Chapter One (The Beauty of Afgaria)
The sun dimmed slowly as it set in the western firmament of the Southlake shore. Its faded light, still gave a mighty overcast on the ancient plains of the southern coast of Afgaria; known for its low-lying adjacent level to the Sea of Ghost. The southern shore of the sea was naturally piled with beautiful black sand and the northern steppe was a semi-wilderness, covered with grass and shrubs of all kinds, depending on the seasons.
The weather here was mostly tropical, and the dryness was commonly prevalent, yet occasional humidity came from its stoma vegetations in the ground. Agriculture was also important in the mainland, and the soil in the flat-earth brought much crop production; not only for the livestock, but for the treacherous omnivore beast that regressed from odd ends of the land, seeking food and destruction.
Two men gazed at the dim-clouds-adoring the wondrous sunset. One of them appeared to be discontent. Wamukota known as ‘Leftah', the left-handed warrior, held a unique spear. His blade was special, embedded in chilly pepper seeds to bring flavor to his kills. Wamukota, a tower of a man; was muscular with strong hands. His skin like dark-onyx, and he had long nappy dread locks folded upward in a pony-tail. He stood beside his trusted confidant Bomani (Bo-ma-nigh), who wielded a steel katana blade in his side sheath. Bomani was medium size, thus his body was firm and trained for the fray. His complexion was reddish-brown; his face attractive-and his hair short and lanate, the texture of pure cotton. Both warriors wore hound skins for cloaks, and fine leather boots to protect their feet. Wamukota lifted his spear with an odd tension in his character. His pain was so obvious, that Bomani felt uneasy being beside him.
Bomani listened to the distress in Leftah's eyes. He gave a nod of compassion, sharing a look of empathy towards his sour crony. Wamukota's face remained stale, with a detrimental frown. His eyes were red and irritated as if he had been weeping all day.
"Why do you carry an outlander's blade?" Wamukota ignored his bitter emotions.
"This blade was a gift to me Leftah. Belonged to a friend from the Jin Monastery. He was outnumbered by ten trolls, and I helped him."
"Then what...he just gave it to you?" Wamukota smirked. Bomani nodded.
"I see...one who sacrifices his history is either a fool or a man of great honor?"
"A man of honor Siyu is. His Gami blade is legendary..." Bomani went to preach.
"I care not of the Jin man's legacy. We are Afgarian! You are double-sided!"
A second after Wamukota's comment, howling noises were heard from the Southlake shore. The distant sound was alarming, yet vigilant. The beast' approached with a prowling admonition. The generals took caution, and the grip of their weapons had intensified, for nothing but this gruesome sound was heard. Wamukota lifted his spear high. The smirk on his face was impatient. The sputum-saliva augured his thirst for a kill.
Bomani was trained how to use his blade by the Samurai. He held his katana downward, waiting for the beasts' to come in closer. Thick sweat seamed from the warriors' faces, while they anticipated the presence of these great creatures. The howling noises soon turned into great growls; a growl ten times fiercer than an angry lion. The sound was prehistoric and the foulness of breath was like that of human remains.
Four hungry kelo hounds approached the guards' at a slow pace. Saliva leaked from their enormous maws. They bared their teeth together as they came closer. Their skin roughly tanned, and their saber teeth alone the size of a human's forearm. This ferocious pack, eye balled the warriors' with a horrid stare. Their eyes were wide and yellow, flashing with reddish-gray hues. These wild canines hellishly surrounded the two men, trudging slowly around them in a desperate circle. Yellow-green fluid drenched from their enlarged nostrils, giving away a dreggy scent of death.
As they came closer in, Wamukota let out a fearsome cry. In less than a second, one of the hounds leapt into the air to bite Bomani whom appeared to be less of the aggressor. Bomani swiped the beast's head off with one strike of his katana. Another hound threw Bomani to the ground locking its jaws on his arm, chewing viciously.
Wamukota stuck the hound in its back, and it whined like a cub, releasing its gruesome teeth from Bomani's flesh. The other two hounds reared up aggressively, testing the humans' ability with frequent growling. Bomani struggled from the ground with agility and spoke to Wamukota boastfully-blood leaking from his bronze arm.
"The blade of the Jin is not so bad ay Leftah?"
Wamukota gave no response. He stuck deeper into the hound with anger and vengeance. Exposing his emotions, he picked up the beast with his spear, draining its blood and innards out slowly, a few inches from ripping the beast in half. Tears poured from his eyes, while the hound blood tainted his threadbare clothing. Another hound tried to attack Wamukota from behind, but Bomani cut into its leg, severely puncturing it. Blood squirted and splattered out, causing the hound to whine with a simper visage. The healthy hound fled with haste, and the injured one limped away to lick its wound softly.
