Thread

                                            By 

                                         Arthur 

 
CHAPTER 9

I awoke on the third day of being in our new Kraal to find Gregor missing, after asking Peitro, I was told that Gregor had been invited to go on an initiation hunt as one of the young warriors to be, had come of age and was to be tested. I went in search of either Shemba or Simba to find out more about what was happening, it took only a few minutes to find them at play with some of their younger siblings outside their fathers Kraal.

The two boys stopped their play and led me to a large wide tree, once seated under the shade they began, sometimes in unison and sometimes alone, to explain about the initiation of a new warrior.

It appeared that, when a young teen came of age, about fifteen or sixteen years, he was expected to go out and, alone, hunt a Leopard, these I had found out were the spotted animals that supplied the thin band around the forehead of all warriors, the boy had to make the kill alone with only his single spear, he could not throw his spear but had to keep it in hand at all times, this meant he was in great danger of being mauled, or worse still, killed in the act of killing his beast, if he failed he would never become a warrior, the young teens only got one chance, besides, failure usually led to the boys death by the Leopard.

Gregor had gone along as he was seen by the warriors as the head warrior of our small group, it was an honour for him to be asked and showed that the other warriors held him in high esteem, it was at the end of the day and on his return that I truly saw how much esteem he had gathered among these fierce warriors.

During the day, I was called to the Kings Kraal, with Shemba acting as interpreter, I was asked by the King if we would like to stay for a while longer, it was explained that by staying, we would have the time to learn the common language so that it would be easier for us on our future travels, it seemed a good common sense approach and so I agreed, some of my archers would go out with the hunting parties and help in the gathering of meat, the King would set aside a few of his older wives to assist us with the cooking and cleaning as was custom, also each boy would be given one warrior to teach them the language and watch over them while we stayed with the King.

It was to be the next morning when the allocation of warriors would take place, the King was no fool and selected only the youngest of the warriors so that my boys would not feel as though they were under guard or being watched by older more experienced warriors, besides, said the King, boys at play learn faster and, there are many forms of play.

It was well after the meeting with the King and close to sun down when we heard the loud clamour of the returning hunting party, cries and yells could be heard as the large group came into sight, when I had hurried to the main gates of the large Kraal, it was to see, with my Elvin sight, that two of the party were trying to help each other and one of those was Gregor, with an arm over his shoulder a naked young teen was struggling to walk, behind them came two warriors with a spotted Leopard tied upside down on a thick pole, its long spotted tail dragging on the grass as they moved.

As the large group moved closer, I could see a thick trail of blood running down the thigh of Gregor, the young boy he was holding, had a large open and bleeding wound in one shoulder, he was barely dragging himself along but, Gregor refused to let him fall to the ground, all the other warriors made no effort to help the two wounded boys, it was as though they were waiting to see which one would fall and die, this was the first sign I had seen of how tough these warriors were.

I called for some of my boys to go and help Gregor and the boy to our Kraal, at least there, out of sight of any prying eyes, I could use my healing magic to help these two, Gregor, because he was one of us, the young boy, because Gregor obviously thought he was worth the effort, it was to be both a fortunate event and a curse.

The boys were quickly out of the gate and beside Gregor and the boy, with ease, four boys lifted the young boy up and carried him as fast as they could go, to our Kraal, Gregor, relieved of the extra weight, straightened up and, with one of the other boys helping him, hobbled a bit faster after the others, the warriors still kept their distance and did nothing to help nor interfere as the two injured boys entered our Kraal.

Once inside our main hut, I went first to the young boy as he seemed to be the more badly injured, Gregor’s wounds, although bloody, were not as severe, the boys shoulder had been badly mauled but from what I could see, no major bloodlines had been torn, it was mainly tissue damage and the dislocation of his shoulder bones.

The look on the boys face was one of both horror and something else, it was as though all life had gone from his eyes, I could see that the injury, although serious, was not life threatening at this stage and the boy had no reason to think otherwise but, he had lost something and it showed in his eyes.

