Night had fallen by the time Harry, Mufasa, Zazu and the cubs had returned to Pride Rock. As Harry had expected, Sarabi almost had a fit when she saw her mauled son. Sarafina, although utterly relieved that her daughter had gotten off more or less unharmed, was furious at Nala's recklessness and had taken her aside for a stern lecture. However, she had relented when she realised the ordeal her daughter had experienced and let her rest. Everyone's greatest concern however was Simba.
No sooner had Mufasa left the injured cub in its mother's care than he took Harry aside for a 'private talk.' Before he knew what was happening, a furious Mufasa had rounded on him, demanding an explanation. Although obviously not to blame, Harry was quite shocked by the king's sudden fury and at the worst possible moment in his life, found himself unable to find the words to explain, given that he had no idea what Simba had been doing there in the first place. To his utmost relief however, Zazu, followed by Nala, found that perfect moment to step in and explained to Mufasa the whole story.
According to Zazu, after Harry had left with the hunting party and Mufasa had gone on his morning rounds, Simba had gone off to find Nala and then begged his mother to let them go to some 'wonderful place', apparently close to the waterhole where Harry took his morning baths. Although suspicious, Sarabi and Sarafina had let them go but had ordered Zazu to escort them, to keep them out of trouble. However, no sooner were they clear of Pride Rock, than the cubs had given poor Zazu the slip and headed for their true destination: the Elephant Graveyard.
By the time he had caught up with them, the cubs were already beyond the point of no return and cornered by the hyenas. Zazu had unsuccessfully attempted to reason out with them but the hungry hyenas, dying for some fresh meat, had mercilessly gone for the kill. The hornbill had barely escaped with his life and had hurried back to warn Mufasa, fully aware that nothing short of a miracle could make it possible for him to get help in time. Then he had met Harry on the way and informed him of the trouble before hurrying off to alert his master. At this point, Mufasa, having heard everything he wanted to know, turned back to Harry and this time, his expression had softened.
"Is it true that you ventured into the Graveyard to help them, at your own risk?" asked the mighty king, staring at Harry with astonishing gratitude. Relieved that he wasn't in hot water – not yet anyway -, Harry launched into his own explanation of how he had found the cubs cornered and about to be devoured by the hyenas, and everything he had done to get them out of there alive, gesturing at all the wounds they hyenas had given him in the scuffle, as he spoke. Mufasa stared at Harry for a moment as if trying to figure out if his word was true or not. However, it didn't require much proof; Harry's shredded bloodstained uniform, which was now laced with strong hyena scent, testified to the full validity of his story.
"I believe you Harry," Mufasa said finally, "And thank you for going to my son's aid; if you hadn't, the outcome would have been far worse…" Although Harry wanted to point out that, despite his initiative, he had goofed it up big, with Simba injured and maybe dying inside the den, he thought against it since Mufasa indeed had a point; without his intervention, both cubs would have unquestionably been ripped to pieces by the hyenas. However, it was of little consolation to anyone now, given Simba's current situation.
Walking back into the den, they saw Sarabi tenderly cleaning her son's wounds. It had been nearly two hours since the attack and so far the cub had still to regain consciousness, his breathing laboured and shallow. Harry, acting on one of his old medical instincts, made a dash towards the cub, only to find his way blocked by Sarabi, who growled dangerously, as if warning him to stay away from her son. However, Mufasa stepped in, reassuring his distraught mate, who probably blamed Harry for Simba's condition.
"Let him through, Sarabi," the mighty lion commanded softly, yet Harry didn't fail to notice a slight quiver of worry in his voice, "It is only thanks to Harry that our son is still alive at all; Nala too, would have been dead if it weren't for him…"
"Dead…!" shrieked Sarabi, who had only heard that word, turning back to her son, who was being examined by Harry. With no medical instruments and only his initiative to work with, the man proceeded to examine each of the bite wounds individually; some were only superficial, but most had severed two of the three layers of muscle in the abdomen, as well as one that was down to his ribcage. Those definitely required stitches to heal properly; and unfortunately, that was the least of their problems.
