Owls hooted on several trees, and crickets sang restlessly throughout the forest. Night birds occasionally whistled past, flapping past tiny rays of moonlight that permeated the dense forest.
However, Rodah was sure her heavy panting was louder than any hooting, singing or whistling.
She had been on the run, trying to locate her family. One would expect that she be scared, being all alone in the forest at night. But the only fear she had was for her family, as well as Andrew and Ms. Grace who had earlier gone ahead to find Aaron and their son.
She couldn’t tell exactly what cave Aaron had chained himself in. But since she remembered the rocky part of the forest she passed through when she first came to the region, she was certain, there could be caves in that area. If she could get there and look around, she may just be in time to save her husband and son.
So there she was, racing madly through the forest. occasionally stumbling over huge roots and sometimes getting stuck in long root twines.
She had wanted to give up, thinking she may be going in the wrong direction.
But then she heard it. Loud roars. Certainly coming from the direction she was headed.
Ignoring the obstacles on her way, she doubled her speed.
Rodah was certainly not going to let the entity using her sister, have it’s way again.
Her mother had told her, in the trance, “you cannot fight spirit with your physical power. Use the necklace I gave you, accompanied with love.
She had been, and was still perplexed about how loving a devilish entity would free her sister and go away.
And to think, all the while, she had thought Ese was just being pure evil.
“Try to save her first”, her mother had said, “only as a last resort should you kill her. Ese is still your sister. And she’s still my daughter”.
With those words ringing in her head, Rodah made her way out of the dense forest, into the rocky area. And as luck would have it, she heard a loud cry – almost like a roar, close by.
Rodah clutched her hand around the pendant dangling from her necklace as she fastened her steps. “Hang in there for me my dear. I’m coming”.
The next 10 minutes found her at the entrance of the cave from which she heard the roar. They were louder now. And definitely, there were two monsters in it. She was sure. For only one monster couldn’t possibly be making all that noise.
Ten steps into the cave, a wooden torch hung on the cave wall, burning brightly and illuminating the passageway
“I’m coming my love,” she whispered, before stepping into the cave. Rodah stopped briefly to take the wooden torch off the wall, before progressing further, taking careful steps.
Getting closer to the cave room where the roars came from, Rodah heard voices – human voices. One male. One female. Andrew and her mother-in-law? But whoever they were, Rodah could tell they were trying to pacify one of the creatures. Her husband, definitely. Ese was beyond being pacified. Not with that entity still in her body.
Rodah quickened her steps. She made it into the cave room just in time to see one vicious monster almost descending on Andrew, who was shielding a very frightened Ms. Grace.
“Ese stop!” that was Rodah. Ese had been too busy angry at the duo, she didn’t see Rodah come in. Neither did the others, as they had been too busy begging for their lives.
The only one who must have seen her coming was Okis. He snarled at her viciously from where he stood, his two hands chained at both sides to the wall.
“You”, Ese’s voice was in a whisper, even though she pulled back her lips to reveal long sharp fangs.
Andrew and Ms. Hope rushed to her side.
“I thought you were dead” Andrew said.
“Both of you leave this place now”, Rodah ordered, ignoring his statement, as she only cared about their safety.
“I’m not leaving. We’re in this fight together”. Andrew said. Ms. Grace affirmed with a nod.
“Three people with a death wish”, the monster Omo said, suddenly snapping her fingers. In an instant, she was enveloped in red smoke. When it cleared, she had transformed. Not into Omo. But Ese.
Goosebumps crept all over Rodah’s body. She had not expected to see Ese. At least not in her true form. “Ese…”, Rodah trailed off.
“Surprise, surprise”, Ese giggled like a child, “you’re not the only one Rodah, who can be yourself again”.
“Sister. My sister we need to settle this. Please. You can be your good self again”, Rodah swallowed, “we need to get past this. It has dragged for too long”.
“Sister? Seriously?” Ese grinned at the trio, “Rodah just called me sister. Should I be happy? Or should I be crying?” She laughed wickedly.
It was Okis’ now loud growling that caught her attention, making her turn to him.
“Oh my baby”, she said, taking steps towards him. She reached his side and held both his cheeks in her hand, “can’t you see my baby,” she pushed her lips forward and pecked him, “I’m the only one who can love you as you are. I’m the only one who can peck you and even make sweet love to you. Why do you keep refusing me?”
“Because you’re not the woman he loves”, Rodah replied.
Ese paused, smirked, and then turned around to look at her sister, “love? Are you even serious?” She scoffed, “this guy”, she gestured at Okis, “wants to break off his chains so he can kill you, in particular. His curse was meant specifically for you. Just look at him. The only thing he wants is to break off these chains and rip you apart”. She repeated.
“He wouldn’t. He will be normal, if you just reverse your curse. You can’t keep both my sister and husband hostage”.
“I will do as I please, Rodah”, she fired, “and there’s nothing you can do about it”.
