WOW, Can be been four years since I updated this story? (Creeps out from behind a rock, waving a white flag) Please forgive me for that. I kind of lost inspiration for this story for a while and then life would get in the way and so on. That is no excuse to leave my faithful readers in the dust like that/ From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry if any of you are left.
Now I own nothing, but the plot twists and any original characters who are not in the film. So, I hope you enjoy this new chapter.
Sarabi nods, but her eyes have grown wary. "All right…I shall see you again…Kimaria."
I wrap my arms around her neck and we nuzzle each other for a long time. Finally, Sarabi pulls away, smiles at me, and turns around heading off into the savanna. I close my eyes and sigh, the pain of loss breaking my heart. I take a deep breath and turn around to face the other tasks set in front of me. With a halfhearted smile, from Sarabi's words, I begin to walk back to the river in order to find out the truth by following my instincts.
Before I am even conscious of it, I am back at the riverbank. After all these days of visiting the same spot, my feet must know the way on their own. I chuckle to myself imagining them being able to find their way here even if I lost my sight. The bright sun beats down upon my back as I stare across to the other side, willing Scar to reappear. Yet, the tall grass remains silent like a grave. My heart begins to race while my mind chants in an effort to calm my growing nerves. He has to be here. He is the only one who can lead me to my son. He has to be here.
Inwardly, I curse myself for not paying attention to our surroundings when he had first led me to the small pride of lionesses. Even as a member of the Pride Lands, it had been unwise of me to lower my guard among the animals. Unconsciously, my hands begin to fiddle with each other as though feeling the nonsexist scars that Chioma surely would have given me if Scar had not been with me. Yet, my desire to understand the truth compels me forward despite the possible dangers that I must endure.
"Where is he?" I mutter under my breath when I have reached the opposite bank. I long to call out him, but I dare not. If any of the Pride Land herds hear me….it would not end well.
"Is it wise for you to be here at this time?"
I turn and swallow hard.
Sharp, emerald eyes peer at me through the tall grass. Gradually, the darker lion emerges, his complete attention focused on me as though the whole pride would not attack him if they discovered he was still alive. My eyes roam across his body, marking the horrible burns and the patches of missing fur. He is alive and yet somehow different. Was he brave or had he truly lost his mind?
I cross my arms over my chest. "Is it wise for you? Only one Pridelander has to see you and then-"
"A pridelander? Am I not speaking to one now," He lowers himself ever so slightly, a hiss of pain escaping him. Though weather it is from the pain of or simple old age I cannot tell. "Do you not consider yourself one of them? A second queen title and yet not a true one."
I open my mouth to counter his words and pause. By adopting me into the pride all those years ago, Mufusa had placed me above the other herds as his daughter: a princess of the glorious lands of the kingdom. Simba, even considers me his older sister while none of the other animals had ever truly questioned my place within the pride.
Yet, Scar's words strike a chord from my own self-doubts. Why am I member of the pride now? Who has ever heard a second queen ruling a kingdom? There is no such thing!
I lower my eyes, unwilling to show how much his words have affected me. Now is not the time for any hesitation. There are more important matters to attend to. He had taken me once, but would he do so again? My heart races at the possibility of seeing my sweet boy once more. Everything inside me seems to melt, my knees suddenly weakening. Somehow I keep a hold of myself as I stare down at the old lion. "Take me to me son."
"I did, your-"
"Again." My voice rises with command. "Take me to him again."
Scar does not flinch, regarding me with such intensity I feel he will attack.
I do not back down.
Finally, he says, "Kimaria, I beg you to reconsider. You are not welcomed there."
I know he speaks the truth. The image of Chioma, the tan lioness', fierce, protective gaze has not left me. She would attack me with no hesitation or qualms on the matter. By all accounts, she would be defending her cub, a mother's right. Except that the cub has no fur, fingers and toes like a baboon, and has my eyes. How could I have not protected him? Sarabi had done everything in her power to keep me safe, accepting me without question into the family.
