The Darfur Region of the Sudan…1500 B.C.
Kitara pushed her long, thick locks from her eyes as she looked into the noon-time sky; the sun, bearing no mercy on her already midnight skin, beat down on her relentlessly. She wished her mother would hurry up and finish the offerings. She couldn’t understand why they had to sacrifice what little precious goods they had every so often to a motionless statue…Isis was beautifully carved and brazened in the finest of metals. But this went beyond reason. The gods that her people have worshipped for the last 1000 years have done what they always do in times of crisis…nothing. It seemed as if those who were highly favored were born that way and those who were not…well, all they could do was pray to lifeless statues and hope for the best. And that was what her mother was doing right now. Praying to a lifeless god. How could an immortal being be so…lifeless? She closed her eyes and exhaled. All of this to find a husband…a husband that she did not want. She sighed and leaned against the massive rock. She thought about her father and how much she missed him. He would have never allowed her mother to worship something as ridiculous as a statue. He was practical. He had sense. And he died many moons ago when she was young. Her father had come home to their thatched hut with a strange illness. Her mother had traveled to almost every neighboring village and tribe seeking their most gifted shamans whom had called on every deity, every spirit that they could think of, and still, her father died within three days.
Living in the desert, moving from place to place after her father’s spirit had moved on to the next world, was beyond tiring. Kitara, her mother Aisha, and her brother Nayeem had become nomads, traveling with the seasons to evade any and every possible danger from what was known as wandering men: men who had no families and sought nothing but trouble. Being that Nayeem was much younger than Kitara, there was nothing that he could do to protect their mother nor his sister; and it could have been if he happened upon a wandering man who had no issue with his sex, then he too would become prey. Now, as Kitara waited for her mother to finish her prayers and offerings to the statue, she realized that a husband for her was more than ensuring her survival but her mother’s too. In a year, Nayeem planned to go into the great nation of Nubia and train with the warrior men there and then that would leave Kitara and her mother. They barely slept in reasonable accommodations as it was; a small thatched hut with palm leaves for flooring. During the rainy season, they had to seek out shelter in caves and hope that there is no great flooding or that the cave was inhabited by vermin or worse. Such a hard life they had lived.
If Kitara had grown up with a tribe that was bountiful in goods and wealth or even had their family settled in Egypt like most of her father’s people, then by now at the age of 16 she would have been married to perhaps a man of trade or a farmer; someone that could provide. Kitara was by all standards incredibly beautiful. She looked just like her mother with her amber colored Bedouin shaped eyes, full lips, chiseled cheek bones and rich dark skin. She had her father’s height which was 5’11 and his athletic build. Her wild hair had now been tamed in tightly woven locks that had grown so much in length that it now hung below her waist. However, being that her family rarely settled in a single place for too long, it was difficult to meet and arrange anything. Kitara seriously doubted her mother had anything to offer as part of her dowry. She figured her mother was praying that her looks alone would be sought as something of value.
Beads of sweat were dripping down Aisha’s face as she prayed from the depths of her spirit. She asked Ra for understanding and begged Isis for assistance. Her time was running out, she just knew it but she didn’t want to leave without knowing Kitara was going to be alright. Nayeem would survive, but Kitara, she was not too sure about. The girl had an iron will and didn’t take to kindly the role of the women. She daydreamed more than she listened and when she spoke to outsiders, her mother would hide her face in embarrassment. Kitara was intelligent…too intelligent and the men of their time wanted something a little more…naïve. Something a little more… soft…. Something less than Kitara. She was so much like her father it was eerie. She carried herself like a Neter, they said (they being outsiders); like she was better than everyone else even though the clothes that she wore were more like rags. She had a temper and had on several occasions challenged fully adult men if she felt the slightest amount of disrespect and had it not been for Aisha to beg and plead these men not to harm her, Kitara may have been with her father a long time ago. Aisha did not know what to do with her daughter. That is why she prayed incessantly. There was nothing else to do. Especially considering how blatant Kitara had been as of late with the blasphemy. Aisha could only pray that the gods have mercy and understanding; and that Kitara will see that the gods did answer prayers…she would just have to learn patience.
