Yes. I’ve been away. I’ve been…errr…busy. That’s right.
No, there is no other blog. I haven’t even put up a Facebook note. Honest.
Anyway, enough crazy talk. Here’s my unfinished nanowrimo piece of last year. Please let me know what you think. I stopped writing it because the world building, especially creating the magic system, was driving me crazy. Enjoy!
It was getting dark. That was the thought that crossed Kandara’s mind as she watched her father walk down the beach towards the ocean with a white cock in his left hand and a small knife in his right. It was high tide and the waves roared and crashed unmercifully against the sands before they slipped back. The cock wailed in fear and anger, but the waves paid it no mind and neither did her father.
She walked a little distance behind him, with her twin sister, Kajol, by her side. They both carried little clay pots covered with leaves, and had to walk carefully on the sands to make sure the contents did not fall out. A flash of lightening brightened the sky, followed by a clap of thunder. Kandara glanced at her sister. Kajol didn’t even flinch.
She is not afraid, thought her father, as he took purposeful steps forward. He didn’t look back, but he knew she was still behind him. He could sense her spirit. She has always had a strong presence, he thought, I have to teach her to temper it or she will overwhelm the villagers. He reached the shore line, and turned his thoughts to the business at hand.
There was a slight breeze and his white wrapper billowed around his ankles. As he waded into the water, his voice boomed with an incantation for their deity. “Opubeni! Dibaere! Great mother and sustainer of life!”
The girls stepped forward with their arms outstretched, their gifts in front of them. Her father continued, “this day, we humbly come before you,” he had waded deeper into the water, bracing himself against the onslaught of the waves. The beach sand wasn’t much help but as the chief priest to the Sea goddess, he had been doing this since he had come of age. Time may have sapped his strength but it had also gifted him with experience. The water whipped and frothed around his thighs now as he continued, “trusting in your mercy, we seek your wisdom.” His daughters reached the shore line and waited.
“Reveal your will to us. Direct our thoughts.
Open our eyes to behold your ways
That we may speak your truth to your people.” his voice boomed, over the waves “that we may direct their path according to your desire”.
The girls placed the pots in the water simultaneously and immediately the waves softened and quietened, and took the pots in.
The sky darkened quickly, and suddenly. Then a flash of lightening, a clap of thunder and a loud wail from the cock as their father ran the knife cleanly across its neck. Its legs struggled against its binds and its wings whipped about frantically but it was dead.
Another flash of lightening, another clap of thunder, and the cock was flung into the ocean. It hit the water and Kandara imagined she heard a splash but that would have been impossible. The waves had gotten louder and higher, but would break just before they reached the shore so the trio of worshippers were not in much danger. At least not from the waves, the sands gave way beneath their feet and they had to finish their business quickly or the sands would offer them to the ocean.
“Opubeni! Dibaere! Great mother and sustainer of life!” boomed the chief priest again – and then he dove into the ocean.
Kandara hated this part. They would have to wait for him to return. The only danger was that his return was not his decision. If the Sea Godess was pleased with the offering, then she would send back the Chief Priest with a message for the villagers.
If the Sea Goddess was not pleased with the offering, their father would not return.
A few miles from the Great Ocean, just past a small but rich rainforest was their village. It was named Periama by her founders because they believed that the land that they built their homes on was a sacred gift from the Sea Goddess, Opubeni. Local folklore said that land where they had their homes, farms, village square and shrine was once all under the sea. Kabowei, the first man birthed by Eneyi, the Mother of all Gods, had placed him in the care of Opubeni, her daughter because there was unrest in the land of the Gods. Upon receiving Kabowei, Opubeni realised that he could not survive in her watery world and so to ensure his survival, she retreated just a little and gave up a small body of land. This, along with the regular bounty of sea food was enough to ensure his survival, and Eneyi, seeing that he was in good hands, sent down Ebiere, the first woman to be his wife.
As time went by, the man and woman grew to be a family then a tribe and then a village. Opubeni, gave up more and more land, and Kabowei’s ancestors showed their gratitude with gifts, worship and devotion. They declared her to be their saviour and deity, deciding that they would have no king, for the leadership of Opubeni was more than enough. A pair of twin boys were chosen to be her priests and the village agreed that their descendants would always be priests of Opubeni. These priests would offer the gifts and prayers of the village to the Sea Goddess, and would receive her counsel and judgement on their behalf.
These priests served Opubeni and the people of Periama well for they were faithful worshippers of the Sea Goddess and the people prospered because of them. However, with time and with every new generation, devotion to Periama waned and the priests paid the price for this cooling of the villagers’ faith. That was why there was fear in the village air tonight. For the tide had been rising, but not receding as far back as it used to, and many feared Opubeni had tired of them, and wanted her land back.
There were whispered rumours of an abomination among the people. An abomination that would anger even the kind and merciful Eneyi, if she still bothered to visit with men, but none of the rumours could tell for sure what it was.
“I have heard”, a woman whispered to her husband in their hut, “that someone may be worshipping an evil spirit.”
“What evil spirit?” her husband asked, his voice tired.
“I don’t know!” was her hasty reply, “you know, I don’t know of these things, but you -”
“You spend your days in the forest -”
“Are you saying there are no evil spirits in that forest?”
“I have not seen or heard of such things.”
“But Peretin, the palm wine tapper’s wife said her husband had heard the sounds of strange beings dancing in the forest.”
“Strange beings?” he laughed, “and how do you know that these strange beings were not the fruit of tasting too much palm wine?”
She opened her mouth to answer, but he stops her short with a raised palm, “Feed me, please. Then you can regale me with the tapper’s palm wine induced tales.”
