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Disney and The Lion King

Redemption (Story)

The Film
Simba
Mufasa
Scar
Timon and Pumbaa
Rafiki
Nala
Zazu
Shenzi Banzi and Ed
Sarabi
Sarafina
Disney Land
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Elias Disney (Father of Walt Disney)
Roy Oliver Disney (Brother of Walt Disney)
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The Lion King III Simba's Heir Ver. 1.4 (Story)
Crossing the Desert (Story)
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The Lion King V : The Final Clash Ver 1.4 (Story)
The Lion King VI Human Encounter Ver. 1.4 (Story)
Scar's Revenge (Story)
The Best On Broadway (Story)
Redemption (Story)
How Shenzi and Banzai Met (Story)
Relations (Story)
The Scarring of Taka (Story)
Zira and Timon (Story)
Fond Memories (Story)
Scar's Revenge (Story) Rene Gorydon
Roy E Disney
The Walt Disney Company
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Jason Raize
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Redemption
                           
                           Chapter 1 No Rest for the Wicked
                           
                           All at once they were on him, large shaggy bodies heaving 
                           themselves  upon his bruised and battered flesh.  The smooth and silken 
                           voice with which he had used to persuade his attackers to be his allies 
                           had abandoned him. All that came from his throat was a breathless 
                           silent scream.
                           A chance glance upwards revealed to him the young face of his enemy, 
                           now staring down into the sea of grey-brown bodies which surrounded 
                           Scar. A lightening bolt of anger shot through Scar's spine as he looked 
                           into those triumphant eyes. He was going to stand there silently and 
                           watch him die!  A sudden rush of energy fueled by rage surged through 
                           him and he lashed out with his hind paws.
                           His long claws found the face of one of his attackers; tearing 
                           the beasts nose and knocking it backward into the fire scorched rocks 
                           surrounding the fray. Rolling onto it's back it gave an agonized yelp 
                           of pain as the hot rocks burned blisters into the it's flesh. It's 
                           yowls cutting through the growling hum of the crowd.
                           In concert the clan looked toward their injured brother who was 
                           now yelping and wildly rolling on his back trying to find relief from 
                           the pain. The momentary distraction was all that was needed. In a 
                           breath of time Scar was up and away, running blindly over the darkened 
                           Savannah. Running for his life and never looking back.
                           He couldn't recall how long he kept running. His mind was a blur 
                           of  fear and confusion. When he finally trotted to a stop and collapsed 
                           onto the yellow grass, the first pink rays of dawn where beginning to 
                           creep across the land. He raised his shuddering head and looked about 
                           him. He had come to a small waterhole; little more than a deep puddle 
                           in the ground really. But the tall grasses surrounding it beckoned him 
                           to skulk into their midst and drink from the pool.
                           He raised himself on shaky legs and staggered to the pool. Lying 
                           prone next to the pond he caught a glimpse of his reflection. His face 
                           was now covered by small cuts and abrasions. The fire  that he and 
                           Simba had fought beside has singed his coat and burned the whiskers on 
                           the left side of his face. The lone scar over his eye now had many 
                           companions.
                           It was all gone now. Everything was gone. The kingship, his 
                           familiar home territory, his allies; even his dignity had taken it's 
                           leave. The thought of how he had cowered and mewled before  his nephew 
                           came to him and he burned with shame. Like a cub in its milk he had 
                           cried and begged for his life. Embarrassed he turned away from his 
                           reflection. He couldn't bear to look at his face, the face of a coward. 
                           Of a murderer and right now, he thought, a hunted beast.
                           He hadn't looked back when he had left the hyenas in their 
                           confusion. He ran quickly, finding the strength to pump his legs from 
                           some unknown wellspring inside himself.  The terror of those moments 
                           when the clan had closed around him was beyond any telling. The way 
                           they had looked at him; their eyes seemed to be picking out just the 
                           right place to bite. They would have torn him into still living pieces. 
                           Tearing and eating as he screamed for mercy. He had seen what they did 
                           to those that were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the hyenas 
                           way when the dinner bell rang. They fed in a frenzy. Ripping the prey 
                           into the tiniest bits; swallowing the still hot flesh whole. This time 
                           he had been the prey and they would have taken special delight in 
                           rending him.
                           He returned to the pool and lowered his head into the lukewarm 
                           water. He began lapping up the muddy liquid. It coursed a path through 
                           his rough, dry throat. He drank until he felt he was going to be ill; 
                           then lay down in the muddy ground by the pool. Laying his head on his 
                           foreleg he looked up at the bright blue sky.  The clan would be coming 
                           for him. Of this he was sure. They would never allow him to live. He 
                           had committed treason; justice would be swift and painful. The hyenas 
                           may forgive there own, but he was a lion. They wouldn't show him the 
                           same consideration. Death was coming and no amount of crying would 
                           change it or avert its course. A tight knot of dread formed in his 
                           groin. He curled up into himself, tucking his head into his belly, as 
                           if curling into the smallest ball possible might make him disappear.  
                           While he shut his eyes and thought about his upcoming punishment he 
                           drifted off into a deep sleep.
                           It is said that those who sleep like the dead sleep dreamless, 
                           perhaps. But Scar's sleep was fraught with the demons of the past days 
                           events. He was back in the Pride Lands standing on the promontory and 
                           watching the clan pick a small wildebeest from a vast herd. They took 
                           great pleasure in harassing the small animal. Cornering it they nipped 
                           at its flanks pecking away small bits of hide. The calf's eyes rolled 
                           its eyes in terror; foam dripped from its mouth. It bawled; shrieking 
                           for its fellows to come to it's aid.
                           Scar was watching the scene below dispassionately, until a 
                           feeling of misgiving came over him. The calf's screech sounded less 
                           like a wildebeest than it did like a lions scream. He leapt into the 
                           midst of the clan and the carrion eaters scattered before him.  "Stop 
                           this! I am king and I command it!" He looked toward the calf which was 
                           no longer a calf but the shredded remains of a dark skinned lion with a 
                           shaggy black mane. It's bright green and yellow eyes staring lifelessly 
                           into his own. He staggered back, his voice a breathy whisper. "Oh dear, 
                           gods...." He spun around to find himself muzzle to muzzle with Shenzi. 
                           At least it should have been Shenzi, except her face has now contorted 
                           to house a muzzle of scythe like teeth, which spilled from her mouth. 
                           Her eyes floated in deep recesses in her skull; piercing him with their 
                           sharp yellow color.  Runnels of saliva dripped from her chin. 
                           The monstrosity laughed. "King? Oh no my friend, you are carrion. 
                           Dead Meat!" Looking around him he now saw that the hyenas had not only 
                           shrunk to the size of meerkats; but they had also multiplied. They 
                           covered the land like ticks on a rhinos back. He was surrounded, a 
                           small tawny island in a sea of grey bodies. "Dead Meat! Dead Meat!" The 
                           tiny beasts began chanting. The Shenzi monster looked at him and 
                           smiled. "Now my friend, we eat!"  In unison they rose up and crashed 
                           into him like a wave hitting the shore. Tiny, tearing teeth buried 
                           themselves into his body. They ripped, chewed and tore again. They 
                           where devouring him alive. He tried to scream but his voice was gone. A 
                           wordless shriek filled his mind. "Oh, Gods, they're eating meeeeeeeee!" 
                           He woke with a start the only sound that filled his ears the 
                           thrumming of his heart in his bony chest. It was a  dream, a  
                           premonition. He looked about himself. The sky held the color of deepest 
                           purple. He had slept the entire day and now found himself cradled in 
                           the tall grasses covered by the velvet sky and bone white moon.
                           
                           
                           Chapter 2 Fear
                           
                           
                           The sleep had done him good. He could stand now without his knees 
                           shaking; but his paws burned with pain as he got to his feet. Laying 
                           back down he examined them. The pads of his paws where cracked and 
                           covered with dried blood. All of the fighting and running had worn them 
                           raw. He tried to lick them clean but the skin was still tender to the 
                           touch; his rough tongue only succeeded in causing him pain. "Serve me 
                           right if I caught an infection and died." He sighed and stopped 
                           grooming his feet. It would be sometime before he would be able to 
                           travel. Even as the thought came to him he wondered where he would 
                           travel to.
                           A lion in his position was almost certainly doomed. He was weak 
                           and injured. Never very strong or good at hunting, mostly due to his 
                           own laziness, he wasn't sure he could provide himself with the food he 
                           needed to grow strong again. Even if he did try to move on, he could 
                           very well find himself in the territory of another male. In his 
                           condition he could never challenge for a pride, not that he wanted to. 
                           He had already proved to himself and everyone else that he could not 
                           lead. He was unfit to rule and a challenge would kill him.
                           He also knew that the clan would be sending scouting parties out 
                           in search of him.  Sooner or later his waterhole would be found. He had 
                           to admit, he could see no way out of his current predicament. If only 
                           he could take the past back into himself, breath life into Mufasa and 
                           go back to his lone cave. He would be happy this time, content to be 
                           last in line. He would welcome Simba with open arms and obey the laws 
                           that nature and the gods had put forth.
                           "I'm a fool an arrogant idiot, he said to no one, a cowardly 
                           murder." He bit his lower lip feeling the skin break and tasting blood 
                           as he held back the torrent of emotions that threatened to burst from 
                           his chest.  "Why did I do all this? I'm going to die alone; what's 
                           anything worth when in the end you die alone?" 
                           As an adolescent Scar knew that all eyes had rested on his 
                           larger, more handsome brother. They respected him, asked his advice on 
                           matters; even more they had loved him. Their eyes never met his. To 
                           them he was useless, not the future king. He was just an annoyance who 
                           ate hard hunted food and made them uncomfortable with his strange ways.
                           The pride had always seemed wary of him. They kept their distance 
                           from him, never initiating conversation and only giving him curt 
                           answers to his questions. In this way he had felt himself marked as 
                           "different" and "other than". He had never quite understood this 
                           difference, although he had an inkling of it.
                           It had always seemed to him that the other lions were content to 
                           live their lives as their forebears had. Letting one day bleed into the 
                           next, an endless chain of eating, sleeping, birthing and dying. One's 
                           place in life was never questioned. You were what you were and if you 
                           happened to be at the bottom, you stayed there. The "Great Circle of 
                           Life" they reverently called it. He was expected to swallow his pride 
                           and stand behind his brother; never striving for more than was freely 
                           given.
                           It was something he could not bear. As soon as he had learned of 
                           the succession of his brother a hatred of his circumstances and those 
                           he felt caused it grew inside him. He hated his father who had chosen 
                           Mufasa over him, he hated Mufasa who knew he was the chosen one, he 
                           hated the lionesses who avoided him and loved his brother, and when he 
                           was finally born, he hated Simba who was going to grow up secure in the 
                           knowledge of his importance in the scheme of things.
                           Looking back at it now, miles from the Pride Lands; Scar could 
                           see that Mufasa had tried to be kind. Where another male may have 
                           driven his brother (and rival) off, Mufasa allowed him to stay under 
                           his protection. While he didn't eat well, Mufasa had seen to it that he 
                           always got a portion of the prides food. Scar had plotted and planned 
                           his death, while Mufasa lived believing while his brother was bitter, 
                           he would never harm him. Scar felt the biting shame rise up over him 
                           again. His brother had been so surprised by his treachery. The look in 
                           his eyes as hung in desperation on the rock face over the stampede had 
                           told all. He never dreamed that his brother would kill him and when it 
                           finally dawned on him the shock, horror and the hurt at his betrayal 
                           was evident.
                           Simba had taken his father's lead and was fond of his uncle; 
                           coming to his cave and reporting to him excitedly of all the things he 
                           saw and learned. Of all the pride Simba's love for him was the most 
                           evident and unabashedly given. And Scar had wished him dead. Unable to 
                           contain the feelings of guilt and shame any longer as he thought of his 
                           young nephew looking up at him with bright, unafraid eyes, he put a 
                           large paw over his nose and felt the first few tears of regret come to 
                           his eyes. 
                           Regret was something new to Scar and the feeling settled uneasily 
                           over him like a sticky spider's web. In past once he had made his 
                           resolve he never looked back or thought twice. When Mufasa had become 
                           king he had vowed in his heart to see the death of him. When Simba was 
                           born his resolve became stronger. He had steeled himself with the 
                           knowledge that what he was doing was just. When the hyenas presented 
                           themselves as allies in his campaign he had courted their favor without 
                           hesitation. Bringing them food and giving them a measure of protection. 
                           He never stopped to think that what he had been doing might have been 
                           wrong or evil. It was necessary to gain him a place on high. This above 
                           all else was paramount. Loyalty and friendship was tossed aside as 
                           unthinkingly as one sheds an old coat of hair.  
                           Scar smiled ruefully as he thought back on all the choices he had 
                           made and the opportunities he had shunted aside. "What was the use if 
                           one is to gain a kingdom at the cost of ones soul?"  He laughed, 
                           "Indeed, what is the use?"
                           Scar's reign over the Pride Lands had been a hard and joyless 
                           one. The pride had greeted him and his hyena mercenaries with scorn and 
                           distrust. Far from being the respected leader he had always envisioned, 
                           he was a pariah. The lionesses gave him the respect born of fear, but 
                           no true love, no true loyalty.  They whispered behind his back when 
                           they thought he couldn't hear them. Made faces of disgust as he walked 
                           by them. He pretended not to notice their derision. Going along as if 
                           all was well and that he was as respected and beloved a leader as 
                           Mufasa. But it was impossible not to know where they stood on his 
                           kingship. Impossible not to know where anyone stood on it. The herds 
                           left the lands when the hunting pressure had become too great. Even the 
                           weather itself seemed to show it's displeasure at his rule as the rain 
                           ceased to fall and the ground became cracked and parched. They wanted 
                           him out, everyone wanted him out and when Simba showed up on that 
                           stifling stormy evening; the absolute relief and joy on their faces 
                           made him want to run away with his tail between his legs.        
                           "No," Scar heaved a sigh and lifted his head toward the 
                           brilliant stars shining fiercely from their blue/black blanket, it's 
                           over. "There will be no more running, no more trying to change what am 
                           I or what will happen." For one last time he made a resolve he meant to 
                           keep. Here, at this muddy puddle in the ground he would meet his fate 
                           without struggle. His crimes were great and his body was tired.  Here 
                           was the place of punishment, where all past transgressions would be met 
                           and answered for in full. 
                           He settled his aching head back on his forepaws. His ears 
                           swiveled on his head picking up the nighttime sounds of the Savannah. 
                           The winds whispered across the darkened grasses, the constant whir of 
                           crickets and..something else. Scar's head snapped up and he strained to 
                           pick up the faint rustling. He leapt to his feet, ignoring the pain 
                           which shot up his limbs. Something was moving toward him in the grass, 
                           faintly, trying very hard to stay concealed. He swallowed hard; he was 
                           found! In a panic he scanned the surrounding grasses for the figure 
                           approaching him.
                           So this was it, he thought to himself, it was coming on quicker 
                           than he imagined but he knew they would come. He tried to steady 
                           himself for the attack that was unavoidable. He lowered his head and 
                           bared his teeth. The rustling was almost on top of him. He splayed his 
                           claws and made small furrows in the muddy earth. Closer. A soft growl 
                           escaped from him. The tall fronds in front of him parted and then he 
                           saw a garishly colored face push it's way into view. The face broke 
                           into a wide smile showing large and somewhat crooked teeth. 
                           Scar stood for a few confused moments in his defensive position. 
                           How could this creature of all be here?  The terrifying dream, the 
                           darkness, his own nagging fears and now this; the night was becoming 
                           more and more surreal as it dragged on. Then he understood what the 
                           figure before him must mean. Simba had sent him to root him out; Scar 
                           was surprised, he didn't realize his nephew had that much bloodlust in 
                           him. He pulled his claws in and relaxed a little.
                           "So old fellow," he smiled at Rafiki, "my young nephew sent you 
                           to find me. Go on, run back and fetch him now. I'll be waiting for you 
                           when you get back. This is my home now you see." Scar laughed again, a 
                           feeble cracked sound.
                           Rafiki looked around the dirty muddy waterhole and raised an 
                           eyebrow. "Nice place you got here Scar."  Scar came out as "Skaa" in 
                           the baboons voice.
                           "Yes, yes it is. Plenty of water...dry grass, misquotoes. Quite a 
                           treasure really, I would invite you for a drink, however I don't know 
                           if you have a bacterial tolerance high enough for what I have to 
                           offer." He dipped his paw in muddy water and splashed some of it onto 
                           the ground. 
                           Rafiki found himself a dry spot on the ground and sat down; cradling 
                           his staff between his shaggy knees he regarded the lion from under his 
                           brows. A few uncomfortable moments passed between them and then he 
                           spoke.
                           "Your deeds have caught up to you Scar."
                           Scar sighed and looked at Rafiki coyly. "Now my old fellow, whatever 
                           makes you say a thing like that? I'm here of my own volition. Look 
                           around you, what lion in his right mind would pass up the chance to 
                           vacation in such a locale as this? Where I shall be going soon is ten 
                           times better. This is just a minor stop off you see. But soon the big 
                           vacation is coming."
                           Rafiki nodded. "You're not even a little scared?"
                           Scar raised a paw. "Not a bit, I would do it myself if I had the 
                           means. Scared? Well, truthfully I am a bit wary. I mean a murdering 
                           coward has no chance of sitting with the Great Kings of the Past does 
                           he?"
                           "So where do you think you will sit Scar?"
                           "Me? Most likely in the very place I have been all along. Although I 
                           suspect it won't be nearly as comfortable this time around."
                           "You have caused much heartache and great pain to many creatures 
                           Scar."
                           "I have caused more pain than you know, old fellow. I know what 
                           you're doing and don't bother. I have trotted down that path already 
                           and I know what I must do. Now please, if I may ask one small favor, go 
                           now. Let me meet my destiny alone." 
                           Scar raised himself on his pained feet and walked out onto the 
                           silent grasses surrounding the waterhole. He stumbled. Damn these paws, 
                           he grumbled inwardly. He came to a stop and flopped down on the ground. 
                           He looked at one of his forepaws. The skin had broken again and fresh 
                           blood pattered onto the ground. He licked at it gently and winced.
                           "Scar, why are you running away?"
                           Scar stopped washing his foot and for a moment looked as if he had 
                           heard the best joke of his life. He let out a gale of snickers and 
                           giggles. Rafiki approached him and sat beside him.
                           He looked at the colorful ape. "Why am I running away? Have you been 
                           paying attention? Do you remember the last few nights events? And for 
                           your information I'm not running, I'm waiting."
                           "You're running from me." Rafiki took a small pouch from the many 
                           hanging on his staff. He reached for one of Scar's paws. The lion 
                           hissed with pain and pulled away at his touch. Rafiki insisted and took 
                           the huge paw and laid it across his lap. He studied it carefully for a 
                           moment and then opened the pouch. Dipping his fingers into it he pulled 
                           out a greenish white moss and pressed it to Scar's bleeding pad. 
                           "You're running from me as you ran from those hyenas the other night. I 
                           saw that you know. Simba, he was afraid to watch, he left and thought 
                           you died by their teeth."
                           Scar's foot stopped throbbing. The moss was deliciously cool and 
                           soothing. He looked at Rafiki, who was now pulling another pouch from 
                           his staff.
                           "So they all think I died then?"
                           The ape nodded. "Yes, all think you're dead. All have a party 
                           because they think you're dead.," Rafiki gave a raucous laugh, "A -big- 
                           party because they think you're dead."
                           "Hmp! No need to rub it in you know." Rafiki was now applying a 
                           paste of some kind to his injured foot. Scar fairly sighed with relief 
                           as the soothing potion was smeared on his pad. 
                           "You made a big mess, Scar. It will take a long time to clean it up. 
                           Don't be surprised you being dead makes a lot of creatures happy."
                           Scar lowered his head. All of a sudden he felt very uncomfortable 
                           around Rafiki and just wished to go back to the mud hole and hide. He 
                           pulled his paw away from the ape and stood. He couldn't bear to look at 
                           him anymore.  
                           "I know that my death has brought joy and maybe it'll bring some 
                           measure to me as well. I was a fool my entire life. But all things will 
                           be answered for. Thank you for trying to heal my foot, but friend," he 
                           turned to Rafiki his eyes now glistening, "my foot is but a small part 
                           of me which is cracked and bleeding. This disease that I've been 
                           carrying around and passing on to everyone I meet has only one cure. 
                           You and I both know what it is. So please, go on back to Pride Rock. 
                           Tell Simba nothing. Let him believe that the disease is gone."                    
                           The lion retreated further from the ape. He could feel the lump in 
                           his throat growing bigger and he had no intention of letting his 
                           brother's friend see him in such a way.  He swallowed hard against the 
                           emotions.
                           "Scar." 
                           He heard Rafiki's voice, which had now taken on a softer tone. He 
                           didn't stop or look around. He just wished the ape would leave.
                           "Taka?"
                           At the sound of this name he stopped. It had been a long time since 
                           he had heard it. It brought with it long forgotten memories; memories 
                           of home.  Quietly he said. "You remember?"
                           "Remember when you were still Taka? Yes, I remember many things 
                           about you."
                           Scar sat down his back still to Rafiki. He still didn't have the 
                           courage to face the shaman. A breakdown threatened at the corners of 
                           his mouth and around his eyes.
                           "You were a good friend to my brother, why are you here Rafiki? I 
                           killed him. I tried to kill his son. I made his mate a widow and 
                           decimated the lands we all had to live on. Why are you here? I don't 
                           deserve your company. Please Rafiki, go home. I just want all this to 
                           come to it's rightful conclusion here."
                           Rafiki walked to Scar's side and took the lions face in one hand. 
                           Scar averted his eyes from Rafiki's. 
                           
                           "I stay, Scar, because sometimes we don't have a lot of choice about 
                           how our lives end up and in the things we do."
                           
                           "I had choices Rafiki, I just made the wrong ones."
                           
                           "I'm not absolving you, I just know things sometimes tear into 
                           the soul and make some choices too easy. How many turns of the season 
                           have you seen since your mother birthed you Scar?"
                           Scar thought for a moment. "Nearly seven, now."
                           "Did you ever love your brother Scar?"
                           Scar lowered his head again. Remembering Mufasa's broad and trusting 
                           face. "I did for a time. Yes."
                           "Then why did you kill him?"
                           
                           "I...I killed him, because..because, I never thought..."
                           
                           "You never thought what Scar?"
                           
                           Scars shoulders folded in on themselves. He seemed to be trying to 
                           make himself as small as possible. All of the feelings of the past 
                           nights welled up in him and formed a ball at the end of his throat. The 
                           awful truth of his actions, what he really did and why he did it came 
                           pouring out of him in a torrent.
                           "I killed him, because it wasn't fair! I should have been king! I 
                           should have had a beautiful mate and cub! I should have been respected! 
                           He...he..."
                           His voice came in a small whine at the last. He turned and began 
                           trotting away from Rafiki. "I killed him, because the moon was full, 
                           because the grass was green, the sky was blue." He blurted out " What 
                           in the name of the gods does it matter why I did it? I did it! He's 
                           dead and I enjoyed it at the time. I smiled in his face when I killed 
                           him. I danced a jig when I saw him fall. I loved it I tell you it was 
                           better than having a lioness! What does it matter!"
                           Rafiki shook his head sadly. "Stop this Scar."
                           Scar turned on him, running at full speed and knocked Rafiki to the 
                           ground. Snarling he shoved his face into the ape's. 
                           
                           "And you know what I said when he fell into the herd and was 
                           crushed? I lifted my head to the sky and yelled. Look Ahadi! Look at 
                           what your meek and weakling son has done. Mufasa is dead! Lying in the 
                           dust with blood pouring from his mouth and wildebeest prints on his 
                           back! And I laughed...I laughed so hard I nearly wet the ground! I 
                           couldn't wait to see his mangled body. So proud! I ran to see it and 
                           found his son, so like him, lying next to the body....," Scar's voice 
                           cracked ", and I wanted him to be dead too. Mangled and ripped, like 
                           his father."
                           Rafiki pushed Scar off of him and stood brushing the dirt from his 
                           fur. He looked at the panting lion; anger playing across his vivid 
                           features. He took a deep breath and tried to brush the rage he felt 
                           toward the capering beast off.
                           "I know what you're doing Scar and it's not going to work. You think 
                           you'll scare me off with your mad talk and larger size. But I see what 
                           you truly are. A cub, a child whose never learned what it means to be 
                           responsible, no I'm not afraid of you no matter what you try to make me 
                           think." 
                           He looked at Scar who had now seemed to deflate. The madness which 
                           danced in his eyes had abated and all that remained was a creature who 
                           was tired, scared and sorry. The lion sighed and settled back onto the 
                           grass. 
                           "I'm sorry Rafiki, I did mean to scare you and send you on your way. 
                           But I still don't understand what you're doing here. You were a friend 
                           to my brother and when he died, when I killed him, you disappeared. I 
                           never thought of you or sought your council and yet here you are."
                           Rafiki sat down on the grass next to him. He reached out and 
                           fingered Scar's long black mane. "I'm here because I believe in your 
                           own way you are coming to a place of understanding. Of realizing what 
                           it was that you did and what things you may still have to do."
                           "But Rafiki, I am damned now. I killed my brother and broke the 
                           Circle. There can be no forgiveness for those crimes. Anyway, even as 
                           we speak a posse of hyenas are most surely on their way to take care of 
                           me. Simba and the pride may think I'm dead, but they know the truth."
                           "Damned, you say? And what does this mean, this damned? Does this 
                           mean you will never see the sun shine, never eat again, roll on the 
                           grass? There is no soul who's past redemption Taka. None. The Circle 
                           grants all creatures chances to regain themselves, you included."
                           Scar smiled. "Now Rafiki, there does come a time when crimes become 
                           too great to be redeemed. You can't understand how I feel. I killed my 
                           brother! I don't want forgiveness for that. I can't take forgiveness 
                           for it."
                           "You can and you will." Rafiki patted the lion on the head," Look up 
                           at the stars Taka. The Great Wheel of the Sky spins over our heads. 
                           It's vast and changeless, do you think that your crimes have changed 
                           how the wheel moves or stopped it on it's course in any way?"
                           Scar tilted his head up and stared into the black expanse above. The 
                           stars blinked coldly from their distant beds. The sky was indeed vast 
                           and changeless. Looking up into the blackness made him feel small and 
                           insignificant. He shuddered feeling suddenly cold and lost in their 
                           endless paths.
                           "You call me by my given name, the one my mother gave me, why?"
                           
                           "Because, we have some work to do and this name will suit you more 
                           where you're going."
                           
                           "Where am I going? I'm tired and I need time to recuperate. I won't be 
                           fit to travel for many days yet and I.."
                           
                           Rafiki cut him off, putting a long finger up to Scar's face. "This 
                           journey won't require your body. You may rest still. Here I want to 
                           show you something."
                           As he turned to pull yet another pouch from his staff they both 
                           heard a noisy rustling in the grass. Two or three creatures, not 
                           bothering to stay concealed were blundering up to them. Scar's heart 
                           leapt in his chest as the smell of the oncoming creatures hit him. He 
                           reached out and patted Rafiki on the back.
                           "Seems as if we've hit endgame old boy," he pushed Rafiki's back 
                           with his nose, "go on, get yourself out of here. No need for you to 
                           suffer for my mistakes.  Go back to Simba and tell him to be a good 
                           king, watch over him." 
                           Before Rafiki could answer Scar had trotted toward the rustling. 
                           From the grasses burst three grey figures. Scar recognized them at 
                           once. They where the original three with whom he had made his pact. 
                           "How fitting," he thought. "that these three should be the end of me."
                           All three hyenas broke into wide and toothy grins at the sight of 
                           their once ally. Shenzi stepped forward, swaggering with confidence. 
                           "Well, well, well Banzi lookee at what we found."
                           Banzi walked abreast of his sister, slavering. "Yeah, looks like 
                           we found him. Our dearly departed dinner. What do you think Ed? Is he 
                           good enough to eat."
                           Ed merely laughed and joined his bigger siblings. He looked at 
                           Scar and winked. Scar made a face as the three hyenas came up beside 
                           him, they circled him like vultures over a dead body.
                           "My, I'm surprised to see you so quickly.  Very surprised. You 
                           three are usually much more disorganized than this. That knocking 
                           around you got seems to have done you good."
                           "I wouldn't be so cocky lion, you ain't getting away this time." 
                           She advanced on Scar slowly. Letting him get a good look at the many 
                           sharp teeth in her mouth. "Come on you big coward, beg me to not kill 
                           you. Come on, I want to see you cry, come on show me." 
                           The other hyenas made bawling noises, mocking sorrowful moans, 
                           cowering with their stumpy tails between their legs. Scar stood tall in 
                           their midst. "I'll not beg you for anything you stinking flea banquet. 
                           You came to kill so do it. Don't waste my time with your stupidity."
                           Shenzi stopped circling him, a look of incredulous rage on her 
                           face. "Time is the last thing you're going to have to worry about you 
                           mewling bag of bones. Banzi! Ed! Come here, on my word we plow into 
                           this big pansy. We'll see who's the stupid one!"
                           "You tell him Shenzi," Banzi piped in, he grinning at Scar, 
                           "you're in for it now lion," he spat the word out," we're going to rip 
                           you like a little rabbit."
                           From behind the circling hyenas and defiant lion came a voice. 
                           "No, I don't think you will."
                           The hyenas snapped around to see Rafiki coming toward them. 
                           Shenzi growled.
                           "Oh really? Who's going to stop us? You? Why would you, this 
                           scarred freak killed your buddy. Step aside monkey and let us get on 
                           with our work."
                           Rafiki walked into the midst of the hyenas. "We were in the 
                           middle of a lesson here, now if you like you can stay and I'll teach 
                           you one as well." He swung the staff in Shenzis direction. 
                           She immediately jumped back and her two fellows ran to cower 
                           behind her.  Scar shook his head. "Rafiki let them be done with me 
                           already, we've already been through this."
                           "Shs!," he hissed at Scar and the turned to the three hyenas who 
                           now looked considerably less bold. "Why exactly do you want to kill 
                           this creature?"
                           "He sold us out!" Shenzi barked. "he told Simba it was our fault the 
                           lands got ruined. He was a horrible king and didn't hold up his end of 
                           the bargain. Never go hungry again., yeah right."
                           "And for this he deserves to die?"
                           "He's a traitor, yes he deserves to die and he's going to." Shenzi 
                           stared hard at Scar who only reciprocated with a brush of his paw and a 
                           disdainful look. 
                           	Rafiki leaned casually on his staff. "Now tell 
                           me, has your people ever killed one of their own over such a crime?"
                           "Never," Shenzi nuzzled Banzi who was standing next to her. "we're 
                           all brothers and sisters. We never hurt each other. But he's not one of 
                           us he's a lion, for that alone he should die."
                           "Oh, but has a lion ever brought hyenas food?"
                           
                           "No, well at least not willingly." Shenzi winked at her two 
                           siblings who began snickering.
                           
                           Rafiki rolled his eyes. "Has a lion ever had free access to your 
                           territories?"
                           
                           "No way," Banzi yelped," we drive those ugly things out if they 
                           ever trespass. Hyenas have rights too you know."
                           "Undoubtedly. Well from what you say, Scar here isn't a lion 
                           after all. In fact from what you tell me he must be a hyena."   
                           Shenzi, Banzi and Ed looked at Rafiki as if he just said the sky 
                           was green and the grass was purple. Shenzi began laughing.
                           "Now you either have some serious eye problems or you've been 
                           eating some of those funny herbs you keep on you. Take a good long 
                           look, he is a lion."
                           "But you treated him like a hyena. I guess your people only 
                           follow your own rules when it's convenient to you. All those things the 
                           other animals say about your kind must true then, eh?"
                           Shenzis  laughing ceased and Rafiki could see that she had stopped 
                           to think. It was true that during their friendship with Scar, the 
                           hyenas had afforded him all the privileges of the clan. They shared 
                           food with him, gave him access to their lands and even just enjoyed his 
                           company from time to time. True, they had used him for their own gain, 
                           but in time they became more like friends than allies of convenience.  
                           Shenzi canted her ears back. As infuriating as it was she couldn't find 
                           an honorable way out of Rafiki's logic. And the hyenas honor was at 
                           stake, if only in her own mind. She was well aware of what the rest of 
                           animals said about the hyena clan. Dishonest, untrustworthy thieves and 
                           liars. Rafiki's comment burned her. She knew the truth about her people 
                           and did not want to add to their bad reputation. Shenzi might be an 
                           opportunist at heart, but she loved the clan and wanted others to look 
                           up to them. To break the most sacred of the hyenas laws would hurt her 
                           in a way no physical injury ever could. 
                           "I could let him go, but.." 
                           Banzi turned to his older sister, he couldn't believe his own ears. 
                           "Let him go! But on the way here you said you were going to kill him 
                           yourself. You said.."
                           "Shut up!" Banzi quieted himself and sat down pouting. "Like I said 
                           I could let him go, but what do I tell my people? They want his blood 
                           and it could very well mean the end of my leadership if I don't 
                           deliver. Gotta keep the natives happy you know."
                           Rafiki put an long shaggy arm across the hyenas back. "Very good 
                           decision, you are keeping the laws of your clan as true as ever. Go 
                           back to your people and tell them the deed is done. Scar will never 
                           come near your lands again, that I guarantee. Now if only you could be 
                           sure those two over there don't talk."
                           Rafiki gestured at her two siblings that were sitting looking 
                           confused and angry. They had been looking forward to this moment and 
                           now the party had been abruptly canceled.
                           "Don't worry about them, they'll keep their muzzles shut. Won't you 
                           Banzi."
                           
                           Banzi waved a paw at her. "Yeah sure, whatever you say." He was 
                           disgusted but deferred to his sister out of habit.
                           
                           "You swear he will never set foot in our lands again?"
                           
                           Rafiki held up his hand. "I swear he will never trouble you again, 
                           except in your dreams."
                           
                           Shenzi nodded. "Okay then, he can have his miserable life. But I do 
                           this only in the good name of my people and to uphold the law. Don't 
                           think that we take pity on you Scar. We don't. We wish you nothing but 
                           unhappiness all the rest of your days. Goodbye Scar, I won't say good 
                           luck, I don't wish you any."
                           "Good, good, "Rafiki clapped Shenzi on the back, "thank you for 
                           doing the right and honorable thing. The gods will smile on you. Go on 
                           back to your people and don't worry Scar will get what's coming to 
                           him." 
                           Shenzi motioned for Ed and Banzi to follow her. "Come on guys our 
                           work is done here. Banzi, stop pouting, I promise we'll kill something 
                           on the way home."
                           At this Banzi seemed to noticeably cheer up and he once began 
                           telling his sister what exactly he wanted to kill and how much of it 
                           wanted to eat. Rafiki shook his head as he watched the three move off 
                           into the distance.
                           "Ah, hyenas, you can say many things about them, but they are 
                           loyal to each other like no other creature. Lucky for you Taka, I don't 
                           think I could have fought them off by myself."
                           With a sigh Scar flopped down on the grass. "I guess I should 
                           thank you, but I won't. You just let my one chance at getting out of 
                           this miserable world walk away."
                           "Stop this self-pitying talk, "Rafiki sat in the grass next to 
                           Scar, " I told you already there will be none of that. You have some 
                           things to do, but being dead is not one of them, at least no right 
                           now." 
                           "Rafiki. why couldn't I be happy with what I had? Life in the 
                           pride wasn't all bad. I never had a mate or any close friends, but I 
                           never went hungry or needed shelter. Why couldn't I be like every other 
                           animal and be happy with that?"
                           "For some, for you, Taka the Circle of Life causes pain not 
                           contentment. You think too far ahead and behind at the same time, but 
                           never now. You can see way off into the distance, but you're blind to 
                           the things before your own nose."
                           "You can't change something like that."
                           Rafiki pulled one of the small gourds from his staff, he broke it in 
                           two. From between the two hollow shells rolled a small brown object; he 
                           held it in one hand..
                           "This," he said holding the small bit on front of Scar's nose, " may 
                           change quite a few things."
                           
                           Scar sniffed the small, shriveled object. It was pungent and earthy 
                           and it tickled something at the back of his mind.
                           
                           "What is it, a piece of fruit?" 
                           
