The wind seemed to explode in itself. Dust spurts scattered in the air. A blue pitch of burning light covered everywhere. The creature on Chilaka screeched and spurned into the air, hit the ground, shattering the piece of rock it collided with. Azi turned to Chilaka. He was on a knee, head bowed, breath loud and paced. The symbols lined across every part of his body, animated. Something about his hands blurred as though a phantom.
The creature atop Ọnyà snarled upon its prey, grunted and slowly left the ground. Ọnyà was on his feet, both hands firmly gripping hold of the creature’s jaws, and with a pull, he tore it apart. The creature’s voice died and its agitation went along with its silence. Ọnyà, like a piece of weightless calabash, tossed the animal ten feet to the side, turning his gaze to Chilaka, who now was on his feet, faced forward towards the strangers.
The creature which had been knocked over by Chilaka was back on all fours, jerking its body as though trying to shake out shock from itself. Its eyes were shrouded in fury and animalistic lust. Legs spread apart and shoulders crouched. Back hunched, with saliva drooling off its mouth. The strangers first looked surprised, then the tallest one pointed his weapon forward.
“Kill him!” He barked the order.
The creature rushed in, and the
other two strangers right behind it, drawing out their weapons and moving in
speeds exceeding anything Azi had ever seen. Yet even when he turned to face
his best friend, Chilaka seemed like a stranger, and Onyà, like a savage tuned
out for chaos.
The creature leaped off the ground, straight for Chilaka. One moment Onyà glared at the creature plunging down at Chilaka from the air, the next moment he stood right before Chilaka, receiving the creature’s full weight and force, arms spread and clutched against its neck as its claws tore through his arm. Chikalo lunged his arm forward at the beast. The blue flash appeared around them both, spreading in enlarging spirals. A shock wave pitched through the air from Chilaka. The creature screeched, off Onyà’s hold, twenty feet into the air, immobile as it hit the dusty ground.
Azi took a topple out of the way, unsure what to make of what he beheld. His heart throbbed in fright as he ate the dust of the ground. He turned back from where he sat twelve yards away. Onyà seemed to be protecting Chilaka.
Ọnyà lunged in head-on at the first stranger who was quickly assisted by the female whilst the last darted towards Chilaka. Like the strength of a dozen bulls, Ọnyà took on both fighters with his bare hands. The creature from behind leaped onto his back and tore its fangs through his shoulder. Dragged against the ground as he struggled to break loose from the creature’s jaw, the second soldier rushed in and raised his blade to hack him to death.
Chilaka punched his fist against the thin air, and the invincible blast roared like a collision of a mountain hurled into a deep sea. The stranger he faced flew forty feet away, toppling over the ground as he went. The symbols moved into a different form as he made gestures towards the tall stranger pushing his blade for Onyà’s neck.
Dust crumped into the air as a blue flash of shock wave moved from Chilaka, wide as the length of three spread arms, and faster than a blink of an eye. The impact sent everyone off their feet, into the air, and back against the hard floor.
In the heap of dust and quiver of trees and bushes around, the creature was first to spring back to its feet, snarling and making a charge again at Ọnyà. Chilaka raised his hand towards it, and it froze where it stood, struggling to break free from the force clutched around it. Ọnyà rose and darted for the beast, snarling as he fell at it, his fist punching its way into its wide jaw, and out from the back of its head. It whimpered as its muscles ruptured.
He dragged his arm out, with blood-covered cuts on it, letting the creature slump down lifeless. Ọnyà turned to the other strangers, face furrowed in rage, less like Chilaka’s.
“I’ll be back,” the tallest stranger growled, then turned to Chilaka, “for you.” He raised his hand to his side and the dark phantom smoke appeared again, making bubbling sounds as it widened. The first two strangers hurried into it. The tallest turned to Ọnyà who took a run towards him, snarling, lunging into the air. He returned his furrowed gaze back to Chilaka, and scowled, “And not even The Horde can save you then.”
The phantom smoke swallowed him and both vanished. Ọnyà hit the thin air and fell over the floor. He stood and stared around, eyes bloodlust, furrowed with wroth as he searched for his foes and found none. Then he turned to Azi.
