It is 1991 and Nathen and Authia are finally free of the curse that has haunted Nathen for over two centuries. However, their quest does not end there. It has only just begun. Nathen may be rid of his curse, but he still desperately needs to know who and what he is. Hidden somewhere deep in the Congo region of Africa are the answers. Nathen and Authia risk their lives in order to find the truth.
Meanwhile, in a valley hidden from the outside world, a tribe secretly waits for the return of their Lord. Unknown to Nathen and Authia, the High Priestess of the tribe is aware of their existence and will do everything in her power to prevent them from finding Nathen’s home.
Congo Region, Africa, 1770
Joshawa stood outside his hut, surveying his village, his gaze taking in all that lay before him. The village was still sleeping, a privilege not afforded to Joshawa. These past few weeks Joshawa’s mind was troubled for reasons that he didn’t understand. As he scanned the vastness of his village, he made a mental note of two huts that needed to be re-thatched. There were over two dozen circular huts in the village, all varying sizes and all made of sapling trees and palm leaves. Hardened dirt served as the floors to these huts. A flap made of palm leaves covered the entrance to the hut. The huts encircled a large open area, and in the middle of that open area was a communal fire pit which was considerably larger than any other fire pit in the entire village. The priestesses of the village would perform special ceremonies around the fire pit, especially those that were meant to vanquish evil spirits.
His village was nestled in a clearing carved out of the rainforest. The vegetation grew thick around the village. The trees grew high, their substantial canopies protecting the village from the scorching rays of the sun. The rainforest was part of a valley hidden from the outside world. Only the people from his tribe were granted the privilege to walk the lush jungle grounds and enjoy the bounty that the valley had to offer. His tribe, christened the Jelani tribe, was as old as time itself.
He found himself lost in his thoughts of the tribe and how it was ruled by two families. One was Joshawa’s family, a warrior clan, and the other was a family of priestesses. Since time began, the rule of the tribe never faltered. The Lord of the tribe ruled his people until his first-born son turned thirty. Then there was an elaborate ceremony ushering the son into manhood. For it was only when you turned thirty that the tribe truly considered someone a man. When the ceremony was completed, the new Lord would choose a priestess as his wife. Together they ruled the tribe.
Joshawa took a deep breath of the morning air. The sweet smell of the jungle filled his lungs and his mind. Then he closed his eyes and soaked in the sounds of the jungle. Birds, monkeys, the great beasts of the jungle, even the smallest insects all saying good morning to one another. He loved these sounds, for they made him feel at peace.
In the village, Joshawa knew he was considered a handsome man standing over six feet tall. That morning he had chosen to wear a loincloth made of animal skin that covered him from his waist to mid-thigh and a sleeveless vest stained a golden brown. He was very much aware of the fact that his muscular body intimidated the other men of the village. To maintain that intimidation, he wore his clothing so tight that it accentuated his body instead of covering it up.
Joshawa watched observed the people of his village as they gradually woke up and left their huts to partake in the morning meal. A meal that was being prepared over the communal fire pit. The people of the tribe didn’t resemble what the outside world would classify as normal. They had shocking red hair that fell in gentle waves to their shoulders. Their faces were long and their cheekbones were unusually high. Their noses were wider than normal and their upper lips had a slight cleft. Their fingernails were long and curved. Their entire bodies were covered with a very fine, almost undistinguishable, layer of red hair.
Joshawa envied the married couples whose love was clearly displayed in their actions and how they gazed upon each other. He looked behind him, into his hut. His wife lay sleeping on their mat. Slowly, he shook his head as he gazed back out into the jungle. Love played no part of his marriage. She was beautiful. At five feet ten, Serena was of average height for the women of the Jelani tribe. Her sun-kissed complexion complemented her dazzling blue eyes. And, like all other members of her tribe, her hair was a fiery red cascading in waves to just past her shoulders.
However, he’d chosen Serena as his wife because she was the most powerful priestess ever born to the tribe. She needed to be controlled, and the only way Joshawa could think of accomplishing that was to marry her. His plan was not working so well. Serena’s powers had become stronger. She had become more vocal, challenging him on a regular basis. Joshawa knew in his heart that a major confrontation was brewing and, as he walked toward the gathering hut, he acknowledged the fact that the outcome would not be good.
* * * *
Serena woke up and reached out for her husband. But, as usual, he was not there. She sat up, staring at the entrance to the hut. Anger brewed deep within her. Joshawa was distancing himself from her even more than usual. They had been married two full months and still, he had not consummated their marriage. Serena threw the blanket off her and quickly dressed in her ceremonial gown. She knew where Joshawa would be, and she was going to confront him and let him know exactly how displeased she was.
As she left the hut, five men from the scouting party ran past her, heading in the direction of the gathering hut. They were clad in animal skins that resembled large loincloths, effectively covering them from the waist to just past their buttocks. Each man carried a spear. Slung over each man’s shoulder was a bow. Serena followed them, lifting her gown off the ground so that she would not trip as she kept up with the scouting party. When she arrived at the gathering hut, she took her place at her husband’s side. She hoped the glare she shot Joshawa told him how much trouble he was actually in.