A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » June 17th, 2013, 4:39 pm

I don't have a keyboard. :P

Yay! Vaca! Lol, can't wait for the chapter.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 20th, 2013, 12:55 pm

chapter 17: show
A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Chapter 17: To Die For

Life in the Pridelands: the many herds galloping across the golden savannah, the tranquilizing blue sky reflecting across the glassy surface of the waterhole, and the regal, yet oddly shaped Pride Rock protruding from the grassland. It was a lush, resource-rich landscape for any pride of lions to reside in.

And it was all under the king's command.

Leo glared at the wispy, white clouds high above him, before glancing back down at the rocky incline ahead, which glimmered in the sun. With a slow but powerful step, he walked forward, pushing the entire world down with his incredible strength.

He was, quite literally, putting himself above all else. With each passing step, he signified his dominance, embracing and even reveling in his overwhelming superiority.

The rock below his paws sunk downward, bending and contorting to the king's will. The lion's steps were loud, booming across the entire landscape from Leo's passive demonstration of insurmountable power.

Eventually, the brown lion placed his battle-hardened paws just before the edge of the promontory. He looked down at his leonine peasants below, cheering and roaring with enthusiasm as they imagined a new life in the Pridelands, with their new king.

Although several bruises and scratches remained under the lion's fur, he appeared to look very sharp and well-groomed. His large, pointed muzzle split the winds of change around him, and his thick mane was almost shiny enough to reflect a stream of light.

Leo was simply an enormous beast of a lion, and certainly the largest to ever stand above Pride Rock, by far. He had Mohatu's exact appearance in almost every way—even the barely noticeable mane curl between his small eyes.

The two appeared very similar. They were similar. They were the same lion.

As the roars of the felines calmed and fell behind a steady wind, Leo raised his chest and began to speak. "Throughout history, kingdoms rise and fall... like the sun." Leo paused for a moment, taking a deep breath before continuing his speech. "But for the past ten thousand years, the lion kingdom was believed to be extinct. It was believed to be gone... forever."

"But today," a young Mohatu yelled with a regal, authoritative voice, "I stand before you with this news: we have returned." Many roars followed the king's powerful words, before he continued speaking again. "Today, we shall rise to greet the dawn of a new era..."

"Today," the king repeated himself, "our kingdom is reborn!"

Leo gazed across the horizon with a smug grin of confidence, admiring his beautiful landscape below. "Everything the light touches is almost ours." A second wave of cheering interrupted the king's words, before he decided to continue. "We now reign supreme over the Pridelands, in the glorious pawprints of our ancestors. Soon, all of Africa will bear witness to the infinite strength of our reborn kingdom."

Not surprisingly, the king's words were followed by yet another roar of applause. In the silence that followed, the lion inhaled heavily, preparing to let out a roar of dominance across the green savannah. "May it last for all of time!"

--- --- ---

Back in reality, Mohatu clenched his eyes shut, shaking his head from side to side. "No!" he yelled, as he shuffled erratically through the sand. "No... it can't be true!" There was simply no way he was his own enemy. There was no way in hell Mari would allow the king to live, after all he did.

But, it explained everything.

All the visions and dreams of Leo and Rex were memories of Mohatu's past, rising through the clouds of his mind and to the surface of his consciousness.

The fact that Mohatu was once king Leo also explained Mari's weird behavior, and revealed her true intentions.

It also explained the entire idea behind the importance of Lea Halalela, and emphasized the importance of keeping the mission a secret from Rex.

Eventually, the lion ceased walking, unable to cope with his own thoughts. "Dammit! No! It is true..." With a heavy heart, Mohatu's paws gave out, and the lion plunged into the desert sand. "It must be true," he finally admitted. "Dammit!"

"And..." he continued, covering his face with his paw. "And she knew. They all knew!" The entire time, he had been fighting alongside Mari and her pride, against Rex's kingdom. All that time, they were fighting the lion kingdom, but with nothing less than the very bastion of the kingdom right there beside them.

He was the king. He was fighting his own creation.

It was absurd... well beyond unthinkable.

As ridiculous as it was, there was no way it could have been true.

But it had to be. As Mohatu looked back on his memories, it just made sense. The pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly. In fact, Mohatu almost began to feel stupid for not recognizing how obvious it was that the lioness had lied to him, during the first few days...

--- --- ---

"There is some good news, though. Leo is dead," Mari said, unable to bear looking the lion in the eye as she spoke. "Rex took his place as king... but it is only a matter of time before his reign is at an end too."

"Oh," Mohatu replied, feeling his heart sink to the ground. "You did what you had to do, I guess."

"Yes, but it wasn't right," she argued. "I don't believe in killing. It's what separates us from them." Secretly, Mari began to feel a splash of relief. Maybe her plan would work after all.

--- --- ---

"We have already discussed this, and we think it would be best if you stay here, with us," Narisah announced.

Mohatu looked at the lion with an expression confusion. This wasn't making any sense. He was injured and weak, and he was well aware of that fact. He would be of greater assistance to the pride if they killed him and ate him for lunch. "You want me to stay?" he asked.

"It's up to you, of course. But the truth is, we need all the help we can get," Busar explained.

"I'm sure you already know," Karttiki spoke up, "about the situation with Rex."

"Normally, we would be reluctant to let an outsider join our pride, especially at your age, but these are unusual circumstances," Irena added.

"I'll... think about it," Mohatu replied. "But there's not much I can do now," he admitted, remembering how difficult it was to find the strength to walk.

"When you're better, of course," Mari confirmed. "It should only be a few weeks."

Mohatu responded politely, speaking his mind. "I appreciate the offer, but I just... I don't know. I don't belong here."

After Mohatu's final words to the group of lions, he strained his legs to lift his body off the moist jungle soil. "I need to get back to my own pride."

As their guest slowly walked away, Mari spoke to her family in private. "Just let me talk to him some more. I think I can persuade him," she smiled.

"Hah. He has no idea," Busar whispered. The tone of his voice dropped unusually low.

--- --- ---

"You hit your head a few days ago," Mari clarified.

Mohatu raised a brow. "Thanks for telling me," he replied sarcastically. "I don't remember a single thing before this morning."

The lioness chuckled lightly, allowing herself to relax, despite the lion's attitude. "That's probably a good thing. The past few weeks have been... very brutal, to say the least."

--- --- ---

"Look," Mari sighed. "It all comes down to this: I think I know how to overthrow Rex. But I'll need your help to pull it off."

The lion shook his head, taking a deep breath. "I'm sure Rex needs to be stopped; I don't doubt that. But I'm not the lion to do it. I need to get back to my own pride. There's nothing here for me."

"Your family is dead," she stated bluntly. "Their blood is on the king's paws. I'm sorry."

Her words hit Mohatu like a splash of cold water. He lowered his head in shame as Mari sat in silence.

All things considered, the lioness was probably right. If he almost died, chances are, his family shared a less fortunate fate. "I... I wish I could remember," the lion muttered.

She walked closer to the lion, who, to her surprise, accepted her company. "We need to stick together, or our fate will be the same as theirs."

Clearly, Mari wanted Mohatu to stay. Yet, he still failed to understand why. "But, why me? I'm nobody special," he confessed, looking back up at the lioness approaching him.

The lioness shook her head, before smiling. "Yes, you are."

A strange, warm feeling developed in Mohatu's melting gut, as he found himself returning Mari's grin. Mohatu continued to stare into Mari's reflective black eyes, allowing her words to sink in.

If that's how Mari felt about him, surely it was worth sticking around for, if nothing else.

"I'll let you think about it," she said, unknowingly bringing the lion back to reality.

--- --- ---

The lioness paused, and turned her head to the clouds above for a second, before shifting her gaze back to Mohatu. "I hope I wasn't being too pushy last night... y'know..."

"Don't worry about it," Mohatu assured. "I would have done the same."

"You..." Mari twitched her eye. "What?"

"Actually," the lion continued, "I thought about what you said last night... and I kinda want to know more."

"Huh?" Mari asked. It was totally not what she expected the lion to say.

"How did my family die?" Mohatu inquired without emotion in his voice. He watched as a flock of colorful birds circled around far above him.

Mari stretched out her paws nervously before scratching the back of her neck. "Are... you sure you want to talk about that?"


The lioness sighed, and looked back up at the puffy clouds above. "They were hunted down and killed by the king... king Leo."

"But why?" Mohatu asked.

"I wish I could tell you," Mari replied sadly. "I have no idea. Any lion who did not swear allegiance to the king was murdered on sight. I guess it was the only way he could secure his position within his new kingdom. It's like he thought himself a prophet, or something..."

"Oh," Mohatu sighed, but otherwise remained silent.

"...and I'm not entirely sure he wasn't a prophet of some sort," Mari continued. Her voice almost seemed to reflect a feeling of awe, albeit only vaguely.

--- --- ---

Mohatu tried to force a laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. Would his pride really rather live in a termite mound, than with a few drugged cats?

In fact, life on an island didn't sound all that bad of an idea to him. "Y'know, I think we all deserve some catnip after a night like that," he chuckled lightly.

"Wait, you're kidding, right?" Karttiki asked. "That stuff is dangerous. You know, in large doses, it can erase all your memories and wipe away your entire identity. A little more exposure than that, and it kills even the toughest of lions."

"Relax, it was just a joke," Mohatu replied, seeing that Karttiki had interpreted his statement a bit too literally.

--- --- ---

"Come here," Busar requested.

Mohatu approached the elder lion slowly, before sitting down in the spot that Karttiki had made warm.

Busar was first to initiate the conversation. "You know Leo and Rex were my sons, right?"


The older lion sighed. "So much of this is my fault. I really should have listened to them before they ran away." Busar paused for a moment, gathering his breath before continuing. "But they were young; they did not know better. They were not ready to face the horrors of war-"

"You mean, when they fought the hyenas?"

"Yes. And look what happened to them. Their hatred consumed them. They became so obsessed with being strong and powerful, that they were willing to kill us to become stronger."

"Uh-huh," Mohatu nodded.

"And look what they've done," the lion continued sadly. "That kingdom of theirs destroyed an entire ecosystem today... don't you ever forget that."

Mohatu gulped. "It's awful."

"Once you leave, you're going to see some ugly things... and survival will not be easy. But you cannot let it change who you are."

Mohatu nodded, while Busar continued his lecture. "I've been watching you over the past few days. I know you're a good lion at heart... but don't let all go to your head like it did to my sons. We need a savior now more than ever."

"Is there some greater meaning behind all this, or-" the lion began to ask. Busar only seemed to be rambling, and Mohatu was not entirely sure what the older lion said was even making sense.

"Remember what I've said. When you have to question who your loyalties lie with, you will know why I told you this."

"But," Mohatu almost scowled, interrupting the older lion. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

"That's okay," Busar replied. "You will understand someday."

However, Busar was afraid to mention what would happen if Mohatu didn't understand when he had to make the critical choice. The old lion merely held his breath instead, until he figured out how to conclude his speech. "As long as you are calm—at peace—you are following the right path."

"Well... ugh... thanks for the advice," Mohatu nodded.

--- --- ---

It was true. It was all true. The lion's entire life was a lie. Certainly, he was not the rogue lion he thought he was.

But that did not even begin to describe it. He wasn't just a warrior, he was the king. He wasn't just any king either; he was the prophet, more than likely. He was the first king since the fall of the ancient kingdom, more than ten millennia ago.

He was, perhaps, the strongest lion to ever have lived. In fact, he was even stronger than his younger brother, Rex. Between the two mighty lions, he was the uncontested champion. The mere thought was unquestionably mind blowing, even if, by some strange chance, it was a cruel joke. But it obviously wasn't.

After only a single conversation, the lion's entire world shifted upside down. His perspective changed, and not just his perspective of himself, but his mission and the entire kingdom as well. It completely changed everything.

The many intense emotions that ran through the lion's heart were indescribable, as he continued to lay in the sand. It was a very strange, breathtaking experience, to discover his own identity in such a way. It was nearly impossible for him to remain calm. The startling revelation controlled his mind, preventing him from maintaining any sense of composure.

Everything he thought he had begun to understand was suddenly washed away, right from under his paws.

In a weird way, it was almost a relief to finally discover that everything made sense. But, on the flip side, that wasn't necessarily true. Knowing that the rise of the kingdom was entirely his fault hardly brought him any sense of peace. Instead, it ripped the lion apart, limb from limb.

Mohatu opened his eyes and looked to the night stars in desperation. His spirit lifted up, but only for a moment, before he began to wonder how many he had killed.

Of all the stars in the night sky, how many had he put in their place?

"I... I don't know why I did that..." the lion whispered quietly to the stars above him. "Please forgive me."

Mohatu only begged for an answer, sitting on the edge of his knees. All he wanted was to hear a single word.

After hearing nothing but silence for several moments, Mohatu turned away and lifted himself up onto his paws. It was all he could do, just to prevent himself from crying like the soft and weak lion he had become.

"Forgiveness?" a voice finally returned from the sky. "Oh, you've got to be joking!"

Mohatu looked up as he began to walk randomly, pacing around his original position in the sandy grassland. He recognized that voice, and he knew exactly who it was.


It was not long before his eyes met the ghostly figure of the ancient king in the sky. Suddenly, Mohatu lost his breath, completely unaware of what to say.

Unfortunately, the ghostly king began to berate the pleading lion below. "Don't you realize what they have done to you? You were stripped of your power, your kingdom, and your identity... and you ask for forgiveness? Unbelievable!"

Mohatu collapsed back into the sand, while his heart sank further into the ground. "I... I-"

"You're an idiot," Algenubi concluded bitterly. "You're nothing but a weak fool, and the fact that you placed your dirty paws on my key is... eww!"

Mohatu closed his eyes as hard as he could, trying to make the image of the king go away. Even though he hid his face in the sand, Algenubi continued to taint his mind from above.

"It's absolutely disgusting."

Several large, salty tears fell from the lion's eyes and ran into the corners of his mouth, as he pushed his muzzle into the sand. Algenubi's presence was too much for even the former king of beasts to handle.

"For a moment," the ghost began once again, "I thought you still had a chance... to strike revenge and take back what was yours. But this? You're pathetic. You're no better than that stupid lioness."

As harsh as Algenubi's words were, the idea brought out a strange, conflicting thought that loomed in the back of the lion's mind. If he truly was the king, then he had been making all the wrong choices.

Perhaps the hyena was right, after all. Musashi had a point: in the eyes of the king, the entire world did exist, only for him to conquer. Considering his old self, Mohatu knew he should be glad to discover that he was once at the very top.

"Who do you think you are... to deny greatness?" Algenubi questioned bitterly. "If you deny greatness to yourself, you deny it to all of lionkind." The ghostly figure's voice fell much deeper, and began to boom through every corner of the horizon. "We will not be denied. The lion kingdom will rise again!"

