please!" begged Timon, "I never really met your tyrant... I mean Scar, Scar. Oh, heck of a guy, a little moody, but..." Kiara walked up. "Timon, what are you doing here?" she asked sternly. "Kiara! Thank goodness." said Timon, "Hey, for once, we're not following ya'." He gestured toward the hill. The pelicans were foraging for bugs. "This just happens to be the best smorgasbord in the Pride Lands, bugs everywhere!" continued Timon, "But, you don't call for a reservation and, yeesh! He walked over to one of the birds " Get out of here, you scavengers! Go on! SHOO!" he yelled. The bird that he was by simply looked at him and then, being annoyed, the bird bit his nose. "OH oh oh..." whined Timon, his nose glowing red with pain. Meanwhile, Pumbaa was nearby, trying to chase off the birds like he had the buzzards, years ago, but every time he would stop, the birds would land again, in the same places that they had been in. "Oh Timon," Pumbaa said finally, "I gotta loose some pounds." Most of the birds that he had been chasing were now on his back. Kiara laughed. Timon jumped up onto Pumbaa's back. "Shoo! Shoo!" he yelled, scaring the birds off of his friend. Pumbaa noticed Kovu. "Hey! Maybe he could help." said Pumbaa, "Do ya' think?" Timon finally managed to scare the last bird off Pumbaa's back. "Oh sure. There's an idea. Right!" said Timon, "Let the vicious outsider..." His voice trailed off. "Hey! I've got it!" said Timon, "What if he helps?" "What?" exclaimed Pumbaa. Timon turned to Kovu. "ya' wanna lend a voice? Grr... Grr..." he asked, "Roar! Work with me!" Kovu turned to Kiara. "Huh?" he asked, giving her a clueless look. "Like this." replied Kiara. She gave a loud roar, sending a bunch of birds scattering.  "Again! Again!" cheered Timon. This time, Kovu gave a mighty roar. More of the birds scattered. "WooHOO!" shouted Timon. The friends began to run down the hill, scattering birds as they went. Caught up in the moment, I ran out of hiding and ran with them. "Why are we doing this?" shouted Kovu, "What's the point of this training?" "Training?" Kiara laughed "This is just for fun!" "Fun?" Kovu said as if he had never heard the word before. "Yeesh! Kid, you gotta get out more often!" said Timon, as a bird that he had been holding onto dropped him, like a bomb onto Pumbaa, "Fun! YeeHaa!" Kovu seemed to get the idea, and ran down the hill, yelling "YeeHaa!". I yelled hi to the friends. "What are you doing here?" asked Kiara. "Don't worry Kiara." I answered, "Your father didn't send me. I'll explain later!" We continued to run. As we neared the bottom of the hill, I looked over at Kovu's eyes, and was amazed by what I saw. It was as though he was no longer hiding what was really in his heart, but His eyes no longer  had an evil glare. In fact, it was as if there was now no darkness in him at all. There was only light, and what's more, this light was even brighter than I had seen in his eyes before! I now knew that Zira's plan had failed, and I was glad. We continued to chase the birds, until we came to a path that was surrounded on both sides by a rock wall.  At the end however, we were in for a surprise. We stopped running just short of a rhino herd, on top of which, the birds were now perched. The head rhino grunted with anger, causing us to turn tail and run, but the rhinos weren't far behind. As we turned a corner, I noticed a cave, just up the path, on the right. "Hang righto!" I yelled. We were all able to squeeze into the cave, just as the rhinos stampeded by. We just sat there for a moment, laughing. "What a blast!" exclaimed Kovu. Pumbaa thought that Kovu was talking about him. "Oh, sorry." said Pumbaa. We once again fell into fits of laughter. Timon jumped up and gave Kovu a noogie. "Hey!" exclaimed Kovu, caught completely off guard. "Your ok kid." said Timon, "Your ok." After a moment, Timon, Pumbaa and the others started struggling to get out. Because I was behind Kiara and Kovu, I would have to wait until they were out before getting out myself. While struggling to get out of the cramped cave, Kiara's muzzle brushed against Kovu's. Realizing what had just happened, Kiara looked at Kovu, and laughed, embarrassed. Kovu did the same. In another moment they were out of the cave. They continued to laugh, apologetically. "Hey, are you two comin' or what?" asked Timon. He and Pumbaa were by this time, a good distance up the path-way. The friends walked off, but soon, purrs mixed with their laughter. I followed, smiling. I could only hope that Zira would not find out about her own failure too soon. If she did, it would inevitably lead to war between the outsiders and the Pride-Landers.

