Ikwezi arrived back home just as the morning sun was rising, the sight filled him with hope and joy. The journey had taken him just over six months and by now the young Kanu would be almost four years old, if he still lived…
Ikwezi quickly gathered the elders and called the rest of the shamans to Kanu’s room. The boy was still alive, but his state had not changed, as predicted. After quickly explaining his journey Ikwezi held up the Mask of T’chaxau for all to see. A hushed silence fell over the room soon replaced by quiet muttering as various discussions were had about what to do with the object and how it’s power could be utilized. Placing the mask down on a table, Ikwezi held his hands up to gain the others attention.
“Brothers, we all feel the power emanating from the vessel, that much is there for all to see. But how do we use it to free the child? This is still a mystery. But I assure you this object is the key…”
Ikwezi was so distracted he did not notice Kanu rise from his bed, seize the mask, and put it on…
The three elders stood nearby suddenly lurched and spasmed, collapsing to the ground writhing in pain. Screams echoed from outside replaced quickly with grotesque gurgling sounds and then followed with silence. Tendrils of midnight black fog began seeping out the walls forming grasping hands that ikwezi remembered from the pyramid. The eyes of the mask upon Kanu’s face began to glow with an unearthly crimson red flame as the child rigidly walked forwards, his gaze set unmovingly upon Ikwezi. He felt his throat tighten as if an invisible serpent had coiled around it and was intent on ripping the air from his lungs. He phased in and out of consciousness as the edges of his vision began to blacken. With his last ounce of strength he reached out in desperation and wrestled the mask from the young Kanu. Having form had made T’chaxau’s magic potent but physically he was still as weak as a four year old child. Tensing up he raised the ancient golden mask up to his face and put it on…
Once again he stood in the vortex from his vision, what felt like so long ago. But unlike before he could make out shapes behind the wall of dust. Buildings seemed to be emerging from the storm. Soon it began clearing and Ikwezi saw clearly, he was standing on the main road of an ancient Tauredain city, a great pyramid lay at it’s end not too different from the one he found the mask in. People walked up and down the road, carts hauled goods to market stands, the air was filled with the hustle and bustle of a prospering trade centre. Those that walked passed were dressed in outfits Ikwezi did not recognize. By their skin and tattoos they looked to be Tauredain but he had seen no such wealth or splendor in his short time in the jungle. Could this be the old empire? Was he seeing into the past?
“Golden splendor, Blinded by greed.
As Sauron bid, I planted the seed.
Puppet on the throne, Guess whose pulling the strings?
An empire fallen, to the power of the ring.”
T’chaxau’s voice brought back the utter dread Ikwezi felt before, always speaking in riddles and rhyme, the trickster would not outsmart him this time. Within an instant the vision changed, the buildings began to crumble, fires erupted off in the distance, and the populace ran panicked through the streets. Distant sounds of conflict filled the air along with plumes of black smoke.
“We are one now Ikwezi, Two souls one form.
While I walk in your flesh, you will cower in this storm.
Here you will remain, in this prison of the mind.
Awake to the cruelty, of the spirit that you bind.”
“Foul spirit you think you are the stronger? You think you can defeat me within my own mind? I brought you here, to the one place I may defeat you! You are nothing more that a puppet yourself T’chaxau, serving a far greater master. And I will bind you, by the Great Lion this is the end of you!”
Rage boiled up within Ikwezi as he remembered the image of the shamans, his adopted family dying before him. He rose his staff high into the air and struck it down with tremendous force. Smoke bellowing from burning buildings in the distance began to coalesce towards Ikwezi. From within it stepped forth a tall dark skinned man with Ancient writings scarred onto his body. Ikwezi instinctively swung his staff at the mans head. Smoke swirled forth and formed into a blade of pure obsidian deflecting the blow. In retaliation the Tauredain lunged forth with speed Ikwezi did not expect from a man his size. He only just managed to leap out the way in time, feeling the breeze of the blade on his face. Stumbling to his feet another blow stuck forth. And another. And another. Perhaps it was instinct from years of training, or the hatred he felt for the spirit, or some other force guiding his hand; but every time the blade came down upon him Ikwezi’s staff was there to meet it. With a mighty roar Ikwezi swung his staff in an overhead arc, cutting straight through the man before him revealing nothing but a cloud of smoke in it’s wake. A terrible wail seemed to echo around the city before the vision began to fade back into darkness. Awaking once more the scenes of chaos and devastation T’chaxau had caused were still there, he had not dreamed that…
“I can never let you free to cause havoc to my people again T’chaxau, so you will remain within me, always a part of the dark corner of my mind. But I will be vigilant and do what I must. Much greatness has been lost here this day, The Great Lion weeps, but we shall rebuild what was lost and you shall see all your evil undone through my eyes.”
Out of the blood soaked room, Ikwezi noticed movement in the corner of his eye. He rushed over and hauled the corpse of an elder to one side. Beneath it was the child. He was still, could this really be it? The spirit defeated and now the child lies dead? But then there was movement once more. Kanu’s eyes blinked open, wearily gazing around as if seeing the world for the first time. He looked up at Ikwezi’s concerned face, reached out, and gently pawed at his cheeks giggling with soulful happiness…