Next day, the morning walked briskly into brightness. Kazeem, the emissary had once again tasted freedom which he grabbed with both hands. Salis deprived the emissary any of the weapons on the ship. To say the least, the favor was restricted to walking freely without a weapon for defense in such a creepy kind of place. By the time they had waded waist-deep through the river to land, the emissary was famished and pale, for he had been in the belly of hell.
“Show me the way!” Salis ordered and pushed the emissary forward.
Frightened by the hard stand of the imposing figure, Kazeem brought out a map from his pocket and spread it before them like an old balance sheet under the nose of a shrewd accountant. After examining the map, he looked carefully around the forest and back to the map. Then he raised his head and pointed at the bush path to the left. “That’s the way,” he muttered with a quivering voice.
“Are you sure?” Salis spoke as if he was talking to a confused man.
“Sure,” Kazeem replied and nodded affirmatively.
Salis took a deep breath and threw a cold look at him. “What are you waiting for?” He pointed his musket at him and growled, “Lead the way!”
After covering a good distance, and there was nothing better to do than engaging their pair of legs to accomplish their task, Salis cleared his throat and said, “Least I forget. As soon as I get into the cave, I will force the giant out of the hole. If my device works, you will run in there and get the diamond stone. Do you agree?”
“It’s not a bad idea,” Kazeem responded. “If my leg does not betray me, it is something I can achieve before you snatch a breath from the wings of the morning.”
“Okay. I know where to find you. Perhaps, if we survive, we shall meet at the ship.”
Kazeem nodded almost a million times. “We must survive. We will survive. The giant might not be as powerful as we think. He might be an easy meal.”
Salis pondered it. “I hope so.”
After journeying for some time, Salis and the emissary had come to the cave. They hid behind a thicket of a bush, gazing curiously at the cave. “It is time, Kazeem.” Salis broke the silence that had lingered in their midst. He chucked his musket and gave his lips a bite. As he threw himself on his feet and had begun to approach the cave, his movement was thwarted by the blast of muskets on the other side of the forest. To avoid the tragedy of being knocked down by stray bullets, Salis took cover like a militia in the woods. After he had found succor behind an oak tree, Salis signaled Kazeem to join him and the emissary complied.
“There must be something happening there,” Salis whispered, pointing toward the direction of the blasts.
“That’s the work of a hunter. Gun blast will never cease where hunting is a way of life.” Kazeem’s voice was as soft as a whisper.
“I doubt. We must find out what is happening there,” Salis suggested.
“Salis we have no time. We can’t afford to be distracted here!” Kazeem protested.
Salis frowned at the emissary and pointed the musket at him. “As far as I breathe, I lead. If you challenge me, I will cut out your tongue.”
Kazeem shivered and fell to his knees. He held out his hands and palms up. “Salis, please! Salis, please! I didn’t mean to challenge you. I only wanted the best for us!”
“I am not as easy as you think. I might not forgive you next time!” Salis pushed Kazeem aside and moved toward the direction of the blast. The emissary jumped to his feet and followed.
Kazeem and Salis hid behind a tree, watching humans whose heart does not flow with the milk of human kindness, sniffing the life out of some people. The offenders were tied to stakes after they had been through rigorous punishment and were reduced by bullets that they received to their heads. As soon as they walked into silence, they were untied and taken to where lifeless bodies were stacked in heaps. Salis wanted to intervene but he refrained after an idea flew into his head. He tapped Kazeem on the shoulder and muttered. “Follow me. I will bring the giant into their camp.”
“How will you do that?” Kazeem inquired, looking confused.
“As soon as I take on the giant, you will go into the cave and get the diamond.”
“Okay. How long do I wait for you?”
“I don’t know.”
If Salis had known that the fellow behind the gruesome killings in the forest was Toulan, the pirate that rescued him from the belly of death when he wanted to take his life at the river after the death of Mr. Mogel the fisherman, he might not have walked that treacherous path.
Kazeem found a comfortable place at the threshold of the cave as Salis stumbled into the mouth of the mythical creature. The cave was bitterly cold. After going on silent feet for a while, and the environment seemed like where he had visited in the past, his mind began to work. Does it mean that Salis once lived in this cave? But he did not allow his thoughts to drive him away from the reality under his nose. A mere wave of the hand could rub him his life.
