28 September 2022
Blood Psalms episode 2: Zazi’s secret revealed
Magical beings, glowing gates, princesses, a wedding, prisoners in pits and more. We break down Blood Psalms Episode 2.
What Blood Psalms is about
Blood Psalms opens at a time of upheaval in Ancient Africa, around 11 000 years ago. Five tribes – the Akachi, the Uchawi, the Ku’ua, the Chini, and Great Nziwemabwe – whose ancestors all fled the destruction of Atlantis before our story begins – share a prophecy about the end of days. Signs are growing that the end is coming soon …
Episode 1 in 10 points
- Queen Assili of the Uchawi swore revenge after the god Heka chose her Chini handmaiden Ndiya Zazi to become the Uchawi’s Magi – or high priest – instead of Assili.
- King Letsha of the Akachi killed his own father on the battlefield (witnessed by the Akachi General Toka) and made a peace treaty with Chief Xemantso of the Ku’ua.
- Letsha married pregnant Ndiya Zazi – whose baby could be his or his father’s, since his father deflowered Ndiya Zazi despite knowing that Letsha loved her.
- Queen Assili poisoned Letsha’s mind against Ndiya Zazi after he returned from his pilgrimage to the ruins of Atlantis.
- Ndiya Zazi pleaded with her (secret) sister Sithenjwa (who’d recently given birth to her own daughter) and Akachi palace governess Madlamini to raise her daughter.
- Letsha had Ndiya Zazi murdered just after she gave birth to their daughter, Princess Zazi, and took baby Zazi to the Temple of Heka to offer her to the god Heka as a body to inhabit on her return to Earth
- Sithenjwa was dragged away by Akachi soldiers after bravely trying to kill Letsha, believing he was going to use baby Zazi as a blood sacrifice
- The Emissary (the being who channels the god Heka) at the temple told Letsha that Heka had actually been living in Ndiya Zazi until Letsha had her killed
- Letsha found out that Princess Zazi would fall pregnant at the age of 18, and that Heka would return to Earth with the birth of that child, ending Letsha’s regime and his world.
- Letsha dreamed of a great dragon raining fire from the sky.
Episode 2: Isis Unveiled
Introduction: 18 years before the main storyline begins…
King Letsha, holding baby Princess Zazi in his arms, watches in revulsion as an Uchawi sorceress tears the heart out of the dead Queen Ndiya Zazi’s chest at the temple of Heka. The sorceress offers the heart to Queen Assili, who holds it smugly as water is poured over the heart, transforming it into a shining ball covered in magical symbols. Assili offers up the object to Heka but as she holds it up, it gives off a bolt of energy that seems to sear Assili’s hand. As the scene fades into the flames, a voice on the air tells Letsha to kill the baby and toss it in the river. It warns that in her 18th year, Princess Zazi will take his throne, and bring an end to his bloodline. “Kill her before she kills you,” Letsha hears.
The present day … or the long night just before the full moon
Letsha wakes up in terror and visits Assili’s bed chamber in the Akachi palace, naked, trembling and holding a knife. Assili swats off the threat like a fly and reminds Letsha that he made a bargain with Heka and it’s time to pay – with Zazi’s life. When he begs Assili, as the Uchawi Magi, to make it rain, Assili refuses to until he kills Zazi.
Madlamini eavesdrops as Assili asks Letsha what will happen if Zazi finds out that Letsha is her brother, not her father, and that he had her mother murdered. Letsha cries and blubbers on Assili’s extremely unsympathetic bosom at the idea of killing Princess Zazi.
In Princess Zazi’s quarters, the princess’s companion Thozama (Assili’s daughter) wakes Zazi from a troubled dream that she was burning on a pyre, unaware that the woman burning is not her, but her own mother. And she claims to have seen another figure in the flames but could not tell if it was a person or a dog (or could it be a hyena?).
Later Zazi sits at the window and tells Thozama that she was told that her mother named her on her deathbed and even though her name means “know yourself”, the 18-year-old princess is convinced that she doesn’t know herself at all. The two joke about Thozama’s mother until Zazi falls silent, contemplating the early signs of pregnancy she’s showing.
The cursed Chini
Deep underground in the caves where the Chini tribe is hidden, their Mother Superior dreams of a great eye watching from the centre of a galaxy, a portal opening up in space, and a meteorite headed for Earth, destroying the planet as souls fall screaming into an endless burning pit. Uneasy, she consults her fragments of ancient stones (which have a similar look to the stones used for prophecy in Heka’s temple). She tells her son and heir Mzini that the saviour of the Chini has come of age. While they talk, Burutti the 18-year-old whom Mother Superior took in as an orphan, lies listening, and she follows them to the sacred Hall of Records.
