+340Mafanto Ndlovu-Sana is an imperfect daughter, a mix between two Ufeleyetsimbi. The Chui Yetsimbi and the taller more attuned to nature Ilosi Yetsimbi. It is not uncommon for commoners and a few noble houses, but for great houses, but for great houses, massive Chui Houses, but for great Houses, massive Chui Houses who are always looking for a means to learn, expanded and grew their advantage, it is extremely rare and considered a curiosity. A whim, a fancy from a noblewoman. It's considered nothing at all for a nobleman who will rarely accept the child, leaving the Ilosi mother alone.
Mafanto was different because her birth was a political manoeuvre from a slick father, Slindile Ndlovu-Sana which led to her mother, her birth mother getting visitation and her father getting exclusive rights to raise her under the banner of The Ndlovu-Sana- who have one of the most child-centric raising policies. It meant she'd be completely free with the family's backing. She could have policies that could end up destroying the family and they'd support her. It was insane, but despite her being a strange race, she was still a noble.
She'd always been insecure about her imperfect blood. The people around her led by her non-biological mother Bazani Ndlovu-Sana, catalogued the difference in their bodies quite extensively. She'd been measured since she was born.
Her height, listening ability, ability to retain information, her growth.
It was tedious, long, constant and a rather cold experience, she knew both her true father and her mother would get every result, she was the first and those results would fill a vault somewhere. It was also taking away from her duties as a Ndlovu-Sana. The reading, training she had to fulfil, watched constantly to the point where she could not help but watch herself. Then one-day Slindile came back with a baby girl and declared her, her sister.
344+Once she a baby sister entered the equation, her attitude changed, she participated more willingly even as her sister who was a pure-blooded child was tested, producing maximum pain and stress as they fought against being guineapigs, which is what they'd become.
She blamed herself knowing that there would have been no testing at all for her sister if it wasn't for her. But at the same time, she wished she could be her sister, the pureblood. Not only that but the grand princess. The child of two Great Houses who fought tooth and nail for her. Her biological mother all but sold her to the Ndlovu-Sana House.
But the girl was too cute to be on the receiving end of any bile or vitriol that had been building,
347 - TradeShe had wanted to be with her sister so badly she deliberately delayed her child trade ceremony as long as possible. Her father wanting her to go at age five but she managed to hold until age seven when her mother put her foot down. She had to leave her sister behind.
It was an experience she'd only heard, it was surreal up top, upon the ceiling things were different more brutal, she was tested there too but it was a whole other kind of test.
From what she'd heard, it would be a toughening experiencing yes, but upon the Jongiwe Tree, the family had an outstanding relationship with the strongest of The Cabucabu Tribes but upon stepping onto the ceiling where her trade sister, she discovered that the world she would spend a year in was a meat grinder, one that would test her will to survive. She wanted to live and by Nature, she would prove it. Her father had traded with the most vocal entity there. The one who spoke to the Grounds Keepers to make sure things would get done. What her father didn't know was the limited power she had. It was a scheme. A means to enforce power and reform, led by her injury or death. But she would not die
There were books that mentioned Crowning but none that went into any detail as to what it was.
Well, not she knew as she and her new sister had to define who would dominate and who'd be dominated. It was a part of her as she fought tooth and nail for what felt like was for her life.
By the end of the first month, she'd already survived fifty fights with her sisters along with those her sisters knew, there were half a dozen sisters, each with their own friends. With stronger muscles, denser bone structures, the Ufele had a natural advantage over the tall multi-armed web wielders. But the physical advantages could only go so far with a people who only understood the value in a good fight, in dominating. A brutal bloodthirsty system that only relied on honour and pride to keep everything from being a constant bloodbath. Her temporary understood this better than most, she was on an uphill battle.
There was no voting, no elective process, only a wave of power overlapping power upon power until they way became law. It had been read to her, but seeing in the real world was something else entirely.
For that power to form it had to be tested, Mafa had come with the basics of martial arts that all Ndlovu-Sana had to take in. It was both less and more than her sisters but every day and every night she had to focus, grow and surprisingly teach. Teach the young to read and write, to tend to others instead of leaving others behind and finally how to Crown. It was the only way without killing. She had to take down women twice, three times her age, bully, be cruel, and hurt people in ways that went against everything she'd ever learned.
But over time she realized she'd made a mistake, there was more to it than violence, there was a system. The honour system created was not a cage, a steering path or even a rudder. It was a tool, one made for the purpose of building and my goodness was she getting it. The Mpumelelo tribe or Mpume clan was becoming a tribe, her anvil they beat upon with hammers in their own hell to temper themselves and they bowed to the Ndlovu-Sana over ever the Pikoli who'd neglected the honour system, as had all the other great houses.
It was thrilling but these horrible people, their insanity, the only thing it could be called. And that was when their older sister was killed in dishonour. It broke it all, her bravado, her toughness meant nothing as he curled up with the body, unwilling to let her big sister go. But eventually, she had to watch her get buried.
