18 - Scar's Heir
"Reduce the lights" Tanabi heard a cubbish voice. World was still pitch-black, but he started to hear some sounds. "Sunrays only on the ledge... But no so strong! They shouldn't see Tanabi now... He looks not so official..." He didn't recognize this voice, however, he felt, he somehow knew it somehow. "Focus on Vitani!" exclaimed strange speaker. "Who is upthere now? Ahadi? I knew, that he would mess up!
"Relax... Give them some authenticity... allow them some spontaneity." Said Scar.
Tanabi opened his eyes... to discover, that he has no real eyes. He once again looking world from his spectral body. On ledge, behind Vitani, Simba... and his body, group of lion's ghosts was standing. Scar... Nuka... Zira? Yes, Tanabi was almost sure, that lioness so similar to queen was her mother. Then... grandma Sarafina?! King was as amaze, as he could be, in so amazing anyway conditions. But in centre of group stood lion, who Tanabi didn't know for sure. Lion? That was a cub. Tiny, newborn cub, but talking with his cubbish voice like adult lion. His eyes were glaring green and beginnings of dark fur was seen, that would someday become black mane.
"Look!" said Zira and nudge Scar. "Your son-in-law is here." All dead lions turned their eyes to newcomer.
"Is here!" said darkfured cub. "And there..." pointed unconscious body, laying next to Vitani. "This boy is so busy, that he have to everywhere concurrently!" he burst in cubbish laughter. "Got it? Concurrently!" but greeneyed ghost noticed, that his joke hadn't amuse the audience. "Oh... sorry... Nevermind... Ahadi! Focus on Vitani!" he shouted to the sky. Tanabi discovered, that clouds seemed to move a bit.
"Shhh!" interrupted Scar. "She will decide." He pointed on queen, standing against Simba, on ledge.
"...sentence you to... exile!" she called it loud, but careful listener, would discover, that her voice was about to break. "You will leave the Pridelands... I'm sure, that Golden Pride will greet with honour, if they ever decide to return theirs home... Or... You might settle in the Green Den, with your mate and everyone, who wish to stay with you..." Finished Vitani with tears in her eyes. Simba replied after while of silence.
"Yes... your majesty." He turned his eyes to Nala, who started and quick climbed on the ledge.
Lioness first ran to wounded son, but appeased by Rafiki's gesture, she went to her mate.
"Nala... that was unavoidable." Whispered Vitani.
"We will manage this." Said Simba. "My dear... she's right, that was unavoidable."
"Was it?" asked Tanabi. Of course, living ones wouldn't hear him, but this was a question to dead.
"You are the king now." Replied Scar. "Answer yourself."
Tanabi wondered and saw in mind his father on Priderock. Father, living in pain of failure and humiliation. Imagined Simba muttered, watching his former kingdom, ruled by son. "Who am I? A... Simba's shadow?"
"Yes... it was." Said the new king.
"Good!" called green-eyed cub to unseen interlocutor above him. "But... wait! Don't stop the rain there... There must be a rainbow! I'm surrounded by..."
"This is your brother!" noticed Scar.
"So I know well about who I'm speaking." Replied cub. "Take care of your son-in-law."
King was looking on gathered shadows. He came to his grandmother and asked with tensed voice.
"Grandma... where am I? What happened?"
Lioness smiled and stroked his mane.
"Don't be afraid... you are with your family. Old and new family."
"I missed you, grandma."
"Silly... I was always watching you... and supporting your steps, as I could. Especially recent ones, that have undone, what I did once..."
"Quit it, Sarafina." Interrupted Zira. "We are done. It's a past. You grandson is the future."
"As well as your daughter." Replied Sarafina.
Scar came closer to Tanabi and said with sorrow.
"My boy... I'm afraid, that your left eye is lost. You will never fully recover your sight."
"But don't be so upset." Said cub, waving his paws, probably pointing something to ones upthere. "It's a small world after all... Just from now... it could seems a little... flat to you." Greeneyed cover one eyes with paw, looked around and added. "Cool!"
"Stop it!" gasped Scar. "This is no good theme for jokes!"
"Why not?" asked cub, faking amaze. "Boy..." he turn to Tanabi. "What will be a life! Chicks will hunt for you all the time. Goldbricking..."
"BEHAVE!" growled Scar and Zira at once. Greeneyed looked on them with reproach.
"All right! Next time I will be upthere. At least some will do this cloud-job right." he shouted to the sky. "Now, more light! Rainbow, give them a rainbow!"
"Are you my great-grand-uncle?" asked Tanabi uncertainly. Cub looked on Scar with smile.
