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The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) - Literature (2) - Nairaland

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Peaceyw(m): 12:51pm On Mar 04
Damn, this is so interesting. Those upsecs have a lot of rules ooo, patiently waiting for next update. I am still wondering what other rules they will have, hope it won't be too harsh.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:40am On Mar 06
@GeoSilYe yay!

@tunjilomo there's definitely some more twists to come in Nebud's life

@Fazemood thank you! I'm so happy you like it.

@Peaceyw shocked You think so? Yay! Is it a little easier to understand now (easier than the first posts)?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Peaceyw(m): 10:42am On Mar 06
@obehiD yes, I think so
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:12am On Mar 09
Part 6
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A white glow filled the room, illuminating the canoe. I bent my head, my fascinated gaze fixing on the odd contraption from which the light came. But I did not move towards it, certainly not close enough to see how the artificial light was created. I stayed far away from the center table where the contraption was.

My heart pounded in my chest. I tried to hide the shivering, the signs of my fear, as I watched the bustling imps moving all around the canoe. I saw two doors in front of me, on the other side of the table. One imp came running out of one of those doors. The imp wore the same simple tunic as the ones above. It ran towards the left of the room, towards a curtain which covered the front of the canoe.

I watched as it pulled back the curtain, exposing two new imps, and the paddles which controlled the canoe. The curtain was drawn, and I was shut out again. I stayed where I was, at the base of the stairs which had led me down into the heart of the canoe. The imps cleaned the table, raising up the light-source. Then they moved into one of the rooms behind the closed doors and I was left alone.

I heard buzzing sounds coming from the light-source. Those sounds pulled my attention, drawing my focus long enough to distract me from my own nervousness. I welcomed the distraction, drawing closer towards the source. I was a few steps away from the table when the sounds of loud steps pulled my attention away.

I spun, my heart racing as I watched the noble one descend into the canoe. It walked distractedly, its gaze fixed above it as it came down the stairs. Then it stopped when it reached the bottom, its eyes darting around. All six of those eyes fixed on me.

Its eyes remained fixed on me.

It couldn’t have been more than a second which it spent looking at me, but it was the longest second of my life. There was an air of power around the noble one, it was power the likes of which I had never seen before. It felt as if it only had to snap its fingers and I would be dead. As if life itself bent to its will. I held my breath as it stared, and sagged in relief when its eyes finally darted away.

“Patrick!” It snapped. Its feral voice filling the bottom of the canoe.

The imps came running out of the room. They backed away from the noble one, standing a good distance away, and then bowed their heads in silence. Then the curtain at the front of the canoe was pulled back and the imp who’d walked in earlier, walked out. It drew the curtain behind it and walked over to face the noble one.

The imp stopped before the noble one and bowed. “Yes master.”

“We go to Fajahromo.” The noble one ordered.

“As you wish master.” The imp replied. “Shall I have food or drink brought to your room?”

The noble one shook its head curtly. “There will be no dallying. We will go by quicksand.”

“As you wish master. And your guest?” the imp’s empty eye sockets turned to me.

The noble one frowned. “Guest?” It asked, confused.

The imp inclined its head towards me.

The noble one turned. Its eyes glanced over in my direction and then returned to the imp. “That is de trop you fool. It is not a guest.” After saying that, the noble one walked into one of the rooms on the other side of the table. It slammed the door behind it.

The imp it had spoken to whispered hushed words to the other imps around it and then it returned to the area behind the curtain. The other imps broke up. Some of them followed the first imp behind the curtain, the rest went into the other room. The curtain twitched and an imp walked out of it. It walked passed me, not acknowledging my presence as it went on its way to the stairs. It walked halfway up and then stretched its hand upwards to cover the opening to the bottom of the canoe. Then it walked towards the room the noble one had gone into and knocked on the door.

“Come.” A growl came from behind the door. The imp walked in.

I started to relax once I was alone. A million questions floated around in my head. But as nervous as I was to face the great one, I looked forward to seeing a metropolis. Like every other de trop, I had never been out of my slum. In a single day I had seen more great uspecs than all the other de trop combined. I was sure of it. Just as my mind began picturing the big metropolis, the steady ground on which I had stood began to shake.

I fell on my tail on the hard-wooden floor.

The shaking got even more vigorous. I found myself sliding across the floor with each tremor the vehicle made. The canoe tilted downwards and I was sent tumbling towards the front of the canoe. Then it tipped up, and I rolled to the back. My body slammed against the staircase. I cringed from the pain. The canoe continued to tip upwards, as if it was soaring higher, above the sludge. Then it moved forward and came to a stop.

The door to the noble one’s room opened.

I jumped to my feet, my body aching as I desperately tried to hide my exertions from the tumultuous movement of the canoe. The imp came out and held the door open for the noble one. The other imps came out of the second room. They ran towards me, and then up the stairs. Hurriedly, they pulled the beams back, opening the canoe.

From the imps’ ministrations I could tell that we had arrived, but that fact was accompanied by a rather high degree of impossibility in my perplexed brain. I could not imagine how we could travel so quickly from the slums to the metropolis. Then I remembered the noble one’s order to travel by quicksand and it made sense. We had teleported. It was the magic of the hooni spectrum. Just thinking about the hooni spectrum reminded me of my neck scales and the execution that awaited once the great one discovered I was irira. Of their own accord, my fingers rose to my neck, gently stroking the neck scales. I couldn’t hide them anymore than I could hide my tail.

The noble one stormed out of its room.

My heart raced when it stopped at the base of the stairs and stared at me. “Come.” It barked out, before walking up the stairs and out of the canoe.

Warily, I walked after the uspec, my feet shaking as I prepared to face the great undead. I climbed the steps, taking them one at a time, as my curious eyes rose above me. As terrified as I was to meet the great undead, I was eager to soak up my first view of a metropolis.

I stepped out of the canoe and stood on its wooden covering.

----------------------------------------------------------
In the first burg in the second metropolis of Hakute
----------------------------------------------------------

My mouth parted as I studied the area.

It was a completely enclosed space. The walls were covered with a thick red material which seemed to have the unbelievable ability to produce light. This material let out a soft pink glow, lighting the area in which I stood. The pink hue which emanated from the material reminded me of the liquid in the okun in my slum.

I looked down.

The canoe had docked in the oddest sludge I had ever seen. The liquid in the ground was a much lighter shade of brown than the thick mud that I had grown used to. The liquid seemed light enough to swim through, but not as light as the okun, not light enough to drink. It baffled me to see.

“Excuse me, de trop.” A voice called out from behind me.

I froze.

A wave of anger rose in me so hard and fast, I thought I might stumble from the force of it. My hands trembled by my side and my jaw clenched.

