Hi there everyone. So today we continue Chapter Two of Fourth Day. But before we do, I need to address a few things.
A lot of you have complained that you’d rather have the book to read than have it given to you in pieces. I understand that. But you see, Fourth Day is a story (or series of stories as the case may be) that has been in existence in Remi’s head for close to a decade. I can say this categorically, because he told me about it when he first started conceptualizing it.
Fourth Day was not meant to be a book.
Shocking, I know. But in actuality, it was meant to be a series of comics (Remi forgive me for telling them this).
So what you’re actually reading, is like me giving y’all comic books to read every week, only without the illustrations. The transition into comic book will happen soon enough I believe, but for now, so that the story doesn’t stay buried in his soul, we agreed that readers on my blog should get a sneak peek at what may be one of the best fantasy stories to come out of Nigeria (in my honest opinion).
So I know it’s difficult, but it’d be best if you took it like I’ve explained… patience as well, is also a virtue. Soon enough, you’ll be able to read everything the way you want.
So, let’s move on shall we? 😉
P.S. I’m thinking of putting another set of stories by Remi on here called “Cameron Vidai”… what y’all think?
“Emptiness? What is happening to them now?” The Long-Shadow King asked.
“Fear.” Said The Emptiness. “Fear, then death.”
The elementals were running, trying to disguise their paths in places where their element naturally occurs. Nedeseh was not looking at their forms. He was drawn to the light of life that was the core of their being.
Earth was the first to fall.
He ‘joined’ the earth of the crypt and began to move away from the surface of the earth and deeper into the center.
He had reached a pocket of space in the crust and stopped there to figure out how to regroup with the other 3.
Suddenly…he wasn’t alone, anymore.
Nedeseh saw the light of Earth’s life and power and fed on it. Nedeseh would spend the next 4 centuries figuring out what he saw as he took Earth’s life and power. He saw the big bang…except it wasn’t a bang. It just happened. All of the lives of the masters who were once in Earth’s position…he saw it all.
Nedeseh trembled then fell to his knees as he saw Earth’s body. Degradation that had been kept at bay for 8 centuries fell upon it and soon you couldn’t tell where his remains ended and the hard earth began.
Nedeseh looked up, causing a straight tunnel to bore through to the surface so he could see the sky and follow his next target. As he turned, the bore adjusted with his gaze. He saw the sky, and then recognized the light of life in Air. He caused the earth to gather itself beneath him till he was 30 stories high staring into the eyes of an unbelieving Air.
“I have all that I need to win this battle. When I am done here, I will go looking for you wherever you run or hide. So long as you are still living, I will find you and consume your life and your power.” Nedeseh said in an even voice.
“Spoken…like the Emptiness himself.” Air said before dispersing to the four corners of the world.
Nedeseh paused at the memory of the Bedouin girl he met so long ago and came to a decision. He could still see the light of their lives. Air gathered himself at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro where the wind was still. Nedeseh appeared next to him.
“It is too late for you to know what it means to lay your life down so life and power may continue their journey.”
The Tin’Has were gathering their spoils together, and keeping discipline by drowning a few with the soil they stood on. Few things still a person’s protest like the sight of a man drowning in dust, struggling until he’s still and dead. But the Tin’ Has were not done.
To win Ashket’s throne would require more than a handful of slaves, but the abject subjugation of the Half-Moon chamber.
“We have broken their people’s faith in them. In their ‘weakened’ state, they should be easy to overwhelm.” Baru said aloud.
Nedeseh suddenly appeared before them, causing them to jump.
Baru raised a hand to still his men.
“This one isn’t like them. I’ve never seen anything like him.”
It hadn’t occured to Nedeseh that he looked like an undecided nightmare.
His eyes bore fire like lightning, his hair danced as the wind, his movements were like water and his presence was like that of a newly formed mountain.
“Who are you? Friend or foe?” Baru asked in an uneven tone.
Everyone within earshot knew Baru was afraid. His voice betrayed him.
Nedeseh opened his mouth to speak, but he heard an ocean roar, only to realize he had just sighed.
“Speaking would waste our time. You struck a king. So I must strike back.”
One of Baru’s men plunged his hands into the earth, but Nedeseh had seen his intentions. The earth beneath Nedeseh turned to granite and it ran a rude course to Baru’s soldier, turning him and the air around him into granite.
