Blood Psalms episode 6: A day to the gods is a thousand years
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, as the five tribes gather for the wedding of King Letsha of the Akachi and Thozama of the Uchawi.
Episode 5 in 10 points
- At the Ku’ua camp, Lala, wife of Chief Xemantso’s heir, Qotha, stopped his brother, Hlengu, from peeing on him during a fight. And while Qotha went to check on their father in the Akachi Citadel, where he was having a delightful night of drunken revelry, Hlengu snuck into bed with Lala.
- Akachi high priest Mfengetho warned King Letsha’s uncle Nkamanzu that the Akachi’s army leader, General Toka, might stage a coup using his lover, Letsha’s daughter Princess Zazi, as a puppet ruler.
- Senator Jabari of Great Nziwemabwe made a nuisance of himself by wandering drunkenly through the Akachi palace demanding an audience with King Letsha.
- Nkamanzu had to keep Jabari from stumbling across the mad king, who was tied up in his chambers, screaming in fury after witch-Queen Assili of the Uchawi whispered in his ear that Zazi is pregnant by Toka.
- Palace governess Madlamini recognised Jabari’s companion and concubine Sithenjwa as the sister of the late Queen Ndiya Zazi, Princess Zazi’s mother.
- Princess Zazi accidentally broke her statue of Isis while practising her powers, but she seemed powerless when General Toka dumped her, and later she snuck out to go see him.
- Sithenjwa snuck out of the Akachi guest quarters after Jabari nodded off during their drinking contest – to visit her ex-lover, General Toka, and ask what happened to their daughter, Burutti, after Toka exiled Sithenjwa. And a passionate fight turned into passionate sex.
- While Princess Zazi saw Toka and Sithenjwa having sex, Senator Jabari – who’d faked being drunk – might have seen a whole lot more when he followed Sithenjwa.
- Madlamini caught Princess Zazi sneaking back into her quarters, and both were shocked when King Letsha burst into Zazi’s rooms, naked and insane, to repeatedly stab a knife into what he believed to be Zazi’s sleeping body.
- When a furious King Letsha realised his mistake, he had the palace guards arrest Princess Zazi on charges of treason.
Watch: the trailer for Blood Psalms episode 6
The morning of Princess Zazi’s 18th birthday, and the day of King Letsha’s wedding, dawns at last. Out at sea, the rock around the hole that was burned through the solid sandstone stack – after it was struck by the meteorite that the superpowered Princess Zazi diverted from hitting the Akachi citadel – is still glowing red hot. But at the core of the hole there is now a blue vortex.
In his throne room, a naked King Letsha bewails being cursed, alone and betrayed, before declaring himself the last Akachi king. Meanwhile, in the Akachi army’s barracks, a new mom gives her Akachi lover, Captain Ahadi, a talisman of the god Montu, before he sets off on a dangerous mission to check on the vortex along with two other soldiers. As the Akachi boat approaches the vortex, the terrified soldiers chant their battle cry, and a pulse of energy blasts through them, killing Ahadi’s companions. Blue lights dart around the boat, while eerie noises come from the darkness and the water as Ahadi begs his god not to desert him.
Out in the bush, Burutti of the Chini awakes naked up a tree following a busy night of were-hyena transformation. She sees circus performers passing below her, on their way to the royal wedding, and finds herself suddenly in their midst when her branch breaks, sending her tumbling to the ground right in front of the mysterious Umna, who has a secret connection to someone in the Akachi palace hierarchy.
Umna takes Burutti’s sudden appearance in her stride, giving her some cloth to cover herself in, and recognising her as one of the Chini. One of Umna’s troupe warns Burutti that the woman she sees in her dreams is in grave danger and he calls her a “mighty orphan”, while Umna wishes Burutti well before she and her troupe leave. Burutti is trying to puzzle out everything when she’s knocked unconscious by Chini overseer Mzinzi.
