To Be King
The sun rose high on the grassy plains of the African savanna, providing light for all creatures great and small. Although some stood in the sun's rays to feel its warmth and others dwelled in the shadows that the sun must always create, all of these creatures were connected, each and every one a part of the great circle of life.
As the morning sun rose up, it illuminated an enormous, mountainous rock that stood high, more rocks below it to prop it up to the sky. The giant stone mountain was known to the animals of the Pridelands as Pride Rock, home to the king's pride of lions. On the very top of Pride Rock, a young lion cub sat with his father. The lion cub looked up at his father, the Lion King, ruler over all the Pridelanders.
The little cub looked down at all the land spread out before him, then asked his father, "Dad, what if... what if I'm not ready to rule of all of the Pridelands?"
The big lion smiled at his son, "Oh, Mufasa. You have plenty of time to become ready. One day, when you're much, much older, you will rule everything you see before you. Everything that the light touches is our kingdom - the Pridelands."
Young Mufasa smiled confidently to please his father, but he still felt doubtful that he would ever be ready to be king. His father, Ahadi, was such a strong, wise ruler that Mufasa feared he would never live up to him.
The little golden-furred cub gazed up at his father in admiration. Ahadi's broad shoulders, long black mane, golden-brown fur, and bright green eyes, along with his large stature and confident demeanor, made him look to be the perfect king in his son's eyes.
Mufasa gave a small sigh. Ahadi looked at him with concern, "You still doubt yourself, son?"
"Well... you told me that the sun would one day set on your reign and rise with me as the new Lion King, but... maybe I'm not the right one to be king."
"Are you thinking of Taka?"
Mufasa nodded. Ever since the two brothers had been told that only the eldest would one day be king, Mufasa had been doubtful and Taka had been jealous. Mufasa's younger brother had always been angry that he wasn't going to be king - perhaps Taka was actually the right one to be Crown Prince, not Mufasa.
Ahadi smiled gently at his oldest cub, "Son, I love Taka very much, but according to our pride's traditions, it is you - the oldest of my cubs - who is next in line to the throne."
"But Taka is really smart, Dad! A lot smarter than me... He told me that it wasn't fair that he would never get to be king," Mufasa told his father sadly, "Maybe Taka really would make a better king than me."
"Did he tell you that, too?" Ahadi asked, raising his eyebrows.
didn't answer, not wanting to get Taka into trouble. Though Taka did sometimes act a little mean to him, Mufasa still loved and cared for his scrawny little brother.
"Don't worry about him, son. I'll speak with Taka," Ahadi smiled at his oldest son, "And if you still doubt your ability to one day be king, I have something to tell you later tonight. I think it just might be the thing to help you."
The Lion King smiled down at his son, then motioned for them to leave. Mufasa looked back at the sunrise, trying to take in the notion that he would one day rule all the land before his eyes. He hoped his father could tell him something tonight that really would help him.
When the father and son had made their way back down Pride Rock, Ahadi left to talk with his queen and mother of their two cubs, Uru. The queen of Ahadi's pride was the daughter of the previous Lion King, the wise and much-revered Mohatu. Like her father before her, Uru had beautiful, dark orange fur, a shade very rare among the lions of the Pridelands. Mufasa, rather than head over to his parents, decided to see if any of the other cubs wanted to play.
As the cub walked by, he wasn't paying attention to the figure stalking him. It took cover in the tall grass, its scent unnoticed by Mufasa. The predator eyed the young prince, reared back, then leapt out of the grass and pounced on the cub.
"Taka!" Mufasa laughed as his little brother pounced on him.
"Gotcha! Some king you'll be if I can sneak up on you that easily!" Taka said gleefully, pinning his older brother to the ground.
However, Taka really wasn't all that strong, and Mufasa knocked him off with ease and stood back up, "I wasn't exactly on the lookout for a surprise ambush, Taka."
"Oh yeah? Well, if I was king, I would always be expecting an attack!" the scrawny little lion cub bragged, "You never know when someone will try to kill you and become king in your place!"
Mufasa rolled his eyes at his younger brother's fantasies of being king. Taka was different from his brother in every imaginable way. Physically, Mufasa had golden-brown fur and a slicked back, reddish-brown tuft of hair on the top of his head, as well as being very bulky and strong for a cub. Taka, meanwhile, shared the same dark orange fur as their mother and grandfather, black fur on the tip of his tail, and glowing green eyes just like Ahadi's, not to mention Taka was skinny and weaker than a cub their age ought to be.
