The Halo Breed
THE HALO BREED
A WEEKEND STORY
That ragtag group of lucky escapees formed a crude circle around the agonized Sarai and looked at her with varying degrees of pity, compassion and empathy.
All of them had been involved in a sort of difficult escape from the scourge that was ravaging their beloved city. Some had come very close to the jaws of death, and they were still quite traumatized as it was, so they understood exactly what Sarai was going through.
They recognized her as their queen, and so they were reverential in their treatment of her.
But not so with Mavis Tease!
That grand old lady had been a part of the defunct House of the Representatives, and she had been close to the almost ethereal late Supreme Leader of Densua, the SLOD, Michael Badu Arkoh, the man who had been so attuned to the core of Densua that he seemed to hear the voices of the spirits.
Through the SLOD, Mavis had come to know that Sarai had been an integral part of the greatest deception of all time: the murder of Commander Gus Kukah.
Now, Mavis had known Gus since he was a young boy. Mavis had once loved Gus’ father very much, but the twisting and cruel hands of Fate had decreed that they had not been able to live that much-desired life of love. So, she had viewed Gus as the son she had never had!
To know that this woman, this unfaithful woman, had betrayed Gus and chosen that wicked soul Daniel, filled Mavis with much vigorous passion that was a shade deeper than hatred. Her old face was filled with dark rage as she looked at the grieving woman on the floor.
For a very terrifying beat of time, Mavis felt the almost irresistible urge to raise her leg and stomp on that face with fury. Her gall was that bitter, and her frail body shook with so much thunderous poison that caused her hands to ball up at her sides and made her veined and wrinkled face take on quite a fearsome countenance that, in a way, matched the hideous spirits of the Pale Lands.
Sarai, slowly, became aware of her surroundings and the people around her, and her eyes did behold the epitome of raw hatred on the face above her, and when she recognized Mavis, a woman Gus held in near-reverence, Sarai slowly stopped weeping and gazed at the woman with the shattered expression of one who had passed judgement on herself, found herself guilty, and erected her own guillotine.
And when Mavis saw the shattered expression of great remorse on Sarai’s face, she turned away from her immediately because her kind heart did not want to find pity for this despicable woman.
“Come, those who want to find solace,” Mavis said grimly as she began to walk through the trees. “We must find the Mysterious Light before the sun completely goes down.”
The people with her, numbering about thirty now, looked at her retreating back with varying expressions. Some began to follow her immediately, but others hesitated. They had seen the strong emotions on her face, and they had noted that she had not extended a hand of invitation to Sarai like she had done for all the others they had come across in their harrowing trek through the peripherals of the forest.
It was Kharisa, beloved daughter of Kobby Obeng, who reached down to help Sarai to her feet.
Mavis spun around and spoke sharply.
“Let her be! She does not come with us!”
Her bitter wail of a voice made almost all of them cringe with horror.
Surely, this could not be the same calm, motherly woman who had spoken so gently and reassuringly to them, giving them hope where there had been none, and whose almost angelic disposition made it bearable to put one foot in front of the other when their souls had been so fatigued that many had wanted to just sink to the ground and die in oblivion.
Kharisa stared at the old woman with sudden trepidation.
“But why, Mother?” she asked in an unsteady voice. “You told us everyone we meet has been saved by the Spirits of Densua. This is Queen Sarai. Surely, she too has been saved for a purpose.”
“Do not be impudent, young lady!” Mavis retorted harshly. “She, I can assure you, she does not have any part in anything good! She will remain where she is! I do not want her to be a part of us, do you hear me? She will find her own way!”
“Oh, Mother, how can we leave her alone?” Kharisa persisted, though hesitantly. “You told us how evil the Pale Lands are, and that we’re being spared because we form a part in Densua’s future! Why do we have to leave the queen here?”
“Do not question me, you whelp!” Mavis cried, and her body shook now because, for a fact, that old lady was experiencing a fury and anger she had never in her life experienced since the day she learnt Gus Kukah perished. “Leave her be! You can come with me, or choose to stay with her!”
The people looked at each other with feelings that were much stronger than shock.