"You have a choice, Leo," the ancient king continued. "You can kill the lioness, and reclaim what is rightfully yours... or you can die, at the paw of the true king. It's simple, really."

Mohatu began to consider the king's words once again. What would actually happen if he went back to the Pridelands? What would happen if Rex found out he was still alive?

Could he arise from the dead and reclaim his position on the throne? Would he become a legend?

"Yippie ki-yay, sons of biscuits! I'm back from the dead!" Mohatu thought to himself, almost inciting a laugh from within. "No one can stop the king," he mumbled sarcastically, sand flowing into the corners of his mouth.

In a sadistic way, it almost felt satisfying to imagine speaking those words to Mari. After she had lied to him, he would have his revenge by becoming the very lion she forced him not to be. He could, potentially, reclaim his position as supreme ruler of Africa. He could be unstoppable, and Rex's conquest could fall back into his paws.

It was an amusing thought, but not one he could convince himself to go along with. If he went back and took his place as king, he would have destroyed all that Mari had ever fought and hoped for. There was no way he would ever do that—not to the one lioness who had actually showed him the light.

He tried to kill her, and she responded not with bared teeth, but with a weapon far more powerful. She responded with mercy and benevolence.

He hurt her, both physically and mentally, more than any lion ever had, but she did not seize her opportunity to end his life. Mari was too weak to be a cold-blooded killer.

Yet, her very weakness was what he admired most.

As he gazed into the landscape ahead, he arrived at the realization that Mari had completely changed the shape of the future with her aforementioned weakness. It did not make her weaker—if anything, it had the opposite effect.

Mohatu attempted to look back up at the ghost with a tear of remorse running down his muzzle. Fortunately, Algenubi had suddenly vanished. Instead, the lion could only watch as waves of water flowed by, off in the distance, as a result of the gentle wind.

"No," Mohatu whispered, with a heavy scowl. "No!" he repeated himself, this time, a little louder.

The lion gulped suddenly, finding it unusually strange that Algenubi had suddenly vanished. He was not given a chance to speak for himself. "You're wrong, your highness," Mohatu continued, looking up to a cloud in the sky and planting his paw firmly down onto the ground. "I'm not a king, and I'm not your prophet."

Mari wasn't the best huntress, and she certainly wasn't the best fighter. To be truthful, she wasn't even the prettiest lioness he could have imagined. Yet, despite her flaws, she had managed to control the very strings of the biggest badass in the Pridelands. All she had to do was be herself.

That thought was equally mind-blowing as the revelation itself.

"I'm not a king," the lion continued. "I am better than that," he growled, staring at Algenubi's star in the sky. "Mari was right about me... you'll see! I'm not like you!"

Mohatu's gaze turned back to the sand below him, once again. Yet, as he began to step forward, he could only wonder what it would be like to have such a sense of self. He had not the slightest idea who he was. The lion had no idea if what he said was actually true.

But the lioness knew exactly who he was. She knew the entire time. Her entire pride knew, and they kept him in the dark every step of the way.

But could he really be redeemed, like her pride seemed to think, or was he the king, after all? Could he escape his true identity?

Mohatu walked back through the patches of grass, wanting nothing more than to shrivel up and die. He began looking for a dark place where no one would find him, so that he could sit down and cry himself to sleep in seclusion.

The mere thought seemed stupid, but it almost began to calm him, for some strange reason. A true king would never pity himself in such a way, but a king was exactly what he did not want to be.

His entire existence had only a negative impact on his pride. After all he did, he almost felt dirty not to cry. It wouldn't change the past, but it would certainly change him. It would define him.

Before the lion walked very far, he had already approached the desert waterhole. With each step he took, his paws only sank into the moist sand, tainting the oasis with his mere presence. He kept his eyes peeled to the ground, while he began stepping back into the water.

Between the expanding waves of water from his paws, he saw his reflection glaring back up at him. It stared deep into the lion's soul, draining him of his own will to live.

"It's because of me," he whispered to himself, bringing his nose right up to the water's surface. "It's all because of me."

Mohatu dunked his head under the water's filmy surface, trying to wash away the feeling of disgust that surrounded him. It was such a nasty feeling in the bottom of his heart, knowing that all of the problems that he faced were entirely his fault.

It was not some evil lion who killed Musashi, found several keys, and created a kingdom. He was the lion who brought death to the Pridelands. He had betrayed his family, and he had done so to make himself stronger. And, worst of all, he had just considered doing it a second time.

Mohatu raised his head out of the water so that he could breathe. As he continued to bathe in his own misery, an even worse realization dawned on him.

The lion drew his paw out of the water for a second, and extended his claws. He did not have four; he only had three on one paw. As he discovered days ago, one of his middle claws had broken off in battle.

Likewise, the scar across Mari's back fit the pattern of his claws perfectly. There were only three scratch marks, with a line missing from the middle.

At one point, he had tried to kill the very lioness that he admired.

That was it. That realization was the last he could take.

The lion placed his paw over his eyes to wipe away a second surge tears. It was certainly no surprise that she didn't like him, after all he had done. He had killed and mistreated her entire pride—in fact—his entire pride. No matter what he did, he could never correct such a mistake.

Never before had he wanted to die so badly. He deserved to die.

Mohatu stepped away from the water slightly, before collapsing onto his side in the grasses. Several additional tears continued to flow down the lion's muzzle, until the grass below remained entirely soaked.

The lion sat there for several long and agonizing minutes, barely moving a muscle. He rested, breathing heavily, sobbing quietly, in a state of utter mental torment.

Yet, perhaps a bit too conveniently, Mohatu heard a loud roar from the other sound of the waterhole, moments later. Perhaps it had even been an hour later; he didn't know. But whatever he heard, he had little doubt that it was the roar of another male lion, and it was coming from Rafiki's tree.

Perhaps Mohatu could correct his mistake, after all. If Mari was in danger, he could begin to repent for his actions by bringing her opponent to justice. Leo was a warrior; he fought to live, and lived to fight. The art of war simply felt natural.

Secretly, he hoped for the worst, as he rose to his paws. Mari had saved his life, and he could only return the favor if hell was breaking loose. The heat of battle was the only comfort he could find.

Hero or villain, this would be his chance to become a supernova. This would be his chance to to atone for his actions, and die with honor and glory.

Mohatu stepped forward, readying himself for battle. He wiped his paw across his muzzle, clearing the tear stains out of his face. He knew what he had to do.

--- --- ---

On the other side of the waterhole, the reflection of a dark lion with a black mane passed in front of a field of stars. Under the cover of night, the creature was almost entirely camouflaged.

Yet, this did not stop a certain monkey from spotting him, as the feline walked swiftly through the swamp beside Rafiki's tree.

"Bad lion!" Rafiki exclaimed, putting his hand over the sword, preparing to draw out his weapon.

"Oh, I don't suppose you're going to try to fight me, do you?" the dark maned lion asked with a bitter tone, suddenly stopping in his tracks. Instantly, the big cat turned around and pounced on the sleepy mandrill.

Unfortunately, Rafiki fell backward with his grip still on the sword's elegant handle. "Very bad lion!" he persisted, resting his head in the grass. "Very bad!"

"I don't have the time to waste, so let's just make this quick," the lion spat. He raised his claws up to the mandrill's throat before continuing. "Where is Mohatu?"

"Heh, Mohatu! Mohatu sneaky! You never find him!"

The lion clenched Rafiki's throat a bit harder, trying to get a more direct response. "I don't have time for your games, you stupid monkey."

"Look behind you," Rafiki whispered.

Immediately, the lion jumped back, thinking he was going to find his adversary coming to fight him. Instead, he found nothing but grass, water, and stars.

Now free to move, Rafiki stood up with a wide grin. "Bye!"

As the aggressive lion noticed that his prey managed to break free, he turned around and growled. Before he could lunge forward again, Rafiki had already started running back up his tree.

"Damn you!" the black maned lion roared across the dry grasses. "I'll get you, you stupid monkey. No one gets away from Ganji."

Rafiki held up his sword, sitting safely on a tall branch. "You are wrong," he replied, laughing smugly, while Ganji paced around below with aggression.

Suddenly, the calm voice of another lion boomed through the cool, dry air of night. "Looking for me?" Mohatu asked, appearing from the grasses.

It was undeniably a brave move on Mohatu's part, especially considering his mental state of chaos. Yet, hearing Ganji's roar only caused him to go back to his primitive instincts: fighting and killing. Although he was in no condition to fight, Mohatu managed to feign a sense of brutality quite well.

Ganji turned around quickly. "I'm looking for you to die," he spat.

Mohatu continued to approach the lion, without revealing his natural weapons. "I knew Rex would send some lion out here to find me," he stated carelessly.

Meanwhile, Ganji only lowered his torso while swinging his tail in the air, preparing to pounce on Mohatu.

"But I think he would rather you bring me to him alive." Mohatu stopped walking, and stood still to analyze his opponent's reaction. The coffee-colored lion knew it would be rather difficult to convince his opponent not to attack him, but an idea suddenly spawned in his mind.

He had information that the king would find rather useful. While Mohatu had no intention of telling the king what he needed to know, the thought seemed rather persuasive. "I have the key of Algenubi," the brown lion admitted.

The darker lion paused for a moment, staring deep into Mohatu's eyes with hatred. "If you have it, then give it to me, and I'll forget I ever found you," Ganji threatened. His claws were bared around Mohatu's mane.

"I don't have it," Mohatu clarified. "I know where it is. I know where Mari is, and I know where Busar is. Take me to Rex, and I will tell him everything he wants to know. With my help, all of the king's enemies will die in a single, glorious day."

Ganji eyed the brown lion cautiously, without letting his guard down. "I will take you to the king," he sighed, squinting his eyes and dropping his brows. "But if you try anything, you're dead."

Mohatu gently pushed Ganji's aggressive paw away from his throat. "Good," he scowled. "I will go peacefully."

--- --- ---

A/N: Just leaving a note here, that I will be unable to update this story for the next week or so. Although this cliffhanger is going to be here for a bit longer than usual, I'm not going to leave this story unfinished. Not much else to say, really, other than Chapter 18 will be up as soon as I can. :)
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » June 29th, 2013, 9:26 pm

Oh. My. Goldfish. That was friggin' EPIC! I was glued to the whole chapter!!!
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 30th, 2013, 3:01 am

Haha, thanks. :D

I don't mean to get anyone's hopes up, in case of disappointment, but the epicity of future chapters should be non-decreasing from here.

Unfortunately, the next chapter still needs some work, so I think I'm just going to save it for next week. I need more time to work on this stuff. Hopefully I'll get caught up this week. :P
Is differentiable...

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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » July 6th, 2013, 11:08 pm

chapter18: show
A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Chapter 18: Incision

Mari looked up at the midnight stars, thinking only of what the baboon had said about Mohatu. The mandrill's interpretation of the prophecy was crazy, no doubt, but the thought seemed to bring a slight wave of tranquility to the lioness's mood.

Certainly, Mohatu had the power to bring the kingdom down to its knees. But Rafiki was right as well, in that he could potentially change the kingdom instead.

During the peak of his reign, Leo's influence on the lion kingdom was remarkably vast. After all, he was once the uncontested ruler of the Pridelands: whatever he did, his kingdom would follow in suit.

No matter what, Mari could not change that. Yet, she had changed his entire identity by wiping the lion's memories away. She changed the lion's very perception of the conflict itself.

It was exactly like she planned.

The only thing she never planned for, was to tell him the truth. He was never supposed to discover his identity—his troubled past, and his true self. She took a big risk by revealing her secret, but Rafiki had managed to convince her it was for the best.

The lioness almost gasped for air, once again realizing that she had actually told him. She actually did it. At long last, he knew the whole truth.

Only now could he see the the lioness for who she truly was. Her secret was revealed, and the protective shell of lies she had created to protect herself was gone. No, she wasn't the hero Mohatu wanted to think she was. She had manipulated him, all from the very beginning.

But now, her weapon was free. She was left weak and nearly defenseless, no longer able to leverage her control.

Her fate, and the fate of her pride, would rest entirely on Mohatu's decision. Certainly, that was a scary thought.

Mohatu was a strong lion, obviously, but Mari could not even begin to understand how hard it would be to cope with such a situation. She and her pride had made a bit of a mistake by keeping the truth from him for so long; that much was evident from his disheartened walk back to the waterhole, hours ago.

All the trust that she had worked so hard to gain with Mohatu had been lost. Somehow, she would need to regain it, but she could not dare to follow him back to the waterhole.

But only at first.

After a sudden, agonizing change of heart, Mari looked back across the dune-covered horizon, reluctantly stepping forward to follow the path of Mohatu's paw prints.

For better or worse, she had to know what he thought. Would he view Mari's plan as the act of redemption it was intended to be, or would he try to take back what was rightfully his, and fulfill his role as the king of the Pridelands, once more?

Was he destined to be the king of the Pridelands like their ancestors believed, or had Mari altered that destiny by saving the lion's life? Did she truly have that power: the power to screw with supernatural forces of a Godlike race, which she barely even understood?

Fortunately, before Mari walked very far, the voice of a mandrill interrupted her intense train of thought. "Mari!" Rafiki called quickly, catching the lioness's immediate attention.

Mari glanced over at the baboon as he approached her. "What is it?"

The mandrill stopped for a minute, so that he could catch his breath. "Mohatu surrendered to Ganji!"

"What?" the lioness asked again, unwilling to believe Rafiki's words.

"He asked to be taken to Rex," Rafiki added.

"That's... he's nuts! He'll be killed!" Mari blurted out.

"I..." Rafiki began, looking down at the sheathed sword in his hand. "I think that may be his wish."

"You mean...?" Mari asked, dropping her voice to a near whisper. If he was, indeed, going to risk his life to settle the score with Rex, she could not help but realize that she had been a bit too late to convince him of the stupidity of that very idea. If Mohatu was going to do something stupid, that had already happened.

Obviously, having the two kings fight one another was never on Mari's agenda.

Rafiki shook his head. "I do not know what his true intentions are," the baboon answered. "But I know he needs help."

The colorful monkey pulled his sword out of its sheath, gripping it tightly with his hands as it glistened in the fading moonlight. "I think I know where Ganji might take him, until morning. We need to get him out."

The entire situation caught Mari in shock. It was all happening so fast. It was too fast, and she could hardly keep up with her own thoughts.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Mari nearly yelled, standing still for a long moment. "Are we really going to rescue him? I can hardly believe this..."

"It is worse," Rafiki replied, seeming rather worried. "He offered to tell Rex... information."

Mari's eyes dilated at once. "You mean... about our mission?"

"Yes. He could be bluffing, but-"

"No!" Mari swore, unleashing a roar that shook the entire desert. The lion had not only made a stupid move, but he put something far more important on the line as well. "I never should have told him..."

"That is why we must help him," Rafiki insisted.

