(Continued from Pawns I)
“I don’t want to sleep alone babe,” Jackie pleads with Adam. “Please don’t leave me alone tonight. Stay here with me.”
“We can’t spend the night here my love. There will be trouble if the Weodakas find out.”
“Please, darling, I am begging you,” Jackie pleads, and begins to sob. Adam pulls her closer to himself and hugs her.
“Okay babe. But I think it is better for us to go down to my room. It will be safer that way, because at least my room is next to the kitchen. In the morning you can just sneak to the kitchen and nobody will know.”
“Okay, let’s go. I don’t want to stay in this room for even one more second.”
They hurry downstairs, dash into Adam’s room and lock themselves in.
“What will we say if we are found out?”
“How will we be found out? You will leave very early, maybe at 6 am, and go to the kitchen. By that time the sun will be coming up, but the Weodakas will still be asleep because they will have come home only two hours before.”
“But what if they come back and want to sleep with us? They won’t find me in my room, and yours will be locked. So they will put two and two together and figure out that we locked ourselves in here.”
“I have another idea. I will rush to your room, take the mattress and lock it in the kitchen. In the morning it they ask we will tell them the truth about that dog ghost.”
“We can’t tell them that you were in my room when the dog visited.”
“True, but we can tell them that you saw the dog and started screaming, so I came to see what was going on. And I found the dog still there, hanging on the window licking its lips. Then it started talking like a human being and we got so scared that we couldn’t move. After it left we took your mattress to the kitchen and you locked yourself in there, and I also came to my room and locked myself in.”
“Okay, but I am coming with you to take the mattress. I don’t want to be alone in case that ghost finds me again. And by the way I don’t want to tell these devil worshippers that I am pregnant.”
“They will find out one way or the other.”
“Let them find out some other way. But we will not be the ones to tell them.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s go and get the mattress.”
The Shrine of Kironda is located deep in the forest. The High Priest of the Spirit of Ironda is the one who presides over the meetings. There are fifteen worshippers in this shrine, from different parts of the county. There are other shrines in other counties, and some counties have more than one shrine. Fourteen of the worshipers gathered here tonight are couples, and only one of them is a single man. The first thing a new member does is to take an oath of secrecy. None of these people would dare tell a thing about the shrine or the High Priest to a stranger. But they are free to speak about the Spirit of Ironda, if and only if they are recruiting new members.
Followers of the Spirit of Ironda believe that the Spirit is a god of health, wealth and fertility. As the story goes, the Spirit was once human centuries ago, and was a brave warrior. He fought many battles for his king, and the kingdom became large and prosperous. All was well until the king started becoming paranoid, thinking that the warrior would overthrow him. He knew that none of his soldiers could defeat his warrior in a duel, so he decided to use his magicians instead. He first struck the warrior’s children with disease. All the seventeen children of the warrior, borne of his four wives, died of a strange disease. The king was certain that the warrior would be engulfed by sorrow and therefore weakened.
But the warrior was young, and he was confident that he would get over the unfortunate incident by impregnating his wives again and get more offspring. He continued leading the king’s battalions to war, and in between wars he slept with his wives in an attempt to get more children. The king was alarmed, and so he sent his magicians to strike the warrior’s wives with barrenness. The idea was that if the warrior realised that his wives were not getting pregnant, he would quit the war to concentrate on his bedroom affairs, for what is a man without descendants? The king would then take advantage of the situation to replace him at the helm of the army with another warrior.
But that did not happen, because the warrior continued leading the army. The warrior captured three virgin girls from the enemy territory in one of his conquests and made them his fifth to seventh wives. To the king’s surprise, his magicians failed to strike these girls with barrenness, and they soon gave birth to baby boys within days of each other. The king ordered his magicians to kill the boys, but they failed to do that too. So he tried another strategy: he told is magicians to strike the warrior with leprosy.
This succeeded, and the warrior got sores all over his body. People fled from him, including his own soldiers, “forcing” the king to banish him from the kingdom. The king inherited his warrior’s wealth and his seven wives. But he ensured that the warrior’s three surviving sons were killed. With the warrior banished from the kingdom, the king gave the boys to his bodyguards and they were stabbed to death. The king nevertheless got many more children with the warrior’s seven wives.