“You think so? My husband cannot break off his chains. You and I know that. Our mother’s husband did give him a strong chain. Besides the reason you cannot harm me is because of the spell you cast on my husband. He is the only one who can kill me. Your only gain is to watch, happily”.
Ese looked at her sister for a while, her chuckle came almost in a burst, “yes. True. That. What a stupid spell. Anyway, there’s something you do not know. Yet. Why do you think I ran back here? Because I knew you’d follow me. And then your husband can once again, kill you. Yes. I know what that chain around your neck does. It repels evil. In this case, your husband. So if you use it on him, you’ll be sending him to the world beyond. His intent for you is death. And if you return it to him, then he dies. Yes?”, Ese chuckled.
“Ese please don’t let yourself be used like this. Fight this entity. This demon using you,” Rodah pleaded.
“Okis may not be able to break out of his chains”, Ese said, ignoring her pleas, “but I can help him. Just watch”, she moved to Okis’s right side and started to unchain him, whispering incantations as she worked.
Ms. Grace grabbed Rodah by the hand, scared to her bones, “we should leave”,
“I agree. Andrew said.
But Rodah was resilient. She grabbed the chain around her neck and pulled it off. She remembered well, her mother had said, whatever evil Ese throws at her, all you had to do was show the chain to the evil and it will go back to its sender. It was unfortunate though, that her husband was the evil being sent to her.
Then, a distraction came in the form of a cry. A child’s cry. It seemed to be coming from a distance. Another cave, perhaps.
Rodah’s heart sank. Tears welled up in her eyes. That was definitely her son. How could her little boy suffer so much because of one person’s hatred?
“What have you done with my child?” she asked amidst tears.
Ese ignored her, continuing her work on the chain.
Rodah turned to Ms. Grace and Andrew, “leave me. I’ll be fine here. You please find my son and ensure he is safe. Please”.
“But we can’t jus…”
“Yes you can!”, Rodah cut Andrew short, “just find my son”.
The duo nodded, gave Aaron and Ese one last look before proceeding out of the room, their hearts fixed on finding the little boy.
Rodah turned back to see Ese still working on Okis’ chain. She knew then, she may not be able to keep her promise about helping Ese. The girl was beyond saving. Ese was so bent on revenge, she couldn’t see that as much as Okis was her evil messenger to Rodah, it didn’t change the fact that she was still the one sending him.
Rodah had tried holding back long enough just so she could convince the entity using her sister for such evil acts to leave. If it didn’t, she’d have to be very rash. And being rash meant killing Ese. Could she still try to save Ese at her expense? Especially with Okis about to be unleashed on her. And Rodah knew, dying again meant her family would be left at the Entity’s mercy.
“Whoever you are, please stop this madness. Please”, Rodah begged, “Don’t make me attack my own sister”, her eyes pleaded.
But Ese was too busy undoing the last of Okis’ chains. A wicked smirk plastered itself on her face, as the chain finally came off.
Okis snarled viciously, taking a few steps forward. His attention fixed on Rodah.
Ese patted his head lovingly and then pecked his lips. A gesture that made Rodah green with envy.
“Don’t touch him that way again,” she said.
“Your sister is very much in support of what I’m doing right now, Rodah”, Ese, or was it the entity, said, ignoring her outburst, “stop trying to be a caring sister. Why should I leave her body? When we both know you’re the reason she came to me”.
“No. We both know you took advantage of her vulnerability. And you’ve used her for so many selfish reasons”, Rodah fired.
Ese grinned, “it will be good to watch you die a second time, Rodah. Goodbye forever”, she turned to Okis, “Kill, and feast”.
Like he had been let out of prison to do as he wishes, Okis’ roar echoed loudly in the cave room and beyond. In a flash, he rushed at Rodah.
She was quick too, chanting the exact incantations her birth mother had taught her, while flashing the pendant from the enchanted necklace at Ese.
“So lank het jy die kwaad uitgestuur. En so lank het jy die onskuldiges verslaaf en gestraf. Nou sal al jou boosheid na jou terugkeer”.
Meaning – so long have you sent forth evil. And so long have you enslaved and punished the innocent. Now all your evil shall return to you, unerringly.
A flash of pink light jumped right out of the pendant and darted toward Ese, just as Okis leaped on Rodah, falling on top of her as they hit the ground together.
Okis quickly got on his knees, growling as he prepared to claw her to death. But as he raised one hand, Rodah spoke;
“Before you do anything, my love, just know. I love you. I have always loved you. And I’ll always love you. Even if you kill me one hundred times. Because I know this is not you. This is not you my love”.
Okis paused. His once vicious looking expression gradually turned soft. Tears left his beastly eyes, as his hand slowly dropped to his side. Rodah stretched one hand to touch his cheeks. He let her. It was a crazy moment, as she was staring at her beast of a husband with so much love. And he stared back too, with sudden realization that was soon replaced by love. He felt something inside of him; a kind of relief from the hold Ese had on him. But before he could respond, Ese’s screams caught their attention.