Feeling the cub's forehead, he found it to be hot to the touch; there was internal bleeding, bringing the cub down with a rapidly rising fever. The external wounds he could treat with a sewing needle, some thread, and a bottle of hard liquor he had found in Richard's backpack. But the fever was another matter; since it was caused by internal haemorrhage, the best treatment would be to counteract the fever until the body healed itself. But with what?
"Wait a minute…" Harry muttered, suddenly remembering something, "Malaria… Quinine!" Opening up his brother's backpack, he started feverishly going through it, looking for the remedy all European explorers carried with them when venturing into the Dark Continent, as a precaution for the event of coming down with deadly malaria out in the bush.
There were some folded shirts and socks, a compass, a journal, a fountain pen, a pickaxe, a pair of binoculars, a box of matches, a traveller's blanket, some tobacco, a photography kit, washing kit, some hand tools, and a small cooking pot, but no quinine. Then, going through one of the side pockets, his fingers found something, which, to the touch, felt like grains of salt, caught in the lining. Their bitter odour told Harry it was indeed sulphate of quinine. Going deeper into the pocket, where the container should be however, his hand only found a tear in the pocket; the quinine container had been lost.
"Damn," Harry cursed in frustration, "Without quinine it's hopeless…" There was no point denying it; without the antipyretic, the cub's fever would continue rising and most likely lead to death from exhaustion and dehydration, over a period of a few days. However, they had to try something.
After taking a full inventory of what he had, Harry proceeded to set up a temporary infirmary in the den for Simba. Building a small fire and putting some water on to boil, he tore up a shirt to make bandages and towels, which he placed in the pot to sterilise them for his patient. Then he placed his sawing needle over the fire to kill the germs. Soon, everything was ready.
Using the bottle of liquor, he gently poured some down the cub's throat; this would act as a painkiller when he treated the wounds. Although obviously nowhere near as good as ether or chloroform, it was better than nothing. At least it should suffice to keep the cub from dying from pain shock.
Threading the now sterilised needle, he got to work stitching the cub's wounds shut; Mufasa had to restrain a hysteric Sarabi from launching at Harry, each time Simba uttered a cry of pain from the needle, screaming that the human was murdering her son. But Harry knew his business; an hour later, the cub lay sleeping peacefully, his wounds all cleaned and bandaged. His fever remained but at least he was comfortable.
Throughout the night, on Harry's instructions, they restlessly watched over the sick cub, giving him water and a spoonful of liquor mixed with tobacco leaves every few hours. Although the improvised analgesic seemed to slow down the fever somewhat, it wasn't much good in counteracting it. Sure enough, by the following morning, Simba was burning up again and soon slipped into a delirium. Despite Harry enlarging the dosages of liquor-and-tobacco-mixture, it was apparent that this way, the cub was only on borrowed time, and a most limited one at that.
"We have to go back and find that quinine or your son is doomed," he said to Mufasa, who hadn't slept all night, just like his mate, as they desperately sat watching their son's health deteriorate with every passing minute. Since coming here, Harry had taken an inventory of the local flora and fauna and knew there was nothing that could be used as a remedy for Simba's case; quinine was not native to Africa so there was no chance of finding it growing out in the plains. The same applied for willow bark and orange trees, both of which could have made fine substitutes, and there was no known source of sulphur anywhere around here. Unfortunately, this meant another trip back into the Elephant Graveyard, into the cave where he had found Richard's remains, was the only option left.
"Then that's what we'll do. I'll come with you Harry, to cover your back. Come on then, we have no time to lose…" As the pair turned to hurry out, they were stopped by Sarafina who stepped forward, "I want to come with you. Harry saved my little Nala yesterday; this way I will be able to return the favour in kind."
