The Lion King:

Monjaru's Tale

By: Kyle Kington,

a.k.a. imanalaholic (aim)

Introduction

“Repetition. It happens all the time in TV shows, books, and movies. Writers try to avoid it, but like entropy, it just happens.

-Akril

Ah, the sad truth. Though we try to avoid it, it is an inevitable occurrence. It is true that I am new to the Lion King fandom, but I have read countless stories from various sites, and there are just a few that really stand out to me. What separates the good stories from the bad ones is not the length of the story, but more of the originality of it.

What makes a great story (to me) is an original storyline for starters, as not many want to be retold the same story, unless it has been changed dramatically. The next thing is that it’s gotta make grammatical sense. It drives me nuts when I read a story and every few words there is a terribly worded sentence or misspelled words everywhere. (it’s called spelling check, duh!) And finally, it’s gotta be at least a decent length. (unless it’s a short poem or something) I can’t tell you how much I hate it when characters just pop out of nowhere, and end up in love. No introduction, no get to know each other, just ‘BAM ! and they’re in love, I mean that’s just lack of effort.

Not to discourage young or inexperienced writers, but that’s just my opinion. (seriously sorry if I offended anyone L ) Anyway, my story is going somewhat along the storyline of the original Lion King. Some of the same charactersto Disney) and some of the same scenes, but all are either changed or switched around a bit.

Disclaimer: All characters, Mufasa, Serabi, Sarafina, Simba, Nala, Zira, Zazu, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa, Shenzi, Bonzai, and Ed are © to Disney and are in no way my characters. Every other character that you see in this story is created by me. If the name has already been used before, I’m sorry, but these characters are in no way related to them, they are all characters that I created in my head or got names from babynames.com. I am not going to say that they are legally copyrighted to me, but I would still appreciate being asked before they are used in anyone else’s story. *thumbs up* Thanks in advance, and on to the show. O h and one more thing, this is meant to be very informal (sick of having to write formally for school) so don’t mind anything that I say throughout the story. And now, on to the show (for real)!

 

 

Prologue

The Outlands... home to a pride of lions quite simply called the outlanders. Ever since an incident with one of the previous kings of Pride Rock, which will not be discussed, these lionesses and their cubs were banished to the barren wasteland which we call the outlands. Now the constant dust and soot in the air not only kept it slightly darker at all times but also dimmed each of the lionesses fur. Each was unique, but all shared a few common characteristics, such as the pale gray color of their once bright coats, the black rings that surrounded their eyes, and the practice by which their claws remained constantly exposed. Whether they were just born this way, or if they were all trained to do this as a means of defense in the harsh environment of their home is uncertain.

Their was but one exception to this, a young, but strong, male named Monjaru. He always kept his claws tucked away unless he were practicing his hunting skills or play fighting with the others of the pride. Of course, he spent most of his time doing one or the other anyway. His favorite sparring partner was an equally young female, about three days younger than he, named Verona. But he just called her "V". She was a prodigy of sorts in the ways of fighting so most battles often ended in a quick victory for her, but Monjaru could sometimes give her a run for her money. Verona could be easily distinguished from the rest of the clan by the small tuft of hair on her head, which of course was a very rare occurrence in any female.

But you will see, Monjaru too was a prodigy, not in fighting, but in hunting. It was very odd for a male to hunt at all in a pride, but Monjaru was a natural. He was extremely fast and stealthy. Only a few months old, but he already had more skill and technique than many males had in all of their years of living! He was agile enough to outmaneuver the rabbits and mice which could be found here, plus he could just as easily sneak up on one and take it down. But this provided him with little or no enjoyment, so he preferred to outrun and overpower his prey.

Due to the hot and humid climate, not many cubs had survived for long. Of the nine cubs who took the journey out of the Pride lands, only two had survived. Both were females, now almost fully mature, whose names were Kala and Tarashiiba. Kala looked almost like an older Verona, but minus the tuft of hair. Tarashiiba was much more distinctive in her appearance, and for it, she was given the nickname "Dotty". For under her right eye were five small, black dots, which pretty much set her aside from the rest.

Luckily for the pride, three new cubs had been born since their exile. The first two were Monjaru and Verona, who were born just three days apart, Monjaru just before Verona. And about a month after her, a third was born. A male, very light in weight, much lighter than the other two had been. He was given the name Kinfe. By the time he was almost a month old and had been walking for a good amount of time, he was already quick on his feet. Hidden to all was a birthmark on the bottom of his back left paw, which took the shape of what appeared to be a cat, a cheetah perhaps... This mysterious sign could affect the way this cub grows up, but all is not clear. But I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, I’m afraid. So I’ll take you back to the very early days of these cubs…

 

It was an exceptionally beautiful day (which isn’t saying much) in the outlands, and one of the lionesses, known as Neimi, had just given birth to a beautiful young girl, which you now know as Verona. But this day was not celebrated nearly as much as the day before. On that glorious day, a new cub had been presented to the gods. The adults had asked Rafiki, the pride lands shaman, to do the job, and seeing what they could not in this cub, he willingly accept ed the task. Of course, it was nothing like that of a pridelander presentation, with not an animal besides a lion in sight. But the great kings of the past smiled down on him with as much pride and joy as they did for any future king of Pride Rock, Monjaru was his name.

As can be expected, the first few days of their lives were nothing exciting enough to be recorded. Unless you enjoy hearing how they took their first steps, first< /FONT> burp, first laugh, and so on. The two were fast friends, since their mothers were also close, allowing them to spend quite a bit of time with each other. Examining each others’ aura, play fighting, and sleeping made up most of their day. And of course, feeding. Occasionally, they would be permitted to feed with the others’< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> mother, as to encourage their friendship. You can pretty much use your imagination to figure out the basic daily routine. It wasn’t until about

two weeks or so had passed and they could both walk and talk, so that anything important enough to mention occurred.

The first and most memorable was their first attempted prank. Due to their sneaky and humorous natures, they had no problem discovering this new source of entertainment. They would only get better as time moved on, but the first attempt always seems to be the best. And this one was no exception.

They had spotted their target, Carolyn, Monjaru’s mother, sleeping peacefully next to a small pool on the border of the Pride Lands. So they crept up as quietly as two amateur hunters can, and walked into the puddle, only a few inches deep, and sucked in as much water as possible. They counted on their paws to three, then sprayed all the water in their mouths straight into her face. She sprung to life, wiping the water out of her face, to see her son and Verona, now hysterical on their backs in the water.

The laughter ceased as they found the sun blotted out completely by a dark figure, towering over them, eyes blazing, speaking. It was Carolyn, Monjaru’s mother, and she didn’t seem the least bit amused by the prank.

“Monjaru…Verona…” she began as calmly as she could bear, considering the circumstances, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!

The pair got up and turned to run, only to find that they were being lifted up by the scruffs of their necks, Monjaru in his mother’s mouth, and Verona in her huge paw. The trip back to the pride cave was a long and silent one. No one said a word the whole way. When they

arrived, Neimi was laying by the entrance. Monjaru’s mother placed Verona down by her mother and kept walking, not even stopping to accept her friend’s greeting.

“Alright, what did you do? her mother asked, trying not to lose her composure.

Verona sighed deeply, then proceeded walking over to her obviously agitated mother.

Deeper into the cave, Monjaru sat in silence with his mother. A few hours had passed and his mother was still quite annoyed from what had happened, but she< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> seemed much more relaxed and her face had softened. Monjaru figured this to be a good moment to try to apologize.

“Mom, I-- he began.

“I know, she interrupted with a sigh, “I’m sorry too.

“But why are you sorry? I was the one who sprayed water in your face and got you mad.

“Yes, well I’m supposed to be the mature adult, but I lost control, and for that I am sorry.

“Oh, I never thought of it that way.

“Yes, well, sometimes others will intentionally hurt you, but it’s the one who retaliates that will usually get caught and get into trouble. Pulling pranks is all in good fun, I know. I pulled my fair share of pranks when I was younger. But there is something that you always have to keep in mind.

“Really? What’s that?

