Characters that you see in The Lion King are not owned by me – the rest, are. Story summary: While Simba is out dealing with royal duties, Nala is given a day off to keep an eye on the Pridelands. However, she stumbles upon the word "INPOM," and decides to discover what it means.
"BrrÉ" shivered Nala, as she came inside Pride Rock. She shook her coat off. "I get why it rains, but does it have to be so cold?" she asked out loud.
"You should have came to the oasis," replied Timon from a dark corner in the cave, "the rain was warmer there."
"YeahÉI think I'll pass," said Nala back. She then frowned. "What are you two doing inside anyways? It's raining out – that makes all the worms come up."
"It's been raining all day," said Pumbaa, joining in the conversation, "we're already stuffed."
Nala chuckled lightly. "I never thought you guys stopped eating," she said, "its news to me that you have a limit."
"Hah hah hah," said Timon sarcastically, "well, we do. We have other things that keep us entertained."
Nala raised an eyebrow. "Really?" she asked. "Like what?"
Timon and Pumbaa were stumped for an answer.
Nala smirked and sat down.
"I'm waiting," she said.
"WellÉumÉokay," said Timon, "we ehÉwe play eye-spy."
"Eye-spy?" asked Nala, grinning.
"Yes," replied Timon. "Haven't you heard of it? It's a great game."
"Of course I have," said Nala back, "I just don't see how it's possible to play it here in Pride Rock. All there is is rock," she explained, looking around the room to check she hadn't missed anything.
"Oh, we can improvise more than that," retorted Timon. "Ready Pumbaa?"
"NotÉreally," replied the warthog.
"I spy with my little eye something beginning with i."
"Oh, that's easy Timon," replied Pumbaa.
"Good," replied the meerkat, smugly turning back towards Nala, "what is it?"
Timon whirled around to face Pumbaa. Nala stared at him.
"Would you mind telling us what INPOM is?" asked Nala.
"EhÉI don't know what it is," replied the warthog, "but it's written here," he said, pointing at the wall.
Slowly, Nala began to make her way towards the back wall. Timon stared up too.
Indeed, they could both now see, the word INPOM was engraved into the wall, most likely by someone's claw. Not only that, but a box had been drawn around it. It obviously must have held some significance.
"Whoa, what a letter I picked!" exclaimed Timon, "you're right Pumbaa! It was INPOM!"
"What's INPOM?" asked Nala to herself.
"I don't know, but we won!" exclaimed Timon. "Woo hoo!"
"Okay, Jimbo," said Simba, turning towards the zebra, "you start first."
"Thank you, your majesty," replied Jimbo. "Well, as you know, our herd was one of the first ones to return to the Pridelands after Scar was defeated. We took this grazing field because we believed it had potential. We rationed ourselves for several days hoping that this field would soon turn to green. And it did! Then, this group of impala came along and took the grazing field to the north. I don't blame them, the grass was growing there pretty well. However, they forgot to ration, and thus they lost all of their grass. Now they've moved on down here, to our southern grazing field, because they don't have any food up there. My herd and I feel that they should not be allowed into this grazing field. Their presence and lack of self-restraint will rid of these greens within the week, which my herd worked so hard to preserve."
Greg, the lead impala, opened his mouth to interrupt, but he was cut off.
"Not only that," added Jimbo, bringing his voice level up, "but their presence will also attract more predators to this area, which will not be good to either of our herds." With that, Jimbo tightly shut his lip and nodded in Simba's direction.
Simba looked over towards the impala.
"Well, your majesty, I must first say that I do see Jimbo's concern with the fact that this area may soon become a predator-attracting environment, which is why I got you involved in it. I was hoping that you could make a predator pact with the other lions and cheetahs, promising not to hunt here as much. Now, going back to the whole rationing and land argument, I must say that the zebras did not ration as much as they say they did. On the other hand, our herd actually rationed quite a lot. Our numbers far exceed those of the zebra, so although we rationed, we still ran out of grass just because our portion of land was smaller. The only reason Jimbo and his crew haven't used up all of their grass is because they have a lower number in their herd, and a much bigger and richer grazing field, and our herd and I believe we should be free to use it." With that, Greg nodded in Simba's direction
This time, Simba returned the nod.
