Aklia stood at the ready near the base of the outskirts of their encampment. Her children: Amaya, Elan, Moon, and Yam stood with her. Her pregnant daughter Lana had been sequestered away with the rest of the family which stretched out to well over two hundred. The older grandchildren who were trained to fight amounted to around fifteen, each of them positioned in various points of the nearly vacant site that had been their family home for centuries. The lands of Adam had protected them since the Curse of Cain; however these same lands had kept them isolated as well. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. Archangel Raziel divided the family up into several groups and directed them towards various parts of the world. Some were to head towards the mountains, while others were sent to the jungles of the southern regions. Some were sent to the deserts while others were guided towards the high tides of the seven seas.
Aklia silently mourned the division of her family tree. They were being separated by the root – a strategy that she understood all too well. There was a much bigger plan at stake and as she watched the sun made its slow retreat beneath the horizon. The shift in the atmosphere happened almost instantly. Her senses heightened, and with the visual acuity of an eagle, she spotted subtle movement in the trees. One by one she felt them materializing into solid form, but with the sun clinging to its last few moments of light, she knew instantly that these entities had to wait until complete darkness.
But there was no sign of Cain.
“I can feel them mother,” Yam whispered tensely. “And they have fed.”
“We wait son,” Aklia told him. “Do not rush into anything. For all we know, this could be a set up for an ambush.”
Quickly, Aklia sent out a mental message to her small army: Do not move. Wait until I give the signal. This might be a set up.
She returned her vision to the trees and waited as the sun continued to set. From what she could gather, there were at least ten blood drinkers, high off of the blood of their victims. And she did not dare underestimate the fact that there could be more. Eliana’s careless feedings had created a nearly unstoppable surge of blood drinkers that wiped out several small clans just east of where they were. It had taken a few years for Aklia and her children eradicate them and send Eliana off in another direction. Therefore, Aklia could only imagine the carnage that Cain, wife Luluwa his son Nunka and his wife Naima had left behind. Rumor of the Blood Kingdom as it was called had reached her ears, setting fire to her blood and she vowed that before she died, she would at least take out her sister Luluwa or Nunka’s wretched wife Naima.
One of those females had to go.
She swallowed thickly, her grip on her blade tightening as the sky continued to darken. Night creatures had grown silent as if they knew what was about to take place and wanted no part of the pending bloodshed. As the sky succumbed to total darkness, her vision had never been more acute as it was now. She felt the ground tremble as the leaves in the trees began to rustle. Yam reached for his arrows that he carried on his back and readied his bow. Aklia’s jaw clenched the instant the entity materialized in front of her, fangs exposed, blood dripping from his chin.
Cain prepared them for what he perceived as his sister’s weaknesses, he never considered her strength. Her son’s arrow reached its target, the silver tip piercing the entity’s heart as her hard swing took off the entity’s head. Ash hit the wind, the stench of sulfur claiming her nostrils.
“Attack!” She roared into the darkness. As if on cue, another blood drinker whizzed passed her, appearing as nothing but a blur towards her daughter Moon. Moon’s palms crackled with an electric blue energy that she used to bind the entity with like a rope. The blood drinker collapsed on the ground, struggling to fight against the electric cord that burned through its flesh. With lightening speed, Moon’s silver blade sliced through its neck, severing the head.
More ash filled the air.
Silver tipped arrows clouded the sky and rained down on the blood drinkers that rushed forward. Screams ripped through the air, but none of it deterred Aklia from moving forward. The bone chilling scream of her granddaughter, Takiya forced her to turn back however, as a thickly built blood drinker bit into her neck. Elan and his nephew Set rushed to her aid, both filling the blood drinker’s back with arrows while Aklia’s short blade went straight into its neck. The creature released Takiya instantly before turning to ash. Set carried Takiyah off to the safety of the hills. Aklia knew she would recover – none of her children would meet the Curse of Cain – but nonetheless it still hurt her heart to witness them hurt.
Rage fueled her as she back flipped just in time out of the reach of a giant, whose fangs were of saber tooth proportions. Off in the distance, she sensed the dark energy of Cain moving forward. But another entity quickly captured her attention.
Lightning struck as the female took form just a few yards away from Aklia. The two combatants locked eyes and lunged on a sure-fire collision course. Yam, Moon, Amaya and Elan along with their children and nieces and nephews continued to slaughter the few remaining blood drinkers that were now attempting to retreat. Naima disappeared into the ether at the last second, barely missing Aklia’s blade. Aklia double backed, unmoved by the sudden move. She froze, using her heightened senses to pinpoint Naima’s exact location, but was caught by a surprise punch to the back, which knocked her forward. Aklia caught herself before she hit the ground, using the tip of her blade to regain balance. Naima hissed, with talons taking a hard swipe at Aklia who in turn shoved the sole of her foot into the blood drinker’s chin.
