Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chapter 7: Mountains & Chasms

Hello readers! For a limited time only I present to you the first few chapters of my up coming first book in the Mekonnen Epic series, "The Warrior From Aksum". It is still being proof read and improved but because of high demand to read the story from anxious fans of the artwork and idea I decided to treat the world with what is complete so far. Be aware that there may be a few spelling and grammatical errors but I hope this does not distract you from enjoying the story. Thank you and Enjoy! All story and artwork copyright to Jerome Matiyas, 2006 to 2013 and beyond.CHAPTER 7

Mountains and Chasms

HOUNDS OF HELLBack on earth, in the dark Semien mountain range, Mekonnen with sword in hand is in hot pursuit after the Hooded One who has Penuel under his arm. Mekonnen manages run fast enough to catch up with them, to the Hooded One's surprise. The Hooded One turns its head to look back to sees Mekonnen's belt glowing in the dark, but none of the other warriors, nor Penuel, can see it. The creature runs and heads for an Amda in the distance, a high rising plateau about 20 cubits high with a steep, almost perpendicular slope and a flat top. Mekonnen senses that is its destination but is determined to catch him before he gets there with the girl. Is it going to climb up that amda with the girl on his back? It seems like a difficult task but with the sort of power and skill those assassins seem to have, anything is possible. The other warriors are still is hot pursuit behind Mekonnen, Sami and Kebi want to fires arrows but don't want to risk hitting Penuel. The same goes for those with spears to throw at him. Suddenly they hear growls and running feet approaching behind them. Gedi, Endal, Nezana and Moti and Achemi, Bezael and Daniab looks back and sees more hooded ones approaching them, but this time they were accompanied by more hideous beasts. Beasts that look like black large hounds as big as leopards with large, savage teeth and red eye glowing with rage. They can only be described has demonic hounds from hell. Now the warriors most decide if they will turn around and face the snarling beasts from hell or keep on running towards the one that kidnapped the girl from Gultosh. "Egziabeher Hoy! There're going to kill us!!" Screams Zegi in terror by the sight and runs off from the group in another direction. An unwise decision that will make him an open target. "Zegi! Come back!! Don't run you fool! We most stick together or they will come after you!" Endal screams at Zegi who kept on running towards the other side of the mountain, as two evil hounds took off after him.

UP THE AMBAOn the steep amba slope the kidnapper is almost at the top with Penuel still squirming but Mekonnen just below him about three-quarters of the way up. He grabs on to a loose rock causing it to fall and almost losing his grip but he quickly regains footing to keep climbing. Kebi draws his bow and arrow and aims at the kidnapper, "I have to take a chance. Most give Meko more time to reach the top." Achemi exclaims, "No, you will hit the girl! What are you doing!""No, trust me. I have great aim. You, Bezael and Kariel go closer to the amda to catch her if she falls." Achemi, Bezael, Daniab, Nabu, Moti and Sami run up to the base of the slope, looking up in anticipation ready to catch Penuel. Kebi aims, focuses on the hooded kidnappers back, and releases the arrow. The arrows flies through the air, hitting its target in the left thigh instead. The hooded one, does not seem to feel pain but the arrow does go through it's leg, pinning it to the side of the cliff. It stops and trying to pull itself loose to not avail. The warriors huddle together, ready to catch the girl now if she was to fall with her dreaded kidnapper now. Kebi pulls out another arrow from his back case, aims and fires again. This time hitting his target in the middle of its back. It snarls and cringes in pain, but is still determined to climb the rest of the way with the girl. Mekonnen continues climbing and now shortens the distance between him and the hooded one. Still more hooded ones and hounds are coming closer behind them. Nezana, Abu and Desi draw their bows and arrows and takes aim then fire. Endal, Gedi and Moti stand ground to face the hordes with swords and spears, bracing themselves to face the hordes in close combat. Now the hooded kidnapper pulls itself up with all its strength to reach the top, breaking the arrow in its leg in the process, but Mekonnen is right at its heels, not directly below him but off to the right side. Still the kidnapper reaches the very top and hoist Penuel to the top first so it can use both hands to lift himself up. But to the dismay of Mekonnen and the warriors below looking up, there are more Hooded Ones waiting at the top to assist their friend by pulling the girl up to the top. "Aykonen!" Mekonnen scream when it sees another Hooded one grabbing Penuel from above. "Sami, and Kebi sees what is happening and shoots arrows into hooded one at the top, causing three to fall off the top to the bottom of the amba. But while Penuel, still bound at hands and feet, was being grabbed by another one from the top she managed to wiggle as hard as she can and kicks her first kidnapper in the face, causing him to lose his grip from the edge and fall all the way back down to the bottom of the amba, hitting the rocky ground at the bottom and crumble into a dark heap. The warriors draw nearer to the heap to make sure he was dead but to find a pile of slithering snakes scurrying into the rocks and sand to hide.

