“Only a few hours of daylight left.”
Tarzan frowned. Wondering what he had missed. What significance Nkonu’s words had. He soon found out.
“Young Mwale. Go prepare yourself.”
The chief was still stood facing Tarzan. But he spoke over his shoulder to his nephew. Barely bothering to turn his head around.
What a change in Tarzan’s old adversary. Clearly Nkonu commanded here .. ruling over this tribe and what they did .. his rule was absolute. In the middle of his heat .. even the rash peacock had stood down at Nkonu’s command. Any word he dropped out .. that was to be obeyed.
Then how did Tarzan get out of these ropes? Without getting the nephew to lose his cool?
“With sunset, the fires will burn,” Nkonu continued. There was a cheering from the tribe.
“With the darkness, torches will be lit.”
Louder cheers. Like they all knew what that would mean.
“Fire and light .. young Mwale, we will illuminate your celebration.”
Nkonu’s eyes met Tarzan’s, knowingly.
Nkonu’s words were for his nephew. But Tarzan sensed they were messages for his captive as well.
“Then the apeman is yours.”
Around Tarzan there was cheering. Voices raised in celebration from within the tribe. Expectant. Welcoming the coming of the dark. And revenge for a chief’s death. Exacted by a vengeful son. Was that Nkonu’s plan?
Nkonu smirked over at Tarzan.
“It was his wish. All he wanted.”
The chief glanced over at his nephew, the generous uncle, pleased to offer a gift. Then he turned back at Tarzan.
“Quite an honour for the young man, Tarzan. Don’t you think?”
He chortled at Tarzan’s confused frown.
“What can I give you, I asked? To celebrate this great raiding success.”
In mock praise, Nkonu’s hands indicated Tarzan. Captive. Unable to defend himself.
“Only one thing .. in the whole wide world. Not a girl .. not furs, not precious stones. Only one thing he wanted. You, Tarzan.”
“What can a surrogate father do?”
Smugly, lording it over his old foe, Nkonu chuckled. “I love the boy like mad.”
Tarzan got it. Far from getting himself free to take the vain strutting nephew on and escape during a fight .. using him as leverage. Tarzan, bound and trapped, was being handed over on a plate. For Mwale to exact a personal revenge. And to do Nkonu’s dirty work.
Had Nkonu spent years filling his nephew’s head with hate? Had he encourage the boy in his natural physique .. building up the strength? Honing himself a tool? Nkonu was not one to get his hands dirty. Had he spent years in shaping the perfect tool? Physically perfect? Mentally shaped for one purpose? To settle an old score.