"Good... he is kind of smarty guy, after all. From whom he inherited that? Fortune is blind!" he once again cover one of his eyes and burst in laughter.
"Tarki!" yelled Scar. "You are rude!"
"Indeed!" replied cub. "And I should to. I'm the crazy uncle, after all." He waved for the last time to the sky and came closer to Tanabi. "Nice to meet you, my great-grand-nephew and grand... Oh, never mind. I'm Tarki, son of Mohatu and Zemya... brother of this... " he pointed sky with paw. "Uncle of Scar and Mufasa... You know, standard family stuff."
"But..." moaned Tanabi. "If i'm dead, what for you are talking about my eyes?"
"You're not dead..." said Zira, coming closer to king and touching gentle his head with paw. "We just... using your... indisposition..." She looked on Tanabi's body, being under Rafiki's care. "...have called you, to tell you some things. But... Now, we've got another visitors and they will stay for good!"
Shady silhouettes of Sarabi and Sakia were descending on Priderock's slope. Lionesses were stomping slowly and carefully, with clear fear and uncertain stares. Scar went to edge of ledge and called.
"Don't be afraid... you are already on the other side."
"Taka!" called dead queen-mother.
"My king!" called dead lioness.
"Come here!" smiled Scar. All ghost surrounding Tanabi turned their eyes to newcomers. Lionesses stood for a while, Sarabi gentle tried to touch nearest living Pridelanderess, but her paw penetrated living body, like water. "The way is clear." Added Scar and both friends started to run in dead king's direction.
They stopped before him, Sakia gave a small but polite bow, but Scar just smiled once again and lionesses pounced on him in cubbish joy. Blackmaned ghost licked forehead of his old subject, then licked forehead of his old beloved.
"Oh, Taka!" sobbed Sarabi. „I'm so sorry..."
„For my folly?" interrupted Scar. "Just... forget about it... We all are one now." He turned to Sakia. "Don't say a word about that!" he ordered, faking anger. And he added with playful smile. "Remember, that you were my most loyal subject in whole pride!"
Sarabi came to Zira. Lionesses were looking on each other for long moment, probably, didn't know, how to start. Golden One was first.
"Just don't back to that. I have no grudge... and hope, that you will forgive me my errors. Now, we all must work, to support those who live."
In that moment Sarabi noticed Tanabi between dead ones. She narrowed her face in wave of sorrow.
"Tanabi..." she whispered.
"Don't cry, miss." Said Tarki. "He is just in visit. We are keeping him here, to prevent him from feeling that!" he pointed with paw on lying Tanabi's body and Rafiki, who was cleaning the wound. "My king... you'd better not watch!"
"Grandma!" exclaimed Tanabi and ran to her. They hugged with both joy and sorrow. "I'm so sorry, that it came to this..."
"No, my dear!" replied she. "My time has come. Better to die in some... interesting way, that to rot in den."
"Indeed!" agreed Tarki, looking on both Sarabi and Sakia. "My ladies... what a technique! This fight was amazing. Youngsters are just slashing themselves on faces." He pointed on Tanabi. "But you still remember the Art of War! I was impressed."
"How do you think?" asked Scar to Zira. "Can I hit my own uncle?"
"You are King of the Past." She noticed. "I guess, it's not proper."
"All right, all right!" said Tarki. "I'm out of here. I'll get those two upthere." He pointed on Sarabi and Sakia."
"No, I'll do it." Decided Zira. "You must tell few thing to our current king. Sarafina, will you join us? Good luck, Tanabi. I'm sure, that Vitani will treat you well."
Sarafina hugged her grandson and turn to Sarabi.
"Shall we go?"
"Go, Sarabi." Said Scar. "Mufasa is waiting for you..."
Lioness smiled and looked on Tanabi.
"Farewell, by dear. Remember me, my king... You will be fair ruler..."
"I love you, grandma." Replied Tanabi with breaking voice. "Do you ever visit me?"
"Look on stars, dear." Said queen-mother and followed two friends and Zira. They blurred in rays of sun and disappeared in brightness. Scar turned to king and said seriously.
"Tanabi, we have not much time... For few moments you will awake downthere... Yes, it must hurt and we can't change it. But before you go, you must hear something." He looked in son-in-law's eyes and continued. "It all happened thank to uncle Tarki. He died as a cub but remained strongly connected with world down here. He was helping us all, to do it."
"Do... this?" asked king. "You mean your rehabilitation and... change on the throne." Scar smiled, but it was a bitter smile.