CRASH LANDINGFinally Mekonnen reaches the top and hoists himself up in haste to save Penuel from her new captor who is running with her under its arm to a clearing at the top that is lit with torches around the edges. Other mountain peaks can be seem from the top as the moon light illumines the dark horizon, including the silhouette of the top of the highest peak, Ras Dejen, can be seem to the north. With no time to admire the spectacular view, Mekonnen grabs his sword from sheath and runs at top steed to catch up with them. Eyes blazing, teeth gritted, heart pounding, all muscles tensed! Mekonnen will stop at nothing to catch these creatures and save the girl. He cannot accept failing now. He finally gets close enough to the one holding Penuel make a leap to grab the captor and stick his sword in its neck. Just that moment as Mekonnen, Penuel and the Hooded One was about to tumble into a heap, a bright streak of light curves across the sky. At the front of the streak of light are six objects like glowing stars, now heading directly towards the top of the Amba that Mekonnen is on. It lights up the dark sky as if the sun was in the midday. Every one saw what was happening and stopped. All the Aksumites warriors and Beta Israel warriors and the Hooded Ones and hell hounds, even the animals that were awake because of the chaos, stop in their tracks from what they were doing, to look at the bright lights in the sky. Even back in Aksum, all the people that were outside wrapping up the Timkat festivities of eating, singing and dancing saw the light in the sky over the Simien Mountains and stopped in track to see it. The people of the Kingdom of Semien, Inda Silassie, Debarq and Gultosh as well, also stopped and wondered. Even the creatures and beasts in the Realms of Darkness try to hide and block their eyes as they see the light permeating their atmosphere from above. "What is it?!" they thought and said out loud. Some people thought they were shooting stars falling to earth. They had no idea they were witnessing the rapid descent of six Mel'akt from Semayat, the Realms of Light, coming to rescue their fellow warrior who fought with the elaborate spear in Gultosh and the little children from bondage in the Realm of Darkness. Nati knew what was about to happen so he looks up and smiles and says to the other children, "They are coming to save us."

With an immense crash and flash of light like a thunder and lightning storm the six beings pierced into the mountains like meteorites but without destroying it, causing the earth to shake in hundreds stadia radius. Most people thought it was an earthquake and either ran for cover and started to prayer. All the warriors lost their balance and fell to the ground. Including the Hooded Ones and hell hounds that were closing in on them fell to the ground and began to run away when they sensed what fell to earth.

As for Mekonnen, the six beings from the Realms of Light crash lands right around him, Penuel and the Hooded One, engulfing them all in light. With that light and blast, the mountains seemed to crack open and Mekonnen begins to feel as if he is falling into a deep crevice with Penuel and her captor into the center of the Earth. They fall, and fall and fall with bright light all around them. The Hooded One begins to burn up and glow like burning coal, then quickly disintegrated in the bright light but Mekonnen and Penuel are unsinged. Still the sensation of falling was not very comforting, wondering when they will hit the ground. Gradually they felt like they could not tell if they were falling down or going up instead and the brightness turn to gray them black. In the blackness Mekonnen can see red eyes and snarling teeth around them as they fell, growling and snapping at him and Penuel with unknown words. Only Mekonnen's mysterious golden belt illumined the thick darkness now. Finally the falling stopped as they land rather slowly on the ground not hitting it as hard as expected, considering the great height they fell from.

