Sitting atop his hound-horse, Nott withdrew his cigarette lighter from out of his pocket, then reciting some words that had mysteriously come to him only a few earlier, he said, “I hold this item in this my hand, to act as a bridge in these our plans. We need a distraction, a disturbance right now to help Kakuri and the HU BA HOU
Nott had no sooner finished speaking when the sky above him begin to darken and grow angry. Dark clouds appearing from out of nowhere grew larger and larger and blacker and blacker until they had joined together uniting in one congealed mass of anger. In a few short minutes the sky had changed from a deep summer blue to a blackness so dark, day had turned to night. Some of the hound-horses nervously sidestepped, their handlers struggled to calm them. The wind began to blow, soft at first, but increasingly stronger. Then the heavens opened in a deluge of rain, thunder and lightning – a full-blown storm was upon them…
A storm was exactly what Kakuri had needed, and through the driving rain she spoke to the HU BA HOU, “Now my friend, it’s up to you – do your best.” And with those words still lingering in its ears the huge animal took off at full-gallop heading straight for the Timeless Gates guarding Onisha City. The animal, sensing that this was the final offensive, kept its large heavyset and armour-plated head well down. The storm was so intense Kakuri had, after only a few seconds, lost all sense of direction – she had no way of knowing if they were still heading for the Timeless Gates and all she could do was trust the HU BA HOU, and hold on tight.
As if that were not enough to be worried about, Kiliki had meanwhile given the order to the assembled and impatient Onishians to attack. The entire rag-tag collection of Onishians and Orlu (not forgetting their assorted animals) were now hot on Kakuri’s heels with no intention of being left behind out in the middle of nowhere, and in such a terrible storm. Everyone was soaked to the skin as they all rushed headlong into the unknown. Some shouted, others roared and still others screamed with the delight they felt rising up against the man who had promised so much, who had given so little and who taken everything.
The armour plating sparkled with the reflections of the lightning flashes. It clanged as the plates collided with one another and if there was anybody in the city capable of seeing through the blinding rain they would have been filled with the fear of God.
Unexpectedly, the HU BA HOU stopped just short of the gates. Everyone following stopped dead in their tracks, wondering what could be the problem. Then the tank, the ugly humpy-tank of an animal standing just short of the gates clawed at the ground (like a bull), rose up on its hind legs (like a horse) and roared with the ear-shattering cry unique to itself. And raising its large head one last time emitted another ear-shattering roar before hurling itself forward with the gates set firmly in its sights…
Nott, watching from the relative safety of a short distance behind, wondered how this had all come about. Why, only a few days earlier he had been all set for Christmas, and a well-earned rest. And now he was in an alien land, about to follow a fair maiden atop an abomination of a creature called a HU BA HOU, in an assault on a walled city searching for a man called Miafra, a man who had stopped time, who had stolen the chi (the free will) of the people and who had drained the powers of the most revered Mystic in the entire land; a man who would be a God.