Part One: The Prince.
An extension of the Lion King
By Henry Hamilton.
Legal Note: This story is based upon the events that take place in the Disney Motion Picture "The Lion King". Elements taken directly from it are the property of the Walt Disney Company. Other characters taken from the Chronicles Of The Pride Lands Series are the property of Messrs. John H Burkitt and David A Morris. This story is distributed free of charge, and quoting passages, using elements from it or basing further stories on it is fine, subject to vetting by the author. To do so please send a copy of your work to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The Lion King was a movie like no other- its warmth and humour, but depth and tragedy as well moved me greatly when I first saw it in 1994. However, it was not for almost five years, when by accident I chanced upon the "Chronicles" series by Burkitt and Morris that I realised just how much I loved the background and characters that they and the film's authors had created. Even so, I felt that we know too little in detail about Simba, the Hero of the films, and thus I decided to write a story detailing more about his early life than anyone had done before. I also decided to enlarge upon the account of his time in the jungle, as described in the third part of "Chronicles"- "Shadow of the Makei" This was by far my favourite piece, and my favourite section, and so I decided to elaborate upon this. I hope that you are pleased with the results, O kind reader, and that I can recreate some of the feelings in you that I experienced when reading "Shadow" for the first time. I wish to thank Mr David Morris and Mr John Burkitt for giving me the reason for writing this, and hope that they will forgive me if I screw up their canonicity! This is NOT meant to be truly canonical- I just will use parts that I like. I would also like to thank Greg Ludgwick for his editorial comments and for offering to put this on his website- the boost I needed! And most of all, I would like to thank you for showing interest in the work of a new author. Asante Sana!
-Henry Hamilton, 25th march, 1999.
1. In this story I have changed the role of Mano. In "Shadow" he appeared in order to take away Mufasa's ka, and I have expanded him in this respect to make him a lot more like the angel of death. However, he is not a vindictive reaper, but is more like Terry Pratchett's Death character- one who cares deeply for his charges and is not afraid to change things if necesary.
2. In "the edge of life" I have presumed that the ka of Shanni is about the same age and size of Simba- that she grew in spirit after her death.
3. Lacking any real timescale from the film, I have presumed that Simba is about three or four months old at the time of the stampede. I have tried to give a relative timescale in the rest of the work.
4. Yes, I know that Simba did not have an obvious patch of dark fur at the back of his neck in the film, but then we never get a close up of that area, and if he comes from the same gene pool that produced Scar's black mane, who can say he did not have such a mark.
5. I must thank an old friend on whom the character of Camrath is based- he knows who he is, but you don't. So, for the record, thank you Adam, and I hope that you won't flame me for this. I also must thank my other friends for not laughing at me TOO hard when they found out what I was writing.
Chapter One. The Presentation.
The sun shone brightly. It was scarcely an hour after dawn, but already the news had spread across the wide savannah. Around the ancient spire of Pride Rock, a multitude of animals stood, silent in anticipation. The reason for their presence however was not aware of this. In the cave behind the promontory, Queen Sarabi lay, gazing contentedly at the small furry bundle that she cradled to her. It was her first child, a male who had been give the name of Simba. He lay nearly still in her arms, his soft golden fur streaked with liquids from the birth, but still beautiful and unblemished apart from a small dark patch at the back of his neck. Sighing contentedly, she gently licked at him, removing the traces of their combined struggle from his tiny young body. It had not been an easy labour, and her other cub, a pretty female, had never even taken a breath before she went to Ahieu's side. Her tiny body lay to the side of her mother, beautiful but still.
There was a commotion outside. Then, striding through the animals of all types came a strange figure, carrying a gnarled staff festooned with gourds; this was Rafiki, the mandrill baboon, a shaman and one of the King's most trusted friends.As he strode towards the rock the hordes of wildlife parted before him, some kneeling. He made his way to the entrance of the cave, where King Mufasa was standing, keeping watch over his wife and firstborn son. The baboon wrapped his long arms around the King's mighty neck in an embrace and Mufasa returned the gesture, before turning and leading the ape to his family.
As thay entered Simba turned to face this new sound, and his bleary infant eyes picked out the shape of the shaman as he shook his staff over the cub's head. Simba reached up and playfully but inaccurately batted at the gourds swinging gently over his head. Rafiki grinned as he then took one of the fruits, held it high above his head, and cracked it open. He dabbed his finger into the sticky red juice and the traced a thick line with it across the forehead of the bemused cub. Next he scooped up a handful of dust from the floor of the cave and lightly sprinkled it onto Simba, making his nose twitch. He sneezed gently, bringing a smile to the face of his proud parents, who were sitting behind him. Then the mandrill reached down and gently but firmly picked up the cub's pudgy body.
Holding him delicately he turned and clambered up towards the end of the promontory. As he did so, a wave of excitement surged through the masses of the animals. When he reached the very tip, he paused for a second then raised the cub up high above his head, presenting him to the world. As the new prince blinked groggily in the light of a brilliant sun beam all the animals, from elephant to meerkat knelt down before him, and a hundred different toungues gave vent to their joy at the sight of their King to be.
Chapter Two: Early Days.
The first moon of Simba's young life passed slowly in a delightful routine. He slept most of the first week, only waking to nurse feom his mother, but as he grew he began to slowly become more active. He explored the dark coolness of the cave that was his home, and began to play with his mother and the other visiting lionnesses that dropped in at regular intervals, either bringing food for Sarabi or to while away some time chatting and lovingly watching him as he toddled about, sniffing at them and saying a few words. He rapidly learned to speak both leonine and common speech, indeed, he was fairly advanced for one so very young. He delighted in playing games of hide and seek with his mother and anyone else who happened to be present, disappearing off into a dark corner and staying there while the adults pretended not to see him, or until his giggles grew too loud for them to suspend disbelief. Then he would hurry back to Sarabi, and then purr loudly as she groomed him, nuzzling her gently back as he listened to the sound of her heart and breathing. Sometimes his father would drop by, and he would then clamber all over Mufasa's long mane, lovingly chewing on his father's ear until Mufasa gently pinned him down and nuzzled him.
Chapter Three: The Great Outdoors.
Simba ventured out of the cave for the first time after two and a half weeks, and as he sat there, blinking in the brilliant African sunshine, he set eyes for the first time upon another lion cub, for up till then he had only seen adults and had not known there were others as small as him that existed. The other cub was small and colured a beautiful light amber colour. She too was venturing outside for the first time- her mother had given birth at around the same time as Sarabi. As the two older lionnesses lay down next to each other for a chat, the two cubs warily edged towards each other until they were only inches apart. The girl spoke first, hesitantly.
"Uh, hi there, I'm Nala, who are you?"
Simba jumped- he had been intently looking at her pretty young face and beautiful fur. He stammered back "Oh, I'm Simba. Nice to meet ya."
Nala hesitated for a second and then said "Do you want to come and play? We can play tag if you like, or hide and seek."
"Oh? Yeah, that'd be cool!" replied Simba, then turned to his mother and said "Mom, is it ok if I go and play with Nala? Please?"
Sarabi turned to Nala's mother and said "Well, what do you think Sarafina?"
Sarafina replied "It's alright be me, Sassie, if they don't go too far."
Sarabi nodded, then turned to her son and said "Thats fine then honey, but I want you back here by midday. And dont leave the Rock, ok?"
Simba rushed over too her and nuzzled her. "Sure thing mom." He then turned to dash off, receiving a loving wet lick as he went. The two cubs gamboled off down the path together, jumping over each other and giggling loudly.
As they pranced away Sarafina turned to Sarabi and murmered "Don't they look lovely together Sassie? Looks like the tradition will happen naturally between them."
Sarabi replied "Yes, I think you're right. They seem to be getting along great."
Simba dashed after Nala as they rounded a corner, his little legs going fifteen to the dozen as he tried to keep up. He overtook her and then turned back to call out when he suddenly ran into a solid mass of dusty fur. The older lion gave a sharp grunt as the wind was driven from him and then looked down irritably onto what had collided with him. He spoke "Why if it isn't my dear nephew, sooo glad to meet you at last." in a voice dripping with sarcasm. Simba stopped dead still as he stared at the marks criss-crossing his uncle's eye.
