Samaria laughed, her neck reaching upward. Her stance was erect and her hands dipped to her sides, fingers curling inward.
“No.” Samaria began moving through the crowd. The tribesmen and women crept away without losing sight of their new princess. On the contrary the chief, elders, priests, priestess and drummers fled, knocking into several slaves.
“Do not fear,” Samaria’s mouth curved as she spoke. “You are tainted—impure. Your hearts are corrupt, like Nzinga’s.”
This didn’t dispel their fears and, though they no longer fled, they cowered behind the slaves that had been observing from beyond the circle. Samaria stalked to where the tribesmen gathered, gliding across those at the front of line. Four male and three female slaves formed a barrier, bravely facing their fate. Samaria breathed into their faces. Torches burned around them, revealing the true depths of their fear. Samaria’s lips initially tightened, which changed the closer she drew to them. She gently brushed open palms against the sides of their faces, only stopping when she stood before a thin female.
Unlike the others, the slave’s gaze extended to the sky. Teardrops cascaded down her cheeks. Samaria took hold of her shoulders, guiding her forward.
“What do they call you?” Samaria asked.
The girl, no more than three inches shorter than Samaria, trembled. She didn’t fight to remain with the others, only moved along. Her head now lowered, eyes piercing beyond the lights of the ceremonial grounds. In the distance, the desert calmly observed its inhabitants.
When the girl didn’t immediately answer, Samaria touched her chin. She flinched.
“They call you slave. Tell me your name. You once belonged. What is your name?”
“Wonlay,” the slave girl replied. She hid behind the confession, more so the meaning of the name.
“Look at me.” Samaria bent in order to reach Wonlay’s eye level. “Your mother and father smile down on you. They named you out of their suffering, out of their constant loss.”
“Yes.” The girl was crying now as no one ever spoke of her people. She shook her head in acceptance, her shoulders slumped forward.
“Wonlay, your name might mean tired but they were not tired of you. They were sad over the loss of their other seeds. None took root, until you came along.” Samaria touched the young girl’s hands, leading her to the stake. “You are pure in spirit and soul. You were born to be great. Through your sacrifice, our people will live always.”
Samaria let her go.
Everyone looked on in awe as the slave girl floated towards the stake. Samaria’s right hand controlled the movement. She passed the child around three times before settling her on the rock seat.
The tribe now pressed onward, though on approaching the faded circle barrier, they were blocked. Unable to walk closer, yet able to see.
“Life for life. Death for death!” Samaria began. “Say it with me, sister,” she commanded Wonlay. Samaria’s possessors understood the girl’s needs. She was only a slave—not sister, not mother, not even lover.
“Sister?” Wonlay asked. Her body nudged forward, back overwhelmed with emotions. She bit on her lips, struggling to hold back a cry, though tears were already soaking her neck.
“Yes, sister.” Samaria placed a motherly kiss on the child’s forehead. “You are doing this for your people.” Then, turning to the others, Samaria instructed, “Call her sister.”
The chief’s eyes spread, though he dare not protest. The other slaves immediately praised their sister. The tribe looked from Samaria to their ceremonial master.
Samaria reached for him, pulling on his loincloth. Within a second he stood beside them.
“S-s-sister, sister!” he shouted, a heap of saliva dousing Wonlay’s nose. She didn’t wipe it off. Her lips curled up. When the rest of the group joined in, Wonlay’s mouth opened. White teeth shone. Dark cheeks bunched and shined.
Samaria sent the chief back out of the circle. The people continued the lament.
The other slave women knelt, leaning so that their bare stomachs and naked breasts spread flat on the ground. Their heads extended two inches upwards. Beneath them, specks of teardrops formed miniature dunes.
“Sister,” Samaria whispered in Wonlay’s ear. “Do you give your life for the lives of your people? Do you offer your death as sacrifice for our eternity?”
Samaria’s hand reached to the sky.
“Life for life. Death for death,” she declared. In that moment, wind stirred above them. They were forced to close their eyes as sand blew. Wonlay suffered through the damage. Samaria’s arms flailed around her head.
“No,” she shouted.
