FOREST BRIDE (a gift from the river god)
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Arawa the princess of Wuwa after being rejected by her own father who sees her as a curse, finds herself enslaved to the very barbarians who wiped off her entire village. A romantic journey commences between she and one of the barbarian twin, Brian. Although she tries her best at avoiding this and focusing on bringing vengeance for the wrong done to her people, she still cannot overlook him even as his twin ruthless brother suddenly gets infatuated with her person. A journey based on loyalty, betrayals, love and war. Perhaps yet she might lead her people to their freedom or the next stage of civilization.
As though the wars had not dealt them a heavy blow, now the plants were beginning to dry up and the animals, they all began dying. They were from a rather big village back then when the iron brothers had attacked their homes causing the survivors to go deep into the forest for survival. Their gods had abandoned them to their own fate, and now, they no longer could commune with them. There was no priest anymore to guide them, the last of the priestly lineage had been murdered in cold blood by those barbarians. The people of Wuwa were finally conquered and their years of greatness diminished in just one night of attack.
Kuka looked at his people, sadness written in his eyes, he could not bear their pain. In the course of retreating to this forest, they had lost many, to dangerous insects, reptiles and even hungry. Now, he could no longer differentiate between the hunger and sickness. It seemed like the both had fused into them. Kuka was the last son of the late great king and as he was the only survivor from the royal family, he had the mantle of leadership passed on to immediately. He was twenty eight and was the seventh son. His wife was heavy with child. He had managed to save her from the barbarians but then, she kept growing weaker. They needed food to survive. They had to move from this part of the jungle that had protected them all this while. He decided to call up a meeting with the other males of the forest, a meeting to decide their fate. Among the survivors currently, there were eighteen males, twelve females including his wife and two starving children that seemed like they would not make it through another night. He could not let the entire Wuwa Kingdom be wiped out.
Actually, he missed everything. He missed those days he would wake up to the rhythm of music made by birds and the sound of children giggling just outside the walls of his home. His father had really aged then, but was yet to join his ancestors but then, those barbarians had to send him to his grave in the most gruesome ways. The scene of his father running around with fire and screaming while he watched in terror from among the reeds would never erase from his eyes. He would pass it on to the next generation of his people which he believed would be formed. He sincerely hoped that his wife bore a male child, that would be a bonus to them. He missed the joyful nature of his people. The people of Wuwa had no time to hate on each other. They did everything as one and kept away from strife and every signs of it. They had the priest to speak with the gods on their behalf and never anticipated war would ever befall them. The only time a death penalty was initiated was when someone broke the rules of the gods. Such person would be sacrificed to the gods. Before the war fell on them, the priest had mentioned something of the gods being silent. Kuka wondered for how long however would they be silent. The gods had better began picking up a new successor from amongst the survivors.
The meeting with the other males began as they discussed what their fate would be. It was taking time rather as some strongly believed that this was the decision of the gods for them but Kuka thought otherwise. The previous night, he had some sort of premonition, the river gods called for them. He had seen a river in the reeds flowing and a beautiful young lady smiled at him, welcoming him. They had to seek out that river. They had to move. The other males refused. They believed that no one of them should be running away from what their fate held for them. If it was the decision of the river gods that they moved, then Kuka was welcome to take his wife and leave. It was a heated argument between all
of them. It was at this point that Raga, the oldest among them spoke up. He was done tolerating the bantering among them.
“Look at us “, he yelled. “It’s been only a few days and we are already tearing each other apart “, he said.
The others became rather ashamed of themselves, including Kuka whom had let his anger overtake his mind.
“Kuka, you cannot expect everyone to follow everything you say, they did not have the dream with you “, Raga continued.
“Then what would you have me do Raga, I’m trying to save everyone “, Kuka pointed out.
“And everyone does not need saving. Wuwa has been destroyed Kuka. You have to accept the truth even if it is bitter. There is no more Wuwa. But we are remaining and I suggest that you leave with those willing to go and let others to their decided fate “, Raga said.
