A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » May 29th, 2013, 5:52 pm

You'll have to wait and find out. :P

Keep in mind that I'm hardly even halfway through the story yet. There's still a lot more to come.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » May 29th, 2013, 9:52 pm

Yay! ^^
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 2nd, 2013, 12:52 am

chapter 14: show
A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu


Chapter 14: Bad Lion


As the prolonged gusts of wind faded away completely, not a single drop of energy remained in the atmosphere. The ambient air was dead silent, and the horizon was left with an unnatural stillness.

Mohatu barely moved, causing the lioness beside him to snap back into consciousness. She had been resting in the lion's mane for quite some time, up until the sandstorm passed completely.

While the lion stood up, he twisted his head to the left and right, letting the sand drain from his ears and pile onto the ground. The amount of sand that ended up everywhere was almost amusing, but to a greatly irritating degree.

Mari backed away slowly, shaking the sand out of her coat of fur, before yawning with enough force to knock a bird out of the sky. As she looked up to the bright, lifeless sun above, she almost felt the exhaustion of death pull her back to the ground.

Likewise, Mohatu nearly stepped forward for a moment, but as the lion tried to orient himself, he only felt the urge to lay down again. With each passing breath, it became increasingly difficult to gather the strength and courage to push forward.

After going much more than a day without water, neither of the two were feeling hopeful.

Suddenly, the lion collapsed, turning over on his side. As the world tilted sideways, he allowed one eye to remain open, while the one closer to the sand rested.

"We have to get to Lea Halalela," Mari insisted lethargically. Her words carried little meaning, as her front paws stretched forward into the sand. "Or we could just die out here," she continued, whispering an alternative suggestion, which almost sounded preferable based on her tone of voice.

As the lions began to rest again, a strangely condescending but familiar voice seeped through the air, almost on cue. "I told you, you'd never make it."

Mohatu rolled his eyes in vain, as Algenubi's words echoed through his head. Of course, the king always managed to show up at the most inconvenient of times, and this was hardly an exception.

"Although, I suppose I am obligated to give you credit for trying," the ghost continued. "It's entertaining, really."

The lion groaned, wanting nothing more than to slap the ancient king across his face... if, in fact, the king even had a face. He was merely a figure in the sky, not bounded by any sort of leonine body.

As Mohatu realized this, his attitude changed quickly. In his dreams, Leo was not afraid to challenge the king. In fact, the ghost was almost entirely powerless. Mohatu grinned, beginning to wonder if Algenubi would react the same way that Zosma did.

Meanwhile, Algenubi continued to talk down to the lion. "You know, I'm surprised you actually did this. You don't actually think you're the prophet anymore, do you?"

"Don't listen to him," Mari pleaded, interrupting the ghostly figure's words hesitantly from her position in the sand.

"You never were. You're going to die out here, Mohatu. Just like the rest of them. Years ago, perhaps the title of king could have been yours, but not anymore. You lost... and to think you were going to get a second chance! What a joke!"

Mohatu opened his other eye. "What are you talking about?"

Algenubi's maniacal laughter only grew louder. "You just don't get it, do you? Oh, good! I'd rather not ruin the surprise for you."

"Shut up," Mohatu commanded with a weak voice.

Algenubi's voice lightened considerably, as he began talking to Mari. "Perhaps there's something you want to tell your friend, hmm?"

"No! Whatever you think this is about, it's not like that!" the lioness interjected, covering her eyes with her paw. She hid her head in the sand, trying to shake the thought away.

"You hear that, Mohatu? She would rather watch you bask in your own ignorance, than tell you what you deserve to know."

"It's not true!" Mari cried, trying to deny everything outright. Based on the intensity of the emotion in the lioness's words, she was more than likely lying.

But Mohatu didn't care; he had no reason to. He had seen for himself what the kings of the past had done to Rex; he had little reason to believe anything that escaped the ghost's cloudy muzzle.

"Stop this!" the lion demanded, finally having the courage to stand up again.

Consequently, the ghost scowled, immediately taken back by Mohatu's change of attitude.

Mohatu looked back at the lioness, thrashing and tearlessly crying about in the sand like she was having a nightmare. "If she has something to tell me, she'll tell me on her own terms," he stated simply.

The ghost's jaw dropped for a split second. "What?"

"That's right," Mohatu replied. "I know what you're trying to do."

Mari stopped moving. She looked down at her paws for a moment, silently thanking Mohatu for standing up for her, even though he was actually making the wrong decision. To some extent, anyway.

The ghostly lion brought his cloudy paw up to rub his brow. "...seriously?"

"I don't believe you," Mohatu retorted. "Mari is my best friend. She's not going to hide anything important from me."

Mari looked away, closing her eyes with guilt. If she had a drop of water left in her eyes, a tear might have fallen on the sand below her muzzle. Fortunately, that was not the case.

Meanwhile, the ghost stood still, completely baffled by the situation. "You're stupid," he concluded, before disappearing beyond the horizon. "You will learn the truth eventually... if you live long enough."

As the king in the sky disappeared, Mohatu stepped beside the lioness and nuzzled the back of her neck, signaling that everything was okay.

"Thanks," Mari replied gratefully. The lioness got back up on her paws, but still refused to look Mohatu in the eye.

"I don't know what that was all about," Mohatu sighed, pushing a wall of sand beside him with his paw nervously. "I don't know what we did to deserve this."

Mari took a deep breath, before looking up at the sandy brown lion. "Did you..." she began to ask, but her voice faded into a whisper and eventually silence.

Mohatu stepped back? "Huh?"

"Did you really... mean what you said?" Mari struggled to ask her question again. In reality, she knew the answer, but for the sake of her own sanity, she pretended that she didn't.

"Of course I mean it," Mohatu replied, not giving it a second thought. "What happened this morning doesn't change anything."

Mari closed her eyes, before looking back down at the ground. "Well... you're a pretty good friend too," she replied, mainly out of guilt.

Yet, as Mari began to reflect on her words, she realized there was more truth in them than she cared to admit. Mohatu genuinely was a good friend, for the most part.

The ghost, however, was right: Mari was hiding something very important from the lion, and she certainly wasn't the flawless lioness Mohatu seemed to think she was. She knew it; he didn't.

But, before the lioness had the time to wallow in her guilt, she suddenly found her back against the sand, with Mohatu pushing her down to the ground. The lioness's eyes jolted open, and her heartbeat accelerated. She immediately wondered what the lion was doing.

The lion had her pinned down playfully, with a grin on his face. "Relax," he said quietly, after waiting for the lioness's mind to catch up to reality.

For several seconds, Mari only looked up at him in silence.

"You're too tense," Mohatu replied, bringing his head lower to the ground to nuzzle her. He almost chuckled, but his lack of saliva irritated the back of his throat too much. "I'd never turn my back on you... not in a time like this. Not after all we've been through."

He knew all too well that the lioness was incredibly anxious about something, and he only wanted to make it clear that she had no need to be.

Mari grinned slightly, before pushing him off gently with her hind legs. "I appreciate what you've done, but..." Mari replied, although her voice fell silent. "Nevermind. You wouldn't understand."

Mohatu ignored her unfinished statement, and proceeded to continue the journey with a new surge of energy. Although he was incredibly tired and thirsty, listening to the former king harass him and his companion gave him the will he needed, to fight back against the cusp of death. In an odd way, it proved to be rather motivating.

"What if we make it to that tree over there?" Mohatu asked, pointing to a strange green figure on the horizon. "Maybe we can crack open a fruit... and..."

"Yeah, okay," Mari replied distantly. It took the lioness a while, before her mind actually registered what Mohatu had said. "Wait, that's a-"

"What?" Mohatu asked.

Mari's tail shot up in the air with a burst of hope, happiness, and relief. "We're going to live! That's water!"

Mohatu smiled as well, as a small lake began to form on the horizon behind the tree. For the first time in days, he saw the green leaves of an adansonia tree. It was utterly beautiful, beyond being describable with anything less than the most divine words.

Immediately, Mari frolicked through the sand, until she reached the base of the tree. From there, she sprinted directly toward the waterhole, eventually submerging her entire face in the calm, clear pool of liquid.

Moments later, the larger lion appeared beside her, lapping up several liters of water with his tongue.

After several enormous gulps, the lioness turned around, walking back over to the tree to sit in the shade. As she relaxed on the grass, she couldn't help but feel more satisfied than she had ever felt before. She turned over onto her back, looking up at the sky with pleasure before breathing the happiest sigh ever heard by a feline.

Likewise, Mohatu followed, sitting down on the other side of the tree. A pleasant yawn escaped him, while he began to ponder the situation from a comfortable napping position.

Naturally, his mind focused on Mari once again.

Even after all the hours he had spent thinking about her since that morning, he found it rather difficult to believe what she had said, given the way she had flirted with him before. The situation only caused Mohatu to assess his own perception.

Had she, at one point, liked him, but changed her mind? Did she lie and say she was gay to prevent him from feeling bad, because of it?

Or, was she only being nice the whole time? Was Mohatu just imagining that she liked him? Both situations seemed equally plausible.

