It was in a small hut outside the kingdom of Ashanti that Eris began wondering what his function was. The woods seemed to emanate a distant rumbling sound. Eris looked up. The dark clouds were gathering, and there was going to be a storm. The atmosphere was cold, and the setting made Eris feel lonely.
Eris was an angel, the only one of his kind. He constantly wondered about the whereabouts of the other angels, on certain instances even trying to search for his brethren. But all had been in vain, he was yet to see another angel. But there had been various instances when he thought he was close, but had fallen far.
Eris loved the woods out here in Ashanti. They were full of wildlife, the trees, the breeze. The serene tranquility helped him think. For some reason, he seemed to think a lot these days.
Eris was constantly reminded of how much he was not needed. The humans can take care of themselves, he thought bitterly as the tree he was perched on swayed, mighty gusts of wind hitting it. Eris felt like he was on a ship, and it didn't feel nice. He flew down, going deeper into the jungle. He tread carefully without much ado, careful not to disturb other creatures lurking in the darkness of the trees. Little did he know that someone was watching, waiting, biding its time.
Almost all humans seemed superficial to Eris these days. All they could do was fight and fight and fight. They would always itch for death, and maybe that was why the Grim Reaper was always lurking around. One more thing they would do was steal. The good old days of trading were gone, and the system was commanded by large heavy coins. This was his third kingdom so far. The other two had been wiped out in a battle. It was about time this kingdom would cease to exist as well. All around humans had been the same, petty battles and strife. They could never take care of each other all that well, and maybe that was why Eris was sent here.
Ashanti, was a place of great unrest. Slavery, being a historical tradition is at its peak. And this is one of the things that troubled Eris, though he hadn't bothered delving into its details. There were constant reports of murders of the slaves, thievery and executions. All in all, Ashanti was a ruthless kingdom that matched the etymology of its name. Ashanti, comes from the word Asante, meaning because of war. All this had happened because of war. Prisoners of war were auctioned of as slaves, and they often bore the brunt of a smoking whip.
Eris had soon distanced himself from the horrors of Ashanti, but the wails of the women, the screams of children left a bad taste and could still be heard loud and clear. Many times he found himself awake at night, sweating because he had experience a nightmare. He always awoke to hear one of those screams.
Suddenly, Eris heard a wail, different from others. He had to go find out what was going on.
The ruler of Ashanti, was a terrible one. He was cruel and ruthless, and it was said that he made regular sacrifices to the devil himself. Every week, three young girls, and three young boys would be called up to the palace. Never did one ever return.
Eris, had once followed the children into the palace. But something stopped him from going further. Maybe it was the scent of blood, or maybe it was the devil himself, but Eris had never dared venture close to the palace again.
He had to be careful, something told Eris that this ruler wasn't one to be trifled with, and that was one of the reasons he spent most of his town out of the kingdom. The other reason was that humans on the whole seemed petty and ignorant, and they weren't the kind of creatures Eris wanted to be with. Eris flew to one of the towns, it was the main one in the kingdom. The king had built a huge palace, well huge in terms of Ashanti structures. To be honest, it wasn't that impressive. It was three stories tall and was sand colored. So all in all, it was a pretty dull structure and yet it was the most feared place in all of Ashanti. It was the kings palace, and no one knew what horrors did take place inside it.
Outside the palace, a crowd was gathering. There were shouts going about and when he peered closer, he saw the children being lined up. Three girls, three boys. The youngest girl looked to be around twelve. She tightly held onto her mother’s hand.
The sight was a horrible one, and no family wished to be in such a ghastly situation.
“Why my daughter?” The mother wailed out loudly, as the father comforted her.
“Orders of the king.” A man from the crowd shouted.
Just then, a guard walked up and threateningly poked his scabbard at her. The guard was dressed in smock-frocks, trousers and a pair of leather boots. He roughly wrenched the girl out of her mother’s grasp and dragged her to where the other children were standing. The guards of the king showed no mercy, and sometimes Eris wondered if they had any feelings at all.
Eris could feel the fear emanating from them, their faces were wrought with anguish, mirroring those of their respective families. The men were consoling the women, and the guards kept the gathering crowd at bay.
What surprised Eris was that one boy out of six children looked prepared. He looked to be the oldest of the lot, around fourteen. His face was emotionless, and he stared anywhere but at his family. He was one tough boy. If Eris had dared venture closer, he would have. But, Eris was a coward and so he didn’t.
In a flash of a moment, one man seemed to break free from the guards, and rush towards the children. Eris straightened himself to listen to their conversation.
The man handed the boy a pentacle shaped pendant. “Keep this for luck son.” the man seemed to say before he was shoved back by the guards who had run after him.
And with that, the guards lined up the children, and took them into the palace. Eris was still staring, maybe something new was going to happen this time, something told Eris he was right. Eris was also sure that it would be related to the mysterious boy and the pendant.
His thoughts were interrupted by a wail. It came from a woman who was on the ground in pain. “My only son, my only son.” She sobbed.
This is horrible, Eris thought.
Eris slowly noticed that some people in the crowd seemed to appreciate the heinous act. Others were disgusted.
“What does he do with children?” Eris heard from a priest.
“They never come back. Never.” Another man said.
Soon enough, the crowd dispersed. They would be back tomorrow to see if anyone had made it. They did it every time, even though they never expected anyone to make it out. And no one ever did.
Suddenly Eris heard a scream. It was the young girl, the youngest of them all. No one else looked back in the fear of what they'd see. Eris on the other hand turned around, in an attempt to see what was going. He looked at the windows on the second floor, just in time to see the king holding the little girl.
The king's eyes met those of Eris and seemed to goad him, as if to say “What can you do angel?” Someone had seen him without him showing himself. Eris understood why the people feared the king so much. Ashanti had never seen a people's rebellion or never even lost a war. The king had extraordinary powers if he could notice Eris. That was if Eris' eyes weren't playing tricks on him.