Hige soon got bored with the fish in the pool, and so he began following the tracks of Tsume and Toboe, curious to where they were going, and eager to have an excuse to leave the odd scent of the lion cub behind.
But he became distracted.
He noticed an odd pink bird- but as soon as he did, it flew away. Taking up the challenge, Hige started to follow it, his head to the sky.
After a few minutes of this, Hige found himself back where Kiba and Simba had been. He watched them run through the jungle, chasing unseen things.
Feeling lonely, Hige looked around more closely at his surroundings.
It was then he realized how beautiful everything really was.
"We are here..." Hige mumbled, his eyes widening. "We're...in Paradise."
The orangish-brown wolf laid down contently, thinking.
That's why there are weird things like lions and jungles in the middle of a desert- we either died and went to Paradise, or we stumbled through the Gateway... Hige was satisfied with what he came up with, and so closed his eyes and fell asleep...
Padding quietly deeper into the jungle, the gray wolf- with a young brown one at his side- sniffed the air carefully, observing the hidden creatures around them.
They smelled heavily of fear.
"Hey, where are we going?" asked Toboe, the brown wolf.
"Away." replied the gray wolf roughly, fangs sticking out over his black canine lips.
"Are you angry?" ased Toboe gently, his curiosity made obvious by the slow wag of his tail.
Glancing hauntedly at the young wolf, Tsume spoke. "Yeah, how could you tell?"
"Well, I couldn't. Not really, anyway..." admitted Toboe. "It's hard to tell with you..."
Tsume snorted, his ears flattening on his head. "I'm always angry about somethin', runt." he growled.
"Are you going to leave the pack?" Toboe asked urgently.
Tsume didn't answer. His look was enough.
"Tsume, please don't go!" whined the brown wolf, jumping out in front of the gray one. "You just cant go! Wh-what about Paradise?"
Tsume looked away, his body stiff. "I never believed in Paradise."
"You're lying!" yelled Toboe.
Tsume closed his eyes.
Toboe waited nervously for the older wolf to speak, a near-silent whine hissing from his throat.
Opening his eyes, the gray wolf turned his attention fully on Toboe. "I'm not going to stay with a leader that brings a different species into the pack. It's not natural."
"But...Kiba..." the brown wolf mumbled. "He needs-"
"Look," Tsume said, walking past Toboe, who followed automatically. "You can stay if you want. But I'm out of here."
"But where will you go?" Toboe nearly shouted.
Tsume's ears flipped forward, and he said, "Shut up!" in a quick snap of his jaws. "I smell somethin'..." he added more quietly. To his left, the brown wolf began walking forward, sniffing.
As if on cue, both wolves walked forward, their heads low. They followed along a small stream, staying in the shadows of the trees.
They had caught a familiar scent of prey...
Timon had ran aimlessly through the forest, his breath shooting from his lungs as quick and forceful as a racehorse. He ran past dozens of beetles and flowers, each small object like a maze for the prairie dog. He became insane with the grief of his friend- paranoid, frightened, and over-heated.
So when he reached the small stream of water, he nearly fell into it with recklessness, his thirst wacking his hard in the gut.
Toboe trodded carefully over a beetle, his hind leg catching on a root. The young wolf stumbled into the gray wolf, who stepped on a stick, snapping it...
A sudden noise made Timon jerk his head up and look around, his eyes wide. There was silence. His heart beating faster in his chest, the prairie dog walked out into the small clearing, turning slowly...
The gray wolf towered over the brown one. "You idiot!" hissed Tsume quietly, his teeth flashing
Toboe said nothing, ducking down in submission with apologetic eyes.
Tsume looked back towards the stream, took a few more steps, then bent down on his legs, ears out. Toboe joined him, mirroring his position.
They waited for their prey to give away its position.- so they could strike once, and strike hard...
Timon shook his head, regaining his bravory. How could he cowar like this? He had to avenge Pumba!
He needed a weapon.
Striding over to a low branch, the prairie dog took on the look of a warrior, the purple bruises around his eyes deepening. He took the branch in his hands and broke it swiftly, that single sound breaking the heavy silence...
"Come on out, you mangey demons!" shouted their prey.
Toboe watched, his mouth dry, as the small rodent made a smooth circle, the stick held out like a weapon, ready to fight. How can this thing be so bold? Toboe wondered. The brown wolf snuck a glance at Tsume just as he tensed his legs, and prepared to jump...
Tears whelled in Timon's eyes as fear tried to smother him once more. But he quickly brought a paw up and whiped his tears, the stick lowering in his other hand for just a split second.
But when the prairie dog looked up, he didn't even have time to scream before the wolf closed its gray jaws around his neck...
Among the Outcast lionesss of whom Scar brought with him after the day Mufasa died, was a lioness named Zira. She looked up to any beast who held power in their grasp; she respected them, admired them. But when Scar came into power over the Pridelands, what she felt was not just general respect.
It was her obsession.
Looking up to him from the bottom of Priderock, Zira's mouth would become slack, frozen in a half-smile, half-gape of wonder. She was more than ready to take his orders to the ends of the world. But Scar never gave her any more attention than the others- side from Sarabi, Mufasa's mate.
She had seen Scar and Sarabi one too many times standing on the edge of Priderock, frowns on both of their faces- like an unhappily married couple. Yet they stood in the spot-light as if it were their own destiny to rule together.
But Zira wanted to be in the spot light, joined with Scar in power over the entire sweap of the Pridelands, and beyond. She understood why Scar wanted Sarabi as his own- so the Pridelanders would respect him more, seeing him having won the heart of Mufasa's own love: They would be put under the illusion that their king and queen were happy.
Surely Scar didn't really love Sarabi, though. Zira's fur stood on end at the thought. Scar only wants her for her power, Zira thought hastily. But I must show him that I can be just a powerful- or even more!- without a royal connection to the family.
But every time Zira tried to ask for a private aduiance with the king, the hyenas would laugh and not let her pass. They called her "low," and said that only important lions were allowed up- and only if Scar asked for them personally.
How was Zira going to get noticed? If she forced her way to him, he might order her killed.
With a soft, angry growl, Zira turned from the hyenas and snapped her jaws at the nearest lion next to her. It happened to be Nala.
Gasping, Nala huddled closer to a rock, alone.
This sparked a question in Zira's mind. "Where is your mother?" she demanded.
"She's hunting..." said Nala, her eyes tightening. She did not like the older lion. But she didn't fear her near as much as Scar.
Hunting... Zira's eyes widened. Of course! If she was able to get a large kill for Scar and the Pridelanders, surely Scar would want her instead of Sarabi?
Without another word, Zira turned and ran down the fields, her lips spreading into a dangerous smile. At the edge of the field, Zira stopped and glanced back at the Priderock. She hoped that Scar was standing on the edge, watching her.
"I will be with you soon, Scar," Zira growled to no one. "And you will realize we were destined to be rulers- together."
The Outcast lioness started running again.
This time, she did not look back...
Zazu arrived at the Rhino heards just minutes before the trio hyenas would. He approached the few dozen of horned beasts with a sad look in his eyes, landing on a dead tree to address them.
When they saw the blue streak soar across the gray sky, their ears went up, all ready to accept their relayed message. So when the bird landed, they gathered around, looking depressed. Their sides were sunken in, their mouths dry around the lips from slack from lack of water.
The blue bird ruffled up his feathers, then opened his beak. He said, "I...I have very, very bad news..."
The rhinoes nodded. They always expected the worse.
Zazu continued, his voice breaking. "Scar is planning to kill off each of you- for the sake of the Pridelands- so that the lions can live on in this wasteland."
"That is outragous!" cried a male rhino.
"How can he do this to us?" demanded another.
"What about our lives?" shouted a female rhino. "Don't we matter, too?"
"Mommy, I dont wanna die!" cried a young male.
This brought up loud wails from the smaller rhinos- even some miserble adults began to sob.
Zazu flapped his wings, saying, "Now, now- I..." Zazu hesitated. "Please, be quiet!
he said after a brief pause. "I have a plan."
"What's the plan?" asked a very thin female.
"I think you all should run. Go beyond the Shadowlands, and seek out a haven." Zazu said. "Otherwise..."
"You mean, leave the Pridelands?" gasped a rhino.
"But this is our home..." said another sadly.
"But- the hyenas-" started Zazu.
"If it is Scar's orders that we die for the sake of the Prideland, then I am willing to do so." said a rhino suddenly.
A few seconds of silence washed over them. Zazu could smell their anxioty. But one by one, the rhinoes began nodding. They accepted their fate. After all, when they died, wouldnt their body return to the earth?
The bird sighed, his body swaying on the dead branches. He knew he could saw nothing to change their mind.
It was then when the hyneas appeared. And though Zazu flew up into the sky, screaming and shouting warnings, the rhinos did not move. They let the hyenas throw themselves into their massive necks, and pull away their organs. Zazu watched it horror as each one was butchered, mangled, and eaten- blood spilled out over the black land. Ironic nourishment for the dog-like beasts, flooding the ground, being wasted.
Their barks and yelps filled the air as the death-count for rhinos doubled. Eventually, each one was murdered- even the youngest of rhinos who stood trembling with closed eyes- and they all died for nothing.
Nearly crying himself, Zazu flew back towards the Pridelands, his heart swollen with hatred for Scar, and hatred of himself for not doing anything.
Then Zazu remembered that Scar mentioned a surprise waiting for him. What could it possibly be...?
Toboe's tail wagged faintly as he watched the gray wolf, who slung up the limp animal into the air, catching it, tossing it again. Blood spattered lightly on the ground, making Toboe's stomach growl in sudden hunger.
Tsume dropped held the kill in his mouth and walked forward aways, then began digging. After burrying Timon, he started walking the oppisite way.
Excited, Toboe said, "Hey, where you going this time?"
"Shut up and follow me." was all Tsume said.
The wolves walked deeper into the jungle, searching for nothing, or searching for everything.
Searching for Paradise, maybe.
Or searching for hell...
Simba ran along side the white wolf as they traveled through the jungle, their legs nearly matching each other's speed. They had been hunting for nearly an hour now.
Kiba was teaching the cub how to be stealthy- but he was getting more and more surprised whenever the cub demostrated the cunning of a lion.
It was only after Simba managed to take down a flying bird that had been hiding in the bushes, did Kiba let the lion cub rest.
Looking over at the white wolf, Simba said, "How did I do?"
"You are a true warrior." said Kiba earnestly, his head ducking. "I can understand now how a lion could be a king of all others."
Nodding once, Simba sat down, his claws pattering over the dead bird. "I am to be king too." said the lion quietly. "When I'm older. But I planned not to go back."
"What were you running from?" asked Kiba carefully.
"...I killed my father." said Simba, his head hanging. "The Pridelanders would never accept me after what I did."
"Did you murder him?"
Simba blinked and looked at the wolf. "What..?" he said, shocked.
"Did you kill him on purpose?" asked Kiba.
"Then they would understand." said Kiba, rasing his head to the darkening sky. "War is just a misunderstanding between two packs...They can be settled by reasoning."
"What if they cant?" Simba asked shly.
"Then we fight to the death, and hope we win." said the white wolf. "Nothing more."
Simba felt better about having told the wolf about his true identy. He felt like he could trust him, though he only knew the wolf for a few hours. Purring, Simba playfully swiped at Kiba's tail.
The white wolf watched him, disaproving, but silent. The cub still had a lot to learn before he could return to the Pridelands. But Kiba was willing to teach him, as he promised.
"Come on," he told the cub gently. "We should head back."
The lion stood and followed. But his walk was different. It was more...wolf-like, more cautious.
He carried himself, well, like a leader of a pack...
The young lion cub backed away from his uncle, away from his dead father, looking up at him with wide eyes. "What should I do?" he asked weakly.
"Run away, Simba." Scar told him, which made the young cub's face melt in horror. "Run, and never return." The lion cub turned and began running, not looking back.
