Nevaeh stared into the
abyss. Between the sheer marble and
granite walls, lava flowed with the blinding brilliance of the sun. Pops of
flame exploded in whirlpools of unfathomable appetite. The heat kissed her obsidian
skin with desire.
She stared at the magma, a
death that assured no resurrection. Was this a choice she could make? Death or
an eternity in Hell with a mad man?
Recuperating from her recent
escape attempt, Nevaeh curled up on the furs in front of a fire. Voices outside
her prison hut alerted her to visitors. Without looking, she knew Ohin had
entered the room. The atmosphere felt heavy, airless. She sat up but still
faced the fire.
"Feeling better?" Ohin
asked with faux concern.
Despite forehand knowledge, Nevaeh's
heart jumped in her chest. Her body stiffened at the sound of his caustic voice. The warmth radiating from the
fire turned to waves of ice that girdled her bones and captured her heart in a glacial chill.
"Adom will never know that
I was behind your kidnapping. Be careful, or you'll be the cause of his
death." Ohin warned as he stepped closer and knelt beside her.
He reached out to touch her
cheek. "Tell me why? I look just like Adom. We are twins. Why not
Nevaeh pulled away in
disgust. "I did not fall for Adom's looks. I fell for his heart. Something
you do not possess."
Ohin growled like an animal,
stood, and pounded his staff on the mud floor. "I am rich, powerful, more
so than Adom. You will see, my Queen, power is more important than heart!"
"I prefer an eternity
in Hell to a minute with you. I will never be your wife. Force me and meet your
death!" Her words held power, but her petite frame and lack of weapons
instilled no fear.
Ohin stepped back but waved
off her threat. "At one time, you had a choice, my lady. Be mine or cross
the Atlantic in chains. But now I make the choice for you."
"Your threats do not
frighten me. Adom is no fool. He will uncover you're evil. Instead of
destroying the slave traders, you are their chief caboceer. You are a traitor
to your own people."
Ohin laughed. "You're
so wrong, Nevaeh. I am a King, and I will have you." As he spoke, a
stranger joined them. "Meet, Dr. Zheng. He has a way to make even the dead
live. And he's brought proof."
The sound of a clattering
chain intensified the cold and tightened her gut into a knot. Was he planning
to chain her to her prison? Nevaeh jumped to her feet. She moved closer to the
fire but gauged her chance for escape. Her illness caused her to sway, but she
fought the weakness.
"Don't test me, Nevaeh.
You'll marry me. You'll even love me. If you doubt that, believe this."
Nothing in life had prepared
her for the vision before her. Screams formed in the deepest part of her, but
she held them inside as one hand covered her mouth and the other clenched. She
wanted to close her eyes but could not. An abomination of nature lumbered
toward her, and she had nowhere to go but Ohin's arms. Death was preferable.
The man she knew as Goren,
her kidnapper, the same man she had witnessed being fed to wild dogs, slowly
moved into the light. His death was a truth she could not doubt because she'd seen the horror. Yet he stood before her, held
on a chain by two large men.
He barely had clothes or skin but moved forward on his own two feet. The
skin that remained hung loose where the ravenous beasts had ripped him open with their
teeth. Muscle hung in purple shreds, and broken bones protruded in ugly bloody
angles. The smell of death wafted off him like a putrid fog. A dead man lived.
Ohin's next statement pierced
Nevaeh like a spear through the heart.
"I will have you—even
in death. You will be mine always. Adom is busy with the war. He'll understand
your choice and move on. He has an entire kingdom of princesses to choose from."
The proof of his words
stood, decomposing before her. Goren's eyes held her gaze, golden brown, rimmed
in red, and clouded by tears. His eyes pleaded with her because his mouth and
his throat were missing. The horrendously
deformed, half-consumed body understood, knew his condition. Goren was fully
aware of his own miscreation.
Nevaeh saw the horror of her
Ohin smiled. "The
doctor is a genius."
Ohin had underestimated Nevaeh's
strength and the loyalty of his undead pet. Goren turned his anger toward his
master and attacked Ohin.
In the melee, Nevaeh bolted.
She made it through the mountain tunnel and once again stood above the Gulf of
Fire. Her pursuer not long behind. Ohin held the scars of Goren's attack, but Dr.
Zheng held the head of Goren.
Goren still had life in his
eyes. Even dismemberment was no cure for the doctor's faux life.
Nevaeh made her choice.
Ohin approached and
bellowed, "There's nowhere to go, my Queen. Accept your fate."
Nevaeh, unafraid, faced him.
Ohin's minions, her people,
stood behind him. She saw fear in their eyes as they watched and waited for her
"Hear me, my people—revolt
against this evil. Your numbers alone will defeat him. Death may be your fate,
but there is honor in death when evil also dies. You have a choice!"
Her heels teetered on the
edge of the precipice.
"Come Nevaeh, I've no
She smiled. "My destiny.
My choice. FREEDOM!"
Nevaeh felt the arms of
angels catch her as the fires of Hell opened to swallow her.
Ohin screamed as Nevaeh
disappeared into the abyss. The crowd behind him, hearing her words, seeing her
sacrifice, pushed forward to the edge.
The volcano bellowed its
acceptance of the evil surrendered, and an entire nation celebrated freedom.
Yolanda Renée © 2021
to the slave trade through the port of Ouidah.