The trip to the Eastern caves was the longest that Sarabi thought she had ever taken in her entire life. All time seemed to slow down while she and the four others hurried along the beaten trail that would lead them towards the border. And though the trail was the quickest of all the trails that led that way, to Sarabi it felt as though they were taking forever.
She just wanted to get there.
She wanted to see that Zuri and the cubs were just fine.
Sarabi wasn't completely sure what she would do if something were to happen to her grandcubs. She had given it thought many times since they had first brought the royals to hide out in the Eastern caves and the news of the threat had reached their ears.
The thought of how she had lost Simba all those years ago still weighed heavy on the old lioness. And even though her son had returned to her and alive after so long of thinking he was dead with no real hope in getting her precious cub back…Sarabi still felt that aching hollow feeling she had when Scar had told them of the tragedy.
And she didn't think she would be able to bare that feeling again if something were to happen to her grandcubs.
She had just gotten her happiness back, she wasn't about to let someone take it away from her.
Especially when that someone came in the form of the mate of the lion who first took Mufasa from her.
"When we arrive, we should probably wait for the rain to subside a bit. The newborns could get sick in this weather." Merah's voice sounded from her right.
"But the King said he wanted them brought back as soon as could get them…" Kana reminded from where she made up the rear of the group.
"We will wait to see what Zuri has to say," Sarabi called back over her shoulder loud enough for the others to hear her over the thunder and howling wind. "We will tell her what Simba has requested but we will wait for her decision on whether or not we move the cubs in this weather." But Sarabi figured perhaps Zuri would say that they should wait for the storm to subside, there really was no need to risk the health of the cubs if they could help it.
Either way, she thought to herself, she would be spending time with them.
She thought of that with a smile. She missed her grandcubs. She missed watching Kopa playing and telling him stories that he loved to hear about when his grandparents had been cubs or stories about all the great kings that had come before him. If there was anything that cub loved it was a good story.
Then there were her new grandcubs…
Sarabi desperately wanted to have them back at Pride Rock.
She wanted to see them grow up in the safety of the pride not in some cave far from the rest of them.
I wonder if they opened their eyes yet…
The old lioness's thoughts fell silent when the first glimpse of the Eastern caves started to come into view. Quickening their pace to a fast trot the lionesses hurried onward wanting to check on their royals as well as to get out of the rain.
Upon reaching the borders they looked back over their shoulders to see whether or not they been followed from pride rock. Sure they had made sure to go the way that didn't cross Zira's cave for extra precaution but they weren't going to take their chances just in case someone really had followed them.
Once they were sure that they hadn't been followed, Sarabi was the first to continue the rest of the way to the caves. Taking her time in climbing the slippery rocks she slipped her way on inside but stopped just short of entering the cave when she saw what she was hoping to greet her in the form of Zuri laying on the bed of grass with the cubs she was greeted with an empty cave.
"Sarabi, what is it? What's wrong?" Asali voiced her concern from behind the former Queen. Pushing her way through her gasp alerted the others behind her that something was certainly wrong. The others quickly made their way into the cave.
"Where are they?" Binti breathed out as she made her way over to the grass bed where she had last seen the cubs the day they been born.
"Something's wrong…Zuri just wouldn't leave the cave with them…she wouldn't even let Kopa out…" Sarabi searched the area when Kana's voice questioned from behind.
"Can't you smell it…or them…they been here…I know these scents…they belong to Dotty and Kumai…"
Whipping around to face her Sarabi wanted to think for a moment that she was lying but sniffing the air she could see that Kana was indeed correct. The cave was filled with many scents including two new ones that shouldn't have been there…"Hurry search the caves! Binti you know these caves better than anyone, see if Zuri took the cubs further into the caves. If they been here she could have taken them someone to keep them safe…hurry!" Sarabi ordered her heart pounding wildly in her chest. Something deep inside her told her that something wasn't right. But with all hope, Sarabi wanted to think that the cubs and Zuri were all safe.
Nodding Binti hurried on to the back of the caves that led to the inner cave systems with Kana and Merah following after her. Binti tracked the scents through the caves, the scents alone told her Zuri had done this way with the three cubs but something was off about Kopa's. The scents were all old. And with these scents were Dotty and Kumai's with them. Some part of her wanted to believe Kopa had led his mother to safety to the place she had shown him that led into the Eastern pride territory but something was off…
"The scents all end here…" stopping Binti eyed the spot where the scents ended and didn't continue.
"But there's nothing here…" Merah looked frantically around but there was no sign of the Queen and royal cubs or anyone for that matter.
Closing her eyes, Binti tried to fight off the sickening feeling in her gut while she turned to hurry back the way they came to report to Sarabi who been pacing the length of the cave awaiting their returning. Hearing them the lioness turned to face them with hope in her eyes which quickly faded when they returned alone and each with a troubled look on their face.
"You didn't find them…did you?"
Shaking her head, Binti sighed "The scents go as far back as half way then stop completely. Dotty and Kumai's scent was back there and stopped at the exact spot also…perhaps Zuri heard them before they found her and tried to hide the cubs back there. But they aren't there so my only guess is that…" her voice trailed off as she found herself unable to say anything else lifting her eyes she stared into the eyes off her old friend and lioness she helped raise as a cub when others weren't around. Eyes of a strong lioness who looked like she suddenly wanted to crumble to the ground in despair at the thought that something horrible must have happened to her family again.
"We must tell Simba, we must hurry back and tell him. There is no telling whether or not we are too late…but we can't think that!" Sarabi sputtered not wanting to think they been too late.
But how could Zira have known the truth?
They had been extremely careful in not telling the cubs whenever they asked to see Zuri or Kopa.
They were always careful to make sure they were never followed to the caves.
So how could Zira have known?
The four lionesses with her eyed Sarabi with sympathy. None of them wanted to see their old friend go through this again with her family. All of them had thought that tragedy like this was far behind them when Simba had returned and Scar had been dealt with. But all of them now knew they the threat had never truly been over, not when Zira had been permitted to stay…
"We have to hurry!" Turning Sarabi made to leave the cave when from outside they heard a roar. One that belonged to the King. Hearing that confirmed to them that something must have been wrong for the King to come all the way out to the Eastern borders when he was supposed to have been handling Zira…that could only have meant that they had discovered that Zira was missing away from Pride Rock.
The five lionesses hurried on out of the cave and down to the ground just as the King and those with him arrived.
Simba had hurried to the Eastern borders almost leaving those following behind him to have to scramble to keep up with him. His gut feeling that told him something was wrong the moment they found Zira's cave empty made him want to check on his family and do so as quickly as possible. Nearing the bordered he let out a roar to signal his arrival quickening his pace when he saw the others emerging from the cave one by one.
As the last of the five left the cave he was expecting to see his mate emerge next. But when she never came out, Simba felt his heart stop in his chest for a brief moment. "Zira's cave is completely empty!" he announced meeting up with the five lionesses whose damper faces told him something was wrong. But nothing more then his mother's teary eyes that seemed to tell him everything that he just didn't want to believe was possible.
"Where is Zuri?" he asked looking around then back at the cave entrance where he expected to hear see his mate come running out or his son in knowing he was there to take them home. But when they still didn't come out he got impatient waiting for answer. "Where are they!?"
He began to hurry to enter the cave when his mother stopped him.
"They're not in there Simba…none of them are…" Sarabi hung her head as she said these words with a sadness and worry in her voice. This wasn't something she was hoping to have to ever tell her son that perhaps something had happened to the family he had built.
Facing his mother, Simba wanted to be in disbelief but seeing the look she was giving him as well as the looks of the others he couldn't detect a lie among them. The King suddenly found it very hard to breathe at the thought that something had happened to his family. The very thing he had brought them out to the Eastern caves to keep from happening. "What…what did you find?" he growled low under his breath "Perhaps they…"
"We searched the back caves your majesty. Their scents went that way but only part way…they then stopped and didn't continue. But the place their scents ended there was nobody there…but those weren't the only scents we found…it appears that Dotty and Kumai had been inside the cave…" Binti fell silent from her explanation as the Kings head whipped in her direction at the mention of two of Zira's followers names.
"Were there any more?"
"None my King, only those two had entered the cave. Their scents went as far back as the others and stopped there and never continued much like Zuri's and the cubs scents had…" Kana answered this time hanging her head her ears falling against her skull as sadness overtook her.
Closing his eyes, the King stepped away from his pride and began to pace. Beneath his eyelids he felt tears building up. He should have come to the cave like he had planned too, during his patrol when he had spotted the approaching storm he figured he would have been able to go and spend the night with his family but one problem with the animals one right after the other stopped him until he decided he would just go see them the next morning when the storm passed.
I should have just come this way…If only I had…
Clenching his eyes tighter, Simba tried to fight back the tears and sobs building in his throat. His family couldn't be dead. No, they had to be alive.
Lifting his head he opened his eyes and stared out across the savannah that lit up every time lightning flashed in the sky above. Suddenly he thought perhaps his mate had escaped with their cubs and they were out there waiting for him. Turning to face his pride he spoke loud enough for them all to hear him "Spread out and search every corner of the Pridelands. Find them! They have to been out there somewhere. Anyone who finds them or Zira roar your location!" he ordered as each lioness quickly took off in every direction to search for the missing royal family.
Sarabi was the only one who remained.
Looking at her son she reached out laying her paw on top of his giving him her best smile "We'll find them Simba…believe that the Great Kings will protect them…believe that your father will watch over them and guide us to them…" Sarabi remembered the stories that Zuri and Simba had told her about why they had come back to the Pridelands and how the Kings of old had all guided them back when they had gotten lost.
She had to believe deep down that they would do exactly that to protect the cubs and the new Queen of their Kingdom. They had just achieved peace and their lands were flourishing and their family was growing…she did not want to believe that the Great Kings would not stop this madness from happening.
Looking his mother in her eyes, Simba tried searching them to see if she held any doubt to her words. But despite the tears in her eyes he could see the hope shinning in them. Sighing, he nodded his head "I know mother…I…I just wish that I…" closing his eyes he didn't say another word as he turned and began heading out into the grasslands with his mother following behind him. There was no time at the moment to be spent on wishing, he had to find his mate and cubs.
More preferably before Zira found her.
"Please Zuri…be safe…I'm coming!"
Hawa had been running for nearly three miles when she came to a sudden halt turning her head off towards the East where she could have sworn he heard a roar of another lion but that couldn't be the King and the others were still back at Pride Rock. For a moment she feared it was Zira but it was coming in the wrong direction.
Maybe it was just her imagination.
The sound of heavy breathing beside her made her look down at the young prince who had managed to keep up with her when she had finally stopped running. Letting the little brown she-cub he been carrying down he lifted his eyes up toward her and she wasn't all that surprised by the glare he was giving her.
"Why are you saving us…more importantly why are we running? We need to go back and help my mom she didn't get away with us!" the cub snapped at her.
Sighing Hawa placed the cub she was carrying down on the ground beside her sister. The two cubs blindly crawled toward one again taking comfort in the other. Smiling sadly down at them Hawa turned toward the older of the three cubs unsure what to say to him then sighed. "There was no saving your mother…if…if I had arrived sooner…my prince…" she paused for a moment realizing that had been the first time she had ever addressed Kopa as such. The last one she ever said that too had been Nuka. "My prince…it was too late for her…"
"No it wasn't!"
Eyes closed, Hawa took another deep breath then opening them she gazed down at the cub that was no longer glaring at her but appeared as though he was holding back his tears. Reaching out she meant to comfort the cub but he only stepped back from her shaking his head "It wasn't too late! She was…IS still alive! We need to go save her!"
"She's my mom!" Kopa shouted "We…no I…I have to save her…it's my entire fault…Musa is dead…mom is hurt…all because I left the cave when I shouldn't have…it's all my fault!" the young prince hung his head his body shaking from the sobs he could no longer keep back.