"I can make a predator pact," he replied.
Jimbo's jaw dropped. "Your majesty, you're surely not allowing them into our grazing field?"
"The grazing fields belong to everyone, I'm afraid," replied Simba, turning to Jimbo, "there's nothing to stop them from coming in. Really it's not my job to have much of a say in a situation such as this, but I will say thisÉthe grass in the northern grazing field will grow back. Jimbo, there's nothing stopping your herd from spreading out into that field when it does so. Honestly, all I see is one giant grazing field. If the impala do eat all the grass then I'll come back and we can sort out something elseÉ"
"But by then it will be too late!" exclaimed Jimbo.
"Ébut I don't think that should become a concern," added Simba. "This grazing field is richer, it is bigger, and I don't see why you can't still split up in this field into two smaller parts. You can still keep your distance, I'm sure."
"Hmph," replied Jimbo, "you wouldn't be saying the same thing if we were dealing with the Pridelands."
"The Pridelands are more of a governing system that an eating one," Simba snapped back with a hint of anger in his voice, "but even our lands are taken and then expanded on the outskirts to nobody's knowledge. When it becomes a problem, we fight. Right now, what I'm seeing hereÉis really not a problem."
"Thank you, your majesty," replied Greg, the impala. "Come on, Jimbo. We should let him go. I'm sure he has other things to attend too."
Simba nodded in agreement. "Have to sort out negotiations on the northern border actually," he replied, "let me know if there's anything else I can do to help. I'll make sure I get that predator pact made sometime this week."
And with that, Simba whirled around and began to walk away, leaving a chuffed impala and a disgruntled zebra left behind him.
As the lion began to make his way north, Zazu came flying down from the sky to greet him.
"Good day sire," said the hornbill, landing at his feet.
Simba stopped walking.
"How did it go?" Zazu asked.
Simba sighed. "I hate taking sides," he replied. "I usually like it when we come to a compromise, but Greg won this one. The impala have every right to integrate."
"Are you going to make a predator pact?"
"Sometime this week, yeah."
"Jolly good." Zazu clapped his wings together. "Seems like you made the right decision to me, sire."
Simba checked back over his shoulder. Even though Jimbo was far away enough to not be able to hear them, Simba could still tell that he was not happy with the way things had turned out.
"Is there anything I could do for you, sire?" asked the hornbill hesitantly.
Simba ran his question through his head for a second, before he realized that yes, there was something Zazu could do for him.
"You might want to go and tell Nala," replied Simba. "She has the right to know what's going on."
Zazu nodded. "Very well, sire," he said, and with that he flew off.
The good thing about rain, from Nala's perspective, was that it made it easier to get to the waterhole. She didn't have to bend down as much to lap up the dirty water from the bottom. That, and, given that the lands had still been Scar's less than two months ago, rain did help their drought situation. The herds were returning.
Zazu found the beige-colored lioness drinking from the waterhole, which had leveled off now that it had stopped raining.
"Good day Madam," said Zazu as he landed next to Nala's feet.
"Zazu! A rather pleasant surprise. What brings you here?"
"Simba just wanted to keep you updated on the latest goings-on."
"Alright," replied Nala. "Let's hear it."
"Well basically he decided to allow the herds to integrate. He is also going to go ahead with the predator pact."
Nala smiled. "I'll alert the hunting party," she replied. "Thank you Zazu."
"You're welcome Madam. So what's on your agenda for the day?"
Nala shrugged. "Simba has to go out of the Pridelands sometime this evening. He wants me to stay here just in case anything happens." She then frowned. "Zazu, you wouldn't happen to know what INPOM is, would you?"
Zazu returned Nala's bewildered expression. "Never heard of it," the hornbill replied, "I will ask his majesty to see if he knows."
Nala chuckled. "Zazu, his name's Simba."
"Ah, right you are Madam," replied the hornbill smiling.
Nala rolled her eyes.
"I shall go find out," finished Zazu. With that, he took back off into the sky.
Nala smiled as she watched the hornbill depart, but then caught sight of a nearby tree by the waterhole.
Something didn't look quite normal.
Out of curiosity, the lioness made her way over towards the tree.
