The Lion King and the characters Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumbaa, Kovu, Kiara, Rafiki, Sarabi, Sarafina, Scar, Zira, Vitani, Zazu and Mufasa are all owned by Disney. However, Fujo, Taraju, Tumai, Majadi, Kafara, Imani, Ghera, Nadhari, and Mvushi are all my characters. Please ask for my permission before using them. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nadhari—reason, as in “voice of”
THE LION KING III: Kovu’s Tragedy
Chapter I: Twins
“And two of them! It’s like they’re multiplying! What’ll it be next, two girls?” Timon gestured impatiently to the new cubs. “Do you want to wear us down? Huh?”
“So we had two boys,” said Kovu, nuzzling Kiara. They both had grown, and Kovu’s mane had filled out. “What’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with that? How do you think we feel? It was bad enough, having to raise Simba. And then you, young lady,” Timon said, pointing at Kiara, “don’t even get me started on you. You were a pain in the kitako.”
Kovu smiled. Kiara looked up at him. “Neck?”
“No.” He looked back up at Timon. “Besides, I don’t hear Pumbaa complaining.”
The warthog opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Timon. “Oh, don’t worry, he’s still in shock.” Timon leaned down towards the cubs. “So, what are the names?”
The two cubs were complete opposites. Thanks to their unique parentage, they had been born as mirror images of each other. One had the recessive dark pelt, and the other had the normal, lighter one. Even stranger were the manes. The lighter one had hints of the black mane forming behind his legs, while the dark one had a reddish tuft on his head. The lighter one had a black tint that started above his nose and changed into his lighter pelt, while the darker one had a white one. That, at least, was normal. The darker one had inherited Nala’s blue eyes, while the lighter one had Kovu’s green ones. They were the same size, the same build. They could have passed for each other if it hadn’t been for coloring.
Kiara nuzzled the darker one. “This is Fujo, and he’ll be Taraju.” She gave the lighter one an affectionate lick.
Timon leaned closer to the dark one. “Aw, they’re so cute when they’re little.”
Simba and Nala walked over. “Congratulations,” said Simba.
Kovu looked up at him expectantly. “Did he say—”
“No precedent. At least none that there’s a record of.”
Kovu sighed. “Well, that’s good news.”
Kiara glanced from one to the other. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, look at this,” said Kovu. “Here we have two perfectly able male cubs. Which one is going to rule?”
“Do you really think we need to worry about that now?”
“Not for today at least.” He nuzzled her gently.
“Timon, Pumbaa, you mind coming over here and looking at something for a second?” asked Simba.
“I am looking at something, can’t you see?” retorted Timon. Pumbaa began to push him away. “Hey, what are you—you could have just asked, you know!” Simba and Nala left, followed by Pumbaa with Timon now on his back.
Kovu looked down at the cubs. Fujo’s coloring seemed to make his body almost completely one color, with a difference of a few shades, whereas Taraju’s contrast was sharp and obvious. They now had their eyes closed and were sleeping peacefully.
“Beautiful, aren’t they?” Kiara asked him.
“Yes, they are.”
Fujo looked out over Pride Rock. He heard his brother come up behind him.
“Why are you even up this early?” asked Taraju, punctuating the question with a yawn. Fujo turned around to face him.
“This place is amazing! Don’t you see that we haven’t even started to explore it yet? And we’ve been here all our lives!”
“The only thing I want to explore is dreamland. The sun isn’t even up yet, Fujo. Let’s go back to bed.”
“I didn’t ask you to get up.”
“You do when you kick me when you get up.”
“Sorry.” Fujo turned around and sat down, gazing at the scenery again. “Look at it . . .”
“I can look at it better with my eyes open and the sun up. Now come on back to bed. You know how much Mom will fuss over you if she finds you up early again.” Taraju turned to go back into the den. When he didn’t hear Fujo following, he turned back around. “If you feel the need, we’ll go exploring with Tumai tomorrow morning. Which is actually probably this morning.” He started back into the den, this time not bothering to wait.
Fujo turned to see Taraju disappear into the den, then looked back over the Pridelands and sighed. He was right. He always was the rational one, with him, Fujo, being the decisive one. He couldn’t help it. The way Taraju always took time to think things through; it was enough to drive him insane sometimes. Fujo sighed. Still, this time he was right.
Fujo tore his gaze away from the Pridelands and went inside. He walked over to the corner where he and Taraju had always slept. Taraju was already asleep. Fujo curled up beside him and let his thought drift back out of the den into the Pridelands, and then to dreams.
