So, I had a horrible week, other than cramming for the SAT, my computer was infected with several viruses and I unable to access anything, including my writing. But as if the Gods were shining down on me, turns out the SAT was easier than I had been expecting. I have a feeling I might've gotten a max score of 2000. However, I'm sorry for the late update but better late than never, right? So I hope you all enjoy this chapter which I took the time to write and please leave a review after the chapter!
Hondari was breathing heavily as he ran for dear life. Blood was gushing out from the left side of his face as well as his right back leg. He was covered in bruises and claw marks but he gave no notice to the burning that occurred with every step, he just knew that he needed to get away from his pursuers unless he wanted to end up dead.
"I can't believe this" he coughed. His breathing became more ragged as his lungs struggled to take in more air. It was even worse in the night; he was having trouble seeing where he was going while the fresh blood was giving away his location to the lions tracking him using their sense of smell.
"I can't believe he's still running" a male voice laughed raucously.
"Such a noble shaman, and quite handsome too, it's such a pity we have to ruin his pretty looks" a female one added.
"There are only two of them" Hondari muttered to himself. "I've taken on three lions at the same time, heck, I've taken on a pissed off Uru, how are these two this tough? I've got to get back to Pride Rock and fast…They won't stand a chance."
The shaman halted to a full stop when he saw a rather sinister, male lion standing in front of him. He was completely black, from head to paw and as far as Hondari knew, he went by the name 'Hell'. "Well…You are right about that. But they might if you go warn them, we need the element of surprise on our side and according to this fight between us, it's clearly the reason for our soon-to-be victory."
Hondari turned to try and circle around his foe but was met with Hell's twin sister. Unlike her ragged and rugged brother, she was beautiful, slender, and pure white. It was hard to believe that they were both from the same parents but their eyes were the exact same shade of gray. "Aw, are you going to leave so soon? We were hoping you could stay a little longer" she giggled. "So, which do you want to fall victim to…?"
Hondari almost laughed, was this why they chose those names, to make that lame joke before killing their enemies? "You guys are pretty creative, I'll admit that" the shaman said in between breaths.
"You sounds rather confident, for a lion at the brink of falling into Hell" the lioness laughed.
"Or perhaps you believe that you'll end up in Heaven?" her brother added alongside her.
Hondari shook his head disappointingly towards them. "Are you guys seriously going to keep going with that? It's getting real annoying. But I want to make sure you guys know that you won't be taking me down that easy. I'll be sure to leave at least one of you dead."
"You're ability to amuse us never ceases" Hell grumbled. "What shall we do sister? Kill him right away?"
"Hm" she said thoughtfully. "We can either have him as a prisoner or kill him right now."
"I like the second option."
"So do I."
Hondari rolled his eyes, these twins were about as annoying as cubs on their first day without adult supervision, he should know, he was told to secretly spy on Uru at times when she thought she could play alone. "I think you guys can use a wake-up call because there is no doubt in my mind that probably everyone hates you to some extent" the shaman growled.
"Do you really have a lot of room to be getting all high and mighty with us?" Hell cackled. "You're like a field mouse that's given up on life and just decides to jabber on to his soon-to-be killers."
"And you guys are idiots who will always will be idiots" Hondari snapped back with a smug grin.
Heaven groaned. "Okay, you are no longer cute to me. Come on brother, let's just kill him and get it over with."
The two of them began to approach their kill slowly and deliberately, but Hondari knew that since there was even the smallest chance of escape, he had to stall to come up with a plan. And he knew exactly how he was going to do it. "But before you guys kill me, perhaps you could entertain me" he told them. The two of them stopped in their paw steps, waiting patiently for him to continue. "Since I've already amused you, why don't you return the favor by telling me why you're doing this? What kind of grudge do you have against the Pride Lands? I suppose the biggest question would be, what do you and your leader have to gain from this?"
Hell scoffed; already amused that Hondari would suggest something like this as his death wish. "And give us one good reason why we should do that?"
"Simple" Hondari shrugged. "If I died without knowing what you guys are aiming for, which is why I spied on you guys in the first place, I'll be killed while thinking about it. It'll be like some sort of plague on my mind. But if you guys would be so kind as to lift that fog from my mind then all I will have to think about is the agonizing pain of death."
"That does sound rather appealing" Hell mused. "All right, you're a rather clever shaman, I'll tell you."
Heaven gaped at her brother's reaction. "You can't be serious! What if he escapes? Or worse, what if you-know-who found out we divulged all that information to this guy, he'll have our heads on stakes."