“When you are pulling pranks especially, but also when you are simply talking to others, you always have to keep that person’s feelings in mind. If you know that the person has a strong sense of humor, and you know they won’t mind, then go right ahead. But you need to know where to draw the line. Tha t is what separates the immature and the playfully mature, knowing when you have gone too far, and need to take a step back. Just remember that as you grow and mature, and you‘ll find that it will do you a great deal of good when it comes to making and keeping friendships alive.

“Ok, I’ll try to remember. his voice changed back to a low and sincere tone, “Well, I really am sorry. I was just tryin to have some fun, and Dotty told me that pranks were tons of fun.

“Did she now? she said, drawing her head back slightly and raising a brow, “Well, how about I make a recommendation for tomorrow?

A smile grew on her face and her voice lowered to a whisper. She whispered a few things into her son’s ear and he smiled and nodded his approval, then ran off to find Verona.

The next day, Tarashiiba found herself being led to a small watering hole created the night before in a small shower of rain. Apparently, Carolyn and Neimi had a huge surprise waiting there for her. Dotty had no idea what it was, but she did show signs of mild excitement.

Little did she know that waiting just a few meters away, in the bushes surrounding the pool, were Monjaru and Verona, who had already filled their mouths completely with water. They were ready to repeat the other day’s prank, but this time on Dotty. When the group reached the edge of the bushes, both cubs leaped out, one on either side of Tarashiiba, and sprayed every ounce of water in their mouths into her face.

She leapt backwards, coughing and wiping the water out of her face. When she regained sight, she found that not only were the two younger cubs laughing hysterically once more,

but the adults were laughing with them! Finally realizing it was just a set up, she angrily stormed away.

“Aww, come on Dotty! Pranks are tons of fun, right? Verona shouted after her.

Tarashiiba stopped in her tracks, let out an easily audible growl, then said something no one could hear, and kept going. The four pranksters laughed for a few mor e minutes before returning home behind their unfortunate, and now pissed off, victim.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Oof…hyaa!

“Ow! Why you…”

A battle of epic proportions was taking place in a small canyon in the north-eastern part of the outlands…well, maybe epic wasn’t the best choice of words, but a battle took place nonetheless.

“It’ll take more than that to beat me!

“Ha, it’s over!

“Not yet it’s not!

A typical fight on a typical day. Monjaru and Verona were daily participants in their own little bouts to determine who was stronger. As I mentioned earlier, Verona won a very large portion of these matches, and today was one of those days. We find them now, locked in the midst of a tiebreaker match to decide the day’s champ. As expected, Verona has the upper hand, and Monjaru is beginning to show signs of fatigue.

They had been going for a good while already, both exchanging powerful (for their age) blows to the other’s face, back, chest, and muzzle. Both were weary, but as< /FONT> of now, Monjaru had the worse of it.

He jumped at her with all his might in a last attempt to pin her, only to be swatted down to the dirty ground beneath, where he was quickly pinned.

“Heh, it’s over now, Verona jeered.

“Yea, now it’s over, Monjaru responded, kicking her off.

“Good match though, I actually had to push myself on that one.

“Guess that means I’m improving.

“Slightly.

At this he glared at her briefly.

“Joking! Sheesh! I was just joking, calm down. You’re doin fine.

“Thanks V.

A deep, husky, yet obviously feminine, voice came from behind, startling both of the cubs.

“Aww, and ya almost had er’ too. Heh, ya better watch it Verona, yer slippin.

It was Kala. She approached the pair with a cocky grin on her face and a prideful stride. Monjaru had always thought her to be one of the better looking lionesses of the pride.

“Oh, shut yer trap, Kala! I was goin easy on him!

“Yeah, course ya were. she replied, giving Verona a little noogie. Verona quickly swatted her away.

“Whaddya want anyway? Verona questioned bitterly.

She licked her paw and smoothed her hair tuft down. For a moment or two, Kala just stared at her younger pride sister, who was now sitting quite close to Monjaru.

“I was just passin’ by when I saw you two fightin’. So I decided to come cheer my fiancé on. On the word, Verona twitched and her face twisted slightly. “But when I got here, you had already won. she snickered then turned to Monjaru, “Don’t worry, you’ll get er’ next time. Heh heh…” she turned back the way she came, and began to laugh at an obnoxiously loud level. Her cruel laughter echoed through the canyon for a while before continuing in Verona’s head.

Kala knew about the crush Verona had on Monjaru, and that Monjaru was more into her than Verona. Verona wanted to shout after her something along the lines of, ‘Back off, he’s mine!, but decided it would be better left to another time.

Verona continued to glare in the same direction long after Kala had gone, her laughter still ringing through Verona’s head. She knew that Kala was higher on Monjaru’s list than she was, but she didn’t like the fact that she was abusing that position. Monjaru didn’t really care much about what happened except that it had obviously got under his friend’s skin.

“Don’t listen to her. he finally said.

He put his paw over her shoulder and licked the area just under her eye, where a tear had just begun to form. It was more of a tear of anger than of embarrassment, but it was a tear nonetheless, and Monjaru didn’t like to see Verona cry. She didn’t cry often because she was too headstrong and independent, so it distressed Monjaru to see it. His action confused and embarrassed her at first, but it didn’t take long for this to become an affectionate stare.

She seemed to be too engrossed in her feelings to realize that her thoughts and his intent were two totally different things, but Monjaru didn’t seem to mind. He, being the only male of the pride, and quite tempting otherwise, was often the center of attention of most.

“So, maybe one more before we head back? Monjaru asked.

“Sure, I don’t mind winning one more match. was her cheeky remark.

“What?! he exclaimed, jumping to his feet.

“I thought I was being pretty clear, but I said, I am going to win, she slowly reiterated.

“Hey, we haven’t even started yet!

“So? I’m still going to win.

And so began yet another tussle. Who ends up winning in the end? Well, that’s not really important, so I don’t think I’ll tell you…then again, maybe I will. In the end, Monjaru actually came out on top, but only due to an interference by Kala. Though it was a cheap victory, Monjaru still says it was Verona’s fault and that she should have seen it coming.

A few days later…

It was late morning, but the sun was, as always, quite dulled by the thick clouds of dust. Monjaru awoke with a jolt, startling Verona, who had been sleeping just a few feet away from him.

"You alright kid?" she asked him softly.

You all should remember that Monjaru is actually a few days older than Verona, but because she was usually the more mature one, she often referred to him as the younger.

"Who me? Yeah, I guess so. Just didn't get much sleep last night...couldn't sleep." he told her.

At this she gave him a bit of an 'I know you're lying' stare. It was obvious that she didn't believe him. After all this wasn't th e first time he had woken up like this. Their was more to this story, and she wanted to find out what was bothering her best friend.

"Uh huh." she groaned sarcastically. "Come on Monjaru, I've known you for WAY too long to fall for that. Why don't you just tell me what's going on?"

“What? We’ve only been alive a few months. he corrected her.

“Oh, shut up! You know what I mean! Besides, we’ve known each other our whole lives, as short as they’ve been. she shot back.

"Well I---", he paused. He then sighed and told her, "Never mind, don't worry about me. I'm fine." With this he got up and walked out of the cave.

"But---" she began, but it was too late, he was gone. "I swear that one day that kid is going to give me a heart attack…or blow up the Outlands…whatever comes first."

Monjaru began wandering his home. He had dreamt the same thing for quite a few days now, but today it was depressing him more than usual. He dreamt that he was walking through the savannah with a huge gash through the left side of his face. He wasn't allowed to go back to the outlands because he had apparently helped a pridelander. But why? Why would he ever help a pridelander? They were the ones that had banished his family to this stupid wasteland in the first place, he thought. Monjaru told himself that it would never happen, but then why did he keep dreaming it? He didn't understand, but he couldn't help thinking that it might be true...