"Hello there" he replied, failing to pick up the sarcasm, "You must be my Uncle Scar." Simba had never actually met his uncle before, although he had heard talk about him.
"I am indeed. My what a gifted child we have here!" he intoned dryly. "I can't wait until I can get to know you."
At that point Nala cannoned round the corner and with a playful yell told him to keep up. Simba quickly said goodbye to his uncle and sprinted off after her. As he went Scar looked upon him with barely disguised loathing, and muttered under his breath "Stupid little fuzzball. I should..." as he turned and flopped down to the ground.
The two cubs did not take much notice of the older lion as they gamboled around the base of Pride Rock. Simba was hiding from Nala, and watching from behind a clump of grass as she cast about, trying to pick up his sent on her inexperienced nose. Suddenly she saw a small flash of movement in the undergrowth as he flicked his nose at a bug which had alighted there. Joyfully crying "I see you" she dashed over to the clump.
Simba replied "No fair! You only saw me 'cause of that dumb bug."
"Hey, it's not my fault you can't keep still! I've caught you every other time we played this game as well!"
At this Simba playfully growled "Oh yeah?" and then leapt at Nala playfully, bowling her over onto her back. She did not stay down long though, pushing him over from beneath and rolling with him down the slope, both giggling joyfully. They tussled for a while, then Nala leapt at him and swept the young prince onto his back with a sharp thud. He gaped in surprise as the smaller female grinned and said with a snigger "Pinned ya!".
Chapter Four: First Meat.
As Simba was approaching four weeks old, he began to realise that his mother was becoming less and less enthuasiastic about nursing him. He was unaware that his young teeth had started to be replaced by his first set of adult ones, and their sharp points were causing Sarabi considerable discomfort as he sucked at her teats. And so it was that one evening, after a hard day out playing with Nala and a few other cubs, he came into the cave looking for his evening meal, as he went up to Sarabi, expecting to sink his head into her warm belly fur as he ate, she turned away from him. He stood there, his mouth falling open from surprise. "Mom? Whats up? I'm hungry!" he asked.
Sarabi looked down at him and said "I know dear, but you're getting too big a boy to feed from me now. I've arranged for something else tonight. It's time that you started on real food." As she spoke, Mufasa entered the cave, carrying a whole gazelle in his jaws, which he dropped before his wife and son.
"WHOA!" Yelped Simba "Is that all for me Dad?"
Mufasa chuckled deep in his throat. "Really son, if you eat all that you will explode all over the cave! But what you can manage of it is yours. Now this is what you must do. Take a small amount of the hide in your teeth and pull back to reveal the meat. Then take small- I said small, mouthfulls and chew. Then swallow."
Simba lowered his small jaws to the carcass, which was almost four times his size. He took a section of hide in his mouth and began to gingerly pull at it. Nothing happened. He pulled a little harder, and then harder yet. Suddenly there was a ripping noise as the section of the hide came away from the body. He fell backwards as the momentum tipped him over. Both his parents burst out into gales of laughter as the surprised cub got to his feet, chewing gently on the small section of skin in his mouth. His father then looked down at him and said "No son, eat the meat, not the skin. The meat is where the goodness is, and it also tastes the best."
Simba followed the instruction, worrying at the exposed muscle until he tore off a bite sized hunk. Chewing delicately, he then swallowed, a huge grin spreading out over his face. "Umm, this is great. Thanks Dad." His parents smiled proudly as their son took in his first taste of game. When he had finished he waddled over to his mother, totally sated. He settled over her forepaws and started to purr deeply as she groomed him. Her purrs joined his as they lay together. The deep throbbing noise echoed out of the mouth of the cave into the starry night. From where he lay, Scar heard the noise, and in the midst of the sound of such happiness, he felt nothing but hate and jealousy. Hatred of the fact that Simba would stop him ever reaching the post of the King, and jealousy of the fact that he was the result of the union between his brother and Sarabi, who he still felt was rigthfully his due to the childhood promise between them from years ago. Finally, unable to stand such happy noises, he raised his wiry body from the ground and headed down and out from the Pride Lands towards the territory of the Hyenas.
Chapter Five: One Big, Happy Family.
As Simba grew older day by day, he began to get to know the other inhabitants of the Rock and the surrounding areas. Although of course everyone knew who he was, each day of his life was filled with new faces. He came to see Sarafina almost as an aunt, one who he could go to and chat with for hours if he wanted to. He failed to realise just how much his uncle hated him, and instead loved him greatly. For unlike the other adults Scar never told him off or criticised him. He didn't ever tell him to wash behind his ears or to stand up straighter, and because of this he spent a lot of time with the dark lion, much to Scar's distaste. Simba, being too young to understand sarcasm, thought that all the sycophantic compliments and niceties that Scar poured on his head were genuine, and thus often spent whole days with him.
Simba was the undisputed darling of all the lionnesses, to whom he was always polite and courteous, and was always prepared to stop for a chat or a wrestling match with them. He was particularly fond of his "aunt" Uzuri, the hunt mistress, who would happily spend hours with him, regaling him with tales of the great hunts, full of fleeing antelope and flashing teeth under the brilliant light of the moon, as he lay before her, mouth open in wonder.
Of the other cubs around the Rock he was particularly fond of Nala, with who he played with every day, but there were other friends as well. One male, slightly younger than Simba, called Camrath, was a particularly good friend. Camrath was a lion with a good heart, but a slightly dense skull- it was rumoured amongst the lionnesses that his father, a rogue male called Rogaar, was the source of this defect. However, Camrath was a keen follower of Simba, always ready to join in the rough and tumble of the cubs' games. He was renowned for being somewhat gullible, and Nala would quite often play little tricks on him, leaving him asking odd questions to the lionnesses or eandering around on some false errand. However he took all of this in good heart, and never got grumpy with the others.
Simba also got on well with Zazu, the King's majordomo bird. Zazu was prone to ramble when in discussion, but what he said was often interesting or funny, and so Simba would be prepared to listen in rapt silence to his verbose tales of the other species and the events taking place in the kingdom.
It was one day when Simba, Nala and Camrath were out playing down by the river when tragedy first entered into the life of the young prince.
Chapter Six: First Blood.
The three cubs were playing at pouncing and running in the long grass by the river banks, taking it in turns to put up voles and small rodents from the riverside and trying to pounce upon them. They were all spectacularly bad at it, and the only casualty was Camrath, who suffered a small nip on the back of the neck when an angry rat had run straight up the bridge of his nose in an attempt to escape. He emerged from the thick grass looking sheepish as a thin trickle of blood dripped down the nape of his neck, matting the fur where his mane would someday sprout over his shoulders. Both the other cubs burst into laughter when they saw the look on his face.
"Hey Cam, was it a big one?" Simba asked, jokingly.
"Little devil, I almost had him. These rats ain't so dumb." The other male replied, giggling slightly in spite of the stinging from the bite.
"Cam, let me take a look at that hickey." Nala said, a look of slight concern on her face. "Those rats can carry all sorts of diseases. Here, lie down and I'll clean it for you."
Obediently the cub lay on his stomach and hissed softly as Nala's small pink tongue began to clean off the blood from the bite mark, mopping it off his short amber fur with short licks.
"Eww, your blood tastes gross!" Nala muttered, bringing a smile to the faces of the other two. She then finished and Camrath sat up.
"Gee, thanks Nal, that was good of ya. But lets play something else now. What do you think Simba?"
"Hmm," He thought for a second. "How about hide and seek?" At this he winked at Nala. "You come and find us Cam. Turn your back and count to a hundred. And no peeking!"
"Ok, cool" Camrath replied. Unaware of the trick the others had in store for him, he turned his bank and began to slowly count up to one hundred.
As he was counting Simba and Nala both slid away and then, when out of earshot, they turned and came back together again. Giggling quietly, Nala turned to Simba and quietly whispered to him "How long do you think it will take him to realise that we've gone?"
