At last, at long last, Bambi and Simba made it to Pride Rock. Simba had seen it so many times but never before did it seem so domineering.
``Well this is it,'' said Bambi, ``If we find Scar, we can find Nala. Are you sure you're ready for this?''
Simba, breathing hard, said nothing. He just walked forward slowly. Secretly, both of them hoped that they wouldn't have to deal with Scar. As they got closer to the den entrance, Simba's breathing grew more intense, he tried to remain calm but his face betrayed him with a look of sheer panic.
Bambi noticed that Simba was no longer following him. ``You're not ready, are you?''
Simba shook his head. Bambi sighed. He was about to say something when he caught a glimpse of the mysterious deer again, this time almost immediately fading away. Bambi felt like the deer was trying to tell him something. He looked back at Simba and saw just how panicked he was. He smiled kindly.
Simba managed a (very) forced smile. He took a shaky step forward when, ``Wait.''
``Sh!'' hissed Simba.
Bambi listened. There was a voice coming from the den. ``Let me out!''
Simba recognized it at once. ``Nala?!'' With a burst of adrenalin, he ran inside.
``Simba, what are you doing?!'' asked Bambi in hushed tones and ran after him.
In the farthest corner of the den, Nala was being kept in a make-shift cage made of bones. Scar stood in front of her with a group of hyenas off to the side. Bambi was concerned but it was enough to make Simba seethe. They hid behind a rock, just out of sight.
``Now I will ask you one more time,'' said Scar, ``What do you know about Simba?''
``I... I don't know anything!''
``Playing dumb isn't going to help you.''
``Hasn't helped you your whole life,'' said Nala mockingly.
Scar was cross but chose to ignore it. ``I know he has some connection with my old protege, now tell where they are! What are they up to?''
Nala remained defiant.
Scar grinned. ``You must really want to test my new punishment. I came up with this with my old protege in mind (it certainly would've been poetic) but I guess you'll do.'' Simba looked at Bambi, puzzled but all Bambi did was shrug.
``I'll admit, its not what I'm used to,'' continued Scar, ``Killing Mufasa was much more elaborate.''
``What? He did what?!'' fumed Simba.
``You did what?'' asked Nala in shock.
``That's right,'' grinned Scar teasingly.
``What... why... why are you...?'' Nala spluttered.
``Why am I telling you this? You're about to die anyway. Make sure to tell him I said `hello'.''
Simba was outraged. ``That. Does it!'' He ran towards Scar, bellowing furiously.
``Simba, don't do it!'' said Bambi in a harsh whisper. But it was too late. He had already made himself known.
``Simba?'' asked Nala out-loud. She covered her mouth, quickly regretting it.
Scar didn't even flinch. ``Take care of that, will you?'' he asked the hyenas.
Simba had tunnel vision on his uncle and so didn't notice them coming towards him. The hyenas easily pinned him. Scar turned and came towards him.
``So this is a deer,'' Scar said, menacingly, ``How interesting to see one up close.'' Simba struggled hard, still bellowing. The hyenas kept him at bay. ``I didn't quite believe it when I heard it. But really, Simba, what have you done to yourself?'' At the mention of his name, Simba stopped.
``Shut up!'' Simba spat, ``You murderer!''
``Now, now. No need for that. Prey or not, you should feel honored to witness this revolutionary punishment up close.''
``Honored?! You're not worth my pity!''
``Ouch, that hurt,'' said Scar teasingly.
``What do you really want with her? Just let her go.''
``Oh, but she blatantly defied me. I can't just let that slide.''
``Then... whatever you're going to do... do it to me instead!''
``Now why would I do that?'' sneered Scar, ``That would be a little redundant, don't you think?'' He moved to reveal an elixir behind him.
Simba's eyes widened. ``Wh-what is that?''
``The old crone called it a `cure'. I personally like to call it a `punishment'.'' Scar smirked at Nala and picked up the elixir.
Simba's mind was racing. Redundant? Protege? Poetic? Old crone? Cure? Then it hit him. ``No. No, that can't be...!''
``What?'' asked Nala, her worry growing.
``Nala, I think that was meant for Bamb...'' One of the Hyenas quickly covered his mouth.
It was enough for Nala to understand. ``You wouldn't!'' she said.
Scar was still smirking. ``You'll serve the pride in a new way, Nala,'' he said, his voice slightly muffled.
Simba managed to shake the hyena from covering his mouth. ``Please, you don't have to do this!'' he begged.
``You're probably right,'' replied Scar, ``but it's so much more fun this way.'' He pinned Nala down and forced her to drink the elixir.
Scar backed off, eager to see what was next. Nala got to her feet before the elixir took effect.
"S... Simba...?" she trembled.
The transformation was swift. Starting at the tip of her nose, the changes rippled across her. Her muzzle became longer and thinner while her ears grew out and pointed. Her body and legs lost their bulk. Her joints reformed and her paws became hooves. Finally, her tail shrank into a proper deer tail. And there she was, a newly formed deer.
The whole thing was disorienting and, coupled with her new legs, Nala looked like she was about the fall over.
``Nala!'' cried Simba and struggled to get free again.
Scar nodded at the hyenas and they let Simba go. He was no longer a threat. At once, Simba rushed over to her and helped prop her up.
``Its okay,'' he said comfortingly, ``I'm here. I'll help you.''
Nala was still in a state of shock and couldn't speak. Still, she managed to rest her head on him.
Bambi, meanwhile, felt paralyzed while watching the whole thing. He desperately wanted to help but he knew what Scar would do if he wasn't careful. As he was trying to work this out, he looked back at Scar, Simba and Nala. And behind them was an all-too familiar doe. Her face as emotionless as ever. None of them seemed to notice her.
``Please,'' said Bambi closing his eyes and shaking his head, ``I don't need this right now.'' He looked back only to find the doe was still there. He stared intently at her. As he did, realization finally dawned on him. ``It can't be... Mother?''
For the first time since she started appearing, the doe smiled. Almost immediately, she scowled at Scar, who was still oblivious about her. At that moment, Bambi knew what he wanted from his experience.
``Aw, how cute,'' said Scar, referring to Simba and Nala, ``Oh well, time to die.''
Simba stood to attention. ``You will not lay one claw on her!''
``Good, then I can kill you first!''
Simba's eyes widened again. His worst fears were coming true. Then suddenly a certain lion jumped in front of him and roared at Scar.
``Bambi?!'' Scar roared back, ``What do you think you're doing?!''
Bambi said nothing. He just stood defiantly.
``You're digging your own grave,'' Scar continued in an eerily calm manner. Bambi didn't move. ``I see. Tell you what, I will give one last chance to redeem yourself. Kill them both. Now!''
Bambi slowly locked his gaze with Scar's and said, very firmly, ``No.''
He jumped away and Scar followed him with a swipe of his claws. Bambi managed to just avoid it. ``Go!'' he ordered Simba and Nala.
``But what about...?''
As quickly as they could (not easy for Nala but she managed), they raced out the den. Both felt guilty for having to leave Bambi behind. Bambi fended off Scar for as long as he could but Scar managed to swipe him, sending him into a wall.
``What do we do now boss?'' asked one of the hyenas, ``Do we go after them?''
Scar stared intently at him before swiping at him too. ``NO! You do not go after him!'' he roared, ``Simba is mine.''
``And just how are you going to catch him?'' asked another hyena, ``You wasted all this time with your `protege'.''
For brief a moment Scar (not that he showed it) was concerned. At that moment, Bambi came to with a groan. Scar, using a single claw, turned Bambi's head to face him. ``You have no idea how lucky you are,'' he said.