Chapter V: Doing Nothing
“Lunch!” said Uzuri, walking out the back of the den. Uchu and Jadi turned to look at her. “They’re all waiting for you. A wedding feast for the married couple.” She seemed to hesitate before saying, “And if you two think you can stand being apart for a few minutes, I’d like to talk to my brother.”
Uchu smiled and gave Jadi a kiss. “Make it fast.” She walked toward the den.
“Uh, it’s on the rock. Kiara’ still in the den.” Uchu walked into the den, taking the long way. Uzuri turned back to her brother.
“What?” Jadi asked rudely.
“Can’t a girl congratulate her brother on his wedding?”
“You could have done that in front of Uchu. What do you want?”
Uzuri sighed. “It’s—it’s about Grandpa. Did he—is it really true?”
“He left us.”
Uzuri stared at the ground. “I can’t believe it. He was always so kind . . . and loving . . .” She sighed. “I wonder what Dad’ll say. He’s coming back for the feast.”
“He won’t say much. I’m going to kill him.”
Uzuri laughed. “Yeah, I wouldn’t want Dad ruining my special day, either.”
“No, Uzuri. I’m doing it. Tonight. For all the things he never gave me. I’ll be king.”
Uzuri stared at him in shock. “Oh my god. You really mean it, don’t you?”
“Yes. And I want you to help me.”
“Jadi . . .”
“He’s hurt you just as much as me. You know he deserves to die. He’s weak.”
“No, Jadi, he doesn’t! I can’t believe you’re even saying this! This is insane! He’s your father, Jadi!”
“He has never been my father.”
“Jadi, you can’t do this! I won’t let you!”
“Then you will die as well.”
Uzuri gasped. “Jadi, you can’t mean that!”
“I do. I hoped you would see reason. But you’re just as much of a fool as him.” Jadi turned around to look at the view. “If you so much as tell anyone, you will die. Is that clear?”
“Jadi . . . please.”
Jadi turned and hit his sister across the face, knocking her to the ground. He placed a paw on her throat. “Do you understand?” Uzuri’s lips moved, though no sound came out. “Louder.” Uzuri nodded. She couldn’t speak with Jadi strangling her. Jadi removed his paw, Uzuri gasping. “Good.” He walked toward the den. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a feast to attend.”
Uzuri watched her brother go in disbelief. There has to be something I can do.
The feast had been wonderful. The lionesses had all enjoyed it. Fujo, of course, had loved it. Any opportunity to eat was a good opportunity. Everyone had been so happy for the new couple. Jadi had even been half-way pleasant to be around. Uchu was cheerful as always. Only Uzuri worried. She didn’t join in all of the happy conversation; she ate quietly looking at Jadi.
“Well, you’re awfully quiet.”
“Hmm?” Uzuri looked away from Jadi to see her mother next to her.
“I know you’re laid-back, but this is unusual even for you,” said Taabu.
“I’m just thinking. Grandpa.”
Taabu sighed. “It’s just so unlike him.”
“Hey, Taabu, over here!” called Fujo.
Taabu smiled as she lo0oked over at her mate. “Well, at least we’ve still got your father to keep us all amused.” She stood up and gave Uzuri a lick on the back of the ear. “Don’t think about that too much.” She walked over to Fujo.
No, Mom, thought Uzuri, seeing her father gesticulating about something undoubtedly stupid. We won’t even have him.
Pofu lied peacefully at the bottom of Pride Rock. This was almost the only thing he did. He sat. He thought. He ate. He slept. He visited Rafiki on occasion. He had no truly useful purpose. But somehow, gods know how it started, somehow he had ended up as the animal that all of the pride came to with their problems. He supposed it was because he simply sat, listened, and told them his advice and feelings on the matter with complete honesty, whether they wanted to hear the truth or not. He knew Kiara would come to him in a couple of days. He didn’t expect Uzuri, though.
“Pofu?” asked Uzuri quietly, sitting down beside his massive body.
“Yes?” he asked, rolling onto his back.
“Pofu, I need help.”
“I’m not a psychiatrist, Uzuri.”
Uzuri gave a sad chuckle. “Really, Pofu. It’s about Jadi.”
“And it would be?”
“He’s going to do something horrible.”
“Which would be?”
“He’s—he’s—oh, he said he’d kill me if I told you.”
“Jadi’s not a killer.”
“Pofu, I think he is. And if he isn’t, then he will be after tonight.”
“He’ll—oh, just look, please.”
“Alright.” Pofu stretched a paw up to Uzuri’s face. Uzuri shut her eyes as he did so. It didn’t hurt at all to have Pofu look through her mind, but it was just—unnatural. She opened her eyes as his paw touched her, watching his colorless eyes change to swirling blue and back again. “I don’t believe it,” he said, dropping his paw.