Taraju woke up slowly. He turned his head to look at Fujo. He was already gone, no doubt having breakfast. It was no surprise, he always woke up first. What was surprising was Fujo hadn’t woken him up, too. He never did seem to get the whole idea of quiet.
“Hey, Taraju, you’re awake.” Taraju looked up. He saw Tumai sticking her head in. Her reddish-brown eyes disappeared, then were replaced by her rear as she came in dragging half a carcass over to him. “You’re up late this morning.”
“Any chance Fujo actually gives me to sleep is a chance I’ll take.” He yawned while Tumai giggled. “So what is it today?”
“Antelope.” Tumai took a bite out and began to chew.
“My favorite.” He got up, walked over and tore out a hunk from the side. Tumai took another bite out. “So why do you always bring this in for me, anyway?”
“Well,” she said, swallowing, “it’s just something nice to do. I don’t really get up that much earlier than you, and I like company when I eat.” She took another chunk. “Besides,” she said around the mouthful, “it’s better than eating with Fujo. It’s a struggle just to get any of the meat.”
Taraju laughed and helped himself to another piece. “I kind of promised him we’d look around today. I was thinking we could go over to the Graveyard, and arrange for him to have a little accident.”
Tumai laughed. “Yeah, I’ll help you.”
Fujo bounded in. “Hey, Taraju, you ready yet?”
“Does it look like I’m ready?”
“It looks like you’re not doing anything.”
“You call that eating? You’re tearing the meat off all wrong.” Taraju glared at him, slowly grinding his mouthful into smaller bits than usual. “And your chewing rhythm is way out of sync.”
Taraju swallowed. “How I eat is my own business.”
“Okay, okay, keep your morning storm-cloud to yourself.” Kiara walked in, followed by Kovu.
“Your father tells me you were up again last night, Fujo,” said Kiara. “What’s wrong?”
“Why do you always assume something is wrong, Mom? I just couldn’t sleep, that’s all.”
“You want to talk about it?”
Kovu chuckled. “See what I told you? Didn’t I say it wouldn’t do any good? If anything, the next time he’s just going to try to be quieter.”
“Is that really a bad thing?” asked Taraju. He stripped off one of the last pieces of meat hanging onto the skeleton.
“Very funny,” said Fujo. “Now can we go?”
Tumai ripped off another piece. “And where exactly do you want to go?” she asked.
“Anywhere but here.”
“Just be sure to take Timon and Pumbaa with you,” reminded Kiara.
Fujo groaned. “Fine,” he said in a long-suffering voice.
“It’s better to have them plainly there than having them follow you, isn’t it?”
“No.” He turned to Taraju and Tumai. “Let’s—” He stopped. The carcass had been stripped clean. They weren’t there. He looked to the mouth of the den and saw a tail slipping away. “Guys!” He ran off after them.
“You need to wait for Ti—” called Kiara
Kovu placed his paw on hers. “Let them go.” He laughed. “Almost more trouble than they’re worth.”
Fujo ran out of the den, looking for them. He saw Taraju and Tumai running away across the savannah towards the Elephant Graveyard. “Guys!” he yelled. “Wait up!” Either they didn’t hear him or didn’t care. They kept running. Fujo leapt down the steps and ran after them. It was almost hopeless. They had way too much of a head start on him. He saw them run into the valley where the Graveyard was. He ran up to the edge of the valley and looked around. He couldn’t see them anywhere. “Hey! Where are you?” He walked into the Graveyard. “Guys, you can come out!” He walked around the huge skull that decorated the entrance to get a better look of the Graveyard. The place still amazed him with its size. He sighed. They could be anywhere. He walked down into the Graveyard. Fine. If they wanted to play, he could too.
He weaved his way through the bones, being careful not to disturb any. He heard a loud crack behind him. He whirled around. No one was there. He turned around and kept walking, looking over the hills of bones for a tail or paw. He heard a series of clicks to his right. He looked up. Several bones fell down the side of a hill. He looked up to the top of the hill. No one. He slowly began to back away, keeping his eyes on the top of the hill. His head filled with the stories of the hyenas, about how they would tear little cubs apart that were foolish enough to put so much as a paw in the Graveyard.
Don’t be stupid. There aren’t any hyenas here anymore. Mom and Dad wouldn’t even let us near this place if there were.