A grin almost splitting his face, Simba replied "I dunno, but if he doesn't come back to the Rock in the next hour, lets go back for him."
"Ok. Hey, race ya home!"
As the two cubs sprinted off in the direction of the great stone edifice, leaving their friend counting, all three were totally unaware of a pair of hyenas that lay in the deep grass by the river.
"Hey Luka" One of them muttered "Which one are we supposed to hit on?"
"Scar said the one with the dark patch at the back of his neck, dummy. Can't you even listen to our orders?"
"Easy bro, just a slip of the mind. I just hope that Scar was right when he said they would be alone- if anyone sees us we're history."
"Yeah Bono, and don't forget- just go for the throat- leave the rest to the crocs."
"Aww Luka, must we? I've always wanted to taste lion meat. Can't we just take a little piece?"
"No! If they see our teeth marks on the body then they'll suspect who did it, and it will be curtains for us all."
"Ok, if you insist. But I still think..."
"Shh" Hissed Luka "There he is, sitting on his own." He was looking towards Camrath, whose back was still slightly darkened by the blood from his wound.
As they whispered urgently to each other, Camrath reached the end of his countdown. "Ninety-nine, one hundred! Here I come you guys, ready or not" He turned and looked around sniffing the air and scanning the horizon for any sign of his friends. He looked for about five minutes before it dawned on him that the others were nowhere around. He settled back on his haunches, a little sad, and shouted out "Hey you guys, are you out there? Anywhere?" He listened intently for an answer, but no young voices replied. He rested his chin on his paws, and muttered. "Aww, come on you guys, this isn't fair. Where are you?" A fat tear appeared in the corner of his eye and rolled down the side of his cheek.
In the grass Luka turned to his brother and whispered "Hey, this is our chance. Leave this to me. When I flick my tail twice you pounce and hold him down. Then we'll sort out Mr snotty prince!"
Then with a slow gait he started to walk nonchalantly towards the cub. Camrath turned at the sound of the footsteps and nearly started to run, but then Luka called out to him in a caring voice. "Hey kid, whats up? You look down." His voice sounded so kind and concerned that the young lion felt safe and replied to him.
"My friends have run off. It's not fair. We were only playin' and they both left me alone." With that a hitching sob broke his small body. The hyena looked at the cub compassionately for a second, then shook his head and hardened his eyes again.
"Hey kid, were your friends another boy and a girl?"
Camrath's eyes brightened. "Did you see them?"
"Yeah, we passed them heading towards the river. Hey son, don't
cry, come with us. We'll take you to them."
"You will? THANKS!" Camrath was delighted, and he got up to follow the two hyenas towards the river, not noticing how Bono was always keeping a length behind him. He chattered happily to Luka as they walked along, blissfully unaware of his impending doom.
When they reached the riverbank Camrath looked around excitedly for his friends, but grew disappointed when there was no sign of them. He did not notice the flicking of Luka's tail, but as Bono got into position he inadvertantly knocked over a piece of dead wood. The sudden thud made Camrath turn round, and as he saw the hyena preparing to pounce; he let out a terrified shriek and dashed away paralell to the river. Luka lunged at him but the cub raked his cheek with his small claws, drawing out a yelp. Both hyenas bounded of after him, but his head start was too great. He would have got away if he had not turned to check on his distance. He saw he had a good lead, but he did not see the tree root sticking out of the bank in front of him. He hit it and went head over heels. As he lay on the ground, dazed, Bono dashed up to him, jaws wide open. Camrath only had time to let out a brief shriek of pure terror before there was a sickening crunch and it all went dark.
Bono stood over the tiny body, panting raggedly. His brother came up behind him and began to berate him. "YOU IDIOT! If you hadn't hit that wood he wouldn't have made a noise! Now lets get him in the river and get home before someone comes to investigate."
"Righty-ho" Replied Bono, but as he beant to take the little corpse in his jaws he suddenly noticed something was wrong. Looking at the back of the cub's broken neck he noticed his small bite. "Uhh, bro, we have a problem here."
"What is it now?" answered Luka irately.
"I think we got the wrong one! This one just had a cut on the back of his neck! Scar said there was some dark fur."
"Oh crap, we're screwed." said Luka, his paw over his eyes. "Well just lob him in and then I suggest we put a good distance between us and the Pride Lands before Scar finds out."
"Sounds good to me." his brother replied. He then swept up the dead cub in his jaw and hurled him out into the river. As the body was taken up by the current the two hyenas turned and ran at full speed towards the border.
After the hyenas had left there was a sudden crackle in the air and from nowhere Mano the White Lion materialised. He walked across the water and lovingly nuzzled the stricken cub. As the small body sank beneath the surface Camrath's Ka seperated from it and stood by the mighty white lion. With a questioning look on his transparent face Camrath turned and asked Mano "Why? Why did they do that to me?"
"Son, you died today so that your friend Simba can go on living. I am sorry, but his destiny is more vital than yours. Now come with me, we are going to a place where all pain is gone." With that he turned and galloped towards the sun, the young lion's Ka next to him. As they both faded to nothing, streaks in the water marked the crocodile people as they moved in on their new meal.
Chapter Seven: Grieving.
The discovery of the death of Camrath was delayed for some time, as Simba and Nala, who were the only ones to know where he had been, both thought that he had merely wandered off in a huff after their trick on him. It was no until nightfall that panic started to grip the pride, and the next morning Zazu bought the news that the body of a cub, picked clean by crocodiles and jackals, had been seen on the river bank near the hyena borders. It had obviously been the result of some tragic accident; perhaps Camrath had slipped and drowned, or perhaps one of the crocodiles had caught him napping near the bank and dragged him under. Either way, there would be no inquiry into how he died, and it was felt by the lionnesses that it would be kindest to leave the subject alone, as he had been the only cub his mother had borne alive.
Simba and Nala were both inconsolable for a few days, as they felt that it had been due to them that Camrath had been hanging around near the riverbank. It did not dawn on them that there would have been no way that they could have helped anyway, and they both spent several nights wide awake, exorcising their doubts and grief with their tears. However, young hearts mend fairly easily, and after not too long they felt able to play and have a good time again. Indeed, the death of their good friend served to draw them both much closer together- they played less and less with the other cubs, prefering to go off alone with each other. This was the subject of much idle gossip amongst the lionnesses, almost all of whom were of the opinion that it was a good thing- they were getting over the death of their young freind, and, as they were betrothed officialy (though no one had actually told them!), it was felt that it was good for them to grow together as friends, eventually blossoming into love as they aged.
The one exception to this was the mother of Camrath, Uzi. An older lionness, she had suffered more from her son's death than she ever let on, and blamed Simba and Nala for the incident. She did all she could to put down the two cubs, and made her distaste of them very obvious to the other adults. This deeply hurt both Sarabi and Sarafina, who had been previously very good friends with Uzi. Eventually however, the strain on Uzi became too much, and she left pride rock in the early hours of the morning, two weeks after the discovery of her son's body. Although the pride was sad to see her depart, her absence lightened the load of guilt on Simba and Nala's shoulders, and they both cheered up greatly once her haggard face with its accusing eyes stopped being part of their daily scenery.
Chapter Eight: The Edge Of Life.
A few days after the departure of Uzi, Simba and Nala were playing together alone, as was their habit. They had been pouncing on small animals, but they stopped this game as it brought back painful memories of Camrath. Now they were both simply lying opposite each other in the grass, idly chatting. The day was passing slowly and they were both content just to be lying there, unremarked upon.
Simba was telling Nala how he had leapt at a rabbit the other day, and how he had nearly caught it, when they heard a strange noise. They both turned towards the source of the sound, curious what was making the soft rasping. There, in a small patch of open ground, was a small rock, on which was lying a creature quite unlike any that either of the cubs had seen before. It was a snake, and both the cubs looked in wonder at its long, smooth body as it lay torpid, sunning itself in the afternoon sunlight. Simba wandered over to it, fascinated. He looked at its smooth, pale green scales, glinting like jewels.
