HORNEE BATTLER
CHAPTER 1
The Soldier Who Loved Me

Regarding the birth of a baby with mysterious powers

Most babies are born by accident but not Jose Antero who was a manifestation of willful destiny, for he brought himself to the world when he crawled on his own out of his dead mother's vagina.

Near the peninsula of Mondego, in the early months of 1914, soldiers of Britannia were waging a war with the local tribes on the Island of Zola, and though greatly outnumbered by the native warriors who were skilled with both metal weapons and powdered guns, the pull of greed and ambition coerced this handful of white men to fight amidst rain, mud, sweat, and blood in the jungles of Los Sierra, where the richest ores of gold flowed in the heart of Zola.

During their most brutal battle, in which nearly all of the white colonizers died from either loss of blood, arms, or both, one valiant soldier by the name of Azel Reed, which in Hebrew means “a reserved person” and in Islam, “a noble one”, braved the howling rivers of Guola and crossed the banks to the village of El Peca, hence becoming the sole survivor in the “Night of Flowing Tears”, when Britannia finally let go of Zola as it embroiled itself in the Great Wars of Europa.

The fate of Azel Reed did not end there however. Though the sole white man in the whole of Zola, he survived and fortunately found shelter in the house of a woman named Adamma, which in Africa means “child of beauty.” It was true that Adamma was peerless in modesty, grace, and wit, however, what she, and for that, her family, the Divina Gracias, was best known for was their Aguinat, which in Zola means “power of blood”.

Once in every generation, a Divina Gracia was born with an unexplainable ability that not even the Royal Collegio of Ascendas, with all their years of research on the mystic and the occult, could expound. We had Alfredo Divina Gracia, who could freeze water, even that flowing from the rumbling rocks of Guellinas Waterfall. Then we had Esteban Divina Gracia, who could create crystals with his breath, a skill that laid the foundation for their jewelry business, Nuevo Crystallitas. And who would forget the fiery beauty Elisandra Divina Gracia, who could produce flames with her two hands, which proved a blessing from the heavens during the three-day celebration of Fiesta on the island when burning and cooking were most needed.

Our reserved and noble Azel Reed, however, knew or cared not for any of these. With the nursing of Adamma, and after a number of nights of moans and caresses, a baby was formed. Their true love story was not meant to have a happy ending though, as fate betrayed them both on the day of their child's birth.

Adamma hired a midwife who promised to keep her pregnancy a secret from everyone in the village, especially from her father, the terrible and dreaded Don Cujo Divina Gracia, who had the unexplainable command and power over any beast, both wild and domesticated. Though most believed that it was an Aguinat, nobody denied that Don Cujo's raw brutality and explosive temper could tame even the wildest animals in the jungles of Los Sierra.

During the night of birth, a most mysterious thing happened in the house of Adamma. Some said that it was caused by an Aguinat, by whom, nobody would dare give a name, but everyone agreed that the midwife froze and stopped breathing the moment the baby’s head came out of his mother.

With the childbirth being a tightly kept secret, nobody knew what was happening in the house and so nobody could provide help. The father, Azel Reed, however, heard the sound of the midwife’s fall and quickly entered the room and was shocked by the lifeless body of his wife and the sight of the baby crawling out of his mother’s birth canal on his own.

Azel Reed was not a coward for he was a soldier, but that sight of a gooey mass of flesh and blood freeing itself on its own from its mother’s womb, which he should call as a son, made his hair stand to their ends. But courage he did find and the will to save his and Adamma’s son gave him the power to get a blanket and cut the umbilical cord that connected both mother and child. With tears running from his cheeks, he placed and left the baby on a wooden crib that he himself built and ran outside for help towards the nearest and biggest house he could see, which unfortunately was the mansion of Don Cujo Divina Gracia.

Two days passed and nobody talked anymore about that time when loud cries of a man were heard as dogs mauled his mangled body and an ear-splitting shriek said:

“What did you do to my daughter?!”

However, even more mysterious was the absence of any talk about a baby cry heard in Don Cujo’s mansion as the whole Divina Gracia clan went in full mourning for the loss of a member.