Tales from the Outlands
Volume One: The Tale of Zira
Part Five: Lethal Ideologies
(The following is the finale for Volume One of Tales from the Outlands. I took a long time writing this one, and I hope you all enjoy how it turns out. All things I said in the previous notes, remain true for this one, such as the PG rating for mild language, primal violence, and adult themes. This is the finale… Enjoy!)
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: MANIPULATIONS
A small shadow fell across the muscular back of the lioness who had journeyed into The Pride Lands. Zira rose her head to the sky and noticed a small, but colorful bird circling over her. She squinted her eyes, and her muzzle twisted into a look of confusion as she studied the hornbill who was flying gracefully above her. A slight stir in her stomach brought her thoughts back to the matter at hand, and as she looked down, her mood quickly soured, as she noticed that her belly had grown even larger. She silently cursed her awful luck. Why did this have to happen now? Of all the times it could have happened, and with all the males it could have happened with, why did it have to happen right before she was about to accomplish her ultimate goal? Moreover, why did it have to happen with that outlandish dark lion? She should have thought twice about visiting The Outlands. The prophecy that Scar had pronounced in her dream, if it really was spoken by Scar, now rang constantly in her ears.
"Zira, let me tell you this now. There are things that I can not say, but those I have seen, that are bound to happen if you choose this path, are you completely sure this is what you want?" Zira nodded her head, now she was beginning to understand what Scar had meant.
Suddenly the hornbill swooped closer, so close that his talons almost grazed Zira's ear. Already in a foul mood, Zira was too annoyed to put up with this any longer.
"You come any closer, you flying insect, and I'll slice you in two with my claws!"
"I am terribly sorry, Madam." The hornbill's haughty voice replied, "I've been trying to get your attention. I was wondering, may I share a word or two with you?"
"I don't have the time to chat with the likes of you."
"Oh, come now, my dear," The hornbill landed onto the ground in front of Zira, "There is always time for chit chat, after all I think I know what brings you to these lands." The bird motioned towards Zira's slightly bulging belly with his beak.
"What could you have that I want, let alone need?"
"Oh, you do not know who I am? I thought everyone new me."
"No, sorry, I don't, and to be honest, I really don't care."
"My name is Zazu," He bowed low, "I am the king's majordomo."
"What?" Zira suddenly grew interested; "Who did you say you were?" Zira's muzzle was now just inches from the little hornbill, causing him to jump back, in fear."
"I am King Simba's retainer."
"Simba!" Zira suddenly raised a paw to her lips. Saying the tone of her voice wasn't friendly would have been an understatement. She changed her tone to a sweeter one. "I mean... Simba?"
"Yes. He is the king of these lands, and rules all creatures with a benevolent paw."
"Does he? Hmmm... Well, I have heard many... good things about him," Zira twisted her muzzle into what she hoped was a believable grin, "I would love to meet him."
"Would you now? Well, I may be able to arrange that. Follow me, my dear. I shall take you to him." Zazu turned from the smiling lioness, with a few quick hops he was once again airborne. He circled over Zira once and was soon flying in a northern direction away from the border, and towards Pride Rock. Zira smiled. If Zazu would have seen it, it may have looked like a grin of joy, but Zira knew it was one of cunning. The hornbill was soon far in front and above her, so Zira began to follow him at a quick pace, while wicked thoughts surged through her mind. She looked up, and concluded that Zazu was too far above her to hear.
"The final phase begins! Scar, are you watching?"
* * * * *
"Mmmm, what a great sleep that was." Nuka opened his eyes, awaking from his long slumber and stretched his limbs. He was lying on his back, in a comfortable position, and his muzzle spread wide as he yawned. He stretched the muscles in his neck as he moved his head in a circle, feeling the taut muscles strain then relax. He sighed happily as a feeling of absolute content caressed his mind.
"I will never be lonely again! My solitary anguish is over! I have finally found my love and my place in The Great Circle of Life!" He closed his eyes, stretched his legs once more, and began to laugh, thinking these happy thoughts. He reached for his mate with his left paw, searching for her soft pelt, and warm body. His paw hit only air!
His eyes flashed open in a mere second, and a second later he had swung his head towards the spot where Usiyahi had lain beside him, before he had drifted off to sleep. He rolled onto his stomach, and his paw fell on the spot, but now it was cold and empty. He breathed in, tying to detect her scent, but it was very faint, as if she had been gone for a long time.
"Usi? Usi!" He called for her, but no answer came back to him. Now fully awake he rose to his paws and began a frantic search for his love.
"Usi? Usi! Where are you?" He voiced his thoughts aloud, but still only silence answered him. Why would she leave without telling him? In the middle of the night, no less! His confusion was quickly beginning to give way to anger as he began to wander the lands, searching for Usiyahi, but still finding no trace of the lioness.
"Looking for someone?" Nuka froze as a voice echoed around him. It was female, but did not belong to Usiyahi. It sounded sinister, but also quite intelligible. Nuka slowly turned, but jumped back as his gaze fell on a leering lioness, who had somehow ended up right behind him. He did not even know she had been following him. Nuka took a moment to consider this exotic lioness. Her wild eyes were a deep burgundy, and they studied him with interest. Her pelt was a deep red, covered in strange markings, and even stranger looking scars. His eyes traveled up her face, a her face that was "painted" with strange markings and symbols, that looked like they had been smeared on her face with red clay.
"My, my, aren't you a strange looking one."
"I was starting to think the same thing about you." Nuka narrowed his eyes as he could not help but think this female knew something he didn't, since she kept her muzzle firmly set in that sinister leer.
"My god, Kondo, told me of you. You are so very rare... yes indeed. Oh, I never thought it could be possible, but my eyes tell me it is true. Oh, do you know, I believe you may be the only one of your kind... fascinating." The strange lioness began to lick her long canine teeth, as she studied Nuka intensely, causing the young male to grow very nervous.
"What are you talking about? Who are you, and where is my mate, Usiyahi?" At Nuka's question the lioness burst into a fit of maniacal laughter, that chilled Nuka to the bone.
"Your mate?! Oh, I see you inherited their brains. Ho, Ho, Hee, Hee, Ha, Ha, Ha, tell me... you must... Hee, Hee, Ha, Ha, Ha, do you drool a lot too?" The lioness kept up her laughing, and Nuka felt himself growing very annoyed. He no longer wanted anything to do with this female, and wanted to get as far away from this lioness as possible. He quickly turned but the tip of his nose suddenly hit a soft mane. He found himself staring into the red mane of a large male who was somehow right behind him. He didn't even know he had come up behind him! He slowly looked up and his jaw dropped as a pair of green eyes looked down upon.
"Hi there. In a hurry, to go somewhere, friend?" Nuka backed up, and he couldn't believe his eyes as they tried to tell his mind the color of this huge lion's pelt. Black and gray!? He had never seen anything like it. He began to back up, his paws shaking, his tail lashing, his heart pounding, but the lion only wore a grin, that Nuka thought was the most frightening thing he had ever saw.
"You... what are you... you can't be real!"
"Oh, but I am, my friend." Nuka felt his posterior bump into something furry. Suddenly his mind reminded him about the lioness who was still behind him, as she suddenly grabbed his tail.
"You know, I thought this should have been a lot shorter, but I suppose the lion side of you, dominated this part, eh? I wonder, did it dominate something else?" Nuka heard the lioness laugh, and began to feel very panicky. He pulled the tail out of her grasp, as he wheeled around looking for a way to get out of this predicament. A situation that he could not even begin to conceive how he placed himself in.
"Both of you... leave me alone! I don't want anything to do with either of you!"