THE RESCUENow Mekonnen and Penuel are in a flat enclosure surrounded by several steep cliffs and mountain peaks near and far. Mekonnen looks around at his strange surrounds and has no idea where he is, but it looks like the amba plateau has become a low basin and what used to be high mountain peaks are now deep chasms and what used to be deep chasms are now high mountain peaks. It's like they were transport to a strange inverted world. Even the sky is odd, with black dots instead of twinkling stars on a dull grayish sky and a blood red moon looms over them like a giant, pock-marked fruit. The stench in the air was like sulphur mingled with a trash dump and the temperature is unusual and very uncomfortable, both hot and cold at the same time. Mekonnen looks over at Penuel, laying on the ground with black chains wrapped around her body and legs, he touches her arm and asks, "Are you okay?" All she can do is nod to say yes, still stunned by her ordeal. They look up and see six figures like men standing around them with weapons drawn and poised in various poses, ready to fight. One of them, wearing mostly blue apparel with golden fringes, a golden helmet on his head that could also pass for a crown and holding a large broad sword at the hilt in both hands with the blade pointing upwards says to Mekonnen and the maiden in a deep resounding voice, "Do not be afraid, valiant warrior Mekonnen and Lady Penuel. We are here to protect you." Mekonnen asks him, "Who Who are you? Where are we?" The one with the broad sword drawn replies, "Do not bother with who I am. You are now in the dark realms of the enemy, but we will get you out of here soon."Then they heard small voices crying out, "Help us! Please help us!" It was the voices of children in the distance. Up on one of the peaks the children can be seen chained to it upon heaps of skulls and bones. Up on another mountain peak littered with skulls and bones are more children, but young maidens, just like Penuel. For some reason the little boys and girls were kept separately from the older, teen age damsels. One of the six beings of Light, wearing violet and wielding a long lance of impressive designs on the shaft and blade, flies over to Penuel, touches her chains and they immediately shatter into pieces like glass, setting her free. Another, wearing indigo garments and carrying a large golden axe, helps Mekonnen up to his feet. The one wearing violet apparel with the lance, leaps into the air onto the peak with the little children and rips off their chains like vines. Nati smiles at him, touched his right hand then ask, "Are you a Mel'ak ZeEgziabeher?" which means "Angel of God." He answers, "U-we, Mel'akt ZeEgziabeher. We have come to rescue you. Hold one tight." Now some of the vile creatures of the Dark Realm that resemble crocodiles and lizards, but much more hideous and pungent, begin to emerge out of the darkness and crevices to confront the Mel'akt that have just stormed into their domain. Another being of light wearing yellow apparel with decorative violet fringes and hems and two curved swords, leaps onto the mountain with the damsels and rips off their chains the same way while slashing off the heads and arms of vile reptilians in the process that tried to stop him. Another Mel'ak in orange apparel with a great fiery bow begins firing flaming arrows at mountains causing them to explore and crumble and then aimed at individual Hooded ones and vile creatures causing them to burst into flames and explode into dust and ashes. Now the Mel'akt in blue with the long broad sword leaps into the air and smites a mountain top with his divine weapon a great noise send rocks and debris flying to reveal two hooded ones holding captive the unknown spear wielding warrior in green who assisted the warriors in Gultosh. The Hooded Ones tried to resist but were over come and slain quickly with the broad sword and the unknown warrior was freed from his chains. "Okay, my brother, now we leave this evil realm!" The Mel'ak in orange launches a fiery arrow into the air to defy natural physics and pierces a hole in the murky gray sky of the dark realm to reveal the brilliant radiance of Semayat, The Realm of Light, on the other side. Two Mel'akt, the one in violet and the other in indigo, hold up their injured brother in green and fly up into the hole in the sky to take him back to the Realm of Light for rejuvenation. After they spread their massive wings and fly through with a trail of fire behind them, the hole in the sky closes like a scroll. Three arrows are launched at the base of a mountain in this inverted dark realm and with an explosion opens up a wide tunnel that leads back out to the natural world on to the Semien Mountains. The one with the broad sword says to Mekonnen, "Warrior Mekonnen, please take these little ones and maidens back to their homes in your world. We will escort you out of here and then we most leave quickly."Mekonnen and Penuel round up the children and lead them down through the tunnel and out to the natural world at the base of the amba on the other side. The children all held hands to make a chain as they all run out with Mekonnen and two Mel'akt in the front and the two others in the back of the chain on children, fending off vile creatures and hooded ones that try to stop them or get in their way.

THE CONJURERS ESCAPEMeanwhile some Hooded Ones wearing white and the others wearing decorative robes escaped to another end of the dark realm. The conjurer with the silvery gloves who used the dagger to sacrifice the maiden earlier is able to used the same gloved hands to generate power to grab hold of the serpent being Waynaba, who was not been fully formed into a complete physical body yet, and place in into a translucent glass jar about 2 cubits high and 1 cubit in diameter with a bottle neck to a mouth sealed with a rubber cork. Their diabolical plan to resurrect the old serpent with the sacrifice of small child and young maidens has been interrupted. Now they whisk Waynaba away to another area of the Semien Mountains far away from where there domain was ransacked by the six warriors from the Realms of Light. "Do not fear Geta Waynaba." says the head conjurer with the silver gloves. "We will find another way to bring you back from the shadows of Death."

Mekonnen and Penuel with the four Mel'akt lead the children out into the Semien wilderness under natural twinkling stars and a shining white moon. At the base of the amba they hear sound of familiar voices, "Mekonnen! You're Alive! And you got Penuel!" It is Gedion with Endal, Kebi, Moti and the rest, "Hey Mekonnen, we thought we lost you and the maiden for sure." Endal adds in excitement. Achemi, Daniab and Bezael rush over to Penuel and the other girl from their village, "Penuel! Deborah! You are alive! We are so happy to see you two! Are you okay? Are you hurt?" Achemi exclaimed. "It was horrible! Those monsters, they chained us upinside the mountain " said Deborah as she breaks down crying. Daniab reassures her, "It is okay now. We will take you all home now, okay?"

Mekonnen commands, "Let's take these children back to their home towns. These, other fine warriors, our new friends, will help us.""Who are they?" Gedion inquires."They are warriors from another ally kingdom. That is all I know about them right now. Come on lets go!"

