Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chapter 7 ~ The Masamba

We arrived back at the city and then parted ways. Yohance and Jetta took the twins home while Joel and I went to locate our dad. We found him alone, reading parchments in the back room of the temple.
          “Are you finding anything interesting?” I queried as we sat across the stone table from him. He leaned back, stretched, and then rubbed his eyes.
          “A little. The Harun tend to be dry and long-winded, so it takes time to sift through and find pertinent information. One history or legend is that the first Creator, Obasi, created Fahdamin-Ra and all its inhabitants. He moved back and forth between our world and here by use of the stone.” Dad shook his head. “It sounds like a fairy tale, except here we are.”
          “How did he create this world?” asked Joel.
          “In this account, he didn’t. This world was already here. It goes into great detail - and I mean a lot - about how he formed the Harun from the rock of these mountains, the Masamba from the wood of the trees, and the Jabulani from the clay of the riverbank. That is as far as I got.”
          “He made people out of rocks and stuff? I gotta read that sometime. We found out some things today, too.” Joel was eager to tell about our adventures. He started talking about the apartment, which Dad wanted to see. We left the temple and hiked up to our new lodgings.
          Half a dozen guards and another Historical Scribe waited for us there. To my immense relief, Dad dismissed them all over their polite protests. When it was just the three of us again, we showed him around. Once he admired the outside, we brought him into the main room and told him about the rest of our day.
          “I am curious about the Masamba, and the Jabulani, too,” Dad said.
          “Why don’t we go now, and visit the Masamba?” Joel asked, eager for another adventure.
          “What? In the jungle at night? How would we find them? It’s dark out there.” It was the last thing I wanted to do.
          “We would see their fires from above, when we fly there,” my brother said. “Let’s just drop in.”
          “Maybe another time, kids. It has been a long, exciting day and you need to go to bed now.” Dad said.
          My brother and I both protested. “I don’t feel tired at all.” I said. “You know, nothing made me tired today.”
          “We went all day without eating or drinking anything, either.” Joel added. “I think that Creators don’t need to eat, drink, or sleep. What we can do is fly, like right now.”
          Dad slowly looked convinced, but said, “I don’t know how to fly, son.”
          “It is so easy. We can show you and you’ll be flying in a couple of minutes.”
          “Where is he going to learn?” I countered, pointing to the ceiling.
          My brother was undaunted as he strode outside. “Let’s try it out here, on the balcony.” We joined him on the veranda. Dad went to the edge and looked down.
          “The ground is awfully far down there. Do you think I can learn before I fall and break my neck?”
          “No,” I said.
          “Yes,” Joel said at the same time.
          Dad stood there, thinking. “So, what do I have to do?”
          My father caught on quickly. He was much more careful than Joel and enjoyed flying more than I did, so soon we were zipping along over Harun, the fields, and then arriving at the jungle. I tried to look for lights below but when I did, my stomach would flip. The moons covered everything in their fluid silver light, making the landscape below shimmer. We flew for some time, but we could not locate the Masamba fires.
          “What about the Outsider village? We could go there tonight instead,” I suggested after a while. I would rather go to a civilized village than a dark, scary jungle filled with wild animals and even wilder people.
          Dad shook his head. “I want the Directorate to take us there themselves. Did you see how reluctant Zayas seemed? He needs to answer for what they have done. No, I’m determined to find the Masamba. Let’s fly lower.” We flew so low that our toes brushed the topmost leaves on the trees. It was annoying to have bugs hitting my face and arms. I was careful to keep my mouth closed.
          Dad slowed, flying in a circle. Next, I caught whiffs of wood smoke. All three of us stopped until we hovered in the air. Lights twinkled below my feet. We floated down while being careful not to brush against leaves and branches.
          An unseen man was speaking somewhere beneath us. In front of us to the right was a clearing. There was a fire in the middle and torches around the perimeter of the clearing, lighting the circular area brightly. Off to one side sat four men on large, high-backed chairs. There was a fifth chair in the middle and the man standing in front of it was the speaker, whose voice we could hear. A single man sat in a smaller, less ornate seat off to their right. There was a crowd of people facing them, sitting on the ground and watching.
          I wanted to stop and hear what the man was saying, but my father kept descending. We followed Dad as he touched down in front of the crowd and heard their gasps of astonishment. The speaker stopped and there was complete silence.
Though our dropping in was unexpected, the Masamba did not pause but took immediate action. People melted away into the darkness until the leaders were the only ones left facing us.
