Tensions are high these days, we are constantly at the brink of war, not knowing which moments will require us to take the life of the enemy, or sacrifice ours for the greater good of the kingdom.
As a soldier, its your job to hate the enemy, more so than a civilian who could easily be in bed with a citizen from a warring nation. Love sees no color they say, perhaps love is a luxury that a soldier isn’t allowed to afford, because love cost me everything, but in return, it gave me everything.
Ethiopia has always been home to me, but she was also mother to other nations, and has made it her duty to watch over them and protect them when she could.
History has it that Egypt and Sudan were once part of the great empire that is Ethiopia, and now they exist as daughters of this great nation, the sad part however is, their identities, culture and values are rapidly changing.
Egypt has always drawn the admiration of all that looked upon it, and just like the beautiful flower by the Nile, onlookers don’t simply admire it and leave, they pluck it to keep, to own.
The need for possession has always been a part of humanity, the endless thirst for more, men have always wanted that which they didn’t have, and once they did, they want the next.
Damsels have been traded from kingdom to kingdom to satisfy the lust of one greedy prince or another, and once he had her, he wanted another. Egypt was the beautiful princess and Assyria was the greedy prince, but that didn’t stop him.
He has laid eyes on Sudan and was moving further up the Nile to rip off all the daughters of Ethiopia from her breast.
However, this tales isn’t about the struggle for power, the endless thirst for war and bloodshed of innocent peasants in a bid to quench the endless thirst for power land and wealth of the already powerful men who deem themselves gods amongst men.
This tale is of love and war between man and beast, between nature and the supernatural, between loyalty and betrayal.
Our Kind Amadohe has taken it upon himself to secure what was left of our daughter kingdoms and the kingdoms around us, for many, this was a sentimental bid to keep the continent uncontaminated as some will say, some believe this was out of hatred for anyone of a different skin color, but it was more tactical than sentimental.
If the enemy was to circumvent our kingdom, if they were to dominate every other kingdom around us, then they could wage war against us on all fronts. So far, we’ve held on just fine, but a war on many fronts will bring down even the mightiest of Kingdoms.
As a measure to curb the activities of the Assyrians who would invade smaller neighboring kingdoms, kidnap young maidens for sex slaves, bribe and corrupts village chiefs in their efforts to infiltrate all of Africa, Ethiopian soldiers have always patrolled the border of Egypt and Sudan, fighting and mostly killing any Assyrian envoy we meet, this was the norm.
Azakohe was the legitimate son of Amadohe who has always felt the need to prove himself worthy of his royal blood, feeling less than other three princes he joined he military's patrol along the borders, he was determined to earn the respect of his father. He would become a great warrior, and no one will give a thought about his harlot mother, or so he thought.
Azakohe set out on his very first patrol but never returned, his body was found near the borders of Kikongo by a second patrol who came back scared for their lives, they thought for sure the king would have their heads because the bodies were so badly defaced they were certain the mixed up the prince’s corpse for another soldier.
The strange thing was, Azakohe didn’t meet his death at the hands of the Assyrians or bandits, Azakohe met his end at the fangs and claws of the beast of Kikongo.
What has quickly become a legend was the story of the beast of Kikongo, although many who heard it called it nothing but folklore, bedtime stories for children or simply a successful bid to scare the Assyrians away from Kikongo.
Legend has it that the fairest maiden of a small town made the ultimate sacrifice to protect her people from the relentless invasions of the Assyrians, who were known to invade their villages in the dead of night, kill their men and steal their women to be sold into slavery as sex appetizers for the foreigners.
Debra was a tigress, she was fearless as she was beautiful. It was said that men were enchanted and lost control of their will for starring into her eyes. Suitors were lined up from north to south and they waited from dusk to dawn.
Debra was strong willed and would not be swayed by the petty things that impressed the other maidens of the kingdom, being the only daughter of the chief, it would fall upon her to lead her people when her father passes, and so the pressure of marriage was high on her.
She however concerned herself more with knowledge and wisdom, it was said that Debra’s suitors were disqualified because their intellects could not match her own, she had no regard for the high born or the rich, she wanted her man to be pure of heart and caring to the poor.
But then the Assyrian invasions began, and this seemed more like an opportunity for her suitors to force her hand, seeing they would not lend a helping hand to Kikongo, they would not offer protection except she accepted their request.
It is hard to blame these men, they are men and lust has always been an engraved part of our being. Debra was thing of beauty, it was said that her curves flowed and angled like the banking of the Nile, her dark skin glowed and sparkled, she would easily be the pride of any man.
She had all of these going for her, and the easy thing to do was choose a powerful suitor who would protect her people from the ravaging intrusion of the Assyrians, but her will was stronger and she did not trust the resolve of a man who will only help out of his selfish interest, for what will become of her people if his interests were to change in the future.