"Okay, okay, okay..." Mari gulped, repeating the same word over and over again to calm herself down slightly. "I... don't like this, but I know you're right," she continued, gesturing for the baboon to lead the way. "He better not tell them anything... or else we'll be running right into our deathbeds."

--- --- ---

"So, what's this really all about?" Ganji asked, leading Mohatu through a narrow and rocky valley, far from Mari's position. Under the starlight, the walls of the chasm were only barely lit, and the surrounding landscape began to give Mohatu a bit of a shiver.

"What do you mean?"

"You killed Usama, escaped through the Pridelands, and now you're out here." The lion reduced his pace, glancing at Mohatu earnestly while he placed his claws up to Mohatu's shoulder. "Do you really think I don't know what you're up to?"

"I seek only the truth," Mohatu retorted honestly, hiding his internal emotions of guilt and sorrow quite well. "We both have much to gain here, and much to lose."

The darker lion paused for a moment, reconsidering Mohatu's offer. "My orders from the prophet were very clear," Ganji spat. "You should be dead. If you will not tell me, you will die." Ganji lowered his posture slightly. "I'll cut your throat into a thousand pieces... no one will know what will happen here, and no one will care."

Mohatu closed his eyes for a moment, sighing heavily. If that was the way it had to be, then he was prepared. As the lion's vision returned, he found Ganji blocking his line of sight with bared teeth.

"I've been following Mari... the lioness who killed Leo," Mohatu answered.

"Where is she?" Ganji demanded.

"I don't know," Mohatu replied bitterly. Although he was being truthful, it did not matter. "The last time I saw her, she was near the oasis."

"And the key of Algenubi?"

Mohatu hesitated for a moment, before stepping back and drawing out his claws. There was no way in hell he would actually tell Rex that, much less one of Rex's subordinates. Mohatu may have traveled down the wrong path in the past, but he would never allow his younger brother to continue down that path as well. "That information is for the prophet," he lied.

The darker lion clenched his sharp layers of teeth together. "Wrong answer. You're dead!"

Expecting his opponent to attack, Mohatu rolled forward, until he was nearly under Ganji's mane. With a quick and furious bite, Mohatu grabbed a chunk of jet-black manefur and ripped it from Ganji's chest. Fortunately, the former king was far quicker than his opponent.

It was almost refreshing for Mohatu, in a way, to return to the chaos of battle. When the entire world flipped on him, the familiar art of war never changed. The threat of danger brought out the best of him, focusing his mind into the tip of a spear as he honed in on his target, breathing heavily.

Consequently, Ganji jumped backward from Mohatu's strange attack, allowing his opponent to win the first round. He could not help but notice that the large lion's tactics were nearly identical to the former king of the Pridelands. In fact, the lion appeared very similar to Leo, but much thinner...

But any relation was clearly impossible, Ganji thought. Leo was dead, for sure. It had to be a mere coincidence.

"We can do this the easy way, or the hard way," Mohatu replied, seeming totally unfazed by his opponent's failed attempt at brutality. It was apparent to the old king, that his opponent had no idea who he was fighting. As tough as Ganji seemed, he was no match for the once-insurmountable king Leo.

"It's your choice," the lion added, almost begging Ganji to surrender.

Ganji lunged forward, throwing all his weight on Mohatu's chest. The two began to tumble backward for several revolutions, until Ganji finally landed on top.

"I am not taking you to Rex," the smaller lion taunted, pinning Mohatu down on the rocky dirt below. "You are a traitor, and you will die like a traitor."

Mohatu stood still for a moment, without ever moving a muscle. He only waited for his adversary to make another move, while he laughed quietly to himself. In his eyes, the kingdom betrayed him when he had supposedly died.

Ganji was such an ignorant fool. He was blindly following the orders of the king, without question, as a soldier on the field of battle. As one of a select few deemed worthy of being called 'knights,' Ganji was, in fact, an elite pawn of the king.

"So, are you going to tell me?" Ganji asked, glancing down and breathing on his opponent.

With a burst of energy, Mohatu freed his paws and swatted the black-maned lion across his nose. "Never!"

"Well, that's too bad," Ganji retorted, before letting out a roar that echoed through the narrow and rocky valley. The lion began to grin, as he looked up and saw nearly a dozen lions standing above the edge of the cliffs on both sides, only faintly visible in the moonlight.

Mohatu looked up at the lines of combatants as well, waiting for battle. Although the creatures were only barely visible under the starry cover of night, he did not need perfect vision to see that he was about to get killed for sure.

But that was okay. He was ready to become a supernova.

"How many do you think you need to make it a fair fight?" Mohatu taunted, puffing out his chest and stepping closer to Ganji. "You realize you're sending them all to their grave, right?" Mohatu paused for a moment, allowing Ganji to reconsider his strategy. "Their blood is going to be on your paws, as well as mine."

"Brave," Ganji admitted neutrally. "...but stupid. Anything is fair in war—as you will soon learn."

Almost by command, two lions leaped down, and prepared to sneak up on Mohatu from behind. "You can't win," Ganji retorted with a wicked grin, as Mohatu turned around to kill his two new opponents.

"kill him."

The first approached slowly, waiting for Mohatu to make the first move. His precautionary approach failed, however, as Mohatu knocked him unconscious with a quick stroke of his paw.

Mohatu then turned to face the other, allowing his attacker to go in for the kill. With a quick evasive maneuver and a second swift strike, Mohatu brought both his new adversaries to their doom.

Quickly, the brown lion turned around to face Ganji once again. "How many more will I have to kill, before you realize the truth? I offered peace. I am not asking for a fight. You are."

Ganji scowled, quickly lunging toward Mohatu and pushing the old king backward. Apparently, he had totally ignored Mohatu's words. "You will NEVER stop the kingdom!"

Mohatu fell back slightly, but managed to regain his balance before Ganji could actually hurt him. Immediately after recovering, Mohatu scanned his surroundings to search for any more attackers. "You just don't get it," he exhaled heavily.

Ganji continued to lash out several more attacks, while a second group of lions jumped down to assist their leader.

Mohatu tried desperately to evade each strike but began to grow tired rather quickly. He had not eaten for several days, so he was lacking energy to sustain himself in a longer battle. He could not defend himself forever.

As a break opened up in Ganji's attacks, Mohatu stepped back to take a breath. Cautiously, he began to speak again, trying an alternate form of persuasion. "You know how to fight," Mohatu admitted. "But you are not fighting with a reason."

While Mohatu was distracted, recouping his strength from Ganji's second brutal assault, two more lions approached the dueling lions from opposite sides, preparing to lunge at their enemy, the old king Leo.

Quickly, Mohatu leaped forward into Ganji's mane, allowing the two inexperienced leonine warriors to crash into one another.

As their heads clashed and rang from the dizziness of a high-speed collision, Mohatu turned around and jabbed a forepaw into the skull of each, quickly finishing them off in an impressive display of skill.

Less than a second later, Mohatu used his hind legs to kick Ganji directly in the nose. Consequently, the smaller lion fell backward, exhaling heavily as his body crashed into the ground with a bang and a cry of pain to match.

Both hearing and feeling the success of his attack, Mohatu turned around and prepared to finish his opponent off. With a single bite, he managed to bring the lion a tremendous amount of pain. Although it was a challenge to navigate through the lion's thick manefur and hit the critical spot, it was hardly difficult for a lion of Mohatu's level. He only needed a little more time to confirm his kill.

Before Mohatu could honor the imminent death of his opponent, the entire pride above cried out in terror. Not too conveniently, several more lions then leaped down from the valley, set on killing Mohatu once and for all.

Mohatu turned around to face his new opponents once again, with blood staining his paws and muzzle.

Unexpectedly, immediately after Mohatu shifted his focus away from Ganji, the black-maned lion leaped up and pushed Mohatu down, with a brutal strike across his flank.

In consequence, Mohatu fell down onto his back, scraping along the ground and kicking sand into his recently opened wounds. As his opponent sat victoriously above the him, Mohatu began to realize that he hadn't finished the job.

Meanwhile, Ganji lowered himself to the ground even further, using his tremendous upper body strength to keep Mohatu from moving. The dark lion's rear paws extended back, so that Mohatu could not reverse the situation, despite his greater strength and skill.

"Did you really think it would be that easy?" Ganji taunted angrily. "I trained at the paws of king Rex himself! You don't stand a chance against me."

Mohatu struggled to push the smaller lion off of his chest, but to no avail. He could not free himself, even with all his strength. Ganji had a wide base, and a low center of gravity; he could not be moved.

"I thought it would be a little bit harder," Mohatu scowled. He looked around as many other lions and lionesses showed up to watch the duel. "So, you've won," Mohatu admitted. "Why haven't you killed me?"

Ganji raised his paw, preparing to drive it into Mohatu's seemingly defenseless muzzle. "Because I'm not done with you yet! Where is the key of Algenubi?"

Mohatu raised his paw up as well, clashing it against Ganji's in a brave display of resistance. "Take me to Rex," he repeated himself.

Ganji pushed all his strength into Mohatu's bloody paw, but neither lion could gain a distinct advantage. "That isn't going to happen," Ganji retorted. "I follow the king's orders, and only the king's orders!"

Mohatu grabbed Ganji's paw with his own, and threw it across his body, while twisting Ganji's wrist backwards. Although the old king had gained the advantage, Mohatu could not bring himself to speak the truth and frighten Rex's ignorant minion.

Instead, Mohatu tried a different method of intimidation, while Ganji cried out in pain from having his limb twisted backwards. "Stop being a fool," the lion insisted. "You have no need to fight me."

Another lion lunged at Mohatu from behind, causing a break in the fight. Ganji paused suddenly, allowing himself to regain his breath and recoup his strength.

Meanwhile, Mohatu erected himself back on his paws, waiting for Ganji's unlikely peace offering. Not surprisingly, the lion simply wouldn't give up.

Mohatu suddenly pretended to open himself to an attack, and waited for Ganji to exploit his advantage. This would be his final move; if Ganji went in for the kill, Mohatu would not hesitate to terminate his life. He had been given plenty of chances to surrender to the old king.

But Ganji neither surrendered, nor attacked.

Many lions continued to gather around Mohatu, surrounding him from every angle. The former king Leo was losing his strength, and the odds certainly weren't in his favor. Considering that, Ganji wasn't going to make a move, because he knew he had the advantage. Mohatu was all but finished.

He had already fought gallantly. With only a hair of his energy remaining, he squinted his eyes and lowered his weight to the ground. Be it hell or high water, he would make it through alive, or die trying.

With a loud roar, Mohatu breathed out his final remaining battle cry. He would fight to the last breath, for that was the way it was meant to be.

--- --- ---

Mari and Rafiki hid behind a rock, as another lion began to walk towards them. Fortunately, the land ahead was littered with various rocks and cavities to hide in, so finding Mohatu discreetly did not seem to pose too much of a challenge.

But regardless, they still needed to be quiet and careful.

"Stay down," Rafiki insisted. "When he gets closer, we kill him quietly."

"But..." Mari began to argue quickly. "How do we know he isn't friendly? I don't like all this sneaking around..."

"These lions are loyal to the king," Rafiki explained, whispering nearly as fast as he could think, if not slightly faster. "Baaaad lions!"

Fortunately, the lion approached slowly while Mari nodded, completely unaware of what was about to happen. It gave her a bit of time to plan her attack. As he stepped near the rock, Mari extended her paw, tripping the large feline, while using her other forepaw to cover the lion's rounded muzzle.

Less than a second later, Rafiki used his new weapon to put a quick but brutal end to the lion's life, with a bloody incision straight through the gut.

After several more seconds, Mari let go, and began dragging the lion back behind the rock by grasping the back of its neck with her teeth. Rafiki then pulled his blade from the carcass, wiping it off carefully with his fingers.

"Pumzika kwa amani," Mari whispered, placing her paw over the lion's forehead as a final act of honoring the lion's sacrifice.

Meanwhile, Rafiki looked around, searching for any signs of Ganji. "I do not see him..."

"Damn!" Mari whispered. "Are you sure this is the right place?" she asked.

As Mari began to notice that Rafiki was not quite ready to respond, she continued to voice her thoughts. "Next time we shouldn't just start killing random lions before we know what we're doing. Now they're going to be on our tail no matter what! If Mohatu isn't here, then we just started an all-out war with another pride."

"This is the valley of Giza," Rafiki replied. "It is the land of darkness. If Pride Rock is the brain of the kingdom, we are near the heart. I have little doubt that he is here."

"The heart of the kingdom? You mean... Lea halalela?" Mari asked, cocking her head to the side.

"Yes," Rafiki answered. "It is not far from here."

"So... wait a minute!" Mari paused, coming to a critical and sudden realization. "Mohatu made Ganji take him to-"

"No," the baboon corrected himself. "We are near Lea Halalela. This is not it. During the day, it is visible from here."

"Okay," Mari replied, calming down slightly. "For a minute, I thought Mohatu might have-"

After hearing a faint noise off in the distance, Rafiki placed his hand over the lioness's muzzle and waited some time before speaking. "Shh! I think another is coming."

Mari peeked her head over the rock, but found no other lion. Yet, the noise she heard never ceased. It only grew louder, echoing from below like the roar of a lion.

It was the roar of a very familiar lion. It was the roar of Mohatu.

"That-" Mari began hastily, "that's Mohatu's roar! He's here! I know it! He's fighting them! He can't be betraying us if he's fighting them!"

Mari almost leaped up, preparing to run down into the valley of Giza, but Rafiki held on to the end of her tail with a tight grip. The mandrill shook his head. "No! We have to be careful."

Quickly, the lioness turned around and scowled at her new monkey friend. "I'm not going to let him die down there... not in your life! He means too much to me..."

Rafiki suddenly stepped back, realizing that his work was done.

As Mari watched his reaction, she stepped back as well, in the opposite direction. The lioness looked at the ground, easily becoming embarrassed by what she had said in her ecstatic state, as the realization dawned on her.

It was true, and certainly to a greater degree than she was willing to admit. While it was blatantly true that she viewed Mohatu as her weapon, and as a tool to bring the kingdom down, she also cared for him deeply. She cared for him, not only as a weapon, but as the old friend he once was.

She had spent the majority of her cubhood in the Pridelands with Leo and Rex. Leo truly was her best friend, until he became a conqueror only seasons later. Even after all he had done, Rafiki was right: she did believe he could be redeemed. Her only goal was to guide him along that path.

She did indeed love him, although the realization had never occurred to her until now, during Mohatu's time of need. It was a platonic love nevertheless, but that seemed irrelevant in such a state of chaos.

"You were right," Mari conceded. "He's my friend—he won't betray us..."

Rafiki smiled, taking his empty hand off the lioness's tail completely. He then pointed his sword into the chasm, before speaking again. "Go down that way. I will hold the area until you can climb back up."

