Katya & Zolokhan Chapter 11.
4 years after the Festivities:
“Chieftess the flowers are in full bloom, they are ready to be cut. Should we place the Acaias or the Vermillions around the pathways?” Zihana, Katya’s personal servant asked.
“I want a very dramatic and sweet-smelling effect this year Zihana. Mix in some mint bushes and Shamoos with the Acacias. How are the ponds? Have the water lilies been set?” Katya asked.
” Yes Chieftess, its very beautiful. The lights from the fishes are also in place.” Zihana said.
“ The mandarins are also yummy for the little children so please have the groves open for their welcome.” Katya requested Zihana.
“ Yes Chieftess,” Zihana nodded.
The young servant woman looked admiringly at her younger counterpart. The Chieftess had really brought increased prosperity to the Mwebele tribe these past four years. Zihana felt so honored to be her chief servant. The Chieftess had created many little sub rivers from the great Wengua River like a network of branches. This had caused the dry savannah plains to grow fertile. The Mwebele tribe, as a result, had multiplied in food, fruit, and animal bearing. The Chieftess had also established trade with Eastern kingdoms which led to easy travel of Mwebele people to these places to learn their skills. There were always foreigners being welcomed to their tribe, many coming for trade in cattle, goats, zebras, and more.
The Chieftess’ clothing style was also a thing of envy amongst the wives of many world leaders and many dress customs of the Chieftess had also made their way to the common people of several foreign nations. This information Zihana learned from Byzantines, Cappadocians, Trazbans, Hishgues, Yans, Persians and Egyptians who traveled to their tribe. Many came to purchase the luxurious designs and fabric material discovered and created by the Mwebele tribe. The Mwebele tribe’s dyeing techniques were also a major curiosity that many wanted to copy. The tribe’s exploration of new territories had grown and new technologies in sailing the seas were now being discussed in the tribe as many tribespeople grew richer and richer. The energy and happiness was at a all time high.
“However,” Zihana thought to herself, “the Chieftess was a real puzzle, everything she did was always unconventional.”
Take this birthday celebration, for example, Chieftess Katya was now eighteen summers yet the only people she wanted at her celebrations were the young children of the tribe. Though many gifts had poured in from neighboring tribes and foreign nations, the Chieftess had no desire for a large party with invited rulers. Zihana sighed ending her thoughts, knowing it was not her place to try to delve into the mind of her master. It just seemed that the Chieftess was preoccupied with something.
Watching Zihana’s retreating form, Katya remembered her dream. It was somewhat disturbing because it was the same dream for the past week. In her dream, she was on a journey through a hilly place, then out of nowhere a group of women with the ugliest, most wretched faces like witches tried to attack her. They tried to tear and claw at her, encircling her like a gang. To these witches’ frustrations, they were not able to hurt her, however hard they tried because she was covered in a golden light which caused them to run covering their eyes and mouth. The dream would end this way every time.
Sighing Katya suddenly felt so alone. So much has happened in these past four years. The time had just rushed by all in a haste. Since the death of King Titan and Zolokhan’s ascension to the throne, they had hardly seen each other except at official meetings. The festivities that the Kezmizi tribe had been known for were temporarily halted, in mourning for the deceased King Titan. They were further halted because the new king was busy traveling to shore up foreign relations. So much distance, she felt, was now between her and Zolokhan. It was the time to announce a date for their marriage, everyone was expecting her to, but she did not know if the boy she fell in love with was even the same man.
Oh how triumphant they had been after the games that year, Katya reminisced. That same year, they had travelled together to Quanza’s Clan on a wonderful adventure. They had so much fun then. Only for Zolokhan to return home to the horrific news of King Titan’s death. What was even more strange was Zolokhan’s dream that night before which had led them to leave Quanza’s Elephant Clan and rush back home to the Kezmizi Tribe. She knew Zolokhan thought it strange how his father died, but he refused to share his burdens.
Each precious time she had seen him thereafter was bittersweet. His golden eyes had grown so fierce and his mouth set in such stern lines. She in turn had thrown herself fully into making her visions for her tribe a reality. It had all reaped great rewards and all was well in her kingdom.
This was why this dream at such a time of great and expanding prosperity was somewhat disturbing. However, she knew she would understand the meaning of the dream in a quick time. She was also discerning enough to know the dream was a warning and a comfort in one. She knew that even though these ugly women tried to harm her, they could not. The dream was to tell her she was divinely protected by the golden light which represented Heaven.
Throwing off these heavy thoughts, she took comfort in knowing that she would spend her birthday celebrations with the younger folks in the tribe. She just wanted to play and laugh. She did not want the heavy aura or seriousness of any Elders’ company. Hence she had set up games and fun treats and story skits for their entertainment. She did not care who felt offended at her choice, too many of the tribespeople wanted her company only for added prestige and clout amongst their circles. She had no time to indulge their manipulations. She deliberately kept her circle small-the only confidant she needed was Quanza.