OFF TRACKSo the warriors head back down the mountain to take the rescued children back home. All the hounds and hooded creatures seems to be gone away after seeing the flash of light. Suddenly there is are loud noises in the wilderness again,"Groooaawwll! Arrff!! Aarrff!!" was the distorted growl and barking of the hellish hounds. "Help me! Aaahhhhh!" someone screams in the distance. "We most go back! That sounds like Zegi!" Abu screams with concern,"Aaahhhh! Get away from me!" another warrior bellows in the dark. "That sounds like Nezana! We cannot leave him out there!" Mekonnen screams to the others. "Any one of you feels compelled can come with me! We most save them!"Then Mekonnen looks at the four remaining Mek'akt warriors that helped them save the children and defeat the creatures in the inverted realm under the mountain. "Brave Warriors! I thank you for helping us rescue the little ones, but are you coming to help us save our friends now?" The Mel'ak with the broad sword replies, "I am sorry, but we are not permitted to go back. We must go forward and take these children home. That was our order from the Almighty One." Another Mel'ak in red replies. "But if you most go back, you go at your own risk. Egzaibeher Amlak be with you!" "So be it then! Lets go!" and off went Mekonnen with six of his men, Endal, Gedi, Abu, Desi, Embi and Nabu, running at top speed into the moonlit wilderness and up the slopes in an attempt to save their companions. The other warriors continued down the mountain with the four Mel'akt to take the children home, not knowing they were actually in the company of four beings from the heavenly Realm of Light.As they ran Mekonnen thinks and prays within himself, "Geta Egziabeher, this has been a very strange night for me and for all of us. I have seen demons, monsters, and now I believe you have sent your Mel'akt to save us. I was transported into that strange world that can be the very pit of hell and you have brought me out of it with all the little children in a miraculous way. Now I ask you. I beg of you. Please save me and rest of my friends as we plunge deeper into the perilous darkness towards viscous enemies in these Semien mountains. Spear us and I will know you are real and want to preserve me for your ultimate purpose. Spear me and I will dedicate the rest of my life to serving you and your eternal kingdom." This is the desperate vow that Mekonnen makes in his heart as he continues running up the mountain with his comrades to save Nezan and Zegi. "Over there, I see movement in the distance!" Endal said, pointing with his curved sword. The seven warriors picked up speed to catch up with the figments they saw in the distance which looked like one of the warriors being chased by hooded ones on a high ridge. Then they heard more noises coming from another direction then a scream, "Aaahhhh!" and the sound of running and rustling trees and snapping twigs. "You guys keeps going that way." said Desi. "Abu, Embi! Come this way with me. We'll split up and take care of this one over here!" So they split up with Mekonnen, Gedion, Endal and Nabu going southwards and Desi, Abu and Embi going east. Endal aims, throws his spear and strikes down one of the hounds impaling it through the back. It tumbles to the ground and the body disintegrates quickly but there are 5 or 6 more and 3 of them turn around and to run head long into the warriors. Mekon, Gedi, Endal and Nabu stop running forward although they want to run away but instead they stand firm to confront the beasts face to face. Each second the hounds come closer, until finally they clash with the warriors. They fight valiantly to the best they can with swords, spears, and arrows. The hounds are almost as larger as the warriors themselves in terms of the length of there bodies as seen when they leap into the air and onto the warriors, Mekonnen thrusts his sword upward to skewer one hell hound through the chest but still gets pinned to the ground. Mekonnen is bitten on the arm. Its jaws feels like a vice grip onto Mekonnen arm that will not let go. Mekonnen stabs the beast in the neck multiple time before it finally lets go and falls lifeless with Mekonnen's arm still it its mouth. Mekonnen pry the hound's mouth open with his hand and then his sword with some difficulty but was able to get it off eventually. Just in time to see a Hooded assassin standing over him with a sword over his head ready to strike down on him. With his left arm now in pain and bleeding Mekonnen has to ignore this and lift his sword to block the blow and fight for his life. Three times the Hooded one strikes down at Mekonnen with his sword and Mekonnen deflects each one. Now he musters up all his strength and roars with determination "Arrrrgghh!!" and with that yell as if to regenerate more will power he jumps up to his feet, spins around in 360 degrees with his blade out, slashing his opponent on the chest, then spins around again in the opposite direction to slash the villain at the neck, sending its right arm and head flying off. Down the body falls to the ground with snakes slithering out of the wound as before. The vipers strike at Mekonnen's feet but he was barely able to jump away in time. Who knows what would be the dire consequences if one of those serpents sinking its venom into someone. As he jumps away to avoid being bitten he looks up and around him to see Gedi, Endal and Nabu clash swords and spears with Hooded Ones the best they could. He was about to help them when he notices beyond them are dozens, almost a hundred more hooded ones and hell hounds coming toward him and his men from out of the forests and caves in the mountain slopes around them. Mekonnen realizes there are too many for just the four of them to take on alone so he calls out to his men, "Warriors, looks around you! There are too many of them! We most run. This way!" They look around and it did not take them two seconds to see that Mekonnen was correct. Just then Mekonnen's belt flashes a blinding light again striking the Hooded chasers and the hounds with blindness. They mourn and groan in agony with hands and paws to their faces. The warriors noticed the flash and sees their chance the escape while their pursuers are temporarily blind. "Mekonnen, what kind of belt is it you have on? That's the second time it flashed like lightning tonight." Nabu inquires."Someone gave it to me in the Negus palace. I don't understand where its powers comes from but its given us another chance to escape. Lets go!" While the Hooded Ones and hounds grope around in the dark in blindness the men ran southwards up an incline and into another forested area of lobelia plants and trees. The warriors would have favored heading northward towards Aksum but right now they are trapped and don't have a choice. They must find a way to make a u-turn at some point in the forest or in the mountains and head back up north, and some how catch up with the others being escorted by the four Mel'akt. As they ran Mekonnen turned to his warrior friends and said, "I'm sorry for bringing you all into this predicament with me but if we happen to get separated in this flight please try your best too head back up north to Askum. Hrai, my friends?" Endal replies, "No need to apologize, Meko. We are all in this together, brother. We will be heading back home in no time, don't you worry!" Nabu replies, "At some point we may have to hide from them to let them past us then we can head up north. Does any one of you have any water left?"Gedi replies, "Yes, I do." and stretches out his arm to hand Nabu his flask of water while they were still running then adds, "Lets look for tall trees or a cliff with a cave so we can hide. But we must keep on moving because I'm sure those dogs can pick up our scent." Mekonnen adds, "I prayer Egziabeher will guide us to the right path to go back home, and that we not perish after coming all this way. If its possible then we keep going south towards T'ana Hayk (Lake T'ana) until we find a village or settlement that is willing to take us in."Moments later after running for about ten minutes they find themselves on top a high ridge where they can see for great distances in every direction and also deep chasms and steep mountain ledges that are a long way down if one should fall. They have gained some distances ahead of their pursuers who have actually lost their trail now but still coming after them relentlessly. Nabu has an idea, "Look, we can climb down the side of this cliff here and go around to the other side that will take us north. We can also hide here and let them past us by."Gedi quickly replies, "Good idea, lets go." "Wait!" Endal interrupts, "Since we're going to be climbing Lets take off our sandals and throw them down that way and over the ridge on the otherside so they will pick out scent further down south instead. Then they will pass us by!" "U-we, that's a great plan, Endal." Mekonnen replies as he immediately began unlatching his sandals. In seconds the four warriors had their sandals off, ran forward, threw them further down south and down the cliff on the other side of the ridge, then ran back and began climbing down over the steep cliff using just hands and feet without ropes. After climbing down and across for about five minutes they could hear the sound of the Hooded Ones running on the mountain closer above them, and just as they planned they kept on running southward not knowing Mekonnen, Gedi, Endal and Nabu were climbing down the side of the cliff below them. The warriors stopped moving for a few moments to wait for the noise above to pass by to make sure they are not heard and get caught. The Hooded ones and the hounds pick up the scents of the warriors' sandals and kept running as fast as they can hoping to catch up with them, not knowing they were already climbing down below them. When the demonic hounds found sandals on the ground they grabbed them up in their mouths and shook their head vigorously from side to side like a hyena or wolf dog would after catching a mole rat in it's jaws. They were almost certain they were on the right track and proceeded southwards with greater speed. When the four warriors stop hearing the running above they sigh with relief thinking they certainly out-smarted the enemy and are now on there way home. "Sounds like they fell for our trick. Lets keep going brothers. Watch your step and be careful." Said Mekonnen. They continued down and sideways along a narrow ledge on the side of the mountain that is scarey to look down and hard to find a grip at certain points. The footing gave way under Nabu and he almost fell into the dark abyss down below but Mekonnen and Gedi were able pull him up. Suddenly they heard a loud scream in the distance, ""Aaaaeeeehhhh!" Then some growls and guttural sounds, "Rrrrrrooooaaghh!!" They were blood curdling to hear and Mekonnen and his comrades perceive they were the sounds of the other party of Desi, Abu, and Embi that went the other way east to save Nezan and Zegi. Now they realize their other comrades are in trouble and may have been caught by the Hooded ones and their hounds. Mekonnen begin to feel the pain from his bite wounds. "Wait, my wound is bleeding." Mekonnen stops right there on the steep narrow ledge, take out his sword and cuts strips of cloth from his shirt, wraps his forearm near the elbow with it then continued climbing. Suddenly stones and sands begin falling on top the warriors' heads and faces. Mekonnen and his friends looks up and to their dismay sees their evil pursuers about 20 cubits above, glaring down at them with malicious red eyes."Oh No! They found us!" Mekonnen exclaims.TRAPPED ON A LEDGEA Hooded One lowers himself down on a long rope tied to a tree above and lands onto the ledge next to Mekonnen while a hound manages the jump down nimbly onto the ledge like a cat on the other side next to Nabu, trapping the four warriors in the middle. Now they most think fast, trapped on both sides, should they fight and fall to their deaths or surrender? Surrendering is not an option. It doesn't look like the Hooded Ones take warriors as prisoners. As the Hooded one slides down the rope and steps foot on the ledge Mekonnen charges him with ferocity and collides into him with an elbow to the head, catching the hooded one off guard and causing him to lose his grip from the rope, sending him falling into the dark chasm below, screaming, "RRROOOOAAAaaaaaaagghhhh!" Mekonnen was about to fall in after him but grabbed onto the robe and swings to the left. On the other side, the monstrous hound lounges viciously at Nabu, who already has his sword and dagger up, sticks his blade into the beast's neck and eye as they both fall into the chasm. Nabu and the beast bounce and roll off the side of the cliff as they fight on their way down, but no one expects any one of them to survive that great, long fall. Two more Hooded Ones swing down on ropes for Endal and Gedi as they brace themselves, drawing their weapons. At the same time Mekonnen comes swinging back from the left to the right and kicks one of the villains in the chest sending him falling into the abyss with the first one. Gedi swings his sword at the other one who also has a scimitar drawn, clashing swords with Gedi while still on the rope. Gedi prevails by slashing off the Hooded one's hand and stabbing him in the torso, causing him to fall. Now there are two ropes for Gedi and Endal to grab on to, swing and climb down to the far right and jump off onto another ledge lower down about 30 cubits away leaving Mekonnen higher up. Another Hooded One comes down quickly for Mekonnen with sword drawn towards him as Mekonnen shouts, to his friends,"Keep going! Escape while you can!" "Meko! we can't leave him up there." Endal says. "There is nothing we can do now, Endal. Lets go." Gedi adds sadly.