While she was certainly hiding something, Mohatu doubted it was of any significant importance. Heck, she probably just didn't want him to know he smelled bad.

As the lion closed his eyes, he only wished she had said something different. She was indeed his best friend—his only friend, even—although he could not help but to desire something more.

She would never see him in the same light that he saw her, and while that probably wasn't his fault, it did not help to ease his mind. Despite the lioness's carefully chosen words to soften the pain, she had rejected him, plain and simple.

Nevertheless, he would deal with it like a lion. Before Mohatu dozed off to sleep, he quietly promised himself that he would continue to treat Mari as a friend, and never bring the topic up again. It was the least he could do.

After all, if she was happy, then he was happy.

Unfortunately, that philosophy failed rather quickly, for she did not seem happy.

The lion rolled over in the grass, trying to make himself more comfortable after an incredibly short attempt at napping. He looked over at Mari's relaxed form, breathing in and out slowly with closed eyes and a wide grin on her muzzle.

Perhaps she did seem a little happy without him.

Mohatu looked down at his paws restlessly. He wanted to ignore it. He wanted nothing more than to forget that the thought had ever crossed his mind to begin with. She didn't need him. She never needed him, except that one morning he fought and killed Usama.

He was only following her for some strange reason, which he could not even begin to comprehend. Whatever the reason was, she did not seem comfortable speaking about it.

Perhaps that was her secret? Could it have been possible, that her secret was the true reason why she brought Mohatu along on her quest?

The more he thought about it, the more questions Mohatu began to ask himself. He had been rescued by this lioness's pride, and in a matter of days, accepted into her pride as one of them. That wasn't normal!

They sent him out on a very important mission, for reasons he barely even understood. Why was her pride—who barely knew him—counting on him to be their savior? It was peculiar, no doubt, but there was more beneath the surface as well.

If Mari wasn't attracted to him, then what the hell was it that made him so special?

Of course, he was a warrior, and that may have had a lot to do with it. But, Mari specifically stated that her goal was not to kill Rex. What he was doing was sneaking around, not fighting. His skills weren't being put to good use.

Yet, the lioness acted like she needed him.

Why did she really need him? Why was it so important that he went to Lea Halalela? These were questions Mohatu could not answer in the slightest, but Mari acted like she knew. That had to be what she was hiding.

But still, the lion could only guess what lurked in his future. Did he have the potential to be the king of the Pridelands? Was that his destiny, which had been predetermined by the kings of the past?

Did Mari even know what was truly going on?

Perhaps, if Mari could not, Algenubi could see beneath the surface and into the truth. The ghost certainly seemed to know something he didn't.

Regardless of whichever way the lion thought about it, Mohatu's only hope was to follow the lioness. He would only learn the whole truth by getting to Lea Halalela. Fortunately, she was taking him there.

Mohatu stretched out his paws, obviously realizing he wasn't going to sleep. As his eyes scanned across the horizon, he began to wonder if he should seek the truth, or move on instead.

Sooner or later, Mohatu would have to follow his own path. He would have to live his own life, which would mean creating his own pride. He lost his family, so he had not much of a choice but to create his own. Perhaps he could find a place outside the boundaries of the kingdom, and find a lioness with priorities other than committing suicide by facing the unstoppable.

Then, he would have his own territory, his own life, and someone important to share it with.

The lion kicked a rock into the adjacent tree, to calm and ease his mind while he tried to cope with his thoughts. A heavy sigh escaped the lion's muzzle, as he forced himself to come to terms with the situation.

Simultaneously, he began to hear a strange rustling sound from the baobab tree's branches.

Mohatu looked up immediately, after noticing the lack of wind. There was nothing to cause the branches to move. As a matter of fact, it almost seemed as if a creature was occupying the branch above.

"Ouch!" Mohatu yelled, as the hard shell of a fruit fell directly onto his head.

Suddenly, Mari's ears jolted up, as she looked over to Mohatu. "What happened?" she asked, both curious and worried.

Mari's question was answered by the strange voice of an unfamiliar creature. "Haha! Bad lion!"

Meanwhile, three more shells fell down on the lion, rolling off of his manefur and down onto the ground. One even hit Mohatu's head with enough force to crack, leaving sticky, wet trails of fruit juice running down behind his ear and over his muzzle.

Mohatu placed his forepaw over his head to protect himself from the continuous and annoying barrage of falling fruits and nuts. "Hey! Stop that!"

"This be Rafiki's tree!" the baobab-dweller replied, revealing himself to be a vibrantly colored baboon from behind one of the branches. "It be mine!"

Mohatu shook his head, while rolling his eyes in the process. Although he was frustrated by the baboon's antics, Mohatu was trespassing, after all. "Okay, okay... I'll go somewhere else."

The lion lifted himself up, preparing to walk away before the creature jumped down. As he heard the rustling in the grass behind him, he turned around to meet the baboon eye-to-eye.

In the palm of his hand, the mandrill carried a long weapon, crafted from nothing more complex than a stick. Three fruit shells were tied to one end, which began to rattle and clank as he waved his weapon through the air in an odd display of bravery.

Mohatu sighed, upon seeing the monkey's idiotic-looking fighting stance. "Please stop," he begged with a slight tone of irritation.

"Back away!" Rafiki continued. "Rafiki know kung-fu!"

"Alright! I'm leaving!" Mohatu replied, walking back in the direction of the wasteland. "I don't want any trouble."

"Go on! Get out! Haha!" the baboon began laughing, as he swatted the lion's flank with his stick.

In consequence, Mohatu stopped dead in his tracks. The baboon had crossed his boundaries. Quickly, the lion turned around and growled at the creature behind him.

The colorful mandrill backed away slightly, holding his stick right up to the lion's muzzle. "Ooooh... bad lion!"

Mohatu swiped the stick out of the baboon's hand, throwing it onto the ground beside him.

Without his weapon, the monkey began to step back again, trying to keep a safe distance from his opponent. However, it was not long before Mari interrupted the two males. "Stop this," she sighed, scowling at both.

Rafiki took yet another step back, obviously not trusting either of the two lions.

"It's okay, we're not going to hurt you," the lioness continued, using her calm and persuasive voice to her advantage. By the way she spoke, she sounded as if she couldn't even hurt a fly.

Mohatu glanced over at the lioness, only to find that her eyes reflected the same sense of tranquility that she carried with her words. She was really good at that, no doubt about it.

"We're only looking for... something," Mari added. "Perhaps you could help us?"

"You look here, you find nothing!" the baboon stated simply. "Nothing in Badlands!"

Mari looked away for a second, contemplating her next move. "Mohatu, give him his stick back," she commanded lackadaisically.

The lion did as he was told, albeit reluctantly, leaning down to pick up the stick between his teeth. Slowly, he walked towards the baboon, trying not to show any signs of aggression.

In a quick motion, the mandrill grabbed his weapon and took another step backward, approaching the safety of his tree.

"Look," Mari began to extrapolate with patience. "My name is Mari, and this is Mohatu," she explained, pointing towards the brown lion. "We've been traveling for a few days; we only came here to rest."

As the baboon turned his head, Mari continued to explain the situation. "I'm sure you know who Rex is, so I'll just get to the point: we're not on the best of terms with the kingdom. I believe he and his brother found... something called Lea Halalela out here, and we need to know what it is."

"It's a temple of some sort, I think," Mohatu clarified.

Suddenly, the mandrill stood still for a moment. He then placed the end of his stick into the grass, resting his forearm against it. "I know why you are here. I know what you are looking for."

"Great," Mari's eyes lit up. "So you'll help us?"

"I have little doubt that you are no friend of the king," the mandrill replied wisely, dropping the silliness from his voice entirely.

Shortly after, he pulled his stick closer to his chest, before lowering his head and torso respectfully in a bowing motion. "And, as such, you are not alone in your struggle."

Mari smiled, winking over at Mohatu.

"There is a tomb not far from here," Rafiki whispered. "Leo and Rex visited it a year ago, but I do not think anyone else has been able to get inside. Perhaps you could," he suggested.

The mandrill's tone held a very distinct, but oddly unidentifiable quality that sent a shiver down Mari's spine. Consequently, the lioness began to suspect that Rafiki knew what was truly going on. As she recovered from her initial shock, Mari eyed the monkey earnestly, silently alerting him not to say anything about it.

In his complete ignorance of the nonverbal communication between the two, Mohatu asked the baboon a question. "So... when are we going?"

"Tonight," Rafiki replied. "Make sure you rinse your scent away before you leave. Sometimes lions come out here. I do not want to be followed."

"Sounds good," the brown lion nodded.

"You are welcome to stay here until then," the mandrill added. "Rest is good; you may need some."

"Thank you," Mari replied gratefully, lowering her head in a similar bowing motion that Rafiki had shown.

As the monkey vanished back up into his tree, Mari stepped closer to Mohatu to whisper into his ear. "That's how it's done."

"You know I wasn't going to hurt him," Mohatu sighed. "He was hitting me... and what else was I supposed to do about it?"

"I think he was just testing your patience," Mari explained. "In which case... you passed. Knowing Leo and Rex, he probably had bad experiences with other lions in the past... so he wanted to make sure you weren't like that."