"Tanabi, we didn't do it for fun... ever for my hurt pride... Our world is ruling by different logic... which means, briefly, permanent guardiance of life downthere... We are watching you and all living creatures, day by day. We did what we did not only because I wanted my daughter to be the queen. We did it because, it is necessary, to save the Circle of Life..."
"You said, that you despise cruelty of Circle of Life." Noticed king.
"Yes, I do. But I must guard it anyway... and try to make it more... gently for all of you. You know... Oh, there's more to being king, even dead king, than... getting your way all the time."
"I'm already scarred, what I've got into..." muttered king.
"Good!" exclaimed Tarki. "This is first, real important rule of being king. Knowing the responsibility... and hard duties..." he went to new ruler and said profoundly. "As Scar said, it didn't happen for fun. It's a necessity, who... we helped a little..."
"By saving your backs several times." Added Nuka.
"Yes and more. Simba is a good lion, despite all he made wrong. But for now, Pridelands needs strong leader for hard times."
"Hard times?" asked Tanabi with uncertain voice.
"Think!" said Nuka. "Today's rain was heavy... unnatural heavy. But it came after month of dry weather. Rainy season will end in few days. It was moderate rainy, don't you think?"
"There will be another Great Drought..." whispered Tanabi.
"Yes." Said Scar. "Not now, not for a year... but in time. Just... be prepared for another trial. You will manage to live joyful and merry life. You will manage to raise cubs with Vitani. Just some year, from those that will come, will turn to be beginning of the new drought. But this time, all will happened different. Golden Sands are ready to feed a pride, even in hardest conditions. So if... and we are almost sure, that will happen... Kovu and Kiara decide to back to Golden Sands, don't stop them. We will be guarding them there, I promise."
"And he is bloody good in keeping his promises." Said Tarki. "Don't matter, how stupid they are."
"So this what for was all about?" asked. "To protect the Circle of Life?"
"No!" replied scar. "To protect you... two prides, from Circle of Life. To allow you take your places there. But it's enough." He stopped and looked on Tanabi's wounded body. "Now, you will go back and... do what you want and must. We'll be near to help."
"Wait!" exclaimed king. "I have so many questions..."
"Everyone has." Said Scar. "And only that keeps life interesting."
Ghosts stated to blurring and disappearing. Tanabi felt a strong call from his real body. He carefully stepped into it and started to merging with it. In last moment before he drown in himself, he heard silent, but serious voice.
"Don't mess with my sister. I'll keep my eye on you."
And then pitch-black nothingness returned.
And the pain exploded.
There was warm evening, pleasant evening, that usually come after hot day. King Tanabi was running through savannah with joyful heart and smile on his lips. He felt freedom of this run and enjoyed it. Whatever matters he had, he left them on Priderock, to return to them next day. Memories of joy he took with him. He was going to share them with his father. Lion got to Green Den where sun finally touched horizon. It was sinking down, when Tanabi called.
"Mother! Father! I'm here!"
Simba went out from cave and came to son. They had seen themselves a week earlier, so greeting was warm, due to longing.
"Good day, dad!" said king and hugged older lion. "I'm sorry, I haven't come earlier... There was so many irritating matters..."
"Good, that you are today." Replied former ruler. "Your mother is on hunting... Yes, she said that she will get food for us herself, as long as she could. But thank Danthi and Ostasi anyway. They were very kind to us." His stare got on Tanabi's face. "Let me look..." he stepped back and examined son's scar.
Every time he was looking on this wound, his heart froze in pain and regret. He was gazing on own made with remorse, wishing that this had never happened. Tanabi and this time noticed shameful expression on father's face and said quickly.
"It's all right."
As right as it could be. Wound was healed, thank to Rafiki's art, but left eye was blind for good. Lion was able to see thought right one, but his vision was flat and two-dimensional. It allowed him to see, but not to observe, estimate distances, hunt. It was not serious, but still disability. Scars on forehead and cheek overgrown with white fur and looked like spots of calcium.
"It hurts?" asked Simba with breaking voice.
"Dad... don't start it again." Replied Tanabi with reproach. "It's over..." he saw tears in father's eyes. "No! I've forgave you long time ago! It's a past... just a past!"
"This past made me to do that." Muttered Simba.
"I think..." said Tanabi with doubt. "That Kings of the Past allowed to this, to punish me for fighting my own father..."
"No... now you are starting." Interrupted Simba. "All right, past off. Let talk about future." They sat on the grass, before entrance do den. "Vitani is expecting?"
"Yes, now it's sure." Replied king. "Thamath examined her."
"Is this the new shaman?" asked Simba.