It would not be obvious to anyone why Baru was afraid. It is said that Tin-Has, his royal house, has amongst its slaves a line of seers. These men were the children of a peaceful king who had accepted defeat most graciously and was to watch his sons being gelded as his daughter was raped on command. It is said that he turned to Baru’s fore-father and made a deal with him. He said his bloodline have a gift of prophecy and destroying a gift so precious to the future is one of the lines dividing kings from successful and common men.
Baru’s ancestor asked this fallen king to prove himself. The King asked for a sword and he received one.
His words were recorded:
“A man who knows when he will die is more powerful than one who knows nothing of his final day. This knowledge further divides men into those who are weak and those who are strong. This truth divides even further men who are foolish and those who are wise.
King, you must be powerful, strong and wise. Let the day you die be the day I die if I do not die before you. My children saw this day even more clearly than I, yet they honored my foolish decisions that have led us here. For every member of your direct line, my family will predict the day of their death…in exchange; do not harm my children, for you know not what you provoke.”
It is said Baru’s ancestor laughed and ordered the enslaved king to be beheaded saying, “If indeed the day he dies is the day I die…then there is to be a special place in this House for his family.”
It is said upon these words; the defeated King stood up straight and broke his own neck. Baru’s ancestor stopped laughing, looked at the corpse and turned to look at the princes and princess. They in turn looked at him, then to their father’s corpse and then pointed at the roof as they took 6 steps back in unison. Everyone turned to see nothing, but Baru’s ancestor was dead.
Since then, his last command has been followed over generations and Baru’s death was predicted to him by a descendant of that fallen king.
“Lord Baru, there is a land of harvest. Men harvest crops there for food as this kingdom harvests men for slaves here. You will be harvested there…you have been warned about your pride and it will be your undoing. You will be undone by what you do not understand. It will seem to be a man, but it is nothing like a man. It would be a usurper, bearing the authority of fallen allies.
He will bear a fire worse than anger in his eyes, the fire that is promised to follow the floods that came with the first rains.
The power behind the strength of all life will lend him voice.
His presence will be like the mountains beneath the sea…a calm surface hiding things older and mightier than the collective memory of all things that are.
His might will be overwhelming and merciless, like the weight of all that bears the most life in this world.
He is not an evil looking to visit himself on the unwary. Rather he is the punishment that you would have brought on yourself.
You would have struck at what should not have even been looked upon.
You will not be able to reason with him, neither will you or your allies or your men be able to overwhelm him. Your sons will be like your father’s sons and accept that you should not be avenged.
Baru looked evenly at the seer and asked for details of where this death was at this time, but the seer confessed that he did not see everything.
“Lord Baru, this is where you must be strong, wise…and prove that you are indeed powerful enough to bear the weight of this knowledge.”
“You have just told me that an impossible thing will kill me, but not when or why. Your riddles might have kept you alive during the days when my father was Lord, but…”
The seer spat into his own hands and slapped himself until he bled from his bruises.
“An impossible thing? You think I deceive you, Lord Baru?!”
Baru looked at his seer with surprise and anger.
“I make a statement…”
“A careless one. Do you think it is every man who has the courage to face the certainty of death with determination to make it look good enough to be remembered? No. We know this. We all do. I have given you a chance to make your life a memorable one, knowing without fear that you won’t be poisoned by a wife, murdered in your sleep, betrayed to your death by a brother closer to you than your own blood…and you dare speak to me of trickery?! That what I see are riddles?! That you demand to know when and where?!!
“If you spent less time thinking about your ‘future glory’ and more about what Lords and Kings think about, you would not have insulted the vision. The deities are as fickle as the considerations of Leviathan. They are easily offended and…”
The seer froze for almost a minute then smiled a sad smile.
“An impossible death has been given to you. It is impossible for even ‘I’ to explain what I have seen. The rest is plain to an attentive eye.”
Baru shivered a bit visibly, but inside he knew he had made a grave error.
“Try…seer, try to tell me what you saw of the impossible death…”
“Fire. The color of red earth. And you were…feeding it?”
Baru was about to let his tongue roam free again, but he cautioned himself and the seer noticed.
Despite his self-inflicted wounds, his bearing remained regal and paternal.