"Hey Nala, get this!" He whispered excitedly "I wonder what it feels like."
"Simba, I don't think you should touch it- it's having a nap. You now how grouchy people can get if they're woken up!"
"Don't worry, it's only small. What can it do if it is annoyed?" With this he stretched out a heavy young paw and gently stroked the scales of the reptile. It did not stir, and he touched it again, loving the feel of its firm skin. "Wow Nala, you try- it feels great- so smooth!"
Nala seemed to gather some reassurance from this, and gently stretched out her paw, marvelling at the sensation. "Heh, you're right, this is really cool!"
Simba turned to her and said "See, scaredy cat, there was nothing to be worried about." As he turned back, a stone shifted under his front paw. He stumbled and his extended paw slapped down briefly upon the snake. There was a sharp hiss as it woke and reared up, furious at the interruption. "What wasss that for?" it hissed at the startled cub.
"Oh, I'm really sorry." Said Simba, genuinely, but the snake was too irate to listen to any excuses from the clumsy cub.
"I'll give you ssssorry you little fool" The snake spat the words at him, its tongue flicking, and then, almost too fast for the cub to see, it drew back and lashed at Simba, biting him on his right foreleg. The snake then slithered off into the grass, leaving the terrified cubs both shrieking, Simba from the pain of the bite, Nala from the shock of seeing her friend bleeding.
"Ouch, that wasn't nice. I didn't mean to wake him! Stupid, grouchy worm." Simba grumbled. Then he saw the look of concern on Nala's face and said "It's ok Nal, he didn't have very big teeth. But lets go home now."
"Well, if you're sure, but lets get Rafiki to have a look at that bite- it could get een-feck-ted or something."
"Really Nal, it's fine. It doesnt even hurt now, it's just a bit numb."
With that, the pair both got up and headed back towards the Rock, Simba limping gently. They had hardly got half way when Simba turned and said "Can we just slow down a bit? I must be tired, I feel real dizzy."
Simba sat on his haunches, and shook his head a few times, trying to clear it. Then suddenly he gave a soft moan. Nala leapt to his side, nuzzling him gently. "What is it Simba? Whats going on?"
Simba gave no reply, but began to sway slowly from side to side, moaning. His sways grew larger and larger, until he lost his balance, flopping down onto the ground in a cloud of dust. "SIMBA!" Screamed out Nala "Get up! Answer me!" But no answer came from the unconcious cub. Nala prodded him hard twice, but he still made no response. "Oh gods, what am I gonna do?" She thought to herself, as her eyes began to drip big tears to the ground. She was starting to panic desperately, when she saw in the distant sky the distinct silhouette of Zazu. "Zazu!" She cried out "Help us!" The hornbill by some miracle heard her cry, and swooped down.
"Oh gods, what's going on here Nala? Whats happened to Simba?"
"Please Zazu, get.. get Rafiki. Sim...Simba's been bitten by a snake and he just fell over!" Her voice broke into loud, hitching sobs "Please hurry. I..I..I don't want him to die! Please! He's my friend!" She cried the last words out to the sky, hoping some god would here her in her need.
"I'm going. Just stay here and keep an eye on him!" The hornbill said, as he took off and flew desperately towards the Rock. As he departed Simba gave a soft wheeze and jerked gently.
About five minutes later, Mufasa appeared, running hard to his stricken son's side. Nala was by this time nearly hysterical, and unable to string two words together. But she was still shocked at the sight of a small tear in the eye of the mighty king. Mufasa, seeing that there was no time to lose, bowed his head and murmurred a quiet prayer to Ahieu under his breath. That done, he knelt down, gently picked up his unconcious son in his jaws and began to bound off towards Rafiki's baobab tree, the cub swinging limply between his teeth.
The old mandrill was quietly painting a new picture on the side of the baobab, when he saw Mufasa running towards him. Something in the king's pace told him this was urgent, and when he got close enough to see the unconcious body in his jaws, he swung down and grabbed a bunch of alba leaves.
As all this was occuring, Simba was gently drifting in and out of conciousness. He could feel very little in his body, only that he was moving and that he wanted to go to sleep. As he felt himself beginning to drift off, he sensed a change of position as he was placed upon the floor of the tree. He then decided that this was not worth staying up for, and slumped even more.
Rafiki saw Simbas eyes close again and began to panic. He cared greatly for the young prince, but even more so for Mufasa, and knew that the loss of his son would destroy the king for good. Turning to the great lion he said "Sire, please, you must leave us. You can do no good here, and I must have utter privacy."
Mufasa was unwilling to leave, but he trusted Rafiki implicitly, and so turned to leave the tree. His big eyes welled up with tears for his son, and he hurried up to Pride Rock to break the news to Sarabi and the other lionnesses.
"Oh gods! Why? WHY!" Sarabi cried out as Mufasa told her the news. Sarafina lay next to the weeping Nala, grooming her lovingly while she tried to hide the tears welling up in her own eyes. All the other lions looked shocked, even Scar, albeit for a different reason. As he watched the pride break down into grief, he was thinking "My oh my, the gods must love me. If he dies from this I won't even need to try to become king! With the hairball gone then Mufasa will probably die from grief, and if not, well he could be helped along a bit. This is my lucky day!" Then he remembered himself, and pretended to break down into floods of tears.
In the branches of the baobab, Rafiki was tending to his patient. He checked Simba's eyes and breath to see if he was still alive. Getting a response to this, he quickly began to grind up some alba together with some other strange roots and herbs in a small bowl. He scooped some of the resulting goop onto his fingers and, gently forcing open the cub's jaws, he smeared it at the back of his throat. "There, young master, that should bring your body back to us, but where is your ka?" he muttered to himself, before settling down to meditate and pray. As the herbs took effect, the young cub's paralysis lessened, and his breathing began to sound somewhat easier, but he still lay utterly still and silent.
As Rafiki prayed, Simba was dreaming. He had seen the baboon administer the treatment as if from above, looking down upon his own body. After a while he felt himself drifting upwards. The stars and savannah faded from his sight and were replaced by swirling clouds of light. He felt nothing- no warmth or cold, and no pain or fear. He was just drifting, not moving or falling, but floating, utterly at peace. Suddenly, in the distance, he saw the shape of another lion cub. The two of them drifted towards each other, and as Simba stared in wonderhood, the other cub, looking at him, started to speak. "Simba, my brother, welcome. We were not expecting to see you here for some time." Seeing Simba's look of confusion, she murmurred "I am Shanni, the sister that you never even knew. I died at birth so that you might survive. But why are you here? It is too soon. You have great things in store for you." With that there was a sudden noise like a rush of wind, and Shanni's Ka disappeared into the swirling miasma of light. Her small form was replaced by the form of another lion cub. It was Camrath, and he turned to his friend to say:
"Simba buddy, go back, you don't belong here. I had to die instead of you, and I don't want that to be wasted through you being dumb. Please, you must go back and take your place in the circle of life. Pease go, go, go." Then this second vision faded and for a moment Simba's ka was left alone, drifting helplessly.
"Please! Come back! How do I go home?" He cried out at nothing, desperate to return to his body. Suddenly there was a crckling noise, and before him stood Mano, the white lion. Seeing this Simba cried out, for he knew what task Mano performed. "Oh Ahieu! So I am dead! are you going to take me to his side, Mano? Please, just let me go back to say goodbye!"
Mano chuckled deeply. "Oh come, my son, even you must know that I don't always do the same job. For today I am dropping off, not picking up! I have been ordered by my master to deliver you back to the land of the living, for Ahieu has great hopes for you, the anointed one, who will bring peace to the lands. Now come with me. It will not be easy, and when you return there will be some pain, but you must be strong. So much rides on your future." With that said, he turned, and led the bemused cub back down towards the plain of Ma'at [Earth].
Rafiki was sitting in a full lotus position, praying hard for Simba's soul, only too aware of the cub's total lack of movement had continued for a great length of time. He could hear the moans of distress from Pride Rock clearly, and he began to doubt that even he would be able to bring the cub back. He was beginning to give up hope of this when there was a crackling noise. Looking up he saw the great white lion manifest before his eyes, and, misunderstanding the reason for his presence, grunted "You get yourself gone Mano. You'll no take this little one with you tonight."
