A/N: I am back, or at least I have one of these chapters for everyone to read. I haven't updated this story since December, so it's my first update since December of last year. I'm not going to be giving steady updates, as this is the least popular of my stories but I do have this one update so I decided to post it, not because I'm working on this story but because I happened to find a chapter that I had completed but not uploaded.
If I get feedback on this, I'll think about writing on it again. Other than that, this is going to be updated when I feel like it or have the inspiration.
For now, please enjoy!
Dark Flower Romance
By: Melissa Norvell/Revamp
Book 5: Avow
"Maybe so, but this is my decision and that's final."Zahra leveled the lion with a determined look. Her eyes were strong like steel. She was determined to see this through, all of the good and the bad that went along with it, and there was nothing that Tajara could tell her that would dictate otherwise.
"You don't plan on leaving?" The white male asked, a little surprised that she gave up her initial idea.
"No," her answer was final.
"No matter what?" He wasn't sure that he truly believed her. Zahra was stubborn about her prior decision to leave, so between here and then, what exactly changed?
"Are you trying to inquisition me?" Zahra was a little tired of all of this. She said what she meant. Couldn't he just deal with that?
"You realize that I will not stop killing." If she was doing it to try and form some pact of compliance, he was uninterested in what she had to offer. He didn't want her to submit based on the fact that he would stop his terrible ways, or that she was going to mystically change him somehow if she decided to play wife to him.
"Why are you doing this?" Zahra wished that the male would just tell her the reason that he felt he had to take lives and make such a bad name for himself.
"Why would I tell you?" It really was none of her business.
"That's a fair enough question. I can see why you wouldn't trust me. I thought you agreed not to attack the Asiatic Lions if I became your bride." Tajara was nothing more than a lying sack of crap for telling her something so false. He didn't keep his promise at all.
"There are two that I still have to kill." Tajara decided to just tell her the truth. It didn't truly matter if she knew about them. He was going to kill them with or without her knowledge being a factor.
"Why?" Why did they have to die? She didn't understand at all.
"Hm?" The white lion asked as his one blue eyes traveled to her form.
"Tell me why," Zahra demanded to know. Not only did she not know what was going on, she didn't know who it was he was trying to kill or what made him decide that was the only way to settle their disputes.
"Why do you wish to find out more information that would cause your hatred to grow for me?" She really should just leave matters alone. Even if he told her, she would still not understand and she would only detest him more than she had originally.
"Maybe I might agree with you," he didn't know how she'd feel. He shouldn't have been trying to predict her.
Tajara turned away, "I doubt it."
"The unforeseen things help validate opinions," Zahra wasn't going to give up unless she found out what Tajara's plans were.
"One of them is the reason my eye is missing." The white lion's voice lowered. It wasn't anything that he cared to discuss, much less with her of all animals.
"I'm sure that wasn't on purpose." At the risk of not being completely accurate, Zahra wanted to at least provide a sense of optimism for him. Maybe it would make things better for him. As a predator, missing an eye was a big thing that affected him, and a part of her couldn't help but feel bad for him.
Tajara let out a low rumble in the back of his throat. "You immediately defend them without knowing my full story? That only proves my point." He was irritated and felt betrayed by his own mate. How dare she go against him in such a way. Then again, he couldn't help but see that one coming.
"I didn't mean it like that." Zahra knew she did more than just get it wrong. She shouldn't have opened her mouth, but she wanted to help quell his misery. Obviously, that wasn't an option. "Wait! Where are you going?" She lioness turned her head to see her partner walking away from her. She immediately followed behind him.
Tajara glanced back with his good eye and spoke to her coldly. "I'm returning to the den."
"We can talk there." Zahra said as she followed him off. It was going to be a long trip back to the den, and she felt horrible about what she had said.
Inside of the den, surrounded by the stone and dirt walls, Tajara walked inside, deep into the den until the light could no longer reach him and laid down. Zahra followed suit and laid beside of her mate.
Lifting his head, Tajara was a little confused at why she decided to lay so close to him. "You're not across the den?"