Guilt arose inside Hawa. No…she thought, It isn't your fault at all little cub. It is hers…and it is mine…
Reaching out she grabbed the prince under the chin and made him look up at her as she gazed down at him with sad but soft eyes. "Do not blame yourself for your mother would not want you too. Do not blame yourself for her sacrifice Prince Kopa. Your mother knew the risk when she went to save you. Now we can't do back…it would be putting your mothers sacrifice in vain…we must get you and your sisters to safety…" with her paw she tried to wipe away the cubs tears but pulled her paw back when he flinched and that was the first real time she took a good look at the claw marks on his face that she knew Zira had to have been the cause of them just like she was sure Zira had been the cause of the Prince's now missing ear.
Seeing Kopa in this state as well as the brown she-cub who had three claw marks on her tiny face she was not sure how she would explain this to the King. Would he and the others attack before she had a chance to explain or would Kopa stand up for her and tell his father that she had nothing in what happened and that she had saved them? She could only hope and if the King believed her she would beg for him to spare her sister and the others.
Let him do what he wanted with Zira but spare the others…
She did all this because she knew it was wrong to kill innocents but also because she wanted to save the cubs the pain of finding out those they cared about were dead but more importantly to save her sisters life.
Looking up at the lioness that saved him Kopa reflected what she just told him. Would he really be putting his mothers sacrifice in vain if he went back to help her?
But what if she was still alive?
What if she was waiting for him to come and help her?
She had to be alive…she just had to be…right? He wanted to believe that.
"Come we must get you all to your father…" Hawa went to pick up the cub she been carrying before when Kopa spoke up. "No…"
Confused she turned to him again "What do you mean no?"
"My father doesn't care about us! If he did he would have come and saved us him! He didn't! Now Musa is dead and my mom could be too…It may have been my fault that I left the cave…but…but he should have saved us but he didn't…he doesn't care that's why he sent mom and me away…he didn't save her and mom always said dad would if something happened to us but he didn't…I…I…I HATE HIM!" Kopa cried out loudly slapping his paw against the ground. The raise in their brother's voice caused the two she-cubs to jump a little in fright.
Hawa could not help but stare at the Prince in disbelief…he honestly thought his father didn't care about them….but that wasn't true she thought, the King didn't know that his family was in danger. She looked down at the cub with sympathy opening her mouth to speak when she heard it…
Whipping her head up she stared in disbelief at the lioness standing a distance from them. How did she catch up with them so quickly? Hawa screamed inside her head. Her eyes darted around but she saw that Zira was alone she could not see sign of her sister anywhere nor of the others.
Did Zira come alone to find her?
Her heart pounded in her chest as she stared down the lioness that didn't move to make an attempt to come at them…not yet at least.
"Hawa…Hawa…Hawa…you pathetic lioness. How dare you betray me! I am your Queen and you dare attack and steal from me?" Zira demanded.
Hawa tried to show that she wasn't afraid but inside her heart beat so fast and her thoughts were so chaotic she couldn't think a solid thought. Holding her head high, Hawa retorted "You are no Queen to me Zira. I betray you because you are no longer worth following. And I shall not let you kill another cub…" not wasting another minute she looked at Kopa only to see that the cub was already gone and off ahead of her but was running too slow for he was trying to carry both his sisters to safety.
Taking off after the cub she heard Zira's loud growls behind her as the lioness started to give chase. Reaching Kopa she quickly scooped up the tanned cub again when Kopa accidentally dropped her. She hit the older cub with her paw on the rump as a sign for him to just keep on running.
Great Kings help us!
Amber eyes stared downward at the body of the fallen lioness in front of her.
The body of a fallen Queen.
The very one she had just killed with her own paws.
But it was the eyes of the body that caught her attention the most.
Sapphire eyes void of all life continued to stare back at her.
Zira growled under her breath for it seemed even in death the Outsider Queen still seemed to mock her.
But Zira had gotten what she wanted. The Queen was indeed dead and had died by her paws. Oh yes, she had indeed gotten what she wanted. The growls in her throat soon turned to laughter as she threw her head back laughing toward the heavens. "I've done it! Scar, I have done it. For you, my love, I have killed the Outsider…and for that Simba will suffer with the loss of his mate and…" the former Queen's laughter soon died away when she suddenly remembered one important thing.
The cubs. She managed to kill one but hadn't gotten the chance to kill them all.
Hawa…she growled. That foolish little lioness had betrayed her!
How dare she! After I took her in and this is how she repays me? When I find her I will kill her along with those cubs!
Growling, her claws down into the flesh of the dead lioness lying beneath her paws. She had to catch Hawa before she managed to reach Pride Rock and alert the king of what was going on. She did not want the King to find out too quickly, she wanted time to get back to Pride Rock and make it appear as though she never left. But if Hawa got there first then her plans would be in vain.
However, she thought. Her eyes darting toward Kumai and the others present. Each lioness was too busy staring at the fallen Queen with something that disgusts her. They were looking upon the body with sympathy.
She eyes fixated on Kumai. Hawa was Kumai's sister. Zira knew if she were to kill the lioness and Kumai and the others discovered that she had, she was sure they would turn on her.
It was then an idea struck her.
Smirking maliciously inwardly. Zira turned toward her lionesses and snarled snapping her jaws watching them quickly jump to attention tearing their eyes away from the dead lioness on the ground. "What are you all standing around for?" she demanded stepping toward them her teeth bared from her lips being pulled back from the snarl that deepened the closer she got to them.
But each step she took; they took a step back.
"Hawa got away with the cubs! We need to catch her before they get back to Pride Rock! I want those cubs and I want them dead!"
Kumai stiffened staring directly at the enraged lioness standing in front of her who was demanding them to hunt down her sister.
When Hawa had first arrived on the scene, Kumai had been completely shocked to have seen her sister there. She had been even more shocked when she watched her usually quiet and soft sister attack and stand up to Zira like she had.
She had been in such a shock that she hadn't even done anything to stop her sister from grabbing the cub at her paws and take off with the three last remaining royal cubs.
Her eyes traveled to the one cub that Zira managed to kill.
For a moment she felt pride for her sister. For having had the courage to do something that Kumai herself couldn't have done. But also it worried her. It worried her about what Zira would do to her sister when she caught her. Facing the lioness in front of her again she stuttered on her words. "And…wha…what will be done when we catch her?"
"You will hold her there until I come. And then I will kill the rest of those cubs and then and only then shall my revenge be fulfilled." Zira smirked as she watched relief wash over Kumai's face at the thought that Zira was just going to let her sister get away with what she did.
Spotty and Dotty eyed Zira suspiciously. For as long as they knew Zira, she had never once been lenient to those who betrayed her in anyway. Why was she just going to let Hawa go? The thought crossed their minds.
"Go, now! Find her and those cubs we cannot let them reach Pride Rock!" Zira hollered as the five lionesses in front of her suddenly jumped and without a backward glance at her took off into the night to track down Hawa and the fleeing cubs.
Watching them go, Zira turned and made her way back over to Zuri's dead body. Looking down at her, Zira smiled almost too sweetly as she bent her head down until it was close to the fallen lioness. Lifting the head with her paw. "Don't worry your majesty you won't be alone in the afterlife much longer. I'll find those cubs and I'll send them into the afterlife after you." Pulling her paw away she let the lionesses head fall back to the ground then turning she took off into the storm that was still raining down upon the Pridelands.
Taking the small signs of where her prey had gone she took off after them satisfied that the others had taken off in other directions. This would help her plan greatly.
The prints were very little thanks to the amount of rain that was now falling. But Zira still could make out enough to follow and she could tell she was very soon coming upon them. With the wounds that Zira had already inflicted upon Kopa she knew very well he wasn't running as far and fast as he should.
With a low growl, she dug her claws into the slippery ground to give her more traction. She had almost run three miles when she caught sight of figures in the distance. But at the same time she had heard a roar off in the distance and turning her head she located it from the East. This confused her for just a moment than she knew exactly what it was.
A sneer came over her face. Well, she thought, it seems the King has already found out that his beloved family was missing. That right there just told her she needed to get her paws on Hawa and the cubs sooner. She would kill all of them. Every last one.
No one betrayed her and would be allowed to get away with it.
Only now…that it seemed the King and his Pride, and she had a deep feeling the pride was with him, that they would be out searching for the missing Queen and royal cubs. This would make it easier for her to kill Hawa and blame the death upon the others. The plan was perfect, kill Hawa and the cubs. And when someone came upon them blame Simba's pathetic lionesses for Hawa's death. It was a great lie. For of course the one who found the dead cubs would surely think that Hawa had a part in killing them and so without question they had attacked her.
Hawa would die. She would get away with it. And Kumai would still be her loyal follower.
Being lost in her thoughts she hadn't realized her prey had stopped until she was right on them. The young prince's voice filling her ears.
"My father doesn't care about us! If he did he would have come and saved us him! He didn't! Now Musa is dead and my mom could be too…It may have been my fault that I left the cave…but…but he should have saved us but he didn't…he doesn't care that's why he sent mom and me away…he didn't save her and mom always said dad would if something happened to us but he didn't…I…I…I HATE HIM!"
These words were pure bliss to her ears. A sinister smile crept up onto her face at the fact that it seemed the young prince was taking her words seriously. This was making the game a lot more fun. The fact that she could influence the cub more than she ever thought she could.
Coming upon them. Zira could not stop the laugh that sounded from her throat.
And it seemed just that one laugh was enough to make both Hawa and Kopa look her way. Fear and shock on both their faces.
"Hawa…Hawa…Hawa…you pathetic lioness. How dare you betray me! I am your Queen and you dare attack and steal from me?" Zira demanded.
The former Queen stood there and watched as Hawa stared her down but Zira could still see the nervousness as Hawa addressed her. But it was not her that Zira was now looking at, but the young prince who seemed to take this moment to grab both his sisters and attempt to run away.
Zira paid no mind to that. With his wounds plus carrying two cubs, the young prince wasn't going to get very far.
"You are no Queen to me Zira. I betray you because you are no longer worth following. And I shall not let you kill another cub…" a deep rumbling growl grew from within her at Hawa's words.
How dare that weak lioness speak to her in such a way? After all she had done for her and the others, she dared to defy her and insult her. Claws digging into the ground she watched as Hawa took after the cubs, grabbing a hold of the one that Kopa had dropped. Growling, Zira took off after them not planning to allow them to get any further away from her.
She did not know where her other lionesses were nor that of Simba and his.
And she wasn't about to risk them coming upon them until she finished the job she set out to do in the first place.
Ahead of her, Hawa cast a quick glance over her shoulder to see that Zira was gaining and quickly. Something in her told her they might not make it. But Hawa wasn't about to stop. She was going to protect these cubs even if it meant her own death. Facing forward she saw that she had over taken Kopa whose small wounded legs could barely keep up with her own longer ones.
The cub she was carrying let out squeaking panicked mews each and every time her tiny body was jostled whenever Hawa made a quick turn in hopes of loosing Zira. But each time the lioness looked back she could still see Zira hot on their trail.
Kopa himself was cursing inwardly. The pain from his wounds almost too much. But he wasn't about ready to stop running. Clamped in his jaws, Eshe squeaked much like Kiara as Kopa tried to make as many quick turns. Following Hawa step for step. His words to the lioness still echoing in his ears.
He could not believe he had said that he hated his father.
He really didn't…or did he?
The more he ran hearing Zira's laughter and growls behind them. The more pain his wounds caused him. The more he thought back to Musa's dead body and his wounded mother he could not help but feel this strange new feeling of hate towards his father. Where was he? Why wasn't he trying to save them? The thoughts just kept continuing over and over in his mind.
Tears stung his eyes. He wanted his mother. He wanted his grandmother and he wanted his father but if Simba truly didn't care about them like Zira had said then perhaps wanting his father would be a stupid thing to wish for. Eshe's startled cry jolted him back to reality when he almost tripped making his little sister bump her head against the ground.