"Oh relax, how would he even find out?" Hell chuckled. "And there's no way that this shaman will escape and to relieve you of that worry…" The black lion lunged forward and sunk his fangs into Hondari forearm; they could hear the sickening snapping of bone and the shaman's roar of pain. Hell pulled away and licked the blood off his lips but the scary part was, he looked like he was thirsty for more blood. "There, I've crippled him now, is that better for you, dear sister?"
Hondari tried to remain balanced on the only two paws that were left undamaged but he was finding it much too difficult. He ended up kneeling on his injured leg which burned intensely but he only released it in heavy breaths. He swore under his breath as he simply stared at the ground, he didn't have the strength to even look up. "Damn you, bastard…"
"Hey, you should be grateful that we're allowing you live a little bit longer, so you better show a little more respect" Hell smirked.
Hondari didn't even attempt to argue back, he was just trying to save his breath as it became more ragged and heavy with each passing second. "Just get on with it" Hondari huffed. White spots began to appear before his eyes and he was afraid he was going to lose consciousness.
"You should keep your eyes open when you're listening to a story" Heaven chided as if she was talking to a misbehaving cub.
"Yeah, besides, I'm sure you're going to enjoy this" Hell chuckled. "Let me ask you a question, what color is my fur?"
Hondari blinked, he had absolutely no idea how this question was of any relevance but he decided it was best not to question their actions. "…Black. I'm pretty sure a cub would be able to distinguish that fact" he answered gruffly.
"You're right, they can. So let's say vicious rumors start spreading about lions with dark fur, a superstition stating that lions born with the darkest fur are known to be the most evil. Now let's say there were a cub and his family who were forced to leave their home because they felt unsafe there because that cub had black fur. The worst part of it is, the mother was unwilling to go with them because she wanted to stay at her home, effectively abandoning her family for the sake of a kingdom that had forsaken one of their own just because they had a different fur color."
With each word, the realization began to sink into Hondari, he was reminded of the treatment that Uru and Ahadi had received when they were younger. How all the other species thought that they were evil and when it was found out that they were betrothed, all the adults who knew began thinking that they would become a tyrannical power duo. It was awful, the way these two cubs, who knew almost nothing about the world, were being mistreated for something that was completely out of their control.
He looked over to the twins, almost feeling sorry for them. "You guys are part of the group that had left the Pride Lands. I remember now, you two were both younger than me but I remember because I had helped deliver the two of you. Never before had I seen two siblings with such opposing fur colors."
"And yet, you didn't care at all when we were forced to leave" Heaven reminded him venomously. "We were forced to live and survive out there for years and do you have any idea what happened to our father? He died! He died while trying to protect us, we were barely adolescents at the time and not only did our mother abandon us, our father died, but we had to fend for ourselves until Renegade saved us. If it weren't for him, we'd both be dead."
"So we're going to take over the Pride Lands and destroy everyone who believed we were outcasts" Hell growled. "And do you know what our father's last words were?"
Hondari knew their father well; he used to take the young shaman to go hunting when his uncle was too busy to. "I know he didn't tell you to destroy the kingdom he grew up in."
Heaven nodded as tears began streaming down her cheeks but she didn't look any less angry. "He told us not to hate the Eastern Kingdom. But how can we not?! It destroyed our family and our lives. Now it's payback."
Hondari's strength was wavering with every second and his vision darkened, he wanted to tell them, show them the truth but he couldn't find the will to. 'You're wrong…Your mother tried to find you. She regretted not coming with you so she tried to find you. Zuzu reported to us later that she had been slaughtered by hyenas.' "Please…" he was able to croak out. "Don't do this…"
"It's too late to turn back now" Hell replied coldly.
It was such a strange development, just a few seconds ago, the twins were smiling and joking around about what they were going to do to him. But now they were so cold and completely filled with hatred. "Black pride…" Hondari muttered as he used the last of his strength to ask one last question. "Is Renegade also one of you guys? A dark-furred lion who was forced to leave because of our mistakes?"
Heaven shook her head. "No, he is dark-furred but he is not from the Pride Lands. He is the son of a rather infamous lion; I believe you knew him well. Rogue…"
Hondari's eyes widened for a split-second. "Why would you…?"
He saved our lives and promised to help us take revenge on the ones who had done us wrong" Hell replied as he slowly approached the shaman. "We're done talking here." He raised a paw with claws unsheathed and was fully prepared to bash in the shaman's skull. "We'll see you on the other side."
Hondari expected to be over in a split-second but then, a loud roar reached their ears, drawing his almost killer's attention. "Waztani?" he moaned, recognizing the roar. Just as he thought, the roar belonged to the lioness that barreled into Hell.
