The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » October 5th, 2014, 5:46 pm

Image

Table of Contents*
Chapter 1: The Visitors
Chapter 2: Rising Doubts
Chapter 3: Your Future
Chapter 4: Disgrace

*Note: Chapter names are tentative and subject to change.

Forward:

Dear readers, I have begun another fic and abandoned the others. To be honest, I started all of them lazily and put little effort into them; there was no real direction in mind when they began and there was no goal, each chapter was written in a few hours and sloppily uploaded with no editing, and only basic plot elements were decided in advance. It was a mess and I apologize. The only one that was finished was Secret Rendezvous and that was because it actually had what the others lacked from the start; a goal, a purpose, and a direction. This work, is therefore more similar to that one than the others. Which is hopefully good news for you all. I have planned out carefully how each chapter will go, and what shall occur when. This means that the story should, in theory, reach completion at some point. However, due to my busy schedule, there is no guarantee of updates, and this story will likely take a long time to be concluded, but I have faith in this one. It also has a lot of personal meaning to me, so I have a proper motivator to finish it. Any and all feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Last edited by Carl on December 11th, 2014, 3:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
Carl

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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » October 5th, 2014, 5:54 pm

Chapter 1: show
Chapter 1: The Visitors


The Mountain Kingdom is known for being luscious and prosperous—the throne rests in a vast African jungle, situated on the side of a towering mountain. The bright greens and yellows of the foliage stand out in stark contrast against the coats of most lions, as do the deep shadows and multitudinous rainbow coloured jungle flowers and creatures. The depths of the jungle hide a paradise like none to be found in the savannahs most prides call home. There are striking waterfalls flowing over shimmering caverns, surrounded by sparkling springs. Moss covers many a stone, making the area soft and beautiful. The springs provide an infinite source of water for the pride residing there, and the falls make it easy for the lions to keep cool even in the greenhouse of dense foliage. The coves beneath the falls provide cover and protection, hiding the pride behind roaring waters and masking their scents to deceive attackers. Surprise defensive attacks are a simple feat in this land, and the lions of the ruling pride are known for their adept reflexes and ninja-like skills at combat and hunting, hiding in the shadows and using the abundance of trees and water to aid their assault. The kingdom’s pride is known for the dark, muddy brown pelts they wear; pelts which aid them in all of their endeavors. To put it simply, the Mountain Kingdom is one of the best places that anyone could live. It is from here that I originate, but this land is not my home.

My father is the current king of the Mountain Pride, a burly and dark lion known as Mahesha, and I am his firstborn cub. As such, I was supposed to be next in line for the throne, but… things don’t always turn out the way you’re brought to expect. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

As a cub, I was absolutely content in the bountiful life and lands I had been fortunate enough to be born into. I had no reason not to be. There was no shortage of food or of water, the locale provided sufficient cover that rogues were never a problem, and I had three siblings, younger than me only by minutes, with whom to spend all of my time playing. We were the apples of our parents’ collective eyes. Being the eldest, I was destined to become queen of this land, and I was amazed at the prospect of owning and ruling such a beautiful kingdom. My sister, Sarabi, would be my right hand, unless they found a neighboring kingdom with a son to whom she could be betrothed. And our two younger sisters, Diku and Dwala, were destined to become grand huntresses. Not to say that Sarabi and I would not be trained to hunt as well. The art of using the shadows to overtake prey and opponents was a sacred skill among our pride, one that each and every lion and lioness was taught to wield with expert prowess. It was something that set us apart from the other prides, and made us the proud people that we were.

Even the foreign male cub, Hari, who had been brought in alongside his mother, with the sole purpose of being my future mate, was being trained in this skill. He was quite the unique lion cub, standing out from even his mother, colour-wise. His coat was a dull yellow-gold, and his lower jaw was white, while his upper jaw was orangey. His paws bore the same colouration as his upper jaw, as did the area below his eyes. His barely growing mane was a reddish colour that never occurred on the manes of males from around here. Put simply, he was hard to miss. And he was one of the best friends I could have asked for. As a cub, I wasn’t bothered at all by the prospect of someday being his bride and queen. I didn’t think of anything else, for what else was there than living up to the expectations and enjoying life in the paradise I had been born into? The pride, and myself, lived quite happily under the assumption that our future was absolute and secure, until in my adolescence, things began to get muddily unclear.

I began to notice something wasn’t right when Sarabi was, in fact, betrothed. The queen of the Pridelands, Uru, had originated from our kingdom, and so it came to pass that she returned to the land with her eldest son, Mufasa, to seek a future queen. It was the talk of the kingdom—this would be the second consecutive generation of Prideland queens to be chosen from our people, and it was quite the honour to further unite our kingdom with theirs.

The breeze was softly tugging at the branches of trees and causing their leaves to dance merrily on the day that Uru brought Mufasa to meet my sister. The pride’s daily training unit had set out in the predawn hours by way of the treetops, but midday saw them returning rather unexpectedly—by foot, no less. The training units are being schooled in the sacred stealth skills our clan so honours, and as such, this sudden and quite unorthodox approach by ground quickly caught and held the pride’s attention. The ground travel, however, was not the only odd aspect of this display, as the group was accompanied by two strangers.

The one was a fully grown lioness, with a deep mahogany pelt, darker than most of our coats but not unusual for us, or even some other prides. She had a lean, muscular body and could have fit right in with our pride. At her side strode a male who was burly and powerful to behold. His flaming red mane had yet to fill out, betraying his age to be one of our generation. As the strangers drew nearer, I noticed that they were being escorted to the den in which my parents often conducted royal business. The closer they got, the more excited and loud the older generation got, surprising me as I came to discover that the lioness was not a stranger to most of the pride. They began to exclaim things along the lines of “Her ladyship Uru has returned! Such an honour to be in her presence once again.”

“Who is Uru?” Hari asked quizzically. Dwala shoved him roughly and indicated, with a paw, the golden male beside the lioness whom we had to presume was Uru.

“Who cares who she is! Who is he?” she demanded, a dreamy look coming over her eyes.

“He’s very cute,” Sarabi said, as I noticed that somehow, he seemed nervous, despite exuding confidence as he approached with the lioness.

“He’s not just cute, he’s handsome,” Diku added, “Look at that body—such excellent musculature.”

“He’s hot,” Dwala chirped. I raised an eyebrow, not really seeing it myself. He looked like any other lion to me.

“I bet his mane is softer than down feathers,” Sarabi murmured, as if in a trance, her eyes following him closely. In fact, I noticed that all three of my sisters were gaping, open-jawed and—in Dwala’s case—drooling, after the teen lion as he disappeared through the waterfall and into our parents’ royal cove. After the male’s disappearance, they each shook their heads, Sarabi blushed ever so slightly, and Dwala used the back of her paw to wipe away the drool.

“Get a grip on yourselves, girls. He’s just a lion,” I reminded them, moving nearer to the cove’s entrance and trying to get a good view of the inner chamber through the roaring waters, “I’m just curious as to what he’s doing here, and who is Uru? They’re obviously very important… but how so?”

Dwala groaned. “Are you really that daft? He’s a prince of course, come to be betrothed to Sarabi, no doubt. You and her have always been predestined to be the lucky ones just for being born first. It’s no fair…”

“I know,” Diku added, “Why don’t we get to find mates and have cubs? It really isn’t fair at all. You take what you have for granted, Naanda.”

“No I don’t!” I retorted defensively, “Hari’s my best friend. I know I’m lucky to have him as my betrothed.”

“Cos I’m such a stud,” Hari murmured smugly.

“That just proves my point, Naanda. When will you learn? All you think of him as is a friend. But look at that nice pelt and his mane… and look just how nice and sweet he is. Do you even realize what a great catch you’ve got? Even if he is Tanglemane,” Diku continued. Tanglemane was our cubhood nickname for Hari; he’d acquired it for getting his mane tangled in brambles and brush often when it had been just starting to grow. He’d try to disappear into the jungle like the rest of us, but within moments, the yellow cub would be dangling out of the tree by his paws and some red strands, wrapped thickly around a bough, or in a bird’s nest, and when the pride’s lionesses would get him down, he’d have leaves and sometimes flowers tangled in his mane. While he’d grown out of getting it tangled, he hadn’t ever outgrown the name.