Sorry Eshe! He shouted mentally unable to really talk as he carried her. His jaws were clamped around her midsection so that her lower half would now hit the ground as he ran.
Casting a look over his shoulder he watched as Zira began to gain on them when an idea struck him. Looking toward Hawa who was already a bit in front of him. He suddenly made a sharp turn and headed in the opposite direction that Hawa was going. Hoping that if they broke apart it would make it difficult for Zira. But the young prince soon came to realize his hopes were in vain when Zira chose to chase after him rather then keep after Hawa.
"You can't run far Prince Kopa. I promise you death will be quick!" Kopa clenched his eyes as he heard her laughing behind him. Almost tripping again on slippery ground, the young prince stumbled but managed to catch his balance again as he kept on running not bothering to look back this time to see how close she was to him in fear that it would slow him down.
Hawa who hadn't even realized that Kopa had split from her side turned and watched in horror when she heard Zira's voice coming from the far side of her and no longer behind her. She just stood there as she watched the young prince zig and zag trying to get away from the lioness giving chase to him.
She made to follow when from her mouth the little princess she was carrying mewed. Torn between what to do, she spotted a old abandon meerkat hole nearby. Hurrying towards it, she dug at it with her paws and carefully placed the cub down inside of it, only to have the cub mew loudly in surprise and distress wondering what was going on.
Everything was so strange to her. First she was taken out into a strange world she could not see, by someone who was NOT her mother. Heard the cries of her brother. Now she was being carried away by another stranger who wasn't her mother and being stuffed into something slippery and wet.
Little Kiara mewed louder till she felt the stranger paw her paw gently on her head while a soft voice spoke to her. "Don't worry little princess. I'm only going to go get your brother and sister then I'll be right back. I promise you. I'll get you to your daddy but first you must be really quiet and hide here." Hawa bent her head and licked the little Princess on the head watching as the cub squirmed a little but soon relaxed.
She felt bad for leaving the cub but she knew if she went after Zira with the princess she might get hurt in the process. "I'll be back…" she whispered one last time. Than stepping back she turned and hurried towards where she could see Zira was beginning to gain on Kopa and the second Princess.
Please, Kings of old…give me strength.
Although Hawa had only known two Kings since she had come to live in the Pridelands. She felt that praying to all the old Kings that came before would be the right thing to do. Surely if there was some great spiritual being looking down upon them that they wouldn't let all the heirs of their Kingdom die? Right?
That's what she seriously hoped.
She sped right toward Zira. Knowing she did not have the strength to carry both Kopa and the other princess to safety. But she would have enough strength to try and fight Zira off to allow them to have time to get away far enough and hopefully to the King.
But something deep inside her, told her that when it came to fighting Zira. That she might not make it out alive. Zira had more fight experience then she did. But this wasn't about coming out alive, she told herself. It was about saving the cubs.
I'm sorry Kumai…Closing her eyes, Hawa took a deep them. Than opening them at the same time letting out a roar to catch Zira's attention she sprung out with her hind legs and tackled the lioness to the ground. The roar seemed to catch Kopa's attention too for the cub suddenly turned and watched wide eyed as Hawa took Zira down to the ground.
Lifting her head Hawa shouted to him. "Run! Now, find your other sister. I have her hidden. Find her and run! Get far away! I'll hold her off….RUN NOW!" she growled as Zira tried to fight her off but Hawa had her front legs wrapped tightly around her trying to pin her to the ground with her weight.
For a few seconds, Kopa didn't budge. He just watched as the lioness that first saved them was once again fighting off Zira to do just that. Watching her he regretted the few times he thought that Zira's followers were weird. Because though the others were helping Zira when it came to trying to kill them, here was one risking her life to save them.
The shout that came from Hawa next sounded desperate as she wandered why the prince was not running. But it seemed that desperation in her voice that caused the young prince to give her a look that Hawa thought held sympathy but also a silent thanks as the prince turned and hurried off. Hawa said she had hidden Kiara, but where? She didn't say.
In his mouth, Eshe let out another squeak. As if she was trying to know where their sister was as well. Running back the way Hawa had been, Kopa began to search around while behind him he could hear the sound of battle as Hawa and Zira went at each other.
Hawa watched as Kopa ran off. Breathing a small sigh of relief as she saw them getting away. Zira who been struggling beneath the other lionesses weight suddenly pushed upward as she felt Hawa's weight shift giving her the advantage to finally get up. "You pathetic lioness!" She snapped reaching around with her one paw to swipe at the other catching Hawa in the ear causing her to roar in pain.
Hawa realized too late that she had taken her weight off Zira when she felt her suddenly move and her claws attached to her ear. Roaring in pain, Hawa tried to pull her head back only to find Zira's claws hooked in her ear. Clenching her eyes shut, Hawa pulled with all her might to get away finally managing it but in the process ended up ripping her ear upon Zira's claws.
Staggering back, she glared toward Zira who was smirking right back at her. "Well…look who has developed a backbone. And here I was beginning to think you were some snivelling coward Hawa. It was why I was so glad that you were left behind with my cubs, just so that I didn't need to have you here whimpering when I killed those damn cubs." Zira mused unaffected by the glare directed at her.
"It is you who is the coward Zira." Standing her ground, Hawa held her head high, her eyes still set in a glare. "I stood back when you killed Mheetu and did not say a word. I just stood back and watched as you killed an innocent cub…"
"That cub was not innocent! He would have taken Nuka's place as King. He was stealing my son's food. You saw now healthy he was and how sick Nuka was becoming. I thought you stayed for my cub's sake Hawa? I killed Mheetu so that Nuka would live and Scar's own would become King…"
"But Scar's own would not have been King. Kovu is not Scar's cub. And he knew it too…" Hawa paused when she saw the shock and surprise flash in Zira's eyes but the lioness would not dare let it reflect on her face. "Oh yes, that's right Zira. He knew Kovu wasn't his son. I heard him speaking about it to Shenzi one night when I was bringing you food. But he thought Nuka was a weakling that didn't deserve the throne, so not his true son or not he disowned poor Nuka and took Kovu as his heir. And you as Nuka's mother just stood back and let it happen…"
"It was Scar's decision. Either way…my own would have become King. And still will after I dispose of those royal cubs just as I disposed of the Queen!" Zira laughed as she watched the horror come over Hawa's face at the news that the Queen was indeed dead. Though she knew she would die…Hawa could just see it in the proud brown lioness's eyes that she was dying but still to hear about it was an upsetting thing. Hawa had wanted the chance to prove she wasn't like Zira. She wanted a chance to be welcomed into the pride officially and serve under a Queen who would treat them right.
But that would never be. For Zuri was now dead. The Queen who had helped bring the Pridelands back to order with Simba was now dead.
"Oh, did you want her to live?" Zira taunted stepping towards Hawa who just stood her ground. "Don't worry you pathetic girl. You'll see her in the afterlife. I don't let those who betray me live. And when I kill you, I'll go and finish off those cubs."
"Kill me and you'll loose the rest of your followers. My sister and the others will never stand with you if you kill me." Hawa stated standing her ground no matter how nervous she felt watched Zira stroll toward her.
"Well they would but you see Hawa. I have a plan. Kill you and blame it on Sarabi and the others. Say they saw you coming upon them with the cubs. In blind rage they attack you and killed you. This rain will wash my scent off of you and I'll get away with your murder. Your poor sister who will want nothing but revenge for your death will have no choice but to stand by my side and fight." Explaining her plan, Zira laughed maliciously.
"My sister will never believe that!" though as she said the words, there were doubt in her voice. It was a possibility that Hawa wouldn't believe that it was Simba and the others that killed her and she hoped Kumai could see the truth. If she died, she did not want her sister to continue to be Zira's slave. Her sister didn't deserve that. None of the others did. They ran away from their old pride to live and have freedom. Serving Zira was nothing more then slavery and a death sentence.
If only they could have seen that before hand. Than maybe it would have made a difference. Perhaps it would have allowed them to become part of the pride than be outsiders who had to fend for themselves. Hawa wanted that more then anything for both she and her sister.
But if she died. She could only hope her sister would get what Hawa thought she deserved in life.
"Kill me if you want Zira. But I won't go down without a fight. You won't get those cubs. You say you love your cubs Zira, but you don't even stop to think how they will feel when they find out the Queen they loved is dead and if those cubs die they will be even more devastated when they find out their best friend is dead!" Hawa shouted tears in her eyes as she thought of what those cubs would be like if that happened. It was bad enough Zuri was dead for that would hurt them deeply but if Kopa died she knew how much that would affect them. "You are a terrible mother."
"They'll get over it…" sneering Zira began to circle Hawa. She did not like being called a terrible mother. She was doing all this for her cub's survival. Sure she knew they would be upset in the beginning but she would make sure they got over it. She would make sure that they knew this was for the best. That if this didn't happen than they would have been forced to leave the pride and leave her behind. She would tell them the pride was going to kick her out and keep them away from her. She knew her cubs loved her and this would harden them and their thoughts of the royal family.
Oh yes. Everything would go as planned.
Hawa stood still, watching Zira closely never taking her eyes off her. But when Zira got behind Hawa, she took this chase to attack. Growling she pounced at Hawa from behind jumping on her back digging her claws deep into the lionesses hide. Roaring in pain, Hawa twisted her body swatting at Zira with her claws cutting up her legs trying to get at her face.
An idea struck her and pushing upwards with her paws she twisted her body enough to slam them both into the ground once more. The shock of the impact jarring them both. Feeling Zira release her hold just enough to allow her to twist her body more she pushed at Zira with her paws until both lionesses were wrestling upon the ground. Each fighting for dominance over the other.
Soon finding herself on her back beneath Zira. Hawa forced her paw up underneath Zira's throat. Pushing up with force in hopes that it might cause Zira to have trouble breathing but the moment Zira saw what the younger lioness's plans were she slammed her own paws down on Haw's chest causing her to gasp in pain. Blood seeped over Zira's paws from how deep her claws were now digging into Hawa's skin.
"You should have stayed back at Pride Rock you little fool." Sneering Zira stared down at the lioness beneath her who despite her paw stared back up at her with defiance. "You'll be lucky if I let your sister live. I should kill her too just to show what happens when you defy me!"
"You…do…that…and you'll be…all alone Zira…" coughing Hawa clenched her eyes shut from a moment. She knew from the force of the impact Zira had laid upon her chest that one of her ribs much have broken and pierced a lung. "But…if my sister…and…and…the others…ar…are…smart…then they…will leave you…one day Zira…you will loose…all you've ever h…had and lov…loved…then…then you'll truly…be alone…" opening her eyes she stared back up at Zira with a mixture of sympathy and hate.
"And…whe…when that da…day comes…what…you'll…see…what revenge…has c..cost you. Kill me…I've…I've done my job…I s…saved…t…those cubs…" Hawa managed to wheeze out. By each passing minute she found it harder to breathe.
Biting back a snarl and instead smirking, Zira just laughed. "I'll find them and when I do. I'll send them straight to hell with you…such a pity Hawa. If you showed this much backbone before and not in defiance of me. You might have just been of good use to me. Goodbye Hawa!" pushing down harder with her paws she caused the younger lioness to gasp as the bone that pierced her lung was dug in deeper.
Once the paw that was holding her head back dropped. Zira went in for the final kill. With a loud throat growl, Zira clamped her jaws around Hawa's neck biting with enough force she felt the lioness's voice cords crunch beneath her teeth.
The last moments of Hawa's life was felt with pain she never felt in the longest time. The pain from having her lung pierced and her throat crushed was nothing compared to the pain in her heart. Knowing she was leaving behind her sister. Who knew nothing of Zira's new little plan that involved her. She knew Kumai would be heart broken to find her dead. But Hawa knew what price she might pay for her defiance and though wracked with sudden guilt. She did not regret her decision.
Feeling her life start to drain away. Hawa closed her eyes as the last tears she would ever shed feel from them.
