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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chapter 2: Assassins (The Hooded Ones)

Hello readers! I present to you the first few chapters of my up coming first book in the Mekonnen Epic series, "The Warrior From Aksum". It is still a work in progress but because of high demand to read the story from anxious fans I decided to treat the world with what is complete so far. Be aware that there may be a few spelling and grammatical errors but I hope this does not distract you from enjoying the story. Thank you and Enjoy! All story and artwork copyright to Jerome Matiyas, 2006 to 2013 and beyond.  

Glossary | Chapter 1 Chapter 2 | MekonnenEpic.com 


Chapter 2
ASSASSINS 
 (The Hooded Ones)

The streets are enlivened as crowds of people hustle and bustle in the metropolis of Aksum, in the midst of the vibrant Timket festival. Commander in Chiefs try to instate some order and control by dispatching their regiments on foot and on horse back to clear the way for the Emperor’s procession to march through the streets on the way to The Queen of Sheba’s Bath Basin called Mai Shum.
Meanwhile a little boy, about five years old, is running and playing in the streets with his friends, when suddenly he accidentally bumps into the leg of a stranger and falls to the dusty ground. The little one springs back up happily with a bright smile on his face and immediately he is polite as his mommy taught him and bows and says, “Aytehazeley, Yikrai-ta Geta!”1 which is translated to: “I’m Sorry, Excuse me my Lord!” The boy looks up at the stranger’s face only to see darkness framed by a white hood. The mysterious hooded stranger turns to looks down at the little one and lets out a menacing hiss as his eyes glowed crimson in the darkness under the hood. Immediately the child is terrified at the sight and runs off with a shriek to find his mother. He finds her not far away talking with three of her young friends and jumps into her arms shouting “A'may, A'may!” which is “Mommy, Mommy!” is Ge’ez. Then he whispers in her ears, “A'may, that man, he hissed at me, and his eyes are red.”
The mother asks, “Which man?”
The boy points in the direction from where he encountered the strange man, but he was gone. She figures her son was just imagining things as little boys sometimes do, thinks nothing of the matter and turns to her friends and says, “My boy Nati thought he saw a monster or something. He will be alright, probably just tired or hungry.” Then they casually went on their way, but the little boy was still cowering in his mother’s arms, looking over her shoulder at the stranger man with the evil glare, now lurking next to a fruit vendor cart.

They had no idea that there were many sinister men with white hoods pulled over their heads dispersed among the people in the streets and alleyways. But they were organized and grouping into positions that only they knew as planned amongst themselves. And nobody really noticed them looking like every one else, they could even pass for holy monks who dress and cover their heads in similar fashion. Except for the unique patterns in the hems of their hoods and overalls, and that strange symbol, a red lightning shape inside of a black circle. This emblem was embroidered in the front of and below the collar and tattooed on the back of the hands and on their feet.
The Hooded Assassin, Agents from the Realms of Darkness. 

None of the warrior guards notices any thing strange as yet, not even Mekonnen and Afeworqi. Soon the sound of music is heard coming from a distance, and minstrels and psalmists in white can be seem coming from a distance with various instruments playing as they lead the procession for the Timket festival. As music and frankincense fills the air, here they come on their way as priests in beautifully coloured garments and robes with tassels on the fringes, surrounding the one carrying the tabot on his head. Vibrant parasols held up above him and other priests and bishops and also the “Tzadakan” the Righteous Ones of sacred legend, all combined to make this scene look like blossoming flowers in a field. What a beautiful and enchanting sight, especially for the visitors who have never seen it before. Even if it’s been seen a dozen times it is still a grand spectacle to behold.
Now horses trot with their proud looking commanders and head guards in warrior garb with lion manes on head and dazzling costumes of vibrant colors, swords, shields and lances in hand riding them. The crowd gazes on in awe and reverence of their authority and accomplishments. Now masters in animal training bring out exotic creature on leashes. First some lions sporting large black manes lead the way, then baboons and ostriches.
Every thing seems to be going well, Mekonnen reckons. They may even play a game of jousting later tonight. Sit around a camp fire, have a merry feast of fruits and vegetables, with injera and beg (lamb meat) with hot spices on the side and some excellent wine to wash it down. All these thoughts of fun and relaxation fill the young warrior’s mind, until one of the hooded ones walk pass Mekonnen, and whose presence gave him a slight ill feeling. Coldness and darkness, and a sense of malice are the energies emanating from the hooded one that gave Mekonnen an uneasy feeling. It sent chills up and down his spine.
Something is not right with that stranger.” He thought, “Walking around like that, sneaking and light footed. Why is he looking around like that, Scoping out the area?”
Psst, Afeworqi?” Mekonnen whispers to his cousin, with eyes still fixed on his suspect,
Look, something is not right with that fellow, wait here.”
I see him.” Afeworqi affirms.

