The Blood Moon was a festival the pagans celebrated to welcome the Demons. It gave strength to the warriors to aid them in their conquests. Stories were told of the brave, their weapons and their prowess. Lucas’s mother had such stories, and she’d share them with him at a very young age, just in case it would the last time they ever spoke, she always treated each day as it were her last. There was no tomorrow in her mind, and her sons were to live in a desolate world where all that was were the aftermaths of war. For some particular reason for Lucas while he starred the evening sky and the moon red moon before him, a story to came to mind.
‘The queen loved her whoring, and she loved her kills. Still, no matter how much fun she was having, there was the one foreign King she loved but he was her enemy, not by choice but by consequence. Love had blinded her as she never retaliated when he came for her fields and when he came for her crops and when he decimated her land. Her kingdom was an extension of herself and their battles were their lovemaking. They painted the skies with their artillery, their lands and seas with the death and the cries of their own people, and after everything, they marvelled at their terrain as if it were their bed in the morning, bathed in flesh and blood, a tapestry of their passion for each other.’
‘What happened then mother?’ a young Lucas would ask.
‘The kingdoms fell Lucas, what else?’ she would end leaving the boys every more confused.
Lucas loved his view from the top, and there he was alone in the evening watching everything. The tower was his command centre, his castle, where he owned everything his eyes could see. He always wondered when his day would come, where he would meet the woman that would do as much as damage to him, so much so it would ruin his kingdom. Did such a woman exist or was the cautionary tale warning him about nothing?
The doors to his chambers opened and two goons dragged a woman on her knees before dropping her flat to the ground. She was weak, tired and her had the worst smelling robe lent to cover her. They removed the sack over her head. For the first time, she could see how the interior of her captor’s palace looked like. She was stunned to see in basked in red light before she turned to notice the sky herself. Lucas signalled them to leave him alone with the prisoner and they obeyed.
She was quivering, her muscles twitched uncontrollably as she tried to sit herself up. Her back was killing her but she needed to look him in the eye. Karin was determined to get back to Rayna, and she was willing to go to hell and back for it.
Lucas knelt down to catch her eye level. ‘You see what happens when you do what you do?’
‘I have been with many men Lucas. You can’t really surprise me there. What I need to know is what you are really planning to do with me,’
‘How bout just the same thing over and over again until you die in that cell,’
‘I thought you were a visionary. Anybody can fuck Lucas, but I can do much more, and you know that,’
‘This is you bargaining?’ Lucas started to laugh maniacally. ‘What do you possibly think you can offer me?’ Lucas turned behind waving his satin robes while he went back to staring at the sky.
He sensed sudden movement from behind, and then felt a sharp metal poking the back of his head. Lucas slowly turned around. A blade was staring at him inches away from his eye. Karin was standing, stiff, filled with a burst or raw vengeful energy.
‘So, this IS you bargaining,’ Lucas joked playfully. He loved those who challenged him and that was the reason why he was so enraptured. His eyes were close together transfixed to the eye of the blade but not a nerve inside him shook with fear.
‘You shouldn’t have killed the donkey.’ Karin warned.
‘The Milk always survive. You know that. There are a whole cult of them, refusing to breed with anyone else. A mixed spawn is considered as evil in their culture. Such backward thinking of race and colourism. Why do you have a thing for her? For a slave kind? For a lesser species?’
‘Because she is nothing but,’
‘Besides good sex, which is what we taught her by the way, she has nothing else. Are you that desperate and lonely that just any Milk will do it for you?’
‘Pretty confident with your words for person with blade about to gauge his eye out,’
‘You are not going to blind me, nor are you going to kill me.’ Lucas relaxed his pupils, his eyes moved apart, turning his gaze to her, ignoring the danger altogether. Karin lowered the blade. ‘Good,’ he continued, ‘stay here and be a whore, or go out there and collect. That’s pretty much it. Fail to collect and you will whore. Fail to whore and you know what happens.’
Karin understood the terms. ‘Fine, take me to The Barn.’
Lucas was pleased with the discussion. ‘Before you go,’ he tilted his head to his bed insinuating sex.
‘Go fuck yourself Lucas.’ She said while she turned back to leave. She flung the blade to the wall where it buried itself deep into the wood. The doors opened for the goons to collect her. Lucas kept eyeing the blade sticking out the wall. ‘Was that a sign of loyalty?’ he thought or ‘was it just a very good act?’
