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Scarred

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Taki. It is a Swahili word for "trash", "garbage", or "dirt." Not a very polite word, to say the least. And yet, that was the lion's name. Taki. Of course, he hated the name. What kind of father would name their child trash? But over time, Taki learned to cope with it.

Taki tossed his mane as he walked out of his cave. His feet hurt after spending the previous day roaming the pride lands, but he ignored it as he trudged up to pride rock. He paused as he approached. His brother, Mufasa, and he had never really gotten along very well. Especially after he tricked him to make him seem inadequate to become king. But all's fair in love and war, right? Taki knew that Mufasa didn't see it that way. How could he? Taki was trying to snatch the throne right out from under him. But to Taki, it belonged to him. Typically, it would go to the oldest son, but Mufasa and Taki were fraternal twins, meaning it belonged to either of them. Taki had spent his whole life trying to impress his father, Ahadi, but it was for nothing. Never once did he shine in the shadow of his brother.

Taking a deep breath, Taki waltzed up the walkway to see his brother, wife, and newborn baby boy. The next heir.

"Congratulations," Taki shouted boredly as he pranced into and around the cave. "He's very... furry."

Mufasa stood, shaking off the dust on his fur coat. "What do you want, trash?"

Taki winced. His brother had always remembered his name and taken great pride in calling him garbage whenever he could, especially since Mufasa meant "king." Taki was always destined to fail next to his brother, ever since birth. Mufasa never ceased to remember this, making Taki feel small whenever they were alone. He never did it when they could be overheard, that way the pride lands still saw him as the perfect ruler and if Taki ever tried to tell anyone, they wouldn't believe him. Powerless. That is what he was. There was nothing he could do to stop it, no way out, no one to tell. All he could do was endure the torture until he died.

"Nothing," Taki answered smoothly, trying not to show his fear and hurt, "just wanted to see my nephew."

Mufasa stood over the lion cub, growling at Taki. "Don't go near him,"

"I wasn't going to. I just feel bad for the poor cub,"

"Why?"

"He has you for a father,"

Mufasa roared and lunged, throwing Taki against the cave wall. His claws came out and he slashed at his brother, opening a gash along his back. Taki yelped, tears brimming. The other twin ignored his helpless cries and placed a paw over Taki's head, shoving it into the stone floor. Mufasa bent and snarled into Taki's ear, "Never speak to me like that again," and bit his ear, hard. The ear tore, Taki yowling for help. No help came.

The dark king stepped back, tossing the chunk of Scar's ear to the floor and going back to his son.

As for the bloodied lion, he staggered to his feet, limping out of the doorway and back home. He collapsed, staring wistfully at the doorway and wishing he was anywhere but there. His paw found his torn ear, pressing it tightly to lessen the unbearable pain.

Over the next few weeks, the ear healed, but it was permanently mutilated, just like Taki's soul. His life was wrong, like there was a chunk out of that, too.

He had been walking along the plains one day, trying to get as far from Pride Rock as possible, when he noticed three hyenas. Mufasa was snarling at them, backing them into a corner and licking his chops.

Taki heard the first hyena whimper, saying, "Please, your majesty! We didn't do anything wrong!"

Mufasa narrowed his eyes, smiling evilly. "No. But I'm hungry, and you would make an easy snack!"

The second hyena tried to reason with him, but Mufasa wasn't listening. There was only one thing Taki could do.

"Leave them alone, Mufasa!"

The whole scene froze. The hyenas looked thankful but huddled closer together. Mufasa turned slowly to look at his brother, murder in his eyes. "You dare defy me?"

Taki knew better than to answer that. "Just let them go. I'll get you a snack somewhere else. Just leave them alone."

Mufasa growled deeply, advancing on his brother. Taki backed away, terrified for his life. Suddenly, the king stopped and his head whipped around to see the hyenas starting to sneak away.