Mohatu sat back down on the grass. "Fair enough, I guess," he replied, gazing over the grasses and beneath the surface of the waterhole.

Mari stepped away, speaking a bit louder as to not attract any suspicion from the mandrill. "I'll let you stay here... I think I'm going to go talk to him a bit more."

As the lioness began to walk away, another heavy sigh escaped Mohatu's muzzle.

Once again, he was alone. The air was silent, the winds were calm, and the water was devoid of all energy. There was nothing; nothing but Mohatu and his own thoughts.

Although it was difficult for him to realize it, the situation was finally beginning to lighten up. They had found water, and a crazy baboon to guide them further on their journey. The trip was actually going quite well; the worst of it had already passed. Lea Halalela was not much farther away, and he would have answers sooner or later.

But it was the outcome that began to frighten the lion. As a late afternoon cloud appeared on the lake's reflective surface, Mohatu began to reconsider what would happen in the future, if and when it would all be over.

Mari would obviously go back to live a simple life in the Pridelands with the rest of her family, but then what? If he could accomplish what she wanted of him, would he even have a place in her pride as a savior?

He tried to convince himself that Mari wouldn't push him away after that, but he knew he could not be sure. Although it seemed ridiculous, there was a slight chance that he would spend the rest of his life alone forever. He had nowhere else to go, and no one else to turn to.

Of course, if Mari left him after their journey ended, he would probably find another lioness eventually. He knew there was a place for him somewhere, but it was disappointing to know that he still had to look.

Dealing with such a situation was something every lion experienced at some point in their life, but knowing that did not help. No matter what he tried to think, nothing helped to ease the pain. Even hours ago, with the intense heat and his excruciating thirst, he had not been able to take his mind off the lioness.

She was one of the nicest lionesses he could imagine, and the impact she had on his life was certainly beyond being describable. Obviously, because here he was, going through all this crap, and risking his life for her and her pride without question.

As the lion looked back, he realized Mari was nowhere to be found. She had left him completely. When he wanted someone to talk to the most, she was not around.

Although, to be fair, if she had been around, he would not have said a word. There was no way in hell he would ever have told her what he was truly thinking.

It wasn't her fault, but even more importantly, he did not want her to feel sorry for him. It was beyond obvious that Mari was already upset about something else, and he knew talking about his problems would only exacerbate that.

And, in truth, between Lea Halalela and king Rex, there was a much bigger problem at the tip of their paws. With the deceased kings watching over them as well, the entire predicament made less sense than a giant, hairless furball.

Even if Mari was hiding something big from Mohatu, she had to have her reasons. Mari wasn't the type of lioness to have any sort of malicious intent, and that, he knew for sure.

Mohatu rested his head above his paws, under the grasses. He was a strong lion. Although Mari's companionship was little more than an illusion, he could deal with it. It wasn't going to kill him.

But the king certainly could.

Even if he had nowhere to go after the fall of the kingdom, he would make it through somehow. It would not be healthy, and it would certainly not be a pleasurable experience, but he could do it.

That evening, Mohatu forced himself to accept the fact that he wouldn't be with the lioness of his dreams. But he also realized that it was no excuse not to be the savior her pride needed. Something much greater was hanging in the balance, and something certainly mysterious loomed in their path, which he tried to focus on instead.

A surprise was awaiting him at Lea Halalela, and he knew it. It was about kings and successions, no doubt, but little did he know he was about to be caught unaware.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » June 2nd, 2013, 7:16 am

...mysterious...! O.O

Really good ;) luvem it.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 8th, 2013, 7:39 pm

chapter 15: show
A/N: To be honest, I don't quite feel like this chapter is ready to be published yet. Even though I've spent more time working on it than any other except for the first, it still seems like more needs to be added. Nevertheless, I can't justify holding this back another week, as it's easier to read than quite a few of my previous chapters anyway.

This is, arguably, the most important part of the entire story. For the next five chapters or so, things are going to get chaotic, and after reading this, you'll know why.

This is where the story deviates from a typical heroic adventure and starts to get rather interesting. All of the first 14 or so chapters have been building up to this, so without further ado, I suppose I'll just shut up and let you read. :)


--- --- ---


A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu


Chapter 15: Aberrational Insight


Mari approached the baboon's tree slowly, while Mohatu rested by the waterhole. The sun was beginning to set on the horizon, and her time to speak to the mandrill in private was running out.

She had been keeping a secret from Mohatu for long enough. Ever since their journey had begun, the guilt ate her up inside, swallowing her heart in whole. It was an enormous weight on her shoulders, and as much as she wanted to tell her friend the truth, she knew it would have very serious consequences.

But eventually, he would discover his identity, one way or another. He would inevitably find out on his own, even if Mari never planned to tell him. Mohatu could not hide from his past forever.

But could he cope with knowing the truth?

As insane as the baboon seemed to be, the creature's advice was worth seeking. Rafiki's words seemed to carry an odd sense of wisdom—it was very peculiar, but certainly noticeable.

As a matter of fact, he more than likely already knew the truth. If anyone could advise Mari, she knew it would probably be him.

As the lioness reached the base of the tree, she sat down. Her tail twitched about slightly, while she waited for the baboon to notice her. After nearly a minute, Mari lost her patience.

"Uh... Rafiki, is it?" the lioness's voice flowed through the air as she called for him. A small flock of birds left the tree, flying out into the orange sky.

"Mhm?" the mandrill asked, looking down from a branch in his home.

"I just want to talk," Mari admitted shyly. "I need advice."

Rafiki set his stick down, before gesturing for the lioness to climb up. "Come in," he invited, offering his hand to the lioness.

Mari took a quick glance at her surroundings, noticing that Mohatu appeared to either be sleeping or dazing off. Regardless, he was not paying much attention. As the lioness realized this, she approached the wide base of the tree, sinking her claws into its bark to climb up, before grabbing hold of Rafiki's hand with her forepaw.

To the lioness's surprise, the inside of the tree was actually quite roomy, once Rafiki had pulled her up. The base flattened out into several branches, which provided for several nice places to sit.

But, what was perhaps even weirder, was that many of the branches had strange markings on them, not all that different from those found in Algenubi's cave. However, they appeared to be hand-made replicas of the markings, made from an odd type of paint. They were not geometrically perfect carvings like those left behind by the ancient kings.

"Sit down," Rafiki suggested politely, bringing the lioness out of her trance of curiosity.

Carefully, Mari balanced her paws on one of the larger branches that she was sure would be able to hold her weight, after looking around.

Meanwhile, Rafiki focused his attention back onto a mixture of fruit juices that he collected in the shell of a tortoise. The baboon appeared to be making a strange sort of concoction.

"Umm..." Mari began quietly, eying the baboon's mess with a bit of interest. "So... what are you doing?"

"Redox titrations," the baboon answered easily. "Just need to get this out of the way," he continued, kicking the tortoise shell down onto the ground to clear up some space. "Sorry, it is a mess in here!"

"Yeah... that's okay," Mari replied, without keeping too relaxed. She had no idea what the mandrill even meant, but she was not curious enough to ask. Instead, the lioness decided to change the subject. "Well, I was kinda wondering what all you know about Lea Halalela and the kingdom."

"The lion kingdom?" Rafiki asked, repeating the lioness's question in his head. "Pbbbah! Do I look like a lion to you?"

"Well, no..." Mari conceded, softening her voice slightly. "You said you know where Lea Halalela is, and you have all these markings up here. I sorta thought you might know more than I do."

"I see," Rafiki nodded, stepping away from the lioness for a moment. As he turned around, he picked a fruit from one of the branches above him, and cracked the shell by banging it against the enormous base of the tree. The fruit split in half, and Rafiki began drinking from part of it.

With the other half of the shell in the baboon's second hand, he began walk back towards Mari. "I will take you to the tomb of Zosma, but I cannot take you to Lea Halalela. There are too many lions at Lea Halalela. They are bad lions. If you want to know more, you must ask them!"

"Okay..." Mari muttered. That was going to be a problem, but she decided she would deal with it in the future.

"Is there anything specific you want to know?" the mandrill asked, placing the opened shell of a fruit in front of the lioness's paws.

"Well..." Mari bit her tongue. Although she was almost certain the baboon already knew the truth, she could not bring herself to tell him about Mohatu's purpose. It had been a secret from the very beginning; no one was allowed to know, outside of her pride. "It's..." Mari stuttered, suddenly having second thoughts.

"Is it about Mohatu?" Rafiki inquired. The way he said the lion's name almost seemed sarcastic, in a strange and subtle way. He leaned back, waiting for the lioness's reaction.

"Yeah," Mari answered quietly, looking down at the bowl of juice Rafiki placed in front of her. "You know who he is, don't you?"

"I know who he is," Rafiki replied. "But do you?"

"Of course I know who Mohatu is," Mari rolled her eyes. "It was my idea to save his life, and I'm the one who took the blame for killing him!" Mari almost scowled, as she began considering that the baboon even had the nerve to ask such a question. "How do you know who he is? Nobody is supposed to know that!"

