“It’s awful, isn’t it?” Nala said softly to Simba. The rains had long stopped, and even as Simba’s triumphant echo rang through the lands it was not hard to see the devastation. The pridelands, a land of hope and faith, trust and safety, had been viciously ravaged by the fire that swept through with an uncaring hand.
His mane blowing softly in the wind, Simba looked over his new kingdom in silence. It was not the silence of love or the silence of peace, it was that peculiar silence that befalls someone when they are faced with the cold realization of what lies before them. His home, his kingdom, destroyed. No life, no movement other than the small group that had remained to retake the lands. Simba might have stood there forever, had a gentle nuzzle from his mate not broken him from his reverie.
“Gather the lionesses.” he said hoarsely, “We need to hold a pridal council immediately.”
It took no more than a few moments to gather the wet and weary pride together in the meeting hall. While the pride took time to participate in communal grooming, Simba looked at everyone. The lionesses of pride rock, HIS pride. Those that had fought for the good of the future and a better present. Some were gaunt, weak looking creatures that made him wonder how they must have survived. Others healthier in appearance still had a haggard demeanor that dictated the agonies they must have endured. No one had escaped the battle unscathed. Some were injured, but everyone was hurt. Simba sat and watched the scene in silence a moment before giving a nod to Nala. The lioness returned it.
“Alright everyone…” she started, speaking up. “We are beginning the council now. Umoja.”
“Umoja!” the pride rejoined. Nala stepped forward to the circle, speaking softer than before.
“Our new king has requested us all at pridal council.” she looked at Simba, handing the reigns over to him as she stepped back, “Please give him your full attention.” Simba stepped forward into the circle a little. His face was somber, but he broke into a gentle smile.
“How is everyone?” he asked softly. The pride managed some smiles through their grim expressions, murmuring soft reponses in the positive and the negative. While Simba took in all these sounds, he took a deep breath, “I’m afraid we have a difficult decision to make, and I think that it’s pretty apparent what that is. We must decide what to do about the lands.” The lionesses looked between each other with a mixture of horror and relief. They all had been expecting it in some small form or another, but hearing it brought their nervousness to a new level. Simba sensed it, then stepped back, “I’ll open the floor for discussion.”
Silence. It was so silent that one could count the drops of water falling from Pride Rock’s tip as they came to a crashing end on the ground below. Looks of deference passed between the lionesses before Sarabi stepped forward to speak.
“Simba is right.” she said softly, “We must decide what to do about the lands.” she looked around, more for effect than purpose, “And in light of recent events, the only reasonable solution is to leave pride rock in order to let the lands rejuvenate themselves.” As soon as she stepped back, another lioness took her place to speak.
“Sarabi has a good point,” Mnyeo spoke, “but we can’t just abandon these lands so simply. We’ve been through so much, how can we just leave them now?”
“These lands are not suitable for pride life at the moment.” rebutted Sarafina, coming to Sarabi’s defense. “With the ash from the fire and the lack of animals we’d be committing as much suicide as it was to live under Scar’s reign for another season.” There was a ripple of murmurs as this idea sank in for a moment, before another lioness spoke.
“This is our home.” Njama spoke softly at first, “This is where most of us grew up, where we hoped to raise our cubs. If we leave now, then we’ll be giving all that up. How can you want to do that, Sarabi, when this place holds so many memories for us all?”
“This place is a treasure trove of memories, both good and bad.” Sarabi retorted, somewhat stung by the statement. “But it will mean nothing if it is reduced to a tomb that holds us all in a death grip! We must find the strength to move on, when pride rock is ready we can come back.” The other lioness was adament.
“But what if we don’t WANT to come back? What if we find something that is so good that we suddenly don’t want to leave? What’s to keep us from having this same issue over coming back to Pride Rock?”
“There is nothing we can do here but die!” Nala said, getting into the discussion. “I didn’t leave Pride Rock for help in order to come back just to be killed because some of you are unwilling to move on. Our course is clear!”
“What makes you so sure, Nala?” A new voice piped up, diving the group once again. “Some of us can hardly walk! Some of us are almost with cub! And you want to go on a trek across the savanna in order to find something that we don’t even know exists!”
“There’s no food!”
“This place provides safety!”
“We can’t survive!”
“We have always pulled through in the past!”
“It will never work to stay!”
“It will never work to leave.”
“ENOUGH!” At the outburst from Simba, the pride fell immediately silent. All eyes turned to him, ears turned back, deferent, and with lowered heads. The circle slowly parted and all returned to their original spots without another word. Simba stepped forward, looking at them all evenly.
“Since I am king, the final decision falls to me. Once I have spoken my word there will be no appeals and no turning back.” he took a deep breath and spoke in a softer tone, “I have heard both sides of the argument, and I must admit they are argued well. We are in a death trap. We are home. Aside from either point what I decide here is for the good of the pride and all that come after it. So everyone listen carefully…” he trailed off.
The entire room sunk into eerie silence. Everyone looked at each other nervously, breath held in anticipation. What was said next would determine the fate of the rest of their lives, and they were obligated to follow it without question. As Simba’s voice stopped, the eyes eventually settled to him as he closed his eyes for thought. All sets of ears pushed forward, waiting for the king to make his first and maybe most important edict.
The wait was unbearable.
Then, in a fluid motion, Simba lifted his head and opened his eyes resolutely. The pride followed in tune, eyes widening for the final verdict. Simba looked at his battle weary pride, observing their injuries and their status. He then looked outside to the charred and desolate lands, their stillness his only answer. With a soft sigh, The Lion King looked his loyal pride in the eye and spoke to them in an unwavering voice.