Wiping her face with her tattered robes she murmured a few last words of thanks to Isis before raising from her weary knees. The sun was still high in the sky, sucking away the last of the small amount of energy reserve that Aisha had. Nayeem was off by the spring, more than likely lounging about in the cool waters. He was twelve, still a boy and in a year he hoped to become a man by training to become a warrior. Kitara was off standing by a lone palm, scowling as usual whenever Aisha went to pray. In a few hours the sun will surrender its merciless rays to the gentle light of the moon, and then Aisha would be able to rest her very weary body.
Aisha approached her daughter cautiously. Her joints were screaming in pain and the pit of her stomach felt like she had swallowed fire. She had no clue what was wrong and had already been to several shamans from various tribes and none could figure out what ails her. Some had said it was a curse from Isis, for not being strong in her faith. One said it was because of Seth, others said it was an attack from the spirit world. Whatever it was that was causing the pain, was also sucking the life out of her. She wasn’t sure if her very astute daughter had sensed something was wrong, but she knew just like she knew her own name that her time was drawing near. As she inched closer to her oldest, her legs gave out and she fell, her hands reaching out to try to stop the inevitable. She collapsed right into the blistering sand.
“Mother!” Kitara shouted in alarm as she ran to assist her mother. She held her mother’s hands and lifted her to her feet, dusting the sand off in the process. Speaking in a language that is today no longer in existence, she studied her mother for any signs of illness. “Mother, why do you fall?” Aisha struggled to right herself before answering. She looked into her daughter’s concerned eyes and said,” Kitara, I am not well. I have visited tribal healers and they know not what to do. I have prayed to Isis and she-“ “SHE HAS FAILED YOU!” Kitara screamed. Aisha stared at her daughter in disbelief and horror. “She has failed you just like every other god that us mindless people pray to. She has failed US! Look at us mother,” Kitara pleaded. “We have wandered in the deserts for years living like sheep, barely surviving…you prayed to that selfish idol when father was sick and what did she do? NOTHING! Nothing but bestow sickness on you and condemn Nayeem and I to a life of hunger!” Enraged by her daughter’s blasphemy, Aisha summoned what strength she had left and met Kitara’s left cheek with an open hand blow. Kitara stumbled back stunned. “I will not stand here and listen to you disrespect our matron. We have life, something that we should not have been granted this long after your father passed. She has guided you, protected Nayeem and she will not-“ “She will not save you mother. Your death, our lives mean nothing to her. You-“ “Foolish girl!” Aisha seethed. “And then you wonder why no man will have you as his wife. You are-“ “I AM NOT FOOLISH! No man will have me because you do not have resources and to be fair I have no desire to be wanted…to be nothing more than a slave to a man’s desires and weaknesses-“ “Then it is not Isis who has cursed you it is you.” “Mother, it is not I who is foolish,” Kitara said softly. Aisha simply stared at Kitara, the anger dissipating. “You are so much like your father. He did not trust the gods,” Aisha began. “He, like you, said that I was foolish just like the rest of our people.” Aisha took a moment to gather her thoughts. She then knew it was time for Kitara to know the truth as to why they lived in the desert and why they never settled. “Before you and way before , Nayeem were born, your father grew tired of the sea. That is what we were; we came from the same tribe of peoples that instead of toiling the earth, we sought nourishment from the sea. Yemanja, was her name…” Aisha stepped away from Kitara and sat against a massive stone rock. She removed some of her torn robing, revealing a full head of beaded thick locks and greying hair. Kitara looked at her mother with pain and sadness in her heart. She had been so busy dreading the idea of being married and secretly hating her mother for her choice in worship and had not noticed how thin and tired her mother had become. “I am telling you this child so you can tell Nayeem and one day if you so decide, you can pass this on to your own children.” Kitara nodded, and beckoned for her mother to continue. “Your father and I had been wed for only a few moons when I became with child the first time.” “I am not your first?” Kitara quizzed. Aisha looked away sadly. “You are the first to survive…but let me continue. My grandmother was a witch of some sort. She was able to commune with the spirit world, and her ability to communicate with those who are no longer with us kept our tribe safe. Not just from other warring tribes but from the gods. Kitara there are many and you must be wise in who you choose to worship because there are gods who no matter how greatly you serve them, enjoy inflicting pain and punishment. My grandmother had received word from the spirit world that I was to give birth to a great warrior; a challenger to the gods. Your father just laughed at her and blamed her age for saying such ludicrous things. But I believed her. And so did the rest of the tribe. My belly had not begun to show the signs of life in which it carried when Yemanja came to me in a dream.” “Who is this Yemanja?” Kitara gently wiped the beads of sweat that were dripping from her mother’s dark skin. “She is the goddess of the sea and protector of children, at least that was who she was supposed to be…in the dream she was far from that. She was a monster and she chased me from my grandmother’s home and into the seas where there she and other Oshiras attacked my pregnant belly. I woke up the next morning no longer pregnant. She did this every other time for the next three pregnancies until my grandmother asked our ancestors to form a barrier around me and the one that I carried and then you were born.” Aisha paused before continuing. “When you were born, because you were not born male my grandmother became angry at the spirits because she felt like they had deceived her. She thought that this challenger was to be born male. However, as you grew older more trouble came to our village. The seas had dried up; no one could catch any fish and it seemed like every time we looked up there was a storm and then last but not least came the raids. You may not remember this but my grandmother had received word from the spirits, the last word she would receive for not long after she joined them, and she sent me, you, Nayeem and your father away. She told us to go into the desert and remain there until it was time. And that’s what we did. Your father had caught word that our village had been slaughtered, my grandmother included.” Tears had formed in Aisha’s eyes and she couldn’t find the strength to hold them back. “Time for what?” Kitara asked gently. “That is the question, I don’t know.” “So are you saying that I am the one who is supposed to challenge the gods?” Aisha took a deep breath before exhaling. “If my grandmother is right, I do not think it is Nayeem. Nayeem lacks the same conviction and righteous indignation that you possess. He is not brave, not saying that one day he will not be, but you my child have always been…brave. You have no skill in fighting but yet you fight. Nayeem hopes to become a warrior one day but he does not have a warrior’s heart. He is peaceful. Perhaps one day he will grow one…” “But if I am to challenge the gods how am I to do that when I have no special power?” Kitara asked, becoming more interested in her future and her role in it by the minute. Aisha smiled. Kitara was always full of passion. “My grandmother said the spirits would assist you when the time came.” “So all this time you knew what I was destined for and you still insisted that I have a husband and succumb to the lowly role of a wife? Living off the hard work or lack of hard work of a man?” Kitara demanded. Her demeanor changed from gentle and sad to angry. Aisha again sighed. “Kitara no mother wants their daughter in battle. I do not want to see your life cut short chasing after something that would ultimately defeat you. That is why I never settled in any tribe. I never took another husband. There have been stories circling around about the possible ‘destroyer’ for years and I do not know if others know about you or if what my grandmother said was nothing more than a story.” “Then we must go to Nubia to settle mother. Nayeem wants to go there anyways to train and I must go to find out what I must about this ‘destroyer’.” “Child you cannot read…only the priviledged are taught to read the sacred texts.” “Then I will learn. Until then I can speak.” “My dearest daughter, that is an adventure for you and Nayeem. My time is like the rain is drying up. I can feel it. That is why I want you to have a husband, so that you will not be alone. And Kitara, there is nothing wrong with being a wife, especially if your husband happens to be the one you love.” Kitara fell on her knees despite the fact that the sun was still high in the sky and the sand would blister her skin from the heat. “No mother. You will not die. I will not accept it!” she sobbed. Aisha stroked her daughter’s long locks. “Do not cry. We still have time. Get up and let’s go and be with Nayeem. If we stay out here in this sun any longer we shall surely become food for the vultures.”
Kitara stood up and without wiping her face, she took her mother’s hands and helped her to her feet. The spring where Nayeem waited was only but less than an hour walk. Kitara made sure to walk at a slower pace so that her mother would not fall again or become too weary where she would not be able to walk on her own. Aisha said nothing more as they went about their way. She had said enough. She had hoped it was enough for Kitara to understand why they lived the way that they had lived. Kitara was happy that her mother had finally given her some sort of an explanation about their lives and what some of the pain and suffering they had endured had meant. But she wanted to know more. Was the destroyer a legend of some sort? Or was it just a fable of hope? Who else knew? Was it written in the Book of the Dead? And was she really the destroyer?
The small spring was hidden just beyond the mountainous sand dunes. Nayeem had discovered it a few nights ago just when their thirst for water had become unbearable. He remained their ever since. As they approached, they could see Nayeem’s midnight and naked skin standing in the thigh high waters. A jackal was in the distance just ahead of him, watching. Kitara had at first feared crocodiles, but it appeared none had made their way to this side of the desert. They could also see a woman, adorned in the finest of gold and silk robing, her beautiful golden brown skin and her eyes shown like magic. Her irises were Azul blue and her hair was swept up high above her neck. She was so beautiful she didn’t look real and the closer Kitara got to the spring, the more alarmed she became. Aisha had become alarmed too and had stopped walking, urging Kitara to do the same. “Kitara,” she whispered. “DO not challenge her. That is Isis herself.” Kitara’s amber eyes glowed with rage. “Then why is she here? She has done nothing for us in all of these years and why is she speaking to Nayeem?” “I do not know. But let me approach her. I was the one calling to her for her help. You stay here. This is rare. DO NOT MAKE A SOUND.” Aisha warned. Kitara could hear the tremble of fear in her mother’s voice.
The gods rarely made any type of appearance and if they did, it was usually on the dream scape. Kitara ducked down behind a bush and did as her mother asked. She watched her mother, limp slowly to the deity who was still engaging what looked to be conversation with Nayeem. Kitara wished she would speak louder so she could hear, and took it upon herself to move closer. Aisha dropped to her knees before the deity who was standing in the thigh deep water. Nayeem stood frozen in place. His eyes glossy. The deity turned to face Aisha. “Stand up Aishsa.” Isis commanded. “You have already paid your respect to me; something you have YET to teach your daughter who watches me from a close distance.” Aisha stood up but kept her eyes held to the ground. “You have a handsome son.” “Thank you my queen.” Aisha said humbly. “Your daughter is quite beautiful herself. I have watched her. She has the spirit of a warrior yet she is arrogant. So arrogant that she refuses to not just bow before me, but before any god.” Isis began to casually circle Aisha; walking with her hands behind her back and in a manner as if she is debating on something. “You know Aisha I have protected you and your family even when you thought I was not and I have tried to do more for you, but the other gods refused to help you. Do you know why?” Aisha shook her head. “Of course you do. I listened to you tell your daughter the story and it all makes sense. My husband tried to warn me and he told me once you entered my lands that I should have you all killed, but did I listen? No. I didn’t believe that a human could defeat me or any god and that it was all just a myth….a myth to give you humans something that us gods find amusing-hope. I’m not a tyrant. I have been very good to you people and this is the thanks that I get.” Isis continued to circle Aisha, observing her. “You are ill, are you not?” “Yes my highest queen.” “And you prayed for healing, did you not?” “Yes.” “Hmmmmm…. I could heal you and let you live the rest of your days in wealth and leisure. You and your son….” Aisha said nothing. She just kept her head down. “Osiris and every god of this land wants your daughter dead. Osiris claims ownership of her soul. Her soul however is being heavily guarded by spirits that my husband for whatever reason cannot control. He said that he needed an elder of her bloodline to call them off. I command you to do it.” Aisha spoke with tears in her eyes. “But I cannot my queen. My grandmother had the spirit gift but she is long dead.” Isis stopped pacing and using her kinetic ability raised Aisha’s head so that her eyes met hers. “I see. That is the problem with gifts, they are apparently not for everyone.” Aisha began to visibly tremble with fear. “You should have forced her to bow down before me Aisha.” Isis stated. “I could have protected you better, given you more. I ALWAYS protect my faithful. I-“ I WILL BOW BEFORE NO ONE!” Kitara bellowed, standing to her full height and quickly approaching to where her mother stood. “You decide to come out from hiding when you perhaps are due to face your one and only threat?” Kitara challenged. “KITARA!” her mother screamed. “YOUR INSOLENCE WILL COST YOU GREATLY MY DEAR. I HAVE BEEN AROUND LONGER THAN YOU COULD FATHOM AND YOU DARE DISRESPECT ME WHEN YOUR FAMILY’s LIFE IS IN MY HANDS?” Isis voice boomed. Isis turned her attention back to Aisha. “I will not grant you healing Aisha. Osiris is anxious to meet you…” and with from Isis hands came a dark shadow of twisted light and before Kitara could react, Isis cast the energy into Aisha, dropping her mother dead instantly. “NOOOOOOOOO!” Kitara screamed. Isis then turned to NAyeem who was still frozen in the spring. “Pity…” was all she said before she sent the same dark shadow into Nayeem. “NAYEEEEEEEEEM!” Kitara cried out as she ran to her brother to try to block the attack, but it was too late. He collapsed dead in the water. Kitara watched, her eyes laden with tears as two white beams of light emitted from both her mother and her brother’s bodies and as Isis collected their spirits into an amulet that Isis wore around her neck. “Where they are going, I can assure you they will be WELL taken care of. And be warned, DESTROYER, you will die by my hand just as your mother and your brother. Refusal to submit to my worship in my lands is death. The spirits protect you for now, but trust me your time draws nigh.” Kitara, even completely stricken with grief and kneeling beside her mother’s body manage to issue her own threat…a threat that would sustain her very existence. “I vow to wipe your name out from the books of history Isis. You, your husband and the rest of you pathetic gods. Your pyramids will exist no more. No one will chant your name or sing you praises. I don’t know how, but YOU will die by my hand and you know this; that is why you fear me. You cannot kill me but I can kill you. I will see to it that your cities are burned to the ground and that your name will be etched in the Book of the Dead before I burn it.” No human being has ever had the courage to issue a death threat to a deity. And no one in history had the courage to look a goddess such as Isis in the eye and issue a warning with so much hate and conviction and live another second to talk about it. For the first time since she was created, Isis felt something she was used to ensuing; and that was fear. She could feel the burn of malice oozing from Kitara’s pores and the rage that seethed just beneath the surface of her skin. Isis knew she needed to seek the help of her father, who had long ago disappeared if she wanted to stop Kitara from acquiring her “gifts”. She had heard about the prophecy of the “destroyer” but she, like the rest of her brothers and sisters just laughed it off like it was some twisted joke. But she now stared in the very face of the one who potentially held the key to ending the long existence she had managed to obtain. Only the Watchers knew; the ones who created the gods, only they knew how to defeat a Destroyer. Kitara was to be the first of the so –called five that was going to wipe the earth free of deities to prepare the earth for its one true King. Isis didn’t know anything about this “king” but one thing she did know was that she had work to do. “Until we meet again Destroyer…Good luck acquiring your powers….” Isis’ voice echoed as she disappeared into the wind. Kitara, still kneeled by her mother let out a long mournful cry. And that is when she saw him. The one who would introduce her to Oblivion.