By this point he had come to a large baobab tree and he decided to sit down and clear his mind. But just as he sat, he heard a str ange noise from the other side of the tree. Slightly startled, he paused just for a moment to listen---nothing. He breathed a sigh of relief when suddenly he < FONT FACE="Arial Narrow">heard it again! It sounded like rustling in the grass and then a low giggle. As he slowly crept around to the other side, the giggling continued. He stared intently at the long savannah grass just a few meters away, after a few seconds something popped out of the grass and landed just feet away from him. H e quickly withdrew his head behind the tree to avoid being seen. Cautiously he poked his head back out to find that it was another lion! But something seemed < FONT FACE="Arial Narrow">different to him, he had never seen one with such light colored fur. It was then that it finally occurred to him that he was no longer in the outlands. He had been so caught up in his thoughts that he had actually wandered into the Pride lands! Quickly turning around to run back he was forced to stop as he heard a huge gasp from behind him. He froze and waited for what seemed like an eternity until he gained the courage to turn around. What he saw was the unknown lioness looking at him with the same look of amazement and surprise which he had been giving her only a moment earlier. As the two cubs stared at one another in utter bewilderment, the female began to approach him. Monjaru was not too sure about this and tried to tell her off.

"Hey! What do you want? Haven‘t you ever heard of personal space? I don‘t know you and you don’t know me, so just back off would ya?" he threatened.

"Oh, can it ya big sissy! What kind of a wimp are you anyway? I'm just a girl." she countered.

"Yeah, well who do you think you are gettin all close to me like that? You don't even know me."

"Yeah, well maybe I WANT to know you. Unless you're scared of a GIRL." emphasizing the word.

"Are you tryin to say that I'm afraid of YOU? HA! Fat chance! I aint afraid of no-body and nu-thin, you got that?" obviously agitated by her remark.

"Ooo, you're scarin me." she mocked.

“You are just lookin for a fight, aren‘t you? he growled.

“Yea, well if you’re as bad at fighting as you are at arguing, then this will be a pretty fast fight…”

As soon as she finished her comment Monjaru leapt forward and tried to pin her down. But somehow she had seen it coming and immediately began falling backward. Not realizing that she had meant to fall back, Monjaru kept up his leap. But as soon as he made contact he felt himself being lifted off of the ground and before he knew it, he was on the ground underneath this unknown lioness cub.

“How did you do that? he asked in shock and awe.

“I’m not exactly sure how it works, but it just does. Whenever someone jumps at me, I just lay down and let them land on me. Then I use my legs to flip em’ over and pin em’ on the way back down. It works every time. she explained, “Basically, I used your own power against you.

“Wow. That’s pretty cool…so who exactly are you anyway?

"Well, my name is Nala, and I'm from that big rock over there. We call it--".

"Pride Rock," both said in unison. "Hey! How did you know that?" Nala asked him, a bit surprised.

"Oh! My mom told me about a group of lions from Pride Rock. She told me that they were to be hated because of what they had done to my family," he explained.

"Sounds kinda dumb if you ask me. No offense, but that's my opinion."

"I guess in a way it is. Not all of you guys are bad, I mean...you're not." he said, blushing slightly.

"Hey! Wasn't it you who just a minute ago was yellin at me for gettin too close?

"Yeah, I guess it was. he said, almost absentmindedly, “But that was then---", he began.

"and this is now." she finished, looking rather astonished at what she had just said. They both just smiled and stared silently at the other.

And as they continued their conversation, they started to talk of their homes and how their lives were going. And as they went, they occasionally finished each others sentences, each time drawing nearer to the other. They hadn't noticed it yet but someone had been watching the entire spectacle. Up inside the tree sat a wise sha man of sorts. He was a good friend of all of the pridelanders, but none too fond of the outlanders. He had seen every move of the two, every move closer to each other. And to this point, he wasn’t too happy about what he had seen. But being as wise as he was, he was not one to judge, maybe their was more to this cub than met the eye. And why did this one seem so familiar, yet so distant at the same time?

"What a nice couple," he said, sighing at his own words. "But I don't tink Mufasa will be very pleased. Afta all, Nala is already betrothed to Simba…dis is most troubling."

The day, which seemed to have only begun, was nearing its end, and the night was approaching quickly. But the two didn't seem to notice. They were just fine where they were.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter One: Exile

Another dark and dreary day in the outlands... but not all was dreary. Monjaru, who had always been an early riser, had been up for hours already. After he got tired of waiting, he began nuzzling Verona excitedly. At first she just batted his muzzle and rolled over, but Monjaru persisted in his nudging until eventually she had< /FONT> no choice but to get up.

"What do you want, Monjaru? Can't you see that all ‘normal’ lions are trying to sleep?" she scolded as silently as possible.

"Yeah, well in case you haven’t noticed yet, I aint exactly ‘normal’. Being normal is overrated, he joked, “besides, I have to tell you something. So just get up, will ya?"

"Uhh, fine. Just promise me you will never do this again."

He paused briefly and put his paw on his chin. "Monjaru!" she shouted slightly louder than before.

"Alright, alright! I was just kidding, gosh. Can't you take a joke?" he hurled back.

"It's too early for jokes, now just tell me what you want to tell me so I can go back to bed."

"Alright. Well you see, there's this girl..." At this Verona lifts her head slightly and perks up her ears, "and she is like, the best thing that has ever happened to me, but--- I'm not sure if I'll ever get to see her again. What should I do?" he said, his ears lowering.

“Well, first off, you can stop actin’ so sad and cheer up a little…you’re startin’ to depress me. And second, if she’s really that important, then you will see her again. I don‘t know when or how, but ya just will. Take my word for it.

When she was finished saying this, Monjaru took a position that Verona recognized as his pouncing position.

“BUT! she shouted silently, causing Monjaru to halt. “Before you start jumping on me and hugging me and thanking me in any anti-morning ways, I would like to remind you that this is just a theory of mine. One that has always worked for me, but still just a theory.

"Yeah I guess you're right." he said calming down slightly. "No doubts, I'll see her again." he began to walk out, but then turned to say,"Oh yeah, thanks V." and then he darted out of sight.

"Yeah...now, where was I? Oh yeah, sleeping...helping him with his troubles sure is tiring. I'm beat," she yawned, falling promptly back to sleep.

Monjaru continued to come back to that tree every night for the next few weeks, and every time Nala was there to greet him with smiles and stories of her day, and of life in the Pride lands. And as eager as she was to tell, he was equally eager to listen, and maybe tell a tale or two of his own. Neither one told a soul about their little meetings, but there is one who knew...one who sat in the dark of the branches. He< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> knew who they were and what they were doing, but they were yet to discover his presence. It was probably better that way...

The dry season was over and the rainy season had begun, even the normally bone dry wasteland of the Outlands was visited by common rain showers. The lands, which had for so long cried out for moisture, were finally being answered. Today was an especially dark day. There were large clouds throughout the sky, threatening that at any moment they would explode and cover the land with an ocean of rain from above. But oddly enough, the day had had not a single drop thus far. But these clouds were not enough to keep the Outlanders from their normal routine. It was usually at this time of day that Monjaru would sneak away from t he rest of the pride to go meet with Nala. But unfortunately for him, today was his day to prove to his mother that he could locate and hunt prey efficiently. So she never strayed too far from his side, preventing any means of escape to his little ‘get together’. Monjaru had done his best to find something so he could get away, but because the dry season had only just ended, most of the small animals were still tucked away safe underground. Making his odds even worse was the fresh smell of rain in the air which stopped him from sensing those underfoot, and the harsh clouds and booming thunder keeping any and all prey items out of sight.

"It's no good," Monjaru finally said. "I've been searching for hours and I haven't seen anything."

"Oh come now, you haven't even started on the other side of our lands. How do you expect to get any better if you give up at the first sign of failure? True, today is not the most favorable of hunting days, but I'm sure that I saw your friend Verona with at least a couple of field mice already."

"Really? he asked confused. "But how? I haven't even SEEN a mouse!"

"Yes, well, I somehow don't think that you've been giving it your all. I know you, is there something bothering you that could be keeping you from thinking straight?" she pried.

"No, of course not! I'm just fine, there is nothing wrong with me!" he yelled.

"Hmmm, really..." she responded, unconvinced.