In addition to physical differences, Mufasa was quiet, calm, and not very confident in himself, whereas Taka was loud and repeatedly went on about what a great king he could be.
"It's not all you make it out to be, Taka," Mufasa tried to explain, "Dad showed me all of the kingdom this morning, and it's really, really big. Imagine having to rule all of it!"
"I do imagine it! But it's not like I'll ever get to, thanks to you," Taka grumbled, "You could at least act a little grateful that Dad picked you to be the next in line."
"He didn't pick me! It's tradition that the oldest son is heir to the throne."
"But a king can do whatever he wants!" Taka pointed out angrily, "If Dad had wanted me to be his heir, he would've made it so. No, he seems perfectly happy to let you be king instead of me."
Mufasa didn't know how to reply to that - it seemed like Taka really had a point. He just didn't know what to say to appease his little brother. What could he say? How could he get Taka to not be so angry about it all?
Before Mufasa could say anything, Ahadi came up to his two bickering sons, "Arguing again? What is it about this time?"
"Just how you picked him to be king over me!" Taka complained.
Their father sighed, then looked at Taka, eyes full of care and concern, "Why don't you come for a walk with me, Taka? You can talk to me about why this is bothering you, son."
Taka hung his head, then sulkily followed his father away. Mufasa watched his father and brother leave, hoping that Ahadi could somehow get Taka to stop acting so jealous, but really, Mufasa doubted it.
Mufasa didn't see his brother for the rest of the day, so he figured Taka was trying to avoid him. Despite all the trouble that Taka gave him, Mufasa loved his little brother a great deal.
Later that night, Ahadi approached his oldest son. The young cub suddenly remembered that, since it was now nighttime, his father had something to tell him.
His father looked back at the cub and said nothing, only shook his head. They were to remain silent for now.
Without saying a word, the father and son walked away from the rest of the pride, quietly venturing off into the open grassy fields.
The king and the young prince sat together in the grass, staring up at the hundreds upon thousands of stars shining in the night sky above them.
Still gazing up at the stars, Ahadi quietly spoke to his son, "You asked me this morning whether or not you were ready to rule, even if you were the right lion to rule."
Mufasa nodded, looking up at his father, "Yes… and you said that you would tell me something. Will it help me be a king like you?"
"It shall. But first let me tell you about a time that I doubted whether or not I could rule," Ahadi said to the young cub, "You doubt yourself as a cub, but I doubted myself when I was fully grown. You know that I am not of royal blood, but your mother is. When your mother and I fell in love, I told her that there was no way I could ever stand by her side as the Lion King. I thought I could never rule all of the Pridelands."
"What did you do, Dad?" Mufasa asked, wide-eyed with anticipation.
"It's not what I did, son, but what she did," Ahadi explained, "Your mother told me something that her father told her when she was just a small cub like you. That's what I'm going to tell you now."
Mufasa said nothing, eager to hear the words that had been passed down the royal line, from father to son, from mother to daughter, from Uru to Ahadi, and now from his father to himself.
"Look at the stars, son - they are the great kings of the past. They watch over us, guide us, and help us through all the obstacles we face in our lives. One day, my time in this life will be over, and you'll be the new Lion King in my place. But I'll always be with you, watching over you from the night sky until it's your time to join me."
"All the kings up there are gonna watch out for me?" Mufasa asked his father in amazement, "Do you think they'll help me to one day be king?"
"Of course they will. They'll help you the same way that they've helped me," Ahadi told young Mufasa, "But the confidence to rule comes from within. That comes from your heart, and I know you've got a strong one."
Mufasa grinned at his father. The cub now knew that with the ancient kings watching over him, he would one day have all the wisdom, strength, compassion, and confidence needed to rule over the Pridelands and his father now ruled.
One day, he would be king.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hello, my excellent readers! I am so thankful that you're interested in this story. Each chapter in this story will be set at a different point in time, or be at the same point but told from a different perspective, in the world of The Lion King. Although it will jump around the timeline, all the chapters will, by the end, tell one unified story of the many Kings of the Pridelands.
Thanks for reading! Reviews are always appreciated.