And with the burial of her sister came the first time she killed a person. It was a weird feeling, it brought a dichotomy of sensations both letting go and following through. As though she'd reach down to the earth by her feet, taken a deep breath and pushed. But what resistance she got was that of an eggshell, that was all she needed to do was just push harder. Well, she had and what she found was nothing but air, the floor and everything that tied her to it was a lie she'd been ed, like a fool.
The woman in question had tried to ambush her along with others mid investigation on his sisters killer. Cabucabu could be so breakable.
It was her first kill but would not be her last over a full year later, she'd avenged her sister and united a quarter of the clans to their banner and it was working, a dream was forming fuelled by anger, but it was still active and she was a warrior. Eight going on nine she had developed into a strong young woman and a bit of a maniac until one day she stopped.
In front of her was her whole family father, both mothers and even her sister, her baby sister blindfolded. There was all but an army at her back. Everything that was holding her up and keeper her moving just fell and she dropped to her knees. Her father held her and she fought him at first but was able to hold her as all the pressure released they had the Kuvuka and the Thembeko tribes who had ambitions of their own. They'd bolster the military lines of the Ndlovu-Sana while helping her sister. But what did that mean for her? Nothing, just more bed and more tests. It was hard to even notice them. Somehow, she'd grown people didn't know if that had to do with her life in the sky or more with her life as a blood relative off the Ilosi, either way, she was tall for her age, most certainly for the Chui Yetsimbi which with her glitter laden, black skin but ruined by long forever growing down green hair, which she ties up in cornrows.
The changes she'd gone through were enough to fill journals, her sister and brother would visit often.
But somehow the test would ease and she'd feel more normal, most especially with Qinisi's baby Awonke. Though Mthovini had gone to The Jongiwe Tree, the base of power for the Ndlovu-Sana, the rest of the family not yet participating in the water stayed. They had to keep up their efforts to grow power. She would have to participate eventually but for now, there was only going with the motions, recovering to speak. Surprisingly she got letters from her sister. As it turned it was only her that struggled the way she had in decided. Slindile had gotten into a lot of trouble for it and her mandatory training would happen on the main branch.
But who cared about that, why would she even want to be a Grounds Keeper? Why be anything?
349Nine years old, she was now a student who spent most of her time indoors until she met a group of Grounds Keeper's children who wanted to talk to her, first, she wasn't interested, things were all over the place, Qiniso Ndlovu-Sana and many within the house had had to train and be pulled in for war duty.
The Ohongo tree had had its part to play and had shown themselves, even her participating by helping with the general contributions until she found out her sister would stay longer than side and eventually go to the Nomlanga tree where her other family would and, all while visiting cousins. Mafa on the other hand had... nothing. She still got letters but it wasn't the same, there was some freedom she wasn't fully understanding that her sister just had.
That was what she truly rebelled going out every night with the others, in its own way it brought back the days upon the ceiling. The days she was forced to participate in an outdated practice of meeting with the Cabucabu alone. She brought her sisters down from the ceiling, showing them off to each other. The web making savages, the bottom feeders, it was a fan to keep them together despite the differences. Not as a means to improve relations but as a means to be needed for their sakes. She was very important, and it was amazing. But it affected her tests. She could always be free later, but she was under the family's command until then.
It was time, she'd started her mentorship, but being big for a normal Chui and being rebellious she was given her stuff and an enterouge and she was sent on her way as the rest of the family was returned home and she could see her father and mother, only they would not be back.
It didn't matter to her, the age of fifteen, was not that far away. She just had to do her time and be done with it and what was great was having one of her Cabucabu sisters come along. It made everything more bearable.
There was madness upon her arrival as the family attempted to pool resources but for the war for the following tax, the war had been a failure with them being pushed back, thankfully without being followed they were in terrible shape.
Again it wasn't her problem as she settled on lands so tamed and so grand she could scarcely believe it. She was assigned some of the best tutors when the culling began and there was a shockwave across all of Sedibeng a thousand sons as tribute. Simple for many territories but for the Sedibeng people where women vastly outnumbered men. It was devastating.
For the good of the nation, the nobles would take the brunt hundreds of noble houses having to give up to little sons they had. It even impacted friends back at home.
She saw her sister one day in the Ndlovu-Sana estate, her boy Awonke had been taken, just old enough to qualify, none would touch Andiswe. It hid like a ton of bricks, she'd never see the boy again and even if they passed each other walking one day she would never know. It brought back her own war, the loss of her sisters she found herself stuck unable to do anything.
After a month, her mother and a dozen other members of the family including extended family would arrive, living in the main house as a form of recovery.
A mother month found her walking up to a screaming pain. She was bound, gagged and quite literally being dragged to the Thato House. What she'd assumed was a joke turned into a nightmare as she found she would actually be dragged all of the ways, Thato's state being a day away. It took forever with Thato saying very little.
Mafa was furious but not dumb, she knew why.
A month ago when one of her family had mentioned That's rage and grief she'd made a 'comment' about the weight of Thato's loss against everyone. She'd heard. Mafa had not cared. She really should have. Grudges weren't supposed to be like this, not between family. To top it off, Thato never mentioned it.
Thato tested her too.
