Short Stories, Tale Africa

The Maiden of Spear and Shield (3)

 By Samuel S. Bunnya, Uganda

Nambi placed her hands at the side of her body and jumped into the hole. She slid down until she came out in a dark tunnel. Luckily, she still had her Zaabu anklet that provided enough light. Nambi undid it and put it on her arm. By the time she had fastened it to her wrist, Naki had arrived. Her necklace shone in the dark.

“Nabirye told me to give these to you just in case.” Naki handed Nambi a pair of javelins and one Zaabu long knife.

“I wonder if I still know how to use these things,” Nambi mused as she placed them under the kaftan.

“It is just like swimming Nambi,” Naki said. “Just because we are rarely on the frontlines does not mean we know nothing about the warrior ways.”

“And we had the best teachers,” Nambi finished.

“Well come on, Nabirye insists we be back before evening.”

The two women walked forward in the tunnel using the Zaabu necklace and anklet as a source of light. The walls were cracked and veins of gold, zinc and copper were every where in the tunnel. They surrounded the massive Zaabu veins that snaked their way through the entire kingdom. The sound of their steps was all they could hear for miles and Nambi could feel the soft breeze that was whispering through the tunnel. Her teeth chattered as they got closer to the exit of the cave. The heavy rushing sound of water crushing against rocks was all about them.

We are near the Bujagali.

They were soon out at the end of the tunnel. The Bujagali was right in front of them. Nambi pulled out the strange device and searched for her brother’s name on the map. It was not far from where they were. Naki pulled off the bark cloth on her head and cut it in half. She gave one half to Nambi.

“Best cover our faces with this.”

Nambi tied it quickly round her face. She knew the path that they had to take to reach where Lumbe was. Nambi and Naki walked around the falls.  Soon they turned off on a small dirt path hidden by thick foliage and followed it upwards towards the place the falls came crashing down the earth. They had climbed through a narrow crevice that came out into an open space. At the other side of the space was a cave opening.

Nambi and Naki quickly found shelter in some of the small bushes along the edges of the opening. There were three Kitaran men standing with their spears. They guarded a cart filled with some strange plants. Nambi watched as her brother Lumbe came out of the cave with a strange white man.

“What is the meaning of this?” Naki asked in a hushed whisper.

Treason. “I don’t know yet.”

Nambi looked at the white man. She had seen his face in one of the reports of the Intelligence Ministry. Nambi remembered something that Kunda had told about the Zaabu anklets. They were super computers in a small form and could identify someone as long as they captured a picture of the person.

She raised her wrist where she had placed the anklet and touched it along its side. She watched as the Zaabu shone brightly and a small hologram of a white man with his name appeared.

“Henry Morton Stanley.” Naki had alarm written into her face.

“The white devil of Masai,” Nambi whispered. “What is he doing with my brother?”

Henry Morton Stanley was the exact replica of the hologram on a Zaabu bracelet. He had a short crop of dark hair with strands of grey and a thick moustache over his thin pink lips. The way that his moustache and lips were formed made Stanley appear like a grumpy fool. His pale skin was pasted with dirt and dust. Nambi and Naki exchanged looks of horror as they caught the conversation.

“I will make sure that the border patrols ingest this,” Lumbe said.

“It is a very strong toxin.” Henry Stanley said.

“We know how you used this in China mister Stanley.” Lumbe had no remorse in his voice.

“You Kitarans have hidden a lot from the world,” Henry Stanley said in surprise.

“Yes.” Lumbe touched the herb.

Nambi had never seen such a plant in Kitara. She turned to Naki who shook her head as well. The plant looked more like a herb. From what she could estimate, it was about thirty-nine inches tall. Its greyish-green appearance frightened Nambi. She had never seen any plant in Kitara like what her brother held.

“It is very addictive so those warriors that take it might always wish to take it,” Henry Stanley stated.

“Do you think that we cannot deal with the effects of a puny plant like this?”

Henry Stanley observed Lumbe curiously. “You are a very proud man.”

“Yes I am.”

“Pride will bring you down the same way you seek to bring down the king you serve,” Henry Stanley continued.

“Kunda is just a foolish traditional man,” Lumbe snapped.

“Is that why you wish to bring more trade and interaction with us?” Henry Stanley’s face was veiled of emotion.

“We must stop this,” observed Naki.

“How?”

“Destroy the plant,” Naki hissed.

Nambi knew that there was no other way. They had to destroy it. They had to be clever about how they did it, otherwise things would fall apart. She knew that her brother was a traitor to Kitara. He was no longer thinking for the good of their people. All he wanted was power and nothing else. Nambi had to protect the people of Kitara. Even if it meant bringing death to her family, Nambi had to protect the realm.

“We need to let the king know,” Nambi whispered.

“Well, Nabirye told me something about that map in your hands,” Naki said with a smile. “She says it can send a communication to Bunya.”

“Did she tell you how it can work?” asked Nambi.

“Yes.”

Naki took the map from Nambi. She felt round the sides of the map. Something clicked and the Zaabu in the map started to glow. Suddenly the map shifted to somewhere in Ganda. A small hologram appeared. There was no one in the hologram.

“Now what?” Nambi asked.

“I don’t know,” Naki admitted.

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