"How about Usiyahi? From what I heard you've had plenty to do with her!" Another unrecognizable female voice, now sounded from his left and he tuned to see a large female saunter towards him. She must have been hidden behind a huge termite mound, but was now blocking the path that had, only seconds ago, been a way for him to escape. Nuka looked back and snarled. The three unknown lions now had him surrounded, and were beginning to pace around him. The larger one kept licking her teeth, like she was considering having an early dinner. The "painted" one kept shaking her head as she kept looking at Nuka from every angle. The dark one's eyes seemed as if they were penetrating his fur, and looking into his very soul. Nuka could no longer hold back his anger, and his nerves exploded in a fearsome roar that shook the termite mounds all around him.
"Impressive, now why didn't I hear something like that the other night?" Nuka's ears twitched as he finally heard a recognizable voice. His nerves suddenly felt a slight sense of relief, as Usiyahi's voice reached his ears, but his fear soon returned as he saw the way she sauntered towards him. She walked between the dark one and the "painted" one, but still gave him a passionate nuzzle. She gave him a look of pained confusion when he did not nuzzle her back. She steeped back, turned and began walking away from him. Her tail turned towards him, she gazed at the horizon.
"Usiyahi! Who are these lions?" She looked over her shoulder, with a cunning grin on her face, a look he had never seen before.
"Oh, silly me, I forgot to tell you about my friends."
"Your friends? These..." Nuka looked towards the dark one who had one eye raised as if daring him to say something. Nuka decided to change the word he was thinking of, "These things are your friends?"
"Oh, yes!" Nuka narrowed his eyes as he saw Usiyahi wink at the dark lion, "And "other" things." Usiyahi turned around to face Nuka, as the three began to assemble behind her.
"Since they are my friends, and since you are my friend as well, then they are your friends too."
"I thought that was some other way around."
"Oh, no. But I suppose if you are referring to the saying, my enemy is also there's, that would be another subject." Usiyahi cocked her head towards the large lioness, "When is the next full moon, again?"
"Perfect! Well, Nuka, you haven't be properly introduced have you?" Nuka only aloud his eyes to shift among the three lions and said nothing.
"I'll take that as a no. Well, this is Nyota," Usiyahi motioned towards the large lioness, "This is Shari, our shaman, and healer," Usiyahi monitored towards the "painted" one, "And of course, last, but far from least, this is Kisasi." Usiyahi did more than motion towards the dark lion as she did with the others. Nuka's eyes spread wide a he saw, Usiyahi's tail move across Kisasi's flanks, in a passionate caress.
"Now, Nuka," Usiyahi turned and gave him a cunning grin, "What shall we talk about?"
* * * * *
"Hornbill, what is this taking so long?" Zira tapped her tail on the ground impatiently as she waited for the King of Pride Rock.
"My name is Zazu, my dear. I would appreciate it if you address me by my proper name."
"Whatever!" Zira's heart was pounding in her chest, and she was anxious to finally meet the lion who had ruined her life. Thoughts and images flashed through her mind.
"I must appear as if I am a sweet, innocent lioness, who is only looking for a place to rest until her cubs are born. I cannot let Simba know of my true intentions. " Zira grinned at how much truth their actually was to this lie, she did need a sanctuary such as Pride Rock that would give her the comfort and protection she needed when she gave birth. And she had to admit, The Pride Lands were indeed as wondrous as she had imagined, but still it was a hollow beauty. Nothing seemed beautiful any more ever since Scar was murdered. The images displayed in her mind were a mixture of sorrow for her past, but joy for a glorious future. A future that she intended will finally come true for herself and for her cubs. Zira must have been too caught up in her own thoughts to realize what was happening around her, because suddenly, Zazu's voice caused her to jump.
"My lady, pay attention! Look, here comes our majesty now!" Zira's eyes followed the direction Zazu pointed with his wing. Her gaze fell upon the lion; her eyes instantly narrowed. She watched him saunter below them, then her eyes followed his strong yet graceful movements as he followed the path up towards the promontory, where Zira and Zazu were waiting for him. Zira's eyes devoured his form, and her mind twisted in agony upon seeing the killer of her love, but still there was something about this lion that carried a strange aura about him, which Zira found very intriguing. His movements carried him in a valiant fashion, and he seemed to posses a pathos that would let any creature know he was indeed a king. He seemed to be a lion of great power and intelligence, and a lion worthy of respect. Nevertheless, in Zira's mind, he was the lowest form of life in all the lands. Zazu's voice once again, roused her from her deep thoughts.
"You are supposed to be bowing! Bow very low! You are in the presence of royalty!" Though it pained her to do it, Zira did as the retainer commanded. Zira kept her muzzle close to ground in what she hoped was an elegant, humble bow. She caught sight of the majordomo, out of the corner of her eye, and his own bowing was done in such a outlandish and submissive manner that she felt like she was about to lose her lunch. Simba sauntered towards them with a tedious grin, and sat down on his haunches.
"Good day, Zazu! Another beautiful day, isn't it?"
"Yes, my king, it is indeed a marvelous day. Shall I begin my morning report?"
"Very well, I guess I have nothing better to do." Words and senseless chatter that had no point in Zira's mind soon followed, as the king and his retainer chatted for what seemed like hours about everything under the sun. Zira's neck was beginning to throb in pain. She couldn't believe that this so-called benevolent ruler hadn't even made any indication that he knew she was there.
"... but minor problems like these can be expected, Simba. Finally everything is getting back to the way it was before. Everything is well again, just like it was under the magnificent rule of your father."
"That is all I want, Zazu. To be a king in every meaning of the word, like my father was. I have sworn to follow in his pawprints."
"Thank Aiheu, there will never be another disgusting wretch like Scar! Oh, I still shudder when I think of that sinister beast, and how he ruined our lives." Zira could not hold back a snarl, but caught herself in the nick of time, changing it so it sounded like she was only clearing her throat. Simba finally noticed her.
"Zazu, who is this... shapely lioness who has ventured into our lands?"
"This is... uh.... what is your name, my dear?"
"My name? Oh, it is Zir... I mean... Ushandra."
"Well, Ushandra. Are you going to be standing like that all day, or will I get the chance to see your eyes?" Zira rose her head, and her eyes locked on to Simba's. Simba cocked his head, and twisted his muzzle into a look of puzzlement, when he saw a deep hatred that lied there. Zira noticed Simba's look, and quickly twisted her muzzle into a comforting grin, causing Simba to thankfully grin back.
"I have to say, you are quite beautiful, Ushandra. I can imagine you have a hard time keeping males off your back." Zira kept her smile, but her blood was boiling. She could not even fathom that her love's killer, was hitting on her!" Zazu's mocking words suddenly rang in her ears, but somehow Zira still kept her false grin.
"Well, my king. It looks like one male stayed on her back for quite a long time." He motioned towards Zira's slightly sagging belly. Simba and Zazu exchanged a good laugh, but Zira just kept her false grin, although her eyes darted back and forth. Simba's look of perplexity returned.
"You know, you are allowed to speak." Zira finally found her voice, but she wished she thought before she spoke.
"Oh, I can? Wow, and I thought I would have to keep this ruse up all day. I wondered how long I would have to keep grinning at the lion who killed..." Zazu and Simba both said "What?" at the exact same time. Zira placed a paw over her lips, and backed up.
"Oh... I uh... I mean... uh... that it is really great that I finally get the chance to meet the lion who killed... who killed...who killed..." Simba's head swayed back and forth, as he was trying to understand what this lioness was trying to say.
"Oh... Well, actually I didn't kill him. You see I detest violence and murder, I would never.."
"You did kill him! I... uh... mean that is what I heard."
"Really? And who was that from?"
"Oh, you know, just the local chit chat, after all you are very famous." Zira watched Simba, puff out his chest, and grin.
"Yes, I suppose I am."
"Oh, most definitely! So famous, that I have been dying to meet you?"
"Really?" Simba laughed; Zira smiled, this was too easy. "Well, tell me, does the actual lion live up to the legend?"
"Oh, in more ways than you will ever know. If you only knew how I truly feel about you, you would just die!"
"Oh, come now, Zira. I am very sorry to disappoint you, but I already have a mate, and from what I can see, you must have one too."
"Yes, and no."
"Yes, and no?"