It was sad really but that which he had spoken was the truth, at least in the physical view. But then, it was Kuka’s dream to rebuild a new Wuwa. A stronger one, armed and fortified for war. The gods of the air had failed them, proving to them that nothing was for free and nothing came easily. He actually wished he could save everyone but then, it seemed like he was going to have to drop them along the way.
“What about you Raga, where to you stand “, Kuka asked him.
Raga took a deep breath as he looked above them. He was old, hungry and dying. He would have gone with Kuka but then, he was finished already. He had to go join the others.
“Hmmm, Kuka, right now, my path lies in the road our people had taken. I’m done already, I don’t want to be a drag on you. I would remain here with the others that remains until it is my time “, Raga said.
It pierced his soul really but he had to leave. A consensus was reached, Kuka would be leaving alongside eleven other men who believed in him and seven females. They would begin their journey at dawn.
The forest was awake as the sounds of insects became reoccurring and something like a buffalo bellowed in the wild. Kuka woke up, it was time. The night before, he had a dream about his father which was weird. The old man had directed him to follow the north, as he continued strolling that direction while Kuka followed mesmerized. They had taken deep paths and rough ones but his father stopped just in front of a river which a waterfall gushed into. It had been a sight to behold. It signified just one thing to him, he had to lead his people north. He layed down for a little while, the morning cold was biting, it was dawn. They had to set out before the sun rose over them. Looking to his side, layed Nulaa, his beautiful wife. He remembered how he had stalked her until she eventually became he’s. He brushed his hands across her face and she woke up startled by the act. The forest had made them all alert as even the slightest of touch from either insects, poisonous bushes and more could lead to death. She gave him a weak and faint smile when she saw it was only him. Kuka leant over and placed a kiss on her forehead, it would be only a matter of time and she would no longer need to stress herself. They had to leave immediately. He got up and began waking the others, everyone popped open sleepy eyes but remembering the journey before them, they broke into full wakefulness. It was a journey they had chosen, a journey of survival. These few would give even their lives to Kuka because they all believed in him. Raga woke up too along with the others and he took his time to bless them all, placing his hands on their heads, he called on the spirits of their fathers to lead them safely. It was full of mixed reactions as they bad goodbye to their friends, brothers and sisters. Kuka was really sad that he had to leave them to whatever fate had in store for them. Picking up his bow and arrows, he slung it over his shoulders and strapped his sword to his waist. He heaved heavily as he took his stance, they had to leave. His wife came up to him and slipped her hands into he’s, she looked pale and he hoped she could make it. They still had some leftover wild fruits and that was what they had for breakfast. The dew had caused wetness on the leaves, somehow they had to slid the few drops into their mouths to quench their thirst. It was not enough and had never been enough. This was why Kuka had been adamant and hell bent on moving to a better place in the forest. Now that it seemed like he had the spirit of his father guiding him, he was definitely going to utilize the opportunity and lead these people to paradise.
The journey began and they set out for the north. They were done with their goodbyes and would have to keep going right now. It was cold in the forest and someone, a fog hung over it, but there was no turning back. Kuka had taken the lead as had been tradition of his people. Whoever had the mantle of leadership had to be the first always. His sword gifted to him on his fifteenth birthday by his late grandfather was out, slashing and cutting through reeds and bushes. The forest was still dark and cold, the monkey occasionally would chant whatever it was they were saying to alert the others. The forest was waking up as animals scurried around. They had to keep moving, ignoring the chants. Occasionally, a silly monkey would throw wood specks at them. Once a speck had to hit Nulaa and she let out a shriek, this really angered Kuka as he swore at the silly animal. It’s big eyes gave out it position as it danced from tree to tree. Kuka would have thrown something at it but remembered that it just might cause aggravation to the family of monkeys and that might lead them to attack everyone.