Thinking of her pink friend she decided to go look for him. Her mood steadily going back to its usual good cheer, she happily made her way to the Mulberry groves knowing that was where Quanza would be with Kymba his mate. The two certainly loved to play and eat together in the mulberry bushes. Now that Kymba was with cub her appetite had increased. Quanza was also increasinly protective and territorial. She had ordered no one to disturb her beloved friend and his mate during this time.
Passing many bowing heads and smiling faces along the way, Katya enjoyed the balmy afternoon. There were many out and about walking as well. There were smells of delicious cooking in the air all around the large tribe. It was common to have neighbors giving feasts daily, music playing, and storytelling around group fires. There were also many weddings usually taking place. Foreign faces were also interspersed among her people, living in their homes as fully welcomed guests. In this way, many of her tribespeople had learned new languages and skills.
Coming up to the pathway leading to the Mulberry groves, Katya turned onto the path and jauntily went in search for her elephant friend. She whistled their customary greeting and calling sounds, sure enough she saw his massive form running steadily towards her with Kymba following right behind. Chuckling at the two, and at how much Quanza had grown, all Katya’s remaining heaviness disappeared.
Quanza kneeled before her, this was his indication that she should come on his back. Obliging she mounted his sturdy form rubbing his head, then greeted Kymba by rubbing her outstretched trunk. The three set off at a stroll through miles of fruit groves, past ponds and rivers. They enjoyed various fruits and nuts along the way, stopping at a little stream to splash each other.
Rubbing and feeling Kymba’s belly Katya could tell that the baby would be here in another month’s time. This she told Kymba, who in return answered that she already knew. Kymba had seen many cub births back in her Pink Elephant Clan.
“ Katya when will you go to your mate. I miss him” Quanza said to her using his spirit.
” When will he come to me is the right question Quazzi.” She replied making a face and using her nickname for him.
“ mates should be together, it matters not who goes first.” Quanza replied stubbornly
” Didn’t you make it obvious to Kymba that you wanted her as your mate. You two have never separated since you came back from our journey to your Clan. But what does he do mhmm, he shuts me out and separates from me.” She answered her friend. Her true heart and emotions bubbling out of her in front of her faithful friend. Kymba’s soft trunk gently stroked her cheeks which were now streaked freely with tears.
“It is not wise for him to do this. Mates must share all things, joys, and burdens. We only hope he comes to his senses soon. It is simple in our world, humans should keep it simple too” Quanza concluded.
“Perhaps you should take a walk over to the mango groves on the tree porches.” Kymba suddenly suggested sweetly.
The porches had been built on the sturdy trunks of the mango trees. This allowed people to walk from tree to tree and easily climb to pick ripe mangoes. Nodding her head, Katya slowly got up and went to the porch entrance. The main porch stretched in a circle with twelve different pathways for tens of miles in different directions. For now, Katya decided to only walk the circle.
Stopping at a heavy-laden tree with plenty of ripe and sweet-smelling, juicy mangoes, Katya reached out to pick a few. Becoming engrossed in her picking she did not hear the soft footsteps of the fierce and beautiful man behind her.
” Your still a big eater I see. “ Zolokhan teased. Whipping her head around at the strange voice, Katya was hit with a myriad of emotions that left her without words. She could only stare and stare, taking him in.
“Was he really there? Am I dreaming? Have I gone mad from it all?” She wondered.
” This is not like you, you usually have a lot to say Chieftess.” Zolokhan said, his heart beating faster at the sight of her.
“What are you doing here? why are you here? Has something happened?” Katya asked rapidly.
Not answering her, Zolokhan stepped forward, taking the mangoes from her hands. Placing them on the ground, he then went to take her by the waist, hoisting her down from the upper porch. What felt like bolts of electricity and molten hot lava passed through them at contact. Caught in the sweetness of touching each other, they could only stare silently at each other. None wanting to let go. Golden eyes stared into deep browns, finally Zolokhan said quietly and passionately,
“I miss you Katya. I miss you very much”
Closing her eyes for a moment, letting his words wash over her and sink in, she said
” Then why make me feel so alone for four years Zolokhan?”
Taking a deep breath and closing his eyes, he opened them to look at her,
“ there are many things that i want to tell you, that i wanted to say back then that i could not say my love.” Zolokhan replied.
” Do not call me your love, we were younger then, i don’t feel like your love.” She replied
“ Your my wife and the only woman i have ever loved and will ever love. You know the truth of these words.” Zolokhan said softly to his other half.
Stopping at the sincerity of his words all the anger diffused out of her, she could only look at him, her starving eyes and ears feasting on his presence. She walked over to where he had placed the mangoes and sat down.
“ Well are you going to eat some with me?” She questioned.