IX. Under the Stars

That night, Kiara and Kovu lay under the stars. I was nearby, thinking of all I had seen. So much had happened here in such a short time.  I turned and looked over at Kovu and Kiara, who were looking at the different constellations. "That one looks like a rabbit." said Kiara, "See the fluffy tail?" "Oh yeah!" replied Kovu, "Hey! There's one that looks like two lions killing each other for a scrap of meat!" Kiara looked at him and grimaced. I did too, although I understood that fighting and killing was all that Kovu had grown up knowing. "I've never done this before." he admitted. "Really?" replied Kiara, "My father and I used to do this all the time. He says, all the great kings of the past are up there." "Do you think Scar's up there?" Kovu asked quietly. Kiara looked at him inquisitively. Kovu stood up and walked a short distance away. "He wasn't my father," Kovu admitted,sighing gently, "but he's still, part of me." Kiara walked over to him. "My father said there was, a darkness in Scar that he couldn't escape." she replied. "Maybe there's a darkness in me too." admitted Kovu. "There was a darkness in you Kovu," I thought, "but no longer, not since I saw you change today." Kiara began to nuzzle him. Meanwhile, I could see Simba standing on a nearby hill, watching. I decided to go over and talk to him. Simba looked up at the stars. "Father," he said, "I am lost. Kovu is one of them, Scar's heir. How can I trust him?" There  was no answer from the stars, instead, as if in response, Nala walked up to him. "I was seeking council from the great kings." Simba told her. "Did they help?" asked Nala. "Silent as stars." Simba sighed, "My father would never..." "Oh, my Simba," replied Nala, "You want so much to walk the path expected of you. Perhaps Kovu does not." "What?!" asked Simba, "How do you know what..." Nala laughed warmly and gestured toward Kovu and Kiara. "I can see them down there just as easily as you can." she replied, "Get to know him and see." Nala headed back toward Pride Rock. I walked up to Simba. "Good evening Simba." I replied. Simba seemed distracted. "Oh, uhh... Good evening Meric." he replied. "I can see that you are concerned about Kovu." I said. "Yes, he's Scar's heir. I don't know how I can trust him." replied Simba, "Nala says I should get to know him, and I plan to, but..." He seemed unsure about what else to say. "Kovu has been raised all his life to believe that you are his enemy." I replied, "He's heard Scar's story from Zira, but maybe he is now ready to hear it from you."

"How do you know all this?" asked Simba. "Perhaps I should explain." I replied, "You see, Kiara is not the only one I've been watching for the past couple of years. When I went to the Out-Lands, I had decided to watch Kovu as he grew. Zira filled his heart with hate, but now, his heart is full of compassion, mercy, kindness." Simba smiled. "But I think," I continued, "that most of all, his heart is now filled with love." I gestured toward Kovu and Kiara. "Thank you Meric." replied Simba. "No thanks are necessary." I replied, smiling, "Good night." I walked down to where Kovu and Kiara sat. Kovu suddenly stood and began to walk away. "What's wrong?" asked Kiara. "Nothing." replied Kovu, looking away. "Kovu..." said Kiara. Kovu turned back around. "It's just that my whole life, I've been trained to..." he began. He paused. "Nothing." sighed Kovu finally, "I've gotta go." Kovu, wait." pleaded Kiara. Kovu looked back. Kiara sat, staring at him. Kovu started to walk away. "And where are you going?" asked the familiar voice of Rafiki, his finger pointing at Kovu through the tall grass. "Nuh... Nowhere." replied Kovu. Rafiki popped up. "That's what you think." said Rafiki, and he disappeared into the tall grass. "Who was that?" asked Kovu. Kiara walked up. "Uh... Friend of the family." she replied apologetically. Kovu looked back to see Rafiki now sitting on his back. Rafiki jumped off and began to tug Kovu's tail. "C'mon! You follow old Rafiki; he know the way!" Rafiki laughed. "The way to where?" asked Kovu. Rafiki was now on a rock wall. "You follow-- You'll see!" he yelled, "Hurry now!" Kiara began to chase after him. "Kovu, Come on!" she yelled. Kovu also began to follow. I decided to stay there and wait. With Rafiki there, I knew things would turn out alright. A little while later, I could see Kovu and Kiara, walking up the path, singing something like "Way down, in upendi." I had been in Africa long enough to know that "Upendi" meant "love." I understood now. Rafiki had helped them understand their feelings for one another. Somehow, I had known that this would happen. I could only hope that it would not make things between the two feuding prides worse. Kovu walked with Kiara back to Pride Rock. I followed, but stopped at my camp, which was just close enough to see and hear what was happening. Kovu walked with Kiara until they came to the entrance to the den. "Good night." said Kiara. "Good night." replied Kovu. The two nuzzled for a moment. Kiara then continued in, stopping only long enough to give a happy sigh. Kovu walked over to the spot where he had stayed the night before. Simba walked out of the den. Kovu looked over at him "It's... kinda cold tonight, huh?" said Simba, "Come on in. Kovu joined Simba and walked into the den.