“De trop.” The voice called out behind me. “Excu…”

The imp did not get to finish that statement. I turned around and slapped it so hard the imp fell. It lost its foothold on the top of the stairs and dropped, landing on the hard floor in the bottom of the canoe. In a blind rage, I made to follow it.

Suddenly, red fog surrounded me.

It enclosed me. The fog seemed to suck out all the air around me. I could not breathe from within it. I choked, gasping for air as I felt the life drain out of me. It was as if the fog had reached into me and was pulling out my life force, as if it was killing me. I tried to breathe, to fight against the fog’s powers, but my struggles were futile. I felt drops of blood seep out from my nose as my heart beat slowed.

And then it was gone.

The fog left, just as mysteriously as it had appeared. I dropped to my knees on the hard floor of the upper deck of the canoe. I inhaled, filling my deprived lungs as fully as I could. My hands landed on the ground as I tried to reorient myself. I breathed, panting as I did.

A hand clamped onto my shoulder and pulled, dragging me to my feet before I was ready to rise. The hand remained, holding me steady long enough for my legs to stop shaking and firm up underneath me. Then the hand went away. I followed the hand back to its owner.

The noble one was displeased. “You do not have permission to touch my slave.” It said. “Do you understand me, de trop?”

I shivered.

We heard a lot about understandings from the traders’ stories and so we knew that spectral magic existed and that it was a great thing, but I had never had spectral magic used on me. Now that my mind was clear and I could think back on what had happened, I knew that the noble one must have used its magic to alter my lifeforce. It was a type of magic gained from the understanding in the eyes of the boga spectrum. It was an understanding which allowed its owner to control the fogs. That was the magic that kept de trops walled up in our slums, knowing that if we crossed into the border-fogs we would die.

“It called me de trop.” My voice was small and weak, but even in my fear, I could not let the imp’s insult go unanswered. I knew that I was de trop, but for an imp, a slave to call me that, it was unthinkable.

“You are de trop.” The noble one snapped. Its eyes darted over me, sizing me up in an unnerving manner, and then its gaze stopped on my neck. It looked at my neck for long enough to let me know that it was not unaware of the scales that existed there, and what those scales revealed me to be. “You are less than de trop. Do not touch my slave again. Do you understand me?”

I felt another bout of rage, but this one was tempered. Where my anger at the imp had been a fierce onslaught, this one was a dull ache which built slowly in me. It was an anger without rashness, one that allowed for reason. My jaw clenched, but I forced the words out, “yes, noble one, I understand you.”

“Come.” It ordered.

Then it turned around and walked off the canoe, and I followed, all the while burning with a sense of indignation which I had no right to but clutched like a balm to salve my battered ego. The oddest urge rose in me. It was an urge so alien it shook me, and a desire so unattainable I quickly chased it away. But in that single moment, when the urge had been born, I was filled with a thirst to make the uspec pay. And in that single moment, there was a part of me that felt strong enough to do it. That thought scared me, just as it had scared me to own a feather more dazzling than the noble one’s. It scared me because it raised the possibility that I was more than I knew.

I pushed down the crazy thoughts and walked behind the noble one. I watched a little dazed as the noble one stepped off the canoe and walked, or rather fell, into the light liquid. The liquid swallowed it up.

I blinked.

Then I followed it. I took a step off the canoe and fell into the liquid. It wasn’t until the liquid pulled me in that I realized it was quicksand, and that I was being teleported.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:14am On Mar 09
Part 7
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The quicksand brought me to another enclosed area. This one was much smaller, and the ground was soft and formed around my feet, as it had in the slum after the imps used magic on it. I stood behind the noble one and watched the impatient tapping of its foot.

There were three sets of curtains around us, and a hard wall behind us. The curtains to the left and right were pulled back as four imps, two carrying bowls the other two holding cloths, came running out of them. These imps were like the osin which had come to our village. Their eyes remained in their faces and their skins were free of streaks. They wore beautiful colored clothing like the one the osin had worn. The clothing was in two pieces which covered their tops and bottoms separately.

The four imps stopped around the noble one and cleaned it. They wiped the brown streaks caused by the quicksand off it. Then they moved backwards to me and repeated the motions. They wiped me clean using a scented liquid and a soft towel. When they were done, they left, going back through the curtains to the left and right of where we stood.

The thick blue curtain in front of us was pulled back then. Another imp stood to the side, holding the curtain back so that the noble one could walk through. I noticed that this imp wore only clothing covering its bottom half and it had the black streaks and eyeless sockets of the imps who’d used spectral magic in my slum.

I walked in after the noble one.

I stopped, staring at the largest hovel I had ever seen. This living space looked so much grander than anything that the traders described. They had mentioned mansions and great houses where the greatest uspecs resided, but I could not have imagined this if they had described each feature in detail.

The room was circular with notches built into the walls, which held white light sources like the one in the noble one’s canoe. There were colored carvings done into the wall which seemed to tell stories I had never heard before. A long semi-circular table covered the right end of the room and on that table there was an assortment of food and drinks the likes of which I had never seen. A mixture of eyed and eyeless imps stood around that table in varying levels of UnCloth.

In the middle of the room there was a small okun with shimmering pink liquid. The liquid in the okun was so much cleaner than that in my slum. And around the okun there were four long beds. The beds were shaped very differently from the beds in my slum. These beds were covered with a type of foamy material and had cylindrical rests at one end. Two uspecs reclined on two of those beds. They lay on their sides with their arms on the cylindrical rests while they held grey cups and laughed.

The uspecs’ attentions were fixed on two Unclad imps strutting around in front of them. The imps jumped and kicked their legs in the air, before landing back on their feet and making some gyration motions with their arms. I did not know what the imps were doing.

I took my eye off them to continue my perusal of the room.

I was so obsessed with studying the room that it took me minutes to realize how cold it was. It was a very strange sensation. I was not used to cool air. The foggy air in the slum was hot and clammy. It clung to the skin, while the air in the room seemed to just drift by, sharing its coolness with me. I did not know how such cool air was possible, just as I did not know how such a clean okun was possible.

I realized that there was much I did not know.

“Domax!” one of the reclining uspecs screamed, its gaze fixed on the noble one. It stood up and smiled, and I was shocked when I saw it. The uspec was taller than the noble one, but it was missing two of its outer eyes. It was not the uspec’s physical appearance which stunned me as in that day alone, I had seen greater looking uspecs. It was the clothes. That was the first time I had ever seen an uspec wearing clothes. I could not believe it. The uspec wore black clothing covering its chest, and nothing below its waist. There were three golden bands on each of its arms. I looked at the bands, but my eye darted back to the clothes. I could not believe that an uspec would wear such.

The noble one bowed slightly to this uspec. I stared shocked, imagining how great this new uspec must be for the proud noble one to bow to it. “Salutations Fajahromo.” The noble one greeted.

