Again, I'd like to remind everyone that I do not have a lot free time though I do update more often than other writers. I thank all of you who've been staying with me since the beginning, I honestly wish I could thank you all individually but I can't. But I will send special shout outs to TRON0602 and BookwormGal. Thank the two of you for reviewing every chapter and sticking with me from the first story. I really thought that the popularity of the Tale of Two Kings would carry on throughout the stories but I'm not going to bore you with the complaints. Anyway, here is the newest chapter in this series and I hope you all enjoy. Please leave a review!
Shujaa took his time as he examined and bandaged up the gash in Nala's foreleg. The group of nine lions were taking a pit stop near the borders of the Outlands. It appeared that Nala and Afua had sustained several injuries so Shujaa, the only one with real medical experience, had to take a look at them.
Imara was trying to catch up with Tau who was telling her all about his experiences in the Pride Lands as well as Kianu. Kopa was teasing Afua because his friend wasn't the best fighter while Nala scolded her son. Simba took notice of how Kovu was pacing back and forth, worrying about Kiara and his cubs no doubt, but he was also concerned about Vitani who just kept staring at the Outlands.
"I never thought I'd lose my home twice" Vitani sighed finally.
It seemed to have broken the peaceful atmosphere everyone was currently in.
"I know what you mean" nodded Kopa. "It feels like I just got back…And now I'm losing it again…It kind of sucks really."
The queen and king exchanged glances; the both knew that it must've been hard on them. Nala knew that something had to be done to lighten the heavy mood that had settled. "Look, we're all tired and exhausted, for now, we should all try to relax. And in an hour or two, we'll try to catch up with the rest of the pride."
"How can we relax at a time like this?" growled Kovu in frustration. "I apologize for sounding rude but Kiara's out there and so are our cubs. I'm so worried that they might've not got out of the fire in time or they got ambushed by more of those black lions."
"Kovu, calm down" Simba replied smoothly. "You of all lions should know that Kiara is a very capable lioness. She can take care of herself, and even more so, the ones she hold dear. Have faith in her because she would have faith in you."
Kovu sighed in defeat. "I know…But I'm just worried, you know?"
Shujaa stood up from his work to speak to the distraught prince. "So? Don't you think Tau or your sister is worried about their cubs? They trying their best to stay strong in this moment of distress, you should at least make an attempt to do the same."
"You really are a shaman" Kopa chuckled. "At least we know that the Black Pride has made some good decisions."
Tau grunted. "I would be offended if it wasn't true."
Imara smothered a giggle underneath her paw; she was glad that her friend hadn't changed much since living in a new pride. But then her eyes glazed over as she stared at the Outlands. She placed a paw on the dry earth and felt it crumble underneath her. "Still…I never thought I'd end up back here again…"
"That's it!" Vitani gasped. She leapt towards Imara and took a long hard look at the other lioness.
Kopa raised a brow at the peculiar outburst made by his mate which was mirrored by her brother. "Um…'Tani..I think you're starting to creep her out."
"Wait, 'Tani?" Imara gasped. "Tani, is that really you?"
Vitani almost squealed for joy which would've been completely uncharacteristic of her as she hugged the other lioness. Imara embraced her back and they both couldn't have seemed happier. "It is you! Mara, I've missed you so much and I can't believe we'd meet again like this!"
"Um…Guessing by your behavior, I'm guessing the two of you know each other?" Kovu broached unsurely.
Shujaa's eyes widened as he came to his own conclusion. "Mara…Are you implying that the pride you're originally from is Simba's? You were once a part of one of the Great Kingdoms?"
Imara seemed like she was about to nod but something seemed to have stopped her. "Well…Yes and no…I was the daughter of one of Zira's followers so I was exiled when I was really young. My parents were against the assassination of Prince Kopa." She gave a nervous glance at the prince when she uttered those words. "I ended up living in the Outlands for a while where I became friends with Vitani and Nuka, but my mother and father couldn't live like that for very long so we migrated. We went wherever the wind took us and that's when we found the Black Pride."
Simba exhaled guiltily. "So I even banished other innocent cubs…I'm sorry for what I did to you Imara…"
"No, there's no need to be sorry King Simba…If I hadn't been banished, I might've never met Tau or Shujaa."
Nala searched her memories for any cubs by the name of Imara. "I think I remember you…I was a friend of your mother's. Before she was banished, she told me that she might be leaving Zira and the rest of her followers to live somewhere else. Where is she anyway?"
Imara looked away at the thought of her parents, she could feel the tears rising and trying to escape so Shujaa quickly stepped up. "I'm afraid that tyrannical king of the Black Pride killed her parents after she spoke out against the lion speaker that convinced our pride to invade yours."
"Oh…I'm so sorry Imara…"
"Wait" Kovu cut in. "Lion speaker? What do you mean by that?"
