Mufasa and Elanna nuzzled each other proudly as their new son Simba was gently picked up by the old mandrill Busara and held up before the panoply of Pride Land life. Zebras neighed and whinnied, bowing low. Elephants trumpeted and raised their trunks on high. All of nature stopped to take in the wonder as a shaft of light from the heavens annointed the young prince. Busara brought young Simba to his heart and kissed him on the brow.
Taka and Sarabi were happy, and not the least bit jealous. Their rulers were the twin daughters that cuddled against their adoring mother. Young Uzuri, who was very fond of Sarabi, had been asked to sit by them during the presentation. Shaka and Avina sat to the back but still in a place of honor.
When the light from heaven died away, most of the animals went back to their homes, all except the honored Incosis who came to bow their faces to the ground before the new prince.
Amarakh of the hyenas was first. She knelt before Simba and then before King Mufasa. “I touch your mane.”
“I feel it.”
Then she went to her real heart’s desire. Putting her paws on Sarabi’s shoulder, she kissed her and nuzzled her. “My old friend.”
Sarabi reached out with a large paw and gently stroked Amarakh. “I will never forget your devotion, and neither will my people.”
Khemoki of the Zebras cleared his throat very indiscretely. Amarakh knew it was time to move aside and let someone else have a turn.
Silently and unseen, Minshasa stepped forward and looked closely at Taka’s twin daughters, then gazed into his unmarked eyes which shone with love and beauty. “See, Mano! Didn’t I tell you it would work??”
A beautiful white lion came to her side and nuzzled her. “So far, old girl. I’ll grant you that your idea had some merit. However…”
“No howevers. It’s working out beautifully.”
Young Simba came in to where Mufasa and Elanna were peacefully asleep. “Hey Dad!” He could get no response from his father. “Dad! Daaaad!” He jumped up and pulled Mufasa’s ear. “Dad!!”
Elanna stirred sleepily. “Your son is awake.”
Mufasa grumbled. “Before sunrise, he’s your son.”
“Dad! You promised!”
“Oh yes. Just a moment.”
The huge male stirred sleepily, then rose to his feet and stretched. With life returning to his limbs, he headed to the mouth of the cave. Looking out, he said with some disgust, “Oh great, it’s overcast. And after all this trouble.”
“Well just look at it.”
“Just look at what?”
Mufasa realized the futility of asking. He had kept Simba in the dark about the surprise. “Well, come on. I’ll just have to point out the boundary.”
As they headed out onto the promontory, lightning flashed in the distance. A wind blew in from the south, stirring Mufasa’s mane. A few drops of rain tickled his nose. “Oh great. It’s going to rain too.”
Dutifully, Mufasa sat on the tip of the stone and Simba snuggled against him on the side protected from the wind. “What are you going to point out?”
“Your kingdom. One day the sun will set on my reign. It will rise to find you the new King.”
“Whoa,” Simba said. “That won’t be for a long time, I hope.”
“I want to stay around a little while longer too.” Mufasa reached out with his paw and fondled Simba’s shoulder. “I love you son.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
Then with his paw, Mufasa made a sweeping motion. “Everything you can see will one day be yours. Everything except this land toward Elephant Kopje. There you must never go.”
“Because it’s…” Mufasa stopped in mid sentence. The hair on his mane began to stand straight out, and he felt a tingling in his paws. “What the hell??”
The next moment a brilliant flash from the skies baptized the stone with the roar of a thousand waterfalls.
Elanna hurried outside. There was no one on the stone. “Mufasa! Simba!” Hoping against hope she would see nothing, she looked down. Lying on the ground with smoke rising from their pelts were the remnants of Elanna’s whole world. “Oh gods!!” she screamed. “Oh my gods!!”
Taka and Sarabi ran out, the cubs at their heels. “What happened??”
Sobbing hysterically, Elanna said, “They’re gone! They’re gone!!”
Taka bowed his head to the ground. “My brother?” Tears began to well up in his eyes and he collapsed into a miserable heap. Elanna and Sarabi lay next to him and they huddled together as the rain came pelting down in full force.
Mano looked over at Minshasa. “I hate to say I told you so.”
“But if we warned him not to go out on the promontory, everything would be fine.”
“Haven’t we changed things enough already? It’s time to put things back the way they were. Aiheu really knows what he’s doing.”
“But what about Taka?”
“It will be difficult for him, but in the end he will find peace.”
“But look at him! A wife and cubs, and such a kind disposition!”
“A king after the death of his brother. No son to carry on the line—he will never have sons, only daughters.”
“And then will come the rogue male. Not a kind one, but a ruthless one that will destroy the pride.”
“How do you know this?”
“Because I asked Aiheu himself when I went to plead for this change. You think it was your idea, but I begged God to let me change things—to interfere. That’s when he told me.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I love you. Because I wanted you to get your chance, rather than just telling you. Now you see with your own eyes the wisdom of God, and you will not soon forget what you have learned.”
She nuzzled Mano. “I love you too. Oh, but I wish…”
“I know, old girl. No more than do I.”