"Oh Rafiki, for one so wise, you are surprisingly unobservant. His ka has already left his body; I am returning it." He then lowered his mighty jaws to the prostrated cub and blew over his body. A fine golden mist drifted over Simba, and rolled into his nostrils and gaping mouth. "Now Rafiki, look at me." Rafiki looked up, and suddenly realised what Mano was going to do. He tried to turn away, but the lion held Rafiki's gaze with his impossibly bright blue eyes and intoned deeply "You will forget all of this. The cub is returned from the very edge of life. That is all you need to know." Having said that, he disappeared in a blink of soft, golden light. Simba's body stirred gently.
Chapter Nine: Back Into The Circle.
First of all his legs flicked gently, the claws extending and retracting spasmodically. Then Simba's eyelids slowly drifted apart and he gazed around at the ape's home. He opened his mouth to speak, but then his taste buds detected the herb paste at the back of his mouth, and he retched violently at the taste of it. He lost his breakfast, and began to moan softly, as the sensation of pain flooded back into his young body. His head felt like it was going to burst and his joints as if they were full of thorns. He groaned again. Rafiki was staring at him in wonder, and then shrieked at the top of his voice "HE LIVES! THANK AHIEU, HE LIVES!"
The cry reached the ears of the other lions, who had been gathered in a weeping group. They pricked up their ears, then a murmur of wonder ran through them. They all turned towards the tree, and then as one dashed off towards it at full speed. The group surrounded the shaman's home, Sarabi and Nala both weeping with joy. Rafiki poked his head out of the branches, and raised an arm, imploring silence. The lionnesses and Mufasa at once fell quiet, apart from the sobbing from Nala and Sarabi, and listened intently to the words of the healer.
"Simba is back with us, but he is still far from well. Our prayers have bought him back from the very jaws of death, but he now requires physical, not spiritual help. Please, I must ask you to leave us again, for there is still much left for me to do." With that, he ducked back in to take care of his charge, leaving the pride to wander home, greatly relieved.
As the next day dawned, Mufasa, who had by now found out the reason for the injury, turned to his mate and said "I have decided. To install some element of responsibility in our wayward son, I will show him what he must live for. As soon as he is well I will show him the whole kingdom."
Sarabi was surprised. "But Muffy, don't you think he's too young to handle that sort of knowledge? It could twist him, change his whole personality."
"I know, but I must make him realise how important he is so he won't do things like this again. If he dies our whole pride will become extinct. It is important he finds his place in the circle of life."
"Very well. Rafiki said to me last night that, Ahieu willing, he will be well in about a week. That should give you time to think of what to say."
Chapter Ten: Recovery.
Simba lay in the shade of the tree's tall branches. The sun was bright, but it did not lighten his mood- he was still feeling absolutely wretched from the after affects of the snake's poison. He had been unable to eat properly until the previous day, and he still had a splitting headache. The cub had been spending most of his time in the tree asleep, for Rafiki had forbidden him leaving it, as he was being given regular doses of one of the baboon's potent herbal brews. This had been going on for two and a half days, and he was bored out of his mind. Nala had dropped by a few times to say hello, but his head hurt him too much to talk for long, so he by and large passed his days in isolation with Rafiki. On this afternoon, four days after his ka had returned to his body, he was starting to get depressed. The symptons of his illness were fading but he was still unable to hold much of a conversation or move around very much. He was just curling up to go to sleep again, when he caught the scent of his father on the wind.
"Hi Dad" He called down softly.
Mufasa looked up. "Hello there Son, are you feeling any better today?"
"A bit, but my head feels like an elephant sat on it."
"Well that will teach you not to play with snakes." Mufasa's face grew serious "Simba, I never want you to take a risk like that again. You are too important to me, and to everyone else to risk your life like that. Now I think it is time you learned about the responsibilities that will face you in the future. When you are fit again I will show you the whole of the Kingdom, which some day you will be responsible for."
"How d'ya mean 'responsible for' Dad? I mean, you're the king, and the king is the one who keeps control of the whole thing."
"Simba, wait until I have explained everything to you. I promise that once you have recovered I will do this. But now, please rest up. We all want you to get well quickly so you can be back amongst us. I must go now Son. Everyone sends their good wishes, and Nala says that she can't wait to come over and play with you." With that the king turned and moved off, shaking his head at the foolishness of his son. Simba struggled to his feet and watched him leave. His head was begimming to throb- soon it would be time for Rafiki to dose him with one of his foul mixes of herbs. These medicines always made the cub retch, but there was no doubt that they did work.
Two days later the pain had pretty much gone, and Simba left the safety of Rafiki's tree. The very first thing he did was to search out Nala- he felt now is if he could not bear to be seperated from her for any longer. He found her lying in a sunbeam, dozing. Deciding to surprise her, he snuck up close, as silently as was possible. He was just preparing to pounce on her when she half opened one eye and saw him lining up. From a langourous, stretched out position she somehow got straight into a leap, and hurled herself at him. Simba was swept off his feet by the impact, and lay on his back beneath her. With a soft smirk she cried out "Pinned ya!", then got off him and let him stand up.
When he had got his breath back, she excitedly asked him how he felt. "Not too bad at the moment" he replied nonchalantly "but next time, don't let me do anything dumb like that, ok?"
"Sure. Man, it's great to have you back. So what'cha want to do?"
"Lets go somewhere quiet where we can talk- I've got some really cool stuff to tell you"
The two cubs slunk off to the cistern at the back of Pride Rock, which was an excellent place for a private discussion, as the noise of the lapping water effectively blotted out that of spoken words. There, Simba began to tell Nala about all the stuff he had seen in his dreams as he lay unconcious. "...and then I saw this big white lion. I dunno how, but I was pretty certain that it was Mano. But he was different from the Mano in all the stories that Uzuri told us. He was much smaller, and a lot nicer as well. And he told me that Ahieu had planned great things for me."
"Whoa, cool." Nala murmured in response.
"And then the other day my dad came along and said that some day I'd be responsible for the whole kingdom! Just like that! He's gonna show it to me tomorrow."
Chapter Eleven: Everything the light touches...
It was about ten minute before dawn. A small figure was sitting on the promontory, looking out in excitement. Simba was trying to stay calm, but after a few minutes he could not wait any longer. He turned and dashed down into the cave where all the rest of the pride were still sleeping. He leapt over the dozing felines, and occasionally thumped down on them as he mistimed his jump. He made his way in this manner to the slab on which Mufasa and Sarabi were lying, fast asleep. "Dad, Dad! come on Dad we gotta go! Wake up! Dad! Dad DAD!"
Sarabi stirred and groaned "Your son is awake"
"Before sunrise he's your son!" replied Mufasa, dozily. Simba's heckling cries carried on a few inches from his ear.
"Dad, come on!" He pulled on the king's ear, then butted him on the side of the head. "You promised!" he said, in a disappointed voice. This finally moved Mufasa, and he stretched and yawned, displaying his enormous canines.
"Ok, ok, I'm up, I'm up." He then got to his feet and started out of the cave, Simba leaping around him. Sarabi followed them to the cave's mouth, and after giving Simba a loving nuzzle, she turned back and headed to her sleeping place, leaving the father and son alone together. Without a word, Mufasa turned and headed up the path to the promontory.
At the tip of the spire of rock, they sat together, and Simba's mouth fell wide open as his father explained to him about how far the kingdom extended. Unbeliving, he heard his father say that some day he would be king of Pride Rock and rule the whole area that the light touched. But he saw an area of darkness beyond a ridge on the north border. "But Dad, what about that dark patch there beyond that rise?" he asked curiously.