“What have you done to me? You witch! What have you done to me?” She screamed, running like a mad entity all over the place, completely enveloped in the pink light that had become a pink fire, gradually melting her out of existence.
Okis got off Rodah. He helped her to her feet and together, they watched Ese burn and plead, begging like she was truly Ese now, and sorry for all her past deeds. There was no need for the fire. She reminded Rodah of their old days. How close they used to be. And how things would have been much different had they grown together as sisters, instead of friends.
Ese said a lot of things, through gritted teeth and amidst excruciating pain, doing everything to draw sympathy from her sister.
It worked. Rodah was moved. Tears flowed down her cheeks. The person burning in the flames was her sister. Maybe, just maybe, the entity was gone. She moved to help Ese. But Aaron, who was gradually assuming human form again, as the spell had been broken, held her back.
“No”, he said, when Rodah turned questioning eyes on him “she was never really possessed. It has been Ese all along. She managed to make her mother believe she was possessed.
“Aaron?” Rodah was in awe. No. She wasn’t looking at Okis. She was looking at the man she married since 1963. Aaron Obara, “Aaron!”
“Rodah”, he smiled back, already in his complete human form. He pulled her into a tight embrace. Planting kisses all over her face and lips.
“You will never be happy together”, Ese screamed from the flames where she had been watching them, “you will never ever be happy. I’ll come for you!”
The duo, in each other’s embrace, turned to look at Ese. She was on the floor now, badly burned. Horribly ugly, as the smell of her burning flesh filled the room.
“I promise you will never be happy”, she said again.
“We will, Ese”, Aaron moved to stand in front of her. Your evil has stopped”.
“You can’t stop me!”, She cried out.
“Yes. We can”, that was Rodah, moving to stand beside her husband. She held out the enchanted necklace for Ese to see, “our mother told me it was made to destroy you completely. Sorry sister. But once his chain hits the fire you find yourself in, that’s the end. You wouldn’t even be able to reincarnate”.
“Don’t do it Rodah. Please”, Ese begged.
“What? So you can come back to cause more trouble?”, Aaron was furious, “tell me, if my wife had failed, would you have spared me and my family? My son?”
“Yes. Yes!” She sounded desperate.
“Yes you would have, as animals, to continue to do your bidding”.
“No! No,” Ese begged.
“Goodbye forever, my not so dear sister”, Rodah said, as the necklace slipped from her hands into the fire.
Ese’s screams doubled, accompanied by curses as the fire seemed to have doubled in size and hotness. And it continued to expand, rapidly.
“The entire cave will burn”, Aaron said. He looked briefly at where his bag containing few clothes and his books were. He would have loved to go for it, but the fire was spreading fast. Besides, why carry things that would bring back all the horrible experiences he had in the cave? Ese had learnt how to undo his chains. But she never sent him out to kill. She only used him, in his monster form, to satisfy her insane and perverted sexual desires. Most of the crazy scenes, she wrote on his books. He’d love to not read anything about them again. And as he held Rodah’s hand and led her out of the cave, he prayed that he would one day, forget everything about Ese.
“Do you know where little Aaron is?” Rodah asked as they exited the cave.
“Yes. Come.”, he led the way between other caves, moving very fast, Rodah found herself almost running just to keep up.
“Baby slow down, please,” she begged.
“We can’t. You see how that fire is expanding. It will burn everything in this region. We have to be fast.”
Looking back at the cave they exited minutes back, she saw that Aaron was right. The fire had gotten outside the cave. And still expanding.
The duo ended up running to the cave Aaron was sure Ese locked up his son.
“Thank goodness”, Rodah sighed, as they saw Ms. Grace, now taking the form of Ms. Helen, and Andrew, now John, emerging with Little Aaron in Andrew’s arms.
“It was some serious work finding him”, John smiled, handing him over to an overjoyed Rodah”,
“Mummy”, little Aaron was so excited as he locked embrace with his mother.
“My baby”, Rodah responded, patting his head lovingly and showering him with kisses, “I’m so glad you didn’t forget me”,
“Aaron!” Ms. Helen rushed to hug her adopted son. Aaron held her close. He was really emotional as this was a woman who had stood with him through thick and thin, despite not being his birth mother, “I just knew you were back when I noticed my own change”, Ms. Helen finished.
“And now, we will always be happy”. He pecked her forehead.
Aaron disengaged slightly from Ms. Helen to give John a friendly pat on the shoulder, before pulling him into a tight embrace, “you will forever be a brother to me”.
“The feeling is mutual”, John said, as his eyes caught sight of the fire rapidly traveling in their direction, “we have to celebrate some other time. The fire is coming. We have to go.”
“Where do we go?” Rodah asked, turning to look at the fire.
“We go back to the mansion”, Aaron said, “pick a few things, money included, and make our way to the village. Every trace of our history is about to be wiped out from this place. It is better we are far away before it consumes us”.
To Be Continued…
©Karo Oforofuo. All rights reserved
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