"Thank you Sarafina, but that won't be necessary," replied Mufasa, "The hyenas have caused us enough pain and worry as it is; it would be most foolish to give them a chance to create more victims." Although obviously disappointed, Sarafina nodded at her king's command and turned to comfort Nala, who was sobbing softly in a corner of the den, worrying for Simba's life.
Harry followed Mufasa as they hurried in the direction of the Elephant Graveyard, preying that Richard's quinine was still there somewhere. Despite of the importance of their mission, Harry, finding himself alone with the King, decided this was the best time as any to demand the full truth in privacy.
"Mufasa," he said, in a colder voice than he had intended, "What really happened to Richard? What was he doing there?" To his utmost surprise, instead of confessing to some detail he had withheld from him earlier, the mighty lion turned to stare at Harry reproachfully.
"I have absolutely no idea what Richard was doing in the Elephant Graveyard, Harry; he knew that the place was dangerous and off-limits from my father. And I will thank you not to assume that I've withheld anything about this from you; the knowledge of his death hurts me as much as it does you." Realising he had let his grief take him a little too far, Harry turned back to Mufasa.
"I am sorry Mufasa; I didn't mean to imply that you had anything to do with…with his death. I just can't figure how Richard could do something so stupid if he knew it meant putting his life in danger. There must have been a reason for him sneaking out there…"
"I agree," replied Mufasa with a frown, realising Harry had a point, "And I assure you, I intend to investigate the issue until we get to the bottom of this. However, I don't wish to discuss that particular subject a word further while my son's life is in danger. Look lively now!" Understanding how much the lion king must be worrying for his son's life, Harry put aside his thoughts regarding the suspicious circumstances surrounding Richard's death, and reminded himself of the current task at hand: find that quinine.
They approached the edge of the Elephant Graveyard, the misty bone yard looking as depressing and foreboding as if had on his first visit. On full alertness, they cautiously ventured down the slope into the sea of scattered skeletons, heading for the cliff where the cave was. As they hurried along, they couldn't help but notice how quiet the graveyard was; the hyenas were nowhere to be seen, save for the bodies of the dead, which, Harry noted, had been feasted upon by the rest of the clan. But there was no time to bother about them now.
Trying not to look at the cannibalised hyena carcasses, they scaled the landslide of bones, up the cliff, and into the cave. However, no sooner had they ventured down the tunnel, than a crowd of living hyenas emerged from their hiding places at the foot of the cliff, satisfied to see that their intended victims were once again back within their grasp. And this time, they were determined to make sure they wouldn't leave the Graveyard alive. Among them was also Zira, who had run up ahead to warn the hyenas of Mufasa and Harry's return, and to pass on Scar's order, this time to make sure they'd both join Richard in death, at all costs.
With her mate's minions set and ready, Zira turned and hurried away to join Scar, who was waiting for her on the edge of the Graveyard. Without another word, they both turned and left, to return to Pride Rock, before someone realised they were gone. However, in their hastiness to get away from the scene of the crime, they failed to notice another lioness approaching from the opposite direction, heading towards the Graveyard. Sarafina noticed the two retreating lions but they were too far away and moving too fast for her to see their faces.
Although caught off-guard by the sight of two strange lions – probably trespassing rogues - on the edge of the Graveyard, Sarafina quickly took her attention off of them. Despite Mufasa's order that no one else was to come, her sense of gratitude to Harry for saving Nala, combined with her daughter's distress for Simba, had made her determined to repay the favour, even if it meant disobeying her king.
Following Harry and Mufasa's trail, she hurried through the Graveyard. As she caught sight of the cliff face where the cave Harry was, she encountered a chilling sight: The entire hyena clan were silently scaling the cliff, heading for the cave entrance, where Harry and Mufasa were headed. With sickening dread, she realised the hyenas were preparing to spring an ambush. Regardless of Mufasa's strength and Harry's fighting skills and weapons, their numbers were unquestionably overwhelming for only the two of them. Breaking into a run, she rushed to her friends' aid…
Meanwhile, inside the cave, Mufasa and Harry had returned to Richard's now stripped remains, looking for the quinine. At first glance, it didn't seem like Harry had missed anything before; with the exception of the camera tripod, the broken gramophone, and the smashed champagne bottle from the explorer's last celebration party, there was nothing else to be found but the skeletal remains of the body itself.