“But don’t you see? You have to do something. You have to stop Jadi.”
Pofu let out a bitter laugh. “I’m a blind animal. What could you possibly expect me to say to your brother to change his mind? I doubt he has any respect for me.”
“Pofu . . . I’m not asking for you to talk to him. I’m asking for you to stop him. You’re the strongest animal I know. I want you to do something.” Pofu was silent. “Didn’t you hear me?”
Uzuri . . . I will not hurt your bother.”
“Uzuri, listen. I swore, before you were born, that I would protect and serve you and your brother. I swore this on my father’s life, and on the life of a very, very dear friend. Uzuri, they would have wanted me to serve this kingdom. I will not break my vow.”
“Serve the kingdom?” Uzuri said incredulously. “Pofu, you’re letting the kind die! You’re letting my father die. He’s your friend! Doesn’t that mean anything?”
“And when I kill Jadi, and when Fujo dies of old age, who will be king? Not me.”
“I don’t want you to kill Jadi! Just—just—”
“You know I can’t just stop him. He won’t rest. Jadi wants Fujo dead. He will do anything to do so. You heard the hate in his voice. Even if I wounded Jadi to the point where he couldn’t move without pain, he would only wait until he healed and would try again.”
Uzuri bit her lip and sat down. Pofu was right. She had to let either her father or brother live. They could never live together. “Pofu, won’t you do anything?”
“I’ll talk to your brother. But that’s all. If you want to save your father, you’ll have to do something. Maybe Fujo can fight back with your help. But I will not lift my paw against your bother.”
“Pouf, please don’t ask me to make this decision.”
“I’m sorry, Uzuri. I really am. I’ll do what I feel I can.”
“I’m sorry, Uzuri.”
Uzuri wept bitterly.
Jadi walked toward Pride Rock. He had spent the day away from it. He didn’t want to have the stench of his father in his mind any longer than he had to. But Uchu had stayed, for some odd reason. Although it seemed more like she couldn’t escape. The lionesses had dragged her into happy wedding conversation and wouldn’t stop. They wanted to know every detail a hundred times over. Uchu had told him to go on, that she would see him later. She hadn’t come. Jadi didn’t care. After tonight, she would always be at his side, Queen Uchu once again. And King Jadi didn’t sound too bad, either.
Jadi could scarcely control himself on the walk back. He could feel his claws sliding out, ready to tear; his teeth baring, ready to bite. He would enjoy this immensely. Those four cubs had only served to whet his appetite. After that he begged for more. Only Uchu had held him back. But tonight, he would kill.
Jadi stopped, seeing Pofu in front of the stairs to Pride Rock, looking directly at Jadi with his blind eyes. “Get out of the way,” Jadi snarled. He would kill Pofu as well. He only needed a reason.
“I’m not in your way,” Pofu said calmly. “You can go around.”
“Fine,” said Jadi, stepping around.
“Jadi, listen to me. Please.”
Jadi stopped by Pofu’s side. “What?”
“I know what you’re going to do. I am asking you not to. You have no reason.”
“I want to,” growled Jadi. “I am the prince. I will be the king in a few minutes. I may do as I please.”
“Jadi, that’s not what being royalty means—”
“It does now. And if you disagree, I’ll gladly add you to Fujo.”
“Jadi, there isn’t any need.”
“He will die, Pofu. I will not let him live. Do you have anything else to say?”
Pofu sighed and hung his head. “No. I just wanted to ask . . . Please, don’t do this.” Jadi walked pas him, ignoring his words. Pofu slumped to the ground. Tears began to drip down his muzzle. A few minutes later a yell of “Pofu! Pofu! Pofu!!” came from the den. Pofu closed his eyes, weeping. Goodbye, Fujo.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Fujo.
“You’d better,” said Taabu.
“You can’t put the king on a diet.”
“Fujo, I’m your mate. I can do whatever I want.”
“I need my food!”
Uzuri couldn’t help but laugh. She was doing her best to not think of what would happen, of what decision she’d have to make. The sun had gone down. Jadi would be back. She wanted her last moments with her father to be memorable. “Dad, you’re a coronary waiting to happen.”
“Oh, so now you’ve got her on your side, too! What’s the next step, cut off the food entirely?”
“Fujo,” said Taabu, “If you have another suggestion besides the diet, go ahead and say it.”
“Look, you still get a decent amount.”
“You call that decent?” asked Fujo, gesturing at the nearly newborn antelope carcass. “There’s barely anything on it!”
“It’s young, it’s lean, it’s not fattening. You’re going to eat it, because if you don’t you won’t get anything.”
“I have to eat! Or else the voices get angry. They don’t like you now, Taabu.”
“I’ll deal with it.”
“They say you look awfully food compared to this tiny little antelope.”
