The Poacher King
As a boy I have always fancied myths and all things supernatural. There has always been something to spark my interest. Like they say every story has a grain of truth. I may have believed this too much before, before I really understood the truth of the matter. The events that happened to me and my dear friend Charles in fact did happen. Many will tell you I am insane and pass my story on as a farce taken too far. The things that I saw haunt me to this day, and I know they will continue to do so until the day I see the Africaan man once again.
Many things may have lead to the same ending, still everything began with a request from Charles. This in a way is as much a tribute to his memory as it is a telling of our trip to South Africa.
As a multimillionaire, Charles amassed a fortune early on his life by selling commercial real estate. He never married nor did he have any children. Charles found his free time well spent hunting. A favorite pastime of his. I however, until that trip, never once held a firearm of any kind before and never thought I ever would.
The date was July 11th, 2012. It was a Friday evening and I was enjoying a pleasant cup of Ricko’s whiskey in my office at Charles Fredrick University, at the time Charles called. He knew I was off for the summer and proposed a hunting trip. I graciously told him no. At first. Hunting held no interest of mine. Yet his counter-offer did grasp my attention.
“An all paid trip to South Africa, where we would spend a month among the San learning their culture and language.”
The historian in me couldn’t say no. The San have existed for 65,000 years and have one of the oldest languages to date. Who wouldn’t want to experience such a rich and long living culture? And not only that but the San were a secret people, keeping mostly to themselves leaving many things about their society a mystery. I said yes with the eagerness of a young boy giving his first kiss. There was no chance that I would let this opportunity pass me bye.
There was one catch of course. With Charles there always was. For someone who could own everything, he made a habit of finding things people would never part with. In this case he had to kill an Afrani Elephant. Yet I did not know of this until it was too late.
July 18th. A week after Charles’ and my conversation, I found myself sitting in a private jet on my way to South Africa. My mind raced and my heart pounded. If not for the fourteen cases of whiskey Charles brought on the trip with us, I don’t think anything could have calmed my nerves. What would I ask these people? How did Charles, of all people, get the San tribe to agree to this? Then again, I wasn't too surprised.
Charles had a silver tongue that he could use to convince people of anything. He once made me believe that I had pissed the bed; a thirty four year old man with no potty training. Ridiculous. I believed him so much though that I even quit drinking. Not until I was fully convinced did he tell me the truth. His cat, Smoke Shop, snuck into the guest room I was staying in and relieved itself. The cat and I had never gotten along so I knew he was telling the truth. Still, even after the fact there was no more binge drinking for me anymore. Well, no more after this trip.
It was not until we arrived in South Africa, at a little landing strip two days drive from where we were meeting our San guide, that Charles told me the real reason we were here.
“What is grey and has two trunks?” Charles asked me while we waited for our whiskey to be transported from the jet to the truck.
“I want to say an elephant? But a sick one.”
Charles couldn’t help but crack a sly smile. “Nope. It’s an elephant on vacation. Himself and trunk of essentials.”
I laughed. Not at the joke, I wasn’t sure if thats how it could be classified. I laughed at the toothy grin that he had just before his next “joke”.
“What do you and the Afrani elephant have in common?”
Puzzled, I shrugged my shoulders. At this point I was more focused on the crew. All the whiskey was in the truck yet the crew were moving something else. A larger crate an arm span wide. Charles noticed my curiosity, so he ordered the men holding the crate to open it. The contents were covered by a thick layer of hay and filler to keep whatever inside safe while we traveled. Beneath the junk laid a massive .600 overkill hunting rifle. A weapon designed specifically for elephant hunting.
“What is that?” I asked horrified.
“Tuskless.” Charles answered.
“What you and a Afrani have in common. You are both tuskless. And also thats the name of my baby right there.” Curasing the giant barrel, Charles’ eyes gleamed in the bright sunlight.
“Why do you have that? If the San see that, don’t you know that they worship the Afrani!?” I felt like my voice couldn’t stress enough the dire mistake Charles was about to make.
“Don’t worry about it. Everything is already taken care of my dear friend. We are going to meet the guide in two days, and then we will hike for three in the beautiful safari where we will be taken far enough away from the main tribe for Tuskless not to matter to them.” Charles said filling his cheeks with Ricko’s finest.