Mekonnen draws closer into the crowd with eyes focused on his prey who is quickly being engulfed by the sea of people. Just then, Mekonnen spots another hooded one nearby who looks conspicuous. And it looks like he picked up a signal from the first hood he was following. Mekonnen is more keen and observant now, his heart beats faster, yet he remains calm and focused. Then, up on the left on a roof top, another mysterious hood acting suspiciously. Another hooded person walks by and Mekonnen looks at him intently, but this one is different, does not look and act suspiciously and he can see his face. Normal sun light reveals this ones face and the patterns on the hem are less distinctive like the suspects. Might just be a monk, so he lets him by. Now Mekonnen can really notice the utter darkness under the hoods that are suspect, and can now even see the difference in the patterns on the clothing from the other common people and that strange symbol they have on the front of their clothes, a crooked line within a red circle. Afeworqi spots another hooded suspect upon a high wall, stooping down and peering over in the distance beyond the procession of the tabot and the animals.
Just then the distinct sound of a particular animal gives Mekonnen and Afeworki an idea of what the hood on the high wall was looking at in the distance. The trumpet-like cry of a great elephant rings out in the distance, a sound that is a familiar hint for the Aksumites as to who is approaching. It is the Emperor Gebre Mesqel and his Queen, Her Majesty Nigist Semret and the royal family riding in a chariot, being drawn by four huge African elephants. The crowd around Mekonnen and Afeworqi now begin to get restless and excited at the sound of the elephants as their large heads and ivory tusks can be seen in the distances down the street.