Rayna was not allowed to check the car trunk for supplies. Kim took out some metal plates and metal pot and stirrer. She also gave her some bottled water. ‘There,’ she said, ‘cook!’
Rayna cooked them the warmest meal they have had in very long time. It took Kira back to her sitting in her mother’s kitchen in her space-port when she was little. Kim’s eyes however were fixed to Rayna’s every movement, careful as what she put in her little stew. Kira found a little spot beneath a tree to enjoy her portion. Kim sat over the trunk of the car while she waited, then sometime around waiting for the soup to boil, she got down to open it and grabbed a caged little animal. Just mushrooms and hot soup wasn’t going to be enough for her so Kim decided to add a little meat to the mix. ‘Rabbit?’ Kira asked to confirm nomenclature as she did with most things. ‘Yeah, Rabbit,’ Kim answered before squeezing it while twisting the cute little thing’s neck.
‘Oh God!’ Kira closed her mouth. She observed Kim carefully remove the layers of fur and skin not to taint the meat. ‘That’s what was kicking the car yesterday, and you said nothing,’
‘Fuck off! You can’t stop me from hunting good meat,’
‘I’m not stopping you. Just a word would have been nice,’
‘You’re making this a thing, why are you making this a thing. See, that’s why I didn’t tell you.’ Kim was getting agitated.
Rayna was amused watching the two of them argue like a cute little couple. Still though, she found Kira to be a little strange. The woman looked very nice, and she even complimented Rayna on her cooking, but she kept asking what everything was called. Even just now, she asked if the rabbits were ‘rabbits’.
‘Why do you do that?’ Rayna jumped in, ‘ask these questions? About herbs, mushrooms, rabbits?’
Kira stared back at her inquisitive doe-eyed face, and replied. ‘Well that is because my dear girl, I am an “Alien”,’ she ended with air quotes laughing. Rayna smiled dismissing it as a joke. Kim scoffed. ‘Huh! Sure, throw that at my face,’
Kim was getting very displeased to see how well Kira and Rayna were getting along. She really never liked the Milk kinds, and part of her was envious because this girl was really beautiful for one. Kim really could not find a reason to like less trust their new found friend. Who was this girl? What was she doing in the middle of the woods? Why was she cooking for them and what did she really want?
Rayna caught glimpse of Kim staring at her, trying to figure her out.
‘You don’t still seem to trust me,’
‘Not if I know nothing about you. NO!’
Kira sensed some animosity but she knew she had to be on Kim’s side. Though she always thought of herself as a good judge of character, it was imperative they find out who exactly Rayna was.
‘I am from a village not far from here,’ she started to spin her lie. In her mind, she couldn’t be too careful herself. What if these two women were also marauders, the exact kinds Karin warned her of. ‘We are peaceful, and we don’t like intruders. But then, a group of angry men came and kidnapped us. I was lucky to escape. I made it here alone for a day or two but I honestly just been waiting for a chance to leave so I can rescue them.’
‘Bullshit,’ Kim called out. Rayna flinched.
‘I think she is telling us the truth,’ Kira interjected.
‘No seriously,’ Kira continued, ‘she looks like she has not eaten for days. You must usually get everything handed to you in the village,’
‘Yes,’ Rayna agreed.
‘Then, you must know the forest well,’ Kim replied, ‘mind showing us to the village then? You don’t need to go in. God forbid the “kidnappers” are still there. Just show us! Show us to your Milk village. We desperately need gasoline,’ she hoped to catch her at her lie.
‘Sure. And we’re not all Milks,’ Rayna immediately corrected herself, ‘I mean white skinned.’ Rayna kept her plate down. ‘Come,’ her limber little figure got up and started walking east. Kira appeared puzzled. ‘Wait “Milk” means white skinned? That’s a little racist,’ she exclaimed but Rayna was already far ahead. ‘Wait girl,’ Kira got up in excitement and followed behind while she ushered Kim to tag along who at this point of time was very suspicious about all of this.