As the legend had it, her father was killed during one of the raids in what was suspected to have been the handy work of Koronga, the relentless suitor from the neighboring kingdom, the crowned prince of Amagda.
All hope seemed lost, but Debra never swayed. She took the curse of the beast upon herself. It was risky, there were no guarantees and many who attempted this feat had lost their lives in the process. It is said that what many called the curse was a gift from the spirits.
After the ritual was completed, Debra left part woman part beast. As the moon nears its peak of brightness, Debra changed gradually, her nails became claws, her teeth became fangs, her skin thickened and were covered in dark furs.
At full moon, Debra became a full blown beast towering far above the heights of the notoriously tall Sudanese, she had the strength of 20 men, the speed of a cheetah and the vision of an owl.
The mere sight of her scared the life out of the toughest soldiers in all the kingdoms.
It was said that she laid wait for the Assyrians who strolled in one night like they’ve always done, they had taken everything but wanted more. She came upon them with the speed that their sight could not catch, destroyed their defenses and tore them to pieces.
Their blood soaked the land and polluted the rivers, and when she was done, she climbed up to the mountains and roared as though to send out warnings and to mark her territories.
Her sacrifice was worth it, for as much we know, Kikongo is the stuff of nightmares for Assyrian slave peddlers. However, the grieving king had given his orders and he will have the head of the Kikongo beast.
We were set out to capture and destroy the beast of Kikongo, our king had demanded her head. I served as second in command to our general Sadamu, the bravest man I know, he was more of a friend than a general to me, and I never questioned his judgement.
We all left with doubts in our minds, such stories seemed a little too farfetched, these folklore were a common thing in these regions of Africa, but the closer we got, the real it all felt, there were corpses of Assyrian parties that were defaced in ways swords and axes wouldn’t, placed along the paths as though to send out a chilling warning to intruders.
We were slowly becoming believers.
Two hundred men travelled with us into the valleys of Kikongo, the air felt different, it was chilling without the cold, there was the stench of death without a single smell, it was probably all in our minds. Perhaps the fear in the minds of the soldiers had taken a physical manifestation, but the Ethiopian army was the fiercest in all the kingdoms and Sadamu would not fail.
We decided to split the men into smaller units and lure her to the center for capture, but she was steps ahead. Little by little in what seemed like a silent scream we lost one soldier at a time. She came with a silent breeze and snatched the heads off men. It was a fierce battle with a force we could barely see.
We were quickly running out of men when Sadamu became desperate. He captured a little child to lure her out and it worked, she lost her guard upon hearing the screaming child and came running quickly into what was a trap. Caught with half her limbs in the jaws of a huge bear trap, she groaned and moaned.
But despite her obvious pain and agony, she scrambled to save the little child, tucking the little girl behind her.
At this point, my heart melted, I saw true devotion, I saw a true warrior who battled for love, for duty, her people came first even if it meant her own life.
Sadamu moved in to finish the kill, knowing her legend was to end that night, I pulled my dagger walked in slowly behind him and sliced the throat of my best friend and general. I held in him in my arms as he died, he was a great general, but she was a greater warrior.
I had fallen in love with a beast, I took that look in her troubled scared eyes and saw the beauty that chorused in those legends, there was no way I could stand back and let this legend end today, her people needed her, she needed me and I needed her more.
I slowly approach her to let her know I mean well, to free her from the trap. I tried to communicate. My name is Miguel I said, and I’m going to help you. She groaned, but she let me.
I freed her and she got up quickly, came close to my face groaning, I stood still as she walked around me as if she was sniffing me. She looked into my eyes and my fears disappeared, she saw me just like I did her.
She then took the kid and took off into the woods.
At this point I knew my days as an Ethiopian soldier was behind me, I was the soldier who betrayed his general and no one would understand that.
I was not going to return, so I left the scene before the other soldiers came close. I took my chances in the woods for the time.
Two days later, I heard the sweetest voice I had ever heard as I searched for mushrooms to eat in the forest
“You saved me once, now its time that I saved you”, I turned around and took one lingered look at this woman who on some days is a terrifying beast, but her beauty was the exact opposite. And if you looked closely into her eyes, you could still the fierceness of the beast in her.
She took me in, an ordinary soldier who did the right thing one time, a soldier who disobeyed orders, who betrayed his general but saved a people’s champion.
She camped far from the villages, up in the mountains, away from her people. Scared she might turn on the ones she’s supposed to protect, but more scary was the fear in the heart of anyone who laid eyes on her.
Everyone except me, because I could see the beauty in the beast, and I have finally found my purpose.
I would help her control her powers, tame her beast, and one day, she’ll return to Kikongo to lead her people, and I’ll be right there standing besides her.
This short story was written on request by Miguel as a gift with love for his beautiful wife, Debra.