Oh look, the Emperor and Empress are coming, the Negus and Nigist are coming!” was the buzz in the crowd as some try to position them selves in a spot in order to get a good view of Ella Gebre Meskel and his royal family. Guards try their best to control the crowds and make way on the street. Mekonnen motions to two guards to be on the alert for suspicious activity.
The King’s procession is now coming near as the dark brown skin of the elephants can be seen, so close eventually, that the rough textures and creases in them are noticeable. Two in the front and two behind those, harnessed with thick ropes and leather straps connected to the platform on wheels. The elephants are adorned with decorative garments on their heads and backs, speckled with gold and pearl beads and golden tassels. On the backs of each of the behemoth creatures are riders seated in fancy saddles guiding them in the right direction. Even the elephants’ tusks were capped with round golden stubs of fine décor. Behind the creatures is the golden chariot, which was more like a platform on wheels, that they draw carefully and steadily as their trainers and riders would allow them. And within the chariot is His Majesty Negus Gebre Mesqel also known as Ella Amida, son of the great and famous Ella Abreha, the former Negus Kaleb who gave up his crown to live a monastic life. He stands and waves in his glorious regalia just as colorful as the priestly garments but more bejeweled and ornamented. From the crown of his head to the sole of his feet, Ella Gebre Mesqel is an ornamented sight to behold: his golden crown quite high in several layers with golden streamers hanging down, fluttering as they reflect the natural sunlight. His collar, armlets and multitude and bracelets and rings all of fine, pure gold. Even his kilt is of pure gold on linen cloth. His chest wrapped in straps embroidered with pearls. Guards are on the platform with the Negus, but he is still pretty much dangerously open and an easy target. Normally the Negus would also be holding a gilded shield and a lance but this time he chose to just hold up his lance in a vertical position with spear pointing upwards.
Mekonnen tries not to look conspicuous, doing his best not to let the suspects know that he and Afeworqi are on their tails. He can’t help but notice how unprotected the Emperor is, two guards at lower levels at his side and few others on the platform, but that is not enough guards. And the ones present are not alert enough to what may be about to take place.
Suddenly, it all happened, Mekonnen’s cover is lost. The hooded ones noticed Mekonnen on their trail and signaled to each other. The first suspect is out of sight and Mekonnen becomes nervous. The Negus is still an open target; his guards are not paying attention. Mekonnen leaps up on a fruit vendor’s table to spot them again, causing many lemons, leaks and melons to fall to the cobbled ground. He scans the crowd ecstatically, left, right, up and down. He spots one! Now he knows what they are trying to do. Afeworqi sees Mekonnen on the table and moves in closer, but does not notice a hooded one approaching him from behind, eyes glowing red in the darkness.
Now Mekonnen can see clearly what is going to happen. At a distance, a hooded one appears behind a palace guard on a ledge and stabs him in the back, taking his spear as the guard collapses to the ground. Adrenaline rushes in and a bolt of energy hits Mekonnen, as he leaps from off the table with spear in one hand and a round shield in the other, he darts out towards the king, shouting,
Alert! Shield the King!!”

Mekonnen runs to save the Emperor from an assassin's spear.