Monjaru stared up at the sky and realized that he had forgotten all about seeing Nala! Would she be worried? Would she still be there if he rushed over there as fast as he could? And what would his mother do if he were to run off? So many questions began racing through his head that he became completely oblivious to all that was going on around him. He had even forgotten that he was still with his mother! As he wandered on without a destination she began to stare at him with a bit of suspicion as to what he was thinking about that had put him in such a daze. After a few minutes he stopped and refused to go any farther, and his mother finally decided to return to the rest of the pride. He hadn't noticed yet, but he had finally gotten the break that he had been waiting for. He could finally get away to see Nala. When he came back to reality, he saw that his mother had left him and dashed off to the large tree hoping that Nala had not lost interest and decided to go home. But when he got there, he found out that she had indeed left, though not back home but straight into the outlands!

"Oh my gosh, NO!" he screamed. His biggest fear had finally come true. As he began racing back towards his home, his mind filled with more questions, but this time he was more focused on reality than ever. Luckily for him, and for Nala, she hadn't gone too far yet. When he finally managed to catch up, she had just reached the edge of his home.

"Nala! You're alright!" he shouted as quietly as he could.

"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" she asked, a bit confused.

"Nala, it's not safe for you to be here. We should go back now."

As Monjaru pleaded with her to come back, shadows began to fill the rock ledges above the two. Before they even knew that anyone was there, they were surrounded.

"Oh, come on, Monjaru. Why can't I stay to meet your family?"

"I wasn't lying when I told you that my family hates your family. You--" he was cut off mid-sentence.

"Oh, come on, Monjaru..."a voice said mockingly.

"Oh no. That is why you can't stay!" he screamed. "RUN NALA!" but it was futile. Already, Zira had taken her spot in front of their getaway path, and the rest of the pride was positioned behind. They were trapped.

As Zira slowly made her way towards the pair, she spoke. "So, what brings an innocent young lioness such as yourself to our.. humble home?" she snickered. She continued her approach, with each step, the hearts of the two cubs beat just that much faster. When she finally got to within a few inches, she spoke again. "So tell me, Monjaru. Is this where you have been running off to lately?" Monjaru quite agitated at what his family was planning to do to his newfound friend, he pulled something that surprised himself at first, but after he left his feet there was no going back. He leapt at her with all the strength that he could muster. She tried to dodge out of the way, but he just managed to latch onto her ear. She moaned in pain as he dug his claws into her shoulder and leg to keep his balance, she shook furiously to break free of his grip. But anger fueled his body and there was nothing she could do. Seeing this, one of the lionesses, his own mother to be specific, as quick as lightning, dashed over to the struggle and with one mighty swipe of her paw, she sent Monjaru sprawling to the ground, bumped and bruised. He tried to get up but his body had nothing left to offer. So he could do nothing< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> but watch as the pride chased after his friend, and hope that she would be ok. After the chase had left sight, he decided not to waste his e nergy any longer and fell slowly out of consciousness.

When he awoke, he saw dark shadows all around him but could not quite distinguish what they were. His vision was blurry and his body was very sore. Slowly but surely, his vision returned to normal, and he recognized the shadows as his pride. As he stared blankly at the still figures, one came to life and walked toward him. His fully restored vision allowed him to see it as his aunt and pride leader, Zira. When she got closer, she began to circle around him < /FONT>and started to speak.

“So this is where you have been sneaking off to! she sneered. “So you’ve betrayed us for this little girl you just bumped into?

“Say whatever you want, Nala is not bad. Monjaru said as he came to his feet. “I don’t know what it is her relatives did to you that makes you hate the pridelanders, but Nala hasn’t done anything to you. Or me. You don‘t even know her. I‘ve spent time with her and she never treated me different even though I was different.

“Yes, well say whatever you want, the punishment for aiding a pridelander is exile. So say what you must, but make it fast. she ordered.

“I’m done talking, thanks. he remarked boldly.

“Well then, what are you waiting for? Get out. This is not your home anymore.

As she spoke, Monjaru stared up into space, pretending not to hear her.

“Oh! I’m sorry. Could you repeat that? I must have been thinking about her again. he said sarcastically.

But all of his confidence faded immediately as Zira’s face turned from a face of playful cruelty to one of pure anger and hatred. No amount of confidence could prepare him for what would happen next, Zira thrust herself forward and viciously tackled him to the ground. Monjaru, still not sure what had just happened, looked on in horror as she clamped down hard on his neck. She squeezed just hard enough to keep him still, as she slowly worked her mouth around until she found his jugular vein. He could feel her canines as they slowly bit harder and harder. Just when he thought it was all over, her teeth stopped squeezing and her grip loosened. Suddenly seeming to lose interest in her could-have-been gore fest, she forcefully tossed him aside and began walking back to the rest of the group, who sat in complete silence at what they had just witnessed. But before she had gone two feet. She quickly turned around swiping him hard across the face, with one claw extended. Monjaru yelped as he was sent flying back into a nearby rock. For a few moments, all thought him to be dead. Verona slowly approached the beaten and battered cub whom she had always called friend. As she drew near, he slowly wriggled to his feet. Somewhat relieved, she picked up her pace to a trot until she stood next to him. But when he turned around, her face turned even colder than when she thought he was dead. A huge gash had appeared spanning from the top right of his face, all the way to the bottom left. But what had scared her even more than the wound was the expression of terror that now took the face of the distraught cub. An emotion that, up till now, no one had ever knew existed in him, not even himself. He looked as if his heart could give out at any moment.

He stood there motionless, eyes wide, as Zira locked eyes with him once more. After a few moments, his legs finally obeyed his mind and he slowly backed away, turned, and sprinted, as fast as his legs would allow, into the dark savannah that lay before him…

 

 

That night, Monjaru discovered the true meaning of fear. The fire that he saw burning in Zira’s eyes would be an image forever engraved into his mind. As he ran, he thought back to the nightmare that had haunted him for so many nights. It was at this moment that everything which he had thought to be folly, had finally come true. He didn’t for how long he ran, but he didn’t stop until he saw what he was looking for… Pride Rock. It was far too late to carry out his plan, for the pridelanders would surely be fast asleep. So he found a tree nearby, and climbed as high as he could, and settled in for the night. Of course he would find no sleep this night, nor for many a night later on, for he would always remember the anger that he saw in Zira’s eyes, and the terror that he felt. But that did not matter right now. Now he had to focus on the task at hand. Tomorrow he would see if all the stories Nala had told him were true…

For the first time in his life, Monjaru awoke to the glimmering of a bright and warm morning sun. He had never known how beautiful the sun could be. He briefly scanned the land to be sure that there were no predators close by, and then jumped down, branch by branch, to the grassy savannah below. It all seemed so different in the light. But he could still see Pride Rock, and so he began his journey onwards. Though this pleasant change of scenery had indeed br ightened his mood, he was still quite shaken from his encounter the previous day. What was it that caused Zira to release him at the last second? Why didn’t she just finish him off, right then and there? he thought. But now was not the time to be thinking of such things, now he had a much more important job to attend to.

As he neared Pride Rock, he was slowly approached by a lioness, clearly a very noble member of the pride. Possibly even royal. She was a lightly built lioness with golden-brown fur and brown eyes. The way she walked looked quite awkward to him, rather than slouching the way most of his pride did, she walked with her head held high. Who was this and what did she intend to do? When he saw the unfamiliar female coming so close, he froze. She didn’t seem to be very dangerous, but after what he had been through, he didn’t want to take any chances. But as soon as he saw the look on her face, any fear he may have had melted away. She stared at him with so much concern, one would have thought her to be his mother.

“Oh, you poor thing! she exclaimed, “What happened to you? Are you alright?

“Yeah, I’m alright. A little shook up is all. he responded.

“Oh, but look at you! You’re covered with cuts and bruises! And just look at that gash!

“Really, it’s not as bad as it seems. Just a little scrap with my aunt, not the greatest moment of my life. he said bowing his head and turning away.

“Well, whether its serious or not, you should come and stay here for a while. Are you heading anywhere in particular?

“Yes, actually, he said remembering why he had come in the first place. “I was coming here to speak with Mufasa, he’s the leader of this pride, right?

“Why, yes. How do you know Mufasa? she asked him, puzzled.

“I don’t know him, really…I’ve just heard a lot about him. Could I please see him? he asked hurriedly. “It’s pretty urgent. he added.

“Yes, yes of course. Please, follow me… by the way, you may call me Naomi.