Heaven was just about to go help out her brother when two more lionesses appeared; Hondari recognized them to be Waztani's sister and he friend. "Sis, get Hondari out of here, we'll meet up with you at Pride Rock. And don't stop for anything! Just run, Rafiki should be there."
Waztani's sister ran up to the shaman while her friend kept Heaven occupied. "Waztani" Hondari coughed out.
"Sh, don't speak" she replied.
But Hondari had to tell her. "Don't kill them…"
Waztani had heard him but it was unclear to him if she was going to follow through with what he asked of her. She simply nodded for her sister to get away as Hell slowly got back to his feet. "I'm going to make the two of you pay for what you did to Hondari" she growled.
Hell glowered at her. "I should be saying the same thing for letting our prey get away. Now move or you're going to get hurt."
Waztani stood her ground and spat at his face, clearly trying to provoke him. He didn't even flinch but he did roar and lunge at her. Waztani has sparred with Uru several times before and she had witnessed the princess use this technique many times so she was pretty much an expert.
The lioness ducked swiftly and ran underneath him before sinking her fangs into his back leg and dragging him back to the ground. Hell roared as skin and clumps of blood fur was torn from his leg. He writhed around and sunk his right claws into her left flank causing her to let go of his leg. The two of them seem to be wrestling with each other, biting, clawing, and ripping skin.
"Waztani!" her friend called as she evaded another one of Heaven's hits. "We've got get away; we can't take on these two on our own. We need to retreat!"
The older lioness knew this as a fact, there was no way they'd be able to get out of this without losing their lives. Even if they did manage to defeat them, they'd only escape with the skin on their backs, they'd definitely die of blood loss if anything else. She separated herself from Hell after butting her head with his, stunning him momentarily. "Let's go!"
The two lionesses ran off as fast as they could and Heaven would've pursued them if she had not been concerned with her brother.
"What are you doing, go after them!" Hell ordered his sister.
"Stop it" his twin replied, pushing him back down. "You're hurt enough as it is, we need to go back and report to Renegade. You're just going to end up pushing yourself too far as always."
"They deserve it!"
"They'll get what's coming to them…I promise you."
Mohatu was worried, more than worried as he watched the shaman in training mix various herbs for some new remedy he was experimenting with. "Rafiki, have you seen your master or perhaps three other lionesses?" the king asked the baboon. "They've been gone since last night and I'm starting to get really worried about them."
"I am trying to concentrate" Rafiki replied. "But trust me when I say this, they should be fine. I am sure that you are just overreacting, in another hour or so, they will return." The young primate paused as he took a look around. "Where is young Ahadi and the princess? Are they not usually out here at this time?"
"I think Jolina knows where they went, all I know is that Ahadi woke up pretty early today. I saw him when I got up at sunrise" Mohatu replied distractedly. "Why do you ask?"
The shaman in training smiled softly as he went back to work. "I guess Rafiki is just becoming sentimental as his new duty as shaman approaches him ever so steadily. I just love seeing the fresh blossom of youthful romance bloom."
Mohatu chuckled. "At least it assures me that they'll at least be a couple when I pass the crown down to them."
"True" Rafiki nodded. There was this colorful smoke being emitted from the herbal medicine he was making and it was another worry that was now on the king's mind. "Ah…I do believe the concoction is almost done."
Mohatu took a step closer to him and the smoke wafted towards his nostrils, hitting him with a heavy bitter scent. "Um…I'm kind of afraid to ask this but…What are you making?"
"It is just something used for cleaning infections. But don't ever taste it, it'll burn your taste buds right off."
Sometimes, shaman activities frightened the king and pretty much everyone else in the four Great Kingdoms. "Well then keep it away from me." The mighty lion took a few steps away and he took in a new scent, one he was only familiar with when the huntresses came home with a fresh kill or after some battle. "Blood…" he murmured. He turned back to the primate who had heard him loud and clear. "Rafiki, come on, I may be in need of your services."
Rafiki wrapped his remedy in a large banana leaf and followed the king to where the scent of blood was coming from. The two of them stopped in shock as they saw Hondari approaching them, all scarred and bleeding with a lioness on both sides, supporting him.
Mohatu recognized one of the lionesses to be Waztani. "Rafiki, you go tend to Hondari's wounds, quickly, I need to go talk to Waztani and find out what happened."
The usually polite Rafiki didn't even bow but instead, ran right up to his master and helped the lionesses gently lay him down in the grass. "You'll be all right master, I promise you."