"Well…More of a scout, he was trying to rally our pride members together to invade the Eastern Kingdom as you just saw" Shujaa explained. "…Let's see…If I'm correct I believe his name was Thimba…"
"Thimba?" Kopa gasped.
"It must've been Jua" Vitani growled.
"I can't believe he would do this to us" Afua sighed.
"You know him?"
Simba nodded reluctantly. "You know of the criminal Hasani, right?"
Imara nodded. "You mean the one wanted in the Great Kingdoms?"
Simba nodded again and sighed in way that revealed his true age. "I am ashamed to say that 'Thimba' was a member of our pride who was corrupted by Hasani. Now the two of them are working together in order to try and achieve some bizarre dream. According to King Kanu of the Northern Kingdom, they're trying to create a Utopia, a world devoid of violence and sadness."
"That's insane!" Shujaa exclaimed. "Our world works because there are opposing forces at work. Where there is war, there is peace and where there is sadness, there is happiness. If you take away one of them, then you not only disrupt the order of the world but our way of life. I understand that life is always changing but…There are some things that cannot be allowed to be changed."
"I guess they just didn't get the memo" Vitani grumbled under her breath. "Let's get off this depressing topic…But Mara, there is something I want to know. You must've heard that the Outsiders and Pride Landers joined together, so why didn't you and your parents come back?"
"I wanted to, I really did…" Imara quickly replied. "But the Black Pride…They don't let anyone to leave the pride unless it's in exile and very rarely does that punishment ever get served out, it's always execution. The Black Pride likes to live in isolation, where no one knows of their location so if a lion leaves, they're afraid that that lion may return to wreck their way of life."
"But they have no problem with ruining ours apparently" Afua muttered.
"Although I am grateful that she didn't leave" Tau stepped in. "If it wasn't for her, Kianu and I might be as good as dead right now."
Imara smiled at him before walking towards Kovu. "You're Kovu right? Tani's sister? I think you were two or three months old when I left so of course you wouldn't remember me. But you've grown a lot since then…The effects of time are truly amazing…"
"Yeah…" Kovu nodded. "The effect of time…Can also destroy you too…Like what it did Jua…"
"Where is Nuka anyway?" Imara wondered aloud as she glanced around. "Did he go off with the rest of your pride? Geez, after all these years and he's as wimpy as ever huh?" she muttered. She froze and became numb when she saw how Kovu and Vitani's expressions darkened.
"Nuka…He died a long time ago" Kovu choked out.
Vitani shook her head to dispel the sad memories that were playing through her mind. "He died trying to please Zira one last time. He was blinded by his own pride, blinded to a point where he believed that his pride depended on his mother's approval. Thus…"
"Black pride" Shujaa sighed. "Why must so many lions die that way?"
Imara stared down at her paws. "…Time…destroys…huh?"
News spread quickly of the wildfire in the Pride Lands, each of the Great Kingdoms heard of this from various resources and they all became concerned with their own lands. Many were relieved to hear that the members of the Pride Lands came out safely and they were currently traveling towards the Southern Kingdom, also known as the 'Golden Empire'.
"I cannot believe this happened to our old home" Mheetu whispered.
"The fate of the Eastern Kingdom was inevitable unfortunately" Tojo replied. "We can do what we can by taking in the survivors but we must also make a plan of attack. We know the culprits behind the destruction of the Eastern Kingdom was Hasani and his group, we cannot allow them to go further with their reckless and ignorant plan!"
"I understand" Mheetu nodded. "But…Hasani, you need to be honest, none of us, none of us Great Kingdoms have any experience with war, we may have been on the battlefield, but we've never in a full scale war."
"This is not just war" approached an elderly female lioness. "This is the start of the Third Pride War. Only this time, it will be four kingdoms against one group. We cannot afford to fail!"
Tojo nodded in agreement. "The problem is, we don't know the first thing about war."
"I do believe that the first thing we must do is form an alliance with other powerful prides" another elder, this one male, brought up. "Without a doubt we shall be forming bonds with the Eastern Kingdom and I'm sure that the North and West will follow right behind. It'll be as if the First Pride War never happened."
"That's where you're wrong, it did happen" Mheetu retorted. "In the first war, there was only one kingdom, the Golden Empire. But bits of the empire broke off to form the Eastern and Northern Kingdom. The South was in distress as it tried to fight the rebels but it wasn't long until the king's own son left and created the Eastern Kingdom. When the fighting was over, they made peace treaties, but not until after thousands had died for the sake of a pointless war."
Tojo nodded as he began to recite what he knew about the next war. "In the Second Pride War, I was just born. I don't remember much but my father was a warrior fighting for the Eastern Kingdom. The North wanted more power being the strongest of the four kingdoms and they tried to overthrow the others. The prosperous East and violent South fought in this war against the North while the West tried to remain neutral. After the North was defeated however, the South turned on the East and eventually, they would've won if the West had not come in to save their brethren."