                           "Something like that." Rafiki put his hand on Scar's neck. "Taka, 
                           you're going to have to be very strong and very brave. You're going 
                           somewhere very few creatures go, at least while they're still awake. 
                           But you must go."
                           Scar got to his feet. "I'm not sure I want to do this." 
                           "Taka you must do this if you are to live and be right with the 
                           world. Please do not turn your back on another opportunity."  
                           Scar looked from Rafiki to the small bit he held in his hand. 
                           Raising an eyebrow he asked "It won't kill me will it?"
                           "No, but even if it did, why should you worry, you've been asking 
                           for death since I came here."
                           Scar rolled his eyes and snorted. "Right you are.," He said, 
                           suddenly feeling a bit foolish, " Very well then, what do I need to 
                           do?"
                           Rafiki held the small, brown object out to Scar, who took it in his 
                           paw. He then took Scar's face in his hands and looked into the lions 
                           green eyes.
                           "Taka, keep in mind that everything that you are about to see and 
                           hear and do is real, in one way. It may not change anything in the true 
                           world, but your world will be changed. You may see and hear things that 
                           hurt or scare you. But don't run from any of them, confront them. Now 
                           take the fruit and put it in your mouth. Hold it there until it starts 
                           to melt. Don't chew it, it tastes terrible, just let it melt. I will 
                           wait for you here. Good journeying."
                           Rafiki let go of Scar and walked a few paces away. He sat down 
                           facing the lion. Scar looked at the bit again and sniffed it. Strange, 
                           it smelled like nothing else he had encountered before. He looked up at 
                           Rafiki who made a gesture for him to put the object in his mouth. He 
                           sighed and shrugged his shoulders. Away we go, he thought, and popped 
                           the bit into his mouth.                      
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           Chapter 3
                           Visiting Some Old Friends
                           
                           
                           
                           As soon as Scar pushed the small, dried bit of fruit into his 
                           muzzle, the taste of it flooded his mouth. It was like eating dried 
                           elephant dung. "No, make that dried elephant dung with dead worms on 
                           top", he thought. It took every bit of his restraint to keep from 
                           spitting it to the ground and running to the muddy pool for a drink. 
                           Fixing his gaze one Rafiki he let the horrible taste grow larger as the 
                           bit dissolved in his mouth. Rafiki must've been able to read Scar's 
                           thoughts or at least was able to read the expression on his face, for 
                           he covered his mouth to avoid laughing and nodded his head in 
                           recognition. " Apparently, Scar thought, he's done this before 
                           himself."
                           At first Scar thought that hunger and exhaustion must have 
                           overtaken him, because suddenly the quality of the light had become 
                           different. It was more intense and everything seemed to be standing out 
                           in sharp contrast. Rafiki now looked as if he were sitting half a mile 
                           away instead of a few paces. But, that wasn't the only thing. Rafiki 
                           had no taken on the appearance of thousand of fireflies. He was tiny 
                           points of light huddled together in one spot. Twinkling on and off. 
                           Scar smiled. "He's very, very pretty that way." The thought seemed to 
                           be coming from somewhere other than his head. "My head is talking to my 
                           head." 
                           The fireflies that had been Rafiki began taking their leave. Each 
                           point of light twinkling out and becoming a blank space. The air around 
                           him had changed as well. It now seemed an unbearably hot night. There 
                           was not a breeze or a whisper of sound. Just hot, thick air. Rafiki was 
                           gone, all that was left was darkness in his place. In fact it was all 
                           dark. Dark and the sound of humming cicadas. Droning and hot. Thick and 
                           pulsing. A plague of cicadas screaming in the high summer. "Oh Gods," 
                           Scar thought," what is this place." The thick air became close, 
                           crushing. He felt the air being squeezed from his lungs. It was as if 
                           the world had become a small hole the size of his own body and nothing 
                           more. He struggled, trying desperately to draw air into his lungs. He 
                           felt as if his entire body was being pushed down, made smaller. The 
                           sound of the cicadas was deeper, the sound of a single heart pulsing 
                           it's soupy blood through it veins. And then...... 
                           Light,
                           White, hot, blinding light that pushed all other thoughts from his 
                           brain. He felt himself covered in something wet and lying on something 
                           hard. He was terribly cold. Something rough passed over his body and 
                           the shock made him take in a sudden breath of air. It hit him like a 
                           keen slap. Looking about himself he could only make out the faintest 
                           shadows of two huge creatures moving nearby. One of the creatures was a 
                           monstrous beast, it loomed over him. The second was slightly smaller 
                           and it's body lay close by. The smell from this second made him feel 
                           warm and comfortable. A large booming voice filled his ears.
                           "He is very small. Oh Gods, how I had hoped there would only be one, 
                           hunting is poor and another mouth will be a strain."
                           A second voice came to him. This one lighter. The sound of it made 
                           him desperately want to move to the place the sound came from; to 
                           nuzzle it and seek warmth from it.
                           "He is small, Ahadi. But he will live. He's beautiful." The 
                           roughness went across his trembling body again. 
                           "Hmph, he may live, but he will never be very large or strong. 
                           Please Akase, think. How long can you make enough milk for both? If 
                           both cubs live, both will be weaklings like this little one. I know 
                           this must hurt you terribly; but let me take him. I promise you it will 
                           be over quickly and he will feel no pain."
                           The lighter voice now became strained and seemed on the edge of 
                           tears. He struggled again to reach it's source. But his legs wouldn't 
                           work. He tried to answer the two voices, but all that came from him was 
                           a soft squeaking.
                           "Ahadi! No! He is my cub! I have known him for many months now, I 
                           cannot leave him for the hyenas. Please, if you love me you will let 
                           him be. I promise no harm will come to the other cub because of his 
                           presence. I swear it."
                           The large voice came again, this time resigned.
                           "Very well, because you are my mate and I don't want you to suffer 
                           he may stay. But he must not interfere with the other cub. I sense 
                           great things from this first, as if the Gods themselves made him, not 
                           we. This little one will have to find his own place in the world."
                           "Yes husband, I too have sensed the power you have. The first will 
                           grow to be strong and prosperous. But this little cub, he too should 
                           have the chance to grow and find his way. With my help he will." He 
                           felt himself being nudged by something warm and wet and soon found 
                           himself pushed up against the softest and warmest place he had ever 
                           known, "Little cub," the gentle voice whispered to him, "I promise you, 
                           you will find your way."
                           His mother and father lay together in their stone cave looking down 
                           at their two new cubs. Scar felt a deep pain in his chest as he 
                           realized what he had just heard. Ahadi had not meant for him to live! 
                           Mufasa was not only the one chosen for succession, but he was the one 
                           chosen for life itself. Had it not been for his mother he would have 
                           been left on some dark rock somewhere. To die in his milk as was the 
                           custom with cubs born too sick or small to survive. Anger overtook his 
                           hurt as he thought about this.  He will have to find his own place in 
                           the world. "Oh father," Scar thought, "did you even have an inkling of 
                           how true those words you said at my birth were?" He buried his face in 
                           the warm softness that surrounded him but still felt deeply and 
                           profoundly cold.
                           However the softness was no longer there. In fact the cave and his 
                           parents were no longer there.  He saw that he was facing the northern 
                           border of the Pride Lands, a place he would become well acquainted with 
                           when he got older. Looking at the his feet he realized something 
                           strange. They were no longer the huge, heavy clawed paws that he had as 
                           an adult; but the lightly dappled paws of a cub. He was a cub! Behind 
                           him he heard the unmistakable patter of a cub romping. Turning, half 
                           expecting to see little Simba, he found himself looking into the face 
                           of his brother. "He looks so much like Simba at that age" ,Scar was 
                           struck by the similarities. 
                           Mufasa, hopped to a stop and hit Scar on the shoulder. "Come on you 
                           old sourpuss, lets wrestle." Mufasa chimed. He lowered his body and 
                           wagged his tail in a gesture for Scar to pounce on him. 
                           Scar spoke and the words seemed to fall from his mouth without 
                           thought. "No, Mufasa, not right now. I'm just looking at the land. See 
                           how pretty it is at this time of day."
                           Mufasa stopped wriggling and looked at his brother puzzled. "Why do 
                           you always want to just sit, Taka? It's more fun to play." Mufasa 
                           jumped on Scar and began tugging at his ear. "Come on, I'll show you."
                           Scar began to fight back against Mufasa. Nipping him on the face and 
                           trying to wrestle him the ground. He had almost forgotten that it could 
                           be fun to wrestle. Until, from the rocks below came the familiar 
                           booming voice again. "Mufasa, are you up there son?"
                           Mufasa stopped struggling with Scar and called back. "Yeah, Dad I'm 
                           up here."
                           Scar saw Ahadi come leaping up the rocks to where the two cubs 
                           sat. His eyes widened when he saw Mufasa and then narrowed again when 
                           they fixed on him. Regaining his composure he said, "What are you doing 
                           Mufasa?" 
                           Mufasa cheerfully answered him. "Me and Taka was wrestling. He 
                           almost got me but I pinned him."
                           Ahadi smiled. "Of course you did Mufasa, you're a pretty big cub."
                           Mufasa apparently wasn't done teasing. "I'm lots bigger than him,"He 
                           turned and stuck his tongue out at Scar, "I could whip him anytime." 
                           Scar suddenly got the urge to give the little show off a lesson on 
                           who could whip who and without thinking he ran and pounced at Mufasa. 
                           At least he would've pounced on him if he had not found himself knocked 
                           backward by something hard and sharp. "No!" He heard Ahadi yell as he 
                           flew backward and slammed into one of the stone walls that surrounded 
                           the lookout spot that would later become his hideout as an adult. 
                           He felt the blood running down one side of his face and was 
                           panicked. He couldn't see, he was blind! "Someone help me," he 
                           shrieked, "I can't see!"
                           "Oh, what have I done," he heard Ahadi say, "quick Mufasa run and 
                           get your mother. Oh gods it wasn't my fault I wasn't thinking. I'm 
                           sorry. Mufasa stop staring at him and go get your mother now!"
                           Mufasa ran away crying, as if he had just witnessed the most 
                           horrible act in the world.Scar could hear him calling for their mother 
                           in a small and scared voice. He remained crumpled on the ground. The 
                           blood from the large gash across his eye coating his face. He must not 
                           interfere with the other cub. He had interfered .  He lay on the ground 
                           bleeding for many minutes while his father stood a few steps away 
                           breathing heavily and shaking his head.
                           Scar squinted, trying to see past the blood flooding his vision and 
                           was surprised to find that his vision was just fine. In fact he was no 
                           longer lying on the ground near his father; but standing by the 
                           waterhole. The relief was like a cold splash of water on his face. 
                           He had very nearly forgotten about the incident with his father so 
                           many years ago. He had wanted to forget. That day gave him the clear 
                           understanding of what his place in the world was.  When Mufasa had come 
                           back with their mother, she had scooped the cub up in her mouth and 
                           whisked him away to the sleeping caves. There she washed the blood from 
                           his fur and tried to explain to him how his father never meant to hurt 
                           him and that it was an accident that would never happen again. Scar 
                           could remember her not sounding so convinced of this herself. Her voice 
                           had been shaking and she had been on the verge of tears.
                           Ahadi had come to the cave soon afterward. He didn't enter but stood 
                           by the entrance and spoke to him and his mother through the door. He 
                           had apologized for everything that had happened, to both Scar and his 
                           mother. Afterwards Ahadi had always made an effort to be gentle with 
                           the cub and include him in the outings he took with Mufasa. But the 
                           relationship and his father's kind words to him always seemed forced 
                           and unnatural. An extremely generous soul could call their relationship 
                           strained at best.
                           As Scar grew older he was content to let the relationship with his 
                           father slip away; much to the relief of both parties. The memories of 
                           those uncomfortable years came back to him and he shook his head sadly. 
                           "Father, I don't think I'll ever understand what happened between us. I 
                           don't think you understood it either."
                           "I did understand it Taka, but like you I wanted to forget."
                           Scar felt his heart leap to his throat. The voice that came to his 
                           ears was so familiar, so like his father. But Ahadi had been dead for 
                           over four season turns. The unmistakable feeling of another's presence 
                           came to his senses. He could feel the large lion behind him. But still 
                           didn't turn to see if his senses were right.
                           "Father? Is it really you I feel behind me?"
                           There was a long pause until the voice answered. "Yes, it's me. Taka 
                           turn around, look at me."
                           "I'm afraid to." He spoke truthfully. He didn't want to turn around 
                           to see Ahadi standing there. He feared what he might do.
                           "Don't be afraid of me Taka. I can't...I won't hurt you anymore. 
                           Please, turn and face me."
                           The voice was pleading, so unlike the stern and commanding voice 
                           he remembered. Scar sighed inwardly, bracing himself for whatever might 
                           happen. He turned his head slowly, raising his eyes slightly to the 
                           figure standing before him. 
                           It was Ahadi. Ahadi as he had been in his prime. A large, fit 
                           lion with golden brown fur and steady golden eyes. Scar couldn't help 
                           but turn fully; taking in the image of his father. Then incredibly 
                           Ahadi fell to the ground before him. Bowing as his subjects had bowed 
                           to him during his reign.
                           "Taka, please forgive me. I did you great evil during my life. I 
                           thought I was a great king, but I was not . How can a king call himself 
                           great when he drives his son to madness. Please Taka forgive me."
                           Scar felt the anger at his father melt away as he looked at the 
                           trembling figure laying at his feet. He backed away. To see Ahadi in 
                           such a state made him uncomfortable. He didn't know what to say and so 
                           blurted out the first words that came to mind.
                           "That's all right father. I know you didn't mean it."
                           Ahadi stood and looked him square in the eye. "But son the great evil 
                           is that I did mean it."
                           Scar felt a knot form in his stomach. "You, you mean you did mean 
                           all those horrible things that you did to me?" He grew flush with 
                           anger. "But why? What did it to you? I was a cub father, I didn't do 
                           anything to you! You loved Mufasa and treated him as if he was a star 
                           fallen from the sky. Why did you not have the same feelings for me? 
                           Even half of the same feelings for me!" Scar was shaking now and could 
                           feel his claws digging in to the dirt. Oh Gods how I want to hurt you, 
                           he thought.
                           Ahadi sat in the grass. He looked at Scar, his eyes bright with 
                           tears. He motioned for the younger lion to sit beside him. Scar took a 
                           few deep breaths and tried to calm himself. He moved to where his 
                           father sat and stood over him.
                           "Taka," said Ahadi, "there is much that needs telling and very little 
                           time. Listen closely and try to understand."
                           Scar looked at his father appraisingly. "I will hear you father, 
                           but know this, I'm still very angry at you." Scar sat in the grass 
                           facing his father. He could not bear to get any closer to him.
                           "I understand and would expect it to remain so for a while, maybe 
                           even forever." Ahadi let out a large breath and began speaking. "When 
                           you were born, oh how my heart sank. You stirred in me feelings that I 
                           hadn't felt in a long while," Scar opened his mouth to speak, but Ahadi 
                           held up a paw, "You see I was not an only cub. I had a brother, Mwali. 
                           So like you he was. Small and dark. My mother loved him so, as did I. 
                           We often spent the days together, he was very clever and made up 
                           stories to tell and would sit for hours under the acacia trees telling 
                           them to me. He was my best friend." Ahadi stopped and drew a deep 
                           breath, "I even miss him now as I tell you of him. Such a smart and 
                           gentle cub. So beautiful, but also very weak. He was often sick. My 
                           mother and father fussed over him, always giving him the best of the 
                           kills and keeping him warm in an effort to make him strong, like I was. 
                           I fussed over him too. I would stay in the caves with him when he 
                           wasn't feeling well and talk with him and play. It was always just 
                           enough to be with him, it didn't matter, as long as Mwali was there I 
                           was happy."
                           Scar had relaxed a bit as Ahadi told his story, falling into the gentle 
                           rhythms of his father voice.
                           "One day, though, Mwali hurt his paw. He had torn the skin of his 
                           pad on a sharp rock by the waterhole. The cut wasn't very big 
                           but...."Ahadi trailed off and hitched in another deep breath. "Mother 
                           cleaned him up right away and he seemed to be fine. We played right 
                           afterward, even though Mwali had to be careful because of the wound. 
                           Over the next few days  mother noticed the cut hadn't healed right. It 
                           smelled badly and Mwali's entire paw swelled up. She made him stay in 
                           the cave , I stayed with him to keep him company. He was in a lot of 
                           pain. He kept licking the wound but it didn't help. It hurt him 
                           terribly, he didn't complain, he never did, but I could tell. The next 
                           day, he, he just...lay there. He said he was too tired to get up and 
                           that he felt hot. My mother told me to leave the cave, that whatever 
                           Mwali was suffering from I might get too. I'll never forget her face 
                           Taka. She was so frightened." 
                           Ahadi's eyes were now full of tears, his voice coming in pained 
                           spurts. Scar put a paw over his father's, he noticed how cold it felt.
                           "For days Mwali lay in the cave. Crying out in pain. I wasn't allowed 
                           to see him, but I could hear him. The flesh of his paw had begun to rot 
                           and the rot had spread to the rest of him. For many days he lay there, 
                           my mother never emerged from the cave. She was heartbroken and thought 
                           she could save him. All the pride knew what was happening, but my 
                           mother held on, trying to fix him, to make him well. Finally my father 
                           instructed the rest of the pride to take my mother out of the cave by 
                           force. She cried and begged as they pulled her out. Then my father went 
                           inside and soon........Mwali stopped crying. I will never forget the 
                           sound of him dying. My mother was never the same after he died. She had 
                           always been a happy lioness and enjoyed the life of a hunter. But after 
                           she lost her son, she became withdrawn. It killed me to see her suffer 
                           every day after he died."                                    
                           Scar's mind held the image of the long dead cub. Like him, but 
                           dead. Lying in a cave suffering for days while he brother heard his 
                           death moans. He felt a chill run up his back. A cub like me, he 
                           thought.
                           "When your mother pushed you out," Ahadi continued after 
                           regaining some composure, "and I saw you. So small and weak. Dark 
                           furred. I thought, it's Mwali all over again. I prayed you wouldn't 
                           live to take you first breath. But you did live. But still the memory 
                           of my brother's horrible death and the pain it caused my mother 
                           hardened me to the fact that you would most likely die. Every day I 
                           expected you to die. Every day I waited to see that terrible fear on 
                           your mother's face. I lived like this throughout your cubhood, always 
                           waiting for that day when you would leave and tear Akase apart. Over 
                           time I began to hate you. Yes, Taka hate. I hated you for putting that 
                           fear into me. For reminding me of the brother I loved and who died a 
                           agonizing death. I felt how dare this cub live when my brother died! 
                           How dare he make me feel so helpless and afraid. Oh Taka, please 
                           forgive me. I shouldn't have blamed you for the feelings I had. I 
                           should have loved you as I loved Mwali. Maybe then all this mess would 
                           have never happened. You would have grown up strong and right. Instead 
                           I abandoned you and planted the first seeds of hate in your heart. 
                           Forgive me Taka."
                           Scar looked at his father and could now see the cub he had once 
                           been. How Ahadi had been weak and vulnerable as he had been. His father 
                           who had always been the vision of strength and righteousness had his 
                           pains too. Scar touched his father's mane.
                           "We are very much alike you and I, father. We both made others 
                           suffer for our weaknesses. I forgive you father, because I've been and 
                           still am where you where."
                           Hi father rose to his feet and nuzzled Scar on the side of the 
                           head. The eerie coldness of his father's touch startled him. Ahadi 
                           smiled at him.
                           "Thank you son. I will walk the stars path with a lighter tread 
                           now. Son, you must rise up as well, there is much that needs to be 
                           done. Please, do not continue to do as I did. Clear your heart of the 
                           things that tear at it. I must go now. You have many paths to walk 
                           before you end your journey."
                           "Thank you father." Scar watched as the lion who was his father 
                           disappeared into the grass. "My journey is well underway."                                     
                           Scar stood for many moments after the apparition of his father 
                           had disappeared. He could imagine how Ahadi could resent him and try to 
                           erase his smaller son from his mind. In doing so he was erasing the 
                           memories of his brother Mwali. Hatred for his father was now replaced 
                           by pity and understanding. 
                           Scar had rarely felt pity for any creature other than himself 
                           before. While living under Mufasa's reign he had felt as if all the 
                           world were plotting and scheming for his downfall. It made the act of 
                           killing his brother seem right, almost sacred in his mind.
                           "Mufasa!," he called out to the sky above, "brother, I know 
                           you're here. Please come to me." He looked about but could not see 
                           Mufasa materializing from anywhere. His head began to feel very heavy 
                           and buzzed as if it were full of angry hornets. "The fruit must be 
                           doing this to me," he thought, suddenly remembering that all that had 
                           happened wasn't truly real. He chuckled to himself. "I surely hope 
                           Rafiki doesn't do this sort of thing very often."
                           He caught a slight movement out of the corner of his eye and 
                           whipped around to face who he thought must be his dead brother. 
                           However, when he got a full look at the vision before him he felt his 
                           legs turn to water.
                           The beast before him moved with a slimy, liquid grace. It skulked 
                           out from the shadows and stared at him, it's jaws slavering. Scar shook 
                           his head, "How can this be? You're..." He trailed off.
                           "You." The beast smiled. "Ah, yes. I am what you think I am 
                           Scar." It reeked of old flesh left to rot in the blazing noontime sun. 
                           "I'm you, I'm everything you were, are now and will ever be. Quite 
                           handsome aren't I?" It ran a paw over it's greasy mane.
                           Scar swallowed. The thing that was now sidling up to him, did 
                           indeed look like him. A huge twisted parody of himself that was 
                           grinning at him. He backed a step away from it.
                           "Why Scar, I'm offended. How can you back away from your old 
                           friend. Very well, have it your way I won't take offense." It's voice 
                           was the sound of water over gravel.
                           Scar was disgusted by the creature before him. Is this how the 
                           world saw him? He forced himself to raise his body to it's full height 
                           and moved closer to the beast.
                           "You're not an old friend and you're certainly not me anymore. Call me 
                           Taka, it's my true name. Scar is what you are."
                           The beast's smile widened, then it grimaced. "Call me Taka." He 
                           mocked. "Oh Scar you big fool. Have you been listening to what that 
                           monkey has been telling you? I thought you were smarter than that."
                           "I have been listening because it's true, every word of it. I 
                           followed you and look where it got me. I have no home, no friends, 
                           nothing. I killed my own brother because of you."
                           The beast sighed. "Of course you did and you should thank me for 
                           giving you the resolve. Do you really think Mufasa wanted you around?  
                           A weak and shiftless lion? That's what he thought of you, you know."
                           Scar snarled, "If he thought that it's because that's what I had 
                           become. Because of you."
                           The beast bared teeth as black as obsian and circled Scar. The 
                           stench of it's flesh was overpowering, decay and rot played on it's 
                           skin. It's claws were shot and it's tail lashed to and fro like an 
                           angry python.
                           "Because of me you lived! Because of me you didn't wander out 
                           into the fields to die. You know this Scar." Scar began to speak but 
                           the beast cut him off. "No, no don't bother to deny it. You welcomed me 
                           into you like a lioness in heat my friend. You loved me and what I made 
                           you. Come on, tell me this isn't so."
                           Scar hung his head as the beast nodded at him gravely. It was 
                           true, he had reveled in his insolence and delighted in the pain he 
                           caused.  When the pride had gone hungry all those months he gloated in 
                           the gaunt faces of the lionesses. He wished to see them suffer, to 
                           watch them beg for him to move to pride to better hunting grounds. Each 
                           time he had refused; drinking in the expressions of frustration and 
                           grief the pride wore. It was his meat during those hungry months.
                           "I can't tell you I did not enjoy your company for a time." Scar 
                           mumbled to the reeking apparition pacing around him. "But that's over, 
                           I don't want you to be part of me anymore."
                           "Tsk, tsk, don't say anything you'll regret. The first time you 
                           come up against some obstacle, the first time another lion beats you, a 
                           lioness turns you down or you miss your prey you'll want me back. I 
                           know you Scar, you're weak."
                           Scar's lips drew back from his teeth, he now began moving in an 
                           opposite circle from the beast. His claws were out and he lowered his 
                           head.
                           "Not anymore "friend"," he spat in the hulking creatures 
                           direction, "Weakness is what brought me here. I'm done with it. My life 
                           with you as my guide is finished."
                           He felt a sudden stinging pain on the side of his head and found 
                           himself sprawled out on the ground, He could feel the first warm 
                           trickles of blood course through the fur on his face.
                           "You think you'll be rid of me?" The beast advanced on his prone 
                           form. It's eyes burned with murderous rage. Scar saw red flecks on the 
                           tips of it's extended claws. The breath of the enraged animal hit his 
                           face. Hot and rancid. It was breathing in short puffs. "I should kill 
                           you for that, you ungrateful son of a hyena."
                           It stopped and stood over him. The twisted mask of anger on it's face 
                           melted in an equally twisted mask of pity.
                           "But, I won't." It drew it's claws in. "Killing you would do me no 
                           good, would it?"
                           Scar righted himself and sneered at the beast.
                           "No, a lowly belly worm does itself no favors by killing it host."
                           The beasts eyes crinkled with delight. It widened it jaws in a 
                           capering grin, giving Scar a good look at it's blackened gums and 
                           yellow fangs.
                           "Names, names. There you go old fellow. Just like old times. Feel 
                           good does it?"
                           Scar tensed the muscles in his shoulders, feeling them leap to 
                           attention. His claws splayed, he stood and approached the beast.  A 
                           strangely calm smile crossed his face.
                           "But you know," he said, "the host does itself a world of good by 
                           killing the lowly worm."
                           Without a warning growl to announce his intention, Scar hurled 
                           himself at the leering vision before him. Caught by surprise, beast 
                           fell heavily onto it's back. It flailed frantically with it's front 
                           paws. One large, hooked claw caught Scar across the nose, coating the 
                           front of his muzzle with blood. Scar paid it no mind.
                           "Yes," he snarled, "you are a part of me, a part that I'm taking 
                           back, Right..Now!"
                           He clamped his jaws down on the beasts right foreleg which had 
                           been trying desperately to find purchase. Much to Scar's surprise his 
                           teeth broke through the rotten flesh and it fell apart with a distinct 
                           puff.
                           The writhing beast shrieked as the leg fell away and blew into the 
                           night. Panic played on it's features and it's voice took on a decidedly 
                           pleading tone.
                           "Please, Scar! Don't do this!"
                           Scar plowed his teeth into the belly of the screaming creature, the 
                           flesh once so solid and heavy looking smashed under his snapping fangs. 
                           "Scar, You'll regret this! You need me! Think of the lionesses! They 
                           hated you, I protected you!"
                           Scar said nothing, he just continued working his grinding teeth into 
                           the stinking form.
                           
                           "Think! Think of Mufasa!"
                           
                           Scar stopped and looked at the beast. His eyes narrowed and focused 
                           on the muddy, pleading eyes before him. He smiled.
                           "I am."
                           And then drove his teeth into the lifeless pleading eyes, puncturing 
                           the dull light that came from them. His mouth flooded with the taste of 
                           the beast. The taste of corruption and bitterness. He raised his head 
                           and black sand poured from his mouth. Shuddering, he turned and vomited 
                           onto the grass.
                           Looked back to where the horrible vision of himself had lain. 
                           Nothing remained.  Scar was dead, long live Scar. He laughed to 
                           himself. 
                           "Well, done brother. But you know, if you had listened when I tried 
                           to teach you how to fight that would have gone much smoother."
                           The voice, so deep and commanding. Scar lowered his head in shame as 
                           the soothing sound of his long dead littermate came to him.
                           "Mufasa...." He began and then fell silent. He felt fixed in  place, 
                           as if he turned and looked into the eyes of his brother he may die. 
                           "Face me, brother." Mufasa sounded calm as the grass on a windless 
                           day. Willing his body with all his strength Scar turned. He kept his 
                           head lowered, fixed on the grass." Face me."
                           Raising his eyes from his paws, his gaze crept slowly over the form 
                           before him. Crawled over the tawny, golden shape of the creature with 
                           whom he had shared birth and then brought to death.  Meeting the calm, 
                           commanding eyes that rested in the broad and open face, Scar felt his 
                           knees collapse under him. 
                           "Great king, my littermate, my brother. Please forgive my evil and 
                           betrayal of you. And...the evil I did to your son.  Everything that 
                           happened was my fault, my ignorance. I bow to you Mufasa and beg your 
                           forgiveness."
                           Scar lay at the huge feet of his older brother, shaking with both 
                           fear and sadness. He braced himself for whatever vengeful punishment 
                           might come from the figure before him. Instead he felt a warm, gentle, 
                           weight rest on the back of his mane.
                           "Stand Taka, do not cower before me. I am not the enemy and never 
                           have been. Part of the enemy has been challenged and conquered. Now 
                           stand before me and face me as an equal."  Scar hesitated, still a bit 
                           afraid. "Rise!" Mufasa roared and Scar found himself yanked up roughly 
                           by the mane. His legs were able to find the ground and prevent him 
                           sprawling over when Mufasa let him go.
                           Breathing heavily with the force with which he was brought to his 
                           feet, he steadied himself and looked squarely at Mufasa. The huge lion 
                           looked at him sternly. Pity had no place on the lion's countenance.
                           "Brother, you have done some horrible things during your lifetime. 
                           None of which I or anyone else can redeem you of."
                           Scar began to speak. "But..." Mufasa cut him off with a growl.
                           "Silence!"  Mufasa showed his teeth as he spoke. "For years you've 
                           been making excuses for your behavior. Always blaming others for when 
                           you come up short." Mufasa began to pace back and forth in front of 
                           Scar. "Maybe I should have cuffed you around a bit when you were 
                           younger and began to act like a fool. But I didn't. No one did."
                           Scar started looking at his paws again and his tail began to twitch 
                           uncomfortably. Mufasa's face pushed roughly into his.
                           "Look at me damn you!"  A paw lashed out and Scar found himself 
                           knocked back to the ground with stunning force. His brother stood over 
                           him growling.
                           "It's over, no more cowering, no more whining and making excuses. 
                           Today you stand as a lion. A grown male with responsibilities. When you 
                           miss you prey, it's your responsibility. When you make an enemy, they 
                           are yours. When you hurt someone else, that hurt is yours. From now on 
                           everything you do belongs to you. No more Scar, Taka. You must kill 
                           him. Or else you'll have lived in vain."
                           A grown lion, Scar thought, have I really been so cub like and 
                           foolish that I haven't become an adult yet?
                           "Yes, you have." Mufasa answered his unspoken thoughts. "You've 
                           been a overgrown and very dangerous cub up until now. But unlike a 
                           youngling that can be excused it's stupid behavior, you can't. Your 
                           stupidity cost me my life, almost cost my son his life and brought 
                           misery to the pride."
                           "But, how can I go on?" Scar asked. "I've done such evil, your 
                           son was right I don't deserve to live."
                           "Maybe, maybe not. But live you will, because there are some 
                           things that need doing. Things you need to do." Mufasa sidled up to his 
                           brother and gestured his head toward the distance. "Out there, is where 
                           you must go. To the place where the sun meets the earth."
                           Scar turned to his brother, a questioning look on his face. "What 
                           must I do there."
                           Mufasa shook his head. "That you cannot know until the time 
                           comes. Taka, do not fail me, don't make my death good for nothing." He 
                           put his paw to his brothers face. "Taka, you must fulfill your destiny 
                           and take -your- place in the circle of life."
                           "But why? I killed you, damn it! Why are you doing this, why 
                           don't  you haunt me, send me to my death! I can't take this." Scar's 
                           body twitched in agitation. Mufasa remained nonplused. 
                           "Guilt and self pity are indulgences you can take part in no more. 
                           Why don't I kill you? Well I can't for one thing and even if I could 
                           why would I? It would solve nothing. No Taka, the tasks that lie ahead 
                           of you are much harder to accomplish than dying. And you must meet them 
                           with strength and courage. No more crying like a cub, Taka. Today is a 
                           new day." Mufasa's expression softened. "And more, do you think I've 
                           forgotten what you once were?"
                           Scar nodded, "I know you were my friend once."
                           "We shared our mother's breast and learned together. I remember how 
                           you came to me when father was...hard on you. You were my friend and 
                           equal then. When did we grow so far apart?"
                           "I grew apart, Mufasa you did nothing to earn my hatred. Of all the 
                           creatures you and mother were my world. I was the one who pushed you 
                           aside. I'm so very sorry Mufasa. Would that I could take it back...."
                           Mufasa smiled and back away. "You can't. But you can fulfill your 
                           destiny." He turned and began to melt away into the blackness. "Find 
                           your destiny Taka and put things right. Don't fail me or yourself 
                           again."
                           His brother's form breaking up into the darkness, Scar called after 
                           it. "I won't fail you, I swear it. Be well Mufasa and look over Simba."
                           Whether or not the ghostly figure heard him Scar couldn't tell, for 
                           Mufasa was gone.  He stood on the darkened plain, the wind caressing 
                           the long dark mane which hung about his face. The place where the sun 
                           meets the earth, he thought, what lay there? He felt a small jump of 
                           anticipation in his belly as he thought of traveling to the land Mufasa 
                           had said his destiny, his very redemption lay. 
                           He stood very tall, facing the wind. A small smile, a genuine smile, 
                           not the conniving grin he used to wear crossed his face. Taking a deep 
                           breath of the cool night air and held it momentarily and then.....
                           A deep booming roar came from deep inside his gut. It echoed across 
                           the rippling sea of grass. It hit his ears like a cry of freedom. 
                           Freedom.
                           then,
                           slipping
                           falling back.
                           
                           Chapter 4
                           Waking
                           
                           
                           
                           It was hot and the air was thick and heavy. Scar's eyes snapped 
                           open. He was laying in the grass. The night was still around him. He 
                           looked about for whatever new terror or phantom might be awaiting him. 
                           A few paces away he saw a familiar shaggy grey form.
                           Rafiki still sat where Scar had left him, cradling his staff between 
                           his knees, singing quietly to himself. He had heard the lion begin to 
                           twitch and moan as he came back to the land of the living. but he sat 
                           quietly waiting for Scar to fully come to. A cleansing could sometimes 
                           to a tiring and terrifying experience and Rafiki had no desire to scare 
                           the poor beast.
                           The lion moaned in pain as the first few thumps of what would be a 
                           massive headache began.  His paws still ached and they reached up to 
                           touch the place where he had been wounded during the battle with his 
                           demon. He touched nothing but whole flesh.The long gash had never 
                           happened. He turned his head from side to side trying to work some of 
                           the stiffness from it and audibly winced as a sharp pain ran from the 
                           nape of his neck to his forehead. He forced himself to his feet and 
                           began to stagger toward the waterhole. He was horribly thirsty. 
                           Rafiki rose and pulled a large gourd made of buffalo hide from his 
                           staff. He walked up to Scar and put an arm over his neck.
                           "Shh," he whispered, "lie down again." He gently pushed the lion 
                           down. Scar hadn't the strength to resist and lay heavily back down to 
                           the grass.
                           "Water," he rasped, "I have to have a drink."
                           Rafiki uncapped the gourd, which was actually a waterskin, and 
                           poured some of the cool liquid into his cupped palm. He held the water 
                           under Scar's nose.
                           "Here, drink this," the lion began to lap up the water greedily from 
                           his hand, "slowly, you'll sick it up if you drink too fast."
                           Scar licked Rafiki'palm dry and then said to him. "More, please."
                           Rafiki put the waterskin down and took the lions face into his 
                           hands. He looked carefully into Scar's yellow and green eyes. He 
                           nodded. "How does your head feel? Does it pain you?"
                           Scar snorted, "It feels like an elephant has been doing a mating 
                           dance on it. Can I have some more water, please."
                           "In a moment," Rafiki took another gourd, broke it and a yellowish 
                           powder, like sand poured out of it. He took the waterskin again and 
                           mixed the powder together with the water in his palm. He held it out to 
                           Scar. The lion sniffed his palm. The water smelled bitter and nasty. 
                           "Just drink it." Rafiki said. Scar lapped it up, a bit less greedily 
                           this time. The taste was awful. Afterward he belched at the nasty 
                           bitter taste caught in his throat.
                           Rafiki made an exaggerated face of disgust at the sound. "Phaugh! 
                           What an ugly sound to accompany such a momentous occasion." He ruffled 
                           the top knot on the lion's head. "That will help your headache. May not 
                           taste good, but it is good." 
                           "Sure doesn't," Scar rolled onto his back and let out a large sigh, 
                           "Gods, but I'm tired."
                           Rafiki laughed, "I'm not surprised, you've done a lot today."
                           "Rafiki, where did I go?" 
                           "You've been to a place few have been Taka. You've been given the 
                           chance to cleanse yourself and start anew. Where do you feel you've 
                           been."
                           Scar rolled onto his side and lay his still throbbing head on his 
                           paws. "I'm not sure really. I feel like I've been inside myself. It's 
                           very strange, I feel very different."
                           Rafiki sat down next to Scar. Taking the waterskin he offered him 
                           more water. Very quickly the lion emptied the it. Tossing the skin 
                           aside Rafiki put an arm over Scar's shoulder. "What do you plan to do 
                           now, Taka.?"
                           "Mufasa said to go to the place where the sun and earth meet. So 
                           that's where I'm going."
                           Rafiki's eyes widened. "Mufasa said? Well, you better go there. Not 
                           very good to disobey your dead brother." 
                           Scar's head dropped and the mention of "dead brother." Rafiki chided 
                           himself for bringing it up. "I'm sorry Taka. I didn't mean anything by 
                           it."
                           Scar looked at Rafiki and watery brightness shone in his eyes. "No, 
                           it's okay. This is the first time in many years that I've been able to 
                           think of my brother with anything but hate." He put a large paw on 
                           Rafiki's face. "And I have you to thank for it."
                           Rafiki smiled at the lion. He looked different now. The corners of 
                           his mouth no longer pulled downward in a derisive scowl. The old 
                           skulking posture was replaced with a more relaxed and comfortable air. 
                           He now looked his seven years instead of the twelve or twenty he used 
                           to look. 
                           "Not just me, you played a hand in this Taka and it sounds as if you 
                           have more work to do. No matter ,time enough to think about it 
                           tomorrow, sleep now. You need some rest." He smoothed back Scar's black 
                           mane. Looking down he noticed no instruction was necessary for Scar had 
                           already slipped into a deep and comfortable sleep.
                           Rafiki stayed through most of the night. Watching over his ward as 
                           he stirred gently with dreams of forgotten times. As the sun began to 
                           creep over the plains, banishing the tricky shadows of the night; 
                           Rafiki stood and gathered up his staff. He walked over to where Scar 
                           lay on his side, still snoring soundly, even though tick birds and 
                           swallows had begun to sing loudly in the scattered trees. Bending he 
                           touched the lions mane. "Farewell, Taka and good hunting." Then left 
                           the  plains without a look back.
                           