Just wanting to get into a semblance of their old rhythm. Throwing off his short cheetah-skinned robe, Zolokhan sat beside his beautiful woman and ate. The juices from the mango ran down from Katya’s chin and hands. Watching her he took a mango and delved into its sweetness. A rush of peace, like he hadn’t felt in a long time suffused his soul.
” Are you staying for a time?” She asked quietly.
“ I’m staying for all of your birthday celebrations Katya and then I’m leaving here with you as my official Wife and Queen,” Zolokhan answered simply.
Pausing in her sucking on her mango, she looked at him. He looked at her. Suddenly he lunged putting his face squarely on hers and licked the mango juice from her chin.
Pulling back in surprise, she said
“it’s not going to be that easy, Zolokhan. You will have to explain a lot of things.”
Nodding, Zolokhan began the conversation that he knew they needed to have.
“Let’s go back to after we had won the fights and we celebrated the rest of the festivities for the month. Everything had been so enjoyable and father had been so happy. At the end when many of the foreigners had been resting and would be preparing to return home, i heard the end of a conversation between my uncle Simeon and the Cappadocian named Lucario. At the time i didnt think much about it, it was a bit strange… but still it was something I put out of my mind.”
Zolokhan’s memory Four years ago:
” Katya remember, when you go with Quanza to his clan, i want to come.” Zolokhan said to her
“Both Quanza and I would love your company partner, i will send our royal messenger bird when it’s time.” She told him. Changing the subject to what had been on his mind for some time, Zolokhan said
“So in two months time your tribe will go to the Coasts, should i come to that too?” He asked her.
” Yes, I would want you to.” She smiled at an amused Zolokhan.
” Ok i will talk to my father. Finish everything i need to do here and follow you.” Zolokhan promised the beautiful big-eyed girl.
Thinking back to their partnership at the games he felt it was even more confirmation of their unity. He was really happy he was going to marry her. Knowing how much his father approved of Katya, he knew his dad would personally pack his chariot and send him on his way. His heart overflowing he found his lips saying,
” I’m really glad your my girl, Katya”
Smiling from ear to ear, Katya felt encouraged and confident about their future together. He was so handsome and he was always ready to listen to her.
“ Im really glad your so cute Zolo.” She responded in her usual cheeky nature, giving him a wink. She had the habit of acting silly to deflect from serious moments or talks of feelings. Smiling at her knowingly, Zolokhan said.
“ Ok Katya we will keep it simple for now, you would think since we had gotten farting out of the way, you wouldn’t feel so awkward but I will take it slowly love.” Zolokhan finished.
“Young Chieftess, Young Chieftess, Chieftess Dedoka needs help with the old elder again. He is drunk and dancing again, this time he thinks he is your chicken and he is pecking at and upsetting Quanza.” a very out of breath young man gushed out saving Katya from having to respond to Zolokhan.
” well prince Zolokhan, I must attend to this matter.” With that, a blushing Katya ran off with the young boy to calm the old elder.
As Zolokhan made his way back to his camps, he remembered that he had seen a samurai sword in his uncle’s tents. He had been wanting to look at and feel the blade in his hands. Such relics were interesting to him. Now that the festivities were ending and the tribes preparing to return home, it would not be a bother to go and see his uncle. Most importantly he could catch up with his cousin Kitabi.
The confident young Prince walked strongly through the grounds until he reached his uncle’s tents. Many eyes watched him, many reflecting admiration, some reflecting jealousy, and a few reflecting treachery.
Parting the luxurious opening to Uncle Simeon’s tent, Zolokhan paused when he heard fierce whispers of raised voices.
“You know it won’t be so easy, it’s a great risk..”
” Your opium will be regularly supplied, you will receive your glorious desires. This cant happen if these mighty lions live”
A young maidservant walked right into Zolokhan’s back causing a platter of food to spill to the ground. Hearing the commotion outside, the two voices rushed out to see what had happened. On seeing Zolokhan helping the maid to pick up her platter, the two men schooled their features.
“Zolokhan my boy, welcome what a surprise to see you here today. Let me guess you came to see the sword.” His uncle Simeon said cheerfully.
“ Prince Zolokhan takes an interest in Eastern Relics?” The second voice who turned out to be the Cappadocian named Lucario asked smoothly.
Both men losing all traces of the heatedness that was evident in their hissing speeches a while ago.
“Yes Uncle, I really wanted to see it.” Zolokhan pretended as though he had just arrived and hadn’t heard their exchange.
“Come my boy. Let me show it to you. Remember I told you I got it from an old Yan dynasty leader on one of my military visits. We both have a hobby of collecting weapons, Yao Chan and I. You would get along great with the funny old man if you met him. 90 years old and still fit as a horse that Yao Chan” his uncle cheerfully chattered.