Obed put a hand on his young sister’s shoulder.
“Come on, Nyantie,” he said softly. “If she says so, then we must obey.”
“Oh, but we can’t leave her here alone!” Kharisa cried, and she had tears in her eyes now as she remembered her parents. “Please, Mother Mavis! I lost my parents today! Indeed, the queen seems to have lost Princess Dawn too! Why are you insisting on leaving her here?”
Mavis Tease was breathing hard, and she could feel pain in the region of her chest. Ah, she tried to speak, yes she did, but there was a point in the human anatomy when too much emotion and passion caused stress, and in aged people stress was a very dangerous thing when it hit at a certain degree. So, she could not speak.
But the queen spoke softly.
“Because I deserve to be left alone to die, young lady,” Sarai said as she got to her feet. She was bleeding on her face and her back where her demonic daughter had struck her and opened hideous gashes.
She walked towards Mavis with steps that were uneven and unsure, and every step had a corresponding tear that rolled down her face, and then when she was near to the seething old woman, she literally seemed to crash down on her knees, and she bowed and held Mavis’ right foot in a gesture of total submission, and put her face against the old woman’s knee, and wept.
Sarai did not weep with ordinary tears pouring down her face.
If it had been possible, her tears would have been blood, for her tears was the core of her soul, a powerful explosion of remorse, bitterness, and the shattered heart of a woman who had stared into hell and seen the real meaning of horror.
There were times where words were needed. These times were mostly sublime, indicative of a joy so great that voices were ultimately robbed of speech.
But hers was the other extreme sad of mirth; hers was the deep, wretched instance where the human soul was laid bare and exposed for its frailty and whimsical irrelevance that it really was… a soul devoid of cover, a state of deep regret where no amount of self-willpower could hide or mask the truth.
Her tears and remorse were so expressive that she was not the only one that cried; many in the group watched, and it brought their own pains to the fore, and they wept with her, forming a core strength in their wretchedness that was deep bonding.
And in the face of such honesty, the kind-hearted woman could not hold on to her anger and hatred even though she evidently wanted to do so. Her lips were pressed together tightly and her hands were still balled into fists as she tried vainly not to be moved by what was happening, but it so profound that her lips began to move, and then her jaws, and then her hands fell gently on top of the grieving woman’s head.
Feeling Mavis’ hands on her, Sarai raised her face, ravaged with tears and blood, and finally saw the compassion and forgiveness on the old woman’s face.
Her body shook as Mavis grabbed her upper arms and pulled her up.
“I’m so sorry!” Sarai finally whispered in a voice that was filled with pain. “Oh, Gus, Gus, Gus! Oh, please, forgive me! Forgive me!”
“It’s okay, my dear,” Mavis said as she hugged the woman.
And, all around, as was so symbolic of the human nature in times of great affliction, the people around began to hug each other.
Kharisa, weeping, hugged her brother tightly before moving forward to hug a young man standing near them.
They hugged, in the midst of that foreboding forest as Densua continued to suffer the most diabolic form of strife outside, and in those hugs they formed strength, unity, and a firm resolve. They shared their fears and horrors, and so their pains were a little bit lessened, and bearable.
And so, finally, Mavis stepped back and wiped tears from her eyes.
“Do not fear,” she told the group in a voice that was a little bit stronger and hopeful now. “I know the Pale Lands are scary, but it is for a reason. I used to be scared of the Armageddon when I heard of it, and I studied the Old Scrolls. And yes, there is a portion that prophesied that a group of people will survive the initial drive of the Armageddon and find their way to the soul of the Pale Lands, and a star will lead them to a prepared place of honey and milk, where they will wait for the arrival of the Halo Breed, he who has no heart, and he who will not tremble in the face of the Armageddon. I know you’re tired, scared, and hungry. But follow me… a good place awaits, and a hero comes soon to help us!”
She led the way into the evil forest!
They could hear scary voices and see the swirling mists.
They felt the antagonistic presence all around them, and heard the tiniest touches of alien things on their skins. But although they quailed inside individually, their new-found bond was a strong balm that strengthened their steps, and so they trudged on.
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