Kiara awoke the next day, excited for the magnificent breakfast she'd have, along with the fun of swimming in the streams and falls.

She was crestfallen as well as confused when the soft meadow grass from the night before wasn't there to greet her comfortably in the morning. The entire ground was crummy old rocks and dirt, crumbling minerals along the walls gathered like dust, though the walls were strong as stone.

The colorful brilliance of last night's den had faded. Kiara was puzzled, being in her old, regular, boring room.

She groaned as she pushed aside an old boulder, and then gasped at catching a glimpse of her paw. Was it just her imagination from just waking up or did she detect a faint glitter? No, that was impossible. Glitter didn't come from mud…then again, anything could have happened. Maybe it wasn't entirely mud…

Heh, look at that. There wasn't any glitter. I was seeing things.

Kiara couldn't find a single trace of any scratches from the log-crossing the other day. She shrugged. Maybe those things heal fast. Maybe there weren't scratches in the first place.

"It was incredibly real, Mom," Kiara described excitedly that morning. Even the boring leftover antelope (again) didn't taste so bad while everything from last night was so vividly, sweetly memorable. "Only you weren't really you. You were my 'other mother'.

Kiara's mother couldn't sound less interested. "Buttons for eyes, huh? Kiara, you only dreamed you ate all that zebra and snake-"

"Cake," corrected Kiara. "I couldn't believe anything could be so…so sweet and thick and soft and…sweet..." she sighed, lost in her description of such a lovely dream. "I could've sworn I tasted it."

"Whatever," her mother grumbled. "Don't spoil yourself so in your dreams. At least eat the newer antelope."

"You were in the dream, too, Dad," Kiara said to her father, putting off eating the antelope leg. "Only you were very musical and…"

Her father laughed. "Musical? Well I guess I am sometimes."

"But there were these instruments that made high and low notes in pitches I've never heard before," Kiara continued. "And you played them like a pro. Heck, you could play them without touching them!"

Her dad laughed right on through.

Her mom impatiently waited for him to go with her to speak with this old apparent shaman about to learn about the territory. She growled warningly.

"Right, I'm coming," Kiara's dad said immediately, getting up to go.

"Say, Kiara, why don't you go speak with some of the neighbors in Pride Rock, like Timon and Pumbaa? I'm sure they'll love to hear about your dream."

"Timon and Pumbaa?" Kiara repeated in disbelief. "But you said they're the most harebrained insectivores!"

"Mm-hm," her mother said absently. She didn't even look at her. "Yes, go visit the neighbors. Get to know some people. Then ask them how to get rid of boredom."

Kiara asked, "Why don't you play with me? Can't you teach me how to fight? Or how to hunt? Or can't we run around the fields? The grass is moist with dew."

Kiara's mother sighed. "I'm really busy, Kiara. Try to understand. I just don't have time for you right now."

"That's what you always say," muttered the frustrated little cub.

Then both her parents left and Kiara was alone with the half-finished scraps, which she planned to bury anyway.

Kiara was on her way out to the log-bridge again, to test if last night really happened by seeing if the mud really helped her steady herself. But her curiosity always had to be satisfied first, she decided, when she heard indistinct chanting from another den in Pride Rock. The chants sounded like a march.

"Hello?" Kiara called up. She climbed up to where it was coming from, on a higher level of Pride Rock. The den seemed empty.

"Um, hello?" she called again. "Is anyone there?"

"SECRET!" roared a booming voice that startled Kiara out of nowhere. The roar had not been angry, just defensive, and rather surprising.

The cub turned around to see a lion with a lean, black mane and slightly tanned fur, as well as an old scar over his eye.

Kiara had heard some rumors about a lion named Scar…in the rumors he had gotten the scar from a buffalo's horns in a stampede he had set up crazily, or he picked fights with wild herds to make himself tough. Whatever it was, Kiara was positive it had come from an attempt at a circus act. No doubt his name was Scar.

"I-I'm sorry," Kiara stammered, trying to stop staring at his bizarre scar and figure out where he got it from. "I just was wondering what you were-"

"They're not ready," said Scar, with a hint of an accent. "No one may see my friend hyenas perform until they are ready!"

Hyenas? Okaayy…definitely a weird guy.

"I have to jump high enough to demonstrate the tricks I want to teach my dancing circus hyenas," said the crazy old lion.

"Dancing circus hyenas?" Kiara repeated in disbelief. He was surely crazy!

"Yes. They never jump high enough in time," he said. "They don't think big enough. They don't take great leaps or large steps. My new routine for them goes with big steps in time to 'Oompah! Oompah!' but the dancing hyenas, they only take small steps to time to 'toodle-oot, toodle-oot'. You see, I must demonstrate for them how it must go."

Kiara peered into the den. "I don't see any hyenas."

"They know they must hide whenever anyone else is present," the crazy old lion said. "They must never show themselves to anyone besides me until their performance is ready to be shown in public. What is your name?"

"Kiara."

"Kara, one day you may be able to see my hyenas dance. They'll be as amazing and famous as ever! And you, Kara, will one day have the pleasure of seeing them face-to-face, when they are ready."