Mari nodded, suddenly leaving the baboon behind in a cloud of dust. Every muscle in her body worked together in perfect synchronization, hauling her tail across the rocky landscape and straight down into the valley of darkness.

Mari's paws sunk deep into the sand, as she skid to a sudden halt, just before the ledge. As she looked down in the small canyon, she found seven leonine warriors standing in a line. Behind them stood Mohatu, keeping his guard up and his wits sharp.

"All you have to do is take me to Rex," Mohatu growled persuasively.

Suddenly, Mari leaped down, crushing the lead attacker's skull beneath the heavy weight of her paws. Ganji died instantly, before ever realizing what had happened.

"Mohatu!" Mari yelled from among his attackers, catching their attention immediately.

Mohatu jumped upon hearing the lioness's beautiful voice. "Mari? What are you-"

Several other voices screamed out in terror, obviously the voices of Mohatu's attackers. Suddenly, the fight had erupted into a battle.

Not just any battle, but a winnable battle.

"I'm not going to let you take them all yourself," Mari replied, trying to keep it simple before finishing up what he had started. As much as she wanted to tell him right then and there what she should have understood long ago, a battlefield was no place for such conversations. "We're in this mess together."

Mohatu raised his paw into the air and moved aside, as one of the attacking lions swatted at him. "No! Mari! Stop! You'll be killed too!" he yelled, beginning to show emotion in his voice once again. "I know what I have to do."

"No, you don't!" Mari retorted. "You're hurt and confused and... I'm sorry," the lioness continued, trying to keep her eyes clear and her mind focused as three opponents approached her with aggression. It was much more difficult than she imagined it would be, only seconds before.

Mari stepped back, trying to give herself a bit more space between her attackers. At the same time, she looked around, trying to find a way to use the nearby terrain to her advantage, but all she could see were several dead bodies, from the lions that he had killed. "...and good God, you killed four of them already?"

"It was a trap," Mohatu yelled, as his voice began to crack. "Ganji lured me down here," he continued, protecting himself from a continuous onslaught of strikes from three lions. "I didn't want to... but they won't stop! I only asked him to take me to Rex!"

A surge of anger filled Mari's heavy heart, as she faced off against her own opponents.

Suddenly, Mohatu ceased fighting, and left himself open to attack. One of his opponents had delivered a successful blow to his hind legs, causing him to nearly fall to the ground. "Just... go on without me," Mohatu mumbled. The regret in his voice was unmistakable, as he looked back at all the harm he had caused within his short lifetime.

His energy was running out, and the situation was growing a bit more hopeless by the second. He had fought for quite some time, but, like all things, it would soon be brought to an end.

Or so he thought.

"No!" Mari yelled back. She took a quick look at her paws for a moment, before fixing her eyes on a single opponent. "You don't have to... I'm here to help!"

"Die, you assassins!" one of the attackers yelled between the two.

"And that's why," Mari added, jabbing her paw into that attacker's eyes to blind him, before leaping over to Mohatu's position.

Quite simply, the baboon was right. They were bad lions.

Quickly, Mari stepped between the defenseless Mohatu and his attackers, using her long and golden body as a meat shield. "No one is innocent in this war," Mari retorted, clenching her teeth at Mohatu's adversaries. As another one approached, she swatted him away.

"I've killed other lions too," Mari admitted. Seeing that none of the other warriors were ready to attack again, she quickly rubbed her head under Mohatu's mane. "I don't want you to die, and I don't want to die either," she continued, "so let's kill these guys and get outta here!"

"You don't want me to die too?" Mohatu asked, with his voice sounding as if he was on the verge of tears. Normally, he would not have asked such a question, but it seemed to escape his mouth. Obviously, what he thought was not true, but his broken mind could not see the truth.

All the while, Mari lowered her head to dodge two simultaneous attacks from her enemies. "No!" she yelled softly. "I never said anything like that!"

Although he still felt incredibly remorseful, Mohatu returned Mari's initial nuzzle, before showing his teeth again to his opponents.

Quite literally, she was the only lion to stand beside him. That thought warmed his heart a tiny bit, even if it was only for a second. Despite all the chaos that he had caused, Mari was strong enough to be able to pull through it all with a clean conscience.

Suddenly, Mohatu stepped forward, until he was standing directly parallel to the lioness. He grinned at her deviously with a wink. "Let's do this."

"Alright," Mari smiled back, finally having convinced her companion that she hadn't just brought him into the desert to watch him die. "You get the one on the left, and I'll get the one on the right," she whispered.

"You got it," Mohatu replied. With a second surge of energy, he ran forward and launched himself at the attacking lion in front of him. Mohatu's opponent fell back into the ground, with the larger lion looking down on him. From there, Mohatu's basic instincts took hold, and he killed another opponent while two more attempted to attack him.

All the action seemed to blur together, into one furious moment of terror. Mohatu neither felt any pain, nor did he fell the effects of his attacks. There was no battle, no fight, no deliberate action. It was only a swarm of instinct, nothing other than the flickering essence of survival in its purest form.

The same held true for Mari, as well, but to a lesser extent.

She allowed one of her adversaries to lunge at her. In a daring move, she ducked, and used her favorite technique to send her attacker tumbling into a side cliff of the valley. It had never failed her, not even once, and not even against the king.

As she waited for the next lion to attack, Mari positioned herself so that he would lunge forward into the previous attacker's body. Not to the lioness's surprise, her plan worked perfectly. While her opponents had strength in numbers, they did not have strength in intelligence.

Obviously, an intelligent lion wouldn't be loyal to the king, anyway.

But regardless, Leo was the most skilled warrior in all of Africa, and Mari had been learning from him ever since she was a cub, up until late adolescence. Together, as a team, they were a force to be reckoned with. It was apparent that none of their opponents could even begin to match them.

After Mari's careful maneuvering, only two lions remained in fighting condition, which Mari and Mohatu managed to finish off quite easily, with various biting attacks.

Shortly after, a painful ring of silence filled the air surrounding the battleground. The numb sensation slowly caused Mohatu's conscious to finally slip back into reality.

"So," the lion stated dizzily, "I guess we won..."

As the dust settled and the blood of the bad lions finished spilling into the dirt, Mari rubbed her head under Mohatu's mane once again. "I'm sorry I put you through all of this, but you just need to trust me a little while longer... until we're safe."

"Okay, okay... I trust you. I've always trusted you," Mohatu purred slightly, embracing the warm lioness's sudden display of affection. "I don't know what I was thinking."

"It's not important," Mari insisted.

Before Mohatu could reply, Mari suddenly jumped behind a large rock, trying to grab the lion and pull him in with her. "Just get over here. Hide!"

Mari had spotted a group of four more lions entering the valley from above, searching every nook and cranny for their prey.

Together, Mari and Mohatu had killed about a dozen lions, or a small pride, in fact. Yet, somehow, even more remained. It must have been a critical location of some sort; there was no other explanation for so many lions to be congregated in one place, by a valley in the middle of nowhere.

"Th-there were two of them!" one of the bad lionesses stuttered, as she walked down through the small canyon. "They're around here somewhere!"

"Are you seriously telling me only two lions did this?" another asked.

"One of them was a lioness..."

"You've got to be kidding me," another foreign lion retorted.

"No, I'm not," the bad lioness replied. "The lioness that attacked us was Mari. She's the same lioness who killed Leo... she's here."

"What about the other one?"

"I... I don't know."

"Crap," Mohatu sighed quietly, after peeking over at the other lions and eavesdropping in on their conversation. "There's gotta be a way out of here."

"Rafiki's up there waiting for us, and I don't think they've found him yet," Mari explained, keeping her voice down to a whisper. "We just need to climb out."

"We'll be found again," Mohatu retorted. "There's another way..."

Fortunately, Mohatu spotted an unusually dark shape on the other side of the valley.

Mari gulped, upon seeing the same cave entrance. "Oh no, I know what you're thinking, and I'm not going in there!"

"Mari!" Mohatu yelled quietly. "We have to!"


The brown lion placed his paw around the lioness's shoulders, pulling her into his mane. "It'll be fine," Mohatu assured her. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you. Not after all we've been through."

Suddenly, a loud voice boomed through the walls of the valley, before Mari could say anything else. "There they are! Get them!"

This time, for their attackers, it was personal. One of their leaders was dead. He was killed by two foreign invaders, with a combined strength rivaling that of an entire hunting party.

As expected, one of the bad lions began running towards them, so it was only a matter of seconds before the duo had to fight off another wave of attacks.

Mohatu used all his strength to push his head under the lioness's belly, and pick her up off the ground. As she began to squirm around above his neck, he ran forward at full speed, directly into the dark hole in the cliff.

As Mohatu entered the cave, the ground below his paws suddenly shifted down, descending quite a way from ground level. The steep decline caused his paws to slip, and the lioness he carried above his head broke free and fell all the way to the bottom, screaming all the way down.

Mohatu used all his strength to keep his body from falling too far down with her. He used his tail to twist himself around in the dark, so that he was facing the cave's entrance. His only hope was to be able to climb back up.

However, as he continued to slip farther down, the ground below his hindlegs suddenly vanished. Although he could not see for the darkness surrounding him, he had little doubt that he was grabbing onto the edge of a cliff.

Mari managed to hold on to the edge of the dark cliff as well, with her forepaws only, while several small rocks fell below. "Mohatu!" She screamed in terror. "I'm going to fall! Help!"

Mohatu's grip slipped even further, and he soon found himself holding on to the ledge with only one paw, with Mari right beside him.

After a few seconds, a faint splash could be heard below the two. It continued to echo afterward, before Mohatu began to realize what it meant.

"Just let go," Mohatu said quietly, as his heartbeat slowed down to a more comfortable rate.

"What? Are you crazy?" Mari yelled at him.

"Just do it," Mohatu insisted. "There's water below."

"Are you sure?" the anxious lioness asked skeptically.

Mari's question was answered by the sound of moving rocks, as Mohatu let go and dove into the water below. It was a dangerous move at best, but slightly preferable to the alternative, as the sound of pawsteps approached.

Reluctantly, Mari took a deep breath, allowing herself to fall to the depths of the cave as well. It was the only way out.

Although she could not see for the lack of light, Mari closed her eyes anyway. Even if Mohatu was right, and there was water below, she knew her chance of survival wasn't all that high.

"I'm sorry... I tried," Mari muttered under her breath, as she began to feel nothing but weightlessness. The fear in the air around her pushed Mari into the shape of a ball, descending into a body of water, deep below the surface of Lea Halalela.

Perhaps she would live, but perhaps she wouldn't. As her entire life flashed before her, she only thought of the memories she shared with her pride.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » July 13th, 2013, 11:14 am

chapter 19: show
A/N: This is probably one of the more poorly written chapters, I think. I apologize if it seems a bit more awkward to read than the rest, but I really don't feel like rewriting it, at the moment.

--- --- ---

A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Chapter 19: Reunion

A cold shiver engulfed Mohatu's thick layer of fur, as he plunged deep into a dark body of water. The impact stunned him at first, but fortunately, the lion never lost consciousness while the pressure around him increased dramatically.

The salty, oversaturated water seeped into the lions dusty and dirty wounds, cleansing the scratches beneath his fur. Surprisingly, it did not sting nearly as much as the initial impact on his hindpaws.

For nearly a long and agonizing minute, Mohatu could not breathe. With absolutely no light, he had no indication of which way was up. The lion swam in various random directions, until he felt the crushing pressure of deep water decrease.

Obviously, it was hardly an effective method. But when the lion's head finally emerged from the depths after a few bubbles, there was little denying that it had worked. Perhaps, in all reality, he only made it to the surface by a sheer stroke of luck, but that barely mattered.

Mohatu breathed heavily for several seconds, keeping his head up, while waiting for the lioness to appear above water as well.

It was not long before the sound of Mari's breathing echoed across the walls of the cavern, as she coughed, wheezed, and gasped for air, all at the same time. As the lioness finally calmed down and caught her breath, she managed to speak once again. "I hate you..."

Mohatu bobbed up and down in the water like a buoy, with some of it still clogging his ears. Although he was unsure that he had heard Mari correctly, her tone of voice was clear enough to convey the meaning of what she intended to say. She had been pushed beyond her breaking point; no doubt because she was afraid of the dark.

But, truthfully, Mari had every reason to hate the lion. Mohatu could not bring himself to argue with that fact. "Yeah... I do too," Mohatu agreed, quite honestly.

After several more exaggerated coughs, Mari began to speak again. "Just what did you think you were doing?" she retorted angrily. "Y'know, if you weren't such a badass, you would have got us both killed... so many freaking times!"

"I don't know," the lion conceded quickly.

"And now look where we are!" Mari continued, clearly frustrated by the situation. "It's cold and wet and dark... I can't see anything!"


"Rafiki was supposed to help with the extraction! All we had to do was fight off those lions, then climb up that slope... it would have been easy! We could have ambushed them, even!" Mari complained, flattening her ears while clenching her teeth. "But, you know what? It's even worse than that! Instead of killing them, we had to run away... now they saw us, and now they're going to be looking for us."

The lioness sighed heavily, finally dropping the intensity of her voice down a bit. "I have no idea where we are, or how we're going to get out of here. We might as well be dead!"

"Let's just try to get out of this water first," Mohatu suggested, trying his best to keep his head up and ignore the lioness's rant. "That will solve two of the problems."

Mari groaned. "And how would you suggest doing that? I can't see!"

Mohatu thought for a brief moment, but failed to come up with any more bright ideas. "Just keep swimming... maybe we'll reach a rock or something."

"How is that going to help us climb out?" Mari retorted.

"We climbed up Pride Rock, right?" Mohatu asked rhetorically. "This might not be too much harder."

The lioness raised her voice slightly, as she started shivering in the water. "Of course it'll be harder! We're blind!"

Fortunately, the sound of Mari's voice echoed off of several walls, repeating many times before drifting into ambiance. It sparked an idea in the other lion's mind. "Do that again," Mohatu suggested.


Mohatu stopped swimming, so that he floated still in the water. He took a deep breath, before unleashing a roar that rang through the cave for nearly a minute.

"There's definitely walls around here," he added. As the thunderous roar bounced all around him, he tried to create a vision of the cave in his mind. It was a bit of a challenge, but he could guess where the nearest cliff was with a small degree of accuracy.

"There is an easier way to do this," Mari interrupted the lion. "Stop and listen."

The lion paused again. "I don't hear anything," Mohatu replied.

"That's probably because you blew your ears out roaring like that in here," the lioness sighed. "I can hear the sound of water hitting the rocks. The water is... moving."

Before Mari could finish her words, Mohatu felt something hard with his paw. He grabbed onto it, and used the rocky surface to anchor himself to the edge of the cliff. "Found it!"

Not long after that, Mohatu felt a soggy lionpaw bumping into his mane.

