Author: Kovukono PM
A solitary kingdom in the desert enters crisis when a powerhungry king and his son take actions against their kin. Through their work, the kingdom is placed in the danger of forgetting who they truly owe. Reviews needed, please.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Family - Chapters: 17 - Words: 87,584 - Reviews: 107 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 12-28-09 - Published: 07-06-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3639314
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.
—Sir Francis Drake
Rayan slowly opened his eyes. He almost felt as if he were drowning. The air seemed to practically be liquid. He could only see a canopy of green above him. He turned his head and his eyes widened at what he saw.
Rayan immediately tried to stand up and found he lacked the strength. He began to wriggle over to the water and pushed his muzzle in, greedily swallowing down what he could. His head jerked up as he felt a paw on his neck.
"Easy, don't rush yourself."
Rayan turned his head. "S-Sarana?" She smiled. "What—how—"
"Shh. It's okay. You just fainted. I brought you over here."
"I don't know. I think it's called an 'oasisi.'"
Rayan looked around. The place was entirely foreign to him. There was no familiar savannah grass, no acacias sparsely peppering the landscape. There were instead trees, trees everywhere, trees with thick, dense foliage. The ground was wet, almost muddy. There was no doubt this was anywhere but Sanctuary.
"Where—Am I dead?"
Sarana shook her head. "I brought you over here on my back. I just—I couldn't let you die like that."
Rayan smiled. "I think I've gone to heaven." He leaned forward to kiss her.
Sarana put a paw on his mouth. "What are you doing?"
"Sarana, I love you. I always have. And now I finally know you do, too."
Sarana looked down. "Rayan . . . it's not what you think. I'm—Hatari's mate."
The statement hit Rayan like a stampede. "You—what?"
"I'm his mate. We—we're going to get married soon. I'm even pregnant with his cub."
Rayan slowly shook his head. "How could you?" he whispered.
"How could you!?" yelled Rayan, struggling to his paws. "Hatari is a piece of shit!"
"Don't talk about him that way—"
"He tried to kill me!"
"He'd never do that!" yelled Sarana. "Do you think this choice was easy for him? He gave you a chance to live!"
"I don't deserve this! I didn't do any of the things he said!"
"What about the hyena? Did you kill her?"
"That's beside the point—"
"That's exactly the point. Look at you! You're a murderer, Rayan! How do you think I could love a murderer?"
"And Hatari's better?" asked Rayan sarcastically.
"Hatari's a lot of things, but he's no killer—"
"He tried to poison his own father!"
"As you should have!" yelled Sarana. "Hatari tried to put his father down quietly. Look at you!"
Rayan drew a paw back, as if to his Sarana, Sarana cringing. It was all he could do to slowly put it back down. "Don't you ever talk that way about my father again," warned Rayan.
"Don't you talk that way about the lion I love!"
"He'll use you, Sarana! Look at your sister! He just tossed her aside as soon as he was finished with her—"
"Hatari loves me!" insisted Sarana. "I may not agree with everything he's done, but at least I can stand by him!"
"And that's why you came all the way out here?"
"I couldn't let him become a killer—"
Rayan laughed. "So let me get this: you came all the way here, dragged me all the way over here, just so that asshole wouldn't be called a murderer? With no thought to me at all? What am I, some kind of thing?"
"That's exactly what you are!" yelled Sarana. She gasped, shocked by her own words.
Rayan felt a snarl rise in his throat. "So that's how it is. Beauty really is only pelt-deep." Sarana looked down at the ground. "What? You going to say you're sorry now? That you didn't mean—"
"I did mean it!" said Sarana, her head whipping back up. "You're a—a freak! You shouldn't ever have been dragged out of the Pits!"
"I saved your life!" snarled Rayan angrily. "How would you like to look like this? How would you like to have that pretty smile of yours melted?"
"Don't blame me because you got your face melted," said Sarana. "You're a freak, and you know it. Hatari did more than kindness for you when he exiled you."
Rayan took a staggering step toward her, then steadied himself, bringing himself to his full height. "Get out of here. Now."
"And go where? Back home? The sun is blazing over the desert—"
"Get out of here. Or I'll show you how to fix your face without acid." Sarana glared at him. "Now!" yelled Rayan. Sarana turned her back to Rayan and marched through the foliage.
Night had fallen. Rayan's stomach rumbled as he shifted next to the waterhole. He had tried looking around the strange new place, but every time he had tried, he had become almost completely lost in the foreign foliage. The place was as good as a prison. It seemed to be completely devoid of any kind of life. The air was so thick, it felt like he was breathing water.