"I was surprised to find Leo alive, at first," the baboon admitted casually. "I thought you killed him... but you brought him here. You have changed him, and I now see the truth."

Rafiki paused for a moment, before speaking with a much deeper voice. "I know why you are here. You want to know what happened to your old friend. You are looking for the keys to the kingdom, and you are following the king to find them. Very clever!"

"Okay, so you know..." Mari rubbed her paw nervously on the tree branch, while she began to speak her mind. "Well, the problem is, he has no idea he was once king Leo. I used catnip to wipe away his memories-"

"Hah! You used catnip?" Rafiki nearly laughed. "There are better ways to clear a lion's memory!"

"Well... it was all we had," Mari explained. She let out a deep sigh, almost as long as a yawn. "I've been hiding that from him, ever since that day he supposedly... died. He really thinks he's this rogue lion named Mohatu... mainly because I told him he was. What am I supposed to do?"

"He is the prophet, you think?" the mandrill inquired casually.

"Yes... I mean, I think he is," Mari answered simply, curiously smelling the fruit Rafiki dropped by her paws like it was a foreign object. "It's because of me. All I'm doing is giving him an easy path to follow, to betray us all over again."

Rafiki shook his head, while Mari lapped up the sweet juice from the shell with her tongue. She knew it was probably going to make her sick later, but she did not want to be rude.

After several seconds had passed, she proceeded to ask another question by clearing her throat. "But... do you think he could find out on his own?" Mari inquired. "I mean, if it's that obvious that he was king Leo, someone is eventually going to-"

"It is possible," Rafiki stated neutrally. "But it is better that he knows, if my opinion is what you seek."

"Oh God... I knew you were going to say that," Mari muttered, lowering her head onto her paws and closing her eyes. "I know... maybe keeping this a secret wasn't such a good idea, but... what have I done?"

"No secret can remain forever," Rafiki explained. "The longer you wait, the harder it will be for him to accept the truth."

Mari opened her eyes slightly. She knew that. As a matter of fact, she expected him to say that. After a moment of painful silence, she managed to gather the courage she needed to ask him the ultimate question. "But... if I tell him, do you think he will get mad at me?"

"Not as mad as he would be, if he finds out on his own."

Mari turned her head sideways, looking at the lazy lion sitting in the grass below, from behind a bundle of leaves. Mohatu appeared to be rather sad, gazing at the reflection of the sunset on the water.

"He already knows I'm hiding something," Mari informed the baboon. "I don't think he has any idea what it is, though..."

"Just tell him," Rafiki insisted. "He will understand."

"But, what if all his memories start coming back?" Mari asked out of fear. "What if he tries to take back what I took away from him, and reclaim his lost identity as the king of the Pridelands? Then what?"

"If he is no longer the lion he once was, then you have nothing to worry about," Rafiki replied.

"But he's still the prophet!" Mari retorted. "I can't take that away."

"That is true," Rafiki stated with a calm and elegant voice of wisdom. "But perhaps the kingdom is not what we think it is."

"Uhm... what?" Mari asked, looking up at the baboon with a puzzled expression. Her ears shifted forward slightly.

"It is possible the prophecy may have been misinterpreted."

"It's pretty straightforward," Mari argued, nearly scowling at the baboon. "The prophet is the king."

"Ah! But do we know who the true king is?" Rafiki forced Mari to continue.

"That would have been Leo..." Mari stuttered, struggling to think of an appropriate response. "But it's Rex now."

While Mari continued to think, Rafiki gestured for Mari to come forward.

As the lioness approached, he pointed at some markings that he had drawn on his tree. They were symbols and characters, all very similar to those found in the ancient tomb. Rafiki was pointing directly to an ancient message of some sort, and his odd smile suggested that he knew something the lioness didn't.

"Wait..." Mari interrupted. "You can read that?"

Although she sounded surprised when she asked, it wasn't too unbelievable considering that Rafiki somehow managed to learn the truth about Mohatu, all on his own. He was undeniably an incredibly wise creature, if a little aberrational at times.

"Somewhat, yes," the baboon replied. "Do you know what the prophecy actually says?"

"No..."

"The prophet is the lion to resurrect the kingdom beyond its former glory," Rafiki explained. He spoke very slowly, but very clearly, almost causing the lioness to shiver.

"Well... yeah," Mari nodded. "That would be Leo. Definitely Leo."

"Hah! But did Leo do that?" Rafiki asked suggestively.

"Yes, he did," Mari insisted. "He killed half our own pride to establish that kingdom, too."

"Then he was not the true lion king," Rafiki explained. His tone of voice made it quite clear that he was certain of that, which elicited a mumble of surprise from the lioness.

"But... how can you even say that?" Mari argued. "He thought he was the king."

As the lioness realized what she had said, her voice grew louder in frustration. "And, you know what? There wasn't a damn thing any of us could have done about it. Leo took over the Pridelands by force, and it was all we could do to stop him."

"But you haven't stopped him," Rafiki interjected.

"No..." Mari admitted breathlessly.

"Which means there is still a chance he is the true king."

"Exactly! If he knows that... there's no telling what he's going to do next. We'll be right back where we started." Mari insisted.

"No," Rafiki corrected the lioness politely. "Open your mind. There is more to being king than being a warrior... and a conqueror. You have not taken Leo's kingdom from him, but you have changed him."

"What are you even-" Mari retorted, before being interrupted.

"The prophet is the lion to resurrect the kingdom beyond its former glory," Rafiki repeated himself. "The prophet would never kill his friends and let his family die to secure his position as the king."

"I wish I could be that optimistic," Mari replied bitterly, swatting her tail. She almost could not believe that the baboon had the nerve to be so ignorant. As she had already experienced, the kings of the past were rather evil, and any lion to follow their guidance would surely be evil as well.

"The prophet is the one to correct the mistakes of the ancient kingdom, not bring them back," Rafiki continued.

"I don't know what makes you so sure about that," Mari retorted, growing slightly angry with the baboon's strange persistence. He was certainly very stubborn with his beliefs.

"It makes sense, does it not?" Rafiki asked rhetorically. "Leo thought he was the prophet. It is possible that he misunderstood the prophecy, just as you have."

Mari took a deep breath, as the mandrill continued to explain his own interpretation of the prophecy. "By giving Leo a second chance to fix his mistakes, you are providing him the opportunity to become the true prophet... and the true king as well."

"This is crazy..." Mari replied, almost laughing at the baboon, despite her frustration.

"I know you know it is true," Rafiki insisted. "Since you decided to spare Leo's life, even after all he did, you must have known he can redeem himself."

Mari looked down at the tree branch below her. Although she could not believe it, the baboon almost had a point. "I didn't kill him because I couldn't," she tried to explain. "I had no idea the catnip was actually going to work as well as it did... honestly, it was just wishful thinking. I wanted him to come back... like the good old days..."

The lioness sighed again, while taking a break to examine all the strange markings on Rafiki's tree. "Okay, I'll admit it," Mari continued, while the baboon remained silent. "Part of the plan was to have him mindlessly fight for us, without him ever becoming aware of his past."

Although Rafiki tried to interrupt, Mari raised her paw. "But, back then, I didn't know about any of this stuff," she added. "And I'm still not even sure the prophecy isn't just a load of crap to begin with... although I'm beginning to think he's going to end up being the king no matter what I do. I mean, if he truly was the prophet, then... he still is. Which means the kingdom is still his."

"Exactly," Rafiki nodded calmly. "The kingdom was his, and it still is. You have not changed that, but you have changed him, and in doing so-"

"No, no, no!" Mari retorted. "If he finds out he was the king, and I took that away from him... do you know what's going to happen? He'd kill us all to take back what is his. Then, that's it! We're done! Extinct!"

"Then he is not the prophet," Rafiki answered simply.

Mari's jaw dropped as a result of the baboon's incredible persistence. "You really believe...?"

"Yes."

"So... what? The kings were evil. How does that even..."

"The kings of the past knew Leo had the potential to be the prophet. When he ventured out here, he discovered the prophecy, and attempted to exploit the power he was given. But Leo misunderstood the prophecy, just as you have. Leo was never the prophet—Mohatu is."

The baboon stood up, as his voice grew louder and more energetic. "You see, Leo saw his future self as the prophet, and created the lion kingdom. Mohatu will see his past as the king of a dying kingdom, and learn from his mistakes. In doing so, he will fulfill the prophecy... if the prophecy is true, of course."

"Dying kingdom?" Mari questioned irritably. "They're stronger than ever! We've been-"

"Hah! Strength is only a facade," the baboon replied. "Leo was the strongest lion in all of Africa, but you could have killed him. No king is invulnerable; no kingdom is infallible."

"Yeah, okay..." Mari admitted. "But I still don't think-"

"Mari," the baboon interrupted her softly, changing his tone of voice into a further state of seriousness. "I witnessed the formation of the lion kingdom. I followed Leo."

Mari stepped back slightly. That explained how he knew as much as he did, no doubt about it.