“Salutations my friend!” the other uspec smiled. It walked over to the uspec still reclining on the bed and poked it with its knee. “We have a guest Raban.” It said, its voice slightly scolding.

The uspec rose its head up long enough for me to see that it only had two of its outer eyes filled. Then it dropped its head back without speaking.

“Salutations Raban.” The noble one greeted.

The reclining uspec grunted and the standing uspec laughed cheerfully. “Come Domax, join our party!” The uspec’s head tilted to the Unclad imps doing strange things as it said, “we are watching what the umanis call dancing.”

The reclining uspec burst out laughing. There was something amiss in the laughter. I could not place it, having never heard anything like it, but it was a sound that left me feeling disturbed.

“No, but please accept my gratitude for the invitation. I must not dally.”

The uspec walked closer. It stopped by the dancing imps and whispered something to them. The imps stopped their movements, bowed and left the room.

“No!” the reclining uspec whined. “Noooooo!” It dragged the word out as if in pain. “No! No! No! No…”

“Raban.” The standing uspec snapped, cutting the other uspec off.

The reclining uspec whimpered and then began to whisper to itself, mumbling loud enough to be heard, but not too loud to be spoken over. The other uspec ignored it, speaking over it as it walked closer to the noble one. “That is right.” It said. “I heard rumors that my progenitor sent you to a slum to avenge its osin.”

I gaped as I realized who the uspec was. I should have known from the name, Fajahromo, Fajahr – omo, child of Fajahr. This was the offspring of the great undead, the duke of the second metropolis of Hakute.

The noble one nodded and then its head turned to me. That was the first time that the uspec realized that the noble one hadn’t come alone. Fajahromo looked at me and smiled. It was a warm smile of friendship. I did not know why such a great uspec would want to be friends with me, but I couldn’t stop myself from smiling slightly back at it.

“A gift.” The noble one said. “I know how much you…desire uspecs such as this.” The noble one paused. “Perhaps this will settle my debt?”

Fajahromo’s eyes remained on me. It walked closer and studied me. There was so much cunning in those eyes. Its gaze racked over my body and I felt myself stiffen in defense as if to protect myself from an unknown evil. I could tell there was more to this uspec than the friendly mask it wore.

Smiling it asked, “What is your name my friend?”

I was shocked that it would call me friend.

“You can see what it is.” The noble one’s voice lowered. “It is de trop, it is an irira de trop. You can call it whatever you want, and if its smart, it will be grateful to you for keeping it alive.”

Fajahromo ignored the noble one. “What is your name my friend?” it asked again.

“Nebud, sirga.” I replied, adding the ‘sirga’ tittle which was the generic honorific for all higher born uspecs.

“Salutations Nebud. Welcome to my home.” Its warm smile never wavered.

“Salutations sirga. I am grateful.” I replied nodding.

Fajahromo’s smiling face turned to the noble one. “Of course your debt is settled my friend. We should drink and jubilate.”

The noble one shook its head. “I must return to the great one.” It said.

Fajahromo paused. “I assume the great one’s troops saw you take Nebud. What will you say when my progenitor demands the uspec?”

“It is irira. I will say it was a grave sin to let it live and I could not suffer the founder’s wrath. I will say I killed it. My imps will bear witness.”

“My progenitor thinks so much of the imps it may just listen to them. I would never take an imp’s word. But the founder’s grace be with you my friend.” Fajahromo said.

The noble one nodded. “The founder’s grace be with you Fajahromo.” It turned, gave me one last condescending look and then it began to walk away. It stopped midway through the curtain an imp held open and turned around to say, “be careful with that one, it hates imps.” And then it left.

I was stunned. I didn’t hate imps, I just expected them to know their place.

Fajahromo laughed. It warded me towards the center of the room and gestured for me to take the bed closest to the one it had been resting on. Then it reclined on its bed and I sat stiffly on mine, not knowing what to do or say. I was all too aware of the uspec’s scrutinizing gaze on me. I wasn’t sure what was expected of me, so I just remained as I was and let it have its look.

The other uspec said, “who?” in a loud screeching voice that made me jump.

Fajahromo chuckled. “A friend Raban.” It said. “Its name is Nebud.”

The other uspec, Raban, looked away uninterested.

I was close enough now to see the uspec, Raban’s, form. Raban seemed about as tall as Fajahromo. It had four golden bands on each of its arms. I wished then that I knew what those golden bands stood for, so that I could tell how great the uspec Raban was.

“Kyrie.” Fajahromo called.

An imp with its eyes removed and black streaks on its skin came forward. The imp wore two sets of clothing. “Yes master.” It said, kneeling by Fajahromo’s bed.

“Bring food and drink for my guest.” It ordered.

“Yes master.” The imp rose and walked over to me. It knelt by me and asked, “what shall I bring you domina?”

My chest swelled as the imp knelt by my feet and called me domina. I had never been called that before. It was an honorific given to ‘important’ uspecs. An imp would only call its master ‘master’, and it would call every other important uspec domina.

My gaze rose to meet Fajahromo’s. I did not know of any other meal except for the jeja stews we made in the slum. I couldn’t begin to imagine what manner of delicacies this great uspec would have.

As if sensing my distress Fajahromo ordered, “make it a tray Kyrie.”

The imp nodded and rose. “As you wish master.” It said before leaving.

“Friend. Friend.” Raban chuckled as its gaze turned to me. It laughed aloud suddenly, and I frowned at it. There was something off about the uspec. Raban just continued laughing and drawling “friend, friend” in a singing tone.

With nothing else to do, I retreated into my mind and thought about the events of the day. In hours my fate had shifted from sure death in the okun, to almost sure execution by a duke, and then now complete uncertainty as I sat in the duke’s offspring’s home. The noble one’s words echoed in my head hauntingly. It had said that Fajahromo desired uspecs like me. What did that mean? Did it desire de trop uspecs or irira uspecs? Neither of those seemed like a good thing. I couldn’t think of a single reason why an uspec would desire unwanted ones or abominations.

An imp stopped in front of me. It placed a short stool by my legs and walked back. Two more imps came forward. One carried a large plate filled with a variety of things I had never seen before. It put the plate down on the stool and stepped back, making way for the last one, which carried a decanter filled with a strange purple liquid and a cup. The imp poured some of the purple liquid into the cup and left the decanter on the stool.

It was in staring at the food that I realized I was hungry, famished even. I turned to look uncertainly at my host. I didn’t know what the custom was for eating in the presence of great uspecs.

Fajahromo smiled and its eyes lit. “Eat.” It said.

I bowed slightly to it. “Gratitude sirga.” I said. Then I turned my focus to the plate and wondered what to start with. There were orange round things, long black pipe things, white square things, and some oddities in irregular shapes and having colors I could not place. I reached for a white square and warily put into my mouth.

