The beautiful fetish priestess began to speak in a deep, guttural voice that sounded like a great man’s voice! It was filled with bass and had a rough, echoic cadence to it.
The language she was speaking was not any that Jon had ever heard! It sounded native and ancient, a forgotten language that made the panther growl and paw the ground, hunching lower as it prepared to attack.
“Jon!” Kwabla screamed behind Fii. “She’s going to set that beast on you! I’ve seen her do it to her enemies! Get inside the church! We’ll escape through the backdoor!”
“Cursed be the day that I flee from evil in the house of my Lord, Pastor Atoklu,” Jon Fii said softly as he continued to glare at the chanting Sophia. “This is the house of the Lord, and I am His servant! If it is His will that I die this way, may it be so! If it is His will to shut the mouth of a marauding beast just like He shut the mouth of the lions with Daniel in the den, it will be so. Because, for certainty, the Lord is my refuge, and He encompasses me with His might and power.”
Sophia suddenly screeched and pointed her right forefinger at Jon Fii. The panther roared and surged up the stairs ferociously, it paws raised, its claws drawn out, its jaws gaping open, its teeth bared to sink into the throat of the man of God.
Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu screamed shrilly behind Jon Fii and clasped his hand to his eyes, unable to watch the carnage that was going to follow.
Jon stood without fear as his lips moved silently in a prayer of faith, and at the very last moment the panther made a curious whining sound and dropped suddenly.
It stuck its tail between its back legs and cowered around Jon’s feet, and then it shuddered with fear, turned abruptly, and slinked down the stairs with an unusual cowed gait.
The crowd had stopped shouting now.
They were hushed with shock.
Sophia looked at Jon Fii, and he shrugged slightly and spread his hands in a teasing gesture.
The woman went bonkers!
She pointed at Jon and shouted in that alien language, commanding the beast over and over to attack, but the panther simply dropped down and rested its head on its front paws with an uncaring yawn.
Sophia screamed and clapped her hands once at the beast.
The panther roared with agony, reared up on its legs and hunched its body into the form of an acute ‘C’, and then it dropped limply to the ground!
Jon Fii stared with horror, and his handsome face was suddenly filled with rage again.
“Oh, you vile woman!” he hissed with wrath. “What have you done?”
He rushed down the stairs towards them, and for a brief moment Sophia felt a stab of fear and took a step back.
Who was this man?
Why was he so different?
Why could he do the things he was doing?
Jon knelt beside the magnificent animal and desperately felt for a pulse.
There was none; the woman had killed the animal!
He got to his feet and glared at her with a look that was filled with disgust and, yes, near-hatred!
This made the woman gasp with confusion!
That was a look she was not used to seeing on the faces of these men of God! Each one that had beheld her, from the oldest to the youngest, the experienced to the amateur… they had all had that same look in their eyes: craving, lust, want, need, desire!
Their bodies had craved for her supple beauty, and they had been like puppets in the midst of her power!
But not this one!
His gaze depicted how he would look at a wretched evil thing, filled with such disgust and filth that it seared through her like a raw salvo of a volcanic lava!
“You evil bitch!” Jon hissed at her with all the disgust he could muster.
Her lips moved off her teeth in a snarl, and she shouted instructions to the men behind her.
Jon saw the ones with the bottle bombs stepping towards a man that was holding a pan of naked fire! The first man with the bottle held the tip of the kerosene-sodden cloth to the fire, and it burst into flames.
“And what are you going to do?” Jon asked fiercely.
“Burn down that building!” Sophia hissed furiously. “No more churches in Obosomfie, do you hear me? No more! Burn it down!”
“You can’t raze down the temple of the Lord,” Jon told her calmly. “Let’s see you try, you evil slut!”
Filled with uncontrollable rage, Sophia whirled and screamed at the man with the bottle bomb! The man raced forward and drew back his arm to throw the bottle… and the bottle simply exploded in his hand!
He screamed with horror as the kerosene doused his hand and the fire licked his arm dangerously. He beat frantically at his arm to douse the fire.
Sophia shouted, and more men lighted their bottle bombs and raced towards the church.
“My God!” Kwabla, standing just inside the door, whispered with great awe as, one by one, each person that drew back his hand to hurl the bottle bomb screamed in agony as the bottle exploded in his hand, and covered his arm with fire!
He saw the fear on the faces of the men behind Sophia now!
Those who had not lighted their bottles looked at those whose bottles had exploded, and were not trying to douse the flames that were burning their hands!
Sophia gave more orders, but the men with the unlit bottles looked at each other, and then at Jon Fii.
Sophia saw their fear, and she witnessed their mounting awe of this handsome devil standing in front of her!
She knew they had seen something different, something evidently more powerful than her, and they were shaken and afraid! It hit her with the force of a thousand galloping buffalos that her power had just been questioned, for the very first time, by this new pastor!
She shouted at the men around her with rage!
“Give it up, Sophia,” Jon said calmly. “I’ve not even started with you. Just take your people and get out of here before you incur the wrath of the Lord!”
“Shut up, pussy!” she screamed, turned around and slapped Jon Fii so hard across the face that he tasted blood in his mouth and felt his vision clouding.
He was rocked back a step, and then his eyes settled on Sophia.
She saw wrath.
She saw hatred.
And she saw a man, a different man, who was not going to forgive her act.
She gasped with horror as Jon Fii took two strides towards her!