"I, too, am curious as to what remains hidden under Lea Halalela," Rafiki added. "When I followed Leo on his journey, I could not figure out how he claimed to be the prophet. He could open the tombs, and he found the keys... but he was prone to the same mistakes the ancient kings made."

Mari raised a brow. "So... what? He was a false prophet?"

"Heh!" Rafiki interjected. "I thought I was crazy! I thought I had misinterpreted the prophecy." The baboon threw his arms in the air, exaggerating his words like the delirious monkey he was. "I checked every script I could find! I even tried to open the tombs myself! It did not make sense. He was not the one... yet he was."

Mari nodded, waiting patiently for the mandrill to continue. After the monkey cleared his throat, he began to speak a bit softer. "But then... I realized the lion who finds the keys is not the prophet."

"He isn't?" Mari asked. "That doesn't make much sense."

"No!" Rafiki laughed. "The prophet is the lion to use the keys!"

"Huh?" Mari nodded with much less enthusiasm. "Do you know what they do?"

"The keys unlock the tomb of Regulus," Rafiki explained. "I do not know what is in there... it is a closely guarded secret."

Mari tilted her head slightly, while the colorful baboon continued. "I think it could be a nexus... a means of connection to the ancient kings. A connection to the stars... and a gateway to the afterlife."

"Hmm?" the lioness questioned. "Like...?"

"Bah!" Rafiki exclaimed. "I am a baboon! I do not know!"

Mari rolled her eyes. "But you seem to know-"

"Sheesh! I will get to that!" The baboon paused momentarily, allowing himself time to remember what he was originally going to say. "At that point, I realized Leo was never the prophet. I knew he was going to die, because he was not the one. I thought the prophet would then be the one to kill Leo."

"And you think that's Mohatu?" Mari asked.

"Haha, not at first!" the baboon laughed. "I thought you were the prophet!"

Mari lifted up one of her paws. "Me? I'm not-"

Rafiki shook his head. "But when I saw that Leo was still alive today, and that he had changed... I knew he was the one after all. He is the prophet."

"But... how? How do you know that?"

"Leo gained the trust of the kings with his conquest," Rafiki explained. "They knew he was the prophet... and they worshiped him as the prophet. They liked him. They understood him."

"Well, they don't like Mohatu," Mari interrupted. "Not after what I did."

"That does not matter," Rafiki replied quickly. "Mohatu is calm and passive; I am sure they do not like him," the baboon added, beginning to smile. "But since Mohatu is Leo, if he can accept his past, and reclaim his identity-"

"What?" Mari almost yelled. "No! No, no, no, no no! He's not going to be the king! I'll die before that ever happens!"

Oddly enough, the baboon remained calm while he tried to finish. "If Mohatu can confront the ancient kings and prove that he is still the prophet, even though he has changed, they will listen to his message."

"That doesn't mean anything!" Mari retorted. "We don't know that he won't change back to the lion he once was. You're placing blind faith into something no one really understands... it's ridiculous!"

"If he changes back to the lion he once was, then he never was the prophet," Rafiki stated. "He must acknowledge and correct his past, not suffer it again. It is the only way."

"That doesn't make any sense!" Mari insisted. "This whole prophecy is crazy."

Rafiki scratched his chin for a moment, wondering how else to explain it. "Do you agree that the ancient kings are wrong in their beliefs?"

"Well," Mari replied slowly, "Of course I do. The kingdom needs to be abolished."

"Then, if not Mohatu, who else could convince them of that?" Rafiki asked rhetorically. "Mohatu was once Leo... he is capable of anything Leo once was. Since they thought Leo was the prophet, they will soon realize Mohatu is still the prophet. Eventually, they will get the message."

"That..." Mari began, "I still don't know. But isn't the prophet the king?"

"The prophet is the new king, yes," Rafiki explained. "The prophet is the greatest king: the king to correct the mistakes of the kings before him, and set an example for the future kings."

"So..." Mari's jaw remained open for a moment. "The prophecy is backwards? Instead of the prophet bringing a message from the kings, the prophet brings a message to the kings?"

"Yes," the baboon nodded. "And that message is yours."

Mari stepped back in shock. "Wait... what? My message?"

"You already know what it is. It is what you tell him."

The lioness pondered what her new friend had told her. As farfetched as it was, and as crazy as he seemed, it did make sense. "Maybe you're right," Mari breathed a sigh of relief. "But what am I supposed to tell him?"

The lioness put on a strangely amusing, sarcastic face, while she tried to imitate herself telling Mohatu the truth. "Oh, hey, you know that lion I told you I killed? I didn't actually kill him, I drugged him with catnip to wipe his memory and that's how you got here, and that's why you're confused about everything. I've been lying to you this whole time so that you would fight for us."

Rafiki chuckled for a moment. "Look inside yourself, and you will find the answers," he suggested. "You know what your message is. You only need to know how to say it."

Mari looked down, suddenly finding herself feeling embarrassed by the situation. "You're right... this was my idea. I was the one to do it, and I was the one to lie to him all this time. I'm going to tell him the truth," she insisted with a reluctant tone of guilt and sadness.

The lioness took a deep breath before looking around one last time, preparing to leave the tree. "He really is a different lion now... and maybe he can make things right. So far, his actions have proven that he isn't quite hell-bent on conquering all of Africa like Leo was."

Mari looked down guiltily, suddenly coming to yet another realization. "I think... he only wants to please me," she whispered, barely loud enough for the baboon to hear. The lioness shook her head, trying to clear that thought away.

"God," she sighed heavily. "I can't do this to him anymore. He needs to know."

Rafiki merely stood still, leaning against a tree branch, while Mari swiveled her hind legs around. With a giant leap, the lioness sprang away from the tree branch she stood on, and fell down onto the grass below with a thud.

While Rafiki watched, he began to notice the brilliant orange sunset across the horizon.

"It is time," he muttered, grabbing his stick again, and leaping down beside Mari. "I will not say anything unless you want me to," Rafiki added, as soon as the lioness looked back at him.

"I'll tell him," Mari whispered to the baboon. "I'll tell him tonight, after this."

"Mohatu!" Rafiki yelled at the sleeping lion from a distance. "Peeyou! You stink! Wash away your body odor! We go to ancient place now!" he said, shifting his tone of voice back into a sillier state of mind.


--- --- ---


A/N: And that's Mari's secret, if you haven't already guessed. I didn't want to reveal it like this, but I also couldn't pass up the opportunity for a good Mari/Rafiki discussion. :)

While revealing the truth this way certainly made it a bit more confusing than I originally planned, most of the loose ends (if there are still any) will be tied up next chapter. Unfortunately, you're going to have to wait another week for that.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Chizuna » June 9th, 2013, 2:46 am

Woah, I didn't see that coming. I can't wait to see Mohatu's reaction! This is a really good story you got here and the characterization is unbelievably strong and developed. Keep going :D
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 9th, 2013, 4:12 am

Thank you. :dreamy:
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 15th, 2013, 10:27 pm

chapter 16: show
A/N: This is the longest chapter yet, so I'd recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and making yourself comfortable before you get started. As much as I wanted to break this into two parts, I don't think the content is long or heavy enough for that... so here it is. Enjoy the read. :)


--- --- ---


A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu


Chapter 16: Revelation


Drops of water splattered through the air and onto the ground as Mohatu shook himself off. After more than a day of dying in the scorching hot desert sand, the chill of wet lionfur in the evening breeze actually felt somewhat refreshing. Despite his internal, hidden sorrow, he was cool, quiet, and ready to continue the expedition.

As Mohatu glanced over at the baboon and the soaked lioness beside him, the last sliver of sunlight fell beyond the dunes of the horizon. Vibrant shades of orange, pink, and red filled the heavens in radially striped patterns, forming bright, colorful bands across the evening sky.

Rafiki suddenly swung his stick around in the air to grab Mohatu's attention, appearing out of nowhere while the lion stared into the early night sky. "You follow Rafiki! He knows the way!"

Mohatu blinked his eyes, tilting his head back naturally. It was not long before he saw the crazy baboon began running across the grassland, using his stick as a third leg in the oddest motion the lion had ever seen.

For a few seconds, the two lions merely stared at one another. A dense and melancholic silence filled the air at first, but soon faded away, as Mari almost found herself chuckling over the baboon's antics. Eventually, the lioness turned away and stepped forward, following Rafiki's path. With a heavy sigh, Mohatu followed as well.

"Hurry up! You slow!" the mandrill teased.

Mohatu continued to walk at a slow pace, completely ignoring the baboon. Instead, he turned to Mari to ask her a question. "So... where did you go?"

Although the lion's question caught Mari off guard, she managed to answer rather quickly. "Nowhere, really. He just showed me his tree."

Mohatu nearly forced a laugh. "After all that?"

"Yes," Mari answered, remembering all that Rafiki had told her. "He's actually not as nutty as he seems."

Immediately after the lioness had finished her words, the mandrill intentionally began mumbling. Although neither of the two lions knew what the baboon was saying, it hardly mattered.

Rafiki lifted his stick up as he walked. "Asante Sana!"

"Squash banana!" the baboon continued, speaking even louder, but with a similarly catchy jingle.

"We we nugu! Mi mi apana!"

