THE HALO BREED
The first group of citizens to find out that something horrible was happening were the Ayiba Clan who occupied the range lands of Densua. The Ayiba township was on a hill, and they were primarily sheep men.
Most young males in the families drove their sheep to the rich grasslands beyond the mountain to feed them. They moved in large drives, and had weapons to protect their sheep and themselves from the hyenas, wolves, tigers, and lions that tried to attack them.
It was a normal sight to watch them making the drives early in the morning and returning in the late afternoons.
Some of the families, however, had shacks and wooden cabins sprayed along the stretch of pastureland, and so the boys usually spent about a week or more in pasture with their sheep before making their drive back home.
On that particular day, when the red mist began its deadly journey from the palace to the borders of Densua, the shepherds of Ayiba who had been in pasture were spared the great sleeping enigma that befell the town.
They had expected some of the families to drive their sheep to pasture early in the morning, but as the sun climbed upward, no family showed, and this was strange to those who were already on the pastureland.
It was a boy of sixteen – who had ventured near the borderline to town to find missing sheep – who first saw the red mist on the borderline lying low on the ground.
He had looked at the long trail of red and wondered briefly if it were a sort of rainbow or a peculiar working of nature. The line had just been ankle level when he began looking for the three-missing sheep.
When he found them, and began to drive them back to the pastureland, he was surprised to see that the long stretch of red had now risen and was almost chest level.
Intrigued, he stood near it and watched it for a long time, thrusting his hands through it and trying to diffuse this strange cloud-like thing. Although it was exactly like smoke, it did not have any scent, and it did not choke him.
When he got back to their shack, he called his two elder brothers to come out and see the strange phenomenon, and by that time they all saw that the red mist was rising steadily into the air!
More people came out to see this ominous red mist, and soon they decided that this might be the reason that had prevented the other families from driving their sheep to pasture.
They all decided to go back to the town to find out what was happening. Many chose to go with their sheep, but others penned the sheep and left dogs to tend the gate. By the time they marched up the hill towards the border, the red mist had formed a sort of blanket, rising high into the sky.
They marched through the mist, sheep and boys, and moved towards the town, but then something happened that told them that this was more than a strange mist.
An old lion which had been on the prowl had followed the last shepherds and stalked the sheep craftily, waiting for the right time to pounce. The last shepherd was a young lad called Santrofi. He was going after a stray old sheep when the lion suddenly broke free from cover and came for the sheep!
Santrofi saw the lion too late, and even as he hesitated, the lion leapt high for one of the younger sheep.
It was an old lion, though, and it had miscalculated the distance to the sheep and the agility of its prey. The lamb sprinted forward and entered the red mist. The lion missed, but it roared and chased after the lamb.
Santrofi quickly pulled out his sword and dashed towards the red border.
Some of the other shepherds had seen what was happening and came charging towards the lion with great shouts. They waved their swords and levelled their bows!
The lion was startled and came to a sudden stop!
It saw the onslaught of the humans, and then it turned around to flee to the wild! It lunged against the red mist…
There was a loud thunking sound like a rock smashing into an iron surface, and the lion rebounded off and crashed to the ground! It roared, gained its feet, and lunged for the red barrier again, but once again it hit it solidly, jarringly, and was thrown back forcibly to smash on the ground!
The shepherds began to slow down, and so did Santrofi!
What was this?
What was happening to the lion?
The old lion got to its feet, but it was scared now to lunge through the barrier, so it spun around and roared fiercely at the shepherds as it hunkered and sought for an escape route.
“Get it!” an old shepherd shouted. “It wants to come through our guards!”
The shepherds let their arrows fly!
Six arrows slammed into the lion when it lunged, catching it squarely in the chest, and it crashed heavily to the ground again.
But three arrows missed it, flew past and hit the red mist…but the arrows could not sail through!
They dropped harmlessly to the ground!
“Dear ancestors, what devilery be this here now?” cried the old shepherd as they looked at each other.
The lion was thrashing fiercely on the ground, and as the old shepherd stepped forward, he drew his sword and struck the beast in the heart swiftly to put it out of its misery.
But all of them had forgotten the lion as they approached the red mist that looked like a cloud, at worst a smoke.
Santrofi picked his staff and drove the lost sheep forward, and they all waited with bated breath as the sheep hit the mist and passed through easily to the other side.