“Of course I do,” I answered nervously, not really sure if I truly did. I mean, I never felt special to have him, it was just a fact of life. He would be my mate someday, and so we had been brought up together. That is how life had always been and always would be. The romantic tales the lionesses liked to relate to one another in which the princess found true love and married the lion of her dreams… those weren’t real. They were nothing but fairy tales, crafted to allow the lonesome huntresses to fantasize and mentally mimic the experience of having a mate… and as such, they were idealized, and made further and further from what I understood reality to be. It was such fanciful nonsense that had filled my sisters’ heads and convinced them I was somehow luckier than they for having a future husband. “I just don’t understand what the big deal is. This is just how life goes. I’m not luckier than you two to have a mate on hand. Get those love stories out of your heads—marriage isn’t like that. It’s a political thing, you know, to make sure the ruler gets knocked up.”

Hari’s face soured. “Good to know I’m just here to someday give you cubs, sweetie pie,” he retorted with heavy sarcasm, rising on his paws and striding away, “Marriage talk is for lionesses anyway…”

“Ugh, you’re hopeless,” Dwala snarled.

“What?”

“Have you never felt anything? Do you have emotions at all? How could you say that? Much less in front of Hari? Maybe to you marriage is simply political, but to him it’s so much more than that! That guy has been head over heels for you for ages, but you just reduce that to politics. You should be ashamed of yourself,” she went on, showing her teeth and flaring her nostrils. I was incredibly hurt by her accusations. Could they be true? In truth I wasn’t even sure what I was meant to feel for my future king—after all, doesn’t one have love for their friends? And hadn’t I said Hari was my best friend? What else was I supposed to feel, to think, to do? Ought I drool over his appearance in likeness of my sisters over this newcomer? Should I forego honesty with him in order to stroke his ego and shower him with praise?

“Dwala, what is wrong with you…?” I gasped, my face contorted with sadness.

“What’s wrong with you, Naanda? Come on, Diku… let’s go console the poor guy.”

With that, my two sisters huffed, and stalked away, their pawsteps plodding heavily against the damp earth as they disappeared into the trees in the same direction Hari had gone. My gaze locked on the place to whence they’d all quit for a few moments before flittering away to stare instead, forlorn, at my pawtoes. The ghosts of tears danced around in my eyes as I contemplated the implications of my alleged emotionlessness, and the coldness with which I had just been treated, by my dear sister, on account of it. It was clear Hari had felt hurt by my words, but why? There was no other lion I cared more for. I couldn’t figure it out at all. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t feel, or even understand, the feelings I was obviously meant to feel?

“I don’t understand… what did I do…?” I murmured to myself.

“Don’t let them get you down, Naanda. It’s okay if you aren’t in love with Hari. You can’t control who it is you fall for,” Sarabi said softly.

“No! That’s not it… I do love him. He’s my best friend,” I explained, “I feel more for him than anyone else. But… love is not all they make it out to be in those fancies the lionesses come up with. It’s just not. I mean, look at mom and dad! They don’t seem to be anything other than good friends,” I replied, defending myself, “We love our friends and family. Hari is no different. I won’t be upset or anything to become his mate.”

“‘Hari is no different...’ Naanda, that tells more than you realize. Do not fret over it. You’ll be fine, and he’ll be fine; they’ll get over it,” my sister offered calmly. I scratched at my chin with a paw, unsure of what she meant per se, and not sure as to how to proceed from here.

“Well, should I—” I started to speak, but I was cut off by our mother emerging from the waterfall and addressing the two of us immediately.

“Sarabi, Naanda, please come in. There’s someone we’d like the two of you to meet, and things we should discuss.”

Without delay, we rose on our paws and ducked our heads into the waterfall, leaping through. The torrential downpour drenched our fur and soaked us to the skin. We were used to this, as most of our caves hid behind these natural fountains, but I still hated it every single time. I don’t have anything against water, or getting wet. No, I just don’t like being soaked to the bone and finding myself trembling from chills despite the heat and humidity of the jungle. It’s a rather unpleasant sensation to endure repetitively throughout any given day. I understand and respect the value and necessity of such a defense—however, when no enemies can even find this place, it can become quite the nuisance. Especially so, when the sheer force of the water is taken into account; the torrents crashing down upon a spine can do lasting damage to the body of a lion. But I digress.

In the royal chamber, we saw the two strangers, where they sat adjacent to our father. The adolescent male stranger appeared more nervous than he had outside, while the older female positively radiated with pride. Sarabi, my mother, and I strode across the den to take seats before the trio.

“Naanda,” my father began, “Pay close attention. You will be in this place one day, when you and Hari have cubs.” I nodded. Our king continued, “This is Uru and her step-son Mufasa. Our kingdom is Uru’s birthplace, but she was betrothed to King Ahadi of the Pride Lands in her youth. Now, his heir has come of age, and as yet has not been betrothed himself. Mufasa is here, Sarabi, as your future mate. The two of you will spend a few days together, and then you shall leave for the Pride Lands together if all goes well.”

So, my sisters had been right about this lion’s visit. Sarabi’s jaw dropped and her face became parrot red from blushing. I felt my chest tighten. I didn’t want Sarabi to leave so soon, she was the only one of my sisters who had seemed to think there wasn’t something wrong with me, but as my mouth went dry, I glanced at her to see her flashing a nervous smile at Mufasa. He returned the look, perhaps even more nervously than she had given it, and Uru spoke up.

“I speak for myself and my king when I say it honors us to unite the Mountain Kingdom and the Pride Lands once more in this new generation. May our kingdoms forever be the best of friends and allies.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” my father replied.

“We cannot thank you enough for this opportunity, Mahesha,” Uru continued.

“But I don’t know how to be a queen,” Sarabi blurted, finally having found her voice.

“It won’t be hard, just look pretty and use a firm paw with the cubs,” I quipped with a smug grimace. This resulted in my mother cuffing me on the back of the head with an admittedly firm paw.

“Yes, Sarabi, just like that,” she said, and the shimmering cavern erupted into chortles for a moment. Until my father cleared his throat loudly, cutting our merriment short.

“Marriage and ruling a kingdom are no laughing matter. Sarabi your duties will be serious. You and Naanda have invaluable positions in our prides. Without you, things will be rather difficult. As queens, you must provide the pride with an heir. You must lead the hunting party. You must raise your cubs with affection and sternness and teach them the ways of our people. You must teach them to hunt and discuss politics with your mates and neighboring tribes, you must help your mates deal with the kingdoms subjects and resolve their disputes; no creature is to be treated unfairly for any reason or it could upset the Circle of Life. As queens you must understand and respect that balance, and you must be prepared for the duties that you will have to perform. There is no longer time for childish tomfoolery and fantasies. No longer is there time for fancies and dreams—you live to serve your people,” my father explained in a very serious tone. None of this was new to me, I’d heard it all a hundred times or more in my days, but for some reason, it suddenly hit me and it didn’t sound too nice. Why should I be considered lucky, to have so much expected of me, and so much pressure and power placed upon me? My parents expected greatness from me, but was I capable of such things? I don’t know what made me have such ominous doubts. Perhaps a part of me already knew what I had yet to consciously discover. Perhaps it was because of what had just happened outside the cave with my sisters. Whatever it was, I was beginning to feel like the unluckiest sister. Especially when my father added one last comment, “Naanda will have even more duties than you will, Sarabi, being that you are not the heir to the Pride Lands, but his mate. You will have limited political responsibilities that will merely be that of aiding Mufasa when he needs it.”

“And I will teach you about what is expected of you in the Pride Lands. I had to learn it all at your age myself,” Uru explained with a kind smile. Sarabi beamed at her.

“I will do my best to make you all proud and do the right thing,” she responded cheerily. My heart sunk a little bit. She was dying to do this, wasn’t she?

