The rain splattered down on the lush green forest. He crouched under a tree, his massive, dark body somehow camouflaged.
At over seven feet tall he could still move as silently as a cat and as gracefully as a lion. From his extremely broad back, hung an axe. An axe large enough to suit a man of his size.
He peered past the cover of the leaves and bushes looking for his prey.
The rain had washed away most of the tracks. But this was no ordinary tracker. He knew things no other hunter could know. His father, the leader of the tribe, had started teaching him to hunt when he was only 6. He loved the forest. Almost more than he loved Kaila.
He smiled to himself when he thought about her. Her large, beautiful eyes. Her lovely smile. The passion in that petite body was unbelievable as well. He smiled again in anticipation of what awaited him in the village.
Laurels at killing the monster which had been terrorizing the village for many months now and a night with Kaila.
The monster in question was a lion. But like this man, this was no ordinary lion. At twelve feet tall and as many across, this was a giant among lions. And a vicious one at that. Over the past few months, it had slain several villagers and injured many as well.
Then one day, the tribe leader, his father had called him into the chief’s tent.
“Do you think you are ready?” Asked the Chief.
“I am” His voice was deep. Like it came from the mountains itself.
“Find it then. Kill it. Let the mountains be safe again. May Kardha bless you.”
And he had set out. Alone. To find the beast. And kill it.
“Where are you?” He murmured to himself.
He bent and touched the earth before him, then smelt his fingers.
He listened to what the birds sang.
“I’ve found you.”
He started running. The speed was unbelievable. His wet muscles glistened under the light of the torch he was carrying and his legs were a blur. With his other hand, he reached for and pulled the axe from his back. A task which would have required most men two hands and maybe another man.
He didn’t slow down. He ran faster and faster and finally skid to a hault at the mouth of a cave.
“Come out beast !” He shouted, his booming voice echoing over the forest.
“Come out and pay for all those you have slain ! I swear by Kardha, I will use your skin as my cloak or die trying ! Come ! Come and face me !”
He waited. And not long because a low growl rumbled from the cave.
A great roar ripped the silence of the night.
It came from the mountains.
“It has begun” Said the Chief of the Ndoto tribe as he gazed up at the mountains where he knew his brave son was battling the monster.
A petite, pretty young woman came up behind him and hugged him.
“Will he return?”
“No. He will die. The beast is too strong.”
The Chief looked down at the woman and kissed her on the lips.
“Then there will be nothing more to worry about Kaila”.
They retreated into the darkness of the tent.
He leaned against a tree. Or what was left of it.
He was breathing heavily clutching a deep wound on his broad chest. Blood flowed freely from several other parts of his body. Another man would have long fallen. But this man was standing. Injured, bleeding, broken. But still standing.
The battle had been fierce. The lion had the strength of many elephants and was consumed in white hot rage.
But he knew this. He had anticipated this. His father had too. And he had sent him. His son.
His bleeding chest swelled with pride at what his father would say.
But first, he had to get home.
The roars had stopped. The mountains were quiet.
“It is over”.
The Chief and all the tribe stood around a great fire. They were all looking sorrowfully at the Mountains.
They all knew he was dead. The greatest warrior of the tribe.
Then the Chief spoke.
“He was great man. And a proud man! He was my son and he has died an honourable death at the hands of a fearsome foe ! Let his sacrifice not go forgotten!”
The villagers cheered and clapped until the Chief silenced them with a gesture.
“He said to me before he left…’Father…if I do not return, take care of Kaila.’ And I shall honour this wish! I shall do what he wanted! I shall love Kaila like my own! I will marry her! Tonight!”
The villagers were silent.
They all knew how much he had loved Kaila. And of course he asked the Chief to look after her. But is this what he had meant?
Kaila looked nervously at the silent villagers and then at the Chief. If the old fool’s plan didn’t work, she would never get to be the Queen of the tribe. She would never have enough power.
The Chief’s son was just a vessel to reach the Chief himself. And seducing the old man had been easy. He was so in love with her that he was willing to sacrifice his own son.
But the son had to be dead. Or he would tear them both apart. His anger was legendary. As a boy of only twelve, he had killed a full size elephant with nothing but a small spear and broken the tusk with his bear hands.
She shivered at what his anger would be. Thank god he was dead.
The Chief spoke again.
“Will you not speak my people ! Are you not going to aid me in fulfilling my son’s dying wish?”
That did the trick. One by one, the villagers snapped out of their thoughts and doubts and started to clap and cheer.
“The wedding shall be tonight! Make the preparations !”
He smiled lustily at Kaila.
And she smiled back.
He was almost back to the village. He couldn’t move very fast because his left knee was shattered. He also had trouble getting the axe out of the creatures mouth. He had buried it in there with all his strength and speed. The killing blow.