"Go figure," Mohatu sighed, focusing his attention back to the lioness. "Are you sure about that?" he scowled.

Mari rolled her eyes. "Well, I never said he isn't a little nutty... I'm pretty sure he's just doing this for his own amusement," Mari exhaled loudly, shaking her head a bit. "But, I'm not a baboon... I wouldn't know."

"I guess," Mohatu replied simply. After several minutes of listening to the baboon talk to himself far off into the distance, he managed to think of another question to ask. "What did you want to talk to him about?"

Mari nearly stopped, as she looked down at her muddy paws. It took her quite a bit of time before she could think of an appropriate answer. She couldn't tell him—not yet. She wasn't prepared.

"I... ugh... I'll tell you later," Mari whispered carefully, continuing to walk through the sand. She almost felt a splash of relief, as she knew she would not be keeping her secret for much longer. For better or worse, he would know the truth before sunrise.

Mohatu merely shrugged. "Okay," he replied casually.

"We have a tomb to explore, so let's just stick with that for now," Mari continued, seeming a bit more confident after noticing Mohatu's lackadaisical response. It was comforting, in an obvious way, to know that Mohatu didn't care that much.

"I don't even think we're anywhere near it," Mohatu added. "It should be a giant, pyramid-shaped structure..."

The lion's comment caught Mari by surprise. "Do you think he doesn't know what we're looking for?" asked the lioness.

"Perhaps," Mohatu stated easily.

"I doubt it," Mari retorted. "I'm pretty sure he knows more about the whole kingdom than we do."

"We'll see, I guess," Mohatu admitted, as he looked across the darkening sand ahead.

They had left the grassy oasis behind, and the large dunes in their path seemed to all collapse into a depression, converging to a specific point below. It was not long before Rafiki disappeared entirely below the dunes, and down into the cavity.

As the two lions caught up, they noticed a large metal door, that was only barely exposed to the air. Not at all surprisingly, it contained the same patterns and markings from the tomb of Algenubi.

Rafiki approached the door, and began hitting it with his stick. "Open! Open! Open!"

"Open sesame!" the baboon commanded, hitting the metal door even harder.

After Rafiki took a second to catch his breath, he tried again. "Thou shalt open thy door!" he yelled, jabbing his stick into the vertical, rusted iron structure with all his strength.

Mohatu stopped in his tracks, glancing over at Mari. He was unsure of whether he should be amused or annoyed by the baboon's insanity. Quite frankly, either response was rational.

Mari shook her head, while Mohatu turned away and approached the mandrill. With a gentle stroke of his paw, Mohatu pushed the baboon aside.

The lion then analyzed the markings on the door for a moment, before slowly sliding his paw across to wipe away a layer of rust. Consequently, he revealed a spiral sun symbol, which was centered between the segments of beveled metals.

Mohatu looked back at Rafiki, who stood watching and waiting.

"I think I know how to get in," Mohatu stated, placing his paw right up onto the symbol. As he held it there for a few seconds, a loud rumble sounded from the ground below. Suddenly, the door slid down into the ground, causing sand to shift and fall on the trio.

"See?" Mohatu smiled contently at the other two, with plumes of sand falling from his mane. "I told you I'd get us in. It's easy as catching mice."

Mari did not reply; instead, she immediately began walking into the dark void that opened up inside the dune. She approached the tomb with caution, but the other two followed with a far deeper state of curiosity.

"This... looks familiar," Mohatu replied, with an eerie echo in his voice as he stepped into the underground structure.

Suddenly, the giant metal door began to close behind them. As it made a loud clanking and grinding sound, Mari turned around to try to stop it from closing completely. "No!" she yelled, with a deep sense of fear in her voice.

"Rafiki, give me your stick," the lioness commanded quickly. The door began to slide up, and she planned to keep it pried open with a rigid object.

By the time Rafiki reached the door, it had already closed completely. After a loud thunk, the grinding sound ceased. They were trapped, and there was absolutely no light.

"Dammit!" Mari exclaimed furiously. She began to step backward, trembling slightly from fear. "Oh God dammit..." she repeated a little quieter, speaking her mind as she tried not to bump into anything.

"Don't worry," Mohatu replied comfortingly. "It's fine. We just need to find a button that activates the lights."

"Wait a minute..." Mari retorted. "How do you know this?"

"I don't know," Mohatu answered from the darkness. "It just feels like I've been here before. Deja vu, I guess."

Mari did not answer immediately, but from the sound of her breathing, she seemed to relax a bit. In all reality, Mohatu's vague recollection of a previous visit was hardly a surprise to her. Mari knew that he had probably visited the tomb before.

"Ah, that's it," Mohatu exclaimed suddenly, rubbing his paw against the wall. With an electrical flickering sound, every light ignited at once, illuminating all four walls and the entire roof with a warm, yellow tone.

Immediately, the lion ran to the center of the room, and found the same round hole that Leo had once fallen in. "This is exactly like a dream that I had..." Mohatu stated, gazing all the way down into the void below.

Mari and Rafiki approached the lion, looking down into the gaping hole as well.

Mohatu smirked, beginning to explain all that he knew. "See, if you go down there, all the way to the bottom, and make a right, you'll walk down a passage. That passage leads to another passage, which crosses a pool of water with a crocodile, and on the other side, is the sarcophagus of Zosma."

"Hmm..." Mari replied wordlessly. She had little doubt that the lion knew what he was talking about. In fact, she almost considered blurting out the truth, right then and there.

But she didn't.

"Leo found the key inside that sarcophagus," Mohatu continued, looking down into the sinkhole-like structure. "Which means it probably isn't there anymore."

"Yeah, you're probably right," Mari answered truthfully.

"There's only one way to find out," Mohatu added, jumping down from the ledge. "Come on, let's go check it out," he told Mari, waiting for her to follow from below.

Mari hesitated for a moment, while the mandrill leaped down easily. He was a strange breed of monkey, after all; ascending and descending was essentially second nature to him.

But Mari wasn't quite as ambitious. She remained on the top level, where there was plenty of light.

"What are you waiting for?" Mohatu asked, while Mari continued to stand like a furry statue.

"Nothing," the hesitant lioness retorted, finally making the jump as well. After a loud thud, all three were on the bottom level of the structure.

Mohatu began to move, and another row of lights illuminated his surroundings on cue. Instinctively, the lion started to follow Leo's path to the sarcophagus, noticing that each passageway was exactly like he had seen in his dream. As he looked behind, Mohatu noticed that Mari and Rafiki followed him with similar expressions of awe.

"This is almost exactly like the tomb of Algenubi..." Mari whispered, inspecting the walls of the barely-lit passageway. The entire tomb was covered with decorations, symbols, and writings, even on the roof of the chamber itself. "The layout seems a bit different, but these symbols... and the architecture... it's all the same."

Rafiki followed silently, rubbing his chin with his finger the entire time. He thought it best to keep his musings to himself, but neither of the two lions seemed to notice.

Eventually, Mohatu made his way to the intersection of the passageways. He continued following Leo's path, directly into the dark chamber that held the room of golden treasures. As he looked back for the other two, he noticed that Mari was keeping her distance.

"Come on," Mohatu said without patience.

Mari sat down, making it quite clear that she had no intention of going into the dark room. "You can go on without me... I'll wait here."

"Mari..." the lion groaned softly.

"You know where you're going," Mari replied. "You don't need me."

Needless to say, Mohatu was rather surprised by the lioness's stubbornness. Ever since they entered the tomb, Mari seemed to want nothing more than to leave it.

"What is it?" the brown lion asked curiously. "Are you afraid of the dark?"

"No," Mari replied simply, with an unusually bitter tone in her voice as she flattened her ears. She stood directly below a torch hanging from the ceiling, so her angst was certainly visible.

"Then come on," Mohatu insisted.

The lioness shook her head, sighing heavily. "...but I am afraid of what might be hiding in the dark."

"Only me," Mohatu replied easily. "I'm not that scary, am I?"

Yes. Indeed, he was.

But Mari could not admit that. The lion's question caught her by surprise, as it became apparent that he really was clueless. She felt a sudden chill of nervousness before she finally replied. "What? You? No..."

"Then come on," Mohatu nodded. "I can assure you, there's nothing here but me, Rafiki, and a timid crocodile."

Finally, Mari stepped forward again with an exasperated groan, following her two companions into the lowest chamber. She gave up. "Fine. I'm coming."

As Mohatu stepped closer to the artificial pond, he heard the sound of the reptile slithering around in it. It was just like he imagined it to be in his dream. Likewise, the bold lion prepared himself, just the way Leo had done the year before.

As the scaly creature began to climb out of the water, Mohatu roared as loud as he could. Consequently, in less than a second, the crocodile began swimming back to his home, deep below the surface of the tomb.

It was, perhaps, his most effortless battle yet.

"Okay, that was weird," Mari replied, standing unusually close to her brown-maned companion. "I assume you knew to do that?"

"Yep," Mohatu nodded confidently, as a series of lights conveniently illuminated the golden treasure on the other side of the tomb. "Now we just jump across."

