Sorry that it took sooooo long for me to get this post out, but sometimes life falls right on your head and you have to just do what you can to shake it off…busy, busy, busy…
Last post, I promised an excerpt of The Vision, the story than begins my series of six stories that outline the paternal lineage and (mis)adventures of the family of my protagonist, Lika Oloyudin. I ain’t intending on reneging on that promise either…
without any more delay: The Vision
“I can’t stay up anymore, fa. It is as if the entirety of the village is pulling on my eyelids,” Malari murmured into the fire. “It doesn’t make sense, we haven’t run far today…”
“It is of no moment, Malari,” Ebisu responded, eyeing the young man. “Get some rest, so that you will not make a fatal mistake tomorrow and be resting forever.”
“Yes, this is true. Until the morning.” Malari shuffled over to his bedroll and flopped down in it, sending up a plume of dust and dry grass. He hit the ground so hard that Ebisu leapt to his feet, and ran over to check if the man had died. Ebisu rolled him over, and a loud snore hit him full in the face. He shook his head and returned to the campfire.
The fire cracked and popped, throwing its light across the sparsely wooded field. Beyond the reaches of the fire darkness reigned, settling over the land like a blanket of pitch. He wondered what his wife was doing back in his family compound in Oloush. He sighed, and tried not to think of her deep eyes. Instead, he shifted his focus to his mission, a guerilla strike on a roving group of bandits called the Njau. Allies of Ebisu had warned that they were across the mountains, closing on Oloush. Ebisu, the fa of the entirety of the Oloush tribes, had called together a fist of strong men and decided to meet the threat head on.
The Njau were reputed to be great warriors, and some of his men were fearful. As fa, Ebisu could not show the men fear, and he also could not let the open challenge of an attempted raid by the Njau go unanswered. Ebisu sighed again, then stood up and stretched his legs, contemplating going out into the darkness to relieve one of the men he had set out to watch. He returned to the fire and picked up his long hunting knife, strapping it to a leather strip on his loincloth. As he crossed the fire to retrieve his spear and arrows, his hackles rose. Ebisu whipped around, snatching his knife out of its sheath. The long, stout blade glinted in the firelight.
“Hala, nephew. Mind if I share your fire?”
Ebisu bristled. Before him was a short, slender old man, covered in a shawl made of the skin of a pwabeast. Many small satchels and sacks were attached to the skin, and a larger pack was stretched across his back. He was wiry and lean, like a starved wolf, but he moved like a leopard, smooth and sure. The hair on his head and his beard were shock white and wiry, and a necklace of nyani teeth hung across his slender chest. The old man strode up to Ebisu, either not seeing the long knife or not caring about its use. Ebisu shuffled backward.
“Who are you? What are you doing here, and how did you get past Husni and–”
“The boys you set out in the grass to watch? I put them to sleep.”
Ebisu lunged at the old man, who deftly stepped aside and left the younger man to sprawl face first in the dirt. With pantherish agility, Ebisu rolled to his feet and assumed a wary stance. He shuffled toward the far side of the campfire, where his spear and arrows lay. “You are not making a very good case for yourself. Who are you? Are you scouting for the Njau? Or are you a spirit…?”
“I am not your enemy. Nor am I a spirit, though I am familiar with them. I only come to share your fire, and to share some important news with you as well. I promise, no harm will fall you, and your men are safe for the moment.”
Ebisu straightened and re-sheathed his knife. “I am wary of you, but hala, uncle, you can share my fire. My knife will be close at hand though.”
“That shows you are smart,” the old man replied, walking over to the fire. He sat in front of it and crossed his ankles, spreading his fingers out to capture some of the warmth. “I really don’t mean you any harm, nephew. I sensed that you were out here, so I came. I had no idea that Oloush hospitality involved knives instead of uruwe bread and some cold water.”
Ebisu seated himself across the fire from the strange elder and handed him a skin. “I just filled that this morning. I’ll ask again, uncle: who are you?”
“People call me Leabua. That is not who I am though.”
“I am not understanding you.”
“Ah, but you will. I am a speaker and a reader. I think Oloush men call us a wereyolo.”