Behind him in the mist, Scar heard the footsteps of the hyenas approaching. Without turning his head, he ordered them simply to "kill him." But a deep, heavy breathing made him wrinkle his face in confusion.
Turning, Scar found himself face-to-face with his dead brother, Mufasa, who's mouth was spread back in a savage look of loathing. Scar backed away in fear as Mufasa walked forward. Scar's green eyes widened.
"No, you're dead!" cried Scar, trembling on his feet. Backing away, Scar nealy fell off the edge of Priderock. Alarmed, the dark lion turned and wondered how he got here from the gorge. He looked back at Mufasa. "Please, I have so much to live for!" Scar begged.
"No, Scar. You have nothing to live for." corrected his brother.
And just as the greater king launched his fangs at Scar's throat, Scar awoke, swiping his feet frantically across the stone den, sweat blackening his sides. Either his claws scraping the ground, or the frantic sobs gasping out of his breath, woke up Sarabi, for she raised her head and looked at him, concern in her deep eyes.
Noticing her eyes on him, Scar met them, holding his breath in an effort to control it. He wore an expression of utter horror and pain, that Sarabi knew he must have had a nightmare. But she did not pity him; she made a soft noise of dismissal and looked away before closing her eyes and going back to sleep.
He let out his breath, his heart slowed his beating, and Scar felt only anger now. Even in his dreams, Scar believed he would never had expressed so much fear- or begged for his life- if that had really happened. So what did his dream mean? Scar noticed quite suddenly that, while thinking, he had been staring at Sarabi's smooth, warm body as she breathed, her sides rising, falling, so gracefully.
Moving his gaze from the sleeping lioness to the outside, he realized how late the night was. With a low growl, Scar stood up and felt the den in a quick walk, his skin bristling under his wet fur.
He needed answers.
And he was going to get the truth.
He climbed down the rocks, and towards the hyenas section of the Pridelands, singling out three of them among the hundreds that slowly ate up the world...
Zira had hunted all day to night for the greastest kill of the land. But she only saw rhinos, and also the hyenas approaching them. Clearly Scar had given them the order to kill off the remaining rhinos, so it would be a waste to bring one back.
No. She needed something new. Unique. Something that would catch Scar's eye of approval. Something...Otherworldly.
She needed to go beyond...
Hige was woken up by the sound of movement along the ground. Raising his head, he not only discovered the moon in the sky, but the myraid of stars that seemed to be watching him. Hige was lost for a moment, gazing up, until the same sound alerted his senses.
When the orangish-brown wolf looked ahead, he saw Kiba and the lion cub, walking side by side towards him. When they joined up, Hige stood and touched Kiba's nose forgivingly.
"We're here, Kiba..." he told the white wolf lazily with a smile. "We're in Paradise."
At the mention of Paradise, the white wolf frowned. "We would know if we are or not." he said. "I don't smell any lunar flowers."
Hige laughed and laid down. "Doesnt matter," he said. "We can stay here..."
Frowning again, Kiba walked past his friend and laid down beside a tree, saying, "Get some rest, Simba."
Simba walked over and laid beside the wolf. Slowly, so slowly, the lion cub moved closer to the wolf until he was against him. When Kiba neither bit or growled at him, Simba snuggled into the white fur, and closed his eyes.
Hige, watching them, gave Kiba a wink, then closed his own eyes.
Looking up at the moon, Kiba wondered where Tsume and Toboe had ran off to...
Zazu saw Scar running across the Pridelands, towards the rhino at a stunning speed. Should he continue to Priderock, or follow the lion? Follow, of course. He is the king, after all.
Changing his flight pattern, the blue bird flew over head, worry sickening his soul...
The hyenas had just finished licking the blood from their paws, claiming how easy their kills had been, when their King ran up, teeth bared.
At first, the trio backed away in fear, asking each other quite sharply, "What did you do?" but they stood side by side with nervous smiles, the blood drying quietly into dark clusters around their jaws.
"Uhh, what's up, Scar?" asked the first one.
Scar skidded to a stop in front of them, not even stopping completly before he barked out, "Where is Simba!"