Placing my right hand on the ground, I searched out a close by ley line and using my left, I began the prayers and magic words that would start the healing, as I pulled more power from the earth Mother, the wound began to close, I had placed the boy in a state of sleep while I worked, the replacing of his bones was going to hurt a lot and I did not want him thrashing around, slowly, the bones clicked back into place and I began the repair of his muscle and tissue, it was almost dark by the time I had finished, he would always bear the scars of his meeting with the Leopard but, in five or six days, he would be fully fit again, I turned to the waiting Gregor.

On his thigh were four deep gouges, they also had missed bone or main blood lines, he too, would carry the scars of battle for the rest of his life, the gouges ran from the top of his thigh and around to almost the back of his leg, it had been a good strike, once he was repaired and ready to talk, Gregor told us all about what had happened as the boy slept close by.

Early that morning, one of the warriors had approached Gregor and asked if he would go on an initiation hunt, the offer had been made as they saw Gregor as the head warrior of our group, the young teen boy who was to be initiated had to have as many worthy warriors to see his feat and to prove he was now a full grown man and a warrior, to do this he had to kill a Leopard alone and naked with only his spear, no other warrior could help him make the kill and they would deem it an honour if Gregor went with them to watch the boy become a man and warrior, Gregor had jumped at the chance.

They had tracked a Leopard from its night time kill for over four hours, when the Leopard had been spotted lying on a branch in a large tree, the selected boy removed his skimpy loin cloth, took up his spear and began to stalk the sleeping animal although he knew that no wild animal in this land ever truly slept.

With the caution of a true hunter, the boy got closer and closer to the Leopards lair, the rest of the watching warriors were holding back in silence as they watched the boy who would be a warrior and a man, Gregor realised he had been holding his breath for quite some time, the stillness of the air and the total silence of the grassland must have alerted the Leopard, as the boy came closer, the Leopard suddenly lifted its head and screeched out its challenge as it tensed its lithe body for an assault.

The naked boy clasped his spear in both hands, his time of trial was fast approaching, the hot air of the grasslands was now almost stifling as the tension built, with a speed that defied the eye, the Leopard left the branch where it had been dozing and made for the boy at a ground loping pace that surprised Gregor, one moment he was in the tree, the next he was just feet away from the nervous but determined boy.

The boy set his feet and grasped the handle of his spear as the Leopard closed with him, the boys thrust was deflected at the last second by the fast moving Leopard, instead of striking deep into the chest of the Leopard, it was deflected slightly and entered only the front shoulder of the charging animal, the Leopards scream rent the air but its speed and power propelled it forward until it could close its gaping fang filled jaws on its enemy.

Fortunately for the boy, the Leopard had also been deflected enough to ruin its intent, instead of fastening its strong jaws on the neck of the boy, the spear had pushed it to the side and it fastened instead on the boys shoulder, seeing what had happened and not totally understanding the rules of the game, Gregor’s instinct of protecting others took over, as the jaws closed on the boy, Gregor leapt forward drawing his Mythral sword at the same time.

Gregor closed with the pair on the ground just as the Leopard released its grip on the boy so as to get a better killing bight on the boys neck, at this point, Gregor reached the two bloody contestants and, with the bravery of youth, faced the very angry and hurt Leopard face to face, with consummate practice, Gregor drove the point of his sword down through the shoulder blades of the animal, the Mythral blade slicing through skin, sinew and bone with ease until it pierced the heart, the Leopard screeched its death song but, still defiant, lashed out with the last of its strength with one paw filled with sharp claws and rent four gouges in Gregor’s thigh as it fell over dead.

As Gregor sank to his knees to look at the injured boy, a loud yell from the warriors behind him went up and echoed throughout the vast grassland, a boy had been lost but a new warrior had been born, the large group of warriors ran forward and lifted Gregor high as they chanted about his bravery and success, he was now one of them, he was a warrior of the Mandingo, the boy they totally ignored, he had had his chance but had failed, he was now forever a boy and could never be a man or a warrior, they would leave him here on the grasslands to let the spirits decide what would happen to him.