“You had to like uncle”, Zolokhan thought,
His uncle was as charismatic as his father King Titan, but with a more humerous and light hearted approach. Which was why Zolokhan could never understand the continued animosity between his Uncle and Kitabi. Kitabi had at times hinted that Uncle was not as nice as he made out to be, but seeing his uncle now being as jovial as he had always been, Zolokhan was really stuck in the middle of the father and the son. After looking at the sword and chatting for over an hour, Zolokhan finally asked for his cousin Kitabi. At the mention of his son, Uncle Simeon’s faced crumpled and he sneeringly answered that Kitabi had been punished and sent to his military barracks to clean all his soldiers weapons.
” Uncle how could you embarrass him in such a way! You have taken it too far” Zolokhan said angrily.
Immediate anger engulfed Zolokhan at his uncle’s callousness and blatant disrespect of Kitabi. No matter how uncle felt, Kitani was still of royal blood. For him to be so openly punished with cleaning another mans weapons was too much, a great injustice.
“It’s what he deserves! The disobedient runt!. I wish you were my son and not him. But as usual, in everything your father had to win!. Your mother suffered under the forgetfulness of your father and the evil ploys of Nebuli. If she had married me then things would have never ended up this way.” An angry Uncle Simeon spewed. Turning in anger his Uncle stormed away.
Zolokhan stood surprised, the first time knowing that his uncle had an interest in his mother. Zolokhan realized how bitter his uncle was about his Mother’s death.
Have I just seen the true face of my uncle? What did Uncle mean by the ploys of Queen Nebuli? Mom had died of illness, right? Zolokhan questioned internally.
Cupping his forehead in his hands he rubbed at his temples. Nodding to himself he turned to go in search of his cousin Kitabi. When he arrived at the Barracks he saw Kitabi roasting meat and laughing with the soldiers. When he caught up to them, he heard their conversation.
“Kitabi, thanks for covering for us with your father. Sorry it got you in trouble our friend”. One soldier said while the others nodded.
” Pele Pele Hufza, what would an old shrewd like my father understand about young men’s love? If it were up to him you would train in your sleep.” Kitani answered.
Everyone burst out laughing at Kitabi’s accurate summary of their lead warrior. The man was an exacting and tough old lion. There was no smiling or slacking off when he was around.
One of the soldiers turned and saw the Prince. Jumping to his feet and hit his chest he loudly said,
“ Prince Zolokhan, welcome young Prince.”
At the loud welcome, everyone scrambled to their feet and saluted beating their chests. Raising his hands and fanning them to be at ease, the Prince said,
“Relax and tell me this love story.”
Smiling at the Prince’s response, the men sat down. The feeling of camaraderie spreading quickly as Hufza, the warrior, narrated how some of the guys had wanted to meet their girls to say goodbye after the festivities. When they had snuck out of the barracks and were discovered by Uncle Simeon, Kitabi had made up a story about him sending them on an errand because of him wanting some special treats and leather skins. His father of course became furious at him, calling him irresponsible and punishing him with cleaning the soldiers’ weapons.
“You see, I’m as innocent as a pigeon,” Kitabi said leaning back, chewing some roasted meat held in one hand.
This was Kitabi’s gift, he could make kinship with almost any one…except his father. Zolokhan knew that even though Uncle Simeon saw Kitabi as young and foolish, his men in the barracks respected and loved Kitabi. Though his form was chubby, he could throw a spear or heavy metal ball the farthest of any one in the barracks and was no less courageous than his father.
Taking some time out to eat with the soldiers and reminisce on the festivities, it was a long while before the two cousins could get alone together. Choosing not to tell Kitabi anything about his run in with Uncle Simeon, Zolokhan instead told him of his plans to go to the Coasts with Katya and her tribe.
Instantly perking up at Zolokhan’s announcement his lively cousin also invited himself along. Zolokhan thought to himself that he wouldn’t tell Kitabi about going with Katya to Quanza’s Clan lest he invites himself to that too. He was however truly excited to have Kitabi coming along to the coasts. Wherever his cousin went there was bound to be excitement and laughter.
” Ok so in about two months we will be swimming the seas! Ah the girls along the coast are so beautiful.” Kitani quipped.
“Oh so how do you know?” Zolokhan teased.
“Zolo, you are looking at a well-travelled man here. Plus I know everything.” His cousin said mock haughtily puffing up his chest.
” Your so in love with Katya, aren’t you?” His cousin asked him.
Answering honestly, his usual style.. Zolokhan replied.
” Yes I love Katya, I always feel like I want to be around her. I don’t feel that way for any other person, not even you.” Zolokhan couldn’t help but tease his cousin at the end.
Grabbing his chest where his heart was, Kitabi made a sad weeping face, pretending to be hurt.
” You two will have to deal with that witch Nebuli” his cousin said, suddenly serious.
” That’s my father’s problem, to which he promises he will put an end to soon.” Zolokhan replied.
” That woman is so slippery, I wonder if your father even realizes how much. You know she has eyes on you right?” Kitabi asked him directly looking seriously into his eyes.
