Home of Sword and Soul
Kadira followed Nubia as she walked toward the line of baKenja warriors. The warrior woman stopped in her tracks, grasped her head and swayed. The line broke as the men rushed to her but Kadira reached her first. She eased the woman to the grass.
Nubia shared a thankful smile.
"The Kashite was more powerful than I expected. I thought I was going to collapse before him."
Kadira took her water gourd from her waist then handed it Nubia.
"Kashites are reputed to be powerful sorcerers. Apparently not as powerful as the Dogon."
Nubia sipped her water then wiped her mouth. "Their nyama comes from a tainted source. It will be their doom."
Nubia stood before her warriors reached her. One of them, a tall broad man with a natural scowl approached them, his eyes on Kadira.
"You should not take water from her," he said. "It may be poisoned."
"Your warning is too late, Rabana,” Nubia chided. “But this woman is good. It is why I chose her.”
Rabana shared a reluctant smile with Kadira. “What is your name?”
“Come with us, Kadira,” he said. “We go to the village.”
The village occupied a shallow valley just beyond a cluster of low hills. A deep moat filled with thorn bushes surrounded the gathering of conical huts capped with pointed thatch roofs. Warriors patrolling the perimeter rushed forward with relieved looks on their faces. Kadira walked beside Nubia, her head filled with a thousand questions.
“You may ask me what you wish,” Nubia said.
“Why did you kill the Haisetti?”
“They were leading you to this village,” Nubia answered. We tracked you from the moment you entered Kenja. We would have let you be if you avoided our villages.”
“They Haisetti could have just wanted to replenish supplies,” Kadira argued.
Nubia stopped, her eyes suddenly hard. “The Haisetti never come to trade. They come to take. They knew the danger. Your ‘companions’ probably felt confident with a Kashite priest in their midst. They were wrong.”
She had angered Nubia so she decided to hold her questions. She followed the baKenja into the village and to a small hut in the center. The men dispersed to their homes; Nubia went inside the tent then returned with two mats. The women sat before each other.
“Your reason on this journey is different from the others, despite what you tell yourself,” Nubia said. “You will find what you seek, but it is not what you expect.”
She handed Kadira a scroll. “This map will lead you through Kenja without encountering any villages. There are clearings designated for trade. If you are in need of provisions send a person and someone will come.”
Kadira took the scroll. Nubia reached into a pouch on her side and extracted a crudely cut amber piece threaded on a simple leather strip.
“Wear this,” she said. “It will help you when you enter Wadantu.”
Kadira took the necklace and immediately put it on.
“How do you know all this?” Kadira asked.
“This is my home,” Nubia replied. “There are no secrets to me here. Now go. Your companions await.”
Kadira bowed to Nubia then turned to leave.
“One more thing,” Nubia called out. Kadira turned to receive her words.
“Trust no one,” Nubia said. Her eyes narrowed. “No one.”