          The speaker stared at us for a few moments, which was intimidating. He was a little taller than my father and massive with muscle and bulk. Like Hunter, his chest was bare, but around his waist was a type of skirt made from narrow, braided strips of leather, and a fluffy fur neck-piece covered his shoulders. He was scary. On his head he wore the head of a snarling baboon, a huge knife hung from his belt, and he held a yard long, narrow club. I wished we had never decided to come down and face him. The fire reflected in his deep-set eyes as he fingered one of the braids of his long beard.
The other four men were dressed similarly and they glared at us. The lone man to the right got out of his chair and came closer to the group. He was as massive, but unlike the others, he did not wear a baboon head or a braided leather skirt. There were tufts of tawny fur woven in his hair, the same as Hunter. He had a beard, but it was shorter and not braided. Instead of scowling at us like the rest, his eyes rested on us with wonder. If he had been alone, our reception might have been friendlier.
My father stood straight and tall, not intimidated by the leader, or at least, he did not show it. “What are you doing here? You have invaded the serenity of our gathering,” the man in charge said.
“We are the Creators and have arrived at Fahdamin-Ra after our long absence. Since our return, we are meeting each tribe.”
“My tribe does not believe in Creators. Leave now, and do not bother us again.” The man turned his back on Dad, and plunked down in his chair.
Dad glanced back at us and then folded his arms. “I am not leaving and neither are my children. We have come a long way to visit you, so why don’t you make the effort to get to know us? After all, who else but Creators would visit you by flying?”
“You are not Creators. You are magicians, who used a trick,” he spoke loudly, playing to the unseen audience of his people, who listened in the dark.
My father studied the man for a moment. “Aren’t you the least bit concerned about being rude to Creators, with the powers we possess?”
The man looked bored. “There are no such beings as the Creators.”
Dad scowled. “Well, we will just have to convince you.” For a reply, the man lifted an eyebrow and smirked toward his friends. My father stared at the leader and the leader’s chair rose from the ground. The man was jolted, but tried to cover it up.
“It is still a trick,” he called, from twelve feet over our heads. “You cannot convince me that easily.” Dad shrugged his shoulders, and lowered the man to the ground. The leader’s expression did not change, but he stood up and moved away from his seat.
“Bring someone to me that is sick or wounded, and I will cure them,” My father spoke matter-of-factly.
The leader held up his stick and gazed at it when he said, “We do not have any sick or wounded people. We cure them at the shrine.”
“Let me have your knife and your arm. I will make a cut and then heal it.”
The men snorted with laughter at this proposal, but Hunter stalked out of the darkness and up to Dad. He handed my father the large knife that hung from his belt. Dad took it and grasped Hunter’s outstretched hand. Gritting his teeth, he slashed Hunter’s arm as the warrior stood there, unmoving. Blood gushed out; dripping on the ground as Hunter took back his knife and returned it to its sheath, his movements calm and steady. Dad traced the wound with one finger, making the blood and the cut disappear. Hunter put his arm up in the air so all could see that the cut was gone and then faded back into the darkness beyond the circle.
The leader leaned back in his chair, unimpressed. “Another trick. It just proves that you know magic.”
“Then you suggest a challenge.” Dad stood there, arms at his sides waiting, as the men huddled in a conference. After a while, they went back and sat down wearing identical smirks. The leader did not say anything but seemed to be waiting for something. Dad did not move, but Joel and I looked around wondering what was going to happen.
We did not hear them come until they were almost upon us. A dozen or more leopards dashed into the light. Dad crouched, ready to leap into flight and I cringed, throwing my arms up to ward them off. Joel whistled and one leopard bounded to him, knocking him over. Dad and I reached out to grab the animal but Joel was laughing and rubbing her fur. “Harriet, you lummox, get off my stomach, you weigh a ton.” He grunted as he pushed her off him. The other leopards ran in circles, uncertain what to do. Dad touched them one by one, so my brother and I copied him. The big cats calmed and sat at our feet, with one sitting directly on mine!
“Is this all you can come up with?” It was Dad’s turn to laugh. The baboon men looked annoyed as they got back in a huddle. The lone man just stared at us in wonder.
After a long while, men broke apart and went back to their chairs. “Come back tomorrow, and we will have a more appropriate challenge for you.”
“I accept.” Dad turned away and rose in the air. Joel and I followed. Once we got above the jungle, Joel suggested that we go for a spin. Dad agreed, so outvoted, I tagged along.
We cruised over the stone circle, and saw the smooth stones reflecting the moonlight. We headed east and found Jabulan beside a bend in the river. It was a village of circular huts set in concentric circles with a much larger building in the middle. No one was stirring, but rafts floated off a dock on the river and smoke curled up from a structure that stood alone, a little way from rest of the village. Light streamed from the open sides so we went lower, and spotted a woman adding wood to a fire underneath a large kiln.
She wore a vivid print top and a wrap skirt an equally vivid print, though they did not match each other. A scarf that covered most of her hair was another pattern, with its own intense color and design. She finished her task and vanished back into the darkness, but we heard her begin to sing:

