The Halo Breed
THE HALO BREED
A WEEKEND STORY
The first thing King Gus Kukah did when Sage Simpson handed him his son was to draw the cloth off and see what the boy had been born with. He heaved a silent sigh of relief when he saw the appendage between his legs, and not those diabolical roundygats things.
His chest had two nipples, and his buttocks were two. The only Halowan features he had taken were the extreme beauty of his features. Even as a tot, it was evident that he was remarkably handsome. His eyes, especially, looked like jewels, glittering quite amazingly.
Queen Derbie drew near her husband and whispered into his ears.
“He’s so wonderful,” she whispered. “And he does have a stick too.”
“Yes, I noticed,” Gus said in a proud voice as his son took his thumb and tried to suck it.
“And as foretold by the Grand Oracles, his name shall me Senanu, and he shall be the prince above and below,” Sage Simpson said.
There was an elaborate arrival celebration to welcome the heir ten Halo-Winks later.
Gus Kukah was filled with wonder at the splendour and grand culture that unfolded. There was drumming and food, dancing and merry-making! Each Halowan Clan came to give gifts!
The young baby was dressed and put in a glass case in the middle of the great auditorium of the palace. The Clan Heads moved around the glass enclosure to look at the baby and bowed to him.
Gus Kukah soon noticed that there was a peculiar puzzled look on their faces as they stared at the prince.
He turned to Sage Simpson and spoke softly.
“They seem worried,” he said softly.
“We are all worried, Your Majesty,” the Sage answered. “But, this is a case for the Spirits, and so we keep mute.”
Queen Derbie held Gus’ hand suddenly, and he noticed how wet her palm was. He turned to her quickly and saw the tension on her face, and the great fear lurking in her beautiful eyes.
“And what is this great thing that has everyone worried?” he asked with a creased brow. “The baby is healthy, and handsome! What else do they want?”
“He lies still, like a piece of rock!” the Queen said anxiously.
“Of course, he lies still!” Gus Kukah thundered. “What do you expect him to do? Stand up and dance?”
“Yes!” the queen said fiercely. “It is ten Halo-Winks already and he still lies down! Pearl Nyarko walked after the second Halo-Wink!”
“That’s preposterous!” Gus Kukah said. “Human babies take months to walk. First they crawl, then learn to walk! Give him about a year, about three hundred and forty Halo-Winks!”
The queen’s beautiful face is horrified.
“Stop your blasphemy, my Lord!” she said, greatly agitated. “He must walk and wield the cudgel and train! He must defend his Heir Apparent stage against the Horde in ninety Halo-Winks?”
“What?” Gus Kukah asked with horror. “He must hold a fighting club at three months? No, that’s impossible! That baby needs nine months at least to walk! And you’re thinking of him fighting at three months? That’s barbaric! You will kill him!”
“Alas, like I said, it is our custom,” Sage Simpson said softly. “Perhaps, like I said, the Spirits know what they’re doing!”
“I will not allow that!” Gus Kukah said with sudden alarm. “I will not allow you to murder my son.”
“Alas, Your Majesty, it is beyond your powers,” Sage Simpson said softly. “He must face The Horde in a duel in ninety Halo-Winks.”
“He is not a pure Halowan!” Gus cried, alarmed. “You Halowans start walking at two days, but humans are not like that. They crawl and walk, and remain virtually babies for several Halo-Winks! Surely, you must know he is different!”
“Let the Spirits decide then,” the sage said. “If he perishes, then I’m afraid he is not the one!”
“You Halowans are mad!” the king said furiously.
And so, they waited!
It was the most difficult and painful time of Gus Kukah’s life, as far as he could remember!
Sena continued to breastfeed, and behaved like a normal human baby. He lay on his back and threw his arms and gurgled.
“He just eats and sleeps!” Queen Derbie screamed at Gus, and there was terror on her face. “Pearl, my sister’s daughter, runs and jumps and fights!”
“Pearl is a Halowan!” Gus Kukah said grimly. “Sena is a breed! Do not forget that!”
“Well, do something!” she cried bitterly. “There must be something you must do to speed up his growth, Gussy, please! If he dies, I won’t forgive you!”
“Be reasonable, Derbie!” the king groaned. “Nobody can force growth! He will grow at the pace he’s been created!”