"Simple enough, I guess," Mari added, following Mohatu as he leaped across the body of water and into the golden section of the tomb. Rafiki followed shortly behind the two, using his stick to get a running start and leap across the muddy sinkhole in the floor.

As Mohatu glanced around at all the shiny golden objects that littered the chamber, he found what he knew to be the sarcophagus of Zosma directly in the center. He approached with a certain lackadaisical walk, obviously having no fear.

Yet, something else caught the lion's attention. As he looked down on the muddy tile floor, he noticed several paw prints—the king's paw prints. At that point, he knew for certain that his dream was actually a memory of some sort.

Slowly, Mohatu walked up to the sarcophagus and pushed open the metal lid by leaning against it. As the decayed body inside opened up to the world for the first time since Leo had entered the tomb, Mohatu looked for the disc.

But it wasn't there.

"Damn," the old king sighed. "Leo took it..." he continued, having absolutely no idea that he was referring to his former self.

Mari looked away, instead shifting her focus to the many golden artifacts around them. "Yeah, I kinda thought that was going to happen."

"Great," Mohatu retorted sarcastically, closing the sarcophagus once again. "So what are we going to do now? What's the point of looking for the discs, if Leo took the others?"

"I'm not entirely sure," Mari replied. Instead of answering the lion's question directly, the orange lioness focused her attention on a long, slender object, plated in gold and silver. Curiously, she moved closer to smell it. "But maybe there's something else here, that could be useful... like this."

Mohatu turned around. "What are you doing... what's that?"

"No idea," Mari replied, before picking it up with her mouth. As she tried to carry it into the light, one end of it began to extend.

"Stop!" Rafiki commanded, finally speaking up after several minutes of keeping his mouth shut. "There is something in there."

The lioness stood still for a moment, allowing the mandrill to inspect the object she carried between her teeth.

Carefully, Rafiki grabbed the end that started to fall out, and gently began to pull on it. As a smooth, high-pitched metallic ringing sound filled the air, the object inside shone brightly in the light. Whatever was inside, it was highly reflective.

Eventually, the baboon carried the entire shiny stick in his hand, freeing it from its sheath. It was a sword: an elegant weapon, for a different type of warrior.

Rafiki pulled the weapon closer towards him, inspecting the incredibly fine blade at the end. He wiped his fingers across the length of the blade slowly, realizing that, without question, the weapon had been left in excellent condition. His eyes widened, as he admired his shiny new stick of doom.

Mari set the blade's sheath down on the shiny tile floor. "You can keep it, I guess. It's your reward for helping us."

Within an instant, Rafiki threw his old wooden stick down, and held the new one into his dominant hand. Briefly, he swung it around in the air, to get a feel for the weapon. Despite being made of a silver metal alloy, it was actually quite light in terms of weight. Rafiki was able to swing it quickly enough to make a sharp whipping sound, as the tip broke the sound barrier.

After a few seconds, the baboon grabbed the sheath, before setting the weapon down in its protective case with care. "Thank you," Rafiki replied honestly, bowing again to the lioness. "I will put this to good use."

Mari felt a nervous fluttering building up in her stomach, as she glanced over at the other lion. "I guess we're done here," she stated nervously. "Let's go."

"The way out is over here," Mohatu replied impatiently, before pushing a rock aside with his head.

Another plume of sand fell down from the surface, but he had opened up the chamber to the starlight. He moved aside and held the hidden door open for Mari and Rafiki, before following the two out of the temple.

As the trio returned to the dry, sandy desert, the hours of twilight fell upon them. The entire sky was glowing a purplish-blue with millions of stars.

"It is getting late," Rafiki replied. "It is time for me to return to my home. Perhaps our paths shall cross again sometime."

"It was a pleasure," Mari forced herself to smile back, despite her anxiety.

Before the mandrill turned around, he winked at Mari. "Oh, and good luck!"

The baboon then left the scene quickly, before Mari could even catch her breath. As Rafiki left the two lions alone once again, a deafening silence filled the air. Had it not been for Mari's thoughts, the night would have been calm and peaceful.

But she had no choice. Not anymore. She had to do it.

Mari's gaze shifted from the night sky to Mohatu's rough mane. As she began to speak, her eyes revealed only a sense of despair. "I guess I owe you an explanation..."

"What is it?" Mohatu asked curiously.

As he waited for an answer, he began to realize that whatever it was, it was upsetting her. The lioness's tone of voice in itself made him feel rather uncomfortable. "Please," he continued, "whatever it is, don't beat yourself up over it. I hate to see you like this."

Mari looked away for a moment, groaning in the process. "No... you deserve to know the truth."

"But... I don't understand," Mohatu stated ignorantly.

Mari picked her paw up and pointed roughly in the direction of the moon. "Exactly. Of course you don't understand—that's the problem. Let's go. I'll explain everything this time. I promise."

"Okay," Mohatu mumbled, following in the lioness's path. "So what's this all about?"

Mari gulped, suddenly recalling the events of that night in her mind, as she prepared to explain herself to Mohatu. If she was actually going to tell him the truth, he had to know the whole truth. She planned to tell him everything from her point of view, all from that critical moment...


--- --- ---


A thick, dark layer of clouds and fog shielded the Pridelands from view. Occasionally, lightning struck, illuminating the ominous night sky above. Even from the promontory of Pride Rock, the massive downpour of rain completely blocked visibility across the horizon.

As Mari looked up, she saw two lions standing on the enormous rock, glancing over their kingdom in the storm. One shook the mist out of his mane, while the larger of the two lions almost glanced at her, but instead noticed a wet cheetah running towards Pride Rock.

"What are you doing here, Duma?" The king demanded. "It's just a storm."

The cheetah climbed up to Pride Rock as fast as he could. "I... I saw... the traitors, your highness," he replied, between his deep gasps for air. "They're here. In the Pridelands. Busar is with them."

The king shifted his attention towards his brother. "Rex, gather the knights above Pride Rock. We will make our stand here. Just as we planned."

"Yes..." Rex grinned deviously. He turned around and walked to the other side of the enormous rock with haste. "Soon, there will be no one left to oppose us!"

Leo's dark brown mane blew magnificently in the violent winds. As confident as he was, he felt something was not right as soon as his brother left. "Are you sure?" the king asked Duma. "I'm surprised he actually has the guts..."

"Now's the time!" Busar whispered to Mari and the other three lionesses below. With a sudden surge of energy, they all charged up Pride Rock, following behind the cheetah that almost gave away their camouflage.

Immediately after reaching the top of the promontory, Busar swatted the cheetah away, causing the smaller cat to fall down temporarily.

Duma quickly regained his balance on his paws. He backed away from the lions with his fur standing straight up like spines.

The cheetah exposed his clenched teeth for a moment, before running away as Busar focused on his son.

Two lionesses stood beside him on each side, after following Busar up Pride Rock. Mari and Kartitiki guarded his right, while Narisah and Irena covered his left.

It was five versus one.

"I would rather not fight," Busar stated. "But your actions have forced me to do this."

Narisah nodded in agreement, while a harsh rain began pouring down on the lions. "You have brought order to the Pridelands... but at what cost? Uhai is dead. Akila is dead. Iltani, Korrawi, Isis, Vasari... they're all dead. Half our pride is gone, just because of you!"

"Their deaths were necessary," Leo spat, glancing behind his shoulder. "Those who are worthy of ruling a kingdom serve me. Only the strongest can survive. This is the way it must be."

He hoped to see his knights behind him, ready for battle. Instead, he found no one. A deafening silence filled the moist air around him.

His brother was not in position above Pride Rock as he promised. The lion clenched his teeth together with incredible force as he came to realize what this meant. Rex had betrayed him. He was left to fight alone.

But he would still take all the glory. His anger would fuel his strength in battle.

"This is your last chance, Leo," Busar taunted. "Stand down, or I will be forced to kill you."

Leo moved into his fighting stance, lowering his center of gravity closer to the ground. "You will not stop me!" Leo warned. "I am the king!" He watched each of the lions carefully, waiting for the perfect moment to make his first strike.

Busar inched towards his son at a snail's pace. In a split second, he turned to his right and winked at Mari. She knew what to do.

Leo had no space to move, nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. His only choice was to attack first, and expose himself to the other four lions.

"It's over, Leo!" Mari taunted, moving confidently into position atop a boulder as lightning struck behind her. "This ends here. Now."

In a desperate move, the lion leaped straight forward, directly for Mari's head. The gusty winds and dim moonlight made observing him rather difficult, except during the frequent moments when lightning struck in the distance.

Mari ducked under the pouncing lion, and waited for him to land behind her.

Though Leo managed to sink one of his paws into Mari's back, causing the lioness to scream in pain, he gained too much momentum to hold on. The once arrogant and bodacious lion feared for his life as he slid off the wet rock below him.

Mari remained standing on the boulder, as the rain poured down on her wounded spine.

Leo began accelerating downward at a rapid pace, falling directly in the path of several rocks below. As he hit the first boulder, his body warped and twisted around it, before sliding off into an adjacent rock.

At last, he rested motionless, covered in an ever-expanding pool of blood. Though a dense fog hindered the pride's vision, it was quite clear that the king had fallen.