“Why? If the Afrani don’t have tusks-”
“HA! I knew you were faking it! You don’t know anything about the Afrani. Did you just web search San facts before you came out here? For a history professor I am disappointed. Their tusks are so massive and so deep in their skulls you have to scalp it to get the whole thing. Their connected you see..” He gestured, pointing at his head.
“Okay maybe I don’t know more than you do about the damn elephant. But what you’re saying is that you not only want to shoot the thing, you want to take off it’s whole head? Who’s going to carry it?” I asked still baffled by the obscurity of it all.
“Scalp.” Using one finger he traced an imaginary line across my forehead. “I don’t need the whole head.”
“Why do this in the first place? Haven’t you killed an elephant before?”
“Yeah but not an Afrani. Only one guy has ever done it. I want to be number two.”
I continued to argue with Charles over the matter but it didn’t change anything. I accompanied him despite my own concerns and indulged my guilty conscience with some more of our delicious whiskey.
After a two day car ride through South Africa we arrived in the Turlip Valley. The overall drive was not nearly as bad as I had expected.
Usually when I am not the one driving I tend to get car sick. Yet with the long unwinding roads it seemed to soothe me, even though they weren’t all paved. The bumps did not bother me.
Turlip was as I said, a valley. Vast and deep. Overhearing a few of the crew, there apparently were hidden caves that could be accessed from the valley that lead to water springs beneath the ground. A fascinating environment, one I would not expect to find nor believe that a group of San were occupying. I had always believed they lived in the jungle in huts. Of course this wasn’t the first surprise of our trip, Charles was right, I had no idea about their culture whatsoever. I began to regret my choice to come.
To make it to our final destination we had to leave the car. This entailed the crew of seven that were accompanying us had to unpack our things and continue down a narrow dirt path that stretched out for two miles. There at the end of the road was where we were meeting the San guide. With no lack of trying, the men turned down any help from me to carry something. Charles paid the men too well, giving us the best service I had ever imagined.
The crew of seven were compiled of seven men, all born and raised in South Africa. I believe Charles picked these men for me. They brought a culture and atmosphere, outsiders like Charles and I would not bring. The mistake however, was most people that knew the San found them to be crazy, superstitious folk, that believed in nightmares and worshipped demons instead of God. Of course, there were no complaints about moving our things. No, the real trouble came later.
Unlike the roads on the drive in, the path was windy and steep. If driving I would have vomited within minutes. To my surprise the crew bypassed the steps and such with ease. Lucky for them, Charles was a reasonable man and found five cases to be enough for our three day journey, leaving the two remaining members to carry the elephant gun. I myself took each step with care, of course unlike the crew, I was drunk off my ass.
Ricko’s was my brand of elixir. After learning of the elephant gun and the valley I decided my curious mind could wait, while I drowned all my worries in a delicious death. I knew that no matter how I met these people they would not except me. So I indulged, in hopes they would not discover our true purpose.
Charles had told them some whish-wash story about how he was a historian or an actor making a documentary. Bullshit. Utter and complete bullshit. He knew what could get him in and said whatever he needed to. I now was just an accomplice, along for the ride.
We descended into the valley. Each step became steeper as we continued our two mile hike. All I could think the entire time was how much the walk back was going to suck. We were going to be at least a mile deep into the earth from where our car was. I even began to doubt that we could ever make it out again.
We lit torches for the second half of the walk. The sun began to fade and so did the ability to even see the sunlight. At some point we entered a cave. I don’t even know how or where but I was walking through a dusty, root invested, wall of rock and dirt. There were trickles of water flowing down the walls, making small streams on the corners of the stair like pathway. This phenomena was normal here, deep grooves showed where the water had continuously eroded the rock steps.
“Almost there.” One of the hired crew said over his shoulder.
At this point I tucked my open bottle into my inner coat pocket. I didn’t even notice someone step ahead of Charles and I. Drinking anymore was just unsafe, until we got to where we were going. Charles grabbed hold of my arm, he noticed I was wobbling back and forth and tried to steady me. I was astonished by this. His bloodshot eyes and heavy bags beneath them clearly showed he was wasted, yet still he was able to keep track of both us. No matter what happened, he was a true friend.