As soon as he moved into a bend, Salis heard a cough that almost brought down the cave. He was frightened. He took cover, panting like a terrified lizard. He did not need a prophet to tell him that it was the giant. So, when his gaze met the devil on a piece of furniture, snoring heavily under the spell of sleep, Salis plucked up a spirit and threw himself on his feet. He moved closer. Behind the monster was a door, which he sat against and Salis thought it might be the entrance to the chamber where the diamond stone was. Salis wanted to challenge the sleeping giant with his sword but he changed his mind. Since all he needed was to lure the beast out of the cave, he devices another means. He looked carefully around and found some stones. He went for them and hurled the first one at the crazy beast. The giant felt the pain on his shoulder. He barely raised his head, with one eye opened, he looked about. But he was too tired to see the figure standing before him. Then he let go a yawn that took some time to mix with the air and went back to sleep.
Salis grabbed another stone and hurled it at the giant. The stone landed on his forehead. The giant stormed out of sleep, holding his head and almost brought down the cave with a roar. He jumped to his feet and was ready to deal with the disturbance. The giant was red with rage when he found Salis. Before the captain could blink, the creature charged and breathed out a large fireball from his mouth. It smelled like death as Salis dodged and tried to fight back with his sword. When it dawned on him that he was not prevailing, he threw the sword away and grabbed hold of his musket and sent some bullets the way of the giant. They landed on the giant’s chest but could not humble the troll. The devil beats his chest vehemently and let go another fireball, which Salis only managed to escape. As the monster came like a rushing wind, Salis faced the exit and took to his heels. The giant threw much speed to his pair of legs and never spared the interloper a breath.
Salis dashed out of the cave and faced the forest like a speed demon. Just as he had planned, his feet carried him to the camp of the bloodthirsty devils in the pool of taking lives. “Help! Help! Help!” he cried out as he approached the men. Alerted, the soldiers grabbed their weapons and prepared for combat. Before they could find out from Salis what was in the chase, the giant emerged from among the tall trees. Red with rage, the troll looked around. He found armed soldiers on the field and the man who had disturbed him. He roared furiously and approached them with a devastating speed.
The soldiers opened fire on the crazy beast and made his life a living hell. The devil fought back, emitting destructive powers. The fireballs that left his mouth tormented the soldiers and a handful of them fell stone dead. As the battle raged, Salis, withdrew and tried to wiggle his way out of the bloody mess and dash back to the cave to find out if Kazeem succeeded or not. But he was intersected by one of the men. They fell on each other and shared blows from one end of the forest to the other. The soldier had the upper hand and Salis seemed to feel a sharp pain below his ribs. He yelled and fell near a tree. But just as the big man moved to send Salis to the silent world, he stumbled on a banana peel and was brought down to earth. Salis pounced; he drew his dagger and drove it into the man’s chest. The soldier yelled up to high heavens and embraced the incoming blackness.
Breathing the air of freedom, Salis jumped to his feet. He faced the path to the cave and made the best use of his legs to the creepy world. While Salis disappeared from the forest and put the tragedy in the camp behind him, Toulan and his men contended with the monster as if there might not be tomorrow.
The giant struck again like the wind that blows with vengeance and his blow wrote frustration on the face of the old earth. The monster uprooted a tree and hurled it at the fighters. Four or more of the soldiers bade the world farewell. When they regrouped and the monster stood like a raging storm, the soldier dispatched spears and arrows wave after wave. One of the arrows struck the giant on the head and another sank into one of the large balls that sat on the socket of his skull. He tasted frustration as his meal of the day. The giant cried out, he placed his hand that was like the back of a turtle on the injured eye and stamped about in the camp.
Happy that the interloper was languishing, the soldiers brandished their weapons and rent the air with a loud cry. They rushed and descended on the giant. Machetes from all corners rained on the beast. The man mountain staggered and crashed into a tree. Before he could regain his footing, Toulan was there with his bow and arrows. He aimed at the beast on the head; the creature groaned and became violent. All his effort to remove the arrow that stuck in his skull met a brick wall. Wave after wave, spears, arrows, and machetes fell on the giant. Overwhelmed by the onslaught of Toulan and his men, the giant growled and fell to his knees in the pool of his blood. He breathed his last and fell on his face to the ground.
