I watched in fear as the massive dark figure approached me; it’s eyes glowed a bright red; I couldn’t tell whether it was human or not, but it exuded a level of dark energy than anything I had ever witnessed.
It walked slowly towards me, each step seemed to shake the very ground beneath my feet. Whatever this was it was like nothing I had ever felt; every fibre in my body wanted to run but I could barely move a muscle.
“What do you want?” It asked. The very sound of its voice brought me to my knees.
“Power? Strength? Control?”
“Wh- wha- what are you?” I managed to ask. My entire body was drenched in sweat. Just speaking in its presence took every last bit of strength I could muster.
I watched as it lifted its hand, the already dark skies parted as a red bolt of lightning cracked into its hands. The red lightning bolt charged and whipped around crazily as though it was alive and out of control.
The dark figure, however, was not affected by this and morphed the bolt of lightning into a spear. Before I could make sense of anything, I watched in horror as the red spear made out of pure energy was shot towards where I knelt. I was helpless as I felt the red lightning tear through my body.
I woke up screaming, my clothes drenched in sweat. I panted rapidly, trying to catch my breath. It was the same dream again. I looked around to make sure no one was awake. Luckily my roommates were too lost in their own dreams to be bothered by mine.
“Was it that same dream again?” he asked.
“Yes, same dark figure, same question, same death. It had power like I’d never felt before; raw power a thousand times greater than hers” I responded.
He was concerned as usual; it was obvious in his voice. But there was something else; was it fear? There was only one person Kram had ever feared, and it was Esi.
Even though Kram couldn’t physically manifest since it was forbidden by my teacher, he could still talk to me. Technically it wasn’t any extraordinary feat since he was more or less a part of me. He was my family’s totem after all.
“You have to try and get some sleep though; tomorrow is the test. We can’t afford to pass it on just a half night’s sleep.” He reminded me.
“You’re right. Tomorrow is the day.” A smile crept on my face.
“You’re excited I see…” He sounded excited too.
“You are one to talk, I can feel your flame burning.” He laughed at my response.
“It is that obvious huh?”
“Yes, it is.”
I looked at the ceiling under which I lay and smiled, it was all starting tomorrow.
Morning came sooner than I had originally expected. We were all woken up by what sounded like the loud beating of a drum. I watched as people jumped from their top beds barely awake, some even had their weapons drawn and ready to do battle; everyone seemed to be on edge. There was a sudden silence followed by a deep clear voice in a clear Fante dialect.
“Good morning everyone, and welcome to the First stage of the Southern Coast Test (SCT). For those from outside this town, I welcome you to Mankessim. My name is Kofi Twum Tawia, and I will be your examiner and mediator for this stage. All of you have undergone years of training to get here today. This test will determine who you shall be in the near future, a hunter, a master, a knight, an elder, a witch doctor, a sage, a story teller, or a king.”
I looked around me, there were at least forty of us in the room, none of my friends from the Elmina arena were in this room; neither was my elder sister, everyone here was a new face. I wondered where they were and what they were probably thinking right now.
“Look around you. You’ve all been randomly placed in rooms of forty-five; with a total of seven rooms that means we have a total of 315 candidates this year. However, only 200 of you can make it to the next round of the first stage of this exam.”
Murmurs spread through the room like wildfire as people started to panic. I sat up on the edge of my bed, I could barely hear myself think, as my heart raced loudly. I could feel Kram’s flames burn wildly in me.
“Are you ready?” I asked him
“Be on your guard, prepare for anything… Only 200” He reminded.
“At the centre of the town is the MONUMENT OF THREE. The monument will transport you to the location of the next round, however, only two hundred people will be transported. Now here is the interesting part, you were all given a single cowry upon your arrival yesterday, this cowry is needed as payment at the monument to make it to the next round.”
I quickly grabbed my pouch from under my bed and dug in. I pulled out the cowry and placed it in my pocket, I watched as others did same and some searched frantically for their cowries.
“However, 10 points will be awarded for each cowry you acquire from another exam candidate. You can choose to go straight to the monument with your cowry, without acquiring another and still make it to the next round; but, you will need the points to survive through the following test.” Twum Tawia continued to explain.
I couldn’t help but smile, it was just as I had heard; these tests were never easy. They had successfully turned us against each other even before the actual test. People had already started moving from one another. The tension in the room was thick enough to suffocate.
“We must get at least 70 points before we get to the monument.” Kram was right; at least seventy points wouldn’t be bad, considering the highest would probably be 100, 70 would be enough.
“Yup, 70 points… it won’t be easy though.”
I pulled on my dark blue sweatshirt with its kente designed sleeves and grabbed my father’s red cap from my pouch. His way of saying good luck with the tests.
“You have full permission to use all means necessary to acquire points and to make it to the next round. All weapons, totems, battle items and abilities are allowed in this round of the test. Each person who makes it to the monument will be announced as well as the number of points acquired. The first person to make it to the second round receives a special gift. Ladies and gentlemen, let round one of the First Stage of SCT begin!” He announced.
There was a sudden explosion that shook the building we were in.
“What was that?” I asked Kram.
“I have no – “He was cut off by the voice of the examiner.
“We seem to already have someone heading for the monument; with a record of 440 points, Esi Bondzewaa Mensa looks like she’ll be the first to make it to the next round!”
“Kid” Kram said in a serious tone. He only called me kid when he meant business “Pray we don’t run into your sister in this test.”
He was right, we couldn’t afford to run into Esi this early in the test. She was a monster. The most powerful person I’d met in the arena. The only person Kram feared. My sister.
Written by Sampson Amprofi, also known as Everyday Gladiator. Read the remaining chapters of this epic over at Order of the WEB Series.
*Feature image illustrator unknown. Acquired via Grashopper Films Facebook page.