After what felt like four hours we arrived. The sight was beyond my imagination. The cave opened up into a room large enough to hold a village. The room stood a hundred feet tall, with a sun roof. Trees stood planted with dozens of blooming flowers, butterflies fluttered. The scene was so surreal I couldn’t believe it. The room even held what I had been searching for. The San did not live in the jungle like I had expected however, I was absolutely right about them living in huts. They were everything I thought they’d be.
A voice knocked me out of my daze.
“Molo.” The man said. He was a short barechested man, with a cloth wrapped around his unmentionables and a necklace made out of bone around his neck.
“Hellooo!” Charles yelled.
Stumbling forward he gave the man a grand hug. One that nearly uplifted the short fello.
“Charles!” I snapped and reached to grasp Charles by his shoulder.
“Hey. We are all friends here.” Charles said just before letting out a deep laugh that shook his entire body.
The crew wasted no time and began to set our things down around the entrance of the room. They were obviously tired and strained. Some massaged their aching muscles, while others tried to catch their breath. The one crew member who took the lead engaged the short man in conversation the moment Charles let go. Things seemed “okay”. Apparently Charles did not make as big of fool of himself as expected.
“Wow. Take a look at this place.” Pausing to take a swig, Charles looked at me with a childlike smile.
“Can you believe it?”
“This puts to shame the word of beauty.” I said. A little more dramatic than I wanted but it was genuine. This room. This village. Everything was so breathtaking.
“Think the women dress like the men?” Charles snickered. His cheeks blushing at the remark.
“Your room ora there.” The man who was speaking to the small San said. Pointing to the hut at the end of the room. The man nodded at us to see if we understood.
“Thank you sir.” Charles bowed with a flourish.
“Thank you.” I nodded.
“The shaman says tigers block our path. We leave tomorrow when they clear. Get some rest. Stop drinking.” The man said and started speaking to his subordinates.
“Stop drinking? Of course not. That would be a waste and absolutely absurd. It’s a sin to let drank like this go untouched.” Charles said pushing up an imaginary pair of spectacles.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Charles was right. The drink was too good to set aside.
“I probably should have asked before. What is that man’s name?” I asked Charles, pointing to the man who told us to stop drinking.
“His? Uh, something like Kiwi or Kallick or Kwaz. I have no idea. i just pay them. I don’t even know if they know my name. Frankly my dear, I just don’t give a damn.”
Expecting to put another bottle to rest, I was caught off guard by how fast sleep took me. Without setting up a bed I simply passed out on the floor. Charles had unpacked and repacked by the time I woke up.
Today was the first day of our three day hike to “Umthunzi Amanzi”. Translated it meant, Shadow Water. That is where the Shaman of the San people said we could find the Afrani elephant. The tigers mentioned the night before had moved on, so Kwaz was rushing us to hurry because the shaman had already began the walk.
“WHAT!?” Charles screamed.
We both woke up hungover. Except nobody told me that. At the sound of Charles’ shout, my body began to heave and I could not help but spill my guts all over the ground. I erupted like a volcano, spewing vomit from the depths of my core. Not a good way to start the hike. Though after there was nothing left inside of me and the dry heaving stopped, I did feel measurably better. So it wasn’t the worst thing. My mouth tasted awful but a few drinks of Ricko’s finest cleaned it out just right.
Jumping out of bed made the room spin but slightly dizzy with a buzz was better than hungover like death. Charles and I nearly broke into a sprint with our packs on our backs, trying to catch up with the San shaman. The crew, all except for Kwaz, had already gotten a headstart. Which was fine by me. Together, mine and Charles’ pack, were lighter than just one of the crates of whiskey, so it was probably more of a break for them to not have to keep up with us. Except to Charles it was an insult.
“What the hell am I even paying these wacka-doos for? They can’t even stay within a hundred feet of me. Tsk.” Charles grumbled as we hustled.
The route that we took was through a tunnel that linked to the San village. This cave was not as wide as the one we descended through from the valley and there was a rotten smell to it. Charles led the way with a torch that fluttered as we ran. I thought that maybe the light would illuminate bones and carcasses of animals the San had discarded but there was nothing. The smell I decided was a symptom of my drinking. I did feel a tad ill, so I continued on thinking nothing of it.
