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Read CHAPTER ONE from SCAR'S REDEMPTION #fantasy #romance #superheroes

The first time Pacca had picked a pair of shorts from the market stall, her mother hadn’t refused. A few townsfolk made comments about the ‘inappropriate’ clothing, and Mama had laughed them off. No one had pushed the issue. Who would dare to piss off the one person they would call during a health emergency?



CHAPTER ONE


Sweat rolled down Pacca Zhuri’s skin. The wavy corrugated iron roof of the corn-coloured brick house was too far away to provide any shade, and the nearest tree was at the back of the building.

Ignoring the large droplets mixing with dust at her feet, she concentrated on laying out the coloured stones in the outlined mosaic pattern. Between school and other chores, it had taken weeks to reach this final phase. Still, she was determined to finish everything before her mother arrived home.

Mama was the most important person in her life and today was her birthday.

Pacca couldn’t afford to take a bus to the nearest town so she could visit one of the brightly-lit supermarkets to buy a present. Neither could she spend the little fund available at the local market.

Using ingenuity and her hands, she had crafted a gift instead.

Mama was house-proud. As a busy nurse and midwife who ran the local clinic, she rarely had time for herself—tending to residents and sometimes travelling to other places. With no losses recorded, she’d assisted in the safe deliveries of a generation of children in the small town and beyond, earning a reputation of having been blessed by the gods.

When not at work, Mama tended the garden. The land at the back of the house had been turned into a vegetable and herb farm.

However, Pacca had decided to convert the front lawn into a flowered patio.

“Are we going to eat flowers?” her mother had queried.

“No. But the garden will look pretty, maybe as pretty as you, Mama,” she’d replied.

Mama’s laughter echoed and filled Pacca with warmth and joy.

“You are such a sweet talker. In my next life, I will choose you as my daughter.”

“And I will choose you as my mother.”

She grinned and hugged her parent, who acted as both mother and father. She had no recollections of the man who sired her as he’d been a soldier killed in an ambush before she’d been born. Mama often said Pacca had her father’s spirit, which explained why she sometimes behaved like a boy.

To accomplish her goal for the front yard, Pacca had taken books about landscaping from the school library and had been able to make a rough sketch. Over the weeks, she’d made or borrowed items. Her friend, who worked as a part-time labourer, brought leftover paints sourced from different building sites. She even reclaimed wood from neighbours’ old thrown-away furniture.

While her mother had seen the work in progress, she hadn’t witnessed this final installation. Painting the individual stones and laying them out in the correct arrangement was the trickiest and most tasking aspect. But the multi-coloured mosaic added vibrancy and energy to the final display, and she couldn’t wait to reveal it.

She lifted the corner of her yellow T-shirt and wiped the sweat on her eyebrows while stones prodded her bare knees. The knee-length baggy shorts helped her move freely while doing her chores.

However, when she cleaned up later, she would change into a white-with-blue-polka-dots sundress to please Mama.

Some people believe a girl shouldn’t wear shorts or trousers.

The first time Pacca had picked a pair of shorts from the market stall, her mother hadn’t refused. A few townsfolk made comments about the ‘inappropriate’ clothing, and Mama had laughed them off. No one had pushed the issue. Who would dare to piss off the one person they would call during a health emergency?

“How easily do people forget their history?” Mama had said. “Our ancestors dressed differently from the way we dress today. Fashion is guaranteed to change.”

Pacca laughed. “What do you know about fashion?”

Mama winked at her. “I was young once, you know. I wasn’t always your Mama.”

Pacca’s lips widened with her smile at the memory.

A warm wind blew and fluttered the blades of the green grassland to her left.

Thunder rumbled in the distance.

Not rain. Not now.

She glanced up. The horizon stayed clear, with no visible clouds.

Returning her attention to the mosaic pattern, she lifted a stone. The ground beneath her knees quaked.

Sounds of thunder and yet no dark clouds or flashes of lightning? Now the earth seemed to tremble.

What was going on?

Her curious nature made her push off and stand. She walked down the widened track leading past other houses and headed toward the main tarred road, which ran through the middle of the town. Neighbours, old and young, meandered towards the mysterious loud noises.

In the distance, a dust storm darkened the atmosphere, swirling and churning. Visible heat waves rose from the tarmac. The trembling hardened and roared like the wild creatures that stalked the forests. Finally, the curtain of dust parted, revealing massive mechanical objects trundling down the road.

“Pacca, run!”

She whipped around when someone shouted her name, only to be confronted by a vision of red as a man imploded and tumbled onto the earth.

Pacca froze, eyes bulging. She’d never seen anything like it before.

A scream bubbled in her throat but stayed trapped. It seemed her fifteen-year-old brain couldn’t process the danger.

A loud explosion behind Pacca ripped an anguished cry from her mouth and triggered her feet into motion. She stumbled and abandoned her flip-flops.

Balls of flames fired from armoured tanks crashed into buildings, rending earth and plants, setting everything ablaze.

Neighbours and friends ran, cried, and fell.

Pacca stopped to help a woman with a baby, only to scream when what looked like a gleaming metal ball ripped through mother and child.

Tears welled, blurring Pacca’s vision as everything around her seemed to crumble and burn.

The noise from machine-gun fire and grenades mixed with the constant rumble of the monster trucks.

Pacca scrabbled along with one thought in mind. Find Mama.

She meandered behind the back of the single-level brick houses, hiding from the men carrying blood-soaked machetes. Rounding the corner, she halted in front of her home and glanced around to check for any intruders.

“Pacca!”

She swivelled at the sound of her name and saw Mama running from the opposite direction.