X. Assassination Attempt

The next morning, I noticed Kovu standing on throne ledge, so I went to talk with him. "Good morning Kovu." I said, smiling. "Huh? Oh... Good morning Ameri-Lander." replied Kovu. "You seem distracted." I commented. "Yeah." replied Kovu, "I have to tell Kiara the real reason that I came here, today." "What will you say to her?" I asked. Kovu had apparently been trying to figure this problem out all morning. "Kiara, Zira had a plot," Kovu recited, "and I was part of it, but I don't wanna be, because... It's because I love you." "Sounds like a good place to start." I said. "She'll never believe me," replied Kovu, "But I've gotta try." "Go for it." I replied, smiling. I walked to the entrance of the den to listen, while Kovu went in. "Kiara," began Kovu, "I need to talk with you..." Kiara started walking up to him. "Kiara!" said Simba in a stern tone of voice, "I don't want you talking with him... I want to talk with him." I looked in to see Simba, smiling. He had sounded almost angry, but he smiled. "SURPRISE!" I thought. Simba and Kovu walked out f the den. As they started to descend from Pride Rock, I turned to Kiara. "I'm going to follow them." I said. "Why?" asked Kiara, "Why are you always following us?" "I'll explain later, but right now, I feel as if your father may be in grave danger." I replied. "From Kovu?" asked Kiara angrily. "No," I replied, "From the outsiders. I fear that Zira may have already learned of her  plan's failure." "What plan?" asked Kiara. "I don't have time to explain!" I yelled, as I ran after Simba and Kovu, "Ask Kovu to tell you when he gets back!" I caught up with Simba in a part of the Pride Lands that had not escaped the fire. He was just finishing his story. "Scar couldn't let go of his hate," Simba told Kovu, "and in the end, it destroyed him." "I've never heard the story of Scar that way." admitted Kovu, "He truly was a killer." "Fire is a killer." said Simba, "Sometimes, what's left behind can grow better than the generation before..." He paused, and lifted some dust aside, a small plant was now visible where the dust had been. Kovu and Simba leaned down. "... If given the chance." finished Simba. Suddenly, we heard the sound of evil laughter. "No...oh, no... No!" said Kovu quietly to himself, realizing what was happening. Zira and all of the outsiders appeared and began to surround Kovu and Simba. "Why Simba..." sneered Zira. "Zira." growled Simba. "What are you doing out here, and so, alone?" asked Zira. She turned to Kovu. "Well done Kovu." she said, "Just like we always planned." Simba turned angrily to Kovu. "YOU!" he growled. "No!" protested Kovu, "I didn't have anything to do with this!" He was telling the truth. The original plan had been for Kovu to kill Simba himself. Because he would not do it, Zira must have come up with another plan. Zira ordered the other outsiders to attack! "NO!" shouted Kovu in horror. Simba was forced to fight off several outsiders at once. Kovu tried to help, but was soon knocked aside. He hit his head against a rock, and was temporarily knocked out. I could not bear to see my best friend die! I jumped out of hiding and defended Simba as best I could. "What are you doing, Ameri-lander?!" shrieked Zira. "What does it look like?!" I retorted, between exchanging blows with the outsiders, "I'm defending the king!" "No!" Zira shouted, "You said that you were not from the Pride Lands!" That was what I had told Zira, and it was the truth. I was not from the Pride Lands. "That is correct," I shouted, knocking Nuka aside after he attacked me, "but I will not allow you to kill a member of my family!" Zira gasped. I understood why. Even I had surprised myself with those words. I had known that Simba and I were close, mainly because of my watching him grow up, but until now, I did not realize how close we really were. It was then that I began to understand what Rafiki had told me about "the family that I had gained." "Attack him too!" shouted the enraged Zira. Despite my efforts, Simba was soon knocked down into a canyon. He recovered and looked up. "Yes!" shouted Zira, "We've got him!" The outsiders abandoned me, and headed down into the canyon after Simba. "Remember your training!" Zira coached, "As a unit!" I stood by, powerless to help. Simba saw the outsiders coming after him, and ran toward the other end of the canyon. I ran along at the top of the rock walls, fear sweeping over me. I realized that they would be too steep for Simba to climb! Then I noticed that at the other end, some logs were piled up against the rock wall, like a giant ladder. Simba noticed it and began to climb. The outsiders were not foolish enough to advance. One mis-step would make the logs tumble. Simba looked up. Kovu stood on a ledge at the top of the log pile. "Simba!" shouted Kovu. "Get him Kovu!" shouted Zira, "Get him! Do it, now!" Instead Kovu ran off of the ledge, making room for Simba. Nuka jumped up and began to run up the pile. "I'll do it, for you mother!" he shouted, "Mother, are ya' watching! I'm doing it for you-- and I'm doing it for me." Just as Simba reached the top of the pile, Nuka grabbed his heel. "This is my moment of glory!" said Nuka. Suddenly, a log broke under his back leg! The entire log pile began to tumble! Simba managed to make it to the top of the canyon, but Nuka was not so lucky. When the pile started to fall, Nuka fell along with it. "No!" shouted Zira. Simba headed back toward Pride Rock. I followed, but as I looked back, I could see Nuka trapped under a log pile, and there was still one more, falling straight toward his face! I couldn't bear to watch, so I followed off after Simba. Simba looked about ready to collapse. "Don't give up Simba." I urged, "We'll make it back to Pride Rock. You'll be okay." We were barely within sight of Pride Rock, when Kiara saw us. Timon, Pumbaa and Zazu were with her. "Father!" Kiara called. She turned to Zazu. "Zazu, get help." she ordered. "Oh yes, help." said the well meaning, but scatter-brained bird, "Of course. Right away!" He flew toward Pride Rock to get help. Timon, Pumbaa, and Kiara then ran up to Simba. "Simba, talk to me." begged Timon, "What happened?" "Kovu..." replied Simba, taking a painful breath of air and having trouble speaking, "Ambush..." He fell to the ground. "No..." said Kiara quietly. Timon walked over and Picked up Simba's tail, while Pumbaa hoisted Simba onto his back. "Don't worry buddy." said Timon, "We're here for ya'." As we walked toward Pride Rock, Kiara asked me what happened. I explained what I had seen, but not what I had done, because even I was still shocked by my actions, and my words. Meanwhile, Kovu rushed down into the canyon and tried to un-bury Nuka from the logs. Zira ran up and pushed him aside. She pushed enough logs away to see Nuka's face. "I'm sorry Mother." said Nuka weakly, "I tried." Zira cradled his head gently in her  paw. "Shh..." she whispered to him. With his mother gently cradling his head, Nuka took his last breath, and then he was gone. Vitani walked up. "Nuka..." she cried. Zira held a short memorial for Nuka. "Scar, watch over my poor Nuka." she said. Kovu had sat nearby, sadly and silently crying. After all, Nuka had been his brother, even if he was evil, though I never felt Nuka was evil. I still believe that he had only been trying to prove his worth to Zira. Zira turned angrily toward Kovu. "YOU!" she growled. Kovu turned his head, just in time for Zira to swipe her claw across his eye. Kovu  grunted in pain as he looked away, but when he turned around, the outsiders were amazed and frightened by what they saw. Kovu now had a scar, exactly like the one Scar had once had. "What have you done?" asked Zira angrily. "I did... I didn't mean to..." Kovu stammered, "It... it... it wasn't my fault. I... He wasn't very good with confrontations. "I did nothing!" he said finally. "Exactly!" replied Zira, "And in doing so, you betrayed your pride... Betrayed SCAR!" "I want nothing more to do with him!" Kovu yelled. "You can not escape it!" yelled Zira, "Nuka is dead because of you!" "No..." began Kovu. "You killed your own brother!" "NO!" shouted Kovu, and he ran off toward Pride Rock. The growls of the outsiders followed him. "Let him go." Zira ordered, "Simba has hurt me for the last time! Now, he has corrupted Kovu!" She leapt up to a rock ledge. "Listen to me," Zira said, "Simba is injured and weak! Now is the time to attack! We will take his entire kingdom, by force!" The outsiders roared in angry agreement.