“Oh Sarabi, don’t tell me you’ve let Diku’s and Dwala’s romantic fantasies infect you as well,” I groaned, rubbing my forehead with a paw. She turned a sheepish smile towards me.

“Alright. Then I won’t tell you,” she murmured, returning her dreamy orbs to Mufasa, who’s face mirrored hers, his big snout seeming positively delighted and kind. I had never once cast a stare like that at Hari, never had I been so enamored with him to be so lost in his eyes. Was it true that I didn’t love him, not in the correct way? I shook the thought away. That was impossible, wasn’t it? We’d been the best of friends for our entire lives. How could I not be? It was foolishness, it was just those stories they obsessed over. Mufasa must have been told many of them in the Pride Lands too. That was the only explanation for all of this. With that thought, my mind eased a bit and I let myself return to normal trains of thought. All of my life I had been prepared for the position of queen. I had been prepared for my duties, trained in the pride’s stealth, and prepared to be Hari’s mate. It wasn’t news, it wasn’t unexpected and it wasn’t anything approaching an impossible task. I would be the queen and mother I was destined to be and everyone would be happy. Just not outrageously happy like those stories teach gullible lionesses like my sisters to desire.

“I’m glad to see you two seem to share a common attraction already. Sarabi, why don’t you give Mufasa a tour of our home? He will be staying here for a few days and might like to know his way around. After that you two can start getting to know one another,” my father suggested. Sarabi nodded eagerly and the two trotted—practically skipped—away through the waterfall. My father continued, “Hjördís, Uru, would you mind organizing the hunting party? Then the two of you and some of the other lionesses who remember Uru can catch up while the party catches and prepares our celebratory feast.”

“Of course, my dear,” my mother replied, taking the other lioness with her and making their leave through the waterfall. I rose on my paws also, looking at my father with eager impatience, a hunt would be a good distraction to get these thoughts of romance and uncertainty out of my head.

“May I be dismissed also, Father? I’d like to participate in the hunt,” I explained.

“Actually, Naanda, there’s more I’d like to discuss with you in private. It’s of the utmost importance.”
Carl

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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby UncoordinatedPisces » November 5th, 2014, 7:28 pm

You've got so much talent Julie. I've not read a fanfiction that kept me so interested in a long time. That chapter never once 'plodded' along, it flowed. I wish my writing could flow like that. I can't wait to read the next chapter :3
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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » November 6th, 2014, 12:27 am

Thanks! I do my best to be fresh and interesting, and I hope that the subsequent chapters will continue to be interesting and to flow nicely for the readers. I haven't seen my idea used in this context, so I think it will keep people's attention (if I can just get myself writing again). Maybe not, though, lol. :P

Edit Nov. 23, 2014:
I am not abandoning this project, but work on an original novel that I intend to self-publish through amazon soon is delaying progress. Expect all updates to be slow, but they will come in time, I promise. I intend to finish this one.
Carl

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Welcome to Carlmunism.

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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » December 11th, 2014, 3:32 am

chapter 2: show
Chapter 2: Rising Doubts


I cocked my head quizzically at my father, but did not protest. He rose on his paws and began to walk deeper into the cove. Without a word, and without waiting for him to ask me to follow, I did so automatically, knowing it was expected of me. The farther into the cavern we ventured, the less light there was to see by, and our eyes adjusted accordingly, although slower than I would have liked. At last, there was a glimmer before us again, as we neared an underground spring in the heart of the cavern. The water reflected coolly off of every rock, pebble, and each of the structure’s stalactites and stalagmites. My father approached the pool, his visage reflecting in it.

“What did you want to talk to me about, father?” I asked, having no idea what could have been so private a matter he’d want to talk to me so far from everyone else.

“Your mother and I are becoming concerned,” he replied softly, reaching down with a paw and gently stirring the water. I didn’t understand and waited for him to continue. He swirled his paw around in the spring some more, frightening a few fish that swam away in a hurry. My father seemed to be collecting his thoughts and figuring out how to say what he wanted to say, but I was getting impatient.

“Concerned about what, exactly?” I sighed with exacerbation.

“Our future. The pride’s future. Your future,” he said, retracting his paw from the spring and shaking off the droplets of water. He slowly spun around to face me and continued, “Your mother and I aren’t getting any younger, Naanda, you must understand that.”

“I do.”

“Good. Our time is waning and soon the kingdom will need a fresh ruler. It will soon be time for us to retire and for you to take your place as queen. It may seem sudden, but your sister’s wedding begs the question of when yours will be. We’ve waited for quite some time for you and Hari to announce your readiness, and we cannot wait much longer my princess.”

“What? Now? You can’t be serious,” I protested, my stomach having lurched to my feet as soon as his intentions had become clear.

“I have never been more serious, my child.”

“Dad, I’m barely an adult! I haven’t learned all I need to know yet, I’m simply not ready,” I argued, fighting to keep my voice calm and to keep control of my breathing and heart rate, both of which were increasing rapidly. This was not a good day to have this discussion, as my sisters’ words came rushing back to me, and I found myself extremely lost and overwhelmed.

“Fear not, your mother and I will be able to help you until you get the swing of things. We will be your advisors, as will be your sisters, should you wish it of them,” he returned calmly. I pictured Diku and Dwala, heard their biting words in my head all over again. Them? As my advisors? Oh no, I couldn’t imagine it. No. I was not ready for this, and I was not ready for Sarabi to leave. She was the sister I needed as an advisor. She was the one who actually seemed to have some insight into this situation. She was the one I needed to help me figure this out. And as an idea dawned on me, I realized she was the one who had the means to get me out of this for now, just as she’d gotten me into it.

“Well, I can’t steal Sarabi’s thunder, dad. This is the end of her time here, her last accomplishment with her birth pride. I can’t go and take over the throne until she’s already moved to her new home. It wouldn’t be right to do otherwise.”

My father sighed, placing a paw on his brow and rubbing it gently. Then he answered, still rubbing his brow, “I can’t argue with that. But listen, Naanda… your mother and I received a hornbill several days ago foretelling Mufasa’s imminent arrival and his purpose. It got us thinking, and while you still are a bit young, your mother and I are not. You know we had cubs before yourself that did not make it… we are aging and there isn’t much time. We shall delay the wedding until after Sarabi’s new life is settled, but don’t think you’ve beaten me or fooled me. I know you have your own reasons for not wanting this.”

I felt my face heat up and my heart thumped even louder and harder against my chest.

“It’s just what I’ve said. I’m just not ready yet, and I don’t want to ruin this for Sarabi. That’s all.”

“Alright. You don’t have to tell me. But whatever it is, you had better resolve it before Sarabi leaves for the Pride Lands, because as soon as she gets comfortable, you must be wed,” he said firmly, striding past me and back towards the cave’s mouth. I looked at my paws against the near-black cave floor for a moment, feeling ashamed of my fear and my crisis, and dreading the day that Sarabi left. For now, I’d have to try and find a chance to talk to her away from Mufasa. I needed to figure out what I was feeling, and whether or not I was ready to be queen. Feeling like a scolded cub, I pitifully watched my father’s figure shrink as he left me there, and then turned my gaze to the spring. I rose on my paws and padded over, staring down at my reflection. I had never noticed it before, but I didn’t look like a queen. I looked scared, and young, and nothing like my strong, proud father, nor my graceful and regal mother.

In fact, I didn’t look like anyone of the Mountain Pride, save for the fact that my fur was dark. There were tufts of blond on my face and ears, and my left eye was not the same colour as my right. Sure they were minor differences, but in that moment, feeling so conflicted and staring down at my reflection, I couldn’t help but feel that these differences in appearance made it obvious that I was not ready to be a queen—not at all. For a while, I remained, staring at the image of myself warily until at last I’d had enough, was too on edge, and needed to talk to Sarabi. I rose and slunk away from the pool like a scolded cub and padded into the depths of the cave opposite of the direction my father had gone. There was another exit back here, one that didn’t require leaping through a waterfall, and so it was my goal destination.