His father's face visibly darkened as he replied "That is beyond our borders Simba, you must never go there." And with that he turned and headed off the Rock, motioning for Simba to follow him. They strolled through the fragrant veldt as the early morning sun rays warmed their bodies. Simba at once felt both close to and seperated from his father, feeling that while what his father was saying meant great things for him, it would mean the two of them being parted forever before he would reap their benefits. He listened intently to his father as he explained how all living things were connected in the great Circle of Life. They had rounded the water hole and were returning towards the Rock, when Zazu swooped down from the sky towards them. He greeted the pair of them, and then launched into his morning report. As the hornbill talked to the king, Simba grew bored, and saw a small butterfly on a rock near him. He slunk down low and then leapt at it. The insect fluttered away, utterly unconcerned about the bumbling efforts of the young prince. Mufasa noticed this and turned to his son and asked him what he was doing.
"Pouncing." Simba replied simply. Mufasa then turned back to Zazu and said "Zazu, could you please turn around?" The hornbill obeyed unthinkingly, hardly interrupting his report. He then asked why. "Pouncing lesson." replied Mufasa.
"Ah, pouncing, very good." Realisation dawned and he spun round "Oh please sire, this is so humiliating!" Mufasa signaled to him to turn back and he did so, complaining all the way. Mufasa crouched down next to Simba, and whispered to him.
"Stay close to the ground, and don't make a sound."
Zazu was suddenly aware that it had gone very quiet "Mufasa? What are you telling him? Mufasa? Simba?" He received no reply, and began to crouch. At that moment Simba leapt out, sweeping him off his feet and pinning him to the ground. The cub pranced off him, looking pleased, as Mufasa roared with laughter.
Zazu began to get up, when a gopher popped out of his hole next to him. The rodent saluted, and then informed Zazu that there was a group of hyenas in the Pride Lands. Instantly the king's mood changed utterly. Fury crossed his rugged features, and he prepared to leave. He ordered Zazu to take Simba home, then bounded off towards the area of the transgression. Simba was left with Zazu, feeling crushed and disappointed that his father would not let him go as well. He grumbled "I never get to go anywhere."
"Oh young master, when you're king you'll be able to chase those lousy, stinking scavengers from dawn to dusk." As they began the return journey to Pride Rock, Simba turned to Zazu and asked him:
"Zazu, why don't we let the hyenas in here anyway? Isn't there enough food?"
"Oh, no. Your grandfather banned them from the Pride Lands after they killed illegally your great uncle Shaka and aunt Avina. They were banned for all time from our home for it."
"But why would hyenas kill a lion? They don't eat us, and we leave them scraps from our kills."
Zazu was beginning to feel that he had said too much and did not want to risk frightening Simba, but decided that the cub would only find out from someone else if he did not tell him, and it would be best that he knew the straight facts. "One of them went insane. Your great aunt was injured in a hunt, and when she was alone this one hyena, called Gur'mekh, lead a group of them which attacked her. They... they..." here he stammered, trying to put it in a way that would not scare the prince, "they attacked her and began to eat her, while she was still alive. Shaka, her mate, went after them, and was killed by a large group of them when he crossed into their territory. Your grandfather outlawed them for this, and now we are practically at war. So you see, when your father told you not to go into their territory, he was serious." Zazu looked at the cub, worried that he might have been over graphic, but he did not seem overly upset by the story.
"Thats really gross. I hope I never have to deal with them."
"Well don't worry Simba, until you're king, you won't need to meet any of them, ever."
"Well thats fine then. Hey, bet you I can beat you back home." With that, Simba dashed off in the direction of the Rock, a small golden arrow slicing through the grasses. Zazu flew hard, but had trouble keeping up.
Chapter Twelve: On The Rock.
Simba clambered up the path to the top of the Rock, panting excitedly because of the run and all the news he had for Nala. He was approaching the top, when he caught sight of his uncle. He quickly ran up to him, bursting to tell him of all he had learnt.
"Hey uncle Scar, Guess what?"
Scar froze, looking down at him. "I despise guessing games." He muttered.
Simba, either not hearing this or totally ignoring it, came even closer. "I'm gonna be king of Pride Rock!"
Scar thought to himself "Damn it, so he's had the talk." but when he spoke he only said "Oh goody, I can hardly wait."
"My dad just showed me the whole kingdom" Simba said, as he wlked over to the edge of the cliff, gazing out over it, once again missing the sarcasm and glad that his uncle was happy as well. "And I'm gonna rule it all". He let out a soft laugh at the thought of his lucky future, and of all the things he would be able to do when he was king. He did not notice his uncle looking at him with pure evil, as he calculated the risks of pushing him over the edge, to shatter at the base of the Rock. But Scar managed to stop himself in time.
"Yes, well forgive me for not leaping for joy. Bad back you know." To emphasise his point he flopped down to the ground quite heavily. Simba bounded over to him and lay over his shoulders. The touch of his young body made Scar physically shudder with hatred for the youngster.
"Hey, uncle Scar, when I'm king, what will that make you?"
"A monkey's uncle"
Simba sniggered "You're so weird!"
"You have no idea." the older lion replied. Simba rolled off him, and he rose. He walked across the ledge and then asked, looking over his shoulder. "So, you're father showed you the whole kingdom, did he?"
Scar suddenly saw another chance for an assasination attempt. "He didn't show you what's beyond that rise on the northern border?" He saw the effect this had on the cub, and new that he hadn't. Perfect.
"Well no, he says I can't go there."
Trying hard not to burst out laughing, he decided to play off the young cub's extreme sense of curiosity. "And he's absolutely right! It's far too dangerous. Only the bravest lions go there." He let the words hanging, praying that his nephew would say more after this veiled insult.
"Well I'm brave! What's out there?" He'd swallowed the bait, hook, line, sinker, and copy of Angling Times. The furball was hooked, now all he had to do was carefully reel him in.
"Oh I'm sorry Simba, I just can't tell you."
"Why not?" At that point Scar gently took hold of Simba,caressing his head as he tried to create the impression of deep paternal concern. "Simba, Simba, I'm only looking out for the well being of my favourite nephew."
"Yeah right, I'm your only nephew."
"All the more reason for me to be protective." He prepared his verbal landing net."An elephant graveyard is no place for a young prince. Ooops!" He slapped a paw over his mouth, partly to give the impression of having said too much, and partly to stop himself laughing out loud at the eagerness of the prince to go to his own death.
"AN ELEPHANT WHAT?! Whoaa!" Simba exploded. He decided that he would have to try this place out at the first possible opportunity.
"Oh dear, I've said too much." said Scar, laying on the melodramatics. "Well I suppose you'd have found out sooner or later, what with you being soooo clever and all." He pulled Simba close to him, so he would not see his evil smile. "Oh just do me one favour, promise me you'll never visit that dreaaadful place."
Simba sat for a second, then said, with an innocent smile that was like a hundred foot billboard with 'liar' scrawled on it "No problem."
"There's a good lad. You run along now and have fun, and remember, it's our little secret." Simba grinned and sped off. He had to find Nala.
Chapter Thirteen: In The Graveyard.
Simba was running, and running so hard that he thought that his heart would burst. "Why did we have to dodge Zazu?" He asked himself. "I just wanted to impress Nala and now we're both gonna die!" These thoughts running through his head gave him extra impetus, and he dashed even harder. The idea of a fun afternoon spent freaking out his friend seemed so dumb now that he could not believe he had ever thought of it.
He looked back briefly, and saw Nala a few lengths to his rear, and only a little further back, the snarling forms of three adult hyenas. The story of his great uncle came back into his mind, as he pounded up a slope strewn with bones. He wondered what it would feel like to be eaten alive, whether he would die from fright the moment he felt the jaws on his neck, or whether he would linger as he felt his body devoured. The idea gave an extra impetus to his legs, and he cleared the top of the slope. He looked back and saw that the path was clear. He felt a moment of joy, then suddenly thought "Oh gods, Zazu!"
There was a sudden screech from the hornbill as he was forced onto a thermal vent. Simba and Nala, who had just reached his side, turned and dashed down to the source of the cry, and saw the three hyenas rolling around in hysterics. Simba, displaying his usual overconfidence, snarled down at the trio "Why dont'cha pick on someone your own size?"
Shenzi, the female hyena, turned towards him and replied in a voice dripping with menace "Like... you?".