"Simba?" repeated one of them.
"Didn't he run through the Elephant Graveyard...?" mumbled one of them, confused.
"Idiots!" shouted Scar, slicing a clawed-paw in the air, cutting their necks- but none of the fatally.
Backing away, they secretly wondered if Scar was trying to kill them. It didn't sooth their fears when Scar started walking forward, growling. His green eyes flashed dangerously.
"We-we killed him, Scar!" said one of them hurridly. "I'm sure of it!"
"He got away, didn't he?" snarled Scar, his eyebrows arching.
"Well, yeah, but there's no way he could make it across the desert-"
The dark King sprang forward, pinning the hyena down who spoke. "Beg for your pathetic life!" he growled. "I gave you three orders to kill Simba, did I not?"
The two other hyenas glanced at each other, their bodies lowering to the ground in submission.
"Yeah- S- Sc-" babbled the pinned hyena.
"That's King Scar!" corrected Scar angrily. He pushed away from the hyena and turned from the three Stooges.
The hyena stood and stepped with his friends, all three staring at their King with fear. They watched him sit, back to them. They wanted to flee. But then their King started talking.
"I'm dealing with morons..." Scar growled to himself. "How could I be so dumb as to expect something from..." He looked over his shoulder, his eyes cutting into the hyenas. "...Lesser creatures..." he finished, then looked ahead at nothing and continued his conversation with himself. "I need creatures of my own stature. Creatures of power, and strength!" He put a paw to his chin. "Now where oh where would I find one of those...?"
The hyenas looked behind at the Shadowlands hopefully, planning their escape inwardly.
"I got it!" cried Scar. He then began to laugh. "Lions..." he purred. He looked over his shoulder again, to the trembling hyenas. "I dont need you three." he told them sweetly, his face cracked open into a smile like a ruined jack-o-lantern.
Before they got the hint to run, Scar attacked the hyenas in quick slashes, leaping from one to the next. When the three liars died, he rose up on his hind legs, and roared...
Somewhere in the Shadowlands, Zira heard the roar, and was fueled to keep running. Not out of fear- oh, no, never that- but in determination to win Scar's heart, before it became broken, or turned too cold to even beat...
Toboe and Tsume had walked aimlessly for another two hours, even though night had fallen. They had no idea where they were going. They just knew that- if Paradise was real- they would find it by themselves.
Too exsaulsted to walk on, however, they were forced to lay down in the cool grass, and sleep. By the scent on the wind, both wolves knew that they had gone beyond Kiba and the others; their scent was hardly even there anymore.
A colorful bird walked over on stilt-legs, tilting its head at the pair of wolves as they nuzzled deeper into the grass. Toboe raised his ears, eyes flicking open.
"Tsume..." he whispered.
The gray wolf, woh had nearly been alseep, opened his eyes and noticed the bird.
"What kind of bird is that?" asked the brown wolf.
"Damned if I know." snorted Tsume. "What's it matter anyway? Go to sleep."
Toboe wondered at the moment if they were at Paradise. "Are we there yet?" he wondered out loud.
"What?" snapped Tsume, jerking his head up, watching Toboe watch the bird watch them.
"What if..." Toboe said, his tail wagging slightly. "What if we're in Paradise now?"
Tsume stood up, startling the bird into flying away. "We aint in Paradise." he said sourly. "We never will be."
"How do you know?" demanded Toboe, standing as well.
"Stay down, runt!" growled Tsume, eyes narrowing. "All this talk of Paradise hurts my stomach..." he muttered, looking away. Toboe laid down slowly. "We'll never find it... because it isnt real." the gray wolf said bitterly. "Dying- the light at the end of the tunnel- that is the road to Paradise."
Toboe started to growl in protest, but Tsume snapped his jaws at his face. "Get your head out of the clouds, damn it!" the gray wolf barked. "Leaving the pack- best idea ever. We would'a never figured it out..."
"Figured what out?" muttered Toboe, feeling shy.
"...That we're dead." said Tsume.
From deep within the warmth of his heart, Toboe's flames of happiness and hope was quickly blown out...