She was…is a true mother. My heart tightens, remembering our last embrace. Her silky fur had warmed me when I was cold. The gentlest hum of a purr vibrated against my skin with happiness; an unspoken wave of love passing between us. Had it only been two hours ago? It felt like another lifetime had passed. Could she have found a resting place by now?
Again, I push past those thoughts and answer with the truth. "He is my son. He belongs with me."
For a moment, our roles reserved with Scar unable to counter my words. His deep gaze holds mine for a moment longer before he bows in submission.
My eyes widen at the suddenness of such a gesture. The once proud lion whose memory still burns in the mind of every Pridelander, would have continued to argue with such a request. Has age or the slimmest chance guilt at work?
I watch him turn, disappearing into the tall grass. For the briefest moment, the notion of abandonment floats through my mind. Had I pushed him away?
A second later, he reappears in between the grass. It is impossible to read his facial expression, but his stance speaks of confusion on his part. He watches me for a moment longer and then turned back again.
I start to follow, but pause at the fluttering of wings come over head. My eyes shoot up to catch the intruder. None of the other Pridelanders ever came out here as far as I know. Yet, the bird is gone just as quickly as it came, making a single loop in the air before returning in the direction is had come. I watch until it becomes a speck against the blue sky and release a breath I had not known I was holding.
Thank the Great Kings, it had not been Zazu. It was only a chick, perhaps testing his or her wings farther than it should. Like a young cub I once knew who tested his boundaries. Still, the possibility of someone catching us anchors me to the ground. Scar would doubtingly be killed on the spot. Would I be branded a trailer? But the most important question weighed heaviest on my heart. What would become of my son?
I turn back, his deep voice chasing away the unanswered questions. Until someone spoke, there is no reason to be concerned. There were other questions I must ask first…and Scar was my only way of obtaining them. Sarabi had told me to follow my instincts. For now, my insects drew me to follow the darker lion. Taking a deep breath, I raised a hand, signaling that I heard him, and began to follow him
This time the trip seemed to double in length since our first venture out here. Though it could be that my focus was now split in two: keeping an eye on my guide and simultaneously absorb enough detail on the journey so that one day I might be able to go on my own. Given the pride of lionesses' reaction to my presence last time, I did not imagine it would be anytime soon. I try to mark some concrete objects, but the savanna is known for playing tricks on the mind at times.
I ran down the list, adding the newest mark to the bottom trying to commit it all to memory. From the river bank, we turned west to the few mountains, passed the great river bushwillow, passed cluster of senegal gum acacias sprouting yellow flowers from its thorny branches, turned to the east at a umbrella tree, and so on.
"How much further?"
"Shh!" Scar commanded, coming to a halt.
I knelt beside him, pressing the high grasses to one side allowing me to watch. The lionesses must have just returned from a hunt, the corpse of an antelope lay sprawled out in the center of the small cluster of caves. Every lioness is in attendance, gawking at their won prey. None of them make a move to touch it though.
An irrational and unimportant question flashed through my mind. How will the corpse be eaten? In most prides, the male lion took the first piece of meat and then the other members would come and select a piece for themselves. With no ruler, would they all descend on the animal at the same time? I shiver at the savagery of it all. The male provided order to a pride. Who ruled over this group here? Scar had been able to enter last time, but only the respect of an honored guest….not a ruler.
I glance over at him, but his attention is focused on the female pride. He remained silent, but I wondered if he felt the same hunger that was slowly crawling at my stomach. Returning my attention to the group, I stifled a gasp as a tan lioness stepped forward from the group. Chioma's head was raised in assessment of the others surrounding her, like a ruler over her subjects.
Why and how had I missed it before? Chioma was the leader of this rough pride of lionesses. Perhaps instead of a mother, she would respond to another queen. My eyes shifted to the left, my heart lodged in my throat with prayers to see my son, but he was nowhere to be seen this time. He must be inside one of the caves.