"RUN!" Taki yelled. The hyenas did as he said, sprinting across the plains. Mufasa began to go after them, but Taki lunged, knocking him to the ground so that he couldn't follow them.

Mufasa stood up again, enraged. He ran to Taki, roaring and slashing his claws. Taki fell back, new slashes appearing on his side. They hurt like nothing he had ever felt before, but he was in too deep. The king pounced and threw his twin to the ground, biting into his flesh. Taki screamed and begged, but Mufasa wouldn't let go. Finally, Mufasa drew back so that he could taunt his victim, "Down in the dirt, half-dead... you're where you finally belong, Taki." with one last cut made in Taki's back, Mufasa got off him, leaving in victory.

Taki remained where his brother left him, maimed and critically injured. There was no way he could stand, no hope of leaving alive. He was so battered and bruised that he could feel his life force drain out of him like the blood from his open wounds.

The lion lay there for at least 15 minutes, accepting death before he heard a rustle in the bushes. At first, he thought it was a hungry carnivore smelling death and knowing that even a mighty lion couldn't fight back. Then, he saw the three hyenas slink through the grass into the small clearing. They nervously went to Taki's side, looking over his injuries.

"Thank you," one of them said, "for saving us."

Taki muttered a weak response before the second hyena said, "My name is Shenzi. I'm the leader of these three. That's Banzi," she pointed to the first hyena, "and that's Ed," she gestured to the third, a rather stupid-looking hyena. "What's your name?"

"T- Taki..." he answered weakly, finally accepting that he was garbage, that he was trash. Mufasa had finally accomplished his goal: he broke his brother. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.

"Taki? Doesn't that mean trash?" Shenzi asked, looking at the other hyenas nervously. She had never heard of a lion named trash before.

The lion flinched and felt his eyes burn. "Yes,"

"Well, then you can't keep going around saying that your name is Taki. We'll make something cool. Like... well, that cut on your face is pretty nasty. It'll leave a pretty big scar. You could call yourself that."

"Cut?"

"No, scar," the female hyena laughed.

Taki, now Scar, sighed sadly. He felt defeated like there was no hope left. "I won't get to use it. I'm dying."

The hyenas muttered amongst themselves, making a plan of action. They couldn't leave their savior to die. Then again, he was still a lion. He was dangerous. Good won out, and Banzi told Scar, "No, you're not going to die!"

The three hyenas pushed him through the grass, off to the elephant graveyard they called home. It was difficult, but it worked, and soon they arrived at their destination. They let Scar rest in hopes that he would regain his strength. Every day, they brought him food and water, took care of him, and provided support. When a search party was sent out, though Mufasa tried to call it off, the hyenas hid him from view and made sure that his scent was covered. Slowly but surely, Scar regained his strength. His wounds disappeared from his flesh but seemed to deepen in his heart. After so much time laying on the floor of the cave, thinking, he had come to a realization. If he was going to live, he had to be stronger than his brother. If he wasn't, he would be just as battered as he was when he saved what was now his three best friends. And next time, well, he wasn't sure if they could save him. One option, and one option only, remained. He had to become king.

So, when he was healed, he began his plan. He gathered tons of hyenas, readying his army so that he could take Mufasa down. Then, he returned, saying that he had gone on a long hunting expedition, never revealing the truth. It wasn't like anyone would believe him, anyway. After that, he put Simba at risk. Of course, he was there to save his nephew if anything too bad were to happen, but he needed Mufasa to take the threat to Simba's life seriously. Scar's strategy was flawless.

Mufasa ran out and saved his son, taking him to safety. But Scar never anticipated holding his twin's life in his hands. At least, not yet.

"Brother, help me!" his brother cried, grasping the rocks desperately. Fear flooded his eyes as he tried to scramble to safety.

Scar scoffed. "So now you refuse to call me trash?"

"Brother, please!"

