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CHAPTER: HYENAS IN THE PRIDE LANDS

Birds still sang in the trees. Clouds still wafted across the sky. A gentle breeze still caressed the grass and stirred it in waves of serene detachment. But for the lionesses of Pride Rock, the old world they thought would last forever had abruptly ended: Mufasa and Simba were gone.

Sarabi was looking for strength to live from moment to moment. Nala was huddled against her mother, struggling to understand her loss. No longer would Mufasa call her honey tree and tell her stories of the great kings of the past. And her friend Simba was gone forever--no more games, no more words, no more anything. In the depths of her grief, she wished she had let Simba win at wrestling just once. Now she would never get another chance.

How bad did it hurt? she asked her mother.

Sarafina was a huntress and had seen her share of death. Shaking with emotion, she weighed her words carefully and said, He was so surprised, he didnt feel much pain. I mean, before he had time to think, theyd have been all over him. She felt warm tears run down her face. The poor little angel! She began to fondle Nala with a paw. If it had been my little girl, Id have died! Just died! Dont you ever go near that place, or Ill cuff your behind! Do you hear me, Missy?? Sarafina nuzzled her and kissed her.

Oh, Momma! Nala began to sob. I wont go there! I promise! She added in a near whisper, But cant we go see him one last time?

No! Fini kissed her again. You dont want to remember him the way he looks now. You really dont.

Before the last warmth had left the old Kings body, a new ruler sat atop Pride Rock and proceeding toward him up the winding trail were the hyenas of Shenzis clan. This was the new world, a frightening place of uncertainty, mistrust and grief. Uzuri watched them with bitter anguish as they violated her sanctuary, and she silently cursed Taka for betraying his people. Hyenas had murdered his aunt and uncle, and he was taking them into his home!

Despite his promise of a glorious new future, Taka was merely paying his debt to Shenzi, and he cared little for most of her race. But there was one hyena that he loved above all loves remaining in his tortured heart. Fabana broke from her place in the processional and ran to Takas side, fawning on him. He nuzzled her gently, turning her small, scarred face with his large paw and kissing her cheek with his large tongue. Muti, he said in broken hyannic, mo keth banret dubrek!

Some of the hyenas looked around, puzzled. Betra hyannicha? one of them asked.

He shook his head. Just a few phrases I picked up.

Shenzi satisfied the longing of a lifetime to see the world from the tip of the promontory, planning for the day when she didnt have to share it with the lions. All the while, oblivious to her conceited gloating, Taka lovingly stroked Fabana with his paw and gazed into her smiling face.

I sit here tonight because of you, Muti. I would have killed myself, and my hopeless spirit would have wandered the night while a stranger ruled the Pride Lands.

If it hadnt been me, someone else would have stopped you.

You would say that. You always believe that goodness prevails. He kissed her cheek. I love you more than words can say.

Tears ran down her face, and she sat leaning gently against him. My dear son.


PROLOGUE: | Under the Acacias | CHAPTER: RECIPE FOR DISASTER