I emerged in a canopy of vibrant greens and yellows, pushing through the foliage to descend the rocky crag and drop deftly to my paws on the dirt and grass below. I searched all over, but there was no sign of Sarabi. I happened upon my other two sisters, but they would not speak to me. Once I encountered Hari, and it was the same. At last I laid eyes on my wise sister, but she and her new betrothed were staring into one another’s souls and I knew that not only would she not hear me if I spoke to her, but that seeing me would just bother her at this moment, so I decided to bide my time.

But days went by in this fashion, Sarabi being totally wrapped up in Mufasa, and he in her. They walked closely enough to each other that they brushed legs with each step, their tails twirled around each other, and their eyes remained locked together. They giggled and whispered, talking low and sweet, other times they’d laugh loudly and one or the other would blush, and there was no sign of them parting ways any time soon. I grew weary of this game, my anxiety building each day until it became too much for me to bear. And so at last, I found myself plodding towards my flirtatious sister and her prince, determined to speak with her before my time was up. They were giggling again and muttering as they lay next to one another on a rock above a spring, their forepaws dipped ever so slightly in the cool water.

I strode right up to the other edge of the pool and cleared my throat loudly enough that my voice came out meek and timid in comparison, “Sarabi?” The both of them looked up at me, eyes twinkling in a way that I felt it safe to say mine never had. Watching them had made me all the more determined to bring this up again. “I hate to interrupt but I need to talk to you. Alone, if possible.”

Sarabi and Mufasa exchanged a look, the male then licking my sister’s face before rising with a big smile on his face, and said affectionately, “No problem. I’ll go see my mom, and you can come find me when you’re done talking to your sister, Sarabi.”

“Yes, Muffy, I’ll see you soon,” Sarabi purred, watching the red-maned prince stride away into the forest. When he had gone too far for her to continue admiring his bodily dimensions, she turned her attention back to me and asked in a voice belying concern, “What’s wrong, Naanda?”

“What do you feel for him?” I asked sharply. Her eyes clouded over.

“Oh, Naanda… he’s the best. Being with him, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy—” she started.

“You are warm and fuzzy,” I interrupted.

“No, not like that. This feeling, it’s on the inside. My heart feels like it’s dancing when I spend time with him, or even just think about him. I feel nervous and excited, and happy like you wouldn’t believe, it’s like being inside a star,” she purred softly, “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

“You shouldn’t have to explain it.”

“Pardon?”

“Just—why don’t I feel that for Tanglemane? Why don’t I already know what you’re talking about? It’s not fair. Dad wants me to marry him very soon and I’m just now realizing that maybe I shouldn’t, and maybe I shouldn’t even be queen. If it means lying to Hari, if it means something like that… I don’t know if it’s worth it,” I blurted all at once.

“Oh Naanda,” Sarabi breathed, rising and moving around the pool before I could blink to nudge her head up under my own in a leonine hug.

“What’s wrong with me? I know Hari’s a wonderful lion, and any lioness would be lucky to be his betrothed…” I went on, “What should I do?”

Sarabi took a step back and looked me in the eyes with an intense stare, “Look inside yourself. Think about Hari, about what he means to you; what means more to you, and what choices do you have, think carefully and find the answers, only then can you decide what must be done.”

I groaned in frustration. “But how will I know!”

“Well… how do you feel about having cubs with Hari?” she asked.

“I… it’s my duty. I don’t hate the idea, but I don’t love it either. Why should I? It’s the same as becoming queen, it’s just what’s expected of me. I don’t know if I would have chosen this path had it not been thrust upon me,” I admitted, as much to myself as to her. Sarabi nodded.

“It’s as I thought. I’ve known it for quite some time. It’s obvious,” she murmured.

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, think about it, sister. I’ve known Mufasa for only a short time, but you see the way we are together. I will be marrying him tomorrow because I want to and I will be having his cubs one day for the same reason. Mufasa is my other half; I feel complete and happy with him in a way I never have with the pride and I want to create a family with him. I want to be his mate. Compare that to your own situation. You’ve known Hari since we were cubs. And you see him as a best friend. As a brother. Do you see?” she asked. I felt floored. I’d been thinking it a possibility since she’d first said it but even still, I did not want to accept it. This couldn’t be happening, I’d be a disappointment to them all.

“I’m not in love with him. But what am I to do? Mom and dad will be disappointed, I’ll still have to marry him, they’re aging and the kingdom needs an heir, it’s not my choice at all,” I stammered, my whole body feeling heavy, my heart pounding and my head reeling.

“Naanda, I can’t make that decision for you. Tell them or don’t, but you do have a choice. You can go along with their plan like the political daughter and future queen they raised you to be, or you can forge your own destiny. But that is not for me to decide.”

I bit my lip, indecision coursing through my very being. Was it really so simple? Could I really just—do something else than what I’d been trained for my whole life? I couldn’t be sure and I didn’t know what else to say or to ask Sarabi while she was here. I just knew that I was not ready for this, and so I simply said that.

“I’m not ready. I can’t do this yet.”

“Take your time.”

“I don’t have time to take! I’m supposed to marry Hari as soon as you get settled in with Mufasa in his kingdom!” I cried.

“That soon?” she asked. I nodded fiercely, my heart drumming against my chest in a frantic pulsing beat. “That does complicate things, but I’m afraid there is still nothing I can do. Naanda it’s your life. You have to do with it what is right for you.”

“You’re right,” I choked, my throat feeling constricted and awfully dry, my mind still unmade. She nodded and rose on her paws, saying something about returning to Mufasa for a bit until she needed to rest up in preparation for her big day tomorrow. I nodded in acknowledgement, but I wasn’t really there anymore. Every part of me was shaking, my brain pounding roughly against my skull in a vain attempt to break free from its prison in this body and escape to someplace where time could stand still. And that is all I remember before standing on the stones the next morning as Sarabi emerged from a cave with flowers in her fur, their petals falling off behind her as she strode forward to meet Mufasa.

He stood regally at the foot of a hill, the pride gathered on the slope, the better to see, an aisle formed in the middle. We royals were nearest to the foot of the hill, Uru standing proudly behind Mufasa and my father waiting in the middle to perform the rights. To my right was Hari, and on his side, my sisters Diku and Dwala. To my left was my mother, tears in her eyes, as she watched the beautifully adorned form of her second eldest descending the slope to meet her future king and be united with him til death should they part.

Hari smiled warmly at me, and then flirtatiously, and then mischievously. I grimaced and cut my eyes away from him, my body feeling like lead as the ceremony wore on. I was too distracted to hear what my father said as he wed them; too afraid to be in Sarabi’s place within the fortnight, too afraid to be given the reigns too soon. I was afraid of living a life I hadn’t chosen, and my time to change that fate was running out each minute, but still I remained undecided. I didn’t register what vows were exchanged between Sarabi and Mufasa, didn’t want to see the love in their eyes, but that’s all I could see. Pulsing affection and desire, the impatience to be away from us all and just get completely lost in each other, it was written all over the pair, in their faces and even in their body language. They carried themselves like twitterpated gemsbok.

Love and happiness radiated off of them. It must have been infectious because I could feel it burning to my right, I could hear it, the thrumming of a happy and eager heart, and I could tell that Hari had caught it too. I wanted to push myself away from him, no—I wanted to flee. I wanted to get away and I wanted out now. I didn’t want to see this any longer, didn’t want to think about it, but a queen must have self-control, and so I remained seated, a polite smile etched into my face, just as I’d been taught to do in uncomfortable situations. Soon, Hari began to purr, and moments later there were thunderous roars of congratulations, and something hard jabbing my ribs.

It was Hari’s elbow. I suddenly realized the roars were those marking the end of the ceremony, and that I was expected to be contributing my voice to the cacophony of triumph and harmony. Belatedly, I let out my own roar, trying to save face and give Sarabi’s wedding the respect and acknowledgement that it deserved. Then it was time to eat. The hunting party had collected the choicest pieces of meat in the jungle and had carved them, serving the best portions on long stones scattered throughout the area betwixt the springs. Hari nudged me towards the stone he wanted to eat from, and I followed him without resistance, feeling uncomfortable with him knowing—and accepting—that he was not my Mufasa, that he was not anything to me that Diku and Dwala were not.