The choice was a hard one to make. Murder is so much easier to contemplate then it is to carry out, and Scar never intended to do it so directly. In his mind, Mufasa was there one minute, and the next, he's not. But it wasn't as easy as it seemed. Scar had prepared himself for killing Mufasa for so long. Years, even. But at the moment, as he looked down at his brother's helpless eyes, all of that slipped away. He was just a scared cub again, curling in a corner so no one would notice he was there and maybe he'd make it out unscathed.

But then he remembered. The reason he was curled in those corners in the first place was Mufasa. Mufasa never loved him. But he had friends, and he would protect them at all costs.

Scar grabbed hold of Mufasa, dug his claws into his brother's paws and uttered the words that he had perfectly planned out.

"Long live the king..."

And he let go.

The abusive brother toppled down the cliff, into the stampede. When the wildebeest and dust cleared, it was obvious that the king was dead.

Scar drew back from the cliff. Droplets of blood splattered his fur, staining it red. He felt his heart racing in his chest. Guilt clouded his mind. But he had to focus, he had to carry it out.

Scar came down carefully, seeing Simba with his father. Knowing that Simba could turn out like Mufasa, he guilted the cub into leaving and never returning.

At last, he was free. But his freedom was tainted with sorrow as he trudged back to Pride Rock, prepared to take the throne. Was he a cruel king? Perhaps. But at least then, no one tried to defy him. No one could hurt him as Mufasa did.

~+~

The years went by, the golden savanna turned gray. Clouds always hung low. The hyenas were freed from oppression, no lion was allowed to hurt them, but it seemed like all the happiness had been sucked out of Africa.

Scar padded up and down his cave, thinking. He wasn't sure what to do next. Food was scarce, and hunger touched every lion in their pride. If something wasn't done...

He heard an interruption outside, shocked noises from the other lions. Scar looked up. There, in the doorway of the cave, was Simba. The young lion stood tall, resembling his father more than Scar cared for.

"What have you done to this place?" Simba asked, dismayed, "It's terrible,"

Scar was ready for this day. He had been ready for a long time, just like killing Mufasa. So he recited the words that he had so fervently rehearsed, "Simba. It's been a long time, my nephew."

"Scar, I am back. I want to take my rightful place as king," the boy said forcefully, straightening. There was a dangerous edge to his voice like he would do exactly what his father had to remain in power. Scar recognized that deadly hint immediately. Too many times had Mufasa used it with him. "And I'll kill you to do it,"

"Like father, like son," Scar growled lowly, but fear laced his voice. Would Simba destroy him as Mufasa had? Had Mufasa's darkness taken root in his son?

Simba narrowed his eyes, beginning to circle Scar. Hate dripped off his words like poison, burning acidic holes in the stone of the cave, "Give up the throne, Scar. Give it up and you can go peacefully,"

There was no way that Scar would go down without a fight. He had sacrificed too much to let his safety, and the safety of his friends, slip away that easily. "No."

Simba roared and lunged, biting and clawing. Scar barely got out of the way in time, stumbling to the side. Simba was much younger, faster, and stronger than he. He was bound to lose.

The fight moved from inside the echoing halls of the cave to the edge of Pride Rock. Both lions clashed with their full force, each fighting for a purpose, but the intentions conflicted, leaving each one determined as the other. Scar jumped to the side to dodge another attack was able to dig his claws into Simba's back. The young lion cried out and turned back, deadly energy radiating off of him. Storm clouds hung heavy in the sky, crying as the sky watched everything fall apart. Lightning struck a dry brush, lighting the pride lands. It quickly spread across the grass until all you could see was red and all you could feel was heat. Rain pounded the flames, but they could not be stopped as they, like the lions, roared with power. Water slid down Scar's face and into his eyes, blurring his vision. One moment to weakness was all it took. Simba lunged and knocked his uncle off the cliff.

Scar tumbled downwards, hungry flames eagerly accepting him. As their scarlet tongues devoured him, he whispered one last wish, "Keep my friends safe..." before he was enveloped.