"There you are," Mari replied, before floating around and grabbing hold of the cliff as well. "So now what, wise guy?" she asked with a sour tone of sarcasm.

Small waves of water splashed up on the two lions occasionally, as they clang to the edge of the cliff, barely hanging in the water. Although neither of the two could see, Mari had managed to calm down a little bit.

But only a little.

"I don't know... I really don't know," Mohatu continued, repeating himself. "This wasn't supposed to happen. I thought Ganji was going to take me to Rex..."

What he didn't mention, was that he also had no intention of dragging Mari into the mess that he had created. She wasn't supposed to be nagging him, either. For the lion's own good, he never had the gut to tell her that much.

If he had it his way, he would have died honorably, while fighting to save the lioness. Mari would have been safe, and he would have suffered the fate he deserved.

But instead, she had to interfere.

And that was precisely why he ran into the cave. While he was prepared to make his sacrifice, he did not want Mari to suffer that same fate. From Mohatu's point of view, he was only trying to save her.

Considering that, Mari's bitter attitude was his meager reward for saving her life, and it was growing annoying rather quickly. For the first time that Mohatu had ever seen, Mari was being a complete jerk.

Yet, for reasons he could not explain, he dealt with it anyway. Perhaps, at the very bottom of his heart, he knew she was only hiding her fear. There was a very clear reason why she had joined him in his fight, and her actions had been heard much louder than her words.

Even though Mari was acting bitter towards him, Mohatu managed to convince himself she was only trying to cope with the dramatic situation.

"I guess..." Mohatu added, "I just wanted to be like you."

Mari's attitude lightened considerably, upon hearing both the admiration and regret in Mohatu's voice. Immediately, she tried to find her words, so that she could correct what she had said only moments before.

"You nearly got us killed, doing that. You know Rex wants us dead," Mari finally replied, after several long seconds of silence. "He's probably pretty pissed off about what happened in the jungle last week. You can't just... approach him."

The lioness shook her head. "I mean, you never should have done anything you did tonight," Mari insisted, her voice beginning to warm up slightly. "I'm sorry I yelled at you for that. As much as I want to blame you for all our problems... it really isn't your fault."

"And..." Mari began speaking slowly, as a wave of guilt started to overcome her. "I don't actually hate you."

"You don't?" Mohatu asked.

"No..." Mari lowered her head, while bringing a paw upward to get a better grip on the rock above. "I never should have left you, either. Ganji was probably waiting for us to separate like that, so we would be easier to kill. That's why this happened..."

Yet, if what Mari said about Rex was true, then a confrontation with the king or one of his minions had been inevitable, right from the very beginning. Predictably, Mohatu did not hesitate to point out that fact. "If Rex sent Ganji after our tails, then that battle was going to happen anyway, no matter what I did," Mohatu added.

"Yeah... that's what I meant," the lioness agreed. "It just... didn't go over as well as I expected."

"Neither did the cactus field," Mohatu retorted.

"Well... what all did you tell him?" Mari asked, changing the subject slightly. Obviously, she was not going to dispute that claim. "What did you tell Ganji, I mean," she clarified.

"Nothing," Mohatu replied, allowing Mari to breathe a sigh of relief. "There was no way I was actually going to tell him something important. I was trying to avoid a fight, not escalate it—like you would have done."

The tense atmosphere eased slightly, after Mari suddenly realized that her pride was still safe.

As a dark silence began to fill the air once again, Mari decided to continue speaking. "You know, you scared me tonight. You really had me going... when Rafiki told me what you did, I thought..."

Although the lioness never finished her words, Mohatu knew all too well what she was going to say. "You thought I'd kill Rex... and try to become the king?"

"Yeah," Mari answered sadly. She had feared that since the very first day.

"No..." Mohatu replied immediately. "I'd never do that. It wouldn't be... right." Although he had once been the king, that certainly wasn't who he wanted to be anymore.

Mari leaned in closer to the lion, upon hearing his words. A quiet purr nearly escaped her, while she rubbed the top of her wet head across Mohatu's cheek. "It wouldn't be right for me to leave you to die, either," she muttered, the corners of her mouth moving upward slightly. "You know that."

Mohatu almost argued with her, but he was interrupted before he got the chance.

"Now," Mari cleared her throat. "How are we getting out of here? You know I don't like dark places." She repeated her question again, although this time, she seemed a bit more relaxed.

"I still don't know," Mohatu answered, forcing himself to take his mind off of what he was going to say.

Although, to be truthful, he was hardly even sure he wanted to leave the cave. After all, he had dragged Mari into it for a very big reason. "I kinda just want to lay down and dry off," Mohatu continued.


"Maybe if we go upstream a little bit, we'll find somewhere..."

Mari stood dead still for a split second, as Mohatu continued talking. "That's it!" she interjected. "Water always runs from high to low, so if we walk upstream, that should take us to the surface."

"Yeah..." Mohatu agreed. "But I'm kinda tired."

"There's no way I'm sleeping in this cave," Mari retorted.

"Mari..." the lion pleaded, "we're probably safer in here than we would be if we slept on the sand above. You heard them. They're looking for us."

Mari shot her companion a stern gaze, despite knowing he was not able to see it. As much as she wanted to disagree, she had to admit he was right. Yet, her imagination could not help but complicate the situation. "But what about cave spiders, sea monsters, manbearpig, or even mole people?"

Mohatu nudged the lioness upstream with his nose. "If you want to get out of here so quickly, then let's get going."

--- --- ---

Only the sound of running water filled the ambient air, as the two lions trekked upstream through the cavern. Unfortunately, there was nothing to see but absolute darkness in every direction. Over time, the chill of the subterranean river even brought a cold state of numbness, only adding to the pain.

But, on the metaphorically bright side, the ground had started to level out quite a bit. The two were no longer holding onto the edge of a cliff; they were walking upstream, with only the lower half of their paws in the water. It was a tough, strenuous walk through a sandy-like substance, which proved to be quite tiring.

"How far down did we fall?" Mari finally asked, rather lethargically.

"Don't know," Mohatu answered. "Probably at least a few hundred tails."

"I believe it," Mari added. As the mound of sand they walked on rose up above the surface of the water, the lioness yawned. "If you want to take a break, that's fine with me."

Quite simply, Mohatu answered the lioness's question by collapsing onto the sand, almost immediately.

Mari bumped into him rather awkwardly, as she followed behind in the dark. It was not long before she realized that he had stopped walking completely. Slowly, she padded over beside him, keeping unusually close, so that she knew he was still there.

Before the lioness sat down as well, she placed her paw over Mohatu's, holding it there indefinitely. Although she had calmed down quite a bit since she originally fell into the cave of darkness, the lioness had not warmed up to the idea of being blinded entirely.

Of course, Mohatu did not seem to mind. The lion sighed, feeling somewhat more relieved than before, knowing that Mari sought comfort in his presence.

At one point, he had been the biggest jerk in the entire Pridelands. He was a brutal warrior, and a ruthless conqueror. But Mari, apparently, saw him in a different light.

It was true that she stripped away all his power and influence, by wiping his mind and declaring the king to be dead. But she did not act like he was once the king. From the very beginning, she had treated him as if he had been a rouge lion.

It was almost as if that is what she wanted to believe. It was almost as if that was what she truly believed.

But even still, there was more to it than that. There had to be.

Although Mohatu did not want to think about it any further, she acted like she was attracted to him. Despite all reason, clearly implying that she never would be, the idea had not left his mind.

The lioness already admitted to fearing that he was going to become the next king. Perhaps she was indeed attracted to him, but that was why she did not like him.

Unfortunately, after several seconds, Mohatu only realized that the thought was too painful to consider much further. There was a chance that her affection was only a plot to make him follow her command. That terrifying thought was equally possible, but unimaginably agonizing.

Yet, regardless of whether or not he would like the answer, he had to know for sure. Now that Mari had calmed down from her initial rant, this was the time to ask.

As the duo sat still in the sand, breathing slowly, Mohatu could not help but to say something. He only hoped it would give him an answer, to better understand the truth. "So this was your plan all along?" the lion tried to ask casually, although his words seemed somewhat forced.

Mari lifted her head up briefly. "Well... yeah. It was."

"When Leo returned from the Badlands and declared himself as king... you..."

"It's true," Mari sighed. "I know it's hard to believe, and I know you don't want to believe it, but it really is all true. I've been hoping that you would lead me back through your own paw prints..."

"And... that's it?" Mohatu asked rather quickly. "That's why I'm still alive?"

"Well..." Mari tried to continue, but paused for a moment. "Whatever happened to you out here may just be the biggest disaster in the entire history of lionkind."

Although it seemed like she was exaggerating, Mari actually wasn't.

She allowed herself to take a deep breath, before she continued to speak again. "Whatever entity it was that twisted and corrupted your mind out here... I don't know. But it's a safe bet it will be the death of all of us, unless we can do something about it."

"So... that's it then?" Mohatu asked, clearly not wanting to hear the answer, as evident from his tone of voice.

"Yes," Mari answered easily. "That was the plan... that's why were out here. That's why we're not trying to kill Rex. Instead, we're going after the bigger problem."

Honestly, Mari was surprised she managed to fool the lion for as long as she had. Still, despite all questionable doubt, she was unsure of whether or not the lion actually believed her. Although he seemed to have accepted the truth, she wasn't entirely certain.

Mohatu gulped before asking another question. "But... what about after that?"

"I'm not sure," Mari responded hesitantly, almost avoiding a direct answer.

"What will we do after we get to Lea Halalela? What will happen after we confront whatever evil is out there?" Mohatu suddenly blanched, as he prepared himself to hear the answer he feared.

The lioness remained silent for several seconds, before her response slowly rolled off of her tongue. "I guess we'll go back to Pride Rock, and things will go back to the way they were before."

Fortunately, Mohatu picked up on her careful use of the word, 'we.' Still, he found it hard to believe that he would simply be accepted back within Mari's pride, after what he did. "You mean, I'd be accepted into your pride?"

"Of course you would," Mari replied easily. "We never left you. You left us."

"But..." Mohatu nearly couldn't believe her.

"We're family," Mari replied. "We help each other out... that's what we're supposed to do."

"But I tried to kill you!" Mohatu retorted. "Don't I-"

"No," the lioness stated simply. "We're not like that. I told you that before, and I meant it."

"Okay," Mohatu mumbled quietly. Even still, his question had not totally been answered. There was one important bit of information remaining, that he desperately needed to know. "But... what about you?"

"What do you mean?" Mari inquired, as she felt Mohatu's heart beat a little bit quicker. "What about me?"

"What will you do after this is all over... if it is ever over?"

"I don't really know," the lioness replied truthfully. Yet, as she heard the lion phrase his question again in her mind, she began to understand what he was actually wanting to know. It was quite obvious.

"I haven't put much thought into it," Mari answered indirectly, pretending not to know. "To be honest, I'm surprised I have survived this long... and I'd rather not plan my own funeral, you know. I just don't think about it."

"But what about... you know," Mohatu nodded through the dark, trying to ask his question without actually asking it. "Do I... do I have a place in your future?"

The lioness shook her head, sighing heavily. She was right about what he was thinking, and she wasn't going to be able to avoid it this time. "You mean... like..."

"What?" Mohatu leaned back, suddenly confused by the lioness's strange change of voice. "I'm just asking."

Obviously, he thought that if he could fix the mess that he created, they would go back to live in Pride Rock. That, in itself, was true. But there was more to it than that; he also hoped that she would then fall in love with him. It was what he wanted, no doubt about it.

Mari paused suddenly. It would have been a very blunt thing for her to say, if she chose to admit to knowing that. Instead, she remained speechless, while she considered her options.

"Well..." Mohatu replied, hesitating slightly. "I just want to know. If you don't want to tell me, that's fine..."

Mari shook her head. She didn't want to say it, but she had to. "I'm sorry..." she whispered. "I know what you're thinking... but it's not like that at all."

"I know it isn't," Mohatu interjected. "But don't you still-"

"Mohatu..." Mari sighed again, very heavily. She had no choice but to speak her mind. "I know you want me to like you... and I know you think that it's going to happen... given the situation that we're in."

It was true. It was only a small hope that remained in the back of Mohatu's mind, but it was there, nevertheless. He had not given up on the thought completely.

He couldn't give it up. Mari was attractive—nearly as attractive as the thought of sitting in a hammock and chewing on catnip. Even after discovering his past in such a dramatic way, he could not stop thinking about her.

Apparently, at long last, Mari managed to realize that.

To Mari, it was obvious, because that was what they been taught to believe ever since they were cubs. It was in almost every bedtime story she could remember: the lion became a hero for helping the lioness, and the lioness, in turn, fell in love with the hero.

But that was not her obligation.

"Well... I..." Mohatu mumbled again. He was baffled by the lioness's ability to read his mind.

"I'm not saying that won't happen, but it doesn't have to work that way," Mari replied. "The entire idea is just... weird. I'm not suddenly going to fall in love with you, if you become the badass hero who saves everyone."

"No... of course not," Mohatu forced himself to agree.

"You already did that," Mari continued. "You were the badass, and you did save us from Musashi. I know what you're capable of, probably even better than you do. You don't have to try to impress me; you did that long ago."

Mohatu blushed slightly. "I wasn't trying to impress you..." he lied out of embarrassment. It was, unfortunately, a fruitless effort.

Mari's voice began to drop down to a whisper. "Look, all I'm saying is that... although what I said this morning wasn't true, I... I'm just not interested. Not now, at least."

Mohatu nearly jumped back, while he almost coughed up a furball. Had she just admitted that she lied that morning?

"It isn't true," Mari added, clarifying her original point. "I'm not actually gay; I lied about that too, because I wanted you to forget about it. It was just the first thing I could think of. And, I still want you to forget about it... but I'd be stupid to think that it can actually happen that quickly."

"I get it," Mari replied to herself, seemingly ranting at this point. "I know you like me—I'm not too surprised about that. In fact, I should have expected that." The lioness took a deep breath before speaking further, while she felt her own pulse increase. "And... it's not that I don't like you, either," Mari continued, trying to be as polite as she possibly could.

Mohatu sighed heavily. "What is it then? Is it because of what I did?"

"Well, not necessarily..." Mari whispered honestly. "I'm sorry I lied to you like that... but I wasn't ready to tell you the whole truth."

As much as Algenubi would have disagreed, Mohatu could not blame her for that. "I know..." he replied in agreement. In all reality, he wasn't ready to hear the truth, either. He was not sure if he ever would be.

"The truth is," Mari admitted, "We don't need to spend the rest of our lives together to be happy. Every lion always thinks that's the way it must be, but it isn't true. That's... ridiculous. I like you, as a friend, but... I don't know."

"But really..." the lioness continued, rather hesitantly. "It hardly matters. Now isn't the time to be thinking about such things."