He could see the light from the village fire’s now. And he could hear drums. Music.
He smiled to himself. They were celebrating his return. He knew it. They had never doubted that he would return. As he limped closer he could hear the Chiefs voice. He couldn’t make out what he was saying yet.
He limped closer….and he heard the words.
And froze in his tracks.
He could now see his father and hear his words clearly. And they chilled him to the bone.
The Chief held Kaila close to him and Kaila was smiling clinging to the Chief like a lover would.
“And to honour my sons dying wish, I hereby proclaim Kaila my wife and the queen of the tribe!”
The world seemed to slow down. He felt like a million arrows were tearing him apart. And then…he felt the anger. The anger he had taught himself to repress. The anger that he knew would take over him and blind him. The anger that he knew would wreak destruction.
He fought it.
“This is a dream….a nightmare.” He frantically thought with closed eyes.
Then through the cheering of the villagers rose the Chief’s voice.
“You are mine ! My own ! My Queen !”
He opened his eyes and saw Kaila and The Chief kiss. A deep passionate kiss.
And a black curtain fell over his eyes.
The Chief enjoyed the taste of the woman. He was successful. He had her.
He broke away from the kiss and raised his goblet of wine.
“And thus lies fulfilled my son’s dying wish !”
The crowd raised its hand to clap and opened there mouths to cheer when a voice as deep as the growl of a faraway avalanche carried over their heads.
“I made no such wish father.”
They all turned and saw him.
The warrior. His body covered in blood, slick with sweat and dirt. His massive fists were clenched into hammers. But the scariest were the eyes. And they looked straight at the Chief.
He saw the man. The man who had trained him, raised him….betrayed him.
And he saw the woman. She had loved him, cared for him….lied to him.
He saw the fear in their eyes as they looked at him and it pleased him.
He felt no love. Only hatred. And only one burning desire fuelled by the hatred.
Something strange was happening to him. He could feel the earth under his feet. He could feel it move and somehow, he knew he could move it too. He felt one with it.
His only friend in this world of betrayers.
His arms moved of their own accord
The veins on his neck stood out at his large mouth opened in a roar. A roar that even the monster he had killed would have whimpered on hearing.
He reached into the earth. He could feel its heart.
He would consume them. He would bury them all !
His entire body shone like a star and the earth started to rumble beneath him. He could not stop screaming.
Then there was pain. Pain unlike anything he had ever felt before which rose as the earth beneath his feet began to quake.
Then it happened.
The ground in front of him cracked. The crack grew larger and larger going across the whole village in seconds. The villagers screamed trying not to fall into the endless abyss. The crack expanded even more, consuming the village as trees, huts and people fell into it falling into the never ending darkness below.
Kaila ran trying desperately to avoid the abyss but the earth beneath her feet shook too much and she could not run. She slipped and fell scrambling to get up but the ground fell away at her feet as the crack grew wider and wider and scrambling for life, she fell in, never to walk the earth again.
Women fell. Children fell. Elders and cattle screamed as they scrambled at the shaking ground. And they too fell.
Screams, wails and smoke filled the air.
And then it stopped.
He fell to the ground.
He didn’t know how many hours later he woke but when he did, all he saw before him was a veritable wasteland.
He could smell the death in the air. He saw the vultures circling the sky.
A single tear rolled down his face.
“What have I done?” He whispered. “Are they all dead? Father? FATHER? KAILA ?”
And then he heard a groan. From under a large rock near the edge of the abyss.
He was on his feet in a second and sprinting towards the rock.
He reached it and lifted it like a child lifting a kitten.
The man underneath was on the brink of death and half of his body had been completely crushed.
Blood ran from his mouth. He was barely alive. Barely.
He looked at his fathers face. And at that instant, he remembered what had happened.
“Is… that you..my son?” spluttered the chief through a mouthful of blood.
“I am no son of yours. And you are no father. For no father would send his son to his death.”
“Save you!” He threw back his head and laughed. “I feel sadness for what I have done here. I feel sadness for all the dead people. I shed tears for the all but you. You and Kaila.”
His eyes softened for a moment as he spoke her name.
The Chief smiled tauntingly.”She did not love you. She used you. She just wanted to be queen.”
He looked down at the dying old man.
“Then she got what she deserved. And so have you. May Kardha show you mercy in the next realm old man. Good bye.”
“No !” The Chief yelled aware suddenly that this man was his last hope. “Don’t leave an old man behind. Please ! Please ! PLEASE!”
He spoke without turning around.“Old man? Thanks to you I have no love left inside me. Only hatred and distrust. Thanks to you, I have the blood of hundreds of innocents on my hands. You are no man. You are the Devil. ”
As he walked away, he heard his father scream his last plea for help.
“No! Don’t leave me…”
And then, the old Chief whispered his last word. His sons name.