"The first matrons of the Pride were granted immortality and became the Seven Gaia Goddesses – The Goddess of Fire, The Goddess of Water, the Goddess of the Ice, the Goddess of Earth, the Goddess of Wind, the Goddess of Light, and the Goddess of Shadows. Their husbands are now the Wise Council of Kings, and together the King and the Goddess are referred to as the Pair of their element. Each Goddess walks on her hind legs and all carry staffs almost identical, save coloring and decoration.
The Goddesses appear only when the Pride is in danger, and no time in memory has it happened. The Wise Council of Kings often gathers with the king of the Pride in a secret place where seven stones in a circle are colored the shade of the respective Pair. It is said that when a meeting is called between the Pairs and the king, the danger to the Pride is greater than assumed…"
Simba looked at the cubs and, noting their boredom, managed a weak smile and put his head down, quietly dismissing them so he could rest in peace. His body had grayed with age and he couldn't walk much anymore; it was after Nala had died that he finally passed the crown to Kiara and Kovu.
Already, their oldest daughter was nearly an adult. She looked like Kiara, with golden fur and a creamy underbelly, but she had the acid green eyes of Scar. She had the curiosity and stubbornness of her mother, but she was gentle-hearted and loving like Nala and Sarabi. They named her Arina after the Goddess of Light.
She was slated to marry Vitani's son, roughly the same age. Although Simba had bred with her, Maten mainly had the traits of Zira and Scar. He had the same lanky body as Scar but the power and mind of Zira. He was smart and wickedly cunning, despite the soft blue eyes he inherited from his mother. His fur was a dark brown, but the beginnings of his mane were a light brown. Simba was nervous about leaving the Pride in Maten's claws, but he loved his granddaughter Arina and hoped she would grow strong enough to counter the cub's wicked ways.
The rest of the cubs were the age he had been when he lost Mufasa; some had his traits, some would grow up to look like Mufasa, and some had the look of the Outlanders. The Pride had become much more diverse since he had accepted the Outlanders into the family. And it wasn't a bad thing, but in the case of Maten it may have been.
He closed his eyes with a soft sigh, allowing himself to sink into the world of dreams.
He was young again, a king worthy of the throne, and his beautiful queen was besides him. They were walking through a dark forest that he had never been through, and yet he knew the path he was on. A mist began to grow around him, and he felt the presence of other entities. They continued to walk without fear; Simba knew these strange forces. They had visited him many times in his slumber, delivering cryptic messages about the future.
The outline of a powerful figure was apparent as they approached the clearing. Simba and Nala both dipped into a bow, the formers' voice speaking out quietly.
Mufasa looked over his son, his mighty eyes furrowed into a frown. His deep voice rumbled out as he turned and led them to the Circle of Kings.
"I am proud of you, my son."
Simba didn't respond to the compliment, instead looking down. He knew the silent reprimands behind that statement. But it still was a compliment. Mufasa took his place next to a deep green stone, and Simba and Nala sat in front of the semicircle. From Mufasa, the order of the stones went as such: deep green, silver, white, black, blue, red, light blue. Across from Mufasa, his queen came out of the shadows to sit next to the blue stone there.
They sat in silence for what felt like hours before the forest lightened. The rocks began to glow faintly, and above each the outline of a huge male lion became visible. The Shadow King came first. He was black with deep blue eyes, and silver markings made his face distinguished against the darkness behind him. Next to him, a white lion with billowing wings and silver eyes appeared over his stone, the Light King. The Fire King, a golden lion with a fiery red mane, a red, orange, and yellow tail brush, and blood red eyes, came just before the blind Wind King, a white lion with silver and black markings across his body. The Water King looked similar to Scar, save a gentler face, bright blue eyes, and what looked like a fin at the end of his tail instead of a brush. The Ice King was a pale blue lion with a white mane and icy eyes, and the Earth King came last; a brown lion with a lighter brown mane and mellow brown eyes.
The Shadow King looked to the other Kings before he addressed their guests.
"Welcome to the Circle of Kings, Mufasa and Simba, and to your queens."
Simba bowed his head, reciting the appropriate response.
"I am honored to be among the most ancient and greatest Kings the Pride has known. Why have I been summoned before you?"
The blind lion turned in the general direction of the old king, his voice ringing out clearly.
"We wish to discuss with you the safety of our Pride."
"But we're at full strength; especially with the addition of the Outlanders. Kovu is as strong a lion as my father, and my heir has been chosen. Arina, daughter of Kiara and Kovu, set to marry Maten, son of Vitani."
A sharp voice rang out of the darkness.
"And it is on the subject of Maten that we wished to meet with you."
Simba turned quickly and dropped into a bow before the Goddess of Shadows, Liena. She was a powerfully built black lioness with more elegant silver markings than her mate and the same deep blue eyes. She carried a black staff with the skull of a hyena mounted on it; the eyes seemed to glow eternally red. Small bones hung from threads attached under the skull and they rattled against each other when she moved.