Before she finished speaking completely, Mari frowned, suddenly realizing what she had said. She did not mean to imply that what he felt didn't matter, as that was certainly not true. There had to be a better way to explain it, she thought.

"Okay," Mohatu breathed out a sigh of relief. At the very least, he now knew the truth.

"I mean..." Mari nearly paused for a moment, "if you're Romeo, and I'm Juliet, then neither of us are going to survive for much longer. You know they die at the end. The less drama there is between us, the better off we'll be."

Mohatu rubbed the ground below his paw. "I... don't think that's-"

"I know it's a little bit easier for me to say that," Mari added, her voice gradually decreasing in volume as she continued to speak. "I'm a lioness, and I'm not in heat... of course I'm going to say that."

Mohatu stood still, completely unsure of what to say.

"Thankfully," Mari added, speaking a bit louder. "You know... if that wasn't the case, I would never be able to get anything done. And with you around, we'd have an even bigger problem to deal with!"

Afterward, Mari nudged the lion beside her to ease the tension. She tried to force a laugh, both out of embarrassment and pity. "Haha, it must be terrible, having to deal with that all the time. I don't know how you lions ever manage to think clearly."

This was the first time Mari had even mentioned the subject directly, and she suddenly started speaking her mind, all at once. She had probably been waiting quite a while to tell Mohatu all this, and the darkness of the cave probably helped to reduce the awkwardness of the conversation by quite a bit.

But regardless, Mari's sudden change of attitude was still rather surprising. Mohatu did not expect her to say as much as she did, and it continued to leave him in shock for a rather long time. The lion stared into darkness silently, growing even more uncomfortable with every beat of his heart. He had little choice but to let Mari speak once again, as his words eluded him.

"But really: it's not that I don't like you..." Mari added, gazing into the dark void ahead of her. "You've always been my friend... and I guess that's really why we're here. I mean... I wanted to do this with you. I wanted to help you redeem yourself."

The lioness paused, pushing her paw through the dense, wet sand of the cavern floor to ease her nerves. "It's just that we're not in the right situation to even begin thinking about a relationship. Right now, it would only overcomplicate things... and it's already complicated enough."

"Ugh... yeah," the lion agreed, albeit reluctantly.

However, he could not help but to notice that what the lioness had said was true, to a large extent. Even with all thoughts of romance aside, the situation between the two lions had already become quite a mess.

They were friends, then they were apart, then they were enemies, and then they were friends again. All the while, Mohatu didn't even remember half of it. It was, perhaps, the most complicated relationship ever, and that was only scratching the surface of the iceberg.

"Maybe... after things settle down a bit, I'll think about it... if this all works out," Mari tried to add a positive twist to her words. "Even after all that you've done, I don't think you're a bad lion; it's just not the time for that. Right now, my only concern is the fate of our pride... which includes you and Rex."

She was stretching the truth a bit, considering that Mohatu wasn't exactly the kind of lion she was looking for, in terms of a mate. Leo was her best friend, and almost a brother to her, even. Admittedly, the entire idea seemed really weird, aside from the unbelievable weirdness of Leo being reborn in itself.

Yet, Leo wasn't her brother, and she had found him to be quite attractive. That was especially obvious during their later days of adolescence, back when the drought ravaged the Pridelands.

She did indeed have a crush on him at one point in time, but that went away quickly, soon after she thought he had died in the desert, fighting hyenas. Her season ended as soon as it began, and she had not looked back since.

For Mohatu, he knew the thought seemed farfetched, but the simple fact that Mari said she would consider it was the best news he had heard in the past week. Consequently, a warm smile formed across the lion's muzzle. "I knew it," he replied, as his mood lightened up considerably. He was lying, of course, but he could not think of much else to say.

Mari raised her hindpaw and kicked the lion gently. "Don't let it go to your head. I still hate you for bringing me in here."

Mohatu sighed once again, this time a little happier. He then tilted his head beside Mari's ear. "Yeah, I know," he purred, almost playfully ignoring her.

After all the lioness had said, Mohatu only came to one conclusion: she did indeed like him after all—she only wished she didn't. Her entire speech was little more than a complex elaboration of that idea.

The lioness's lack of reaction only solidified that belief further into Mohatu's mind. As the two continued to relax on the dense cave sand, he could almost feel a faint rumble of a purr that was certainly not his own.

After all he had been through, that thought helped him get a little bit of sleep.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » July 20th, 2013, 12:58 pm

chapter 20: show
A/N: Okay, this chapter is now the longest chapter, by such a huge margin it's beyond ridiculous. At well over 8000 words, this is long enough to be its own story. However, as you've probably noticed, the chapters aren't organized as much by length, but more by events and ideas.

Believe it or not, most of this is actually just fluff. It's as fluffy as a bowl of marshmallows, but it's necessary fluff. Well, when I say necessary, I mean necessary for a Lion King story, anyway. :P

--- --- ---

A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Chapter 20: Light

As the hours of the night approached, a diminishing orange belt of light met the savannah horizon. The silhouette of a pointy rock stood before it, marking the territory as the Pridelands to any who approached with empty paws. It was a symbol of hope, and a monument of peace.

But it was also the next target.

Leo stood dead still in a patch of grass, shadowed by an acacia tree. He gazed up to the naturally elegant structure under the starlight with admiration and awe, before looking back down at the nine other lions behind him.

They were the best of the best, and every last one had sworn an oath to their prophet, the new king. As a combined force, they were the iron fist of the future kingdom.

"That's the den," Leo stated coldly. "We'll have to be careful; it's a natural fortress." The enormous, brown lion turned around to face his home once again, eying the terrain cautiously as his mind rushed to develop a flawless plan of attack.

In the corner of his peripheral vision, he spotted his new friend returning from a reconnaissance flight. "What's the situation, Sheikra?" the lion asked.

The African hawk swooped down immediately, to rest his wings while he prepared to tell the king what he needed to know. "The lionesses just returned from their evening hunt. They are all in the den now," he answered.

"Good," Leo replied.

Meanwhile, Rex approached his older brother slowly from behind. "It's about time," he insisted, scowling with his lack of patience evident in his voice. "We should have been prepared for this months ago..."

"No," the king declared easily, interrupting his younger brother. "Progress has been slow, but we should not rush into battle at every earliest opportunity."

"They will join us, or die. It is the only way," Rex insisted.

Leo growled. "Patience! Victory is never attained by the one to strike first, but the one to strike last. Pride Rock will be ours... tonight."

Rex stepped back, shuddering slightly. Clearly, he had overstepped his boundaries. "Yes..."

"Don't go anywhere," Leo demanded. "I want you to lead the attack from the promontory," the lion commanded, looking down on his younger brother. "I will distract them."

The king then shifted his gaze to the eight other felines behind him, standing in a line without a hint of movement. "Ganji, Inari, and Safar, you will approach from the north on Rex's command."

As the three nodded, Leo began to issue orders to the others. "Minerva, Zabayah, and Usama, you will approach from the south on Rex's command."

Leo paused for a moment, wondering what to do with the last two remaining knights. "Malik and Almahdi," the king commanded, "Sheikra will find any stragglers, and you will kill them. None shall leave that den... is that understood?"

"Yes," all nine other felines nodded in unison.

"This may be our most difficult battle yet," Leo stated clearly, but without hesitation. "There are five males in the pride... but they are a coalition. They have no chain of command... no structure, no order, and no leadership."

"They do not know the art of war, and they have never experienced fear," Leo explained, continuing where he left off. "They have a small advantage in numbers, but they do not have our experience."

Rex turned around, speaking earnestly to the knights. "They do not stand a chance against us."

"Expect them to be passive," Leo retorted. "They will not attack unless provoked. We will need to strike hard, and strike fast," the king continued, slamming his paw onto the ground below him. "Like lightning from a cloudless sky."

"Pardon me, sire," Ganji interrupted the king's continuous briefing. "There are ten of us... how could we be outnumbered? No pride is that large..."

"There are only five males, but we should expect heavy resistance from the females as well," Leo added. "Unfortunately, I do not think they will... cooperate very easily. Our victory will be determined by our ability to strike fear into their hearts; we will kill the males first, and force any rebellious lionesses into submission. You know the drill."

"Keep on your guard, and we will not fail," the king concluded, beginning to step away from his subordinates. "We never have before, and we will not do so now."

As the king began to approach his old home at dusk, he looked back up to the sky. "The wisdom and strength of the kings of the past will guide us," he told himself, while the lions behind broke off into their respective groups.

It was not long before his paws met the stones leading up to the promontory, after the short walk. Quietly, he climbed his way up, as a nervous fluttering boomed into the lion's heart.

It had been a year since he had last stepped near the elegant structure, and just as long since he had seen his family. More than likely, they would not recognize him.

The lion's skill and strength had increased tenfold since he fought the hyenas in the desert, and his mane had grown to its fullest. While Leo was little more than a novice when he abandoned his family and ran after Musashi, he was now in his prime. He had discovered the truth about the past, about his ancestors, and about himself. He had become a master of war.

But he had not yet passed his final test.

He did not want to kill his family; in fact, he began to wonder if could even bear to look his father in the eye. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but it was what he had to do. It was his destiny. It was the only way he could reach his full potential and achieve true greatness. They had held him back for long enough.

In addition, the Pridelands were the most resource-rich environment for many hundreds of kilometers in any given direction. If he was truly going to become the the next king, it had to be under his control. The conquest of Pride Rock would not only be a symbolic victory, but a strategic one as well.

Leo knew there would be no better place to declare the center of his kingdom. He knew that his kingdom could only rise for the first time, after the conquest of the Pridelands.

Besides, his kingdom would be his new family. He had to leave his past behind, and the conquest of the Pridelands would be the final step toward achieving that goal. Then, and only then, could he be cleansed from the wretched cradle of ignorance he once lived in.

Suddenly, the lion stepped in front of the entrance to the den, making himself fully visible in the moonlight. He paused, waiting for someone to approach him, while his army gathered in the shadows.

A fully-grown lioness stepped out of the shadow of the den, and into the moonlight as well. She approached cautiously, but tried to maintain a friendly posture. "Hey," she greeted the lion casually, but did not get a response. "Uhm... who are you?"

"King Leo," the lion retorted coldly, lacking any notable emotion.

The lioness stepped forward, smelling the air around the lion carefully. "Leo?" she asked. "You're joking... there's no way..."

Leo growled, clenching his jaw under his breath.

Is it... is it really you?" the lioness continued to ask, too baffled by the situation to comprehend Leo's oddly aggressive body language.

As expected, several murmurs began to erupt in the back of the den. The lions of the pride started to listen in with significant interest.

Meanwhile, Leo did not move. In fact, he focused all his energy into not saying a thing. He only needed to distract them for a bit longer; soon, his knights would arrive, and every lion in the den would be dead.

"It is you, isn't it?" the lioness asked, carrying a smile that nearly reached to the ends of her ears. "Where have you been all this time? I thought you were dead!" she exclaimed, growing even more excited with every word.

Two more lions approached the king, wondering what all the ruckus was about. As their eyes met the magnificent figure, it became quite clear. It really was Leo, no doubt about it.

"I have returned from the land of our ancestors, to bring strength, order, and stability to the Pridelands," Leo stated bluntly.

The first lioness tilted her head. "Leo?" she asked, wondering why the lion would not give her much attention. "What are you... don't you remember? It's me! Mari!"

Leo tried as hard as he could to ignore the lioness's heavy words. Instead of acknowledging Mari's presence, he called his father's name. "Busar!"

As Busar approached, Leo extended his seven sharp claws.

The older male's jaw dropped. "Son...?"

"The sun has set on your time here," Leo explained. "Your pride belongs to me now," he commanded, waiting for his father to sit down and roll over as a sign of submission.

Busar immediately noticed his son's aggressive posture, and began to back away slowly. "No..." he whispered. "No! Don't do this! I don't know what happened to you... but I can help."

When Leo last saw his father, they had not parted on good terms. But now, Leo held a very distinct advantage of brute strength. He stepped forward, emphasizing his leonine form and adding a tense quality of pressure into the air. "This is my kingdom. Tomorrow, the sun will rise with me as the new king."

"Stop!" Busar commanded, while the four other males stepped forward as well. "Don't do this!"

Leo continued to step forward, growing ever more aggressive with each forceful beat of his heart. "I will succeed, where hundreds of generations before me have not," he continued.

Not surprisingly, chaos interrupted between the many lionesses. Some feared for their lives, while others remained in shock by the sudden news of Leo's return. Disaster was surely brewing in the air.

Leo paused, motioning with his paw for all the males of the pride to step forward and face him head-to-head. "You will join me, or die."

"No!" Mari yelled, pushing on the enormous lion from the side. "What are you even...? He's your father! You can't fight him!"

Leo turned around, snarling at the brave lioness. "Yes I can!" he insisted, finally starting to let a bit of emotion show. "He's been holding me back for long enough... he's held us all back!"

"This..." the new king continued, speaking slowly. "This is not the way we are meant to live. We are lions! Join me, in battle, and the winner will determine the fate of the Pridelands!"

Mari then strafed to the side, extending her own claws. "I'm not going to let you hurt him," she insisted, with a certain trait of courage that even Leo found to be admirable.

Quickly, Leo threw Mari away from him, and sent the golden lioness crashing into a rock with a minor concussion. Immediately afterward, he focused his attention back on the males.

A loud roar began to fill the air. All the lions of the pride focused their attention on Rex, who stood behind Leo, at the very center of the promontory. In the shadow of the night, an army of six other leonine warriors stood still, waiting for battle on both sides.

Before a grand battle erupted out of the darkness, two of the males of Mari's pride lunged forward, immediately pouncing on Leo and pinning him to the ground.


While the king was pinned down, a group of several leonine figures escaped the den. They charged forward, running as fast as they possibly could. They decided to flee.

Several other screams and roars ignited the once-peaceful atmosphere of dusk. Many of the lionesses managed to escape, but four of the males stood around a defeated Leo to hold their ground. All five males of the pride, except Busar.

Although the king stood down, unharmed, his entire platoon was ready to come to his aid. Rex and the six other knights did not pursue the small group that had escaped. Instead, they walked forward, surrounding the remaining four males of Mari's pride, along with a few scattered lionesses seeking shelter in the corners of the den.

Within a matter of seconds, several claws clenched down into the critical veins of one of the males. With a deafening shriek, the defender attempted to turn around and fight, but soon fell lifelessly onto the ground from the assassin's strike.

One down.

The three remaining defenders jumped up at once, instantly turning to fight six of Leo's deadliest warriors. Their focus shifted away from Leo entirely, instead concentrating all their attention on the knights surrounding them.

Two down.

A giant pool of blood began to spill onto the rock below, in combination with many screams of pain and horror, as the cataclysm erupted in full force. The three opposing lions were swept up into a battle almost immediately, giving Leo time to go in for a kill.

Three down.