Mother Superior stands in front of a closed, circular stone door deep underground, which has a glowing ankh symbol (both a key to life and a key to the Nile River) at the centre, surrounded by a pentagram whose points overlap a circle (creating a pentacle). Mother Superior tells Mzini that the Akachi Princess, though she might not know it, comes from the Chini bloodline, and that the Golden Age is about to return.
Studying the orientation of the door and the alignment of its symbols, Mother Superior claims that it’s the point in a 33 000-year circle at which everything is cleaned and purified by fire. Burutti interrupts them to reveal that according to a dream she had, behind the stone door “lies the end of all things”.
The Akachi hunters
Meanwhile, out on the plains outside the Akachi walls, Akachi soldiers, including General Toka and his second-in-command, Lekoya, prepare to enter the Chini’s cave network. Letsha has promised anyone who can capture a Chini alive two prize cattle in exchange.
Unsuspecting, the Chini are going about daily life in one of the caverns, chattering and yipping at each other like hyenas.
Burutti is convinced she has seen the Akachi princess and reveals that the borders between her waking and dreaming lives have blurred, and she calls the Akachi princess “the beginning and the end”. Mzini interrupts to remind the Chini to stay vigilant and watch out for Akachi in their tunnels and guard “the secret entrance to the swirls of Zam-Zam”, and he reprimands Burutti for creating secret plans to launch an attack on the Akachi city walls so that she can help her lover, Kike, to escape the Akachi.
Burutti runs away in humiliation and spots two Akachi scouts in the Hall of Records, trying to figure out the secret stone door. She races back to the cavern to sound the alarm and the Chini close their tunnels. Meanwhile, the ankh glows brighter as one of the Akachi is drawn to the door. When he touches it, the door’s outer rim lights up and it blows him back across the room. His companion reprimands him and tells him that the door’s symbols plainly mean that it should not be touched by non-divine hands. As they continue to argue, the Chini ambush them. Later, growing suspicious, the Akachi go in search of their missing scouts and when they find their bodies General Toka performs a ritual to free their souls.
At the Akachi palace, below King Letsha’s window, Akachi soldiers pour slop down onto the naked, crammed and starving Chini prisoners in their pit cages, calling them dogs. One prisoner, a muscular man, does not move to eat, but sits in the corner, brooding.
Zazi faces the future
In Zazi’s quarters, she brings up the fact that Thozama will soon marry Letsha, on Assili’s orders, and returns to her fears about her pregnancy. Thozama snaps back that everyone in the palace is far too busy planning Letsha and Thozama’s wedding to suspect that Zazi has lost her virginity. When Thozama confides that she does not want to get married, Zazi tells her that they are “vessels that our ancestors drink from like a well.” And when a baffled Thozama finds out that Zazi wants to keep her baby, she questions Zazi’s choices altogether, considering that Zazi’s baby daddy is not just a commoner, but a Ku’ua.
In the Ku’ua camp
Outside the Akachi citadel walls, the Ku’ua gather for King Letsha’s wedding with Thozama. In the Ku’ua’s tents, a jolly good time is being had by all…. well, most… as Chief Xemantso watches a mud wrestling match between two women. The Ku’ua’s fiercest warrior, Kuthala, is bored and restless, while Lala, wife of Xemantso’s heir Qotha, pushes him to get closer to his father since Xemantso is showing such a marked preference for the company of Qotha’s younger brother, Hlengu. Meanwhile Hlengu pleads with his father not to accept Letsha’s invitation to sleep inside the palace.
On the Akachi walls, one of the sentinels asks another whether it looks to him as if the heavens are on fire. And down below, the Ku’ua guard escorts a dead drunk Chief Xemantso as he heads into the citadel for his promised palace nap.
The power of the Chini
Back in the caves, Burutti and her friends play at being Akachi soldiers and Burutti asks Mzini what the point of them having their cursed powers is if they can’t use those powers to free their loved ones from the Akachi pits. Furious with Burutti’s defiance, Mzini reminds her that for aeons the Chini have guarded the secrets of the Fallen. He claims that the gods have sealed off all the star gates from Earth. And he tells her: “Chinis do not live, we serve.”
Mother Superior interrupts their bickering to ask how the Chini defences were breached. And Mzini announces that it is the full moon and time for the gathering. Burutti counters that it is also one day before the wedding, and that the Akachi’s defences will be down, making it the perfect time to rescue the Chini prisoners. But Mother Superior instructs them to guard all the entrances to the Swirl Of Zam-Zam instead.
On the road into the citadel, the Ku’ua hurl insults at the Akachi soldiers returning from their Chini cave raid. and an old man blocks their path. He addresses General Toka as “Son of Bakari” and warns him that while he has climbed high among the Akachi, he has a long way to fall. And as he speaks a bolt of lightning breaks across the sky.
Alone as the episode ends, Burutti picks up a discarded Akachi helmet, wiggles out of a secret hidey hole just near the citadel gates, and slips in place to join the Akachi troops entering the city – a lone Chini infiltrating the Akachi stronghold.