“Lord Baru, you are learning. It is sad that you had not grasped earlier. Perhaps you would have had an easier time into your death.”
Baru’s mind worked as the mind of a man facing certain death would work. Furiously.
He saw the words of the Seer come to in living form, right before him; a land of harvest…this kingdom harvests men for slaves there; nothing like a man; a usurper, bearing the authourity of fallen allies; in his eyes, the fire that is promised to follow the floods that came with the first rains;the strength of all life will lend him voice; his presence…a calm suface hiding things older and mightier than the collective memory of all things that are; his might…like the weight of all that bears the most life in this world; he is the punishment that you would have brought on yourself; you struck at what should not even be looked upon; neither you or your allies or your men be able to overwhelm him; your sons will be like your father’s sons and accept that you should not be avenged.
Baru felt the life him pulse at its strongest, he could feel the power in him reach for the earth around him and he knew he was going to fall…hard.
“…The courage to face the certainty of death with determination to make it look good enough to be remembered”
Baru summoned his army around him.
“I will not live past this hour. If you can save yourselves, do so. There is no shame in retreating here.”
His captain, whose name won’t be remembered said,”My lord Baru, as one, we might yet give you the greatest victory ever heard of in our land. In the world and all its annals.”
Nedeseh was experiencing something different. He heard their words and the intent behind them, but to make things even more complicated, he heard their unspoken words, sensed their animal fear like a malodorous smell…and he wondered if they too noticed that the birds and insects had been fleeing from their vicinity ever since he appeared before them. He wondered if they felt the strange combination of earth, water, wind and fire in their living bodies. He wondered what strange thing was begging to be unleashed upon their numbers. He could hear its voice.
“I have slept in a divided form for 3 millenia. Since then, no one else has carried all 4 elements as one. I have ended worlds and I wish to see what the world has become right now.”
Nedeseh asked it,”Who or what are you? What is your name?”
“Rogobaresth, consumer of worlds. I am the life that ends life. Let me, I plead with you, exercise my power.”
Nedeseh noticed that Baru and his army slowly formed a circle. They all began to sink into the earth as one, but not to flee…he could tell. He could sense their individual powers linking furiously, trying to become one that they might birth an earth giant.
It stood almost as high as the clouds, and the acolytes saw it only to be filled with fear. Nedeseh looked at it with neutral feelings. Past the raw power that held this intimidating titan at heights men would yield to the gods for another few millenia, Rogobaresth would consume it before they had a chance to save themselves.
“Only one warning, boy!”, Nedeseh heard in his form.
“Rogobaresth? I am listening.”
“Older, more powerful men than you have lost themselves to madness at the sight of me. I do not feel fear and so I will not lie to you. Being free of this imprisonment might be my means of staying free and you might not be able to handle me. I will cost you your life force as you are not yet a master of all 4 elements.”
Nedeseh spoke out loud in a voice that made life over many lands experience fear without hearing him or understanding why.
“Impossibilities have made peace with me and I with them. I know when you will rise to consume the world…”
The earth giant raised a hand and the clouds gathered round it under the sheer influence of the might of the blow it was going to deliver.
Nda Waniko, the Long-Shadow King, the acolytes, the captured slaves and the poeple hiding in the caves could not tear their eyes away from the terrible sight. This was not morbid facination. This was life recognising how small it is in the vast universe. Nothing can run from humility when it presents itself in this way.
The Emptiness sensed the coming moments. There are things men are not meant to see. He was one of many guardians who shield humanity from going mad with fear of things they cannot understand as men.
He drew forth a darkness that the Half-Moon council could not control. This darkness hides in corners, under people’s feet as they walk, between their clothes as they fold over in movement, in the mouths and insides of every man and beast, within the stillness of empty homes, within the rocks in the shallow streams, beneath the sides of leaves of every size…a darkness that all men take for granted. He drew a curtain around the earth-giant as it brought its hand down to the earth on Nedeseh.
“You won’t consume the world today. But you will help the Emptiness keep a promise.”, he said as the hand crashed over him with a force so great the impact generated lightning that started a brief fire 20 storeys high and the thunder stripped trees bare of their bark and branches.
Baru heard his men cheer and scream his name in victory within the complex of the earth giant. But he could not join them in their cries of victory. He knew the truth of this day. And it stood next to him in the form of Nedeseh.
His life was at an end.