Hi, folks! As you well know, my next book, The Great Hunt (#1, The Hunt Series) releases this November 30, and there’s a lot of excitement around it. It’s going to be available in Kindle Stores where you can download for your reading pleasure. But before that time, here’s a little peak under the hood:
Sam and Luke stood still and stared.
Dazzled was an understatement. Shocked was more like the word. Starting from the base of the hill and spreading for a vast distance was a dead and desolate land, rife with rubble, broken buildings, and huge ash piles reaching heights impossible. The area had a dark tint to it; it wasn’t because the sun was already setting; it was as if the air clothing the whole area had dark particles floating in it. To the far corner of the barren land was a small settlement: the closest village to them.
Beyond the settlement lay an immense and sprawling city of massive skyscrapers, which twinkled from the waning light from the sun. She knew there was more of this city to see, and she itched to go in and satisfy her burning curiosity, but she knew that this was one place she could not go. At least not until the Great Hunt.
They started down the hill at a careful pace, but when they reached the bottom, they increased to breakneck speed. Jumping over shrapnel, avoiding large piles of rubble, and being in the dark as to where they were going save that they had to keep south west, they ran the length of the barren land, their excitement building as they approached the village.
When they came to edge of the barren land, they slowed to a creeping pace. Then, the sun was already coloring the whole atmosphere with a golden light, signaling twilight, which was less than an hour away.
They were at the boundary of the settlement now. Huts, small cottages, and medium sized bungalows made of plywood and straws spread before them. A wooden fence two yards taller than Sam wrapped around the settlement. Sam found a tall tree close to the fence for them to climb. At the top of the sturdy branches, they had a better view of the village.
It wasn’t a very large one. Sam estimated a population of about a few hundred, each one of them small, weak, and feeble. They went around the village wearing drab gowns, though their countenance was anything but drab.
Sam felt disgust shoot to her throat.
Small. Weak. Feeble. This was how the people of Hannibus had described the nomadic omnivores. In fact, this was how anyone who was not from Hannibus was described. Clawless, fangless, having no strength or speed, how could they even survive in this world? Their daily breathing was an insult to the cosmos. Their mere existence was an effrontery to humanity.
And Sam knew to her very bones, as did every member of her society, that these humans were only good for meat. They were only good for slaughtering.
Luke called Sam’s attention to a group of figures stealthily making their way into the village. The previous pack would have set the village on high alert, making it extremely difficult for the second pack to make a kill. The nomadic omnivores that lived in the outlying villages may have been weak, but they weren’t stupid. They had several means of protecting themselves, which included terribly armed guards.
Usually, the second Mozungool pack was the stronger of the two packs that hunted together, because they went in when the village was alerted. This second Mozungool pack constituted nothing less than the strongest hunters in the whole of Renia, Ijaala Odenigwe’s district.
The group of six Mozungools leapt over the fence with the barest effort and spread into the village, their presence still unnoticed. Once they were scattered, it was a lot difficult to track their whereabouts. But sure enough, before the fifth minute since their incursion, screams rent the air.
“Cannibals!” someone shouted, and a giant bell rang.
Sam’s excitement grew to a frenzy as she watched the terror in the eyes of every omnivore, running in the opposite direction. Sam had not yet witnessed a kill, but her blood was already boiling with anticipation. She clapped, pouncing on the tree as the screams multiplied. She already knew lots of the nomads had been killed in this short time—this was how good the Mozungools were—still, she wouldn’t like it if she didn’t at least witness a killing.
Then out of the corner of her eyes she saw a Mozungool hoist a wiry old man on one hand. Crying, the man begged for his life, but the Mozungool didn’t pay any heed and jabbed a small blade into the man’s chest. A wail erupted from his mouth even as his heart ruptured.
“Whoops!” Sam squealed. Luke remained passive.
The village was already in disarray when the armed guards realized what was happening. They became coordinated and fought back. Shots were fired, and two Mozungools fell.
Luke grabbed Sam’s hand. “We’ve got to go!”
Sam was about to go with him, looking below her before she could descend, when from the corner of her eyes she saw a hunter moving on a small girl. They were to the far right, on the edge of the village.
“That’s not right,” she said to Luke, pointing at the hunter. “We don’t take children! We don’t kill children!” She was frantic now.
Luke saw this and said, “There’s nothing we can do about that. The girl is already dead.”
Refusing to accept that without at least trying to save the girl, Sam leapt from the tree, landed on the floor with a slight crouch, and bounded for the village.
“Sam, no!” Luke yelled. “The guards are already firing shots!”
Sam leapt over the fence without as much as an effort and angled towards the far corner of the village. Most of the houses were deserted, so no one saw her. And she was thankful that most of the Mozungools had concentrated on the other side of the village, so this was where all of the guards were.
Sam turned another small street and came upon the hunter. He had cornered the girl to the fence and had his knife out. The girl didn’t look like she was older than nine. Her hair was tied in to small shafts on opposite sides of her head. She wore a faded brown gown. Looking into those innocent, big round eyes, Sam felt something cut in her.
The fear in the child’s eyes was inhumane.