XI. I Believe in Him Too

Meanwhile, back at Pride Rock, Simba had just begin to recover, and had explained his side of the story to the assembled lionesses. "Daddy, it can't be true." said Kiara. All of the animals were gathered, though I was not sure why. I was near my camp, awaiting Simba's recovery. We were all surprised to see Kovu come walking up. I thought that he had come back before Simba and I had. Various animals looked at him and whispered to each other. "Why I oughta..." said Timon, "Let me at 'im! Let me at im'!" Timon handed his tail to Pumbaa. "Here, hold me back." said Timon. "Ok." replied Pumbaa, grabbing hold of his friend's tail. " "Let me at 'im! Let me at 'im!" shouted Timon again. "Ok". replied Pumbaa, letting go of Timon's tail. Timon  lurched forward. "I think you're missing the basic point of this." he said, holding up his tail. "Oh." said the clueless warthog. "Kovu!" shouted Kiara. She ran to greet him, but Simba jumped up and blocked her path. "Why have you come back?!" asked Simba angrily. "Simba, I had nothing to do with..." replied Kovu. "You don't belong here!" interrupted Simba. "Please," protested Kovu, "I ask your forgiveness." "Daddy, Please listen to him." said Kiara. Simba turned to her. "SILENCE!" he yelled. He turned back to Kovu. "When you first came here, you asked for judgment," said Simba, "and I pass it now!" I could hear many of the creatures shouting for Simba's judgment. "Exile!" yelled Simba. "NO!" shouted Kiara, "Kovu!" I couldn't watch. I ran into my den, but even in there, I could hear the creatures jeering as they hounded Kovu from Pride Rock. Things could not end this way!

