Prologue

Small hind paws follow equally minute forepaws at a weary, defeated pace. "Oof," huffs the tiny lioness cub as she drops herself carelessly on the ground. The sky above her is coming to life in a daytime display, something she quite enjoyed seeing – not anymore.

She tears her weeping eyes away from the sight and snivels in angst.

Silently, an old baboon drops from a nearby tree. He inches closer before he's right beside her, unbeknownst to the dirty and scruffy looking cub. The baboon shakes his staff, his staff has a rattling pair of gourds attached to the top of it.

The cub looks up with a dark, dreary expression.

"Oh…what's gotten you so down, child?" swoons the baboon. The cub locks eyes with the primate for a moment, but it's as if she's looking right past him, or rather that he isn't even there to her. Reflections of painful thoughts flash across the glassy layer of tears in her eyes before she hides away her face again. "Don't be afraid," the baboon shares an encouraging smile and lowers himself to her level as he sits with crossed legs. "Old Rafiki here won't bite you."

For a moment, the cub says and does nothing before she turns to look back up at Rafiki. "Have you ever lost someone, or people, that you loved?"

Rafiki's smile melts away at the solemnness of the situation. He nods. "Your family?" the cub's response is a slow nod. Rafiki softly pats the cub, his whole paw framing her small frame. "There, there," comforts he. "You have family all around you."

"Where?" a flash of longing washes over the little girl.

"You and I are family," says Rafiki. "We're brothers and sisters in the circle of life. The ants and the snake, even the hyena."

The cub lowers her head in disappointment. "Oh."

Before Rafiki can offer any form of condolence, the patter of small paws tumbles down the decline of Pride Rock. They stop at the base of the structure where Rafiki and the small cub lay.

"Pimbi will be so excited to-" the owner of the tiny paws stops in some dismay. "Jeez, who died?" jokes Kopa, trying to lighten the situation.

The lioness cub from before, is hit with a stinging sensation in her nose as her emotions build up within her at the prince's words. She stands up and draws nearer to Rafiki.

Kopa looks up to Rafiki for a clue. Rafiki nudges the two cubs ahead of him, "Young prince, why don't you teach the girl that new trick you learned at the watering hole?"

"Are you sure?" asks Kopa, a little uncomfortable.

Rafiki eagerly nods. "Yes, little one. She could use a little positivity."

"Okay," Kopa almost moans as he turns to continue down to the watering hole. Kopa would rather be bouncing about from place to place and hanging out with his friends. The idea of having such a sad grey cloud hovering over him in the form of another lion cub doesn't sit well with the energetic boy.

The trip to the watering hole is quiet and very slow. Kopa tries very hard not to stare at his companion, but how can he help it? This unfamiliar lion cub is dragging him and the mood down and he wants to know why, and at the very least, if she can knock it off.

"So…where are you from?" he breaks the silence.

"Around."

"That's cool," Kopa says politely. "Do you like uh… zebra?"

"I guess."

"Also cool… I guess," Kopa slurs his words. He looks at the ground a minute, disliking the awkward aura. When he looks back up ahead of him, he sees the watering hole and cheers, "Alright!" the little cub never imagined a time that he'd be so grateful to see the watering hole. "This is a trick that I picked up from my friend Kwaheri," boasts Kopa, climbing to a raised rock that hangs over the pool of water and serves as a diving board of sorts. "Don't blink!" Kopa launches into the air and does a double back flip, but his second flip comes to an end too late, resulting in Kopa hitting the water with a loud 'splat!' on his belly.

The she-cub snickers behind a raised paw.

When Kopa breaks the surface, he catches her laughs. He becomes embarrassed, and then angry. "I'd like to see you do better!"

Kopa's outburst startles his companion. She looks back at him, "No need to snap at me."

"Well, I'm the next Lion King, so you'd better hope I don't remember you laughing at me when I'm big," proclaims the little lion.

"I won't be here for that long," says mumbles gloomily. She sits and starts lapping at the water. The first bit of water she's had in a while.

Kopa swims over to the edge of the watering hole and climbs out to cautiously sit beside her. "Where are you going?"

She shrugs. "I don't know," she says, coming up from her drink. "Anywhere."

"Why not stay?" asks Kopa.

"I guess I could."

"I wouldn't miss a chance to witness the rule of someone like me," brags Kopa with a puffed chest.

A small, close lipped smile stretches on the girl's face at the display Kopa makes of himself.

"Ah! Young Prince," chirps Zazu as he swoops in from the sky. Kopa deflates, ready to hear of all the tedious tasks ahead of the hornbill that Zazu must share.

"Great," he grumbles with slouched shoulders.

"I've been looking for you," tells Zazu once he lands on the ground nearby. He turns to face the honey-furred, unknown cub. "Ah! You must be the cub that Rafiki was referring to. I'd recognize you, surely, had I seen you before, madam," declares the bird proudly. "You should both be informed that King Simba is looking for the two of you. He wishes to speak to your friend, young Sire."

Kopa perks up. "Really?" he smiles. He looks to his companion and whispers. "You'll see first-hand just how cool my dad really is!" the she-cub doesn't have much response to Kopa's enthusiasm.

"Might I ask your name, ma'am?" asks Zazu very formally.

"Lela."

"Well why didn't you say sooner?" Kopa asks, standing.

She shrugs. "It didn't come up I guess."

"Oh, well, I'm Kopa," says the Prince.

"And I'm Zazu," says Zazu, taking to flight and hovering above the cubs. "Let's get going now. We mustn't keep the King waiting."