She snorted, but got up and went in to prepare his meal. He muttered to himself, “Evil spirit? Opubeni, have mercy.”
Opubeni would claim him as an offering for reparation of the village’s offence. Kandara and Kajol would be the new Chief Priests, and they would have thirty days to appease the goddess before she took back her land and allowed the sea to submerge the village.
Kandara whimpered as her eyes searching for her father in the raging waters. “Opubeni, have mercy“, she prayed.
“You are afraid.” Kajol said, her eyes also locked on the waves.
“You are not!”
“There is nothing to fear.”
“What?” her eyes wide in disbelief as he she turned to look at her twin. “Father may not return!”
“That is a possibility. Especially if you consider the warning signs.”
“You would be pleased with Father’s death?”
“My pleasure or displeasure is of no relevance here. Opubeni will do as she wills”, she replied coolly, glancing at her sister, “it would serve you well to remember that.”
“But Opubeni is kind. Opubeni is merciful.” flung Kandara, desperation creeping into her voice.
“Opubeni is a goddess. And Father is her Priest, as are we. We live to serve her. We are simply her instruments.”
Kajol laughed, short and mean. “Very well. It doesn’t change the truth.”
“Stop shouting. We aren’t even supposed to be speaking.”
“Truth?” a whisper now, “Do you want Father to die?”
“Resting in Opubeni’s arms is the highest honour.”
“Sometimes I hate you.”
Another laugh. “I don’t believe you.”
“I don’t want Father to die.”
“It doesn’t matter what we want.”
“Do you want Father to die?”
Sigh. “I don’t think of it that way.”
“How do you think of it?”
Pause. “I think of my options.”
“Yes, options. Right now, I’m thinking when Father returns we will have to tell the village Opubeni’s message, and prepare the thanksgiving offerings. If the message requires an offering, we will have to prepare that as well. If Father does not return, we will have to tell the village that as well. We will have to prepare for the Priesthood ceremony, and it will have to be done quickly. We will have to come back to Opubeni, and -”
“I’m not ready!” Kandara muttered.
“Ready?” a frown furrowed her face, then cleared, “oh”, another short laugh.
“I don’t think I will ever be ready.”
Kajol’s eyes narrowed to slits as she turned to look at Kandara. Kandara’s head is bowed in shame, and she’s afraid to look at her sister.
“I don’t think I want to be Opubeni’s Priestess.” Kandara said, her voice a whisper, barely audible over the roaring of the waves.
In the land of the gods, there was trouble once more. Then again, the trouble that started in the time of Kabowei and Ebiere never really stopped. No, it simmered and now had come to a boil. Eneyi, the all powerful mother, was facing dissent in her kingdom. She was not troubled. She was not even worried, but her children, Opubeni, Agunowei, and Kirikeme were. They had abandoned their duties as protectors of mankind and had returned to their mother’s aid.
“You should return to your wards.” Eneyi said, for what seemed to her to be the umpteenth time.
“Don’t be silly, mother.” replied Opubeni, raising her voice, “we are here to help you handle this”
“I have handled it.”
“Obviously, not well enough”, Opubeni again, “ You don’t seem to understand the repercussions of your inaction.”
“Yes mother! You aren’t doing anything!”
“I have done enough. Nothing more needs to be done.”
“How can you -”
“Mother, we’re here now” Kirikeme cut in, “At least, let us take care of these rabble rousers for you.”
“ I wouldn’t call them rabble rousers, Kiri.”
“Okay, but they are trying to overthrow you.”
Eneyi laughed at that. “As if such a thing could be done.”
“It could, mother.” said Agunowei, you know it could.”
She smiled, “Agunowei, you have been with me the longest. You too are afraid of the throwaway insults of a few servants.”
“Servants that you have imbued with much power.”
“Only in the land of men. They have no power here.”
“True, mother, but if they get enough men to worship them or even fear them.”
“A very big if.” said Eneyi.
“A possibility none the less.” replied Agunowei, his voice gruff. Eneyi looked at him, then at her other two children. “That is why you must return to your wards.”
“No!” yelled Opubeni, “we are not leaving you alone, and that is final.”
Eneyi laughed again, then said, “Stay then, and look after my affairs. I will go down and look after yours.”
Kajol looked at her sister’s bowed head, then turned back to look at the ocean. “I know” she said.
“I’ve always known. I have never understood why but -”
“Because I want to live a normal life.”
“I don’t know.” she said, her voice distracted as her toes traced in the sand.
Kajol waited, not saying anything, not moving. The roar of the waves seemed louder.
“I want more in my life than just rituals and sacrifices.”
“Rituals and sacrifices are a part of everyone’s life.”
“Yes. A part. Not all encompassing. Kajol, we do nothing else!”
“That’s not true, dear sister”, she said, “ we listen to the demands of the dear dear villagers.”
Kandara sighed, then replied, “The villagers come with their prayers, not demands.”
“It is our duty to help them -”
“A duty you tire of.”
“No. I do not tire of that. That is the one part of my life that gives me joy.”
“Joy?” said Kajol, and then threw back her head to laugh. “You expect too much from life, dear sister. Opubeni gives and Opubeni takes away. We just have to make do with our lot.”
“That is not enough for me.”
“Then you will live unsatisfied.”
“Are you satisified?”
“I do not seek satisfaction”,
That’s all folks. I may go back to it. I don’t know. What do you think?
PS. Deepest apologies to those who are having trouble leaving comments. I don’t know why that’s happening, but rest assured I will soon find a tech savvy friend to take care of it. Till that happens, feel free to leave me a comment on Twitter via @ChrisTimOere.