She was only a few paces away when she first saw it.
"Huh," she said to herself, looking at the bark.
"IÉehÉI don't know why I'm telling you thisÉbecause I gain to benefit if I don'tÉbutÉuhÉyou realize that that is one hundred acres, right?"
"Right," replied Simba.
"You also realize that the land you are giving me is three hundred acres, right?"
"Is your pride really that desperate?"
"HmmÉ" replied Simba, "Éit's best to play it on the safe side. Since this is a distant boundary we're not too concerned with it honestly."
The other lion just stared at King Simba for a few seconds, just waiting for him to change his mind.
"You can stare at me like that all day," said Simba.
"Aha," replied the other lion. "Well King Simba, if this is really what you want, then I'm not going to argue."
As a response, Simba held his paw out.
The other lion reached out his paw and shook that of Simba's.
"Glad we could come to an agreement," said Simba.
Simba let go of the other lion's paw and set his own down. "Well, I can't stay. Porcupines need to see me down south."
"Ah, well do be careful. Porcupines aren't the nicest of critters, you know."
"Thanks for the heads up," replied Simba. "Well, see you around."
"Certainly," replied the other lion, and with that they departed ways.
Simba had barely taken two steps, however, when Zazu came swooping down in front of him.
"Hello again sire."
"Perfect timing," said Simba, "just made the exchange with the Northern pride."
Zazu sighed. "One hundred acres gained, three hundred lost. Are you sure that's what you wanted, sire?"
"It's what we need," replied Simba seriously, "Nala and I talked for ages about whether we should do it or not. She knows lots more about the prey around here than I do. The land we just gained is where all the herds are now. The three hundred we lost is barren right now, but eventually the herds will migrate over there. Unfortunately we're still feeling the effects of Scar's reign. We need the good landsnow."
"And hopefully by the time the herds migrate, we'll have plenty elsewhere."
"Exactly," replied Simba.
"So since you've spoken with Nala about this, I guess she doesn't need to be informed?" asked Zazu.
Simba shook his head 'no.' "Let her know that it's happened," he said, "that'll reassure her. How did she feel about the integration?"
"She seemed pleased. You did the right thing, sire."
"Thanks Zazu. Yeah, so if you could just let her know and check that everything's going okay, that would be great."
"Yes sire," replied Zazu. He gave a bow, and then took off.
Second to rain, thought Nala, variable winds are just the worstÉ
The lioness was finding it very difficult to position herself in a position that would not attract the attention of a nearby hare.
Yeah, the food supply was good in the Pridelands, and so it was not really necessary for Nala to go after this hareÉbut she couldn't deny it, they tasted really nice.
Finally, Nala felt she had gotten within a good striking distance. She paused, checking to make sure that everything was still okay for her to strike.
The conditions were good, and the odds were in her favor.
Nala smirkedÉand then sheÉ
"Aha, there you are Madam!"
"WhoaÉZazu! Zazu, I'm hunting!"
"You are?" asked Zazu, befuddled, "I don't see anythingÉ"
Nala peered around the hornbill just in time to see the hare run into a burrow. The lioness ran around the side of him and made her way up to the hole. She then began frantically digging into the dirt.
"UmÉMadamÉwhatever you were chasingÉI believe it has gone."
Nala stopped digging and sniffed the entrance to the burrow. There wasn't a strong scent coming from anywhere.
She sighed. Zazu was right. It wasn't worth it.
With her eyes closed, she stood back up.
"What is it Zazu? And please make it quick, I'd like to try and find something else soon."
"UmÉwell, Simba thought you should know that the negotiations with the Northern Pride went according to plan."
Nala opened her eyes and looked down at the hornbill.
"That's it? That's what I lost my lunch for?"
"Simba insisted that I inform you," replied Zazu.
Nala rolled her eyes. "Well could you please tell Simba that I do not need to be informed of every little thing, please?" she asked. "It can wait until tonight. And did you find out if he knew what INPOM meant?"
"EhÉI forgot," admitted the hornbill, chuckling in hopes of lightening up the situation.
"Don't worry about it," Nala reassured him, "just let him know not to send me any more messages, okay? Unless it's urgent."
"As you wish, Madam," replied Zazu, and with that he flew off.
