That's what he was left with after his whole plan came crashing down. He had plotted to win his father's admiration, to make his brother look bad, and to prove once and for all that he was the son most worthy to be king, not Mufasa. But everything had gone wrong.
He shuddered and tried to close both of his eyes, but he could only get the right one shut. All he could see were the horns and hooves of the three Cape buffaloes that nearly trampled him to death, kicking and stomping him into the ground. He could remember seeing the curved horn of one angry buffalo coming at him, and suddenly, he was seeing out of one eye.
It hadn't even hurt, not at first anyways. The slash had been so sharp and so quick that he hadn't felt a thing, but when the Cape buffaloes had backed away and left him lying motionless on the ground... then came the pain.
The only thing worse than the pain was the fact that his perfect older brother had immediately rushed to his side, completely unscathed and his reputation perfectly intact. Mufasa just had to come and worry over him, adding insult to injury.
"Scar. I am... Scar." he muttered softly. It was going on nighttime now, and the young adult lion was lying on the bank of the watering hole, gazing at his reflection in the water. He had told his father and brother that he wanted to be called Scar from now on, to remember his great failure today.
He looked down at the water and saw the ghastly thing. It was a thin slash, still bloody red and very, very sore, running right through his left eye. Absolutely hideous. The strange old monkey who'd recently arrived in the Pridelands had said that the rest of his body would make a full recovery, but his scar would never heal completely. What good were the stinging herbs the monkey had put on his eye if they wouldn't heal him? He wiped the herbs off irritably, but after doing so, his eye hurt even worse than before. He snarled in pain and covered the injury with his paw.
It will serve as a reminder of how reckless you were.
Of course, he knew what his father had really meant when he said that. It was to be a reminder of his stupidity, his inferiority, his complete and utter unworthiness. But Ahadi would never say that in front of his beloved eldest son, or his adoring subjects. They might think poorly of him.
"Scar..." he whispered one more time. His left eye still burned, but he ignored the pain and rolled over on his side. He might as well get used to the pain now. The lion growled, shut his right eye, and fell asleep.
"Taka! Taka, wake up. What are you doing out here?"
He stirred and reluctantly opened his right eye, looked up, and saw his older brother standing over him protectively, just like yesterday after the buffaloes had backed off. He growled and immediately moved a few feet away.
"Taka, why didn't you come back to Pride Rock last night? I was worried about you after... you know... what happened. Father was worried, too." Mufasa frowned, trying to avoid looking directly at his little brother's left eye.
"I wanted to be alone. Is that a crime now?" he rolled his eye, "Though I suppose you, as the future king, could outlaw the practice if you so desired."
"The Lion King makes laws for the good of the Pridelands and the animals who live in it." Mufasa chose his words carefully. "He does not let desires or... jealousy... rule his actions."
"Taka, I'm just concerned that – "
"My name is not Taka, not anymore. I told you to call me Scar."
"You can't be serious about that! It's only an injury, brother. Please, don't let it define you," Mufasa pleaded with him, but his brother only turned away. The prince continued, "Our mother and father chose the name Taka for you. It's a wonderful name, and you should respect it."
"Dirt. The name Taka means dirt."
"Yes, it does. Without the dirt, the soil beneath our paws, nothing would be able to grow. Grass is born from the dirt, and the antelope eat the grass, and we eat the antelope. The Circle of Life depends on the dirt."
"Well, I've chosen the name Scar. Because I have a scar now."
"Brother, listen... we need to have a talk," Mufasa said, still doing all he could to avoid eye contact, "about what you did yesterday. Don't you realize that you could have killed me? Or yourself?"
He was a little taken aback by the genuine, pleading tone in his big brother's voice. He hung his head and muttered, "...I wasn't trying to kill anyone. I would never do that."
"I know you wouldn't," Mufasa sighed, "but you could have. So why did you goad Boma into attacking me? You know that buffalo is dangerous. Was it really all to try to embarrass me in front of Father?"
"I was trying," he spoke through gritted teeth, "to get back at Dear Old Dad for breaking his promise to me. He said he would take you and me hunting, but he didn't. He went back on his word."
Mufasa did not notice his brother staring over his head, looking off at the very top of Pride Rock, the place where the Lion King traditionally showed his son the great expanse of the Pridelands.
"That's all our father is good for, you know. Broken promises. He says he'll do something, but he doesn't do it, and he never will." He spat the words out, then looked up at Mufasa with a strange expression. It was a pleading look, almost begging with his brother. "Haven't you ever felt disappointed by him? Angry at Father? Am I really just being immature, or could I possibly be right?"
Mufasa was quiet for a minute, then he looked at his brother directly in both eyes, "...You're wrong. Our father may not be perfect, but he loves us both. He's always tried to be good to you, but all you've ever done is talk down to him and give Father a hard time. It's petty of you, Taka."
"I told you," his brother snarled, "to call me Scar!"
"I just... I want things to go back to the way they were, before you were ever mad at Father and me. I want us to be friends again, without worrying about who's next-in-line to be king. I want my brother back... please."