Mheetu looked up at the sky, thinking that Mufasa was looking down at them right now since this war occurred during Simba's father's time. "In the end, it was both the East and West that came out the victors. The South vowed to change their ways but the North became greedy and decided to start over by annihilating smaller prides in their vicinity."
The female elder sighed in the way old creatures do. "Why must our history be covered in the blood of our ancestors?"
"Because for the longest time, survival was the only thing we knew" Mheetu replied. "Unity was just a foreign term."
They turned their heads as they heard someone else enter the den, in the dimly lit cave; they recognized her to be Mheetu's mate, Hatia. "…That's what's…Hasani is trying to change, right? So in way, he's morally in the right place…"
"But his methods are barbarous" scoffed the other lioness.
The elder lion shook his head, he was probably thinking of how the younger generation has lost their minds. "King Mheetu, the history lesson was nothing none of have heard, so why? It serves no purpose to talk of bloodier times when we may be walking right into a repeat of them!"
"That is where you are wrong" Mheetu sighed. "Forgive me elders, Fang and Wish, if I am speaking out of line but there is meaning to these wars no matter how senseless people say they are. We can learn from these wars to prevent the stupid mistakes we've made. For the longest time, the prides fought against each other, trying to best the other, through battle and wounds. But this time around is different, it's time we work together, not apart. And when all this bloodshed is over…We cannot and will not send Hasani to execution."
"What?!" gasped both Fang and Wish.
"But…But my liege!" Fang started. "With all the damage he's already caused so much damage and who knows what he'll do in the future. He should repent for his sins through death or he may just return worse than ever."
Mheetu stayed silent for a long time with everyone's eyes on him, even his own best friend and mate seemed unsure with this decision. "I know…I know that he needs to repent for his sins but not through death. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a possibility of him returning yet I also know that if we kill him, we're only going to be spreading more hate. No…We'll only put more fuel into his resolve and the ones who believe him will only continue fighting until they achieve peace, but that peace has another name, emptiness."
Things were silent for the longest time until Wish sighed. "…You are right; it seems that we really have made the right choice in our king. It's funny, my all of us elders were given nicknames and we went by them for so long that it seems we have forgotten the reason why we chose them in the first place. I chose wish because…I wished for beautiful future and yet…All I can picture is death and war."
"Well it doesn't have to be that way" Mheetu smiled softly as his mate nuzzled him in a way to show that she was proud of him. "The world is so full of possibilities but if we keep looking at one of them, then that's what our future will become. But if we work through this together, there is no way we'll come into a stained future."
Tojo chuckled as he nodded in agreement. "Besides, I doubt King Kanu would be willing to kill his old friend and I also think King Simba would be against such punishment as well since it has long been established that exile is the worst punishment the Eastern Kingdom can dish out."
"And I think I heard King Malka mentioning something about the only way to repent for your sins is by living" Hatia giggled.
Fang looked from one face to the other before sighing in defeat. Admittedly, everything they had said was true; there was no way that the other kings would agree on execution as a punishment. "Alright then, now that that's settled, I believe it is time to call a meeting between all the kingdoms. We must plan on how we approach this situation and if we must do it together or else all hope is lost."
"Don't worry, even if things turn out badly, I'll make sure, with time, that everything will heal" Mheetu promised.
Night had fallen and still no sign of the king or the rest of his group, Kiara was starting to get seriously worried but she knew that she couldn't show it or it may cause panic among the Pride Landers. She noticed that the cubs were also worried, especially the ones who had no clue where their parents were. The princess was just glad that Pumbaa was there to calm them down; she walked over to Mosi so that they could converse about things such as their migration towards the Southern Kingdom.
"Pumbaa, we can't sleep" Kioni whined. "I really miss daddy, is he okay?"
Pumbaa looked away, he was hoping that Kovu would somehow appear magically but there was no way that was happening. He turned back to the cubs as he sighed in distress. "Honestly, I don't have a clue in what to say in this kind of situation but…I don't know if he will be okay. But I do know that he is a very capable lion and a mighty strong warrior, he is likely to come here soon along with Vitani and the others."
"You sure?" inquired Amali. "I never got to know mama, I don't want to lose daddy so soon."
"Don't worry about them…" Pumbaa said unsure of himself. "Just…Try getting your minds off of it."
"How about you continue that bedtime story you were telling us?" suggested Kito. "I'm sure that'll get our minds off of it."
Pumbaa glanced at the other cubs and noticed how hopeful they were. "I suppose…But…The next part isn't so pleasant, are you sure you guys can take it with everything's that's been happening? It's pretty bad…"
"I'm sure it'll be fine" Kianu replied, speaking for them. "We're not newborns, we can take it."