LONG WAY DOWNMekonnen leaps off from his ropes and grabs on to the Hooded one's arm with the scimitar, pulling them both down into the chasm. As they free fall Mekonnen is relentless and refuses to let go of the sword. Then that mysterious belt begins to glow again as they fall into the chasm making them look like a touch falling into a well from the distance where Gedi and Endal are standing. They are shocked to see Mekonnen fall to his death, or so they think. "Let's go Endal, theirs nothing we can do now." And they kept on trekking back up north as they planned, only with just the two of them now and not the original four. Now Mekonnen and the Hooded One fall, and fall. Mekonnen's belt glows while he holds his opponent under him as a cushion for the fall. "Crakkkash!" They hit a ledge of some tree branches on the way down, the Hooded One taking the brunt of the impact and breaking their fall to stumble down a rocky slope for a while until they come to a complete stop. Mekonnen is bruised and battered almost everywhere but surprised to still be alive, thinking he was giving up his life to save his friends'. His clothes torn and soiled with blood and dirt, but his opponent is broken beyond recognition. Just a sack of clothes and snakes hissing and slither out of them. But, to Mekonnen's horror, as he backs away from them he witness the snakes wrap themselves around each other to merge and reform the broken body of the Hooded One that fell with him, to regenerate into it previous physical man-like stature. Still in pain, Mekonnen struggles to stand up on his feet to get away before the creature fully reforms its body. The warrior groan's and limps in pain on his shoulders, left arm and left leg. Despite the pain he most keep on running, because that very moment he hears the sound of falling rocks coming from above. He looks up and to his dismay he sees not only rocks falls down, but more Hooded Ones coming down the side of the cliff, some scrambling down on ropes, others sliding down the slopes with their feet. Followed by their devilish hounds, leaping downwards in a zigzagging pattern as if to leap from one mound to another on a horizontal surface.