“Ok, Naomi, he said, testing the name, “and you can call me Monjaru.

She smiled and nodded, then turned to lead him towards Pride Rock. She led him up the side and to a large cave just outside of which was a large slanted platform, that jutted out for about thirty feet or so. Inside the cave sat two lions, one male and one female, side by side, staring intently a t the young cub. At first Monjaru was slightly intimidated at the sight, but he quickly calmed down as their expressions became just as sympathetic as that of Naomi’s had been. When they came to sit down next to the pair, the female opened her mouth as if to ask what had happened, but was quickly silenced by the male. He then motioned toward Monjaru. Understanding the gesture, Monjaru immediately introduced himself and began his story.

“Well, first off, my name is Monjaru, and I am…from the outlands. For about two and a half weeks, I had been talking to a young lioness, I believe that she is from this pride. Her name is Nala. he paused.

“So that is where she has been going every night. Hmm…interesting. Continue. said the male.

He nodded and continued his story.

“For the most part, we just talked about life in our obviously different prides, how our day was going, ect., ect. Well, over time we had grown quite a ccustomed to this daily meeting, so it was quite unlikely for one of us to skip it. But one day, a couple of nights ago, I did. I didn’t skip it, but I was held up in a hunting exam to prove that I would one day be a hunter in our pride. The weather was horrible so nothing was coming out. And I couldn’t leave because my mother was with me to keep track of my progress. Eventually though, a chance opened up and I ran as fast as I could to get to our meeting spot, but she was gone. Lately she had become fascinated with seeing my family, so I nearly had a heart attack thinking that she might have gone into the outlands alone. I sprinted back and found her about to walk into my family’s land. I tried to convince her to turn back, but she wouldn’t listen, she had set her mind on meeting my family…and unfortunately for us, she got her wish. Before we knew it, my pride had us completely surrounded. Desperate, I did something that even I didn’t expect, I jumped on my aunt and I bit her ear as hard as I could. But my mom came over and knocked me off and onto the ground. I was too tired from the fight to get up, so I could only hope< /FONT> that my diversion was enough to get her back here safely.

By this point, everyone was completely astounded by the cub‘s tale. Not only had Nala gone into the outlands, but one of the lions from the outlands had saved her. Just the thought of it both relieved and perplexed them.

“So she is here, right? he asked.

“Yes, she is around back, probably playing with Simba. Or getting into trouble with Simba, one or the other. the older lioness replied, almost laughing.

“Well, do you think that I could go see her, it’s been driving me insane hoping that she’s okay.

“Of course, but first we must decide what to do about you. After all, you are still an outlander.

“But, I saved her! I’m not going to hurt anyone, honest! he assured them.

“Yes, even so, we cannot be too careful. We don’t know what Zira might be planning, whether you are involved or not.

“Ok…but when you are done, then can I go see her? he pleaded.

“Yes, yes. No need to whine. replied the male, starting to smile as Monjaru’s face turned pink with embarrassment.

“I was not whining! I was just a little worried, that’s all. he said trying to stand up as tall as he could. The others just laughed.

Monjaru waited outside as the three lions whispered amongst themselves for a few minutes. When they were done, they all nodded and began walking towards him. The older female was the first to speak.

“Well, I am sure that you will be glad to hear that we have decided to let you stay. We have agreed that your motives are not like that of your family. And so, we will allow you to remain with us unless you give us reason to make you leave. Does that sound fair?

“Of course, you won’t regret it! Thank you so much! he screamed as he began to jog towards the other side of the rock.

But before he could even reach top speed, he was halted by a heart stopping roar from behind. He came to a screeching halt and ducked, covering his ears. When they had stopped ringing, he heard the padding of feet from around the bend. Monjaru backed himself to the three lions as about a dozen more, including cubs, began pouring out from the other side. They all stopped and formed a half circle in front of Monjaru. They stared in silent amazement at the scruffy, dirty cub that stood before them. When the last of them had rounded the corner, Mufasa began to speak.

“Everyone, I would like you to meet someone. He comes from the outlands, upon hearing the word, the once dead silent group gasped. “But he is not to be feared, hated, or treated any differently than you would treat your own cubs. He has proven to be both courageous and truthful. If it had not been for this brave youth, we may not have seen the face of one of our own ever again. He saved her from certain death, and betrayed his family in doing so, but he has come to us for comfort and shelter in his time of need. Just as he came to the aid of our own, Nala, we too shall aid him in his time of exilation.

A hush fell over the astonished crowd. Monjaru, slightly embarrassed, bowed his head and lowered his ears. But they pricked up again as he heard a voice from within the group. It was a voice that sounded all too familiar…

“Hey, let me through! Come on, hurry up Simba! He’s here, he’s here! said the voice.

“What? Who’s here? What are you talking about? Ouch! Stop pushing, who the heck are you talking about? replied the other voice.

“Monjaru, the one I’ve been telling you about lately! Ya know, the one who saved me! Now hurry up! scolded the first.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming, I’m coming! What, are you in love with the guy or something? the other shot back.

“Heh, for all you know!

As the unknown voices got louder, Monjaru couldn’t help but feel that he knew them. And when the source of the voice finally broke the suspense, Monjaru couldn’t b elieve his eyes. It was Nala! It was the bold and beautiful lioness that he had risked his life for and for a while had thought to be dead. And standing beside her was a young male cub with bright, golden-brown fur, black rims around his ears, and yellow and red eyes, much like Mufasa. This cub he assumed to be Simba.

“Nala! Hey, you’re alright, and…in one piece! he joked.

“Haha, yup. And don’t you forget it! So what happened to you? You look like you got in a fight with a thorn bush…and lost.

“Nah, just my aunt. She plays rough.

“Heh, no kidding. So what have you been up to lately? she asked him curiously.

“Oh, the usual. Pickin fights I probably can’t win, messin with fire, and gettin burned. How bout’ you? he responded with more than a hint of sarcasm.

“Nothing much. Wandering into unknown territory, being chased by bloodthirsty lionesses who want revenge on my family, narrowly escaping death, nothing special. she returned, equally sarcastic.

They spoke as if they had known each other their whole lives, which wasn’t too far from the truth. As they began walking away, they were stopped in their tracks by a large paw, which was inconveniently positioned in their way. Realizing that it probably wasn’t a good idea to try to resist, they slowly parted ways to their respective spots in the group. Monjaru in front by Mufasa, Naomi, and the third lioness, whom was still unintroduced, and Nala by her mother. When all had returned to normal, Mufasa began to speak again, still just as loud as before.

“Now I am going to introduce everyone to the newest member of the pride, but before I do, would anyone like to introduce themselves? he asked.

At first the group was completely silent, but eventually a lone lioness made her way out into the open. She was obviously not young, but her bright tan coat gleamed in the afternoon sun. She looked like a great hunter. Large, muscular legs, but a very lightweight bone structure. Strong and fast, a very deadly combo when it came to hunting.

“Hello, Monjaru. My name is Sarafina, and I am Nala’s mother. she said, and then backed into the group.

The next to step forward was the lioness that he had met earlier in the cave with Mufasa and Naomi. She was a much duller tan than the other lionesses of the pride, her fur was more of a tannish brown, and she was much more heavily built and muscular than the others as well.

“I am Serabi. I am Mufasa’s mate and queen of Pride Rock. Pleased to have you with us. she said smiling.

As she stepped back next to her mate, there was a long pause.

“If no one else will introduce themselves, then I suppose I will have to. Mufasa stated, a bit embarrassed at the lack of participation. “Well, starting from left to right, there is Miyanda,

He pointed to a small lioness, not quite matured. She had a dark, smoky coat with gray paws and muzzle and bright yellow eyes. She sat against the rock wall and stared upward, in a bit of a daze.

“Next in line is Sarki, she is the leader of the hunting party.

Sarki was a lightly built lioness, much like Sarafina, but had a slightly darker coat. Not to say that it was dark, just not as bright as Sarafina’s, whose was almost blindingly bright, especially in the light of afternoon. A very noticeable feature of hers was a small scar on her left cheek. It wasn’t very big, but because of her light colored fur it was easily spotted. She stood very straight and tall, and had a very dignified stature, she was probably very well known among members of the pride. She stared off into the grasslands, obviously not interested in having a cub from the outlands join the pride.