Gregor would have none of this, as he watched one of the warriors approach the boy on the ground with his spear raised, Gregor saw that the warrior was going to put the boy out of his pain, he was not about to let that happen, pulling all his strength together, he once again leapt forward with his sword raised and stood over the prostrate boy, a fast sweep of his blade and the warriors spear was now in two parts, not being able to voice his thoughts, Gregor shook his head, no, and stood over the boy, much to his surprise, the warrior smiled and shrugged his shoulders then, turned and walked off, it appeared to Gregor that the boy was now his responsibility, the warriors would have nothing to do with a boy who would never be a man.

Gregor tried to comfort the boy as he watched the warriors gather a long pole and tie the dead Leopard to it, with a signal from the leader of the warriors, they began the long trek back to the Kraal, Gregor lifted the injured boy up and draped one of the boy’s arms over his shoulder, slowly they followed the others as they chanted some intelligible song to the timing of their steps, only one phrase caught Gregor’s attention as it was repeated time and time again, it sounded like Chui Moyo, over and over again.

The long trip back to the Kraal had Gregor thinking at times that they would never make it, the weight of the boy and his own deep gashes took their toll on his strength but, as soon as he saw the Kraal in the distance, something gave him added strength and he was now sure he would make it with his burden, he knew I could heal them and all he had to do was get them both into their new home and under my healing magic.

It was five days before both the boys were able to fully get around once again, although there was still a little pain from their adventure, they both tried valiantly to get well, I was concerned only by the attitude of the boy that Gregor had rescued, although his injuries were now healed, his inner soul seemed to be no where in sight, he would not leave Gregor’s side and would never look another warrior in the eye if approached by one of them, it was as if he had been thrown to the wild animals and none of the Kraal warriors would even look at him, to them he was invisible, this seemed to hurt him more than his wounds.

On the morning of the sixth day, we received a message from the King to assemble in the main Kraal for a ceremony that had been delayed due to Gregor’s injuries, of the young failed warrior, there was no mention but he refused to leave Gregor’s side.

By this time most of the boys were becoming reasonably proficient in the local trading language of Swahili in that they could now usually get across most of their thoughts and understand most of the replies although we all still had a lot too learn we could now get the main intent across, we all assembled at our own gates as the drums sounded out in the centre of the main Kraal, before us was what appeared to be an honour guard of warriors to escort us to the seat of the King, at a cry from far away, we all moved forward and were led to where the King sat on his large wooden throne at the centre of the Kraal.

To the front of the throne was a circular cleared space, surrounding it were warriors packed shoulder to shoulder like a living wall, behind them stood the women and behind the women were all the younger children, it looked as though every member of the tribe had assembled in this one place, the air smelled of bodies, smoke, sweat and also excitement, it was a heady mixture, the King sat on his wooden throne with his two sons beside him, it was a signal to all others that they would rule after he was gone, Shemba to his right and Simba to his left also said that Shemba would be the first to rule after him, his brother Simba would be by his side as an advisor.

When we were all assembled at the centre of the Kraal, the King lifted his hand and called for total silence, when not even a breath could be heard he called for Gregor to step forward before his throne, when Gregor was standing alone, the King began the story of Gregor’s killing of the Leopard, not once did the King mention the other boy who’s name we now knew was Tzuma, it appeared as though he was no longer of any consequence in the Kingdom.

At the end of the tale, the King called for the Leopard skin, now tanned and ready, to be brought forward for the new warrior, he then called for everyone to witness that the one time white warrior was now to be known as Chui Moyo among all the people and was to be treated as favourite of the King.