The battle did not even last for a minute. It was over before it even began. The males were outnumbered two to one, and outmatched by a far greater factor in skill.

As the first king of pride rock rose to his paws once again, he wrapped his forepaws around the head of one of the pride's defenders. Leo gripped the lion by the sides of his face, throwing him furiously onto the ground below. From there, Leo jabbed his hind leg onto the opposing male's stomach, quickly puncturing through the skin and damaging many critical organs as his claws slid across.

Four down.

By the time the king looked back, not a single opposing lion remained. Only one defender of the pride could move, and it was only a simple twitch of a muscle. It was little more than a reflex—a small remaining flicker of life, fading away as the chill of death overcame him.

As the knights emerged from their shadow of darkness, Pride Rock fell under the control of king Leo. He walked around, finally, intentionally stepping over all the males of the Pride. After a few seconds, they all rested cold and lifelessly on the ground.

They were dead.

They were all dead, every last one except Busar. As such, not a single lion in Leo's former pride was capable of opposing the new order. Only a few insignificant lionesses remained in the den, and all of them were shivering and bowing in submission.

Leo grinned deviously, inspecting the dead bodies of his family below his paws. He had total control.

Almost. There was only one little tiny problem: Busar had escaped, and many lionesses followed him.

"SHEIKRA!" Leo demanded at once.

"Yes, sire?" the bird answered from above.

"Some of them are still alive. Where have the others gone?" Leo asked coldly.

"I..." Sheikra choked for a moment. "They escaped, your highness. They hid in the grasses."

"Malik and Almahdi!" the king shifted his attention away from the bird of prey, calling for his knights.

"Yes, milord?" one of the lions asked, stepping in front of the mighty king.

"We're really sorry," the other pleaded.

Leo tilted his head up, allowing his mane to blow in the wind for a second before he decided to speak. "You know what the punishment is for failure..."

"But... we're sorry! I can track them down... I'll find them! I promise!"

Leo did not bother to listen to the knight's pleas. With a quick strike, the first king of the Pridelands dug his claws into the throats of both knights simultaneously, killing each with a forepaw.

"Welcome home, brothers," he hissed coldly, looking down at the dead bodies of his own warriors for only a split second, while they, too, fell down to the rocky surface.

However, oddly enough, Leo was not speaking to his two victims, but to his new pride as a whole. "Only those who are worthy will survive... as you will soon learn," he continued, in an attempt to intimidate the other knights.

Rex stepped over beside his true brother once again. "That is what makes us great," he added.

--- --- ---

A sudden jolt awakened Mohatu from his heavy state of sleep. He opened his eyes, scanning the world around him, but found nothing. All around him, there was nothing other than darkness.

No, he was not at Pride Rock. He had already been there, and he had already killed off half of Mari's pride. That was in the past. In reality, he was sitting in the floor of a dark, wet cave, right beside the very lioness he almost killed that night.

Mohatu's breathing began to soften over time, as his vision of conquest slowly faded away. It may have been a dream, but he knew it was also a memory. He had indeed attacked his own pride, and now he was suffering the consequences of his actions.

He knew what he did, but to actually see it unfold in his dreams—that was another matter entirely. It struck him down, right from the very inside of his own mind. It was a horrendous thought, but the visualization was many times worse.

Mohatu closed his eyes, trying as hard as he could not to cry again. He couldn't; not now. Not in front of Mari, at least.

The former king lifted his head up, before pushing himself off the ground and away from Mari. In consequence, the lioness rolled over slightly, but did not awaken.

As he realized he was free to move, Mohatu stood up on his paws, and began walking away from the sleeping lioness. He kept cautious, walking slowly as to not bump his muzzle into any columns that were hiding in the dark.

Perhaps, he just needed to get moving, he thought. He needed to get up, walk around for a bit, and try to clear his mind with the much more pleasant sounds and smells of reality.

Eventually, Mohatu reached what he felt to be a large, wet stalagmite on the floor of the cave. Realizing that he had walked far enough away, the lion leaned his forepaws on the cone-shaped structure, and began to wipe his muzzle on the surface.

A mixture of water and dissolved limestone began to seep into his bloody fur, around his face, forepaws, and mane, as he tried his best to hide from his past.

Meanwhile, the images of blood and wounds of his family burned even deeper into the lion's mind, filling his conscience with inescapable thoughts of death. "I don't know what to do," Mohatu sighed, whispering as quietly as he could with the intention of allowing Mari to continue her slumber. "I can't escape this..."

Unfortunately, the lion's sudden movement caused an entire colony of bats above him to form into a cloud, flying erratically and making a frightening cacophony of screams to pierce the air.

On the other side of the den, a scared and frustrated lioness began to jump around. "Mohatu?" she called. "Mohatu! What was that? Where did you go?"

The lion groaned, swatting many bats out of his mane, as they continued to scatter and bounce into him. The least he wanted was to have to deal with a frantic lioness, at this point.

"Dammit, Mohatu! Get over here!"

Mohatu pushed himself away from the stalagmite, and tried to hold his paws steady on the ground. It was not an easy task, by any means, but he managed to do it, to feign a small degree of strength. "I'm over here," he replied, although his voice was weaker than he had ever heard it before.

Mari skipped over to the location from where she heard the lion's voice, but tumbled into several rocks along the way. "Ouch! Why did you have to-"

The lioness's voice suddenly began to turn into a muffled cry, as her muzzle collided into the lion's fur.

She found him. Mohatu had not walked as far as she thought.

The lion turned around, but suddenly found himself lacking the strength to continue to stand. His paws collapsed to the floor below, making a slight splashing noise as he fell into an extremely shallow pool of mineral water.

"Are you okay?" Mari asked instinctively, upon hearing the noise of his battle with gravity. The lioness stood still for a moment, listening closely to the echoing sound of Mohatu's body crashing to the ground. "You didn't get hurt earlier... did you?"

"No," Mohatu answered. "I just wanted to get some fresh air, that's all," he replied, but his lethargic tone of voice almost prevented him from speaking entirely.

Mari backed away slightly, while her mood began to cool off. As the echo of her companion's voice continued to flow through the dense air of the cave, she started to notice the lion's troubled breathing.

The lioness stood still for a moment, trying to observe the lion in front of her despite a total lack of light. "Mohatu...?" she asked in a state of worry, but failed to finish her question.

Mohatu closed his eyes, breathing heavily. He had little doubt that the lioness was about to pick his brain.

"Are you... crying?" the lioness asked slowly, hardly speaking with any more energy than Mohatu.

"No," he retorted. In his opinion, it was a very dumb question for Mari to ask. Even if the answer had been yes, he still wouldn't have admitted it. "It's... nothing," Mohatu lied. "It was just a bad dream."

"It was another memory, wasn't it?" Mari asked softly.

For nearly a long and agonizing minute, Mohatu did not speak. Of course, the lioness was right. It was a horrible memory. He only wanted to forget about it, but telling the lioness certainly wasn't going to help him reach that goal.

"Was it about me?" the lioness asked, wondering why he was being so quiet. "If it's about what I said earlier..." Mari began, trying to apologize, "I probably shouldn't have... you know I didn't mean to upset you."

"Just... don't ask," Mohatu retorted sadly. "Don't."

"Mohatu..." the lioness whispered again, this time much warmer with her tone of voice.

As a result, a tear began to run from the lion's eye, before he could even say anything. As much as he wanted to hold onto his masculinity, he couldn't. Even with all his strength, he could not prevent himself from crying pathetically in front of a lioness.

Not just any lioness, but the lioness he tried to kill. The lioness who saved his life, even after all he did. It was the same lioness who carried the one spark of light, surrounding an entire sea of darkness within his soul.

She made him cry.

But at least she could only hear his distress, and not see it. She didn't have to know. No lion had to know.

"I..." Mohatu groaned. "I don't want to talk about it." Even if it would help him, he definitely wasn't going to burden Mari with his problems. She didn't deserve that.

Mari stood still, keeping a short, respectful distance from the lion. "I think you need to," she insisted politely. "I know you're not usually like this... unless something is bothering you."

"You don't even know what it is," Mohatu retorted, his voice cracking between every syllable.

"I would, if you tell me," Mari answered simply. She paused, waiting for the lion to reply, but he never did. "Come on... you can tell me."

She just wasn't going to give up, was she?

No, of course not. That was the mind of a lioness: always trying to talk about problems. It was almost as if she thought it would actually make him feel better. Could she really not understand that he already said no?

Mari planted her hind legs down onto the flooded ground, resting her weight above them. "I'm not going to stand here and watch while you're obviously upset about something. I'm here to help."

Clearly, resistance was futile. She was not going to stop until he gave her an answer, so that was what he had to do. "It was a memory," Mohatu explained, at long last. "I killed them..."

Mari stood behind the lion in a mild state of shock. Never, in a thousand years, could she have imagined king Leo acting in such a way. Not only had her plan worked, it had almost worked a little too well. She had convinced him that what he did was wrong, but now she had to convince him that she believed he could make amends.

"I know what you did," Mari sighed. "I was there. You aren't telling me anything I don't already know."

"But I wasn't there!" the lion retorted. Suddenly, he had given up on trying to keep it mellow. "I have no idea what all I did! I only know part of the story... and I'm supposed to assume that's all? I'm supposed to assume what I just saw is the worst of it?"

Mari closed her eyes, but a chill of emotion still managed to escape her as well. Although Mohatu could not see it, a smile formed across the lioness's face. Instinctively, she rested her chin above the lion's mane for a brief moment. "Welcome back, Leo."

Mohatu barely moved. He continued to sit still, with his tear-stained muzzle hanging above the wet limestone floor of the cave. "What?"

"I really missed you," the lioness purred. "It's good to have the real Leo back."

"What do you even mean?" Mohatu inquired, his voice still very coarse from crying.

"You're Leo, not king Leo. If you weren't upset about what happened, then I'd be worried..." Mari continued, stepping closer toward the lion. "But you've changed back to the lion I once knew... you're not the king anymore. You're the same lion you were before all that happened; we're both just a little older now."

"No..." Mohatu interrupted. "It's not like that."

"Yes it is," Mari argued. "Maybe you don't see it, but-"

"I know what I did," the lion insisted. "I was the one to organize the siege of Pride Rock. It was intentional. I... I was fully aware of what I was doing... and I wanted to do it."

"I don't care," Mari argued. "We've already been through this. It doesn't matter what you did. It's in the past."

"You don't understand," Mohatu interrupted. "You don't have any idea what it's like-"

Mari flattened her ears. "Try me."

"You haven't plotted the demise of several prides."

"You're right. I haven't," Mari conceded. She leaned backward for a moment, lifting her head up. "But you know what I've done. I've been lying to you this whole time... up until last night." The lioness cleared her throat, before she began to speak even louder. "Every day, I thought about what I did. I started to regret ever thinking it was a good idea in the first place... that guilt was one of the most difficult things I've ever dealt with."

Mari breathed another deep sigh. "I've killed other lions too, and I've been plotting the demise of an entire kingdom, ever since this all began. Hell, I've turned a king against his own kingdom!"


"There's just as much blood on my paws as there is on yours. I know what the life of a killer is like... I've been living it too." Mari shook her head, lowering her voice as she began speaking a bit slower. "I still remember the first time I killed another lion... I wasn't able to sleep for a week after that."

"You haven't done anything wrong," Mohatu retorted. "Not like I have."

"If I have brought you this much pain, then yes, I have done something wrong," Mari continued. "I never wanted anything like this to happen; that's why I never told you."

Mohatu groaned. "You don't get it..."

"Yes I do," Mari stood up, glancing down at the dark blur where she would normally have seen a lion, had there been light. "You regret what you've done. That's okay. You're only a lion... you're not perfect. I know you think you are, but you're not."

Anther tear ran down the lion's muzzle, while Mari tried to comfort him. Never before had he felt so weak and hopeless. "But what am I supposed to do?" Mohatu asked. His voice was almost as high-pitched as it had been when he was a cub. "I can't go on like this."

"You have to," Mari answered. "We need you. If you can't help me fight the kingdom, then we're all dead. I don't care if this is your fault... you're the only lion capable of fixing this. And I know you can... you're Leo. You're the type of lion we need."

"No," Mohatu muttered. "I can't fix this."

"This whole situation is nothing but a giant furball," Mari insisted. "No one blames this on you..."

"But it is my fault," Mohatu retorted. "If it wasn't for me, nothing bad would have happened."

"Aww, come on," the lioness mewed. "There was a drought. Musashi was planning to take over the Pridelands... we were in for a disaster, no matter what. You were always just as much of a hero as you were a conqueror. You were both those things..."

"But..." Mohatu tried to reply, but lost the ability to speak. "No," the lion finally stated. "That's what you don't understand. It wasn't Musashi, it wasn't the ancient kings... or anything! It was only me... it's all my fault."

Obviously, the lioness's words weren't working as well as she planned. Instead, she tried something else.

Mari lifted one of her forepaws up, placing it over the lion's shoulder. For several seconds, Mari rested her paw there, allowing Mohatu to feel her graceful presence. After a while, the lioness began working her paw up the lion's neck, and through the manefur behind his ear.

Mohatu's heart skipped a beat, as he felt the tickling sensation of the lioness's paw. "What are you doing?" he asked softly, turning around.

"Just... relax," Mari insisted. She waited for the lion's head to fall back down on his paws, before she continued to move again.

Many seconds passed in silence, before that actually happened. Mohatu turned his head back around to its natural position, resting it above his forepaws, and barely above the shallow layer of water.

As the lion stood still, Mari began digging her claws through the lion's mane, massaging the back of his ear. Almost immediately, her actions started to elicit a mumble of a purr from her companion.

"Relax," Mari repeated herself. "It's okay."

The lioness took a deep breath, before deciding how to explain what she intended to say. All the while, she continued to knead at the itchy patch of fur behind his ear. "The problem is, you can probably only remember what happened right before your mind was wiped."

"Uh-huh," Mohatu replied quietly.

"I'm not sure if you'll ever regain your memories completely," Mari added. "I doubt it. But I know for sure, that what you can remember is the worst of it. I knew you for years before any of that ever happened..."

Almost immediately, Mohatu's mood began to improve slightly, as his painful thoughts started to escape from the damaged depths of his mind. The lioness's massage, in combination with her warm voice, was enough to begin calming him.

"You weren't always a king," Mari continued. "I knew you for more than half my life, and you were my best friend."

"You really did mean that?" Mohatu asked lethargically, almost not believing the lioness after what he had seen. She had said it several times before, but perhaps he was only beginning to understand what she actually meant.

"Yeah," Mari smiled, continuing to scratch behind the lion's ear. "That's how I know this will make you happy. It always did."

Obviously, she was right; it did seem to have a tranquilizing effect on the lion. She knew he liked the back of his ears to be scratched.