After the jeers died away, I left my cave and looked up at throne ledge. Simba was still standing there, looking into the distance with sadness in his eyes. The lionesses started going about their businesses. Kiara walked up to him. "Father, Please reconsider." she begged. "You will not go anywhere without an escort from now on." Simba told her. "No!" Kira began protesting, "That's not..." "He used you to get to me." interrupted Simba. "No!" argued Kiara, "He loves me, for me." "Because you are my daughter!" Simba replied angrily, "You will not leave Pride Rock. You will stay where I can keep an eye on you, away from him." "You don't know him!" said Kiara, tears beginning to fill her eyes. "I know he's following in Scar's pawprints," replied Simba, his voice begging to soften, "and I must follow in my father's." "You will never be Mufasa!" cried Kiara. She ran into the den. Simba was stung, but silenced. I walked up to him. "Perhaps it's time that Kiara knew who I am." I told him, "It may be the only chance I get to tell her. She has got to know." Simba only nodded. He was almost crying. "Don't worry Simba." I said, trying to comfort him, "Everything will be fine." I didn't try to change his mind about Kovu, because his mind was already made up. I could only hope that after Simba cleared his head, he would realize what a mistake he had made. I walked into the den. Kiara lay crying. A beam of sunlight came through a hole in the wall and reflected off of her golden coat. "Kiara..." I began. She turned around. "What do you want?" she cried, "Did my father send you to check on me?" "No," I replied sympathetically, "I am here to answer the questions you have asked of me." "I don't want to know the answers right now." cried Kiara, "I'm miserable." "Yes," I replied, "and that is why I must answer your questions." "What could who you are, have to do with me?" she asked, beginning to calm down. "Will you let me tell you my story?" I asked. She nodded. "I will start out by saying that my name is Meric." I began, "I have been watching you since your birth. "Why?" asked Kiara. I told her how I had come to know her father, and explained that I had watched him grow up as well. "I feel that recording important events is my purpose." I explained, "Not only have I been watching you, but I have also been watching Kovu. I believe that it is your love for each other, that will finally bring peace to the Pride Lands." "How do you know how I feel about him?" asked Kiara. I smiled. "I told you. I have watched both of you grow." I replied. I also explained about Kovu's eyes and what I had seen in them. "It was only when you were around, that the darkness inside of him would begin to disappear." I told her, "I know that you think that nobody believes in his goodness but you. That isn't true. I believe that his heart is full of goodness as well." "But that's gone now too," said Kiara, starting to cry again, "now that Daddy's banished him. Zira's probably celebrating." Zira! I had forgotten all about her! I realized that she would soon come here if she needed to, to finish the job! She would no longer sneak around. War was now inevitable! "Kiara, listen to me." I said urgently, "You have to go find Kovu!" "How will I leave without being seen?" asked Kiara. I gestured toward the hole in the wall. Loose rocks were all that kept Kiara from the outside. "Go through that hole!" I said, "I'll cover for you, and then come help you look! Try walking along the route that he took when he left." Kiara climbed through the hole. As Kiara was leaving, I left using the front entrance. Timon and Pumbaa were standing nearby. "Hey guys." I said. Timon and Pumbaa turned around. Upon seeing me, they screamed. I rolled my eyes. "Don't ever do that again!" pleaded Timon, "Carnivores! Oy!" I gave a slight chuckle. "Would you guys mind watching Kiara for me?" I asked, "I have some things to do." "No trouble at all." replied Timon. "Our pleasure." seconded Pumbaa. "Thanks guys." I replied. I started off after Kiara. I hoped that I was doing the right thing. When Simba found out that Kiara was missing, he would be very worried. Kiara took my advice, but it did no good. I caught up with her at the water hole. Curiously, we noticed that her reflection was only half visible. "I can't find him anywhere." she said. "Keep looking." I replied, "It's imperative that we find him." Kiara and I kept searching all of the places she and Kovu had visited, all the while, calling his name. One of the places that we searched, was the cave that we had squeezed into to escape the rhinos. We next searched the place where Kiara and Kovu had laid under the stars.

This was the place where they had finally realized how they felt about each other, although I had seen it even when they were cubs. We searched and searched, but we could not find Kovu. It was now night.

Kiara was about ready to give up, but we continued the search until we came to a hill that was covered with ash. There, Kiara sat down and cried. It was then that I happened to look behind her, and there was Kovu!

