That next day, sensing commotion in the town, Eris headed back. What he saw momentarily stunned him.
It had been a normal day, the average Ashanti one. Everything was going on about their work as usual, everything was normal. The marketplaces were crowded most days, and there was a hustle bustle in the town square.
What no one expected was to have someone walk out of the palace, that too escorted by guards. It was the boy. The fourteen-year-old, he still had the pentacle pendant around his neck. Eris wondered what the pentacle signified. But that would be a story for another day. Now, he was curious as to what had happened to the boy.
The crowd was almost as shocked as Eris was when they saw the boy. His mother started weeping loudly in relief. His father also looked relieved, but there was something else on his face. Was it triumph? Well, whatever it was, it seemed as if his plan was working. He looked as if he expected his son to make it out.
The crowd gasped as the boy walked on coyly, fending of hugs from his family.
There were whispers all around as everyone was about to return to their usual places.
“How is he alive?”
“He is the first one.”
“Someone has outsmarted the king.”
“Surely this is an achievement.” It was the first time anyone had ever returned alive from the dreaded palace of death which it had come to be known as courtesy of the horrors that took place inside its walls.
Suddenly, they heard a conch blow in the distance. The king was returning from his hunt. The king rarely ventured out of his palace, and so the people of Ashanti were surprised.
The conch hadn't been blown in a long time. And so, it had been coated with dust at the time of its use. The crowd wondered what horrors had taken place inside the palace.
The king went to the palace, and then after a while he walked out, and that was when Eris decided it was safer to go higher up into the tree. The king ordered his guards to escort him outside. It was time to renounce Akanism.
The king began talking, “People of Ashanti, I come here to renounce my faith in Akan beliefs.” There was a collective gasp from the crowd. Unnerved, he continued”
And I would advise you to do the same. There is only one Supernatural deity. Satan. He is omnipotent, and his eminence should be worshiped with devotion and fervor. From today onwards, we start a new chapter in Ashantian history, a chapter of power, prestige, religion. Imagine riches behold, everything you want will soon come true. We will conquer kingdoms, we will travel lands, you will be rich beyond your dreams. All you have to do is renounce your faith in the Akan beliefs and worship the almighty Satan.” The crowd was slowly growing restless. How he could he enforce a religion like that on him? Well, the crowd had started muttering amongst themselves. The priests were outraged, and there was an uneasy murmur among the crowd. Hardly anyone looked happy, and the few who did had huge grins on their faces.
“We have only one true creator, Odomankoma”
“Why should we renounce our belief?”
“Who knows what sort of myth Satan is.”
The king was growing angry. “From now on, those who will not worship the omnipotent Satan will be publicly whipped. If that does not teach them a lesson, they shall be flogged. All their possessions will belong to the crown and their family will be sold into slavery.” Pretty harsh right? What a tyrant, Eris thought. Well, the king continued, “Every citizen will be required to burn a portion of their food in honor of his eminence, and believe me I will know the person who does not follow the rules. And, people who continue to believe in Akan beliefs will be punished in the worst possible way.” And with that, he turned and his guards escorted him back inside.
The crowd was outraged, but they couldn't do anything other than murmur.
They weren't too worried about the slavery. Slavery in Ashanti was different. The slaves were treated with respect, and slaves could even have other slaves. If the slaves felt they were mistreated, they could request a new master if they felt they were being mistreated. But Eris wasn't aware of so much. He hardly stayed in the town. He preferred the woods. Well, getting back.
“What a tyrant.” One muttered.
But the priests on the other hand, looked as if they had been forewarned about this. The priests turned around, and walked back to their homes or places of worship. Their long flowing robes billowing in the wind. Eris was sure they were prepared.
There was a deafening silence in the courtyard, and the crowd was waiting in fear, thinking as to what was going to happen to them now.
Eris on the other hand, felt a surge of anger. He had to do something to help them. But, Eris remembered about the pettiness of humans. Their superficiality. He had seen the things they fought for. All they could think of was money, money and money. They had to best everyone around them. They couldn't live in harmony. In the previous kingdoms Eris had been, there had been acts of thievery almost every other day. But then, he saw the helplessness of the people and he felt pity for them. Sure they were superficial, but no one deserved this. He had to do something, but before that, he had to think things out.
He was about to leave, go back to the woods. He would come back the next day, ready to do something about the king and his poor and helpless people. Why had he chosen Ashanti of all the kingdoms in the world. He rose, and peered through the branches at the palace. He looked at every window, hoping to notice what the king was doing. It was the topmost floor this time. The king was looking right at him, right at Eris. And the king had a smile on his face.
Eris rose up, he did not expect that at all. A million questions were coursing through his head. Who is the king? What exactly is Satan? What happened to the boy? What was the pentacle. And what could Eris do the next day to help the people? But the most important one was, how could the king see him? not one mortal had managed to do so before. What was so special about him? Was he so powerful? Or was he the devil himself. Eris really had to find out.