“Next to her is Akia--

“She is my big sis. interrupted Naomi.

“Yes, she is also the eldest of our pride, the only one alive during my great- grandfather’s reign. We look upon her with the highest regards. he said, with nothing but seriousness in his facial expression and voice.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake Mufasa, let the child have a little fun! You treat him as if he is as old as me! Akia shouted as she lay down and began to roll on her back.

All of the other lionesses seemed quite vexed by her sudden change of attitude. She didn’t seem to be angry at Mufasa, but more…concerned, for this young one.

“He’s got his whole life ahead of him, life is too brief to not enjoy your youth, trust me, I should know.

At this Mufasa paused, then sighed and smiled at the elderly lioness whose heart and spirit seemed somehow changed by the presence of this cub.

“Very well, he turned back to Monjaru, “just be sure not to dis-respect her.

He looked back up and smiled teasingly at Akia, who shot a piercing glare at him. But this quickly became a smile and they both chuckled under their breath. Although she had slowed considerably in the last few years, she still acted as if she were a cub, even if she didn’t have the energy. She looked very similar to her sister, only a bit more portly. And let’s just say that her fur didn’t shine the way it used to. But she was more than just an elder to all of those who knew her well, to them she was also a very excellent leader and role model. Though she was not the queen, she knew much about how to rule a kingdom. After all, this was the third that she had been a part of, and so she had seen different forms of leadership, and she had seen what worked well and what did not. She gave excellent advice to both the king and queen, as well as all of the other lionesses of the pride. In other words, she is a huge part of the pride as a whole, not just the rulers. Even the young ones looked to her for advice to better their skills in hunting, fighting, and even how to overcome the problems of being a cub, as miniscule as they may be.

“Now then, beside Akia is Isoke. She is a great help to our pride. She not only helps Zazu to inform us of any urgent news in the Pridelands, but she also does recon missions to check on the outlanders to be sure they are staying in line. Plus, she has learned much in the ways of healing from Rafiki, and has become his unofficial ‘apprentice’.

Monjaru stared in awe at the lioness who apparently did so much. She was not much to look at, as she wasn’t very big or strong, in fact she was a bit on the scrawny side. But he had seen nothing but sincerity in Mufasa’s eyes when he described this ‘satisfying gift from God’, as her name is translated. As he looked on at her, he noticed that her expression never changed, it remained gentle and calm, but she could not help crack a smile. He could only suppose she were a bit embarrassed from all the flattery.

While Mufasa began to speak of the others, Monjaru’s attention was turned to one of the cubs. Mufasa had not introduced any of them yet, so he did not know the name of this cub, but he couldn’t help gaze in her direction. For every time he did, he noticed that she was staring straight at him. Th ere was no mistaking it, she stared intently into his eyes whenever he would look her way. And whenever their eyes met, she would flinch, but immediately resume her < /FONT>steady look. Her eyes didn’t seem to hold any more emotion than her face. She sat, with her bright blue eyes fixed on him, but her entire body was motionless and emotionless. Her fur was a very dark brown, with white paws, and her eyes were as bright as the sky that had greeted him that morning.

When Monjaru finally came back to reality, Mufasa had already finished introducing everyone except the cubs. Monjaru felt quite angry towards himself for having zoned for so long, now he would have to figure out who the others were the hard way.

“Now, I am sure that Simba and Nala will introduce you to the other cubs, so I believe that I am finished. he stated calmly.

But Monjaru was yet to find out who three of the lionesses were. Sitting beside Isoke was a female who was not young but not old, not skinny nor fat. She was right in between, a very average lioness. She had an apricot coat with a cream underbelly, her right ear though, was covered in pitch black spots. And her eyes were light green with yellow surrounding.

The next was almost as average, only this one was slightly more muscular. And her fur was a few shades darker, both body and underbelly, and she had no spots. What she did have was a black ring on the tip of her tail and around her two back paws.

The third was the most unique of all the lionesses he had seen thus far. She was very tall and muscular, had dark brown fur, slightly lighter on the paws and underbelly. What made her so unique was that the entire left side of her face was pitch black, while the other side was brown. And her blo od red eyes made her look almost threatening, no words said. But her countenance did not match this at all. Her smile was so uplifting that Monjaru felt almost weightless for a moment or two, like nothing that had happened in the past few days had really happened. After a few moments he regained sanity just enough to be dismissed from the meeting…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter Two: Pride Life

As soon as all of the adults had left, Nala, Simba, and the rest of the cubs approached Monjaru.

“Hey, Monjaru, what’s up? asked Nala.

“I’m alright, I guess, you? he responded. “So, uh, Mufasa tells me that you are going to introduce me to these cubs over here?

“Yeah, I guess I could. she sighed sarcastically. “Well this, she pointed to the lioness cub standing next to her, “is Xolani. She is pretty much my best friend.

At this Simba began to cough noisily. Noticing this, Nala quickly corrected herself to cure Simba’s ‘cough’.

“Ok, so she is my best girl friend. But jeez, Simba. Do you have to make it so obvious? she asked him coldly. He just closed his eyes and smiled. Nala rolled her eyes and turned back to Monjaru. “Well in case you didn’t happen to catch it, his name is Simba. He is my best friend, but man is he a pain sometimes.

As soon as she finished her sentence, a small pebble, seemingly from nowhere, hit her right in the back of the head. She quickly turned around and shot a piercing glare straight at Simba, who was whistling softly and working one of his claws through the soft dirt below. While she glared down at Simba, she also kept a close eye on his friend, whom she had noticed starting to chuckle to himself.

This cub had a light brown, almost red, colored coat. He was not quite as big as Monjaru, but slightly bigger than Simba, and his eyes were a light shade of green with a yellow tint. His most distinguishing feature was the white hairs on the tip of his tail, and the tawny patch of fur surrounding his right eye.

Nala raised a paw, as if to strike Simba, who was still drawing in the dirt, but quickly turned around and swatted his friend instead.

“Ow! What was that for? he shouted angrily.

“Oh, please. Don’t give me that, I know that it was you! I’m not stupid, Diallo. she shot back, quite agitated herself.

“Well, it almost worked. But why do you always hit so hard? I didn’t hit you that hard. he complained as he rubbed his head.

“Oh, suck it up, ya big baby.

The lion responded by sticking his tongue out and making faces. Nala quickly turned around, but not fast enough it would seem, for the cub had already settled down and had joined Simba in making figures in the earth.

“Ya see what I have to go through? Anyway…” she said turning back to Monjaru, “that’s Diallo. He’s Simba friend, and he’s every bit as immature, for the rest of the statement she whispered, “so if he ever gets on your nerves, just give a good one right in the back of the head for me, alright? Monjaru nodded and laughed quietly, as did Xolani.

Xolani was a very shy lioness most of the time, but for various, yet unknown, reasons she seemed to be opening up ever so slightly. She was a bit smaller than Nala, but not by much. Her fur was a golden yellow, possibly rivaling Sarafina‘s, but the hair on the end of her tail was a much darker shade of brown. And her eyes were very unique, they were a dark green with a hint of blue, with an orange ring around the green. It reminded Monjaru of, well, his own eyes…

“And over there, said Nala, pointing to the cub who had been looking at him all through the meeting, “that is Uzuri. She usually doesn’t talk much, not to anyone, not even us. So you should probably just leave her alone.

As she and Xolani turned to walk away, Monjaru did exactly the opposite. He went straight over and struck a conversation. At least he tried to, it didn’t seem to work at first but eventually she gave in and cooperated.

“So, uh, why were you staring at me? he asked bluntly.

“What?

“You know, back there, at the meeting. You were looking at me the whole time.

“Ok, first off, how would you know I was lookin at you the whole time unless you were looking at me the whole time?

“Well… every time I looked at you, you were lookin at me. Better?

“Barely. Anyway, I wasn’t even looking at you. she replied irritably.

Oh really? Well then what were you looking at?

“I was looking at your-- she hesitated, “at your aura.

“My what? he replied, absolutely baffled.