                           Chapter 5
                           The Cape Hunting Dogs Meet the Spirit Lion
                           
                           Around the time of the high sun, Scar finally began to awake from 
                           the long night's rest.  After a bone cracking yawn and long stretch of 
                           the front legs he began to look for Rafiki. He was no where to be 
                           found. Scar was a little disappointed. He had begun to enjoy Rafiki's 
                           company and was looking forward to having a companion for a little 
                           while. It had been a long time since he had someone to talk to. Longer 
                           than he could remember. He had to swallow back the tinniest bit of 
                           anger that came to him. "Apparently, I still have some work to do," he 
                           thought to himself.
                           Suddenly a rumble came from his stomach, along with a feeling a 
                           nausea. It had been more than half a week since his last substantial 
                           meal. He automatically scanned the horizon looking for a sign of a 
                           small antelope or zebra yearling he could take down. There was none and 
                           then he laughed to himself. Who was he trying to fool in thinking he 
                           could do any hunting of his own. Scar had always been very lazy when it 
                           came to learning new skills, he had always thought of himself as above 
                           the concerns of ordinary animals. Now with the sharp pain and dizziness 
                           he felt he realized his folly.
                           He looked toward the western horizon and decided that his journey 
                           should begin. Trotting with all the briskness he could muster he left 
                           the plain where his life began.
                           As he moved through the seemingly endless grassland, Scar kept his 
                           nose to the wind for the slightest sign of carrion or a kill made by a 
                           smaller animal. It wasn't exactly noble, but food was food.  As he 
                           passed a small stand of short, stubby trees he lifted his nose and 
                           inhaled deeply.
                           He caught the faint scent of fresh blood. His stomach rumbled in 
                           anticipation. There was another scent under the blood. Something 
                           familiar. Somewhat like a hyena, but different. It was a sharp, cunning 
                           smell. The scent of a predator. There would be no free meal today, 
                           unless he could be crafty enough to snatch it. He knew he was in shape 
                           to fight for dinner.
                           But what was it? Scar racked his brain trying to recall where he had 
                           smelled that scent before. It was always best to know your enemy before 
                           rushing in. Then from a distance came four short barks, interrupting 
                           his thoughts and bringing forth a clear memory.
                           The cape hunting dogs! Now he remembered.  He had only seen the 
                           shaggy 
                           predators twice during his tenure in the Pride Lands. The first time 
                           had been when Mufasa 
                           had just become king. They had been a small pack out scouting new 
                           hunting grounds. With his 
                           typical bravado and zeal Mufasa had gone out to expel the dogs by 
                           force. It was not a wise move. Mufasa had never encountered the dogs 
                           before and he was unprepared for the strength of the pack. Pound for 
                           pound the dogs were the most formidable hunters in the veldt. Mufasa 
                           had returned quickly looking somewhat chagrined and instructed the 
                           pride to stay out of the dog's way. It was not a luxury that he had 
                           afforded many creatures. 
                           The second time the dogs passed through unmolested. Mufasa had a 
                           clear memory of his earlier encounter with them and was not eager to 
                           repeat the experience.  They left without incident, but not without 
                           first killing an impressive number of the herd living in the Pride 
                           Lands. Their hunting skills were unquestioned. They were efficient, 
                           organized and deadly. They did, however, have one weakness.  He had 
                           learned from the hyenas, who hated the dogs more than the lions, that 
                           they had a strange religion. An almost fanatical one. The dogs were 
                           firm believers in spirit animals, creatures from the Other World who 
                           took true form and roamed the earth. 
                           These spirits could be beneficial or malevolent. They often 
                           encountered animals on their unknown journeys through the world and 
                           could bestow favor on those deemed worthy.  To the dogs to meet one of 
                           these travelers was a great honor and bode well for the dog's pack. It 
                           seemed strange to him at the time. Still did. But, it also gave him a 
                           good idea.
                           
                           "If I play this right, he chuckled to himself, I shall have a 
                           full belly, a bit of rest and a little revenge in the bargain." A 
                           feeling of cub-like mischief filled him as he crept through the grass 
                           trying to locate the origin of the scent.   He moved slowly, careful to 
                           stay downwind. To reveal himself too soon would wreck the plan now 
                           formulating in his mind. He would put his cunning and slyness to good 
                           use.  He found the dogs by a small stand of trees. It was a small pack, 
                           probably a hunting party. They were standing over the fresh carcass of 
                           a zebra. Involuntarily he licked his chops at the sight. Quietly he lay 
                           in the grass, listening to the dogs.  "Good kill, Nabuk", said one of 
                           the dogs to what seemed to be the leader.  The larger dog nodded to 
                           him, "Yes this one went down easy, it'll bring much meat to the pack."
                           Nabuk, that must be the leader. Scar readied himself. "O.k., he 
                           thought, better make this good, or I'll have these fellows snapping at 
                           my heels." With that he burst from his hiding place and ran into the 
                           midst of the dogs. He panted as if he had run many miles. "Oh, great 
                           hunting dogs, he blurted out, at last I've found you. I bring 
                           news...grave danger." He stopped, catching his breath.
                           The lead dog stepped forward and spoke, "You have trespassed on 
                           the territory of the pack ,lion. Leave at this moment and we will spare 
                           you." The large dog flattened his ears and bared his teeth.
                           Scar turned his head to look at the dog. "You must be Nabuk, your 
                           hunting prowess has not gone unnoticed to the Great Dog." He smiled at 
                           the now bewildered looking dog.
                           Nabuk stepped back from the strange lion. "How do you know my 
                           name? I've never seen you before and where did you come from?" The 
                           other dogs now stepped forward to take a good look at the creature 
                           before them.
                           "We in the Other World know many things Nabuk," Scar intoned in a 
                           dramatic voice, "we have watched you many times from above."
                           Nabuk looked suspicious, this animal claimed to be a spirit lion, 
                           but he could also be an ordinary thief out to steal the pack's kill. 
                           "You look and smell like an  ordinary lion to me stranger, perhaps you 
                           are nothing more than a common thief." The other dogs nodded in 
                           agreement.
                           A look of great offense crossed Scar's face. "Common thief eh? 
                           Very well, I will inform the Great Dog that you have no need of our 
                           help. Good day and good luck." He turned and began to trot away. 
                           The dogs looked to their leader. They were at a loss. What if 
                           they just turned away a messenger from the Other World, great 
                           misfortune would befall the pack if so. To offend a spirit offering 
                           guidance was the greatest sin a dog could commit, generations of dogs 
                           would pay for their insolence. The lion had indeed looked strange, 
                           unlike any other they had ever seen. Nabuk watched the figure 
                           retreating in the distance. His chieftain would tear him apart if he 
                           had indeed offended a spirit. Against his better judgment he called out 
                           to the strange lion. "Wait, great lion, please come back!"
                           Scar looked over his shoulder at the dogs. They seemed panicked 
                           now. Coolly he replied, "No, I have been offended, I bring news of a 
                           great disaster and you bare your teeth to me. No I must leave." He 
                           turned as if to go once again.
                           Nabuk ran to Scar's side, "Please, I meant no offense, I was just 
                           protecting my pack. You must understand." He was clearly frightened 
                           now. Scar did not reply but seemed to be considering the dog's apology 
                           carefully. Then he turned away again. The other dogs had now joined 
                           them. They held their tails and head low, trying desperately not to 
                           further offend the great spirit.
                           Nabuk felt his suspicion fall away. If this lion meant the pack 
                           harm he would be at the kill right now, they had given him plenty of 
                           opportunity. No, this indeed must be a spirit lion. He must make amends 
                           to the great spirit, for the good of the pack. He bowed low before 
                           Scar. "Great lion, please accept the offering of this zebra to make up 
                           for any offense I caused you." The other dogs bowed in kind.
                           Scar looked at the carcass lying in the grass. He squelched the 
                           urge to leap on it and begin feasting. Instead he nodded at the dogs. 
                           "I most humbly accept your offer, all offense is forgotten." He smiled 
                           benevolently at the dogs, trying his hardest not to laugh as he did so.
                           Nabuk approached him. "Great lion," he spoke reverently, "you 
                           mentioned something about a danger to the pack. Please what is it I 
                           must warn the chief." Scar lay himself on the grass, the dogs did the 
                           same. Scar wondered if he jumped up and down would the dogs follow 
                           suit. It would be interesting to see, but he was hungry he would have 
                           his fun later.
                           "I wish that I could my friend," he replied wearily, "but I'm 
                           exhausted from my long journey. The secret remains locked inside. When 
                           this form I am in is replenished all will be told." Nabuk nodded, the 
                           Other World must be far away, their guest must be fed. He instructed 
                           the hunting party to tear up the carcass and feed the lion. It would 
                           not do to have a great spirit dirty himself. Scar smiled inwardly, this 
                           was turning out better than he thought, as the dogs lay the choicest 
                           pieces of meat at his feet, first class service and everything!
                           Scar ate as he never had before. Rich liver, kidneys, all the 
                           best pieces of the zebra found it's way down his throat. Life in a  
                           pride had never allowed him such luxury.  Finally when his belly had 
                           reached the point of bursting he licked his paws clean and called the 
                           dogs to gather around him.
                           "Now what I am about to tell you comes from the Great Dog 
                           himself, so you all must listen carefully."  He spoke gravely, looking 
                           at all of the dogs in turn.
                           "You have our full attention, great lion, we will hear your 
                           news." Nabuk said. All ears turned toward the lion, not one of them 
                           stirred.
                           "There is a great disaster coming for the dog pack. A terrible 
                           horde of creatures are coming to destroy you. They hate the great 
                           hunting dogs, they are determined to see an end of you."
                           All ears canted back, startled. "Who is it?" Nabuk pleaded, Who 
                           wants the pack destroyed?"
                           "They are the most vile spirit animals in the Other World, filthy 
                           beasts." Scar intoned
                           
                           The dogs began whispering among themselves. Who could it be? Nabuk 
                           persisted, "Please tell us, great spirit, the chief must know!"
                           Scar looked at gathered pack. They looked utterly terrified. He 
                           almost felt bad for frightening them. But then again, it was too good 
                           to resist. Finally he said, "It is the hyena spirits, they envy the 
                           dogs and want to rid the world of them." The dogs gasped, the hyenas! 
                           The dogs despised the hyenas, felt them to be lazy scavengers unworthy 
                           of breath.
                           "Those disgusting beasts, so they are filthy in both body and 
                           spirit." Nabuk said, "I should have known."
                           "You will find these craven spirits to the east, north of a large 
                           jutting rock. They haunt an elephant graveyard." Scar went on, "They 
                           are gathering to send a war party to destroy the pack. They will kill 
                           all the males and mate with your females, they will corrupt everything 
                           the pack stands for. They are ruthless, they must be stopped!" All the 
                           dogs jumped to their feet at once. The growled fiercely. They would 
                           stop the hyenas, let them try to destroy the pack! "I will inform my 
                           chief at once," said Nabuk, " we will send many dogs to the east. We 
                           will kill the hyena spirits, they will trouble no one again!"
                           "No!," Taka said, "you must not try to kill the hyena spirits. 
                           They will only come back more powerful, seeking revenge." He wanted to 
                           play a bit of a prank  he didn't want the hyenas dead.
                           Nabuk looked distressed. "What shall we do then great lion? How 
                           can we rid ourselves of this danger?" The dogs were upset, all seemed 
                           lost.
                           "There is one way, listen closely now." All the dogs looked at 
                           the lion in anticipation. They were ready to do anything it took to 
                           save the pack."You must....bite their tails!" The dogs looked puzzled, 
                           this was a strange remedy indeed.  Scar smiled, "A hyena spirit carries 
                           all his magic in his tail, you know. That is why they carry their rumps 
                           so close to the ground, to protect it. One good hard bite to the tail 
                           will disable them, I know it sounds strange, but it is so." 
                           "We do not question the wisdom of the spirits great lion, I will 
                           tell my chief at once." Nabuk bowed at Scar. "We must go, great spirit, 
                           thank you for your service."
                           Scar nodded, "Yes you must go at once, time grows short. 
                           Remember, east to the jutting rock, then north to the elephant 
                           graveyard. And no killing!"
                           "Yes great spirit, and thank you again." 
                           At once the pack turned and began running toward their den site. 
                           In a moment they were out of sight. Taka began to laugh, he wished for 
                           all the world he could be their. The vision of dozens of confused 
                           hyenas running from dozens of cape hunting dogs snapping at their rumps 
                           came into his mind. He laughed harder. "Good hunting to you faithful 
                           dogs!" he called into the distance. He himself would resume his own 
                           journey to the West, that is as soon as the bulge in his belly 
                           subsided.
                           
                           Chapter 6
                           An Unlikely Ally
                           
                           Scar stayed by the zebra carcass for two days. Gorging himself until 
                           he felt ill and then sleeping lightly in case he needed to shoo away a 
                           vulture or jackal who got too bold.  He felt his strength returning to 
                           him slowly. 
                           He thought little of the days leading up to his wandering. He still 
                           felt profoundly uncomfortable with his role in bringing the Pride Lands 
                           to ruin and even though he knew his guilt was useless he couldn't help 
                           it. Laying in the sun and eating all day afforded him a lot of time to 
                           think.
                           After the second day, he got up, stretched the sleep out of his 
                           limbs and left the glade. The zebra had gotten too ripe for his taste, 
                           and he was eager to move on. As he left he heard many pairs of wings 
                           descending behind him.
                           "Finally!," one of the vultures shrieked, "I thought that damn lion 
                           would never leave."
                           Scar stifled the urge to leap suddenly and scare the pin feathers 
                           off the scavenger. It was something he wouldn't have hesitated to do 
                           back in the Pride Lands. Instead he just flicked his tail up in the 
                           direction of the scavengers. The bird that had been watching his 
                           departure caught the gesture and grumbled something about "nasty, 
                           minded lions" before he went back to his meal. 
                           As he traveled he noticed that the land here was much different than 
                           the land of his birth. It consisted of pastures, dotted with tree lined 
                           glades and small rocky formations. Back home Pride Rock had been the 
                           only outstanding feature in the land.  He walked on silently until the 
                           sun set and then sought out one of the formations for a place to sleep. 
                           He leapt on a rather large formation and began searching for a place to 
                           lie down. 
                           He began to paw at a small pile of loose stones when a sharp hissing 
                           came from the other side of the formation. He instinctively jumped back 
                           at the sound. It was the sound an enraged animal made right before it 
                           attacked. When he was able to regain his composure he realized that 
                           whatever it was lay on the other side of the formation. With a cat's 
                           natural curiosity he made his way slowly to the other side, careful to 
                           look around before he rounded the corner.
                           "Stop right there!," A sharp female voice hissed.  Scar moved closer 
                           despite the command. Then he saw the owner of the angry voice.
                           A female cheetah lay wedged in a pile of fallen rocks and 
                           boulders. Her head and front paws were visible, but her hind quarters 
                           seemed stuck. When she saw him she hissed again, louder this time, and 
                           scrabbled her claws on the rocks in front of her. Scar could smell the 
                           terror of the cheetah. He stopped a respectful distance from her.
                           "Go away lion," she snarled through bared teeth, "if you think 
                           you have an easy kill, think again, I'll give you a wound to match the 
                           one you already have on your face." 
                           Scar lowered his posture, trying to make himself as unthreatening 
                           as possible. "Relax, madam, I'm not going to kill you. What happened to 
                           you?"
                           The cheetah growled again, she tried to pull herself free, scoring 
                           the rock before her with her claws. Scar waited until she tired herself 
                           out and then spoke again.
                           "I think I see how you're trapped. Are you injured?"
                           "Not at all lion," She spat, "Come closer and I'll show you how much 
                           fight I have left in me." She bared her teeth again.
                           Scar sighed and then moved closer to the cheetah. "Look," He said, 
                           "You're not impressing anyone. Now tell me, are you hurt, yes or no?"
                           The cheetah looked taken aback, but there was something in the lions 
                           manner that demanded a polite response. "No, I'm not hurt, just 
                           caught."
                           "Okay then, let me take a look here," He jumped up to where the 
                           cheetah was trapped, she recoiled as he came near. "Quiet, relax. I'm 
                           not going to hurt you. I already ate." He winked at the cheetah, who 
                           returned an alarmed stare. He decided there should be more jokes about 
                           eating right now. He looked carefully at the boulders that pinned the 
                           cheetahs hindquarters. They were heavy, but laid  so that they didn't 
                           crush her, just kept her in place. They were far too heavy for a 
                           cheetah to move, but perhaps if he pushed some away... 
                           He braced his two front paws on the uppermost rock in the pile. 
                           Extending his hind claws into the rock in which he stood he pushed the 
                           boulder forward. It rocked slightly, but remained in place. The cheetah 
                           let out a small bleat of fright as the rock moved. "Careful," she 
                           pleaded, her earlier defiance had left her. Scar bunched the muscles in 
                           his shoulders and braced the right one against the boulder. Then turn 
                           to the cheetah and said to the . "Okay, lady keep your paws crossed." 
                           He strained forward, with his left shoulder pushing the large rock, he 
                           grunted as the boulder first moved slowly forward and then toppled 
                           over. The rock fell off the formation and hit the ground with a dull 
                           thud. The cheetah began to try to break free. "Hold it," Scar snapped, 
                           "I still have to get these smaller rocks off here. Be patient."
                           The cheetah stopped struggling and looked at the lion with fearful 
                           eyes.  "I'm sorry, it's just I've been trapped here all day and..."
                           "You're frightened, I know." Scar said, "But wait just a bit longer 
                           and I'll have you free, safe and sound."
                           It took a while longer for Scar to paw the smaller rocks slowly and 
                           carefully from around the frightened animal. Several times he had to 
                           stop and consider what was the next rock to be pushed off. The cheetah 
                           stayed silent, watching him work. But from the corner of his eye he 
                           could see her trembling.
                           When the last rock was pushed away Scar jumped off the formation 
                           onto the ground. He was careful to give the cheetah enough space to get 
                           away with having to get too close to him. The bad blood between cheetah 
                           and lion ran deep. Scar was well aware of that and didn't want to cause 
                           the poor thing anymore stress.
                           The cheetah female stood up slowly. Her limbs shook from the energy 
                           pent up by long hours trapped in the rock prison. In turn she stretched 
                           each leg trying to rid herself of the cramped numbness collected in 
                           them. Scar just watched her silently, waiting for the cheetah to speak. 
                           He was fairly sure she would bolt and he couldn't really say why he was 
                           interested in speaking to her, or even why he had bothered to save her 
                           for that matter. When she finally seemed satisfied that she was in 
                           condition to run, she sighed and spoke.
                           "Well, that was a lovely way to spend an afternoon."
                           Scar raised an eyebrow, when not helpless and frightened the cheetah 
                           had a confident, world weary air, the attitude of one who was well used 
                           to taking care of herself.  He cleared his throat
                           She smiled. "Oh, are you still here? Well, lets get on with it shall 
                           we? Now on the count of three I'll start running and we'll see if you 
                           can catch me ,eh?"
                           She switched her long tail back and forth in a playful manner. Scar 
                           could tell she was no longer frightened of him and looked as if she 
                           almost welcomed a confrontation. He set his ears back and began licking 
                           his front paws in a nonchalant way. Seeing that the lion had no 
                           intention of trying to catch her she sat down on the rock and regarded 
                           him carefully.
                           "Why did you rescue me?" She asked. Scar smiled, she was certainly 
                           blunt and to the point. 
                           "I don't know really," he said truthfully, "it just seemed like the 
                           right thing to do at the time."
                           The cheetah narrowed her eyes. "The right thing to do? Hmph, that's 
                           the first time I've ever heard of a lion doing the "right" thing by a 
                           cheetah."
                           "You're welcome." Scar said and then went back to grooming his paws.
                           The cheetah looked chagrined, after all the lion had saved her life 
                           and now was laying quietly in the grass while she insulted him. She 
                           leapt down from the formation and approached Scar, still a bit leery. 
                           "Look, I'm sorry. You did save my life and I thank you. It's just, 
                           well it was really unexpected is all. I mean your kind and my kind 
                           rarely get along."
                           Scar grimaced, "Oh and we two are getting along absolutely 
                           swimmingly."
                           The cheetah looked at him and then broke out into a huge grin and 
                           began laughing. She trotted up to where Scar lay and sat down.
                           "My name is Nduli.* Pleased to meet you...."
                           
                           "Scar, so named for.." Scar tapped the long healed wound above his 
                           eye.  "Nduli, eh? But that means..."
                           
                           The cheetah smiled broadly again, "Yes, yes it does. It was 
                           given to me during my formal naming. It's something I do quite well, at 
                           least when I'm not trapped by blasted rocks that is." 
                           "How did that happen? The rocks I mean?" 
                           "Well, I have been climbing the face of the formation to have a good 
                           look at the plain, when I climbed onto a loose bunch of rocks. I 
                           slipped and fell. The rocks I slipped on fell as well and a whole lot 
                           of others came down with them. I must've loosed them when I slipped. 
                           Lucky for me you came along and not a hungry hyena. All that bluster 
                           and puff I gave you would have held them off a short time. But.." She 
                           visibly shuddered at the thought.
                           Scar rose to his feet. "Well, I'm glad you're not injured. I guess 
                           I'll be going now." He nodded at the cheetah, who continued to look at 
                           him with an appraising air. He turned to walk away.
                           "You're a very thin lion, you know." She said.
                           Scar turned and gave her an icy look. He was surprised and a bit 
                           embarrassed that she would mention his physical condition. 
                           "Have you been away from your pride long?" She asked.
                           He sat down again. "Not for too long, why?"
                           "Come now, I know that males of lion society eat well. You must come 
                           from a very poor band of hunters for you to be so small. No offense."
                           *Nduli= Swahilli for killer or bringer of death.*
                           
                           Scar swallowed the angry remark that was about to come from his 
                           mouth, instead he said, "Well, I'm not a very good hunter but I don't 
                           think that gives you the right to..." The Nduli cut him off. 
                           "Say no more then. One paw scratches the other. You saved my life 
                           and now Scar I'm going to help you along with yours.  I'm named Nduli 
                           because at 6 months I killed my first gazelle. A very small and young 
                           one yes, but large prey just the same.  Hunting and breathing are one 
                           to me, I do one as easily as the other.  Come with me and I'll give you 
                           a few lessons."
                           Nduli began to walk away, motioning with her tail for Scar to 
                           follow. He paused for a moment. Then thought to himself. "A lion taking 
                           killing lessons from a cheetah?" He looked an saw that Nduli was making 
                           away and rushed to catch up with her.
                           
                           Chapter 7
                           Lessons
                           
                           Scar spent that first day dozing and waking underneath a large 
                           acacia tree. Nduli had a den nearby and promptly crawled down into it 
                           when they reached her home. Popping her head from the opening she told 
                           Scar he could stay nearby if he was willing to take her up on her offer 
                           and if not, "then good luck to you my friend and please don't hang 
                           around too long you'll frighten off my game." Having said that she 
                           pulled back into her den site(which was an abandoned honey badger 
                           burrow  that had been dug into a small incline) and Scar could soon 
                           hear her quiet raspy snoring.
                           Still not sure why he chose to hang around he settled back onto the 
                           grass under the tree. His stomach growled softly. He was beginning to 
                           get hungry again. Funny how often you got that way when you had to hunt 
                           for yourself.  He scanned around instinctively from something that 
                           might present itself as an opportunity, but there was nothing to be 
                           found.  It was the time of the high sun and most sensible animals were 
                           resting in the shade. Thinking this would be good advice to follow 
                           ,Scar lay his head on his paws. 
                           He found his mind wandering back to the Pride Lands. He wondered how 
                           Simba and the lionesses were fairing. When he left, there hadn't been 
                           much worth staying for. The herd animals had left long ago, their 
                           numbers decimated from the lionesses efforts to feed both themselves 
                           and the hyenas.  It was his arrogance in his own abilities which led 
                           him to believe he could control and manage both the hyena clan and the 
                           lion pride. In his own inflated ego both tribes were in need of his 
                           superior guidance. He had failed miserably. The constant fighting 
                           between both groups, the insaitable greed of the hyenas, the 
                           indiganance of the lionesses, even the very weather confounded his 
                           efforts. Not that he really made much of one. He had been very content 
                           to live off the kills of the lionesses and let things take their 
                           course. He sighed heavily. It was useless to dwell on such things. So 
                           thinking he drifted off into a light and fitful sleep.
                           A few hours before the dawn, Nduli had roused Scar and led him 
                           across the grass. Walking silently behind her he could see why she was 
                           a successful hunter. She was all liquid grace and confidence as she 
                           moved. Smooth muscles rippled beneath her glossy spotted coat, the coat 
                           of a creature who ate well and often. Occasionally she would halt and 
                           raise her head, small ears swiveling  as she tried to pick out signs of 
                           any enemy or prey from the air. 
                           They traveled for what seemed like a long time and Scar was just 
                           about to ask her where they were head when Nduli crouched low and 
                           stopped. She glanced back over her shoulder and when she saw that Scar 
                           was still standing she hissed.  Reading her message correctly Scar 
                           followed suit and lay down next to her. 
                           "Look there, lion straight ahead." She whispered.
                           Peering through the tall yellow grass he could make out faint shapes 
                           moving slowly in front of him. Whatever they were they were well 
                           camouflaged by the high grass.
                           "They're gazelles and we're downwind. Follow me, move like I move 
                           okay." Nduli crept forward slowly walking on her haunches.  
                           Scar tried to move forward, but the uncomfortable position 
                           cramped his legs and he jerkily made his way behind her. Hearing the 
                           loud rustling he made as he inched forward, Nduli spun her head around 
                           and gave him an angry scowl.  
                           "Stay there," She crept back to where he crouched, "Now it's time 
                           for your first lesson." She whispered into his ear. "Look at the herd, 
                           take your time and pick your prey. I won't interfere."
                           Scar wasn't sure what she wanted. He swept his eyes over the 
                           herd. He had remembered from somewhere in the teachings of his mother 
                           and the other lionesses that he should be looking for an animal that 
                           stood out from the rest. 
                           But all of them looked the same to Scar, there was nothing to 
                           distinguish one animal from the next. They all blended together in a 
                           sea of horns and tan hides. He looked to Nduli hoping to be able to 
                           read her expression and perhaps pick out a clue as to which animal was 
                           the right one. She merely shrugged and then looked at the grass between 
                           her paws..
                           "Okay then," he thought, "I'll just pick any one."  He looked back 
                           to herd and then saw him. The gazelle moved slowly around the 
                           parameters of the herd, pausing every once in a while to sniff the air 
                           about him. He was a handsome animal, with a glossy coat and a body 
                           filled out with fat. Scar involuntarily licked his chops in 
                           anticipation of tearing into the animal's flesh. This is was the meal 
                           he was going to have.
                           The large male gazelle moved closer to the pair laying in the grass. 
                           "Good, good," he thought, "just a little closer and...."
                           Breaking his train of thought when the gazelle came close enough 
                           that he could see it's nostrils twitch he charged at the startled 
                           animal. Fangs bared and claws shot he leapt toward the gazelle meaning 
                           to grab hold of the animals hindquarters and pull it down.
                           Instead he felt a sharp pain in his chin and tongue as his teeth 
                           snapped together violently. He fell backward onto the grass, yelping 
                           with surprise. He regained himself in enough time to watch his intended 
                           quarry bounce away, tail flashing and showing a white rump toward the 
                           rest of the herd.
                           "Come ladies," he heard the gazelle say, "lets go. This lion is very 
                           stupid, but there may be others around." In a great surge the gazelle 
                           herd bounded away following their sire to a safe distance. 
                           From behind him he could hear Nduli first chuckling and then 
                           breaking into rollicking gales of laughter. He flattened his ears and 
                           turned to her with all the dignity he could muster. 
                           "Oh, goodness!", Nduli yowled, "I knew you were a poor hunter, but 
                           how poor I could not even begin to imagine." She rolled in the grass 
                           unable to contain her amusement.
                           Scar rubbed the spot on his chin that the gazelle had kicked, there 
                           was no cut but there would be a nasty bruise. 
                           "Hmph! Well no need to get so incredibly jolly about this." 
                           Nduli smirked at him, "Oh Scar, do you even know what you did wrong? 
                           Listen, you went for the head buck of that herd. The animal with the 
                           most to loose. I mean, you do know that he gets to mate with all those 
                           females don't you? Pretty good reason to stay fit and alert don't you 
                           think?" She raised herself to her feet.
                           "Of course I do! What do you take me for an idiot?" Scar's 
                           annoyance grew as Nduli continued looking at him with a wry grin on her 
                           face. 
                           "So, then if you knew that, why did you waste precious energy 
                           trying to kill an animal that had no intention of letting you?" She 
                           snapped. Her tail wagged back and forth with impenitence, the corner of 
                           her mouth raised showing a smooth, white tooth.
                           "Well what am I supposed to settle for some underfed, sickly 
                           beast. That's a waste of energy if you ask me."  
                           Nduli got up and walked over to Scar. Her shoulders raised and 
                           head lowered. Scar got the strange feeling that  he was being stalked. 
                           Nose to nose with him she stopped and raised her eyes to meet his with 
                           a derisive stare. 
                           "That's exactly what you're going to do. Do you think the 
                           Savannah gives an elephant turd that you're a lion? Do you really think 
                           that a healthy animal quite capable of escaping you is going to lie 
                           down and give up it's life for you? Please!  This is not some pride of 
                           obedient females that's going to bring your meals to you your majesty. 
                           Out here you learn to settle or you die with your arrogance in tact!"
                           
                           
                           Chapter 8
                           The Lonely Path
                           
                           
                           They walked back to the den site in silence. Scar was embarrassed by 
                           his performance on the hunt. He had never realized how little he 
                           actually knew about taking care of himself.  The lionesses of his 
                           father's pride had tried to teach him the basics of hunting. But there 
                           had always been other things to pay attention to or think about as 
                           these lessons were taught. A butterfly landing in the grass, a flock of 
                           vultures flying overhead, anything seemed more interesting than what 
                           his mother and aunt had to say. The lessons seemed pointless anyway, he 
                           was a male in the pride and as such had no real work to do.
                           Now he could see that the laziness of his youth, indeed the laziness 
                           of his entire life was going to be the end of him. Alone with no pride 
                           and unable to bring down a meal he would soon weaken and die.  He was 
                           scared, if it wasn't for this cheetah he would have no chance at all. 
                           He trotted up to her side. 
                           "Umm, Nduli, I'm very sorry I acted that way. I do promise to pay 
                           attention to you from now on." He looked shyly in her direction.
                           She looked back at him, there was no amusement or forgiveness on her 
                           face.
                           "Listen Scar, it matters not at all to me if you learn. Take it or 
                           leave it. Take it and my debt to you is repaid. Leave it and there is 
                           one less lion in the world. Now you know the way back to my den from 
                           here don't you? Good, go there if you like, I have other business to 
                           attend to, namely feeding myself."
                           She quickened her pace and veered off from Scar. He stopped walking 
                           and watched her until she disappeared, a small buff colored shape among 
                           other buff colored shapes.  Sighing he sat down and just continued to 
                           stare into the distance. The cool morning breeze ruffled his mane.  It 
                           was so quiet.  
                           He had never been so alone in his life. Even though he had spent 
                           much of his time in his cave when he was back home there had always 
                           been someone nearby. He could leave his cave and find the lionesses 
                           sunning themselves on the grass or hear Zazu's chatter. But here there 
                           was no one. He wasn't sure how to react to the situation. Before he 
                           could always rely on his acrid wit and snide comments. Here there was 
                           no one to either hear or care.
                           He made his way slowly back to Nduli's den.  When he reached it he 
                           lay down and settled his chin on his paws. He had not lain there long 
                           when he heard the beat of wings overhead. Looking up he saw two large 
                           vultures settle on the tree that overlooked Nduli's den.  
                           They were ugly beasts, black glossy feathers and naked heads 
                           glistening in the early morning sun. They peered at Scar with very 
                           beady eyes and then the larger of the two turned and addressed his 
                           companion. 
                           "You see brother, poor beast. He will be our next big meal I think. 
                           Don't you agree."
                           The smaller vulture nodded. "Oh most definitely. Just look at the 
                           wretched creature. Why he's just skin and bones."
                           Scar raised his lips showing his teeth to the vultures. The nasty 
                           and sardonic birds had never been a favorite of Scar's or anyone else's 
                           for that matter; given as they were to taunts and teases at the expense 
                           of their soon to be meals. He raised a growl from his throat hoping to 
                           two birds would scatter. They squawked and raised their wings in mock 
                           fright and then promptly began chuckling.
                           "Ohhh, yess," hissed the larger vulture, "all skin...skin we shall 
                           rip and tear and gobble down." It scuttled down the branch and craned 
                           it's neck toward the lion in the grass.
                           Scar rose now, a low growl rumbling in his throat. The vultures 
                           knowing that they were too high up to be in any danger only laughed and 
                           began to hop up and down on the tree branch; their great weight shaking 
                           it.
                           "Yes, lion meat," shrieked the smaller, "I love lion meat! Is that 
                           what you are lion? Dead meat?" 
                           "Yes, he is," the larger vulture said, "Dead meat!"
                           Enraged and unable to take the cruel taunts any longer, Scar flung 
                           himself at the tree. His claws scored deep furrows into the wood . The 
                           vultures began chanting "Dead meat." over and over. After all this lion 
                           could get as mad as he wanted, lions couldn't climb trees. It was all 
                           far too amusing to stop.
                           Which of course made it all the more shocking when they realized 
                           that the lion was now in the tree with them and looked as if he was 
                           about to tear their still beating hearts from their chests.
                           "Dead meat am I?," Scar snarled, "We shall see who is meat to whom." 
                           He swiped at the vultures with a great paw, his long claws whickered 
                           past very close to the larger birds head. Apparently all the sport was 
                           gone from this game and it was time to move along.
                           "Let's get out of here," screamed the larger, "this one can climb!" 
                           Both birds took off in a frenzy, shedding shiny black feathers into 
                           the air as they went. Scar watched them take off, disappointed that he 
                           had not been able to catch one of them. Still he felt a certain 
                           satisfaction at seeing the backs of the nasty brutes. 
                           But after the rush of climbing the tree was gone along with the 
                           triumphant defeat of the vultures, Scar realized he had climbed up but 
                           wasn't at all sure how to get back down. Looking down he realized that 
                           the ground was quite far away. He felt sick and dug his claws deeper 
                           into the wood. 
                           Scanning the area looking for a particularly soft place to land he 
                           noticed a slight shape parting the grass as it moved toward the den 
                           site. It was Nduli returning from her hunt. Even from his high perch 
                           Scar could see that her belly swayed back and forth with the fullness 
                           of her meal. His stomach grumbled at the thought of food. He secretly 
                           hoped she had bought him home a little something. But closer inspection 
                           revealed she had nothing with her. Head down and with a distinct air of 
                           annoyance, she walked right by the tree not even bothering to turn and 
                           look at him. 
                           "Get down you fool or you'll let the whole area know where my home 
                           is." She mumbled to him, voice horse and low. Without further comment 
                           she crawled down into the badger burrow and fell asleep.
                           The hours before dawn the next morning found teacher and pupil 
                           following the same ritual as the day before. Nodule led Scar far 
                           afield, located a small herd of Tompson's gazelles, lay back in the 
                           grass and instructed Scar to select his prey and make a go of it.
                           This time Scar was determined to make an effort and carefully select 
                           his mark. Slowly moving his eyes from one animal to the next he looked 
                           for something that would tip him off to the animals position in the 
                           herd. Some small sign of weakness or distraction that would make the 
                           chase an easy one. It was very discouraging. The herd was a small one, 
                           seemingly made up of young and healthy animals. He was just about to 
                           give up and ask Nduli what should be done when he spotted him.
                           A rather thin gazelle moved toward the outer parameter of the herd. 
                           It moved with a slightly irregular gait, putting its weight heavily to 
                           the right side as it walked. This was the one. Scar almost shot out of 
                           the grass after it but checked himself. No, the gazelle was still too 
                           far away. If he charged now it would slip back into the herd and be 
                           lost. He would be patient.
                           With agonizing slowness the gazelle moved closer toward the two cats 
                           in the grass; every once in a while it would raise its head and sniff 
                           at the air. It found nothing to alarm it and it continued grazing. 
                           "Closer," Scar thought, "Just a little....." Breaking his gaze on 
                           the prey he glanced back at Nduli who lay silently behind him.
                           It was just enough noise and movement to alert the prey to the 
                           presence of the hunter. It turned on its heels and began to jump away. 
                           In a panic Scar bolted out of the grass after it. The gazelle was 
                           amazingly fast for an injured animal. It bounded through the grass 
                           effortlessly. Behind it Scar followed closely, breath coming in short 
                           pants as he tried to close the ever widening distance between him and 
                           the gazelle. 
                           It turned sharply, trying the shake the lion from its trail. It was 
                           away from the herd now. Safety in numbers had been forgotten in its 
                           terrified flight. Scar could feel the ache in his sides begin, but 
                           still he pushed himself forward. He was hungry and desperate to have 
                           the gazelle. Foam runnered back from his muzzle as he struggling to 
                           catch his breath. From the right he heard Nduli shout.
                           "To me Scar! Drive him to me!" She burst from the grass and began 
                           running head on toward the gazelle.  
                           The little antelope snorted in surprise as it saw the second cat 
                           coming toward it. It started to turn backward and then saw it still had 
                           a  lion on its tail and decided it would rather take its chances with 
                           the cheetah. It sped toward Nduli and made a desperate leap into the 
                           air as the two nearly collided. 
                           Nduli jumped into the air at the same time the gazelle did and in 
                           mid air grabbed hold of the animals middle with her front paws and 
                           grasped its back with her teeth. The two slammed into the earth 
                           heavily, rolling over and over on the grass. Desperately the gazelle 
                           tried to escape, kicking wildly and mewling; but the cheetahs teeth 
                           soon found its neck and with a quick snap severed the artery in the 
                           neck. It lay for a few moments kicking and twitching as its life bled 
                           out into the grass around it. When it finally became silent Nduli 
                           released her grip and lay panting beside the body.
                           Still panting, Scar approached where Nduli and the dead gazelle lay. 
                           He had to stifle the urge to roar at the cheetah and drive her from the 
                           kill, pounce on it and tear it apart. It was tempting to do; it had 
                           been a few days since Scars last meal. But better to learn how to feed 
                           himself than indulge in this one meager gazelle. He lay next to her and 
                           waited for her to speak.
                           When she had regained her composure she began to tear into the belly 
                           of the animal. Without a word to him she tore a large portion from the 
                           kill and tossed it to him. Then she picked up the rest of the kill and 
                           walked away towards her den site. He looked at the piece of the kill 
                           she gave him, then towards her. A feeling a rage came over him. He 
                           picked up his meal and trotted after her although the pain in his sides 
                           made it hard to run.
                           Catching up with her he walked side by side with her, glaring in her 
                           direction. She ignored him for a few long moments and then stopped and 
                           glared back.
                           "What's the matter with you?" Her voice sounded angry even though 
                           she still had a rather large piece of gazelle in her mouth. 
                           Scar spat his portion to the ground towards her feet. 
                           "Here! You can have this, I'd rather go find my own food if you're 
                           going to be so disgustingly rude."
                           She rolled her eyes and then dropped her meal to the ground as well. 
                           "Oh my, touchy aren't we lion? Would you like to have a little party 
                           then? Share dinner beneath one of the acacia trees?" 
                           Scar nearly cringed from the sarcasm dripping from her words. But 
                           instead of appearing defensive, he smiled.
                           "Why my dear lady, there is nothing that I would find so 
                           pleasurable. There's the perfect tree right over there, join me won't 
                           you?"
                           Nduli snorted and then picked up her dinner and walked to the shady 
                           acacia tree that Scar had indicated. She dropped down the ground in a 
                           distinctly grumpy manner and unceremoniously began to tear off chunks 
                           of meat. Scar joined her, making sure to sit far enough away to not 
                           crowd the cheetah and also began tearing into his meal. 
                           The two cats ate in silence and when both had eaten their respective 
                           portions down to the bones began to groom. Scar watched Nduli from the 
                           corner of his eye. She seemed more relaxed now that she had eaten and 
                           he felt it would be safe to speak to her.
                           "Nduli?," he waited for her to respond in an angry manner but she 
                           only cocked her ears toward him, "thank you for sharing your kill with 
                           me, I was very hungry."
                           The cheetah nodded, "You earned part of it, you helped bring it 
                           down. Although there are a few important things you need to work on."
                           "Like?" 
                           Nduli stretched out on her side and gave a bone cracking yawn.  She 
                           chuckled at the sight of her rather large pupil eagerly leaning his 
                           head forward to listen. "This will definitely be one to tell future 
                           cubs." She thought.
                           "Okay, well for one thing, don't ever move once you've picked out 
                           your prey and its close enough to ensure capture. That little move of 
                           yours nearly spoiled the hunt. Focus your eyes on the prey and never 
                           take them off. The rest of the world doesn't exist when you're looking 
                           at your prey. It's you, the prey and nothing else. Once you've run for 
                           more than a few moments it's all over."
                           "It was a foolish mistake I'll admit," Scar said as he gnawed on the 
                           last of the gristle on the leg bone of the gazelle, "I've never 
                           really hunted before this. Sure I've taken the occasional rabbit but 
                           nothing really big. I'm afraid I've been terribly spoiled over the 
                           years." He tossed the bone to one side with a disdainful flip of his 
                           paw.
                           Nduli chuckled. "Aren't all of you lions terribly spoiled?"
                           "Not all of us, Nduli," Scar answered, "But you're right, pride life 
                           doesn't do much to teach you how to look after yourself, at least not 
                           if you're a male."
                           The cheetah began to clean the traces of blood from her whiskers. 
                           She stopped after a moment and looked at Scar with a puzzled 
                           expression. 
                           "So, Scar I don't think you ever told me what you're doing out on 
                           your own. It's rather unusual for a lion your age to be out on his own. 
                           You're in your prime you should be settled down with a family by now. 
                           What happened?"
                           Scar said nothing, he just looked at his paws. He knew sooner or 
                           later she would ask this very question. He wasn't sure what to say; he 
                           didn't want to lie to her, but he also wasn't sure how she would react 
                           to his story. If she found out the truth she may very well abandon him. 
                           So he decided a half truth was better than a lie or the truth.
                           "A younger male came into my pride and took it over." He avoided 
                           her eyes afraid she would read something in the expression he wore.
                           "Oh, so you were ousted. Too bad. Must've been a very strong 
                           young lion to kick you out."
                           Scar shrugged, "Yes, he was a very canny fighter and took me by 
                           surprise. I'm headed toward the West to see what lies out there. Maybe 
                           there I can find a place to spend the last of my days."
                           "Not interested in taking over another pride then?" Nduli asked.
                           "No, my days as a ruler are over," Scar lay back in the grass 
                           feeling tired from the run and the meal, "I'll be content with a little 
                           quiet and time for reflection. It's a been a long few seasons."
                           Nduli looked at Scar as he lay his head down and closed his eyes. 
                           There was something in that last statement that made her feel cold, 
                           there was something behind his words that he wasn't letting her know. 
                           His eyes so full of far away sadness and regret were what gave him 
                           away. Laying her own head down she decided she would find out this 
                           lion's secret one way or another.
                           