"Well, you see, my one, true mate was taking from me by a ruthless killer, and I have been forced to fend for myself. I've had to survive in a bitter world, that scorns me, and all I stand for. Zira kept her eyes low to the ground, as if in sorrow.
"Zira, I am terribly sorry to hear that. But it is obvious some male must have fell in love with you."
"Well, I wouldn't call it love, if you know what I mean. It only sealed an alliance."
"Oh, OK." Simba twitched his muzzle in confusion, and looked down towards Zazu to see if the hornbill understood what Zira meant. Zazu only shrugged his wings.
"Hmmm, you must be an Outsider. No offense, but your words and ways are a little strange to me."
"An Outsider?" Zira scratched her chin with a claw as if she was in deep contemplation, "Yes, I suppose you could say I come from The Outlands."
"The Outlands, hmmm. Well, you are a member of The Pride Lands now, Ushandra. So allow me to give you the full fledged tour."
"Shouldn't you be getting back to you mate?"
"Well," Simba's eyes fell towards the ground "I wish I could, but she is not here."
"She's not here?!" Simba looked up at Zira's sudden outburst. The lioness immediately twisted her muzzle into that false grin once more.
"No.... she isn't."
"May I be so bold to ask why?" Simba looked over Zira, trying to see something, that he couldn't see. Deep down, something was telling him there was something strange about this lioness.
"She's with Sarafina, and Rafiki."
"Oh, that's right, you could not possibly know of our shaman. He is a very wise baboon who..." Simba looked down at Zazu, and the bird and lion exchanged knowing grins,"...Knocked some sense into me."
"Isn't that sweet, but I need to know where they are, and what they are doing!" Zazu's voice answered back.
"Why do you need to know?" Zira looked down and saw Zazu was no longer wearing his usual friendly grin, but his eyes were narrowed. She looked back up and saw Simba's eyes were the same.
"I, well... I am... just curious that's all." She saw Simba look away, Zazu saw it too.
"The king would rather not mention such a painful subject."
"Painful subject? How painful could it be?"
"I told you that..."
"No, Zazu. I'll tell her." Simba looked back up, and Zira saw tears were beginning to form in his eyes.
"My mother, was... slain. We do not know how, or why, or what evil beast could have possibly done it, but I have sent my mate, our shaman, and my mother's closest friend to scour the lands and try to find out something."
"May I be so bold to ask what your mother's name was?"
"Her name was Sarabi. Simba's eyes spread wide when he suddenly saw Zira had a huge smile on her face.
"What is that for?!" Zira suddenly realized the wicked grin she was wearing, but she couldn't help it, having found out everything she had surmised was indeed true.
"Oh, I am sorry, it's just that I cannot help but grin, knowing what a good heart you have, and seeing that you are able to survive through this pain." Zira sighed in relief as she saw Simba nod his head.
"Thank you, it has been horribly hard on me. I've lost my father, and now my...." Zira decided now was the perfect time to begin weaving her web of deceit, as the perfect path suddenly opened up to her. She walked up and nuzzled Simba in a passionate caress, then kissed his lips with her soft tongue.
"I'm so sorry, to see you in this much pain. How I wish I could tell you I know how you feel, but my heart breaks to see you like this." She backed up and grinned as she saw Simba was staring at her in shock.
"Oh, sorry... I probably shouldn't have done that."
"No, don't be sorry.... that is the nicest thing any lioness, except my mate, has ever said to me."
"Maybe, but I should have held back that lick."
"No you shouldn't have! I have to admit, I... liked it."
"You miss your mate, don't you?"
"I miss her very much, it must have been at least a full moon since I last saw my Nala." Zira grinned as she finally found out her name. She looked down at Zazu, who had the biggest look of shock on his face, as he was staring up at Simba. A look that made her want to burst out laughing. Zira was starting to enjoy this.
"It has been a full moon, since you've had a warm lioness to snuggle up to at nights?" Simba nodded. "A full moon to feel the love, that no doubts burns inside both of your hearts?" Zira walked up and moved her tail across Simba's flanks in a long, slow caress. "I am so sorry to hear that." Simba looked back up and found himself staring into Zira's alluring, amber eyes.
"Yes, I have missed... love." Zazu cleared his throat loudly, trying to stop what he saw was unfolding.
"Uh, my king, I think I should show Ushandra around Pride Rock now. You should be getting back to your duties."
"No, Zazu. That is OK. I'll show Ushandra around Pride Rock."
"But, my king, I think that is unwise."
"Are you questioning my decision, Zazu?" Zazu looked up towards Simba then towards Zira who only grinned back at him. It was a wicked grin that chilled the little hornbill to the bone.
"No, your Excellency, I just want you to be careful. I don't want you to do anything you'll regret." Simba laughed.
"And I want you to stop treating me like I am still a cub. Go attend to your duties, Zazu. I'll see you later."
"As you wish." Zazu looked at Zira who was still wearing that wicked grin, but followed his king's orders and took to the sky. Zira watched him fly off, and when she looked back she saw Simba was wearing a look that caused Zira to lick her lips.
"Now, Simba. What should we talk about?" Deep in her mind, Zira was screaming thousands of words at once. All of which that could be translated as "triumph."
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: OBLIVIOUS
"This can't be true! I won't believe it!" Nuka sat shaking his head in denial, as Usiyahi sat facing him.
"Believe it, my friend. Your so called mother has lied to you."
"Mother? How can I even call her that anymore?" Nuka felt like crying, and any second he thought he was going to.
"I am very sorry, Nuka. I still cannot believe, you could not put two and two together."
"I won't believe it! I won't! I just won't! I am not what you say I am!" The red lioness, Shari, who was the one who had told Nuka the truth about his heritage, began to walk towards him.
"Look at yourself! Why would I lie?" Nuka began shaking his head, unable to comprehend what he was hearing. "Look at your coloring, look at how you are shaped, my God, you even drool like one!"
"I do not... oh, gods, I do!" Nuka buried his head in his paws and began sobbing into them. Usiyahi looked towards Shari and shook her head. Draping a paw over Nuka's shoulders, she licked his face in a warm kiss.
"Nuka, listen to me, there is nothing you can do about it now. I just couldn't see you live your whole life without knowing the truth." Nuka looked up at Usiyahi, and bated her paw away with his own.
"At least living a lie, is better than living a whole life full of pain!" Shari sat beside him.
"Nuka, you have to accept it. You're a half breed!" Nuka spun on Shari, and snarled, drool dripping from his jaws.
"Why should I believe you? Why should I believe what some god tells you anyway? I don't believe in him! Hell, I don't even know what his name is!" Shari's eyes blazed.
"Kondo is our lord! He knows all!"
"Does he know one of his shamans is nothing but a lying worm?" Shari splayed her claws, and snarled, but before she could get a word in, Nuka beat her to it.
"Damn this Kondo for all I care, and damn you too!"
"Blasphemy, sacrilege, defilement, I shall watch you die!" Usiyahi stepped between the two snarling lions, and held back both of their anger.
"Shari, leave us!" Shari snarled one last time, and turned on her paws.
"I wouldn't even bother touching that filth, you call blood. You are an abomination, that one day I pray shall be cleansed from this earth!"
"Take your friends with you!" Nuka motioned towards Nyota and Kisasi who had remained silent during the entire time.
"Kisasi, Nyota, Shari, leave us alone! He's right, I need to be alone with him." Nyota bowed, and ran after Shari who was already quite a ways away, not wanting to even breathe the same air Nuka was. However, Kisasi's gaze remained fixed on Usiyahi for a long time. Usiyahi looked back and twisted her muzzle into a confused look, as if saying, "What?" Kisasi only grinned, and a wicked laugh escaped his muzzle. Still, he too turned and followed the two lionesses, but looked back once with a sinister grin.