The tunnel opened into another larger section, similar in size to the one that held the village except, the layout was all wrong. There was no sunroof, so I kept close to Charles. Kwaz took longer than expected to catch up, so there was only one torch to follow. Aside from the roof, this cave also held ledges that we had to climb up in order to bypass the area. The smell still lingered and suddenly it became clear when I stepped in something. The mass felt muddy and goo like. The San did mention that there were tigers on the route. Turns out what I was smelling and what now covered my shoe, was none other than a great pile of cat shit. Comparatively not as bad as rotting animal corpses. Still it was shitty.
With a little work we made it to the next tunnel. This one had a light at the end of it. Following it through we emerged outside. The sight was astounding. There were massive trees surrounded with thick tall grass and an assorted amount of wildlife. There were birds of all kinds, a hippo bathing in a small spring, and like they said there were tigers.
I gasped and quickly covered my mouth.
Turning, Charles gave me a wicked smile and removed a revolver from his shoe.
“What do you have that for?” I whisper screamed.
With a gesture he tried to calm me.
“No need to fuss. I have taken down dozens of tigers in my time.” Charles said planting a thumb in his chest.
“That isn’t really something to brag about. One shot won’t take them down! Look at them. They are huge!”
“Do you know what this is?” Like a salesman on a late night tv channel, Charles presented the revolver in front of me. “This is a Smith and Wesson 500 magnum. A 50 caliber handgun, with the potential to reach 2,075 fp/s, making it extremely lethal and with it’s long barrel extremely accurate. Which all in all makes me extremely, deadlier than they. So step back and I’ll clear a path through.”
A knot bigger than both my fists formed in my stomach. Things were getting out of control.
My stars were shining that day. Kwaz walked out the tunnel behind us, followed by three other men. I recognized the three of them as being part of the San village.
“Wait!” Kwaz hissed. Gesturing at the three men, they hopped out with spears and shields. Clanking and yelling. The men scared away the animals. The tigers not interested in us ran off, the birds too.
“What you doing here?” Kwaz asked. Not caring to mask his annoyance. I could not help but think he hated us.
“Looking for your damn shaw man! What does it look like? Think I’m out here dicking around for my own giggles?” Charles said and tucked away his gun.
“You are going wrong way.”
“Well maybe you should’ve waited for us before starting. Or maybe! you should civil on up and put some damn signs out.” Charles rebutled.
“I did and same with this men. They are our guard. The Shaman waits for no one. He speaks with animals and spirits, only Wildeaf Koning can tell him what to do.” Kwaz turned and gestured us to follow.
Leading us back through the tunnel we just were, there was a small twist that in our haste we had missed. Kwaz lead us the whole way, never once turning back. He decided that if we got lost again than it was our own fault. I could live with that. Charles and I had certainly shown that we are not the best of guests.
The walk took us to a different exit than the one Charles and I went through but the valley looked the same. Not much longer after that, we arrived at a camp that our crew had set up. The day was more than half way over and the sun was going down, so Kwaz and the others began to set up a fire and our tents.
Of course both Charles and I wanted to continue forward. Then decided better of it. We had enough troubles today and it almost put us behind schedule. To make up for the sacrifice, we both found the idea of drinking earlier would make us sleep sooner and be less groggy tomorrow. So we opened up a case.
“Come on Kwazzy, just have a little. Best damn drank you’ll ever drink. Come on.” Charles said lightly shaking a bottle of whiskey and a glass.
“My name is not Kwaz or Kwazzy. It is Wallezk. And no thank you. The tigers we saw earlier today may return. I must be aware if they do.” Wallezk exhaled and stood up. Leaving the group of us and the crew to begin his patrol.
“Any of you interested?” Charles asked the five men of the group. Setting the glass on the dirt, the men just passed the bottle around the fire. Each taking a drink before handing it off.
“What does he mean the tigers may come back?” I asked, trying not to show the fear I had deep in my gut. “I did not come on this trip to be eaten alive.”
The only shirtless man laughed. “Don’t worry. The tigers won’t come. They usually stay away from this area. We are getting closer to the Afrani. Less things near the Afrani.”
“Yes the Afrani. Tell me more.” Charles said taking his turn with the bottle.