                           Chapter 9   
                           Truce and Tension
                           
                           If one thing could be said about Scar, aside from anything else, 
                           was that he was a quick study. While he was slight in size his mind 
                           more than made up for any deficiencies he might have had. Nduli had to 
                           admit that day by day her unusual pupil was becoming less of a 
                           liability and more of an asset.  
                           This was not to say he wasn't still a bit rough around the edges; 
                           Scar often found himself either sore or bleeding after an outing. But 
                           even though he was kicked and battered by his prey he continued taking 
                           the lessons seriously.  The hard work was paying off handsomely; more 
                           often than not both cats would wind their way home from a hunt their 
                           full bellies swaying as they walked.
                           Over time the relationship between the two also changed. Scar 
                           found Nduli an intelligent and thoughtful creature under the abrasive 
                           exterior she most often showed him. Late afternoons often found the two 
                           lounging under the tree by Nduli's burrow, occasionally talking, but 
                           mostly just laying quietly in the shade. She was still quick to anger 
                           when he scared off the herd or tripped in chasing down his prey; but it 
                           was a friendly sort of anger and no longer provoked him the way it used 
                           to. He could sense that much of the discomfort she had once felt in his 
                           presence had abated and he was glad. He liked Nduli, enjoyed her 
                           company and for once in a very long time felt completely at ease
                           Scar could see why Nduli looked as well fed as she did. She never 
                           passed up any opportunity, more like a hyena than a cheetah in that 
                           respect. So, in addition to the hunts for the small and swift antelope 
                           of the plain, she also instructed him on the ways of smaller game such 
                           as rabbit and voles. She showed him how to dig into the huge termite 
                           mounds and lap up the fat, little insects inside. While this took some 
                           getting used to, Scar found he liked the taste quite a bit and made a 
                           mental note to not pass up a mound when he found one. Although, he 
                           enjoyed the variety of the menu, some experiments were better than 
                           others. Once Nduli found a large fish (it was in fact an African 
                           lungfish) in the mud surrounding the waterhole, it had stranded itself 
                           and was unable to get back to the depths of the water. She quickly 
                           slapped it onto the grass with her paw and tore into the flapping, 
                           gasping fish. She offered Scar, who sat looking at the whole production 
                           rather skeptically. a taste of her catch and while he politely took it, 
                           he silently spit it out and hid it under his paw when she wasn't 
                           looking. He made a mental note that fish were only to be eaten in 
                           desperate times.
                           Nduli herself had to admit to a grudging liking of Scar. He was 
                           unlike any lion she had ever seen in both looks and in temperament. 
                           Nduli had had her run ins with the great maned cats before and none 
                           could have been said to be positive. Lions, in her experience, were 
                           nothing more than lazy bullies. For all their so called nobility they 
                           had no qualms about snatching a hard caught meal or terrorizing young 
                           cubs.....or worse. 
                           Scar however seemed made of different stuff. Small in size, built 
                           far more like her than a hulking male lion; he possessed a rather 
                           detached and almost humble air. That's not to say he didn't have his 
                           overbearing sense of dignity, which showed itself most strongly when he 
                           would miss a kill, but it wasn't the same as most lions. Occasionally 
                           she would catch herself looking at him out of the corner of her eye; 
                           admiring his glossy, black mane and long legs. Then she would shake her 
                           head as if to dislodge the thoughts and go about doing something else 
                           to distract her. After all he was only a lion.
                           One morning Scar awoke before Nduli, he could hear her raspy 
                           snoring coming from the burrow, and decided to surprise his teacher 
                           with a freshly caught breakfast delivered to her door. He had been very 
                           successful on the hunt of late and now felt really ready to try himself 
                           without his teacher. It was a beautiful day, the mist still hanging 
                           over the land like a soft, moist blanket.  He trotted towards the 
                           accustomed hunting grounds careful not to reveal himself to any prey 
                           animals that might be about. He wasn't exactly sure why he wanted to 
                           prepare a little gift for Nduli. She had been distinctly grumpy the day 
                           before and so he felt she might like rolling out of bed with her meal 
                           right there.
                           Anyway, Scar wanted to show off. He knew he had some skills and 
                           he meant to show them. Or at least show them to her. Something in him 
                           wanted to impress Nduli, to win her respect. Bringing home his first 
                           solo kill he felt was sure to do it. Lifting his nose to the air he 
                           caught the sent of a large group of hoofed animals close by. Hunkering 
                           down to the ground he slowly inched forward until they came into sight.
                           They were a herd of wildebeests, a small one, no more than two 
                           hundred strong, but there were a number of yearlings and calves that 
                           looked his size. He locked his gaze on a young wildebeest and decided 
                           that this would be his prize. Unfortunately in his haste he failed to 
                           take notice of the large bull which stood beside it, so when he rushed 
                           at the young beast the larger one turned into his attack and caught the 
                           lion with his horns. Scar was tossed into the air like a rag doll. The 
                           force of the blow knocked him senseless and instead of landing on his 
                           feet he tumbled onto his side. The herd took up in flight. All at once 
                           they rushed toward him, hooves knocking him, bodies jostling him. In a 
                           panic he began to run with them, desperately trying to keep himself 
                           from falling beneath the slashing hooves. Knocked back and forth Scar 
                           barely managed to push his way to the front of the herd and veer out of 
                           their way. They thundered away leaving him bleeding in the grass. He 
                           watched as they ran away and then faded out. A dark crumpled shape 
                           lying in the bloody dust.
                           He didn't come to right away, but when he did the pain he felt in 
                           his body made him want to pass out again. Grunting, he pulled himself 
                           to his feet. He examined himself closely.  He had gotten a nasty cut 
                           along his right flank and the taste of blood was strong in his mouth. 
                           Closer inspection revealed a loose tooth and he winced with pain when 
                           he touched it with his tongue. It would be many days until he would be 
                           able to hunt with pleasure. He wasn't sure what to tell Nduli either. 
                           She would certainly be angry, he was angry at himself. Some first solo 
                           kill, he had nearly been the kill. He decided he better get moving 
                           before his wounds made him stiff.  Gathering up what little strength he 
                           had, he began to make his way home.
                           He was not half a mile from the den site when he heard a high 
                           pitched squeal. It was a shriek of pain and fear and it was very 
                           familiar. Without thought he dashed towards the den ignoring the 
                           screams of pain coming from his own limbs. In the distance he could see 
                           a large tawny shape by the acacia tree by the den. The fear shriek came 
                           again and this time he recognized it. It was Nduli! Instinctively he 
                           lowered his head and threw himself bodily at the strange, tawny beast. 
                           He hit it with the same strength the wildebeests used to barrel into 
                           him.
                           Giving a yelp of surprise the beast rolled over and over on the 
                           grass; knocked a few yards by Scar's charge. He leapt at the animal and 
                           pinned it beneath his long claws. He found himself looking into the 
                           face of an adolescent lion. He was  young, just beginning to grow a 
                           mane; he looked up at his enraged black maned attacker with surprise.
                           "I'm, I...I'm sorry," he stammered, "I didn't scent any lions 
                           around here, I didn't know this was your territory. Look let me kill 
                           that cheetah for you, eh pal. W, We don't need to fight."
                           Scar roared into the youngsters' face; his rage blood red and 
                           ready to kill. Blood from his tooth spattered onto the young lions 
                           face. Scar looked more like a demon than a lion. Mane wild and blood 
                           dripping from his muzzle.  The young stranger sensed the danger he was 
                           in, smelled the killing rage pouring out of his attacker and bounded to 
                           his feet, not caring if he tore his shoulders struggling out from under  
                           Scar's claws. Without looking back at the black maned, bloody mouthed 
                           horror he raced over the tiny hillside. Scar thought of following, of 
                           tearing the young lion to bits, when a soft moan bought him out of the 
                           red anger.
                           Nduli lay in the grass, she was panting, foam dripped from her 
                           mouth. Without waiting for her to say anything Scar rushed to her side 
                           and touched her head.
                           "Nduli, are you all right," looking at her he could see a large, 
                           bloody gash across her side. She was breathing heavily and looked like 
                           she was in shock.
                           Shaking, she turned to Scar, "I thought he was going to kill me, 
                           oh Scar, you came...I thought he killed me....." She trailed off and fell 
                           to licking a forepaw absently. 
                           "Shh, I'm here, he won't be back and if he comes back I'll kill 
                           him I swear it!" He nuzzled Nduli's head.
                           "But.... What am I going to do Scar? I can't hunt like this. I've 
                           never been hurt like this before. What am I going to do?" Tears began 
                           forming at the corners of her eyes. 
                           He hated to see her like this, cursed himself for leaving her 
                           alone to be mauled by the strange lion. he wanted to take her and make 
                           her well and unafraid again. That look at he first met when he rescued 
                           her from the rockslide had returned and it made the pit of his stomach 
                           feel cold.
                           He touched her head with his paw. "Don't worry I'll take care of 
                           you." But even as he said this he could feel the bruises forming from 
                           his trampling of that morning and feared that this promise would be 
                           impossible to keep. He bent his head down and sniffed at Nduli's side. 
                           The tear was deep, down into the muscle, there would be no running for 
                           her for some time. She mewled in pain as he began to clean the wound. 
                           She would have to stay in the den until she was healed. She reeked of 
                           blood and any opportunistic predator in the area would be drawn to her.
                           With some difficulty Scar  urged her to her feet and guided her 
                           into her den. She slid into the hole awkwardly, landing noisily on her 
                           side. The small trek from the field to the den had exhausted her.  Scar 
                           followed. It was a tight fit, he had to jam his shoulders into the 
                           small space and squeeze around until finally he burst forward into the 
                           den. Once inside he saw that in fact it was very spacious, an 
                           underground cave of sorts. Nduli had lined the rocky floor with grass 
                           and branches. Already she had crawled to the far side of the den and 
                           had curled up in her sleeping nest. Passing in and out of consciousness 
                           she lay quietly and allowed Scar to clean her up and then go to sleep 
                           in the far corner. In a few short moments she herself was sleeping.
                           The first thing Scar noticed when he woke up was that one of his 
                           teeth was laying on the floor of the den. In the night the loose tooth 
                           had gotten during the wildebeest attack had come off it's moorings. 
                           Running his tongue along his gum he was relived to realize that the 
                           hole in his mouth had also healed in the night. There was no pain and 
                           for this he was glad.
                           The same could not be said of his right flank, which was stiff 
                           and sore. He stood as much as he could in the den and tried it. He had 
                           to quickly sit down as it cramped. Hunting for at least the next week 
                           would be impossible; he would find food somehow, but catching it 
                           himself was out of the question. Nduli still slept, Scar could hear her 
                           breathing, thankfully she had not died during the night as some animals 
                           do when in shock.
                           He decided to let her sleep and took leave of the den quietly. It 
                           was dusk , the two had slept through the day. The whirring of the vast 
                           numbers of crickets had already begun and Scar inhaled the cool night 
                           air deeply. He was hungry; it had been a day and a half since his last 
                           meal and he could imagine when Nduli woke she would be ravenous. In any 
                           case if they were both to heal quickly they would have to eat well.  
                           His flank pained him badly, but there was no smell of infection and so 
                           decided the best course of action was to find some small game to 
                           satisfy himself.
                           He spent the rest of the night digging voles out of their 
                           underground nests. Methodically he searched out the dimples in the 
                           grass that marked their burrow entrances and as Nduli had shown him, 
                           plowed through the earth until he had a chance to grab the small, 
                           cowering animals and dispatch of them with a shake of his head. The 
                           digging was tiring work; more than once he had to stop and lie down, 
                           feeling his wounded leg throb. He ate some of his catch right away. 
                           Crushing the small rodents in his powerful jaws. It wasn't much of a 
                           meal and the fur on them tickled his throat; but by the time the sun 
                           began to slowly rise he had eaten enough of them that the whistling 
                           hole in his belly had been stopped. Left with a small pile of the dead 
                           voles; he had been collecting them during the night carrying them in 
                           his mouth from place to place, he gathered them up and went back to the 
                           den.
                           Nduli was awake. She lay in the corner, head on her paws. She 
                           neither spoke nor moved as Scar entered the den. She as obviously still 
                           very much shaken up by the event. He dropped his cargo on the floor and 
                           came to her side of the den. Lying quietly beside her for a moment he 
                           listened to her breathing. It was steady and sniffing her wound 
                           revealed no trace of infection.  She allowed him to clean the wound 
                           with no reprimand, in fact she said not a word, just lay her ears back 
                           and flinched when he touched a sore spot. When Scar was satisfied with 
                           it's cleanliness, he went to the other side of the cave and brought 
                           back two of the voles he had brought with him. He dropped them in front 
                           of the cheetah's nose.
                           She didn't move to take the offered rodent. Only sighed and 
                           closed her eyes. Scar pushed the vole forward with his nose, pressing 
                           it up against Nduli's mouth. She had to eat. Scar was terrified that 
                           she would die and leave him alone. Alone with no training, alone to 
                           starve. When she only made a whimpering sound in response to his 
                           gesture, he tore into the tiny animal. He put a small piece of the 
                           rodent in front of Nduli's face. Raising his eyebrows he silently he 
                           implored her to eat. Looking up at him, she gave a weary half smile and 
                           gingerly took the food from him. She ate half of what he tried to feed 
                           her and then lay her head back on her paws. Within moments she was 
                           sleeping.  Feeling his leg flare up again Scar agreed that this was a 
                           good idea. Lowering himself where he stood he lay next to the cheetah. 
                           He could feel her breath on his face and the light weight of her tail 
                           on his foot as he drifted off.
                           
                           
                           Chapter 10 The King of the River
                           
                           Within two days of his mishap with the wildebeest Scar could once 
                           again walk with comfort. Hunting was still out of the question.  He 
                           would not be able to endure the battering of the prey when he tried to 
                           take it down, but he could at least get up to a brisk walk without 
                           feeling faint. Nduli was still very much the same. Sullen and quiet she 
                           lay in the den not speaking. Scar was worried about her; this behavior 
                           was so unlike her. He had expected that she would soon be back to her 
                           grouchy, old self. This had not happened so far.  So far she had lain 
                           like a helpless cub, allowing him to groom her and lie close by. While 
                           he wasn't complaining it was off putting to say the least
                           That was something he found odd as well. Scar had never liked 
                           cubs, never was one to show affection towards another. The one time he 
                           had been with a lioness it had been quick and passionless with little 
                           love lost between them. He couldn't remember the last time he had 
                           groomed anyone other than himself and yet.....He groomed Nduli twice a 
                           day, more than was really necessary, smoothing down her ruffled fur and 
                           inhaling her scent. Her scent.....her wonderful scent......he wanted to roll 
                           around in it, he wanted........
                           Scar shook himself and picked up the pace of his walking. The 
                           thoughts he had at the moment lay uncomfortably on him and he walked 
                           quickly as if to out run them.  Now was not the time for such thoughts 
                           any way. Food was what was important right now.  He needed to find them 
                           a substantial meal and soon. He could feel himself weakening. He would 
                           most certainly collapse back into lameness if he didn't regain some 
                           strength. He ranged farther than normal searching desperately for 
                           carrion of some sort.
                           There were many prey animals around. Topi, gazelle and hartebeest 
                           all grazed around him. They ignored him as he walked by, sensing by his 
                           demeanor that he could do them no harm. He bristled as he passed; 
                           annoyed that so much good meat should be around him with no way for him 
                           to get it. He had to find real food. Mice and grubs and termites were 
                           fine in a pinch, but both he and Nduli needed more. 
                           He came to the river, here he stopped and drank. The day was hot 
                           and the walk had drained him. He looked into the water trying to see if 
                           there were any fish he could scoop out. He didn't care for the slimy, 
                           stinky things, but at the moment he wasn't feeling very particular. He 
                           found nothing but small frogs, which quickly darted away underwater 
                           when they saw him. Discouraged he followed the river a small way. What 
                           he saw gave him immediate hope and then dashed it to bits as he took a 
                           closer look.
                           Lying in the shallows was the large carcass of a wildebeest. The 
                           animal lay half in half out of the water. Flies buzzed around its head 
                           in a black cloud, the lifeless eyes stared up at the blue, cloudless 
                           sky. His mouth watered, here was enough food to feed himself and bring 
                           back to Nduli. He started forward eagerly and then brought up short 
                           when he saw what lay beside the carcass.
                           A large crocodile lay in the shallows beside its kill. Barely 
                           submerged in the water it silently lay, looking deceptively like a log. 
                           Scar knew better. If he came near that log it would rear up and break 
                           his leg.  He was sure that's what the beast was waiting for. Crocodiles 
                           could be greedy killers and he was sure this one wouldn't mind adding 
                           lion to its menu. Instead of approaching he sat down and considered the 
                           situation. Taking in the scene he noticed that the crocodile had 
                           already ripped off and partially eaten the wildebeests left haunch. It 
                           lay about two feet from the reptile's mouth. If he was uninjured he 
                           might just try to take a stab at filching the haunch, but in his 
                           condition he wasn't sure if his leg would'nt let him down. Crocs could 
                           be fast on land and the day was sunny enough that the great beast had 
                           plenty of energy. But like all cats, trying to devise a way to get the 
                           haunch intrigued Scar. Taking care to keep his distance he strolled 
                           towards the crocodile in a nonchalant manner.
                           "Ah, good day," he said giving the beast his most conniving grin, 
                           "lovely day today isn't it?"
                           The croc not one to be outdone answered in his most conniving 
                           voice. 
                           "Why yes lion it is a beautiful afternoon. What brings you to my 
                           river? Thirsty? Come down and have a drink"
                           Scar smiled inwardly. The croc didn't waste much time. "No thank 
                           you friend. I've just had some, couldn't take another drop. Many thanks 
                           for the offer though."
                           The croc nodded, "Very well. Although I'm sure you're hungry. 
                           Please have some of my kill. It's such a very large wildebeest and I 
                           couldn't possibly finish it all. Please, take some with compliments 
                           from the King of the river."
                           The croc waved it's tail in the water stirring up mud. It soon 
                           was camoflouged by the swirling dirt, which hid the fact that its legs 
                           where tensed, ready for it to lunge forward when the lion moved to the 
                           kill. Scar wouldn't be drawn. Instead he sat a respectful distance from 
                           the river's edge.
                           "No thank you again, friend. I've just gorged myself to bursting 
                           and I couldn't eat another bite. It is most kind of you to offer though 
                           your majesty." He smiled his most sincere smile at the croc.
                           The croc was annoyed having failed at his second attempt to draw 
                           the lion towards him. He didn't trust the black maned cat. No animal 
                           ever stayed just to chat and he could see the lion eyeing the carcass. 
                           Still he lay in the shallows gently waving his tail to and fro.
                           Scar got up and walked slightly towards the carcass, out of the 
                           corner of his eye he saw the croc steady itself. He tensed his muscles 
                           ready to dash off if it made any sudden movements. It didn't, just lay 
                           waving it's tail.
                           "This is an enormous kill you've made," he nodded that the 
                           carcass admiringly, "yes quite impressive. However this animal must 
                           have been injured for he is way too large for anyone, even the Great 
                           River King, to kill."
                           The croc huffed; he was an ancient animal and quite proud of his 
                           skill as a hunter. Very few animals that came to the river to drink and 
                           then had the misfortune to find themselves in his grasp managed to 
                           escape. How dare this scrawny lion question his abilities?
                           "Of course I killed him and no he was not injured. This here is a 
                           male, full in his prime and I killed him quite easily. More than you 
                           could do I might add." The tail lashing in the water became more 
                           violent as the croc grew agitated. Scar could tell that with a little 
                           more prodding all pretense of pleasantry would be dropped and the beast 
                           would be out of the water and on his heels. 
                           "No question great King, my apologies if I ever doubted you, I 
                           meant no offense. But, you see I've never seen your kind in action 
                           before. Obviously those jaws are more than capable of crushing the very 
                           life out of anyone unfortunate to find themselves in them. I would love 
                           to see you at work my friend you are most impressive." 
                           Scar could see the croc was taking the flattery well. He visibly 
                           puffed up and raised his head above the water as if to give the lion a 
                           full view of those well spoken of  powerful jaws. Scar sat again and 
                           nodded smiling at the croc wistfully.
                           "I wish I was even one tenth as strong as you are great King. Why 
                           the damage I could do. I would be the terror of the plains; all the 
                           beasts would run in fear at the very sight of me. They must do that for 
                           you, don't they your majesty?"
                           The croc was no longer lashing it's tail, instead it was lying in 
                           the shallows peacefully. Seemingly beguiled by Scars admiring tone and 
                           the respectful looks he cast in its direction.
                           "Yes they do lion. In fact you are the first creature to ever 
                           stay and talk and not run in terror. You must be very inexperienced or 
                           else very stupid." The croc laughed, but Scar only smiled.
                           "Perhaps, I am a bit inexperienced. But you see I just had to 
                           come for myself and take a good look at you. All the animals talk of 
                           the great river King and well I just had to see what all the fuss was 
                           about." He looked about for a moment and then turned to the croc. "I 
                           wonder, as a request from a loyal subject, if you could perhaps show me 
                           how those wonderful jaws of yours work."
                           "Why not at all, please come here and take a good look." The croc 
                           opened his mouth very wide giving Scar full view of the rows of sharp 
                           teeth.
                           "No, no," Scar shook his head, "nothing like that. I mean to see 
                           you crush something. Something big. It would be quite a show for me. 
                           Hmmm," he looked about again and then spied what he was looking for, 
                           "something like that piece of wood over there."
                           He pointed to a rather broad, flat piece of wood which was 
                           floating in the shallows a few feet from the croc. It was about as 
                           thick as his foreleg but not nearly so long. The croc chuffed with 
                           amusement.
                           "That tiny thing? No problem I'll splinter it to bits."
                           "I don't know, I mean break it with it lengthwise in your mouth. 
                           That's a thick piece of wood. Even the great river King might have 
                           trouble breaking it."
                           The croc swam to the floating wood and laughed. "I can snap that 
                           quicker than I can snap your neck. I'll show you, come closer and help 
                           me get hold of it." 
                           Scar was now sure the croc meant to show off first and then kill 
                           him. He walked to the waters edge cautiously, keeping a close eye on 
                           the huge beast. It was a gamble to be sure, but he and Nduli's life 
                           might count on it. The croc made no move to attack, only opened his 
                           mouth and motioned for Scar to position the chunk of wood in his jaws. 
                           He did so with some difficulty, wedging the piece in the middle of the 
                           crocs open jaws. When he was satisfied that he had jammed it in the 
                           right spot he moved back a step.
                           "Go on, break it." The croc tried to close his jaws and found he 
                           had no space to gain any momentum. Scar shook his head. "Come on, river 
                           King, snap it in two." The croc struggled trying to dislodge the wood 
                           with his tongue to no avail Scar had wedged it in tight and made sure 
                           that it wouldn't come loose easily. The reptile became furious, 
                           twisting and rolling trying to rid itself of the strong piece of wood 
                           holding it's mouth open. Scar chuckled.
                           "Well Great River King, it looks as if those powerful jaws of 
                           yours aren't working in top condition this afternoon. Must be tired out 
                           from all the work they did killing this wildebeest." He strolled over 
                           to the carcass and the dismembered haunch. "Speaking of which, since 
                           you are so disposed at the moment perhaps I will take you up on that 
                           offer of a meal."
                           The croc lunged at Scar who quickly hopped away. The croc could 
                           do him no real harm now. It shook its head back and forth; it was 
                           tiring quickly and was terrified that it would never get the wood 
                           jammed in its mouth free. It forgot about its meal and crawled back to 
                           the shallows, rolling and thrashing in the water. Scar smiled and then 
                           picked up the haunch and carried it a safe distance from the bank. Then 
                           he returned to the carcass and began tearing into it keeping a watchful 
                           eye on the frantic, thrashing croc.
                           He ate until he had gorged himself. The croc had long since given 
                           up and now lay in the shallows eyeing the lion furiously. Every now and 
                           again he mumbled something about tearing Scar apart, but the lion just 
                           shrugged and went back to eating. When he had filled himself he smiled 
                           at the now silent reptile, bowed his head and said. "Good day great 
                           river King and thank you for your hospitality. I suspect the vultures 
                           and jackals will be thanking you for the same in a week or two." With a 
                           flip of his tail in the crocs direction he picked up the haunch and 
                           left the bank.
                           He didn't make for the den site right away. His full belly urged 
                           him to lie in the cool shade for a while and sleep. A few jackals came 
                           close eyeing the haunch he carried, but when he told him of the trick 
                           he had played on the crocodile they quickly went to investigate and 
                           never came back.  He was sure by now many carrion eaters were enjoying 
                           the fruits of his slyness and so he let himself fall asleep in the 
                           shade of a rock outcrop with his paw draped protectively over the meat.
                           He didn't awake until well after noon. The full meal still lay 
                           heavily in his stomach and he wished he could just lie back down in the 
                           shade and doze off. However, he knew he needed to get back. Nduli would 
                           be awake by now and would probably be very hungry. He stretched his 
                           long legs and then picked up the meat and ambled off in the direction 
                           of the den site moving slowly through the yellow, brown grass. His leg 
                           still ached and it throbbed a low reminder to him to not over work it.  
                           The quick dodge away from the lunging croc had pulled it back out a bit 
                           and the pain had returned. On the way home he had to stop three times 
                           to rest and stretch the muscle when it cramped up on him. It was 
                           already falling into dusk as he reached familiar terrain and could see 
                           in the distance the small acacia that grew next to Nduli's home.
                           As he neared it he became aware of a plaintive wailing. The 
                           crying voice was full of fright and hopelessness; it spoke of 
                           desperation and despair. He dropped his cargo absently on to the ground 
                           and raced towards the sound. The sight that greeted him made his heart 
                           fall in his chest.  He found Nduli walking slowly through the grass, 
                           calling in a high pitched squeak, the sound of a mother cheetah 
                           searching for her cubs. He could see her trembling and she moved her 
                           head around continually as if expecting an attack at any moment. She 
                           looked so small, as if she had shrunk inside her coat.  Scar slowed, 
                           afraid to approach her too quickly, she seemed so lost and unsure of 
                           her surroundings and he didn't want to startle her further.  She 
                           swiveled her head around and saw him standing silently in the grass. 
                           Her eyes widened and at once she made a halfhearted dash to him. She 
                           stumbled and fell on her way, her hind legs giving out. 
                           Behind him Scar heard the flutter of wings and the ribald 
                           croaking of two rusty voices. Looking back he saw the two vultures that 
                           had taunted him after his first hunt alight on the tree by the den. 
                           They peered down at the shaking cheetah with their beaks open in greedy 
                           anticipation. He raised his lip to them giving them a full view of his 
                           long, white fangs. The birds drew back but didn't leave. They seemed 
                           sure of their meal and weren't about to let this opportunity pass them 
                           by. Breaking his gaze on the grey, winged horrors in the tree, Scar 
                           looked down at Nduli. Her back legs lay limply in a tangled mess behind 
                           her and her breath came in short pants. Without a word he grasped the 
                           nape of her neck in his mouth and lifted her as best he could. Slowly 
                           he walked to den, trying not to drag her too roughly. She was 
                           frighteningly light and already had lost much of the weight the good 
                           eating had put on her. Awkwardly he pushed her into the den headfirst, 
                           trying to drop her gently. She landed with a thud on the rock floor but 
                           made no cry of pain or scold in reproach. Scar was worried. She had 
                           seemed like so much dead weight as he carried her.
                           He walked back to the wildebeest haunch he had dropped. Again he 
                           looked up at the tree and vultures which roosted there looking at him 
                           angrily. They nodded to him. "She's finished you know," the larger one 
                           croaked, "you may as well go on lion."
                           "Yes, done for," the smaller concurred, "why the way she wandered 
                           around in circles calling for you. She's gone mad you know. No good"
                           "What would you know about it, you filthy thieves?" Scar snarled 
                           up at them, "She's strong and will be fine. I've been mad before too 
                           and I'm quite strong." He clicked his claws against the ground. "Come 
                           on down from there cowards and I'll show you."
                           The larger vulture laughed, "Very well, very well. Stay with the 
                           addled beast. But mark me, in a day or two all that will be left of her 
                           is flesh and bone and we'll be prepared." The birds flew off into the 
                           darkening sky, leaving Scar to sit and wonder how much of their cruel 
                           talk was true. He shuddered as he thought of her spending hours 
                           searching for him in the same place, too far gone to realize that she 
                           wasn't going anywhere.  It was as if any part of her true personality 
                           had taken leave and had left behind nothing, a blank space.
                           He entered the den slowly; Nduli was still lying where he had 
                           dropped her, eyes tightly shut and breathing heavily. He carefully made 
                           is way in to avoid stepping on her, then lay close to her and spoke 
                           softly.
                           "Nduli?" he nuzzled her ear, talking gently into it, "Come on 
                           spotty, time to go to bed." He nudged her trying to get her to open her 
                           eyes. She turned her head slowly and looked at him. She seemed far 
                           away, looking past him into some other place which lay beyond the rock 
                           wall of the den. He licked her forehead, it was burning hot to the 
                           touch and the sickly, sour smell of infection hung over her like a 
                           dismal cloud. She blinked slowly and buried her head in his mane.
                           "I thought you left me." she said in a shaky voice, "Don't go 
                           Scar, I don't want to die alone."
                           He wrapped a paw around her, "Don't talk like that, you're not 
                           going to die. I won't let you."
                           He stood over her and grabbed the nape of her neck. He dragged 
                           her to her nest and then began looking her over. The wound on her side 
                           had taken on a nasty greenish tinge and smelled awful. She had 
                           deteriorated much in the afternoon while he was gone.  He licked the 
                           jagged cut until it broke open again and the blood began to flow freely 
                           from it. She lay silent, not even having the strength to whimper in 
                           protest. She just lay in her grass nest, her glazed over eyes staring 
                           vacantly at the rock wall . 
                           Scar meanwhile, racked his brain to remember an incident that had 
                           taken place in the Pride Lands long ago. When Mufasa had just become 
                           king one of the lionesses of the pride had taken ill with an infection 
                           in a wound in her mouth. She had gotten it after cutting her lip of the 
                           sharp edge of a broken bone she had tried to chew. She also had taken 
                           ill with a fever and the pride shaman had been called. Rafiki had given 
                           her some leaves to chew to rid herself of the fever. They were bitter 
                           and made the lioness sick to her stomach but after a few days of eating 
                           the plant the infection had cleared up and the lioness was as good as 
                           new. He couldn't really remember what the plant looked like (in truth 
                           he hadn't really cared what happened to the sick lioness and so hadn't 
                           paid much attention) but he could remember the smell. Curious, he had 
                           gone to see what Rafiki would do for her and looked over the medicine 
                           for himself.  It was strong and distasteful; a powerful smell that 
                           spoke of it's powerful healing ability. He was sure he could recognize 
                           it again if he smelled it. 
                           Looking down at his charge he could see that she had fallen into 
                           a fitful, feverish slumber and that she would be in no mood to eat 
                           tonight.  Food could wait; he now had more pressing things to attend 
                           to. Her sides rose and fell heavily with each labored breath. He nudged 
                           her a couple of times to make sure she would stay asleep after he had 
                           left the den once again. He wanted no repeat of the incident he had 
                           returned home to. He wasn't sure where he was going to go, but he knew 
                           he had the find that plant. It was the only thing he could think of.  
                           He started in the immediate vicinity thrusting his nose into every 
                           brush pile and tussock in the area. He found nothing except some thorns 
                           that pricked his nose and made him bleed. Ranging farther he tried some 
                           more, again to no avail.  All night he wandered sniffing at every grass 
                           and leaf he found. He walked so far that he wasn't even sure of what 
                           direction he was going in anymore. 
                           By the time the moon had reached it's pinnacle he was desperate 
                           and at wits end. All of the plants looked the same to him and nothing 
                           smelled at all like the bitter plant the lioness had taken. Maybe his 
                           memory was faulty and he wasn't remembering right at all. Perhaps all 
                           this searching was pointless and Nduli would die no matter how many 
                           plants he brought back with him. He wished Rafiki were here. The old 
                           baboon would know what to do and would fix Nduli's leg in a snap. The 
                           old baboon always knew what to do.  He was just Scar, not trained in 
                           any of the healing ways and not at all sure what to do.  He began to 
                           believe the vultures had been right, that in a day or two he would find 
                           Nduli cold and stiff in her sleeping nest.  Overwhelmed by the 
                           situation and long day of travel he collapsed on the ground. His throat 
                           felt tight and he couldn't get the idea of Nduli's death from his mind. 
                           The idea of the beautiful spotted cat laying silent forever. Exhaustion 
                           gave way to exhausted tears and he lay in the tall grass crying because 
                           in truth there was nothing more he could do.
                           "Now, now what is all this whimpering and moaning about here?" He 
                           heard a comforting female voice from behind. Without bothering to 
                           regain his composure he turned to the voice and saw a large female 
                           elephant standing in the grass looking at him as one looks at a small-
                           injured cub. He had been so lost in thought that he hadn't noticed her 
                           browsing nearby. "What's ever is the matter? It's not like a lion to 
                           just lay in the grass crying, tell me what's wrong." She tilted her 
                           head in a motherly gesture and smiled at him.
                           "My friend," he blurted out, " she's very sick....she..she's going 
                           to die and I can't find the damn plant!" He collapsed once more into 
                           tears. Embarrassed, but unable to ebb the tide of emotion that was 
                           washing over him.
                           The elephant smiled and came over to him. She reached down with 
                           her truck and patted Scar on his head. "There now, little lion, no need 
                           to get all upset.  Old Kilima will help you. Now what's wrong with your 
                           friend?"
                           Scar sniffled and cleared his throat and looked up at the 
                           elephant. She had a kind face and smiled back at him warmly. "She's got 
                           an infection and a bad fever. She's very sick and I need to find a 
                           medicine plant. But I can't find it anywhere. I looked everywhere. She 
                           really needs it she's going to die soon."
                           The elephant nodded, "Ah yes, the Afya plant, very strong 
                           medicine. There's plenty to be found around here, no need to get 
                           upset." She lifted his head with her trunk.
                           Scar looked startled, "But where? I looked everywhere, absolutely 
                           everywhere."
                           Kilima laughed, "Why honey, you're just too short." She walked 
                           over to a tall tree, which stood nearby and reached up with her trunk. 
                           She pulled down a branch and threw it to him. It was as long as he was 
                           and as thick around as his foreleg.
                           "Here you are darling, more than enough to cure what ails 
                           anybody. Now dry your face and get yourself back to you friend. Make 
                           sure she swallows at least five of the leaves a day. She may get a bit 
                           ill in the stomach, but she must eat them."
                           Scar beamed up at the elephant. He couldn't believe his good 
                           fortune. Smiling his broadest he said, "Thank you, you don't realize 
                           what you've done for me, for both of us, my friend and me. Thank you."
                           The elephant waved her truck. "No problem and no thanks needed. 
                           We elephants believe that all good deeds are rewarded here and in the 
                           other world. It is the path to "Ema Jumu" and every creature that can 
                           would do well to follow it.  Now get yourself back home where you're 
                           needed and good luck to you and your friend."
                           He bowed to the elephant and then picked the branch up in his 
                           teeth and walked as quickly as he could back home. It took a while for 
                           him to get his bearings and find the correct path back, but once sure 
                           of the way he went as quickly as he could ignoring the pain in his legs 
                           and the general fatigue of his body. Most of the night had already 
                           slipped away during his search and time was of the essence.
                           Ndlui was still soundly sleeping when he returned; she lay as 
                           still as death.  He nudged her nose with his own trying to coax her 
                           eyes open. The sooner she took the remedy the better. There was no way 
                           for Scar to tell how far gone she was but he was not about to risk 
                           letting another night slip past without trying to cure her.  However, 
                           she wouldn't awake, her head rolled listlessly as he nudged her. In 
                           desperation Scar bit her ear, hard enough to draw blood.
                           She opened her eyes slowly. The glazed, overcast look remained. 
                           "Kassi?", she asked, "Is that you?" She then closed her eyes again. 
                           Frantic, Scar grabbed hold of her ear again in his teeth and shook the 
                           cheetah roughly.
                           "Wake up damn you!" The taste of her blood flooded his mouth and 
                           he let her go, dropping her head on the floor hard enough to make a 
                           sound. 
                           Nduli's eyes snapped open and she winced. Blood flowed from her 
                           ear and she must've received a nasty bump on the head. She looked up at 
                           Scar and seemed to recognize who he was. 
                           "Scar?" Her voice was weak, "What's going on?"
                           "I've brought something that will make you well again." He 
                           dragged the branch over to where she was laying. 
                           "Here, chew some of these leaves" He snapped off a section and 
                           thrust it into her face. "Five a day I was told and you'll be better in 
                           no time."
                           Nduli sniffed the offering and wrinkled her nose. "Ugh, I don't 
                           think I can. That smells horrible, I'll be sick for days." She lay her 
                           head on her paws and closed her eyes yet again.
                           Scar could feel his temper rising and without thinking growled 
                           and leapt over the female cheetah. Straddling her he grabbed her by the 
                           scruff of the neck and held her tightly, hard enough to hurt. Nduli 
                           yelped and struggled to get out from underneath him but he pressed her 
                           down to the cave floor until she quieted down.
                           "You will eat those leaves," he snarled through a mouthful of her 
                           fur, "you'll either eat them yourself or I'll sit on you and shove them 
                           down your throat. Understand?"
                           Nduli whimpered and Scar could smell the fear scent coming from 
                           her in waves. Feeling a bit uncomfortable he loosed his hold and licked 
                           her neck gently where he had held her. Still standing over her he 
                           nuzzled her neck and groomed her ears until he had sensed that she had 
                           calmed.
                           Without further protest she nibbled at the leaves, slowly 
                           swallowing one after another. It took her a while to eat the entire 
                           dose; the taste must have been horrible indeed, but she finished them 
                           all. When she had done Scar moved off of her and lay in the far corner 
                           of the den. He was terribly tired, the search and the confrontation 
                           with Nduli had worn him out,  the cool floor was soothing and he was 
                           drifting off quickly. He watched as his charge stumbled to her feet and 
                           shambled out of the den. He was about to go after her but could hear 
                           her being sick outside and stayed where he was. The elephant had been 
                           right.
                           