“It’s so exciting isn’t it?” he asked cheerily, digging into a juicy bit of okapi meat. Myself, I wasn’t feeling very hungry, but I nibbled another hunk of food nearby all the same—it was impolite not to eat at a wedding feast—and swallowed before replying.

“Oh yes it must be exciting for them. They really love each other,” I agreed.

“I meant exciting for us.”

“Erm. What do you mean?” I feigned ignorance, taking a large bite to give me a moment to think before having to speak again, as my face heated up significantly and my heart began to hammer faster.

“Don’t be coy,” he barked, “There will be plenty of time for that later. You know exactly what I mean. Our wedding. I know you saw how happy they were to get married. And we’ll be even happier. We’ve known each other for so much longer—we have so much more to be happy about. When will it be, my princess?”

I swallowed, and consequently gagged, as I hadn’t chewed my food enough beforehand. I started coughing and my breathing ceased, as I choked and heaved, trying to spare myself death at the meat’s hands—or, lack there of—secretly thankful that I had an excuse not to answer his question just yet. I managed to spit out the offending morsel a moment later and excused myself, Tanglemane looking after me with worry etched into his features.

______________________________________________________________________________________

A/N: I apologize for how long it took me to post this chapter. I am also sorry that it is not long enough and for any errors contained within. This story is on a backburner at the moment as I work diligently on my original novel, The Super Hero Association of Evil Doers. Please be patient in awaiting the third chapter. Thank you.
Carl

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Welcome to Carlmunism.

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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » July 30th, 2015, 5:47 am

Chapter 3: show
Chapter 3: Your Future


I had managed to avoid discussing the issue with him that day, but I knew my luck was running out. Before I knew it, we were seeing Sarabi off, as she walked confidently and boldly away with Mufasa and Uru, the rest of us left in a cheery air that was only bittersweet to me. From that moment on, I was on a timer. As promised, my father didn’t bother me at first, as Sarabi wasn’t settled in yet. But after little more than a week, our majordomo, a cheetah named Rajah, reported that he’d been sought out by the hornbill majordomo of the Pride Lands, Zazu, with news that Sarabi and Mufasa were settled in and both were happy. That’s the day when my hell truly began.

Every day, at least once, my mother would corner me and demand to know when I would marry Hari. My father would tell me each day, “if you don’t set a date, soon, I will set one for you.” Hari continued to become more affectionate and flirtatious with me, and Diku and Dwala continued to insist that I was lucky and that I was being stupid for not getting married already. I was so overwhelmed that I became bitter, and began to develop a disliking for Mufasa, and for Sarabi. If he hadn’t come here, if Uru hadn’t brought him here, this wouldn’t be happening now. Not only that, but if Sarabi hadn’t gone and fallen for him, so selfishly, then I would have never learned that I wasn’t in love with Hari. I’d be content with my place in the Circle of Life.

Now, I just couldn’t help but think this wasn’t my place.

Deep down, I knew it wasn’t really Sarabi’s fault, nor Mufasa’s nor Uru’s. I needed someone to blame though, and I needed someone to be angry at other than myself. And I was angry with myself. I cared about him, really, and truly, I did. He had been my best friend for a long time. I loved him so dearly. Why couldn’t I be in love with him? Why couldn’t I love him the right way? It pained me to know that he felt more for me than I did for him, to know that I would have to hurt him, or live a lie. And right now, I wanted more than anything not to be Naanda, not to be the daughter of King Mahesha, not to be me.

Everyone could tell something was bothering me, but they didn’t know what. They told me to get my act together, mostly, but Hari had asked more than once what was wrong. I didn’t tell him. How could I? Especially if I was going to have to go through with this. I just told him that I was upset about Sarabi, that I missed her. Everyone accepted this explanation, but I was then told that hurrying my own wedding would provide me with a happy event to distract me. I felt so lost. Why did everyone want for me something I didn’t want for myself? Did I have a choice in the matter at all?

One day found me crying alone near the edge of our kingdom, right near the border of the jungle and its neighboring savannah when Rajah happened upon me. The cheetah cocked his head and flicked his whiskers before gently placing a paw on my shoulder. I looked into his eyes, feeling the tears staining my face even as they blurred my vision. He looked concerned, and being as we’d known each other for quite a long time I couldn’t blame him. But I didn’t know if I should talk to him about this, what was to stop him from reporting it to my father immediately?

“What’s wrong, princess?” he asked softly.

“What are you doing here?” I sobbed back at him.

“I was on an errand. That’s not important. Something is bothering you—and I for one don’t buy that story that it’s Sarabi’s absence what’s got you in a bad way,” he replied, lowering himself onto his haunches, “You can talk to me, Naanda. You know that. I’ll keep your secrets.”

Looking up at him, and the sincere look on his visage, and desperately needing someone to talk to, I knew I couldn’t resist the offer. My tears multiplied, practically blinding me as they rolled down my cheeks and I sobbed loudly, “There’s—there’s a p-problem with my wedding to Hari!”

“What is it?” he asked, alarmed.

“I didn’t know,” I cried, “I didn’t know!”

“What are you talking about?”

“If I had, if I had known, I would have done something before it became too late,” I gasped.

“Naanda?”

“But then Sarabi… and Mufasa, oh to hell with such happiness!”

“Naanda!”

When Rajah shouted, I stopped rambling involuntarily, for a moment I couldn’t even make a sound, and then I was sobbing again. I rose on my paws, rubbing at the tears on my face and turning my back to him. “I’m sorry,” I began, “I shouldn’t be acting this way. I should be composed and proper; but I can’t. It’s been bothering me so much. Until Mufasa came along and Sarabi and him began to fall for each other… I didn’t know anything was wrong. Rajah… I can trust you right? I can trust you with my secret, with the knowledge that I am not in love with my betrothed?”

“Naanda…” he murmured, and then suddenly the spotted cat’s paw was on my shoulder again. He nuzzled me gently, pulling me into a feline embrace.

“I’ve tried so hard to change my feelings, once I realized it was true… but I can’t. Mum and Dad will be so disappointed if I say so… I don’t know what to do. I can’t marry him. I can’t not marry him.”

“You have to be true to your heart. It’s the only way,” the cheetah whispered.

“Gee thanks, Rajah, that totally isn’t what Sarabi told me…” I grumbled sarcastically, leaning away from him. He frowned, obviously wanting to help but not sure how.

“I won’t tell your parents and Hari. But you have to figure out what to do with your life, princess,” he reminded me.

“My sister said that too. Ugh, if I just knew how to do that. I need more time but I don’t have any. I can’t put it off much longer,” I explained.

He sympathized, and we had a long talk, in which I opened up to him quite a lot. Unfortunately, just talking to someone didn’t help much. I knew Rajah wanted what was best for me, and he seemed to favor me telling the truth and trying to get out of this marriage, but I wasn’t sure that was what my heart wanted. It didn’t want me to live this lie, and marry Hari, but it also detested the idea of letting him and my family down equally. I was at a loss, and I was running out of ways to postpone the wedding. Just when all hope seemed lost and I thought that my father would set the date for me, something happened that no one had expected, something that took everyone’s minds off of my wedding for a little while. Something that would help me decide what to do.

She arrived.

A lone lioness entered our kingdom and had requested a meeting with our king. My father had obliged, meeting her somewhere away from our hidden dens. No one knew what they were discussing in private, but soon he brought her into our home, and granted her sanctuary. In one of the caves, we sat gathered together beneath a higher ledge used for announcements. My father perched atop the ledge, the newcomer and my mother at his sides. The rest of the pride lay collected on the cave’s floor before him, and he spoke loudly enough only for us to be able to hear him.

“My friends, this is Ajaili, she will be staying with us for a little while. Please do not pester her, and do not query as to why she is here,” he started to step down, but the lioness stepped up beside him.