Nodding to his cousin, Zolokhan replied,
“ it brings vomit to my tongue just seeing her lustful eyes.“
” Don’t ever be alone with that woman. She is conniving.” Kitabi finished.
Zolokhan knew that Kitabi had a special hatred for the woman because she had frequently bullied his mother. His uncle was also of no help to his wife in those situations. This was an added fuel to the resentment between the father and son. As a result, Kitabi’s mother had gone on a trip back to her people and had never returned for the past three years. There was always an excuse, either she had gotten sick or someone in her large family had died or some other disaster which prevented her from coming home. Kitabi knew however, that his mom was just avoiding Nebuli and his father. Not like his father seemed to care about his absent wife and her excuses.
Back to Present Day:
In the midst of telling Katya his story, a sudden drench of rain started, forcing the two to take shelter under the dense coverage of some nearby mango trees. After an hour had passed with no sign of the rain easing, the two decided to face the rain and make it back with her elephants. Completely drenched and laughing in the rain, the pair made a startling sight as they arrived at the Chieftess’ territory.
Calling for some servants she quickly instructed them to settle in the Kezmizi King and draw him a warm bath.
” I need to warm up. I will go and have a bath too. Let us meet for an evening desserts. Im still stuffed from the mangoes. I cant eat much. Of course if your hungry you can ask for anything you want. My servants are your servants. ” Katya finished saying.
” Katya, thank you. I will tell you the rest this evening.” Zolokhan took her hand in his, stared into her eyes for a while.
“I have heard of your great style and the fineness of your clothing designs. I’m really proud of you.” Said King Zolokhan.
” Thank you i never knew you kept track. I have a robe i made for you. I will send it over. Come let’s go get warmed up. I promise i won’t disappear Zolo, you can let go of my hand.” Katya chuckled.
Nodding and releasing her hand he turned to follow a servant leading the way to the guest compound.
As Katya went to get herself bathed and changed, her servant Zihana approached her with a royal message from Kezmizi.
” What could it be now.” Katya asked rolling her eyes.
The last thing she wanted was to have to answer anyone. Not wanting to have anything upset her she told Zihana to report the message to her tomorrow. With that out of her mind, Katya settled in her bath pool. She felt so much better than she did this morning. She was curious, happy, nervous all in one. She very much wanted to hear what had caused Zolokhan’s distance for these past four years, what had been bothering his mind?
After she finished her bath Katya laid down. She couldn’t remember when or how she had fallen asleep but when she woke up again it was pitch black, just a few hours before dawn. She was supposed to meet Zolokhan but had fallen asleep. Deciding not to be bothered by this, reasoning that the King had probably needed a rest too, Katya put on a shawl and went out to her large pavilion. Looking up at the stars, she enjoyed their beauty. In her heart, she desired only to continue in peace and prosperity. She wanted to have children with Zolokhan, travel the world as a family, explore the seas, talk with animals all over and just live freely, happily.
She felt she also had to make her needs and desires very clear to him. She didnt want anything hidden between them anymore. She needed Zolokhan to understand that. Sitting outside for a while, Katya finally returned to her bed and slept the time away.
She woke up feeling refreshed and invigorated. The preparations for her birthday celebrations was complete. She would start the celebrations in one day time. Zihana appeared in her usual quiet manner, she watched as the Chieftess sat up in bed, looking out her open windows.
Clearing her throat, Zihana prepared to speak, turning from her thoughts at the sound, Katya saw her chief servant.
” Selam Chieftess, I came to deliver last night’s message. Queen Nebuli has written that she will be arriving tomorrow in the Mwebele tribe. She regrets the short warning but says she needs no special treatment. She explains that she would love to get to know her future daughter-in-law more and celebrate your birthday. She also has a cousin living here in Mwebele whom she would like to visit, whose birthday happens to coincide with yours. She hopes it will not be an offense seeing as though you did not invite any of the neighboring leaders to your birthday celebrations.” Zihana read the message.
Katya’s mind quickly recalled the evil woman’s plot four years ago to try and defile her honor. She instantly knew that this woman was up to no good by coming here. Wanting to decline her visit but knowing that it was too late because the crafty woman had probably already started her journey, Katya sighed, deciding to also discuss this with Zolokhan.
” Has the Kezmizi King awaken yet?” She asked Zihana.
” No my Chieftess, the last servant Mohave went to check on him but he was sound asleep.“Zihana reported.
” Good thank you. I will get changed and ready for the day. As to our pending guest, Queen Nebuli, place her at one of the farthest compounds, however, spare no luxury. Let us choke her with our displays of wealth. Let me also warn you Zihana, be alert when it comes to this Queen.” Katya instructed.
” Yes Chieftess, I understand your meaning.” Zihana replied, bowing her head.
Dismissing her servant, Katya got ready for the day ahead. Trying her best to not let this impending visit annoy her, she thought of the best ways to deal with this snake of a woman.
