Chapter 12

Nala sat alone on the edge of Pride Rock, recalling as the sun went down that it was a favorite pastime of Kopa's. They'd held Kopa's funeral just before sundown and buried the poor little prince at his favorite spot: beneath a tree where he'd often liked to play. They covered his tiny body with rocks. And Simba! Poor Simba had hardly been able to speak but he gave the eulogy with all the emotion and with all the agony Nala herself felt. And though Nala knew that Kopa was now with his brothers and sisters among the stars, she still felt the cub sitting at her side.

"Mom, where does the sun come from?" Kopa had asked once.

"A great king named Mahati ruled this kingdom once when there was no sun. During his reign," Nala answered aloud to herself, "the animals complained of no light. The only light came from the fireflies, which lit their way to the water hole and showed the predators enough light that they could hunt. But with so little light, the plants grew poorly and the world was a cold and terrifying place. So Mahati made a decision --"

"'When I die,' said he, 'I will ask the Great Spirit to make me a star – the brightest star there ever was! – and I will bring light to my Pride and to all the world.' And that was just what King Mahati did."

Nala looked around to find Simba at her side. Both of them knew the story and he'd finished it, having heard her saying it out loud as he approached.

"I was telling Kopa a story," said Nala, tears in her blue eyes. "Do you think he heard us?"

Simba stared for a long time across the Pride Lands and as he swallowed thickly, Nala realized there were tears in his own eyes. He bowed his head a moment and then, to Nala's surprise, he smiled at the setting sun and its orange and watery hues: a tiny star had appeared just above the sun, surrounded by a patch of inky darkness, and it was a star which they'd never noticed before.

"He more than heard us," Simba said at last, "he has his own star now and only the great Mahati precedes him in lighting the night."

Nala smiled but after a moment, noticed a terrible expression in Simba's eyes and said anxiously, "Even with this small comfort, there is something more that troubles you."

"That lion Ni -- you recognized him before I did, but he was the lion we made friends with so long ago." He looked at Nala miserably and said, "Nala, I'm sorry I killed your friend!"

Nala bowed her head and closed her eyes, "But there is more."

"Yes," answered Simba heavily, "you see, I think Zira's been mating with Ni. Ni was Vitani's father! If only you'd seen the look on her face when I killed him! And he's been with Zira all this time! His own pride must've died off – they must've never found a home."

"You're saying Zira could be pregnant," said Nala, her head still bowed.

"Exactly! What if the cub's a boy? I can only imagine what she'll do, how she'll brainwash it . . . I don't know what to do."

Nala lifted her head and squinted solemnly at the horizon. "There's nothing we can do, except wait until the cub is born."

"To think," said Simba, shaking his head, "even after Scar's dead, all this is still going on. If I don't do something, this will never end!"

"Oh my Simba, one king can not solve a dynasty's worth of problems! The legacy of Scar goes back to before either of us was even born! Maybe what Scar left behind isn't for you to deal with. . . ."

Simba remembered suddenly that Nala was with cub. Perhaps Nala was right . . . perhaps the next generation would be greater than before.

"Kiara," Nala whispered with a smile. "Kiara is a nice name."