With Mufasa keeping a sharp lookout for trouble, Harry proceeded to sweep every inch of the cave for the missing quinine. In spite of a thorough search, there was nothing to be found. Then, as he turned to examine his brother's remains again, he found a small leather pouch, which Richard had apparently been carrying in his pocket when he had died. For an instant, Harry thought they had found the quinine; but then, he realised the pouch felt strangely heavy for its size, much less for a few ounces of quinine salt.
Opening it up, a handful of tiny gleaming nuggets fell out onto his palm. Harry whistled aloud as the most beautiful-looking diamonds he had ever seen gleamed in his lantern's light. Glancing at the walls of the cave, which had been chipped, apparently by Richard's pickaxe, he saw the gleams of more of the precious stones embedded in the rock. The cave they were standing in was a priceless diamond mine.
"So this is what he died for," muttered Harry grimly, finally piecing everything together…or so he thought. Richard had lost his life in a foolish – and noble - attempt to make a fortune. Since he had invested their inheritance in his expedition with the sheer knowledge that if it turned out to be a failure, he and his brother would be giving up their family estate to the bank, to pay off their father's debts, passed on to them after his death years ago. Unfortunately, Richard's ambition to make a new fortune and a good name for himself and his brother had been for naught.
"Harry, come and look at this!" Mufasa's voice suddenly caught the man off-guard. Turning round, he saw his lion friend staring at something lying in the shadows behind some rocks close to the cave entrance. Hurrying over, he saw the king had found the skeletal remains of a second man, which Harry had overlooked earlier.
"This was Richard's Algerian porter Makeede," he said, glancing at a native bracelet amidst the scattered bones. In contrast to Richard's remains however, which were mostly still in one piece, Harry couldn't help but notice that Makeede's body had been gnawed and disassembled far more viciously, making it look almost as if the attacker hadn't been the hyenas at all. But this wasn't the time for an autopsy.
Turning his attention to a dusty haversack lying close to the skeleton, which had been Makeede's own belongings, he started going through it. Inside were several sticks of dynamite, which Harry guessed had been for Richard's mining operations here, an envelope containing a hefty sum of franks in banknotes – probably Makeede's unspent pay - some threadbare local peasant clothing, a book of Arabian scriptures, and…
"Eureka!" Harry cried as he pulled out a small sealed tin wrapped in an oilcloth, bearing the crest of a French pharmacy brand, centred in Algiers. Beneath was the English translation, which was music both to Mufasa and Harry's ears, as the soldier read it aloud, "Sulphate of quinine! We found it!"
They were just about to leave but Harry called to Mufasa to wait a moment. Turning back to Richard's remains, he took out the British flag he had found in his brother's backpack, which he had in his pocket, and covered the bones with it, improvising a burial shroud for his brother. Then, he walked over to Makeede's body and placed the latter's copy of the Koran, containing a photograph of the late Algerian boy's parents amidst it's owner's skeletal remains. Saying a few words of prayer for the two deceased explorers, he unpacked the dynamite, rigging a charge to destroy the cave, sealing up his brother and Makeede's tomb forever.
Placing the dynamite in a crack in the wall, he started unwinding the length of fuse from its reel, all the way to the mouth of the cave. Striking a match, he set the fuse alight, initiating a five-minute countdown. But as they turned to leave, they found their way blocked by non other than Banzai, flanked by his retarded sidekick Ed. The hyenas both had murderous expressions on their faces, as they stared at their two key enemies. Glancing behind them, they saw the entire hyena clan – those that hadn't been killed – closing in for the kill. Banzai gave Harry a look of pure venom.