It was unbelievable!
It was not anything she would have envisaged in a million years!
She knew these men of God and how peaceful they were! They always preached about forgiveness, of turning the other cheek, of being patient and merciful.
They were men of peace, calm men, forgiving men, godly men!
Sophia knew she could hit and hit them and they would not retaliate!
Her exquisite beauty, her sultry and delectable aura, and the fact that they were men of God always prevented them from being violent towards her.
That was why she was rooted to the spot as she saw the deep anger on Jon Fii’s face, and was quite unprepared for the hefty first blow he sank into her belly.
“You evil bitch!” Jon shouted as she gasped with pain, and then he drove his right fist into her face with such force that she was lifted off her feet and slammed hard on the ground!
She lay there, staring at him with horror as blood seeped through one of her nostrils!
He had hit her!
He had succeeded in hitting her!
That was an atrocity!
Anyone that dared raise a hand against her went mad immediately, and there were two mad women roaming the village who were direct victims to this known fact!
But as she looked at the angry face of the man of God looming above her, she knew he was different, and knew he was not one of those who was going to go mad for hitting her.
But suddenly Jon’s face softened as he looked down at her.
She was once again that incredibly beautiful young woman, so innocent and forlorn as she lay on the ground with blood from her nostrils, looking like a sweet, little crushed rose.
He shook his head and sighed with great remorse.
“Ah, look at what you made me do!” he said softly and held out his hand. “I’m sorry, Sophia. Very sorry for hitting you. Please, let me help you up!”
Sophia nodded numbly, but her face calm and innocent enough, but her heart was thudding with great fear!
This man was humiliating her, and she knew that if this was not righted the village would be filled with how she had been humbled by this man of God, and that was something she would never allow to happen.
She held out her right hand, but her left hand went under her dress and she drew a knife that she always kept strapped to the side of her thighs for emergencies.
And as Pastor Jon Fii pulled the fetish priestess to her feet, still apologizing and smiling warmly, Sophia stabbed him viciously in the stomach, and then she twisted the knife cruelly and pulled it out!
Jon Fii tottered backwards with shock and clamped his hand over his stomach as warm blood seeped through his fingers. Slowly, he raised his head and looked at Sophia.
She had drawn back her hand to stab him in the throat, but when she saw his eyes, looking at her without hatred, without disgust, but with great pity and compassion, she stayed her hand, and could not plunge the bloodied knife into his throat as she had wanted to.
Bleeding profusely now, Jon Fii dropped to one knee.
The fierce men behind her suddenly surged forward, and Sophia watched as they began to beat Jon Fii with fists and clubs!
Kwabla dropped to his knees and began to pray fervently as the men assaulted the weakened Jon Fii brutally!
Fii was unconscious now, and Kwabla watched with numb horror as the men lifted him up, chanting and screaming victoriously, and took him to one of the graves they had dug in the yard!
They threw Jon Fii into the grave!
Kwabla clutched his heart and staggered out of the door and down the stairs, weeping bitterly as he approached the group of murderous men.
“Leave him alone!” he cried pathetically. “Just leave him alone!”
But they did not!
They threw rocks down on the inert form of Pastor Jon Fii!
About six of them with shovels stepped to the mound of soil beside the grave, and they began to scoop it up and fill the grave!
Kwabla wept bitterly!
He tried to stop them, but some of the men held him back effortlessly as the grave filled up, and soon Jon Fii had been buried alive!
Sophia felt herself trembling as she stood there holding the knife in her hand and watching the triumphant men lifting up Kwabla and dragging him towards the other grave.
“Stop!” Sophia shouted, and the men turned to look at her. “Let that drunk go! Let him continue to serve our gods! Our work is done here! Let’s go.”
The men dropped Kwabla and began to chant victorious war songs as they marched towards the main gate.
Usually, Sophia would have been in the lead, but she was still fixed to the spot as she watched the old Kwabla weeping pathetically and trying to scoop soil out of the grave where the young pastor had been buried alive!
She watched for a while, and was surprised at the hollow feeling inside the pit of her belly! Under normal circumstances, this was the moment she would have been ecstatic, filled with power and victory… but she was not.
She still saw that young man’s face as she pulled the knife from his belly!
Sophia still saw that pitying look, that look of sympathy, of empathy, of forgiveness…
There was no joy in her heart now, and she wondered why, for a very brief moment, she wished Kwabla could scoop out all the earth and bring up the body of the young pastor.
Heart beating with conflicting thoughts, the beautiful fetish priestess turned finally and walked out of the church compound.
She saw that many people had come out of their houses and had witnessed what had happened. Usually, they would have been screaming and in a jubilant mood about death of another man of God, but they looked at her sombrely now.
And Sophia was shocked when she saw some of the men running into the yard, picking up shovels, and starting to dig out the grave where the pastor had been buried alive!
Normally, her ire would have been stoked at this gesture, and she would have punished them severely, but that dawn she turned her back on them and began to walk away.
Of course he had been too long under now.
No human would be able to survive this.
So, obviously, that young pastor was dead.
Why then was she feeling this sad?
Why then was her heart in a sudden turmoil?
This was what she had wanted, wasn’t it?
She had conquered another enemy, perhaps the toughest yet, and the gods would be happy with her.
Why then was she still seeing his face as he tottered backwards?
Oh, why was she so distressed?
To be continued