Liena brushed past him, taking her place next to the Shadow King. She turned accusingly on Simba, the bones on her staff rattling as she pointed it at him. The hyena's skull seemed to howl under her voice as she growled accusingly.
"Maten will destroy the Pride!"
The statement shocked Simba, but before he could respond another voice, a mellower but still angry one, came from behind the Water King.
"Maten has the traits of the evil ones, not only in body but in spirit. He will follow Scar and Zira down the path of darkness that Kovu so easily turned aside from."
A lioness that looked very much like Sarabi, save her ocean blue eyes, came up next to the Water King. The Goddess of Water, Aime, held in her paw a blue staff with a jagged sapphire on top of it. Inside the sapphire was the illusion of a fish swimming through the waters of the distant ocean, and medium blue lines made the appearance of ripples along the staff. Her tail as well had the fin that the Water King's had. Aime sat cross-legged next to her King, staring into Simba's eyes.
"Maten is the spawn of evil. Vitani carries it within her; she has not yet denied the darkness fully. She was loyal to Zira until Kiara's wisdom convinced her otherwise. She still loves her mother and is still tainted, and this passed on to her son. He was not raised as he should have been, Simba. You loved Arina. He is now bitter, and he shall follow the same path that Scar did."
Simba opened his mouth, but again was interrupted. The Goddess of Fire, Pyrina, was said to be psychic, and her loud voice roared out from behind the Fire King. She looked like the female version of the Fire King, save a more slender body. Her staff was bright red and surrounded always in a glowing flame.
"Your excuses are meaningless before the Council, Simba! You raised Arina to follow in your paw prints, and denied the same love to the son Vitani bore you! Arina may be a princess, but Maten was still a prince! You have not yet forgiven Scar for murdering Mufasa and you still hold that grudge to this day. You hold your son accountable for his death!"
Simba felt all eyes on him; Mufasa, Sarabi, and Nala, too, were staring at him. He shrunk before the wicked eyes, but he knew that more was yet to come. Only Liena, Aime, and Pyrina had shown up. The Council was never complete without the rest.
The Goddess of Ice, Nassai, came up silently behind Simba. Her fur was the same light blue and her eyes were similarly shaded as the Ice King's. Her staff was a light blue and white outlines of snowflakes adorned it. Her voice was as quiet as the dead wastelands as she whispered into his ear, "The line is broken." He tried to hide further as she brushed past him, sitting next to the Ice King.
The Goddess of Light, Arina, and the Goddess of Wind, Yura, appeared at the same time. Arina was a pale golden with silver eyes; her staff had a topaz shaped like a lightning bolt on the top of it and would sometimes emit electricity. Yura had wings as well and was just as blind as her King, but she was the prophet of the Council. What they couldn't decide on she would divine. Yura was silvery white and had no markings. Her staff was silver and a line of white runes went down the center.
Arina and Yura were the gentlest of the Goddesses, the former even offering Simba a reassuring smile before she sat next to the Light King. Yura's sightless eyes focused on Mufasa and she said nothing more.
A long period of silence lapsed before Amber showed up. Amber was a medium brown and her eyes were a piercing gold. She had black markings on her body and her tail brush was gold. She was often looked upon as the highest Goddess, and the 13 deities bowed their heads to her slightly. Amber stepped into the center of her circle, her silvery claws glowing as she looked to Simba. Her staff was brown, and she had the skull of a falcon mounted on the top. The butt of the staff had an eagle's foot, claws outstretched.
Amber's voice was loud and as clear as a bell as she howled out at Simba.
"You have been informed of the events against you, king! Tell us, what do you plan to do about it?"
Simba was silent. He stared at her with horror. He couldn't do anything, he had no more power! He would guide Kovu if he needed advice, yes; but he wasn't a central member of the Pride any longer.
Amber raised a brow at his prolonged silence then suddenly became angry.
"You think you mean nothing to the Pride, king? You are the wisest one there! They will listen to you. And if you do not take action, then to protect our Pride we must. Your course of action is to murder Maten!"
Simba roared out, "NO!" before he leapt angrily into the circle. The enraged eyes of Amber and the rebellious ones of Simba met in a lock. The deities, Mufasa, Sarabi, and Nala were struck dumb with shock. No one had ever gone face to face with a Goddess and openly denied their orders, much less to Amber's.
"I will not be held responsible for the death a member of my family, Amber, not again! Nothing you or the Goddesses or Kings say or do will sway me otherwise!"
The blow was too fast for him to dodge, but the beak of the falcon sank deeply into his shoulder. He roared and spun away, collapsing with pain next to Nala. His queen did not move now, or look at him. She was staring straight ahead into space, assuring Amber of her loyalty. Simba snarled at her and fought back to his paws, only to find Amber's face hovering mere inches from his.
"You will order Maten's death, or we will do it for you."
Simba woke not with a mighty roar but a weak whimper. His eyes snapped open and he looked around, taking in the familiar sight of the cave, the lionesses, Kiara, Kovu, and Arina not far away. He put his head down on his paws and stared into the darkness, sighing. How could he tell Vitani that her son had to be killed?