THE HALO BREED
Densua was gripped with the terror of the unknown.
They came out of their homes and their workshops and stores. Hordes of men, women, youth, and children poured out onto the streets to stare at that ominous sight in the sky represented by a hazy red mist that seemed to be closing in above them like a giant dome, locking them in.
Already, rumours of how nobody could get out was beginning to make the rounds, and people were beginning to panic. Many got on horses and galloped to the borders in a desperate bid to escape whatever evil was coming on them.
Families were quickly packing food and necessities into wagons and coaches as the horror slowly gained root. Many headed towards the palace, hopeful that the warriors could protect them from the scourge that was imminently coming!
There were conflicting information making the rounds. Some said it was the end of the world. Others said the Creator was angry at them for wrongs, and was sending plagues on the great city. Many also called it an Apocalypse, and others said it was the Great Purge where evil people would be consumed leaving only the righteous.
Families gathered in locked rooms to pray to gods and deities and the Supreme Being to save them from what was beginning to look like the end of things.
There was confusion.
Above all, there was terror in Densua.
At the palace, the fear factor was degrees higher.
King Daniel Baffour Koduah knew that this was what he had been warned about. Fifteen years had seemed like such a long time, and as the years went on he had somehow managed to calm himself down. It had been easy to believe that the Armageddon was a hoax, a fantasy tale that his father and those senile members of the House of Representatives had taught themselves to believe.
Everything had seemed good and fine, heading for a blissful long life. The threat of Gus Kukah was gone, and Sarai the bitch had managed to flee from the palace to that accursed land near the Pale Lands.
Life had been sweeter with the arrival of his bellowed Grace, a daughter as fair as she was vivacious and great to be with. She had filled his life with warmth, happiness, and satisfaction. Lately, he had even been thinking about divorcing Sarai officially and marrying another. He had admitted to himself that Sarai’s allure ebbed the moment Gus died, and he had found it less and less desirable to have her in his bed.
True, she was still amazing in bed, but lately she had been mainly sullen and largely unresponsive, and steadily his anger had been stoked against her. Furthermore, the sight of her daughter, Dawn, was an affront to his sensibilities because the girl – despite having her mother’s features and build – had the sharp, accusing eyes of her father, Gus Kukah.
Looking at her was just like looking into Gus’ acid stare, and it was beginning to be both unnerving and irksome.
And then, quite suddenly, his father’s spirit had appeared to him, and immediately afterwards he had had that visit from Mavis Tease, that old Rep.
Where did this come from?
Was it from the tenements below the palace as he had been warned? Was this because the elemental totem had not been available? Once again, his wicked father had dealt a cruel blow to him.
They stood watching the red mist closing over in the sky, and now the space left for it to cover appeared really small.
“Your Majesty!” Kobby Obeng said suddenly, snapping the king from his stunned survey of the sky.
“Warrior!” the king replied, startled. “Speak.”
Kobby licked his lips, and it was evident that he was greatly affected by what was happening.
“What are we going to do, my Lord?” Kobby asked in a dry voice. “This is the Armageddon we were warned about! We are not prepared for this, my Lord, not prepared one bit! What are we going to do? Our people might perish in the heat of whatever might be coming!”
The king ran a shaky hand across his face.
“You speak of a higher truth, Kobby,” he said in an unsteady voice. “Call the Scrollbearers, summon the Wisemen, get the Elders and the Soothsayers. Bring me the Sage and the Oracleseekers! Above all, summon all the surviving members of the old House of Representatives! If there’s something that can be done to reverse this impending calamity, we need to know, and fast!”
“Yes, my Lord!” Kobby said and turned to leave the king’s chambers.
“And Kobby!” King Dan said quickly.
The warrior turned around again.
“You heard what the SLOD said the last time,” the king said softly. “This, whatever it is, might be emanating from the tenements below. If we’re not already too late, send your most able warriors down there and secure that door as best as you could until we find out what to do.”
Kobby Obeng nodded.
“It shall be done, my Lord,” he said evenly, but there was a lack of conviction. “But they’ll need the keys to the door, and for lowering the blocking pillars.”
“Yes, yes, wait for me in the Room of Scrolls,” the king said. “I’ll come down in a moment to get them for you.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Kobby said and headed down the corridor.
He descended to the lower levels of the palace and was several paces away from the Room of Scrolls when he heard a great clamouring of raised voices and agitated cries from the forecourt.
He hesitated, and then behind him seven of his chief warriors appeared.
Kobby spun and faced them.
“What is it, Alfred?” he asked the huge, muscular warrior leading the six others.
He was Alfred Gbemi, the second in command of the warriors.
Alfred was a huge, broad-shouldered, handsome man, but his face was covered with sweat and foreboding as he looked at Kobby.
“The Tenements were breached, Kobby!” he said in a rush. “Some of the boys saw the red cloud billowing out from down there, so they descended! Protective pillars have been broken, and on the floor are the tattered remains of what looks to be an anaconda…huge, big, ugly one!”
“Anaconda?” Kobby asked with a deep scowl.
“Yes,” Alfred said and held out a little silver object. “And this.”
Kobby took the silver jewellery from the man’s hand and looked at it critically with a frown.