When the large tanned Leopard skin was brought forward, The King asked what Gregor would have it made into so that all could see the result of his feat, Gregor thought for a while then asked that the skin be cut into pieces for the use of a head band, two arm bands a loin cloth and the cover of a wooden shield, at this the King waved his hand and the bearers of the skin hurried away to do as they were told.

After a short pause, the King then turned his eyes on Tzuma but, returned his gaze to Gregor to ask.

“And what would Chui Moyo have done with the non man that you found under the Leopard?”

Gregor looked around to see Tzuma now prostrate on the ground; he was still as naked as before being that he was looked upon as still a child in the eyes of the people.

“I would have him by my side as a warrior, while he is no longer of your people he is now one of ours, Great King, at the time of the Leopard he showed no sign of cowardliness and stood his ground even to his death, if he is not wanted by your people then he is wanted by mine, I will take him to our numbers.

The King looked down at the young boy prostrate on the ground, he was of no consequence to the Kraal now that he had failed his initiation, if the strange white skinned warrior wanted the boy then it was only fair that the white warrior had all the spoils of his defeat of the Chui with his bare hands.

“It is so, take the non man and do with him as you want but, he must never be seen in the company of my warriors nor may he return to the house of the boys, he is yours to watch over.”

Gregor readily nodded his acceptance and stepped back reaching for Tzuma’s shoulder as he did so, with a light tug, Tzuma rose to his feet and quickly took his place behind Gregor, it was a place I was to always see him, he was now one of us although his head was still low as though he knew he would never again be accepted into his own tribe, like us, he was now a wanderer in the search for the end of the Thread.

The next morning, a call from the gate of the Elephant tusks, for that is what they were called, saw Gregor hurry to where a woman stood with many coloured objects in her arms, it was to be the pieces of the Leopard that Gregor had asked for, bowing low before Gregor, the woman silently handed the items to him and hurried away, smiling, Gregor turned back to the centre of our own Kraal and called all the boys to gather around, each boy left his black warrior, the boys that had been told to school us in the language, and surrounded Gregor, as usual, Tzuma was at his shoulder and just behind like he had been ever since the great meeting, his nakedness still for all to see and, I did take note of his more than large boyhood, for such a young teen he was endowed with the fittings of most men, as, it seemed were a lot of these dark skinned warriors and boys.

Gregor held up his hand for silence, as the boys settled down, he laid out the pieces of the Leopard skin on the ground before him, standing upright, he swept his right arm back and took hold of Tzuma’s shoulder and pulled him to the front, Gregor then pushed on the boys shoulders until he was kneeling on the ground in front of him.

“Tzuma, you have been sent from your tribe as a boy, we, the warriors of Alexi, accept you as our own, from this day you too are a warrior of Alexi, too show others that you are now a true warrior of Alexi, I give you those signs that others will know and, after the sun has sunk in the sky, you will be taken to a place of power and magic and be given the blessing of Creator so you can protect Alexi better.”

Gregor took up the thin strip of tail skin and tied it tightly around Tzuma’s forehead, he then lifted Tzuma to his feet and continued with the two matching arm bands, next he carefully placed the spotted lion cloth around the boys thin waist and tied it tight, Tzuma’s ample boyhood filling the small pocket with ease, lastly, Gregor hand the round skin covered wooden shield to Tzuma, the boys head was now up and a new light was in his eyes, perhaps he had failed as a warrior of the Mandingo, but he would never fail as a Warrior of Alexi, it could be seen in his eyes.

“Tzuma, you are now a Warrior of Alexi, tonight you will receive your spear from the hands of the Creator, your blood now belongs to Alexi and your thoughts to that of the Creator of us all.”

I watched as unmanly tears fell from Tzuma’s eyes, his young body trembling with the excitement of finding a new home among those who wanted him; there was a sudden and spontaneous cheer from the rest of the boys as Tzuma lifted his head in pride, he then returned to his place just behind Gregor’s shoulder, his stance was now upright and strong, he was a Warrior and he would never fail his friends or his saviour.