DESPERATE FLIGHT"Egzio Hoy!" Mekonnen exclaims, with no time to count how many of them were coming down, he dives to get out of the way of falling rocks, debri, Hooded Ones and devil dogs. As he tries to ignore the pain and takes off to escape from his devious pursuers into a forested area, Mekonnen believes he can smell the presence, and hear the sound, of a water falling in the distance. He regrets that he lost his sword in the fall so now he is unarmed and only has his two feet to run like a gazelle fleeing from a pride of ravenous lions. His left arm that was bitten earlier pulsates with pain but no time to think of it. Just run, run, and run with a limp, until he can actually ignore most of the pain. He scales over boulders, logs and across grasslands and into another forested area. After several minutes that felt more than it really was he occasionally looks back to see how close his pursuers were behind him and the nearest ones seem to be about 20 paces away. They fire arrows at him and even throw swords and daggers but they miss by inches for Mekonnen constant movement and apparent pure fortune and luck. The sound of rushing waters can be heard now and a fresh scent which means a river or water fall was near by. As he he runs frantically Mekonnen grabs on to tree branches and wood that can possibly be a weapon in case one of the fiends gain on to him. He finds one that is lean, long and strong enough and runs with it like a spear in his right hand. One of the devilish hounds catches up with him from the left and leaps at Mekonnen but he swings his branch at its head hard enough to slow it down. He can hear the sound of rush waters getting louder so he knows he is getting nearer. The fiends are getting closer, the warrior keeps running through the trees to the sound and smell of the water fall. Finally he sees it, a beautiful clearing where he can see the sky again and below is a cliff and a waterfall rushing down from below into a deep chasm where he can barely see a river flowing in the pale moonlight. Mekonnen does not know which river this is on the map but he knows he is about the take the risk and jump right in. He looks back one more time, sees Hooded ones and hound getting closer from the sides as well. He turns back around and runs about 10 steps away from the edge of the cliff, then turns around and runs back to the edge it and makes a great leap into the air, taking flight. Not up and away or horizontally as a bird, but forms his body straight down to make a swan drive downwards, falling along side the water fall. As he falls Mekonnen feels like he is flying. Flying to freedom and safety he hopes the wall of water will finally hide him from his demonic pursuers. He even prefers to dies from the fall or by drowning than to by stabbed, impaled of torn apart by those creatures that have been terrorizing his Kingdom and even the people of Beta Israel.

