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“Here she is!!! I have found her,” one of the men shouted reaching quickly for Najja who was hu...

“Here she is!!! I have found her,” one of the men shouted reaching quickly for Najja who was huddled at the base a shrub. She tried to shout for help, but the man quickly placed a hand over her mouth, muffling her voice. His colleagues rallied round and they lifted her quickly back to the house. Darkness had already enveloped the skies. Inside, they took her into the secret alter in the building. It was a dimly lit room in the basement, with an altar at the front. There were a few chairs facing the altar and a small shrine on the other side of the altar. They gagged her, tied her legs and hands and placed her on the altar. Then, they strapped her to the altar. 

Bagamba and Nangila drove around Nsambya, ringing Najja repeatedly as they drove around the area. Bagamba was shaken up. Fear ravaged him like a bomb going through a building. “I shouldn’t have let her go! I promised my late wife that I would always take care of her. My goodness, what have I done. Najja my child, I pray you are safe. Where is she?” Bagamba could not stop talking as they drove around. Her line was not going through. Her kidnappers had shut off. Suddenly, the spirit of Kamoga appeared over Najja. He floated in the air and circled around her. With a loud, deafening shriek, he spoke, “She is the one!!! She is the daughter of Namono destined to marry Bitalo. We will spill her blood at midnight and wipe out the Dambas forever!!!” Najja looked around. There were thousands of spirits floating in the room. They took turns to smell her. She closed her eyes in fear.

Almost at the same time, the spirit of Kamoga appeared before Okwayi. “You are a true descendant of mine. Now, we can strike the Dambas. March with our warriors and strike them on the edge of the forest where they are camped. They are waiting for midnight. Let us strike them ahead of time. By midnight, we will slaughter the girl and once her blood is shed, Bitalo will be weakened and we will finish them off.” “I will do as you have ordered my ancestor,” Okwayi acquiesced. He rose to his feet as Kamoga’s spirit disappeared, entered his shrine and reappeared with a black ointment on his palms. He rubbed it over his face and headed to the center of his compound. Looking at the moon, he raised his hands and said, “Come spirits!!! Come, let us march against our enemies.” Thousands of ancient Kamoga loyal warriors reappeared in the skies above him. He began to walk to the end of Bakuli forest and they followed him. His heart was beating fast.

Bernadette entered the compound. She had managed to find a ride back to Bakuli. She had no idea where Bagamba and Najja might be. She could not rest easy. She was riddled with worry. Every few minutes, she would look through the window to find out if there were returning. Then, she heard a distinctive wail. Her heart sank into her mouth. She stepped outside and looked at the moon. It had turned red. “My goodness, this is it. The battle has begun. God please keep my children. Protect Bagamba and Najja,” she prayed, dropping to her knees. She ran back inside, knelt down by her bed and began to pray fervently. She had heard about the war of the century, but she never quite realized it would happen in her day. 

The Damba warriors did not know what had struck them. Out of nowhere, arrows began to fly at them. Then, swords came hacking them down in huge numbers. Dark, gooey blood fell from the sky as spirits were bloodily crushed for good. People who lived not far from the edge of the forest could hear the clashing of swords and the wailing of dying spirits, but they could not see anything. Those who managed to step outside their homes saw blood falling from the skies. “Stay inside,” people instructed their children hurriedly. Intermittently, fires burned in the skies above the forest as the wailings intensified. Fear griped the land. 