“I’d like to tell them that, actually. No secrets,” she said, “not anymore.”

“Ajaili, I urge you to reconsider,” he insisted, in the way I’d become more than accustomed to. She simply shook her head and stepped forward, and from the moment I saw her properly, I was fascinated with her. Her demeanor was intriguing, with a quiet and subtle strength about her. And her appearance was wild, fierce, untamed and beautiful. Her scruffy fur was a creamy beige colour that brought to mind images of the savannah. She had blazing red eyes and a stern look about her. She’d clearly seen a lot in her time, and it showed in the scarring on her pelt, intricate designs marring her fur in this strangely wonderful way. And then, she spoke.

“As Mahesha says, my name is Ajaili. I have traveled far, seeking an escape from a hell. I was once a princess, but I was not without enemies. I was the heir to the throne, and my younger sisters envied me for it. The eldest of them, well, she saw to it that I was framed for the murder of my father, and I’ve been serving a sentence in the termite mounds prison of the Outlands for many moons because of this. I tried to convince them of my innocence, but there was nothing to prove it so they wouldn’t listen. In a prison riot, I escaped the termite mounds, and have been on the run ever since. Your king has heard the full story, and judges me fit to stay her for a while; I will not harm you. I am one and you are many. I don’t want any trouble, and I don’t expect anything from you. I just needed to tell my story to someone,” she explained.

I knew my sisters would never kill our father, much less lay the blame on me, but I felt drawn to her. She had been in my place. My sisters envied me, just as hers had envied her. I couldn’t get the story she told out of my head, even when she’d left the spotlight, and most pride members had left the cave. Tanglemane stayed and we talked about the strange lioness for a while. He didn’t know whether to believe her or not. I wanted to believe her. We both felt that the situation was sad, and we had the kind of moment we hadn’t had in ages—the kind where we sat down and talked like the friends we were instead of like two lions about to be forced into marriage with one another.

Her presence was like a gift from the Great Kings. No one asked when I’d get married because everyone was asking her about prison. About her life. About the things that had happened to her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, no one could, and I tried to talk to her as much as possible. With everyone so drawn to her, that wasn’t particularly common, but when I did talk with her, I gave her a break from the same old pestering. She seemed very indifferent to everything, but I knew it had to bother her. Instead, I tried to get to know Ajaili the lioness, rather than Ajaili the convicted ex-princess.

She was surprisingly kind and gentle, and I admired her. The longer she stayed and the more we learned of her, the more I believed that she was innocent—she was like me after all. She’d never really wanted her father’s throne. I liked showing her how much I understood her, but I didn’t get to let her know a lot about me. She’d always have to leave to deal with the rest of the pride, or to get food before we could discuss too much. But that didn’t stop me from counting her as a friend. In much too short a time for my liking, she was moving on in her quest, leaving our pride much less interesting than it had been. The day of her departure was rather disappointing for me.

I watched from the branch of a tree as she strode away through the trees, her muscular legs carrying away her graceful form, and I felt as though something inside—my heart, or perhaps my stomach—was sinking down to rest betwixt my paws on the limb. When she had gone, I remained for a while in the tree, my mind whirling, my thoughts jumbled, before finally descending, padding back to our pride’s home, and lunging through a waterfall into a typically deserted cave. It was too small for more than a lion or two, and in many cases was only used by expecting mothers when they were ready to give birth. We had no expecting lionesses at present, so I felt that surely I’d be left in peace here. In truth, I wasn’t sure why I wanted to be left alone at this moment, but I desired it all the same, and so, I tucked my paws beneath my body and came to rest against the stone floor, feeling the gentle pricks of dried grass that had been tossed in here long ago against my tender belly. It was comfortable, alone, and safe. I let my eyelids droop to a close and drifted off to sleep.

Visions haunted my nap, however, showing me scenes of unmistakable bliss. I found myself lying peacefully in a vast and grassy meadow, with no other lions around, save a beautiful creamy beige lioness with sparkling crimson eyes. Ajaili lay softly against the grass, not far from myself, a gentle and caring smile aimed at me. I couldn’t help but return the smile. In response, she purred, and rolled over closer to me. My body tensed, as little chills rolled across my spine—my instinct was to move away from her, but I wanted to stay, to be closer even. My heart hammered in my chest, and I could feel the sensation of nervous butterflies flapping about in my belly. Tentatively, I inched towards her.

The scarred lioness laughed, a melodious pleasant sound that beckoned me nearer, “It’s okay, Naanda. No one is here to stop us.”

“Stop us?” I asked, giving her a quizzical look.

“Yes. We are alone, just us two. We can do whatever we like…” with that, she winked at me, and I knew what she meant. The lioness before me was gazing into my eyes with such a seductive expression that I’d have to have been an idiot not to follow. Everything in the dream became hazy, but I could feel happiness, bliss, and magic. My chest swelled up with positive, good feelings, the kind of things I wasn’t experiencing in reality. It was amazing! I felt so alive, so happy, so good, it was like nothing I’d ever felt. When I awoke, I could swear I still felt her warmth on me.

Seeing she was not here, and coming back to reality, I knew now that I wished more than anything to have gone with her. I wanted to spend my time with a lioness like her. I felt so silly for thinking it, everyone knows that lionesses do not do the things she had alluded to in my dreams with one another, but with a lion. I shrugged it off as simply being too infatuated with the idea of an interesting and relatable stranger. I would have continued to think of it that way, except that it didn’t happen only the once. No, I dreamt of her each night for several days. I couldn’t stop thinking about her when I was awake either. My parents continued to ask me when I would marry Hari, and when they would say such things, I found a part of myself wanting to reply, “Can’t Diku or Dwala marry him? Why can’t I marry someone like Ajaili?” I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud to them, however, and at last decided that I should bring these things to Tanglemane himself. No matter what, I knew that my friend deserved to know the truth.

With a heavy heart, and paws that felt full of lead, one day I strode through the woods with him at my side (it hadn’t been hard to convince him to come on a walk with me) in search of a place far enough from nosy ears to speak with him. He talked merrily about this and that, but I didn’t have the heart to respond well enough, knowing what I planned to discuss with him. At length, our weary paws came to a rest in a clearing significant distance from the pride. As we sat down, Hari nuzzled me affectionately. I shied away, but he didn’t seem to notice.

“So. I’m really curious when we’re going to get married, Naanda. You’ve not been looking so sad anymore, so I know you’re getting over Sarabi leave—” he started, but I didn’t let him finish.

“It was never about that, Tanglemane, I’m sorry. That’s, well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

He made a face at me as he stretched down closer to the ground and began to toy with the grass with his pawtoes. I took a step away from him, composed myself, and turned to face him once again. I did not sit nor lie down, but instead remained standing as I finally addressed the issue that had been plaguing my mind for at least a month or two now.

“Listen, Hari… I care about you a lot, I do. You really are the best friend I’ve ever had. And if Mufasa had never come here, I’d never have known that anything was wrong. You saw him with Sarabi, you saw what they had… and it’s been really eating at me to know that we don’t have it,” I began.

“What do you mean, ‘we don’t have it’?” he asked, a serious and heavy expression settling onto his features. I chewed at my lip before continuing.

“I’m so sorry. I tried so hard to make myself feel the same way about you that my sister does about Mufasa, but I can’t. I tried,” I repeated, a few tears bubbling up in my eyes and spilling down across my cheeks.

“Naanda, what are you talking about? What do you mean?” he inquired. He obviously didn’t want to believe what he was hearing. I didn’t blame him. I took a deep breath.

“Hari I tried. I wanted to be in love with you, but I’m not… what’s more, I don’t think I can ever love a lion… it’s nothing against you because you are fantastic, please understand… I’ve been having these dreams about Ajaili. I can’t stop thinking about her. I sometimes wish that I had left with her, that she and I were to be married… I don’t know why I feel this way. I don’t know what I’ll do about it, but I can’t lie to you. You mean so much to me, and you’re the one I’m supposed to be marrying, and… well I thought you should know that,” I explained at last. His face contorted into an expression I couldn’t read. I remained stationary, tears dribbling slowly down my face, trying to figure out what he was thinking, how he’d react.