                           Chapter 11 The Sweet Summer Scent
                           
                           Nduli was slow in getting back to her old self. After the 
                           reprimand from Scar she no longer balked at his attempts to help her 
                           and ate the leaves without complaint. Scar himself was beginning to 
                           feel better than he had in a long time. His leg had healed well and all 
                           the exercise he got from hunting for two was beginning to show. His 
                           body no longer seemed bony and ill nourished, instead he was coated 
                           with tawny muscle. His mane had become fuller and glossy and his coat 
                           gleamed with good health. His kills still consisted of mostly small 
                           game but he was getting better everyday. One afternoon he proudly 
                           presented Nduli with a freshly killed wildebeest calf and was 
                           practically bursting with pride as he dropped it at her feet. She had 
                           favored him with a wide smile and a tremendous appetite. 
                           Little by little she started to come to, the wound on her side 
                           closing up and the infection slipping away. He could now once again 
                           count on a wise remark or a lopsided grin when he did something foolish 
                           or in jest. But he sensed this was all good natured teasing on her part 
                           and a cuff on his head or nip to his shoulder would confirm it. She was 
                           becoming strong again but her demeanor had changed much since her 
                           illness. She was more apt to nuzzle his face or playfully bite him than 
                           to snarl at him and for this he was glad. Although it did present a 
                           whole new set of problems
                           In all his life Scar had never taken a real mate or had a close 
                           relationship with a female. There had been one time that he had tried 
                           it, but it never really panned out. He was far too obsessed with his 
                           drive for power to submit to chasing a female. The lioness in question 
                           while interested soon gave up as it became apparent that the interest 
                           was not mutual. Scar was happy to let it go. He had never been 
                           confident in himself and that particular side of life had always made 
                           him nervous. It was the one part of existence that he had never wished 
                           to gain mastery over, preferring instead to concentrate on the things 
                           he knew he could do.
                           But now he found himself drawn to Nduli in a way he had never 
                           felt for any other creature. He found himself staring at her when he 
                           knew she wasn't looking, admiring her sleek spotted coat and long tail. 
                           When laying in the den together he imagined what it might be like to 
                           roll her over and stand over her nipping her neck and pressing against 
                           her back and inhaling her musky odor. More than once he had to excuse 
                           himself on some pretense or other to go outside and run until all 
                           evidence of his secret thoughts had subsided. Now that she had become 
                           more friendly towards him the feelings had become more intense and it 
                           was becoming harder and harder to control himself. He found himself 
                           making up reasons to be close to her. The den was too drafty one night 
                           or she had a dirty spot on her back that only he could reach. She never 
                           questioned his intentions when he did these things, but the thought of 
                           actually approaching her terrified him. If she where to turn and snarl 
                           at him or worse laugh at him he didn't know what he would do. Most 
                           likely slink off never to be heard from again. So in silence he bore 
                           his frustration and continued to just look longingly at her and wonder.
                           Within a week and two days of first taking the medicine plant Nduli was 
                           ready to get out into the field and hunt again. She disliked the fact 
                           that she had lost quite a bit of weight and worried that her skills 
                           would become rusty if she stayed away too long. So one late afternoon 
                           she called Scar from the den and bade him follow her out into the 
                           grasslands.  It was obvious she was feeling good and she bounded up to 
                           him as he came from the den and grabbed him around the neck and bit his 
                           cheek. She let go quickly and raced away looking back over her shoulder 
                           in an attempt to get him to follow. Scar smiled as he watched her run, 
                           she seemed as if she were going to be just fine after all.
                           The two spent the afternoon playing and cashing each other 
                           through the grass. Although, by the mid afternoon the playfulness 
                           became more passionate and soon the two cats found themselves tangled 
                           together in the tall grass. The intoxicating scents of musk, sweat and  
                           fur hung in the warm summer air. For Scar it was like laying bare all 
                           of himself and he found he liked it. The touch of Nduli's tounge 
                           against his skin and the way her flesh jumped when he stood over  her. 
                           The afternoon rolled on slowly until each had exhausted the other and 
                           they could only lay back smiling in the sun.
                           Nduli rolled over on her back and smiled at her panting suitor. 
                           "Are you okay?" She giggled. 
                           Scar said nothing, just nodded at her. After he had caught his 
                           breath he gave her a weary grin and sank down into the grass. His hind 
                           legs throbbed from the encounter. He felt a wonderful sense of calm 
                           overtake him and he lay out full in the late afternoon sun. Nduli came 
                           to where he was and lay down beside him resting her head on his hind 
                           leg.
                           "I wondered how long it would take you to get the hint, you 
                           know." She said.
                           "Me? How was I supposed to know?" He flicked his tail in her 
                           face. "I thought if I tried anything you would be angry or laugh at 
                           me."
                           "Hmm, silly lion," she said rubbing her chin against him, "I 
                           guess you're kind of new at this."
                           Scar looked at his claws. "Yes, well I never had a real mate 
                           before."
                           Nduli sat up and looked at Scar questioningly. "How could you 
                           have not have had a mate before? You were the head of a pride, or so 
                           you told me, that doesn't make any sense Scar."
                           "Well, I,....I mean," Scar stammered, he really couldn't think of 
                           what to say.
                           Scar was at a loss, she had him, it didn't make any sense. There 
                           was no way he could plausibly explain how the ruler of a pride had no 
                           mate. He looked at her and realized he couldn't go on lying to her and 
                           since he was caught there was no time like the present. He was afraid 
                           she might not like what she heard. He swallowed back hard.
                           "Nduli, lie back," he said averting his eyes from her, "I haven't 
                           been completely honest with you about who I am and why I'm here. I have 
                           a lot to tell you so hear me out and afterward you can scratch me or 
                           leave me or whatever."
                           "Why would I do that Scar? I mean after we..."
                           He waved his paw at her. "Just wait until you hear what I have to 
                           say, then tell me what you think."
                           So in the fading light of evening the whole ugly tale of how Scar 
                           became king of the Pride Lands, how he enlisted the hyenas to help him 
                           rule, how he abused the lands and his subjects and finally how his 
                           young nephew drove him away ,came out. Scar told the tale in a clear 
                           and steady voice, only choking up as he told of Mufasa's death and 
                           Simba's exile, never shifting blame away from himself or making excuses 
                           for his actions. It was one of the hardest things he had ever had to 
                           do, but he did it without wavering. 
                           Nduli sat silently all the while, occasionally looking shocked or 
                           angry at what he said, but never offering comment. When Scar finally 
                           finished the sun was long gone and the whir of crickets filled the 
                           silence between his words. For a long time Nduli just sat looking at 
                           him. He couldn't read her face and it worried him. He had hoped that 
                           she would nuzzle him and tell him that the past was behind him and 
                           nothing mattered now. That she cared about him too much for what he 
                           said to change the way she felt about him. She didn't, she just sat 
                           there looking at him with that blank and unreadable expression, the tip 
                           of her tail twitching behind her.  When she finally spoke the anger and 
                           disgust on her countenance was evident and made Scar want to creep away 
                           with his tail between his legs.
                           "Scar, I have never in my life heard a story with more deceit, 
                           dishonesty or downright nasty behavior in my life. I guess I never 
                           really knew who you were."
                           "Nduli, look I'm sorry. I know I should have told you sooner, but 
                           I..."
                           She stood up and rounded on him snarling. "How could you! How 
                           could you do something like that!" 
                           Scar flinched. "Nduli you don't understand...." He put a paw on her 
                           foreleg but she jerked away from him angrily.
                           "No, you're damn right I don't understand! How could I 
                           understand, you killed your own brother and tried to kill a cub of your 
                           own blood!" She was pacing now, her hackles raised. 
                           "I know, it was awful, but...."Scar began but she cut him off.
                           "But, nothing Scar," She was now crying and shaking her head, "I 
                           thought you were different, I thought..."She trailed off as the tears 
                           came in a torrent and she turned and ran toward her den. She dashed 
                           down the hole without looking back to him.
                           Scar didn't follow her this time. It seemed prudent to sleep 
                           outdoors for the night.  He found shelter under the Aica tree but he 
                           found no sleep. The afternoon which had started out so well had ended 
                           in disaster. Scar was kicking himself for letting slip that he had 
                           never had a mate. But more, he was sorry he had not told Nduli sooner 
                           about what had happened in the Pride Lands. If the past had taught him 
                           nothing else it taught him that lies were never a good idea.  Now she 
                           was closed to him again, sleeping in her den alone.  
                           He knew what she must have been thinking as she heard what he had 
                           to tell her. That he was just another bullying lion. Another brute bent 
                           on destruction.  There was no way she would allow him to get close to 
                           her again, not after the many diatribes he had heard from her on lions 
                           and their inherent worthlessness in the world. The trust that she had 
                           in him, the trust he had fought so hard for, was now gone and it 
                           wouldn't be back in a hurry.
                           Suddenly Scar lifted his head. A cool breeze was coming from the 
                           West and it stirred something within him. He remembered something that 
                           seemed as if it came from a long ago dream. Something that told him the 
                           West held what he was looking for and that whatever it was it was 
                           waiting for him. Enticing him to follow it's trail.  Go to where the 
                           sun meets the earth.  He got to his feet without realizing he was doing 
                           so. He sleepwalked a few steps forward and then stopped. He looked 
                           toward the den and heard Nduli's soft raspy snore, the soft sound that 
                           had been lulling him to sleep every night since he met her. He smiled 
                           and then turned once again to the western wind.  He narrowed his eyes 
                           and set his sight to the horizon which pulled him forward.
                           "Goodbye,  my dearest friend." He whispered in the direction of 
                           the den. "be well and thank you, I'll never forget you."
                           Setting his jaw tight and blinking back stinging tears he set out 
                           in the direction of the wind, never looking back. If he had, he would 
                           have stayed forever. Content to be lulled to sleep for the rest of his 
                           life.
                           The next morning Nduli woke and looked for Scar first thing. She 
                           was desperate to tell him how sorry she was for berating him, to tell 
                           him how much she cared about him and to beg him to stay with her 
                           forever. She called for over an hour, listening for the pad of his feet 
                           in the grass, but her voice grew hoarse and he never materialized. 
                           After a while she realized with certainty that he was gone for good. 
                           She lay in the shade of the tree which still held his lingering scent 
                           from the many times he had marked it. Turning to the direction that the 
                           sun set she somehow knew that he had gone that way, to find whatever it 
                           was he was looking for. She sat there for a long while, looking into 
                           the distance and saying nothing.
                           
                           Chapter 12  Strange Friends in Strange Places
                           
                           When he had left Nduli he wasn't at all sure where he was going 
                           just that something was telling him it was time for him to move on. He 
                           had to stop himself from running back a few times, he was very much in 
                           love with the cheetah, but the vision of her so angry and disappointed, 
                           driven to tears by his former self , spurred him on. It hurt him 
                           greatly to know that she thought he was just another lion, another 
                           marauding murderer. It was not how he had wanted her to feel, indeed he 
                           had tried his best to counter her expectations, but in the end the 
                           story of his early life overshadowed all that. His past had come back 
                           to haunt him and he could no more erase it's effect on her than he 
                           could change the color of the sky.  He was very sorry to have it come 
                           to this. He had entertained in his mind the idea of spending his 
                           remaining days with the cheetah but for one slip and few weeks of lying 
                           that had all been dashed to pieces.  He found himself more ashamed of 
                           his role in the Pride Lands then he had ever had before and his tread 
                           was as heavy as his heart.
                           The night came and with it a violent thunderstorm. Sheets of 
                           hard, cold, biting rain pelting him from above. White claws of lighting 
                           ripped across the skies illuminating the darkened plain in surreal 
                           flashing light. The weather seemed to match his mood, brooding and 
                           restless. On the open plain there was no shelter to be found. Not a 
                           tree or rock face, bush or thicket in sight, only miles of wet, waving 
                           grass. He plodded on through the sodden ground, occasionally startling 
                           at the loud claps of thunder. 
                           It was a miserable few hours until the storm subsided and the sun 
                           rose to meet an equally grey and cheerless morning. Tired from the 
                           nights travel he stopped at a small river. He dipped his forepaws into 
                           the water washing off the mud which had caked between his toes. He was 
                           about to turn away and look for a suitable place to take a nap when a 
                           shrill screech broke the silence. 
                           The sound had come from down river and it was full of distress. 
                           Out of curiosity Scar followed the noise, picking his way along the 
                           rocky bank. It didn't sound like any sort of enemy or creature he knew.  
                           The river was a narrow one, gravel bottomed and fast running. Here and 
                           there sharply pointed rocks broke the swift current and on one of these 
                           tiny islands was a small animal. It was the source of the sound and it 
                           shrieked again as it clung desperately to a slime covered rock that 
                           poked directly out of the middle of the river.
                           Scar almost turned back the way he came but something in the 
                           animals look made him stop and consider the situation. The poor little 
                           beast(not even as large as his paw) looked so helpless amid the raging 
                           water swollen by the past nights rain. It reminded him of Nduli when he 
                           had found her wandering aimlessly by her den and he was moved to help 
                           it. 
                           "Hello, out there," he called. "Hold on tightly and I'll come and 
                           get you." Scar tested the current and found while it was swift and 
                           bitterly cold it was not strong enough to sweep him away.  He lowered 
                           himself into the water and paddled clumsily out towards the creature.
                           It shrieked in terror at the sight of the lion coming toward it 
                           and made to scramble away, momentarily forgetting it's original 
                           predicament. It squeaked as it slipped off the rock and into the cold 
                           rushing water. Quickly, Scar thrust out his paw and blocked the little 
                           animal from floating down river. The creature tried desperately to get 
                           out from Scar's grasp and it paddled madly trying to fight the current 
                           at the same time. 
                           Scar had to laugh at the ridiculous display and then gently 
                           grabbed the little animal in his mouth and swam back to shore. It 
                           struggled and thrashed violently in his grasp, it even tried to bite 
                           him. Scar ignored it, the animal was far too small to bite through the 
                           tuft of hair on his chin. He climbed onto the rocky bank and dropped 
                           the creature with an unceremonious thud onto the gravel. He shook 
                           himself like a dog showering the little animal with droplets of water 
                           it squeaked and scrambled up the bank.
                           "Well, there you are little chap," Scar said. "safe and sound. 
                           Next time don't go for a swim when the river is swollen ." He began 
                           slowly picking his way up the bank. He was brought up short as the 
                           little animal scurried in front of him and stood on it's hind legs 
                           looking at him.
                           Now that he could get a good look at the animal, Scar had to 
                           admit that it was sickeningly cute. It was covered in a thick grey pelt 
                           with white fur on the chest and belly. It had small pink paw/hands very 
                           much like a baboons but small and delicate. It had a tiny pink nose and 
                           small rounded ears that twitched constantly. It's large black eyes 
                           stared at him with a kind of awe and Scar chuckled. It was a bush baby, 
                           but since he had never seen one before Scar decided it must be some 
                           kind of mouse.
                           "Thank you big lion for saving Chaga. Much thanks, good friend to 
                           lion from now on." The little beast had a shrill, reedy voice that 
                           lilted at the end of each sentence.
                           "Yes, I'm sure," Scar nodded to the little animal, "I hope you're 
                           okay, goodbye now." He again went to move on and now found that the 
                           little creature had dashed up his foreleg and was now sitting on his 
                           nose regarding him with those huge black eyes.
                           "Chaga best friend to lion now." It twittered. "Lion name?"
                           Scar was taken aback, "Uh, Scar, now about this best friend 
                           business." He reached up and plucked the little creature from his snout 
                           and held it by it's tail. Undaunted the creature climbed onto Scar's 
                           paw and sat perched on his toe.
                           "Oh yes, Scarred lion is Chaga's best friend now." It groomed 
                           it's ears compulsively. "Find Scarred lion lots of beetles and sausage 
                           fruits. Good yes." It nodded it's head enthusiastically waiting for 
                           Scar's approval.
                           Scar put his paw down with a thump causing the creature to flip 
                           off into the gravel. "Oh, yes very good." He pushed Chaga with his paw. 
                           "Why don't you run along and do that now little friend."
                           Chaga bowed in Scar's direction. "Good find food for new best 
                           friend. Be back Scarred lion wait, be back in quick time. No problem" 
                           It bounded off.
                           Scar shook his head as he watched the bush baby take off towards 
                           the nearby woods. "That'll teach me," he thought. "to help strange 
                           looking rodents." He yawned widely and went off to search for a proper 
                           napping spot. 
                           After a little bit of searching he found a fallen log which had 
                           long ago been hollowed out by termites and curled up at the entrance. 
                           It didn't take long for him to fall asleep. The heat of the day was 
                           coming on and the cool shade was comforting. Aside from the buzz of 
                           cicadas in the long grass the area was silent. He thought of Nduli as 
                           he drifted off to sleep.
                           
                           Chapter 13 Bad Omens
                           
                           The night was rainy and it was cold. Scar plodded through the wet 
                           grass feeling every step getting harder as the mud sucked him down. He 
                           saw a familiar spotted shape in the distance and ran to try to catch 
                           it. But he couldn't move, the mud held him firmly in place. Suddenly 
                           the shape was joined by another. It was a lion, a monstrous one. The 
                           small spotted shape ran toward him and he saw it was Nduli calling for 
                           help. The lion lunged toward her and landed squarely on her, he could 
                           hear her back snap as she was pushed down into the mud. She squealed 
                           for help as the huge lion buried it's fangs in her back ripping her 
                           open. He heard the sickening crunch of bones as it snapped her in two.
                           He tried to scream but nothing came from him. The lion looked at 
                           him blood dripping from it's jaws. "Now it's your turn, little one." It 
                           leapt towards him, foam and blood running back from it's muzzle.
                           Scar awoke and leapt to his feet, teeth bared and seeking an 
                           enemy. It took him a while to realize that the only enemy was his 
                           troubled mind that conjured up demons to taunt him while he slept. He 
                           sat down and looked about,  to reassure himself that it had all been a 
                           dream and that the huge lion was nowhere to be found.  But what he did 
                           find almost caused him to break out into gales of laughter.
                           Placed on the ground nearby very neatly on a large leaf was a 
                           small pile of beetles and sausage fruit. Evidently his little friend 
                           had found him while he was sleeping and had decided to leave him 
                           breakfast. He sniffed the offering but decided that while it was a  
                           nice gesture the assortment was not to his taste. He also wanted to 
                           take leave of this place before the little pest came back. He stretched 
                           and was just preparing to do so when he felt something fall onto his 
                           back from above. 
                           "Oh please, please let that be a very heavy misquitoe." He 
                           mumbled to himself. 
                           However he soon found the small and loud little animal from the 
                           morning's incident clambering onto his nose smiling broadly. 
                           "Hello, hello, Scarred lion. Good sleep, you have?" It began 
                           washing it's face.
                           "Now listen, I have to go hunting now and....." he tried to brush 
                           Chaga off his nose but it held onto him tightly.
                           "Oh, to hunting. I know where to go to hunting." It's tail 
                           brushed past Scar's nostril causing him to sneeze. This did nothing to 
                           dislodge the little pest and it continued smiling brightly at him.
                           Finally giving up patience his grabbed the bush baby between to 
                           two claws and pried him off his nose.
                           "You cannot go hunting with me." He dropped Chaga onto the ground 
                           roughly. "Now go on, off with you." He pointed in the direction 
                           of the trees.
                           "Please Scarred lion," the little animal looked up at him 
                           pleadingly. "Want to help you. Please."
                           Scar looked at Chaga sternly. His tolerance for the creature was 
                           close to an end. "No! Now get out of here you little pest."
                           He raised a forepaw as if to strike the little animal senseless 
                           in the hope that it would run off in fright. Instead it cringed before 
                           him and looked at him with wide and frightened eyes.
                           "Scarred lion going to eat Chaga now?" It whimpered.
                           "What?" 
                           "Go on Scarred lion, eat Chaga. Very sorry." It lay down on the 
                           ground at Scar's feet looking at him and shaking.
                           "Now, I never said anything about eating you, so why don't..." Scar 
                           was unable to finish as the bush baby had bounded up from the ground 
                           and landed squarely on top of his head. It squealed with delight.
                           "Oh thank you Scarred lion. You are very best friend." It tugged 
                           on Scar's mane. 
                           "You know," Scar said to no one on particular. "if this were 
                           happening to anyone else this would be terribly funny."
                           "Yes, very funny." Chaga chimed in. "Scarred lion is very funny 
                           and very good friend."
                           "Um, yes, right then. Chaga is it? Listen you can stay with me a 
                           little while but you must be very, very quiet."
                           "Oh yes, very quiet." The bush baby whispered as if to show Scar 
                           how quiet he could be.
                           "The Scarred lion does not like a lot of noise and he must hunt 
                           now. So you can sit up there if you can be very quiet. Don't even 
                           whisper, you understand."
                           Scar got up and began walking toward the open plain. He was sure 
                           in time that the hyperactive little animal would grow tired of his 
                           company. At least he hoped so or he would be having a small snack 
                           before his meal.
                           It didn't take him long to locate his lunch. Within the first 
                           mile of journeying he came upon a wounded zebra colt that had been left 
                           behind by it's herd. He dispatched the animal quickly and with little 
                           resistance and soon found himself gorging on the tender young flesh.
                           He soon forgot that he had a bush baby sitting atop his head. The 
                           little beast took Scar's direction seriously and remained silent, even 
                           through the kill, it uttered not a squeak or spoke a word. Occasionally 
                           Scar could feel a tug on his mane, but other than that his passenger 
                           seemed hardly there at all. When he had eaten his fill he figured now 
                           was as good a time as any to call the little guy down and have a chat. 
                           "You up there, if you're awake come down here" he said. "I'd like 
                           to talk to you."
                           He felt Chaga stir in his mane and then it jumped down to where 
                           Scar sat. The tiny animal looked sleepy and it was evident that he had 
                           found the lions mane a comfortable nest.  It scratched it's ear with 
                           it's hind foot and then straightened and attempted to look brisk and 
                           ready for whatever the lion required of him.
                           "So, tell me," said Scar licking the remains of the blood from 
                           his whiskers. "Why are you following me around then? I mean I've never 
                           seen a creature such as yourself and I'd like to know why you decided 
                           to become my shadow."
                           "You saved me from the water. Swam and pulled me out." Chaga 
                           began grooming his ears in a decidedly nervous manner. "Want to be 
                           friends."
                           Scar nodded. "Fair enough, but really, I'm a lion and you're a, 
                           a, mouse or something."
                           Chaga frowned at Scar. "I'm not a mouse! I'm a bush baby."
                           "Oh, my apologies then. So what does a bush baby do then? I mean 
                           besides getting themselves in trouble. Where is your family?"
                           The little animal looked down on the ground at it's feet, 
                           apparently his family life was a source of discomfort that he was not 
                           eager to talk about. "No family," he said reluctantly. "Family gone, 
                           gone and not come back."
                           "So what happened to them?" He started on his forepaws, carefully 
                           cleaning each claw. 
                           Chaga shrugged. "Don't know, came home on day and no family no 
                           more. I wait many days and they never come back. No eagle sign or snake 
                           sign. Just gone. I stay a little while then go to find family. Maybe 
                           find them, but not now."
                           "I see," Scar regarded the little beast sitting on it's haunches 
                           before him, so tiny and wandering around the wild open plains looking 
                           for his people. He couldn't imagine how it must be for him, so small 
                           and at the mercy of any larger animal that took a notion to harass him. 
                           It was no wonder he had latched onto him. Scar knew he must seem like a 
                           safe haven from all the terrors of the world. First rate protection. He 
                           grew less annoyed at Chaga as he came to realize that the little animal 
                           most likely considered him is only chance of survival. Against his 
                           better judgment he decided to make an offer to his fellow outcast.
                           "Well, I'm traveling west and if you like you can tag along. 
                           Perhaps we'll run into your family on the way."
                           Chaga's eyes lit up at that last and leaping into the air he 
                           began shrieking in his shrill voice.
                           "Thank you, thank you Scarred lion. I promise, be quiet. No 
                           trouble to you."
                           Scar rolled his eyes. "All right, that's enough of that for now. 
                           The only thing is I must sometimes be alone okay? I need to hunt and to 
                           sleep and you're a loud fellow once you get going. If you think you can 
                           manage that we have a deal."
                           Chaga nodded. "Very good then," Scar said. "Oh and my name is 
                           Scar."
                           "Yes, Scarred lion."
                           Scar didn't pursue the matter further, Scar or Scarred lion it 
                           didn't really make a difference. He yawned and stretched out in the 
                           grass, his weighted stomach making him drowsy. "I'm going to sleep now 
                           and I'll travel again when I wake up later. Why don't you go find 
                           yourself something to eat and meet me here later on."
                           The bush baby hopped up into a nearby tree. "Okay Scarred lion, 
                           see you later."
                           He watched the nimble animal jump effortlessly from branch to 
                           branch until it was out of sight. Laying his head on his paws he 
                           wondered in amusement what Nduli would think of his new companion.  She 
                           would probably laugh her tail off he concluded and then he nodded off.
                           
                           
                           After a time Scar found that while his first impression of Chaga 
                           had not been entirely good the bush baby was actually a fairly 
                           intelligent and amusing traveling companion when not shrieking or 
                           hopping madly about. His initial behavior could be attributed to the 
                           fact that he was just so happy to find a friend that he couldn't 
                           control himself. Now that it had become accustomed to the idea of 
                           traveling with Scar he had quieted down considerably. From what Scar 
                           could gather from what Chaga told him was that his people lived in the 
                           dense forest which skirted the plains. They lived in large groups in 
                           the boughs of tall trees, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles all 
                           grouped together and collectively taking care of the young. When the 
                           Chaga had gone out on his own to explore the outskirts of the forest he 
                           had done so alone and against his better judgement. His people tended 
                           to stick together closely and weren't given to solo outings.
                           But Chaga was a strong headed kit and the lure of seeing what 
                           lay beyond the canopy of trees was too alluring to pass up. His parents 
                           had always warned him of the frightening land that lay beyond the 
                           trees, but he really wanted to see it for himself. To see all the big 
                           animals he had heard stories about as a tiny kit. So quietly taking 
                           leave one afternoon when the family group had taken to the hollows 
                           until nightfall, he set off to see the great and dangerous land of 
                           legend. He traveled for a couple of days alone, eating the strange 
                           insects and seeds he found in the tall grasses of the plains and 
                           wondering at the amazing expanse of land. He was a bit disappointed 
                           though. The only animals he came across were migrating wildebeests, a 
                           far cry from the huge monsters he had always been told about and so 
                           made up his mind that the land of great and dangerous animals was 
                           nothing more than a fancy made up by his supersistious relatives. His 
                           opinion changed when on the way back he encountered a large and hungry 
                           snake. Barely dodging away from the darting head of the reptile he 
                           bounded back toward the tree canopy as quickly as he could. He was sure 
                           he would receive a serious reprimand and perhaps punishment from his 
                           fellows when he returned, but considering the alternative it barely 
                           seemed an issue.
                           However, when he finally reached the large, knotted trees where 
                           his family group lived, he found them barren and seemingly deserted.  
                           At first he thought he must've come to the wrong place. The tree 
                           hollows of his family site was always alive with noise and bush babies 
                           hunting from branch to branch under the cool umbrella of leaves. But 
                           here there was nothing but the sound of the wind rustling the leaves. 
                           Finding his sleeping hollow confirmed his worst fears. This was his 
                           family's home but his family was no longer there. No aunts, no uncles, 
                           cousins or brothers, no one at all. He looked for signs that perhaps a 
                           snake had raided the hollows or an eagle had moved into the area 
                           prompting an exodus. He had found no sign of either and also no clue as 
                           to where his group may have gone.
                           He waited for a few days to see if maybe they would return but no 
                           one came. After a long night of thinking and wrestling with his 
                           conflicting emotions of loneliness and fear of the world away from the 
                           trees he made up his mind to look for them or at any rate find a more 
                           hospitable place to make his home. 
                           He had been traveling in the same direction as Scar on the night 
                           the fearful thunderstorm had covered the sky and soaked the lands. 
                           Being a small creature unused to travel on the ground and terrified by 
                           the loud noises of the storm he had tried to find shelter among the 
                           rocks and deadwood by the river. Finding a tangle of branches by the 
                           river's edge he curled up in the middle of them and tried to sleep 
                           through the frightening thunder and bright flashes of light. 
                           The river swelled quickly as the black sheets of rain battered 
                           down and before he had a chance to fully wake up and seek higher ground 
                           Chaga found his brush pile being overtaken by the water which overrun 
                           the bank and was swept away in the raging current. He had the presence 
                           of mind to fight his way out from the pile and grasp the first solid 
                           object he found before he lost all his strength and drowned in the cold 
                           water.  It was a rock which jutted out from the swiftly running waters. 
                           He clung to it for the remainder of the night, his paws growing numb 
                           from the cold and in danger of loosing his grip. It was here that Scar 
                           found him miserable and frightened from the long night of rain and 
                           thunder and the threat of being swept away under the swirling black 
                           water.
                           At first he had been scared witless by the lion as it swam toward 
                           him. First the terrible night and now he was going to be eaten! He 
                           tried to escape but the cat was too fast for him and he was soon 
                           scooped up in the huge jaws, helpless. To his surprise the lion didn't 
                           eat him, but instead deposited him on the bank. 
                           Here was a friend worth having! No one would dare threaten him if 
                           he stayed with a lion. So he set out to impress his benefactor and it 
                           had worked. Now he would have a chance to look for his family and not 
                           have to be on the jump at every turn. Scar didn't mind. Chaga was light 
                           and now that he understood what was expected of him he often forgot the 
                           little animal was perched on his back or head. More than that he was 
                           amusing. During the hot afternoons when Scar would lie in the shade and 
                           rest he would hop into the branches of any nearby tree or brush and 
                           bounce from place to place catching insects on the wing or merely 
                           performing acrobatics for Scar's entertainment.
                           Chaga provided the one thing that Scar needed most at that 
                           moment. Respite from his thoughts of Nduli. He missed her terribly and 
                           it showed.  One afternoon Chaga noticed that the lion had seemed 
                           pensive and preoccupied all day, neither speaking nor walking very 
                           quickly. Just padding along looking at his paws and occasionally 
                           heaving a heavy sigh and casting a forlorn look over his shoulder to 
                           some unknown point in the distance. So when they stopped for their 
                           daily break he left off hunting in the trees to sit in the grass beside 
                           Scar.
                           Scar lowered himself heavily onto the grass and lay his head on 
                           his forepaws. He had now put four days of travel behind him and Nduli 
                           was long gone. He had thought it would get over her quickly, that the 
                           distance between them would distance her from his thoughts; it hadn't 
                           worked. In fact with each passing day it got stronger as did the urge 
                           to turn around and go back. That , of course, was impossible but it 
                           didn't make the pain go away or lessen his desire to run back to her 
                           and beg her to take him back. He was running this over in his mind when 
                           Chaga crawled onto his paw.
                           "Scarred lion?" He put his small paw on Scar's muzzle. "Why sad 
                           today?"
                           Scar looked at Chaga out of the corner of his eye. "Oh, no 
                           reason. Just a bit out of sorts."
                           Chaga looked unconvinced. "Tell to me if want to. Scarred lion 
                           looking very sad. Bad mind today, yes?"
                           "I guess that's a good way to put it, my mind does feel awfully 
                           bad today. Chaga? Did you ever have a mate."
                           "Never mate, never made father." He began grooming his ears in 
                           the fashion he had when asked an uncomfortable question. "Too young."
                           Scar chuckled. "Oh, well, neither have I," Scar sighed. "and I'm 
                           certainly not too young either."
                           "Never?" Chaga looked surprised. "No little Scarred lions? Too 
                           bad Scarred lion very nice. Not nasty, mean like snake."
                           Scar looked at the little bush baby and touched it's head with 
                           his paw. "Little malaika, you don't know the half of it."
                           "So tell Scarred lion, what not that I know. Listen fine. Good 
                           talk, makes bounce higher." It scrambled out from underneath Scar's paw 
                           and sat looking at him expectedly.
                           "Well, I suppose it couldn't do any harm. Just promise me you 
                           won't leave as soon as I'm done. I'm tired of loosing friends."  He 
                           gave a weary smile to Chaga who only patted his paw in encouragement 
                           for him to go on.
                           So once again he found himself relating the story of his 
                           betrayal, reign and subsequent dismissal from the Pride Lands. Chaga 
                           only sat in the tall grass listening intently and nodding to Scar when 
                           the lion paused to gulp back a knot in his throat. He told him about 
                           his time with Nduli and the relationship that developed between them 
                           and how in shame and fear he had run from her. 
                           "Scarred lion have a very exciting life so far, hmm?" Chaga said 
                           when it was evident Scar had finished what he had to say.
                           "You could say that again." Scar said. "Too exciting if you ask 
                           me. But do you see what I mean? Don't look up to me Chaga. I may not 
                           look like a snake to you, but inside of me there is one."
                           Chaga shook his head. "No, no, Scarred lion act stupid, do many 
                           bad things. Get hurt bad, loose home, loose friend. But still live. Go 
                           away, new home, new friends. Not stupid anymore. Good lesson, yes? "
                           Scar was surprised at the little beasts insight. "You sound like 
                           an old friend of mine. He said the same thing, although not quite in 
                           the same way." Chaga's strange, broken speech had taken a while for 
                           Scar to get used to, but since large animals and small animals often 
                           spoke differently in the same language it was to be expected.
                           "Sorry for loosing cheetah friend." Chaga leapt up preparing to 
                           go after his afternoon meal. "Be other cheetahs, sometime." He then 
                           effortlessly jumped into the shade tree and disappeared in the thick 
                           foliage.
                           "Yes," Scar said quietly after him. "Maybe sometime."
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           Chapter 14
                           There and Back Again
                           