“Who was her cousin in the tribe? Was that even true?” Katya mused these thoughts.
Suddenly smiling to herself after she had been mulling over in her mind for some time, she said out quietly
“I know the right person to deal with our shifty guest!” Snapping her fingers in excitement she made her plans.
Quickly donning comfortable clothes and soft red leather sandals, the Chieftess set off to find her makeshift savior. Knowing the old man, he would probably be in Quanza’s the mulberry grove trying to sneak mulberries to make wine. No matter how many times she had personally told the Old Elder that there were other mulberry groves he could pick from, he insisted in his own words that,
” The Elephant’s shit manures the ground causing it to bear the sweetest mulberries, I won’t go anywhere else Chieftess.” The old elder would always say in a haughty and grave tone. He truly was a comical sight and was the tenacious mongoose that could handle the snake woman Nebuli.
Katya enjoyed the early morning walk. She hardly ever travelled through the centre tribe area by chariot, being used to walking miles. Only on days when she required speed or some important visits would she commandeer her Zebra driven chariot. Plus there was always Quanza to carry her if she grew tired. Her walking kept her rounded figure lean, her buttocks firm and her body nimble. She could run as fast as a gazelle, flick, dive, swim and fight. These were the true enjoyments of her life.
After a thirty-minute brisk walk to the Old Elder’s compound, she prepared herself to deal with the eccentric man. She could have sent a servant to bring him but they would just end up needing her to come and deal with the lively old man anyway. It wasn’t that the old elder was mad, it was just that he was very original and strong-headed in his old age. He was very docile once one knew the proper protocols of addressing him and talking to him. He was a man who loved to gain an advantage. If he had to do something and there were benefits for him then he was easily convinced.
On her arrival, one of his servants rushed out to greet her. Meanwhile, she could hear the shouts of the Elder’s cook. His cook was also one of the few people who could deal with the old elder too.
From what she could hear, it seemed like the old man had requested wine in his scrambled eggs. The cook was raging that she should change her title from cook to winemaker. Chuckling in amusement, Katya knew that cook had great affections for the old Elder because though he was eccentric, he was a lot of fun and very kind. He was the one that had drank too much wine at the festivities four years ago and thought that he was a chicken. The old man also couldn’t help himself when he heard any form of music, he had to dance. Which as you could imagine in a tribe of music players meant he was almost always dancing.
Announcing her visit, the Elders servant warmly seated her in his welcome pavillioñ. Katya was not surprised the Elder was up and about so early. Soon enough he came out dressed in his signature blue robe, belted at the waist with his gold belt. His feet encased in a dapper blue crocodile skin sandals with matching gold ornaments. His neck was weighted down with gold chokers and chains while on his fingers he wore gold rings. The only non gold ornament on him was his large ruby ear ring. Smiling in welcome, his arms flung wide and pausing in a dramatic pose, his deep smooth voice rung out,
” Welcome, Welcome Young Chieftess, Care for some wine eggs? It’s my latest concoction.”
“Greetings O great Elder Tacan, how handsome you look today. Your wine eggs sound delicious, of course I will have some with you.” Katya began her tactics.
Smiling even wider at her warm compliments, the Elder signalled to his servant standing by.
” Ah Chieftess, when you come by to visit me I always feel so special. Where is Quanza? Is he with you? You know my dead wife Hurdaya loved to scratch his ears.” The now sentimental old man said.
” Quanza is not with me today, Elder.” Katya answered.
The wine eggs were brought to an already elaborately spread table filled with bread, cakes, sliced meats, cheese, yogurt and fruits. When the eggs arrived the Chieftess requested some chocolate tea, not accepting the mulberry wine the Elder offered her.
” Ah Chieftess, i will send you some cocoa pods for you to eat as well as some dried and beaten cocoa for you to make chocolate tea.” The Elder offered.
Expressing her delight and thanks, knowing that he had some of the sweetest cocoa groves, Katya relaxed even more.
Trying out his wine eggs, Katya was pleasantly surprised. His cook had somehow managed to make it taste great.
” How will you know unless you try” the old man suddenly said as if reading her thoughts.
” Give everyone in my house a taste of the wine eggs!” The old Elder shouted.
Laughing lightly at the Elder”s enthusiasm Katya quickly said,
“ Elder, I have a special guest arriving who would love some of your wine eggs and good company. Poor thing has been a widow now for four years, I wonder if you could show her around the tribe, encourage her to dance and tell her all of your stories. In short Elder, never leave her side while she is here. The woman is so lonely.” Katya finished.
The old Elder perked right up like a peacock on proud display.
” I will get all my servants ready! Let her come here, I will stick close to her like a meerkat on a Wilderbeast.” He said.
Katya thought to herself,
“if only you knew old Elder, if only you knew”.