That night, when the sun had died in the west for some hours, Gregor led us all out through the main Kraal, the Mandingo did not like to travel in the dark of night so we were not stopped, Gregor had asked me to find a seat of power so they could give Tzuma’s name to Creator and hope that he would be favoured as they had been, it was also at this time that I noticed a certain extra closeness between Gregor and Tzuma which, in turn, meant that Peitro was overjoyed, it would be some time before I worked all this out, or should I say, watched the outcome of the three of them together.

The moon was full and bright as we came to a place under a great Baobab Tree, the power of the ley lines was almost enough to lay me down, I gave a nod to Gregor and he then sat Tzuma on the ground under the large tree, placing both of my hands in the soft earth, I called on all the spirits to hear my plea, the power pulsed through me as I knelt and waited, the power was building even more and all those around me were now laying on the ground with their eyes closed, all except for myself and Tzuma, around us the very air glowed with the power emitting from the core of the Creator.

There firstly came the vague outlines of many spirits, they were all mixed, some of the trees, some of the earth, some of the oceans and lakes, they all moved in a concerted circle as they closed in on the two of us, I could feel the body of Tzuma shaking in fear but he stayed in his place, finally there came a great bright yellow light at the centre of the spirits, it continued to widen until it filled the whole area around the great tree and a boys young voice echoed out to us.

“Alexi, mage of the Elvin people, why would you call me to this place, so far from your home?”

“Creator, I ask not for myself but for this boy, he is a true warrior and has been rejected by his people, we would ask that he be given that which was given to others so that he may serve us on our search for The Thread, if it is your will.”

“Ah, young mage, you ask only for others and nothing for yourself, why is that?”

“I ask nothing for myself as you have given me all that I need, I fear only for those who would follow me on my quest as they do so from the goodness and bravery of their hearts.”

“So it is asked, so shall it be, and for you young mage, I give you one thing for your selfless attitude and belief in us, you will find it when you consummate your joining of the thread with your intended, he awaits you with such desire I fear he may come for you instead, your wish is granted, Tzuma is now of your flock, all he needs will be found at sunrise.”

As the glow of the Creator and his spirits faded from our sight, we both fell into a deep sleep, I did not even have to place wards around us for protection from any marauding beasts as I knew that Creator would not allow us to be hurt, the sounds of the night faded into nothingness as we all slipped deeply into sleep.

When morning dawned, I saw that I was the first to be awake, looking around the small camp, I also saw that each boy had somehow been paired with another and that they were encompassed by a soft yellow glow, the only difference was the bodies of Gregor, Peitro and Tzuma, they were also covered in the soft yellow glow but were close together in each others arms, Peitro being at the centre of the other two, he looked like a small pet between the other two, their arms looking as though they were protecting him from any harm.

Beside the sleeping form of Tzuma, lay the shield but now, it was changed, it was of the finest Mythral and the one time Leopard skin had been replaced with the fine scales of a Dragon, beside the shield was a short spear, the long slender blade also of Mythral and the short shaft of a dense black wood, it was half the length of the Mandingo spears and was obviously meant for stabbing and slicing and not for throwing, Tzuma was to name it Assegai, in time to come it would be recognised as the main weapon of a great nation called Zulu in the far south of this great land.

Of all the changes the biggest were the cloaks of all the boys, the once humble wool cloaks had been replaced with Dragon cloaks the same as mine, Creator had been kind to us all, as I stretched from my sleep and took in everything around me, I revelled in the blessing of Creator and what he had done for the boys, they had all now been paired with one who was compatible for them, for the rest of their very long lives they would never need for the comforts of love or love making, it was the final blessing of Creator, for only those that can love another man were entitled to the full blessing of Creator, because only they could be of two spirits and truly understand the need for both.

The most notable of all were Gregor, Peitro and Tzuma, the three of them were tightly bound together, their arms holding tightly to each other with little Peitro in the middle, his position gave me cause to wonder why Tzuma was so close to his slender butt with Gregor facing his feet and the small lips of Peitro appeared to be buried deeply into Gregor’s groin and yet, all three were fast asleep.