"Let not the same fate befall you, Usi, as it did with Zira!" Before Usiyahi could respond, Kisasi had disappeared behind a termite mound. The lioness looked back and saw Nuka had buried his head in his claws once more; weeping bitterly. Usiyahi did not know what to do, she looked back towards the termite hill, where Kisasi had disappeared, and then back to the Nuka. She closed her eyes, and hung her head towards the ground, trying to sort out her feelings. The intense crying rang in her ears. Her own heart felt as though it was about to break, and she felt her own eyes begin to mist. She looked back towards the direction the three lions had taken, and narrowed her eyes, as her jaw shook, and her tail lashed. Nodding her head, she made her decision.
Nuka felt a warm paw on his shoulder, and when he looked up he saw the misty eyes of Usiyahi staring into his. His jaw dropped but was immediately covered by Usiyahi's as their muzzles met in a kiss. Nuka instantly broke the kiss, and backed up, his eyes blazing with hate.
"Don't you ever kiss me again! Do you hear me? The love I thought you had for me was nothing but a lie!" Usiyahi walked back towards the young male and tried to nuzzle him, but was met with a vicious backhanded paw, that sent her sprawling towards the ground.
"Are you deaf? I will not fall for your treachery any longer. You made your choice! Go with that dark lion, and your evil friends. I want nothing more to do with you! You ruined my life, and I will never forgive you!" Nuka turned and began to walk away.
"Where will you go, Nuka?" Nuka stopped, but did not look back.
"I had to let you know the truth. I could not believe what Shari told me, and I thought it was worse to let you live in the lie, than having me always know the truth about you." Nuka remained staring at the ground.
"Nuka look at me! I... love you! I realize that now!" Nuka spoke but still kept his eyes fixed to the ground. His lashing tail was enough proof of the deep anger that was wracking his very soul.
"Love? You do not even know the meaning of the word."
"No, I didn't, but I do now! I have never felt anything to what I feel when I am with you."
"No, Nuka! My love, that I thought I had with Kisasi was the lie! The love I have with you is the truth!"
"Why should I believe you?"
"Nuka... you shouldn't. You're right, I betrayed and used you, but I had to remain true to my king and to my pride. You have to understand... I had no choice!"
"Now I know you do not understand what it means to love." Usiyahi lowered her head causing a few tears to fall from her face.
"Nuka, I do what I am about to do because I love my pride, not Kisasi. Nevertheless, my true intentions will be shown in the end, because I love you more than I love my pride." Usiyahi turned and slowly walked away. She looked back one last time.
"For what it's worth... I'm sorry." Nuka slowly raised his head and his gaze fell upon the distant form of the lioness. Usiyahi never disappeared from his view because he decided to follow her.
* * * * *
"...Yes, she sounds like a wonderful mate."
"Nala, is my one true love, you have no idea how much I miss her, if only she was here right now." The two lions walked side by side caressed by the abundant splendors of The Pride Lands.
"Tell me, Ushandra, do you like it here?"
"This place is more amazing than I can possibly describe, everything you have shown me, I still can not take it all in."
"It seems to me to be even more wondrous at night." Zira nodded her head. She raised it to the sky, and saw the full moon far above her, causing her muzzle to twist into a huge grin.
"Ushandra, I was wondering if you would like to stay here with us?" Zira looked back and grinned.
"I cannot stay, Simba. I am only here for one purpose and one purpose only." Simba lowered his head, and sighed.
"Oh, your cubs... there is nothing else?"
"Well, yes, one other thing." Simba raised his head and looked back towards the lioness.
"You'll find out soon enough." Simba cocked his head and could not help but stare at the breathtaking lioness, as the moon's rays played upon her body.
"Your mate, Ushandra, what was he like?" Zira's gaze slowly moved across Simba's face.
"There will never be another like him."
"May I ask his name?" Zira's eyes remained locked on the lion.
"His name is not important." Simba twisted his muzzle into a look of confusion.
"What is it, Ushandra? There is something about you that troubles me. It seems as if something is driving you.
"What do you mean?"
"This past day was really fun, and I had a great time with you. You seemed to really enjoy it too, but there is something there, that I cannot place my paw on. There is something about you, that... makes me nervous." Zira raised her eye, and licked her lips.
"Really? I like it when I have an advantage over males." Simba rolled his eyes.
"That is not what I mean. I know there is something you haven't told me."
"Oh, come on now, Simba, I told you everything."
"What about you past?" Zira's grin forthwith disappeared, Simba noticed it, and raised an eye.
"I cannot tell you. Believe me I wish I could, but soon you will know. Very soon all my secrets will be revealed to you."
"You keep saying that, Ushandra, what do you mean by it?" Zira licked her lips.
"Let me just put it this way. If I wasn't with cubs, I would show you what I mean right now." Simba's eyes spread wide.
"What did you say?"
"Simba, answer me this. I know how long it has been since you've been with Nala. If I wasn't with cubs, what would it take, for me to make you forget about Nala, for one night?" Simba quickly looked away, but Zira was persistent.
"Simba, I must know your answer, before I make my decision."
"Decision, what decision?"
"One that will shape both of our futures." Simba looked deep into Zira's eyes and tried to see what she was referring to, but as always the shady lioness' true motives escaped him.
"Do you want the truth, Ushandra?"
"That is all I ask." Simba lowered his head, trying not to look into Zira's alluring eyes.
"Ushandra, you are a beautiful, intelligent lioness, who I am sure would make any male happy, but you and I... it can never be. I am sorry." A sinister voice, entered his ears, and when he looked back up, he was horrified to see that it came from the lips of Ushandra.
"I gave you the chance, Simba! I gave you one chance, to change the future, even if you have never been worthy of it. I should have known your answer." Simba narrowed his eyes as he saw Ushandra kept her sinister gaze locked on him.
"Ushandra, what is the matter, why are you acting this way?"
"Simba!" The voice did not change, "There is something you need to know. I have a... confession to make. I want you to meet me in the savanna, tomorrow." Zira turned from the lion and began to stomp away.
"Ushandra? What are you talking about?" The lioness stopped and slowly turned her head towards the bewildered male. Simba's jaw dropped as he saw the most wicked grin he ever saw a lioness could twist her muzzle in.
"I know who killed, Sarabi." Simba was about to respond, but Zira turned her head and dashed over the rocks, soon disappearing from sight. The male narrowed his eyes as he could sense an evil pathos about this lioness, that flooded his mind with questions. Still, his curiosity got the better of him and he nodded his head.
"Until tomorrow, Ushandra... until tomorrow."
* * * * *
A dark paw, suddenly appeared from behind a termite hill, and hit the muzzle of Usiyahi with the force of a lightning bolt. She cried out and fell towards her side. Clutching her throbbing muzzle with a paw, she looked up and found herself staring into the angry, green eyes of Kisasi.
"You dare betray me, you dare betray our love?" Usiyahi's shocked expression, was answered as a red tail, caressed Kisasi's flanks, followed by the leering muzzle of Shari, as it appeared over the dark lion's huge, muscular shoulders.
"Sorry, my queen, but I decided to come back and check to make sure you are still one of us. I was there the whole time, and sorry to say, heard what you told that half breed." Usiyahi snarled and leapt to her feet.
"You believe this witch, Kisasi? Why would I ever fall in love with Nuka? You know I only love you!"
"You're calling our shaman a liar?" The shaman's laugh echoed around them.
"I think we should call our beloved queen that."
"What makes you think, I would betray you Kisasi?" The lion grinned.
"What proof do I have that you won't."
"You will find out the answers to you questions soon enough Kisasi, all of them!"
"Very well, this should be fun. Shari, I shall see you soon. You and Nyota, are staying here, correct?" The sinister lioness, stepped out from behind the dark pelt, of Kisasi and bowed her head.
"Yes, my king. Nyota and I will remain here. Eager to see how everything plays out." Her gaze feel upon the suspicious look of Usiyahi, "Perhaps we will have to crown a new queen when you return." Shari's laugh echoed deep in Usiyahi's ears, as did Kisasi's.
