My name echoed in the dark, the sound of Anna’s voice brought me back to my senses, I woke up and found myself on the ground bound in a big net. I saw many humans pointing their spears and lances at me.
They looked scared and terrified by my size and I smelled fear in them as I looked around for Anna. I shouted her name and the entire humans hushed, intimidated by my voice they all took a step back. Anna was been held by two humans but she wasn’t with Baby, I became irate and started to look around in search of Baby.
It was a big cave with many torches lit and hung on its walls, I searched through the ones I could see but still did not see Baby, I looked at Anna as she pushed her way through the humans then knelt down and held me crying.
I tried to free myself from the net, when the humans saw that I was struggling to get free, they gathered and dragged a rope tied to the net and suspended me with my head facing downwards and the net became tighter.
The rope tied to the net was also attached to another thick long rope nailed on the walls of the cave that extended outside the cave, it was a very big cave with a wide entrance.
Anna was seized by the humans, one of them ran into the cave and yelled, I did not know what he meant and then another one pulled a different rope which lifted me up a bit more, I watched the rest rushed out of the cave.
The rope dragged me out in the open with ease as they moved me out of the cave and into the light; it was chaotic, I heard humans shouting at the peak of their voices, I did not know what they were saying. I was way above them and they were so many, spread like sand. I have never seen such a great number of beings in one gathering.
I looked around from above and saw where the other end of the rope was tied to, a giant old tree outside the cave. If I were to cut the ropes that tied me and free myself from the net, the fall could kill me. I had no idea where I was but I knew who caught me, I needed to improvise fast.
Anna looked helpless and seemed to be in danger from where I hung. Lightning could be seen from a distance and the sound of thunder clapped continuously accompanied by heavy winds but not a drop of rain kissed the ground.
From above I sighted many humans beneath me shouting holding sticks, arrows, lances, spears and even tiny swords. I saw Baby in the hands of another human woman, so I shouted at Anna and pointed to her who was carrying Baby.
The humans were too many, have they all gathered to see me and probably watch me humiliated and killed? I pondered.
Anna sighted Baby too so she kicked the one that held her and rushed for Baby then snatched it from the human woman, Anna attacked the human woman fiercely like a wildcat.
I used my teeth to untie my hands, when the humans saw that I was free and was trying to struggle out of the net, they began to shoot their spears at me and missed. I became wild and yelled at them from above, I jumped and landed on the ground with my two feet, supporting my body with my hands as well then rolled over hitting many of them down the slope.
I picked their spears which were small for me, I knew they were too many but I must scare them off so I roared as I headed to Anna and Baby but by the time I got to them, a human man placed a knife on her neck and threatened to kill her if I move any further. The human man was trembling, the rest of the humans ran away and some stood holding their spears and surrounded me.
The skies began to thicken and it thundered terribly, it looked like a heavy downpour was about to occur and the wind was blowing atrociously accompanied by great storms.
Another human woman approached me from amidst them unarmed, she was older and I recognised her even with her half burnt face, after a careful look I realised she was the one that handed Baby to me the night of the attack on the humans. She smiled at me with tears in her eyes and spoke to the rest of the humans and they immediately lowered their arms.
I threw the spears in my hands away as the human woman walked toward Anna. She got to Anna and moved her hand to take Baby from Anna but Anna rebelled, I yelled at Anna for the first time and made her understand that Baby belonged to the other human woman but Anna began to shed tears as she held Baby tighter.
Anna just could not hand over Baby to the human woman, the two of them began to cry.
Anna managed to give Baby to the other human woman but Baby cried out so loud, the human woman tried to breastfed it in order to stop it from crying but Baby’s voice overrode the storms and everybody went silent. Anna then rushed and snatched Baby from the human woman and Baby chuckled.
I smiled as I watched Anna laughed in tears, she could not look into the eyes of the human woman who owned Baby, from what I observed, it was obvious the human woman who owned Baby had no choice but to let Anna held Baby.