Forgive me sister…goodbye Kumai…
Kopa ran until he could no longer hear the fight going on behind him. Only then did he stop and look around. He had made sure he had run back the way he seen Hawa had come from when she attacked Zira. Hawa had said she had hidden Kiara somewhere.
Some part of him wanted to just keep on running. Find help and then come back for Kiara once Eshe was safe. He knew from trying to get away with both his sisters before that he wouldn't be able to properly carry them both. But there was always a possibility that he may never find the help he could get. They may be of the royal family but he remembered how a gazelle had wanted to attack him just because he spooked their calf. Would they help him if he told them what was going on? He did not know. Nor did he think he wanted to take that risk.
Looking in each direction around him he tried to see where Hawa could have possibly hidden his sister. Gently laying Eshe at his paws he began calling out "Kiara?" his voice carried out into the storm. His ears flick as he tried listening for any sound that might be his little sister calling out back to him.
"Kiara?!" he called out again when there was no answer the first time. For a moment he swore he heard a soft whimpering sound. Only to find out it came from Eshe who quivered at his paws. The young princess had crawled half way over her older brother's paw recognizing his scent. Whimpering from the pain she still felt from the little wounds she had received as well as the cold from the rain.
Wrapping his other paw around her, Kopa drew Eshe closer to him leaning his body over hers in hopes of blocking some of the rain from hitting her. Leaning his head down, he licked her face trying his best to clean her wounds and sooth them much like their mother had often done with him. "Hey…don't be scared…everything be alright Eshe. Big brother Kopa is right here to take care of you. I won't let anything happen to you again. I promise."
Giving her one more lick, Kopa lifted his head again looking around. He tried again to listen for any sign that could lead him to where Kiara was hiding. But so far he could not hear a thing other than the storm overhead; the howling of the wind; and the whimpering mews of his little sister.
"Kiara!?" he cried out once more. But not a single sound came back in response.
Where was his sister?
He could had sworn that he backtracked the way Hawa had come from. But no matter how much he listened he just couldn't find her. Reaching down he picked Eshe back up and began to circle the area listening for any sounds that might be coming from Kiara. He felt tears prick his eyes. What if some scavenger had come across Kiara and taken her away and killed her…and…he gulped as he thought this, or possibly eaten her.
Guilt rose up inside him. This was all his fault. If he hadn't been so stupid as to wander out of the cave then none of this would have happened. He wouldn't have strayed from his mother and she wouldn't have had to come and rescue him. If he had only stayed Musa would still be alive and Kiara wouldn't be missing and his mother….
Kopa stopped in his search as his thoughts went to his mother. How was she? Was she still alive? Clenching his eyes before his tears could fall he held back a whimper of his own. No, his mother couldn't be dead. She was stronger than that. She must have fought them off and ran away and could be looking for them as he was there looking for Kiara. He didn't want to believe that his mother was dead. She just couldn't be. Nothing could take down his mother he thought. Nothing.
But the more he thought about it. The more doubt entered his mind. A whimper finally escaped him as he sat back down on the ground placing Eshe down once again he wrapped his paw around her. Hanging his head as his tears came running down from beneath his closed eyelids.
"I'm sorry mom…Musa…Kiara…Eshe…I'm so sorry! This is all my fault." Laying down he wrapped both his paws around his little sister and drew her closer to him. Mewing Eshe curled herself into her older brother's fur taking warmth and comfort from him. "I'm so sorry Eshe…" turning his head to face her, he gave her again lick. "I'm a failure as a big brother."
He had promised the day they were born that NOTHING would ever happen to them. And now he was the cause of their pain. He couldn't imagine what kind of pain Musa must have been in when he died. Of course he himself was clawed up and missing an ear and it hurt. A lot. He was not going to lie about that. But Musa was much smaller then him, he couldn't imagine what pain he might have been in as he died.
Eshe whimpered when he licked her. The wounds on her face stung and she was deeply confused. Her young mind couldn't comprehend what was going on. Nor the pain she was feeling. In the amount of days she been alive she never felt this sort of pain before and it was completely new to her. Right now she wanted her mother and didn't understand where she was. She had heard her before; she recognized her mother's voice. But now she could not hear or smell her. That frightened her making her whimper and mew in distress clinging to her older brother. The only scent and voice she knew and recognized at the moment.
Feeling more tears come, Kopa raised his muddy paw and rubbed his face only to wince and pull his paw away when he touched his wounds causing them to sting. "Mom…" he whimpered. Curling his body around Eshe he figured there was nothing more he could do. Maybe if they stayed there until morning there might be a possibility some help would come and find them.
Maybe his grandmother…maybe his father…
Kopa wasn't sure how he truly felt about his father at the moment. Any thought of him brought mixed emotions.
Right now he just wanted to know why he wasn't there to help them.
The prince raised his head his ears up and alert when he could have sworn he heard his name on the wind. Keeping completely still and not making a sound he listened again.
There seemed to be nothing when suddenly…"Kopa…"
Jumping to his paws startling Eshe who mewed loudly. He looked around in every direction. Hope rising deep within him. He didn't care call out, fearing that it was Zira but the voice on the wind really didn't sound like her. It sounded more then Kana…
His hopes rose higher when he thought the voice calling his name was one of his pride. Maybe they were out looking for them. Maybe his father really did care. But still being mindful he didn't call back out to them. He couldn't even tell what direction the voices were coming from.
Grabbing Eshe, he took a moment to decide before he turned and started running in one direction. Keeping his ears open to see if he could hear the voice again. Hoping if he continued to hear it, it might just point him in the right direction. He would run for some time and then turned in another direction. While listening for the voice he was also listening for Kiara. But if he found whoever was looking for them, then he could tell them that Hawa had hidden Kiara somewhere. Perhaps they would have a better chance at finding her then he was.
Once again Kopa wasn't watching there he was going when he felt himself suddenly slipping down a small hill. Eyes wide Kopa turned his body to grip onto the slippery ground slowing his decent but soon he lost his grip causing him to fall and roll. Loosing his hold on his sister he gasped as she suddenly fell down the hill quicker then him.
"Eshe!" he shouted. Pushing himself up he flung himself down the rest of the hill reaching out for his sister. Missing her by a few inches he hit the ground head first. Pushing himself up on his paws he suddenly felt a wave of dizziness and trying to take a step forward he fell back down.
"E…E…Es..she…" He squinted his eyes but his vision started to blur as he felt himself start to black. Suddenly thinking he must have hit his head harder on the ground then he thought he had.
As his vision went dark the last sound he heard was his sister's loud mews calling out to him.
"Oh this useless Nala. We've been searching everywhere…" Kana sighed rubbing her face with her paw. She was trying to think of the last time she seen this much rain in one night. Though it only been what Kana figured was a few hours, she couldn't really tell, but it was starting to feel like forgive since they started to search for the royal family.
She had gone off on her own when she went to find them. All of them had but Simba and Sarabi. Along the way she had run into Nala wondering if the young lioness had found something.
Nala turned to look at Kana for a brief moment before looking off again in the direction she was searching. She had come upon a herd of Zebra who had told her they had heard some sort of commotion and after that had come upon a cheetah who had reported hearing sounds that sounded as though a fight had been going on. But none could give her a hint of what direction it was possibly coming from.
Not that she could really blame them. The wind was howling from many different directions and seemed to change every passing second. The storm was just too much to get a straight bearing in. Sighing, Nala hung her head not sure what to think.
She didn't want to return to Simba empty handed. Yes, she had feelings for him. But she could not face him. Knowing just how much loosing his family might affect him. Shaking her head she looked at Kana. "No…we have to keep trying…they have to be out here somewhere…with half the pride searching for them there's bound to be one of us that kinds them! This is our Queen…our prince's…our princess's…we need to find them!"
Eyes softening, Kana came to stand beside the younger lioness. Placing her paw on Nala's she smiled at her softly and whispered "None of this is your fault Nala. I know you're feeling guilty that you hadn't told Simba sooner. But we all hold that blame. All of us knew of the threat and didn't do a thing. You were doing the right thing in hiding Zuri and the cubs…we all thought it would be perfectly safe…that they would be home soon. We didn't think for a second that Zira would find out where they were…"
"No Kana. We should have…" Looking at Kana, Nala smiled tearfully at the lioness. Happy that a lioness that helped protect her when she was growing up was still willing to comfort her in any situation but still saddened at what was going on. Zuri was not just her Queen, but also her friend. Even if Nala had feelings for Simba and often wished she was his mate and not Zuri…Zuri was still her friend nonetheless.
"Zira placed her lionesses on watch everyday. We should have realized that one of them might follow…I should have realized that Zuri and the cubs would have been much safer hidden away inside Pride Rock…"
Shaking her head, Kana smiled sadly. "Zira was born and raised in Pride Rock…she knows every hidden passage…she would have found them…but right now Nala. We cannot think of what ifs. We need to keep hoping that they are safe…that they are alive…our only problem is they could be anywhere now." Sighing Kana looked out over the grasslands squinting her eyes through the rain.
Closing her eyes, Nala sighed as she tried to push the guilt away. Kana was right; there was no reason to worry about what could have happened and what should have been done before. Their only concern now should be finding the royal family.
She opened her mouth to speak when she suddenly heard the sound of what she took to be a roar. Eyes snapping open. She turned her body to face the direction she had heard the sound coming from. Out of the corner of her eyes she could see that Kana must have heard the same thing for she was facing the same direction on full alert.
"What was that?" Nala whispered.
"Do you think it could be one of the others?" Kana looked toward Nala questioningly. "Maybe they found something?"
Brow furrowed. Nala didn't think it was one of theirs that roared. It didn't sound like anyone she knew. But she also knew they just couldn't ignore it.
"There is really only one way to find out…it could be one of ours…or it could be Zira…or it could be Zuri…either way we need to check it out." Nala asserted giving Kana a quick glance to see the lioness nod her head in agreement.
Then together both of them hurried off toward the source of the sound. Both secretly hoping whatever it was they found was not what they both feared. As they got closer Kana suddenly stopped and whipped her body around in different directions. "Kana what is it?" Nala asked.
"I smelt Kopa…it's faint but…" Kana answered sniffing the air again but as soon as it had the scent it seemed to disappear as well. She cursed outwardly shaking her head. The rain washed the scents away much quicker than she could process where the scent had been coming from. "I can't really tell in this rain. But I could have sworn I smelt the young prince…and he had Eshe with him…but…that's all I smelt…" she shot Nala a worrisome look at the mention of this.
This worried Nala just as much as it worried Kana. Why was Kopa alone with Eshe? Was that the only scents that seemed to linger? Did they get separated from Zuri? Did Zira chase them off from the Queen?
There were so many questions running through her head that she couldn't concentrate for a brief moment. When a paw jabbed her shoulder. "What is it?" she looked at Kana who was facing forward. "There's something over there…" Kana's voice quivered as she said this.
Looking forward, Nala squinted her eyes to see what had Kana so nervous about. When she saw it. A medium sized figure lying on the ground. Inside her chest, Nala could have sworn she felt her heart stop.
No…she thought. No, it couldn't be.
Neither lioness made a move at first. Than very slowly the two of them started moving forward toward the figure. Taking careful steps as they approached. Both fearing the worst. But the closer they got, both Kana and Nala found out…that it was not the body of their Queen they came upon.
But the body of one they hadn't expected to see…
Kana gasped in shock at the sight they came upon, taking a small step back the way they'd come from. Eyes wide. She watched as Nala continued to press on forward until the younger lioness stood right above the body of…
"I…I can't believe it…it's Hawa!"
A low growl escaped her throat. Where did those cubs go?
Once she finished off Hawa. Zira had taken off after the cubs but it seemed much to her anger, that the Prince and one of his sisters had gotten away. But it was then that she remembered that Hawa had said she had hidden one of the cubs.
She figured she couldn't have been hidden that far from where she had just killed the pathetic lioness. But it did not matter. Wherever she searched she could not find where the cub had been hidden.