For the next six weeks, my libido increased to a point where it was almost painful, especially at night when all the paired boys were making noises that stirred the blood, over this time everyone also managed to greatly improve their understanding of the common language of Swahili, communication was now so much easier, Gregor and Peitro took Tzuma in hand and began to train him to use the new shorter spear in the accompaniment with his lighter and stronger shield.

Many times I would see the warriors of the King, look into our Kraal as the three trained, by looking at their faces I could guess the type of derision that would be spoken of during the nights as they watched Tzuma do things that were not usually taught to warriors, Peitro taught him how to move as though in a type of dace and make use of the butt of the short spear and the shield for both defence and attack.

Gregor taught him how to use the sharp Mythral blade both as a stabbing spear and a long version of a sword that could slice through the toughest of metals or wood, at the end of six weeks, our new brother Tzuma, was an adversary to be reckoned with, I doubt there would be a single warrior of the King that could match him.

We had been guests for eight weeks when the first sign of war came to the Kings Kraal, the Mandingo were in a dangerous position as their territory backed onto more than four other tribes, on one side were the Dinka, these were the ones that had helped to kidnap his two sons, they had been enemies for as long as they could remember, on the other side were the Watusi, these were fearsome warriors and very rarely left anyone alive after a raid, they also traded in slaves to the Bedou and Toureg.

Too the north were the open wastes of the desert which were inhabited by the childlike Sans, these miniature people were no threat and were one of the very few to use the bow and arrow on this continent of larger species, southward there were a number of large war like tribes but, closest were the Maasai, another very tough and warlike people although they were nomads, they were not to be trifled with lightly.

Further south there were the Xhosa, the Zulu, the Ebore, the Falani and the Imbangala, while there were many more tribes, these however were the largest and most fearsome, each had come to a sort of truce as their numbers were similar and any major war could weaken both and leave their lands open for others to conquer, the mainstay of all of the tribes were there copious numbers of cattle, everything seemed to revolve around the cattle, I had seen the King, not two weeks ago, club to death four young boys for losing one cow to the lions, even the wives were far less than the cattle.

When the first runners arrived with the news of the Dinka advance, the drums began to beat and warriors began to converge on the main Kraal, it was less than thirty minutes and there were over one thousand warriors armed and ready, at a call from their old medicine man, the King appeared with long strides, on his left arm was the larger shield of the King and, held behind it the knob Kerrie, in his right hand he carried his long shafted spear, the other warriors carried either three or four spears and their shields.

There was little said as the large gathering formed up into its separate phalanx and then came the soft shuffling sound of bare feet on hard ground as they moved out towards the east where the enemy was approaching from, I gathered my boys and we formed up into our own small group to follow the King and his men, I had no intention at that time to join in the fighting but wanted to observe their tactics in case it was needed when we moved southward and away from the protection of the King.

It was another hour before we came across the Dinka, they had obviously heard that the King was on the move and had taken up a position on a low lying ridge, below them was a shallow valley which faced onto the ridge where the King set his men, the two armies faced each other over the shallow valley, it was obvious from the start that the King was far outnumbered, he had underestimated the Dinka or his scouts had not stayed long enough to do a proper count, it was now too late to send for more men and he could not retreat or he would lose everything.

My group stood slightly to one side, even I, a boy who had no clear notion of tactics, could see they would be in trouble, there was little room in the small valley for any type of winning tactic to be used, Gregor, however, had other ideas, while we watched what was happening below and how the two armies were forming up, Gregor began to organise our boys, the bowmen would stay on the ridge and use their advantage of distance, he, along with Tzuma and the swords men, would go down to the valley floor when they felt they were most needed, as usual, Peitro was by my side with his sling in his hands, I also had my magic if I wished to use it but I feared it may do more harm than good in such close confines, I could at least put a protection spell over my own boys if it was needed, I knelt on the ground and placed my left hand deep into the soft soil in readiness.