"I'm yours now. That was the terms and conditions." Zahra was a lioness of her word and she was going to act upon it as a result. She knew how to take her punishment and deal with it. Whether or not this was truly a punishment was something that she would find out soon enough.
"Are you sure you're happy with this?" Tajara wondered aloud more than he had actually asked her.
"You know, you actually do have a heart." The fact that the white lion showed some for of conscience when asking about her happiness made her smile a little. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
"I'm not truly evil," he was merely misunderstood. To what extent was something that she would have to find out herself.
"I never thought you were. The reason I'm here is because I took your side." Zahra admitted. "I told Karobi and Saveresh that there was a reason that you slaughtered my ancestors, and that you must have been in a lot of pain, living alone as the only Barbary Lion that exists in the wild." It wasn't as if the massive, white lion had any of his kind to communicate with or relate to. That had to be a horrible experience. Not to mention, Tajara lived in complete exile from the others. It made her sad to know that he was only relying on himself.
"I am not a thing to be pitied." That was the last thing that he wanted.
"It's not about that. There are two sides to every story. I was always curious about yours." That's why she had always asked him why he did what he did. Zahra knew that Tajara had a story to tell, but he was being very secretive about telling it to her.
"Is that why you asked me to explain myself so many times?" If anything, he would hand it to her, the lioness was persistent.
"It wasn't to use the information against you. Although I'm sure you didn't trust me." Zahra could see why he chose to keep it to himself, but she really wanted him to trust her.
"I trust no one, and neither would you." Tajara turned his head away from her. He had too many betrayals to bother explaining it anymore.
"I wouldn't," Zahra admitted, "not if everyone looked at me like they do you." He had plenty of reasons to be selective about who he told.
"Maybe I should tell you why I want to kill them." Was he truly opening up to her?
"Really?" Her eyes lit up at the fact that he was considering it. He could see the sparkle of expectancy as she peered into his lone eye.
"If it gets out, I'll kill you." Tajara glared her down and backed up his threat with a low growl.
"I thought as much, but I am your bride. In taking that position, I promised you my loyalty. I know you might think I'm young and stupid but even if my clan tortured me, I wouldn't tell them. Besides, you're right, you know? They just gave me up so easily..." Her voice lowered as she felt the force of the brick wall fly into her. "Even my own mother and father." Her tone cracked on that part, as she felt an inward pain. It was as if she was speared through the heart by a hunter. They didn't care that she was in enemy hands. They never considered her feelings at all. At least Tajara had a purpose for her, even if she was only performing it because of her situation, it still made her feel like she had a sense of purpose.
"Betrayal," Tajara spoke simply.
"Huh?" Her interest was piqued at this.
"They are good at that."
"What do you mean?" Zahra sensed underlying meaning behind that phrase, It was almost as if Tajara knew something much darker than her clan would ever let her know.
"I killed them because they betrayed me."
"How did they betray you?" Maybe now he would tell her the whole story, or at least, that's what she was hoping for.
"I guess Saveresh never told you what really happened when the hunters appeared on the outskirts of the Gir Forest." Of course he wouldn't have. Severesh wouldn't want his dear daughter to know about his twisted past.
"They...didn't talk about it much." She knew of the incident but it was widely unspoken of amongst lions in her clan. "I was told not to bring it up because it gave my mother bad memories."
"Your mother?" Tajara was interested in who this mystery lioness was.
Zahra nodded. "Yes, my mother is Sultana, the daughter of Shefalika."
"That's why," his eye narrowed.
"Didn't you see her as a mother figure?" Zahra had remembered him mentioning that a while back. Perhaps that was why he knew.
"Those were the days when I was young and naive." Tajara commented as if a nostalgia had overcome his form.
"I think everyone has those days." She leaned into him, his fur acting like a pillow around her body. His long strands ticked her nose. "I guess whatever she did, it must have been really bad."
"She lied to me, just as Bhim and Hafiza did." Tajara's voice was full of misery and hatred at the mention of the past. "They convinced me that I belonged there, that I was part of their pride. That I was one of them. I didn't learn that I was adopted until after the hunters came." It was something that he always held in his heart, something that would haunt him until the day he killed those responsible for the tragedy. To kill them was to kill the hatred in his own heart.
"That's such a long time. Why weren't they just honest with you from the beginning?" It would have been simple to tell Tajara he was merely adopted into their pride. What was so hard about that?
"It's a long story." One that he didn't want to tell her on top of that.
"Nothing is really what it's cracked up to be it seems. You still haven't answered my original question. Why do you want to kill the other lions?" Zahra had a feeling that when she got the answer to that question, she'd get the answer to everything.
"The first lion left me to be taken by the humans after I risked my life to save them. The second one had set me up and planned to have the hunters kill me and take me from Gir Forest." The revelation of this information nearly stopped Zahra's heart. she jolted up from her lounging position with widened eyes as her head darted towards her mate. She knew that the secrets between them were dark, but she had no idea how far they descended into pitch black.
"What?" Shock was evident in her voice. "Who would do such a thing?"
"You'd be surprised," oh would she ever be shocked.
"How horrible! Why would they do that to you?" Zahra found herself wanting answers.
"To save themselves," Tajara answered. "Not everyone is as generous and selfless as to take the fall for me. The feeling is mutual, though." A sinister smirk twisted itself across his muzzle. "I do think that the resulting situation is ironic. Everything flows in a repetitious cycle, even life and death." That circle was going to come full circle.
"How selfish," Zahra frowned, tilting her head down. She could hardly believe what she was hearing. "Prides are supposed to protect each other, not allow each other to be thrown to the hunters."
"I was never like them," Tajara replied, putting a level of disgust on the last word.
"Do you mean them as in Shefalika and Bhim?" Zahra wondered.
"I mean your breed in general."
"I don't see how we're so different." It made no sense to the lioness. They were generally the same in her eyes.
"Hm?" Tajara was almost amused as he questioned her thoughts on the matter.
"We're both lions and we are both living creatures. My mother, Sultana said that the Barbary Lions and the Asiatic Lions are relatives of a sub-species of each other. That makes us connected." Zahra believed that all life had a connection, all lions came from two single lions, and thus, all of them were connected. Nothing was completely different and all forms of life had equality through commonality.
"I am a white lion, rarer than just being a Barbary in general." That made Tajara even more special among the wild lions.
"I don't think I've ever seen a white lion out here in the forest." The white mutation was rare, and even more so that one would survive in the wild like he did. That in itself was miraculous.
"That is because white lions are a result of human captivity." That was the true reason that they were not a product of their wild environment.
"So, you were once raised by humans?" That was the only point that Zahra could get a conclusion on.
"My parents traveled with the humans," Tajara admitted. That was the reason for his color and existence.
"So, you know your real parents?" Zahra socked her head. It was strange that an orphan cub knew their parents.
"I learned about them after I was captured by the hunters. It seems that they knew who raised them and the traveling circus they were with." Tajara explained the special circumstances that he was brought up in. His parents were circus performers and he was to live out the same life they had if not for the separation.
Zahra looked thoughtful. "But, wait...that doesn't make much sense. If you come from a circus, then how did you end up out here? I thought that you were raised by Shefalika." There was something conflicting about Tajara's stories, or rather, the stories that were told by her pride and by Tajara himself. How could both things have happened?
"Didn't you all? It even fooled me." Tajara bit back bitterly.
"Then...how did you get out here?" The question still remained. Zahra wanted to know how both versions of his story could possibly be true.
"I was brought here...by my mother." Tajara admitted.
"Your mother was a Barbary, like you, right?"
"Both of my parents were white, Barbary Lions." Her mate confirmed.
"What really happened to her, then?" Zahra was afraid to ask, but at the same time she wanted to know. She felt as if she had to know.
"Do you really want to know?" Tajara pressed her. She could turn back now if she wished. The answers were sure to horrify her if she chose to delve deeper.
"The truth will set you free," Zahra couldn't turn back now. She wanted to know everything about him and she wasn't about to back down now.
"Or perhaps it will crush you," Tajara's voice was ominous. He offered the dark side of gaining knowledge.
"Then crush me," the lioness challenged, looking into his steely eye.
"Bhim and Hafiza killed her."