“Fujo, there are no voices. You know it, I know it, the voices know it,” said Taabu. She turned to Uzuri. “I thought you said you would help me with this.”
“Mom, he’s stealing your food.”
Taabu turned around and whacked Fujo’s head. “Augh!” he said, recoiling. “I said to stop that!”
“Fujo, it was there very first thing I did to you, remember?”
“No. I tend to block out painful things like meeting the ugliest lioness on earth.”
“And what did I hit you for then?”
Fujo sighed. “Stealing food.”
“So wouldn’t it tend to reason that it would happen again if you tried again?”
Fine. Be that way.” He took the neck of his carcass and turned around so his back was to his mate and daughter, pretending his feelings were hurt.
Uzuri lied down on his back, wrapping her forelegs around his neck. “Daddy?”
“I’m not talking to you.”
Uzuri smiled. She gave him a lick on his head. “You know I love you, right?”
“Of course.” He turned to look at her, Uzuri sliding off. But I’m still not following that diet.”
Uzuri chuckled. “Dad, is that really what you want to say? I mean, what if you died, right now? And all you’d said was about food?”
“Those words are as good as any.” Uzuri gave a weak smile. “No, I’d want to say how much I love you, and Jadi, and Mom, and . . . and Dad, wherever he is.”
“And?” prompted Taabu.
“Alright,” said Fujo, “I might, if you asked real nicely, not say how much pain you forced me to go through.” Taabu whacked him again. “Augh!”
Jadi stepped into the den, his read eyes flashing angrily, a bloodthirsty smile on his face. He walked straight for Fujo. Uchu smiled. Uzuri leapt up and ran to him. “Jadi, please don’t—unh!” Jadi knocked her to the ground.
“Stay out of my way,” he snarled. He continued toward Fujo.
Fujo stood up. “What are you thinking? You can’t just treat your sister that way!” Jadi slashed Fujo across the face, leaving two streaks of blood on his face. Fujo was knocked to the ground.
“Jadi!” said Taabu, standing up. Uchu was suddenly in front of her, teeth bared in a grin. Taabu gave a grunt as Uchu hit her, then screamed as Uchu sank her teeth into her Taabu’s ear, Taabu sinking to the ground. Uchu placed herself over Taabu and put a foreleg under her neck, snapping her head up. Taabu struggled as the pride watched the two fights unfold in horror, stunned. Taabu stopped struggling as Uchu sank her claws into Taabu’s side. “Watch,” she said viciously.
Fujo got to his feet unsteadily. Jadi gave him an uppercut, knocking him back to the ground. “Get up,” he snarled. Fujo began to get back to his feet. Jadi mercilessly gave him a blow to the back of the neck, sending Fujo to the ground again. Fujo looked up at his son. Jadi slashed Fujo’s face. Fujo cradled his face, yelling in pain.
“Yes,” breathed Uchu.
“Jadi, stop!” yelled Uzuri. “Stop it, please!”
Jadi laughed and sank his claws into Fujo’s side. Fujo roared with pain. “And they called you a king,” Jadi taunted. He hit Fujo again, relishing his pain.
“Jadi,” said Fujo weakly. “Son . . .” He doubled up in pain as Jadi slashed through his stomach.
“Do you enjoy this, Father?” Jadi asked mockingly.
“Jadi!” said Uzuri. “Stop!” Jadi hit Fujo again, this time in his chest. Fujo let out a scream of pain as Jadi’s claws ripped through him.
“Stop it!” he begged. “Jadi, stop!”
Jadi laughed. “That’s it. Beg for mercy.” He sank his claws into Fujo’s stomach, tore then out. Fujo screamed in pain.
“Please, just stop! Son, please stop!”
Uzuri told herself to jump at Jadi. She seemed to be the only one in the den not petrified by the events unfolding. She told herself to jump now. But she couldn’t. I can’t kill my own brother. She turned to the mouth of the den. “Pofu!” she screamed. “Pofu! Pofu!!” She turned back to look at her brother beating her father mercilessly while her mother was restrained from doing anything but watch.
Jadi placed himself over Fujo’s body. He put his paw to Fujo’s throat, snapping his head back. “Jadi,” Fujo pleaded. “Son, I love you.”
Jadi leaned close to his father’s face, pressing down on his neck. “I hate you,” he whispered. He slid out his claws, slicing into Fujo’s windpipe. Fujo tried to breathe, his paws going to his throat, his body jerking. Jadi stepped off him, watching with satisfaction as Fujo’s air ran out, Fujo gagging. Finally Fujo was still.
Jadi smiled with savage pleasure at the sound of his mother’s anguished cry. He walked out of the den as darkness swallowed up his father’s corpse. There would be no funeral. Jadi walked to the edge of Pride Rock and let out a bloodthirsty, triumphant roar. Darkness reigned.