The King’s guards are now alert but confused, not really sure from which direction the impending attack is coming, but they position themselves to encircle the Emperor and the Empress, shields and spears up. The crowd is now startled and concerned, some duck down their head or lay low, others gasp with mouths open, looking in multiple directions. A few women and young girls grab on to each other or onto their little ones. Seeing Mekonnen running frantically towards the King’s chariot, the hooded one who stabbed the guard on the ledge now holds the spear and positions himself to throw it, angling it’s sharp pointed spear head towards the king Gebre Mesqel. The king’s guards cannot see the would-be assassin because the sun is directly behind him. But Mekonnen sees him clearly enough from his angle. Now the hooded assassin leans back, aims, heaves and then thrusts forward and releases, sending the spear sailing through the air, headed straight for the intended target, the Negus.
The hood behind Afeworqi begins to pull out a sword from under his cloak but before he could pull the blade all the way out of it’s sheath, Afeworqi hears the sound of a blade dragging against surface and senses his foul presents. He swings around and hits the hood on the side of his head with the spear shaft and thrusts the blade and shaft through his chest, as quick as a second. Afeworqi yanks the spear out of his attacker and watches him fall to the dusty ground, dead, then keeps on moving, looking for more suspicious ones.
Meanwhile, Mekonnen runs frantically towards the Negus’ aid from the right, determined to save His Majesty from the flying spear that is aimed for Negus Gebre Meskel’s torso. Which ever gets to the Negus first will determine His Majesty’s fate. Life or Death. Mekonnen, just a few cubits away, now leaps with shield in right hand, becoming almost horizontal in mid-air in front of the Negus, just in time for the deadly spear to strike Mekonnen’s shield instead of Royal flesh.
Craaacksh!!” the sharp head of the spear penetrates Mekonnen’s shield, missing his arm by an inch. But Mekonnen’s flight carries the spear away from His Majesty and Her Majesty the Nigist Martha, sending Mekonnen and spear tumbling to the ground on the left side of the royal platform, rolling over about three times.
By the time Mekonnen leaps up to his feet a little bruised and dusty, the king and queen were surrounded by guards, deacons and priests. The elephants are getting stirred up by the commotion but still under control by the trainers and riders.
A cry went out to be alert and seize suspected assassins in the midst. By then Afeworqi is at Mekonnen’s side to see if he was okay and says,
Come on, we most catch the rest of them! I already took one down.”
Yes lets go. “ Mekonnen replies then turns toward the king’s platform and asks the guards, “How is the Emperor, and the Empress? Are they safe? Are they well?!”
Yes, His Majesty and the Nigist are unharmed.” And as the guard spoke, arrows started whizzing by on and around the platform, hitting two of the elephants on the left. Arrows were being fired from the general direction of where the spear was launched. The two elephants cried out like loud trumpets in panic and moved away from the rain of arrows that just barely penetrate the surface of the thick skin but cause enough pain to be irritable. The other two elephants were not really trying to move, causing them to bump into each other and jolting the platform, which caused a few guards and priests to fall off. The crowd panics, screaming and running in many directions. One of the elephants in the front on the right stumbles and crashes into a building, destroying the façade with the impact. No one seemed to be hurt in that accident. Mekonnen and the rest of the guards realized they needed to cut the elephants loose into the streets of Aksum otherwise they would drag the platform with the King and Queen still on top of it, placing them in danger of being injured or even killed.
Quick! Cut the elephants’ ropes! Hurry!” one to the guards commands, as two other guards quickly deal 2 to 3 hacks at the thick ropes until they broke free.
The elephants cry out loud, “Whhaaaahhh!” and lift their trunks in the air. One of them rared up on its hind legs causing people nearby to panic and shout to get out of the way as the elephants storm down the street. Now the city seems to be in utter chaos.
Mekonnen looks up in the direction the assassin’s spear and arrows were coming from and exclaims,
That cursed beast. Afie, let’s get them before they escape to the wilderness!”
And off they ran, hoping to capture the one who threw the spear that almost impaled the Emperor.
Meanwhile the other hooded ones scatter into different directions trying to hide among the panicking citizens of Aksum. It is possible they may have a plan to meet and regroup in different locations. Some of the royal guards went after them, confronting some of the suspects in sword fights, yet subduing and capturing these agile and elusive hooded assassins dead or alive proves to be very difficult.
More arrows are released and fly into the air, coming down and striking several guards with civilians getting in the cross fire. It was as if they came to start a war and take over the venerated city of Aksum. But the royal guards and warriors will not allow such actions to persist.
Immediately the royal army brought out their own artillery of archers and marks men, with traditional bows and crossbows ready for action. Commanders Mulugeta, Telemarkos and Alazar the war hero, shout orders to their royal guards,
Warriors of Aksum!! Assume your positions to form the Ark of Tsion Barricade! Now! Now! Nowwww!!”
So they quickly organized their warriors and mercenaries to form special barricades in the main streets and alleyways that lead up to the holy chapel Qedus Mariam Tsion that houses the Holy Ark of the Covenant. These barricades involve creating several layers of defenses one behind another in order to make it very difficult, or even impossible, to penetrate and get at the Ark of the Covenant that is claimed to be kept in this chapel with in the city of Aksum. There is already one monk in the holy chapel who had been chosen since the age of 7 years to protect and keep the Ark of the Covenant for his whole life, accompanied by armed guards surrounding the chapel outer gate day and night. The barricade begins at the top of the street with a row of 10 swords men standing side by side in the front, completely blocking the path, enforced behind by 2 rows of spear-men poised side by side. Followed by four warriors on horse back wielding swords and lances. And 4 of the finest archers on horseback. Lastly, 2 elephants mounted by warriors armed with swords, daggers, lances and bows and arrows. With practiced precision theses tightly knit barricades were put together just as they had been done it several times in times of peace and war since the days of Negus Ezana more than 200 years ago.2
The archers answered the adversaries’ rain of arrows with their own, striking down eight of the hooded ones. The others decided to flee rather than continue with their attack. Foot soldiers went after them but they were gone almost instantly, as if they had disappeared into the shadows.
They then looked at the bodies of the hooded ones they struck down, but instead of the usual carcasses, they behold a strange, ghastly sight.