Salis dashed into the cave with a good speed. “Kazeem! Kazeem!” he called out but there was no response. As he moved into the chamber, he heard someone sobbing gently in a corner. “Who’s that? Kazeem!” He moved toward the direction and found a woman in the pool of her blood. She placed her hand on her chest and gasped after she had recognized him. “Salis, I never knew I will see you again,” she said and tried to adjust.
“Who are you?” Salis inquired. He seemed to have forgotten the fellow.
The agonizing woman tried to smile but her frustration betrayed her. “You forget in a hurry. Was this not where I treated you some months ago?”
“Ah, Tiofeth! Forgive me!” Salis replied and rushed to her. “What are you doing here?”
“I have been robbed.”
“Who did this to you?”
She coughed and held her side. “A man. He was shaven and dressed like one from a royal family. I tried to stop him from stealing my things but I could not prevail. He took a dagger from my furniture and stabbed me. As I fell, he went to my treasure chest and went away with the diamond stone that I inherited from my grandmother.”
“I will find him,” Salis assured.
“Thank you.” She held Salis, “You must bring the diamond to me. If you don’t, that man will be doomed. The diamond stone is controlled by a dark spirit and it will work against anyone who tries to steal the stone from me,” said Tiofeth and adjusted. “The man outside was my husband!”
“The giant outside. What happened to him?” she inquired and their eyes met.
“Er, he…he is dead!” Salis stammered and turned away.
Tears gathered in her eyes. After sobbing gently for some time, she wiped her face with the back of her hand. “He was not born a giant. He was destroyed by the dark spirit the night he tried to steal my diamond.”
“Okay.” Salis tried to raise her. “I will find the robber but I can not leave you here. You must go with me.”
Tiofeth wagged her head. “No, Salis. She touched his face. “I will remain here until my night comes.” She removed the jewelry around her neck and gave it to Salis. “This amulet has powers to scare evil spirits away. With it, the dark spirit will not harm you.”
“Thank you. I will return with the stone,” Salis promised.
She smiled and nodded. “Destroy the jewelry and the diamond if you can.” She smiled again and rested on the bare chest of sudden death. Tiofeth died at the hands of Salis. He tried to hold back his tears as his countenance fell like packs of cards. Salis carried Tiofeth into one of the chambers in the cave and committed her to mother earth.
Salis left the chamber in a good time. But he was spotted by Toulan’s men immediately he ran out of the cave and head to the river. When Salis noticed the machinations that were against his soul, he ran very fast and the advantage sustained him until he got to the shores.
However, Kazeem had boarded the ship when the captain emerged. As Salis dashed into the river to wade waist deep into the ship, Kazeem emerged with a musket. “Don’t come close, if you don’t want to stop swallowing!” he shouted and sends some bullets into the air to describe his seriousness. But his order fell on deaf ears. Salis knew the danger of turning back, so he continued to move forward. Kazeem was angered by his deviance and opened fire on Salis. He was glad to see the man that almost snuffed the life out of him a while ago turned toward the swamp and fled for dear life. Kazeem smiled like a half-witted fellow as he watched Salis disappeared into the swamp. As soon as the coast was clear, Kazeem dashed into the control room and set sail.
After Kazeem had gone far into the sea, he brought out the diamond stone that he stole from the cave. He examined it. Then he nodded almost a million times and placed it in his pocket. Not long after, he brought out the stone again as if a thought flew into his head that the diamond could be safer in some place else. He looked carefully around as if he suspected that an eye was watching. Then he swallowed the stone.
Immediately the diamond was buried in his belly, Kazeem felt a sharp pain below his abdomen. He cried out and fell to his knees. He began to vomit maggots. The maggots crawled into one of the rooms. They congealed and transformed into a damsel whose eyes were fiery and green and her face shone like the rising sun. She came out of the room and walked to where Kazeem was languishing on the floor. She flashed a menacing smile at him and moved away.
As she enjoyed the beautiful earth, a raging storm crept out of the sea. All of a sudden, three mythical creatures emerged from the belly of the sea and jumped into the ship. Their heads were like that of a cobra and the body of a human. One after the other, they flew into the damsel. Before she could blink, a whirlwind stumbled out of the quiet hands of the morning and carried the damsel back to the room.
Toulan restrained his men from chasing Salis. He told them that it would be a waste of time to chase a man that had nothing when they have the luxury of intersecting the ship on the sea that could earn them a fortune. However, before they got to their ship on the other side of the river, Salis had found his way into their ship and hid in one of the rooms.