Simba, realizing his mistake, gasped out "Ooops", then turned to run again, as Shenzi's claws slashed down where he had just been standing. He and Nala sprinted away, and clambered up a pile of bones. Simba managed to reach the summit, but he suddenly heard Nala shrieking his name. Looking down, he saw her stumbling on a loose heap of legbones, as the hyenas gained on her. Struck with terror, he dashed down the slope to her, reaching his friend at the same time as Shenzi. As the hyena reached out to sink her teeth into Nala's back, Simba lashed out with his small paw, his immature claws scoring four paralell lines into the hyena's cheek. She snarled at him viciously as the two cubs disappeared back over the summit.
As they hurried over the skull which teetered at the top of the slope, the cubs slid and shot down a backbone as if it was a giant slide, the vertebrae juggling them up and down as they slid. They flew off the end and pelted round a corner. As they did Simba suddenly realised that this was a bad mistake. The area they were in was a gorge with sides much too steep for the lions to attempt to climb them. At the very back, next to the wall, was a slightly fresher carcasse with a veneer of mummified skin stretched across it's protruding ribs. They both vaulted on to it, and scrabbled ineffectively at the gorge's wall. The skin was as weak as paper anyway, and after a few seconds of having panicky lion cubs bouncing on it like a trampoline, it split, depositing the two of them ungracefully in the ribcage of the body. As they got to their feet, they saw the sinister shapes of the hyenas slinking around the corner towards them. They were not running now, as they knew that there was no escape possible. Banzai, one of the males, growled slowly "Here kitty, kitty, kitty.", delighting in the rictus of fear playing across the faces of their young victims. He wondered idly what their meat would taste like, and how long it would take Simba to die when he sunk his teeth into his windpipe.
A similar thought was running through Simba's mind as he saw the huge scavengers approach. But then he noticed Nala cowering behind him, and set his jaw, determined not to surrender to his fate and show his fear. He inhaled deeply, intending to roar as his father did. "Rrrowlll" wheezed out the sound fron his immature vocal cords, cracking up the hyenas, who fell about, imploring him to try again. He felt pure embarrassment, for he could do nothing to stop them doing whatever they desired. He knew they were making fools out of him, and he wanted to die with dignity, and not show himself up in front of Nala. He breathed in again, and as his little snarl began, suddenly the gorge reverbrated with a mighty bellow of rage. Simba was amazed for a moment, wondering how he had managed to make such a noise, when suddenly his father burst into the midst of the hyenas, scattering them like a huge golden bomb. Simba drew back even further as he watched his father tear into the hyenas, thrownig them around as they tried to get a grip on his neck. He raked Banzai with his teeth, opening up a long bloody tear on his right flank. Then, with a sweep of his mighty forelegs, he bundled the three hyenas together and pinned them to the ground. As he berated them and ordered them to stay away from his son, Zazu flapped back down to the side of the cubs, looking on intently. Mufasa then let the hyenas go and they fled, yipping dejectedly with Banzai leaving a thin trail of blood behind them.
Chapter Fourteen: The Stars.
The king then turned to the cubs, and with a thick voice said "Lets go home." The group moved slowly across the plains towards the Rock, the two cubs tailing dejectedly behind the king. Before they reached the halfway point, however, Mufasa turned to Zazu and ordered him to take Nala home. Simba, realising that he was going to get a strip torn out of him, crouched down in the grass, only his eyes giving him away as they glinted in the moonlight. His father's deep voice summoned him to his side. As the cub unwillingly slunk up next to Mufasa, he noticed one of the king's pawprints. His young foot hardly even covered one of the pad marks.
Sitting by the older lion's mighty flank, Simba suddenly felt very greatly the worry that his father was emanating. He looked up at Mufasa's face, and did not see anger so much as sadness, dismay and fear on the regal features. His father began to explain to him about bravery, and how it was foolishness, not bravery to go looking for trouble. As the words fell upon Simba like lumps of lead, he began to feel even smaller than ever. He then said something to his father that had been weighing on his mind since the talk had begun. "But Dad, you're not afraid of anything!"
Mufasa turned and looked down on his son with deep tenderness. "Today I was, I thought I might lose you. If anything happened to you I just don't know what I'd do." Simba was taken aback by this.
"Hey, I guess even kings get scared sometimes." Then he leant closer to his father "but you know, I bet those hyenas were even scareder."
Mufasa burst into laughter. "Thats 'cause no-one messes with your Dad! Come here" at that he turned and swept the cub up, holding him as he squirmed in a noogie. The two cats rolled over, their laughter echoing out over the savannah.
"Dad," Simba said after a minute or two, "We're pals, and we'll always be together, right?"
At this Mufasa suddenly put on a melancholy look, as he knew his son, despite the death of his friend Camrath, was still unsure of the whole concept. He wondered how he could explain to his son that he would not always be there without upsetting him. He suddenly remembered how Ahadi, his father, had explained the matter to him, and decided to use that method. He did not know whether the tale was actually true, but it would help his son through many difficulties if he believed it. "Son, let me tell you something that my father told me. You see the stars, well each one of them is the soul of a great past king. If you are ever alone, then just look up and they will watch over you. And so will I."
Simba took this up quite well, and seemed to understand. With that said, the two lions got up and resumed their walk to the Rock. The night closed in deeper, as black deeds were done beneath it's cover. From the area of the graveyard the sound of insane laughter and hyannic oaths echoed around the lonely spire of Pride Rock. Simba heard them in his sleep, and unconciously tensed up, before snuggling in closer to Sarabi's comforting bulk.
Chapter Fifteen: The Last Morning.
Simba found himself back in the graveyard. He was running, and turned back to see where Nala was. He saw that she was just behind him, when suddenly a huge snake made out of bones jetted out of the ground before them. It lunged and struck both cubs with it's huge ivory fangs. Totally paralysed, Simba could only watch as a hyena enveloped Nala's head in its jaws and closed them, before leaping on to his back. He could feel it's hot carrion breath on his neck, but as he waited for the imminent deathblow, he saw it's face morph into that of his mother's disappointed features. "Simba, why do you always get in trouble like this?" the thing intoned, before striking down on him. Everything faded away.
The next day dawned brilliantly, the sun shining with a gorgeous intensity. The light penetrated down into the sleeping cave, and woke Simba, who was still twitching and moaning from the effect of his nightmare. The cub blinked a few times in the bright light, only half awake, and tried to remember just what had happened the previous day. The memory of the graveyard surfaced like an unexpected hippo, and he shiverred with embarassment at how he had put Nala in danger, but also with relief that they had got away and that his dream was just that.
Unwilling to face his parents in the light of the day and frightened of returning to the dream, he got up and headed out onto the promontory. He inhaled deeply, sniffing at the scents on the morning air- it looked like it would turn out to be a good day. The depression lifted off him as his young body warmed up. He remembered the talk with Mufasa, and decided that his father had forgiven him after all. Simba considered going back in and sleeping for a bit longer, but then he saw movement over to the north. He strained his eyes to see who it was, and realised it was his uncle who was slinking back across the plain towards the Rock. Simba was glad to see someone else awake so early in the morning, and climbed down off the promontory to intercept his uncle.
Scar was very tired. He had been visiting the hyenas in the graveyard, concocting a little plan, and was in no mood to talk with any of the pride, but when he saw the little hairball running towards him, his dark mood brightened somewhat. He saw a way to make his plan even more efficient and ensnare the cub more securely. The hairball was shouting out a greeting to him. "I suppose I'd better pay my respects to the future monarch." Scar thought to himself with a nasty leer on his face.
"Why hellooo Simba, and just what is my favourite nephew doing up and about at this time of morning?"
"Hey, unca Scar. I could'nt sleep- I had a scary dream about those hyenas. So I decided to have a bit of a walk."
"Oh dear, poooor Simba. Well don't worry, those nasty, scary beasts won't trouble you while your uncle's near you." Scar stated in a voice dripping with cloying sweetness. "No, but a herd of wildebeest will!" he added mentally, suppressing a snigger at the thought. "Well don't wander far from home, we don't want any accidents to happen now, do we?"