                           
                           Scar and Chaga  were covering a lot of ground, although when 
                           asked by his passenger where they were in fact headed Scar wasn't sure 
                           what to tell him. He remembered what had happened while under the 
                           influence of Rafiki's "magic fruit" and that the vision of his brother 
                           had urged him to seek his destiny out west, but what that destiny was 
                           he couldn't begin to fathom.  However, Scar had faith in what was told 
                           to him that day, by either phantom in fact or as just a manifestation 
                           of his own troubled mind. Something was drawing him out, like an 
                           invisible rope around his neck, tugging him forward. Each day he 
                           covered more miles than the last, eager(but also somewhat afraid) of 
                           whatever he might find.
                           Chaga on the other hand seemed less and less eager to search for 
                           his family and more and more content with remaining Scar's confidant 
                           and jester, whichever the situation warranted, for as long as Scar 
                           would have him. Each afternoon and evening the two would separate to 
                           attend to their particular needs and in the early mornings and late 
                           nights they would rejoin up and begin their steady progress once again. 
                           It was an unusual relationship, but both seemed to take from each other 
                           what  he needed.
                           Nduli's hunting lessons where as unforgettable as the teacher 
                           herself and Scar found that he now had no trouble feeding himself. 
                           Although, in the true way of predator and prey he failed more often 
                           than he succeeded, he still rarely went hungry. Chaga could almost 
                           certainly count on returning to find his friend greasy faced and 
                           belching from a hard run meal. On these occasions Chaga would hang back 
                           until Scar had cleaned himself up and decided to leave the remains of 
                           the carcass to the vultures. While he would never admit it, his friends 
                           carnivorous lifestyle and the heady smell of blood upset him. Scar 
                           recognized this and considerately tried to shield his friend from the 
                           worst of it. 
                           One evening as the pink sunset was drawing to it's grand finale 
                           the two prepared to once again part for the time leading up to the 
                           early hours before dawn, when Scar felt something. It was like a slight 
                           lingering scent in the air or a twitch under the skin, minimal, but 
                           present nonetheless. He stood still as stone as if trying to feel some 
                           current coming from underground.  He scanned the quickly darkening 
                           surroundings for whatever could be giving him the strange sensations 
                           but nothing was there....the land was silent. 
                           "Chaga, get off of my back will you?" 
                           The bush baby jumped from Scar's shoulders and looked nervously 
                           about himself. Something was making Scar edgy and he wasn't at all sure 
                           of what his friend wanted him to do. He turned to Scar, nose twitching
                           "Why stopping here, Scarred lion?" Chaga stood on his hind paws 
                           and tried to peer over the grasses. "No trees and no food animals."
                           Scar waved a paw at him to silence any more questions and instead 
                           of replying he took a few steps forward raising his nose to catch the 
                           night air. 
                           "Chaga?" asked Scar, not looking at him but concentrating on some 
                           far away point. "Do you think we could split up now? Not just for a few 
                           hours but for a day or two. Something is happening here and I'm not 
                           sure what it is."
                           "Okay, go back mile or two." He motioned in the direction that he 
                           and Scar had come from. "Stay in tree that we passed." Concerned he 
                           added. "Scarred lion okay?"
                           Scar nodded not turning his head. "Yes, I'm fine. Hang on a 
                           moment and I'll take you where you'll be safe. There's something here 
                           that worries me and it wouldn't do to have you wandering about alone."
                           Chaga raised his own nose to the air and sniffed. "No death 
                           smell, no bad animal smell. What's to being bothered for?"
                           "I don't know, but there's something. Not dangerous, at least I 
                           don't think so, but still I'd rather know you were safe while I'm 
                           scouting about. No need to put both of us in danger. Now hop on and 
                           I'll take you back."
                           Scar left Chaga in a small stand of trees a two miles back from 
                           where he had gotten the strange feeling. The bush baby reluctantly 
                           bounced from Scar's back to a low branch.
                           "Being careful Scarred lion, yes?"
                           Scar looked up and smiled at him. "I will and you do the same. 
                           I'll be back in a day or so maybe less depending on what I find. Will 
                           you be okay here? Find enough food I mean?"
                           Chaga nodded. "Oh yes, many flying things here. Eat good, no 
                           problem."
                           "Very well." Scar started back. "I'll be back soon, take care."
                           He dashed off in the direction he had come, a sliver of dread 
                           beginning to creep up his spine. As he neared the place once again the 
                           sliver had turned into a bright, white sheet of fear. He hadn't 
                           mentioned his feelings to Chaga, no sense in upsetting him, but as he 
                           cut through the tall grass his claws shot out and a low growl issued 
                           from deep in his throat. 
                           The place was absolutely unlike any he had seen. The grass was 
                           thick green coat covering the ground, very unlike the yellow/brown 
                           grasses he was accustomed to. The landscape was dotted here and there 
                           with low trees and rocky outcroppings. Instinctively he moved closer to 
                           the ground as if expecting an enemy attack to come from behind the 
                           rocks. An electric current of nervous energy ran through him as he 
                           moved.
                           The air had taken on a putrid reek, the smell of something long 
                           since dead and left to rot in the high sun. He moved a bit slower, 
                           fearful of the scent and of the silence which surrounded him. The grass 
                           was making him claustrophobic, becoming a suffocating blanket through 
                           which he moved with difficulty. The scent was strong now, a choking 
                           malaise, he parted his lips and panted through his mouth. He could now 
                           hear his own heart beat in his ears and he crouched low, almost 
                           crawling on his belly. 
                           He felt it before he actually saw it and he could certainly smell 
                           it. Something soft and cold and yelding to the touch. Looking forward 
                           to what his paw had brushed against, he leapt up and recoiled in 
                           horror, choking and retching as he fell backward.
                           A large dead lion lay before him. Not a fresh kill, no, this kill 
                           had been around for a good long while. Even in the dark he could see 
                           flies walking across the damp, matted fur. Crawling in and out of the 
                           gaping holes in the lion's flesh,laying their eggs in the fetid meat. 
                           He squinted to look into the holes. He didn't want to, but something 
                           made him do it. It was as if he had lost all control of himself and was 
                           being forced to peer into the dead, rotting flesh of the beast.  Closer 
                           he leaned until the rotting smell had lodged itself in his windpipe.
                           Before him the flesh began to shiver and he could hear a wet 
                           ripping sound as the holes enlarged and rippled with energy. A spotted 
                           paw thrust itself out from the gaping wound, first one then another. He 
                           made a soft moaning sound and flattened himself to the ground. Helpless 
                           to do anything but watch as the corpse gave birth to a monstrosity 
                           before his eyes.
                           It was terrible and familiar as it pulled itself from it's 
                           twisted birth canal. A perverted parody of a slight, spotted cat. 
                           Maggots writhed in it's clumped and wet fur and it's jaw swung wide to 
                           greet him in a horrible smile. Bone glistened through the fur on it's 
                           lean legs, giving the appearance of stripped flesh, raw and angry.
                           "Scarrr," The awful apparition gurgled at him, a bloody spume 
                           dripping from it's lower jaw as it forced the word out. "You killed 
                           me."
                           He could only shake his head as it advanced on him. "You did, you 
                           left me to die Scar. But it's your turn now. You're soon going to die 
                           and look like him."
                           He jerked his eyes towards the corpse and saw the face of his 
                           brother laying on the grass. Flies buzzed as they walked in and out of 
                           his mouth and ears. The eyes blinked once.
                           Scar turned the way he came and ran. He ran faster than he ever 
                           had in his life. The grasses whipped his face as he cut a swath through 
                           their suffocating depths. He didn't look where he was going ,he just 
                           fled in a blind panic. Away from the cheetah and dead lion in the 
                           grass.  He didn't see the overlook as he ran towards it or he didn't 
                           care.  He pitched headlong over the side, almost running in midair.
                           Tumbling down the sharp incline in the darkness, bumping against 
                           the rocky face as he went, he landed heavily on his side. He recovered 
                           himself and looked quickly about expecting to see the shambling 
                           apparition coming to claim him again. He saw nothing except a small 
                           stream. He had fallen down into a gorge of some sort. He was uninjured, 
                           but for the rest of the night he couldn't move, he just remained 
                           flattened to the ground eyes searching and whimpering in fear.
                           It was a long night, one filled with chancy shadows and tricks of 
                           the eye that made Scar turn at every rustle on the breeze. Paralyzed by 
                           the hideous vision and his own imagination, now wild with capering 
                           demons and vengeful corpses on some sort of divine mission to be done 
                           with him, to root him out and destroy him. It was only what was right, 
                           wasn't it? No matter what Rafiki had said or what visions had come to 
                           him during an induced dream all things remained the same. He was still 
                           at heart a coward, a murderer and a liar and now was waiting in some 
                           desolate rocky gorge in some unknown land for his fate to catch him. 
                           This was his destiny. To be ripped apart by decaying fangs that would 
                           end his corrupt life as horribly as he had lived it. It was the fate he 
                           had earned.
                           Such where his thoughts as he lay for the long hours proceeding 
                           dawn. His minds eye playing the scene over and over again for his 
                           displeasure. Sometimes it was Nduli crawling from the corroded body, 
                           sometimes Simba slithering out to condemn him of his father's murder 
                           and sentence him to death. Just like on that stifling night when his 
                           nephew had turned up, only this time Simba didn't give him a chance to 
                           run. This time his nephew demanded his blood. It was so easy to forget, 
                           wasn't it, when one wasn't actively trying to think about these things. 
                           Too easy to forget the blood that stained one's paws or the notches 
                           made in one's heart from false words and foul deeds. But cradled within 
                           the steep rocky cliffs, Scar's old wounds were reopened anew and were 
                           thrust back into view. 
                           When dawn mercifully arrived accompanied by the trilling of tick 
                           birds and swallows and the dusky horrors of the night had retreated 
                           back into harmless shadows and mere illusions; Scar sat for a long time 
                           considering what he should do next.  A large part of him wanted to just 
                           take leave of the place, forget the whole business, find a comfortable 
                           place to stay and while away any time he might have left. The night had 
                           left his mind weak and the eager anticipation he had had for his quest 
                           had since dissipated with his night terrors. There could be nothing for 
                           him in the world. His one try at happiness had failed and it had 
                           because of what he had done. It would always be there, no matter what 
                           he did or however far he traveled. Like the scar on his face it marked 
                           him for life. Perhaps, Rafiki had somehow conjured the whole thing up 
                           just to get rid of him. To send him on some useless journey to a 
                           forsaken land, far away from Pride Rock and of no threat to anyone. 
                           It didn't seem that outlandish of an idea as he rolled it around 
                           his fear addled brain. They had all been against him at Pride Rock 
                           hadn't they? Wouldn't they all be having a good laugh about him now, 
                           fooled into believing he was needed somewhere for some purpose? Rafiki, 
                           of course, would have come back and told them all about what had 
                           happened and how even now the scourge of the Pride Lands was either 
                           dying of starvation or being mauled to death by a strange lion. They 
                           would all thank Rafiki for getting rid of him, of course, and 
                           secretly(or openly) wish that something really horrible had happened to 
                           him. Something fitting. That was what they all wanted wasn't it? 
                           He felt an old and familiar sensation creeping up through his 
                           limbs and building uncomfortably in his chest. Anger, seething and 
                           dark, covered him like a sudden flash flood, pouring through him in 
                           powerful torrents. Leaping up from his refuge he found his footing and 
                           began climbing up the steep slope. Not caring if he slipped and broke 
                           his neck ,he tore up the rock face, claws painfully digging into the 
                           tough earth, pulling himself upward. He scrambled up out of the gorge 
                           and the first thing he saw when he climbed out was a small herd of 
                           zebra grazing a few yards from the overlook. They hadn't been aware of 
                           the lion's determined but silent approach and continued browsing 
                           unalarmed. Without a moment's hesitation or thought he launched himself 
                           at the nearest animal. 
                           Taken completely by surprise the zebra, a yearling and in fine 
                           health, had no time to react to the lion's enraged charge. Scar hit the 
                           zebra headfirst in it's shoulder knocking over onto it's side. Slashing 
                           claws ripped into the zebra's flesh, leaving bleeding gouges in it's 
                           neck and shoulder. It bawled in terror, but it's herd mates merely 
                           fled, leaving the yearling to suffer the violent attack unaided. Scar's 
                           teeth found the zebra's throat and plowed into it snapping. Battering 
                           the flesh to bits in his jaws. Blood flew in a geyser coating his head 
                           and neck in a coppery shower. The zebra shuddered and fell silent but 
                           the lion continued tearing at the tender flesh of it's throat.  A 
                           beserker rage of flailing claws and worrying teeth. 
                           In his mind Scar could see himself tearing into Simba as he now 
                           pummeled the zebra. Pulling him to bloody rags, ripping out his life. 
                           This time he wouldn't be afraid of the young lion. No, this time he was 
                           strong and a hunter, capable of dealing death with his own claws. He 
                           wouldn't need any allies this time, this time he would do what he had 
                           meant to do himself and share the spoils with no one. He continued to 
                           tear into the already dead animal until his blows became less powerful 
                           and his neck and forelegs began to ache with the effort. Feeling dizzy 
                           with exhaustion he fell back from the carcass in a blood covered heap. 
                           Panting he looked around. The herd had gone far away and there was no 
                           one else around. No vultures or jackals trying to stake a claim or 
                           phantom dead lions haunting the grass.  Limbs shaking he lay his head 
                           on the zebras body and passed out.
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           Chapter 15 Destiny Presented
                           
                           When Scar regained consciousness the sun was nesting at it's 
                           highest point in the sky and it beat down on him fiercely. He raised 
                           himself groggily from the blood soaked earth, stumbling as he tried to 
                           find his footing in the slippery grass. He fell clumsily on to his 
                           rump, legs flying out from under him.  He looked about, startled by the 
                           mess that lay scattered about him. The ruined body of a young zebra lay 
                           in pieces around him, the ground was red and mucky. He startled to his 
                           feet and backed away. What had he done? The carnage that lay before him 
                           was incredible, the work of a mad beast. He had been vaguely hungry 
                           when the morning had come but looking at the aftermath of his assault 
                           squelched any appetite he might have had left. 
                           
                           He couldn't exactly remember what had happened. He had some 
                           fuzzy recollection of being agitated and climbing out of the gorge, but 
                           after that...... He looked back at the mangled remains of the zebra and 
                           shuddered. A few jackals were now pacing a few yards away, sensing that 
                           the lion would soon be leaving. 
                           The were right, Scar turned away from the carcass and walked 
                           slowly away. He was shaken by the scene. He hadn't realized what he was 
                           capable of and it frightened him. He thought of Chaga alone a few miles 
                           back in the safety of the trees and decided to leave him there for a 
                           while longer. He didn't trust himself. It was far too easy to imagine 
                           himself killing his friend, rending him to shreds as he had the young 
                           zebra.  He still didn't understand what the vision from the past night 
                           had meant. Maybe Rafiki's "magic fruit" still was running around inside 
                           of him and causing havoc with his mind. It hadn't been real, of this he 
                           was sure. He passed close by where the strange phantom had menaced him 
                           and saw nothing. But he skirted the place nervously in any case, 
                           superstitiously fearing that treading the ground might awaken the 
                           demon.
                           
                           The land looked much friendlier by daylight. In fact it looked 
                           more lush and fertile than the Pride Lands ever had. Tall, thick grass 
                           covered the ground, alive with a myriad of insects buzzing about on 
                           their daily business. He jumped onto a small rock formation to look 
                           over the land and could see a vast grazing herd of wildebeest. So this 
                           is where they migrated when they left his old homeland yearly and 
                           disappeared. The land was certainly suited to it. The vegetation alone 
                           was bountiful enough to support a variety of animals. The sweet smell 
                           of blooming flowers reached him on the afternoon's gentle breeze. But 
                           under the smell lay something else. He flared his nostrils to try and 
                           catch the faint scent. It smelled like Pride Rock, it smelled like 
                           lions! Not a heavy odor, but there nonetheless. He made up his mind 
                           that any traveling he did in this strange new land would be done very 
                           carefully.
                           
                           Suddenly insecure about his vantage point he jumped down and 
                           walked along the edge of the gorge in which he had spent the night. If 
                           attacked he could always run downward.  This new land had many stands 
                           of short, stubby bushes and rocky outcrops which hung over the 
                           overlook. He ducked quickly behind the bushes and crept along carefully 
                           keeping silent as he moved. He didn't see any lions or other large 
                           predators around, but it was the time of the high sun and most of those 
                           would be fast asleep under trees or in caves. He was wise to explore 
                           when he did. 
                           
                           He cocked his ears forward as some slight sound reached him from up 
                           ahead.  It was a soft voice, low and murmured. He lowered himself 
                           closer to the ground and crept closer, readying himself in case he 
                           would need to run or fight. As he neared he could clearly hear the 
                           voice of a female, a female who was very upset. Lowering his defenses 
                           somewhat(but not too much) he moved nearer to the voice. Peering though 
                           his shield of foliage he located the sound.  It was a small lionesses 
                           sitting with her back to him and shaking with tears. She sat in the 
                           open, unmindful of any enemy attack or being seen by potential prey. So 
                           self-absorbed in her grief she didn't even smell or hear him as he 
                           pushed through the bushes. He looked carefully about as he moved toward 
                           her, he wasn't sure if he would find himself face to face with this 
                           lionesses mate. But there seemed to be no one else about and he emerged 
                           fully from his hiding place. 
                           
                           She heard him as the branches snapped back into place and snapped 
                           her head around eyes wide with fright.  When she had had time to take 
                           him in she visibly relaxed. It was a strange reaction. Surely she 
                           should be afraid of an unknown male in her territory, instead she 
                           seemed relieved.
                           
                           "Hello, umm, ma'am," Scar stammered not sure of what to say. 
                           
                           She sniffed back hard and gave him a weary half smile. "Hello."  
                           Scar sat down across from her but not too close he didn't want to make 
                           her nervous. Instead of asking him his name or what he was doing in her 
                           territory she merely turned aside seemingly uncomfortable with his 
                           presence.
                           
                           "Run far away stranger," She finally said, her voice hoarse from 
                           crying. "This is a bad place for you to be."
                           
                           Scar tried to look her in the face but she kept her gaze firmly on 
                           the ground.   
                           "Why should I run away," He said. "This seems like a beautiful 
                           land. Green, peaceful, plenty of prey..."  
                           
                           She shook her head sadly. "You say that now, but you don't know. 
                           Trust me, get yourself as far away as possible before nightfall."  She 
                           lapsed once again into heartbroken sobs. She got up and walked away 
                           from Scar.
                           
                           "Wait!" He called. "Where are you going? Come back." He caught up 
                           to her. "Please, tell me what's wrong."  She stopped walking and drew 
                           in her breath deeply. She turned full to face him.
                           
                           He almost recoiled from what he saw. The left side of her face held 
                           a long pink scar which started at her temple and ended at her cheek. It 
                           was almost identical to his own except...she hadn't been as lucky as he 
                           had, the blow which had marred her had not missed her eye. The tear had 
                           long since healed over and he could see nothing as it remained tightly 
                           shut, the wound long since fused. The injury looked as if it had been a 
                           bad one, the type of wound only gotten in a serious fight or hunting 
                           mishap. 
                           
                           She regarded him steadily with her remaining eye which Scar found 
                           himself quickly getting lost in. Aside from the scar on her face she 
                           was stunningly beautiful. The one eye she did have was large and round, 
                           the color of old honey flecked with shards of bright yellow. She had a 
                           finely shaped skull ending in a gently tapered muzzle finished with 
                           long, graceful whiskers. Her coat was the color of the yellow grass at 
                           dusk, the golden-reddish hue of the days end.  He caught himself before 
                           he could be accused of gawking. 
                           
                           "What's your name?" He asked her and once again sat down.  She 
                           looked away from him uncomfortably and cleared her throat. 
                           
                           "My name is Makini." 
                           
                           Scar nodded at her. "Makini, it's a lovely name. But you don't seem to 
                           be in a lovely mood to match. Are you okay." 
                           
                           She surprised Scar by giving a derisive snort of laughter. "Okay," 
                           She smiled and nodded her head. "Stranger, nothing is ever okay here."  
                           
                           Her voice was filled with a hate unrivaled by any Scar had ever 
                           heard. Such a young lioness to be already overwhelmed with bitterness, 
                           too young. Her voice told him that this was a lady who had seen the 
                           worst that life had to offer and was slowly becoming defeated by it. 
                           Moved by pity and a sense of familiarity he pressed her. 
                           
                           "What do you mean. This is a lovely land and the weather is beautiful, 
                           I can't under....." 
                           
                           "No!" She yelled facing him again. "You -can't- understand!" She broke 
                           out into uncontrollable sobs. "You don't know, you don't live here! 
                           Please stranger, get out! There's been too much," She drew a hitching 
                           breath. "there's been too much death today!" 
                           
                           She turned on him her face so full of unspeakable pain, the face 
                           of someone who knows what real suffering is and no longer knows how to 
                           deal with it. She literally reeked of fear, the acrid smell pouring out 
                           of her. He wanted to reassure her that everything would be fine, every 
                           cloud has a silver lining, it's always darkest before the dawn, pick 
                           your cliché'. But he knew nothing anyone could possibly say to this 
                           enigmatic and heartbroken lioness would help.
                           
                           "There's something that's frightening you. If it's me I'm sorry, 
                           you have no reason to fear me, I won't hurt you."  She shook her head. 
                           "Stranger, it's not you. After -him- no lion could frighten me." 
                           
                           He looked at her questioningly. "Him?" He asked. "Him who?"
                           
                           Makini sighed. "If you must know....uh..."  "Scar." He prompted.  She 
                           laughed ruefully again. "Scar? That could be my name. Well, Scar you 
                           want to know? I'll tell you, but afterward you must leave."
                           
                           "We'll see." He gazed at her again, even in the midst of her grief 
                           she maintained an unspoken dignity, which resided in the tilt of her 
                           head and the regal way she sat.  "These lands, which you are so 
                           enamored of, are the property of the great king of the valley. Now, I 
                           know what you must be thinking, "so there's a lion about, so what." But 
                           then you would be amiss of the nature of his majesty." Her tail began 
                           to lash and she spat the word "majesty" out as one spits out a bad 
                           piece of meat. "You see the great valley king is no ordinary lion, 
                           content with eating and sleeping and chasing hyenas." She rubbed the 
                           pink skin of her scar with her paw.
                           
                           "What do you mean?" Said Scar. "You mean...he did that to you?" 
                           
                           "It was one of his kinder acts." She looked at Scar, her eye 
                           begging him to leave or help her. Scar couldn't decide which. 
                           
                           "But a king doesn't do that!" He stopped himself from saying more 
                           as his own misdeeds came to mind.  
                           
                           "This one does. Listen you seem a nice enough fellow. Please I don't 
                           want to see you get killed. My sister..." She broke off again, tears 
                           threatening.  Scar reached out and touched her paw. 
                           
                           "Your sister? What happened to her Makini. You can tell me, after all 
                           I'm a stranger, no worry that I will tell anyone." 
                           
                           "Yes, no worry." She sighed heavily. "It's been a long time since 
                           I've been able to talk freely to someone without fear of being 
                           overheard. Not that I care anymore, death would be welcome."  She 
                           paused for a while, regaining her composure. After a few long minutes 
                           she began in a shaking voice.  "My sister Zarai died today." She began. 
                           "This morning my best friend was taken away from me and for no reason 
                           other than the wounded pride of the monster that owns this land." Scar 
                           made to speak and Makini held up a paw. The story had started and she 
                           wouldn't stop until she was finished or she broke down. "My sister was 
                           a little older than me and she showed me the skills of a hunter. 
                           Everyday we would lead the hunts and relish the precious little time we 
                           got to spend away from him. She was also a devoted mother to her little 
                           cub. He was such a happy and gorgeous little one. Together they were 
                           the one joy in my life"  She stopped for a moment and looked at the 
                           ground, steeling herself for what was to come. "I guess you can say 
                           it's the only good thing that ever came from that beast. Ziara never 
                           liked him, but he wanted her and had her. Ziara always stayed as far 
                           away as possible from him, but soon she gave birth to her little cub, 
                           Browntoes, it was his nickname. His paws were tipped in dark brown 
                           fur." She smiled as she thought of him. "It always looked like he had 
                           been dipping his feet into a mud patch. Ziara loved him so, I loved 
                           them both. They were my light and hope everyday, my beautiful sister 
                           and her cub, so young and full of happiness."
                           
                           "Today, the beast, Kiruu is his name went out in the morning on 
                           reports that a hunting dog pack was lairing in the eastern side of the 
                           kingdom. There's enough for all here, we need not drive out predators 
                           unnecessarily. But Kiruu will not compromise or allow any other animal 
                           except prey and the pride to reside here. He ran off first thing to 
                           kill the dog's chief. It didn't go well for him. He underestimated the 
                           size of the pack and when he returned to the lair he was scratched and 
                           bitten something awful. I tell you I almost fell over laughing when I 
                           saw it. I didn't smile for long though."  "Little Browntoes," She 
                           continued. "innocent little cub. He didn't know and he asked the 
                           monster what happened to him. "How did you get bit?" That's all he 
                           said. It was enough, you never know when it will be, what will cause 
                           him to snap, and Kiruu fell on him and murdered the cub without a word. 
                           He did it like he was snapping at some bug that had gotten in his way. 
                           His own son...a helpless cub. Dead because of words...." She trailed off 
                           choking on the last sentence.  Scar moved closer to her pressing gently 
                           into her side. His presence bought her back and after a few moments she 
                           went on. 
                           
                           "My sister, oh, she lost her mind. She ran in front of him, but it 
                           was too late. She couldn't stop herself. Kiruu was faster than a snake 
                           and by the time she made it to him Browntoes was dead. She went mad 
                           when she saw him and attacked Kiruu. She tried, she really did. She got 
                           a few good swipes in," She gave a slight smile at the thought of this. 
                           "made the son of a hyena bleed. But...., she was too small, so small and 
                           he was too fast. I ran away, I should've stayed, I should've died with 
                           her..."  Scar pulled her close to him. It was an impetuous act but she 
                           neither tried to get away or protested. Instead she leaned into him, 
                           her body limp and tired from the day's events. 
                           
                           "Sister," Scar said. "If what you're telling me is the truth than 
                           truly I have been spoiled in my life. I'm so sorry, no lioness should 
                           be treated like that, no one should."  
                           
                           "It doesn't matter." She said softly. "Tomorrow will be the same 
                           and on and on until we die. This beautiful land is cursed and the curse 
                           will never go away." She leaned into him again, slumping into him.  
                           When the time comes you will know. The thought came to him like a 
                           splash of cold water. The lioness began to sob again, this time softly. 
                           The cries of one who has run out of tears but who knows that there is 
                           no respite for her pain.
                           
                           As the afternoon began to slip away and the light became less 
                           intense Scar made his resolve.  As the sun began to creep towards the 
                           western edge of the sky; Makini's eyes snapped open and she quickly 
                           leapt up and began switching her tail nervously.
                           
                           "The night is coming," She said. "I must go, Kiruu will be awake 
                           by now and wondering where I've gone. You must go now Scar. Thank you 
                           for your kindness."  She made to leave and head for her pride's den 
                           site, Scar got up and stood in her way. 
                           
                           "Wait a moment," Scar said. "I can't just let you go back there. 
                           Come away with me. The open plains aren't dangerous and you'll have me 
                           to look after you."  She shook her head sadly and touched his face with 
                           her paw.
                           
                           "No, as much as the idea of running from this damned place appeals 
                           to me and now with dear Ziara gone......" She trailed off. "No." She said 
                           again firmly. "This has been my family's home for generations. We, I, 
                           am part of this land. I must stay, I can not leave my people, Scar."  
                           
                           "But all that you've told me." He said incredulously. "About, about 
                           Kiruu and your pride. Why stay here to be abused. Please reconsider."  
                           She sighed and looked into his eyes steadily. 
                           
                           "Scar, my mother and her mother before her and probably her mother 
                           before that have all harvested this land. Nurtured it and in turn it 
                           nurtured them. They have raised their cubs here and lived and died 
                           here. What is one lion in the span of all that time? Lions come to 
                           power and then fade away like the waterholes during the dry season, 
                           drying up and falling away, forgotten sometimes. But the land will 
                           always belong to us. No matter what he does he will -never- be able to 
                           take that from us."  The unspoken pride in the these words were not 
                           lost on Scar. 
                           "I'm sorry, it was a stupid idea. It's just......I don't want you to go 
                           back there. You're so...." The word "beautiful" hovered on the tip of his 
                           tongue and he swallowed it back, afraid of what he might imply.  
                           
                           "I don't want to go back there. Nothing much is left. But I can't 
                           just run away and leave my family behind. Everyday to think about how 
                           they're suffering. This is my home."
                           
                           Scar looked at his feet, thinking carefully about what he was 
                           going to say next.  "Makini, I know you have to leave but...but let me 
                           come with you."  Her eyes widened in fear. 
                           
                           "No! I'm sorry but you can't have understood anything that I've 
                           said! Kiruu will kill you." 
                           
                           "No, I don't want to fight with him, at least not yet, but I just 
                           want to get a good look him for myself."
                           
                           She moved closer, her expression imploring him to change his mind. 
                           "You can't get close to him. He's fast and strong..." 
                           
                           Scar chuckled. "I'm smart, I'll stay downwind and out of sight. 
                           He'll never know that I'm there." 
                           
                           She narrowed her eyes as if trying to figure out what he had in 
                           mind. She then looked about and the desperate and hunted look had 
                           returned.  "I must go now and find him something to eat. He'll be angry 
                           with me for leaving the den site without permission, but if I can fill 
                           his belly it will ease his anger a little bit."
                           Scar suddenly remembered the mornings incident with the zebra. 
                           
                           "I know where you can find something quickly. Come on and follow me, 
                           it's not far away."  
                           
                           "But..." She seemed hesitant and looked back over her shoulder 
                           anxiously.
                           
                           Scar gave her his most sly grin and ran forward encouraging her to 
                           follow. "Trust me."  
                           She smiled back at him after a moment. "I do, I'm not sure why but I 
                           do."  
                           
                           "Good, now come on." He dashed off in the direction of his morning's 
                           kill with Makini running behind him.
                           
                           The sun was slipping away quickly and he could tell she was in a 
                           hurry to be off. Cutting through the long grass he followed his path 
                           and found that the zebra carcass was still lying where he had left it. 
                           A few jackals and vultures surrounded the body, squabbling over small 
                           pecks and bites. Scar jumped into their midst roaring. Time was 
                           everything and he was about to waste time playing with the scavengers.  
                           They fled in a flurry of feathers and yips, they scrambled out of the 
                           lions way and lined the periphery a few feet away. The grumbled and 
                           cursed at Scar as he carefully selected a large portion; he ignored 
                           them. They would have their dinner back soon enough. Taking the meat he 
                           brought it to Makini and dropped it at her feet.
                           
                           "This should do it, don't you think," He asked her. He leaned 
                           toward her sniffing. "Listen, why don't you take a good roll in the 
                           grass over there." 
                           
                           She nodded. "Yes, I must have your scent on me by now and he's not 
                           likely to miss it, especially if he's suspicious."
                           
                           She walked over the where the zebra lay and her nose wrinkled. 
                           "Goodness, this animal was torn apart, who did this!"  
                           
                           Scar trying not to look guilty just shrugged. "Oh, you know vultures 
                           and jackals." He shot a look at the gathered scavengers. "Sometimes, 
                           they're stronger than you think." 
                           
                           "Oh, well they've certainly made quite a mess here." She began to 
                           roll in the grass which was fragrant with the scent of his kill, the 
                           disgust obvious on her face. When she made sure that she must've 
                           covered herself completely she stood and looked at Scar waiting for him 
                           to tell her what he wanted.
                           
                           "Well, you better get back now." He said, looking at the ever 
                           darkening sky. "It's getting late."  "You're sure you'll be able to 
                           keep out of sight?" She asked, worry painted across her face. "If Kiruu 
                           sees you , you won't have time to run..."  
                           
                           "I'll follow behind you, but not closely, just close enough to see 
                           where you're headed. Just be careful and don't look as if you know that 
                           I'm there. I just want to see what you're talking about."  
                           
                           She bent to pick up the meat, but stopped. "Why are you doing this 
                           Scar? I'm not sure I've figured you out yet." She said frankly.  
                           
                           He laughed. "Don't be surprised if you never do." Then he added. 
                           "I'm not sure Makini, but there's something I must do."
                           
                           She looked at him confused. "Must do? I don't understand..."
                           
                           He cut her off. "Come on, no time now, you'd better be off. I'll try 
                           to talk to you tomorrow."
                           
                           She bent and picked up the meat in her jaws. Suddenly remembering 
                           Kiruu and seeing the fading light had reawakened the fear in her. 
                           Strange new lion or no, she had to get back and soon. He would be 
                           waiting. She walked at a brisk pace, not bothering to look back and see 
                           if he followed.  Scar, meanwhile, kept up with her from a distance; 
                           careful to keep hidden in the tall grass. 
                           	
                           She walked quickly; obviuosly familiar enough with the territory 
                           that picking a path was second nature. The thick, long grasses provided 
                           more than enough cover and she could only see the tops of his shoulders 
                           as he moved silently behind her. 
                           
                           She wasn't sure why but she felt a bright spark of hope as she moved 
                           toward her densite. The stranger was much smaller than Kiruu but there 
                           was something about him that made her feel that everything would come 
                           out well. That the reign of the beast would soon be at an end. She 
                           shook the thought from her mind. Perhaps he was nothing but an empty 
                           promise; a hope borne of desperation and her exhausted mind. More than 
                           likely he would end up as the rest had, ripped and lifeless before the 
                           claws of the king.
                           
                           When the rocky outcropping which her pride called home came into view 
                           she shot a quick look behind her to let Scar know that here he would 
                           have to practice extreme caution. She caught his eye and motioned 
                           towards the top of the alcove that he pride used for shelter. He nodded 
                           in response and waited until she had moved out of sight to climb the 
                           stony walls of the alcove.
                           
                           When he reached the top he looked over to get a feel for the lay of 
                           the place. Makini's den site was a collection of large boulders and 
                           short trees which lay on the edge of the gorge. The boulders formed a 
                           small cave, very open and spacious, around which lay nine or ten 
                           lionesses. 
                           
                           The contrast between this pride and the one he had left behind at 
                           Pride Rock struck him immediately. Whenever the lionesses back home 
                           weren't hunting or looking after cubs, they would play or gossip. They 
                           seemed to enjoy themselves immensely during their off time and would 
                           make the most of it.   
                           
                           These lionesses, however, sat in subdued silence, an air or nervous 
                           expectation pervading the gathering. There was no laughter or wrestling 
                           matches as there had been back home; the silence was overwhelming.
                           
                           Makini entered the alcove and strode into the midst of her pride 
                           neither speaking nor receiving confirmation of her appearance. The 
                           lionesses seemed the grow more nervous at her approach. From beneath 
                           where he lay came a angry shout.
                           
                           "Makini! Where have you been?"
                           
                           Makini dropped the meat she had been carrying and made a quick, 
                           clumsy, bowing gesture in the direction the voice had come from.
                           
                           "Sire....." She stammered. "I was, I just, I, I had to get away."
                           
                           A large lion bounded into view from the inside of the alcove. He 
                           stopped just short of the lioness and stood nose to nose with her 
                           snarling.
                           
                           "Had to get away did you?" He began pacing in front of her, tail 
                           lashing, claws splayed. "And just where did you get away to?"
                           
                           Makini backed a step away from the agitated lion; averting her 
                           eyes as she spoke.
                           
                           "Sire, I, I'm sorry....I meant no disrespect. It's just..."
                           
                           The lion stopped pacing and thrust his face forward, teeth bared.
                           
                           "What!" He snapped. "It's just what! Tell me now or you'll have a 
                           matching pair of scars on your face." He drew his claws along the 
                           ground, tearing long ragged furrows in the turf. Makini's eyes were 
                           drawn to the violent tearing and she began shaking in terror.
                           
                           "Zarai" She whispered
                           
                           The large lions face relaxed into a broad smile. "Ah yes, Zarai." 
                           He sat down a reached a paw out towards Makini's face. An air of false 
                           concern crossed his countenance.  She flinched as he rested his paw 
                           under her jaw. "You miss her do you?"
                           
                           She nodded her head slowly, trying to not to look into his eyes.
                           
                           "Yes, it was a hard thing. But she needed to know her place. She 
                           knows now, wouldn't you say, hmmm?"He nodded gravely to her, his paw 
                           tightening around her face.
                           
                           Once again she nodded., saying nothing.
                           
                           "Yes, she does." He twisted his paw around her jaw drawing her 
                           eyes up to meet his. "Take note of this, my ugly, little huntress. If 
                           you ever take leave without my permission you'll know your place too." 
                           
                           Without warning he swung his free paw around and lashed Makini 
                           across the face striking her to the ground. She fell in a crumpled heap 
                           at his feet; bleeding from three new scratches on her face. Her 
                           pridemates averted their eyes; this scene had been played out before, 
                           far too many times to draw comment.
                           
                           Chapter 16 Plans
                           
                           Scar quickly climbed down from the rocky roof; careful not to make 
                           a sound although every fiber in his body urged him to run as fast as he 
                           could from the place. He now knew what had broken Makini and had put 
                           the fear he sensed into her pride mates. He had not believed that any 
                           one lion could inspire such fear but now he felt himself shaking at the 
                           thought of the beast he had just seen.
                           
                           Kiruu was larger than Mufasa had been in his prime. Deeper and 
                           broader in the chest and more heavily muscled. But it was more than 
                           mere size which caused him to tremble. It was the reek of madness that 
                           hung in the air as he paced before Makini; the feeling that killing and 
                           destroying was nothing more than a game to the beast. A game he enjoyed 
                           playing and nearly always won.
                           
                           Scar himself had intimate knowledge of this madness; he himself had 
                           tasted it's fetid grip during his time in the Pride Lands. The love of 
                           domination and the fear put in others.  It was this knowledge that put 
                           the icy stab of terror in his heart and urged him to leave the 
                           business, gather up Chaga and continue on his way. It would be like 
                           fighting his own demons, demons that this time came packaged in a 
                           strong body and equipped with sharp claws and teeth.
                           
                           "This can't be what I'm looking for, it just can't." He mumbled to 
                           himself as he headed back toward where he had left Chaga the day 
                           before. But even as he said the words aloud he knew them to be true; 
                           knew that this is what Rafiki had meant as he pointed towards the 
                           Western sky and told him to find his redemption.
                           
                           He made good time back to the small stand of trees where he told 
                           Chaga to wait for him. He panicked when he didn't see the bushbaby 
                           hopping from branch to branch hunting insects in the still night air. 
                           He searched the branches and called frantically for him. He needn't 
                           have worried, Chaga poked his head out of a small depression in the 
                           trunk where he had been asleep waiting for the night to deepen. His 
                           eyes lit up when he saw Scar.
                           
                           "Scarred lion!" He jumped down into Scar's mane. "You're to 
                           coming back! Very happy to see; thought left and not come back." He 
                           grabbed double fistfuls of Scar's mane and tugged happily.
                           