While we were all watching the drama between Anna and the human woman, some human men arrived. As soon as the one who looked like their leader saw me, he ordered the rest and all of a sudden they threw nets at me and attacked me.
They tied ropes to my legs and continued to throw themselves on me, I struggled but it was too late, they had successfully trapped me once again. I did not want to harm them, they dragged me back into the cave again.
The bad human leader walked into the cave and had Anna and Baby brought to him, he spoke to Anna in a tongue I could not understand but he did not harm Anna, she seemed to be familiar with him.
The bad human leader called out three of his human men and sent them on horses back, then asked food and water be brought for Anna but she insisted they attend to me first.
Most of the humans gathered around the entrance to the cave to watch us, they murmured among themselves. Food was offered to us but I was still tied up so Anna first fed me, then herself.
After a while, the human woman who owned Baby walked in and sat down watching Anna and admired how intimate Baby and Anna appeared, she was touched by what she witnessed.
The bad human leader sat down staring at me all the time, I wondered what was going on in his mind or what he would do to me as he continued to gaze.
Not long I heard horses galloped outside the cave, the three human men he sent came back and one of them whispered something into his ears. He ordered them again and they walked out, his eyes still focused on me.
The three human men returned with two other human men; an older human man whose beard with age was grey and a younger handsome looking human man. The two that came had finer garments compared to the humans that ensnared me.
The younger one rushed to Anna on seeing her, hugged and kissed her so dearly with tears in his eyes, she started to cry and he wiped her tears as they kissed.
The older human whose beard with age was grey, carried a staff. He and the bad human leader had a long talk, it looked like he was trying to convince the bad human leader over something. The one whose beard with age was grey would talk and point up in a convincing manner but the bad human leader would just nod his head in disagreement.
The bad human leader again ordered for more food for the two human men that came for Anna, but the older human man whose beard with age was grey rejected the offer.
Anna then spoke to the old beard one and pointed at me, he stood up and walked to me slowly then bent down and looked at me with no fear, neither did he look friendly. He stared at me for a while, then raised his right hand and as soon as he touched my forehead he spoke to me in my own tongue.
“What are you called young one?” he asked.
At first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, until he asked me again the second time.
‘Buga,’ I responded sedately.
He then told me that Anna informed him that I saved her life so she would not forgive him if he did not make sure I was set free. I could not say anything to him, I asked him who he was but he ignored me and after a long stare he stood up and went back to Anna. He whispered something to her and she began to cry, Anna went to her knees begging, and later turned to the younger human man who came along with the old beard one.
The young human man agreed to talk to the older one but he tried to explain something to them, the old beard one’s attention was on the sound of thunder outside, as though he just wanted them to leave, he seemed to be agitated and in a hurry.
The old beard one then quickly turned to the bad human leader and spoke to him as he pointed at me, the leader refused and became furious. The old beard one just turned and started to walk away, Anna and the young human man followed him as they continued to beg.
She then pulled out something wrapped in a tiny garment and showed it to the old beard one, he stopped and stared at her then collected what she brought out and returned to the bad human leader who was seated,
The old beard one emptied what was wrapped in the tiny piece of garment on the table; they were some of the precious stones Anna picked from the cave where the beast guarded us, the old beard one gazed and uttered no word to the bad human leader. The bad human leader bit his lower lip and then bit his thumb lightly, called out and ordered the three human men to untie me.
The old beard one looked at me once more then quickly turned away and started to walk in a hurry.
I was set free, Anna smiled joyfully and invited me to follow them, and we got out as the old beard one climbed a white horse. Anna held Baby and rode a black horse with the young human man, she instructed me to come with them. Anna searched for the other human woman who owned Baby among the crowds, the two of them smiled at each other and the other human woman bid Anna and Baby farewell with tears in her eyes as Baby chuckled, the sky was getting darker as we moved away from the human settlement.