Now was my chance. I began to rise, but Scar brushed against me.
A signal to wait.
Reluctantly, I knelt down again and just watched. Chioma took a step forward and began to tear at the corpse. Despite the heat of the day, a cold shiver ran down my spine. Scar had been right in making me wait until their meal was over. An animal interrupted from eating would just as soon feast on the intruder. Each minute lasted an eternity, with my on hunger growing as well, as each lioness took their turn at the beast. My body tenses with baited anticipation, but Scar's presence gives me pause.
A twig snaps under my foot.
The entire pride turn as one to the sound, bracing themselves for an attack. Their sharp, keener eyes glare in my direction.
"Who's there?" Chioma snarled.
I want to vanish, but their higher instincts have already announced my presence. Slowly, I rise and step out toward their circle. All eyes are on me. Their bodies are tense with anticipation as my own. Yet, somehow, I remain tall amongst them, Mufasa's tautology and my rule as queen will not allow me to cower before them. My eyes roam across the group until they settle on the tan, blue eyed lioness.
I hold her gaze.
Chioma's gaze never leaves mine as she lowers herself. My heart quickens.
"Stop!" Scar bounds out with a sudden youthful energy, placing himself between me and Chioma's pride.
Chioma's barrs her teeth. "What is the meaning of this, Scar? She is not welcomed here just as we are not welcomed in the Pridelands."
I clear my throat. "Please I-"
"Silence!" Chioma growls. "I will not listen to a woman who tried to take my son away from me."
"Chioma, she is not here for that. She only-"
Her sharp blue eyes turn to Scar. "I will not. She has no respect for us, coming in and demanding me to let go of my son."
I steal myself each time those words are uttered. My stomach twists. I have seen her nuzzle the boy, treating him with as more tenderness as Nala gave to my niece. This queen of lionesses jumped at me, a threat to her son in her eyes. She was truly acting as a mother. What had ever done for my son other than giving him life? I shove those thoughts away. The new questions are more important now.
I hold up my hands in surrender, my eyes focused on the mother lioness. "Please…I mean no disrespect or even…" I forced the next words out. "Wish to take your son…from you. I just have a few questions."
"What could those be?" another lioness broke in.
"They are questions, only you can answer, your majesty." I kneel on the ground in a sign of respect. "I will not take much of your time-"
The lioness spoke again. "Who do you believe you are? You-"
"Enough, Aida!" Chioma cried. She turned back to me, but spoke to another. "Does she speak the truth? I will not allow her to take my cub."
Scar nodded. "I trust her, Chioma. She is only here to ask a few questions. Shall we go inside?" He gestured to one of the narrow caves.
I gulped, eyeing the cave's entrance. Suddenly, I feel my knees shake at the idea of being trapped within a cave with only one exist. I strained my ears to hear my son, but no sounds came from within. Perhaps he was only a sleep under the shade of the cave walls against the boiling sun.
Taking a deep breath, I say, "With all due respect. I would be just as happy to ask my questions out here. I…" My voice trails off.
Chioma has turned and is heading back into the cave. All the other lionesses are watching me trying to determine what course of action to take. I glance at Scar, but he only nods in the general direction of the cavern. He takes a step toward me, nudging me along the short walk.
The cavern is dark with the only light coming from the entrance. Its rough walls have been warmed by the sun while at the same time has remained a cool atmosphere given the shade. A perfect shelter from the fierce sun.
I blink rapidly, trying to adjust to the dim light. Scar has joined me and down lays calmly at my feet beside me.
Chioma circles around a spot three times before settling down. Her blue eyes seem to glow within the darkened grotto.
"What are these questions?" She purrs.
I glance around for a moment.
"Thank you for letting me have this time." I say.
She nods. "You have four questions you may ask."
I open my mouth and pause. Only four questions! How could I narrow it down to four when a million were racing around my head? I will have to be smart here.
"How is…the…cub?" The words feel foreign on my tongue.
Chioma glances behind her. She must be keeping him close to her. "He is well."
I sigh with relief before I venture into the next question. "Why did you take the…cub into your family?"
Her eyes narrow. "You insult me. Would you leave an abandoned cub to fend for itself out here?"
"That is the second time you have claimed I abandoned him. I thought he was died."
"And he would have been if not for me. Zira did not want him."
I blink. What does Zira have to do with any of this? In the back of my mind I vaguely recall my questions to Kovu, but now none of it makes sense. This small pride of lionesses had once been a part of the banished Outsiders. Their banishment had been because of them killing…or now at least havening attempted to kill my son. If the two groups had split, why would Chioma claim her pride would not be welcomed back into ours? Simba and Nala found out my son to be alive and these lionesses were responsible for that, surely it would be enough to redeem them.
Chioma continues to study me though she refrains herself from speaking.
Taking a deep breath, I judge my next words with care. "I….have you….I mean given the land around here…I imagine it must tough out here. Surely…if it became known that you had performed a service to…the community, Simba would welcome all of you back-"
The lioness queen chuckles a deep, amused, and slightly unsettling laugh. Her head swings back and forth at my supposed naivety. "You are quite amusing, my dear. It is not such a simple matter. The child-"
A crisp cry echoes throughout the cave, sending the three of to our feet. I take a step forward, but Chioma is faster. She spun around and hurried over toward the back of the cave. The child's cries were instantly calmed, changing in to a comforted cooing sound. . I imagine the lioness queen nuzzling the child just as Sarabi had done for me. My heart swelled with an almost unbearable ache. I open my mouth, but words have failed me as I watch. Mother and child have gone into their own world while I have been dismissed.
Scar nudges me and silently slips back outside. A few, low voices from the other lionesses can be heard, but I ignore them. I wait a few minutes more, but it is clear our council has ended. Despite my title, I go onto my knees and lower my head until my forehead touches the heard earth: a sign of a respectful farewell audience with a queen. I hold the pose for a while and then stand, raise my chin, and walk back out into the cluster of waiting lionesses.
My eyes squint, trying to readjust to the sun, which has now sunk further into the west. How long have I been in the cave, conversing with the Chioma? My stomach knots as though I am a disobedient child. We have to get back before dinner. I have already raised suspicion once…I can't do it again not until I had a plan. If I delayed any longer…then what would happen?
"Scar…I, we, need to go," I say, turning to my guide.
The dark lion nods, but says nothing.
Satisfied with his answer, I turn now to the rest of the assembled lionesses. All of them warily watch me.
Clearing my throat, I raise my head like a queen. "Thank you for the hospitality you have shared."
With one last glance over my shoulder at the cave, I turn and with Scar by my side, we begin out slow depart.
The eyes of the entire female pride follow us as we depart from their land. I wonder if they have been listening to the whole exchange between me and their queen. No doubt they will support Chioma in whatever course of action she choices. I can only pray I have not severed the lines of commination.
Scar again guides me back, passing all the marked places as before. Yet, my mind will not focus on these. And all too soon, the sound of the flowing river meets my ears.
I turn, attempting to offer a smile of gratitude. "Thank you for taking me."
Scar looked up at him, his intense emerald gaze nearly rattling me to the core. After everything that had transpired between the two of us, he still seems to be able to know my inner most thoughts without saying a word.
Focusing my attention on the river now, I ask, "Will you still be here?"
"If you need me, I will."
My heart skips a beat and again I look down at him. Twice in one afternoon, the once tyrant ruler of the Pridelands has surprised me. Yet, before I can form any further words of gratitude, he turns and bounds off in the opposite direction, allowing the fading light to shield him.