‘The Barn’ was a complex outside the main fort, and it was literally a barn where Lucas and his men kept their horses, their cattle, and their slaves. Lucas ran a tight ship and entrusted his lots with the right people whom were all his “generals”. Madam Kriss, a short obese woman who kept things profitable this side of town was his head in the Barn. They sold crops, poultry, drugs and people, and Madam Kriss had an illustrious resume with an ever growing cliental. Her responsibilities were not just to keep her stock at optimum condition though, but also well protected. Though she was hearing whispers that a limp was eyeing for her job, she wanted to see her for herself. Who was this Karin everyone was raving about? Who was this mysterious prisoner that killed Lucas’s men and even had him by the balls?
Karin was shoved from the back. They removed her sack and unbound her, for good this time. The streaks of light piercing through the roof was all too bright for her. She had not seen real day light in days. Still, her mind was only thinking about Rayna. Did someone string her along for a promising ride? Was she dead? Or was she still there in the forest, just waiting patiently for her lover’s return?’
‘How did you lose the leg?’ asked Madam Kriss throwing out a bucket of the yellowest water Karin had ever seen.
Madam Kriss handed her prosthesis, urging her to put it on.
Karin hesitated to reach her hand out at first, but then quickly grabbed it from her to fasten it back on.
‘I heard you like pussy,’
Karin laughed underneath her smile.
‘I’ll have you know you try any stunts with my gals and it’s over for you. I’ll kill you before Lucas even knows about it, and then I’ll just apologize.’
Karin stared back at her. ‘Fine,’ she nodded uninterested in starting a fresh conflict.
‘Good, so day 1 works like any other. Clean the stables, bathe the horses. Tomorrow I’ll show you the fields.’
‘Yes, ma’am’,’ Karin replied with a slight sarcastic undertone. Madam Kriss sensed it but was willing to play along. She was upset that Lucas thought her replaceable, but her devotion to the man had never changed since her first day fifteen ages back. Karin on the other hand was waiting for the right opportunity to slip right out. All she would need was a good horse.
‘Oh by the way, don’t you think of running,’ Madam Kriss spoke as though she knew what was ruminating in Karin’s mind. ‘The stables are centrally located. You pick a horse and run, and you make the sniper’s job a whole lot easier.’
Karin nodded once more, only more serious this time, pretending to have been intimidated.
Rayna creeped up and down, high and low, between trees and bushes, trying to retrace her steps. She was confident she and Karin saw a small group of villagers once; just some kids playing by a waterfall. Karin decided to avoid the place and they ended up taking another path but Rayna had to prove her worth now by hoping she would actually find that village. Her confusion and constant stopping was already alerting her companions and she could see Kim slowly fiddling with her belt and her holster.
She knew it was downhill and near a waterfall. Those were only two clues but she had completely lost her bearings and directional sense. She was also already far away from her markers and tracks. If she was to be separated from the other two now, she would be really lost. Then she heard something; water rushing.
She remembered that sound very well, it woke her up once and Karin brought her to it. She immediately rushed to it. ‘Hey slow down,’ Kira sounded.
Before their eyes, a wide river lay, and to their right, a large waterfall. Clear waters and fish swam and on the opposite side of the river, a huge hairy four legged beast kept dropping its head into the water coming out with fish between its teeth. ‘Oh my God, that’s a bear,’ Kira screamed startling the creature and forcing it to run away.
‘You scared it off,’ Kim retorted. Kira was shocked to see how the bear responded. It wasn’t really what she had learned about bears. ‘Maybe they are pretty tame here.’
‘Well?’ Kim cried out. Rayna responded, ‘be patient,’
‘You don’t know where it is do you?’ and she immediately took out her gun. Rayna panicked and grabbed hold of her thrusting her into the river. Kim sat there dumbfounded, her bottom and feet wet with the occasional splash over her torso. Kira couldn’t believe what had happened.
Kim stood up, the water streaming past her, just 10 inches above her feet. ‘Now why did you do that?’
‘You held your gun at me,’ Rayna defended. ‘I got scared,’
Kira started to laugh. ‘Come on,’ she patted Rayna on the back. ‘Show us your village. My friend is very eager to kill you if you’re lying.’
Rayna smiled, deep down scared to the bone. Kim proceeded to cross the river and Rayna slowly followed. The two other girls got to the other side much ahead of her. They watched Rayna closely as she took her time walking as if she were very careful. ‘You’re acting like it’s the first time you’re seeing water.’ Kim called out.
‘Not this much water,’ Rayna thought to herself, marvelling the sight but still trying to play it cool. She took a wrong step and slipped backward. Her bottom was now wet and cold, and the water stream was also weirdly arousing. Now she knew how that felt and it was oddly fun and exciting. They heard a small cackle from upstream.