"It's Ki-ara," Kiara corrected.

The crazy old lion seemed to ignore her correction. "Run along now, Kara, because the hyenas and I are very busy." Then he made a great leap and somehow managed to leave her sight very fast.

"Ki-ara," Kiara corrected again, facing the thin air, annoyed.

As she left, descending from the territory, a voice bellowed out "Wait!"

No sooner had Kiara looked up than the eccentric Scar leaped down in one bound, just a few inches from landing smack on the cub.

"The hyenas, they tell me they have a message for you. They say do not go through little tunnels. Do you know such a thing, Kara?"

Kiara didn't bother correct him on her name. "In my room, there used to be an opening," she said. "But it's closed. All blocked up!"

"Then such a message means nothing to you?"

"Nope, I guess not."

"Huh, well the hyenas were bound to be mistaken sometime. They're silly jokesters. They even get your name wrong- Kiara. Not Kara at all! Maybe I work them too hard. No, I don't think so…" Scar went on back up the rocky steps of Pride Rock. Kiara rolled her eyes and went on to the yard in the visible distance in the backyard, still territory of Pride Rock. She might as well.

Kiara scratched at the dirt on the outside of the territory.

"Oh, the newcomer Kira! Come on in, princess," Timon welcomed.

"It's still Kiara, Timon, and please don't call me that," Kiara sighed.

The moment Kiara pushed her way through a tight space and frustratedly beat big green leaves out of her way, she found herself in Timon and Pumbaa's land.

Kiara remembered that lions didn't prey on meerkats and warthogs ever since this one incident in the times of kingdoms, back when prides were prosperous and royal. According to one legend, a meerkat and a warthog had helped a rightful king fight a tyrant. Kiara wasn't so sure she'd believe that. But she wouldn't eat them anyway.

Their land was something like a little paradise- fit for them. There weren't any glowing streams to swim in like Kiara had seen the night before, nor much of a beautiful scenery. Timon swung off the hammock he had been relaxing on and picked a large leaf to fan Kiara with.

Kiara found herself striped with the shadows of the leaf over her. Timon said something about complexion of skin and sensitivity in sunlight. Kiara clawed the leaf down, annoyed.

"What, do you want a wrinkle?" said Timon. He shrugged. "Up to you, Kira."

"Kiara," the cub seethed through her teeth. Then she cooled. "Well, I guess I should start with…how's the day been for you?"

"A nice long day of doing nothing's ahead of us," Pumbaa said contently. "And at night, it's good to kick back."

Kiara thought it sounded boring. What was so…so enjoyable about doing nothing?

"Has your whole life been like that?" Kiara asked.

"Oh, not really," Pumbaa said. "We once lived in a bigger place, this oasis in the desert, and enjoyed chasing buzzards and were singers."

"But it's nice to live by Pride Rock, too," Timon said. "It's a nice historical site. Well, anything interesting happen to you when moving in, Kira?"

"Oh, nothing," Kiara said. "Really. Nothing. Except a dream, where this opening in my room that in real life's blocked up, it just magically led to this other side with another mother and the other father, and the dinner was really different. It was terrific. And the really weird part I remember most was-" she was about to describe the button eyes when she found out Timon and Pumbaa were looking through the leaves.

Her smile turned to a grimace. "Will somebody please just listen to me?"

"I'm sorry, I wasn't listening," Timon said simply. "Did you say something, Kira?"

"Yes, I was talking about my dream-"

"Ooh, speaking of fortunes-!" Timon jumped up excitedly.

"I didn't say anything about fortunes-" Kiara said.

"Well, now that you bring it up," Timon said. "How about you drink some of this tropical juice? Just leave some on the bottom, and we can read your future. I've been waiting so long to do this again!"

"Fine," Kiara sighed. Some juice would've satisfied her hunger, anyhow.

When she had finished, she wiped her mouth with her paw and gave the remaining content of the container to them. Pumbaa glanced at it and said, "Wow, it looks like the future's in your hands…uh…"

"No, no, no, amateur," scoffed Timon. "Oh, my, it looks like a…a hand. Or a spider, it's hard to say…no, it's a hand…"

"Well, I see a giraffe," Pumbaa inputted , flipping it upside down.

"What does it mean?" Kiara asked.

"That you are in terrible danger," Timon said.

"Then what should I do?" Kiara wanted to know.

"Get thicker fur," Timon said randomly.

"Stay away from blue because it clashes with orange or dandelion," Pumbaa added. "Huh, Dandelion…that's a nice name for a lion, don't you think?"

"Um…okay," Kiara said, while her mind was going What??? Just when I thought things couldn't get stranger with these weirdoes.

"Trust me on this, we're experts," Timon bragged positively.

"You might be a bit rusty," Kiara coughed.

"Well, here, then, what do you see?" Timon said, pushing the container over.

From the push, its contents swirled around, and when Kiara peered in, it was just randomness.

"Well…I…um…" Kiara stuttered, unsure of what they wanted to hear.

"Well, while you're thinking about it, let's eat!" Timon grinned.