Roaring in rage she slapped her paw down on the ground kicking dirt up. Turning she stared at Hawa's body with rage. Storming over to it. Zira growled and slashed her face, "You cause me to loose my revenge! I should have let the hyenas kill you all those years ago…" stepping back from the body Zira snarled and pacing the area she kept an ear out for any sound that could tell her where the cubs were.
They couldn't have gotten far. They had to be around somewhere. She looked off toward the East where she had heard the roar earlier. This did not bold well with her plans. Out there somewhere the King and no doubt the rest of his pathetic pride were out searching for their beloved royals.
A smirk spread across her face. They could search all they want. But all they would come across is the body of their beloved Queen and prince. Looking around a snarl escaped her when she saw someone in the distance…or someone's…coming toward her location. Whether it was two of her own or two that belonged to Simba she could not stay in the location.
The cubs may have gotten away. But she would find them. For now she had to put the new phase of her plan into action. Taking note of her new wounds she saw they weren't much. Not enough to make Kumai and the others too suspicious of her actions she figured. Taking one last look at the approaching figures, Zira backed away growling softly to herself.
Leaving here she could still have a possible chance of finding the other cubs. She wasn't about to let her revenge go to waste. She would see to it that all of Simba's heirs died that night. But taking one more glance at those approaching she saw that she didn't have enough time to get completely away without being caught leaving the scene.
So turning, Zira made her way toward a large patch of grass that would suit her for the time being. Lowering herself down as low to the ground as she possibly could and levelled her breathing. It wasn't long until she could make out who exactly it was coming her way.
Nala and Kana.
Two of Simba's little pride.
So she had been right when she had heard the King's roar not long ago. The King and his pride were out in full swing in search for the Queen and cubs.
As they got closer, she lowered herself down even more. Resting her head upon her paws. The rain pouring down upon her enough to wash her scent from the air. Her ears strained to hear when she heard a sudden gasp. Focus zeroing in on Nala who braved it and stepped forward toward Hawa's body.
By the recognition and relief that came over Nala's face showed Zira she knew exactly whose body it was that they both had stumbled upon. And the relief told Zira that the two had feared it would be the body of their Queen. A smirk spread across her face. How right they were to fear for their Queen and youngest prince who were already dead yards away.
"I…I can't believe it…it's Hawa!"
Nala stared in disbelief at the body in front of her. This had been the last thing she had expected to stumble across. Of course she feared that they would come across the dead body of their Queen and was relieved that this wasn't her. But at the same time this wasn't what she had been expecting to find when they came this way.
Stepping up behind the younger lioness, Kana peered around her at the body on the ground. Her eyes widening even more when she got a clear look at it. "Oh my…" stepping around Nala she moved to stand up along side her and peered down at the dead lioness before them. "Who…do…do you think that…?"
Furrowing her brow, Nala shook her head knowing exactly what Kana was going to ask. "I…No…I…" shaking her head again to clear her head, Nala tried speaking after a moment of thinking it over. "I don't think Zuri would have done this…I remember the few conversations I had with her…about Hawa…she said on more than one occasion about how…Hawa seemed the kindest towards her…"
"But if Hawa was trying to help kill her and the cubs?" Kana pointed out.
Biting her lip, Nala sighed. Knowing Kana had a point. If Hawa had tried to attack, Nala was sure that Zuri would probably do anything to defend both herself and more importantly her cubs. Circling Hawa, Nala examined all her wounds closely. For a moment she felt sympathy for the lioness. Leaning her face in close Nala suddenly caught a small clinging scent and gasped leaning back.
"What?" Kana looked toward Nala.
"I smell Zira on her…"
"Well of course you do. She's one of Zira's little pets!"
Nala shook her head and motioned to the wound over Hawa's neck and spoke lowly. "No…I smell her here…on the wound…" she explained motioning for Kana to come over and take a look. Which she did. Leaning in close, she closed her eyes to stop herself from actually looking at the wound. After a moment she leaned away again and opened her eyes to look Nala in the face.
"You're right…but it's very faint…the rain must be washing it away…but…the question is…" Kana started and Nala finished. "Why would Zira attack and kill her own follower?"
Both lionesses stared at one another as they tried to come up with an answer. But neither could think of a thing. Then Kana pointed out, "The kill is fresh…do you think she's anywhere near?" The older lioness turned in a circle looking out into the grasslands.
"It's a possibility…spread out and search…if she's near we can take her…there are two of us…" Nala whispered lowly so that only Kana would hear her. She didn't want to take her chances of Zira overhearing them if she was indeed anywhere nearby. Giving Kana one last look, she stepped away from her and around Hawa's body and began searching the ground for clues.
With so much rain it was hard to keep track of prints. She could see a few which she figured belonged to Zira leading away from the scene. But the rain was very soon filling them up with water and fresh mud.
Neither lioness seemed to take notice of the pair of amber eyes that watched them from deep within the grass. Zira tensed as Kana passed her way. She was tempted to jump out and strike. Add Kana to her list of dead that night. But with Nala so close by, Zira knew she probably did not stand a chance at going up against the two of them.
Kana stopped when she thought she caught movement in the tall grass. Nervously she heard towards it. Eyeing it carefully as she tried to catch sight of what she saw before. Taking a deep breath, she braced herself and began stepping forward hoping silently that it was nothing more than a hare or stray gazelle.
Both Kana and Zira were tense as the lioness was about to come upon Zira's exact hiding spot when a distressful cry from Nala sounded from Kana's far right.
"Kana! Come quickly!"
Stopping her search, Kana looked off the way she heard Nala. Taking one last sweeping look around her, she turned and bounded off into the direction she had heard fellow pride sister still calling for her to hurry.
Unaware of the figure who rose in the grass behind her, ears perked as Zira wondered what it was exactly that Nala had found for her to be so distressing about. Growling low under her breath, Zira pondered whether or not to follow thinking perhaps Nala had found the cubs or least one of them. She could not let those cubs get into their paws or else her revenge would never be complete.
But she also knew that now was her chance to get away from the scene. Taking one last look in the direction Kana had gone. She growled and cursed but instead of following she turned and bounded away from the scene. Not all of her plan was going as followed but a least she had the ball rolling.
They were barely there. But they were tracks nonetheless.
Crouched low to the ground, Nala studied the paw prints she had managed to find. They weren't deep. The grass they were walked upon concealed them nicely but Nala could see a faint indent here and there that told her someone had come this way. And the weight and shape couldn't have been anything but a lion she thought.
Whether they were Hawa's or Zira's or even Zuri's. Nala couldn't exactly tell.
Standing, Nala searched the area thoroughly. Opening her mouth she called out. "Zuri…Kopa…answer me please!" When no reply came, Nala shoulders slumped and she sighed. Maybe this was hopeless she thought.
Walking around for a few more moments trying to pinpoint more tracks but seeing none. Nala slumped to the ground covering her head with her paws as she let out a small soft cry. She should have stayed at the cave with Zuri. She should have suggested that they took the cubs right back to pride rock when Zuri said she wanted to come out to Simba with the truth on the threat.
Sighing, the young lioness laid there in the mud and rain when suddenly her ears perked when a strange yet familiar sound reached her ears. Lifting her head she stared around her trying to find the source of the noise but could not see a thing. Furrowing her brow she laid her head close to the ground, and it was there she heard it again.
A mewing cry.
Eyes wide. Nala jumped to her paws. Her eyes searching the area desperately. Did she just hear one of the cubs?
Deep down she hoped she had. Lowering her head, she listened closely and began to follow the sounds of the mewing cries. Which to her concern and panic started to sound more and more distressing. "I'm coming…hold on…just…just where…are you!"
Nala froze when she thought the cries had stopped and for a moment her heart seemed to stop in her chest. Was she too late?
Or was what she heard just her imagination?
Was she that desperate to find the royal family that she imagined hearing a cub crying out for help?
Just when she was about to believe that…she heard it again. Head whipping to the side she eyed what looked like a small mudslide. For a moment she hoped that wasn't where she was hearing the cries still suddenly she heard it again…coming straight from…
"No!" she cried. Hurrying towards it she stopped and began to dig with her paws into the mud. Heart pounding in her chest she shouted back over her shoulder. "Kana! Come quickly!" Turning her attention back to her digging she gave one last shout. "Hurry!"
She could swear she was hearing the cries come from this exact location. And the more she dug, the louder she could hear them. Using her paws to push mud out of the way she spotted what looked like a hole that had been dug into. And inside the hole seemed a squirming mound of flesh crying out for help.
"Hold on little one!" she whispered. "Hold on…" laying herself exactly on the ground she blocked the flow of mud from going back into the hole with her body. With her one paw she continued to dig into the hole. Behind her she could hear Kana calling out for her to tell her that she was on her way. But at the moment that was of no concern for her. What mattered was getting the cub out of the hole. By this time she had no doubt this was one of the royal cubs.
When she deemed the hole big enough, she slid her paw inside, hooking it around the cub and began scooping the cub up. Once the cub was free of the hole, it started crying louder. Nala took this as a sign of relief. That the cub wasn't hurt from having been buried. She took one last look at the hole to see if there was any of the others but it seemed to have been only one.
Picking the cub up in her mouth she stood making sure not to slip as she stepped away allowing the mud to run freely again. Her tanned coat was soaked and dirty now but she didn't care. She carried the cub a safe distance before setting it down on the ground. For a moment she thought it was little Eshe, but as soon as the heavy rain started to wash the mud away from the cub it's true pelt colours came through and she saw who it really was…
"Kiara…" she breathed. Relief going through her that she had actually found one of the cubs. And she was alive. The cub lifted its head toward Nala and mewed trying to stand on her paws only to fall from the slippery mud. Chuckling, Nala reached out and scooped the cub up so she lay in her paw. "Hey there…no need, I'll carry you Kiara" she smiled then lifted her head to look around.
Why was Kiara here? Where were the others?
Did Zuri try and hide the cubs while she led her pursuers away?
Taking one quick look at where she had found Kiara, the hole was now completely hidden with the running mud. But she had found no one else there. Did she hide them in different places along the way?
She lifted her head when she heard someone approaching. Holding Kiara closer to her. Hiding the cub beneath her so that she shielded her from the rain. She sighed in relief and relaxed when she saw it was only Kana coming toward her when she had called for her.
Kana's face was lined with worry. She had seriously thought that something bad had happened to Nala and that was why the tanned lioness had called out for her. But seeing that she was okay…well with the exception of being covered in mud which confused her…she was just happy to see that she wasn't seriously injured.
"Are you alright?" she asked, approaching Nala. She rubbed her head against the others. "I thought something must have happened to you…what was that you wanted me to rush over here for?"
Nala chuckled lightly. It often did her heart good to know those who helped raise her were still just as concerned for her now as they were when she was a cub. "I found one…"
"What!?" Kana's attention was suddenly solely on Nala. Her heart pounding when she heard that Nala had found one of those they had been searching for. Suddenly fearing the worst again remembering the way Nala had called her over. It was then her eyes were drawn downward when a squeaky mew reached her ears.
From between Nala's front legs she could see the body of the cub. By the pelt she automatically recognized the little Princess.
"Princess Kiara…" she whispered relief washing over her. "But…how?" she looked back at Nala questioningly.
"Over there…" Nala nodded her head to where she had found Kiara. "She was being buried alive in the mud. I'm surprised I even heard her. I…I think Zuri must have hidden the cubs in order to lead Zira and them away from them…" though as she said that she peered off into the direction they had discovered Hawa's body. Remembering Zira's scent on the wound that had caused the lionesses death.
Something wasn't right, she thought. Something wasn't adding up about all this.
"We have to find Simba and the others." Nala quickly stated. She knew it might do the King some good if he saw one of his cubs were alive. Even though she knew he would want to see his entire family safe, having just one would give him hope for the others. "Perhaps we can find some of the others cubs along the way…"
Nodding Kana sighed, she was happy that they had found one. But she would have much preferred to have found the entire royal family. Lowering her head down to Kiara who was now poking her head out from between Nala's front legs and gasped. "Nala!"