Mari jumped down and stepped over to the king's carcass. Seconds later, she and the other lions surrounded his dying body.

Checkmate.

The scarred lioness placed her paw above the king's muzzle, to feel his shallow breath. "He's still alive," she whispered. "He's breathing."

Mari then stepped back, gazing across the horizon to look for any more attackers. Her heart continued to beat faster than she had ever felt before, as adrenaline flowed through her blood in massive amounts.

Meanwhile, Karttiki began rubbing a copious pawful of catnip leaves over the lion's nose. She had to knock the lion out of consciousness for sure, and there was little time to waste. Although the king was already down, she had to be sure that he would not be getting back up anytime soon.

After scanning across the horizon, Busar verified that their plan was still in motion. "Hurry up!" he commanded. "Take him back before any lion notices. They could get here at any minute... I'll stand guard until you're hidden in the grass."

Each of the four lionesses grabbed a paw, and began dragging Leo's injured body down to the grasses below Pride Rock. With their combined efforts, they were able to carry him back to the jungle at a reasonably fast jogging pace.

"If he wakes up," Karttiki began, breathing heavily between steps, "We're screwed."

"Indeed," Narisah agreed. "Busar, have you found any more of them yet?" she asked, seeming surprised by the lack of resistance.

"No," Busar replied quickly. "This is too easy..." he replied, his voice growing quieter by the second. "They're letting us go," the old lion concluded, leaping down from the promontory. He began to follow the lionesses back into the jungle, protecting them every step of the way.

"Well, I'll be damned if this actually works," Irena added. "Mari, when we get back to the jungle... I think we owe you one."

The young lioness couldn't help but smile as she helped drag the lion across the stormy savannah. For the first time in her life, she felt absolutely certain that she had done something right.


--- --- ---


"Remember how I said... I killed Leo?" Mari asked.

"Yeah," Mohatu replied, listening carefully to the lioness's heavy words.

"Well, I lied," she stated bluntly. "I never did. I fought Leo, but only briefly."

"I think I was there," Mohatu added. "Leo attacked you, and that's how you got your scar."

"Yes... you remember, don't you?" Mari replied with a tone of surprise in her voice. She gazed deep into Leo's eyes, wondering if he could discover the truth on his own.

"Not really, I just have these... thoughts."

"Well, that's not important," Mari shook her head, before continuing her explanation. "You know, Leo was the best friend I ever had..."

"Uh-huh," the lion nodded, waiting for Mari to continue.

"Even after all he did, I couldn't just kill him. Like I said, he really wasn't a bad lion... I knew something happened to him when he left the Pridelands for a year."

"So... what did you do?" Mohatu asked.

Mari avoided the lion's question, continuing to explain the situation from a state of discomfort. "My plan was never to kill Leo to begin with. You know... I couldn't do that."

"But, what happened to him, then?" the brown lion inquired.

"After I fought him, I took it upon myself to heal him. I tried to bring him back to life..." Mari added, her voice fading into silence as she continued to speak. "I tried to make him see things from our point of view."

At this point, Mohatu was deliberately trying not to put the pieces together. Somehow, in the back of his mind, he knew what Mari would say next, but he would not allow himself to realize it.

Mari ceased her walking, and instead stepped closer toward the naive lion. She placed her paw above his shoulder. "You're not going to want to hear this, but you must."

"There was only one way to save Leo," she continued slowly, "and that was to wipe his memory clean. I give him a new life."

Mohatu cocked his head to the side. "You... did?"


--- --- ---


Leo's contorted body sat beside a large palm tree near the pride's jungle hideout. Busar, Mari, Narisah, Karttiki, and Irena glanced at the resting lion, after dragging him into the shade. Together, along with the cub Uru, they were all that remained of their ravaged pride.

Busar knelt down beside his dying son, Leo. Slowly, he placed his paw above the old king's forehead, with dark shadows from the trees covering both figures.

The others watched intently as Busar spoke. "I'm sorry, Leo. If you are to blame anyone for this, please, blame me."

Narisah shifted closer to her mate. "It wasn't our-"

The lion blinked in an attempt to hold in his tears. "It was my fault," Busar retorted. "I never should have let this happen to begin with. But I'm not the one who can fix this."

The old lion paused for a moment, breathing heavily before continuing. "Please... forgive us. Forgive yourself. You can make up for what you've done," he whispered to his unconscious son.

"Don't get too confident," Karttiki muttered sadly, preparing herself to speak the obvious. "He's pretty damn close to being dead. There's no way he's going to be able to help us like this."

"I think he'll be fine," Mari informed her pride, choking on her own saliva for a second. "He's still breathing; it looks like he just needs some rest." The lioness stepped forward slightly, taking a deep breath before continuing. "Come on..." she rolled her eyes. "He's Leo. If he survived the Badlands, he'll survive this too."

"Okay, maybe he will be fine," Irena muttered. "And I really like your idea, Mari... but my only concern is... what if the catnip doesn't work? What if all his memories start coming back later? What if he finds out what we've done? What will we do then?"

"I'm afraid that's a risk we have to take," Busar added. "Look around. Look where we are. We're stuck in the jungle with nothing to eat but bugs, because we've been chased away from our home by my own sons. If this isn't our only hope, then I don't know what is."

Mari suddenly interrupted the older lions. "Well, I've been thinking... as soon as he's able to move again, what are we going to call him? Obviously, we can't have him know who he really is..."

"We will call him Mohatu," Busar declared, wiping his paw across his son's forehead to clean a partially open wound. "The savior."

Mari and Narisah were first to accept the idea. The two placed their paws above Busar's in agreement.

Karttiki and Narisah hesitated for a moment, before adding their paws as well. "It's settled then."


--- --- ---


Mari tilted her head up slightly. "We gave him a new identity, while he was in and out of consciousness for several days. We started to call him Mohatu. Our savior," she explained. "From that moment on, Leo was dead... sort of. He was reborn."

The lion's jaw lowered, and he temporarily lost his ability to speak.

"It's not what you think," Mari said desperately. "Please, you must understand... I didn't want to lie to you all this time. I didn't have much of a choice."

"Is this some sort of joke?" the former king asked. "I would never-"

"It's true," the lioness replied. "But you've changed since then. You're a new lion now, and..." Mari suddenly struggled to find her words, trying to remember the way Rafiki had phrased it.

"I..." Mohatu began, stuttering between every breath. "I don't even..."

Mari looked away. "The truth is, that's why we're here," she admitted. "If you hate me for it, I don't blame you."

"But," Mari interrupted herself, speaking a bit louder, "I had no choice. I only wanted to give you another chance..."

"I just want to be alone for a little bit," Mohatu sighed heavily, after seconds of hardly breathing. It was all too much to think about at once.

The lioness nearly choked on her own words. "Oh... okay. I-I'll let you think about it. It's a lot... I know."

Mari then collapsed into the sand, as her friend walked off into the middle of nowhere. Even though she had told him the truth, he was still just as lost and confused as he had ever been.

This would be the former king's ultimate test—and it would be Mari's as well.


--- --- ---


A/N: I'm not sure exactly how long this story is going to be, but this is somewhere around the halfway point, right here. I know, I know. This is a long story.

Now, considering that, I have something to say that I probably should have said all the way back at the very beginning. Like The Lion King was inspired by Hamlet, and Simba's Pride was an adaption of Romeo and Juliet, the general outline of this story was primarily influenced by the award-winning video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

To make it very clear: I do not own that franchise either (obviously), and I am not taking credit for the plot idea. If I actually owned anything, I wouldn't be uploading my stuff here, lol.

I did not want to reveal that at the beginning, because it would completely give away the plot twist for anyone who has played the game before, or anyone who is curious enough to Google it and read half a Wikipedia article. That being said, if you haven't played the game, I highly recommend it if you're into that sort of thing. Too bad I've spoiled the best part. :P

I can assure you, though, the ending of this story will be quite a bit different, along with many of the following chapters.

Oh, and one more thing: believe it or not, I've been writing this story for about a year now. I've had the actual idea in mind for the plot for nearly two years (hence my name, as you now know), although I have made many changes along the way since then, of course. I've come a long way since my first draft, and it's been quite an experience. It has required a lot of time and effort to tackle a project like this, but I have to say it's actually been pretty fun. It will be a sad day when I am done writing this story, that's or sure.

My goal is to have the story finished before the end of this year. As with everything else I do, it may or may not happen on time... but that's my plan, at least.
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Dark Huntress » June 17th, 2013, 3:04 am

OMG! I choked on my fork [I settled for pasta salad ;)]! Wow, this is getting super interesting, can't wait!
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Re: A Kingdom Reborn: The Legend of Mohatu

Postby Regulus » June 17th, 2013, 6:27 am

Haha, I take that as a compliment. I, however, am not taking responsibility for any damages as a result of pasta salad being spat over a keyboard. :innocent3:

Oh, and before I forget, chapter 17 is going to be uploaded a day or two early, and chapter 18 is probably going to be a few days late. I'm going on vacation at the end of this week, so that's why.
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