For Mohatu, it was very weird, in a way, but he hardly cared, considering how good it felt. The lion sniffed, clearing his sinuses and allowing his purr to increase in volume. He then brought his head in closer to the lioness's paw, forcing her claws deeper into his skin to scratch his constant itch.

"You were the one to teach me everything I knew about fighting," Mari continued. "We spent half the day sparring, every day... for almost two entire years. You taught me everything you knew..." Mari sighed happily, remembering the best times of her life. "I learned from you, and you practiced your new techniques on me. It was all in good fun, and we got pretty good at it. We played games too..."

Mari pushed herself in closer to the lion with her three other paws, beginning to purr slightly. "There was one time we tried to build a dam around the waterhole... and another time we went to the elephant graveyard and tried to find out what made it so creepy. We also climbed trees, and you showed me all the cool places you found."

"You also taught me how to hunt months before my mom ever even tried," the lioness continued. "You were only a bit older than me, of course, but you were a prodigy! You made it look so easy. I never understood how you were able to do what you did with such little practice... but you helped me become the huntress I am today. You taught me so much more than my mom ever did."

Mari cleared her throat slightly, as she began to recall her more sensitive memories. "And... when my dad died, you didn't leave my side for three whole days. You weren't just a badass..." Mari added, gently stroking the lion with her other paw, "you looked after our pride, too."

The lioness slowed down her breathing a bit, reminiscing those years of her late cubhood. "I'm sure you don't remember any of that, but we had the best life..."

"But I took that away," Mohatu interrupted suddenly.

"No," Mari replied. "You made me who I am today. Without you... I don't know what would have happened."

"But I..."

"Leo," Mari interrupted, finally withdrawing her paw. "I don't know what happened to you in the Badlands, after you fought Musashi... but all I can say is that I wish I went with you." Mari looked down at her paws, but could not see them. "Sometimes... I wonder..."

"Huh? Why did you stop?"

Mari twitched her tail, suddenly taking a break from her speech. "Roll over," she commanded lightly.

As Mari expected, Mohatu did not hesitate to do as she told. He leaned onto his side, allowing all four of his paws to rest freely in the space between him and the lioness.

In Mohatu's mind, he was still having trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that Mari knew so much about him. It was embarrassing, no doubt, but everything the Mari did only brought him comfort. She did not make him feel stupid or weak. She understood what he was going through.

But perhaps even more importantly, she was beginning to make him feel loved. That, in itself, was incredibly distracting. Mari's acceptance was all he truly wanted. Although he had only begun to realize it, that was all he cared about, right from the very beginning.

"I wonder..." Mari repeated herself, using her claws to gently comb through the lion's dirty mane, cleaning out bits of dried blood. "If I had gone with you, would you still have become the king? Would I have been able to save you?"

"I don't know," Mohatu rested his head back down on the ground, waiting for the lioness to continue.

"Or..." Mari paused, before speaking hesitantly while she continued to knead at the lion's mane. "Would I have become your queen? Would we have turned against our pride together?"

Mohatu's jaw nearly dropped. Did she actually just say that she might have considered turning against her pride with him? Mari, the one lioness to resist her friend's kingdom with all her strength... becoming a queen herself? That thought was unimaginable.

Mohatu sighed, his mood lightening up slightly. "I... I guess..."

Mari stopped moving her paw for a moment, as she accidentally bumped into an open wound in the dark. Before Mohatu could react, Mari rested her chin beside the healing patch of skin.

"Look," Mari continued, whispering, "when you left to fight Musashi, I wanted to go with you... but I didn't. I really don't know what happened to you during or after that, but I wish I could have been there for you."

Mari moved her paw around, combing the underside of Mohatu's mane and across his belly with a slow, lateral motion. "It's one thing to play around, like we did... but to be forced to actually kill another creature out of cold blood? It's not an easy thing to live with, that's for sure..."

"It isn't," Mohatu agreed, trying to bring himself to actually listen to the lioness's words.

"When you attacked us, I was with our pride," Mari continued, "so it was a bit easier for me to deal with... but you and Rex didn't have anyone. Especially after discovering the whole prophecy thing... I can't even imagine what that would have been like."

"I..." Mohatu paused. He wanted to say something, but he had no idea what it was. For better or worse, his mind was almost totally blank.

"I know... maybe it seems like I'm being a little naive," Mari tried to read the lion's thoughts, rubbing her paw a bit faster, playfully, across his belly. "But all I'm saying is that..."

The lioness struggled to find her words for a moment, while she tried to remember what it was that she actually wanted to say. "I don't know what happened to you, but I'm not here to judge you for it. You were my friend, and you still are—I'm here to help you. I'm not here to make things worse."

"But you-" Mohatu insisted, before being cut off again.

"It doesn't matter," the lioness added. "I know you want to make up for what you've done, and as long as that's what you're trying to do, I'm with you to the end." Mari lifted her head up, before speaking again. "I know you can do it. I know you want to do it. We can do it."

"I..." Mohatu began to stutter.

"Leo," the lioness continued softly. "I know you've been through a lot. We all have. But... we just need to move on, and learn from it."

The lion lifted his head up off the ground, finally thinking of something to say. Although he still felt quite remorseful, his mood had already improved significantly. "What's there to learn?" he asked. "There's so much I don't even remember."

"You created the kingdom. You must have learned something, because now you want to destroy it."

"I was wrong..." Mohatu admitted.

"Well... yeah," Mari replied, retracting her paw once again. "That's it: you were wrong. That's all there is to it."

Mohatu sighed, tilting his head up a bit further. "But that mistake killed more than half our pride... I just wish I could change that."

"You can't," the lioness replied. "It's impossible to change the past. But you can either run from it, or learn from it."

Mohatu remained still for a moment, contemplating the lioness's words of wisdom. His mind, however, soon began focusing on other, more immediate thoughts. "Can you scratch behind my ear again?" the lion asked, intentionally changing the subject. "Or... what about the other one?"

"Well..." Mari held her breath for a second, "you must be feeling better now."

Mohatu smirked. "Fine," he replied, grinning as he rolled himself back over. His increasingly optimistic and lighthearted attitude was clearly emerging from his voice.

Once again, the lion rested on his paws, with Mari sitting right beside him. For a brief moment, the lioness lifted her forepaw up out of curiosity. She was unsure of what Mohatu was actually thinking, although she was happy to hear his more playful voice speaking.

"I'll learn from the past," Mohatu continued, "but not until some other time. Y'know... later. Tomorrow. In the morning."

The lion wiped his tears away with his paw, before resting his head comfortably above his paws. "So... are you going to scratch my other ear?"

"Hah," Mari chuckled. She wrapped her paws loosely around the lion's mane once again, and began scratching behind his far ear for a brief moment. "Let's get out of this cave first..."

Mohatu considered the idea briefly, but decided against it. Even as embarrassing as it was to have confided to Mari, he did not regret doing so. He was beginning to feel comfortable in her close presence, and he only began to hope that the special moment wasn't about to end.

"We can do that later," the lion insisted, not moving a single muscle as he continued to lay on the wet ground. "I'm going back to sleep."

Mari's ears twitched for a moment, as she began to consider the idea. As much as she wanted to leave the cave, she knew she needed a bit more rest as well.

"Yeah... okay," the lioness agreed with the idea, pulling herself in closer to the lion with her forepaws. Eventually, she rested her head beside Mohatu's shoulder.

An incredibly wide smile formed across Mohatu's face, as the lioness fell down beside him. He wanted so badly to wrap his paws around Mari and bring her into a tight lionhug, but he could not gather the courage to do it.

Considering what she had said about any sort of potential romantic relationship, it would have been too weird. Besides, she had done enough for him already; Mohatu wasn't going to push his luck. Having his ear scratched was enough for one night.

"Sweet dreams, this time," the lioness mewed quietly, but directly into the lion's ear.

"Yeah," Mohatu closed his eyes. "You too."

As time passed, the two lions became much more relaxed. Without a doubt, the hours of the night proved to hold many heartwarming moments for both Mohatu and Mari. Despite the heavy chaos of reality, the events of the night faded into a simple, fond blur of comfort and companionship.

Only one thought remained in Mohatu's mind, repeating itself continuously throughout the night: I'm her best friend.

Although he originally expected the reality of the situation to bring him even more pain than what he had already experienced, that never happened. Knowing that Mari truly was his friend, Mohatu found more happiness than he ever could have imagined.

--- --- ---

Mohatu never ceased to purr through the night, with each exhalation of his breath. The two lions continued to lay still, even after several more hours. Time passed quickly, and before Mohatu could even blink, the night was over.

He only knew it, because a faint glimmer of light began to illuminate the lion's surroundings, far off in the distance. Mohatu opened his eyes, immediately finding himself staring at the lioness beside him.

Of course, there was nothing unusual about that. It was a typical morning, for most intents and purposes—but something was different. Something was very different about the lioness.

Mari was awake as well, leaning comfortably into the lion's mane. For the first time in what must have been much longer than a day, the eyes of the two felines had met. She had been watching him, peacefully, long before Mohatu became aware of the world around him.

Mari's eyes were only barely lit with the reflection of light, but the glassy, shiny orbs reflected a much greater sense of tranquility. Without words, the lioness only smiled, silently wishing the lion a good morning. She continued to stare into his eyes for several more seconds, enjoying the simple peace of the calmest morning she had ever experienced.

"You're... awake?" Mohatu asked slowly. As the lion's eyes opened further, he began to question whether or not everything he had experienced was a dream. Had she really said all that about him? Had he really cried in front of her? Was he really her best friend?

"Yep," Mari replied. "It's a good morning, isn't it?"

"It... is," Mohatu answered.

It must have happened, he thought. The entire situation seemed too real not to have happened.

The effects were too real, as well. Mari was much different from what he could remember; she was calmer, happier, and much more open. She no longer had anything left to hide, and that message was quite clear in her eyes. The talk had liberated her, spiritually, just as much as it had to him.

She was now free. They were both free. The nest of lies around their relationship had fallen apart, and only two lions remained. Two close friends, finally reunited after years of death and chaos all around them.

"Are you about ready?" the lioness asked slowly, stretching out her paws while she yawned.

"For what?" Mohatu asked jokingly. "That could have multiple meanings right now," he laughed.

Mari allowed herself to chuckle a bit. "You know what I mean," she added, pushing herself off of the ground.

Finally, the lioness took her eyes off of Mohatu. Her dark orbs began to dart around, scanning her surroundings. "It looks like... the surface is up there," she stated, pointing her paw in the direction of the light source. "Maybe, once we work our way up, we can get some food, and we can continue from there."

"Okay," Mohatu nodded, rising to his paws as well. After speaking to Mari, he felt considerably lighter, and managed to walk around with ease. Once again, he was ready to continue the journey.

Of course, that was provided that he could even think about the journey, being as close to Mari as he was. Obviously, accomplishing such a feat was not going to be easy for the lion, not even in the slightest.

"It's good to see you're feeling better now," Mari breathed a delighted sigh of relief. "And, it's good to see in general, really. I'll follow you, I guess."

As the lion began walking back up the subterranean river, he tilted his head to the side and rubbed the top of his mane around Mari's neck. "Thanks... for that, last night," he whispered quietly. "You're the best."

It was his obligation to say that much, at the very least. Without a doubt, she truly was the best lioness ever.

"Welcome back, Leo," Mari repeated herself, smirking slightly as she returned the lion's nuzzle. "It'll be just like the old days..."

"You're going to have to stop calling me that, though," Mohatu insisted.

"It doesn't matter," Mari replied with a playful nudge of her paw into Mohatu's mane. "You'll always be Leo to me."

--- --- ---

A/N: I think this is going to be the end of the flashbacks, finally. From here on out, I am planning on having the story progress in a much more linear fashion. For the most part, all of the pieces of the puzzle have been put into place. All the key events of Leo/Mohatu's early life have been explained, except what I have saved for the very end.

Since this was a rather long chapter, I'm thinking about holding off on next week's update. I might need a little bit more time to work on chapter 21, as well, because I've already rewritten it four times and I still don't like it. It's a big change from the past few chapters, and it certainly needs a lot of improvement so that the transition into the next phase of this story is more seamless.

As much as I hate to beg for reviews, I would like to ask for any sort of feedback, good or bad. I know I'm pretty far into the story as it is, and to be honest I'm probably not going to make any major changes from my original idea. It's too late for that, now.

I am, however, struggling to come up with a summary that I actually like. This story is very long and contains quite a few intertwined plots, so summarizing it in only a few captivating sentences is rather difficult. If you've read this far into it, you know what the story is about. For that reason, if you have any suggestions or recommendations for that, I'd like to hear them. I've changed it so many times in my indecisiveness, it's probably starting to get annoying by now. xD

If you find any spelling or grammar issues, please let me know as well. I try to revise each chapter at least twice before I post it, but even still, I know that some errors have gone unnoticed, and thus uncorrected.

I know there's more than just a few people keeping up with this story based on the traffic stats, and, as such, I would like to hear your honest opinions. Even though the story is still very much unfinished and there's a lot left, I would like to know how I can improve my writing before it's all over.

And, to those of you who have already left reviews: thank you. :3

Edit: Here's a direct link to chapter 21, because it's kinda far away.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » July 21st, 2013, 1:43 am

Wow! I'm sorry about my lack of reviews :innocent: I've been too busy to get on anf tell you what an awesome job you are doing! I want to thank you for not making Mari gay, would've ruined the story, and thank you for not making them all romantic and disgusting immediately. It's super awesome and I can't wait for the next chapter!!!
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » July 21st, 2013, 2:47 am

Dark Huntress wrote:Wow! I'm sorry about my lack of reviews :innocent: I've been too busy to get on anf tell you what an awesome job you are doing!

Don't worry about it. You've already given me more feedback than most people have, lol. :P

Dark Huntress wrote:I want to thank you for not making Mari gay,

I actually didn't make that change based on your request. I had that planned since the very beginning. 8-)

Dark Huntress wrote:would've ruined the story,

Nah, not really. Just means the story would go in a different direction, that's all.

Dark Huntress wrote:and thank you for not making them all romantic and disgusting immediately.

You know I'd never do that. :P

In fact, who is to say Mari is even going to be Mohatu's mate? I never said that was going to happen at all. I'm not done throwing around plot twists, you know. :mhm:

Besides, how do you know Mohatu didn't already have a mate? :lol:
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » July 21st, 2013, 5:43 am

Well, I know that you didn't change it, but I'm glad you never had that planned in the first place. I think it would be ruined because it would be WEIRD for her and Mohatu not to sort of get together for a little bit. Also, I know you never did, but it feels as if they are going to kinda being together, even not permanently. Plus, if he was king, he probably just had all of the lionesses :P
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ADORBZ [fluffy!] kitty friend: OuRaion

Credits Where Due: show
Thank-you, Darth Julie for the amazing avatar!!!
And thx, Silver for the kickbutt siggy!

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