Bomani sliced some skin off the headless-hound he killed, and wrapped it around his drenched arm tightly. Wamukota tensely held his spear, still ripped inside of the apathic-hound's torso. Bomani offered a reassuring look that the beast was now dead. Wamukota then released his spear from out of the flesh; his garment covered in kelo blood. They picked up their hounds, and carried the kill into the heart of the village.
* * *
A nice fire was burning in the center of Afgaria. It was now dark, and the sky was lit with many stars. The kelo hounds were cooking on individual bamboo sticks. Children were singing and the women preparing corn, and cabbage in some old black iron pots. Bomani inhaled some dirty hashish herb in a wooden pipe that he got from the Jin people. The lady doctor of the village spat Echinacea root on his wound and stitched it up with fish rod. The kids in the village wanted smoke, but Bomani shooed them away.
Suddenly, a group of warriors went to beat their gubu drums with ancient rhythm and uniformity. The men wore outfits made of rough hound skins. Their faces and arms panted with red, green, and yellow colors, melted from organic material. Xhosa (Ko'sa) and a group of women danced to the wild music. Stripes of white clay spread across their faces; the more strips indicated ones favor. Xhosa had the most strips. The women wore silk dresses and cloak skins of the tigre and the panthera. The women also covered their hair with colorful cloth hijabs. In their culture, it was an act of humility when a woman covered her head; only can the husband or inner-family see such splendor.
A man now stood six foot ten approaching the supper area. His eyes were beige, brighter than the sun. He wore no shirt and his pants were made from copper and sackcloth. His body was muscular-trim, his stomach like iron, and hair was pepper-gray dread locks. He was the great Nyack Ecru, also known as the Strentani (Stren-ta-nigh).
"Everyone...Ukuthatha! (To take part in a great thing!)" Wamukota cried, drawing the crowd together.
The men softy beat their drums, while another group hummed in a note of bass-tenor unison.
Men: ‘Af-gar-ia, all praises to the HIGHEST-HIGH,
Thank uThixo (Yahweh) for peace now, STREN-TA-NI he is the strongest IRON-MAN,
Teacher of respect now. Feel the truth, and feel the wisdom-flowing through,
Rivers of redemption. We are, we are, we are, EYONA WARRIORS (The One)!
Women: ‘Oh, oh, oh Eyona Warriors, providers of our nation, Warr-iors,
Defend the population, you are, you are, you are.'
(Harmony) All: ‘Eyona Warriors!'
Everyone clapped with nature-sounding whistles and chants. Xhosa kissed her husband sweetly on his lips-Nyack accepted her amiable affection. He then faced the heavens and gave a prayer of thanksgiving.
"uThixo, we thank you for this gift; for we don't deserve such grace, yet your mercy feeds Afgaria. May your blessings continue to dwell upon us, and if our cup is to run dry, let us not lose faith in your goodness; let us stand then, should we face poverty; let us rise in the face of our adversity and let our faith live with promiscuity; for every great nation is tried and tested." Nyack then cut into the meat with reticence.
A group of young men held their bowls out impatiently to break the silence.
"Ndifuna ukudla (we want food!), Ndifuna ukudla!" They shouted.
Nyack pointed his blade to the teenagers in a civil rebuke.
"Be patient! Let the women and children have their meals first."
The young men backed up, respecting his courteous and wise words. The women and children bowed their heads and stepped forth to receive their plates.
* * *
Later on that night, Xhosa was bathing naked in her tent. Her skin was golden brown, with a thin frame, yet her breast were as firm as two baby coconuts. Her hair braided down to her lower back, and her face was soft as a mallow plant. She had lovely henna tattoos that sketch from her upper-body down to her slim fingers. Nyack came into the tent to see his wife. He spoke to her softly.
"Afgaria should be jealous, because your beauty is unmatched."
Xhosa giggled at his charm. Nyack picked her up gently out of the warm water tub. They kissed, and he laid her on the soft bed, made from rich cotton skins.
She gazed into her husbands bright eyes, amazed at how one this strong could still be so gentle and compassion toward her. And even though she could sense the deception hidden beneath his charm, she embraced his affection with tenderness. The good times would not last for long, she thought. Her woman's intuition always sensed that Nyack had trouble coming, but she dare not challenge his secrets. She would stay silent for the long years, devoting her self to the Strentani-loving him with complete humility.
Xhosa's spirituality defines the heart of this great land.
Outside, the fire still burned with ease. All of the food was eaten. The whole village went inside their tents, except Wamukota and Bomani who were still outside by the fire, taking turns-smoking herb from the wooden pipe. They did not touch any of the meat earlier, but gave it as an offering to the village. Bomani stood up to yawn.
Wamukota spoke to him with a sad tone, "Must you leave now?"