In the Ku’ua camp, Kuthala the warrior sings a mournful song as other Ku’ua tend to those who have suffered in the long night, until the melancholy is broken up by the arrival of the circus. Even Hlengu seems caught up in the excitement, throwing his weight around, cursing his people and acting the fool, to the irritation of some other Ku’ua warriors.
Down in the Chini cave system Burutti wakes, hanging upside down. A furious Mzinzi demands that she explain why she risked their entire tribe and broke their holy laws to do as she pleased. Not even Mother Superior seems willing to stand up for Burutti as Mzinzi threatens her with 12 nights in isolation and 10 lashes with a whip. And Burutti cowers at Mother Superior’s feet for protection as the pack turns on her.
In the Akachi prison pits, Kike, the Chini who transformed into a were-hyena in the night, wakes face down in the muck, and turns to see a pile of corpses – the remains of his fellow prisoners. Kike begs the gods Toto and Sobek for forgiveness as he wails in despair. The only other prisoner left alive in the pit with him is the massive, brooding quiet man, who picks Kike up by the throat to quiet him down.
In the Akachi guest quarters, Senator Jabari questions Sithenjwa about her night, secretly aware that she must have lived there as a court insider, as she was able to slip from the guest quarters to the barracks and back without being challenged by the palace staff.
Meanwhile, Lekoya complains to his lover that he has little to show for his years of service in Letsha’s army. But when Lekoya hints that the army will back Zazi as the official heir to the throne, his scheming lover reminds him that Toka has been the one driving support for Zazi within the military council. That’s the same Toka who stands to gain enormous power as the father of Princess Zazi’s unborn child, should anything happen to King Letsha.
In the palace, Nkamanzu calls a council meeting, where there’s a growing feeling of resentment about Letsha’s actions and Assili’s overstepping. Nkamanzu warns the assembly against treasonous talk, and he advises them to see who is trying to manipulate them (spoiler: it’s him). Without the army, Nkamanzu points out, the council would be running the country, not the king, and he refers to Zazi as a snotty, know-nothing little girl.
Unaware that his reign is hanging by a thread thanks to his uncle’s manipulations, Letsha has dressed in his wedding finery. He seems lucid as he orders his guards to bring Toka to him in the throne room. The palace guards drag Zazi in front of Queen Assili and Letsha, as her friend and companion, Thozama (Letsha’s bride-to-be), who’s also being restrained by guards, begs her forgiveness for exposing Zazi’s secret lover and pregnancy.
Letsha orders Zazi to abort her pregnancy, but Madlamini kneels before Letsha to plead with him not to shed blood on his wedding day, reminding him that his guests will be expecting Princess Zazi to participate in the Dance of Creation. Letsha seems to take this to heart and declares that Zazi will take part in the dance, but he also orders that immediately after the dance, Zazi be taken to the witches of Nyembingo. And Assili’s face reflects restrained fury as Madlamini outmanoeuvres her.
Guards arrest General Toka and lead him through the citadel in chains. Lekoya, despite his earlier grumblings, seems so affronted by this that he hacks off the hand of one of the guards, and threatens to behead the other. But Toka orders Lekoya to stand down, demonstrating that he still holds the army’s authority, and that the army will obey the will of the king. The Akachi hurl trash and insults at Toka in the street, demanding his death, while Zazi shrieks down at him from her window that she loves him. Watching the crowd, Nkamanzu comments to Akachi head priest Mfengetho on Letsha’s folly in deciding to behead Toka, and Mfengetho advises him to promote someone from within the ranks.
After pulling Zazi back from her window, Madlamini finally gets through to the rebellious princess. She confides that if Zazi survives, all the Akachi will be saved, because Zazi is at the epicentre of an ongoing battle between good and evil thanks to a power that she shares with her late mother, Queen Ndiya Zazi.
Madlamini tells Zazi that she and her unborn baby need to get as far away from the citadel as possible. And to do that, Zazi will need to play the Perfect Princess at her father’s wedding, and to trust Madlamini’s plan.
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