"Perhaps, Shari, perhaps." The dark lion roared towards the skies, as he called the names of the twins.
"Jua, Mwezi, it is time!" The twins emerged from behind the termite hill, and bowed towards Kisasi. Kisasi roared three times towards the skies, followed by his lionesses in unison, all except Usiyahi. With one last look towards Usiyahi, the dark lion spun on his paw and began to journey towards The Pride Lands. The twins quickly caught up to him and walked with the dark lion, flanking each side of him. Usiyahi gave one last look to Shari, allowing her muzzle to twist into a smug grin.
"Take Care, Shari. Just remember one thing... only I know my true loyalties. Allow this to keep you up at night." Before Shari had the chance to reply, Usiyahi was gone. The shaman cursed, and disappeared back into the termite hill. If only she waited a little longer, she would have seen Nuka running after the four lions at a safe distance.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: BURNING RAGE
Stretching her muscles is an elegant display, the lioness swung her head towards the horizon, and the morning rays gleamed off her eyes. She sat back on her haunches, and shifted her weight to her back paws. Spreading her paws out before her in a wide "V," the lioness threw her head back, and roared towards the skies.
"Today, my love! Today is the day of your vengeance! Today all of my dreams shall come to pass!" Her intense, drawn out roar caused her eyes to mist with tears, and her whole body shook in frenzy. She suddenly splayed her claws, and drew them close to her eyes, scanning their length and sharpness.
"Blood! Simba's blood, shall soon flow down these claws! I have waited an eternity for this! Scar, are you watching?" Zira flexed her claws and roared once more, her voice breaking the previous stillness of the dawn. She slowly lowered her paws to the ground, allowing a huge grin to spread across her face. Breathing heavily, she scanned Pride Rock far in the distance, and imagined all of the coming day's events.
A sharp pain in her loins suddenly jolted her senses back to reality, and looking down, she painfully realized how close the birth of her cubs actually was. She closed her eyes, and gritted her teeth, praying that she would be able to complete the task that has been set before her. She couldn't let anything hold her back from her ultimate goal! Nothing could hold her back! Opening her eyes, she scanned the horizon. Far off in the distance she saw a shadow. Narrowing her eyes, it began to materialize, and by its mass and movement, her muzzle twisted into her famous, wicked grin. With a laugh, she spun on her heels, and ran towards Pride Rock.
* * * * *
The sun hit the dark lion full in the face, as he licked his long canines with his tongue. The rays pierced his green eyes, causing them to gleam like fire. The rays played upon his black pelt and red mane, causing each to shimmer and gleam, and the wind rippled through them. Swinging his head away from the sun, his eyes focused on the wondrous beauty, while simultaneously his nose breathed in the sweet smells, each sense taking in the splendors of The Pride Lands. Looking back his gaze fell upon Usiyahi who sat by his side equally stunned. Both of the lions had never conceived of any place quite like this.
"It is more amazing than, Zira, described it. Isn't it, Usi?"
"I wasn't there... remember?"
"Oh, that's right. Must have slipped my mind. What were you doing all that time anyway?"
"I told you, it doesn't matter! It is in the past, as is everything I once thought was the truth."
"Is that so, my dear?" Kisasi's watched as Usiyahi slowly turned to him.
"You know, you king, you mate, and your love, would be so interested if you told me what you meant by that."
"All of those titles are what I am referring to, love." Kisasi narrowed his eyes at Usiyahi's sly grin.
"Usi, sweet Usi, you are so sinister, the thing that made me fall in love with you. What did I ever see in that, Zira, anyway?"
"I often wondered the exact same thing, Kisasi."
"As I did with that, Nuka!" Usiyahi turned her gaze away from the dark lion and back towards the horizon.
"More than you'll ever know, my love... more than you'll ever know." Kisasi grinned at his own thoughts which caused him to want to suddenly burst out laughing, but a pungent scent soon entered his nostrils, and he turned to see the twins finally arrive. They, likewise, were awestruck when they saw the beauty of The Pride Lands spread out before them. If they were not holding the burning bones tightly in their jaws, their muzzles would have gaped open in awe. Kisasi rose to his paws and stepped over the border into Pride Rock. Usiyahi stood by his side, with Jua beside her, and Mwezi on Kisasi's right. The four lions stood there, as the sun fell down upon them, and the wind, mixed with wisps of smoke, coursed through their pelts. The four pair of eyes focused on one focal point, Pride Rock. Kisasi twisted his neck in a slow circle, the corded muscles stretching and relaxing, then his eyes narrowed and his lips spread into a wicked grin.
"It is time!"
* * * * *
"Simba. Simbaaaa. Wake up!" The King of Pride Rock turned over and groggily opened his eyes. The sight of Zira leering down at him, caused his mind to immediately clear, all wisps of slumber vanishing in an instant.
"Ushandra?! What? What is it?"
"It is time, Simba."
"Time for what?"
"Don't you remember what I told you yesterday?"
"Yes, of course!"
"Then follow me, quickly!" Simba didn't have time to respond as he saw the lioness was already sauntering towards the entrance of his lair. Simba rose to his paws, maneuvered his way around a few sleeping lionesses, and was soon right behind Zira's swaying tail.
"Where are we going?"
"You'll find out soon enough!" Simba had to increase his pace, as Zira suddenly bolted towards the grasses of the savanna. Simba, confused, but still curious ran after her.
The grazing beasts of prey watched their king past with limited interest, most too busy munching on their breakfast of grass to pay the passing lions much attention. After awhile Zira reached the tall grasses of the savanna, and turned to see Simba right behind her.
"Follow me, my beloved king, into the concealing grasses of the savanna, where all your questions shall finally be made aware to you. Ironic, isn't it? In these concealing grasses, at last you will see everything." Simba was about to respond, but Zira suddenly disappeared into the tall grass. Simba looked back towards Pride Rock, not far off, and shook his head, wishing he had a few of his lionesses with him. He had a terrible sense of dread about this whole thing, something about this was very suspicious. How he wished Nala and Rafiki were here. He wouldn't even mind if his close friends Timon and Pumbaa were by his side, but his mate and the shaman were searching for Sarabi's killer, and as for the meerkat and warthog, he had no idea where there wanderings had taken them. Shrugging his shoulders he walked into the grass, and followed Zira's lashing tail. Many minutes of this oblivious wandering followed, but Simba knew he was coming closer and closer towards the southern border of The Pride Lands, and farther and farther from Pride Rock. His mind wandering and his sense of direction deteriorating, he suddenly felt Zira's tail right in his face. She had suddenly stopped and seemed to be searching for something. Slowly, she turned her head towards the lion, but when Simba saw the vainglorious leer she had on her face, he felt an awful sense of fear.
"What are you up to, Ushandra?"
"Well, honey tree, I think it's time for me to kill this game."
"What? What are you talking about?" Zira turned and began to pace around Simba.
"Do you know why I've brought you here?"
"I have no idea."
"Oh, that is such a good answer. That is the mindset I want you in. Simba, tell me something, do you remember a lion who went by the name of Scar?"
"I try not to."
"Oh, really, why is that? Is it because you killed him?" Simba looked up and saw Zira had her muzzle right next to his.
"I already told you I didn't kill him, how many times must I explain ... Ow!" Simba was suddenly hit with a backhanded paw from the lioness. He clutched his throbbing face and looked back up with a look of shock.
"Ushandra, what the hell was that for?"
"That felt so good! I wanted to do that for an eternity!"
"Ushandra what are you... how dare you strike the King of Pride Rock!"
"Shut up! You are nothing! To me you are lowest form of life in all these lands! You are not even good enough to make love to a hyena!
"What is the matter with you? Ushandra, why are you acting like this? What have I done?"
"You want to know the truth, Simba? You want to know why I brought you here? You want to know the truth about me?"
"I am Zira, not Ushandra! Ushandra is dead! You killed her when you killed Scar!"
"You killed my mate! You killed my love... my one and only love! You killed, my happiness, my innocence, and my whole life! You created all of my hate! You created me!"