He tried to close his eyes and sleep. There was nothing else he could do. Maybe tomorrow he'd see just how far this humid hell went.
A bestial shriek ripped through the air.
Rayan bolted upright, breathing heavily. That wasn't like anything he had ever heard before. He unconsciously began to back away from the direction the sound came, only to hear it echo behind him. Some—thing had found him.
A different screech rent the air, Rayan lowering himself to the ground, trying to get as far away from it as he could. The trees began to sway back and forth in places, leaves twitching with movement. There was something up there, something waiting for him.
Another alien cry was heard.
Whatever it was, it wasn't alone.
Rayan crouched lower. Never before had he felt this afraid, this alone. Sleep was out of the question. All he could do was lie and wait . . . lie and wait . . .
Rayan opened his eyes sleepily, then bolted upright, looking around. He hadn't remembered falling asleep. He didn't know how he could have, with that unearthly choir hovering just above him. He would have sworn that he had heard them behind him, right behind him—
Rayan whirled around. There was nothing there. He was alone. Once again the land had turned silent, almost as if the night had never existed.
Rayan sighed and felt heard his stomach rumble audibly. There was no real use looking for food, was there? The only living things other than himself seemed to be the monsters that haunted the night. There was nothing that he could find here to eat unless he suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.
He pushed through the dense jungle after quenching his thirst. He'd leave the waterhole behind. He could feel the water sloshing around in his stomach. There was nothing he could do about it. There was nothing he could do about anything. Suddenly, his life had been ripped from his grasp. The most he could hope for was a quick and painless death.
Father is gone. And look at me. An outcast. A criminal. A murderer. There's nothing for me in Sanctuary, and there certainly isn't anything here.
The foliage brushed against him, several times snagging his now-muddy pelt. It seemed to be useless to try to clean himself; the ground was completely covered in dirt and mud. He felt his paws becoming slick with sweat. The heat continued to bear down on him, though the sun was almost nonexistent. The feeling that he was inhaling a waterhole became more and more persistent. He was surprised that his pelt wasn't soaked from the moisture.
After only a couple hours of walking, Rayan found himself on the verge of collapse. He pushed through the foliage to find himself on a cliff, overlooking still more lush foliage. He slowly sank to the ground. There was no end to the green. There really was nothing here. He'd die here, withering slowly away.
Rayan shook his head. It can't end like this. Gods, please, it can't end like this. Just give me a sign, Rahimu.
He sat. He waited. The day passed by. He had nothing else to do, nothing else he could do. He almost lacked the strength to stand; the hostile, unfamiliar land seemed to drain it from his body.
Finally he could take it no longer. He stood up. "Fine!" he screamed at the sky he couldn't see. "Fine! You don't care about me! You didn't care for my father! I don't give a shit what you think! This is my choice!"
He looked down off the cliff and tensed for his jump.
Rayan froze. That voice—it made no sense. He turned around. "Kria?"
Kria ran to him and nuzzled him passionately. "You can't die. Please. Rayan—Rayan, I love you."
Rayan stood there, stunned. "What?"
"I love you, Rayan." Kria pulled back to look into his eyes. "I always have. I just wanted to be with you."
"But—but I look like a—"
Kria put a paw underneath his jaw, closing his mouth. "I don't care. I love you, I know it."
"You—you came all the way out here just . . ."
Kria nodded. "There's nothing for me back there. Hatari'd just as soon kill me as you. He—he's changed. Sanctuary—it's just not the same anymore. He's just going to tear it apart." Kaata shook her head. "He disbanded the Animal Council as soon as you were gone."
"But—that's one of the main principles of the kingdom. Without it, there's no one to stand against the king."
"I wouldn't know," said Kria. "But everyone's fighting now. Not just politics. It's a civil war. It's worse than the Wars of the Gods ever were. I barely managed to get out as it was."
"That's—gods, that's a nightmare . . ."
"We can't go back. The hyenas tried to massacre all of the lions. There's no more Sanctuary anymore . . . just Hatari and madness . . ."
"There really is nothing left anymore, is there?" said Rayan quietly.
"Just forget about them. We can do it together. We can start a new life right here." She nuzzled Rayan. "Please."
Rayan looked down at the lioness in front of him. He didn't recognize this feeling fully, the way his heart tried to burst from his chest in glorious happiness. She loved him. He smiled and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Of course," he said. "The two of us. Together."