When he woke up he saw himself back on the cold floor of the forest. Silence and the presence of the ogress surrounded him. The ogress was now looking at him affectionately.
“Grandmother?” He asked in an uncertain voice.
“Yes, my son. I called you master because your birth was the first of its kind in our clan—a god was gifted to mere mortals and I gave my life that night to the great One so that you and your mother can live. For twenty one years you were to live a free life. And tonight I have come to save you by adding another year to your life.
“Another year to my life? I don’t understand.”
“The great One whom I sacrificed my life to needed a soul for every year that you lived on earth. But my sacrifice only covered the first twenty one years of your life. That’s why mumbling boy had to die. Darius was not supposed to die but since he threatened to shoot he became part of my mission’s collateral damages. I had no hand in Lucy’s death.”
“I still feel hazy about all this” Suki said.
“You will live to see your twenty second birthday: Mumbling boy was the sacrifice.”
Suki felt pangs of anger well up inside him.
“So they died because of me. They were my friends!”
“You hardly knew them.”
“Does it matter if I knew them? All I know is that their blood will forever cry on my head.”
He got up and began to pace around. He was no longer afraid. He now felt anger instead. He looked at the necklace he was wearing and for the first time removed it. His mother only told him that it was a gift from his grandmother and warned him never to remove. He had not assumed anything and so he did not ask why considering that fact his grandmother must have loved him very much. He heeded her warning taking it as a mark of love and respect to a grandmother he never saw. But right now he felt cheated and deceived and so with hot anger threw it at the ogress. His grandmother raised her hand and the necklace suspended its journey in mid-air. With a move of her other hand the necklace changed direction and placed itself back on the neck of Suki.
“I will never appear to you again except in dreams. From now on you have your destiny solely in your hands—to live and to die.”
The Yehwe Zogbanu looked up to the sky longingly as a smile spread across her face. She continued, “Mumbling boy has been sacrificed so that you may live to see your 22nd birthday. But for you to live to see your 23rd birthday and the rest of your life’s birthdays, you will need to sacrifice again and again to the great witch. For every celebrated birthday a soul must be given to the great witch. It was the way you were born. It is your destiny.”
Suki stood amazed. The ogress was not done “…and since I cannot come back to save you, you must take on that mission by yourself. You are more powerful than you think. The creature touch the necklace round his neck and a blue spark lit up the whole forest. You now have the power to transform yourself into the Yehwe Zogbanu any time you wish to hunt. Just mutter the name three times under your breath and you will be transformed into one. I must go now. My mission is over and now my soul can rest in the underworld.”
“What if I tell you right now that I don’t believe any of the thing that you have said to me.”
The Yehwe Zogbanu laughed sinisterly and the whole forest vibrated at the sound. “Two things will happen if you fail to heed my instruction and kill a soul on the eighth day after your twenty second birthday. You will die the most violent death and…” the creature paused.
“And what” Suki asked hurriedly.
“Since your mother is the last direct blood relative that you have she will be murdered in the most brutal fashion.”
That struck a delicate chord in Suki’s heart.
“You are lying. You cannot kill your own daughter.”
“It is not me who decides who live or die. That right now belongs to you.”
The Yehwe Zogbanu looked up at the sky again. “I must take my leave now. Dawn is almost upon us.” She stretched forth her hand and a path appeared to her right hand.
“Follow this path. It will lead you home. Do not take any turning that you come across. Just walk straight until you come across the great oak tree. When you find it call your name seven times and a door will open to you. Walk right in and you will be home.”
The ogress stretched her hand up and the sky tore apart as in a mighty gulf. “Take heed to all that I have said. On the eighth night after your twenty second birthday—hunt and sacrifice. This is the only way you can live…and your mother.” And with that she was taken up in a pillar of smoke through the opened gulf in the sky.
Suki looked up in amazement. The forest was now gravely silent save for the cries of the night crickets. He felt the heaviness of the necklace round his neck. He thought of Mumbling boy, Darius, Lucy and the rest of the passengers. He felt alone. And as he took the path shown to him he thought about what he must do on the eight night after his twenty second birthday. Alone as he walked on the lonely path he shivered from the great heaviness in his heart. This battle was not over!