“Not much to say. The Shaman knows more. Animals fear them. So do we.” The man shrugged and took the bottle.
“Why? How are they different from the other native elephants?” I asked.
“Don’t know. Never seen one. All I know is they have horns.” He gestured with his fingers. “That come up from behind and are very large.”
“Interesting. Do you know if anyone has killed one?” Charles asked with a grin that left a sickening feeling in my stomach.
Surprised by the question, all the men in group shivered at the thought. “No. The Afrani leaves curses on the soul.” The man said, horrified.
“Wildeaff Koning…” Someone else whispered pouring a splash of Ricko into the fire.
“Hey!” Charles snapped. Taking the bottle and himself to bed.
“What is that? Willow Konin?” I wasn’t sure of what he said. He spoke too quiet for me to fully pick it up.
Shaking their heads, the crew also left the fire and headed to their tents.
I couldn’t help but wonder, was all this trip a big mistake? I already knew that going after the Afrani was a terrible idea but to find out that these people believed them to curse the soul? I didn’t want to go further, except there was no turning back. Charles wanted this and I knew I couldn’t convince him otherwise.
Day 2. I awoke in my tent, not even sure of how I got here. That didn’t matter. I felt great. No hangover, no heaving or puking. I was fine. Better yet, the crew were all here as well. I began to pack my tent along with everyone else. I decided that today I wanted to see if the Shaman would tell me more about his people and why they believed the Afrani to be a curse.
Looking around, it quickly became clear that the Shaman wasn’t at camp.
“Where is the Shaman?” I asked Wallezk.
Throwing a pack over one shoulder and a rifle over the other, he smiled. The first real smile I saw from him the entire trip.
“You missed him again. He travels ahead of us to mark our path forward.” Wallezk said.
“Why not stay with the group? Isn’t it dangerous by himself?”
“Not for him. No.” Thinking that a suitable answer Wallezk began to walk away.
“Why not?” I asked, halting his step.
“He speaks with spirits and gods. In turn nature leaves him alone so that he can help spread their messages. Hurting him would give a man a fate worse than death.”
Our eyes locked and Wallezk stood there for a short time to see if I had more questions. I did but I couldn’t think of any. Was it possible that maybe the Shaman really did have some strange connection with the area around him to where he would give off a calming aura? I didn't fully believe it and said nothing so I wouldn’t insult Wallezk and his people any further than I already had.
“What’d you and Kwazzy talk about?” Charles asked me once we began the walk for the day.
“Wallezk.” I corrected.
Charles shrugged and gave me a look. His question still stood.
“Nothing in particular. Just some questions about the Shaman.” I said flippantly.
“Don’t worry about that geezer. No one is going to think twice when I take one of those suckers down. Hell. I may make us kings in their eyes.” Charles grinned. Lately everytime he smiled, he left me with a fear that I couldn’t explain.
“What?!” Charles asked annoyed.
“What if the Afrani is really cursed?”
“Then nothing happens. Curses, ghosts, spirits, ghouls. Come on. They’re no more real than this cupcake in my hand.” Raising his hand Charles pretended to hold something.
“Yum yum. So delicious. Ha! You’ll believe anything. I told you, I got this.” He said patting me on the shoulder.
Exhaling I nodded and ceased my thoughts of demons.
The walk took us through a vast amount of areas. At one point we crossed a river that led up to an open valley full of tall grass, where I saw my first zebras. From there we entered a tunnel that went down into the ground. We weren’t allowed to use torches at this point. Wallezk told us that any light or noise too loud would upset the cave’s inhabitants. He described it as a tornado of bats. That alone made my muscles hurt from tension.
We used the wall to guide us through the cave. It was maybe a mile of pure darkness and silence. There were times I feared my steps would awaken the creatures sleeping above me, yet nothing happened. We made it through the tunnel safe and sound, and this time I avoided stepping in shit.
When we got out of the cave we ended up in a valley again. The sun had set so we decided to make camp.
This was the worst night.
After starting a fire, the crew set up all the tents, while Charles got the drinks ready. The night before opened their eyes to our bliss. I tried to find the Shaman but he was still gone. I asked Wallezk about it and he told me that today we made it further than expected so the Shaman was preparing himself for tomorrow when we would arrive.
