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Chapter #4: The Bridge

“...... There, there is our passage hunter man...... The bridge to Baba Yaga’s Grove.....”

Thomas Khan looked questioningly to the bridge and then warily to the river below. It appeared to be a good ninety foot drop to the river.

“..... The river below us?”

“..... Yes, Thomas..... It is the Lualaba River.....”

Thomas Khan was not all that certain about where they were going right now, it sounded to the hunter that they were entering The Congo.

Stephanie Khan shook her head on the bridge. By Thomas’ inspection, it appeared structurally sound. His wife however, she did not like it at all. slight winds breezing from the north were actually causing the makeshift bamboo and rope bridge to sway.

Tommy Khan, being the oldest of three looked on the bridge and shrugged off any thoughts of hazard. Tommy, the adventurous type he is; the boy started to cross the bridge alone, leaving the adults to discuss their concerns.

Tommy held tight to the rope rails as he tested the first step. The bamboo planking felt firm. The boy too k the first two steps, and was satisfied that there was going to be no real hazard. At least not for him.

Lupita now moved to draw on the attentions of the adults, while younger brother Anthony watched his older brother with anxious curiosity.

“..... Mom? Dad?”

“..... Lupita?” Stephanie Khan followed her daughter’s leading eyes to the eldest of her children that was now half way across the bridge.


Thomas Khan and Mandawa evaded further conversation to access the event now taking place.

“Fear not mother Khan..... The bridge, it is safe in traversing of small numbers..... I will cross to see that Tommy makes it to the other side.....”

The sounds of war drums were now reaching their ears.

“..... Mandawa?”

“..... Yes Thomas..... I do hear them....”

Stephanie Khan looked about their surroundings concerned.

“..... What is it? What do you both hear?”

“..... It is the hunting drums of The Kikuyu, Mother of Khan..... They have recovered scent of our trail.....”

“..... It will be all right Stephanie.....” Thomas attempted to sooth the fears of his wife unsuccessfully.

“..... Mother of Khan? Of you and of your daughter, should you follow next..... Do not cross until I have reached the half way marker.....”

Stephanie Khan nodded on their guide in silence. Thomas Khan directed Anthony by the shoulder away from his appreciation of the ninety foot drop to the river below.

The boy Anthony scowled on their native guides’ decision.

“.... Patience, boy of Khan..... It must be this way, for the weight of all that cross must be balanced..... The river below us, it is not all that friendly a place.....”

Thomas Khan now looked at the river itself, while Mandawa stepped cautiously out onto the bridge.

“..... Crocodiles?”

“..... Yes hunter man, and many other animal dangers; depending on where you enter the river.....”

“..... What do you mean Mandawa?”

“..... The Boyoma Falls..... They fall downstream of the Lualaba River.....”

Thomas Khan now grabbed firm hold of his youngest son’s left hand. The bamboo and rope bridge, it was now looking a little less structurally sound than it had only minutes past.

Fast and light on his feet, Mandawa was already reaching the half way marker and ushered Stephanie Khan and her daughter Lupita to cross.

Thomas and Anthony stood ready at the edge of the bridge landing. The sounds of rustling in the tall weeds were now drawing on the man’s concerns.

Eyes watched curiously on the two in silence. Nostrils sniffed and flared on the scent of others drawing quickly near. Large of size, this silent stalker drew back into the overgrowth. It did not like what was coming.

Of the largest of the two humans, it smelled of blood; blood of the pride, and though the spirits reached out to it for vindication of the fallen; there was one among the group that was innocent born, and this one human was now of its charge in interests of protecting.

Stephanie and Lupita Khan reached the mid-point of the rope bridge, and they both looked back to see Thomas and Anthony now crossing. Mandawa and Tommy were already waiting for the rest of the family on the far side of the bridge. The Kikuyu hunters burst from the high grass.

Darts from carved blowguns in their grips raised to their mouths to unleash a volley of poisonous darts on the two. With a simian roar of unexpected delivery, the large silverback ape of The Savanna leaped into the pack of mind-muddled natives.

Thomas Khan rushed his youngest onward. The Kikuyu hunters screamed, as the hostile gorilla tore into them with nails and its sharp pointed molars. Its fangs bared on the pack of hunters, as two of their own are felled by its own hunting instincts.

Mandawa watched through binoculars from the far side of the bridge and smiled.

Tommy Khan looked on the guide, the oldest of the three wondering what was going on. Mandawa caught on to the teen’s gaze from the corner of his right eye.

“..... The Great Silverback of The Savanna..... He seeks to protect one of your family......”

“..... The Kikuyu?"

"..... The fear the great one's might....."

Tommy Khan now helped his younger sister to the landing, Mandawa offering his hands in aid to their mother. Thomas Khan and Anthony Khan were now past the halfway marker. The far side of the bridge in their sights.

The Great Silverback of The Savanna, was now nowhere to be seen.

The Khans and their native guard now entered the Grove of Baba Yaga....... Their adventures have just begun.....

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