3 Meet again
“Killed.” Not murdered. “Defending myself.” “Out-numbered 5-to-1.” Who the hell cared? Not this tribe. The apeman could justify himself till the cows came home. Tarzan had killed their chief. What was there more to say?
Chief Mwale had fired them up. Their warriors had gone hunting. Cattle. Captive men sold as slaves. Women-turned-whores. Good times. Wealthy times. Life had been good.
Till the apeman interfered.
Nkonu had taken the boy in, his brother’s son. Who would have become chief .. if the apeman had not interfered.
His mother’s stunning looks. But his father’s will. Muscle-piled on-etched muscle as he grew. He knew the story, his father’s death. He knew the culprit. Nkonu had made sure of that. And .. fired with the rashness of his age .. pumped with the pride of the young warrior-male .. his nephew burned with the urge to exact retribution. Nkonu had made sure of that.
“Defending myself. One against five. Me unarmed.”
Nkonu did not even bother shrugging off Tarzan’s retort. No one here was interested in any talk of self-defence.
“He entered manhood two years ago.”
Nkonu still had his manly embrace around his nephew’s solid shoulders.
“He has excelled.”
Nkonu looked to his nephew. But the peacock had eyes only for the captive down on his knees. Nkonu noted the intensity of the looks exchanged between this new set of adversaries. He smirked, satisfied. And continued.
“In the hunt. Brought pride to himself.”
In other words .. probably gone out cattle-thieving like his father, Tarzan thought .. killing farmers to get his hands on their wealth. Again Tarzan looked the proud young man over .. seeing clear signs of being a chip off the old block. Athletically built, long strong legs. Lean, etched with a prodigious strength in his muscles. He had inherited his father’s powerful physique. And the young man had not wasted it, he had worked his body well. An impressive looking young man. Any father would be proud. Except that this young man’s father was a murdering thief. Rapist. A monster.
“To celebrate his coming of age, I chose him to be my captain,” Nkonu continued. Tarzan saw a look of fondness sweep over the strongly built young warrior. But the young warrior was not to be distracted in his glare of hatred thrown at Tarzan. And visibly gloating that Tarzan was so vulnerably placed.
“That is the tradition in the tribe, “Nkonu explained. “After a chief’s son has been accepted into manhood .. After he has led raids .. proven himself .. done well.”
Butchered peace-loving tribes .. Tarzan re-translated the words to himself. Stolen cattle. Raped young girls. Proving himself as single-minded and ruthless as his evil old man.
“Made leader of our warriors …..”
Nkonu smirked over Tarzan made to kneel in subjugation before him.
“Took you easily enough …..”
He chortled, taunting. His eyes passed over the whole tribe. Inviting them to join in.
“Without much of a fight, I hear ….”
Tarzan heard the laughter around him. Their old enemy here before them. And captured by a man not much more than a boy.
Tarzan sneered back at the young peacock. His demeanour had now lightened somewhat, he saw. At hearing his vanity stroked. At seeing Tarzan mocked by the tribespeople around. Nkonu again turned to the tribe. Giving out his news. His gaze addressing all the on-lookers.
“And you know what …..?”
He paused to make sure the whole tribe was listening in.
“This brave young man .. leader of our warriors ……”
Nkonu’s arm around his nephew’s broad shoulder gave him a squeeze on solid muscle. A gesture of pride in the young man’s achievements. Evidence of a fondness.
“ … to celebrate this victory …..”
Nkonu’s other hand was gesturing with a dismissive move.
“ .. who brought us THIS prize ….”
Nkonu was indicating the hated apeman down on his knees .. stuck in a posture of submission and shame.
“ … AND in honour of his illustrious father ……”
Nkonu’s hand gave a firm squeeze around the broad muscled back of his nephew. He gave the young man a smile. But the peacock wasn’t to be side-tracked, eyes for only one man. Looks that were fired with a proud pleasure. Pride in what he had achieved. Anticipating the pleasures to come.
Nkonu turned his gaze back on Tarzan too. He paused. Then his eyes swept over the whole tribe, drawing in their attention. Indicating a great announcement was to follow.
“To honour this day .. in memory of his father .. my nephew has changed his name.”
Nkonu had been smiling proudly at the young man. Now he was smirking in satisfaction at Tarzan.
“From now on .. he is to be named ……”
Nkonu’s look of satisfaction took on a gloating tinge.
Cheers of approval burst around Tarzan. Applauding the young man’s honourable move. Joyous cries that could only ring of threat for Tarzan. The peacock had taken on the name of the man he had killed. Like his father’s ghost was coming back to avenge a death.
Nkonu’s arm was around his nephew’s hard-muscled shoulders, it gave a light affectionate slap. His head gave a nod of approval.
Then it turned. Glaring into Tarzan’s face. Announcing his fate. Pronouncing his doom.
“He has taken his father’s name. Mwale.”
And casting on his mantle ……