I must have groaned because Fajahromo burst out laughing.

I was too delighted by the food to be embarrassed. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten. I reached for another thing and was equally delighted. My face filled with a smile as I ravenously gobbled every item on the plate. Tastes that I had never known existed flooded my mouth and every new bite felt like a trip to a foreign paradise. I was sad to see the plate empty. I reached for the cup and took a sip of the drink. It was as if an orchard filled with a variety of fruit had sacrificed its wares for my benefit. I gulped down the rest of the drink in my cup.

“So, Nebud my friend, tell us about life in the slum.” Fajahromo ordered.

Raban’s head rose. “In the slum?” it shrieked.

“Yes Raban. Our friend Nebud is from a slum.”

“De trop!” Raban squealed excitedly. It was the first time I had ever seen anyone that animated at the mention of an unwanted uspec. “De trop!” it clapped its hands and smiled. “De trop!”

“Shhh Raban, let Nebud tell its story.”

I turned to Fajahromo and did as it ordered.

I told my story.

It wasn’t much of a story. But I tried to read them as I told it and so I spent long moments on the things that made them laugh, like some of the more lavish stories the traders told, or the way it felt to step in sludge. It astounded them that there were parts of the spectral existence still covered in sludge. I told them about our hovels and the simple life we lived filled with jeja stews. And they appeared sympathetic for me. I learnt from them that there were actually spectrums that considered our jejas to be a delicacy. We all laughed at that thought.

My story continued, from the day to day of my boring life in the slum, until finally I reached the fateful day that had changed everything for me. It wasn’t news to them that I was irira, and so I did not feel the need to hide it. I told them how I’d been sentenced to death and how the noble one saved me. They laughed when I described the delights that the day had revealed. Like the variety of imps, the great uspecs who could fly, the noble undead, the canoe and themselves.

I spoke for so long that I even surprised myself. I had never spoken that long before, and I had never had anyone listen to me as Fajahromo did. It was a strange feeling, but as I spoke to it, I felt as if I truly were what it called me, a friend. Raban laughed and injected some riotous comments every so often, but I could tell it was listening and that made me happy. It made me happy to capture their attentions so fully.

We must have talked for hours about life in the slum.

When we finally stopped talking, Raban was already asleep. Fajahromo and I continued speaking. It asked for more details about the imp I had molested and the eye I had taken, and I supplied it with all the information it wanted. It wasn’t long before my discomfort eased completely and I was lounging on the bed, as Fajahromo did, and laughing with the uspec as if I were its peer.

It felt nice to have Fajahromo as a friend.

Then Fajahromo slowly drifted off, and I found myself lying comfortably on the bed. I knew that I would live and that it was due to the debt the noble one owed Fajahromo. It was a thought that brought me much joy and relief.

As I slowly drifted off into sleep, I dreamt of the great life I would have as a friend of Fajahromo, the duke’s offspring. I could already see my ailerons filling and flourishing. I could see my outer eyes filled. I was so in awe of this new uspec, that I imagined myself wearing clothing as it did. I owed my life to this uspec and in my heart I swore it my loyalty. What a great friend Fajahromo would be, I thought as my mind went dark.

I heard the splash of liquid as a foot walked into the okun.

The sound woke me up.

My eye fixed on Kyrie as it knelt by its master and shook it. I did not move, I did nothing to show that I was awake. I just watched in silence.

Fajahromo woke up and turned its eyes to the imp. “What is it?” It asked.

“I just got word master, your progenitor is on its way here.” Kyrie replied.

Fajahromo jumped up.

“Have a portal prepared and fetch me a change of clothes.” It ordered.

“As you wish master. Where will you be going?”

“I’d hoped to delay this by a few more days, but I must take the de trop imp to the pits now. My progenitor cannot see it here. Hurry!”

I froze.

Will the twists and turns of my life never cease?

My friend, Fajahromo, planned to take me to the pits. The pits. Just thinking of it made me shiver. The pits were where irira went to die. Death in the okun would have been kinder than the pits.

3 Likes

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Peaceyw(m): 11:21am On Mar 09
Wow, another masterpiece, I was just smiling sheepishly when I was reading the story. Waiting for next update.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by phoenixchap: 11:23am On Mar 09
Patiently following..
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by monalicious(f): 7:23pm On Mar 10
Hi obehid
This is another interesting story
Thanks for d mention
Although I miss my osezele
But I'm really looking forward to this one
What's happening na, no updates for over 2 weeks
We are waiting oh. Thanks.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 5:33am On Mar 11
@Peaceyw thanks. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. I can't lie, a lot of the time I smile sheepishly as I write this story grin

@phoenixchap thank you for being so patient about following cheesy grin

@monalicious Thank you, glad you like it. shocked but I've posted 4 chapters over the last two weeks. I posted 2 the Saturday before last and 2 two days ago.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by monalicious(f): 7:12am On Mar 12
obehiD:
@Peaceyw thanks. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. I can't lie, a lot of the time I smile sheepishly as I write this story grin

@phoenixchap thank you for being so patient about following cheesy grin

@monalicious Thank you, glad you like it. shocked but I've posted 4 chapters over the last two weeks. I posted 2 the Saturday before last and 2 two days ago.

I haven't been getting notifications oh. Sorry, my bad. Lemme quick quick go n check it

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 10:25am On Mar 12
Nice work Obehid, Nebud story I can guess has a lot of twists and turns before we get to the destination. smileyNice work sweetheart.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 8:16pm On Mar 12
I just wish someone could see me laughing now. Nebud, see ya life.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by monalicious(f): 9:51pm On Mar 12
Just caught up. Now I can't help but scream more more more more more. Nice work obehid. Ur level of imagination is unimaginable.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:30am On Mar 14
@Fazemood Thank you. Yes, Nebud's story has a bit of twists and turns, but I'm really trying to get us to the destination faster than the previous books. Let's see how well that goes.

@tunjilomo lol!

@monalicious I like that 'unimaginable imagination'. Thank you!!! grin
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 5:34am On Mar 16
Part 8
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I lay still on the soft bed, my mind whirling as my heart pounded in my chest and my eye stayed locked on Fajahromo.

The pits.

I had never been more despondent in my entire life. As I lay on my bed, every dream I’d had over the past few days came crashing down. It became painstakingly clear that I would never be all that I dreamed to be. I would never see my ailerons covered fully with dazzling feathers. I would never gain an outer-eye, never get an understanding and never use spectral magic. I would never own an imp slave. I would die as de trop. Worst than that, I would die as a nameless de trop amidst the riotous cries of a frenzied mob.