"You miserable human murdered our matriarch and killed my brothers. You made a big mistake coming back here and bringing the mighty Mufasa with you nonetheless," he snarled, also giving Mufasa a hateful glare which the king returned with a soft roar of warning, "The two of you are now going to die in a lake of your own blood, like those other two nosy intruders inside! My boss will be so pleased when we tell him you're never coming back…" Despite the trouble they were in however, neither Mufasa nor Harry showed any signs of fear.
"Stand aside and let us through at once!" growled Mufasa dangerously, "Or would you rather I'd administer further and more brutal punishment upon you for hurting my son?" Beside him, Harry drew his revolver and a machete he had found in Makeede's haversack (he had left his sword back at Pride Rock), and turned to face Banzai.
"Tell those ruffians to back off this instant or they'll be another trail of dead bodies, starting with you!" he hissed in warning, aiming Richard's pistol in Banzai's face, "You've got until the count of three to get out of our sight and then you get the first bullet for supper! One…two…"
Suddenly, without warning, a loud growling from behind them caught their attention; turning round, they saw another hyena mob approaching from the depths of the cave. It was only then that Harry realised too late that it was an ambush; in the distraction with Banzai, some of the hyenas had circled round through the opening in the back of the cave, surrounding them in a trap. Before they knew what was happening, their fight for survival had begun in earnest.
Banzai made the first move; before Harry had reached the count of three, the vengeful hyena was springing through the air, going for his throat. But Harry was faster; drawing Makeede's machete, he flashed it through the air, straight in Banzai's path… His attacker never even realised what hit him, when he found himself crumpling to the ground in death, his torso split wide open from throat to groin, his intestines spilled out beside him in a ghastly red pile. In spite of his success of killing the second-in-command of the hyena clan, Harry knew it was only just beginning.
He had hardly seen the disembowelled Banzai drop dead, when he had another hyena clinging onto his shoulders, going for his neck bone. Aiming his pistol under his arm, he fired. His howl of pain rung in Harry's ears as he felt the hyena lose its hold on him and crumple to the ground, its testicles blasted to smithereens. The hyena was howling in agony but Harry was no longer feeling merciful enough to end its misery nice and fast; this damned creature had killed his brother, almost killed Simba, and now had him and Mufasa caught in an inescapable death trap. And if they were going to die, he wouldn't give them the satisfaction of making it so easy for them.
Brandishing Makeede's machete, he continued furiously striking back, struggling to keep the menacing mob, now closing in on them from all around, from pinning him down. Beside him, he could see Mufasa putting up a similarly furious fight, clawing, biting, pounding and pummelling any of the slobbering scavengers that came his way, easily getting them in twos or threes with his superior strength. But unfortunately, the hyenas continued to advance in overwhelming numbers and both lion and man were quickly tiring out…
Suddenly, just when Harry was about to declare it had been an honour fighting alongside Mufasa and then turn his pistol on both of them, another lion's roar caught them all by surprise. A wave of relief swept over Harry when a familiar lioness suddenly burst out of the advancing mob, taking a defence position between them and the enemy. Sarafina had arrived in the nick of time. Mufasa gave the lioness a slight glare of disapproval for her disobedience, but Harry couldn't help but notice that, he too, looked utterly relieved by her arrival.
Sure enough, with the addition of Sarafina, now they were evenly matched against the outnumbering hyenas. In an instant the fight had resumed and soon the tide had been turned against the hyenas. Sarafina was the best of all, as she viciously tore the hyenas to shreds without mercy, a furious look in her eyes, "Try and kill my daughter would you? Well, here is your reward!" The hyenas were starting to retreat.
Suddenly, Harry remembered the bomb; glancing back into the cave, he saw the fuse only seconds away from detonation. Hurryingly turning to his companions, who had just finished sending the last of the maimed and defeated hyenas on their way, he shouted, "Run for it! This place is going to blow!" Ignoring their wounds and exhaustion from the battle, they turned and run for their lives.