For a long time he remained still, laying there on the grass carpet of the forest floor, making that strange face, not so much as speaking or twiddling his pawtoes. I couldn’t help but cry more, staying on my four paws as I stared at him awaiting a response. At long last, he rose, approached me, took a deep breath, and placed his chin against my neck, comforting me with a leonine hug. I shuddered, unsure of how to react and just let the tears continue to drip from my face, down my muzzle, and across my lips down to my chin, the salty taste filling my mouth easily.

“It’s not your fault, Naanda. You can’t make yourself love me,” he said softly, his voice seeming strained, “And you shouldn’t have to marry me if you don’t. You should talk to your father, I’m sure he’ll understand.”

I moved back away from him so that I could see his face and queried, “What? Would you really be okay with that?”

“Honestly, won’t it be better this way?” he murmured, “If you don’t love me… well I’ll only be hurting myself to try and force you to be with me. You won’t enjoy any intimate moments, you won’t want to do anything romantic… ahem. I’d being going through more pain to be with you but not with you than not to be with you at all.”

I sniffled.

“Do you really think my father will let me out of the marriage?”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

“I don’t know… it just seems like he wouldn’t… I don’t need the throne either, though. Diku or Dwala can have it,” I went on.

“Don’t worry about the throne right now, Naanda. Worry about you. Do what’s best for you,” Hari encouraged me. Fresh tears welling up in my eyes, I found the courage to say what I desperately needed to.

“Thank you, Hari. You’re the best friend a lioness could have.”

He smiled, but I could see a hint of sorrow in it as he replied gently, “I know.”
Carl

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Welcome to Carlmunism.

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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » August 3rd, 2015, 1:24 am

Chapter 4: show
Chapter 4: Disgrace


I stood anxiously on my paws as I waited for my parents to arrive. I had sent for them some time prior, telling them I had something important I wished to discuss with them. Hari had offered to stay by my side, but I knew that his presence would further their inevitable misconception of the conference as my having chosen a date to be wed to him, rather than what it truly was. They’d come in smiling ear to ear, that look in their eyes as they talked to me of ruling a kingdom and bearing children and all of this—and then I’d break their hearts with a simple statement. Tanglemane had assured me wholeheartedly that everything was going to be fine, after all as he had pointed out, my parental figures had reared me since birth, pouring love, devotion, and instruction upon my young and innocent mind and heart for years as I grew into an adult. Thus, he reasoned that everything would be okay.

I still feared disappointing them, however. Sarabi had been the second eldest, and the only one of my parents’ children aside from myself who had received any amount of royal training. With my abdicating and refusing to bear cubs, that would leave them rather pressed for time to fill in Diku and/or Dwala, and potentially even longer to see new heirs for the throne. It wasn’t a given that Hari would wed one of my sisters—if he didn’t want to marry me in order to avoid a loveless marriage, he probably wouldn’t want to be wed to either of them unless he developed romantic feelings for one of them in the coming days, which couldn’t be counted on and meant they’d have to locate another willing and able male who was up to their standards and they’d have to do it on the clock.

Put simply, I was about to undo years of their work. Work they’d done not only for my sake, but for that of the entire kingdom.

It was difficult not to fidget as I awaited their arrival, my claws distending from the sheaths of my toes here and there, the tip of my tail flicking about wildly as if possessed of a mind of its own. What would they say? Would they be angry? Upset? Or would they look at me with the kind and loving eyes Hari and Sarabi had regarded me with? It was hard to guess, which made it all the more simple to be a nervous wreck.

At long last, they strode into the den for important matters, where I awaited them on my lonesome.

“Ah, Naanda, we knew you couldn’t put this discussion off much longer,” my mother beamed.

“Well, the thing is—” I started, but my father interrupted, a large smile plastered across his maw as well.

“You know we were beginning to fear that you were not planning to wed in our lifetimes,” he informed me. That was certainly awkward at best.

Swallowing, I tried again, “You see, it’s not what you think—”

“Oh, I knew it wasn’t about Sarabi all along. I couldn’t begin to tell you what truly delayed your decision, but I could see through that flimsy excuse. You’ll need to improve on that particular skill or you’ll soon encounter troubles as queen.”

“Well, that’s just it, I don’t think—”

“Your father’s right. Sometimes you’ll have to lie, even if only a small one, for the good of the kingdom. You simply must get better at before it’s too late.”

“Yes, but… will you please just let me speak?” I asked at length, growing increasingly frustrated. They were exponentially more excited than I’d accounted for, and that was going to make this even more difficult to bear. However, not being interested in males didn’t mean I could no longer rule the kingdom. Maybe that would soften the blow, as they’d have someone take over after them and one of my sisters could provide an heir for after my reign’s completion. I didn’t really have any reason not to wish to rule, if they would still have me after learning this, anyway, so abdicating may not be necessary.

“Of course, dear, go on,” my father said, aiming and overemphasized wink at me. My heart clenched.

“The thing is,” I began with a sigh, “I didn’t call you here today because I’d chose a date to marry Hari—it’s the reverse actually. I—er, I don’t know how to tell you this, but—I… I’m not interested in males. I know, I know it’s weird and it doesn’t make sense and I don’t understand it, but I can’t marry Hari. I don’t love him, and I talked to him, and he doesn’t want to marry me if I don’t love him, which I don’t.”

“What are you saying?” my mother asked, her face having taken on a solemn and concerned appearance that was the exact inverse of the expression she’d worn mere moments ago.

“If you two are not wed, who will provide an heir for the kingdom? A kingdom must be governed Naanda, you had no right act so selfishly,” my father reprimanded me. My ears swiveled around to flatten against my skull, but I tried not to show how hurt I was by this comment and simply continued, doing my best to remain poised.

“Diku or Dwala can produce an heir just as easily as I could have done,” I replied diplomatically, “It’s not as if I can’t still take over from the two of you. Do not worry about the fate of the kingdom, it will be in good paws. It’s just that… I saw the way Sarabi and Mufasa were with each other. I’ve seen you two acting similarly lately. It’s all well and good except that I have no interest in behaving in such a way with a lion.”

“Whatever do you mean? You can’t possibly think a hyena or some, some jungle cat would be a better option?” my father spat as my mother began to look a bit sickly.

“No, of course not. You don’t understand. It’s just that, well, I’d rather act that way with a lioness. When Ajaili was here, I realized—”

“Ajaili! I knew I shouldn’t have allowed that murderer to stay in my lands! She’s corrupted you!” my father roared, his fury echoing off of the hard stone walls and bouncing around the cavern in which we convened.

“Great Kings!” my mother wailed, “A queer has turned my daughter! My precious Naanda!” At this point, she began to murmur a chant, “She’s gone, my baby, she’s gone, my baby, that monster, my baby is gone…”

“It wasn’t her fault!” I snapped at the both of them, my hackles rising as I began to grow angry and defiant as well as further hurt, “I wasn’t interested in males before she arrived either! I just didn’t realize it until Mufasa arrived and I saw him with Sarabi. I never felt for Hari even half of what they feel for one another. Never. It’s just that I have a different preference. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, or a bad thing. I don’t even have to ever be with a lioness, I—”

With a lioness?!” the king bellowed. My mother was still chanting, a horrified countenance giving her a meek and pitiful appearance, “she’s gone, my baby, she’s gone…”

“I don’t need it, as long as you don’t make me be with a male. Please, I know you’re upset, but everything will be fine. I can still rule the kingdom as you taught me until Diku or Dwala—”

“Rule the kingdom?! You?! A female-loving heathen? A disgrace? A QUEER? Rule MY kingdom! I should think NOT! Why you weren’t my daughter I’d have you killed for crimes against nature! Someone as immoral and filthy as yourself cannot be permitted to gain power; you’d corrupt the whole kingdom with your radical ideas and sacrilege! Why, the Great Kings must be turning in their graves at the thought of a she-king! Why do they test me so? No matter! I shall not disappoint! There is a long line of tradition and rules stating just how unnatural and sinful your heathen attraction is…

“But there is still hope for you, yet my daughter,” his tone softened, but only just, taking a different turn than I had expected and giving off a sinister vibe, “There are correctional facilities we could make use of. If you can be cured, you can go through with the marriage to Hari and you can still take your place as queen. I hear those who are pure of heart and good can be cured of their queerness, with the help of the Kings’ Messengers. Some are too devoted to their sin to be cured so precautions for the kingdom will have to be taken but there is hope yet…”

“What do you mean ‘cured’? There’s nothing wrong with me,” I countered. At this, my mother gasped as if in horror, clasping a paw dramatically to her brow as her hind legs gave way beneath her and her rump sprawled to the cave floor.