"What? Scar was you mate? How could you ever love a vicious murderer like him?"
"Wait... before I answer that question.... do you smell something?" Zira sniffed the air, then grinned. "It smells like something is burning!" Simba instinctively breathed in the air, then his jaw dropped when he recognized the pungent smell of smoke. Zira began laughing.
"Fool! Look behind you!" Simba turned and his eyes spread wide with fear. He saw smoke rising above the grass, and very close, only about twenty feet away. Flames had engulfed the grass, and were causing a wildfire that was moving towards him. Simba spun his head back with burning eyes, eyes that matched the intensity of the burning flames behind him.
"You... you... wicked... backstabing... you betrayed me! After all I've done for you?"
"Idiot! That is why I betrayed you! You are a fool, a trusting fool! By the way, I think it is time for me to tell you something. A little secret that I forgot to mention when I first met you." Zira sat back on her haunches, spread her front paws out before her and grinned. "Look upon the one who killed Sarabi! Look upon the one who killed your mother!" Zira's wicked laugh was soon drowned out by Simba's roar.
"Nooooo! Murderer!" Simba steadied his paws and was about to spring at Zira, intent on ripping the wicked lioness to shreds, but suddenly his eyes spread wide and his jaw dropped when a dark lion suddenly emerged from the smoking grasses, and met Simba's shocked stare with a wicked one.
"Hi there. I don't think we've met."
"Kisasi, take him!"
"Just like we planned?"
"No, Zira! That... thing won't get the chance, I am going to rip your black heart out!" Kisasi spun his head towards the enraged king, and steadied his paws, then met the lion in mid leap, Kisasi's mammoth shoulders hitting Simba's flanks, knocking him off target. Simba and Kisasi both tumbled to the ground, but in an instant both of them were back on their feet. Their eyes both blazed in a fury, and each leaped at each other in a flurry of teeth and claws. Kisasi expertly matched Simba's thrusts and swipes, and parried every slash with his blocking paws. Every attack was foiled, every lunge was interrupted. Simba felt the intense heat, then looking over his left shoulder, he could see the fire had grown dangerously close, and were beginning to surround the two combatants in a circle of flames. Kisasi took the opportunity, seeing Simba distracted he swung both paws simultaneously in a backhanded swipe across Simba's face. Both hit equally in timing and force, causing the king to fall to his side. Simba looked up, and saw the dark lion was about to pounce on him, the lion's mane as red as the flames surrounding them. Simba tried to roll, but was suddenly slashed across his unprotected legs from Zira's claws. Simba cried out and couldn't move fast enough to escape the pounce of Kisasi; in an instant the dark lion had his claws poised near Simba's neck. Simba looked up in rage, mixed with hate at the dark lion, and then his muzzle turned into an ugly snarl as he saw Zira was laughing right next to the snarling Kisasi.
"Oh, I know that was such an unfair battle, but hey, I enjoyed it. I only wish it lasted longer, how I wanted to watch you bleed!"
"Here, love, let me give this show then." Simba cried out as Kisasi slashed a long cut across Simba's face, and Zira howled in laughter.
"Oh, Kisasi, you know just how to make me laugh, I love you!"
"Do you, Zira?" Kisasi looked up, but kept Simba pinned under him with all his weight. Simba tried to struggle but it was useless.
"Let me show you how much I do!" Zira grabbed Kisasi's muzzle with her paws and licked his lips in a long slow kiss. Then grabbed the claw that had Simba's blood running down it and placed it close to her mouth. Her tongue shot out, and licked off some of the blood, then placing the entire claw inside her mouth, she began sucking it seductively. Kisasi grinned a lewd grin, then nuzzled Zira.
"Oh, Zira, I knew it was real between us."
"Tell me, you never loved that Usiyahi."
"Never! I never had any love for her! I only used her!"
"YOU BASTARD!" Both of the two lions looked up simultaneously, as they saw Usiyahi suddenly lunge through the burning grass, the flames scorching her pelt. Kisasi had no time to move out of the way, as Usiyahi hit him with the force of a charging rhino, knocking him off completely off the helpless Simba. Zira roared in anger.
"Usi, No! You bitch, you've ruined everything!" Usiyahi looked up and grinned ignoring the pain that was coursing through her scalded body.
"No, Zira, that is your name!"
"My thoughts exactly!" Zira had only a second to turn her head, before she saw Simba lunge towards her.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
Zira was tackled by the weight of Simba and looked up only to see his jaws plunge towards her exposed neck. Zira closed her eyes, praying the death blow would be swift, while a far corner of her brain was screaming with happiness, for it knew the chance to finally be reunited with Scar would be any second. But a high pitched roar suddenly caused the lioness to open her eyes, and then she felt the weight of Simba suddenly move as he was knocked to his side again. She rose to her paws, and almost fainted when she saw Nuka and Simba were locked in combat, both dangerously close to the advancing flames.
"Nuka, what the hell are you doing here. Get out of here, you idiot! You are going to get yourself killed!" A high pitched scream caused her to turn her attention back to the other two battling lions to her left.
"Betrayer. Betrayer. BETRAYER!" Kisasi roared and cursed as he continually slashed Usiyahi's body, his claws ripping her to a bloody mess. Usiyahi was screaming in pain, trying to protect herself, but the dark lion was too enraged and the lioness knew she was doomed. Zira could not help but laugh.
"Good-bye Usiyahi! You know the penalty for betrayal...death!"
"No! You will not hurt her!" Zira swung her head back and saw Nuka jump to his paws, allowing Simba to rise to his, and then her mouth dropped when she saw Nuka slash Kisasi's side in a deep cut with his claws. Kisasi looked towards Nuka, with a mixed look of anger and surprise.
"You little half breed.... I shall watch you die, as soon as I..." Kisasi's words were cut short as his other side was slashed by Simba who was amazingly helping Nuka. Zira couldn't believe her eyes.
"Nuka! No, what are you doing! You've betrayed me!" Kisasi rolled off of Usiyahi, his claws ripping her flesh even more in the process. He managed to roll far enough away from the Nuka and Simba, and jumped to his paws. TOO FAR!
Kisasi looked to his right and flames were there, he looked to his left and flames were also there, then he felt them. His roar split the skies as he howled in pain. Zira stood transfixed, frozen with horror, as she watched the flames engulf her love, turning his dark pelt the same color as his red mane. His screams of pain caused her eyes to mist, and then she saw his body move through the fire, trying to find a means of escape. Then she lost sight of him, but his screams still pierced the smoky air, then silence.
Zira shook her head, no this can't be true. Not again! She felt tears in her eyes, but couldn't shed them as her gaze turned on Nuka, then on Simba. She couldn't think as she saw Nuka run to the fallen Usiyahi, and then when her gaze fell back on Simba, her mind exploded in fear, and she spun on her paws and ran for her life. Simba roared towards the heaven and took chase, the male running after the female in a deadly game of tag. Nuka looked up and knew he had to help his mother, but he couldn't leave Usiyahi's side. He looked back towards the burning grass and saw that any second it would be upon him and his love. Her nudged his head underneath the bleeding body of Usiyahi, and steadied his paws, then with a grunt lifted the skinny, but lanky body of his mate onto his back and ran from the flames to safety, just before they descended upon the spot where Usiyahi lay. He ran and ran through the tall grass, taking one route, the doubling back, then going a different direction, trying to escape the enveloping flames, but it seemed there was no way out. Then out of the corner of his eyes he saw a path, a line of grass that had not yet caught fire. He ran as fast as he could, and just before the grass was consumed he made it through and was safe from the inferno. He continued his run, the lithe body of Usiyahi bouncing on his back, and could see the grass was beginning to clear. He broke through the grass, coughing and wheezing, trying to breathe in the air, and trying to force the smoke from his lungs. He lowered Usiyahi to the ground, and looked down upon the battered, scorched form of his love.