“The Princess’ earring?” he asked. “But…how? Where did you find it?”
“Entrance to the tenements,” Alfred replied.
“She was inside the tenements?”
“I don’t know, Kobby,” Alfred replied. “Only she can answer that. But she was definitely at the entrance!”
They were suddenly interrupted by loud screams and shouting from the main forecourt! All the warriors drew their swords almost simultaneously, and then they fell in behind Kobby Obeng as he rushed through the door and down the steps, then rushed at the main door and pushed it open.
He leaped through the doorway into the main court of the palace where a great number of warriors and palace staff had gathered and were staring at the sky as they quivered with terror!
The sky had finally closed over, the mist of red taking over in the form of a dome, but the blue sky was still discernible beyond the red mist, the sun still visible but dimmed.
And, within the red mist up there, was the gigantic face of something that was very evil. He was like a man, but he had glittering green eyes that seemed to pierce right to the hearts of the terrified people looking up at him. Two golden horns began on each side of his forehead and curved down behind his ears.
“People of Densua, your domination is complete, and it is quite futile to resist,” the evil thing in the sky said calmly, almost soothingly. “You’re food to our hunger, you and all humans above the earth. We come from Hades, and we’re thirsty and hungry. My name is Lord Lastor!”
Suddenly, Kobby began to gasp!
He could barely breathe, and as sweat mounted up on his face he saw that several people were also wheezing and gasping for air.
“Ah, by now the little oxygen left under the dome is dwindling,” Lord Lastor said calmly from the sky. “We have cut off the flow of oxygen! We don’t breathe that air! Now, you will agree to be our slaves and our playthings and our food! Some of you will join us by accepting my mark! Those of you who refuse will die…we’ll, we’ll drink you up!”
It was so hard to breathe now, and many people were already collapsing to the ground. The air had become tepid and poisonous, and Kobby Obeng tottered when he saw them dropping from the sky!
The one called Lord Lastor dropped first!
He was huge, powerful, and very handsome even with his horns and sickly-green eyes! He was holding a long staff with a globule at its end, and he was dressed in regal white clothes!
And with him were a horde of fiendish, wicked-faced creatures from the crypts! Their faces were like gargoyles, and they had three legs and four arms!
They had the features of humans, but their limbs and organs were absurdly huge and stretched, their skins callous and wrinkled! They had various coloured-eyes, and as they began to land and howl like pure beasts, Kobby noticed that there were gill-like projections on each side of their necks!
Their hands were huge, their fingers severally-jointed and with claw-like nails!
They howled, like wolves and raced furiously at the humans!
“We need Gus,” Alfred, gasping beside Kobby, said as he took a fighting stance. “We need Gus Kukah for this, Kobby!”
And, suddenly, Kobby felt the heaviest pang of regret and guilt as Alfred’s words hit him, and he watched with a sick heart as these beasts pounced on the humans!
Kobby was horrified!
These beasts, whoever they were, were feasting on the people of Densua!
The first one to go was Alfred Gbemi!
Hard and confident, Alfred roared and raced at the tall figure of Lord Lastor! This demon was the only one with two normal legs, but his expression was filled with excited glee as he marched purposely into the palace!
Alfred screamed, jumped in the air, and spun with the hilt of his sword held in both hands. His move was perfect and exquisitely-timed because he was a master warrior! He struck Lord Lastor in the side of the neck…and the swords just broke into pieces in Alfred’s hand!
“A feisty one!” Lord Lastor said, then his right hand fell on Alfred’s left shoulder! He squeezed, crushing Alfred’s shoulder bones cruelly, making the warrior to scream with agonizing pain!
Lord Lastor’s mouth opened then!
Kobby screamed with horror!
The beast’s mouth extended into a huge, round, orifice, and the teeth in there looked like grinding knives! He lifted Alfred and bit the man’s head off!
He spat the head out like the crown of a bottled drink, and then a long, slimy, thick, and round tongue that had bristles on its shot from the monster’s mouth into Alfred’s neck, drilling and sucking inward and his circular mouth closed on Alfred neck as he began to suck the blood out of him greedily!
Kobby Obeng dropped to his knees with sweat and tears on his face, then he retched and vomited badly!
Lord Lastor, lips smeared with blood, tossed Alfred’s lifeless body away from him, and the man’s lifeless body hit the hard-concrete floor!
Lord Lastor belched first, and then he bellowed furiously and reached out for Kobby Obeng!
All along, the other beasts were doing the same, snapping off the heads of the people and sticking their tongues into their necks to drink!
And when Lord Lastor’s hand closed on Kobby’s head and lifted him, Kobby’s heart raced because he was terrified!
He screamed, over and over…
Then, he heard his mother’s warning voice, his sweet mother who had refused to see him ever since she walked out of Kobby’s house in anger and pain over the death of Gus Kukah, telling him the murder of Gus would come to haunt them, and that his children would never be safe with Gus gone!
“I’m sorry, Gus!” Kobby prayed, because he was aware that he was going to die. “Oh, Gus! Please forgive me!”
It was the very first time Kobby Obeng had admitted to himself that he killed an innocent man! He wept bitterly and watched as Lord Lastor’s long mouth opened…
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