Gedi and the Eastern Kingdoms are a collection of territories along the Eastern Coast of Africa. Unified after the successful rebellion of Queen Makazi, the old queen, chosen of the Mother of the Harvest, she of the Jackal’s Heart. There is no official religion and the territories rule themselves as they may, only they must follow the Tennets of Old Misri as passed down by the Washer Priests, Keepers of the Old Faith. The Chronicles take place after the 2nd Great Rebellion in which King Makazi is deposed and in his place the Four rule. Leiyon, the commander, sits on the throne with Queen Khaliset Makazi by his side. The queen’s sister, Un Saire Intunate Makazi is a ward of the king, exiled to the deep North. She refuses to swear fealty. Her titles are stripped but she remains the twice-lived, child of the Blood Moon, Chosen of the Mother, Heart of the Jackal, the one who brings the dawn.

When the king’s spears could no longer sustain the losses from the search of the Roving, they went out in search of those who were better suited to the job. Gedi was not short of hunters, some were even good but there were none like the Rezhabi. And of those, only one remained.
Kurui scared away a few lower clerks and minor officers at first but they kept coming. She was no soldier and felt no loyalty to the king or his remorseful crusade to recover the rebels who never came home.

Inevitably, the Gods intervened.

A settlement in the Sagana River Valley sent a message with a caravan asking for help with a hyena they feared was rabid. She was close enough and the pay was not bad.
She found the hyena hidden in a clump of rocks near a shallow part of the river. Kurui could hear her breathing and the low gurgling of a punctured lung. One of the village boys got lucky with an arrow but did not kill it. She was a fully grown female, one of the dominant females in her pack without a doubt. It was nearing the end of the rainy season, if she had pups they would be at least four moons old. Kurui stood upwind and waited to see if the hyena would attack. The old girl deserved one last bout if she still had it in her. She did not come out.

Kurui tossed a smoking vine into the hole and lured her out. She was thin but not yet emaciated. The valley was teeming with small rodents and nesting birds. If the hyena was not completely mad, she would hunt even without her pack.

She caught the hunter’s movements and rose up on her paws. Kurui aimed true with her spear and it was over quickly. She carefully checked the mouth and paws but saw no signs of sickness. If the village could afford it she’d go out into the wild and see if any others in the pack were sick.

Job done and unwilling to join the women in preparing the evening meal, she arranged a pyre by the rocks and waited for moonrise. A few curious hares approached but never came too close to become supper. Some of her profession would take a trophy from a kill like this but Kurui never did. She was a daughter of the Mother and carrying death around typically ended badly for them. The twice-lived princess was a constant warning of what awaited those who straddled the lines between worlds.

She was welcomed back to the village with food and a warm bath in the natural hot springs. After, she sat in the kitchens drinking honey beer and gossiping with the women. An elderly woman watched her closely but never spoke. The hunter did not like to be watched but it would be rude to address an elder without invitation. Finally, the fire grew small and her hosts called her to go to sleep. Kurui did not enter her hut but remained outside. The watcher left the kitchen and made her way to her with the help of her cane. Kurui saw that she was not so old at all.

“We thank you for your work today. It has been many days since I was allowed to leave the safety of the village. I like to bathe in the river.”
“You’re welcome, Gogo.”
“My son liked to bathe in the river too. He has not returned from the forest.”
“Many have not.”
“He is not dead. I know, I gave birth to him under a full moon.”
Kurui remained silent now knowing what was coming and furious about it.
“Why do you refuse the king’s call?”
“I do not hunt men.”
There was a long silence where Kurui watched a mosquito try to decide where to land. It chose her bicep, wrong choice.
“My son’s presence used to be like the feeling of warm soup in your stomach on a cold night. It’s changed and it festers. It is why I am bent like this. I want you to find him, and if he is like the Roving…I want you to give him back to the Mother.”
“Gogo, you send me to do murder.”
“I have been listening about you for many days. I know about you and your people. I know why you hunt with the spear and not the rifle.”
“The Rezhabi are gone.”
“Not as long as you live. And hunt. Will you refuse me?”

Kurui breathed deep and then let it out slowly. She started to tell the woman that no death was dignified, that her own people who held it as sacred had been cut down like swine and left to rot under Amun-Ra’s unforgiving eye, eaten by wild things. She could not even return to her home for fear that the restless souls would drive her mad.
She looked up to the moon, a bright sickle in the black sky. Just below it shone three stars, brighter than anything else in the sky, worshipped by her people, the first to walk these lands. A sign of changing winds.

“Of course, gogo. I cannot refuse.” As the woman well knew.
“You will find him in the forests under the mountain. That is where his brothers lost him.”

Kurui did not sleep in her hut when she entered. She was far away from Sagana by the morning, cursing Queen Makazi, her damned cursed grand-daughter and mothers in general.