He looked away from the top of the hill and climbed up the back of a skull that overlooked the Graveyard from a ledge. He looked back over the hill from his new vantage point. Any movement . . . any at all. He heard a loud hiss behind him. He spun around, seeing a methane vent go off.
He felt a large shove on his back. He slipped down off the top of the skull onto the tusk, screaming. He slid down the tusk, and was thrown into the air. He hit the ground hard on his back. He heard wild laughter from the top of the skull. He looked up to see Taraju and Tumai sitting on top of the skull, laughing at him. Suddenly Tumai gave Taraju a push, and he fell off the skull onto the tusk the same way Fujo had. He flew into the air. Fujo rolled to the side, and Taraju hit the ground where Fujo had just been.
“Ow,” he groaned. Tumai laughed all the harder, Fujo joining in with her. Taraju slowly got his feet and looked at Fujo clutching his gut with one foreleg, laughing madly. “Bite me.”
“Okay,” said Fujo. He launched himself onto Taraju. They began to whirl around, one on top, then the other switching places with him almost immediately. Tumai began to quiet down and sat down on the top of the skull, watching the ball of fur rolling this way and that. Fujo and Taraju rolled into a tusk and fell apart, both breathing heavily, Taraju with his back to the skull. Fujo looked up at Tumai and saw her leaping down onto Taraju. Taraju saw Fujo looking, and turned just in time to have Tumai catch him in the chest. She hit him and rolled off, giggling.
“The plan was for him to have an accident, not me,” groaned Taraju. “Unh . . .” He looked up at Fujo, a smile on his face. “Scared you good, huh?”
“Yes we did!” insisted Tumai. “You should have seen the look on your face when we were on that hill!” She laughed. “If that isn’t what fear looks like, I don’t know what does!” She leaned back, rocking with laughter. Fujo gave her a slight push and she toppled over the edge, the laughter turning into screams. She rolled down the hill, finally coming to stop a good distance away from the brothers, who were standing over the edge watching her.
“I’d say that’s what it looks like,” Fujo yelled down to her. He skidded down the hill after her, followed by Taraju.
“Fujo! Taraju! Hey, where are you?” They heard Timon’s voice drift over a ridge. “Your parents want you back home!” Tumai, Fujo, and Taraju groaned. Every time, without fail, Timon and Pumbaa would come in and ruin everything.
Suddenly Taraju’s face lit up. “I’ve got an idea.” He began to dig through a pile of bones. “Come on, we need a skull.” He found a jawbone-less skull looking like it had belonged to a wildebeest. He fitted his head inside it and turned to face the other two, staggering slightly with the extra weight. He saw them smile and start digging themselves. Fujo produced an antelope skull, and Tumai resurfaced with a gazelle’s. Taraju listened hard for Timon and Pumbaa he ran over a ridge, the others following him. He saw them walking a ways off down a path, shouting out their names. “Fujo, hide there. Tumai, you there.” He pointed to two piles of bones, one across the path, another on the close side. “I’ll be there.” He pointed to another pile on the close side of the path. “Go down there, cover yourself, and don’t move, not until I do.” They all scampered to their hiding places. Taraju covered himself with bones, making sure his skull was the only visible part of him. He heard Timon and Pumbaa getting closer.
“Do you think they’re even still here?”
“Of course they’re still here, Pumbaa. They've probably just fallen down somewhere.”
“Of course!” They rounded the corner. “We lose Simba, he decides to play in the river and falls down a waterfall. We lose Kiara, she get caught in a fire and falls off a cliff. We’ll find them, only to have to drag them home, and—” Taraju leapt up. “AHHH! It’s ALIVE!” They turned away from Taraju and ran. Fujo leapt up from the other side. “AHHHH!” They turned around, only to find Tumai sitting behind them, looking up at them! “AHHHH!” Taraju, Fujo, and Tumai burst out laughing.
“Nice one Taraju,” said Fujo.
Timon and Pumbaa stopped screaming. “Oh my god they’ve eaten the cubs!” yelled Timon.
“Timon, they are the cubs.”
“Huh?” He looked at Tumai. “Hey!” he said, looking at her body. He walked up to her and slapped off the skull. “I suppose you think that’s real funny, don’t cha?”
Tumai giggled. “Yeah.” Taraju and Fujo pawed off their skulls.
“Yeah, that’s real nice, isn’t it? Pick on the little guy, how original.” He started back for the Pridelands. “Make him think he’s going to be eaten.”
“It was pretty funny, Timon,” said Tumai.