Nala looked back around to face the burrow, still bummed that she had missed out on a good meal. It was then that she realized that there may still be hope, though.
There was a small rise right in front of her, and on the other side it looked like it came down rather quickly. Perhaps she was staring at the back of a small cave?
Hesitantly, she moved away from the burrow and began to move around the hill. Perhaps this would be the best way to get to her meal.
She caught a glimpse of rock on the other side. She was now certain it was a cave, and when she peered her head around the corner, what she saw made her gasp.
No, there weren't any hares. Nor were there spiders, bats, abandoned cubs or, in fact, any kind of creature.
In fact, all that Nala could find in the cave, was the word "INPOM" written over and over and over...
"We are aware sir that the overthrow of King Scar has been a blessing for the entire Pridelands, but that is why we are so hopeful you will understand our point. Although we porcupines agree with the new irrigation system, we must reserve a part of the Pridelands as dust lands, so that us porcupines and other rodents can use it as camouflage. Our numbers are simply dwindling too much elsewhere."
"Agreed," replied Simba, although slightly skeptical, "but how much land do you want? If we make your dust lands too small all the predators will know to find you here. But you guys feed on trees, so you must want some greenery nearby."
"We believe an adequate piece of land would stretch from that hill over there," began the porcupine, as Simba turned his head around to get a glimpse of the hill, "to this tree over here," he continued, Simba followed, "and then back to our side of the Eastern waterhole, so it would be a triangle, if you will."
Simba nodded. "I think that would do the trick," he confirmed. "I will be sure to alert the elephants not to bring water to these lands."
"Thank you, your majesty," replied the porcupine, reaching his small arm out to shake Simba's large one.
Simba was extremely hesitant to return the shake. He had never actually dealt with a porcupine before. Yet slowly, he moved his much larger paw out and moved it up and down with that of the porcupine. It seemed much safer this way than an actual handshake would. Those spikes looked like something he did not want to get pricked by.
The porcupine smiled and then turned away, anxious to tell his fellow porcupines the good news.
As the porcupine left, Zazu joined the scene.
"Please keep those guys happy," Simba told Zazu, "they really don't look like creatures that I want to mess with." He shuddered.
"Aha," replied Zazu in agreement, "so what's going on here?"
"You know how we have the elephants helping us to irrigate the lands so the grass will grow?"
"Well the porcupines don't like it. They'd much rather have the dust to help them remain hidden, so this spot of land is going to be kept as a reserve for them."
"Ah, jolly good," replied Zazu.
"Can you go and tell Nala to make sure that the elephants don't try and irrigate here? Like I said, I really don't want to tick these guys off."
Zazu chuckled. "Funny you mention Nala. I had a message from her."
"Oh," said Simba, rather intrigued. "What?"
"Madam would appreciate it if we did not relay messages to her during the day unless it was urgent."
Simba frowned. "Really? I thought she would know that she needs to remain informed."
"If you believe that this situation is significant enough for me to relay a message to her, I will."
Simba ran the thought through his head for a few seconds. "HmmÉwhat do you think?" he asked.
"Me?" asked Zazu back, a little surprised that Simba was inquisitive of his opinion. "WellÉ" began Zazu, chuckling a little bit, "ÉI will admit that the last time I reported to Nala, I disrupted one of her huntsÉ"
Simba rolled his eyes. "Well you didn't tell me that part," he said. "She was just in the heat of the moment. Don't worry about it Zazu. Tell her. Just make sure that she's not hunting this time."
"As you say, sire," replied Zazu. Without further question, the hornbill flew off again into the distance.
Nala sat with another lioness, a cheetah, an okapi and a vulture with a twisted neck.
Nala watched as a wounded armadillo walked out of the west part of the baobab tree.
"Next!" exclaimed Rafiki, calling into his waiting room.
Well, the armadillo was the patient that Nala had came in behind. Apparently it was her turn now.
The lioness got up and made her way over towards Rafiki's medical area.
"Ah, hello Nala!"
"Good day Rafiki."
"How could old Rafiki help Madam today?"