I had no idea where we were going but I chased them on foot as they rode their horses, Anna continued to look back to check if I was still following.
It began to rain heavily, and behind us we heard an outburst from the human camp as though they were coming for us. The horses ran fast and I ran faster myself taking shortcuts in order to catch up with them through the thick trees, it was a dense forest surrounded by many hills. There was a furious commotion that rose behind us approaching from the human settlement. The bad human leader most have ordered the humans to bring us back, I thought.
We got to an open field and I saw a heavy giant ship supported by large logs on the ground with many humans coming out from the forest and trees that surrounded it running toward the ship. They were approaching from all round making chaotic noises, screaming and yelling, their voices rose like a great roar.
The old beard one continued to charge his horse ahead followed by the one Anna rode, her attention was on me and she continued to look back to check if I was still with them. I had already caught up with them and was running beside the black horse.
The clouds became darker, it thundered thunders I have never heard and lightning struck continuously, then I heard someone shouted my name from the surrounding hills. I looked at my left and saw thousands of Puricans descending behind the humans from the higher grounds down to where the giant ship was, they were led by the chief, and Anna sighted them too so she called the attention of the young human man.
I stretched my hand to touch her while running, she stretched hers too and our fingers touched as I ran, at that moment I felt like it was the end and I may never see Anna again because I knew I had to do something about the Puricans before they got to Anna.
Anna screamed my name, probably trying to hinder me from doing what I wanted to do. I saw a spear on one side of the black horse and pulled it. The younger human man looked at me while riding the horse fast and I gave him the sign to go ahead, he smiled, nodded and slashed the horse hard and it ran faster as I turned and faced the Puricans who were heavily running down toward us. I took a turn and charged straight against the Purican chief as water started to come out from the grounds, he saw me coming and screamed my name again, I called him by his birth name, ‘Duwekah!’ meaning, “The end!”.
The Puricans realised that water was rising from the ground and so they scattered in confusion and so did the humans. Strange heavy sounds of water waves clashing coming fast from the four corners of the earth approaching the giant ship.
I had never seen the sea so angry with water rising from the ground, none of us alive had ever seen what was unfolding nor have I ever heard tales told of such dreaded event.
The sight was terrible and most of the humans scattered in fear as they got flushed and carried away by the waves. I had never seen humans gathered in one place like that day. The waters rose from all round the giant ship and shot high like the mountains, I sighted the old beard one on his horse with his hand raised up as if he was using his staff to clear the wind and water ahead of him. I turned at the very moment the Purican chief raised his sword from afar with few of his loyalists charged and descending, I turned again to see if Anna had reached the giant ship and from where I stood, it all occurred to me that this was exactly what she was trying to explain to me all this while.
Everything she had said and explained made sense; chosen precious stones in the basket that was pushed by rain and the rain destroying the other stones, Anna knew about the heavy down pour and that was why she had been trying to make sure we arrived in time to escape the flood, it was never about me making a ship for us to escape but it sure had something to do with a ship.
I kicked the first Purican that approached me and dodged the chief’s sword, then lifted him off the ground with my left hand and hit him up against a big tree thrusting the spear through his mouth as it got stuck to the tree. I left him hanging there then turned to the next Purican that attacked me, seized his sword and cut off the chief’s head. His headless body fell to its knees and to the ground, at that moment I found peace, his head left stuck to the tree. By the time I looked, the two horses have made their way into the giant ship, I saw the doors to the giant ship locked itself as water swept me off my feet.
The wave was heavy and the current too violent for me to swim with ease so I stopped struggling and let it carry me along to where it pleased. By the time I was able to surface above the water, it was nothing but total chaos. I sighted the giant ship being shaken violently by the current, I could see some humans falling off the giant ship. I did not know how they got on top of it but they got washed away as the giant ship tried to settle under such pressure and violent storm.