This is wrong.
Luke stopped short beside her and grabbed her hand. “We have to go,” he whispered to her, between breaths. The hunter had not noticed them; he had his attention on the little girl, who by now was sobbing.
“If we get involved, we’ll not only get into trouble, we might get killed here.”
The hunter had not yet struck. Despite the sound of whistles afar, and the cry of men—Mozungools and nomadic guards alike—this hunter’s attention was fixed on the girl. He danced forward at a deliberate pace, revealing his fangs, claws, the taut muscles on his body, and his blade that was already stained red with blood.
Sam, with a flare of anger, realized what he was doing. He was taunting her. Putting fear in her heart so the last thing she felt when he thrust the blade though her chest was utter despair and hopelessness.
Sam’s anger burst through her mouth in a roar. “Stand back, hunter!” She dashed forward, covering the distance between her and the hunter in a split second. But she didn’t attack the huge man. Rather, she grabbed the hand that held the knife and pulled it out of its strike poise.
The hunter glared at her. Shock fleeted into his eyes first, then anger. He pulled his hand free, shoving her away from him. Before she could regain her balance he brought a fist carrying all his weight to bear on her face. Upon impact, Sam felt lightning spread from her cheek through her brain. She hit the ground with a heavy thud and remained paralyzed for a few moments, her head spinning.
The Mozungool took giant strides towards her, but Luke intercepted him. When the Mozungool recognized Luke, he growled and glanced at Sam. “Stay away from our Hunt, Cranian bitch!” He turned away and approached his prize, cornering her so she couldn’t dart away.
Sam recovered fast and leapt to her feet. Luke held her shoulders, struggling to hold her back. Her anger grew into a rage, and her predatory instinct took over. She shoved Luke away, sending him falling on his back.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” she said to the Mozungool, walking towards him with piercing calm. “Because now, I’m going to have to kill you.”
The Mozungool turned, and Sam charged at him. The man’s knife came down on her head. She stopped short in its path and raised her two hands. The man’s wrist caught in the V of her joined hands. Then she jabbed his abdomen with her ankle, knocking the wind out of him.
The blade fell off his hands as he staggered back, gasping desperately. Sam picked up the blade and ran towards the Mozungool.
“Sam,” Luke cried out. “Don’t!”
Sam leapt on the hunter, striking his forehead with the base of the blade. The man crumpled to the floor, moaning and trying to remain conscious. Sam looked down at the man, panting, her blood aflame with an unbearable desire to see his blood flow. She went down on her knees, thrust the blade into the base of his chest, and cut with one single slice to the man’s waist. Blood and intestine spilled out, while the man screamed in pain.
Sam pulled out the blade and thrust it into one side of his neck and pulled the knife along until it was on the other side of his neck, and the whole neck was immediately submerged in blood. The Mozungool tried to scream, but rather produced a gurgling sound that sent blood flying everywhere. Sam raised the knife, held it with her two hands, and jabbed it into his forehead, crushing his skull and killing him instantly. It was then, and only then, that her rage was satisfied.
She dropped the knife, rose to her feet, and walked to the girl. When the girl cringed upon her approached, Sam thought the better of it and retreated. Luke was looking over the dead Mozungool’s body, shaking his head.
“You shouldn’t have killed him, Samantha.” Luke only called her by her full name when he was furious with her. And she could understand. The Mozungools were as much his father’s hunters as they were his hunters, his people. He’d been honor bound, and perhaps blood bound, to fight for the hunter, as much as he was honor bound to report this murder.
“I don’t regret killing him, Luke,” Sam said, still relishing the way she was feeling, protecting the girl from harm. “I’d do it again if I have to.”
The whistles and yells of the guards drew near. Luke hefted the body on one shoulder and grabbed her hand with his free hand and led her away from them towards the fence. They scaled the fence and raced towards the forest in silence. Luke dropped the body on the path into the forest for the remaining members of the pack to see before continuing on their journey. When they were in the confines of the huge trees, night fell, plunging them into total darkness. They had to feel their way towards the city, which slowed their progress.
Along the way, Sam cleaned the blood off her hands with sand. To be sure, she hated herbivores and omnivores, and she would slaughter them, when given the chance. But going after kids was just off the list. Aside from being against the rules of the Hunt, it was immoral. Sam would not stand for such a thing if she could do something about it.
Luke was her closest friend, but if he decided to report her, she was ready to die for what she had done. The rules of Hannibus were clear. Killing a fellow citizen was criminal, and if found guilty, the killer would be killed, and then both the killed and the killer would be eaten.
Sam had murdered a Mozungool. If Ijaala found out it was her, he would press for the death sentence, and her father could not resist all four Masters of the Hunt, though he was the Lord of the Hunt. Despite knowing this, she still felt justified in her action.
She felt good.
“Are you going to report this?” Sam asked.
“I’m not going to report you, Samantha!” Luke shot at her. “But that doesn’t mean I liked that you murdered one of my own. I am very angry with you right now, and you would do well to remain quiet.”
Sam smiled in the dark and remained silent. She wasn’t going to die today!