Gipiir and Labongo #18

By Ashley


Katabani woke up to a gourd of water being thrown on to his face. This felt like drowning in a small river as he lost his breath for a while. He sat up straight, coughing so hard that his entire body shook. He then drew in long breaths to try and stabilize his breathing.

“What in the-” he started, but he was cut short as he saw a figure bending over him, eyeing him carefully. 

Her skin was already sagging, and her eyes were squinted as she studied him carefully. She had a tiny pouty mouth that was the size of a small line drawn by a neatly sharpened piece of stick. Her breathing was low, even, and calm.

“Who are you?” Katabani asked.  He could not hide the tremble in his voice as he spoke

“I have traveled high and low, seen the face of a friend and one of a foe but never have I laid eyes on a warrior so slow as a snail!” said the old woman.

Katabani started to look around, brows furrowed

“What is she talking about? Is she comparing me to a snail?”he thought to himself while unconsciously scratching his beardless chin

The old woman chuckled, seeing the confusion in his eyes. Katabani was pulled from his thoughts and once again he turned his full attention to the old woman who was still hovering over him. 

“Who are you?” he prompted once more, tilting his head to the side.

“A friend.” Said the old woman.

“Well, nice to meet you, Friend.” He said, raising his body from the ground and dusting himself off. Just as he was dusting himself, he noticed that his hands were free of the bead. Where had he put it? He rushed to search his pockets while the old woman looked at him , giving him a toothy grin. 

“No, no, no,noooo!” muttered Katabani through his gritted teeth. He couldn’t have lost the bead. However much his face was still wet with the water the old woman had splashed all over him, beads of sweat could be seen falling from the corners of his forehead. 

He lifted his head, suddenly aware of his surroundings. The carcass- it was gone! Where in the fiery pits was it? No, where was he? 

“Where am I?” Katabani half screamed in confusion and anger.

“You can never find a path in the midst of huge thickets. You can never find peace while you harbor turmoil within. The same goes for trinkets. The bead you so desperately seek is gone.” Said the old woman in a low indifferent tone.

“The Bead… GONE?!” roared Katabani.

The old woman nodded in approval with a slight smile on the edge of her lips. If she were only younger than he was, she would be hanging by the neck that instant and it would be by his hand.

He started to pace the forest, his hands folded into tight fists. 

“Gone, gone, gone to where?” he suddenly asked, facing her. Not even paving could help him organize his thoughts.

“Everything surely finds its way to its rightful owner. Isn’t that the way of man?” asked the old woman

Katabani’s nostrils immediately flared. To hell with the way of man. Why was it always him at a loss? Was that the way of man every person preached to him about? His shoulders heaved as he tried to calm his breathing. With his eye beads glistening red, he looked like a panther ready to pounce on its prey. The old woman as unfazed however as she took a step towards him.

“You are crazed in vain. ” she said and gave a low whistle.

“Do you know what they took from me?” shouted Katabani, waving his arms in the air.

“Nessi?” the old woman asked.

Katabani’s eyes widened, more with fear than shock. He took a step away from the old woman, losing his balance and tripping over a root. The woman gave a hearty laugh. Her voice was surely stronger than her appearance.

“I am not a god. You have not stopped whimpering that name ever since you toppled over.” she said

Katabani’s shoulders lowered as he looked her over again. For the millionth time that evening, he picked himself up from the ground. The old woman turned her back to him and raised her eyes to the clouds.

“On a chilly night of a half moon shall come the demise of an entire abode. It shall sweep every household, wiping away their peace and comfort. They shall dig the ground with their bare hands in search of a hole to bury their grief. Wait therefore and be ready to triumph over an enemy that has had you writhing in anger and loneliness.” Said the old woman, her voice raising with every word she uttered.

Katabani walked around her, and when he came face to face with her, he jumped back  and fell over- again. Her eyes were now white beads, and they blinked continuously as she muttered these words, more to herself than to him.

“The spear and the bead shall come face to face and a sudden darkness shall cover their heads. Cries and wails shall be the only sound hovering through the night. The World shall fall at your feet as blood shall spill in these lands. Disruption, pain, anger and rejection.” She said.

The words that sealed Gipiir and Labongo’s fate were already uttered, and their hope for a new beginning were all shattered. Even when Gipiir rushed through the mystical forest he had toiled through countless times, it seemed like he was headed for a darker storm.  With him, he carried a spear in one hand, a number of beads in another, the elements of destruction. Not even the smile of relief on his face could reverse his dark fate.

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Gipiir and Labongo #19