I'm not even going to try and excuse this hideously late and hideously short chapter. On to User-Review-Reply-Section.
dm: Thank you very much! Have a chapter
Petit Princess: Your reviews are always so lovely, thank you! Also maybe seeing the actual Jesus wouldn't be that bad but ah well. Thanks for the support.
AuditoresGirl: I find reviews with little comments like that very encouraging and touching (blushes) Thanks for the continued support
DragonChild157: I'm glad you're enjoying. And thanks, I'm glad too.
Emerald Dreamer96: A lot of people have pointed out that "my" Scar is a lot more evil than movie-Scar. And thank you! Here's the next (a little short :/) chapter.
lew leon: I could never be offended I live for in depth critiques of my work! And, who knows what will happen next? (Oh wait, I DO, bwahahaha!)
Dogluver: I don't actually remember why I decided upon such a high number if I'm honest. I think it could have possibly been due to the fact that there were so many cubs, a lot of whom didn't get and probably never were going to get any real development or emotional investment anywhere in any of my stories. Well, I can't change it now; I guess we'll just have to carry on in our sadness
(Also it sort of stays true to real life, as less than 50% of lion cubs in the wild survive to adulthood. Though I've already been on a rant about this story not being factually accurate so let's just leave it here :P)
Guest: Sorry you had to wait so long
Simbaanaya: We're all entitled to our own opinions I suppose
Jtechwriter: It is, isn't it But I hope I explained my reasoning above well enough.
Chapter Thirteen: In Aiheu We Trust
"No words describe a mother's tears; no words can heal a broken heart."
Phil Collins, Two Worlds
The walk back to Pride Rock was the most tense and hushed so far. The stony silence of them all came mostly from the shock of so many cub casualties, as well as the ever rising anxiety of the situation at Pride Rock. The entire scenario seemed completely inescapable: Scar's new allies were far too numerous and strong to ever hope to take out, plus all the remaining cubs' lives were hanging in the balance. Scar would stop at nothing until every last one of them was dead. Then Mufasa would be next. "I have something special lined up for you" was what his brother had said. It made Mufasa shudder to even imagine what this could mean.
When they reached the base of Pride Rock, Sarabi suddenly stopped. Mufasa turned to look at her, setting Simba onto the ground.
"What's the matter?" he asked, tentatively. A lot was the matter, of course, but he wanted to know what had stopped her this time, specifically.
"…I'm scared to go up there," she murmured, "for more than one reason."
Mufasa stepped in front of her, and hushed his voice so that Simba wouldn't hear him. His son was once again locked into look out mode, his injured leg lying twisted behind him.
"I know you're scared," he whispered, "I'm scared, too."
He peered up at Pride Rock behind him for a moment. It had once been a place of peace and sanctuary for them. Now, their greatest fears had found life inside of it, manifesting themselves into an unstoppable force for terrible, terrible things. He felt a shudder rack his entire body before he turned back to her.
"We're going to be okay," he continued, "I promise. I'm not going to let anything bad happen to us."
"But, what about the others?" Sarabi asked him, clearly anguished, "Bad things have already happened to them! And all those poor cubs…"
She was so emotionally exhausted that there were no more tears. Instead, her head drooped, and her breathing became shallow and ragged.
"I know," he said, as gently as possible, "but right now we have to focus on staying alive, and together. And to do that we have to go up there."
She nodded, wordlessly. She took a deep breath in, and stepped forward, slowly climbing the stone steps to Pride Rock. Mufasa picked Simba up and followed her.
The scene they arrived at was just as silent, if not more so, than their solemn journey home had been. It was not the scene of mass hysteria that any of them had expected, but the sorrow and grief could undoubtedly be felt hanging in the air. Never in anyone's living memory had so many of the pride's young been wiped out at once. The shock was so much so that no one knew what to do with the remains, so for now they lay at the end of Pride Rock's promontory, waiting to be moved to the right place for Aiheu to claim their bodies back to the earth.
The lionesses had grouped together, though no one was saying a word. A few were still silently crying, the last few tears cascading down their cheeks. A small number could be heard whispering the last few words of an age old prayer, generations old and yet still in use.
"In Aiheu we trust…"
The words seemed to sting at Mufasa's heart as he heard them. They trusted the gods, yes, but why had they, in return, allowed such a terribly atrocity to happen? And, as well as this, had his own cubs been spared and yet the others forced to endure such a terribly violent end? The questions flew around his head, and they were just too numerous to try and justify each one.
One pride member, however, had deliberately positioned herself away from the others. It was the lioness Felicia, Chumvi and Kula's mother, the two of whom were crouched beneath her, equally as mute as everyone else. Without a word, Sarabi hurried towards her.
"Sarabi?" she asked, hoarsely, looking up with wide eyes, "how did you make-?"
She saw Mufasa and three cubs approaching behind and stopped, her question answered.
"What about Sarafina? She hasn't come back yet."
"Nala's been hurt, badly," Mufasa said quietly, joining them, "but both of her cubs are still alive."
He hated how clinical the last few words had come out, but there was nothing he could do to change it. In all his time he had never experienced death in this sheer magnitude. He had no idea what to do or say to anyone. Even though he had been stripped of his title, he still felt a sense of duty to the pride. After all, the official "King" was hardly going to do anything about it.
Simba had shuffled closer to Chumvi and Kula, desperate to share the shock and pain of the situation with someone else. It was a suddenly apparent luxury to be in such emotional agony and to have someone else who knew how you felt. It was a frill his suffering in Scar's den had not afforded him.
"So," Simba began, shakily, "is it just…?"
Chumvi nodded back at him.
"Yeah," he croaked, "just us left."
The two of them and Kula looked to the assembled bodies not too far from them. So many of their friends, gone in an instant. Simba cast his mind back to those excruciating moments in the gorge all those moons ago, when his father had been "dead". He almost couldn't apply those same emotions to now: the others were definitely never coming back. His grief seemed to surpass the point of tears. He was past anguish. Past depression. He just felt… nothing, yet, at the same time, terrible, terrible pain. He just couldn't understand it.
An extremely long silence fell over the three of them at that point. It was uncomfortable, but calming as well. The burden of forcing a conversation had been lifted, and the relief was evident through the atmosphere surrounding them. The adults had fallen silent once more, and they all sat in the quiet, with only the sounds of the wind and the savannah to disturb it.
They all remained that way for some time. No one really noticed Sarafina, Nala and Mheetu returning. The lioness quickly hustled her cubs past the dead bodies still at the end of the promontory, and joined the smaller group, never uttering a single word. She had always been sensitive and insightful that way. It relieved the observing Mufasa that she had thought well enough not to shatter the peace that he would probably not experience for a long time after this.
And, in an instant, the inner calm he had achieved was wiped out, as the ugly head of his vile, treacherous and oh-so-hated brother loomed up from the stone steps.
Just a short chapter for you this time around, but I hope you still liked it (it took long enough).