Sinead stood defiant as last of the Oppressors tumbled into the cloud-cloaked abyss. She’d underestimated the power of the fabled Blue Orb, and thought the Prophesy must be flawed, but the magic she’d unleashed when she spoke the sacred words had felled them all.
That last one had laughed scornfully. How could a mere woman destroy the Patriarchy? But he was wrong. He sank, like the rest of them, crumbling to dust.
Sinead plucked the Book of Prophesy from Moonsprite’s saddle bag. The snow-white unicorn whinnied softly as her mistress turned to the final chapter.
The words glowed red.
At last Sinead realised what the Fourth Sacred Artifact must be. Slowly she led Moonsprite back down the Sunset Path. Once more their journey would be long, but she must gather the remains of the Sisterhood.
Together they would forge the Freedom Key which would unshackle the chains of Mother Earth.
Microphone in hand, TV reporter Jason Joslyn strode towards the shiny pink limo as a svelte figure emerged to a flurry of flash photography. ‘Ms Kitty Katz, do you have a few words for our viewers?’
Kitty flashed her pearly whites for the cameras. Hollywood star turned politician, the eyes of the entire world were upon her.
Jason addressed the TV audience. ‘For those of you who’ve been off-planet these last few weeks, Ms Kitty Katz has won the nomination as leading opposition candidate in the race for the Presidency. These are exciting times, Kitty, how are you feeling?’
Kitty Katz’s reply was drowned out by a loud explosion. Smoke billowed from the grand arena in which her latest rally was about to commence. A host of stars staggered out in a shower of shredded sequins.
The feline film star’s campaign had been dogged by intimidation. It had started small with threats and minor outbreaks of violence against her supporters, but this latest incident was an outrage! What she couldn’t understand was why. Surely those behind such strong-arm tactics realised they were only reinforcing her resolve and perking up her popularity in the polls?
Undaunted, Kitty rushed towards the entrance, while Jason and his camera man followed at a discrete distance. Fortunately nobody had been seriously hurt, although the combined dry cleaning bill was going to cost a small fortune.
Kitty’s cellphone vibrated in her pocket. She flicked a delicate paw across the screen. The video call revealed her friend and aide, Freya, standing over a familiar orange-faced figure. Two thin curlicues of smoke rose from Freya’s pretty purple nostrils and behind her, Kitty could see the golden drapes which framed the White House lawn smoldering gently.
‘He’s confessed, Kitty. This idiot and his Russian friend are behind the intimidation. I’ve got it all here.’
Kitty held up her phone and beckoned to Jason. ‘Show this to the world; the new Hollywood dawn is here!’
High on the koppie the old woman tends the fire again. Throwing the final fistful of grey-green herbs over the unfurling flames, she melts into the silence of the pre-dawn shadows.
The once-maiden draws her lover close. He sleeps and she rises again, the child of the new dawn.
She stands gazing over the veld to where the smudge-blue mountains melt into the velvet-black of the burgeoning storm. Earth tremors ripple over the veld, rousing her waiting feet. She grows taller, a giantess, who strides across the yellowed grasses towards the beckoning finger of lightning.
The rain-bull kneels. In a single fluid movement, the San Man straddles the great beast’s back. The rain-bull rises. Thunder erupts from his nostrils and he charges down the mountain-side, scattering huge boulders before him. The men stagger in his wake as the storm clouds unleash their fury. Flood water surges down the slopes and blankets of rain sweep the over the veld to greet the distant sea.
The storm seethes on and the parched earth groans and shudders under its weight. The two men are gathered up in the deluge, spinning in a howling whirlpool across the veld and coming to rest on the cloud-cloaked koppie.
Later, the men awake to find their companion staring into the dying fire. They rouse themselves from their herb-induced dream-time and trudge down from the koppie.
They know that soon the once-maiden will return leading a long-legged rain-cow to bring soft raindrops which will last a whole season.
Bright moonlight reflects off the rain-bull’s back, casting a myriad of shadows across the barren landscape. His body strains against invisible shackles. At last, pulling free of his bonds, he throws his head back and roars.
The two men watch as the San Man raises the point of his spear-stick skyward, lifting his face to the still-clear sky where Orion with his belt of three she-tortoises guards the night and shooting stars carve graceful arcs across the heavens, measuring out the width of the veld below.
The rain-bull bellows again and the mountains ripple beneath the watchers’ feet. The great beast paws at the rock, displacing an avalanche of stones which trickle down the drought-cursed ravines. Dark clouds gather, veiling the silver moon. The two men stand silent at the San Man’s side, streams of pebbles cascading past their planted feet.
Back on the koppie the young man stands hand-in-hand with the once-maiden. Already there is a quickening in her belly. They raise their glowing faces towards the mountains.
The rain-bull roars again. Thunder rolls around the wide bowl of the veld. The San Man casts his spear-stick in a slow arc around his head. Thunder booms. The mountains roll and pitch under the heavy footfalls of the great beast.
The rain-bull is almost upon them. The two men cower, but the San Man stands firm. The rain-bull pauses and the San Man raises his spear-stick once more. Lightning issues from its point and the rain-bull lowers his great head.
Evening swells across the veld. Invigorated by its welcome sustenance, the two men rise to follow the San Man. Beneath their feet the dusty soil gives way to barren rock as they silently traverse the wide and empty landscape. With the last of the daylight, the breeze quickens. Gusts of scorched sun-baked air swirl down from the smudge-blue mountains and roll away across the veld towards the faraway koppie.
The ground is steeper now. Step after step the San Man leads them onwards. Walking among the ghostly moonbeams, their feet trace the tracks of long-ago water-carved pathways. Memories of gushing streams and bubbling springs are gouged into the parched rock. The foothills are aching for the water’s soft caress.
Back on the koppie the mountain breeze plays over the mouth of the cave. The maiden lifts her head and breathes the scent of the returning soul. The young man stirs, eyelid fluttering, his mind bursting with the memory of his long flight home.
He raises his head as the maiden kneels at his side. She offers herself to him and under the eyes of the ancestors they become one.
The maiden cries out, her triumphant ululation echoes across the empty veld; high up, among the lonely peaks of smudge-blue mountains, a force awakens. A rock splits, then another. Fragments fall, spilling and spiralling downwards. The San Man raises his spear-stick in salute and the rain-bull, glimmering in the moon-bright night, rises from his slumber and lifts his great head heavenward.