Gathering around the fire, the men were happier tonight. The question from the night before gone from their minds. They enjoyed themselves and tonight every man had their own bottle of Ricko’s. Everyone but Wallezk.
“Good right?” Charles asked already drunk.
The men nodded and shouted in delight.
“Don’t go wasting it this time. Any spilt drops, is an insult to my honor.” Charles laughed. The crew joined in but all became very careful to not spill.
“So I wanted to ask. Last night before you went to bed you said something.” I said sitting beside the whispering man.
Like always, Charles interrupted me. “Well look who decided to join us!”
Wallezk approached the fire, with a bottle in his hand and his rifle strapped around his back.
“Whatcha doin here?” Charles slurred.
“I come to partake and to prevent danger.” Wallezk said unscrewing his bottle but still standing.
“Now that’s what I want to hear!” Charles sang and took a drink.
Taking a long swig Wallezk smiled his rare smile.
“Please Mr. Williams. This is not an insult on your honor.” With that Wallezk, emptied half his bottle into the fire. Both the fire and Charles lurched and roared.
“Wha-huh. Who the-” Furious and drunk, Charles couldn’t figure out what to say.
“Please.” Wallezk gestured with a hand.” “Tigers. They followed us since yesterday and are all around. If you look out in the tall grass there and there, you can see their eyes. The fire and the noise are all the keep them away. Enjoy yourselves as much and as loud as possible. We will be fine.” Wallezk said and finally took his seat.
“Oh.” Charles was dumfounded. “Here I thought you were just wasting my liquor.” Charles laughed, a little louder than normal and tossed his bottle into the fire.
“Come on everybody!” Charles giggled then suddenly stopped.
. His face grew sick and horrified. The hairs on the back of my neck began to stand as I saw sweat slide down Charles’ face. I never thought I would see him so afraid. My heart beat started to hurt my chest. My breath caught. I got dizzy. Then Charles spoke.
“We still have three cases right?”
The crew nodded and Charles’ smile returned. Laughter broke out and I tried to regain the little composure that I still had.
I tried to act like nothing was wrong. I know the first thing people tell you about animals is don’t let them smell your fear. I had no freaking clue if tigers could smell fear. So I shook in my boots both from laughter and from fear. I didn’t want to die.
Fighting every instinct I kept my eyes on the fire. Looking into those yellow eyes would probably be the death of me.
Charles knew this. He like the animals that surrounded us, could sense my fear.
Whispering to me, he leaned closer.
“Go ahead. Stare one of them down. I have my gun and so does Kwaz. This is why we are here. To conquer ourselves along with nature. I am right here. You have nothing to be afraid of. Take a drink and look out.”
His soft words soothed me. Then on que, out from behind the tents the Shaman emerged. If what Wallezk said before was true, the Shaman’s presence alone would send the tigers away. I was “safe”.
Taking a seat between Wallezk and I. The Shaman, covered in painted red glyphs from head to toe, let out a deep breath and closed his eyes. He raised his hands to the sky and took in another breath. The tops of his eyelids were marked with black, making his eye sockets look empty. The gesture made my renewed ease fade.
“We grow near.” He said. His voice old and raspy. The words sounded like an echo that took years to escape. I felt drawn in. “Tonight's the night the Afrani shall roam.”
“I thought you said it'd take three-” Wallezk cut of Charles with a gesture and a hiss.
Scowling, Charles listened.
“Yes. I believed the spirits would take me on a three day journey however we found this place and here the wound still bleeds.”
“Huh?” Charles grunted. Again Wallezk gestured and this time it looked more like a threat. A finger across the neck.
Charles relented once more.
“Once long ago, an outsider like you came and he like you, did not abide the gods. He attacked the Afrani and took with him his tusk. Believing the curse no more than myth, the man slowly watched as everything he loved turn to ash and dust. I show you the Afrani not for money or for knowledge. No. I show you to appease the spirit of Wildeaf Koning.”
The words were a name. They struck my body like a gong and I couldn’t help but shake.
“Wildeaf Koning.” I mouthed, unable to actually say the name.
“He, the stalker, the Poacher King. Watched and waited to take everything from the foolish man. Are you sir, like he? Will you too forever be stalked?” The Shaman asked Charles.