"Usi, please tell me you are going to be all right." The lioness slowly opened her eyes and tried to grin.
"Nuka, oh my sweet Nuka, I am better than I have ever been."
"Don't tall! Let me get you out of here, and back to The Outlands."
"No, Nuka, that won't be necessary. I just want to tell you one thing."
"I love you, Nuka. I finally understand what true love is. You have given me something that I never had with Kisasi. You gave me love, Nuka! You gave me my heart back! Oh, sweet Nuka, always remember what we shared together. Nuka... remember... I... love you."
"Usi, don't die! Please don't!" Usiyahi's eyes were beginning to close.
"Nuka, let me here you say it one last time, tell me you love me, let it be the last thing I hear."
"Usi, no, don't leave me....Usi... I... I... I LOVE YOU!"
"Oh, Nuka, that is all I wanted to hear." Usiyahi grinned one last time, then the last breath escaped her lips. Nuka saw her head fall to the side, then roared to the skies in grief and sorrow. Tears fell like raindrops upon the still form of Usiyahi and that smile upon her face, now frozen forever was too much for Nuka to bare. He buried his head in Usiyahi's pelt and cried bitterly. An unknown voice suddenly silenced his intense weeping.
"I am sorry, my friend, I am very sorry, but you may be meeting her soon, unless you do not leave now!" Nuka looked up, with tears in his eyes, and his gaze fell on four lionesses who had surrounded him, the largest stepped towards him.
"I am Sarafina, and I give you one chance to run for your life back to the evil lands you come from, before I allow the sisterhood to rip you apart for what you did to my closest friend.
"I can smell your scent as clear now as it was covered in the place where you and another murdered Sarabi. You killed my best friend! I should kill you where you stand, but I am not like you. Leave this place now, before I change my mind!" Nuka nodded his head and with one last, sad look towards Usiyahi lying still and peaceful, he spun on his heel and ran back towards The Outlands. He couldn't hold back his tears as he ran, and they dripped out of his eyes. He allowed himself to weep bitterly, as he believed he was crying for both Usiyahi and for Zira. His mate already slain, and he believed his "mother" would soon follow.
* * * * *
Red eyes, blazing like the flames that burned before her, the queen of hate stood before the wildfire and awaited her prey. There would be no more running, no more escape from the pain that haunted her. Simba had caused her anguish beyond measure. He had thrown Scar to his death before her very eyes, and now he had killed Kisasi. He killed them both... he killed them both! Her two loves, the former and the latter both slain by the same lion. The King of Pride Rock, a benevolent and gentle ruler? She spat a terrible curse upon the ground at the lie. He was the most ruthless, bloodthirsty killer in all the lands. The blood of her two loves was on his paws, now his blood would be on hers. She curled her lips into a vicious snarl and awaited the one who was the cause of her misery.
"Simmmmbaaa! I shall run no longer! It will end here! You and I were destined to fight, and I shall fulfill my promise to Scar and avenge not only his death but now Kisasi's as well!"
Her rage was the only thing that could hold back her tears for the loss of the dark lion, but she kept her eyes locked on the grass and steadied her paws. She flexed all her muscles and awaited the lion. Her eyes narrowed, her breathing was heavy, and her veins were pumping with adrenaline. At last she saw him, and her lips curled into a gnarl as her eyes flashed with undying hate. She proclaimed her challenge, the words she had waited to say for days.
"THIS IS FOR YOU, SCAR!"
A sudden explosion of pain rocked her senses, as something blunt, and hard struck her head the moment she ended her words. Unconsciousness embraced her in its dull caress. Her legs buckled and collapsed to the sides, and her head fell towards the earth. Her eyes had already rolled back in her head before it hit the ground.
* * * * *
A dull pain throbbed in her head, as her eyes slowly opened to a glaring sun, and a strong wind teeming with the pungent smell of smoke. She rolled her head lazily to the side trying to regain her senses, but it struck the huge paw of a lion. Her eyes slowly journeyed up his body and realization hit her like a thunderbolt as her eyes came in contact with the stern face of the King of Pride Rock. She jumped to her paws as her rage and hate returned in a mere second, and cursed at the lion, intent of tearing him limb from limb.
"Son of a hyena, I shall feast on your heart!"
"I doubt that, my feisty one, or would the queen of hate like to feel another blow from my trusty stick?" The wise voice, although unknown, rang in her ears and she turned to see a baboon behind her holding his stick in a fighting stance, with a strange look of pity on his painted face.
"No, Rafiki, allow me the pleasure to sink my claws into this murderer! Allow me to avenge Sarabi, for this wicked harlot's scent tells me it was her who did the terrible deed!" Zira turned to see a snarling lioness on her right, flanked by three more behind her. Zira snarled, but then heard movement to her left, and her head swung towards three more lionesses, led by a golden haired lioness with blue eyes. Zira instantly recognized the golden lioness as Nala.
"Oh, you must be Nala, tell me, how does it feel to make love to a murderer?" Nala snarled and shot back.
"What don't you tell me, since no doubt you and Scar rolled in the grass a few times!"
Zira cursed but looked back at Rafiki, then back to Simba. Her eyes shot left and right, and she snarled, as she realized she was trapped and surrounded. The lioness known as Sarafina suddenly snarled and flexed her legs intent on gaining her revenge. Rafiki saw it and called out.
"No, Sarafina! Let the circle end her. Hate creates revenge, and revenge is a vicious cycle that will never end, and spins contrary to the Circle of Life." Zira's head spun back towards the words of the monkey, and she grinned.
"That is so true, my wise one, but you and the rest of the Pridelanders created me! Gaze upon the queen of hate! Gaze upon the being you created!" Simba's roar filled the sky causing all to look back at him.
"Silence! It would give me no greater pleasure than to watch my lionesses tear you to shreds for what you've done to me, and my paw is shaking for it wants nothing more than to wave the signal for my lionesses to do so, for what you did to my mother!"
"Simba, no!" The snarling king looked towards the wise shaman. "If you do this you will become what you see before you! You will succumb to the hate and evil as this poor lioness has. The circle will continue, and the circle of revenge will replace the circle of life! Follow in your father's pawprints, and do what he would do!" Zira roared in response.
"You foolish weaver of meaningless words! You have no idea what this so-called splendid king did to me! He ripped the very heart from my chest, when he killed my love, Scar! Then he ripped the very soul from my being when he killed Kisasi! I have nothing left!" Zira spun her head back towards Simba. "Do it murderer! Send your playthings to kill me! End my pain! End the eternal torture that I must endure! End the anguish you gave me!" Zira's eyes widened in rage as Simba only stared at her with cold eyes.
"Do you hear me, you stinking coward? Kill me! KILL ME!" Zira's closed her eyes and prayed for death, but her eyes flashed open as she heard Simba's icy words.
"No, I will not give you peace. Never! You killed my mother, you took her life, and you took her from me, just like Scar took my father. You deserve death for your crime, but I will not give it to you, for the crime you committed is punished worse by allowing you to live. You want your sentence? I pronounce it now... EXILE!" Zira screamed as the sentence was passed. It was worse than any punishment could ever be for her; far worse than death.
"No, you can't do this to me! You can't leave me all alone! You can't keep making me endure my undying pain! NOOOO!" Zira's pleas were soon drowned out by the lionesses' roar followed by Simba's as they advanced on her. Zira looked at all directions, no escape from them. The only way was behind her. Rafiki had moved aside and pointed towards The Outlands with his stick. Zira continued to scream and threaten as she was forced into her punishment.
"You will never be rid of me, until you kill me, do you understand? I will be a black scar upon your lands. I shall always keep coming back, no matter how many times you banish me!"
"Never, Zira!" Simba suddenly ran towards Zira and met her eye to blazing eye. "If you ever venture onto my lands again, the price will be death!" He motioned towards her bulging belly with his claw. "Your cubs as well. They will be nothing to me but a pound of flesh, that I will feast upon!" Zira snarled back keeping her eyes locked onto her sworn enemy.