They offered Kiara a leaf plate of multicolored beatles, but Kiara firmly refused. "Ew, gross…"

"Suit yourself." Timon crunched down on one. Pumbaa slurped up one of the worms, hungrily satisfied, but then suddenly spat it out.

"Oh, you always do that!" Timon complained. "You take a bite out of every one and then put it back- it drives me crazy!"

"But you can't tell from looking what the really slimy ones are," Pumbaa protested.

"Slimy? Au contraire, my friend, it's the crunchy ones that make the meal," Timon said, taking another crunchy creepy crawler.

"Slimy," Pumbaa declared.

"Crunchy," Timon argued, swallowing down another.

"Slimy!"

"Crunchy!"

Kiara looked at each of them from side to side, rolling her eyes. She got tired of this.

"Less filling!"

"Tastes good!"

"Less filling!"

"Tastes good!"

"Less filling!"

They didn't even notice her leaving. Kiara snuck off and bounded off to the old log bridge again.

"Danger?" she mumbled to herself. "That doesn't sound bad. It sounds exciting, actually." She snorted. "As if anything exciting could happen here."

She pricked up her ears at hearing some slight pawing behind her. She narrowed her eyes and took a slow step forward. She caught the sound of shuffling behind in a sandy cloud of dust from the soil.

In an instant, Kiara whipped around and pounced, pinning Kovu to the ground. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the village stalker!" Kiara hissed.

"Ow," grunted Kovu, pushing Kiara off. "I wasn't stalking you," he said. "I was hunting for slugs."

"Slugs?" Kiara said.

"Yeah, like this one!" Kovu said, pouncing on a big, thick one.

"Pumbaa'd like that," Kiara mumbled. "So, that painting you showed me…it was nice…very interesting. Did you make it?"

"Slippery…" Kovu muttered, trying to pick up the slug carefully. "Huh? Oh, no, I just found it in our den, buried under these old rocks my brother puts together. I dunno who made it. But it's probably older than Nuka and me."

"Come on," Kiara scoffed. "Why would someone from long ago make a portrait of a cub who happens to have the same shade of fur and even get specific details of me just right?"

Kovu finally succeeded In scooping up the slug without using his claws, and then declared, right in Kiara's face, "CHECK OUT SLUGZILLA!"

"You're just like them," Kiara said.

"What?" Kovu asked, half confused, half trying to keep the slug on.

"My parents. They don't listen to me either!" Kiara said frustratedly.

"Uhhuh…here touch it!" Kovu grinned.

"Ugh, no way," Kiara said.

"Well, I understand, you princess types…can stand hunting down bloody kill but not slimy touches," Kovu shrugged.

Kiara snapped, "I'm not scared, okay? I've crushed bugs before."

"Then this should be no problem," Kovu smiled.

"Fine. There. Happy?" Kiara tapped the slug, then rubbed off the slime on the ground.

Kovu thought maybe Kiara needed something to laugh at, so he said, "Hey, watch this."

He posed in different positions and pantomimed. Pretending to eat the slug, pretending the slug was mutated mucus, pretending the slug was bigger than him, pretending the slug was a mustache, and growing out of his mane.

"Ew…hahaha," Kiara couldn't help laughing a little.

"You know, I've never been inside Pride Rock," Kovu said, tossing the slug away.

"You're kidding," Kiara answered. "I know you and your brother didn't claim it first, and your brother said it was cursed and everything, but you've had to have been in there sometime, right?"

"Nope, Nuka would kill me if I did."

"Come on, why does he let an old story scare him from coming over?"

"Well…" Kovu said nervously. "It's not just that…back when our family was bigger, before I was born, Nuka lived at Pride Rock with them once. Back when he was a younger cub, he had a sister, Vitani- which means 'war', FYI, don't ask me why- who would've also been my sister, too, if she hadn't disappeared before I was born…"

"Disappeared?" Kiara echoed.

"Well, she was supposed to be sent to this military education thing," Kovu proceeded. "But one night, the night before, Nuka insisted, um, that she was stolen. When he heard about the history of Pride Rock with the lost prince and all, he was convinced that it was cursed."

"Well…what do you think happened to her?" Kiara inquired. Things just got more interesting.

"Uh…I'm not sure," Kovu said. "Maybe she ran away?"

Just then, a voice hollered from across the bridge, calling Kovu.

"I gotta go," Kovu said quickly, and he seemed to be relieved by it as he darted off.

"Wait!" Kiara exclaimed, trying to get him back. He couldn't just tell her something like that and leave just like that!

But Kovu was already a small shadow of a cub fading in the distance.


Changes: Scar isn't a murderer or jealous villainous brother of a king, Kovu never met Vitani, Timon and Pumbaa aren't from Simba's time (they live in this closeby area that you probably saw in The Lion King 1 1/2. Nuka is not related to Scar (nor is anyone else in this story, for that matter).

Please leave reviews and really tell me what you think! To be honest, I don't think much of reviews like "Cool, update soon!" I mean, I like it better than no review at all, so if you just want drop a review in little time, that's fine. I'm just saying that I like sincere reviews better, that tell me what one likes about it specifically, or any constructive criticism's good too, because it shows that the readers really cares about where the story's going or how it's like so far. So, just a note to keep in mind...