Meanwhile, Mekonnen and Afeworqi mount up on brown Arabia horses of the royal guard to pursue the other hooded attackers who headed south for the wilderness towards the Semien Mountains. They ride through the crowded cobbled streets of Aksum; this section with white and beige colored buildings of occupations and trades, workers of arts and crafts, and smiths of iron and precious stones, and vapors of sweet perfumes, enchanting incenses and hot streams all mingled together in the warm atmosphere. Everyone tried to get out of the way of these warriors on steeds in hot pursuit of those who threatened the safety of the Kingdom, who dared attempt to strike down Aksum’s Negust Negusa, The King of Kings.
What a pity.” Mekonnen thinks to himself. Right near the tail end of the glorious three day Timkat festival. At this time the citizens and visitors of Aksum would be preparing to gather for great banquet feasts, followed by praises, singing, dancing, music, jousting and other forms of merry making. The festival will continue after this brief episode of chaos subsides, but at this moment, civilians and strangers retreated indoors and in the shade until it is safe to come out again. The show must go on.

As Mekonnen and Afeworqi rode on the southern ends of Aksumite territory in hot pursuit of the Hooded assassins, they are joined by five more royal guards on horse back. They converged from different directions, from various streets onto the same path with Mekonnen and Afeworqi. Valiant warriors they are, all quite acquainted with the two kinsmen. Their names are Endal, Gedion, Biniyam, Kale’ab, Endubis, Samuel, and Nezana. Endal rides up beside Mekonnen and salutes,
Selamta, my brother! Let us catch these wretched dogs and show them we don’t welcome assassins here, okay!”
Mekonnen replies with zeal, “U-we, Yes, my warrior, for Aksum, for Negus Gebre Meskel!”
And in unison the seven warriors belt out ululations with glistening swords and spears raised up in the air,
Luuloolooolooolooloo!!”