“‘It was pretty funny, Timon,’” he imitated her. He walked off muttering. Pumbaa followed him with Fujo, Tumai and Taraju bringing up the rear.
They came back to the Pridelands to see Kiara pacing the den. She ran over to them.
“Thank goodness you’re safe.”
“Mom!” groaned Taraju and Fujo. They both nuzzled up against her legs. She smiled down at them then looked at Tumai.
“Your mother’s waiting for you. I told her I’d tell you. How she can possibly not worry about—”
“You do enough worrying for you and her, Kiara,” cut in Nala. “Of all people I would think you would remember how much you want to do something on your own.”
“Hey, where’s Dad?” asked Fujo.
“They’re probably around the back again.” He and Taraju ran back out of the den and turned to go up the narrow ledge that lined Pride Rock.
“Don’t go far, dinner will be here soon,” called Kiara. Taraju and Fujo took little notice. They would always come and find them for dinnertime, no matter how many times they threatened to just leave them there.
Taraju scrambled after Fujo up the side of the cliff towards a slab of rock that jutted out, serving as an arena. Sure enough, Simba and Kovu were there. Taraju and Fujo stopped, watching Simba deal Kovu a volley of vicious blows. Kovu managed to dodge some of them, but not all. The blows weren’t intended to hurt, at least not too badly. There were no claws or teeth involved, just paws. Simba knocked Kovu to the ground and backed off, letting him get up.
“Simba, what do you think you’re doing?” asked Kovu, leaping to his feet and aiming a swipe at Simba’s head. Simba reared up onto his hind legs to avoid it. Kovu took advantage of Simba’s open pose, tackling him in the gut. Simba fell away, rolling onto his feet. “Press your advantage while you can!”
“Why are you guys always doing this?” asked Taraju.
“It’s a long story,” grunted Simba. He raised a paw to block Kovu’s swipe. “Remember what your dad told you about Zira?” Kovu dropped his stroke slightly, moving under the block and getting Simba in the neck. “Uh! Well, he was supposed to be able to beat me at this kind of thing.” Simba backed away a few steps from Kovu. “We just thought it’d be interesting to see what would happen if we went at it.” He kept backing away. “We haven’t even been able to get past a tie.”
Kovu took the bait and rushed forward. Simba suddenly shifted forward and backpawed Kovu hard in the jaw, making him stagger. Kovu stumbled over a piece of raised rock, falling on his back. Simba pounced on Kovu, pinning his forelegs down to the ground.
Kovu was smiling. He glanced down at the space between their bodies, then back up at Simba. Simba followed his glance down and saw Kovu’s hind legs pressed firmly against his abdomen.
“Oh . . .” That was as far as Simba got before Kovu shot his legs into Simba’s stomach, knocking out his wind and sending him flying. Simba landed hard on his back ten feet away. He looked up to see Kovu leaping on him. Kovu landed on him, pinning Simba’s forelegs as Simba had done to him, but making sure Simba’s hind legs were spread out on both sides of him.
“Yeah, go Dad!” cheered Fujo.
“Now this, boys, is how you do a pin.”
“And this,” Simba grunted, “is how you get out of it.” He turned his body slightly to the left. Suddenly he turned his entire body hard to his right, slipping his forepaw out from underneath Kovu while his hind leg viciously slammed into Kovu’s side. He continued the motion, clubbing Kovu in the jaw with his newly freed paw. Kovu tumbled away from him. Almost immediately he was back on his feet.
“One of these days you two are going to kill each other over this.” They looked up to see Nala standing above them, an amused look on her face.
“Oh, come on, Nala, you know we do it safely,” Simba protested. Suddenly Kovu blindsided him, knocking him to the ground. “Okay, reasonably safely,” Simba grunted, staggering to his feet. “You call that fair?”
“Nope. Never did learn that.” Kovu grinned, and looked back up at Nala. He saw Kiara join her.
“Are they at it?”
“Oh, come on Kiara,” Kovu protested. He sidestepped and Simba flew past him, trying to duplicate what Kovu had done to him. “You know we just do this for fun.” He turned his attention back to Simba, who was getting back to his feet after having crash-landed. “And that only works once.” Simba grinned at him, and they began to circle. “Besides, you know this helps get rid of all those feelings left over.”
“What feelings, Dad?” asked Taraju.