“Your aura, she reiterated, “Look, can you keep a secret?

“Yeah, sure. But what is an aura?

“Well, you know how most of us see, the animals, their fur, their eyes, yada yada yada?

“Yeah, so?

“Let’s just say that I see all of that, plus a little bit…more. I don’t just see all of that, I see colors. Not your average brown and tan, I see blues, and purples, and reds…” she said coyly.

“So what exactly does all of this have to do with you looking at mine?

“Well, your aura, its…strange, I guess.

“Gee, thanks. he remarked sarcastically.

“No, no. I mean that it’s not what I expected it to be. I’ve seen outlanders on a few occasions, and their auras all had a hint of blackness to them, some more than others. But yours, it doesn’t have that. It was just a little--surprising, that’s all.

“Really? So what does mine look like, if not your basic outlander?

“Actually, it looks more like a--a pridelander than anything else.

“Whaddya mean?

“What I mean is that your aura is not like the other outlanders I’ve seen, and that it looks more like the auras of the pridelanders.

Monjaru pondered this statement for a few moments before answering.

“So how exactly does it work? That is, your power.

“I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I think that each type of animal has its own color aura, but this color can be altered slightly depending on emotions.

“Do you constantly see these auras around everything, or can you like turn it off and on, you know, whenever you feel like it?

“Nope, or at least I haven’t found out how to yet. Besides, I don’t mind. An aura only surrounds the frame of the animal, it doesn’t take up the whole thing.

By this point in their conversation, the other cubs had become intrigued and had all gathered around to hear what Uzuri was talking about. Of course, they didn’t understand much because they had missed a good portion of the talk, but even still, they could not believe what they were hearing.

“Cool! shouted Simba out of the blue. “What color is my aura?!

“Well, all of the lions of Pride Rock have red auras, but yours is tinted dark blue, probably because you are excited. And Nala, yours…is a bright pink. Hmm, I wonder why? she remarked mockingly. She glanced at Monjaru and chuckled.

Fortunately Monjaru was still spacing, so he didn’t seem to take notice of the comment.

“Ha ha, very funny. How about I scratch that big mouth of your off, then we‘ll see how funny it is. she threatened.

“Hey, don’t take it out on me cuz you have a crush on him. I mean, I don’t blame ya, he is definitely better than the boys we’ve got here. she said looking back at Simba and Diallo, who had gone back to their activities in the dirt. “They are just too easily amused, I mean, look at how pathetic they look drawing little pictures in the dirt, its almost embarrassing.

“Yeah, I guess I have to agree with ya on that one.

The three girls looked at the pair of males and laughed, then turned to see Monjaru still gazing at who knows what. Nala and Xolani silently concluded to see what was on his mind. Uzuri, still not interested in being friends with anyone, decided to go take a nap instead. Nala walked up with Xolani close behind. Monjaru didn’t even seem to notice their approach.

“Alright, so what’s up Monjaru? You haven’t said a word in a while, you haven’t even laughed at any of the jokes we’ve said, what happened to that good ol’ sense of humor I remember? Nala asked him.

He didn’t move a muscle.

“Hey, what wrong with you? Didn’t you hear me? she asked him quite confused.

She turned back to the Xolani, shrugged, then looked back at Monjaru. His body had remained in the same position, but his eyes were now closed. Strangely, they could both see a faint light eminating from the bottom of his eyelids. As they stared at the odd light, Monjaru’s eyes slowly opened until they were completely open agai n. As he did, the cubs’ mouths flew wide open. Neither could think of anything to say, that is, until Xolani finally broke the silence.

“Um, I think that something is wrong with Monjaru. So maybe we should, like, RUN! she shouted as the two cubs sprinted as fast as they could back to the front side of Pride Rock.

All the screaming had startled both Diallo and Simba. Not sure what had just happened, they walked up to Monjaru, whose back was turned to them. As they walked around to the other side, they saw what had scared the girls so much. Both of them jumped back, equally alarmed by the sight that they beheld.

“Simba, his eyes, they’re--they’re glowing!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“……………..am I…am I dreaming? he thought.

Monjaru awoke to find himself in a vast area of blackness. Everything was dark and he appeared to be standing on nothing, no ground, no floor, just darkness.

“I hear a voice…but I can’t quite tell what it’s saying…”

A very odd presence moved about in this place, but Monjaru could not figure out what it could be. He thought that he could hear a voice calling him, but it was very silent and hardly distinguishable. It said…

“Monjaru.

“But wait, this voice sounds so familiar…I just can’t put my paw on it. Hmm….. he rubbed his head and closed his eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Monjaru..Monjaru..Monjaru! a familiar voice yelled.

“Huh..what? Oh my head…”

“Hey guys! He’s coming around! Monjaru, what happened?

“Huh? Oh, I was..dreaming, I think. Ow, but why does my head hurt?

“Well, Nala sighed, “Diallo got freaked out and started shrieking, it was kinda creepy, but anyway, at first you just sat there but after a couple of seconds you kinda fell. You know, just sorta plopped down on the ground. You still didn’t move, you were still in the same position, just…on the ground. It was ki nda freaky, you scared us a little bit.

“Heh, you’re such a lioness, Diallo.

“What’s THAT supposed to mean? Uzuri replied angrily.

“Well, it’s just a fact that the males are stronger than the females. I mean, I don’t know about those two, he said pointing to Simba and Diallo, “but I know I’m stronger than any female. he boasted.

“Really, said Nala, “how bout we put that little theory of yours to the test, then?

“Fine by me.

The two cubs circled one another for a moment to see if either one would strike, but when neither one did for a while, Monjaru made the first move. He sprinted at her with all his might, she saw this and just smiled and went along with it. Monjaru read this though and as Nala flipped him over he continued leaning forward with all that he could muster and managed to pull off exactly what he had planned to. He continued the roll and put himself on top. Feeling proud of himself, he forgot that the fight still dragged on, for though Nala was pinned, she did not give in so easily. While Monjaru sat proudly on top, overjoyed that his tactic had worked, Nala gave him a weak kick to the underbelly, winding him slightly. She then lept up and onto the stunned < /FONT>cub, who was still not sure what had happened, and pinned him.

The others looked on with amusement as the two wrestled for the spot on top, the fight going back and forth until both had begun rolling around the small ‘arena’. Neither one wanting to give in to the other, they continued to roll until they began heading straight for the cliff face, leading to a straight drop to the bottom of Pride Rock. The onlookers shouted in dismay as the two rolled straight to the edge, though much to their surprise and relief, stopped with Monjaru on top. Not to be outdone, Nala began the rolling again in the opposite direction. This time they were headed towards a large boulder, unfortunately for the pair of warring cubs they both collided, one on top of the other, into the rock, hitting their sides and heads. They quickly released their grips and fell in a < /FONT>heap on top of one another, dazed from the impact.

For a short while, no one spoke. No one moved either. Nala and Monjaru, still laying in a pile, and the other cubs staring in total bafflement. Though the silence didn’t last long.

“Whoa! That was cool, yo! Could you do an instant replay of that? cried Diallo, padding up to the weary cubs.

The two slowly opened their eyes, glared at the overenthusiastic lion, and nodded to one another, quickly following their nods with hard cuffs to his bottom left jaw. He winced in a mix of pain and surprise.

“I guess not, huh? he asked stupidly.

Nala and Monjaru looked back up at him as if to strike again, but this time Diallo saw them and backed out of range.

The two got to their feet, stumbling over each other as they did, and walked back to the group. Content with their need to wrestle, they decided to give Monjaru the ‘grand tour’. Although, Pride Rock was not that big a place to explore, but with a little prodding, the cubs managed to pull Nala’s mother, Sarafina, away from her afternoon nap to take them around the savannah. She brought them to the waterhole, where Monjaru, oblivious to the others fear, took a little dip. He wasn’t even sure why he was such a good swimmer, it just came naturally, as he told them. After being tackled by Nala and the girls, dog piled by the boys, and scolded by Sarafina he was forced to apoligize for scaring everyone and the tour continued.

“Um, hey, Miss…Sarafina? Monjaru asked timidly.

“Hm? she responded slightly amused by his addressal.