As the hooded strangers take flight they show themselves to be as wise and cunning as serpents. A few stop running and blend in with the crowd, others steal horses and head for the Semien mountains in the south and to the mountains in the north. The warriors assume these villains may have a special place in the forest and hills where they meet and regroup themselves to plan another attack.
As the warriors ride onward, a hooded assassin leaps out of the second story window of one of the buildings along the way, right above Biniyam, alias Bini, as he rode by. Like a creature from the wild, he lets out a ghastly snarl with sword drawn above his head, intending to strike down Bini. But the warrior is quick, as he thrusts the point of his spear into the hooded thing as it comes down on him. The impaled body slams onto Bini, trows him off balance and he loses control of his horse for a moment, but he pushes off the limp body and regains control.
Gedion, alias Gedi, is armed with a large bow and arrows and while riding his horse is able to draw, aim, release and strike down one of the villains who ran ahead on foot. Another one leaps out from another window onto the back of Kale’ab’s horse, grabbing on to him from behind with one hand and drawing a dagger with the other, ready to slit the warrior’s throat. But Kale’ab, alias Kebi, is able to quickly grab onto the arm with the dagger, and uses his elbow to hit his attacker hard in the ribs.
One, two, three, four times Kebi thrusts his elbow backwards into the torso of his assailant but he still wrestles with him. Then the warrior reaches for his curved sword and thrusts the blade into the stomach of his attacker as he then clenches, looses his grip on Kebi, as the body grew lifeless and slides off into the street, getting trampled by the horses behind ridden by the other warrior companions, Nezan, Bini and Gedi. Mekonnen and Afeworqi are still galloping in the lead.
Eventually the seven catch up with four more hooded assassins who were ahead of them on stolen horses. Mekonnen, Afeworqi and Endal are in front and charge on at accelerated speed, urging on their steeds to go faster, “Hyaaah, Hyaaah!” Passersby and camel riders tried to get out of the way of the trotting/galloping madness of royal court guards on horse back in hot pursuit of hooded being of unknown origins.
Then one of the villains spins around quickly to ride backwards and face his pursuant and whips out a bow and fires two arrows in quick successions. One arrow misses hitting no one, the other arrow whizzes by Mekonnen’s left ear as he shifts slightly to the right, but it hits Endubis – alias Endi – , who was just behind him, in his left shoulder. “Ahyy!” crys Endi, wincing in pain. Endal fires back two arrows piercing one villain in the back. Another hood flips around on his horse to ride backwards like the first one and fires off two arrows hitting Afeworqi with one in the chest and the other his horse in the upper right shoulder by its neck. Aferworqi crys out and his horse wines in pain but still keeps riding forward. Mekonnen notices his cousin’s injury and calls out to him, “Afie, are you okay, hold on my brother, hold on there!”
I’m fine…” Afeworq assures Mekonnen but unconvincingly because on the obvious look of pain in his face.
More arrows are fired by the hooded ones and this time Nezan is hit in the thigh, and Endi and his horse were hit again but this time his horse is badly injured in the front leg, sending both horse and rider tumbling down onto the street of tiled flat stones which is at a slight decline at this point. Endi is hurt badly and unconscious on the ground, bleeding from his head and body, his horse neighing and wreathing on the hard ground. Neza was going to continue onward but stops and goes back to help his fallen companion.
Mekonnen rises up on his horse from a sitting position to a standing posture, with his spear in right hand, aims and launches it forward, impaling the second hooded archer in the face, straight into the darkness under the hood. As the hooded rider falls off his horse with the spear in his face, his leg is caught in the horse’s stirrup causing the body to hang over and drag on the left side of the horse, pulling the steed in that direction as it loses balance and tumbles over, tripping three of the four other horses ridden by hooded villains. This incident starts a chain reaction, creating a massive tumbling heap of men and horses, with Mekonnen, Afie and Endal getting tangled up in the heap and falling over as well. But as they fall, Afeworq gets another arrow in the torso, piercing some vital organs. Bini and Gedi manage to escape this massive tumble in the streets of lower south Aksum, but they both turn back to assist their friends, unwittingly leaving one villain to escape down the tiled streets to the south towards the Semien Mountains.
Both men and horses try to raise themselves up from the collision, whipping out swords and daggers from sheaths. Mekonnen, though bruised and in pain, is the first to rise, followed by Endal and Afeworqi, though he his wounded and bleeding with two arrows in his torso, is determined and ready to fight with sharp, curve swords in hand. One of the villains managed to get back up on his stolen horse and ride off speedily down another side street. His two remaining hooded companions are ready to attack the Aksumite warriors with glistening swords in hands.
Mekonnen clashes swords with one of them while the other battles with Afeworqi who barely seems to be able to defend himself, he is losing blood and is failing in strength.
Afeworq! Hey Endal, help him!” exclaims Mekonnen as he battles his opponent in sword play. Endal lounges at Afeworqi’s opponent and swipes with his sword but misses and gets a hard kick from this tall villain who is about 6 cubits high. With the impact, Endal lifts off the ground slightly and tumbles back down.
Mekonnen prevails over his opponent first by jump kicking him with both feet to the chest, then slashing off his right arm at the elbow that held the sword, then off with his hooded head with a swift move of skillful swordsmanship. Afeworqi was not so fortunate; his hooded opponent stabs him in the stomach. But with one last move and ounce of strength left in him, Afeworqi was able to stab upward with his sword through the villain’s chin with the blade coming out the top of his hooded head.
Afeworqi, No!” screams Mekonnen and runs to his cousin, now collapsed to the ground next to his felled horse. Mekonnen pushes off his cousin’s killer and finishes him off by chopping off his head. Then grabs Afeworqi in his arms, Endal looks on in sadness a few yards away.
Afeworqi, come on stay with me, you will be alright!”
I’m sorry Mekonnen, I…don’t think I’m going to make it this time. It is my time to go. Pray that Agzio will find me worthy to enter into Semayat.”
Oh, Afie my brother! I should have been there to save you! Forgive me.”
No, it is not your fault. All… in Agzio’s plan. All in…his…his will.”
Tears begin to well up in Mekonnen’s eyes. He pleads,
No, I’m sorry…I…!”
Good bye, Meko my…brother. See you in Semayat.”
Then Afeworqi breathes his last breath and gave up the ghost. Gone from this life to the Realms of Semayat, the abode of the great Geta Egziabeher, and His faithful Melakt and Qeddusan – Angels and Holy Ones.
Mekonnen leans over in sadness and cries. Endal bows his head down mournfully. The sky begins to become overcast with low gray clouds like they were full of rain. Just then Endal notices something strange and ghastly with the dead bodies of the hooded ones. They became shriveled and chard looking. Not only that, but where their limbs were severed, black snakes were slithering out of them.
Gedi approaches them on foot and exclaims loudly, “Meko look out, Snakes!”
“What sort of vile sorcery is this?!” Mekonnen retorts as they both begin to hastily hack off the heads of the slithering creatures. While swiping at the vipers the rain began to fall.
There, I think we got them all, Mekonnen. The snakes I mean, I think we got them all.” said Endal as he looked down the ally way and street where the other two hooded villains escaped. He looked up at the dark gray clouds, as the sky cried rain drops upon his face.”
Mekonnen, on his knees, still holding Afeworqi, looks up into the same sky, the rain first mingling with then washing away his tears, he whispers,
Why Geta hoy, Oh Lord. Why did this evil come upon us.”
There was no reply but the rains coming down heavier, some nebulous clouds to the south illumines with flashes of lightning. Curious bystanders converge around the four warriors, but they keep their distance. Two middle aged women drew closer to assist the warriors with the body of Afeworqi but Mekonnen insists on picking up his cousin’s limp body in his arms and carrying him back up the cobbled street by himself.

Back in Aksum city a woman is searching and calling out for her child who got separated from her amongst all the madness earlier that evening.
Natanael! Natiii! Where are you Nati? It is time to go home now! Nati?!
It is the same young woman whose son bumped into one of the hooded assassins. The same boy, Natanael is his name, his mother calls him Nati, who saw the darkness under the hood and glowing red, evil eyes, then ran to his mommy for safety. Now this same boy appears to be missing, nowhere to be seem. Unable to respond back to his mother. Perhaps hiding somewhere in a corner to escape the chaos, perhaps hiding under a market food stall. Perhaps he is with family or friends. Perhaps he is lost or stolen, or even worst.
Yet in the midst, amongst the crowd of citizens of Aksum and strangers and merchants from far and wide, there lurks a mysterious individual, a hooded creature, who seems like a normal man on the outside, but on the inside bares a dark soul, as black as night and deep as the Bottomless Pit. Venom seething through its veins, slithering and peeking like a viper with eyes glowing red in the shadows, seeking another opportunity to strike. The thing maneuvers its way through the crowds and detours southwards towards the Semien wilderness and mountains, hoisting a medium sized bag over its left shoulder like a sack of potatoes. There is something in the sack that is moving and squirming. Muffled sounds and faint cries coming from the sack is difficult to decipher what might be in there, whether animal, creature, person or thing. Nobody notices, Nobody knows. It is little Nati bounded in ropes inside that sack.


1I want to use Ge’ez here but I don’t know it yet so I used Tigrinya. Tigrinya and Tigre are supposed to be closer to Ge’ez than Amharic.

2 I made up this military formation on my head that seems plausible after studying a few books of battle formations like Warfare in the Classical World by John Warry (1995) and hints for medieval and fantasy movies that depict ancient warfare. 


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