Mufasa bowed his head, and though he hadn't seen his brother cry since they were cubs, he could swear he caught a tear trickle down Mufasa's cheek. Regardless, he snapped out, "It's never going to be like that again! Don't you get it? Everything has changed. Taka was your little brother, always cowering in your shadow, unable to escape it. But Taka is gone. I am Scar now, and I want nothing to do with you or our father! Nothing!"
"If that's how you really feel..."
"Yes, that's how I really feel!" the younger lion mocked him, then burst into laughter. "Yes, that's right! Go ahead and run away crying, just like when we were cubs. Maybe try stuttering next." He sneered at him, but before Mufasa was out of earshot, he muttered, "I hope you get bitten by a snake again."
The older lion had indeed begun to walk away, and there were tears in his eyes. Mufasa whipped around to face his brother, sighed, and said, "I'm not the sensitive little cub I used to be, and I don't stutter anymore. I'm not crying because my feelings are hurt. I'm crying for you."
"Oh, very well. I'll indulge you..." he sneered, "Why are you crying for me?"
"Because I miss the lion you used to be. I miss playing hide-and-seek with little Taka, or running around the grassland in games of tag, or just racing to see who was faster. He was so sweet and caring, a little reserved maybe, even a bit demanding. I remember the time Father caught us two field mice, and Taka complained because he got the smaller of the two. So you know what Father did?" Mufasa smiled at him, "He caught Taka an even bigger mouse."
"This is all very emotional, but is there a point to your story?"
"There is, actually," he sniffed back his tears, then kept speaking, "When I saw Taka eating two mice, I was jealous. I got so mad, because I thought Father was paying more attention to Taka than to me. And you know what I did? I threw a temper tantrum. Oh, it was horrible! I just sat there, whining and crying and stuttering about him having two mice and me only having one. Father said that he would give me two mice the next time, but I kept on whining... until, that was, Taka offered to share his second mouse with me."
His brother said nothing.
"The point is... well..." Mufasa sighed and continued, "...that everyone gets jealous and angry at times. I do. Father does. These emotions are only natural, and I – I don't want to lose my brother over them. Please, Taka. I need you. And if you need anything... if you ever just want to talk... then I'll do it. For you, my brother, I would do anything. I hope you know that."
It seemed, to Mufasa, that the entire savanna had gone silent. All of the buzzing insects were quiet, the frogs did not croak, and the birds had ceased chirping. Mufasa's eyes were focused on his sibling, staring straight at his bright green eyes – one uninjured, the other with a vicious scar through it. He waited and waited until finally, his little brother spoke.
"My name is Scar. Not Taka."
Mufasa slowly turned around and began to walk away from him, only this time, his eyes were dry. While the younger brother went back to idly staring at his reflection in the body of water, the older brother was mulling over the words they had just exchanged. It was hard to take in, which was strange, because Mufasa had been hearing these angry words from his brother for most of his life. But tonight was different. Something was different, and it wasn't the scar down his brother's eye.
Something his brother had said stood out to him, something from their childhood that his brother had referenced. Another time Mufasa had turned and run away.
"A moment ago," Mufasa's voice resonated across the grassland, "you brought up the time that a snake bit me. It was when we were cubs. You helped me back to Pride Rock, remember that?"
"Yes. I remember Father being sooooo worried over his favorite son."
"It's just odd that you'd mention that snake biting me..." Mufasa kept his back turned to his brother, but narrowed his eyes, "...because two nights ago, a cobra found its way onto the ledge where I was sleeping. Fortunately, Rafiki was with me. He calmed the cobra before it attacked us... only cobras don't live on that ledge. Snakes stay higher up on Pride Rock, away from us lions."
"What are you getting at?"
"Well, the cobra could've just happened to have slithered down to our ledge. Or someone could have seen to it that the snake was there. Someone who knew about the snake biting me as a cub."
His brother was silent, but now he was the one avoiding eye contact with Mufasa. Finally, he muttered, "You can't prove anything."
"No," Mufasa glared, "I cannot. But that cobra could have seriously hurt Rafiki or me. See to it that it never happens again, or I will tell Father. Understand?"
"Understood, my king."
Mufasa did not respond to his brother's baited sarcasm. He just walked away without another word.
"He wants nothing more to do with you or me..." King Ahadi took a deep breath to calm his nerves. "I'm sure it was just more of his immaturity. Nothing to be worried over, son."
"But he seemed so... resolute. I thought he was just saying it to bother me, but now I'm a little worried."
Mufasa had returned to Pride Rock, sitting out on the promontory beside his father. Ahadi closed his eyes and breathed again, for he was determined not to let the antics of his younger son put him in a bad mood. He'd already been terribly upset after yesterday's disaster with those violent Cape buffaloes.
The Lion King heard the sound of someone hobbling up the pathway that led up to Pride Rock, and sure enough, Rafiki appeared on the rocky cliff. The wise, elderly, and rather eccentric mandrill had arrived in the Pridelands two days ago. King Ahadi had saved Rafiki from three young hyenas who were trying to kill him for sport, a practice heavily outlawed in his kingdom.