XII. The Final Clash

 Kovu walked toward her. "Look behind you Kiara." I said. Kiara looked behind her, and her face lit up. She ran to Kovu, and the two nuzzled affectionately. Then Kovu did something that surprised me. He took his paw, and moved some of the ash. I smiled, because underneath, was a small tree that was just beginning to grow. That meant that he remembered what Simba had taught him. I was glad that I could be there to see this happy reunion. Kiara and Kovu frolicked and wrestled for a few minutes. There was a water hole nearby, so the two lions went over to get a drink. Kovu noticed that their two reflections, together made one. "Hey look." Kovu said to Kiara, "We are one." Kiara smiled. "What?" she said quietly. Kiara later told me why she reacted this way. According to her, this is what Simba taught her while I was visiting the Out-Lands. Kovu jumped up. "C'mon, Let's get out of here." he said, "We'll run away together, and start a pride, all our own." Kiara walked over to him chuckling. "Kovu," she replied, "We have to go back." "What?!" exclaimed Kovu, "But we're finally together." Kiara smiled. "Our place is with our pride." she replied, "If we run away, they'll be be divided forever." Kovu quietly nodded. I walked up. "Well said Kiara." I said, "You have spoken with a wisdom beyond your years." "What are you doing here Ameri-lander?" asked Kovu. "My true name is Meric," I replied, "and I am here, because I need to be." "What do you mean?" asked Kovu. "I am here to record all that happens to Simba and the rest of my family." I replied, shocking myself again with my words, "The time has come for the wound that Scar created to be healed, and you and Kiara are the only ones who can do it." "What about you?" asked Kovu.

"I am going back to the Pride Lands." I replied, "War is breaking out between Simba's pride and Zira's. I must be there to help." "We'll come with you." said Kiara. "I must run faster than I ever have before." I replied, running off at full speed "I don't think you can keep up. Just get back as soon as you can!"

Meanwhile, Pride Rock was being pelted by rain. Timon and Pumbaa were in the den, arguing because Kiara was not there. "I can't believe we lost her again!" cried the anguished meerkat, "This is the eight thousandth time! I though you were gonna watch 'er." "Hey, you were gonna watch her." replied Pumbaa. "No, you were gonna watch her!" argued Timon. "You were gonna watch her!" the warthog argued. "No, you were gonna watch 'er." argued Timon. "Ahh, watch this!" yelled Pumbaa angrily. He dove onto Timon and  the two friends fought. Simba walked in, his golden fur soaked with rain. He shook, drying himself off. "What are you doing?" he asked, noticing them. Timon and Pumbaa stopped and stood at attention. "Uhh... good question." replied Timon, "Now let me ask you one." "Hippo-theticaly." added Pumbaa. "Very hypothetical." corrected Timon, "Say there's this guy..." "But he's not a lion." added Pumbaa. "No not a lion... Yeesh, definitely not a lion," continued Timon, while Simba looked on, amusement showing on his face, "And his daughter, uhh... Say, vanished." "Kiara's gone?!" gasped Simba. Zazu flew in. "Sire! The outsiders are on the attack, heading this way!" he reported urgently, "It's war!" "Zazu, find Kiara." Simba ordered, the urgency of the situation beginning to dawn on him, "We'll assemble the lionesses." Simba turned to Timon and Pumbaa, "Move, now!" he ordered. I ran along, faster than I ever realized that I could, hoping that I would not be too late, the rain matting my white mane and golden coat. The clouds had blotted out any light that the stars might have given, so I ran in almost complete darkness. I arrived at the field of battle, surprised that no one was there yet. I believe that the creatures of the Pride Lands knew what was happening, because all of the beasts of prey were abandoning this field, hoping to avoid the battle, while vultures  began to circle overhead. Suddenly, I saw them, the ranks of both the outsiders and the Pride Landers lined up, their leaders in the middle. Timon and Pumbaa had once again come to help their friends. "It's over Simba!" yelled Zira, standing atop a rock, "I have dreamed of nothing else, for years!" "Boy," said Timon, who was riding on Pumbaa's back as usual, "Does she need a hobby." Zira turned to me. "As for you, Ameri-lander, you can no longer remain neutral in this battle." she said, "You must now choose with which side you will fight!" I smiled. I had already made my decision, the day that I returned to Pride Rock. "Zira, you are a fool!" I replied, "I was never on your side, and I never will be." I walked over beside Simba. "This is my home," I continued, "And this is my family! Your hatred will not prevail!" "Last chance Zira." said Simba, "Go home!" "I am home!" yelled Zira, "Attack!" With an angry roar, the outsiders advanced.