"After my cubs are born, I will make them hate you! I will train them and fill their hearts with the hate you gave me. Their sexes do not matter, be it male or female, one will come back and kill you, Simba! Do you hear me! One day you shall die!" A sharp blow on her rump by that accursed stick, caused Zira to jump in pain.
"I've heard enough, Zira! Leave this land, and cease these idle threats! We shall see how the future turns out." Zira began to walk backwards, but looked down to the monkey, and grinned her vicious grin.
"You had better pray to whatever God you worship that my threats do not come true, shaman! Trust me, one day all I say shall come to pass, and Simba shall die by one of my offspring!" Rafiki said nothing only bowed his head and looked away. Simba roared one last time, before he ordered his lionesses to descend upon Zira and make her obey his punishment.
"Zira! I shall never forget what you've done to me! You or any of your line will never coexist with me or any of mine, from this day forward, we are forever enemies! Get out of my lands! NOW!" Zira snarled one last time before she obeyed.
"Simba, you and your pride have always been, are now, and forever will be my enemy!" Zira suddenly ripped a long gash down her chest, causing blood to flow, and looked up one last time with a wicked grin.
"We will meet again. I swear it, on my own blood!" The lioness spun on her paws and ran off towards The Outlands, all the while laughing a laugh that chilled every Pridelander to the bone. A laugh that seemed to cause their blood to turn to ice, for it was a laugh that promised to bring all her words to truth, and a laugh that guaranteed all she had said would come to pass.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: A FULL 360 DEGREES
The lion was astounded, when he saw Zira far off in the distance. Nuka jumped to his paws, and prayed thanks to any God who may be listening. His grief over the death of Usiyahi would haunt him forever, but to lose Zira would have torn him apart. He ran to her with a happy smile on his face, but his muzzle fell as he gazed into the cold eyes of Zira, and her words caused his heart to shatter.
"You! How dare you! You have betrayed me, you are nothing and you are not my son!"
"Mother, don't do this, I am sorry. Please forgive me, but I loved Usiyahi, and had to protect her, but I..."
"You attacked my love out of sheer lust for her! She seduced you and made you turn against me, you drew blood from Kisasi and broke my heart, for that I shall never forgive you. Nuka, you are dead to me! You will never again have my attention!" Zira walked past him without a second look.
Nuka watched the lioness who he was deceived into believing was his mother abandon him when he needed her the most. He closed his eyes, as they began to sting causing tears to drip over his lids.
"Zira, one day I will make you proud of me. One day I will have my 'moment of glory,' and I will make sure you see it! I swear to it!"
He suddenly opened his eyes, and gazed towards the skies as stars were beginning to be seen. He looked towards the heavens as a satisfied feeling of complete contentment suddenly washed over him. It was as if he could feel the proud gaze of Fabana smiling down upon him. Somewhere up there he knew that an end to his solitary anguish is there, and somewhere Usiyahi was waiting for him, waiting for the moment that the two of them would be together... forever. With a laugh that would have mimicked Fabana, he spun on his paws, prancing and dancing, and ran towards his favorite spot where he would find his much needed rest. A perfect spot, far from any termite mound.
* * * * *
Those same stars fell upon the form of Shari, but her face was one of disillusionment and grief, as she walked the lonely paths through The Outlands. The shocking words of Zira still rang in her ears. Kisasi... dead? No, it couldn't be true. Then Zira pronounced herself queen, saying Usiyahi was also dead. The shock and disbelief of Shari would not allow any resistance to Zira's proclamation, and Zira became Queen of the Outlands that night, as Nyota, Jua, Mwezi, and Zira all roared one last sorrow filled roar to the skies together, as they said good-bye to the dark lion.
Shari closed her eyes and for once she could not see where the future would lead. The shaman of Kondo could no longer hear her master's biding, she had lost her gift, and her prayers went unanswered. She tried desperately to call upon her god for guidance but no answer came, only silence.
The dark of night seemed to match the once beautiful pelt of Kisasi, but Shari knew she would never see his smug smile ever again. He was lost to her, as was everything she thought was real. The present had completely changed, and the future was something that caused her to shiver. A future with Zira as Queen of the Outlands? That was a future she wanted no part of! The stars fell on the red pelt of Shari as she looked back towards The Outlands one last time, then with a heavy sigh she turned her back on her pride and ran towards the horizon.
* * * * *
A scorched pelt, a charred mane, and a bloody body, crawled through the underbrush in an desperate attempt for survival. Kisasi tried to raise his head, he could sense the cool light of the moon, but could not raise his head to see it. He was terribly wounded and was covered in nasty burns. Huge chunks of his fur were burnt to nothing, and black blisters remained. His body was scorched and burned, but his heart was far worse. It was broken and ripped from his body, when Usiyahi betrayed him, and now it would be forever empty, for Zira thought him dead. Kisasi would never be able to reach her, and would never be able to tell her how much he truly did love her.
Kisasi played his game, but ended up the loser, and the triangle's point pierced his heart. It was a love triangle that he created, as he tried to balance his feelings between Usiyahi and Zira, but the weight on both ends shattered the entire scale, and he was eventually crushed by the enormous weight he tried to manage. Kisasi would heal, but it would take time and time was something he did not have. His body may heal that is, he knew his heart never would.
He crawled through the dense underbrush, the slightest movement of his muscles causing him to wince in pain. The pain was too great, and Kisasi's eyes rolled back in his head as he slipped into unconsciousness. Only time would tell if the dark lion lived, or time would be the Reaper's scythe that would eventually kill him. The light of the moon fell upon the still form of the dark lion, the raspy breath in his lungs, the only thing that he had left, but would it be enough to keep the once proud lion alive? Only time would tell.
EPILOGUE: VIGIL'S FINALE
Ushandra rose to her paws after watching the horizon for the last time. Her life, and her past she had relived that day. Every truth had been told, every dark path was trudged down, every assumption was justified, and every shadow was illuminated. She closed her eyes as she breathed in the wind, thinking of happier times when she would feel a same wind caress her pelt as she lay next to Scar, his musky scent fluent in the breeze. She opened her eyes and gazed at the puffy clouds, then cocked her head thinking one looked like Fabana, but quickly shook the thought away. A termite scuttled over her paw, and looking down she couldn't help by smile as it remained her of Nuka. He had to be somewhere close by, no doubt trying to think of something that would make her happy. Her eyes fell on the shadow cast by the termite mound far behind her. It was so huge, and black, and mysterious; a remembrance to the mighty Kisasi, a cunning, yet handsome lion, that proved to the lioness that she could still love another. A sigh escaped her lips and she shook her body violently, feeling the wind ripple through her pelt, and the sunrays shone down upon her muscular, curved frame. The unknown lioness roared a mighty roar to the sky, as she tore the previous silence to shreds, and let the world know that she was there.
A loud rustle behind her, brought her far away thoughts back to the task at hand, and looking back she smiled as she saw her two cubs, Vitani and Kovu running up to her.
"Mom, aren't you ready yet for the journey you said you were going to take us on?"
"Yes, Vitani, I am ready now, but you will be staying here. This is only for your brother. It is a journey that I will take him on to prove to him the importance of his birth, and why he is the chosen one."
"Sounds sweet! Where are we going, mother? I hope it is somewhere fun!" Zira laughed and nodded, as she couldn't help but wear that famous, wicked smile.
"Oh, it will be so much fun, Kovu, I have dreamed of it for days. Vitani, we shall see you later. Come, Kovu, it is time!" Zira began walking towards the border of The Outlands, and Kovu had to run to keep up with her long strides.
"Tell me, mother. Where are we going?" Zira only looked down and grinned.
"A place called The Pride Lands, my son. There is somewhere there I want you to meet."
("There is more to see, than can ever be seen, more to do that can ever be done!" Tales from the Outlands ends here... for now. However, the circle of life will continue to spin in Volume II - The Tale of Vitani. Until then... take care!)
- Scar II