                           Scar smiled at his friends boisterous greeting. "Now, why would 
                           I leave you behind little one? I can't go anywhere without you to tell 
                           me what to do."
                           
                           Chaga hopped down off of Scar's head and sat on the lion's nose, 
                           grooming his ears, embarrassed by the compliment. 
                           
                           "No, no, Scarred lion too smart for needing Chaga to tell." He 
                           looked at Scar and noticed the nervous expression on his face. 
                           "Something no good, Scarred lion?"
                           
                           "Well, first thing I'd rather we found a more hidden spot for the 
                           night and then I need to speak to you Chaga. Perhaps you can help me 
                           with something I need to do."
                           
                           "I will help if I can do." Chaga quieted down, sensing that his 
                           friend was preoccupied and worried about something.
                           
                           Scar took him a mile or two away and crawled beneath a group of 
                           bushes he found on the edge of the gorge, mindful that if he needed to 
                           flee, downward would be his best route. When he was sure that they were 
                           as safe as they were going to be he told Chaga about what had taken 
                           place while he was gone. The bushbaby listened quietly until Scar had 
                           finished and then shook his head.
                           
                           "Being foolish for female." He stated simply and then turned his 
                           back on Scar.
                           
                           "What do you mean?" He pushed Chaga with his nose but the little 
                           animal refused to turn around. "Chaga, what do you mean "being foolish 
                           for female" talk to me."
                           
                           Chaga turned around, an angry look across his tiny features. He 
                           crossed his forearms in front of him and raised his nose. "Scarred lion 
                           going to act foolish for female and killing self too. No part of it."
                           
                           "Come on, Chaga. You know me better than that!" He touched the 
                           bushbaby again with his nose, this time knocking him over. Instead of 
                           prompting a laugh and an impromptu wrestling match as it usually would 
                           have, Chaga leap up and sat above Scar on the highest branch of the 
                           bush.
                           
                           "Knowing you well but this being stupid. Good night Scarred lion, 
                           morning bringing senses to you maybe." He then buried himself into the 
                           inner reaches of the bush and offered no more comment.
                           
                           Scar was at a loss. He thought he could always rely upon Chaga's 
                           support and now his friend had let him down. Unable to settle in for 
                           the night and disregarding the ever present danger he left the safety 
                           of the bushes and walked the grasslands restlessly.
                           
                           Perhaps Chaga was right, maybe he was being foolish at the behest 
                           of a beautiful female. But he couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling 
                           that this was what he came to do. That for some reason he was drawn to 
                           this place to rid this particular pride of their twisted king. How to 
                           do this he couldn't see, however. There was no chance of him standing 
                           and fighting the brute. He had put on quite a bit of weight himself 
                           during his travels and the hunting had sharpened his skills and made 
                           him quicker. But Kiruu was just too large; too bloodthirsty, Scar 
                           himself had never been much of a fighter. No, unless some unforeseen 
                           disaster or illness overtook Kiruu, he would have no chance.
                           
                           He wandered towards the wildebeest herd which had settled in for the 
                           night themselves. They grunted a low warning as he passed but seemed to 
                           sense they were in no danger from the lone lion.  He looked in their 
                           direction but made no move toward them. 
                           
                           There were so many of them. Thousands of them. All on their yearly 
                           migration. It was as if every wildebeest in the world had assembled in 
                           this one spot to feast on the rich grasses and build their strength for 
                           the remainder of their journey. It reminded him of the herd that his 
                           once allies the hyenas had driven into the gorge at home to kill Mufasa 
                           and Simba. Only this time there were more of them and they were well 
                           fattened from the plentiful food.
                           
                           "So much like the last time I saw a herd like this, gorge, the sheer 
                           numbers of them." He thought and scratched absently at his ear with his 
                           hind leg. "Only this time they won't do me any good."
                           
                           One of the wildebeests closest to him made a quick running maneuver 
                           towards him, stamping sharp hooves on the ground warning him away. 
                           Remembering his own mishap with the large herbivores he moved a short 
                           distance away and then sat down considering again. In his head he heard 
                           the thrumming of thousands of hooves pounding hard packed earth. After 
                           a few long moments he got up and raced back to where Chaga slept, a 
                           plan already forming in his head.
                           
                           "Chaga, Chaga, come on wake up! I need to talk to you." Scar pawed 
                           the bushes roughly trying to rouse Chaga from his slumber.
                           
                           The bushbaby peered out from between the leaves, eyes narrowed 
                           angrily. "What is it Scarred lion? Sense coming to you yet?"
                           
                           Scar sighed, "No, no, I still haven't a lick of sense, but I need 
                           you Chaga. Please, get up."
                           
                           "Scarred lion, what is it now? Make for sleep yes? Tomorrow talking 
                           about this not making sense stuff", Chaga yawned, "tomorrow."
                           
                           Scar slapped the bush with his front paw, the branches rattled 
                           violently. The bushbaby lost his grip on the branch he lay on and fell 
                           to Scar's feet. He shook the dust from his fur and sat on Scar's paw, 
                           nose twitching with irritation.
                           
                           "Please Chaga, please I need you to help me." He lifted his paw and 
                           held Chaga up to his face and gave him what he hoped was his most 
                           charming smile. "I never needed anyone like I need you now. Please help 
                           me, I can't do what I have to do alone."
                           
                           Chaga's expression changed from one of frustration to one of 
                           amusement. "So," He chuckled and patted Scar's nose with a tiny paw. 
                           "Scarred lion admitting needing Chaga for helping him."
                           
                           Scar smiled in response. "Yes, I need you Chaga, is that what you 
                           wanted to hear?"
                           
                           "Well, sometimes needing to hear that from friend." Chaga smiled 
                           sheepishly. "Always being with Scarred lion and never feeling good for 
                           helping."
                           
                           Scar placed Chaga back on the ground. "I always needed you, you've 
                           helped me along the way. I don't know what I'd have done if I had to 
                           travel all this way alone. Your company made all the difference, you 
                           know that."
                           
                           "Maybe, maybe not, good for you saying. So what do you want now, 
                           Scarred lion?"
                           
                           "You must send a message for me Chaga. To the female, you know 
                           the one I'm being foolish for,  she'll be easy to find she has a scar 
                           on her face like mine."
                           
                           
                           Chapter 17 Kiruu
                           
                           
                           When Makini had returned to the den site she hadn't known what to 
                           expect. Part of her hoped that the strange lion would come roaring to 
                           her defense and beat Kirru to the ground once and for all. It was a 
                           foolish hope. The strange lion was much smaller than the king and if he 
                           had shown himself that would have been the end of him. But, in her head 
                           it was fun to imagine the beast finally getting what he deserved, just 
                           getting a little bit back in return for all he had done to her and her 
                           pride mates. A delicous bit of revenge if only for a moment in her 
                           imagination.
                           
                           But of course that hadn't happened and she was left with the 
                           feeling that their meeting that afternoon had been a fleeting bit of 
                           brightness in an otherwise dreary life. After regaining her composure 
                           from Kiruu's assault she skulked to the outlying area of the den site 
                           to wash her new wounds and find comfort in the memory of her brief 
                           meeting with the stranger. Kiruu had offered no more retribution and 
                           had stalked off with the zebra meat she had brought back with her. 
                           
                           Kwaya, her great aunt saw her leave the alcove and followed her. 
                           Kwaya was the matriarch of the pride and at almost twenty years old had 
                           seen her share of both the good and bad that a lion's kingship had to 
                           offer. Their last king, Adhama, had been a gruff but caring male, a 
                           strong a beautiful animal in his prime and a close companion to her. A 
                           gentle lover and a good friend, who even after all this time she ached 
                           to see. 
                           
                           It pained her when she began to see Adhama age and become 
                           vulnerable to the many wandering young males that challenged him. At 
                           first it was easy for him to repel the strangers, posturing and roaring 
                           would usually be enough to set them to their heels. But, with each 
                           challenge he became weaker and more careless and she knew that it was 
                           only a matter of time before he lost to one of the young contenders. 
                           She had learned that it wasn't something to mourn over for long, it was 
                           the way of her people, the path that every lion male had to walk in the     
                           "Circle of Life".  The loss of the throne to a younger male was as 
                           preordained as the sun setting every evening.
                           
                           It was in these later years that Kiruu had shown up and she knew 
                           just by looking at him that this young male would be the one to undue 
                           the old king's reign. He was young, strong and handsome. A sleek pelt 
                           covering taunt muscles in a large sinewy body. A thick reddish brown 
                           mane coursed down his back and his pale eyes were clear and steady. He 
                           had strode into Adhama's kingdom as if he already knew the outcome of 
                           the battle to come. So unlike the other's that had approached with 
                           trepidation.  The old lion didn't even answer the young male's 
                           challenge when he called, he too knew in his heart that it was time to 
                           step down and so with his blessing he turned the valley kingdom over 
                           the the newcomer. A lion of such confidence and strength would be a 
                           gift to his pride and it made him happy to know that he could wander 
                           the grasslands with his people in good hands.
                           
                           The  peaceful passing of the mantle that Adhama wished  was not to 
                           be and to the shock and horror of Kwaya and the others the new young 
                           male descended on the elderly king clawing and biting, he appeared to 
                           not even hear Adhama's greeting to him as he came into view.   Ignoring 
                           the pleas of mercy from the old male ,Kiruu dispassionately tore the 
                           throat from him. Adhama never had time to fight back. The assembled 
                           lionesses cringed as the new male raised his dripping chin from the 
                           fallen monarch and looked around at his new subjects. 
                           
                           "A new order has begun." The young male grinning through blood 
                           stained teeth, "long live the king."
                           
                           That had been almost five seasons ago and that day set the pace 
                           for Kiruu's rule over the valley kingdom. At first the lionesses had 
                           been restive and angry with his violent outbursts and challenged him in 
                           ways big and small. But, no infraction, however tiny, was overlooked or 
                           forgiven. A clawed face  for a snide comment, a cub massacred for a 
                           missed day of hunting, a broken leg and a slow death for an outright 
                           challenge. 
                           
                           Systematically Kiruu broke the wills of his subjects until a silent 
                           and never ending fear invaded the mind of every pride member. To even 
                           think of breaking the rules was enough to send one's heart racing, to 
                           actually stand up to the beast was to risk dying from fright. Kiruu 
                           held every heart and mind in his pride under his paw and he savored it.
                           
                           That Makini had saw fit to anger him roused fear and worry in 
                           Kwaya. She knew what Kiruu was capable of and was desperate not to see 
                           another pride sister fall to his violent temper. She found Makini 
                           grooming herself on the outskirts of the pride. She had to make the 
                           young huntress see sense and quell the rebellious attitude she saw 
                           brewing in her. 
                           
                           She approached her quietly knowing that she must be on edge after 
                           what had happened. She lay down beside Makini and began washing the 
                           blood from her niece's face.
                           
                           "You were very careless this afternoon little utamu," Kwaya said, 
                           "You know better than to go off without permission. Oh, Kiruu was 
                           furious when he realized you were gone, had you come back earlier....." 
                           She had no need to finish, Makini knew full well what would have 
                           happened if she had come back at the height of Kiruu's anger.
                           
                           "I know Kwaya, but I just couldn't stay not after.."
                           
                           "Shhh, little utamu, no need to speak of it." She nuzzled the young 
                           lioness. "I know, it hurts and it doesn't go away. But Ziara's 
                           suffering is finished now and she and Browntoes are playing among the 
                           stars and the great kings are watching over them. It may sound a little 
                           hollow to you now but please know it to be true"
                           
                           Makini lowered her head and spoke in a hoarse whisper, "I wish -
                           we- were watched over by the great kings  sometimes."
                           
                           "They are there honey,  but sometimes they can do nothing but 
                           watch until we move to help ourselves."
                           
                           "Kwaya, I have to tell you something. It's a secret and it's part 
                           of the reason I came back so late." She looked at Kwaya with a rarely 
                           seen glint of mischief in her eye.
                           
                           Kwaya glanced about quickly and automatically to see if anyone who 
                           might be listening was around, gossip never stayed a secret very long 
                           in any pride, "What do you mean a secret?" She shook her head, "Please 
                           Makini cause no more trouble today, Kiruu won't stand for 
                           it...he'll..."
                           
                           "I met a male today." Said Makini in a conspiratorial whisper. "A 
                           stranger. I met him in the Eastern pasture, oh Kwaya he was wonderful, 
                           not like Kiruu at all."
                           
                           "Makini! You did not! Say you are making this up!" 
                           
                           "But I did, he was here at the den site. He wanted to see Kiruu 
                           for himself. I told him about him and he wasn't afraid. He was so kind 
                           to me Kwaya. He's the one who gave me the meat Kiruu ate." 
                           
                           Kwaya stood and began pacing nervously. "Child, do you know what 
                           will happen to you if the king finds out. He will kill you and your new 
                           male! Please young one, don't throw your life away!"
                           
                           Makini jumped to her feet and faced Kwaya. "What life! This life!" 
                           She gestured toward the pride which lay quietly a few yards away. "This 
                           one where I can't go were I please or know that my young will live to 
                           see their first hunt. Why is this damn life worth protecting Kwaya? 
                           Tell me!"
                           
                           Her aunt backed away from Makini, never before had she raised her 
                           voice to her. "Lower your voice child, if Kiruu..."
                           
                           "I will not lower my voice!" Makini shouted, "I always have to lower 
                           my voice and walk with my head down. I'm tired of it Kwaya, there is 
                           nothing here for us!"
                           
                           "You don't understand, the land is ours..."
                           
                           Makini cut her off. "So what! The lands may belong to us but we 
                           don't enjoy them! I want to be able to run and hunt as I wish!"
                           
                           Kwaya raised her head to the sky, "You hear this Ziara, your sister 
                           has gone mad today."
                           
                           "No Kwaya, I haven't." Makini sat once again and looked to her aunt 
                           and mentor, she touched Kwaya's shoulder with her paw. "We're not 
                           living Kwaya, we're dying here. Everyday we loose a bit more of 
                           ourselves to that beast. Our mother's heritage means nothing if we 
                           loose ourselves to him. We are not proud hunters anymore, but 
                           frightened slaves. I would risk anything to be able to say that for one 
                           moment I was free and Kiruu didn't hold me under his paw. You remember 
                           what freedom is like. Isn't it worth the risk?"
                           
                           Kwaya looked at Makini and saw the long dead spark of the young 
                           lioness that she had once been, that they all once were. She remembered 
                           the days of Adhama's rule, the days of boisterous hunts and feasts at 
                           the den site, of the many cubs she and her pride sisters bore and sent 
                           into the world. Cubs that now might be killed at a moment's provocation 
                           or misspoken word. It struck her to the bone to hear her own long 
                           buried thoughts come from the young one's mouth. Truths that she 
                           herself had always know but had been frightened into forgetting about.
                           
                           She touched Makini's paw with her own. "Tell me about your new 
                           male and what happened today."
                           
                           "Well, his name is Scar and......"
                           
                           
                           Chapter 18 Plans in Action
                           
                           
                           "So do you think you can remember all that Chaga?" Scar felt that 
                           going over his message one more time would be a good idea. Chaga was 
                           very intelligent but all the same it was crucial that he get it right.
                           
                           "Thinking so Scarred lion, but how will I be finding scarred 
                           lioness?"
                           
                           "Just go on until you reach the stand of boulders which lie to 
                           the northern edge of the gorge. But take care not to be seen and stay 
                           in the trees. When you get there you'll see many lions, but the one 
                           that has a scar like me is the one you need to talk to."
                           
                           Chaga looked at Scar nervously. "Being afraid Scarred lion."
                           
                           "I know little malaika, be careful. Take as much time as you need 
                           to get there and come back here." Scar rubbed his chin against the 
                           bushbaby. "I have every confidence in you."
                           
                           "I know Scarred lion, wish me having all confidence too." He leapt 
                           into a nearby tree. "Going now, be back soon. Wait for me Scarred 
                           lion."
                           
                           Scar waved a paw at Chaga. "I will and thank you Chaga."
                           
                           "Be thanking me when I come back, Scarred lion." He mumbled and 
                           hopped away into the night.
                           
                           Scar watched him until he was out of sight. He wished he could 
                           tag along behind and make sure he made it to Makini all right, but the 
                           risk was too great. He could only wait nervously for his return and 
                           hope that Makini understood his message.
                           
                           Chaga took Scar's warning seriously and made sure to stick to the 
                           dense foliage along the path. Kiruu's ferocity lost nothing in the 
                           retelling and while Chaga wanted to appear brave to Scar in truth he 
                           was scared witless. The thought of walking into a group of unknown 
                           carnivores with a message he couldn't understand and that he wasn't at 
                           all sure they would understand chilled him and it took every ounce of 
                           resolve for him to go on with his task. 
                           
                           He reached the rocky alcove as dawn had just begun to creep over the 
                           edge of the horizon. He saw a few lionesses scattered about the place, 
                           lying quietly in the beginning rays of the sun.  He scanned the area 
                           carefully looking for a safe vantage point where he could look for the 
                           lioness with the scarred face. He couldn't see her from where he sat 
                           and he was none too eager to jump into the midst of the lions and ask 
                           around.
                           
                           But he remembered how desperate Scar had looked when he sent him off 
                           to find her. He couldn't go back and tell him he had failed. Swallowing 
                           back hard, he leapt into the grass and crawled toward the nearest 
                           lioness. He couldn't stop himself from shaking, the overpowering scent 
                           of the strange lions filled his senses and his instinct urged him to 
                           leap back in to the trees. When he reached the lionesses hind paw he 
                           reached out and gentley touched it, barely brushing it with his tiny 
                           hand.
                           
                           In and instant he found himself pinned under four strong claws and 
                           facing a mouthful of sharp teeth.
                           
                           "SCREEEEEEEEE!," He screamed at the top of his lungs, "P,p,p, lease 
                           don't killing, not to kill! Scarred lion! Send me!"
                           
                           The lioness closed her mouth and loosed her grip, she looked at 
                           Chaga with her head cocked. "What did you say?"
                           
                           "Scarred lion sent me, talk to scarred lioness, please don't for 
                           killing me." He crossed his forearms over his eyes, sure he was going 
                           to be stove through by the lioness's fangs.
                           
                           The strange lioness lifted her paw from Chaga. "Scarred lioness? 
                           Do you mean Makini? Tell me!" 
                           
                           Chaga stood and after a moment's hesitation rushed up the nearest 
                           tree. "Not to knowing name, only knowing scarred and needing to talk to 
                           her." He had regained some composure now that he was out of reach.
                           
                           "My name is Kwaya little one and Makini is my niece. You said you 
                           were sent here? Who sent you." 
                           
                           "Scarred lion, sent me. Said talked to scarred lioness the other 
                           day. Needing to see her again."
                           
                           Kwaya reached up towards the tree and rested against the 
                           trunk, trying to get closer to her strange visitor. "Is the lion you 
                           speak of named Scar?" She spoke very quietly
                           
                           "Yes! Yes!," Chaga squealed, "Scarred lion!"
                           
                           "Shhh!" Kwaya looked around to see if anyone had noticed, 
                           everyone seemed  lost in their own thoughts. "You must not be so loud, 
                           it's dangerous here. Come on down and we can talk more easily."
                           
                           Chaga looked at Kwaya as if she had sprouted another head. "No 
                           coming down strange lioness, almost eating Chaga last time."
                           
                           Kwaya sighed, "I'm sorry, it won't happen again, I just didn't 
                           know what you were. Come down I promise not to hurt you."
                           
                           "Okay, but any growling ...I'm going." He hopped down  and 
                           landed in the grass next to Kwaya.
                           
                           "No fear little one, now tell me what this lion Scar said to 
                           you." Kwaya could hardly believe that she was allowing herself to be 
                           led into danger like this. But, Makini's words had stuck with her, 
                           although she had to wonder what kind of lion sent small animals on 
                           errands for him.
                           
                           Chaga had to think for a moment to remember what Scar had said, 
                           the bad fright had erased all thoughts save survival from his mind. 
                           After a pause he said, "Scarred lion need to meet scarred lioness in 
                           field where meeting her first. Having plan for her and other lionesses. 
                           Bad lion made gone. Good plan he says. Need to talk to scarred lioness 
                           to make good."
                           
                           Kwaya shook her head. "Little one, that won't be possible. Makini 
                           is in trouble already and Kiruu is keeping a close eye on her now. 
                           He'll find your friend for sure this time. I'm sorry but she can't 
                           come."
                           
                           "But good plan, helping you. Must come." Chaga was crestfallen, 
                           it seemed he would fail after all.
                           
                           "Calmly little one," Kwaya chuckled, "I'll come and speak to him. 
                           Kiruu has no reason to distrust me, I've never given him reason. Just 
                           point to where he wants to meet and I'll come as soon as it's safe to 
                           steal away."
                           
                           Chaga considered for a moment, "Okay, being okay plan.," he 
                           pointed eastward. "That way is big tree with big knots and many branch, 
                           Scarred lion being there and tell you what to do."
                           
                           "I'll be there, maybe sometime this afternoon after Kiruu has 
                           retired for the day. Make sure he is there little one, I won't be happy 
                           if I'm risking my neck for nothing."  
                           
                           Chaga leapt back up in the tree, "He'll being there and thanks 
                           to you strange lioness. Seeing later."
                           
                           Before Kwaya could answer Chaga was out of sight and eager to 
                           get away from the strange and dangerous place.
                           
                           
                           Kwaya was right to feel that Makini's meeting Scar would be a 
                           death sentence to both. Since the day before Kiruu had been keeping 
                           close tabs on the lioness and very rarely allowed her to be out of 
                           sight for long. 
                           
                           Something was wrong, he could feel it. The way she had stood 
                           up to him bothered him and he had to restrain himself from lashing out 
                           at her whenever he saw her. There was no real reason for him not to 
                           kill her, in fact it's what he wanted to do, but there was something 
                           going on behind his back and perhaps if he kept an eye on her he might 
                           find out what it was. 
                           
                           For over four turns of the season he had ruled the Valley 
                           Kingdom, the lands that bordered the great gorge and in those four 
                           years he had managed to keep any rebellion or challenges at bay. It 
                           wasn't an easy task, the lionesses often got restive and at first had 
                           tried to test his will. He had made sure they understood their place 
                           right away and that put an end to most quarrels. It was the way a pride 
                           was to be run and he was going to see to it that things stayed in 
                           order.
                           
                           Kiruu had originally come from a small pride far to the West of 
                           the Valley kingdom. His father , Mlezi, was a commoner in his home 
                           pride and had taken a great risk in becoming a mate to one of the 
                           pride's lionesses, Kiva.  When Kiruu and his brother were born his 
                           mother and father were exiled from their pride's home range. Left alone 
                           with two cubs and a new mother to care for Kiruu's father had lost his 
                           resolve to remain with the young family and one day simply went off on 
                           the pretext of finding a meal and never returned.
                           
                           Faced with having two cubs to look after and without the 
                           support of the pride, Kiva slipped into a deep depression from which 
                           she never recovered and while she looked after her cubs psychical needs 
                           she was often unavailable and distant to them. She sorely missed her 
                           pride and saw her cubs as the reason for her mate's desertion and her 
                           expulsion from the pride. She couldn't bring herself to leave them but 
                           she also couldn't being herself to love them as most mothers would. 
                           They got by with just enough to eat and enough attention to remain 
                           clean and nothing more.
                           
                           Living out in the open without a pride's protection  proved 
                           fatal to Kiruu's littermate, who one afternoon fell prey to a wandering 
                           hyena. The cub was ripped apart in front of Kiruu who hid in the grass 
                           and watched without emotion. So easy to end the life of another 
                           creature, the young cub thought as he watched the hyena rend his 
                           brother apart. It was a lesson that imprinted itself in the cub's mind 
                           and would come to him unbidden whenever he felt helpless and afraid. 
                           The power he observed in the hyena that day, the strength of it's jaws 
                           as it tore into yelding flesh and the determination unmoved by the 
                           screams of a young cub filled him with awe and jealousy. He vowed that 
                           one day that power would be in his own claws and teeth.
                           
                           Kiruu in sharp contrast to his  frail brother grew up strong and 
                           fierce under his mother's disinterest. He took pleasure in catching his 
                           own meals and neither sought nor yearned for the affection of his 
                           mother. One day as his mane was just starting to grow in he took leave 
                           of her and set off to find his own destiny.  He wandered for  days by 
                           himself. He wasn't sure what he was looking for but he knew in his 
                           heart that he was meant to be a leader. He was strong and capable of 
                           taking care of himself; but he wanted to hold a kingdom of his own. His 
                           mother had often spoken of her old pride and how one lion held sway 
                           over his own patch of land and all the animals that walked upon it. He 
                           longed to feel that power for himself, to no longer be an outsider and 
                           to himself hold the power to banish and humiliate.
                           
                           That day didn't arrive until well after his second year when he 
                           had wandered into a lush and fertile kingdom belonging to a pride ruled 
                           over by an elderly lion. He was now a full grown lion with a lush mane 
                           and a full compliment of muscle.  When he came upon the old lion who 
                           was king  he could see his way to the power he had wished over for so 
                           long. He was disgusted by the sight of the decrepit old beast and when 
                           the  king had called out to him he had felt all the anger of the past 
                           coming rushing up in a torrent. Without waiting to see what the old 
                           male would do he dashed over and landed on him full force knocking him 
                           to the ground.
                           
                           In a rage he ran his claws into the shaggy, worn pelt, 
                           delighting in the overpowering smell of blood which poured from the 
                           wounds.  He couldn't think of anything but ripping into the squealing, 
                           struggling old male, tearing the life from him. Fear held no place in 
                           his mind, pity even less.  His gashing teeth found the king's windpipe 
                           and crushed it. He felt the body shudder with it's final spasm and a 
                           sense of pleasure and satisfaction threatened to sweep him away. "So 
                           this is what power feels like." He thought. It was wonderful. He gave 
                           the body a final shake as if trying to coax the life back into it so he 
                           could repeat the experience. But the once great and just ruler was 
                           dead, barely recognizable from the many wounds he had recieved.
                           
                           Whe the feeling of  power  left him he finally raised his eyes 
                           from the corpse and saw that a crowd of lionesses had gathered. They 
                           shrunk back from him; terror gripping every countenance. He smiled,  
                           they backed  away, the feeling of pleasure returned as his cold, pale 
                           eyes pierced them from above his blood stained muzzle. He was the new 
                           king and none would oppose him.  
                           
                           "For four seasons I have kept these lands as they should be" , he 
                           thought as he lay in the pride's alcove   staring at Makini who lay a 
                           few feet away, "but something is happening." He shifted his posistion 
                           and drew his claws along the stone floor. He was sure Makini was part 
                           of it and he wasn't going to let her out of his sight. Not until he 
                           knew what it was, once satisfied the detestable female could be 
                           disposed of.
                           
                           Chapter 19 The Summer Storm
                           
                           
                           Kwaya waited until the sun had reached it's zenith to begin 
                           her journey to where the strange little animal that called itself Chaga  
                           had told her to go. She had strolled casually by Kiruu's customary 
                           sleeping spot to ensure that the king was indeed at rest before she 
                           started out. She needn't have worried, Kiruu was indeed fast asleep 
                           with Makini beside him. He had ordered the young lioness to stay by his 
                           side and so she knew nothing of her aunt's meeting with the new male's 
                           friend. She sighed as she saw the two together. She knew that Kiruu was 
                           just biding his time before he killed her. Makini had embedded 
                           suspicion in the kings mind and he would not forget that. Once whatever 
                           conspiracy he had imagined had passed he would rid himself of the 
                           troublesome youngster, of this she was sure. This reason above all 
                           spurred Kwaya to her clandestine meeting with the lion called Scar.
                           
                           It didn't take her long to find him. He was right where the 
                           little animal had said he would be. She approached cautiously, wanting 
                           to get a good look at him before she introduced herself. What she saw 
                           was a smallish lion, dark furred and dark manned. He was well muscled 
                           but his body was more sinewy than bulky like Kiruu's. He sat under the 
                           tree talking with Chaga who sat atop his mane. 
                           
                           Her heart sank. She had hoped she would find a strapping young 
                           male, a  psychical match for the tyrant of the Valley. Instead she 
                           found a lion that while fit, would be overwhelmed by him in moments. 
                           She felt the beginnings of tears spring to her eyes as all hope of 
                           salvation fell away and the cruel reality that Kiruu would yet still be 
                           king became clear. 
                           
                           She walked up to the lion head low, she had come to talk to him 
                           and would, even though she thought it wouldn't do her any good. Scar 
                           immediately looked up and smiled when he saw her approach. He stood and 
                           nodded to her.
                           
                           "Hello there, you must be Kwaya," he said, "Chaga told me you were 
                           coming in Makini's sted."
                           
                           "Yes, I am," she smiled wanly at Scar trying to keep the 
                           disappointment from her voice, "you're friend there said you wanted to 
                           talk about something, so I'm here." She sat down.
                           
                           Scar was puzzled, the lioness seemed reluctant to speak with 
                           him. When Chaga had reported back he had made it seem as if Kwaya was 
                           eager to meet with him and now she had come she seemed to not want to 
                           even look at him.
                           
                           "M'am?," Scar said, "Is there something wrong, from what Makini 
                           said....." Kwaya cut him off.
                           
                           "Scar? Is that your name?," Kwaya said, "listen, I don't know 
                           what you expect to do here, but you must be very mistaken. Not to be 
                           rude but you're far too small to be a challenge to Kiruu. I'm sorry but 
                           you can't be of any help to us here." She made as if to walk away when 
                           she heard the lion start laughing. She spun around and looked at him 
                           bewildered. Perhaps he was crazy after all.
                           
                           Scar stopped laughing and shook his head at Kwaya, "Dear lady, 
                           do you take me for an idiot? I have no intention of fighting your king. 
                           I've seen the brute and yes, he is far too strong for me."
                           
                           Kwaya sat down again, "So what do you propose?"
                           
                           "Listen, there are other ways to overcome brute force than by 
                           fighting it. I should know, trust me. No, instead I have any idea, a 
                           way to get rid of your problem without one blow."
                           
                           "I don't understand, what do you mean and can we trust you?" 
                           Kwaya stood and fell back a step. There was something not right about 
                           the lion that stood before her, something sly and cunning just under 
                           the surface. She wasn't at all sure that this had been a good idea.
                           
                           Scar sighed, he knew sooner or later it would come to this. He 
                           motioned for the lioness to come closer and he himself sat down. "I had 
                           hoped it would be Makini that I would have to tell this whole sordid 
                           story to but since I need to make you trust me I'll have to tell you."
                           
                           Kwaya was confused but came to Scar and sat beside him. "Tell 
                           me what? Why you're here?"
                           
                           "Something like that. I'll try to be brief we don't have much 
                           time and time is of the essence. If you're here that means Makini is in 
                           trouble and ...."
                           
                           "You like her." Kwaya cut in.
                           
                           Scar nodded. Kwaya gave him a sincere smile. "It's hard not to 
                           like her I know. Go on, Scar, I'll hear you out . But once again I'm 
                           not sure you'll be able to handle Kiruu, his strength and ferocity is 
                           like no other lion I've ever seen, if you fail it will be the death of 
                           you."
                           
                           So once again he found himself relating the story of his life 
                           at Pride Rock and his subsequent wanderings. He glossed over some of 
                           the worst of it and exaggerated some of the better of it. It would have 
                           been easier to say all this to Makini, but he had to get Kwaya to 
                           believe in his sincerity and his feeling that his purpose lay here. 
                           
                           She sat quietly saying nothing. When he had finished she broke 
                           into a wide smile and patted Scar on the shoulder. "Well, perhaps I was 
                           wrong a sneaky and conniving chap such as yourself may be just what is 
                           needed."
                           
                           Scar's face fell, it was Nduli all over again, he shook his head 
                           and began his defense. "You don't understand I'm not like that 
                           anymore..."
                           
                           "Honey, you better still be like that if you want to have a chance 
                           against Kiruu." Kwaya said.
                           
                           Scar was taken aback. It was the first time he had ever heard 
                           his character flaws being described as a good thing. He caught himself 
                           laughing.  "I think I can manage to be a little sneaky."
                           
                           "A little!," Kwaya snorted, "Sweetie, you better be the 
                           nastiest, most cunning beast on the plains." She patted Scar's face 
                           with a paw. She had to admit, she found herself liking the dark manned 
                           lion and admiring the straightforward way he had told her his story and 
                           purpose for wanting to help her pride. Makini could do worse, she 
                           thought.
                           
                           "Well then, let me tell you what I've planned for your king and 
                           how I'll need your help. It'll take some great timing on both of our 
                           parts as well as a good deal of luck. But I think it can be done."
                           
                           The two sat and worked out the plan for well into the 
                           afternoon. Kwaya thought it was a good idea and added on to it and 
                           refined it. Scar silently thanked the gods or good fortune for sending 
                           Kwaya to him. She was very intelligent and helped him a good deal. By 
                           the time the two got ready to depart Scar felt confident that 
                           everything would go as smoothly as it had the last time he had tried a 
                           trick like this. Although this time -he- was to be the lure.  
                           
                           "Goodnight, Kwaya and be careful going home," Scar said as Kwaya 
                           began to make her way home, he worried that she might meet the same 
                           fate as Makini.
                           
                           "Don't worry so, Kiruu leaves me alone," She swished her tail, 
                           "I'm not sure why, perhaps he's afraid of me." She flashed a quick grin 
                           at Scar and went on her way.
                           
                           "Lady, if he knows what's good for him , he better be!" He 
                           called after her.
                           
                           The last thing he heard was Kwaya giggling as she disappeared 
                           into the long grass. Gathering up Chaga he went off to find a place to 
                           sleep for the night. Tomorrow he would need his rest.
                           
                           
                           Luck was with Kwaya that evening as she slunk into her pride's 
                           den site and lay down quietly.  No one had noticed her absence; as 
                           trapped as they almost always were in their far away thoughts it didn't 
                           surprise her.  Kiruu was where she had last seen him, napping with 
                           Makini beside him. Soon he would awaken and call the hunters to their 
                           task. She decided to wait until then to speak to her pride mates, doing 
                           so now would be courting disaster. 
                           
                           The day drew slowly into evening and as expected Kiruu awoke and 
                           roared for the lionesses to assemble. He gave the orders as to where 
                           they were to hunt that evening and let them know what he would like 
                           brought down. The pride accepted their orders as usual without  
                           complaint and set off into the pasture lands to begin the night's work.
                           
                           Kwaya, however had other plans. Trotting to the head of the 
                           procession she called them to a halt. The pride's second,  Asali, 
                           looked at Kwaya puzzled.
                           
                           "What is it Kwaya, is there some danger," Asali looked around her 
                           trying to see what made Kwaya halt the procession, "if not we better 
                           move on, Kiruu has been as nasty as a honey badger with a bad tooth 
                           these past couple of days."
                           
                           "No, Asali, there's no danger about but I would like to talk to 
                           you all." Kwaya strode to a nearby boulder and leapt to the top. She 
                           was still quite agile for her many years. "It is of utmost importance 
                           that you hear me out my sisters. Our futures depend on it."
                           
                           Asali snorted in derision, life with Kiruu had taken all the joy 
                           from the mid-aged huntress and she was eager to get the night's task 
                           over with, "Kwaya, you speak as if the god of all creatures has given 
                           you a vision. Come down off of that rock, old bones and lets get back 
                           to work."
                           
                           Kwaya smiled at Asali and just shook her head. "These old bones  
                           taught you how to hunt young lady and I am still lead huntress. You 
                           would do well to show your elder some respect don't you think?"
                           
                           Asali looked around herself as she heard the grumbles of agreement 
                           from the other lionesses. She often forgot that Kwaya was still leader 
                           of their hunts.  Embarrassed by the disapproving looks her pride mates 
                           gave her and the chiding from Kwaya she shrugged and lowered her head.
                           
                           "I'm sorry Kwaya, I meant no disrespect, it's just, well, it's 
                           been a rough couple of days and..."
                           
                           Kwaya nodded to the younger lioness. "Yes dear, it's always a 
                           rough day for us all. No need to apologize. I understand." She heaved a 
                           heavy sigh. "Which is why, my sisters, I have asked for your attention. 
                           I had a meeting today with someone who may very well help us out of our 
                           current situation."
                           
                           Asali and the other lioness immediately gave Kwaya their full 
                           attention.  It had been a long time since any hope had come into their 
                           lives and if something was able to light the fire in the old hunt 
                           mistress then it must be well worth hearing about. All ears cocked 
                           forward and not a sound was heard as Kwaya explained what she and Scar 
                           had planned.
                           
                           Chapter 20 Thunder and Lightening
                           
                           
                           While Scar may have needed his sleep he got very little that 
                           night. He was on edge about what was to happen the next day and didn't 
                           feel as if his luck would be with him. The plan had worked so well the 
                           last time, would it now? How could he be sure that Kiruu would act as 
                           he thought he would and would the lionesses be willing or able to carry 
                           out their part. All these questions raced through his mind as he lay 
                           under the stand of bushes. There were so many things he was gambling on 
                           and none that he was sure of. Mufasa he had known well, Kiruu he had 
                           merely glimpsed. The uncertainty was gnawing at him.
                           
                           The dawn came too quickly for Scar and when the first rays of sun 
                           began to peek over the horizon he crept from his hiding place. He moved 
                           quietly hoping not to wake Chaga who had slept soundly all night in the 
                           branches above his head. It didn't work. Chaga had been up before dawn 
                           searching for food and when he saw Scar emerge he leapt down onto the 
                           lions back.
                           
                           "Ready for going Scarred lion? Making plan go today." He took up 
                           his usual place on top of Scar's mane. The lion reached up and plucked 
                           him carefully from his mane and set him on the ground.
                           
                           "Not today little one," Scar smiled wanly down at Chaga, "you can't 
                           come with me."
                           
                           "But why for?" Chaga said. "Always going with Scarred lion, wanting 
                           to help, please." He gave Scar his most endearing grin.
                           
                           Scar tried to muster up a smile back but found himself lacking, 
                           instead he lightly touched the bushbaby's head with his paw. "No, today 
                           I have to meet my fate alone. I'm sorry little malaika, but you must 
                           stay behind. Please wait for me."
                           