"It's funny…" Hondari smiled weakly. "I'm the master but I'm letting an adolescent tend to my injuries. But thank you Rafiki."
The king watched as Rafiki rubbed the top of Hondari's head to show his concern for his friend. It was truly a sad sight to see, a lion broken down to this extent and his young student looking so distressed and heartbroken at his condition. He then turned back to the lioness in front of him, ready to speak to her as if he was speaking to an animal group in the Pride Lands under some sort of split. "Waztani, what happened? Who did this to my nephew?"
"They were these two lions; I think they're from the group I saw yesterday. Hondari said he was going to investigate last night and he told me not to tell anyone, I apologize for that though sire" she bowed. "I followed him though; I figured he might get into trouble so I wanted to be there to protect him."
"Well, you did well" Mohatu sighed. There was no way he could blame her for not telling him of this earlier, she was just keeping a promise to a friend. "Do you know what they wanted or why they chose to infiltrate the Pride Lands? What did you find out?"
Waztani had almost forgotten what she had eavesdropped on prior to going into battle with Hell. "I heard their conversation before they attacked Hondari. Apparently, a majority of the group is made up of dark-furred lions that were once from our pride. They came back because they wanted revenge on those who were prejudiced against them. I've got to say, I can't really hate them for it. I'd be pretty mad as well."
"But no one forced them to leave" Mohatu protested.
"I know, but that doesn't stop them from thinking to put the blame on us and there's more" she continued. "The leader of this group is a lion known as Renegade and he also wants to take us over for revenge but for a different reason."
"What do you mean?"
"He's Rogue's son."
There was a sudden intake of breath from both Mohatu and Rafiki when they heard that. The two younger lionesses, who weren't even born until after the first Great Pride War, didn't seem to know why this was such a big deal.
"Um, who is this Rogue exactly?" Waztani's sister asked.
Rafiki continued patching up the gaping hole in his master's leg as he began a history lesson. "Rogue was a very dark lion, the very one who had sparked the first Great Pride War. Unfortunately, this is a fact unbeknownst to a majority of the leonine public so the blame is placed on the hyenas. I'm afraid that after a couple more years, the very fact that it was Rogue who started the war and not the canines will soon leave our memories and both sides will simply be filled with hate and contempt for each other. It is truly a shame."
"You mean hyenas aren't as dirty and low-down as Zuzu says they are?" Waztani's sister inquired.
Mohatu shook his head. "They are poachers now but that's only because they've chosen to separate themselves from the rest of the animals."
"You mean they weren't banished by you?"
"That's what everyone else believes and I can't seem to convince them otherwise. I tried to talk to the hyena matriarch and explain to her that I believed all animals were created equal but they wouldn't listen. They just kicked me off of their land" Mohatu shrugged. "But as long as no blood is spilled between us, things are fine. Except for those few hyenas that attacked Ahadi all those years ago but that was only one group."
"We are getting off topic here" Waztani reminded them.
"Right, so this Renegade character, what exactly is he after?"
Waztani shrugged, she had absolutely no idea. "Vengeance? Why else would he be here?"
"They're after Uru" Hondari coughed out. The shaman had overheard their leader talking about this with some pretty lioness before getting found out and getting chased out by those twins. "Uncle, Renegade knows that detail and he despises her for it. Where is she right now?"
Mohatu's heart raced when his nephew spoke those few words. Other than the fact that Renegade knew Uru's true origins and there was the possibility of him exposing it, the bigger worry was the fact that he was going to have her killed. No matter what, he always saw her as his daughter and that will never change. "I think she's with Ahadi but I can't be sure. I'll send Zuzu out to find her and bring her back immediately."
"Wait, Ahadi?" Waztani asked, stopping the king from going anywhere. "No, that's not good. We think that Ahadi may be with Renegade and his group. If he is then it might've been his mission to assassinate the princess after gaining our trust. I mean, it makes sense when you really think about it. Other than his family, she's the only one he's really hung out with."
"…I have to save her…" Mohatu finally said. He rocketed off in the direction of Pride Rock in the distance, turning his head back to tell them one more thing. "Rafiki, tend to Waztani's wounds as well and all of you be back at Pride Rock soon!" 'I have to protect Uru…I have to protect my daughter!'
I hope you all enjoyed because I am dead tired after writing all of that. Again, I'd like to apologize for the long wait but I hope it was worth it. I want to thank anyone who has reviewed, favorite, or followed because this story will soon be ending in like two or three more chapters so bring in more reviews to make me happy before it's over. Pretty please with a cherry on top and a side order of the next chapter? I love reviews!