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The Slave Prince Chapter 3
The Black Mark
“Agawe, you are smart. I know you are wondering long ago why you are different… you are taller, your hair wavy instead of kinky like ours, your nose better-shaped, skin brown not dark… you are perfect except … ”
Agawe sat frozen on the cot. After a long silence, he took a deep breath filled with anguish, “Are you telling me that I am not al-lang… ? Innà is not my mother and you are not my apô?”
Apô Ugay nodded weakly.
“I can’t believe this!!!” He felt his blood rush to his head and he closed his eyes as he buried his face on his hands. When he opened his eyes, he asked, “Apô…. your mistress… where is she now? Is she still alive?”
“I don’t know… I haven’t heard about her… We’ve moved from village to village until we found this place where other al-langs live unbothered… her husband may have killed her… for what she did.”
Agawe did not understand how he felt but one emotion came to the fore… he was angry! He stood up and stepped outside. He needed to get out of the confining hut. He felt suffocated.
Outside, there was no moon and the trees were shadows against the dark sky dotted with few shimmering stars. Agawe sat on the ground, head bent, arms around his knees.
He felt so alone. He remembered Egul, his only friend. Many times, Egul would tease him, “If you dressed in rich man’s garments, no one will ever know you are al-lang…”
The first time Egul saw him shirtless, he shrieked, “Don’t move! There’s something in your back!”
He could still hear Egul’s words, “You’re lucky you are al-lang… with that black mark on your back, you would have been fed with hot ashes when you were born… because you bring bad luck.” Then he would laugh and tease Agawe, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore… you might bring me bad luck…”
Agawe jerked from his thoughts. It’s true! I brought Egul bad luck. The thought grieved him and with a heavy heart, he looked up and allowed the tears to flow freely.
He screamed to the heavens, “Who am I? An al-lang who is worthless… like an animal that can be bought and sold… or someone whose father wanted dead because I bring bad luck… My mother might be dead because of me…. I brought her bad luck…” Agawe cried out loud, “Why did she save me? Did she not know that the life of al-lang is worse than death?”
Agawe did not know how long he sat outside. He came back inside to see his Apô Ugay fast asleep on the cot without her mat. She put the mat on the mud floor for Agawe.
Agawe woke up at mid-day. His Apô Ugay sat in the bamboo cot with boiled bananas on banana leaves.
“Pour yourself some ginger tea,” Apô Ugay said when he got up and rolled the mat.
“Agawe…” his mother called from outside the hut with urgency. She closed the door behind her, fear clearly written all over her face.
Agawe’s grandmother asked, “What is happening? What brought you here?”
“Agawe… there are people asking around for you…”
“Innà… why would they chase me this far?” Agawe asked.
“I don’t know, Agawe… you might have angered them. You are not supposed to see those rituals. I told you they will look for you.”
His grandmother started to cry, “Oh, Agawe, what have you done to yourself.”
Agawe ignored her apô’s anguish. “Innà, Apô Ugay told me about my parents…”
“Innà! Why did you do that?” Lungkayan screamed at her own mother.
“I want to know the truth from you, too.” Agawe continued.
“Agawe… please get me some banana leaves,” Apô Ugay calmly asked her grandson.
Agawe hesitated for a moment, then left.
“It is time he knows the truth…” Ugay said unemotionally.
“The truth? The truth will kill us all, Innà! What if he goes looking for his mother? We don’t even know if she still lives… what if… if his father hears about him? We all die, Innà,” she hissed.
“If you love the boy, you should let him go…”
“There’s no question that I love the boy, Innà. I served him like a master and not just a son…” Lungkayan sat down. “Innà… I don’t want any harm to come to Agawe…. even if I sometimes think that he had brought bad luck to our family.”
“Heh! What are you saying?”
“Innà… all the men in our family died except him. Amma… Uon…”
“Your father died from illness and your husband ate poisonous mushrooms!”
Lungkayan ignored her mother. “You think that if Agawe did not bring us bad luck, Amma did not get sick and Uon did not eat those mushrooms… think Innà… he brought bad luck to his mother and….” Lungkayan stopped when she saw Agawe at the door staring at her.
“You are right, Innà... I bring bad luck,” he tossed the banana leaves on the cot and slumped on the mud floor, dejected. “I need to leave you before more bad luck come to you.”
Lungkayan turned to his son, “I’m sorry, Agawe, I did not mean what I said. I am just so scared…”
“I understand, Innà... maybe if I leave you… bad luck will leave you, too.”
“Agawe…” the worried Lungkayan started to say something but Agawe stopped her.
“Innà… I am so confused. I cannot stay here because there are people looking for me. I need to go away… but I don’t know where.”
“Agawe, remember the place where you followed Egul? Go to the opposite direction. Find a way around Mt. Sandawa.”
“Innà… you are sending him to find his parents?” Lungkayan asked.
Before Ugay could reply, Agawe said, “ Don’t worry, Innà… I know I want to see them, to know what they look like, and….” he sighed, “ but even if I find them, they will not know me and I don’t want to cause any more trouble to anyone. I will leave tonight.”
Read the Book
The Purple Stone
“Agawe, come sit next to me.” He sat next to his apô on the cot. She held a small black pouch and slid the content into her palm. “This is your protection from anyone wanting to harm you.” Agawe saw a dark purple stone. “Many times along the way, you find yourself among strangers who will offer you a drink, food or even a rest in their homes. Always hold this stone under the cup or bowl and you will know if it is poisoned. Keep this with you at all times. This stone will protect you … not only from poison but from all kinds of harm.”
“Why would anyone wish to poison or harm me?”
“Tribal men and women do not want strangers going through their village. You are going to meet many of them. Even al-langs are not to be trusted.” The old woman stared at his grandson with tears in her eyes, “Please take care of yourself.”
“Innà… are you ready to part with that? It has been with you for a long time…”
“Lungkayan… this is not mine to keep. I live alone... I don’t meet many people anymore. I am tired…. I am old. I need to part with this before I harm more people…”
“Harm people? You said this is for protection...” Agawe asked.
“Agawe, there are times when you have to inflict harm to protect yourself…”
“Apô… did you ever … I mean… I hear rumors that you can hex people…”
“Innà does not want to do harm but sometimes people are so evil…” Lungkayan stole a glance at her mother.
“Ahh… let’s not talk about that… remember, Agawe… never part with that stone… it can protect you…wherever you go…”
“Apô, tell me more about this stone,” Agawe implored.
Read Chapter 4
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