“Well imagine, if you will, how you’d feel being raised by someone who wasn’t even your parent.” He shot in, ducked under Simba’s swipe, and rammed his shoulder into Simba’s chest, knocking him back a few steps. “You were raised to believe that Pridelanders were scum—” he jumped back from another of Simba’s swipes. “—and being raised to kill them—ungh!” Simba hit his mark, viciously whacking Kovu across the face. “—and then finding out—” Simba reared onto his hind legs. Kovu rose up, met him and drew a sharp blow across Simba’s forehead. “—that they had told you nothing—” He continued on the way down with a blow to the top of Simba’s head. “—but LIES!” He landed, drew back his paw, and clawed Simba as hard as he possibly could on the side of his face, knocking him to the ground. Blood began to flow from claw marks on Simba’s face. Kovu realized what he had done and gasped. “Oh, Simba . . . I’m so sorry . . .”
Simba sprang to his feet and whacked Kovu underneath his jaw, sending him staggering backwards, dropping him to his side. When Kovu looked up, he could see Simba smiling.
“‘Press your advantage?’” Kovu smiled back. “Just don’t get carried away like that again, okay?”
“Yeah . . . sorry. I just can’t believe how they would have just used me and discarded me.” Kovu got to his feet.
“Oh, come on. You were going to be king. That should have counted for something.” Simba wiped the blood off his face. “Well, at least we know you still have it.”
“And you need to stop while he still does,” called down Nala. “Now come on, dinner’s ready.”
“Yeah, alright, dinner!” yelled Taraju and Fujo. They scampered back up the cliff, and ran back into the den. Nala and Kiara turned and followed them. Simba and Kovu began to walk up the cliff after them.
They both chuckled as they walked up the path. They reached the top and turned into the den to find Fujo and Taraju already starting on a small antelope carcass, despite Kiara’s obvious efforts to tell them to wait. As soon as she had dragged one away, the other started on the carcass. Kiara saw Kovu and Simba appear in the mouth of the den.
“Oh, alright, go ahead.”
“Woohoo!” Fujo and Taraju both dug greedily into the carcass, spraying bits of meat around them. Simba looked into the back of the den. Nala was dragging a carcass over to Sarabi and Sarafina. They had been growing weaker, no surprise considering that they were two of the oldest lions in the entire pride. Simba walked back to them.
“Oh, Simba, don’t worry about us. We can still take care of ourselves.”
“Can’t a lion check to see how his mother is doing?” Simba asked, rubbing against her neck with his.
“Oh, I suppose. But from the looks of it, if you wait too much longer, you’ll be sleeping hungry tonight.” She nodded toward Taraju and Fujo, who had almost completely devoured their carcass.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be just fine.”
Simba walked over to Nala, who had been sitting patiently by a wildebeest carcass, waiting for Simba to finish his rounds. Beside her sat Kovu and Kiara, standing over their carcass. Simba came over, sat down, and took a chunk out of the wildebeest’s haunch. As if on a signal, Kovu, Kiara, and Nala began to eat as well. To their left, Fujo and Taraju had finished on one side and had moved to the other.
“Hey, Simba, guess what we found,” came Timon’s voice from outside of the den. He walked into the mouth of the den, followed closely behind by Pumbaa. “Apparently there’s this—” He stopped stone cold, watching Taraju and Fujo enthusiastically tearing apart the antelope. Fujo was tearing off a leg while Taraju had his head buried in the chest. “Oh . . . oh dear god . . .” He covered his mouth with his hands as if fighting back the urge to puke.
“Oh, Timon, here, try some.” Fujo held out a scrap of meat to him. Timon lost it and ran out of the den. Retching was heard almost immediately afterwards. Fujo and Taraju rolled on the ground, shaking with laughter.
“Maybe we should just come back later,” said Pumbaa, edging away from the den.
“No, wait, we’ll be right out there,” replied Simba. He took one more bite and turned to look at Kovu. He was already on his feet, chewing down one last bite. Simba swallowed and followed him outside.
He went outside and saw Timon straightening up over the edge of Pride Rock. Lovely, thought Simba. Pumbaa was standing beside him, patting him on the back. Timon muttered something that sounded faintly like “carnivorous freaks . . .”
“So what’s so important?” Kovu asked. They both spun around.
“Well, actually, it’s not us. It’s more him,” said Timon, gesturing behind them. Kovu and Simba turned around to see a cheetah sitting just outside of the mouth of the den.
“Yes?” asked Simba.
“My name is Nadhari. I’m sorry to say this, your highness, but you are all in very real danger.”