“But it is thirty Halo-Winks, and he just eats and grows fat! He’s just lazy! He must learn to fight, or he will be killed by the Horde in the duel!”
“To hell with your customs!” Gus Kukah said. “Sena is not fighting any duel! Anybody tries to take him will contend with me!”
He watched his son with troubled eyes. He was indeed growing bigger than human babies should at one month, but he was still a bubbly, lovable tot.
Pearl Nyarko, his cousin, visited him a lot. Pearl was walking around and speaking, and she was just a month or so older than Sena!
Sometimes Gus saw Derbie holding Sena’s hands and making him stand for long periods until the boy began to cry. This made Gus so furious that he warned her sternly never to do that again.
With tears in his eyes, she faced him and spoke.
“I have the love of a mother, Gussy!” she said in a traumatized voice. “Our son is sixty Halo-Winks now. Just thirty more Halo-Winks to go, and he would be thrown into the arena. The Horde is training every day. Sena should be holding a cudgel now! I love him so, and I don’t want to lose him!”
“I would not let them touch our son, my love, I swear!” Gus Kukah said and took her in his arms.
They looked at Sena lying in his cot and making gurgling sounds of pleasure.
“He’s such a fool!” the Queen said softly. “But I love him so!”
“My son is no fool!” Gus said with a chuckle.
“He is!” Queen Derbie insisted. “A fat fool that only eats and goes goo-goo!”
Gus Kukah laughed at that.
“You Halowans are mad!”
And, at three months, baby Sena had still not even started crawling!
The Arena was in place right in the middle of the palace!
The Horde was a group of ten young Halowans wearing tiny white cloths around their waists. They had been shaved bald, and their bodies and faces painted with white clay.
They were all holding cudgels, and were standing in a circle around the arena.
There were a lot of spectators in the palace to witness the duel.
Queen Derbie was crying openly as she came to sit in her throne and wait for the duel to begin.
Sage Simpson marched into the baby’s royal chamber with ten warriors behind him. They found Gus Kukah decked out in full armour and holding a sword as he guarded his son’s cot.
“No one takes my son, Sage Simpson,” the king said softly. “If you approach, you will have to deal with me. I will kill all of you if I have to.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Your Majesty,” Sage Simpson said in an exasperated voice and waved his rod.
A bluish light shot from the rod and encompassed the king, and Gus Kukah was frozen to the spot. He could not move a limb, and watched with horror as the Sage picked up Sena from the cot by his right leg.
The baby cried in a distressing manner as the Sage carried him upside down like a toy! He waved his rod again, and a green light hit Gus. The king gasped and rushed after them!
The sage walked past the king’s throne on the balcony. He murmured a greeting at the weeping Queen Derbie, and then he tossed the baby into the arena!
“Oh, no!” Gus Kukah shouted and rushed to the edge of the arena and watched with horror.
Sage Simpson put his rod on the kings right shoulder.
“Relax, and watch the duel,” he said softly, and immediately, Gus Kukah became docile.
Sena turned head over heels and then smashed down on the forecourt hard, and began to wail in distress.
He was lying on his back and crying loudly as he kicked his fat legs and made his arms stiff.
Many of the spectators laughed at this strange prince!
A bell sounded, and then the Horde began to move!
They screamed and jumped into the air with their cudgels raised!
One by one they landed by smashing their cudgels down on the poor baby!
Queen Derbie turned her head as the heavy sticks lashed at Sena incessantly, opening deep gashes in his arms, legs and face! Gus Kukah gripped the edge of the arena tightly as the cudgels fell with sickening, brute force!
And the poor Sena screamed louder with pain and confusion!
The Sage watched with shock!
“Dear Spirits, is he not the one?” he asked hollowly.
They grouped around the baby and looked down at him with contempt. One of them put his cudgel under the baby, and then tossed him up into the air expertly.
The others screamed and spun around, giving him horrible blows with the stiff poles until the baby smashed into one corner of the arena like a rag, and remained still.
Queen Derbie gripped her belly and bent low as she wept bitterly.
The crowd was stunned into silence at the brutal display.
King Gus Kukah held the edge of the arena tightly with his teeth clamped tightly together.
Tears rained down his face. He had never in his life felt such bitter emotional pains!
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