“Mama,” she shouted and hurried towards her parent.

“I’m so glad you’re okay.” Her mother hugged her tight. “I had to come and find you as soon we cleared everyone out of the clinic. Come on. We need to hide in the bush.”

They ran towards the back of the house.

Smoke filled the sky. Several shots rang out.

Mama’s hand slipped, and she tumbled onto the ground.

Pacca’s scream splintered the air, and her knees gave way. She tugged her mother, whose blue uniform became stained with a rapidly spreading patch of red, her unseeing eyes fixed upwards.

“No!” A boulder of pain sat in her chest, crushing it, and she struggled to breathe. This couldn’t happen. Mama couldn’t be dead. Today was her birthday. Pacca still hadn’t shown her the gift she’d made. “Mama, get up. You’ll love your present.”

She cradled the body to her chest as tears streaked down her cheeks. Her body grew hot and cold.

“Get up,” someone ordered.

Pacca looked up to find she was surrounded by two men in green camouflage uniforms.

The sight of the weapons across their shoulders triggered rage, not fear.

Pounding roared in her ears. Her vision clouded. Her palms clenched and unclenched.

These men had killed Mama. They’d ruined her special day.

Mama, who never hurt anyone.

Who would take care of pregnant women and babies now?

One of the militants leaned over her, hand extended, teeth bared. “I say, get up.”

Pacca jerked out of his reach and braced herself. Propelled by anger, she drove her head into his groin, a trick she’d learnt after she realised how sensitive the area was for men.

The man groaned in agony and doubled over. His colleague back-handed Pacca and the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth.

Suddenly dark clouds appeared overhead, and the heavens opened, drenching everything.

The militants dragged her towards the house, seeking shelter from the downpour.

Unwilling to be a docile victim, she kicked and clawed, tearing flesh, which enraged them. She didn’t care if they killed her, but she wouldn’t beg.

One man tugged at her T-shirt while the other held her down. The wet fabric proved challenging to rip, and he pulled a dagger out.

Suddenly the man on top was yanked by a great force and flew across the garden onto a broken fence post, skewered.

His partner fired his weapon at someone Pacca couldn’t see in the gloom. She scrambled to pull her damp clothes to order and get away from the line of fire.

The weapon in the militant’s hand imploded, ripping through him, his blood mixing with the rain flowing into the plains.

A man—well, he appeared like a man at first—gracefully appeared out of the gloom and stood over her. He was covered in non-reflective dark goatskin leather from neck to boots that rippled around his muscles. His gloved hand held a glowing sword, which retracted into a staff as he extended his left hand towards her.

“Don’t be afraid,” his reassuring voice settled around her like a warm blanket.

For a moment, Pacca forgot about the death and devastation around her. Without understanding how or why she trusted him, she placed her hand in his and got zapped, like when she’d once touched an exposed live electrical wire in the house.

Her breath hitched just as his eyes widened. He must have felt the same sharp tingle.

He held her gaze as he tugged her up, his eyes the same golden glow as his weapon.

Now she could see him better.

He looked boyish rather than man, probably in his late teens. Only a few years older than her.

How could a person so young have such incredible power? He had defeated vicious opponents fiercely, like the superheroes she’d read in the comic books. Although, without the cape or body-clinging Lycra.

This boy-man’s leather outfit was similar to the fictional Blade’s, and his locs were packed in a ponytail with a leather band.

Pacca imagined his weapon to be the Sword of the Daywalker.

Except he was probably Masu Kare—warriors imbued with magical powers by the deities to protect the land. But those were fables, weren’t they?

“Are you okay?” His voice was gentle as he guided her to the veranda, away from the rain.

“Y—yes. Thank you.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “How did you do that? Who are you? Are you Masu Kare?”

His lips tugged up at one corner as if he was amused by her questions. He didn’t answer, though. Another man in a similar attire appeared at the edge of the house.

“I have to go. Will you be okay?” Concern wrinkled his brows.

Disappointment made her shoulders curl, and she wasn’t sure why she felt an affinity to him. She didn’t even know his name.

She lowered her head and shrugged. “I’ll be fine.”

She would have to be alright.

Live your best life—Mama’s words.

Her mother was gone.

Tears built and spilt, running down her cheeks.

The young man wrapped his arms around her shoulders and held her without speaking. Nothing needed to be said. His actions were enough proof that he cared for her plight.

Comforted, she leaned back. “I’m alright, now. You should go and help other people.”

He stepped aside and placed a gold coin in her hand. “If you ever need anything, present this seal, and you will be taken care of.”

“Thank you. How can I become Masu Kare?”

She never wanted to feel as terrified and helpless as she felt today. She wanted to be able to protect herself and others if necessary. If she’d been Masu Kare, her mother would still be alive.

“That’s for the gods to bestow if they deem you suitable. The first step is to take the coin to Bareki Academy and enrol into the warrior programme.”

He smiled as he walked away. When he reached the corner, he said, “and my name is Prince Sefu Bahati.”

Then he was gone.


 

Born to play second fiddle, Prince Sefu Bahati knows he’ll never be good enough to be king. When the kingdom is threatened, he puts his life on the line to protect it and earns the moniker ‘Scar’. However, he is betrayed, and his heart hardens. He becomes fixated on claiming the throne, even if it means eliminating his ungrateful brother.

First, he must go through the tempting siren, Pacca Zhuri, who is determined to stop him and save him. The pretty wildcat warrior doesn’t realise he’s a lost cause. But they’re going to have fun on this crazy ride, to the top or to Hell. There’s nothing left to lose.


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