SAVED BY WATERThe Hooded ones above watch him fall but they don't bother to follow him in, supposing he will not survive the plummet and will be dead soon anyway. But they linger and look on anyway just in case he pops up out of the river alive. Many scenes of memories and thoughts flash through Mekonnen's mind as his lean battered body flows into the waterfall, feeling as if he was becoming one with the liquid. Like he was being saved by it, baptized into it. He hopes his friends Gedi and Endal were able to escape and head north to make it back to Aksum. He hopes they will catch up with Desi and find Nezan and Zegi still alive, although he doubts it. He thinks about the mighty warriors that appeared in a flash of light and rescued the children and maidens from the dark realm and hopes and prays will return them back to their towns and villages safely, though he's sure they will. Then he remembers his cousin, Afeworqi's sister, Meron, that he promised her that he will return to her alive. He means to keep that promise. Finally he plunges into the river at the end of the fall, out stretched arms and head first. He is pushed downward then back up again by the current, again it seems like time has slowed down and it take forever for him to resurface. Eventually he swim back up and inhales a great gasp of fresh air into his lungs. Fortunately the evil hooded ones are not able to see or hear him resurface for the great distance and noise from the waterfall. But they keep on looking. Mekonnen looks around and sees many logs and branches in the river the further away he swims from the base of the falls, so he holds on to one log and hides among them, keeping his head low and the rest of his body submerged in the cold water, hoping the hooded ones can not see him. A little further down Mekonnen spots an abandoned tankwa,which is a small boat made of papyrus reeds. He swims slowly and quietly towards it, just knowing Egziabeher Amlak prepared that boat just for him to climb into and flow down the river to safely and away from the treacherous mountains. Slowing he climbs in and covers himself with one of the many long leafy branches that are in the river. Alas the hooded assassins still cannot see Mekonnen nor the tankwa he is in which look just like all the other logs in the river. Eventually they give up looking and leave the scene, disappearing into the shadows and back into their dark inverted Realm to report to their master Waynaba that the warriors are gone with most of them defeated or dead, but the children they captures had escaped, rescued by beings from the Realm of Lights. Waynaba was not happy to hear this news, neither the characters in colorful robes that seem more human than the hooded ones but yet still sinister and unnatural in their ways.

As Mekonnen peeps trough the leaves of the branched that he covers himself with he looks up at the mountain peaks above and notices someone or something looking down at him from a peak high above. He sees the silhouette of a Walia Ibex, a goat that is native to the Semien Mountains. It stares intently at Mekonnen in the tankwafor almost a minute, with its pair of impressive horns reaching up to the starry sky in a V-shape, then it quickly turns around, leaps down from the peak and runs away. "Was the Walia actually looking at me?" Mekonnen thinks to himself. "I hope its not on the side of the Hooded Ones, to go tell them where I am." Mekonnen lays still it the boat, drifting, wait to see if the hooded ones do find him. After an hour, he determines they are no longer looking for him or going to find him anyway. So he drifts off into a deep sleep, passing out from exhaustion, freezing cold water, and loss of blood. He keeps on flowing down the river until dawn when the warm sun is about to rise again. Three hours after the sun rose in the sky Mekonnen is still in a deep sleep, almost as if he was dead. He kept on drifting down the river until he floats into a river side village, somewhere near the legendary T'ana Hayk and the great Tis Isat Water Falls.