Lady Creator, mother of all,
Thank you for this night, and the sleep you give us,
For the stars and the moons that watch overhead,
Thank you for the day, and the light you bring,
For our willing bodies and the work we do.
Let us be one with your creation
As we use the gift to create ourselves.
Let us see the beauty of every living thing.
Thank you for the land and the sky
Thank you for the plants and the trees
Thank you for the fish in the water
Thank you for the birds that fly
Thank you for the beasts of the land
Let us be one with your creation
As we use the gift to create ourselves.

Her strong and melodious voice floated up to us, as we hovered above her in the dark. I wished I could hear it in her language instead of automatically hearing it in mine. At the end of the song, she did not reappear, so we drifted away and followed the line of the river. It sparkled below us, finally blending into an ocean.
We landed on glowing white sand. The beach stretched for miles, lined with palm trees that waved and whispered in the wind. I heard a splash and my brother was swimming in the glistening ocean. I pulled off my dress and headscarf before leaping in and joining him. I enjoyed the warmth of the water and the fun of swimming in my underwear. Dad sprawled on the sand, watching us and smiling. He was not fond of swimming. Mom was the one who always swam with us, gliding through the water like a seal. I suddenly missed her very much, so I climbed out of the water and sat by Dad.
“I wish Mom were here.”
Dad nodded as he pulled a strand of seaweed out of my wooly hair. “I do, too. Maybe, after I figure out what I’m doing here, I can go back and get her.”
“Really? That would be great.” I splashed back in the water to tell my brother the good news.
We swam for a long time, never getting tired, cold, or thirsty. The sunrise turned the color of the sky to salmon, and Dad called us out of the water, and told us it was time to leave. We flew back to Harun and the flight dried our salt stiffened clothes. No one was there when we arrived, so we slipped inside, unnoticed. We took turns bathing in the big tub and then decked ourselves out in another change of clothes and different jewelry.
When the Harun Directorate arrived at our doorstep, we were standing in the main room ready to go, not sure of what we were going to find.

This is the last chapter that I am posting. For my book, "Travels to Fahdamin-Ra", you can buy it at Navarone Books, Smashwords or Amazon. I will post when it is available in soft cover. Thanks for reading! Navarone Books Link, Smashwords linkAmazon Kindle link

No comments:

Post a Comment