Azi screamed as Ọnyà sped savagely towards him. His movements were fast and near unreadable. The dust from his speed rose behind him, his merely arm seconds from clutching against Azi’s throat when Chilaka moaned, grabbing onto his temple as a surge of pain rushed through his head.
Ọnyà paused, eyes wide and large and savage. He gripped hold of his shoulder where the symbol had been marked; now a small circle from which a spiral of symbols stretched off from, each glowing a bright dark orange hue.
The symbols on Chilaka began to move,
receding, each crawling back to its original shape.
Azi turned to Ọnyà and realized he was in fact reacting to Chilaka’s sudden discomfort, only more aggressively.
Chilaka was on his knees. He could see his hands. Hr could feel everything around him, and could hear the gentle movements of the wind. His limbs felt sore and he couldn’t help nor control the quivering of his hands. He groaned. He couldn’t remember anything which had happened, but he knew the dark place he had been in, every single part of it.
Ọnyà lay on the floor, panting. His eyes were closed and his muscles felt like they all had been ruptured. He could not move any part of him, and attempting to hurt as though a boulder had been rolled over him. He was sobbing.
Azi looked from Chilaka to Ọnyà. He couldn’t still tell what had happened. He still was frozen where he sat, shaking from fright of what his eyes had witnessed. Yet, strangely, in Ọnyà’s eyes as they flipped open where he wrapped himself into a circle, Azi could see nothing but terror in the little boy’s eyes. Even more than he himself felt.
“Chi,” Azi called out to Chilaka.
Chilaka didn’t respond, instead he groaned and forced himself to his feet as the pain gradually faded, albeit the soreness of skin. The bubbling flash of smoke appeared again, and unlike the first which the three strangers had come out from, this was smaller, dark emerald green in colour.
For a moment fear struck Azi.
Chilaka looked up, feeling a sense of worry rumble through his stomach. Ọnyà lifted himself to sit on the floor, his body propped against his shoulder. Very little was making sense, but something inside him made him fear. A fear he could not explain. And he could not tell what or who it was, yet he was sure it was alive, just seating, waiting.
Like a vomit, the phantom bubble of smoke spat someone out, so roughly she hit the ground faced down, groaning. The phantom bubble of smoke disappeared, and the stranger winced, making to stand.
Chilaka watched in worry as the girl stood, eyes back on him. She looked to be near his age or a year or so above it. Her eyes were big like a bee’s, skin dark as bronze and void of moisture as was common with normal people. Something about her expression looked less like a threat. She wore nothing in resemblance to what the first ones did, had no weapons on her nor looked anything like them in height, age or intent. Her attire was somewhat casual, yet resembled a dress worn by the people he had seen back in that dream: the people suffocating.
She looked at the three of the boys, then Chilaka, then muttered, “Hello.”
Chilaka frowned. He had had about enough of the madness, and the whispers hissing through his mind was making him lose it. Watching his countenance and his move to stand up, likewise Azi’s —though looking less like a threat himself, she raised her hand in surrender.
“I come in peace. I mean you no harm.” She pointed at Ọnyà who still was on the floor, conscious but evidently still in pains. “I can help him with the pain too, if you let me that is.”
Azi noticed her accent was nearly similar to those of the three strangers, but more refined, more fanciful. Yet just like an unknown but understandable dialect of their own language.
“Who in Kamalu’s name are you, and what in his pragmatic wit is going on?” Chilaka growled amidst gritted teeth, only to wince from the discomfort in his forced bid to stand to his feet.
“He asked a question, girl,” Azi said, dusting his clothes. Just then he sighted Udi and Ọla hurriedly walking towards them from over forty meters away. He turned to Chilaka and saw he could see his parents too.
“Consider me a friend,”
she said. “Just let me give me water, food and new clothes, and I swear to
explain everything to you. Everything.” She crossed her fingers and placed
it on her chest.
That gesture probably meant something significant to her, Chilaka thought. Whichever way, his father was coming. Maybe he would decide what to do to with this strange pallor skinned stranger of a girl.