Going stiff, Nala quickly stepped back from the cub so that she was out in the rain again and looked down worriedly thinking something was wrong with the Princess. "What's wrong!?" she demanded looking at Kana when she couldn't see anything possibly wrong. Kiara was moving and still mewing and she didn't seem to have any wounds on her. What was it that could have had Kana exclaim like that.
She was caught off guard by the smile that lit up Kana's face. And reaching out, the older lioness grasped Kiara and turned her around so that the cub was now facing Nala. "Look…" she breathed looking down at the cub again.
Blinking her eyes in confused. Nala looked down at the cub who was now facing her staring up at her with a pair of…
A gasp escaped her this time. Before a large smile much like the one on Kana, spread across the front of her own face. "Her eyes are open…" Nala quickly lowered herself down to the ground till she was face to face with the cub who was staring up with curious…blue eyes.
"Blue…" Nala looked up at Kana who nodded.
Looking back at the cub. Nala smiled, it seemed that the young princess had inherited her mothers blue eyes. But the cub's eye colour was a much lighter shade than Zuri's were. But they were still blue nonetheless. And Nala felt that the colour was a perfect colour for the cub. The only other princess that she knew that ever had such eye colour had been Vitani and no one really knew where she had gotten that colour.
She remembered how her mother had once commented that she couldn't remember any of the royal genes actually having that colour. So everyone pretty much guessed the colouring came from Zira's side of the family.
"They suit her." Kana commented as Nala got back to her paws.
The tanned lioness nodded her head in agreement. "That they do." She smiled down at the cub who continued to stare up at them wondering who they were. For a moment Kiara thought that one of these lionesses was her mother. But she didn't recognize one of their voices as her mothers nor their scent. But she seemed to know Nala's from hearing it the other days.
Mewing, Kiara pulled herself forward continue she was crawling right on Nala's paw. Said lioness looked down in surprise when the cub rubbed her tiny head against her leg and purred. Something in Nala's heart seemed to bloom as she looked down at this little beautiful creature nuzzling against her. Nala knew the cub was seeking nothing but comfort. But it did her heart good.
Bending down, Nala nuzzled her causing the cub to squeak. Giving Kiara a little lick, Nala pulled back enough to look into the cubs eyes. "Don't worry little Princess, we'll take you to your daddy. He'll be so happy to see you and your beautiful blue eyes. And then we'll find your mommy…" Nala felt short and looked toward Kana with a look off worry.
Both lionesses seemed to be thinking the same thing.
What if they never found the Queen?
And if they did…would she be alive…?
She was only one lioness against so many.
Sighing, Nala shook her head. No, they had to keep their hopes high. The Queen had to be alive. She just couldn't die. Nala did not think she could handle loosing another friend so close to having gained freedom from Scar. She had seen so many die during his reign including her brother. She did not want to think that they would suffer more deaths like this so close to having gained peace.
"Come Princess Kiara…we'll go find them…" giving the cub one last lick to calm her. Nala grabbed her by the back of the neck and lifted her up so that the cub was now dangling from her mouth.
Kana smiled at the cub and gave her a tiny lick on the nose. Her smile broadening as the little princess scrunched up her nose and a few seconds later sneezed. The two lionesses shared one last look and a smile. Both were relieved they had found one even if it was just one of them.
Looking behind her, Kana scanned the area before mentioning. "I didn't find any trace of Zira…I thought I might have but it didn't work out…she must have gotten away just before we arrived. Do you really think it was Zira who killed her?" She watched as Nala gave a tiny nod of her head so not to jostle Kiara too much.
Nala really did think it was Zira who had killed Hawa.
But why? That was something she just couldn't figure out.
Did Hawa try and help Zuri?
If so than why?
Why would Hawa help Zuri?
Sighing, Nala knew she wasn't going to get any answer to her questions by just standing around. But first she had to get the princess back to her father.
Nala began to turn away from Kana to lead her off into the search for Simba when suddenly a loud roar sounded off into the distance coming from the direction of the elephant graveyard. But it was the way the roar sounded that made both of them pause and quickly stare at one another.
That wasn't just any roar. It wasn't one to signal for them that something had been found. No it was a roar filled with pain and mourning…
Something clenched in both their chests and without a word to each other the two of them began running in the direction the roar had come from. Knowing that the others who would hear it would be running in the same direction. Both lionesses praying inwardly that everything was fine.
But by the way their King's roar had echoed across the Pridelands. They knew their prayers would be wasted.
A brownish gold brown brushed the soaping wet mane from its owner's eyes. Pushing the wet strands up and over his head to try and make it easier for him to see.
Simba was beginning to remember why he hated one of the many reasons of having a mane. All his young life he wanted to have one. Just as big as his fathers had been. But the older he got, the more he realized just how much high maintenance having a mane really was.
A soft laugh from beside him made him send a glare at the lioness beside him. His mother though just returned his glare with a sweet motherly smile. "Oh Simba, having a mane isn't so bad. Try being a female my son. Then you'll really have something to complain about if you had to carry your own cubs and give birth." Sarabi asserted to her son.
Simba just grumbled and shook his head knowing he really had no argument to retort back with.
The King knew from having grown up around so many lionesses that it was better to keep ones mouth shut at times. Rather then say the wrong thing in return and get in trouble for it.
At the thought of cubs. Simba felt his heart weigh heavy in his chest once again. They had been searching for some time and had yet to come across anything. Well that wasn't exactly true. They had come across a section of tall grass that had been trampled through. Both he and his mother had followed the trail until it came out of the tall grass and from there they wouldn't tell where it led too.
Sarabi had reminded her son that it could have been made by anyone. But Simba was trying to keep his hopes high that this had been the way his mate had gone. It was only several minutes that outside the grass the two of them discovered that they were nearing the Elephant graveyard.
Simba seriously thought his mate couldn't have come this way. After all the times Zuri had lectured their son about never going anywhere near the graveyard he thought why would Zuri ever head this way? All of them feared that the graveyard was still run by the hyenas or least some of them may still linger there. If Zuri really headed that way it made his heart sink a bit. Because if she had, than it could mean they would have the problem of both Zira and the hyenas to be dealt with.
He didn't have to give it a moments thought to know the hyenas were still sore about what happened nearly a year prior. His mate had four cubs with her. He didn't know how he would be like if anything were to happen to his family.
Seeing the look come over her sons face. Sarabi stepped up beside him and nudged him with her head. Giving his cheek a quick lick. "It'll be alright Simba…we'll find them…and they'll be alright…"
"But how do you know that?' Simba looked at his mother. "What if something has already happened to them? What if I failed to protect my family…?" Simba closed his eyes to try and fight back the tears that were building up but soon enough they managed to squeeze their way out from under his eyelids.
Sarabi wasn't sure how to answer her son. She just wanted to have faith that her family was safe. Remembering the pain she had felt when she had lost Mufasa and had thought that Simba was dead as well. Sarabi really didn't want to have her son to have to go through the same pain. Her eyes saddened.
What had the Pridelands royal family done to have deserved such tragedy that it had?
She knew all the stories of how the pride had come to the Pridelands. She remembered the things her mother would tell her of what her own mother and grandmother would pass down about how the very first royals had gone through so much to preserve the pride and keep the peace.
First Mufasa's life ended in such a way and then Scar. And even though Scar had brought their Kingdom to ruin, Sarabi did not think he deserved the death he got. The former Queen had witnessed Scar's death when she had come upon it by accident. It was the look of horror and regret on the Dark Kings face in his last moments of life that made Sarabi wish he hadn't suffered as such. For it made her remember the calm, happy sweet cub, that Scar had once been.
She did not want to think this would happen to the royal family again.
Lifting her eyes toward the sky that was blacked out with storm clouds, she sighed and closed her eyes as she said a small silent prayer to the Kings of old.
Her eyes snapped open when she heard her son calling for her. Turning her head she spotted him some distance from her standing above a small embankment. Hurrying over to him, she stopped along side Simba. "What is it…" she fell silent as she watched Simba point downwards.
Turning her head, she saw she was peering down into the elephant graveyard. More importantly she was staring at something red that stained the ground below them.
A lump appeared in her throat. It was beginning to wash away. But there was really no mistaking it.
From beside her, she watched as Simba quickly began to climb down the embankment into the graveyard. Without a second thought, she followed after him.
Simba felt his heart hammering in his chest. He had found what looked like smeared paw prints and had followed them to the embankment. Any hope that his family hadn't come this way was soon thrown to the wind when he saw what he had stumbled upon. But nothing caused more fear to run through his entire body like the blood he saw on the ground below.
Climbing down as quickly but also as carefully as he can. He soon made it to the bottom not paying heed to his mother who was hurrying along down behind him. Once at the bottom he made his way slowly toward the small pools of blood on the ground. It wasn't much but it was something that worried him greatly.
Whose blood was this?
Was it his mates?
Was it one of his cubs?
Or was it one of Zira's followers or Zira herself?
Both the closer he looked he could see imprints of small paws around where the blood was. They were too big to be his youngest cubs. But they were the perfect size to be his eldest son.
"What?" his mother asked coming up behind him.
Looking at her, he said again "Kopa. Kopa's been here…" he looked back at the smeared imprints reaching out he touched them. A low growl escaped his throat.
Something told him that this was his son's blood. His son had been hurt. But how badly he wasn't sure. His eyes went to the smeared prints that continued to away from the scene but they were getting washed away by the rain and quickly.
Giving his mother a look, he took off running when she nodded his head. Both of them following the smear prints that were mixed with both small and big ones. But it soon appeared only one set of larger prints were following Kopa's.
The two of them quickly came upon a scene that made them both stop in their tracks. Both their hearts stopping. Before them on the ground were the remains of what looked like a fight had taken place between two people. Here there was much more blood than there had been in the previous location.
Hurrying forward, the King examined the amount of blood there was. There was so much blood here that the rain was having trouble concealing it.
What…what had happened to have caused this much blood?
"Simba…" the quivering voice of his mother sounded to his left. And looking toward her the King saw that she was standing over something with a look of pure disbelief and horror on her face. "What…what is it mother?" he asked slowly making his way over to her.
But what he saw suddenly made him wish he hadn't.
Horror overcame him but it was quickly turned to anger. A low dark growl echoed in his throat. For laying there on the ground was what remained of one of his son's ears? There was no mistaking it. It was his colour and went he bent down close to it, he could smell his son's scent on it.
"Kopa…" he gritted his teeth. Something had happened to his son.
Sarabi let out a choke sob. She had feared this. But it was something she didn't want to think they would find. She wanted to find her grandcubs alive. She didn't want to think that they were dead. But coming upon this evidence and the amount of blood she was beginning to have her doubts.
But trying to keep a level head on the matter she nuzzled her face into her son's mane. "They may yet be alive…I don't think if Zira killed them she would drag their bodies away from the scene…Kopa…Zuri…the others…they could still be alive…" she looked off into the direction where the ground was disturbed. "Zuri must have fought Zira off…she could have gotten away with them…"
Pulling back she looked her son in the eyes. The pain she saw in them was something she wished she never had to see. And this was only the pain of thinking that something had happened to their family. She did not want to see what the look in them would be if they discovered…
She shook her head and nudged her nose against Simba's.
"We'll find them…" stepping around her son she made her way over to where the most blood was. She eyed the area until she found what she was looking for. Their was so much more mud in the graveyard that it was easier to detect prints unlike the grasslands where grass and leave litter could make it near impossible to detect a good print to track.
Simba remained where he was. Just eyeing the discarded piece of his eldest son's ear. Then looked to the disturbed ground. He had no doubt his mate had defended their son. But with four cubs to defend…he clenched his eyes shut. He didn't want to think about it but he couldn't help it. His mate was only one person…
He felt terrible.
His mate was out here defending herself and their cubs. And with four different cubs to defend that made her leave the others open while she defended another.