I saw trees, humans, animals, Redicans, Adaganians and Puricans scattered all round screaming and crying for help, there were many above and underneath the water. Those who could not swim were dragging anyone they could lay their hands on down below, thunder and lightning continued to strike the water violently killing anyone on its path, I was terrified of the horror I saw. The water level kept going up as the heavy downpour continued from the skies. Lightning from the skies struck the waters and travelled through it piercing through what stood on its way, I sighted a tree floating and I grabbed it but a big wave tossed me and the tree against the giant ship, the tree hit me against the giant ship and then I saw total darkness.
I was later awakened by cold breeze, when I opened my eyes I was looking at the sky, It was so clear and the sun was up. My vision became clear as I managed to stand up. I found myself on top of the roof of the giant ship. I looked around and the entire earth was filled with water, I could not see any Purican or human nor animals in the waters, I then looked up the skies for the black bird from my dream but it was not there.
The ship was sailing calmly and my stomach was empty, never felt hungry in my life like that day, so I kept hitting the roof with my feet to let them know someone was on top of it but no one answered.
As the ship rocked I had to find a good position to lie down or fall off into the waters. I was amazed by the clear skies, so beautiful but no sign of land no mountains, no sign of life, just water and the beautiful skies. However, my mind was troubled by the images of the huge black bird from my dream.
My health was deteriorating, I could tell I might not survive long but I had to hold on strong, I had survived worse but never faced with such illness. I coughed hard under the cold and could feel the weight of my heart and lungs but I am a Purican warrior. Death was nothing I feared and that was why I survived to this day, I had stared death in the eyes too many times and charged against it, I did all and conquered all simply because I never was afraid to die. Death and I were familiar with each other because I saw it in my reflection whenever I looked into a river or stream.
“How did you get up here?” inquired an angry voice.
I stood up and there was the old beard one pointing his staff at me, behind him were other humans, they seemed to have climbed up through an open hatch created on the roof of the giant ship.
“I said, how did you get here?” asked the old beard one again.
‘I do not know…I am thirsty!’ I replied.
He lowered down his staff and asked someone to bring food and medicine. The old beard one sat down and looked around the surrounding but was not comfortable with my presence.
“You were not part of the plan!” he added.
‘What plan?’ I asked.
He laughed and spread his arms.
“This…this whole plan of His?” pointing at the surrounding waters.
I then asked him whose plan he was referring to but the old beard one pointed up at the sky, my heart almost leaped as I looked up at the sky thinking I would see the huge black bird from my dream but saw no one. I was also worried about not seeing any sign of life and how deep the depth of the water was, I wanted to ask the old beard one many questions.
“Save your energy Buga,” he said.
They served me water and food, while I was attacking the food, Anna came to us and was so happy seeing me again, she hugged tight and later spoke to the old beard one to tell me how grateful she was.
The old beard one mixed some herbs after I finished eating and asked me to take it, I did but it was so bitter. He robbed some of it around my face and chest.
“This should keep your soul in your body for a while but you must be strong,” he added.
The old beard one smiled and ordered some garments be brought to me which he used to wrap me with, I felt so much better.
The old beard one became an interpreter because I could understand him, I asked about Baby and he told me that Baby was too young to be brought up because of the conditions on top of the giant ship, he said Baby was doing just fine. The old beard one explained to me that Baby is a term humans use to refer to a very young child who has not yet begun to walk or talk, I never knew Baby was not a name so we both laughed at my stupidity. I asked him if Anna had picked a name for the child yet, he smiled and told me Anna named the child after me. I was so excited and didn’t know when tears rolled down my eyes, I again asked the old beard one how he got to build such a giant ship, and he laughed.
“It is not a ship, it is called an ark!” he said, smiling sympathetically.
I then asked him about his story but he was more interested in mine and so he begged me to tell him more about myself and how I encountered Anna. I smiled at him, lowered my head and looked at my hands, they had turned pale. I chuckled to lighten up the mood and cleared my throat.