As I watched, the battle plan appeared, there were many very young warriors among the Dinka, they were sent down the hill at a run and, once on the valley floor and close enough to the Kings men, they would cast a spear and hurriedly return to their hill top to rearm them selves, the Kings warriors would also cast spears at the youths as they came within range, after a while and with no major injuries to either side, the King began to send some of his warriors down to retaliate in the same manner, once they had thrown their spears, they would scoop up any that were lying on the ground and then return again to their place on top of the ridge, it was a strange way to have a battle.

For two hours they had gone back and forth in this manner then, there was a small break as each side yelled taunts and remarks at each other while the leaders discussed when they would send their warriors with knob kerries, this was when the King would be in the most danger as his numbers in a hand to hand battle would work against him along with the greater number of spears.

Turning to Gregor I asked.

“What do you think?”

“It’s certainly not the way I would fight a war, after two hours and they have only seven injured, the King is at a great disadvantage if the others attack in force now.”

“What would you do?”

“I would take my swordsmen down to the valley floor, our armour, shields and unity would stop a lot of them from reaching up here, I would also set my archers in two ranks on the top of this ridge, each rank would stand to one side of my formation but higher up, as soon as the enemy starts to move this way, the archers can shoot, they are all well within our range, even now where they stand, we should be able to reduce their numbers by quite a few before they reach us below, with our armour and better weapons, we could make a large hole in their attack.”

“Do you want to try it before the King gets all his men killed for nothing?”

“Why not, we have had all this training and now it would be a good time to see if it works, if not then we are dead anyhow as the enemy will not leave any friends of the King behind.”

“Ok, let’s set it up, I can use some magic to place a protection shield over you all down there but, it means I can not use any attacking magic while I hold the shield.”

“That will be enough, I think when they see how their warriors are cut down by the archers, they will not be too keen on making a total loss of their men.”

And so our first real battle was set to start, Gregor set about giving his orders, it was almost amusing to see little Peitro squashed tightly by both Gregor and Tzuma as he had to stay by my side, that was his place he was told by Gregor, I had to be protected while I held the shield over him and his swordsmen.

With the consummate ease and rhythm of youth, Gregor lead his boys to the base of the small ridge, I did notice that the King had looked at them in surprise but had the good sense to hold his men back as he watched his visitors set their defensive circle, the Mythral armour shone brightly in the sunlight, Tzuma’s shiny black skin was like a dark oil, only his brief yellow spotted loin cloth and Dragon skin shield broke up the black statuesque figure, Tzuma was almost a half a head taller than Gregor although he was younger by at least a year.

Gregor lifted his Mythral sword high and brought it down with a swift sweep of his arm, immediately there was the sound of arrows begin loosed, followed quickly by another volley, they had been fired at a high trajectory to make sure they covered the distance, by the time the first arrow struck its far off target, there were three more in the air from the same archer, the very sky itself seemed to be full of flying death as warriors on the opposite ridge fell one after the other under that terrible rain of death.

Using my Elvin sight, I was able to discern the make up of the Dinka, they were a very tall people, all the men were naked except for their decorations, below their knees they wore long tassels of some white hair, around their arms were bands of animal skin and around their heads was a band of Leopard skin into which was fixed a number of long flowing brown feathers, they were also very well endowed men, their shields were longer than the Mandingo but their spears were the same long shafted ones.

As I watched, one of their number, I presumed him to be their leader, began to stir them up with loud calls until the very air was trembling as they also took up the chorus by rattling their spear shafts on their shields and stamping their feet, this caused our King to start their own chanting and rattling, the call of our warriors of a long drawn out “Bayeeeeete” followed by shield rattling, each time another volley of arrows went into the air, almost drowned out the enemies calls.