“I was just wondering, what would you like me to call you? You know, like, since I don’t know you very well.

“Well-- she began, “your mother’s name is Carolyn, correct?

“Wait a minute, how do you know my mom? he questioned curiously.

“You have her eyes, Monjaru. They are nearly identical to my sister’s.

“SISTER’S?! Are you serious? My mom is your sister? But that would mean that you’re my--

“Aunt, yes. So I suppose you could call me Aunt Sarafina.

Monjaru’s shouting had attracted the attention of the others, who had become quite enthralled by this fascinating discovery.

“But wait mom, said Nala, “wouldn’t that also make him and I--

“Cousins, right again.

“Wow, and to think that she had a crush on-- Uzuri began before being elbowed in the chest by Nala, who smiled nervously.

She turned her head slightly towards Uzuri and whispered something through clenched teeth. “Why did you even come today? Why couldn’t you have just stayed at Pride Rock like you usually do when we go out? Nala asked cynically. “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know how to answer that, but it doesn’t matter anyway, was her reply. Uzuri turned back to the others and grinned, they all grinned back because they all knew what Nala was going to say. Nala stared around, first at Monjaru, who stared back at her oddly, then to her mother, who was chuckling under her breath, and finally at her friends, all of whom still wore their smug grins. Nala became a bit uneasy and couldn’t help but blush slightly. “Had he heard them? Did I stop Uzuri too late? she pondered in her mind.

Though much to her relief, Monjaru simply shrugged and padded in the direction they were headed, the rest smiled for a moment more, then followed. When they were a bout ten feet away she let out an exasperated sigh, shook her head, and fast walked to catch up with the group.

The next stop on their trip was a large field filled with boulders of all shapes and sizes. There were some that even led to small underground burrows that< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow">, unfortunately for the cubs, were too small to explore. And Simba knew this all too well, he told them, recalling the time he had tried to hide inside one and got himself stuck. He would have suffocated within minutes had Xolani not found him with half of his body still outside the hole kicking

and squirming. She still would not let him live that down, and probably never would. But regardless, the game to play here was without a doubt, hide and pounce.

The object was very similar to hide and seek, only instead of pointing a finger and making fun of someone you found, you instead snuck up and, as the name suggests, pounce on those you find. A very simple, yet very fun way to pass the time on a good day like today. And there was no place< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> better than…Leo stone Field. A vast boulder field surrounded by endless grassland, except for Pride Rock, which was just barely visable on a misty day. But today it < FONT FACE="Arial Narrow">was clearly noticeable in the distant southeast.

“Alright, we’re here! shouted Simba.

“What, you just can’t wait to get stuck in the ground? Again? Xolani replied.

“Shut up about that already! That was a long time ago!

“Oh please, try a week, she returned coolly.

Everyone laughed. Everyone, except for Simba of course, who glared intensely at Xolani.

“Knock it off, why can’t you just behave like good cubs? Sarafina pleaded.

“Where’s the fun in that? asked Uzuri.

“Well, life’s not all about having fun or getting your way.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun while we live, right? Monjaru responded slyly.

“No, I suppose I can’t argue with that.

“So, what are we gonna do? asked Xolani.

“How bout hide and pounce?

“I’m game.

“Me too.

“Sounds cool to me.

Those who didn’t respond, shrugged or nodded.

“So how are we going to decide who’s it ?

“Well we could have a wrestling contest.

“Nah, that’ll take too long.

“Wait a minute! The last time we played, Diallo was it when we stopped, so he should be it.

“No way, he protested, “newcomer’s it! he shouted pointing to Monjaru.

“Ok, whatever. he replied indifferently.

And that decided it. Monjaru lay down, closed his eyes, and started counting. As he began, the others quickly ran off in all directions, seeking a place to hide. After about a minute,

Monjaru opened his eyes and began to scan the landscape around him. He raised his nose slightly and sniffed the air, quickly recognizing Nala’s scent, he darted into the grass.

With his nose now to the ground, he slowly crept around boulder after boulder until he found one with the scent of her fur all over it. He circled it once to see if he could find an easy way up, fortunately he found one side which was much lower than the others, and even better, she must< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> have crawled on her belly to get up because her odor eminated from the path up. As silently as he could, he slunk up the side of the rock, hugging the warm stone beneath him. Moments later, he discovered a small hole near the top where she must be hiding. He silently pounced into the hole only to find that their was no one there, the smell of her fur danced in the air, but she was nowhere to be found.

“Shoot, it was just a set up. She musta known I’d come after her first and sent me on a wild goose chase. Who knows where she could be now? he thought to himself.

From his perch on top of the rock he once again scanned the area. From where he stood, he could just make out the movements of a shadow in the grass a few yards away. Sneaking back to ground level, he started off in the direction of the shadow. He could only guess who it was, as he was only familiar with Nala’s smell. Slowly moving in on the unknown creature, Monjaru broke into a run, tackling the unwary cub.

“Heh, guess ya caught me, huh?

“Looks that way.

It was Xolani. She had been stalking through the field, still trying to find a good place to hide.

“Oh well, I’m comin after you first next game.

“Nice to know. he retorted.

She smiled and started off towards the open area where Sarafina awaited those who were caught. Feeling a bit more confident, Monjaru continued his search. Before too long, he was hot on someones trail, he had tracked them to a small cave-like opening in an enormous rock. He walked inside and carefully surveyed any possible hiding spot. Almost instantly, he heard a sneeze from above, echoing through the cave, which caused him to jump. He sat silently for a moment, until he made out two voices accompanying the sneeze.

“Shut up, Simba! the first voice whispered.

“Sorry, but this place is full of dust and..and..a-choo! he said sneezing again.

“Well just hold it in, you’re gonna give us away!

“Give who away? Monjaru asked them, grinning widely.

“Give us away, duh……oh, shoot.

Monjaru leapt into the crevice where the two were hiding, pinning Simba beneath him, and Diallo beneath Simba. Then he triumphantly hopped down and left.

“You idiot. Diallo said, kicking Simba in the back of the head.

As Monjaru strolled out of the cave, he picked up an all too familiar scent. So as not to make her suspicious, he purposely strayed into the grasses behind< FONT FACE="Arial Narrow"> her.

A few yards away, Nala lay at the edge of the grass, waiting and watching. But not ten seconds had passed from when Monjaru entered the grass, did she feel the warm breath of a lion on the back of her neck. For a moment, she sat still, hoping that it would pass on, but it was not so. She turned around to see Monjaru standing tall and smirking back at her.

“Oh man, I guess you found me, she said backing away, “that means I have to-- but she would not finish her sentence.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on there. This is hide and pounce, is it not? he told her with a hint of sneakiness in his voice.

“Yeah, I-- but she wouldn’t finish this one either.

Before she could, Monjaru barreled into her side, sending her sprawling to the ground. They rolled a few times, laughing the whole way, until they came to a stop and Monjaru stepped off of his second to last victim. She sighed and trotted over to her mother and the others. Monjaru turned back to the grassland, overconfident and completely off guard for what happened next. Seemingly from nowhere, Uzuri launched herself at him, pinning him on his back.

“Hey, I thought I was supposed to find you! he exclaimed.

“Well, I didn’t feel like waiting for you. Besides, you wouldn’t have found me anyway. And so I decided to hide and pounce. she responded energetically.

“The round’s over then. Ok, I got Xolani first, so she’s it next.

“Actually, interrupted Sarafina, “it’s getting dark fast, so we should really start heading back.

It was true. Though Monjaru had done a good job in finding everyone, the game had still taken a good few hours. Besides, it was a long walk back, and not a pleasant one at night. For the cubs, that is.

“Alright then, tomorrow or whenever we come here again, Xolani’s it, Monjaru announced.

“You can’t just give in like that, Monjaru. One thing you’ll find out is that you can convince most of the adults to let you stay longer. Diallo whispered.

As he silently explained to Monjaru, Sarafina, already catching the gist of his conversation, walked up to Diallo, picked him up by the scruff of his neck in her mouth and began her way back to Pride Rock.

“Aww, come on, I was just kidding, he pleaded, “I can walk home on my own.

“You can’t just give in like that, Diallo, I’m sure she’