"WellÉ" began Nala, trying to speak in his language, "Éold Rafiki could for one, help me decipher the meaning of a certain word or acronym. And two, he could try and stop me from going insane, because I keep seeing here word or acronym, everyÉeveryÉ" Nala gulped, "everywhere."
"Is something wrong?" asked Rafiki, looking at Nala's pale face, "you look like you've seen a ghost."
Nala tried to swallow a lump in her throat. "UmÉR—RafikiÉumÉhowÉhow did that get there?" she asked, pointing at the word "INPOM" on a piece of bark behind him.
Rafiki turned around and saw the word.
"HmmÉ" he began.
Nala took a deep breath. If Rafiki could make it all make sense to her, then perhaps she would feel better about it now.
Rafiki turned back around to face her.
"ÉI don't know," he said.
At this, Nala panicked and whirled around. She was really getting creeped out now. Although she was sure that a lion had made the markings, she was hoping that Rafiki would have known if "INPOM" was an old lion's name, or a famous acronym that stood for something.
But then, she thought again, if I've only just seen it todayÉperhaps it's something recent. Perhaps Rafiki isn't my answer.
"Nala, do you need help?"
"UmÉsureÉ" replied the lioness, "ÉI just ehÉI need to go outside for a bit," she said, pointing to the outskirts of the tree.
Rafiki nodded. "Go," he said.
Nala did so. Within seconds, she was down on the ground and away from the word "INPOM."
"Ah, Nala!" exclaimed Zazu, "hope you're not hunting this time."
"No," replied the lioness, "Zazu, you've got to help me out."
"Certainly," replied Zazu, "but first Simba believes it's necessary that you know not to let the elephants irrigate the lands near the Eastern waterhole."
Nala forgot about her concerns, and she frowned at Zazu. "Zazu, what did I tell you about not telling me anything?"
"His majesty insisted."
Nala sighed. "Alright, you know what, let me talk to him. Maybe he can help me out with this whole INPOM thing."
Zazu patted his wings together nervously. "I'm afraid that won't work right now, Madam."
"He's gone on to oversee the pride treaty to the South."
"Well then I'll wait for his at the border," replied Nala. "I don't mind."
This is pointless, thought Simba, watching the conversation take place.
Two kings of rival prides were standing face-to-face with the rest of their pride members behind them. They had been at war since Simba was a cub, but now they had decided to agree to a treaty.
In order to make the other prides aware of the treaty, all of the kings from their adjacent prides had been called to the discussion. This way, if either king broke the treaty, the other prides would know who to blame.
I could be doing so much more right now.They're just blabbing on.
I should probably listen.
Who cares? It's pretty simple. Whoever invades whoever's territory, we group up and go to war with.
Perhaps it's more complicated than that. I should probably still listen.
Finally, Simba heard one of the lions say the word "agreed?"
"Agreed," replied his former foe.
ThenÉthey shook paws.
The group around Simba cheered. In order to not look like a jerk, Simba began to clap.
That's it, I'm out of here!
Simba was now heading to do his final task of the day: measure the depth of the waterhole.
The numbers so far had been promising. On average, the water had been making an upward progress on his arm as time had passed. He was hopefully today would yield the same results.
The lion looked up.
He smiled. "Nala. How glad it is to see you."
Simba was not close enough to tellÉbut Nala was still frowning.
"Mind telling me why you didn't pay attention to Zazu?" she asked.
Simba hadn't expected that, but he had an answer ready. "Nala, you're queen. It's only right for you to remain informed."
"Not about every little detail!" retorted the lioness, "it's an undue burden on Zazu!"
"He doesn't mind. And besides, what if I do something wrong? I need someone to be able to correct me."
At this, Nala finally smiled. "Simba," she stated, "I trust your judgment, okay? If I didn't, I'd come with you more often, and leave somebody else in charge."
"So do you trust my judgment on having Zazu feed you news?" asked Simba.
Nala opened her mouth to respond, but then realized Simba had trapped her. Whether she said 'yes' or 'no,' Simba could point out her fallacy.
"You got me there," she admitted. "SimbaÉI guess the best thing I can do is make you understand this. You're a great king. Much better than Scar, much better than any of the others bordering our lands. It is an undue burden for Zazu, and it is an inconvenience for me, if all you are sending him out for is to make sure that I approve of what you are doing. AndÉSimba, are you even listening to me?"