The old shepherd scowled and moved towards the red barrier in a bid to join Santrofi, but he came up against the mist, and could not pass through!
He reached out a hand tentatively, and it hit that red swirling mist, and refused to go any further!
“This is devilery!” one shepherd cried and moved towards the mist, but he could not get through.
Santrofi watched them with horror.
“Santrofi, can you hear us?” the old shepherd asked with mountain horror.
“Yes, Opanyin, I can hear you,” the young shepherd answered.
“Do try to tread in, son,” the old shepherd said.
A little scared, Santrofi extended his hand, and it went right through the mist, and a moment later he followed and crossed easily to the other side to join his friends.
“Now, try to move out again,” the old shepherd said.
They all watched, scared, as Santrofi moved towards the red mist… and came up short suddenly!
“Gods of Densua!” he whispered with horror. “What evil is this?”
He took several steps backwards, and then he ran at top speed at the mist and smashed into it!
There was a great metallic thud, and then he bounced into the air, was hurled back, and fell down hard on the ground!
“What is this?” one shepherd screamed with terror now. “What is happening?”
“Something evil, son,” the old shepherd said with fear as his eyes travelled along the red mist. “This… this vile thing is encompassing the city, see!”
He stretched out his hand, pointing to the mist which stretched as far as their eyes could see.
“It has formed a… a barrier!” he continued in an unsteady voice. “See! It will let things enter, but it won’t let us go out!”
“And it is expanding into the air, see!” one shepherd shouted.
They looked up!
Yes, the red mist was slowly expanding into the sky, and high up it had started to cover the blue sky beyond.
“It is becoming an oven!” Santrofi said as he got to his feet painfully. “See!”
“A dome!” the old shepherd said softly to himself. “It is becoming a dome! It is trapping us all inside Densua! Gods of our ancestors, help us! Whatever this is, it is not good! It is horrible!”
And the shepherds of Ayiba stood still and watched the horrible mist creeping ominously up and over them!
King Daniel Baffour Koduah came awake slowly.
He was alarmed to see the sun streaming through the windows of his luxurious bedroom.
How long had he slept?
This could not be true, no!
He was usually up before eight in the morning, unless he had an erotic night with one or two of the many women at his disposal. He yawned and sat up in bed, and as he rubbed his eyes he noticed something strange.
The skyline through his window appeared to be red!
He scowled and got out of his bed quickly and dragged a great coat from the foot of the bed. He quickly put it on and belted it, and then he walked to the window and looked out.
Dan gasped with sudden horror!
The sky was indeed red!
He could see the sun, yes, but it was beyond the sea of red!
The king uttered a little cry of horror and spun from the window.
He rushed to the right of the room and opened the huge doors that led to the luxurious balcony beyond.
He walked to the edge of the balcony, held the railing, and looked up.
His heart thudded with indescribable fear at what he saw!
There was a circular part of the sky which was not covered with the red patch. He could see a sea of red in the horizon, all around, and it was now forming an arc across the sky slowly!
The only portion without red was the centre, but the red was creeping in steadily from all sides of the sky, converging slowly so that the clear patch became less and less bigger!
And then, the word exploded fiercely in the king’s head!
He could barely breathe now!
He saw a lot of people in the forecourt, and outside the palace walls he could hear the great m0ans and screams of the people!
The king knew there was only one thing that was running through everybody’s mind:
What would happen when that red dome closed over the sky completely?
The king spun around when he heard loud pounding on the door, and he raced towards it blindly. With trembling hands, he pulled the doors open and saw the scared, sweating face of Kobby Obeng in the corridor!
“Kobby!” the king murmured in a croaky voice. “I told you to go to the Pale Lands! I ordered you to get the damn Golden Elemental Totem!”
He saw great horror on his commander’s face.
“There are reports,” Kobby said tightly as he wiped sweat from his forehead. “No one can can walk through the red mist!”
“What the fvcking fvck shit are you talking about?” the king asked, his voice almost maniacal.
“The red mist has formed a dome around us, Your Majesty,” Kobby said, striving to remain calm. “It is along the borders, my Lord… all around us, and it allows nothing out. Allows nobody out!”
The king stared at Kobby with dumbfounded terror!
His eyes were inexorably drawn to the sky beyond the balcony!
The clear circular patch was smaller now!
The red was closing it rapidly!
What would happen when that red dome closed over the sky completely?
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