I was so engrossed in my thoughts of the death that awaited me in the pits, that my mind acted slower than usual. My mind was so slow in fact that I missed the return of the imp slave Kyrie. I missed Fajahromo taking of its shirt. But I wasn’t distracted enough to miss the sight of the uspec’s chest.

I gasped.

Fajahromo swiveled. Its eyes locked on mine and for a second, I feared I saw a glimpse of the real uspec behind the guise of Fajahromo the friend. That uspec was cruel. There was murder in the uspec’s eyes, murder and all sorts of unimaginable savagery. Then Fajahromo returned, and the cruelty left its eyes.

It smiled.

There was something about that smile which left me feeling chilled. I imagined it had to do with how quickly Fajahromo’s face had changed. In the blink of an eye, the uspec had gone from fiend back to friend.

I shivered a little.

“You are awake my friend.” Fajahromo’s tone was light, a little teasing.

I swallowed nervously, my eye still fixed on its unclothed chest, then I nodded. I took a deep breath and sat up. My heart thumped against my chest. This time the beating of my heart followed a more orderly rhythm. Perhaps I had finally accepted my fate. I knew I would die. How could the uspec let me live after what I’d seen?

Fajahromo, its gaze never leaving mine, spread out its arms and let the slave clothe it. “You see why I call you friend?” it asked, a smile on its lips.

I swallowed and nodded.

Fajahromo turned so that the slave could fix the pieces of the cloth together, and my gaze fell on the uspec’s tail. It was a tail fully grown. The end twitched a little, but it remained on the ground. I took my attention to the ailerons and noticed that those were also mostly filled. The feathers were not as dazzling as mine, but that was of no consequence to me, not in the face of what I’d seen on that chest.

The slave’s work done, Fajahromo turned back to face me. It watched me for a while, its gaze pensive, but the smile never left its face. Then it said, “rise my friend. We must go.”

An awful thought crossed my mind at that moment, and I was so terrified of the prospect of the pits that I almost did it. I almost blackmailed the great uspec. I knew what I’d seen, and the uspec knew as well. I knew what it was, I knew that it was just like me.

I knew that it was irira.

When the uspec had taken its shirt off, it had revealed a chest and back filled with cyan spikes. Those spikes where the distinct feature of the boga spectrum. The boga spectrum eyes could give an uspec the understanding of fogs. It was the understanding which the noble one had used on me earlier, it was an understanding which could give an uspec the power to use spectral magic to take another creature’s life. The spikes on Fajahromo’s upper body, combined with the tail, showed that it was a crossbreed, a kute-boga crossbreed. An irira, an abomination just like me.

And so I thought to blackmail it, to threaten to expose its secret if it took me to the pits. To tell the world that it was irira. I didn’t have to ponder on the idea for long to realize that it would be a foolish thing to do. I couldn’t name what I had seen in the uspec’s eyes when it had caught me staring at the spikes on its chest, but it had not been pleasant.

I had no doubt that this uspec would kill me without blinking if I crossed it. No doubt at all. And I was irira, the only person who knew I was here was the noble undead, and it had made it clear what it thought of me. It wouldn’t care if I was dead. No one would care if I was dead.

I had no choice. So, I got up from the bed and stood warily in front of Fajahromo, my ‘friend’. “Where do we go sirga?” I asked, pretending as if I didn’t already know.

Fajahromo studied me for seconds before replying. If it suspected that I had been awake the whole time and overhead what it said, it didn’t show it. “To another friend Nebud.” It said.

And then I saw it, the knowledge in its eyes. It knew. I was sure of it, it knew that I had heard it all. It knew that I knew and it was watching to see what I would do. But what could I do? There was no place I could go. I was alone in a foreign land. I was completely at its mercy.

I nodded, accepting its answer, and the uspec smiled.

“Raban.” Its voice was gentle as it walked over to the other great uspec and shook its shoulder. “Rise Raban.”

Raban rose and jumped up from its bed as if it had been chased right out of its sleep. Then it turned wary eyes to me and lurched towards me. There was so much malice in its face that I found myself moving back. Fajahromo stopped it before it could come any closer to me. It turned to face Fajahromo and then it laughed. It laughed so loudly I was sure that it would wake every imp in the hovel. Then it stopped suddenly.

Fajahromo spoke to Raban in a different tongue, one which I couldn’t understand and Raban laughed some more of its eerie laughter. And then it began walking.

“After you my friend.” Fajahromo said, waiting for me to precede it. Any hope I had harbored for an escape, faded in the face of Fajahromo’s determination.

I followed Raban. It led the way back through the curtain I had come in through with the noble one. Kyrie held the curtain back as Raban walked past it.

A hole had formed on the ground in front of us. That hole was filled with quicksand. Raban squealed excitedly before walking into the quicksand. I looked behind me, and found Fajahromo standing there, its smiling gaze fixed on mine. My lips quirked as my mouth tried its best to return a convincing smile. Then I turned back around, took a deep breath and walked into the quicksand.

We were teleported to a small enclosed space.

There were wide curtains in front of us. Four Unclad imps stood by the curtains with buckets in front of them. Three of them dipped their hands into those buckets and pulled out wet cloths. They wrung the cloths and ran over to us with them. The imps wiped away the streaks left from the quicksand.

As the imps worked, I felt my legs shaking. The cloth the imp used to clean me was not as smooth as the one that had been used in Fajahromo’s hovel. I tried to force my mind to fixate on that, and not the feeling of doom which threatened to devour me. My heart drummed with fear in my chest and I could do nothing but stand still and wait to see my fate. It was the first time in my life that I had felt helpless.

For some reason, standing here with these great uspecs, and knowing that they intended to give me to the pits felt more dreadful than being in the okun with Bentuj and the uspec’s from my slum who’d meant to drown me. I couldn’t understand why I had faced one end with courage, fighting with each breath I stole from death’s grip, while the other I walked into resigned. Perhaps I had known then how inconsequential Bentuj was. Perhaps I had known that I stood a chance in a fight against it.

Not with Fajahromo. There were demons in Fajahromo’s eyes, demons that scared me. Bentuj had been a simple uspec. It would have taken no pleasure in taking another’s life. Not Fajahromo. Fajahromo had depths even I could see. The uspec was not one to be trifled with. If it was Fajahromo’s will for me to die, I knew it would be much better for me to accept the death and seek as much solace in it as I could. Much better than trying to fight against one like Fajahromo.

The imps moved back, taking the cloths with them. They returned the cloths to their buckets and held the curtains aside.

Raban walked in first.