"Yes... Rafiki went away for good. I proposed him to stay, but he just broke his staff and said, that he failed. He returned to his tree, but sent son of his friend to help Pridelands. So Rafiki helped us for next time. Loyal as ever. Crazy as ever." Father and son laughed.
"And what with Tiko?"
"Excellent." Said Tanabi. "Despite of that he is talking with Yakta about some legal matters, he fulfils his duty with no problems. And... he asked about his uncle."
Simba smiled and replied.
"Zazu went on hunting with your mother. He is fine... except of that singing! He retired and completely went to ape. He sings all days."
"He has nice voice." Noticed king.
"For first few hours I thought the same." They laughed once again, but Simba calmed down and said with sorrow. "Yakta... So I must ask. If that is true, what Kiara told me week ago?"
"I'm afraid that... yes. True. They plan to back to Golden Sands as soon as rainy season starts."
"Returned..." whispered Simba. "Neither Kovu nor Kiara wasn't there..."
"But they are heirs of that land. Kings and queens never just travel. They return to where they belong..." said Tanabi and wondered. "I will miss them." Added. "Will you stay here or move with them?"
"Stay... if you won't drive us of..." said and noticed wave of remorse in son's eyes. "Sorry, I didn't mean to... I know, that Vitani did, what she had to. My sun, as a ruler set, your has risen. It's the Circle of Life..."
They were sitting in silence and watching on stars, that slowly were appearing on firmament. Suddenly Simba asked with tensed voice.
"Son... you saw them... Once. Not only Scar, but others our kins from the sky... Did you see Mufasa too?"
"No, but they told me about him." Replied Tanabi. "He reconciled with brother and he is helping us now... And Scar said, that he is really sorry, that took you father away from you. Did you forgive him?"
"I had no choice... we all discovered so much about old times... It were hard trial, but it's good, that it's over."
"The trial is never over." Said Tanabi. "Just... those who are it's subject change. Now, we will see, if I'm the half king you were..."
"You will be ten times the king I was." replied Simba. "I feel it... But look!" he pointed on stars on northern sky. "What do you think... whom is this one? King? Queen? Prince? Princess? I wonder, how it could be, when I'll finally meet them..."
"Oh goody!" replied Scar, looking on nephew from firmament. "But don't hurry. We'll wait for you... We will be here always."
"Taka..." asked Mufasa with uncertain voice. "May I say something to him?"
"No... better not." Replied his brother. "Or, if you really had to..."
"Well, I don't." agreed Mufasa. "I just miss him."
"He will be fine." Said Scar. "He has our family down there..."
"...and you have us, uphere." Added Tarki playfully. "Sounds bad? Yes, indeed. Life's not fair, is it? But on the other hand... you have better view."
"Uncle... you are unbearable." Commented Mufasa. He turned to Scar. "So, brother... it finally came your way. You were right, I was wrong... You won."
Scar smiled and pointed on lions beneath them.
"Don't say that! We all won. They are alive... Truth have been revealed... Prides are together... Or maybe, soon they will took separate ways, but they are reconciled... truly reconciled."
"Yes..." whispered Mufasa. "My plan with Kovu was mistake until it starts."
"Well... Kiara doesn't complain..." replied his brother smiling.
"Yes, but all had to came out anyway." He wondered for a while. "Taka... I just thought about our lives... all our strife... Do you think, that it meant something? I mean: it was necessary for any cause?"
"I have no idea..." replied Scar. "Maybe, maybe not. Don't matter. Now we are one."
"Yeah... If Ahadi is watching us from the higher orbit, he is probably proud." Muttered Tarki, seeing star-brothers hugging each other. "Stop it! Don't move." They looked on uncle with surprise in stares. "Just think about whose, who are watching sky now! Shooting stars again they say. Do you know, how many wishes i must fulfil by such a caresses?"
Three star-lions burst in laughter. It was merry and peaceful laughter, that didn't wake anyone, but brought good dreams to many. Sky was clear.
"All right." Said Tarki. "I'm going up."
"I'll see what happening with my daughter." Said younger brother.
"Nuka is with her." Noticed Mufasa.
"That what I'm afraid." Replied Scar. "He loves her so much, that his pranks would be... unpredictable."
"You know... it's family likeness." Noticed Tarki. "Black manes, black humour"
"Like Long live the king! stuff?" asked Mufasa laughing and he pounced on brother. Due to surprise, he caught his paws and pretended, he pierce them with claws. "Old, good times, bro?"
Scar moaned, combed his mane and muttered with annoyance.
"I'm surrounded by idiots!"