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"Nala ... Nala sweetie, wake up ..."
"Huh?" Nala groaned, opening her eyes slightly. She let out a yawn as she looked up to see the blurry image of her mother standing above her. "Mom? What's going on?"
"There's been an accident." She said in a panic, breathing. "Mufasa and Simba ... they ... they ..."
Nala shot awake and looked at Sarafina. "What!? Mom, are ... are they okay!?"
Tears filled Sarafina's eyes as she slowly shook her head. "No ... no baby ... they ... they ...."
"They what?" Nala whined anxiously.
"... They're with The Great Kings of The Past now." She sighed.
Nala shakily took a step back. "The ... The Great Kings of The Past .... But they ... they ..."
Nala burst into tears as her mother pulled her closer. "But I .... I just saw Simba this morning ... I ... I promised him that we'd .... We'd .... Play later ..."
"Nala ..." Sarafina stroked her back with her paw.
"I ... I didn't even get to say goodbye and ... and I'll never get the chance to see him again or ... or ... or play with him again! And ... and ... Mufasa .... I ... I ...
He was so mad about yesterday ... I ... I .. I didn't get to say sorry to him .... I ..."
"Oh, Nala." Sarafina cried, pulling her closer.
They stayed like this for a few minutes until Sarafina pulled away. "I need to go talk with the other lionesses. Will you be all right on your own for a little while, hun?"
Nala sniffled but nodded.
Sarafina gave her one more loving nuzzle before heading out of the den. Nala laid there and sobbed into her paws.
Soon she couldn't bear to stay in the den anymore. The darkness and stiff air was suffocating to her. Nala forced herself up and headed towards the den entrance.
She made her way to where she had her bath yesterday and laid on the rock Sarabi had been on. Sniffling, she snuggled on top of the rock.
Simba's scent was there, but it was overpowered by Sarabi's. Despite this, Nala found comfort in the vaguest hint of his scent.
"Simba ...." She sniffled.
Nala looked up to see Zazu fluttering above her.
"Zazu ..." Nala said, hoarsely.
He landed beside her and gently put his wing on her back. "I'm ... I'm sorry ..."
Nala pulled Zazu closer and cried into his chest. He snuggled her gently and stroked her back lightly.
"Shh shh. It's all right." Zazu said, nuzzling her.
"They're gone ..." Nala cried. "I ...I didn't get to say goodbye or ... or anything!"
Zazu kept her in his embrace, trying to comfort her the best he could.
"Do .. do you think Mufasa was mad at me?" Nala looked at Zazu with teary eyes.
He frowned deeply and gripped her shoulder. "Why would he be?"
"Because Sim ...Simba and I ... w ... went to the ... The Elephant Graveyard and we ... we ... almost got k ... killed ... by the ... the ... hyenas ..." She sputtered out as much as she could.
"I'm sure he forgives you." Zazu said, tightening the hug. "When I was talking to him ... this morning ... he told me he was more worried about your safety than anything.
He was just glad you were safe."
Nala sniffled and rubbed the side of her face against Zazu's chest. "Thanks Zazu ..."
The two sat there in silence for a while until Nala spoke up again, "Zazu? What's going to happen now?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean .... Who's gonna be king and all that?" Nala asked.
"Oh, uh, Scar is next in line, he'll be the king of The Pride Lands." Zazu said.
"Why can't Simba's mom just stay queen?" She sniffled.
Zazu sighed. "Unfortunately, that's not how it works. One of the rulers has to be of royal blood."
"That's just how it's been for generations." Zazu explained. "It's tradition."
"Oh, like that bee ... thingy?" She asked.
Nala stayed silent for a moment before giggling slightly.
"What?" Zazu asked, lightening his tone.
"Does that mean Scar's gonna betrothed?" Nala laughed.
Zazu chuckled. "No, he's old enough to choose a queen for himself."
Nala laughed a bit more. "Who would ever wanna be his queen? He's so ... weird ..."
"I do admit, he always has been a little ... odd." Zazu added, still finding it humorous. "Although he did have a few lionesses swooning after him in his Lion Guard days."
Nala tilted her head in confusion. "Lion Guard?"
"Oh, the second born royal cub's duty is to lead The Lion Guard, the protector of The Pride Lands." Zazu explained. "Scar was Lion Guard until the power went to his head ..."
Nala looked worried. "You don't think that'll happen when he's king do you?"
Zazu was silent for a moment. "I sure hope so ..." He muttered under his breath.
That night all the Pride gathered at the base of Pride Rock. Scar sat on top of a small ledge of rocks, readying himself to address the lionesses.
Nala hid in between Sarafina's paws, crouched low to the ground.
He sighed deeply and cleared his throat. "I have an unfortunate announcement to make today. As you all know, Mufasa and Simba have both sadly passed away today in a tragic accident."