I followed after the uspec. As I walked, I felt that odd sensation again. I felt a spark of hope. Here I was, for the third time in two days, facing a sure death, and I felt hope. My hope came from the oddest source. It came from my ‘friend’ Fajahromo. “You see why I call you friend?” The uspec’s question came back to me. It was irira, just like me. It was odd, perhaps even a little asinine, but I was sure that Fajahromo would not want me dead. I was sure it would feel as much comfort in my existence as I did in its. Suddenly, the uspec who’d brought me the fear of death was the same one with the promise of salvation. My thoughts seemed so contrary I decided to turn my focus from them, to the room I stood in.

The room I walked into was lit by the same white light-source which I had seen in the canoe. There were three of them hanging from different locations. The room had a long table and a stool as its only furnishings. Two imps stood behind and to the sides of the uspec that sat on the stool.

My eye widened when I saw the uspec seated on the stool. It was the first pious one I had ever seen. The pious ones were the uspecs who moderated the orders. They were in some sense the keepers of our society. Their fields of expertise ranged from justice, to procreation, to education and even to dissemination. They were the ones with the power to turn a regular imp into an imp with spectral magic. They had a deeper understanding of spectral magic than all other uspecs. It was a sacred position.

My eye fixed on the fraise on the uspec’s neck. The fraise was a thick red cloth which the pious ones wore. It fully covered their necks and the top of their shoulders and chest. A pious one’s fraise had symbols on it, which showed the order it belonged to. I could tell from this one’s fraise that it belonged to the order of Procreation.

It took me a while to realize that the pious one was returning my frank assessment. It studied me as thoroughly as I studied it.

It did not seem pleased with what it saw.

Not that I was surprised. I could not stop myself from thinking of the pious ones as religious, and every religious uspec had a duty to uphold the founder’s will. And so, a pious one could not allow the commitment of a grave sin, could not allow an irira to live.

“Salutations pious one.” Fajahromo greeted. I did not need to turn to know that it had that smile on its face. But I did turn, I turned to confirm, and there it was. I had never known another uspec to smile that much.

“Salutations.” The pious one replied grudgingly, its eyes never departing from their study of me.

“I am here for my sibling, Takabat.” Fajahromo stated.

The pious one’s eyes slowly lifted from me to rest on Fajahromo. Those eyes which had stared at me with disgust focused on Fajahromo with scorn. It was a strange thing for me to see an uspec regard Fajahromo with discourtesy. I realized then that in my mind I had raised Fajahromo up higher than any other uspec.

“Is your visit familial or is it related to the pits?” The pious one’s eyes darted to me for a few seconds after it was done speaking. There was something in that look, a meaning which seemed to be reserved for Fajahromo as I could not decode it.

“The pits of course.” Fajahromo’s voice turned hostile to match the pious one’s. “What other reason would I have for bringing an irira here?”

“What other reason indeed.” The pious one mocked.

There was something else going on between them. It was evident in the mockery from the pious one and in Fajahromo’s stiffening. I turned and saw its hands clench by its sides. The smile was completely gone from its face. In its stead was a mask of pure loathing, all of which was directed at the pious one.

“Takabat?” Fajahromo asked.

The pious one was quiet for a while and then it spoke. “Your progenitor sent for it. You must deal with me.”

“I will wait.”

“No.”

“No?”

The pious one’s lips tipped up as an awful smile crept onto its face. “No Fajahromo. You and your sibling disgust me. I have been forced to watch as you conduct your backhand deals, as you insult the Founder. Well no more. I will assume that you are here to do your duty and so you have brought this irira to face the founder’s justice. I will assume that you have brought this irira to gift its life to the pits of Hakute. I will assume this because the contrary would be unthinkable, especially for an uspec of your status.”

I could hear Fajahromo’s breathing change, as it heaved. But it remained silent.

“Fetch the irira.” The pious one ordered, and an imp left its side and came towards me.

That was when the fear really set in. I had allowed myself to get lulled into a false sense of security by watching the uspecs speak. I had allowed myself to forget that I was in the pits and that irira never left the pits alive. The imp came towards me and the reality of my situation set in. Not even Fajahromo was powerful enough to save me from death. I had been spared a peaceful death in the okun, to die in the pits.

The imp stretched out its hand reaching for me, and I steeled, anger slowly rising in me as I became indignant that this imp would dare to reach for me. The anger was so much better than the fear that I was happy to let myself dwell in it.

I didn’t need to.

Fajahromo’s tail rose and it wrapped around the imp’s neck. The imp’s hand rose to the coiled tail and tried to pry it loose.

“How dare you?” Fajahromo snapped.

My heart swelled with pride. I smiled. I saw in Fajahromo’s defense what I had been searching for from my friends in the slum. Loyalty. The uspec had not known me for that long but it was willing to fight for me. It really was my friend. It was a thought that brought unparalleled joy.

“Unhand the imp.” The pious one commanded.

“How dare you?!” Fajahromo’s voice rose and I realized then that its question had been meant for the pious one and not the imp.

The pious one rose slowly to its feet. “Unhand the imp!”

“Do you know who I am?” Fajahromo’s voice was filled with so much rage, I felt it. It was as if the uspec’s anger had a life of its own. For a moment I felt that rage, like a force in the ether. I felt it push slightly against me, like a homeless uspec begging for shelter, and then it was gone. I felt a sudden pang of loss. I wished I had opened the door and let the rage in. I wished I had known how.

“You are nothing.” The pious one snapped. “You are the twenty-second offspring of the duke of the second metropolis. Twenty-second.” It laughed condescendingly. “Your fool friend is more likely to become something than you are. Even as crazy as it is, Raban will surpass you. The wisest decision you ever made was to tether yourself to that fool. Raban may be an idiot, but it is the idiot third offspring of the Kaiser of Hakute. It will at least own a burg. And perhaps you will manage the burg for it. That is all you could ever amount to.”

I was shocked speechless. Raban was the offspring of the Kaiser of Hakute. The Kaiser! I could not believe it. I had shared my story with the offspring of the Kaiser.

“Now unhand the imp.” The pious one continued. “Or I will make sure the Kaiser is made aware of what you use this sacred place for. Your progenitor will disown you in a heartbeat. What use does a single uspec have for twenty offsprings? It will kill you with its own bare hands before it lets you discredit it to the Kaiser.” The pious one stopped to calm itself. “Now unhand the imp and deliver the irira to the pits as you came to do. Then we may part as friends and your sacrilege need never be known. What do you say my friend?”

Seconds ticked away as I waited for Fajahromo to respond. I waited for it to use its magic to reduce this pious uspec to nothing. It was a sacrilege just to think it, to wish ill on a pious one ordained to the founder’s service, but I was already a sacrilege. It didn’t even occur to me how much of my faith I had lost in the span of days. All I knew was that Fajahromo was my friend and that it had fought for me. I knew it would continue to do so.

At least I thought it would.

I watched stunned as Fajahromo released the imp. My legs seemed frozen to the spot as my shocked eye stared at Fajahromo.