As the enemy warriors continued to drop under the shower of arrows, Gregor and his swordsmen began to move across the valley floor in a tight little group, when they got to a place just short of spear range, they formed their circle again, only Tzuma stepped out alone to face the enemy, the sun flashed on his shield as he lifted it high and began to call out to the enemy while shaking his short Assegai in challenge, his strong clear voice reached us easily, his words surprised me and, by the reaction along the ridge where the King and his warriors stood watching, it also surprised them.

Tzuma called out to the Dinka chief, calling for him to come down alone and face him, he also put in a lot of derogatory words that sound much like calling the chief’s mother the wife of a camel, then a goat, and so on, Tzuma even turned his back and bent forward to show his slender buttocks to the chief, this act, finally brought a response, at an order from the chief, four youths ran half way down the ridge and cast their spears at the lone figure of Tzuma.

I watched as the four long spears arched towards the young figure standing alone in the grass, as they descended on Tzuma, he went into action, with consummate ease, he slashed at the first two with his assegai, cutting the shafts in two, the last two he merely lifted his shield and watched as they bounced off and fell to the ground, this must have been a shock for the chief as usually, the spears could pierce the wooden shields with ease, this time however, they had merely bounced off the young boys shield, the chiefs anger was almost palpable as he ordered the four young warriors to go down and kill Tzuma where he stood.

I don’t know if this was one of Gregor’s tactics or not as, while all this was going on, the arrows were still filling the air and the enemy warriors were still falling but the chief only had eyes for the young boy who stood alone in defiance of his power, the four young warriors obeyed instantly and set off down the hill at a run, Tzuma gripped his shield a little tighter and waited for them, even from this distance, I could see the confidence in him, he was sure of his training and he also had a lot too prove to his fellow men, the same ones that had shunned him and still called him names, Gregor and his five swordsmen stood ready in their circle but knew that this was to be Tzuma’s fight and would only intervene if needed.

When the four arrived on the flat, they spread out in a semi circle around where Tzuma stood waiting, almost immediately, one of the warriors at the centre rushed forward at the smaller boy, it was over before any really saw it, Tzuma pushed aside the longer spear with his shield then sliced through the cow hide shield of his opponent with ease which also cut through the mans arm, as he went to his knees, Tzuma spun his assegai and slammed the black wooden butt into the back of the mans neck, killing him instantly, the other three could not believe their eyes as their friend dropped to the ground dead.

With a furious and anger filled yell, the other three attacked in unison, Tzuma, however, was not taken by surprise, like a whirling tornado of force, he ducked and turned, twisted and leapt, pushing aside one spear while cutting through the handle of another even as he was using his speed to get behind the third, in less time than it tales to gather three breaths, the four young warriors were lying dead on the brown grass as Tzuma stood immobile above them.

Tzuma then called to the chief to add insult to injury, asking him if he had any real warriors and not just children, from the Kings lines there came the loud rattle of the spears on shields as they took in what the boy who would never be a warrior had just accomplished single handily, Tzuma’s yells of defiance filled the still air as he sent out his challenge once again.

The chief was now beside himself with anger, his men still falling to the archers had long been forgotten, all that filled him now was the sight of the young boy with the funny short spear, it was not even a real mans spear like those of full warriors, how could a boy with a boy’s spear, kill four of his young warriors, in the back of his mind there came a suspicion that the boy was using magic, this time he would not hold back, the boy had to die, the chief called for six of his best warriors to go and rid the world of the troublesome boy.

I watched as six older and more experienced warriors left the long lines on the ridge, this time however, Gregor, his Mythral sword drawn, left his fellows and went to join Tzuma, the two of them stood patiently waiting for the six newcomers to arrive, the long drawn out calls of “Bayeeeeete” filled the air as the six warriors advanced on the two lone boys, I was interested to see how they would work together against six well trained warriors, and still the arrows flew, Creator keeping the archers quivers filled by his magic.


TBC.
Artcart65@vodafone.co.nz



 

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