He let out another sigh and looked at the crowd below. "It pains me deeply to have to make this speech. Mufasa's death was a terrible tragedy, but to lose Simba, who had barely begun to live ...
Nala started choking up.
"Mom!" Kiara rushed over and nuzzled her. "Mom are you okay?"
She sniffled and looked Kiara in the eyes, nodding slightly. "Yeah, it's just ... hard to think about ... especially now that he's ...." She looked to the sky again and returned Kiara's nuzzle.
"I'll be okay ... I just need a moment ..."
Kiara laid down beside her and let her rest her head on her. Nala relaxed she snuggled close to her daughter. "Okay, I think I'm ready to continue now ..."
Nala cried, nuzzling against her mother's leg.
"For me, It is a deep, personal loss." Scar continued. "So it is with a heavy heart that I assume the throne. But I must admit ... I cannot bear this burden alone, and I will need some help ...
to ensure the safety of the Pride."
Silhouettes of the hyenas lit up on the side of Pride Rock, followed by their maniacal laughter.
Sarabi leaned down, "Nala, stay close."
As the hyenas emerged, Scar scaled Pride Rock and concluded his speech, "Yet out of the ashes of this tragedy, we shall rise to greet the dawning of a new era ...
in which lion and hyena come together, in a great and glorious future!"
Nala exhaled roughly.
"Mom ... do ... do you think that's what's happening again?" Kiara asked, gently.
The hyenas gathered inside of Pride Rock paid attention closely for her response.
"I ... I don't know .." Nala said, just barely above a whisper.
"My guard and I have determined they were harmless." Vitani vouched for them. "They probably don't even know who Scar is!"
"I know!" Nala nearly snapped. When Vitani stumbled back in fear, she softened her tone. "I'm sorry ... even that first night was hell ..."
Sarafina pulled Nala closer as the hyenas flooded in.
Sarabi stepped away from their side and made her way up Pride Rock, a deep growl escaping her throat.
"Scar!" Sarabi said, taking her ground in front of him. "You can't do this!"
"Can't do what?" He asked, cheekily.
"Put the Pride in danger like this!" Sarabi roared.
"Why, what ever do you mean?" Scar asked, his tone not changing.
"Letting the hyenas in!" Sarabi snarled. "You're putting us all in danger!"
"Oh, dear, sweet Sarabi, the hyenas are here for the protection of the Pride." Scar said.
"Protection? You call this protection!?" Sarabi boomed, looking at all the hyenas. "Did you forget what happened the other day!?"
Nala winced and hid even more in Sarafina's paws.
Scar stared her down slightly before continuing, "Who do you think informed me about the stampede in the first place?"
Sarabi's eyes widened before it turned into a glare. "What do you mean?"
"My top scouting hyena, Shenzi, was the one who informed me about the stampede in the gorge." Scar said.
"I did?" Shenzi asked in surprise. Realizing what he was doing, she quickly changed her tone. "Oh, yeah, yeah! I did!"
"She was too scared for her life to tell Mufasa directly, so she went to me instead." Scar sighed.
"Imagine if she had been able to go to Mufasa instead of having to have me pass on the message ... Oh how things could have ended much, much differently. I won't let that happen again.
The hyenas are part of our Pride now. We are one."
Kovu, Kiara, and Vitani had varying degrees of perplexation based on what Scar had said in the story.
"He ... didn't mean it the same way you three do." Nala said, quickly. "He was trying to make us feel safe when we really weren't ... I don't think he actually believed it ..."
She sighed and kept going, hoping it didn't bother the three that much.
Sarabi let out another low snarl. "What about the cubs!?"
"Oh, they're great with children!" Scar insisted, looking over at the hyenas. "Isn't that right?"
"Oh, of course we do!" Shenzi said, playing along. She made her way down from her rock perch and headed over to Sarafina. "We just looooove cubs!"
She bent down to Nala's level. "Hey, no hard feelings about the other day, right?"
Nala shook in fear as Sarafina snarled at Shenzi.
"Besides, they're raising cubs of their own." Scar said, walking over to a female hyena and her baby. He grabbed the cub between her front paws and pushed her forward so the lionesses could see.
"Why would a mother injure your children?"
Sarabi examined the child closely. The hyena whimpered as she scuttled back into the safety of her mother's paws.
She looked back at Scar, still angry.
"Unless ... you want to challenge me for the throne?" Scar asked, a smirk on his face as he looked at all of his hyena supporters, surrounding them both.
Sarabi huffed and took a step back. Scar grinned.
"Trust me." He said. "This partnership will work perfectly."
He turned towards the den entrance. "We should rest now, it's been a long day."
The lionesses hesitantly made their way to the den of Pride Rock, ... as did the hyenas who rushed in.
Sarafina clamped Nala securely in her jaw as she headed up to Pride Rock.