Simba roared to his pride, spurring them into action. The battle began. Zira watched the rest of her pride fight, while she coached them from the rock, out of the battle. I had always felt that she was a coward, but this confirmed it. I fought, knowing that this war would solve nothing. My only goal was to keep Simba safe long enough for Kovu and Kiara to get here. At one point, Vitani stood on top of a rock. Nala appeared below her. "Where's your pretty daughter Nala?" taunted Vitani. "Vitani!" Nala growled, and the two began to fight. For a few moments, Timon and Pumbaa stood by, watching. "What do we do?" asked the panicked warthog, "What do we do?" "There's only one thing to do Pumbaa." replied Timon, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That's our motto." "I thought our motto was  "Hakuna Matata." said Pumbaa. "Pumbaa, stop livin' in the past." replied Timon, "We need a new motto." Timon jumped off Pumbaa's back and the two charged, trying to look as ferocious as possible. One of the outsider lionesses saw them, and growled, sending them packing. Four chased after them. Knowing that Simba would be safe, for now, I decided to help Timon and Pumbaa. The outsiders chased them until they came to a rock. Seeing that they were surrounded, Pumbaa turned toward the rock and covered his head. Timon also leaned up against the rock in panic, until he looked at Pumbaa and saw a way out. Timon jumped onto Pumbaa's back and grabbed his tail, cocking it like a gun. I laughed. Pumbaa's flatulence problem would save both him and Timon. "Don't anybody move." Timon ordered the lionesses, pointing Pumbaa's tail at them, "This thing's loaded. I'll let you have it!" With a loud shriek, the lionesses ran off. "Yeah yeah." said Timon, swinging Pumbaa's tail, "Talk about your winds of war." "Good one Timon." I laughed. "Thanks." replied Timon, "Now let's get back to the battle. "You might not be much help against lionesses." I said, "Stay here. I'll go help, and call you if you can help." Timon and Pumbaa agreed. They were glad that they were no longer expected to battle. I ran back. Simba was fighting off several outsiders at once. I rejoined the battle, but the tide was slowly turning in favor of Zira. "Where are Kovu and Kiara?" I thought. Zira finally jumped down from her rock, with two back-up lionesses behind her, and walked up to Simba. "Simba," she sneered, "your mine!" Simba turned, but Zira knocked him to the ground. The Pride-Lander and outsider lionesses stopped fighting and moved, making room for their leaders to fight. For a moment, Simba and Zira circled each other. Then, just as they were about to land the first blows, There was a flash of lightning, and Kovu and Kiara jumped into the middle. Kovu was faced Zira, and Kiara faced Simba. "Kiara?" exclaimed Simba, a little surprised. Kiara only looked at him with determination in her eyes. "Kovu!" exclaimed Zira, "Move!" "Stand aside." Simba ordered Kiara. "Daddy, this has to stop." replied Kiara. "Your even weaker than I thought." Zira told Kovu, "Get out of the way." "You'll never hurt Kiara, or Simba." replied Kovu, "Not while I'm here." "Stay out of this." Simba ordered Kiara. " "A wise King once told me: We are one." replied Kiara, "I didn't understand him then. Now I do." "But, they..." began Simba. "Them? Us?" replied Kiara, "Look at them. They are us. What differences do you see?" Simba looked thoughtful for a moment. Then, as the sun came out and the rains stopped, he nuzzled his daughter. "Like I said," I thought, "wisdom beyond her years." "Vitani, now!" ordered Zira. Vitani looked at her. "No, Mother." replied Vitani, walking to join Simba's pride "Kiara's right. Enough." "If you will not fight," sneered Zira, "than you will die as well." Zira's lionesses murmured among themselves, and then began do as Vitani had done. "What?!" Zira exclaimed angrily, "Where are you going? Get back here!" "Let it go Zira." replied Simba, "It's time to put the past behind us." "I'll never let it go!" shouted Zira. A loud crack grabbed our attention. Logs had piled up in the gorge, making a dam, and blocking all the rain waters from draining naturally. There was no telling when it might break. "This is for you, Scar." said Zira. She suddenly lunged for Simba, but Kiara jumped into the air and blocked her. The two fell over one of the gorge walls. We all raced toward it. "Kiara!" shouted Simba, leaping down into the gorge after her. "Kiara!" shouted Kovu. Kiara and Zira continued to fall, but Kiara was able to catch hold of the rock walls with her claws, slowing her down enough that she was able to find a small ledge and stand on it. Zira was not so lucky, she continued to fall until she caught hold of the same ledge with her claws. Meanwhile, back on top of the wall, we heard more cracking! Water flowed over the top of the dam! It was breaking! "Simba." gasped Nala, "Simba! The river!" Simba had been hopping from rock to rock, trying to reach Kiara. He heard Nala's cry. Simba looked over, and fear entered his eyes, but I also saw more determination than ever before. He continued trying to reach Kiara. Kiara stuck her front paw over the ledge where she was standing, trying to reach Zira. "Zira," said Kiara, "Give me your paw." Zira only swiped at Kiara with one of her claws, and although she missed, she did slide down the ledge, her claws starting to lose their grip. Kiara again offered Zira her paw. "Zira, come on." said Kiara, "I'll help you." Zira was too far out of reach, and in a moment, she lost her grip and fell into the raging waters below. Kiara searched desperately, but it was no use. Zira was lost. Kiara just sat there for a moment, hanging her head in sadness. Simba finally reached her, and as he began to help her back up to us, I could hear her, almost crying. "I'm sorry Daddy." she said, "I tried." "Oh Kiara, I'm so glad your safe." said Nala, after Kiara and Simba reached the top. "Wow Your highness!" said Pumbaa as he came walking up with Timon on his back, "That was really brave!" Timon gave his classic "YeeHaa!" Kiara walked over to Kovu. "Kovu..." she began. "Kiara..." began Kovu. The two nuzzled affectionately. "Kovu," said Simba, as Kovu walked up to him, "I was wrong. You belong here." Simba turned to his pride. "Let's go home." he said. The outsiders walked up. "All of us." added Simba, turning to them.