When the warrior finally died alone in a desert, he learned from the spirit world what the king had done to him and his family. He decided that instead of taking revenge, he would be a good spirit, fighting for good people. He took on the name Spirit of Ironda because of the leprosy wounds that had killed him. ‘Kironda’ means ‘wound’ and its plural is ‘Ironda’. No one knows the name he used as a human warrior, and it is considered a mystery of the spirits.
Spirit of Ironda his dead soldiers, whom he found in the spirit world, and formed a spirit army. He was also joined by his twenty children who the king had killed. One of the most powerful allies he found was a magician he had killed in war, and who happened to be the father of the three virgins he had made his wives. Then man’s magic is what had protected the three boys and their mothers from the king’s magicians. The warrior’s father-in-law at once declared him ‘a god’ when they met in the spirit world.
“I did not think anyone could conquer my lands while I was still alive, leave alone take me from my earthly presence,” the magician said. “You truly must be a god. Your king thought he was punishing you by bringing you here, but he was bringing you to your destiny. You are meant to rule over the earth, the sea and the spirit world. You have my support.”
The Spirit of Ironda and his army started waging war on other spirits. Soon, he became a powerful, vanquishing spirit warrior. When he conquered all the other spirits, he declared himself king, and on the day of his coronation, a group of priestly spirits led by his father-in-law declared him god. Because he did not want to rule over spirits alone, he sent some of his warriors to earth to be his High Priests. The Spirit of Ironda is now the Supreme Ruler of the Human and Spirit Worlds.
The Spirit has given each High Priest has a Shrine of Kironda from which they are supposed to spread “goodness” to the people. Human beings are recruited through the shrines, and each new member is supposed to choose one thing that they would want the Spirit to do for them, between health, wealth and fertility. There are bonuses though. If you are wealthy and healthy, you could ask for fertility and “sustenance of wealth”. “Sustenance of wealth” in this case would be a bonus. A sacrifice of a first born child is required by the High Priest, so that he can intercede on your behalf to the Spirit. But the High Priest, because of the goodness that emanates from the Spirit, can intercede on your behalf “on credit” if you do not have children. That is to say, he will intercede on your behalf and then claim the first born as a sacrifice immediately he is born.
This story is told by the High Priest at every induction ceremony on new members. None of the members question it because the Spirit and his High Priest never lie.
When Wilfred and Marion became adherents of the Spirit, they were young and newly married, and they did not think they had a fertility issue. Nobody in their families had struggled with barrenness. In any case, everyone in the two families was having too many children. So they asked for “wealth and the sustenance of health.” The Spirit has delivered, because they have become incredibly wealthy, and none of them has ever fallen ill. Not even with common flu.
But they have discovered that they are unable to deliver their end of the bargain to the Spirit and his High Priest, because they have struggled with fertility. It is the High Priest who suggested that they could get their first born through their servants.
“Servants are part of your household, and as long as the child is the first born of one of you, I will accept it.”
That is how they started sleeping with Jackie and Adam, in a desperate attempt to get a sacrifice for the High Priest. If they fulfilled that request, then perhaps the Spirit would be gracious enough to bless them with fertility without his High Priest asking for another sacrifice.
The High Priest re-enters the shrine in a cloud of smoke. When he exited, the adherents had been left in a trance. But his re-entry snaps them back to attention. He continues with the rituals of the ceremony and concludes it at the usual time. He dismisses the adherents, but tells Wilfred and Marion to remain behind.
“I have good news for you,” he says with a smile. He is now in a human form and not in the likeness of a dog. “Your servant Jackline is heavy with child, meaning that in the near future you will be able to fulfil your obligations to me.”
Wilfred and Marion exchange smiles.
“But there is a problem. She wants to run away to avoid sacrificing the baby. She and that boy Adam have already figured out that what you are after is a sacrificial child.”
“We will ensure she does not run away, High Priest,” Wilfred says quickly.
“That is not enough. I want you to deliver the girl to me when you come for the next ceremony. She will stay here in the shrine until she gives birth to that child.”
“We will do that, High Priest,” Marion says. “But what will happen after she gives birth? If she goes back to the world she will reveal all our secrets.”
“She will never go back to the human world. She will remain here in the shrine as my concubine. Just deliver her to me at the next meeting.”
“Yes High Priest,” Marion and Wilfred say excitedly. Getting Jackie into the car on Tuesday night will not be a problem, even if it means spiking her meal to make her unconscious.
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