"Simba, come over here. We have a trail!"
Turning, Simba saw that his mother was already following the trail she had found. Taking one last look at the discarded piece of Kopa's ear. Simba growled low and followed after his mother prepared to find his family and Zira. He would make sure Zira paid for what she did to his son. Simba would make her pay entirely for the crimes she was doing to his family.
Running along the smeared trail. Both Sarabi and Simba could see that there were droplets of blood along the way. This worried them both. How much blood had Kopa lost…was this blood also Zuri's…been it one of Zira's…or was it one of his youngest…
Anger rose up deep within him. Not that he wouldn't feel anger toward anything happening to Zuri and Kopa. He felt anger. But his youngest were only a week old. They were blind. They were more defenceless then Zuri and Kopa.
As they ran, they soon realized they found themselves leaving the graveyard and out into the Pridelands once again. Once they hit grass again, the tracks disappeared.
Cursing, Simba slapped his paw against the ground in anger. "Damnit! We were close!" he swore clenching his eyes shot. Only to snap them open when his mother slapped him hard in the shoulder and gave him a stern look.
"Don't you give up! We've had a better lead on them than we had since we started! We will find them Simba…" Sarabi sighed and gave her son another lick on his cheek. She couldn't be hard on him, she knew exactly what he was going through but she also knew now wasn't the time to wallow. They had their family to find.
Staring at her, Simba knew she was right. He couldn't wallow. He couldn't give up. They were right on the trail and they would find their family. Taking a moment to compose himself, Simba let his eyes search the area until he saw it. Droplets of blood.
Whoever was wounded had come this way.
"Mother. This way." Serious faced, Simba began to follow the trail. But the trail also seemed to be off. As if the one bleeding was trying to lure their pursuers on a false trail but with the blood it was hard to do so. But he could tell by now it was his mate. This was exactly how Zakia had taught them after she had found out what happened when they got lost as cubs and were chased by that leopardess. If you ever found yourself being chased, make sure to try and confuse your pursuers as much as possible as a way to escape them.
A small grin came over his face. As memories flooded his mind of their practices. Zuri, he and Jaali would run off and try to avoid getting caught by Zakia, Leta or another lioness. At times even Mansa would join in on the training. He and his friends would debate at times whether Mansa was actually enjoying himself when he hunted them down. Jaali who had only been four months old when Zuri was born and five when he arrived in the pride once said his father had changed a lot after his uncle, Zuri's father, had died.
That often left Simba wondering what Mansa had been like before then. Not that Simba didn't end up looking up to Mansa. The lion may have had issues with him staying in with the Rasheda's in the very beginning. But Mansa has stepped up without being asked and taught him along side Jaali. As if Simba was his very own son or a born member of the Rasheda's.
It was that right there that Simba felt like he had someone who was proud of him again. But he knew the old King would have never said anything. He was much too prideful for that.
It was with those thoughts that he found himself praying to not the old Prideland Kings. But the King who had raised him as much as Zakia had done. Praying that the old King wherever he was now, was looking down on his niece and great nieces and nephews and keeping them safe.
The King had been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn't realized his mother had surpassed him and had stopped in front of him. Causing Simba to crash right into her.
"Ouch…Mom! What was that for?" The King raised his paw and rubbed his nose where he had hit it while ramming into his mother. Who knew his mother had such wide boney hips. He snickered. Well not that he would voice it, knowing he would get a good wallop to the head for that comment.
When his mother never answered, Simba furrowed his brow in concern. Shaking his head to get some of his mane that had fallen back into his face out of the way. The King stepped up along side his mother looking at her face to see she was staring forward. Eyes wide and her pelt seemed to have lost some colour. She even seemed to have stopped breathing. "Mother?"
"Don't…Don't look Simba…" Sarabi choked out with a sob. The sight that befell her was something she wanted to spare her son from. A sight she thought he would never have to see. Catching her son about to look, Sarabi quickly positioned herself in front of him blocking his view of the scene behind her. "No Simba…"
Simba was beginning to worry what had his mother so upset. But deep down he already knew the answer but he didn't want to believe it. He couldn't believe it. As she moved in front of him to block his view of whatever was behind her he began to feel panic rise inside him. What was it that his mother was trying to spare him from?
His heart pounded in his chest.
With one fluid movement he used his paw to shove her to the side and bound the rest of the way around her only to stop dead in his tracks. Suddenly the King found himself wishing he hadn't moved around his mother. That he simply let her block the view from him. That he didn't have to see the gruesome scene before him.
His heart stopped in his chest. Suddenly Simba found it hard to even breathe. His stomach twisted into tight knots.
This wasn't right…it couldn't be…it was all a lie…it was an illusion…something that his panicked state of mind was making up.
It just couldn't be.
It couldn't be…
It was a lie…
More tears came to the Kings eyes as he took in the sight that befell him. There lying on the ground a good yard from him was his mate. And he knew it was her just by the colour of her fur. But that wasn't all that was lying with her. For nearby was a much smaller body was laying in a mangled mess. For a moment he thought it was Kopa remembering the ear they had found already but as the lightning lit up the sky. Simba found he was wrong…it wasn't his eldest son…it was his youngest…for the body was too small to have been Kopa's…and the brown fur that matched Zuri's stuck out light a sore thumb.
"No…No….NO!" The King hollered running toward the fallen bodies of his family. Sarabi hot on his trail from behind. Sarabi reached poor Musa first while the King ran toward the fallen body of his mate. Eyes filled with tears, Sarabi let out another choked sob as she reached out and gently touched her grandsons body. Nudging him lightly, then reaching down she licked him while continuing to nudge the cub with her nose. In her grief and disbelief she didn't want to believe the cub was dead so was trying her best to rouse him. But when he did not move. When no sound came from him. When she realized the cub was not breathing.
She knew. She knew the truth.
"Musa…" she sobbed. The former Queen laid herself down on the ground wrapping her paw around Musa's mangled body. "Oh, Musa!" Sarabi pulled her dead grandson closer to her as she started to full out cry. Why…why him…he was just a cub…an innocent week old cub! She hollered in her mind. Sarabi ran her tongue along Musa's body much like the first time she had when she came to see the cubs the day after they were born.
She remembered how he would squirm and mew. His little mews melting her heart. His little tongue darting out to lick her back whenever she was close to him. But now he was doing none of those things. He didn't squirm nor did he mew. And upon closer inspection she saw his eyes were still sealed closed. Meaning he never even got a chance to open his eyes and see the world. And now he would never get that chance ever. Sarabi would never get the chance of seeing what colour his eyes would have been.
Simba approached his mate's body slowly. Behind him he could hear his mother's sobs as she mourned over the body of her dead grandson. HIS dead son. Sorrow panged him. Not only was his mate dead…but also his son…he stopped just before he approached Zuri completely. Taking a quick look around. He could not see the body of his mother cubs. Did they kill them somewhere else…did they get away…
The sight of his mates torn up body brought his attention forward. His breathing stopped in his chest when he saw he was looking into the eyes of his mate. For a brief moment he thought she wasn't dead that she was alive and looking right at him asking for help. But he soon came to realize that she was indeed head and her lifeless eyes stared at him hauntingly. Almost like they were accusing him of not being there to help her and their cubs.
"Zuri…" tears ran down his face as he continued the rest of the way to her side. He stared down into her lifeless eyes before with his paw he reached out and closed his mate's eyes forever. Shaking, the King could not contain himself as he threw himself over his mate's body. Wrapping his arms around her as he shook, his cries coming full force now.
"No…no…Zuri…please…you can't…you just can't!" he half shouted half cried. Rocking both his and Zuri's body back and forth. He didn't want to belief she was dead when he knew she was. "Please…Zuri you can't go! You can't leave me! Come back!" he sobbed burying his face into his mates fur. Her blood transferring over onto his body but he didn't care.
Old memories of his past came flooding back. Of two scenes he had witnessed. First his father's death who much like he was doing right now begging for his father to get up and be alright. And the memories of standing over Zakia's dead body as the pride mourned for her while Zuri cried over her body much like Simba was doing at the moment with Zuri.
"You can't leave me…" he whispered, lifting his head from her fur. He turned his face enough to lean in and pressed his nose against his mates much like they had always done as a sign of affection since they were cubs.
"Please come back to me. Don't leave me now. I can't loose you…I just can't…please…Zu'…come on…open those eyes…tell me you're just playing some cruel joke on me…wake up! Wake up Zuri!" The King started shouting. Jumping to his paws he began pushing and shaking his mate's fallen body demanding that she get up. "Get up! Get up Zuri!"
"Simba…" The King whipped around to see that his mother had come closer. At her paws laid his dead son. Whose tiny body was just as torn as Zuri's was. "Simba…it's too late…they're gone…"
"No!" Sarabi flinched at the tone of her son's voice. "No! My mate and son are not dead!" Simba shouted at his mother. He was in complete disbelief. Turning back to his mate, Simba shook her even more, demanding that she get up. But the more no response came and the more she didn't move Simba began to really feel the loss of his mate.
"No…I was too late…I couldn't…" slumping to the ground again, only this time Simba grabbed his son as well bringing Musa close to him and Zuri's body. Nuzzling both his mate and sons body sobs escaped him.
To the side Sarabi stood completely silent as she watched her son mourn the loss of his mate and youngest son. Tears running down her face. How could this have happened…she thought…why…
Mufasa…why…why did this happen…Oh Great Kings…why did you let this happen…
Sarabi hung her head the louder her sons cries got. Her body shook with her grief of the loss their family had suffered once more but also shook with despair and anger that her son was being put through this after witnessing his own father's death years ago.
Simba's cries soon stifled. Hugging both bodies close to him, Simba licked his sons head and his mate's cheek. Though his cries lessened he remained where he was on the ground hugging them both as close and as tightly as he could. He didn't want to let go. For if he let go then it would truly meant they were gone and he could go nothing for them.
Closing his eyes, Simba nuzzled his mate's body. The warmth he usually felt from her wasn't there anymore. Her body was cold. Not just from the pouring rain but from the cold of death. Just like his sons body was. "I'm so sorry…" he whispered giving them one last lick. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here to protect you…I should have been…if only I had been here then none of this would have happened. If only I had been a better mate. A better father…then you both…" closing his eyes again, Simba took a deep breath. Standing slowly he tucked Musa's little body into Zuri's. Adjusting his mates arm so that she was holding their cub close to her body.
Zuri in life could not bear to be parted from her cubs for long. So in death, Simba would make sure she wasn't parted from at least one of their cubs.
Bending his head he nuzzled them one last time. Tears running down his face to fall onto theirs. "I love you…forgive me…I could not save you…"
Anger rose deep inside him as the King stepped back from the body of his mate and youngest son. Anger…sadness…grief…it welled up inside him until throwing his head back the King let out a loud echoing roar that boomed across the Pridelands as he let out his grief. But also allowing the animals of their land to know that their Queen and prince were gone…
Knowing her son would need her. Sarabi came up along side Simba as soon as his roar was finished. Reaching out she hooked her arm around him and with a strong tug pulled her son into her embrace. She simply sat still as Simba reached out with his own arm and hugged her close to him leaning his head down until he had it tucked beneath her chin.
It had been so long since she had comforted him like this. Sure there were tears that were shed upon his return. But she hadn't hugged him like this and comforted him like this since he was a cub. The last time had been when he came back with Mufasa that night after the hyena attack. Though Mufasa had spoken with him that didn't mean Sarabi wouldn't give her son a good talking too for disobeying the rules and worrying her like he had.
But half way through the lecture Simba had broken down in tears and started apologizing to her over and over. To the point that Sarabi could not stay mad at him. Instead she gathered him in her arms and held him close letting him cry it out.
But here this time, it was not just him who was crying. She buried her face deep into her son's mane. Her paw rubbing his back as she tried her best to let him comfort him.