I toss and turn all night, but my mind will not allow me any respite. The rest of the pride sleeps soundly around me. All unburdened by unanswerable questions. I had only managed to skirt past the sentries at the river bank with my old excuse of the heat and to swallow a little of the dinner left for me when I returned to Pride Rock. None of the other members of the pride seemed eager to talk tonight for which I was grateful as news of Sarabi's departure was the most recent news.
Now I can only stare up at the cavernous abyss of the darkened cave that serves as home to the royal family. After all that, I am no further along in discovering how my son survived and had ended up in an unknown group of lionesses. Somehow the Outsiders are or had been involved as well. What does of it mean? How can I figure any of this out? For a brief moment, I debate waking Simba, but his other duties as King are weighing on him. Rest is what we all need. And yet….
With a groan, I roll onto my side and force myself up. Using the wall as a guide, I slowly make my way outside.
Moon and starlight warm the dark night with their glow. A few insects are buzzing about, but the normal ordered chaos of the sun hours are gone. Over to the left, I catch sight of our guest, Kovu. His back is pressed up against one a large rock, trying to shield himself from the cold. I grimace, but I trust Simba's judgment. It had taken me time to trust Scar again…and even now some doubts still remain.
I shake my head. Now is not the time for such things. Slowly, I move past the slumbering lion, climb down the steps, and stroll out onto the savanna. The fresh air has always calmed.
I continue to walk, allowing my mind to wonder. As I make my way out inro the grasslands, the distant sound of voices catch my notice. Who would be u at this hour? Crouching down, I move silently forward - one of the few skills, the lionesses were able to teach me – and hid behind a large boulder. . Two voices float through the air and my heart jumps. Zazu and an older, dark haired lioness, Ayo, were speaking in hushed tones. I peer around, but the moonlight has cast the two into dark, yet distinctive silhouettes. "Are you certain?" Ayo asks.
"Yes, I saw myself. She was going to the river again," Zazu says. "She claims it was only for a swim"
I curse myself for having not been careful enough. My only consolation thus far is that no one seems to have noticed Scar. If I were caught again, the swimming excuse would not work.
"What of her behavior of late? She has been neglecting her duties. No one sees her for hours on end and when she is here, her mind if elsewhere. Do you think its them humans of hers. A few others of your kind have seen them expanding into our lands. Is she seeing them?"
I imagined Zazu placing one wing under his beak in thought. "No, I don't think so…perhaps I can ask her."
"And you think she will answer truthfully?"
"Then I shall keep an eye on her," Zazu says.
My teeth clench while a shiver runs down my spine. The talk of humans slips from my mind, but the reality is they are too close to me. How long would it be until they discovered Scar and then everything else? And am I now to be treated like some cub? Their concerns may be valid, but my son comes first.
I listen to them a little more, but the conversation has turned to more mundane subjects with the different herds and a few disputes among them. Still, the earlier conversation continues to spin in my mind. What has happened to Zazu? My once dear friend had become distant it is true, but I never imagined he would turn around and spy on me. Who does he believe himself to be?
Stifling a yawn, I retreat back and return to Pride Rock, unwilling to let myself slip again. One thing is certain though. No one will keep me from my son. Not Scar, Choima, and defiantly not the little traitor, Zazu.
I glance over at my slumbering little brother. Perhaps I can learn from the master. Curling onto my side, a plan begins to form as I drift off to a restless sleep.
I pray that was worth the wait, even though Kim does not have her son. Please say yes, or be honest.
So, I did have a question to pose to my readers (if any are left), since the last update, I feel my writing skills have grown a lot and I do not feel this story or my first one (Daughter of a Pride) are my best pieces of work. So, my question to you is would you be willing to wait while I go back and revamp this series (Starting with Daughter) to a higher potential or would you rather like to finish this first as is? I leave that up to you.
Now as for this chapter, please review and let me know what you think? I swear the next chapter (unless otherwise advised with your answer to my question) will be up soon. I thank all of you who have stayed with this story. There are not words enough for all of you. :)