"Ok uncle Scar. Say, where abouts were you last might?"
Scar froze for a moment. "So, the furball is suspicious then." His paranoid mind searched rapidly for a suitable reply. "Um, I had a meeting with someone. If you really must know, I have an understanding with a lady from another pride. But don't tell your daddy now, will you? There's a good boy." "Big deal, he won't live to check it up." he thought as he slunk off back towards his bed on the Rock.
Simba was surprised at this, as he did not really understand what his uncle had been alluding to. Surely if he wanted to play with a girl he could play with Nala or one of the lionnesses. Shaking his head at the mystery, he walked into the pasture below Pride Rock, and spent the next two hours pouncing on rabbits and mice.
Towards midday Simba decided to go back to Pride Rock to eat, as there would doubtless be a kill of some kind there, bought back by the lioness hunting party. He also wanted to meet up with Nala, and perhaps spend the rest of the day playing around with her by the water hole, that is if Sarafina let her out after the debacle of the previous afternoon.
As he crossed the fields towards Pride Rock, he saw his uncle sitting in the grass. Scar was obviously waiting for something, and as Simba pulled closer he looked round to see his nephew . "Ahh, Simba, I'm glad that I found you. I've got some exciting news for you!"
This tickled the cub's curiosity. "Oh? What is it uncle Scar?"
"Well, I hope that you won't be cross with me, but I told your daddy about those nasty dreams that you've been having, and, well he was quite worried. He told me that he had planned a very special surprise for you to take your mind off those nightmares. He told me to meet you and to take you to the gorge to the west."
Simba was excited by this and eagerly said "Cool! Well let's get going!" With that the two lions set off through the searing midday sun towards the gorge and destiny.
Chapter Sixteen: It's The End Of The World (As We Know It).
Simba and his uncle were sitting in the gorge. They had been just discussing the "surprise" that Simba had in store. "...and between you and me, you just might want to work on that little roar of your's." Scar was just saying. "Well I'll just go get your father." He continued, then turned and began to head off up the gorge.
Simba called after him "Uncle Scar, will I like the surprise?"
Scar grinned evilly back over his shoulder. "Simba, it's to die for." he intoned. With that he turned again and loped up the slope of the gorge, leaving Simba alone in the shade of a small tree.
"Little roar. Pah." Simba muttered to himself as he lay in the shade. Then he saw a large chameleon walking across the gorge floor. "Well, may as well get some practice in." he thought to himself. He crept up behind it and tried to roar. His immature snarl had no effect at all on the lazy reptile. He tried again, getting the square root of sweet F.A. in reply. For a third time he tried, and this time he was slightly louder. The lizard jumped slightly, and the snarl echoed off the sides of the gorge. Simba settled back, satisfied, when he suddenly noticed a strange thrumming noise. Mystified, the cub looked around. Surely he hadn't roared that loudly? Looking down he noticed with idle curiosity that some of the pebbles on the gorge floor were shaking up and down rapidly. He looked up the gorge, and then he saw the dust cloud rushing towards him. His face froze in an instant of pure horror as he saw his death stampeding towards him. He turned and pounded off down the gorge, but it was not enough. Within a few seconds the first of the wildebeest were overtaking him, nad Simba realised that if he could not get out of their way he was as surely doomed as if he had leaped off the promontory of Pride Rock. His eyes desperately searched for a possible way out, but could see none through the dust. Suddenly he saw a chance- a small dead tree was somehow still standing in the midst of the maelstron of death. Simba knew he would have but one chance to get onto it, and as he approached he mustered his strength and leaped up on to the tree. He slipped for a second, and his claws carved deep marks into the bark, but he managed to get on top of it, where he lay, swaying madly. Then he saw a small streak of blue and red through the yellowish dust stirred up by the stampede.
"ZAZU, HELP ME!" Simba screamed, close to panic.
"Don't worry, your father is on his way. Just stay put!" the hornbill replied to him, then swooped up to report to Mufasa where his son was.
Simba lay on the branch, sweating with fear as he saw his father enter the flow and run towards him, nimble dodging the wildebeest. Mufasa was nearly halfway to Simba when a small wildebeest struck him in a glancing blow. The king was hurled back a few paces, but still managed to carry on pressing forward to the rescue. As Simba watched, his heart in his mouth, another wildebeest slammed into the base of the tree. Its trunk instantly shattered into a myriad of pieces, sending the cub looping through the air into the stampede. Simba watched the ground rush up to him, certain that he was going to die in the next few seconds, and hoping it would be quick, when with an impact that knocked the breath from his body, he found himself in the jaws of his leaping father. They landed well, but before they could go more than a couple of paces his father collided with a young gnu and tripped, throwing Simba from his mouth. The cub lay dazed on the ground, feeling a strange detachment from all the terror and risk, as he knew he would be dead in a few moments. He looked around for his father, and seeing him nowhere, thought to himself "Well this is it then. I'll miss you Nala."
Unexpectedly his father burst out of the dust and swept him up in his mouth. Mufasa struggled through the mass of running bodies to a ledge at the side of the gorge. There he set down his son, but as he was beginning to climb up himself he was struck again and carried off into the flow again. Simab screamed, and searched the mass of dusty hides in an attempt to see his father's mane. He was starting to lose hope when he saw his father rising like an angel from the mass of wildebeest. He landed on a sloping ledge and began to clamber up it.
Deciding that the immediate danger for both of them had now passed, Simba turned and began to climb up a ledge which headed towards the top of the gorge. There he would meet his father and they could go home. Gods, Nala would be excited to hear about their brush with death. But as he was thinking of this pleasant future, he was distracted by a terrible scream- his father's! Turning and with a look of absolute horror, he watched as his beloved father hurtled out backwards from the face of the ledge. He was unable to do anyhting as the king dropped like a stone down into the mass of wildebeest. There was a thud and snap audible above event the thunder of hooves as he slammed into the ground.
As the flow of animals slacked off, Simba dashed down into the gorge, looking desperatley for his father and calling out his name. But no reply came. The distressed cub heard movement, and spun round hopefully, but was disappointed as only a gnu that was lagging behind sprinted out of the dust cloud. Its hoof beats sounded louder than the entire herd had done in the empty valley. Simba then saw a great mound obscured by the dust. With a massive lump in his throat Simba approached it, knowing but still not believing what he was seeing. It was the body of his father, lying on his side. On the side that was expose to the air there was little visible damage, but a growing pool of deep red beneath the stricken king told the true story. Simba, quite unable to comprehend what he was seeing, tried to wake the king as he had the day before, but no response was forthcoming. Suddenly the meaning of their talk the previous evening was bought home strongly to him- his father would never be there with him again. Utterly crushed emotionally he crawled under his father's mighty forearm and tried to go to sleep, hoping that if he did then he would wake up from this terrible nightmare.
Scar appeared out of the dust and said, in a voice dripping with mock horror at the sight before his eyes. "Simba, what have you done?"
The cub sprung up and in a voice choked with dust and tears began to haltingly explain what had come to pass. Scar bought him close to him, and let the cub sob on his foreleg. Seeing, however that the cub was still intending to return home, he decided to do what he could to increase the guilt of the youngster. He thought for a moment, then said. "What will your mother think?"
This had the desired effect. Simba looked even more crushed, if such a thing was possible. "My mother... oh Uncle Scar, what can I do?"
Scar saw his golden opportunity, and decided to go in for the kill, metaphorically and literally. "Run away, Simba. Run away and never return."
His nephew looked up, understanding dawning on his face. For a moment Scar was worried that he had been seen through, but then Simba turned and scurried off down towards the lower mouth of the gorge and his destiny...
So ends part one of "The Rise Of A King": "The Prince".
The story of Simba's adventures in the desert and jungle will be continued in part two of the work- "The Vagabond", coming soon from Henry Hamilton.
If you have enjoyed this story then feel free to post it on your website, and mail me at the address at the top of the first page. Please write with any comments, just to soothe my fragile ego! Hope you have enjoyed this as much as I did writing it.