“You should be more careful of who you make an enemy of.” Fajahromo said. “You may have won this round, but this is not the end. Come Raban.”

And then it was gone.

Just like that, Fajahromo, my friend, left me in the pits. Without saying a single word to me, it had left me there.

“Send it below.” The pious one ordered.

As it spoke, I stared at the curtains Fajahromo had just walked through. My mouth hung open. I was too stunned to think, too shocked to be afraid. The flapping of the curtain slowed as the last evidence of Fajahromo faded.

And then it was truly gone, and I was alone. Fajahromo had left me alone to die in the pits.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 5:37am On Mar 16
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VOLUME TWO
==========

Part 1
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In the First Metropolis of Lahooni
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I was so different in those days. Sometimes it baffles me to think back on the time and realize that I had ever been that young and that naïve. I had been full of trust. I saw a friend in every uspec who smiled at me. It did not take long for the pits to cure me of that affliction.

Now I look back on my life through the colored lens of age and ponder even deeper on the choices that I made for you, my offspring. I sent you to the pits when you were young, it couldn’t have been more than ten years after your birth.

I will never forget the look you gave me when I left you there.

But how could I explain? Fear is not my emotion and so I can not read it as easily as I can pain and anger, still I could read yours.

You were so full of it.

It is not my way to coddle, it has never been. This is not because I do not know how, although I must admit that I do not. It is because I have been forced to see what the world really is. And our world is no place for a weakling. I learnt that in the pits. I learnt a lot in the pits. I learnt far more than I could teach you.

I will never forget the way you had looked at me before I sent you there. There had been so much hope in your eye, and awe. You were in awe of me. It was a sentiment that made me smile, one that on more than one occasion made my chest swell with pride. But there was too much at stake for me to let pride get in the way of your safety.

We were at the brink of the great war, and we knew it. You and I had responsibilities, more so than any other uspec. You did not know what those responsibilities were, but I knew and that was why I sent you to the pits.

The years we spent apart were the hollowest of my entire existence. I hope you find comfort in the pain our seperation brought me, if there is any to be found. But you came out of the pits stronger. The hope in your eye was gone. When you saw me, you saw an uspec with flaws, not one to awe at, but also not one to trifle with. You became wary of me, how could you not after hearing the stories etched into those walls. But even in your wariness, you were never afraid.

The pits did to you what they did to me. The pits forged us in fire. Everything I am today I owe to the pits. It was a horrible time, a despicable way to live, but it was life, and it was an education I could not get from the most learned one.

Again, I diverge. Back to the story.



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In the pits. The third burg in the second metropolis of Hakute
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I could not say that I had missed the sludge.

The imps had taken me to a large hallway. We stopped with our backs to the wall and the imps just stood there, waiting. The place looked bleak. There was a narrow path in front of me and cells were built in to both sides of the path. The ground was sludge and the air was hot and clammy, just as it had been in my slum.

A tall imposing uspec came out of one of the cells to my right. The uspec had a belt on its waist and a thick wooden baton hung from it. Its eyes scanned me as it moved towards me, the baton swinging as it walked. My gaze locked on that baton and I swallowed nervously. I knew that the baton meant that this uspec was a warden. It stopped in front of me and jerked its head at the imps.

The imps left.

The uspec remained standing in front of me. It sized me up, its single center eye roaming over my body. I tried to hide my fear when its gaze stopped on my neck and it sneered. I focused on my own study of it. It was a physically intimidating uspec. It wasn’t quite as large as the warriors who’d flown into my slum, but it was definitely taller and larger than the other great uspecs I’d seen.

The uspec’s arm came out as it reached for me. Suddenly my fighting instincts came out and I struggled to evade the uspec’s grasp. It was as if my previous state of calm acceptance and resignation to the situation had fled. And in its place was born a desperate need to flea.

I tried to run but my efforts proved futile. The uspec simply grabbed onto my arm and held me still as if it had been expecting it. I continued to twist and turn, and when that didn’t work, I began to fight. I kicked with my legs and threw blows with my free arm. It was all done without any particular rhythm or thought. I fought like a maniac.

And the uspec laughed.

“You will die easy irira.” It said. “Easy.” And then it continued to laugh as I continued to fight. Then I felt a hard object slam into the back of my head, and I fell onto the sludge ground unconscious. The last thing I heard was the sound of the uspec laughing.

I woke up in sludge, and for a moment I forgot where I was. For a few blissful seconds I thought that I was back in the slum. I could almost hear Junte’s laughter. Then I tried to get up and found that I couldn’t move. My feet were somehow trapped in something.

I opened my eye and all I saw was darkness.

I panicked. I twisted, turning my body in the sludge, but my lower body wouldn’t move at all and my upper body only swiveled in the sludge. I reached beneath me to extricate my feet from whatever they were stuck to. My hands met with a hard surface. I traced my fingers from the callused surface up to my legs and frowned. I repeated my actions, and my fingers met with the same textures.

It was as if my legs hadn’t simply been chained to something but had instead been ensconced in it. As if my feet were somehow buried in the hard surface. I could not move.

That was when the real panic set in. My arms came out, thrashing around in my desperation to find or learn something more about my surroundings. My hands kept flailing until finally they came in contact with another object.

I heard a grunt.

The object moved and my arms could no longer reach it. I realized then that I was not alone. Wherever I was, there were other uspecs too. I forced my mind to calm down and my ears to listen, and I could hear little sounds. I heard distressed breathing, sounds of sludge being shifted, and muffled sobs. There were a lot of uspecs in the room.

I pulled my arms back towards me and formed a pillow with them. Laying my sludge stained head on my arms, I listened. By far the most disturbing sound was that of the uspec crying. It was so faint I knew the uspec had to be trying desperately not to let it out, but it obviously was incapable of suppressing the emotion. It was disgusting. I could not imagine how an uspec could reduce itself to the point of crying. No matter how low life brought me, I would never succumb to tears. Suddenly I was filled with an uncontrollable urge to tear my legs free of their hold for no other reason than to shut the crying uspec up.

Tears.

I was beyond the point of irritation. An uspec who would cry was a disgrace to the entire race. I clung to those tears. I listened to them, absorbed them, and let them distract me from the darkness and my immobility. I let my disdain of an uspec who could cry fill my mind, driving away the fear. It was better to think of the crying uspec than to think of my life and the painful death that awaited me.

But after a while the tears lost their novelty. I found my mind drifting away from the crying uspec to other things. In the next few hours I allowed myself to dream. I indulged in hope. As soon as I did, my fears seemed funny. Of course I wouldn’t die. How could I, when I’d made a powerful friend?

Fajahromo. I expected the uspec to come back. I couldn’t believe that it would leave me there. It was my friend, it was just like me, and so of course I knew it would come back for me. It would come back with its progenitor’s warriors and tear the whole place apart until it found me. It would save me.