XIII. Conclusion

Ahh, what a great day that was! Simba and Nala led the way as we all headed back to Pride Rock. Kovu and Kiara followed, and then the rest of us. There, Kiara and Kovu were betrothed, and Rafiki proclaimed that the two prides were indeed now one. Simba and Nala headed to throne ledge, followed by the now engaged Kovu and Kiara. On both sides of them sat the reunited pride, bowing. Timon and Pumbaa, who were also standing nearby, broke into tears. Now the wound that was Scar had caused was truly healed. Simba, Nala, Kovu, and Kiara stood on the ledge and roared, letting the kingdom know that there was finally peace. The rest of the pride and I roared as well. "Well done, my son." said the familiar voice of Mufasa, as the wind blew around us, "We are one." Simba approached me a few days later. "I have a question for you Meric." he said. "Fire away Simba." I replied. "When I was being attacked by Zira's forces, you defended me and she asked you why. You answered that you would not allow her to kill a member of your family." he said, "What did you mean?" I blushed. "Until that point I did not realize how close to you I truly was Simba," I replied, "Although I didn't understand at the time, I now realize that you are like a brother to me." "Why?" asked Simba. "Remember, I watched you grow." I replied, "I also know that you know what it is like to be a wanderer, always running from your problems. You were that way once, and so was I."
I told him my story. Simba smiled when I finished. "I hope you don't plan on leaving us again." he said, Nala, Kiara, and Kovu now joining him, "We were hoping that you would be willing to join our little family." "Yes," said Kiara, "If it had not been for you, I might have never found Kovu the night that Daddy banished him." "You and Kiara were  the only ones who still believed in me, after Simba passed his sentence." added Kovu. "I think I speak for the entire pride," said Nala, "when I say that we can't bear the thought of you leaving again." I smiled. I had never planned on leaving again. After all, this was my home, but I had no idea that I would again be asked to join Simba's pride. "It would be an honor to join your family." I replied to all of them.

Time passed. I stayed and served Simba as his personal advisor. A few days later, Simba took both Vitani and Kovu as his adopted children. Kovu and Kiara were soon married. Vitani and I fell in love and were married soon after. Vitani taught Kiara to hunt, and I must admit, Kiara has never failed to catch her prey since. Vitani and I also had one son, whom we decided to name Mufasa II, in honor of Simba's father, the great lion king who had given his own life to save that of his son. Mufasa II looks almost exactly like his mother, but he inherited my white mane. He will take my place as the official "Chronicler of the Pride Lands" when I die. Timon and Pumbaa continued to live in the Pride Lands and serve Simba until the day they died, although they never quite got used to me, which was very useful when I wanted to pull pranks on them. Hey, Just because I am wise, does not mean that I am not playful. As time passed, although I did not age as fast as the rest, my mane continued to grow grayer and grayer. Rafiki told me that the gray was a sign of my growing wisdom, and that I should be proud of it. He has become my mentor, teaching me all I need to know about using my abilities in the wisest possible way. As for Simba and Nala, the rest of their reign was peaceful, and shortly after stepping down, they both died of old age, asleep and at peace. What a sad day that was. A beautiful memorial was held, at which Kovu, Kiara, and I all spoke. You might be wondering why I have referred to Simba's pride and myself separately. Vitani recently died while on a hunt. Though I am often sad because of this, I know that I will be reunited with her again one day. Since then, I have neither considered myself  a member of Simba's Pride, nor have I chosen to live at Pride Rock. Kiara and Kovu are now raising twin sons, Fasthene and Thulan. Kovu, Vitani, and the rest of the former outsiders never stopped calling me "Ameri-lander", so that became my nick-name. Although my wisdom is still called upon from time to time, I live here, at my camp, within sight of Pride Rock, and close enough to record all that I see. I encourage you young ones, explore and record what's around you, for you never know how what you will see may change your life. I have seen the rise and fall of one king, and I shall see the rise and fall of many more. Until the day I take my place among the stars with the great kings of the past, I will continue to record and pass on what I learn, and I will never leave my home again.

-The End-