Enjoying there meal, the excited elder chatted on and on. After some time had passed and wanting to end the visit, Katya explained that she was also entertaining the King of Kezmizi. She told Elder Tacan that she would send a servant over to bring him in her territory for a few days. This way he could stick close to the old widowed Queen.
By the time her visit had ended, it was now very lively all around the tribe. Today would be the start of her celebrations. Even though she wanted no older people at her private celebrations yet the tribe would never pass up such an excuse to party. She was washed with warm greetings as she took her walk back to her territory.
The walk really helped her digest her breakfast from the Old Elder. Nearing her compound, her servants scuttled to greet her. Soon her chief servant Zihana came to greet her.
“Welcome back Chieftess.” She greeted.
“ Hello Zihana, has the Kezmizi King awaken?” Katya asked.
“Yes, Chieftess. We have also sent over all the outfits you had made for him. He was very happy at your styling. He is resting out in your Garden of Great Wonder.” Zihana briskly reported.
“ I must speak with him before this Queen Nebuli arrives. You know what to do when she comes. I will not greet her for a couple of days. She’s only bound to want to ruin my mood.”
“ Don’t worry Chieftess, as you have wisely’ instructed the best way to deal with her sort is to overwhelm her with the wealth of our Kingdom. I have also investigated who her cousin is. I will inform you later when I have more information.” Zihana concluded.
“Good, I will go to the Kezmizi King. Let no one disturb us.” Katya instructed.
Katya decided to refresh herself before going to Zolokhan, she took a quick bath and donned an ivory kaftan with beautiful golden embroidery. It was loose and cool, perfect for the warm weather. Heading out towards the Garden of Great Wonder, Katya delighted in her surroundings. The Garden had really been coming together. It was a mix of everything in this garden. There were exotic flowers of all kinds, intermixed with sharp pineapple plants for their delicious ripening scent. In another section, there were bridges over lotus riddled ponds. There were cherry blossom trees intermixed with cherry and orange trees. She had used birds of paradise flowers along with roses to adorn different seating areas and pergolas. Wide pathways and trails were also abundant, with manicured mazes and hidden pathways. Everything was very lush and green. In the garden of great wonder, she had planted vast areas of bamboo for her pandas. There were bananas and plantains for her monkeys. Peacocks roamed freely, parrots and other unique birds flew and made their nest. She was slowly cultivating an ecosystem, adding new breeds of animals that suited her tastes.
Arriving at her pavillioñ in the garden, she saw Zolokhan bracing against the railings looking out into her fields of various fruits, herbs, and vegetation.
” Hello” Katya called out, waving her hand in greeting.
Zolokhan turned to see her approaching, she looked so pure in her loose ivory dress he thought. The more he observed her Kingdom, her servant’s mannerisms, her gardens, and her people; was the more it slapped him just how well she had done in elevating the Mwebele tribe.
” Hello Katya, i’ve slept the best sleep I’ve ever had in four years,” Zolokhan said, inhaling a cool breeze that blew by.
” Really, yet your still so vibrant looking after so long?” She replied teasingly.
” I never said I didn’t sleep, just not so we’ll.” Zolokhan returned.
“ I fell asleep last night, I guess I didn’t realize how tired i was. But I’m sure you needed the rest too so it all worked out.” Katya said.
” I have something to tell you,” Katya said briskly.
His interest perking at her tone he waited for her to say.
” Your Stepmother, Queen Nebuli is arriving today. She sent a sudden message saying she would love to get to know me better and also visit a cousin for her birthday.” Katya summarized.
Watching the immediate frowning expression overtaking Zolokhan’s face, Katya waited for his response.
” This horrible viper, will she torment me always. How dare she try to follow me here!” Zolokhan vented.
” Is there more to this that I should know Zolo, so I can best prepare for her tactics,” Katya replied quickly.
” You know her by experience Katya. I haven’t forgotten our trip to the coast. What you told me and the two men who were witnesses, what you all told me about her plot to defile you.” Zolokhan said.
Silence passed between the two as thoughts of their winter on the warm coasts rushed through their minds. They had gotten to know a lot about each other during that time four years ago. So much so, that she had been comfortable telling him about his stepmother’s evil plan to have her raped. Plus she had the two men who had warned her about the plan as witnesses. She had brought Zolo to them.
From their time at the coast, Katya knew Zolokhan hated his lustful stepmother. Back then they had talked about Queen Nebuli’s motives for such drastic action. They had both concluded that she was an evil woman who was capable of anything. Back then Zolokhan had comforted her by narrating the conversation between him and his father. His father had planned to put away Nebuli for adultery. However, Before all that could happen, King Titan had died in a seemingly tragic accident.
” I don’t want to deal with her when we are married Zolokhan.” Katya said quietly.
Sighing, Zolokhan took her hand and looked at her and said,
“Believe me, Katya, from the deepest part of my heart I don’t want this woman around us or our children either.”