“Where are the elephants?” He asked, unimpressed. I couldn’t understand how Charles could be so calm.
“Sleep. Soon he comes.”
“He?” I asked.
“The behemoth. The spirit of the Afrani. He comes to show what man has caused. He is your lesson.” The Shaman said rising to his feet.
Everyone sat quietly for a time. The Shaman just like he appeared vanished in the tents.
“What a load…” Charles muttered drinking the bottom of his second bottle.
Taking a glance around, I scouted for either the tigers or for some elephant shape in the distance. Nothing was there. The grass swayed in the slight breeze, and the almost empty moon hung high above.
Wallezk and the men headed to their tents, so Charles and I did the same. I didn’t think I could fall asleep but I did.
That is when it came.
An odd horn like sound blared all around me. I was awake, more alert than I have ever been. My heart pounded. Was this it? I wondered.
Pouncing into my tent, Charles was rambling and mumbling faster than I could think. The only words I could pick out were.
“Hurry. I have my gun.”
Numbly I rose from my bed and peaked out. The night had become dark beyond black. Our fire was gone. I couldn’t see, I could only hear Charles’ footsteps fade away. I ran to try and catch up, I didn’t want to be alone. His footsteps grew quieter and quieter with each step I took. My heart was pounding so hard, my chest felt like it was going to burst open.
I had no idea where I was. I ran too far to even be able to look back.
A blast as loud as the rumble before erupted and lit the sky ahead of me.
“Charles!?” I yelled running toward it. “Charles where are you? Charles!”
A sound and a light like thunder and lightning, struck again.
“CHARLES! CHARLES!” All my screaming didn’t change anything. He didn’t call back.
The consuming noise struck me like a gust of wind. The sound even after it faded, echoed in my ears. The feeling felt like water drops on my brain. After the sound was gone, I couldn’t remember how it sounded until it erupted again.
I ran toward it. I didn’t know where I was or where Charles and the crew were. I just ran. The valley opened up to a lake surrounded by tall grass. There I saw the Afrani.
The Shaman did not lie. The thing was a bloody behemoth. It stood twice the size of any elephant. My eyes couldn’t look away, I felt drawn to the creature. The trunk was severed at the head and gushing blood, it’s eyes were gouged, and it’s body...The body looked as if it held back Hell itself.
Swirling imprints of hands and feet tore at the behemoth’s skin from the inside. Muffled cries from half faces screamed. The mouths covered by flesh.
I wanted to vomit. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run.
The creature stared at me with it’s empty eye sockets. The sounds of the dead inside of the beast fell silent. All except for one.
“Help me. Please. Help me!” A voice like a whisper. A shape of a face formed on the side of the behemoths stomach. I could see a form that looked like Charles struggling to release itself from the monster's belly.
I couldn’t believe what I saw.
“Charles.” I croaked. The name stabbed my throat like a knife. I could feel tears falling down my face, when one beam of moonlight illuminated something shining in front of me.
Barely able to look at it. I noticed Charles’ elephant gun sitting in front of me. At the water’s edge.
Swallowing hard I willed myself to take a step forward. I lunged for the gun. I didn’t know what to do. Aiming the massive thing at the bloodied behemoth. I screamed as i fired at the creature.
The bullet burrowed itself deep into the creature’s skull. Blood squirted and brains flew, but the beast didn’t flinch.
The thing cried out. Standing so close the noise sent me to my knees as I struggled to cover my ears. I could feel my head being crushed under the weight of it.
I screamed and cried, but there was no sound. Everything had gone silent except for a dull buzz. I opened my eyes and the creature was gone. Nothing but a red lake showed the evidence of what happened. I looked at the gun in front of me and tried to catch my breath. My hearing was gone. The sound of the thing had shattered my eardrums, I could feel the blood dripping down the sides of my chin onto my shoulders.
It was over. Charles was gone. The crew too. I couldn’t do anything but sit on my knees. The tears I cried turned to blood in my hands.
Then a man rose from the lake.Blood fell off his skin like rain. He stood-twice my size- above me. Peering down I could tell he was looking into my soul. The hair on the back of my neck stood up , as my eyes ran dry. This was Wildeaf Koning. The God that bathes in blood. This was, the Poacher King...