"Rafiki," King Ahadi called over to him, "I made you Adviser to the King yesterday. Well, now I need your advice, my friend."
"Ndiyo, ndiyo! I will help however I can." Rafiki laughed, then leaned forward and whispered in Mufasa's ear, "Normally, I charge, but I make exception for the king and his boy. Hee hee!"
"You have met my youngest son, Rafiki, and you know how he is. But Mufasa here just had a talk with him, and he believes that Scar – I mean, Taka – is quite serious when he says he wants nothing more to do with Mufasa or me. What do you make of it? Are they just empty words?"
"Hmm. Cannot be sure. Taka has a great deal of anger, but he is young, and the young often say things they do not mean," Rafiki reasoned. "That does not mean his words should be taken lightly. I say give him time alone. See if he will come around."
Ahadi nodded. "I agree. If he's being edgy, we don't want to anger him further. We'll let him be for now."
The Lion King was satisfied with that, but his eldest son was not so relieved. Mufasa stayed out on the edge of the Peak, staring at the waterhole off in the distance. He could just vaguely make out the shape of his little brother, still lying on the bank of the water. He settled himself down and simply sat there, gazing at his far-off brother.
Mufasa whispered to him, "For you, my brother, I would do anything."
He hated his brother.
At least, he wanted to hate him. When they were little cubs, Mufasa had been shy, sensitive, easily upset, and always had their father's attention. Now that they were young adults, Mufasa had become confident, articulate, extremely mature, and always had their father's attention.
He was furious whenever he would creep through the Pridelands and hear some idiotic ostriches talking about how wonderful Mufasa was. Everyone just adored his big brother, but that wasn't what got to him the most.
It wasn't that Mufasa was stronger and healthier than him. It wasn't that he was more well-liked by the lionesses. It wasn't that their father obviously loved him more. It wasn't even the fact that his brother was first in line to inherit the throne, not him. All of those things angered him, of course, but there was one thing that got under his skin more than anything else.
It was the fact that everything Mufasa did, every word he spoke, was just so unquestionably, undeniably right. He was perfect. How was he supposed to argue against Mufasa when his big brother was always in the right? It drove him insane how perfect Mufasa was, knowing all the while that he could never be as good as him.
He wanted to hate his brother for being so perfect all the time, but he wasn't sure he could. How could he hate the cub he used to play hide-and-seek and tag with? The cub he had shared half of his second mouse with?
Taka looked down at his reflection in the watering hole. It was the same orange fur as before, the same black mane that wasn't fully grown yet, the same green eyes. But now, an thin, ugly scar ran straight through the left one.
Taka leapt at his reflection, splashing into the water and distorting his image. He was overjoyed when the ripples took his scar away, but when the water calmed down again, his scar returned.
"What am I supposed to do? I want to hate my brother. I want be king – I should be king! – but Father will never chose me over Mufasa. Father hates me!" Taka spat out at his reflection, distorting it yet again.
When his face reformed in the water, it wore a sickening grin that made Taka recoil in fear.
"You need to get rid of your father and brother." Scar whispered to him. "You need to kill them."
"What? Kill them?" Taka gasped, "I – I could never! I don't want to – "
"But you want the throne. It's just as you said," Scar sneered. "Father will never choose you while Mufasa is alive. And you won't be king while Father is alive. The solution is obvious."
"I'm... I'm not a killer," Taka muttered.
"You are many things. You are a shadow. A snake. To your father, you are an inconvenience. A disappointment." Scar continued to taunt him. Wherever Taka turned, Scar was always there in the water, grinning up at him. "But you could be so much more... You could be a killer. A cobra poised to strike. You could be the king you were always meant to be."
"The kingdom... the throne... I want it," Taka shut his eye. When he opened them, Scar was still there.
"Everything you've ever wanted is dangling before your scarred eye! All you have to do is reach out and take it."
Taka splashed onto the bank and began running, intent on getting as far away from the watering hole as he possibly could. He wanted to run away from all of it – the hate, the jealousy, the scar – but no matter how far he ran, the old familiar feelings always crept back up on him.
"I'm not a killer," Taka repeated.
He collapsed onto the grass beneath a few bushes, hiding himself from the world as best be could. He reached a wet paw up to his right eye and felt it. It was smooth and uninjured, just like normal. Then he reached a paw to his left eye.
Sore, open flesh. A thin gash, no longer bleeding, not unless he bothered it. Once it healed, it would become a pink claw that went straight down his eyelid. His vision wasn't gone in his left eye, but it was seriously impaired. It would never fully heal, and he could never outrun it. It was a part of him.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Here we have The Tragedy of Taka, Prince of the Pridelands. This chapter is set directly after the events of A Tale of Two Brothers. All of the Six New Adventures books are most definitely canon to my story. I don't want to portray Ahadi as a monster, as some other stories do. He wasn't like that in the book. I think of him as a good king but a flawed father. Lastly, I hope you enjoyed the whole Gollum/Smeagol thing at the end. It was fun to write, anyways.
Thanks for reading! Reviews are always appreciated.