Taking her for a stroll along the pavillioñ, a lot of needed conversations rose in their minds. Stopping at a comfortable looking bench, they sat together enjoying the scents of the garden.
” You mentioned children but you haven’t explained how you are going to get me to leave here with you as your Queen. Two fowls cannot roost in the same nest. This stepmother of yours will not take a back seat.” Katya said. In her mind, she would not leave Mwebele tribe with Zolokhan until she was satisfied and felt that they were in agreement.
” Katya let us be married officially and face life together. We are already in agreement about Nebuli. I was going to surprise you but I will tell you now, for these past two years I have been building our separate home. It’s very beautiful, I hope you will like it. I chose a location in the middle of the border of our two tribes. It’s far out and remote but it will be our little world.” Zolokhan said.
Caught by surprise, Katya smiled a big smile, her curiosity about how it looked.
” Does it have a garden? How does it look? When can I see it?” were questions that rushed out of her mouth.
Laughing at her bubbly reaction, Zolokhan felt proud to have worked on their home with the other artisans and skilled men. It had been soothing for his mind to carve out the intricate moldings and build the railings for their pavilions. It was all done in top secret. He had brought in skilled men from all over the known world to work on their homes. He knew Katya loved natural wood the most, but he had also learned and seen new styles of architecture from his travels. Thus he had incorporated a mix of beautiful big colored stones and ironwork. Artisans had been called in to make the subtle but numerous ornaments and trimmings for their home. He had also commandeered and extensive planting of numerous fruits and flowers because Katya loved fruit gardens. His other surprise, which he would keep to himself, were the young pair of white tigers that would arrive in a few weeks.
” I feel more relieved that I don’t have to leave Mwebele to come and live around your stepmother.” Katya said.
“Since Queen Nebuli decided to be so arrogant as to intrude on your birthday, you should be just as arrogant about not seeing her while she is here,” Zolokhan said.
Smiling a knowing little smile she leaned in closer to Zolokhan and explained her plan to use Elder Tacan to entertain Nebuli.
“With that special person playing host to the haughty queen, I’m sure I won’t have to endure her for long,” Katya said mischievously.
“ I will make sure to play my part.” Zolokhan replied grinning. By her explanations, he too was ready to see this charismatic character tackle Queen Ñebuli.
“ When will the children and the older kids arrive?” Zolokhan asked.
” They will be here within another few hours, festivities have already started in the tribe and I have already sent out gifts to all my tribesmen,” Katya replied
” Katya usually it’s people whose birthday it is to receive gifts.” Zolokhan said curiously
” But it makes me happy to send out gifts, besides my tribe is used to it by now. Not only on special occasions but just when I feel like it, i will send out gifts to everyone. They know it makes me happy” Katya said sincerely.
“May the Mwebele tribe and the Kezmizi tribe always be blessed with women like you.” Zolokhan said.
” Thank you Zolokhan. Things have really been changing in my tribe. Before for hundred of years only men were born into our tribe, no females except the next chieftess would be born. Hence our Mwebele men would need to seek wives outside. But ever since I was born there have been girls being born now. These girls are precious to our tribe. I have sometimes wondered what if two women gave birth to girls during the Kendu Thunderstorms, or if one woman gave birth to twin girls? Wouldn’t they both have to go through the trial. If both girls survived the trial then there would be two Chieftesses. Look at a scenario like that Zolo, look at how unexpectedly traditions can change. No one ever thought a Mwebele Chieftess would ever get married but for the sake of keeping peace and righting a wrong, our tradition was broken. I’m happy with this because someone had to start a tradition once, hence new ones can also be started. Today I want to celebrate the girls in our tribe as well as the boys and celebrate newness and changes.” Katya sounded out aloud her mind to Zolokhan.
Listening to her, he felt encouraged at her point of view. Yes traditions can be changed. By her example, he had seen her take her tribe into new directions. Her efforts at improving the fertility of all the grassland savannah were not selfishly contained to only her tribe but Mabutu and Kezmizi tribe had also benefited. Staying quietly with each other for sometime in silence, both enjoying the sounds of birds and crickets seated on the shaded bench, Zolokhan broke the silence and said.
” It seems we will not be able to talk about where we left off from yesterday. But I will make everything known by the end of my visit Katya. Come let’s get ready to greet our young guests and catch some wild goats” Zolokhan said.
” Are you going to join in the Goat catching Zolo? Are you sure you not too Kingly to get muddy?”Katya teased the handsome man.
Giving her a cute side smile that made his handsome face look very boyish he replied,
“ Bring on the goats!”
4 years after the Festivities: “Chieftess the flowers are in full bloom, they are ready to be cut. Should we place the Acaias or the Vermillions around the pathways?” Zihana, Katya’s personal servant asked. “I want a very dramatic and sweet-smelling effect this year Zihana. Mix in some mint bushes and Shamoos with the Acacias….Read MoreRead More