The layer of panic had never cloaked their village so darkly.
The patriarchs of both the Habu and Batata clan met with their sons and topmost officials. “The news of the raids have spread wide. The next settlement to be struck seems to be the Wambe village. They have sent for help. We have to heed their call.”
The consent around the room was unanimous. But then Ikaka Habu turned to his old comrade Banjo Batata. “My friend, this is not your concern and we can’t ask you to risk your safety in this way. As the king has directed, my sons and I will join with the best warriors and help with these raids and kidnappings. You should return to the Western lands and let them know of this just in case the trouble spreads.”
Banjo was shaking his head. “You dishonor me if you believe I would turn my back when I can be of help. I will send for more fighters from our homelands while I join in ridding our lands of this scourge from the foreign attackers.”
There was much back and forth, till Banjo finally agreed it would be prudent to return to their western kingdom and warn of the strange raids. In addition, he promised to return with a sizable army to help with the cause.
Preparations for the Batata’s departure began, as well as readiness for the Habu’s to join their fellow warriors to head for the nearby villages to face the intruders, before the threat reached their own lands.
“We will leave many warriors to guard our homestead while we are gone, so you need not worry,” Ikaka was saying to his young wife some time later as they met in her quarters.
Saleya felt relieved at such reassurance. Knowing that the grown men of the family would be leaving for battle soon had unsettled her somewhat. Much as she was glad that the Batata’s were at last ending their visit, she still worried about the latest news.
“I’m more concerned about you, going out to battle at such short notice,” she whispered, turning to her husband with a wavering smile.
“Don’t be, dear wife,” Ikaka said, gathering her curvy, petite frame into his muscular arms. “I will have my able sons with me. And we’ll be back before you know it. We must let these intruders see that we will cower beneath them. We will fight to protect our own.”
“I am so proud to have such a brave husband,” breathed Saleya, resting her head upon his chest. “I will count every minute that passes till you return safe.”
“And I dream of good news at last; to finally know that you are with child. What a perfect coming home present that would be, or don’t you think so?” Ikaka smiled broadly, his hand resting on her belly meaningfully. Saleya’s lips curved wider in an answering smile, her breath catching as that huge hand shifting up to cup her breast.
“Why don’t I make double sure of such an outcome?” growled her husband, his gaze smoldering as Saleya was backed into the room till she fell unto the waiting bedding beneath. Her husband’s huge, muscular body followed after, covering hers with passion and heat.
“I always wished for the time we would at last join in battle – fighting a common enemy shoulder to shoulder. Seems that day is to be postponed just that bit further,” said Kwen jovially as he walked beside Danga. “I will definitely return, brother, and bring more warriors along with my father as soon as we can.”
“I have never doubted your integrity, Kwen,” said Danga, turning to face Kwen as they firmly squeezed their forearms in a warm shake. “Our fathers fought together in the fields of war. I know I can count on you when the time comes. One day, we will indeed by brothers in arms.”
“And if the heavens will, brothers in kin, as well. Once you take Oiza as bride, we will truly be one big happy family.” His handsome grin flashed white. “But first, she has to be convinced into accepting the possibility of being shackled to the likes of you, my friend.” He sighed dramatically. “I will do my best to aid your suit. Leave it to me.”
Danga could’t help but chuckle. “Thank you for the offer, Kwen but I think I can do my own wooing where your sister is concerned,” was his amiable response.
Yet Kwen’s teasing words struck Danga somewhat as he made to return to his chambers. Everyone seemed intent on matching him to Oiza. Not that he could blame them; he’d aided in his own way to the assumption. And at one time, the thought of marriage to the dark-skinned beauty would have pleased him well enough. He could not honestly say what was different now.
Choosing not to dwell on such matters, Danga swept his mind to thoughts of the raids, and his blood boiled with renewed rage. Once preparations were complete, they would all be setting off to counter the attacks already spreading through the nearby areas. After Wambe, there was no telling who was next. His clan would not sit idle and wait for this unknown enemy to bash through their gates. They would face this threat head-on.
The scent of battle and danger always made his blood rise. The warm thighs of a woman would have been welcome tonight. His eyes narrowed as he suddenly thought of what awaited him in the privacy of his rooms. The thin smile that crossed his lips would have put shivers in the spine of whomever it was directed. However, Danga had schooled his features by the time he strode into the dimmed confines of his chamber…
(to be continued—)