Stealth and wooden mask


The lights became eerie as the sun continued to retreat further down the Kenyan plains. The weak grasses of the savannah soon looked like they had disappeared, except for their itchy feel against David’s feet. A soft wind suddenly began to whisper, as if telling him to turn around and go back.
Heavy chants suddenly filled the evening. The warriors were ready and their proud voices were the least way to show it. They wore fine leather, with pearls and cowries dazzling from their arms and necks. They traded their machetes and shields for wooden masks, because they didn’t need those to dance with the beasts of the savannah tonight.
“David!” a female voice called and he didn’t need to turn around to know it was Aailyah. Her brown skin dazzled in red kanga, as she raced towards him.
“Aailyah, you came” He said very surprised “I thought that women are not supposed to be here.”
“I won’t be here for long” She replied in her sweet African accent “I just wanted to tell you to be careful.”
“He doesn’t need care to dance,” her brother Abasi said suddenly, appearing from nowhere “What he needs is grace.” He ended handing over a spare wooden mask to him.
David had come to know a lot these masks even though he wasn’t even from the continent. The masks were very square with unrealistic nose and lips. What really drew his attention were the dark whiskers that were drawn across its cheeks, making it look somewhat like the lions.
“It is great that your culture honors the lions even though they prey on your livestock.”
“We have been neighbors for ages,” He replied “Even they have come to respect us.”
“I just hope that this is safe.” David said honestly.
“Don’t be scared, the lions approve of the dance. This is the only time in a year that they take a human as their own.” He said patting his shoulder and then left to join the other warriors.
“Do these lions actually dance?” David asked for the first time. The locals have talked of these wild lions as if they actually moved like the ones in circuses.
“Yes,” Aailyah replied smiling “but only the greatest warrior can dance with Moja.”
Moja was the biggest lion in the pride that live down the savannah. David had never seen it, but he had heard enough about it. They people respected Moja and he became quite popular in their stories.
The warriors began chanting again, and David knew that the time had come.
“Remember never to take off your mask during the dance,” She screamed softly, turning around to join the other women on the hill, “and avoid Moja if you see him. I hear he gets irritated at inexperienced dancers.”
He was about to say something back but she had already ran off. It was then that David realized that the natives had not really thought him any organized steps in this dance. He had asked Abasi this once and all he told him was that he should follow the lion’s tail in quick circles. He never told him if the lions sometimes charged at the people or if the lions actually liked the dance or just tolerated it. It was very sweet of the people here to treat lions with such love but sometimes, there were boundaries. David looked across the acre of dying light and didn’t know if to be afraid.
Abasi signaled him to join the rest of them at the other side. David quickly wore the heavy masks like the others and struggled to walk up to them. The warriors mocked him softly because of the awkward way he did it.
“The beasts have never killed anyone during the dance before,” One of the warriors comforted but David could barely see him through his mask “They usually get bored and go away if you are very terrible at it.”
“I do feel a lot better” David admitted and there was more giggles.
“Now we wait for them to come.” Abasi whispered into his left ear.
David frowned at this. He was almost sure that the lions would never leave their comfort zone to come and dance with them. For what seemed like ages, they remained there waiting for the lions to come. After a while, David was almost tempted to take off his mask that was becoming really uncomfortable. He looked at the other warriors and discovered that they barely flinched in their masks, as if it had become a part of them.
Suddenly, the lions began to advance. It was the most beautiful thing that David had ever seen in his life. Their steps were slow and majestic, with the intelligent eyes of the lionesses ever piercing through the weak light. The most magnificent thing about this was that all of the pride was slowly looming out, with even the tiny cubs struggling to match the speed of their mothers. There were occasional growls, but they didn’t sound anything like a threat.
Abasi had once told him that were like good dancing partners in this season and David believed him now. The cats looked like they looked forward to the dance, just as much as the warriors did. They came to a stop, with only the cubs running energetically, to and fro. They looked like they were waiting for the warriors to make the first move.
The leader of the warriors yelled something in their language and the warriors began to advance once more. The lions followed immediately in such perfect timing, that David could swear that they understood what the leader said. There was so much beauty in the way lion and man collided in such rare unity. It was a peaceful celebration of life and culture, of both man and lion. The warriors still wore their common masks and the lion still used good old stealth. David had heard that the lions mistook the warriors in the mask as their dead ancestors, so they never attacked them, but that didn’t look so true that night. The way the lions greeted them warmly with their eyes made David realize that they never mistook them for anything else besides who they were, but their real reason for actually dancing with them was still a mystery to him. Whatever that reason was tonight, David could care less, because he was going to dance and do nothing more tonight.
It didn’t take long for them to be in full company of the lions. They picked their dance partners so easily that it looked like the whole dance was properly rehearsed. David found it had to get a partner at first. It was as though the lions knew he was new at it and so avoided him for more experienced dancers. Almost frustrated, he looked to the left where Abasi promised him he would be, incase David got into any trouble.
David found out that he had easily found a partner. A huge lioness was circling around with him in slow calculated steps at first. Suddenly, it got a little faster, with the lion taking lighten fast steps and Abasi expertly dodging the lioness in the dance. The other warriors who had not found a compatible partner stopped and cheered him. David thought that he looked like a kid playing with a really excited dog. He really did look very graceful in the dance and lioness on nudged him with her powerful nose anytime she caught up with him instead of doing anything more aggressive.
Suddenly the loud cheers took another rhythm. David hadn’t spent long enough with this people to fully understand them. He only knew that they referring to him when some of them began to point at him. Abasi was too caught up in his dance at first and only realized there was danger a little too late.
“David” He called through gasps “Run this way!”
It was then David heard soft growls from behind him. He spun around quickly, and came face to face with the biggest lion he had ever seen. It looked like it weighed nothing less than two hundred pounds with full brown mane framing its face. It continued to growl softly, baring long fangs, while it advanced slowly. David was about to scream, when he noticed that the huge cat was actually making a circle around him, much like the lionesses did.
He turned round to run but the weight of the wooden mask made him stop. A new feeling of strength filled him, and immediately, he knew what he had to do, he had to dance.
He adjusted his mask and bent a little, so he would be face to face with this beast, just like the warriors did. Moja pumped in more energy into his steps when he noticed that David had began to dance. Abasi and the rest of the warriors watched him quietly, too stunned to say another word.
Moja suddenly picked up speed. It was a lot earlier than David had expected so the huge lion knocked him of his feet easily. There was a heavy gasps from the spectators and Moja reduced his speed as if celebrating his victory.
David didn’t give up and neither did he wipe the dirt off his pants. He got back to position again and so did Moja. The lion soon picked up a lot of speed again and this time David was ready. He barely dodged the lion for the first three circles it made. The weight of the mask that had given him the initial courage was now getting in his way. He barely saw Moja as he sped round him, only jumping on instincts and it worked for a while.
After missing him the first three times, Moja slowed down a little. It turned to an anti clockwise direction and didn’t use speed this time. It was a if the clever beast had suddenly realized that David could barely see from his mask. He took lighter steps and nudged a David that was expecting it from the other direction. David fell to the ground once again and the gang of warriors exclaimed. This time, David knew he had lost.
The lions gathered once again in their close group, and began to return to where they came. The celebration had come to and end and both man and lion knew it.
“David that was fantastic!” Abasi called “You danced with Moja.”
“I lost” David said weakly. The initial adrenalin had poured out of him.
“I thought you did very well for a beginner.” Abasi said hugging him.
He suddenly heard the women who watched from on top of the hill singing. He sighted Aailyah silhouette as she sang and danced the most.
David still caught a glimpse of Moja as he led his pride back to the shadows. He looked at David one more time as if to say “Well done partner.”

6 thoughts on “Stealth and wooden mask” by Kaso (@cathreya)

  1. This is fantasy all right…and would happen in paradise alone.
    I like what you did with the story… Cool. Dancing with the lions.

    There were some misspells and sentences that wld have been better put, but it is a good work.

    Thought should be Taught

    well done, Cat. $ß.

  2. Now who is this?
    This story is brilliant.
    Much respect.

  3. But the title is dead. Change it.

  4. i quite agree with @kaycee about the title…but the story is real nice. a few typos here and there…well done!

  5. This was a very enchanting tale, @cathreya. The setting completely took me away. And the ending was very realistic.

    Watch out for typos like “but she had already ran run off” and “with the lion taking lighten lightning fast steps”.

    Well done.

  6. intriguing piece

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