ESCORT TO SAFETYMeanwhile, the children are being escorted back to there homes by Sami, Moti, Kebi, Bini, Achemi, Bezael and Daniab and the four Mel'akt. Along the way they found some of their horses roaming and grazing in the wilderness and on the mountain sides so they promptly mounted the little ones and damsels on those they can find and made good use of them. They also found about 4 horses dead in the forest with large bite marks on their necks, most likely they were mauled by the savage hounds from hell. Yet the hounds and Hooded ones dear not approach or launch an attack on this caravan once they see the four powerful Mel'akt with them now. They just lurk and follow from afar and on the peripherals beyond the warriors' sight range. First they arrive at Goltush to return Penuel, Deborah and three little ones to their homes."We Thank you so much, Lords." said Penuel and Deborah crying uncontrollably, bowing and kissing the hands of the warriors. "We can not express to you how thankful we are for saving our lives. Egziabeher yibarek, The Almighty's blessings to you all forever!" Achemi, Daniab and Bezael informed the elders of their village that they lost Kariel in battle in the wilderness but decided the go along with the other warriors from Aksum to escort the rest of children rather than stay in their home town of Goltush. "We shall not return home until all these children are returned to there homes. The mission is not yet complete." Achemi declares.They continued up northwards to Debarq, Adi Arkay and finally cross the bridge back over the Tekeze River to Inda Selassie where Nati was reunited with his mother. "Nati! Nati Hoy! Oh my boy, my boy! Cried the young woman in Inda Selassie when she sees her son again, grabbing him up in her arms and kissing him all over his face profusely. "Oh Nati my boy! I am so glad to have you back again. I will never let you out of my sight again my darling! Never ever!" "I am okay mommy! The Mel'akt came and saved us mommy. I saw them. There they are mommy. Mel'akt!" said Nati pointing at the four mysterious warriors. But when the woman looked up she only saw the Aksumite warriors and thought her son may be imagining things again. They were invisible to her, but Nati can still see them right there standing tall among the warriors. Yet still his mother decides to believe her son this time by faith and says, "Ok, Nati. I believe you. I believe you." "It is true mommy! I prayed to Egziabeher and they came to save us from the dark mountains." "I am so proud of you for praying Nati. I'm proud you prayed like I thought you."

Kebi nods and says, "Egziabeher be with you Wayzero. We must be returning to Aksum now." As he turns around to acknowledge the four Mel'akt, "And we could not get this far without assistance of these valiant warriors from... Hey... where did they go?" to his surprise they had all vanishing in the blink of an eye, transported back to Semayat. RETURN TO AKSUMWhen the warriors arrived at the barracks in Aksum they found Gedion and Endal already made it there. They were laying in beds exhausted, bruised and famished and being attended to by nursemaids and prayed for by priests and daiqons. "Gedi! Endal! You made it back safe!" Sami exclaims with excitement. He looks around at the other beds and does not see Mekonnen, Nabu, or any of the other warriors. "Where is Mekonnen and Nabu? Were they not with you?" Gedi coughs and lift his head to speak, "They... they fell. We lost them. I don't think they could have survived." Sami sighs in dismay. Moti asks, "And Desi, Nezana, Zegi... did you see them?"Endal answers while laying on his back with eyes still closed, "After we split up we never saw them after that. We know not what happened to them." Bini turns away to look outside at the panoramic view of the vast Semien Mountian range and adds with hope and prayer on his breathe, "Egziabeher be with our brothers, where ever they may be. Egziabeher bless their souls and let them be at peace."

IN THE SPIRIT REALMIn the Realms of Darkness the Hooded Ones gather together and report to their council "They got away from us Lord Waynaba. But it is not over yet. There is another way to get more souls for you."

In the Realms of Light the chief Mel'ak in the blue garments bows to the Almighty One with the other six around him doing the same. He says, "We have accomplished your commands, Lord Almighty, Elect One of Glorious Lights." "You have done excellently, my valiant warriors, Mel'akim of Hosts. Now stand by and watch as I lead the warrior Mekonnen into a higher calling."

THE SPEAR IN THE GROUNDMeanwhile back in the Semien wilderness between Gultosh and the Semien Mountains in the same spot where the six Hooded Ones surrounded the Mel'akt in green apparel with the spear and over came him, behold, his spear was left there, stuck blade first in the ground with the long shaft sticky up vertically at 5 cubits high. After the Hooded villains subdued the Mel'ak in green garment they dear not touch the divine spear that was forged in the fires of Semayat, for fear they would be annihilated by its power, or bringing it with them to there dark realms under the mountains will bring destruction upon themselves. Two days later a caravan of merchants traveling from Bahar Dar to Gultosh and then to Aksum City spotted the lance in jutting up vertically, with silvery glistening blade stuck in the ground and green shaft accentuated with golden decorations. One of the merchants walked up to it, ogled it from bottom to top in awe of its mastery of design. He had never seen any thing like it before. "Hoy!" he whispers, "This can be sold for a lot of gold Aksumite coins." He lifts his right hand slowly to tough the shaft then uses both hands to yank it out of the hard dirt ground. It's quite heavy in his hand, but he managed to the carry it back to the horse draw carriage by himself where three of his fellow traveling merchants wait. "What is it you got there, Teddi?" one of them asks, sitting in the back it the carriage chewing on a reed of wheat in his mouth."It's a warriors spear of sorts. Look at it, Tsebok! It is beautiful! We can sell this to a rich collector or dignitary in Aksum and make a lot of money to last us a long time. Don't you think?" "U-we, it looks beautiful." replies another merchant. "Here, wrap it in this rug and hide it under the canopy where no one can see it and try to steal it from us." They secured their new prize in the carriage and continued along the road to Aksum, not aware of the battles that took place in this regions just days before.

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