That fantasy kept me sane and distracted for the first few days as I imagined all the different ways Fajahromo would come to my rescue and the glorious life I would live when it took me out.

Then came the smell.

I could only identify it because I’d smelled it before. The first time I’d smelled it was after the uspec who’d taken me in died. I had been so young and completely unaware of what it meant for an uspec to die, that I hadn’t known the smell of rotting flesh meant that the uspec who’d taken me in was dead. Bentuj smelled it and took the uspec’s corpse away.

That was what I smelled then. The smell of rotting flesh. There was at least one dead uspec there. It probably died of starvation. I was sure that days had to have gone by in the darkness. I was certain of it. Which meant that it had been days since I’d last eaten. I could feel my hunger. I could also feel the weakness that came with not having eaten for days. There were times when we’d gone without food in the slums. Times when the jejas had been too hard to catch, or when we’d simply become unable to take another bite of the disgusting things.

I heard the uspec cry again and for a moment I almost understood the level of desperation that could lead to such forlorn tears. Almost.

In that second, as I inhaled the pungent fumes of a stinking carcass, one thing became imminently clear to me. Fajahromo was not coming back. I realized then that there were even worse ways to die than in the pits. I would rather die fighting than rotting.

After all, that was the real pits. Uspecs pitted against each other, fighting to the screams of a mob. The traders had told us stories of the fights they’d watched in the pits. We had learnt the most about the different spectrums from the stories of the fights. I remember being puzzled when a trader had said that being kute in a kute spectrum pit was not a blessing. I had thought it was a kindness. Kutes were saved from fighting in the pits, why wouldn’t that be kind?

Now I understood. At least when you fought you knew how the death was going to come. You could see the blow being struck and it was final. It was more painful than being drowned in the okun, but it was better than slowly rotting away. I imagined myself becoming so desolate that I succumbed to tears and that thought removed whatever doubts I had.

I had to get out of this place.

And so I did what the trader who’d liked me warned me never to do. It had said it was the quickest way to get oneself killed in Hakute. It was almost funny how I’d gone from fighting death to embracing it, and now, hoping for it.

I cleared my throat and begun to sing, thankful for the memory that kept the lyrics in my head. While I did not know the meaning of all the words and the implications behind them, I was well aware of the fact that I was pointing myself out as an irira and daring them to fight me.

“Hair of horns and a chest of iron. Irira!
Skirt of tails and a neck of scales. Irira!
Not one but all. Not weak but strong.
Say you, ‘Tiyoseriwosin?’
Say I, ‘Uspecipyte’.
I am iron strong, unbreakable, I see you shake.
Standing my ground, while I hear you quake.
Against me you set your best?
Apologies, but to death they are next.
Say you, ‘Tiyoseriwosin?’
Say I, ‘Uspecipyte’.”

As soon as I was done singing there was silence. For a moment I was left to wonder if in my fear my voice had been too low, or if the uspecs were just too weak to care. But then I listened and noticed it was a different silence. While the silence which had existed before was a silence filled with little sounds. This was a complete silence. The crying uspec stopped its tears. The uspecs who’d been shifting around in the sludge seemed to have stopped moving. There was a dearth of sound.

And so I sang it again.

And was stopped before I was even halfway through the song.

Suddenly, the room filled with light.

An uspec carrying a white light source walked into the room. I had to blink for a long time to give my eye enough time to get oriented to the light. I heard groans and sounds of pain as the other uspecs adjusted to the light. It was my first view of the room lit. I had to swallow down the bile that rose in my throat. They had packed us together like jejas in a small can. Everywhere I turned there was another uspec.

But not just any old uspec. Iriras.

Every uspec in the room was a kute irira. We all had tails and something else. I had never imagined that this many iriras could exist.

“Who?” The uspec with the light asked. Like the previous warden, this uspec also had a baton on its belt and nothing else.

The other iriras dropped their gaze so that their eye didn’t meet the uspec’s. They shrunk away from it, in their own unconscious declarations of innocence. The uspec’s eye traced the room. It went from one innocent face to another until its gaze finally settled on me. I cannot imagine what it saw in me because as soon as its eye met mine, it reached for the baton.

I sang again. As the warden came closer, I continued to sing. I cannot say what possessed me to sing so loudly or to continue to sing when it was already obvious that I was guilty, but I sang and the warden’s anger grew. I found myself getting angry too. I felt the warden’s anger, just as I had felt Fajahromo’s. And again, I was filled with an inexplicable sense of loss when I could not take its anger. It was a strange sensation, but I did not have time to dwell on it.

The warden had reached me.

Its baton was about to descend on me when a strong voice stopped it.

“No.” the voice said. It was familiar. I had heard the voice before. “Let us indulge it. The irira thinks that it can kill our best? Then let us give it our best.”

The warden was shocked. It turned around and I saw who the new uspec was. It was the pious one, the one who had sent Fajahromo away, the one who had denied me my friend. It didn’t even glance at me.

“Take it to the pits and set it against Juwara.”

Gasps filled the room. I had never heard of Juwara, but from the pious one’s words and the gasps from the other iriras, I guessed that Juwara was the best fighter they had in the pits.

I smiled and started singing again.

“Shut it up.” The pious one snapped.

Even as the baton descended, promising with its swift approach to knock me into oblivion, I continued my song and thought of the coming fight in the pits. From the traders’ stories, to be the best fighter in the pits was not an easy thing. Pitting me against their best meant that finally, I could be sure of my fate. It meant that, at long last, the twists of my life had come to an end and I could be assured of a quick death.

What a relief.

2 Likes

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Peaceyw(m): 10:21am On Mar 16
'what a relief' lol, this nebud is just crazy, I want to see what will happen in the battle against juwara.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 1:04pm On Mar 16
Obehid left me hanging. What happens next will be surprising, something tells me.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 9:22pm On Mar 17
Hmm, I really can not place what I feel right now for Nebud,but what I can say is it's a hard life for it at the moment.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by spixytinxy(f): 1:26pm On Mar 18
W0w it bn a while, have missed alot fa, @obehid nice work even though u did not ask of me.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by spixytinxy(f): 1:26pm On Mar 18
W0w it bn a while, have missed alot fa, @obehid nice work even though u did not ask of me.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 9:34pm On Mar 19
@Peaceyw hahaha yes, I agree Nebud is crazy haha. And the battle with Juwara is definitely...we'll find out soon wink

@tunjilomo Well...I really hope it is surprising grin

@Fazemood Poor Nebud, hopefully something good comes out of this tough period in its life

@spixytinxy Welcome back! Lol, sorry oh! I'm glad to have you back and I'm happy you still like it grin

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