Bomani answered cautiously because he knew that Wamukota's wife was killed by a kelo hound a few nights ago; which is also why they did not eat with the village.
"Keep the pipe Leftah...you will need it more than I."
Wamukota nodded, continuing to smoke the good herb in peace.
Bomani went away to enter inside his tent. As he walked in, his wife Meeya jumped onto his waist kissing him with energy and desire. Meeya was a little plumper then the rest of the women and Bomani struggled to hold her. She rushed him to their cot made from raw cotton and linen, seducing the warrior with much passion.
Deep in the scowling orb of Bomani's eyes, he held a look of another universe, a look like he was not completely content. And even though he had this look of one who was forlorn, his love for Meeya was unconditional-so he indulged in the good venery.
* * *
The next day would make it the beginning of summer and the fig tree was deciduous, producing fruit abundantly. The tree was now fifty feet tall, and its fruit was ripe, cracking with sweetness. It must be picked quickly before the carpophilus beetles eat on the fruit. They could do up to a thousand pounds of damage in one night. Xhosa picked the figs with Meeya; Bomani's wife and a younger girl only thirteen named Nyreesha. Nyreesha looked up to Xhosa, and Meeya who were two decades older than her. She listened and respected their pure examples of womanhood.
Nyreesha then turned to Xhosa with a simple question.
"How did you get a fine man like Nyack to fall in love with you?"
Xhosa answered with the warmest Caribbean (eMpuma) like accent in the village.
"Honestly, when I was yur age Nyack thot that I had a big forehead."
The ladies laughed. Xhosa continued.
"Love is not some'ting you can control, or even dictate too. Indeed it is natural like the freckles on yur face gurl. Nyack told me that he fell in love with me because I was a quiet spirit. He said that beauty is more dan just a pretty face. But it is defined in a pretty spirit."
Nyreesha melted with amazement. Nyack was such the poet she thought.
"And you Meeya?"
Meeya uttered, "My story is not as romantic Nyreesha. Bomani just came to me one night and asked me if I wanted to have sex with him. I said yeah, and ever since then, we kept having sex."
Everyone chuckled at Meeya's blunt humor. They continued to pick the figs from the tree, doing their duty vigorously with hard-toiled sweat and labor.
Later that day, the trio observed the village to check on the progress of the people. Nyack, Wamukota, and Bomani scouted through the fields with pride and valor. From a distance, many of the boys in the village ran by to watch, and imitate their leaders' fine posture. The three men cantered through the land with respect of their ranks, praised by the youth, due to their fine hunting expertise.
While the sun burned hot, everyone could smell the sweetness of the fig tree heating. This is not good, because everyone could mean everything as well. Nyack pointed down to a nest of carpophilus beetles. Without hesitation, Wamukota and Bomani unsheathed their weapons to strike the entire nest, penetrating all the eggs visible. Nyack knew it would not hinder the beetles from eating the harvest, because there were millions of nest hidden beneath the bushes; but it would help in slowing the infestation down.
Nyack then noticed ten young warriors practicing with their spears fifty yards away. This attracted the Strentani to see his apprentices working so diligently. He unfurled a proud smile. The Spear Master allowed his generals to go about their duty, while he stepped closer toward the youngsters-studying them carefully with an educated ponder. The young men would thrust their spears with pure grace, sweating, and proving worthy to their Spear Teacher-yet they were not striking in unison as they were trained.
Nyack clapped proudly at their effort, thus he spoke critique to them.
"You're technique is brilliant, but you're still lacking one thing?"
The students looked at each other in a drought of confusion.
"Have you forgotten that we fight as one?! There can be no heroes on the battlefield, only victory. For if one warrior chooses to be a hero then we shall all perish in the field. If one fool thinks that he is above unity, then he shall have his reward in death."
The young students kneeled to point their spears to the sand vertically in unison.
"Yes Strentani," The students said humbly.
"Also remember, Isiqhelo siyayoyisa ingqondo (A habit conquers the mind)."
Nyack then withdrew himself from the crowd of students. He faced the ebony sand shore of the Sea of Ghost and stared at the miniature waves as they pushed up on his bronze toes. The warm water was refreshing and serene filling his nadir with the earth's medicine. Such splendor the warrior had, yet he did not feel at peace when he slept with his wife the night before.
From the look in Xhosa's eyes, he knew that she desired the truth of this land. For many years, he had kept his past hidden from her and he would not be the great Strentani if everyone knew his secrets. As much as he loved Xhosa, his dark-pride was too wide to be clothed in white. For now he would carry the blemishes and let time take care of itself.
Copyright © 2010 MosesT.Clark Jr.
Any version of this project must not be duplicated without written consent of the author.
For more info contact <MosesTClarkJr@yahoo.com>