‘The kids!’ Rayna thought.
‘What was that sound?’ Kira exclaimed.
‘Village kids!’ Rayna pointed upstream. She saw a few of them running off as soon as Rayna saw them.
‘Kids eh? Surprising how most of you were kidnapped and some still stayed behind,’
‘They hid,’ Rayna quick to answer, ‘quite well.’
Kim started to course the riverbank, watching carefully ahead for more people. Kira slowly followed and Rayna right behind them. Then out of the bushes, clicking guns ambushed them. ‘Fuck, and you wanted to give her chance.’ Kim cursed under her breath.
Kira turned her neck to see where Rayna was. ‘Yep,’ she replied. From behind them, a tall man dressed in nothing but loincloth slowly pushed Rayna forward with his gun barrel and aligned them straight together.
‘Rayna?’ Mind explaining?’ Kira asked.
Rayna looked up to the men standing before them. They spoke a foreign tongue among themselves but she could have sworn they mentioned Karin a few times. ‘Yes!’ she quickly replied. ‘Yes, Karin! Karin!’
They kept speaking among each other, their tones more excited. Soon there was laughter and suddenly all of them lowered their guns.
‘Wow,’ Kim uttered puzzled.
One of them urged them to follow him and the three women obeyed. ‘Come on, my village chief wants to see you,’ Rayna decided to stick to the façade. Kim scoffed but she was still impressed at the girl’s persistence.
They noted the evening sky start to change. As they were welcomed into the village, located against a very beautiful panorama over a cliff, much to Rayna and Kim’s surprise, the village did appear recently ransacked. Everything was in a mess and it looked like people were working hard helping each other to fix up roofs, put their things back together and catch hold of loose birds that Kim called as ‘chicken’ right before she was going to be asked what they were. Some of the villagers just sat looking sad as if they were in mourning.
‘A lot of stuff happened here…painful stuff,’ Kira sighed and walked toward one of the mothers trying to feed her child with a wounded hand. She touched her gracefully and got permission to do it herself.
Rayna was very impressed by that sight. She had never seen someone who looked so endearing and helpful. She knew Kira was nice and maybe a little gullible but not ‘this’ nice. She was beginning to warm up to her and she started to feel guilty for even wanting to steal their stuff earlier.
‘Now that we’re alone,’ Kim drew herself closer to Rayna, ‘don’t think I don’t see what you’re doing here. You don’t know this people, and…’
‘Haah!’ Rayna immediately shouted at a person in front of her hoping it was some sort of a greeting and an elderly gentleman in robes came close with a warm smile. She was hoping it was the village chief and that he would not give her any hostility. He started speaking to her and she nodded at every pause. ‘He wants us to feel welcome,’ she pretended to translate.
‘Ask him something specific. Like do they have gasoline?’
Rayna’s eyes opened wide. ‘SPEAK?’ she thought. ‘Damn it,’ she cursed under her breath.
‘Excuse me?’ Kim urged a little more. Rayna then opened her mouth wide to utter any gibberish that would escape her mouth first only to get distracted by what was going on around her.
The sky grew angry red, and the moon was even redder. The people all rushed to centre and started to look at the sky. ‘Lalalala lalalala,’ they started chanting together. Rayna was confused but then noticed Kim frowning at her. She then started chanting the same thing, ‘Lalalala lalalalala.’
Kim grabbed her by the shoulder, ‘What?’ Rayna paid her no attention but kept looking at the sky chanting.
Kira gently placed the plate of rice back on to ground. She got up and starred at the west and there it was, in all its glory, a huge rock almost identical to theirs facing them from the skies, almost taking up one-eighth of the view. ‘Wow!’
‘People act like they never seen an eclipse before right?’ Kim walked up to her pretending to be smart.
‘It’s gorgeous. I wouldn’t be surprised if people made stories about it,’ Kira uttered.
‘They have! That right there is known as the foreign King.’ Rayna walked up to side as well, all three of them admiring the scenery while a sombre chant embellished the atmosphere.
‘Let me guess,’ Kim now even more impressed with Rayna still holding on her little lie, ‘the village chief told you that.’
‘Uh-huh!’ she cutely exclaimed.
There were minutes of still silence among them, each in their thoughts, marvelled.