By Kamusiime Mugisha
The ground shook with every step it took. And with every breath, it let out a growl. Towering over the chief, at nine feet, the giant elegantly stood, casting a massive shadow over the human. The full moon shone down on Labongo, who was completely engulfed by his adversary’s silhouette.
“This is your last chance, chief. Your people still need you ali….”
“If you think you’re going to talk your way into getting this spear, then I’m afraid you will leave with nothing.” Labongo interrupted.
“If you want it, I suggest you fight for it. All your words will simply do you no good.” he spoke as a sly smile crept upon his face. It had been long since he had meet such an interesting adversary.
The giant paused and gracefully strode towards the man. One foot ahead of the other. Slightly bending both knees, clenching its fists, it looked up into the starless sky. “The night is tender and peaceful,” it spoke up, “Do you really want to ruin it like this?”
The giant’s eyes rested upon Labongo. Its silence a testament to whatever was going in its head. At the back of its eyes, only a fog. Reading his foe was proving far more complicated than he had anticipated.
“Let’s do this then.” Labongo responded. “I haven’t got much time to waste,” He smirked, taking up his fighting stance.
Pacing forward, the giant stretched with all its might, launching a blow to crush Labongo. The chief, reacted quickly, ducking the huge fist by the thinnest of margins that landed on the huge bark trees behind him, crushing them into tiny little pieces with little effort.
Labongo had never seen something so huge move so fast. Lightning quick and terrifyingly agile. Taking on a giant, he hardly knew what to expect. But this was definitely not it. Before he could think of what to do next, the giant swung its arm back, forcing Labongo to duck once again. The blows were coming in thick and fast. He had to react.
It was at this moment that his killer instinct set in. Labongo rose from his knees beneath the giant’s frame and thrust the spear into its thigh.
In agony, it let out a deafening roar. The giant was completely stupefied. It had not seen that coming. Almost immediately, Gipiir pulled out the bloody spear from its flesh and then ran behind it. He was in a prime position to fatally stab it in the back.
The giant was wounded but not blind. It turned quickly, anticipating an attack from behind. The two adversaries were now facing each other. For a few moments, they moved round and round in spirals. Injured and bleeding profusely, the giant reached out in a wild swing that had Labongo pinned to the ground in the blink of an eye. His chest heaved in agony as the adrenaline kept him seething with a thrill for the fight.
“I must say I’m a little disappointed. For a god, I assumed I would have had to work hard twice as hard just to land a puch.” The chief spoke, breathing heavily, his smug smile the only ace up his sleeves.
Looking at its shaking palm, covered in its own blood the giant was starting to get enraged. With every word that Labongo spoke, it struck a nerve. How dare this tiny thing even speak in his presence?
“You come into my domain, unannounced. Start making demands and then threaten me and my family on my soil. DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? YOU, DUMB CREATURE.” Labongo yelled, desperate.
There was a burning rage in his eyes. The look on his face was enough to set the forest ablaze. The giant, now fatally injured, assessed its options.
It was clear that the chief was a battle-hardened warrior. Going into this fight with a bleeding leg was simply going to be a mismatch.
Suddenly, the giant burst into a frantic laughter that echoed through the forest. Bewildered, Labongo watched his enemy. For the first time, the creature’s mask was off. Pure and simple delight was all that could be seen.
“You amuse me little man,” it bellowed, releasing him from its grasp. The rage inside Labongo built up, thrusting a lamp right into his throat. ” Are you mocking me?”
The giant barely answered, laughing to its own delight. Taking the giant’s spear from the ground, he effortlessly thrust it forward pinning it right into the fore arm of the beast.
A deafening silence curled up the air around them. The two meeting eyes once again. The haunting stare from the creature sent shivers through Labongo’s spine.
“Listen here, little man,” the giant finally spoke, ” I am simply a traveler. I have no qualms with you. For something so small, you have a lot of rage beneath your loins,”
The giant gently plucked the spear from his arm, setting the sharp end to the side while Labongo held the other end. To his bewilderment, Labongo watched the giant’s wounds heal in a single breath. He had no chance from the start. And the creature knew it.
With the spear pointed at the beast, Labongo started to lower it. He finally let his guard down.
In all his years fighting, Labongo had tore apart men who pleaded for their lives with tears in their eyes. Their pleas for mercy for mercy had always fallen on deaf ears. But this was different. For the very first time, in the heat of the moment, the chief stopped to think before he could act.
“What do you fight for little chief?”
A question that fell upon silence.
By Aine Susan
The warrior stood still, unmoved and deciding the giant’s fate. Returning a giant’s head as his trophy would be an advance toward regaining his people’s admiration – for since Gipiir’s disappearance, a silent divide existed. Even those who understood their leader’s position questioned a chief’s loyalty to an entire clan if he couldn’t uphold a bond with his own brother.
A smirk spread across the giant’s face, “It won’t work. Your tribe was doomed a long time ago. All it took was an aggrieved boy. The fury over his sister’s death bound him to your tribe like a leech; hungry for a taste of blood.”
“What do you mean?” the chief frowned.
“Never mind! There’s no greater curse than living for your siblings… or is there? Chasing over your lunatic brother is one thing, but being summoned to watch over your sister’s greatest grandchildren…” the giant muttered.
“Are you mad?” Labongo mumbled in frustration.
“Oh, well. You won, fair and square,” he easily got up and pulled the spear from Labongo, leaving the chief dumbfounded.
“This is not a game,” Labongo was able to stammer before the giant turned to leave.
“I have roamed these lands for far longer than you know, mortal.
An exchange – you men like swaps, right? Leave my precious time, and I promise, instead of the pending war and slaughter between you brothers and among your clansmen; be assured of safe passage for each of you across the unknown lands beyond the great river. You will understand when the time comes.”
A puzzled Labongo watched as the man slid passed him. Everything about him signaled madness yet he claimed to be a god. Could the tribe really be at the risk of a pending tragedy? It felt like the man was still in his head, playing with his thoughts for he sang Labongo’s thoughts like some kind of folksong, humming and snapping from time to time.
Labongo decided against following him – he couldn’t leave the tribe unattended for so long.
As he approached the village, he could feel the ground rumble; the same way it did when the warriors returned home. Women ululated so persistently that the waters shivered with excitement; the animals trembled and cowered, ready for any one to be snatched for the upcoming feast; while children ran around, in anticipation for a chance to dance about without the usual hushes urging them to settle down. A simple utter of the word ‘spear’ alerted him of what was really unfolding – Gipiir had returned.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEDNESDAY