What he saw below him made him gasp. It was at once exquisitely beautiful but at the same time cold and evil. There were hundreds of stalactites coming from the ceiling in all different shapes and sizes and an equal amount of stalagmites rising from the floor also in varying shapes and sizes. They sparkled and shone in the silvery light. The horrifying thing was that each stalactite was growing through a creature of the air and each stalagmite was growing through a creature of the ground. There were butterflies, birds, bats, and moths and every kind of animal you could think of, plus a few humans as well. Lesedi wasn’t sure if they were dead or alive. The colours of the animals and birds were all very sharp and clear but there was no movement or sign of life; they seemed to have been frozen. In the middle of all this was a raised platform made of ice. It was from here that the strange, cold, silvery light was coming.
On the platform was a large couch also made of ice. On this couch reclined the strangest creature Lesedi had ever seen. He was perfectly human in every way, having two hands, two feet, two ears, and two eyes. What was strange about him was that one side was completely black and the other completely white. It was as if you had cut a black person and a white person in half straight down the middle and then stuck the two different colours together. His white side had a hard, cruel look, with white-blond hair scraped back and a steely blue eye. His skin was translucent and there was a tattoo on the upper part of his arm that Lesedi couldn’t quite make out. His other side was pitch black with a dark, unsympathetic eye. This side the hair was shaved and as he turned Lesedi could see the same tattoo on his head. He was dressed differently on each side. The white side was all in khaki. The sleeve of his shirt had been cut off at the shoulder, showing off his tattoo. His pants were tucked into a calf-high boot. In his belt he had a handgun. On his black side he had on army camouflage. His shirt sleeve was rolled up to his elbow, his pants tucked into a black boot. He had a belt of bullets slung over his shoulder, and a rather nasty-looking gun was leaning against the couch beside him.
Standing on either side of him were the strange chameleon-like creatures they had been told about. Their heads were shaved and they looked almost human until you looked at the eyes. They were bulging out of their heads and swiveling in all directions, one eye looking forward, the other back as chameleons do. The other nonhuman thing was the tongue, which every now and then flicked out of their mouths seemingly to catch something a meter in front of them. Lesedi couldn’t really see the body as it was covered in a black cloak that reached to the ground. He could see what he thought was a tail sticking out from underneath, though, and he could also make out the hands, which were not hands but the chameleon claw.
So this was Bosula. Lesedi looked at him in horror and fascination. He had heard plenty of stories about him and his evil ways but no one had ever been able to accurately describe him. Some people described him as black and some as white and others were unsure. Below the platform on some rather uncomfortable-looking rocks were seated Kilo and Bosenyi. Bosenyi kept getting up and pacing around while a heated conversation went on between his father and Bosula.
“I told you to get me the stone and the boy!” shouted Bosula. “We need that stone and the boy to control the water. It’s so simple! Without water nothing can survive! Every creature will be dependent upon us! All we have to do is to make sure they destroy their own water resources through dams, bad drainage, and greed, and then we use the stone to create water for ourselves and our armies. I already have them damming the upper Delta, and soon those at the bottom will have to move or bow to my authority.”
It all sounded very ambitious and Kilo wanted to be a part of it but he knew there was another problem they would need to overcome before they could successfully use the stone to their own advantage. They would have to get the two boys, Lesedi and Lotobo, to agree to work together with the stone, and this could not be forced as Bosula seemed to think. However, right now he didn’t want to end up as a decoration in this dreadful cave, so he would have to try and placate Bosula.
“We sent in Legodu and the snake…”
There was a huge thunderclap as Bosula banged his brown-booted foot down on the ice platform. Everything jumped in fright except for the chameleon creatures, who stood statue still, only their weird eyes moving independently around.
“Legodu…he’s getting more and more useless in his old age. All he brought back was the snake with something stuck in its throat!” He gestured over to a corner of the cave where the giant cobra could be seen lying in a miserable heap with a very obvious lump in its throat. The snake seemed to be desperately trying to regurgitate it. Lesedi held his breath; he was starting to realise that this stone that everyone kept mentioning must in some way be tied up with the ivory palm nut. Maybe the stone was inside the Nut. Now the question was how the stone controlled the water and more importantly, to him anyway, how he was to be involved. Obviously Bosula wanted him there as well as this stone.
“If that snake doesn’t stop hacking away in the corner over there, I might just have it chopped up and eat it for dinner,” muttered Bosula loudly, and the snake slunk deeper into the shadows.
“We will get the stone and the boy, oh great one,” said Kilo somewhat ingratiatingly. “My brother has entrusted it to Lesedi, and Matilda is making sure he is sent to school in Gaborone where we can get him under our control.”
“Lesedi, Lesedi! What about Lotobo? Are you educating him correctly? Is he going to be with us? You know we need the two!”
“Of course,” said Kilo hastily, looking at Bosenyi for agreement. Bosenyi nodded frantically, looking at the ground.
“Don’t ‘of course’ me!” shouted Bosula “These youngsters today have a knack of disregarding everything their elders say. Does he understand the consequences if he is not with us?!”
“Yes…I have told him,” said Bosenyi in a small voice, still looking at the ground.
Hmmm,” thought Lesedi so that’s why Aunt Matilda is so desperate to get me to Gaborone. If we get out of here and I tell Grandfather about this I’m sure he won’t let me go anymore.
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