“It’s worse than we thought,” she murmured as she began to cry in earnest, her face wrinkling in a mask of agony while I stared on, my maw hanging open in total and utter shock and trepidation at the scene unfolding before me.

“You’re devoted to your immoral and evil lifestyle choice. It’s highly probable you won’t be cured, then… not because you can’t be, but because you won’t. Stubborn, stubborn… I hear of it. Some queers claim it is natural, not wrong, unchangeable, but that’s all a steaming pile of elephant dung and I won’t hear it! You will go to the Spire of the Kings, and you shall be healed—or you shall be exiled permanently upon threat of death,” my father decreed.

“WHAT?!” I cried in alarm, my pulse quickening exponentially as my mind feebly tried to process what he’d just said. That couldn’t be right. My father couldn’t possibly be telling me to become romantically interested in males or leave and never come back. That couldn’t be real. My parents loved me, didn’t they? I had thought they had, but here they were, overreacting to something that isn’t wrong… or at least I didn’t think it was wrong. Whether it was or not, I couldn’t change it, and that much I was sure of. If I couldn’t love Hari romantically, then there was no male whom I could.

As if I hadn’t spoken, my mother replied to my father, “Yes, the Spire of the Kings. They can cure all immorality, they can cure her for sure.”

“Excuse me! I don’t need to be cured!” I protested.

“Oh but you do, and your continued insistence to the contrary proves just how urgent it truly is,” the king replied to me, “It is decided. It is your only chance. Please, child, by The Kings, please turn from your heretical ways and accept salvation at the spire. To lose our daughter would destroy your mother and I.”

“If it will destroy you to lose me then don’t exile me! It’s simple. The only way for you to lose me here is for you to push me away like this! I don’t need to go to this stupid spire, alright? All I need is for my parents to be understanding and accept me for who I am!”

“It shall be announced on the morrow. I’ll have an escort arranged immediately to take you to the Spire of the Kings. You’ll remain there until they have taught you to love males as every lioness was meant to,” my father continued.

“What exactly are they going to do to me at the Spire of the Kings?” I stammered at last.

“They do not reveal their methods, but they have an 87% conversion rate. You’ll be in good paws, blessed paws, holy paws… Rajah and a few lionesses will take you away shortly. In the meantime, you’ll remain in this cave—we can’t have you corrupting your sisters or Hari. We’ll need them to preserve the bloodline.”

With this, my father turned, and stalked out of the cave. My mother approached me, a sad but loving smile stretching her black lips and contorting her face. She nuzzled me affectionately, and as if truly concerned for my wellbeing and wishing me the best, she whispered, “Please, my Naanda, come back to me. Wherever you are in there, you can get through the evil, if you just heed the Kings’ Messenger. Please my darling daughter, come back. Expel these demons from your body. I know you can do it, if you yet live.”

Then she, too, padded out of the cave, leaving me to stare after her in disgust and shock. My parents didn’t understand at all. There were no demons inside of me, it was only me. One sad, lost and lonesome young lioness who had just lost everything for being honest about who she was. My heart tightened into a knot of despair and agony, as hatred and rage bubbled inside me, silent hot tears beginning to stream down my cheeks.

What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I normal? Was it truly wrong—disgraceful, immoral—for a lioness to feel romantically interested in another female? I didn’t know, couldn’t fathom how it could be, but considering my parents’ reactions, I also couldn’t fathom how it couldn’t be. Alone in the depths of the cave, my mind turned over the events, replaying the cruel things my parents had said to me over and over again and convincing me it was true. What could I do about it though? Nothing. I had tried in vain for so long to love Hari romantically, to be interested in him as a mate, but it had not worked. I knew that it would not change, and I had accepted that—even so a part of me hoped that this Kings’ Messenger really could cure me, because I would give anything not to disappoint or lose my family and my dear friend Hari.

So, shaking, hurt, and my mind a tumultuous vortex of doubt, pride, and self-loathing, I simply fell into a sitting position and remained still for a length of immeasurable time. It seemed to last forever, but also seemed ridiculously swift. The darkness around me was weighted and oppressive like nothing I had ever experienced before. My body would not work, but it did not fail me either, my shaking and weak forepaws holding me up almost steadily and strong even as my head hung limply from my neck. I couldn’t feel the tears of shock and hurt rolling down my face, but I could hear them hit the cave’s floor every so often and they blurred my vision like a thick and merciless fog.

“Naanda, what happened?” Rajah’s voice echoed around me suddenly. “What made your parents decide to send you to the Spire?”

I gazed into his concerned eyes, opening my mouth to speak, but my tightened throat and irregular breathing turned my words into nothing more than low gasping sounds. Swallowing, I tried again, “You remember I told you I didn’t love Hari?”

“Yes, but that shouldn’t be enough to—”

“Well I don’t love him because I am not attracted to lions at all. I prefer lionesses. I told them. And now they want me to be cured or killed,” I rasped, my eyes burning. Rajah looked taken aback, horrified, but the cheetah took a step forward and collected himself quickly.

“I do not agree with what they are doing to you. However, I have to follow orders, Naanda. You know they could call it treason if I don’t,” he said at last. I simply nodded. He continued, “There are a couple of lionesses outside. We’re to escort you to the Spire of the Kings. I have to do it, Naanda, but I wouldn’t if it were my decision.”

“I know,” I murmured, offering him a sad smile to demonstrate my thanks.

“If I were you, I would fake being ‘cured’ within a week and come home. You can always leave later to find love, should you wish it,” he suggested softly. I didn’t respond vocally, and instead simply nodded again. He continued, in a louder voice, “Well… we have to go now. They want you gone by nightfall."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A/N: This chapter is shorter than some others, and most of the future ones will be as well. The reason for this is that I have several writing projects at the moment and to be frank, my fan fics are the least important of the lot. That said I still want to finish telling this story, and do it properly, I'm just making it a little faster paced than initially planned.

Also, as to the content of this chapter, if some of the things Naanda's parents said offended you, I'm sorry! They were meant to be offensive because they needed to reflect the reality that inspired this fic. I myself have just gotten out of a long term same-sex relationship and I can assure you that I do not agree with or condone their actions.
Carl

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Re: The Forgotten Sister: Naanda's Tale

Postby Carl » October 26th, 2015, 1:24 am

As a head's up: I had initially planned to detail Naanda's time at the Spire and her escape, after the power hungry "Messenger of the Kings" had his way with Naanda, trying to force her to love males, she was to escape with the aid of a blind but kind male who had been raised by the Messenger but did not share his... ehem... ways. She was then set to meet an alone and pregnant Sarafina, and the duo would have traveled to the Pride Lands together.

However, this story no longer feels right for Naanda, and I am unsure of where to take this tale. That being the case, I will call it "completed" for now, knowing that the "ending" was unsatisfying and that you all deserved better. The fact is a lot of this story was in fact, based on my actual life (in loose ways) and I no longer have the drive to work on this and bring it to fruition seeing as big changes have occurred in my life and I have no idea how to adapt Naanda at this point.

I may come back to the story and finish it later, but for now, I'll just pretend it is finished. I do apologize. If you have any questions about the story or how anything was planned to play out, ask away and I will answer with as much detail as possible.
Carl

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Welcome to Carlmunism.

Posts: 37313
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