Aklia felt Nunka materialize close by as well as another blood drinker. The hard whir of a battle ax whizzed passed her shoulder, barely grazing it and slammed into the center of the unaware male’s chest, instantly turning him to ash. Nunka hissed and took cover while Naima continued to engage Aklia in battle. Aklia overheard the telepathic message sent from Yam to Amaya as both rushed toward Nunka who idly watched from the clearing. Deep crimson eyes glared at them from the darkness and the two siblings worked in sync against Cain’s oldest son. Amaya opened her palms, creating a band of white light which she shot directly at the entity. Nunka hissed again and folded away into the darkness. Aklia watched it all unfold in slow motion as she dodged another swipe from Naima. Her son spun around quickly to find himself trapped in the death grip of Nunka’s large hands. Amaya ran at full speed like a comet towards her brother, but even with all of the speed of the cosmos, she was not fast enough to stop what happened next.
Nunka tightened his grip on the younger male’s neck and snapped it. The hard crunch of her son’s trachea being broken ripped through her. And to further add insult to injury, Nunka dug his talons into the dead man’s back and snatched out his spine. White hot rage and blackened grief tore at her, transforming her into a darker version of the huntress that blood drinkers grown to her fear.
“My son!” Aklia cried out. “My son!”
Amaya, still running at full speed, slammed her body into Nunka, knocking the wind and her brother’s remains out of his grip. In a fit of fury, she took the blade that she carried, constructed purely of bronze and gifted to her from her grandfather Adam, she sliced off Nunka’s leg. The blood drinker did not turn to ash, but black blood spurted from the wound as he hit the ground.
“I got him mother!” Amaya thought to her mother. “Take out his wife!”
Lightening crackled in her palms as she gripped her blade. The handle cut through her hands and her own blood dripped down the handle, which disoriented Naima.
“Naima!” Nunka called out with failing strength. “Get back!”
Naima, crazed by the scent of Aklia’s blood took another lunge towards the enraged huntress.
Nunka’s cries were too late. With all of her strength, Aklia’s blade connected with the crown of Naima’s head in a downward motion. Naima stared blankly at Aklia, before her body broke apart in two halves, turning to ash as it hit the ground. Nunka looked on in disbelief as Amaya prepared to land the death blow, he was snatched away into the ether by his mother, Luluwa.
A black tornado touched down out of nowhere, thickening the blanketing darkness.
“Take cover!” Elan shouted in the distance.
“Use the elements to shield yourselves!” Aklia hollered back. “Amaya! Go!”
Amaya ran over to her mother, her face bruised, the rest of her bloodied and battered. “I wont leave you.”
Aklia grabbed her daughter’s arm and shoved her in the direction of her brother. “Go now! You all will be needed later to fight. But for now, this is my fight.”
“I don’t want to lose you!” Amaya cried. “Please! Let me stand and fight with you!”
“I refuse to lose another child to that bastard!” Aklia growled. She looked at her daughter, her heart swelling with love. So many years spent, training her, preparing her for a legacy that she would have never chosen for any of her children. So much pain and grief stared back at her. Memories of Amaya crawling around as an infant, laughing at her father Ram who teased her with funny faces every night while Aklia would take leave to hunt. Images of her children gathered around her, listening to her stories of The Almighty and what it means to serve the Light. Amaya, out of all her children, held the most courage and also the deepest loyalty to her mother.
Aklia quickly snatched her daughter into a tight embrace and a silent knowing passed between them. Tears filled Amaya’s eyes as she held on to her mother.
“Be strong my beautiful Amaya. Carry my blade when all is done and carry it well. I will always be with you,” Aklia whispered.
“I don’t understand…” Amaya sniffled. “This is not just!”
“You will understand in time. Do not be of anger with the angels nor Him Above. Tell your siblings the same. But this, this has to be done.”
“Please mother, you do not have to do this!”
“I must. One way or another, what was written long before must come to pass. I love you Amaya. Now go. Cain will forever remember this battle. I need you to be strong for your siblings. GO!”
Aklia shoved Amaya towards her brother and watched as she stumbled, heartbroken and overrun with grief towards him. Orbs of light followed her, giving Aklia comfort in knowing that those of her bloodline would always be protected by the archangels – including Bandi.
“Cain! Son of the Fallen! Betrayer of the Most High,” Aklia seethed through clenched teeth. “Slayer of your own blood! I challenge you.”
“You have taken what is mine,” Cain’s voice boomed from the tornado. “And for that you will pay!”
“As you have taken what is mine,” Aklia growled, gripping the handle of her sword.
“When I am done with your carcass, I will turn the bones of all of your children into dust,” Cain said as the tornado’s speed slowly decreased and the winds began to dissipate.
“Do it,” Aklia challenged swinging her blade with expert precision.
Cain’s laughter echoed across the field as he materialized into physical form. “Come on little sister. I’m tired of these games. Let’s finish this.”