"Why mother…" Sarabi heard Simba whimper. "Why them…I loved them…"
"I don't know my son…sometimes…fate is cruel…" Sarabi whispered back tears running from her own eyes. Nuzzling her son gently as he held onto her closer.
"Zuri…Musa…gone. They're gone…I failed them…and…and Kopa…Eshe…Kiara…they're missing…what…what if they're dead as well…" Simba cried as he clung to his mother. Thoughts of his other cubs in his mind. Did they suffer the same fate as Zuri and Musa did? Were they still alive somewhere? Was Zira out their killing them at that very moment as he stood there grieving the loss of his mate and son?
The thought both greatly saddened him and angered him.
The King wasn't sure how long he and his mother sat there in each others embrace. But he wasn't ready to let her go. He needed her. He didn't have his mother around when he was going through the loss of his father. And now with this new loss of his he couldn't bring himself to step away from her. He needed her and he could sense his mother needed him as well.
For it wasn't just he who was grieving. His mother had lost her daughter-in-law that Simba knew his mother had grown to love. She had also just lost one of her grandcubs who Simba knew made up for the loss she had without him around to raise while growing up. And now neither of them really knew the fate of his other cubs.
I failed them…he thought…I failed my family…
The King remained where he was. Not moving nor saying a word not even when he heard the rest of his Pride arriving on the scene. He heard their gasps and their cries as they saw the bodies of the Queen and youngest prince for the first time.
Simba could not bear to look at them as he finally released his mother from his hold as Sarabi went toward her fellow pride sisters to share in their grief and mourning. Leaving the King who sat with his back to them, his head hung low so that his soaping wet mane fell fully into his face. He remained there until he heard a new sound.
A sound that wasn't a cry of grief.
Or even a cry at all.
But a purring mew.
A small spark of hope rose in his chest as he finally whipped around facing the direction much of the pride was now facing with looks of hope equal to his on their faces. They all watched as out of the darkness arrived Kana and Nala. But it was what Nala was carrying that drew all their attention.
A mewing darkly tanned cub whose bright blue eyes were freshly opened and shinning with curiosity of her new world she was seeing for the first time.
The King felt his heart stop in his chest for a moment before it started again. Beating more rapidly by the minute as the two lionesses got closer.
Unable to contain himself, the King hurried forward towards them new tears shinning in his eyes at the sight of his young daughter. Alive and well.
The trip was silent. Both Kana and Nala could not think of anything to say to one another as they both silently prayed inwardly. The only sound that came from them was the mewing sounds of Kiara who seemed to be having the time of her life taking in her new surroundings while at the same time seemed to be searching out for her mother.
These two lionesses were no strangers to her. She had smelt them before but they were not her mother. She knew they weren't by scent and sounds alone.
But she was comfortable with them. More comfortable then with the strangers that carried her before. She had a feeling these two would take her to her mother.
Kana and Nala soon figured they were getting close as they saw much of the others who had been out searching were ahead. The closer they got, the two of them suddenly figured out that something was very wrong. Nala could see that her mother was leaning into Sarabi and both seemed equally distraught. She hadn't seen both of them like that since Mheetu's death.
Quickening her pace, Nala wanted to see what had them all upset. Though some part of her probably already knew. But she wanted to see what it was. Was it the Queen…the cubs…or both?
Her eyes were drawn to Simba who she soon saw coming toward her, tears in his eyes. Nala could tell he already been crying about something but the tears took her back. Something she never wanted to see Simba do was cry. Simba had always been a brave cub and even when he was scared in the past she couldn't remember him ever showing it. Especially not in front of her.
The small cub in her mouth suddenly seemed to perk and mew louder when she heard the voice she recognized as her father. Little Kiara for the first time took in the appearance of her father, a large golden brown red mane lion who was coming her way.
The King stopped in front of the two lionesses who bowed their heads. Nala however placed the cub down at the Kings paws watching as Kiara crawled her way toward Simba. The King didn't waste a second as he reached out and pulled his daughter closer to him and leaned down to nuzzle her and lick her.
It was only then that Simba took real notice of the fact that Kiara was actually staring back at him…with wide open eyes…blue eyes…much like her mothers…Simba suddenly felt a choke sob build up in him as he reared back from his daughter. But still kept a hold of her. He wasn't about to let her go. She was alive…one of his cubs was still alive…
And staring up at him with confusion and curiosity…much like a similar pair of blue eyes once did years ago when Simba first woke to find himself staring into a pair of sapphire eyes who once held the same look in them. Simba felt new tears in his eyes and his heart swell as he caught himself just staring back into the blue eyes of his daughter that reminded him so much of the blue eyes of his mate which he just shut before they arrived.
"Whe…where did you find her?" His mother's voice sounded. Sarabi had hurried over to check on her granddaughter. Hope rising up inside her. Just when she thought she had lost all hope when they found Zuri and Musa dead they discover that one of the cubs was still alive.
"We found her three miles from here…she was hidden in a hole…" Nala began to explain, figuring it would be best to skip the rest of how she had exactly found Kiara. She could tell by the looks on their faces that they probably wouldn't take the truth too well. "We figured that Zuri must have hidden her…" she fell short when she notice the grief come over Simba's face.
The King hung his head, his mane shadowing his eyes. It was then that Nala knew for certain that something was definitely wrong. Taking a step away from the royals she moved around them to see what she knew would be something that would haunt her for years to come.
The tanned lioness suddenly let out a cry of shock and grief at the sight that greeted her. Stumbling back, Nala lifted her paw to cover her mouth as she stared in disbelief at the body of Zuri. She had known by Simba's roar and the pride's reactions around her that something bad had happened. But much like everyone else. She didn't want to believe it.
Tears filled Nala's eyes as she stared at the body of the lioness she had come to call her friend. Who she had tried to save by having hidden away. But what also caught her attention was the small body of Musa who was tucked away into Zuri's lifeless hold.
Sobs wracked her body as Nala turned toward the King who still had his head hung. "Simba…I…"
"Did you see Eshe and Kopa…have any of you seen them?" Simba suddenly demanded. His paw wrapped protectively around his daughter. Who at this moment was mewing and nuzzling his paws and arms. Still wondering where her mother was. She was hungry and she wanted her mother.
"No…they weren't anywhere near where we found Kiara…" Nala stuttered looking back and forth between her best friend and the fallen body of her Queen. The other lionesses quickly answered with their own no's to the question. None of them had stumbled upon anything that could have been the prince or Princess.
Kana and Nala though shared a look which Binti was quick to take notice of. "What is it?" she asked. This catching the others attentions including Simba's who all looked toward the two lionesses.
Sharing another look, Nala stepped forward "Though…though we didn't find Kopa or Eshe nearby…we did find something else…We found Hawa…" Nala reared back when the King angrily turned toward her at the mention of one of Zira's followers so she quickly added. "She was dead!"
She watched the confusion come over Simba's face as whispered passed through the other lionesses at this. "We found her body not far from where Kiara was hidden. We thought maybe Zuri had hidden her there and fought off Hawa…but that was when both Kana and I smelt Zira on around the killing wound to Hawa's throat…" Kana nodded her head in agreements to what Nala was saying.
"Zuri hadn't come from that way…" Sarabi whispered her brow furrowed in confusion. "We tracked her and others from the elephant graveyard…"
This confused Nala now. There went one of her theories about how Kiara had gotten hidden. Now they were all confused as to why Hawa was dead. Was she helping the Queen? Did she help Zuri and then steal the cubs in order to try and save them? Nala looked back the way they had come. It was one of the many directions that lead straight to pride rock.
Was Hawa really trying to save the cubs? Was that the reason why Zira had killed her?
If so…where were Eshe and Kopa. The prince and princess were still missing. Were they dead? Did Zira kill them and drag them off right after she killed Hawa and couldn't find Kiara?
There were so many questions that Nala just couldn't think of a straight answer for. The young lioness looked back at the now fallen body of her friend and made her way over to it. Sitting down along side Zuri's body, Nala reached out and laid her paw on Zuri's head. Tears shinning in her eyes. "I'm so sorry…" she whispered than suddenly remembering something she leaned down and whispered so low that the others could not hear. "I promised you I'd look out for them…I'll look out for Kiara…I swear it…and when we find the others…I'll look out for Kopa and Eshe as well…I'll make sure they know…just what you did to save them…I swear" pulling away, Nala turned from the body and made her way over to her mother.
Sarafina wrapped her arm around her daughter as the pride all hung their heads with grief over the loss of their Queen and prince. It wasn't until they heard a low rumbling growl come from their King did they look up.
Standing on all four paws. Shoulders squared. Head high. Simba turned to face his pride with his eyes hard and determined. "Nala!"
The young lioness stepped toward her best friend with confusion on her face. "Ye…yes Simba?"
Simba eyed her before stepped back to show Kiara who stared up at all the lionesses around her. Taking in their appearances for the first time. Many of them gasped when they saw the princess's eyes were opened and stared back at them with bright blue eyes. "I want you to take Kiara back to Pride Rock. Keep her there and keep her safe!" The King ordered.
Nala stared at Simba and then to Kiara who mewed as she looked around. It was obvious the King knew who his daughter was fruitfully searching for. So he was blocking Kiara's view of her mother's dead body. Of course the young cub was far too young to even comprehend what death truly was. But Simba seemed to want to spare his daughter at having any image of her dead mother in her mind.
Nala fell short of her argument as she saw the pain in her friend's eyes. Sighing, she stepped forward and nuzzled her friend giving him a quick hug in comfort. "I'll take her back and make sure nothing happens to her Simba. You have my word."
Closing his eyes, and nodding his head. The King hugged his friend close and released her soon after. Looking down at his daughter he bent down so that his face was close to hers. Just staring into her eyes he continued to feel a pang of sadness. "Be safe Kiara." Giving his daughter a lick he listened as she mewed and patted at his nose with her paw.
Simba turned away as Nala came forth to collect Kiara. The tanned lioness picking the cub up by the neck once more. Making her way over, Sarabi nuzzled her granddaughter with a tearful smile. "Be safe little one…" she shared a look with Nala who nodded. She would get Kiara back to Pride Rock safely and she would make sure she remained safe. She owed it to not only Simba but Zuri who she had promised months before to watch over her cubs should something ever happen to her.
Taking one last look at those around her, Nala bounded off in the direction of Pride Rock wanting to get Kiara in and out of the rain and more importantly to safety.
"What are the plans my King?" Merah asked stepping forward once Nala was out of sight.
Simba remained silent for a few more moments before he finally spoke. "Merah, you along with Binti and Asali search for Kopa and Eshe. We will find them and bring them home. Dead or alive. I want to know where my cubs are. The rest of you will come with me. We're going to find Zira!" growling the King turned and walked over to his mates and sons fallen bodies.
Staring down at them, he reached out and touched his mate's cheek. His eyes softening a bit. "Don't worry my love…I will avenge you and our cubs…" leaning down he gave them two last nuzzles and licks before he faced his pride.
Merah, Binti and Asali had already taken off to go in search for the other two missing cubs. The others were all staring at him with sad but determined eyes. Each ready to go and find the lioness that had killed their Queen and prince. Catching his mother's eyes, he watched as she nodded and together the lionesses turned and began to leave to go out on their search.
Simba stopped to look back at his mate and sons bodies. He didn't want to leave them there alone. But as soon as he was done with Zira. He would come back for them and make sure their bodies were brought to someplace close to pride rock so that they could properly be put to rest.
"I love you…" tears ran down the Kings face as he turned and with quick leaps. Bounded on after his pride to join them in the search for the lioness who took his family from him.
I hope you all don't mind that I changed Kiara's eye colour. I really wanted to put a bit of Zuri in her. I've seen a lot of fan art with Kopa having Nala's blue eyes and then I remembered a picture of where it was the opposite, and Kiara had the blue eyes. And it suddenly gave me the idea for this. My own version of Kiara in this Alternate Universe world I created.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Remember to PLEASE review.
This story is almost done. And from here we'll move onto Part 3 of the series after one or two more chapters.