The spirits had forced her into hiding. On the verge of the sacrifice, Samaria fought back. She took control of her actions long enough to plea for Wonlay. “Please, please . . . take me. My life. My death.” Her words were directed inward, though expressed out at the masses.
“Do not fight them, child.” The chief peered from behind one of the other tribesmen. He expected everyone else to be brave, while he hid behind false strength.
“Ahhhhhhh.” Samaria battled.
Her body wiggled and jolted about, her hands spread wide.
Every time she managed to yank away the reins that held her limbs, she curled into a fetal position. At one point her eyes connected with Wonlay’s. The brave slave girl encouraged her to let go. But Samaria stubbornly held out longer. Samaria’s cries grew deeper. She bowed in front of Wonlay.
“Princess, don’t fight them,” the child said. She attempted to lift Samaria. “This night is the best of my thirteen years. I am honored. My mother and father are dead. I have claim to no one. I give my life for your life and my death for your death.”
Wonlay wiped her eyes and straightened her body, though her knees remained on the ground.
Samaria stifled her sobs, shut her lids, and willingly gave in to the spirits.
The chief nudged one of the slaves forward, handing him a three-inch spear. He motioned the young man to pass it on to Samaria. Then the chief hid as before.
“Wonlay is our sister, not an animal. She must not be slaughtered in the same manner,” Samaria said without looking behind her.
The chief mumbled, fumbling around his words, “I never—”
“Another word and there will be two sacrifices this night,” Samaria promised.
The chief chose wisely.
Samaria stood before Wonlay, extending her arms forward.
The slave girl rose, keeping her head lowered. Samaria forced Wonlay to look up.
“Sister,” Samaria whispered. With a flicker, Wonlay’s body lifted five inches above the ground. Samaria’s index finger lay against the left side of Wonlay’s chest.
Beyond the circle, Chief encouraged the tribe to chant: “Life for life. Death for death.”
A deep red light extended from Samaria’s palm, marking Wonlay’s skin. The child’s head hung back. Her chest contracted, pumping erratically. Her heart throbbed loud; louder and louder still. The voices in the distance silenced. A wide circle protruded from her skin at the point of Samaria’s expectant grip.
“You are one of us now,” Samaria comforted.
Wonlay’s skin peeled away as her heart burst out from her chest and into Samaria’s palm. Darkness overtook the girl’s body as a light rushed out and into Samaria.
Blood poured out of the hole, forming a puddle below. More of the same dripped from Samaria’s hand, though she continued to hold up the child’s corpse.
“Collect her. Bury her—”
“It is customary to wait.” The chief used caution when going against the spirit-filled Samaria.
“Wonlay’s soul is at peace. Bury her now before daylight.”
The chief started to send the slaves, but Samaria commanded him and the elders to the task. She sent the body over and placed it gently in their hands.
“She is family—sister.”
Samaria sank to her knees, holding Wonlay’s heart to the sky. She took several deep breaths and forced the girl’s heart into her mouth. She chewed and swallowed fiercely, not gagging as her actions were not her own.
By the time the chief had returned with the elders from their impromptu burial some fifteen minutes later, Samaria had taken in the last of the organ. She then collapsed as the chief motioned for the slaves to wipe away the remnants of blood from the princess’s body.
The sun crept up behind them. It settled on dead ground. The region now seemed much drier, even colder and deathly wicked.
Get lost in the 10th Century on the African Continent!
Samaria: Warrior Princess is the first book in an explosive short story series.
A Viking with a thirst for blood.
A naïve but powerful African princess.
A vengeful sibling; spirit possession.
What more could you ask for in a paranormal saga?
And it’s only the beginning . . .
About the Author:
Jaxx Summers is the type of person many wish to be: uninhibited and unafraid of creating her own version of fact and truth, whenever necessary. I guess you can say that Jaxx is in the perfect field then. She loves the written word and its capabilities; forcing readers to let themselves loose in unforgettable worlds she weaves with tapestries of words. Finding this world often too monotonous and uninspiring to settle for every single day, she strives to surround herself with supernatural and paranormal memorabilia through her books.