A spirit appeared in front of Byarugaba. “My child, the Kamogas have struck early. They are very powerful. The forest is covered in our blood. You must act now,” the spirit announced hastily. “Go rub that liquid over your face now,” Byarugaba instructed Bitalo. He quickly did as he was told. Afterwards, he could see what he did not see before. His fear vanished and he oozed with strength. He saw spirits that had been watching over them. He took the sword of Damba in his hand, held hands with Byarugaba and they both vanished, appearing at the battle ground. Through a pool of blood, they slashed their way through. Bitalo began to fight like a raging lion. That is a true son of king Damba, Byarugaba thought. He hacked down enemy warriors with incredible precision and might. Soon, the tides turned. The Kamogas were falling in their numbers. Byarugaba went to a corner, raised his hands to the skies and summoned on more warriors. They emerged in their numbers, hacking and piercing the Kamogas mightily. Okwayi responded equally. He found a quiet corner, raised his hands to the moon and summoned on more ancient Kamoga warriors. They arrived to beef up their depleting front lines. Heads of ancient warriors rolled along the forest ground and trees and shrubs were covered in blood. Each killed warrior left with a wail that echoed through the town of Bakuli. More shrieks could be heard from town. People locked their houses tighter and huddled together as fear swept through the land. 

Bagamba refused to return home with Nangila. “Let us report her disappearance to the police,” Nangila suggested. “These people are not human. We are fighting against ancient spirits. The police have no power over them,” Bagamba disagreed. “Maybe they can arrest the girl and she will reveal the house or location where she left Najja.” “You have a point, but it will be quite a challenge finding her soon. I want to find my daughter now.” “I think we should talk to the police and have them look for the lady at University while we continue to search for Najja.” “But we don’t even know her name.” “My wife might remember. She remembers things like that, if the girl introduced herself by name.” “Okay then, call Kajuga,” Bagamba succumbed to Nangila’s pressure. “Her name is Onzia,” Kajuga announced over the phone. They drove quickly to the nearest police station. They lodged a complaint and thankfully, Nangila knew one of the top ranking officers at the station. He sent his men to Makerere University to look for a certain Onzia, a first year medical student. Bagamba and Nangila returned to their search accompanied by four policemen. 

“They are slaughtering our warriors like goats, King Kamoga,” Okwayi declared to the spirit hovering over him. “The boy Bitalo is stronger than we had imagined. We should weaken him. Let’s kill the girl now and end Bitalo’s might,” he suggested. “It is not midnight yet, but with the way things are going, we might as well spill her blood now. Summon more warriors while I head to the altar to kill her,” Kamoga ordered. Okwayi raised his hands and summoned more warriors. The number of their backup warriors was dropping tremendously. Kamoga appeared over Najja. He looked at her, went into the shrine and returned with a small knife. It was wrapped in dry leaves. He ripped the leaves off and the knife came into full view. Najja was overcome with fear. More spirits appeared behind Kamoga. They watched keenly as he approached Najja. Najja was shaking with fear. “Let us see how good her blood is,” Kamoga declared. He proceeded to Najja’s hand and pierced it with the knife. She winced in pain as drops of blood dripped out of her hands. Kamoga waived and a massive mirror appeared. On it was the scene of the war. Najja could see Bitalo fighting – slashing and cutting with amazing power. Then Kamoga pierced her even harder, letting out more blood.

“This is the same knife with which we sacrificed your ancestors. Your blood is his power…his life,” Kamoga declared. He bent over and licked Najja’s blood. Bitalo felt a sharp pain in his chest. He stumbled to the ground. Byarugaba ran to him. “My child, are you alright?” He asked. “I don’t think so. It is as if someone if gorging my heart out with a knife,” he answered. Kamoga smiled maliciously as Najja’s eyes brimmed with tears. “My Bitalo, please be strong,” she said quietly. Kamoga pierced her even harder, this time letting out more blood. As her blood dripped out, he went to the side of her neck and pierced it. More blood appeared and then he went to her leg and did the same. He summoned on the surrounding spirits to come and feast on her blood. They circled around her and licked every drop that oozed out of her body ravenously. Bitalo fell to the ground, clutching his chest, and Okwayi saw that. He smiled malevolently and ordered some warriors towards Bitalo. He lay on the ground with biting pain ravaging his chest. Byarugaba ran to him with some Damba warriors right behind him. A Kamoga warrior got their first. He raised his sword and struck Bitalo who managed to duck, but the sword hit his left hand. He clutched his hand and wriggled on the ground.   STORY CONTINUES...

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