The words slammed into the lioness with the force of a safari vehicle. She was so taken aback that she stood straight up, nearly stepping on Tajara.
"What? Why would they do such a thing?" She could hardly believe it. Zahra didn't want to believe it, she could hardly believe it. No! This couldn't be! Shock lit up her face as her heart pounded in her body.
Tajara began to explain that was what he wanted answers to. His whole life, he was told that he was an Asiatic Lion by Bhim and Hafiza. Never once did she mention who his real mother was, but the truth came out because Shefalika felt guilty when he asked her why he was so different and why he was never truly interested in the group activities of the pride. Shefalika told him everything. She revealed all of the truths that the others so desperately tried to hide.
"So, you killed her out of anguish?" Zahra questioned as she stared at him with widened eyes and shrunken pupils.
"No, I was thankful that she told me, even if she couldn't tell me what kind of lion I was."
Wait a minute! Tajara spoke kindly when he referred to Shefalika, so did that mean that he wasn't the one who killed her?
"So...you didn't kill her..." Zahra questioned.
"Nice to see that you figured that out." Now she was finally catching on. It seemed that Zahra wasn't as naive as she seemed. Maybe, now things were making sense to her..
"If you didn't, then who did?" She asked, and the male lion was silent. All he did was look sad and closed his one eye. "Tell me, Tajara. Who killed Shefalika?" Zahra continued to press.
"This is where the truth will crush you." Tajara opened his eye, staring at her, and she felt so much tension that it sent chills down her spine. "Are you sure that you want to know?"
"I do," she nodded unsurely. She wasn't sure how prepared she was for the answers but she wanted them nonetheless.
"Your father, Saveresh, killed Shefalika."
Zahra jolted and her joints locked was left with horror injected into her form. Her heart beat became louder, and more painful. the pain was sharp and repetitive and she felt it hard to breathe. Did she hear that correctly? Tajara had to have been lying! He just had to have been! Saveresh wouldn't do anything like that...Would he?
"Wh-What?" The lioness was never as horrified as she was in that moment. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of any of that was going through her mind about it. Images of Saveresh killing Shefalika ran through her head over and over again, driving her with a mad disbelief. She was desperate to not believe her mate.
She backed up, her legs trembling, threatening to buckle under her at any moment. "No...N-no..." she stammered, "that can't be true. He didn't...He wouldn't."
"There was a reason I didn't think that you should know." That was what Tajara meant. The truth was going to crush her, and it did.
"That can't be true. Saveresh was the one who told me that you killed her." Zahra shot. Who was she going to believe? Who was right and who was wrong?
"I only killed Bhim and Hafiza. I left Sultana and Saverish." Tajara had no reason to lie, he even admitted to killing the two lions. If that wasn't proof of the truth, he didn't know what was.
Tears clung to the lioness' eyes, stinging and burning as they threatened to surface. "My father...he killed..." She still couldn't believe it, but the more she tried to deny it, the more she felt in pain. It was as if the truth of the situation was getting through her skull.
"The truth will set you free, my dear." The male lion's voice sounded creepy when he said that sentence. It tore through her like the teeth of a predator.
"Can I go off alone for a while? I want to think to myself." Zahra wanted to think about it all. She wanted it to sink in. There was a lot of doubt, and a lot of horror that still clung to her small form. There was just too much going on, too much anxiety and Zahra just wanted to clear the air of it all.
"Where will you be?" Tajara wanted to know, in case something happened. He still wasn't completely trusting of her.
"There's a pond right of the bat lily field. I'll be there. If I'm not back in three hours, then come and look for me." Zahra instructed before she burst out of the den in a cloud of dirt, running at full speed and leaving her mate in the wake of the dust.
'Zahra...I know that must have been hard to take in, but maybe it's time that you knew the other side of the story you so longed to hear.' It would be a painful experience, but the truth hurt and no one knew this better than he.
...To Be Continued
A/N: Unless requested, this isn't going to be updated in a long time. I have too many current projects. Will it be completed some day? Yes, it only had about seven chapters to go before I end it but I work on it if I get inspiration and reviewers who want faster updates.
With that being said, please review and tell me what you think! All reviews will be returned.