Leopard's Moon

The former ruler of the So kingdom in West Africa, itself a fragment of the vanished Ghana Empire, Sumunguru Kente, through the intervention of the sorceress Circe, is magically revitalized and transported to Medieval Spain. Here, he is involved in adventures to make a slowly transforming land safer for its mortal population, on a world where some of the Older Gods and their minions have refused to leave.

 

              Sumunguru Kente walked down the gravel pathway of the small garden, the  fragrances of the evening blooming flowers and the steady soothing music of the two fountains filling him with a sense of calm that  moments ago he did not feel.  He had awakened from another grim reminder of his past.  The call of the drums and the scream of men and horses as they struggled and fell on the trampled field of Kirina.   The armies of the Mossi rebel Sundiata, and those loyal to him, Sumunguru, the mightiest of the Kente line, tore into each other,with the added fury of opposing beliefs; the alien god of the northern men of the deserts and those that had long sustained the ancestors of the So.        In that dream,  Sumunguru saw himself once again as he once was that day, an old man, the fog of the lying shaman blowing from his mind to expose all that had been done to him.   The grief for his fallen eldest son had torn through him again, along with his rage at  the crafty snake who in the guise of easing his pain had placed a spell of control over him. Working a rot that aided the limping fanatic Sundiata in his plans, as sure as if they were aligned together!    

The shaman tried to escape, using his foul magic to step through the air itself as if it were a doorway. But an aroused and enraged Sumunguru pushed aside his stunned retinue and grabbed the man’s arm before it went through.    Try as Sumunguru could, he was unable to pull the oily liar back, but the irate Sumunguru’s leopard jaws grip on the arm and the closing portal itself, severed the renegade’s arm.

Throwing it from him, Sumunguru shouted up to his gods and ancestors for the strength for the battle ahead.    With the hardy veterans of his guard, numbering 1500 and all clad in mail, he charged off into the climatic moments of the battle.    

Now, at that moment,  Sumunguru then peeled, a large ripe lemon from one of the citrus trees that grew there in the garden.  The tart yet sweet juice caused a smile to cross his till then grim dark brown face.  He was far different in appearance than he was that day of world changing.    The reflection in the fountain pool was that of a man in his mid-thirties, not that of an exiled king in his seventies.     

She who was the cause of this came down the opposite way of the pathway from where ancient painted stone images stood.   The same as they had since the last great kings of the faraway times once ruled all the lands that bordered the Inland Sea and beyond.    Or so she said.      She was a tall woman, of raven wing black hair, with lively green eyes and tan skin.  She was not of the lands that had made up Sumunguru’s world, nor did she have any resemblance to these folk of this stewpot they called Andulusia with its three races and their admixed broods of the lonely god who they differed, often violently, in the worship of.          

         The foremost brood here, who like the usurper Sundiata, believed his final messenger was some Arab, dominated in this area. There were those who said the Deity had walked the world before this Arab courier’s time.   In the guise of a mere artisan before the soldiers of the old kings killed him in a manner reserved for a most hated enemy. Only to arise again from the dead and inspire his followers to spread the tale of this most spectacular of his many miraculous deeds and teachings.    Then did he ascend into the heavens to await his eventual return to judge all men.           

Then there were those who said they were the first ones to know the great lonely one and believed he had only love in his celestial heart for them alone.  It seemed to Sumunguru, he had a most  funny way of showing it. These adherents were now scattered across the world,  their kingdoms destroyed, they themselves looked down upon by the two younger cults with varying degrees of contempt.     To Sumunguru, it all sounded like Anansi the Trickster had found his greatest targets yet. 

“And there would be a few who would say it is Hermes giving his final “gift” before leaving the realms of  Man.” said the woman in explaining these peoples and their conflicts to him those first days here in this strange land.  Sumunguru had felt an attraction to her, though she was not as amply proportioned as the women of the SoSo were, but she did have small, firm melon breasts, nice hips, and full thighs and calves.  Her rump was less then enticing but he was no longer the ruler of the southland nations, with his pick of the most beautiful of their daughters.  

The woman, Circe, now sat beside him most gracefully, her scent filling him with a distinct pleasantness he did not want to diminish by whining about an old circling marabou stork of dream.   “Good evening to you kind and lovely Circe. I have yet to find the words that properly express my true feelings of gratitude and joy, that you favor me with the comfort of your gracious home and your wisdom. And it does help a lot that you are most easy to regard in vision and voice.”   “Lord Sumunguru, if you are not careful, you will be reciting poetry at the courts of the nobility and well off.    But come friend, I sense that you are not quite at ease. Is it thoughts still of the hours that led to Kirina?”   “A perfect cast once again kind lady,” he said with just a tinge of awe and the disparate feel of melancholy in his tone.   He then finished the lemon before looking up into Circe’s ageless eyes again.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Though you have told me why I can’t return and wrest back what is mine, it still feels like a jagged blade to my heart.”  “I know it does my lord. If I could, I would go into more detail as to the why you may not ride south and overthrow your foe.  All I may say is:  the wind has changed. I’m sorry.”     Circe squeezed his hand and Sumunguru squeezed hers back,  a sigh coming from both. Then at once they both laughed.   “If we are not careful we will be enacting some star struck romance”, Circe said smiling.  Sumunguru feeling much better, winked.  “Romance and stars do go together quite well as an old tale of my people tell, would you like to hear it?”  "Of course. And some wine to add accent.”  “Enough wine and my SoSo accent will be even bolder.”  They walked back  towards the manor house together, their laughter blending perfectly with that of the night chorus of birds and insects and the tinkling fountains.    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
   

 

The End

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