"Kinda," replied the lion, looking up from the ground, "I started drawing."
"Well stopÉ" began Nala, moving her paw over to sweep Simba's drawing away. It was then, however, that she realized just exactly what Simba had been drawing.
Her jaw dropped. "INPOM."
"Yeah," replied Simba, "don't worry about it, it doesn't mean anyÉ"
"INPOM. Simba, you know how many times I've seen that word today?"
"It's been everywhere! I've found it in Pride Rock, the waterhole, Rafiki's tree, and it was written all over the walls of a small cave! What does it mean?"
Simba smiled. "Nala, really. Don't worry about it. You'd be disappointed if I told you."
"But I'm freaking out while you're not telling me."
"It's nothing to freak out about."
"If you didn't want me to ask, why did you put it next to our bed?"
"Please stop using logic. You have an annoying habit of doing that."
"Is it something you needed to remember? I mean, you've been busy today. You integrated the herds, negotiated with the northern pride, dealt with the porcupines, oversaw the treaty, and now you're off to measureÉwait, that is it, isn't it? Integrate – Negotiate – Porcupines – Oversee – Measure – INPOM – is that all it was?"
"EhÉactually no, that's just a very weird coincidence."
"Well then what is it?" asked Nala, almost laughing. "Come on, Simba. I really want to know."
Simba beamed back at Nala. "You have no idea how great it is to see you smile."
"I'd be smiling a lot more if you told me what it meant!"
"I can wait," replied Simba. "Anyways, I'm off to measure the waterhole. It's starting to get dark now, I think I'll meet you back at Pride Rock."
Nala shook her head. "If you insist," she replied. "Don't send Zazu to tell me how deep the water is."
Simba laughed. "Measuring isn't a decision, Nala," he replied, "I don't need to check if you're proud of me for that."
"Proud of you? Simba!" Nala exclaimed. This time she did laugh. "Simba, of course I'm proud of you! No matter what you do. You really don't need to be asking 'is Nala proud ofÉofÉis NalaÉ" and with that, Nala's jaw dropped. "Is Nala Proud Of Me?" she asked.
Simba nodded. "INPOM," he replied, smiling. He continued to stare at Nala for a few seconds. However, it then occurred to him that Nala's lower jaw was beginning to look a little unnatural.
"UmÉNalaÉare you okay?"
Thankfully to Simba, Nala moved her jaw back up, and she took a deep breath.
"I don't know whether to slap you for being so stupid, or to hug you for being so cute."
Simba frowned. "I'd prefer the second," he said. "Explain."
"The fact that you regard me highly enough that you deem it necessary to ensure I approve of every single, little thing you do, is adorable," commented Nala, but she then shook her head, "but highly unnecessary."
"Oh," replied Simba.
Nala finally chuckled and moved in towards Simba. She licked him on the cheek.
"I'm always proud of you," she whispered into his ear, "no matter what."
Simba smiled and nuzzled his mate back.
Nala giggled as she rubbed her head into his mane.
"Alright, well now I'm off to the waterhole," stated Simba, "and I'll meet you back in Pride Rock."
"Mm hmm," replied Nala, not really paying attention. She was enjoying herself too much getting lost in Simba's hair.
"I'm off," stated Simba, and with that he departed.
Measuring the waterhole took quite a bit longer than Simba had anticipated, and when he got back it was already night. Everybody had already settled in to sleep.
He made his way on by the crowd of lionesses, and found his own lying up against the back wall.
Nala opened and eye and, upon seeing Simba, smiled.
Simba returned it.
He glanced up at the wall, thinking that maybe, since he now knew INPOM was 'unnecessary,' if there was a way to erase it.
However, his opinion then changed, as he saw a new word etched into the wall next to it.
"ISPOM," it said.
Simba grinned and looked down at Nala.
The lioness beamed back at him.
Simba lied down and wrapped himself around his mate.
"I see your point," he said quietly.
Nala chuckled. "What's that, dear?" she asked.
"ISPOM...is highly unnecessary."
"And INPOM's just a waste of time," replied Nala. "Just be yourself Simba, and you know I'll always be proud of you."