The shaman shrugged. "Alright then…Now, where was I?"
"It looks like the wet season has come pretty early" Hondari commented as he noticed the storm clouds gathering above their heads. "Zulu river's going to become pretty crazy once the storm starts, maybe we should head back before it's too late."
"Seriously, why today?" groaned Uru. "Whatever…Come on, where's your sense of adventure? A little rain's never stopped us from having fun before. Don't tell me you're scared!"
Hondari scoffed. "What, you really think I'm scared? Who do you take me for? Ahadi?"
"Anyway, I'm not scared, I'm just concerned for you little ones, you know the water can get really rough during a storm like this and if you dip a paw in it, you can easily get washed away. Don't underestimate the forces of nature."
The princess rolled her eyes. "Ooh, I'm so scared."
"I'm serious" her cousin retorted.
"Uru, maybe we should listen to him and go back" Ahadi remarked as he climbed onto the same stone she was standing upon. "His tone implies that it can get really dangerous out here during times like these. We might get seriously injured or maybe something worse."
"The two of you sissies can go back if you want to but I'm staying right h-whoa!" she exclaimed as she faked slipping off the slippery rock.
"Uru!" both males shouted.
Uru began laughing as she readjusted her position to show that she was just faking it, causing the other two felines to glare back at her. "Oh come on, you guys don't have to act like mom and dad, have a little fun once in a while. Nothing bad is going to happen, not because of nature, and most certainly not because of some stupid superstition."
Hondari would've rolled his eyes as he listened to the princess speak if he his finely tuned ears hadn't picked a rustling sound coming from behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a shadowy figure moving amongst the grass. It took about a second for him to realize that this sound was just a diversion. "Uru, duck!"
Uru flinched back at the same time a hyena leapt out from her right. She shrieked as Hondari pounced on the canine. The grappling predators rolled away from the cubs as Ahadi took notice of the other hyenas that began appearing from their hiding spots.
"Hondari, help!" screamed Ahadi.
Hondari, unfortunately, was busy fighting off the hyena. Thankfully, due to his larger build, he had a clear advantage over his opponent and it appeared as though this hyena had no such particular training.
'Don't tell me!' Hondari realized. 'This is another diversion…Uru!'
The shaman quickly knocked out the hyena by slamming his head against a nearby rock. He then roared as loudly as he could, hoping that the sound would travel back towards Pride Rock as he quickly ran back to where the cubs were. "Uru, Ahadi, hang on! I'm coming!"
Hondari leapt into the scene just in time to see Ahadi get in the way of a hyena that was lunging towards Uru. "Ahadi!" Uru screamed in pure fright as the bleeding form of her best friend plummeted into Zulu River and was washed away.
Hondari's eyes widened as Ahadi's form became smaller and smaller all too quickly. He growled and swore under his breath as he lunged at hyenas, giving Uru a chance to get away but instead of running towards Pride Rock, she was about to leap into the river.
"Uru!" Jolina shouted as she quickly grabbed her daughter before she could finish her suicide attempt. "What are you doing?!" The rest of the pride had arrived and they swarmed from behind their queen, Ahadi's parents were scanning all over in search of their son while the other lions pushed the hyenas back.
"Let me go!" Uru screeched as she squirmed in her mother's hold. "Ahadi, he was swept away by the river! I can still see his head, we can save him!"
Both Mohatu and Ahadi's father heard this and quickly chased the screaming cub head downstream. Every time the cub's head would plunge underwater, Mohatu would pray to the skies that Ahadi would resurface again.
"HELP!" Ahadi screamed at one surfacing point. "DADDY!"
"AHADI!" his father roared back.
Ahadi's father was just about to dive in when the king stopped him; right before them stood the edge of the Pride Lands, the Grand Waterfall. Mohatu shut his eyes but Ahadi's father only watched in horror as his son fell down the roaring falls, his bloodcurdling screams reverberating throughout the entire Pride Lands.
"I'm sorry…" Mohatu shook.
Ahadi's father staggered towards the very edge as the heavy rain pounded on him. He collapsed at the edge at the same time the rest of the pride approached, Uru was mortified but nothing could compare to how Ahadi's parents must've felt.
Okay, so the history lesson does not end here, it will continue on in the next chapter so it will not be italicized, that can get pretty confusing. Just keep that in mind when you read the next chapter. I hope you all enjoyed it, I know I did. Do not forget to review and here are some questions.
1) Do you think Imara should be with Tau or Shujaa? I am just wondering.
2) In your own terms, how would you describe cub Ahadi, my version or any you have in your head. Then, describe adult Ahadi, how you think my version will come out since obviously, he's alive. But how do you think he is?