They had barely made it to a safe distance when the dynamite went; a deep, booming vibration shook the entire graveyard as the cave exploded like a gigantic cannon. Clouds of dust, rock, bones and dismembered hyena bodies flew through the air. Then the cliff started collapsing. The entire mass above the cave disintegrated and came crushing down in a massive landslide. Those still inside the cave were either bomb-vaporized instantly or otherwise crushed by the collapsing cave, as the rock fall entombed them, along with the remains of Richard and Makeede, and the diamonds, forever.
Mufasa, Harry and Sarafina had barely made it to the edge of the Pride Lands, before the lanslide came crashing down the side of the cliff, sweeping the Graveyard as it went. Any remaining hyenas were caught in that killer tsunami of rock and earth and swept away, or otherwise buried alive beneath it, only to meet a horrible death by being crushed under its massive weight. Then it was over; the cloud of dust cleared, revealing a silent Graveyard, now overrun by a lair of rock and earth, entombing the enemy lair forever. The threat of the hyenas was no more.
As Harry and his friends turned to stare at the demolished Elephant Graveyard, something that had been sent flying by the explosion landed at their feet: it was a severed hyena head, the rest of its body having been bomb-vaporised by the blast. Harry recognised the face of Ed, his insane expression frozen in death on his face, until his head would turn to dust along with the remains of the rest of his clan.
"We saved our skins," Mufasa said grimly, licking a bite wound on his foreleg, "That was most impressive courage Harry – both of you for that matter," he added hastily, seeing the hurt look on Sarafina's face, "I suppose it would be unfair to give you a scolding for following us here Sarafina when I told you not too; your disobedience saved our lives in there." The lioness smiled in gratitude at Mufasa's understanding.
"But what about what we came here for?" asked Sarafina, as the two lions suddenly remembered their Prince still remained ill and dying. Turning to Harry, Mufasa saw, with a sigh of deep disappointment, that he had lost Makeede's backpack in the escape, where the quinine had been. Now it was undoubtedly buried under the ruins of the Graveyard, lost forever, along with Simba's only hope of recovery, "What are we going to tell Simba, and Sarabi for that matter?"
"How about…" Harry said, grinning at the two surprised lions, as he took something out of his back pocket, "Get well soon?" Mufasa smiled in relief as he recognised the quinine tin in Harry's hand, which the man had rescued from the destruction unnoticed. But there was no time for congratulations or praises now, for they knew Simba's lifeline was running out with every passing minute, "Let's go."
Casting one last look at the destroyed former lair of the hyenas, they turned and hurried back towards Pride Rock, hoping they weren't too late. Struggling to keep up with the swift-moving lions, careful not to drop the quinine as he hurried along, Harry couldn't help but ponder on a new mystery that had come up.
After everything he had heard Banzai say during his vengeful ranting back there, it was now apparent that the incident with Simba, as well as today's encounter, hadn't been coincidental accidents after all. On both occasions, the hyenas had known they would be coming here and had been waiting to ambush them. And from what Banzai had said, it sounded like the hyenas had had a spy in the Pride Lands, monitoring their every move.
The realisation of there being a spy among them made Harry feel very uneasy. Who could it be? Maybe he would strike again, even with the hyenas dead? How long had he been working for those mongrels? Perhaps Richard had known something and was silenced for it? His mind flashed back to Scar, who had 'tipped him' off about the Graveyard the other day. Maybe he had been trying to tell him something more than just an 'innocent' clue?
Clutching the tin of quinine securely, he followed Mufasa and Sarafina back, determined to nurse Simba back to health and then, do whatever it would take to unmask that unknown hidden traitor lurking among them, before he could try and claim another life…
Author's note: My sincere apologies for the delay but I have been very busy and will continue to be so until the summer. However, I promise not to give up on the story, regardless of my slow updates. Enjoy and PLEASE REVIEW!