But it was very different. Everything about the family was different. The home was way too humble, the real estate large. Almost as large as the main manor with entire families who weren't a retainer house and wow so many Grounds Keepers! There was such a business to it that despite its humility there was a promise there, something that demanded that she was an outsider.
Every morning she was woken, Thato, Aphiwe Ndlovu-Sana already on the move. Three was a beehive quite literally inside their home. It was madness. And just so many people many carrying goods that would simply vanish. Enough to fill the home and yet there was so much space!
But it would not be her problem, her questions were rebuffed in such a way that it felt dangerous. But what could she do, she had grunt work. There were more reading duties than ever before and even then she'd accumulated the reputation of being a non-reader, being a late riser and a complainer, this despite her best efforts. But best efforts could never be enough if they could be turned off so easily. Words she had to eat while keeping up.
Her sister came back, something she had found out from other people. To say it angered her would have been an understatement. How dare she! She would have been an understatement. How dare she! She would march out of Thato's state, only to be caught by a strange giant Chui woman who looked like one of the few actual capable of beating Thato in a fight. Without knowing Mafa she tackled Mafa and the strange woman carried her away, all the way to Thato's home where four dozen women waited in a circle. Thato, like a Warcheif, waiting. Thato's word was supreme, her way was the only way and everyone because Mafanto had taken it upon herself to vanish without anyone knowing would have the chance they clearly must have wanted to rule in her stead. There were dozens of people, all pulled out of their duties to face off against her all because she lost her temper? YES! One by one, with limited space for breaks, one by one they were thumped, she would only grapple displaying some of the quickest hands she'd ever seen. A jab could be snapped up into a wrist lock and twisted into an armlock only to be put to sleep in a sleeper hold. One of them done just by hugging. It was humiliating not for them but for her because every case would be her fault. She'd yet to get the hateful eye, she got no eyes at all. It was even worse! She was crying, they were even having way large meaty Khetshe Yetsimbi, tall lithe Ilosi Yetsimbi, old young, one by one. It must have looked like she was terrified! In a way she was, what would the land be after this? Would she be looked at the same? It was the giant's turn, the largest Chui she'd ever seen. It was her time to shine, Thato was sweaty, tired but had yet to use a single strike. Would the wait go easy on her? No, the giant produced building energy that caught alight, she was, literally, on fire!
Still, Thato, using the sand as a shield to douse an attack. But they weren't strikes, not really. She was willing to grab her while one would her throat the giant was going for the kill. The fire was put out in a feint that led to a body slam that could only be described as miraculous. It was the type of thing one dreamed of in battle.
Then came her sister who got more pain than anyone before, it was maddening. She'd be lectured and slammed and no opportunity for submission would come. Thato was evil!
Mafa rushed in and was scolded for taking so long. Was she selfishly saving herself? Mafa didn't hesitate a moment upon finding out about her sister but immediately found life for anger. Anger to face the next sister, How about every single woman there? How comfortable was it to wait her turn? Didn't understand? Understand what? Their pain? That couldn't be true, because she'd have tried to stop it. Or... maybe she didn't understand- What? The rules? What rules? Life did not have rules. Life was not a game. Society did though, society was just a game to was a contract made with different people. Within the compound, things were meant to be different. And not realizing that was why she'd be an outsider, it was why the sister right next to her was not and never would be her sister while her blood 'stranger' poisoned her soul because her soul, her will was a seed born of mother nature, responsibility, knowledge and experience could feed it but the seed would feed one poison as happily as a plant feeds on light. Her only purpose in life should be to love and feel as much as her body would allow. Even if she had to kill as some point. It rocked her world Thato had known? Did everyone know?
They fought Thato folded her like a napkin. It wasn't a beating it was a masterclass in domination. There would be no outsmarting her. No 'willing' around it. But if it meant, getting back what honour she last, she'd accept. As it turned out she would be grabbed until she turned pale.
She apologised to every person there not being strong enough, for being too selfish saying their names individually before final apologising to Thato, which caught her by surprise at least until Mafa explained her understanding, Thato by the understanding created that to build so much love to lose it they she had Khaya Raider, her husband must have been the most lovable vitally important person in the world. The power of which still rippled upon them to this day. That broke her. It upset her so much that when she took a single step towards her the entire group stepped forward. Mafa was officially one of them. She was officially one of them and she discovered the scope of Thato's abilities, the separation that had existed was something else entirely, but she had a dream since that day. She'd discovered magic wizardry from Babalwa Noma-Pikoli who legitimately was not family but undoubtedly was more family than anyone else.
So she and her sister got to shadow her along with Cabu, who funny enough was hurt at the prospect of not being beaten down by Thato. They had assignments now, work, making packages safe, requesting money paying back money winning favour and ensuring Thato's name was not on anyone's lips.
Her greatest assignment was going back home to face her tribe with the help of hundreds of Thembeko and Kuvuka, led by Basa Thembeko to teach order all while becoming a talented Grounds Keeper, she was fourteen years old and an adult in the eyes of her family she could do what she wanted with the family's support and what she chose so long as Babalwa and her sister came with was to be a wizard and she took off facing adventure like many could only dream of. And Thato had her undying loyalty.