By sunrise, they had covered a greater amount of mileage in their journey. They were beginning to hunger and thirst, Kuka was wise enough to know that the people needed rest. He would lead them on for sometime until he found a clearing where they might actually rest. Then he and the able bodied men would scout around for whatever might pose as food for them. He lead them on as well as he could hear the women and two children dragging their feet. They arrived at this clear part of the forest and he decided that they should rest. Grateful smiles met his eyes as he turned around to face them. Even Nulaa was exhausted and sweaty. He helped her find a place to seat and so did everyone. Soon, they were all seated and Kuka decided that the stronger men should join them in the search for food. A young woman insisted on joining them, although it had been opposed but she made it clear that she would be following them regardless. It was Orau, the young woman that his father had once intended for him to marry. Back then, she had been all lovey dovey over him but the moment he had abandoned her, Orau had to begin joining the training grounds under the guise of bringing in food and water for the men. At first, everyone thought she was looking for a replacement, another suitor for herself. Little did they know however that she had been training secretly. It was not until she rejected six warrior suitors that they began to suspect that she had no interest in getting married. She was barred from the training grounds as it was not a good omen for women to practice killing. Not like the people of Wuwa ever go to war, but to eat, they did have to train especially if they needed meat. Kuka gave it a brief thought and decided that she could join them. He needed all the hands and help he could muster after all. They despatched, leaving few men and the other women and children in the clearing.
Kuka divided them into three groups but of course Orau would join no group, she wandered off on her own with her arrows and bow. It took a while though but eventually, Kuka and his group found a stray rabbit far from it’s home, they chased after it and killed it. Meat had finally arrived but there would be no fire to cook it over. This would only send them to the barbaric ways of eating meat with blood on it,
unless…. Kuka caught sight of some stones with which to make fire. Finally, they gathered some and tried in vain to find dry specks. The woods were all wet and the ones they managed to bring were cold. Kuka returned to the clearing with his group members just as the others were gathering, they had found wild fruits but Orau was not back yet. He hoped that nothing would happen to her eventually.
A little child screamed, it was the boy with them, something had bitten him and instantly, Kuka was at his side. See the two dents on his heel, he needed no one to tell him what had bitten the kid. He instructed the others to drain him of the venom while he found the daring intruder, the snake could not have gone far away. He heard the boy screaming as they opened the injury and he saw the slithering creature trying to make it’s way out. Kuka picked up one of the stones and aimed for it, he got it by the head directly. Rushing over, he detached the head from the body. This was a bonus to their breakfast and he pulled the body along, it was a adder.
Just then, Orau returned, she had a dead deer slung over her neck and whispers went around as everyone looked at her admiringly. This was the first time they had seen a woman kill a deer. She was just like the brave goddess of whom the fables told of. They would finally get to eat some real meal. If
only the others left behind had followed them, then perhaps, they would have witnessed the gods fighting for their survival. The journey would definitely be a success, Kuka thought as he smiled at her.
The little boy's leg had been rid of the venom and some wild plants provided for it as bandage. They had set up the fire and smoke clouded everywhere from the damp woods. Soon they would roast their breakfast and eat. They journey would continue by noon. Kuka was glad that finally his people were beginning to understand that this journey was predetermined by the gods themselves. It dawned on him however that they were back to protect them, the silent gods were back.
They had gotten enough rest and had to set out for the rest of the journey. It was noon and the sun was fully awake but the big trees of the forest provided shade for the sojourners. Kuka and his people had to keep moving, they had leftovers from the barely well cooked meat and some fruits. That should be enough for them to get on by. The little boy, Kili whom had been bitten by the snake was being carried on the back by one of the men, he was fast asleep and had been running a fever. He was still breathing, that was enough to keep hope alive that he would get better. Kuka continued to lead his people in front, they were going deeper into the forest. And this time, they could see everything before them. It was noon after all.
The journey continued for sometime and by the time the evening was beginning to creep in, they were all a pack of thirsty people threading the forest path. Kuka himself was beginning to feel the weakness creeping in, his eyes were heavy and his t
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