                           The look on Scar's face made any protest Chaga had melt from his 
                           throat. The lion looked so forlorn and resolute. It was as if he was 
                           going to his death and knew it. Chaga swallowed back  any objections 
                           and touched Scar's paw in return. "Waiting for you, okay."
                           
                           Without another word Scar turned and started for Makini's den 
                           site. Chaga sat watching until the lion disappeared in the tall grass. 
                           His whispered "Goodbye" was heard by no one.
                           
                           It took all of Scar's resolve to keep moving. The bravado he 
                           had felt as he had talked to Kwaya of his plan had completely 
                           disappeared and all that was left was the terrible anticipation. He 
                           went over his plan again and again in his head trying to find any 
                           possible glitch, anything that he could've missed. He couldn't. If 
                           everything went as planned it should run as smoothly as the first time, 
                           better since he himself would be in charge. So why then did it feel as 
                           if he were walking to his death. He shook his head and quickened his 
                           pace.
                           
                           No, this is what he had to do, what he was meant to do if he was 
                           to put things right with himself. He drove all thoughts of  failure 
                           from his mind and trotted forward cutting a swath through the dewy 
                           morning grass with his body. He would succeed he told himself and broke 
                           into a run, everything will go fine and in the end he would  have done 
                           what  he needed to do. He was now running at full speed and even now 
                           could see the den site coming into view. Lowering his head and pulling 
                           his lips back in a snarl he burst from the grass and rounded the corner 
                           right into the alcove where Makini's pride lived.  He jumped down 
                           without bothering to look where he was going.
                           
                           He skidded to a stop and looked up. All the lionesses were present 
                           and everyone of them looked at him with a mixture of shock and relief. 
                           A couple even smiled.  He gave a quick look around at them and smiled 
                           in return and then looked forward. There, in the center of the alcove, 
                           an expression of disbelief lay Kiruu. Makini who sat beside him looked 
                           at Scar, horror painted across her face. She had been under Kirru's 
                           supervision and didn't know what was going on.  She shook her head 
                           wordlessly and tears sprang to her one good eye.
                           
                           "King of the dung beetles!" Scar roared at Kiruu, "Your time has 
                           come." He bowed in Kiruu's direction. "Meet your doom." He raised his 
                           head and gave a sly grin to the huge lion who was now rising up. Black 
                           lips peeled back from sharp, white teeth, he lowered his head. Murder 
                           danced in the great lion's eyes as he took Scar in. Scar merely 
                           straightened himself and continued to look unalarmed.
                           
                           "Who are you!" Kiruu snarled, he moved slowly forward, low to the 
                           ground. "What are you doing here?"
                           
                           "Like I said my dear monarch, I am your doom." Scar ran a paw 
                           through his mane. "Not quite what you where expecting? Never mind, you 
                           don't seem a very intelligent sort, so just accept it."
                           
                           Kiruu moved even closer and Scar could now smell the anger 
                           rolling off him in waves. His own heart began to race and he kept both 
                           eyes fixed on the lion inching his way closer. "Very important," He 
                           thought, "that I don't take off too soon, just a little closer."
                           
                           "I'll kill you," Foam dripped from Kiruu's muzzle. Scar crouched a 
                           little and waited, just one step closer.........
                           
                           As soon as Kiruu came within a foot of him Scar bolted and began 
                           running toward the Eastern pasture. Just as quickly Kiruu was on his 
                           heels. He could hear the lion's breath very close behind him, too 
                           close. He dodged to the left and headed for the mouth of the gorge. 
                           Every fiber of his being pushing forth.
                           
                           When Kwaya saw Scar run she and three other lionesses made for the 
                           wildebeest herd. Careful to stay hidden in the grass and yet moving at 
                           a breakneck pace they circled around toward the tail end of the herd. 
                           Kwaya and one other lioness, Asali, went to the left and the other two 
                           went to the right. All at once they pounced out of the grass at the 
                           surprised animals. Like a flock of birds the animals all began to turn 
                           and run. 
                           
                           "Drive them toward the Western plain, to the mouth of the gorge!" 
                           Kwaya shouted to Asali who ran with her. She turned and nipped at the 
                           flanks of the beest closest to her. The two other lionesses on the 
                           other end closed in herding the animals into a dagger like formation, 
                           driving them toward the Western edge of the great canyon. 
                           
                           The lionesses dodged in and out of the great herd, snapping at 
                           their heels driving them forward to the canyon mouth. The dust clotted 
                           their eyes as the panicked animals ran in confusion.  Every once in a 
                           while a lioness would have to lunge at a straggler to keep the herd in 
                           motion; to give the impression that many lionesses were hounding them.  
                           As planned the great herd reached the lip of the steep canyon wall and 
                           began pouring over the side like a brown river.
                           
                           Scar turned sharply and plunged down in to the gorge. He had 
                           carefully selected where he would enter and had tried the route once 
                           for practice but now with Kiruu on his tail he stumbled down the cliff 
                           side banging his sides painfully into the jutting rocks which poked out 
                           from the rock walls.  There was no time for caution and no thought now 
                           except for saving his own skin. A quick glimpse backward revealed the 
                           maddened face of the beast, every incentive to keep pumping his legs.  
                           He leapt from rock to rock barely keeping ahead of the larger lion.
                           
                           He hit the ground running and Kiruu landed with a thump right 
                           behind him. He panicked. The herd wasn't here, the lionesses, did they 
                           remember? He put on an extra burst of speed as Kiruu's forepaw lashed 
                           out and just missed his hind ankle. "Oh Gods," He thought, "I'm going 
                           to die." His breath came in short spurts as his sides began to ache. 
                           Soon he would have to stop and then what?
                           
                           He had just resigned himself to the possibility that he may have to 
                           turn and fight when all of a sudden he heard a loud drumming noise, the 
                           ground vibrating, the rocks around him jumping. "Here it is," He 
                           steeled himself, he would have to be lightening fast, "get ready."
                           
                           The herd came at the two lions from seemingly nowhere, rushing 
                           forward like current of a swift river.  Face to face with over a 
                           thousand animals strong Scar leapt for the canyon wall. Claws out,  he 
                           landed squarely on the rocky wall and dug his claws into the unyielding 
                           surface looking anywhere for a grip. The wildebeests rushed past only 
                           inches away from his fear stiffened body, the occasional horn brushing 
                           past him nicking his flesh. He held on for dear life; if he fell now it 
                           would be over. He shut his eyes. "So this is what you went through 
                           Mufasa," His frightened mind blurted out. He couldn't open his eyes, he 
                           didn't want to see the mass of gray-brown bodies, the slashing hooves 
                           and sharp horns.  "Mufasa, I'm sorry, oh gods this is terrifying," His 
                           mind wouldn't shut up, he felt himself slipping as the strength in his 
                           forelegs gave way. He scrabbled the surface with his hind legs, looking 
                           for any nook to gain a foothold. His toe caught on a  nick in the wall 
                           and he splayed his paws grasping the surface as best he could. The 
                           thundering continued below. He would have to get higher up, he couldn't 
                           hold on much longer. With the last of his reserves he reached a forepaw 
                           upwards and pulled himself forward. Inch by inch he crept up the side 
                           of the canyon until he reached a small shelf. Gasping for breath he 
                           pulled himself onto it and sat down panting.
                           
                           It was a long few minutes until the herd passed and the last of 
                           the stragglers came into view. When Scar had caught his breath he made 
                           his way up the canyon wall.  Once his paws where on solid ground he 
                           heaved a huge sigh. He had done it. His destiny was fulfilled. The 
                           relief swept over him and he felt like rolling in the grass out of 
                           sheer joy.  It was over. He could now go find Chaga and tell him that 
                           it was done.  The weight that he had carried around his neck for the 
                           past few months seemed to become instantly lighter.
                           
                           He made for the way to the bushes where he and Chaga laired when he 
                           heard the sound of paws on the grass behind him. Expecting to see 
                           Makaini or Kwaya he turned with a huge smile. His expression and his 
                           relief melted when he took in the figure before him.
                           
                           It was Kiruu, disheveled, bleeding from a few wounds, but standing 
                           and looking just as murderous as before. Scar took a step backward. His 
                           luck had left him. He looked downward and thought for a moment about 
                           leaping into the gorge. Perhaps he would be able to outrun Kiruu and 
                           escape. But his aching legs told him this was no solution; he would 
                           tumble headfirst and break his neck if he tried to run. The huge lion 
                           smiled widely and nodded.
                           
                           "There's no where left to run" He inched closer, once again low to 
                           the ground. "It nearly worked. But I too know this gorge and knew how 
                           to escape." His smile became a sneer and he showed Scar his full 
                           compliment of teeth.  He shot his claws and raked the earth with them
                           
                           Scar lowered himself to the ground and shot his own claws from 
                           their pads. There was nothing else to loose. Where would he go from 
                           here? Back to wandering the plains feeling incomplete and incorrect? He 
                           couldn't be a coward this time; the thought of simply running away 
                           shamed him. Here he would meet his fate, death or otherwise. He would 
                           fight because there was no other option
                           
                           "You son of a hyena," Scar spat at Kiruu, "You're no king." 
                           
                           Kiruu shifted his weight and said nothing. His tail lashed behind 
                           him, Scar could see he was preparing to strike. If only he could keep 
                           Kiruu from crushing him down, he would have to keep his distance and 
                           rely on his speed. The two lions circled each other, both seemingly 
                           unwilling to make the first move.  The air was charged with the mixed 
                           scents of blood, sweat, fear and anger.  Scar couldn't keep his eyes 
                           from the sharp claws rending the grass.
                           
                           Without warning Kiruu rushed forward and cuffed Scar across the 
                           muzzle ripping three parallel gashes across his snout. Scar leapt 
                           backwards just in time as Kiruu landed on the spot where he just stood. 
                           Lunging forward Scar lashed his own paw out and hit Kirru on the side 
                           of the head, knocking him momentarily off his feet. Jumping back he put 
                           distance between himself and Kiruu while the lion regained his feet.
                           
                           Kiruu shook his head in surprise. Never before had another lion 
                           laid a paw on him. It was too much for him to bear. With a roar he 
                           charged Scar who stood on his hind legs and caught his rush head on. 
                           The two lion pushed at each other chest to chest, each trying to knock 
                           the other over. For a moment it looked as if they were dancing, paws 
                           rested on each other's shoulders. Kiruu buried his teeth in Scar's left 
                           ear, causing him to yelp in pain and loose his footing. The huge lion 
                           bore down on the smaller and pinned him to the ground. The suffocating 
                           weight of Kiruu pushing the air from Scar's lungs. 
                           
                           "You should've never come here stranger," Kiruu hissed through 
                           bloodstained teeth, "Now you're going to find out what power is  really 
                           about." 
                           
                           As he said this Scar raised both hind legs up, claws out and 
                           thrust them into Kiruus groin. He dug his eight dagger-like nails into 
                           the inner flesh of Kiruu's hindquarters and pushing downward tore him 
                           deeply down both sides. Kiruu quickly rolled sideways off of Scar and 
                           growled in pain on the grass. Scar drew in a deep breath as the weight 
                           was lifted from his chest and scrambled to his  feet and  moved away. 
                           The three gashes in his muzzle where bleeding profusely and his eyes 
                           were fast becoming  clouded with his own blood. His breath was labored 
                           and his limbs wouldn't stop shaking. 
                           
                           Kiruu stood shakily himself. The tears that Scar made in both hind 
                           legs made standing difficult and painful. His mind boiled over with 
                           rage. He was King of the Valley and here a small strange lion had 
                           wounded him! No, he must kill this lion, that was all that mattered. 
                           The pain in his legs was nothing to the deep  wound to his pride. He 
                           pushed himself forward, ignoring the screaming agony coming from both 
                           mind legs.
                           
                           Scar backed up once again when he saw Kiruu advance. He wasn't 
                           sure how much more he could take. The run had sapped him and the loss 
                           of blood from his ear and muzzle was making him dizzy. He looked 
                           backward and saw that he stood close to the edge of the canyon. 
                           "It ends here now, stranger." Kiruu took a step near Scar and he 
                           stumbled, his back legs shook with the effort.  He caught himself and 
                           shambled forward, a bloody and snarling horror bent on one thing. 
                           Scar shook his head , foam and blood dripped from his muzzle onto 
                           the grass. His head buzzed and he had trouble focusing on the figure 
                           before him. "Kill me if you must," The words bubbled forth, muddled and 
                           labored, "but I'm not leaving without taking you with me."  Any 
                           thoughts of self preservation were long gone. The only thing left in 
                           the world was him and the huge lion. Nothing else mattered. 
                           Kiruu didn't reply, just hunkered down and shifted his weight 
                           from side to side, preparing to pounce onto Scar and finish him. "I 
                           know you too well to let you live." Scar said, his speech slurred and 
                           distorted. The wounds across his nose made speaking painful, his mouth 
                           was clotted with a nasty taste.
                           The lion's charge seemed to happen in slow motion and Scar 
                           raised himself on his hind legs to meet it. Kiruu hit him with the 
                           force of a buffalo and for a moment the two lions stood chest to chest 
                           once again. Without thinking, completely on reflex, Scar drove his head 
                           forward and buried his ruined muzzle in Kiruu's neck as if he were 
                           killing a gazelle. He stove his fangs into flesh and heard the audible 
                           pop as his teeth met in Kiruu's windpipe. He held for one moment more 
                           and then Kiruu's fearsome weight became limp and Scar felt himself 
                           falling backward, pitched bodily into space with Kiruu on top of him. 
                           The two lions turned and twisted as they fell the length of the canyon.
                           Both animals hit the ground heavily. Scar lay for a long time 
                           in the trampled dust; his head draped across Kiruu's chest, he had 
                           landed on him when he fell. The smell of the dead lion filled his 
                           nostrils and he rolled off of the body. His head hit the stony floor 
                           with a loud crack and he moaned in pain. 
                           A storm was coming. He could smell the musty scent of heavy 
                           water laden  clouds and the sharp tint of ozone in the air. Let it 
                           come, he thought, let it wash me away. He sniffed the air without 
                           raising his head or opening his eyes. Everything hurt, every bone, 
                           muscle and nerve in his body thrummed a low beat of pain.  He wanted to 
                           go away, to disappear. Anything at all the make the fierce throbbing 
                           stop. 
                           He heard a low whispering sound in his ears and opened his 
                           eyes with some effort.  Have to get away, he thought, need to get away. 
                           Without thinking he raised the top portion of his body up from the 
                           blood stained ground and tried to raise his hind quarters. They were 
                           flattened to the ground and refused to respond. He dropped his lower 
                           half roughly to the floor once again. His hind legs wouldn't move. 
                           Twitching his nose he caught the scent of dampness, of cool moss and 
                           water. He again raised himself up on his shuddering forelegs and 
                           digging his cracked claws into the earth dragged his body forward. He 
                           grimaced and ground his teeth as a shock of pain, bright red, flashed 
                           through him. The cool scent came to him again and bade him seek it out.
                           Inch by inch he crept along the canyon floor, crying out as he 
                           went. His hind legs, twisted and useless, dragged behind him. The mossy 
                           scent became overpowering and soon he found himself face to face with a 
                           crack in the canyon wall, an opening roughly the size of his own body. 
                           He braced his front paws on the lip of the crevice and with the last 
                           bit of effort left in him pushed himself forward into it.  A bright 
                           flash of lightening  lit the sky and canyon wall as he slid forward 
                           into the cave. He landed roughly onto the rocky, damp floor and curled 
                           up into a ball as the first heavy raindrops began to fall.  
                           
                           Chapter 21 Walking Alone 
                           
                           When Kwaya saw the last of the straggling wildebeests enter 
                           the canyon she raced back towards the den site with Asali to tell 
                           Makini what had just happened. When she and the others returned they 
                           found the remaining lionesses crowded around Makini who was telling 
                           them who the strange lion had been. All heads  turned as Kwaya trotted 
                           into their midst, sides still bellowing from the long run. Makini 
                           pushed past the gathered lionesses and rushed up to the elder.
                           "Kwaya!" Makini's eye showed fear as she spoke, "What has 
                           happened! Has Kiruu....."
                           "Killed  Scar?" The old lioness shrugged. "Hopefully not, 
                           if our plan went well."
                           Makini was confused. "Plan? What are you talking about 
                           and how do you know about Scar?"
                           Kwaya flopped to the ground still breathing heavily, she 
                           was not a sprightly three year old anymore. "I met him yesterday, I 
                           spoke to him." Kwaya swallowed hard. "I couldn't tell you because Kiruu 
                           had been keeping you with him. We made a plan to kill Kiruu, trample 
                           him with the migrating herd. I think it worked, the herd went as we 
                           planned."
                           The gathered pride looked from one to the other. What 
                           they heard was unbelievable, Kiruu, the tyrant of the valley was dead.  
                           One of the lionesses, a youngster named Maisha couldn't contain her 
                           excitement and began laughing, lifting her head to the rain. The others 
                           joined her, roaring their joy to the open sky and soon the pride was 
                           gathered around Kwaya and Asali, scraping every detail that they could 
                           about Scar and the plan. Only Makini remained quiet, she waited for the 
                           din to die down.
                           "But, Kwaya where is Scar?" She ran a short way forward 
                           and squinted through the sheets of rain. "We must go look for him. The 
                           plan was dangerous, he might be..."
                           Kwaya grunted and stood. "You're right little Utamu," 
                           Kwaya nudged Asali's shoulder. "Come on young huntress, Makini's right, 
                           we need to know what has happened."
                           The three lionesses set off through the rain and wet, 
                           waving grass, following the path they had seen Scar take. They traveled 
                           down through the gorge and found neither track nor scent, the rain had 
                           long since washed away any trace that Scar and Kiruu had been there. 
                           The walked on silently, except to call out for Scar every one in a 
                           while. They stopped as they came upon a dark, rumpled shape lying in 
                           the middle of the gorge.
                           "There he is." Kwaya slunk toward the body, head low and 
                           tail to the ground. She went up to it cautiously as if some 
                           superstitious fear in her expected the corpse to pop back to life and 
                           attack her. She touched it's shoulder with a paw. "Yes, you have met 
                           your match tyrant," She said coldly, " although whether you walk the 
                           star's path now is anybody's guess. May the Great Kings take pity on 
                           you"
                           "But Kwaya," asked Asali, "where is the other male? I only 
                           see the body of the tyrant here but no other. And here," She gestured 
                           toward the wounds Scar had inflicted in Kiruu's hindquarters, "these 
                           wounds were not made by any wildebeest. These are claw marks. There 
                           must have been a terrible fight."
                           Makini called out Scar's name. "He must be here somewhere. He 
                           couldn't have gone far. Scar!," she called again. "Answer me, I know 
                           you're out here."
                           Deep in the ground Scar heard someone call him, his ear 
                           twitched at the sound and he grunted and curled tighter into himself. " 
                           No more", he thought, " no more, I have done what I needed to do." All 
                           that was left was the dying. The notion comforted him and he shut his 
                           senses to the calling outside and the pelting rain. 
                           Makini called for a few minutes more and then felt Kwaya at her 
                           side. "He's not here little Utamu."
                           Makini lowered her head and bit her lip.  She shook her head and 
                           Kwaya touched her paw. "Come on, we'll go to where I met him the other 
                           day, perhaps he went back there."
                           Kwaya led the way to the large, knotty acacia tree where she and 
                           Scar had devised the plot. There was nobody there, just a lonely tree 
                           bending with the weight of the heavy rainstorm. The three lionesses 
                           were just about to leave when someone cried out from the many branches 
                           at the tree's top.
                           "Waiting! Female lions! Waiting, needing talking for you!" Chaga 
                           burst into view and Kwaya trotted up to meet the little bushbaby as he 
                           hopped to the ground.
                           "Where is Scar, little one? Isn't he here with you?" Kwaya asked.
                           "No, not seeing since this dawn," Chaga replied, "Being not 
                           found? Oh, Scarred lion, being dead?" Chaga covered his eyes with his 
                           paw, regretting not stopping Scar or at least going with him that 
                           morning.
                           "Calmly, calmly," Kwaya hushed the now panicked bushbaby, "We 
                           don't know where he is we've looked everywhere. There's no sign."
                           Makini walked up to Chaga. "You're his friend?" Chaga nodded. 
                           "He wouldn't go anywhere without you would he? He must be here 
                           somewhere, he may be very badly injured, Kwaya, why don't you and Asali 
                           go home and take this little one with you. I'm going to search some 
                           more."
                           Kwaya shook her head. "No Makini, the storm is getting more 
                           fierce. It'd be dangerous for you to go alone." She looked down at 
                           Chaga, "Come on, hop on my shoulders you can come home with us. You're 
                           friend may come back to the den site after this storm is over."
                           Makini began to protest but Kwaya silenced her. "Not another word 
                           young one, let's be getting home. This rain as soaked me to the bone."
                           The three lionesses with the addition of Chaga made their way 
                           quickly back to the den site. Fearsome claps of thunder followed them 
                           as they went. Makini's thoughts lay with Scar. Somewhere he was out 
                           there, possibly dying and most definately injured. "Please watch over 
                           him." She silently prayed to the Great Kings as she and the others 
                           crawled into the alcove and out of the wet.
                           "Watch over me....." Scar thought as another low hum of pain 
                           ripped through his ruined muzzle and his sides shook with the every 
                           breath. "Mufasa, wherever you may be, please show me the way to get to 
                           you." His head felt hot and his muzzle burned.  He desperately wanted 
                           it to end. For his life, such as it was, to be over. Nothing he ever 
                           did, it seemed, went right or smoothly. Mufasa, Nduli, Simba and Kiruu, 
                           all these faces stuck in his mind's eye as reminders of deeds done 
                           badly or in evil.  Little Simba, how could anyone redeem themselves 
                           after ruining the life of a cub? He could see no answer to this, only 
                           the dim memory of the little cub hanging onto his fore leg and burying 
                           his wet face in his uncle's fur. "Run away, run away and never return." 
                           He had frightened the little one and sent him to his death. A trusting  
                           face that knew his uncle meant him no harm. Twisted, afraid and lost, 
                           he had dismissed it all with a sly grin and an order to kill.  That 
                           could not be redeemed.  To cradle that cub now, to wash the tears from 
                           his eyes and soothe his addled mind, that is what he longed to do.  The 
                           weight of the memory  caused a shiver and another white, hot flash of 
                           pain to run through him.
                           He coughed, a rattling sound coming from his chest, a thin stream 
                           of blood coursed from between his lips and filled his mouth with an 
                           unpleasent coppery taste. He once again called for his long dead 
                           brother, the sound echoing in the stone womb where he lay. 
                           "Please, death," he coughed again as another clot of blood came to 
                           his throat. "Come for me, I'm ready."
                           "You are not ready." A voice like a half heard whisper came to 
                           his ears. He shut his eyes once again and moved one forepaw feebly, 
                           trying to move himself toward the sound. 
                           "No son, do not move yourself." The voice was soothing and it 
                           made the fear in his mind subside. "My littlest cub, you must not give 
                           in now, so close to where you need to be."
                           "But mother," He spoke without raising his head or opening his 
                           eyes. The vision of his mother, a soft and welcoming lioness was with 
                           him. "I have failed in everything, the cub and Mufasa, all the 
                           lionesses that went hungry and suffered during my rule. Simba, my 
                           brother's son, ruined, he's ruined." The last words trailed off as the 
                           strength left him. The thought that his long dead mother should be with 
                           him fazed him not at all as perilously close to the end as he felt.
                           He felt the comforting weight of another body press against his 
                           own, he leaned into it although it gave him no warmth. "And what of 
                           those who now look for you my son. Even now you are worried for. What 
                           of them , are they nothing to you in your life?"
                           "But the thing is done and I can't get the past  to go away," He 
                           sputtered again, coughing and shuddering. "I can not live with this, 
                           with this wrong doing, I can't. Every time I try to forget it I see 
                           Simba's eyes. They haunt me I can't do it mother, I can't. Please may I 
                           come be with you and Mufasa."
                           "The thing is not done, Taka," The voice became firm and 
                           authoritative. "Psychical strength is merely a trifle, strength was 
                           with your enemy but rightness was not. You have not done what you 
                           needed to do my son. So many things are left." A touch at his torn ear 
                           made him cringe and he left out a low moan of pain.
                           "I am not who I used to be mother."
                           "That is what makes all the difference. The wisdom to rule and 
                           rule well, that is what is important now. To love and put others before 
                           yourself. That is the wisdom Mufasa had and that is the wisdom you need 
                           to show."
                           Scar's eyes snapped open and he audibly drew his breath. Rule? 
                           No, out of the question, the idea of ruling a pride sent him into a 
                           dizzying sense of fear. He could not risk such a thing again. Power. A 
                           very dangerous thing when held in his claws. The temptation to take it 
                           and weld it in fear and intimidation would always be at the back of his 
                           mind. A tantalizing promise of superiority. 
                           He shut his eyes once again and put the thought from his mind. His 
                           mother's presence had taken leave, he was alone again. An injured lion 
                           in a small, wet cave, dying and glad of it.
                           Three suns rose and set over the valley kingdom and slowly it's 
                           residents learned of the tyrant, Kiruu's passing. The cheetah and 
                           hunting dogs now felt free to hunt on the lands without having to 
                           constantly check themselves and look over their shoulders. Everything 
                           had a more relaxed air about it. Somehow the grass seemed greener and 
                           the prey seemed sleeker and fatter. The lionesses of Kiruu's pride took 
                           great pleasure in chasing each other and wrestling in the grass between 
                           hunts and they felt healthy and strong again as each got their fair 
                           share of the kill. Every night was a celebration as the pride gathered 
                           to hunt. Many of the quieter lionesses seemed to come out of their 
                           shells when not oppressed by fear, indeed everyone seemed to know 
                           everyone better than ever before.   Kirru's power had extended to a far 
                           greater reach than anyone had known or admitted.
                           Only Makini and Chaga seemed inconsolable. Chaga was beside himself 
                           with the thought that he might have been able to help Scar in some way 
                           or at least have been with his friend when he died. He spent most of 
                           his time laying in the large knot of a tree beside the lions den, never 
                           joining in the conversations down below. Makini couldn't bring herself 
                           to celebrate when her own thoughts where drawn to the lion who had 
                           given his life to give her pride freedom. And yet, somewhere in the 
                           back of mind she entertained the notion that Scar was not dead. That 
                           somewhere on the vast plains he still lived and that someday he would 
                           return to her and the pride. 
                           Kwaya understood her niece's melancholy attitude and so didn't 
                           press her to cheer up and join the pride on their jubilant evening 
                           outings. Her experience told her that time was what was needed for the 
                           young lioness to forget and return to the business of living.  "Young 
                           love," She sighed to herself as she caught Makini sitting on top of the 
                           alcove scanning the horizon, "it comes on like a thunderstorm, but 
                           never leaves nearly as quickly." 
                           She hopped up the rocky slope herself and sat down beside Makini. 
                           "Still looking I see." She said gently.
                           Makini sighed and laid her ears back. "I know, Kwaya, it's foolish. 
                           But I just can't get the feeling from me that he's out there somewhere. 
                           If only I knew where, I could help him."
                           Kwaya rubbed her head against Makini's cheek. "Little Utamu, if 
                           indeed he was alive why would he stay away? He would be king over all 
                           this." She gestured toward the endless expanse of pasture teeming even 
                           during midday with wildebeest, gazelle, topi and zebra. "What lion 
                           wouldn't want that?"
                           "I suppose you're right but," Makini shrugged half-heatedly. Kwaya 
                           patted her paw and gave her niece a weary knowing smile.
                           "That's okay, you keep watching out for him, I understand." 
                           Without another word she leapt down from the roof of the alcove and 
                           went off towards some shade trees for her midday nap. The young 
                           huntress stayed where she was and kept looking forward in to the ocean 
                           of grass, desperate to see what was not there.
                           There would be no finding him that afternoon for the figure she 
                           sought remained underground slowly feeling the life return to his limbs 
                           and the many wounds, small and large, knit together. The day stretching 
                           into one another in the dark and seamless time of the cavern. The cave 
                           had been a lucky find and he was able to gain moisture from the damp 
                           racks around him, licking at the dripping limestone. But while he could 
                           satisfy his thirst, his hunger tore at him like a rat in the belly. He 
                           was still very weak on the third day but felt he should get out soon 
                           and find something. Even a meal of insects would do if nothing else.
                           He had been sure on that first night that his mother had come to 
                           him that his life was at an end but his prediction had been premature.  
                           Slowly, with each rising sun his strength and his will to regain it 
                           grew. By the midmorning he forced himself to stand in the small 
                           confines. His body still ached and he had many as yet unhealed bruises 
                           but he could stand. It was more than he had ever expected of himself. 
                           He crept bent-legged towards the cave entrance and with great effort 
                           hoisted himself up through the fissure and landed clumsily face first 
                           on the dusty canyon floor. He winced as the dazzling sun hit his eyes. 
                           Putting a paw over his face he felt the three deep gashes that still 
                           remained in his muzzle. Startled, he drew his paw over the deep cuts 
                           and sighed. They had stopped bleeding and had mostly healed over but 
                           now his one scar was joined by three more. He shook his head. he had 
                           never felt that he was an attractive lion and now he was sure he 
                           wasn't. He avoided looking in the direction of where Kirru's body lay 
                           although the smell told him that it still remained where it fell.
                           The day was a hot one and it took him much of the afternoon to 
                           climb the length of the canyon. He had to stop every few minutes and 
                           rest. The heat of the day was oppressive and it clung to his fur 
                           stifling him. When he finally made it to the top he flopped down onto 
                           the ground. He might have been a bit quick to consider himself healthy. 
                           The climb had knock him flat and now all he could do was lie in the now 
                           cooling, dusky air panting. He looked about himself and saw a cheetah 
                           crossing the plain a few yards away from him. Evidently it had not seen 
                           him yet as it continued on it's way without acknowledging him.  By 
                           chance the cheetah turned his head and now could see the lion laying in 
                           the grass. He started for a moment and then relaxed. After a little 
                           while he came to where Scar lay and staying a few prudent feet away 
                           considered the lion. In spite of himself Scar smiled warmly at him, 
                           memories of his own spotted cat coming to mind. The cheetah returned 
                           the pleasantry and sat down.
                           "So," The cheetah, a male finally said, "you're the new king eh? 
                           Well, let me be one of the first to congratulate you on your victory."
                           Scar shook his head, "No," He answered, "I'm not the king. I'm 
                           only a lion and a tired one at that."
                           "Be that as it may," the cheetah replied, "I and many others 
                           thank you for putting an end to that horrible Kiruu. I can't tell you 
                           how wonderful it is to be able to just sit out in the sun without 
                           fearing being ripped to shreds.  The poor beast was bound to meet his 
                           end early, he was just mad. Prowling the lands constantly, always 
                           thinking the next challenge was around the corner. I almost pitied 
                           him." 
                           "Yes, he was a bit mad," Scar licked a forepaw absently as he 
                           digested what the cheetah said, "But like you I could almost pity him 
                           as well. Power is a dangerous thing, I know from experience."
                           The cheetah shrugged and looked nervously back over his 
                           shoulder. The new lion made him somewhat nervous but he didn't want to 
                           appear rude. "Yeah, well whatever." He stood and gave a quick bow in 
                           Scar's direction, "Anyway, thanks again."
                           He trotted off in the direction he had come from and Scar 
                           watched him as he went. He realized that his little speech had made the 
                           cheetah nervous and he was sorry for it, but he couldn't help himself. 
                           He was still muddled from the three days he had spent in the dark cave 
                           and his hunger. It was clear that word had gotten around about him and 
                           that he was expected to fill Kiruu's place in the Valley.
                           In frustration he tore at the grass with his claws. He had no 
                           intention of taking Kiruu's place, he had vowed many months ago by a 
                           waterhole not too far from the Pride Lands that he would never rule 
                           again. He hadn't forgotten that. All he wanted to do was to live out 
                           the rest of his life without harming anyone else. Why wouldn't anyone 
                           accept that? 
                           Feeling suddenly exposed he got up and began to head for the 
                           large knotty tree where he had left Chaga three days earlier. His eyes 
                           drank in the vast herds of animals which where grazing in the early 
                           evening. "Such a rich land," He thought as he skirted the herds eyeing 
                           the animals greedily, but knowing he couldn't hunt them. "Some lion 
                           will be very happy here." He smiled to himself as he thought of Makin, 
                           now free of the terrible weight of Kiruu's rule.  "She must be even 
                           more beautiful now," He once again caught himself smiling as he 
                           imagined the young lioness's eye's free of the fear and hate that 
                           clouded her.
                           The walk was a long one and as the tree came into view he called 
                           out for Chaga. But the expected shrill greeting and parting of leaves 
                           never happened. He braced his front paws on the trunk and pushed his 
                           nose upwards trying to catch the scent of the bushbaby. Nothing and no 
                           one responded when he called out again. He lowered himself to the 
                           ground and set his ears back. Apparently Chaga hadn't waited for him, 
                           or something had happened  to him. Scar pushed the thought away, Chaga 
                           was far too clever and cautious to be easy prey for anyone. He must 
                           have given up on him when he hadn't returned. Disappointed he walked 
                           away from the tree.
                           Part of him was angry at the desertion but more so he was lonely 
                           and missed his friend. He had come to rely on the little beast as a 
                           constant in his life of wandering and not having him perched atop his 
                           mane made him feel incomplete. Almost unthinking he turned in the 
                           direction of Makini's pride's den site but caught himself and turned 
                           around. He couldn't go back there. They would expect him to take 
                           Kiruu's place as ruler of the Valley and he knew that it shouldn't be 
                           that way.
                           Memories of his brother's pride came to him. The looks of disgust 
                           and expectation. The way the pride seemed to seethe quietly at his 
                           back. It was something he couldn't manage to live through again. He 
                           knew that somewhere in him the beast that had drained the Pride Lands 
                           still lurked and the temptation to let it see the light of day would be 
                           too great. The land of the Valley was lush and teeming with life to see 
                           all that crumble beneath his paws? "No," Scar thought, "Never again."  
                           He picked up his pace, desperate to put distance between himself and 
                           Makini's pride.
                           After an hour or so of wandering the plains he came upon a sizable 
                           termite mound and without hesitation proceeded to tear into it with his 
                           sharp claws. Greedily he lapped up the fat, white grubs inside and very 
                           quickly found his biting hunger had retreated. He silently thanked 
                           Nduli for teaching him the trick about termite mounds and went off to 
                           find a place to spend the night. Luck was with him and he found a 
                           hollowed out fallen tree beside a small  waterhole. Curling himself 
                           into a tight ball he tried to sleep but found it eluded him.
                           The irony of his current situation didn't escape him. All during 
                           his early life having sway over a kingdom was all he dreamed of. 
                           Unattainable, it held the forefront of his mind and impelled his every 
                           move. He had made the dream a reality through cunning planning and 
                           deceit and the dream had fallen apart almost at the first. Far from 
                           being everything he had hoped it had become everything he had feared. 
                           The Pride Lands turned to ashes as if the land itself was rebelling 
                           against him. Would the Valley be any different? Why should it be, he 
                           was the same lion, that much hadn't changed. The only difference was 
                           this kingdom was his for the taking if he wanted it. A gift perhaps, 
                           one that he felt strangely about accepting.
                           Abandoning the idea of sleep he left the hollow tree and padded 
                           out on to the grass. The night had set in and the cool, crisp air 
                           caressed his mane and face as if danced across the plain. He inhaled 
                           deeply, savoring the smell of the rich grasses and blooming plants 
                           decorating the edges of the canyon. It was almost impossible to hold 
                           onto his bad feelings as he took it all in.  The winds picked up and 
                           tousled his mane. He looked up toward the sky and took in the vast 
                           expanse of stars above him. So many months ago he had taken in the same 
                           sky as an afraid and demoralized murderer. What was he now? Now that he 
                           felt the strength returning to his body and the suspicion and hatred a 
                           thing from another life. Rafiki had said that all the foul deeds in the 
                           world changed the star's path not at all. It was true, the same sky 
                           bore down on him here in this fertile and welcoming land that had 
                           winked above him in the ashes and ruin of the Pride Lands. 
                           "Do not fail me or yourself again, brother." Mufasa's words echoed 
                           in his head as he found himself getting lost among the countless points 
                           of light. He swallowed hard. "Can't fail again." He whispered to the 
                           endless night sky.
                           "Mufasa!" He called out and heard the word echo in the darkness.  
                           Nothing but silence answered and he shook his head sadly. There was no 
                           one out here but himself and the fear that plagued him.  He took a few 
                           steps towards the Western side of the Valley and at once stopped.  To 
                           be king again, the prospect filled him with dread and yet for some 
                           reason he couldn't just turn his back and leave.  He took another few 
                           steps and lowered his head as another blast of wind coursed across the 
                           land. He half expected another phantom to meet him but nothing but the 
                           open plain spread before his eyes. 
                           Somehow he knew that whatever help that Rafiki's "magic fruit" 
                           had given him along the way had come to an end and that from this point 
                           forward his will was completely in his paws. Perhaps that was what his 
                           destiny was, to be able to control his will and bend it not allow 
                           himself to be bent by it. Lifting his head into the blowing Savannah 
                           breeze he strode forward, this time resolutely. He moved confidently 
                           through the tall grass looking ahead to whatever might be waiting for 
                           him. He passed many animals as he pushed on towards the pride's den 
                           site and all of them looked at him and smiled or nodded knowingly.  He 
                           didn't notice them, his eyes remained fixed on the large alcove the 
                           pride laired in as it came into view. He steadied himself as the pride 
                           itself came into sight. He stopped at the edge and looked up at the 
                           sky, a wordless plea forming on his lips.  He rounded the corner and 
                           was greeting by a dozen faces all looking at him with mixed curiosity, 
                           wonder and just a tiny bit of apprehension.  A familiar shrill screech 
                           met his ears and he nodded in relief at the sound.  He lowered his head 
                           in a silent greeting to the gathered pride.
                           
                           
                                 Far away, in a large boabob tree on the edge of the Pride Lands 
                           an old mandrill smiled  to himself as the new king of the Valley roared 
                           his presence to the night sky.
                           
                                                                                      The End
                                
                                      
                                
                                
                           
                                     
                                      
                           
                             
                                     
                           
                                 
                                    
                                  
                                    
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                             
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                           

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